If you’re lucky enough to be in the mountains, you’re lucky enough!

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Waldo Fire continues......

Just a quick update.....  We have not been evacuated yet.  But the fire continues to grow.  It is estimated to be at around 5100 acres, currently.  The smoke is hanging in a haze across the region and the smoke smell, at least at our house, is super strong.  We are both headed into work today.  Our cars our packed with essentials, documents, photos, bikes and running gear (priorities, you know), and not too much else.  What do you take???  It's just "stuff".  Anyway, that's just a quick update.  Here is a link to our local paper's website which has done a great job keeping the site updated regularly.  We are considered north Mountain Shadows neighborhood.  Peregrine and the Air Force Academy are to the north and Rockrimmon is east.  Thanks for all of your warm and kind thoughts, prayers, and offers of accomodations.  We've gotten lots of emails from you and it is encouraging for us.

Gazette Link

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Not so pretty good.....

UPDATE:  Our voluntary evacuation order has currently been lifted, so we just have to watch the news and keep the phone close by.  We got some cloud cover, and the winds died off.  We really hope they can get a handle on this quickly as that beast got out of hand really, really fast!  Fire is now over 2000 acres as of 8 PM news conference.

There is a wildfire burning out of control in Waldo Canyon, just west of Colorado Springs.  Our neighborhood has just been put on voluntary evacuation alert.  Mandatory evacuation line is currently only 2 miles south of HT central.  We are currently sitting in front of the computer with our vehicles loaded, ready to head east.  Not a good feeling in the pit of the stomach.....

Latest pic from the end of our driveway - not good.  Fire is up to 1,000 2,000 acres and just started at noon.  We are still on standby...
This is not going to turn out well...


Sunday, June 17, 2012

Fun on Two Feet ... and Two Wheels

Last weekend started with a little trip over to the US Air Force Academy for a good run around the Falcon Trail loop with Craig and his son Alex.  It was the first time over there for the guys, and this is a must run trail if you live in our area.  We had a good time just taking an easy stroll around the loop.  Although we got started when the gates opened to the public to get on base, by mid-loop it was already blazing hot out there! 
 Sunny and warm on the Falcon Trail - crossing the Stanley Canyon access point
 Had a blast being tour guide for these two guys

These two have some good races coming up and goal for the day was time on the feet and some climbing thrown in - both accomplished.  While this is not the hardest run in our neck of the woods by any stretch, you won't see too many 13 year old youngsters spending their Saturday mornings running 13 miles with the old guys - most of them are home in bed until the crack of noon, then glued to an X-box for 6 hours or whatever the national average is these days.  While we had a couple of what Craig calls "teenager moments", it was a good run and we all enjoyed the trail.  We were also glad to be done as it was heading into the upper 80's when we finished.  Good Times!  (By the way - Craig took a bunch more photos - go over to his blog and have a look.)

Shoes - Brooks Pure Grit

Meanwhile, while the boys were out running, Kathleen was out on the roads of the Academy enjoying some quality time on the road bike.  She is working through some musculo-skeletal issues related to the Graves Disease, so she will be spending some good time on the bike here and there to help with the rebuilding process.  She was able to get in a sweet 30 mile ride while we were out playing on the trails and had her feet kicked up waiting on us when we reached the trailhead.

Hit The Road!
 Enjoying the blossoming Jupiter's Beard - a.k.a. Red Valerian - in our Xeric Garden out front
 Italian Cycling Slippers
 Starbucks and Pikes Peak - aaah....

This morning we headed out early for a road ride and we needed to beat the heat.  It was forecast to hit 90's by noon, so we wanted no part of that especially since we would be spending our workout time on asphalt!  We also wanted to be out early to beat the nut-jobs driving on the west side of town, but we didn't totally avoid that...  And what is up with the wind this year - it can be over any time.  Had to run in it yesterday and it was gusting heavily while riding today.... The route for the day was a combination of The Garden of the Gods area, Gold Camp Road, and Mountain Shadows area.
 Riding up Gold Camp, almost to Section 16 parking lot
 Up on the open stretches of Gold Camp - no hiding from the wind here...
 Almost to the top
 End of the road - at least for skinny tires

Riding up to the end of the pavement is a great out and back.  On the weekends, you will have plenty of two-wheeled company.  This is a popular route for gradual and steady grade hill repeats thanks to the extended climb - from 31st street and Highway 24, you climb 1000' in a bit over 4 miles, for around a 4% grade.  You'll have mountain bike company as well, headed up past the pavement into Cheyenne Canyon where countless miles of steep trails await.
 The suburban reservoirs at Stratton Open Space and the Broadmoor Hotel
You should stay there if you come visit....
 The Trusty Rigs
Back in our neck of the "woods" - Mesa bike path looking into Queen's Canyon

We had a great ride - 30 miles for the day and the heat was building, so we got ourselves out of the sun!  It was a good week - I ran two solid tempo runs this week - a short and a long, and finally felt decent doing so.  I had quite a lengthy funk after Greenland but appear to be hitting solid stride again.  Looking forward to some longs runs in the high country, but those will have to wait until at least mid-July.  Our niece is getting married and my folks will be here for two weeks, so family time comes first!!

