Wednesday, June 20, 2012

This one's for Cassidy: Part 2

After a few miles I finally caught onto this trail running business…it’s called hiking.  Well sort of.  Uphill stretches, unless fairly short and boulder free, are hiked at a brisk pace.  Flat and down hill stretches are jogged.  I soon settled into a rhythm realizing I would be out on the trails much longer than originally anticipated.  Being a very small event I soon found myself in complete solitude among the forest trees.  It was almost a little unsettling to be completely alone in the middle of the forest. I actually considered sitting down and waiting for my mom to catch up.  After all the first rule of safe hiking is not to go alone right?

Well, perhaps I misspoke.  Alone except for one other visible runner about 20 feet in front of me.  It was a little girl, outfitted with a purple trail running fanny pack and pink visor.  Besides us there was not another visible life form in sight.  She seemed to be keenly aware of my presence and determined to keep her 20 ft lead on me.  Any time I started to jog she would tune into the audible change in my pace and start to run.  We continued to run/hike in this unspoken but clearly coordinated fashion for a few miles before curiosity got the best of me.

I was slightly embarrassed to barely be keeping pace with probably the youngest racer in the event. Despite my advanced degree in the field of Exercise Science, I foolishly felt like my previous running experience, although a good 3 years in the past, would have had more carry-over to this event.  I wanted to know how young my competitor was…I had to know!  Besides, if the next 2 hours was going to carry on this way I may as well strike up a conversation with the little runner. 

Me: “So uh, how old are you?”

Little Runner: “Eleven.”

Me: “Wow, I am impressed!  I never did anything like this when I was your age.”

Little Runner:  “Yeah.”

Me:  “Is this your first time doing this race?”

Little Runner:  “Yeah.”

Me:  “Cool, this is my first trail run too.  It’s a lot harder than I expected.”

Our conversation carried on this way for a while, me asking general questions and the Little Runner providing brief responses to the friendly stranger.  Neither of us felt the need to exchange names as this point. We were both just enjoying the distraction of commiserating over our circumstances together.  I figured our paces would eventually differ and one of us would drop off behind the other until it was no longer reasonable to keep talking. 
The Little Runner eventually became more relaxed.  As we settled into a rhythm together she began to volunteer more information about herself. Her father was running in the 30-mile race and her step mom the 7-mile.  I was a little shocked they would leave their eleven year old to fend for herself on a 3 hour trail run through the forest, but then again she had experience running and could find support stations along the way.

Stay tuned for more on the Little Runner and our ascent up Windy Peak!

Thursday, June 14, 2012

This one's for Cassidy: Part 1

I have abandoned my blog.
I’ve turned into a bitter shriveled prune
I’ve lost all humor, wit, and zeal  

I’ve not yet figured out how to share hospital experiences without violating HIPAA (although I really should share my experiences with rectal tubes) J Yet in my miserable pseudo intellectual career/life I find glimmers of hope

Hope that school will soon end
Hope that an employer will deem me worthy of hire
Hope that I will not accidentally kill a patient my first year on the job
Hope that I will one day bear children

But this is not about my miserable existence; this post is a dedication to Cassidy, my 11 year old compadre.  You see, back in January, in the midst of absolute frustration with school and work, I decided to bite the proverbial bullet and sign up for a race.  The Golden Gate Dirty Thirty, a backcountry trail run in the mountains of Colorado (except I was only signing up for the 12 mile trail run…not the 30).  Now you have to understand my concerns at the time…TIME!  No time to sleep, eat, study, void, etc.  Where would I find the time to run??  Yet I decided that I would no longer leave my life in the hands of an evil socialist dictator (school/work) but I would take control and force myself to enjoy the finer side of life (paying too much money to go run in the woods with a bunch of hippies).

Anyhow, I somehow mustered up the energy to “train”.  I shall use the term loosely as I never ran more than twice per week.  However I was quite proud of my effort, as it is more than I have done in the past 3 years.  My longest run was only 9 miles, but considering I had run a dozen or so half marathons in the past, I figured I could bust it out.

Well, I couldn’t have been more sorely mistaken!  If you’ve ever done a true backcountry trail run you’ll know that they are not comparable to any type of road race.  I probably could have figured that out pretty easily by checking out these trail photos on their website, but that would have been far too easy. J

The morning started out with the usual pre-race jitters, concomitant feelings of dread, excitement, anxiety, and four trips to the Port-a-John.  Talking with my brother I was informed that the trail, which started out on a dirt road, would soon become a single tract trail. 

Me, being my egotistical self, was fearful of getting stuck behind a bunch of slow trail walkers once we hit the single track.  Being a natural problem solver J I did the only rational thing I could think of…I positioned myself in front of the whole pack of runners at the starting line. When the gun went off I sprinted to secure a position in the lead. 

Within a ¼ mile I was panting for air…after all we were at an altitude of 9,000 ft and running uphill.  Between dry heaves, I soon realized what an idiot I was. Now I would be holding up every runner behind me as soon as we hit the single tract.  I desperately tried to maintain a jog but quickly had to stop and walk as my throat was slowly constricting and it was taking every ounce of energy to keep my breakfast down.  Finally I just stepped off the trail, humiliated as dozens of runners passed me by.

To be continued…since I’m supposed to be doing homework.  Stay tuned to hear more on Cassidy and the end of my 12 mile expedition.