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

Monday, November 26, 2012

Yup, we are still alive!!!

The Happy Trails duo is still alive and kicking despite a serious absence from blog activity.    Steve has settled into and is enjoying his new job.  We are both settling into the short, colder days of winter although we certainly have been happy with the overall mild weather Mother Nature has delivered thus far.  Everyone, locally, knows we need moisture in a BIG way but not having to wear our heavy duty cold weather gear sure is NICE!!!

Even though we have been on a blog hiatus, we have continued to run our local trails which is always a wonderful thing.  The not-as-wonderful-thing is that I am still not physically back up to speed.  For reasons unknown, it is taking me longer to "come back" than what we had hoped.  I am not able to rebuild much in the way of strength, speed, or endurance.  The body is just not able to build and accept much in terms of training adaptation yet.  Many runs feel a bit like a slog/sufferfest - the body just doesn't work quite right and won't "go".  Occasionally, I have been able to pop off a run where I feel pretty good - not normal - but pretty good and feel encouraged of what "could be".  There have been brief glimpses of promising potential but have been unable to make those brief glimpses last.  But, it is what it is and we are trying to roll with it.  The doc said, in some cases, it can take at least a year to get back to normal.  I am 7 months in - only 5 more to go.......

Nevertheless, I am still trying to do what the body allows.  I am thankful that I can still do "stuff" - I count my blessings - it certainly could be much worse.  I am also thankful for my most wonderful, patient, and long suffering husband.  Steve has been the model of love, support, and encouragement. He comforts me when all I want to do is curl up and cry.  He is my cheerleader and priceless treasure and I am grateful beyond measure for him.

So, here are a few pics from the last few months, a little proof that we are still getting out and getting after it:  
 Beautiful fall day at Red Rock Canyon
 Another beautiful autumn day up the Incline and down Barr Trail.  Magnificent Pikes Peak in the background.
I was graced with a visit from dearest Jillery.  We hit the Incline, Barr, and The Mate' Factor for lunch.  ALWAYS a FUN time together.
 Another stellar day, this time at Palmer Park
 Doesn't get much better than this - food and family on Thanksgiving.  Getting ready to eat at Steve's sis's house - his mom and sis - see how food makes everyone smile???!!!
 The work center trails in Monument the day after Thanksgiving......  notice the continued fine weather theme???

We encountered many mountain bikers while running in our beloved Ute Valley Park on Thanksgiving morning.  Steve and I remarked to each other that it sure looked like tons of fun which led us to ask why in the world hadn't we done it in oh, say, 4 years or so???  We don't know why.  We just haven't.  It caused us to wonder whether or not we could still RIDE our mountain bikes on anything bumpier or more technical than a paved street and not kill or permanently maim ourselves.  We decided to find out.  

Steve hauled the bikes off the garage wall, wiped off the inches of dust that enshrouded them, and proceeded to give them a quick "once over tune-up".  The final verdict:  Kathleen's bike, other than a couple of the pivots which need to be adjusted, a little air in the tires and front and rear shocks and lube on the chain, was in good working order and ready to roll.
Steve's bike, on the other hand, was not so lucky.  It seems that the seals on his rear shock were shot rendering the machine unrideable.  Boo-hoo.

We decided to head down to Cheyenne Mountain State Park yesterday.  I planned to run a 6 or 7 mile loop and then hop on the mountain bike and see if I had ANY technical skills left in me.  Steve planned on running long.  I figured CMSP was a good starting point for a first, semi-technical trail ride in 4 years - the trails are mostly flowy, smooth, albeit off-camber decomposed granite, punctuated by rocky and rooty sections.  Just enough challenge to help regain some feel for the bike but not too much so where a person could hurt herself.
 Group photo halfway up the Talons

The primary goal was to NOT kill or seriously injure myself.  Secondly, to not ride stiff as board after not being on dirt for so long.
I kept telling myself to keep the elbows soft and shoulders relaxed.  It's really funny how the body remembers the flow and feel - after a couple of miles it felt natural, familiar, and instinctual - just a little more tentative and stiff than years past but good.  Very good.  I even made it up and around a few of the tighter switchbacks near the top of the Talons where there are quite a few embedded rocks and loose scree which can cause some balance and traction issues.  I was ecstatic on how the feel for the technical aspect came back.  The thing that was a glaring weakness, though, and a reminder of some physical limitation, was my lack of strength.  I just don't have the torque strength to power up, over, and around rocks, roots, etc.  I made it over everything, but sometimes barely, and it HURT A LOT doing it. No amount of "try or train harder" can remedy it - it's just not an available option to the body yet.  It's frustrating to have absolutely zero control over the situation.  I just keep reminding myself that it will get better, eventually, and to continue to be thankful that I am able to get out to run AND ride.  That counts for much. 
 Finally made it to the top of the Talons and getting ready to start down.....
Grimacing while looking toward the rocky switchback that starts a sweet descent

Long story short - I had a BLAST on the mountain bike.  I don't think I have had as big of a grin on my face on any of our trail outings as of late as I did yesterday.  Probably because I wasn't in continuous slog/sufferfest mode - just was at play and having good old fun.  The Geico commercial with Maxwell the pig came to mind many times during the ride, particularly on the faster, flowing descents.  All I was thinking was "Weeee, weeee, weeeeeeeeee!"  I love Maxwell - he embodies what life should be -  such fun!  

Because I was moving fairly slowly, Steve wasn't ever too far behind on the climbs.  It was nice to have him nearby - not only because I adore his fine form and company, but also he was close by to scrape me off the rocks if I had a magnificent wipe-out on my maiden mountain bike voyage.  Thankfully, no scraping was needed.  Once he gets his shock re-built, I will look forward to us getting out together on the bikes again.  It is just too much fun!!!  How did we stray away for so long???

Steve ended the day with a great 18 mile run - a nice accomplishment since CMSP is more of a challenging effort.  I ended up with a 7 mile run and a little over 15 mile ride and a big grin on my face - a grin because I didn't kill or hurt myself and for the overall fun factor of the day.

As a follow-up, I saddled up the bike and headed over to UVP this morning despite the windchill registering at 18 degrees - that's cold on a bike.  But I HAD to give it a whirl at Ute.  It's where we learned to ride trails 20+ years ago and I figured if I could make it around the very rocky, rooty, sandy, and technical nature of trails there, there was hope.  I made it around the basic loop unscathed and finished feeling super excited.  Again, I was reminded of how weak I am physically.  But I made it over everything so it's a starting point and the mountain bike will serve as another tool to help rebuild and keep the fun factor high and fresh.

Hopefully you will all be able to find some FUN FACTOR over these coming winter weeks and months and do like Maxwell the Geico pig - be a little silly and exult in the ride whether it's humming along perfectly or not so much.  Enjoy the ride!  

Happy Trails!!!
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