Whew! The last week of October was spent mile after mile on the road. Unfortunately, these miles were not spent running, but rather in the car, sitting on my rear …no calories burned there! Yes, the hubs and I got in a lot of windshield time together and while there is no one on earth I’d rather ride shotgun with; we’re tired. However; I’m happy to report that after three trips to Jackson, we have signed a lease on our new “temporary” home. We decided to rent until our current house sells, allowing us time to look around and be sure of the area/town/suburb that we want to buy a home in. Now, for the “not so fun” part…packing and actually moving, ugh! It’s during these big life changes that my body likes to remind me that I’m not as young as I used to be. The mental “thinking” alone about this move has zapped all energy for running; I’m afraid the actual “physical” move will shut any and all running completely down for a while. Speaking of…. this is what my week looked like in the way of being active: Continue reading
Hello fellow runners! It’s Friday and the end of the month; which means it is time for another edition of “Runfessions” link-up hosted by Marcia where we take the opportunity to confess any and all of our running, fitness and …well, just life related confessions. It really does feel good to get a few things off our chests …or in our case, our feet!
So, without further adieu… Continue reading
If you are looking for an extreme workout, one that will challenge you physically, mentally and emotionally, then look no further than Colorado Springs! The Manitou Incline once operated as the old Cog Railway used to provide access to water tanks at the top of Pikes Peak mountain. It operated until 1990 when a rock slide damaged the rail bed beyond repairs. The incline is now considered the holy grail of cardio for locals and athletes, alike. It consists of approximately 2,744 steps made entirely of railroad ties. Although it is only one mile in length, the ascension averages a 41% incline, 68% at its highest point, and a 2,000 foot climb in elevation! A lung crusher at the very least! Needless to say, tackling the incline is not for the faint of heart or those with any fear of heights.
Three years ago, the hubby and I were in Colorado Springs for one of his Army buddy’s wedding. We arrived a few days early in order to take in the beauty of Colorado and enjoy some hiking. After taking on Seven Falls, Garden of the Gods and several other attractions, our “friend” (did I mention that he was in a special forces unit of the Army??) recommended that we climb the Manitou Incline. “It’ll be fun” he said. “You guys will love it” he said. “You guys are runners…you won’t have any problems!” he said. He was wrong. Well, sort of …but I’ll come back to that.
So, the hubs and I type in the address in our GPS and took off toward Manitou Springs. As we are approaching our exit off of the interstate, I see a brown trail cut into the side of mountain off in the distance. For a moment, I thought to myself ….”holy guacamole, that’s it???”
I quickly dismissed that as a possibility, knowing that it would be impossible for that to actually be what we were about to climb. Nah, no way. Following the turn by turn directions being barked out to us by “Stella”, the endearing name by husband has given our cell phones GPS, we arrived in the parking lot labeled “Cogs Railway Parking”. My initial thought was, unfortunately, correct …that tiny little brown trail cut into the side of the mountain was now looming right in front of us! My heart sank. We walked toward the beginning of the trail and stood before it, staring in disbelief. My husband then said to me, “We don’t have to do this if you don’t want”. What??? Back down from a challenge? Never! I mean, if an Army special forces Soldier thinks that I can do this, then I will do it …even if it kills me! So, with a nod and a fist bump, we began our climb.
Things were going very well the first half of the trek up. I have to admit, I was feeling pretty “bad ass” as I tackled those railroad ties with the greatest of ease! Just past the half way point, there is a “bailout” point which takes you back down via the Barr Trail. This is your last chance to exit the incline …continue on and you’re committed to the steepest section of the climb and all of the suckage that comes along with it. We did witness a couple of people make the decision to end their insanity; but we pressed on. To the top or die trying! Insanity!