Happy Trails!

Monday, June 11, 2012

The BEST trail ever......

The best trail ever...... well, that has to be the Comeback Trail!!!  That's the route I (we) am currently on and it is a FANTASTIC trail to be travelling.

I've been a bit hesitant to say too much too frequently about my journey with Graves Disease this past 18 months or so because I suspect that most people really don't want to "hear" about it but a number of people  this past week encouraged me to write more about it. Reality is - it's where we are and where we've been for the past two years or so - so here's the updated scoop:

After having the Little Fella (thyroid) nuked back in February - necessary to shut down the war between the body's attacking auto-antibodies and the thyroid  - we were in waiting mode - waiting for the final verdict that the Little Fella was dead or essentially non-functioning as a result of the radiation treatment.  That final verdict came about 7 weeks ago and thus started my new, daily, life-long regimen of synthetic thyroid hormone replacement ~ levothyroxine.  For fellow hypo-thyroid  folks, this is ho-hum stuff.  For me, it's new territory.  I've always had a nicely humming metabolism so there have been many fears and unknowns encountered along the way.  
The morning set-up
Every morning I now wake up between 5:15 and 5:45 to take this little life-giving pill.  The pill bottle is next to our bed along with a big glass of water and a straw.  I am not allowed to eat anything within an hour of taking the pill - I usually push that out to 2 - 3 hours, just to make sure I am not short-changing the absorption process.  Overkill - probably - but that's how I roll.  I am not allowed to consume any calicium, iron, or caffeine within 4 hours of swallowing it.  This required a new breakfast menu.  Because I am a creature of habit,  for years my breakfast generally consisted of greek yogurt, frozen blueberries, and slivered  almonds or walnuts.  Yogurt has calcium so no more morning yogurt.  I am now enjoying frozen blueberries, granola, shredded coconut, a touch of ground flax, and slivered almonds or walnuts.  Can't do cow or almond milk over the top due to the calcium so, gross as it sounds, I splash a touch of water on top just to soften things up.  It actually is fine.  I am really liking my new breakfast - it fuels very well.  Thank you to my beloved hubby for suggesting it!

I have now been on levothyroxine for almost 7 weeks.  Doc had said to expect to really start noticing an improvement in how I feel at the 6 - 8 week mark.  She was right on target.  I felt like a 'switch' finally 'flipped' right around 5 weeks - I started to feel a flicker of 'good' and catch a  glimpse what 'normal' is.  When a person is in a constant state of various levels of crumminess for so long, she forgets what 'normal and good' really feels like.   It's a nice feeling.
Sweet nectar of life
The realization of finally arriving at the Comeback trailhead hit a few weeks ago when I was in the kitchen putting a couple of pathetic, overly ripe bananas to rest in the form of banana bread.  I enthusiastically  mashed the bananas in a bowl with a fork and then set about to vigorously stirring the batter by hand.  I paused a moment and alerted Steve to what I was doing.  He knew.  You ask, "What's the big deal about mixing banana bread batter?".  Well, here's the deal:  The past 18 months I have been UNABLE to vigorously stir anything.  I was too weak.  Couldn't hold my arms up and stir.  Steve had to do all the mashing and hand mixing of banana bread, brownies, cookie mix, pancakes, waffles, you get the picture.  Completely ridiculous and crazy, I know, but true and the common  nature of Graves Disease.  There are many symptoms and side effects that are part of the disease and muscle wasting and weakness is a biggie.  I was completely powerless to change that aspect - no amount of "try harder" or magic protein shakes improved the wasting and weakness despite being on the anti-thyroid med. So that magical moment in the kitchen of being able to mix the banana bread without an arm falling off was a monumental one.  It caused us to cautiously muster hope that I was possibly FINALLY  turning the corner and heading to a better place not only physically but mentally, emotionally, and spiritually.  Graves messes with everything BIG TIME.  And there's nothing that can be done to change it unless a person has effective treatment, which for me, started on February 16, 2012, thankfully!

So today, I am two weeks post-banana bread mixing break-through and the improvement has continued.  I am seeing the potential of being able to rebuild the withered and lost strength and stamina for the trail running and biking we so love but also the strength and stamina needed for life in general.  With the active Graves,  I found myself withdrawing socially, to a great extent, because I just didn't have the strength and energy to invest in relationships, which are so precious and invaluable.  It is exciting to come full-circle and return to being "me" again.  It has been so long.