As the saying goes, hindsight is 20/20 ….I now know why the bailout point is where it is! Just past this point, the grade increases to about 68% and the pain begins. This is where things began to fall apart, at least for me. The difference in elevation between Mississippi and Colorado alone was taking its toll on me, let alone the additional 2,000 ft of elevation I was climbing at this point. My breathing was extremely labored and I felt as if I would pass out multiple times. I would stop and rest on rocks along the side of the trail, while 70-year-old locals would trot by me like they were taking a walk to their mailbox ….this ticked me off. The hubby would always be 10 – 15 steps ahead of me, then he would stop to wait on me, with no apparent difficulty in breathing whatsoever …this ticked me off. We continued on this way ….climbing, resting, cursing, crying, climbing, resting, cursing, crying, climbing….you get the picture. At one point of rest, I thought about our “friend” who recommended this activity ….this ticked me off as well. Who needs enemies when you have friends like this?!? I wondered if they ever performed helicopter rescue missions from this mountain …clearly, the lack of oxygen was beginning to cloud my thinking.
As we neared to top, the grade was so steep that I found myself using my hands as if climbing a ladder. At this point, I was beyond the anger and frustration and I just wanted to get to the top of this dang mountain! Again, the hubs being several steps ahead of me, yells out to me “we’re almost there, I can see the summit! Keep climbing, you’ve got this!” Yes! I’m almost done. I’m not going to die on the side of this dang mountain! As I reached the summit, I looked up only to see my husband still climbing!!! What??? Yep, you guessed it ….a false summit.
For a split second, I thought about crying again but decided it would only slow me down and besides, I was more than likely too dehydrated to make more tears anyway. (We only had one bottle of water between the two of us …again, I blame our “friend”).
Only about 300 more steps beyond the false summit and we reached the top. Lungs were screaming, quads were burning and my head was spinning, yet the amazing feeling of accomplishment overshadowed it all. The view from the top was extraordinary, like none other and we stopped for a moment to marvel at the beauty.
At this point, you can connect to Barr Trail and either continue up the mountain to the summit of Pikes Peak or take the Barr Trail back down the mountain, we chose the latter. The return trail consists of approximately 3.6 miles of rocky switch back trails which planted me on my butt several times trying to run down it. I highly recommend wearing trail shoes if you get a hankering to tackle the incline …you can thank me later.
The climb itself took about an hour and a half, including all of my crying and cursing stops. And the trail down took about an hour.
I’ve read that many elite athletes incorporate this into their training regimen with many being able to reach the top in 20 minutes … now that’s insane!
The next evening, while at our “friend’s” wedding, I found myself telling of our adventure on the incline to some of the wedding guests who just so happened to be in the 10th Special Forces group. They stroked my ego just a tad by telling me that they are required to climb the incline quite often for training; however, they are not allowed to do so by the Army for at least two weeks, allowing themselves time to adjust to the altitude. They were impressed that we were able to complete it after having only been in Colorado for a couple of days…boom! Maybe they were just trying to make this little Southern belle feel better about how long it took me to reach the top, but that’s okay…. I survived the Manitou Incline and I’m darn proud of it!
I will admit, after quite a bit of time has passed; I am itching to tackle to incline once again. Like most runners, the desire to compete against myself and beat my previous time lingers in the back of my mind. Certainly, I will not make a special trip to Colorado just to torture myself once again; but if the circumstances of life ever find me in the area again, I will face the giant …the Manitou Incline, once again.
Have you ever climbed the Manitou Incline or anything similar? If so, what was your time? If not, would you like to attempt this? What is the most extreme cardio activity you’ve ever attempted?
My goodness, a week sure can fly! It seems like just yesterday I sat down to “wrap up my week” and yet here I sit chronicling another seven days. It’s been a busy week with a lot to process, ponder and plan. I left you guys, hanging on the edge of your computers no doubt, with some exciting news that I had been given from the hubs …..and now that the news has been shared first with the appropriate and necessary people, I can now share it with the rest of the world. The Bird family will be moving their “nest”! Yep, a new adventure and new chapter in a new city. I’m beyond excited! We will still be in the “land of cotton”, the Magnolia state, where the hospitality is plentiful and our southern drawls are soothingly endless; just a couple of hours away in a suburb of the capital city of Jackson. With so much to do in so little time, my head is swimming but so excited about the possibilities!
Not to worry, I’ll be keeping you abreast of our move and all that it entails over the next few weeks…for now, let’s see how my week unfolded.
Sunday: I heard from the middle son who is off living the life as a freshman in college going through rush week. I was thrilled to get this picture of he and three of his childhood friends all accepting bids from the same fraternity. Friends since preschool, now brothers for life. My heart is full.