Despite feeling the remarkable improvement, I am not "there" yet - it will take time.  We essentially had to "tear the house" down to the foundation in order to re-build a new and better structure.  I wonder, too, if the foundation got a little chunked up in the process.  The rebuilding process will need to proceed slowly and not go "buck wild" and try to regain strength and fitness too quickly.  I've learned (sort of) the virtue of patience through this process - a necessarily slow and gradual one - exercising that virtue a little longer won't hurt.  I have to admit, though, that running and riding SO slowly and somewhat feebly is a bit frustrating but it can't be helped and it IS getting better and will continue to get better.  So incredibly THANKFUL and INCREDIBLY BLESSED.......  Our bodies are certainly fearfully and wonderfully made!

My doc (whom I started with in Dec 2011) is having me put off blood work for another 2 to 4 weeks and maybe a bit longer if I continue to experience improvement and feel good.  Normally, folks go in at 6 to 8 weeks after starting a replacement regimen or a change in dosage.  Thyroid is my doc's gig - not only is she a physician who deals ONLY with thyroid related disease, she is an endocrinology professor, and is involved in active research related to thyroid disease.  She knows her stuff and is experienced and confident in her treatment protocol.  I am confident, as well, as long as I continue to feel good, that is!  :-) 

Initially, I am/was expecting a dosage adjustment which is normal.  But if things keep perking along in a positive manner, maybe not yet.  I am carrying around a few pounds of extra 'fluff and puff' which doesn't thrill me and unsavory images of morphing into a puffed pastry or the Pillsbury Dough Girl have flashed through my mind.  In actuality, it has had me FREAKING out because I've never had to worry about extra, uncontrollable 'fluff' and seeing numbers on the scale NEVER seen before in my life has been unsettling.  After being assured this is part of the normal process,  I've subsequently calmed down about it and am hoping that once the hormone levels stabilize and I am able to start rebuilding the muscle that was cannibalized by the Graves, some of that 'fluff and puff' will start to melt away.  Fingers crossed......  :-)

I am sensing a spark just beneath the surface - something not felt in a VERY long time.  Steve and I are excited to have, at the very least, parked at the Comeback trailhead - soon to be soiling our shoes on the actual trail - the best trail ever!

A BIG THANK YOU for all of your care, concern, encouragement, and from several of you - wise and personal expertise - it has calmed fears, helped keep me going, and has been a priceless treasure to US. You guys are awesome. Thanks, too, for enduring this LONG post!  Here's to a return to true Happy Trailing, hopefully just on the horizon......

Steve will do a post on our weekend fun in a few days......

Happy Trails to all this week!

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Sights and Scenes

We put together a little photo documentary of what trail running exploits we have been up to for the past couple weeks.  We, as in Kathleen has been running enough lately that it has been a lot of US running together - I dig that!  It's Sunday night and I'm a bit tired, so words will be few and photos plenty :)

Garden of the Gods
Postcard day at the Garden... as always!
Looking down on the west side of the big rock formations -
Lots of runners will be on that road next week for the Garden 10 Miler
Peregrine Falcon on Dakota Trail - we rounded a corner and there he was right next to the trail - look at the size of that talon!  He was magnificent!
Happy Trails DUO
Cheyenne Mountain State Park
Trailhead with a Great View!
Yes, our feet occasionally touch pavement....
Already warm but we're smiling!
Coming down Blackmere Trail

Palmer Park
Edna Mae Bennett Nature Trail at Palmer Park
Palmer Point Trail with a view that makes it hard to concentrate
Kathleen climbing the front side of Palmer Point Trail
Cool rocks on the Templeton Trail
Kathleen rolling on the Greencrest Trail
Climbing Grandview with the foothills across the horizon
Cruising the Kinnickinnick Trail - say that 10 times fast!
 More fun on the K... Trail
Cacti are in bloom EVERYWHERE!

Red Rock Canyon/Section 16
Section 16 connector from RRC - just getting the climb going!
On the steeps now, climbing in earnest on the Intemann Trail - the shade on the steep climb
was nice, as it got hot early today!
The saddle before the high point of Section 16 - note the steep switchbacks
of High Drive cut into the far canyon wall.
Just about ready for a long descent!
Looking back up the entrance to Section 16 from High Drive
Bottom of High Drive - cars can only come down this side, no driving up
Back down into Red Rock - looking out across to Garden of the Gods
Roundup Trail runs out the bottom of the canyon
Top of Roundup, looking across to the hills of Section 16 and Intemann Trail

It has been a GOOD couple of weeks - Happy Trails!
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