Monday: Typical Monday with no time to squeeze in a workout during the work day so the hubs and I went out the dam for a night run. The dam is a little over a mile long, totally flat and has light poles that are, conveniently, 100 meters apart. After running one mile across at a slow and easy pace, just enjoying the beauty of the moon reflecting off the reservoir; I then decided to get in a few strides on the return. After 8 x 100 strides with jogging in between, I finished 2.5 miles in 27 minutes with the strides average pace 6:30. It felt good to really stretch out my legs and sprint, even for those short little bursts!
Tuesday: 45 minutes on the elliptical and tried this new coffee ….delicious! When you can’t have the real thing in your coffee…. this will suffice.
Wednesday: Early morning 3 mile run before work with Tammy and strength training. Worked the back and bi’s again with the TRX trainer…. I’m liking this thing more and more!
Thursday: Strength training (Chest/Tri’s) and then, despite my irritable ankle, I signed the hubs and I up for this half marathon…..
I must be crazy and I honestly do not know if this ankle will allow me to run 13.1 miles in just a few weeks. But hey, worse case scenerio…I can walk/run if I have to and I may be able to sweet talk a podiatrist into a cortisone shot to get me across that finish line.
Friday: Abs and core work then a laid back ‘date night’ with hubs. It was a beautiful, crisp fall night for some Friday night lights at his alma mater.
Saturday: No long run, no bike ride, no workout of any kind. Instead, we were up bright and early heading to Jackson to spend the day looking at houses. By the end of the day, I felt as if I had just completed a filming of HGTV’s House Hunters. I’m pretty sure all the same phrases heard on the TV show were uttered by either myself of the hubs at least once throughout the day …..open concept living, granite countertops, split bedroom floor plan, yard too small, jacuzzi tub, needs new appliances etc…..
Monday brings with it our official start of half marathon training and another trip to Jackson with more houses to view. Wish us luck!
As always, I’m linking up with Tricia and Holly for their Weekly Wrap, where like-minded ladies share their fitness journeys, offering advice, support, motivation and inspiration to one another…so go check them out!
Finding “Fabulous” at Fifty, one chapter at a time!
Happy Sunday all! After last week’s “slothy” efforts and the pity party I’ve been having for myself, I finally put on my big girl panties and decided to be like Elsa and ….you guessed it, “Let it goooo!” I took a few deep breaths between hot flashes and regrouped. While I may not can change my circumstances, I can change my attitude. As much as I would love to be following some training plan in preperation for a fall half marathon, I must admit that I’m really enjoying my strength training workouts lately. This is something that is typically neglected while training for a half so it’s been fun getting in a routine and seeing results. So, rather than focusing on what I can’t do right now; my new focus is on cross training, strength training and getting stronger. I’m one of those people that need change every now and then and tend to get bored with the same workout. Even when running, I have to change up the distance, intensity, location and terrain to keep it interesting. Therefore, I am enjoying the variety that cross training and weight lifting provides. After all….
“Variety is the spice of life…” ~ William Cowper
….and I’d say I had a pretty “spicey” week!
Monday: A busy day at the gym caused me to miss leg day with the girls …darn-it! (said with as much sarcasm as humanly possible!) But in keeping with #nevermissamonday, I squeezed in 45 minutes on the elliptical and 40 tire flips when I got home. That tire ….the gift from the hubby that just keeps on giving.
Tuesday: Quick 2 miles of speed work/intervals on the treadmill. Nothing fancy, just enough to satisfy my desire to run without making the ankle too irritable.
Wednesday: Elliptical and stationary bike, 15 min of intervals on each. Strength training (back/biceps) Tried a couple of back exercises with the TRX at the gym …..hmmm, thinking I need one of these for my “home arsenal” . I’m sure the hubs will be thrilled to hear this! (insert sarcasm note)
Thursday: Strength training (Chest, triceps and abs) Situps w/12 lb weighted ball x60 will get those abs fired up!
Friday: Strength training (shoulders/core) then headed out to my favorite set of stairs for some stair climbing. In the past, these tend to aggravate my ankle so I did a little research before heading out to determine if there was a way to incorporate stairs without more damage to the post tibial tendon. I learned that this particular tendon is responsible for deceleration while running and walking (downhills). This explains why I first felt it flare back up while on vacation in Wyoming during the descent of our steepest hike. With this new information tucked aways, I headed out to get a great heart pounding stair climb in. Instead of running the stairs on my toes, as in the past, I slowed it down a bit making sure to place entire foot on each step, then walked down rather than jogging. 30 flights and 1,250 steps later (15 x1 step and 15 x2 steps); my heart was pounding, drenched in sweat but my ankle felt great!
Saturday: Tricia and Tammy had 11 miles on their training plan, the hubs was off for “soldier duty” so I decided to ride the mountain bike while they ran. It was an absolutely beautiful fall morning and I really enjoyed being their personal escort, photographer and fuel mule. I kept the “flying purple people eater” in high gear, aside from the steeper hills, in an effort to maximize my workout. However; aside from the insanely steep hill climbs, my 12 miles were much more relaxing than their 11! Tricia and I treated ourselves to coffee and breakfast at Waffle House followed by a much-needed pedicure. The rest of the day was spent watching SEC football in compression sleeves in an attempt to ease the DOMS setting in from those darned steps …..there may or may not have been a long hot bath, nap and a couple of glasses of wine interspersed throughout as well, all equally necessary in the recovery process.
Overall, I’m pleased with my workouts this week. Even though I’m not running more than a few miles right now, I’m pushing forward with a positive attitude and refocusing my efforts on different goals. In the end, the ultimate goal is to be healthy, happy and active. I may be injured, but I’m not OUT!
In other news, the hubs had Army Guard duty this weekend and while that, itself, is not news; the fact that he surprised me by driving home Friday night just to take me to dinner in order to share with me some “really good news”, get me all excited about it, kiss me goodbye and drive back to drill ….well, that is news. However, I can’t share it just yet; so stay tuned!
As always, I’m linking up with Tricia and Holly in the Weekly Wrap where so many amazing ladies come together to share their weekly workouts, life happenings, motivation and encouragement. Head on over and check some of them out, you are sure to find some inspiration and a few laughs!
Finding “Fabulous” at Fifty, one workout at a time!
Yes, that about sums up my week. I’d like to think that I could blame my lack of activity on my ankle injury, children’s activities, a super hectic job or anything that sounds better than the truth …just had a serious case of couch potato-itis. I did mange to get my strength training workouts in and a 5k on Saturday, but I just couldn’t seem to find the time to get any cardio in between all of the terribly unhealthy meals I consumed!
I guess we all have weeks like these, right? Come on …please tell me that you do too! Oh well, here’s how it looked…
Monday: Leg day
Tuesday: 45 minutes on Elliptical
Saturday: 5k with the hubs
This was a super hilly out and back course and while I enjoyed the challenge, I knew it would affect my time. The advantage of out and back courses is the obvious, for every hill you climb going out, you make note to yourself that you will have that downhill coming back! Yay!! Unfortunately, the same is true for every downhill going out ….there’s an uphill coming back. And it all adds up to a bunch of hills that begins to wear you down by the second mile. The one thing that kept me pushing through the hills was the fact that I knew that last quarter of a mile stretch to the finish line would be downhill. The plan was to endure the hills and open it up during that last stretch to make up time. Good plan, right? Right. Well… when I turned the corner onto that last stretch that I was soooo looking forward to, it hit me….that strong North wind right in my face all the way to the finish line! Despite the hills and headwind, we both came away with 1st place AG awards…another benefit of small town 5k’s, the competition is usually not too stiff 🙂
The good news is that I watched a video on how to tape for post tibial tendonitis and I’m happy to report that it felt pretty good …for a 5k. I’m not sure how it would hold up for longer distances though.
I have to share with you the very special overall awards that were given out at this race. They were handmade by members of the Mustard Seed, a Christian community for adults with developmental disabilities. They have made finisher’s medals for a few local half marathons as well. They also have handmade greeting cards and custom photo Christmas cards on their website which I’ve linked above. I think this is a fabulous way for these incredibly talented individuals to be a part of something they otherwise may not be able to participate in.
With that, my week is done. As sloth-full as it was, I will redeem myself this week after being inspired by all of the incredible Chicago marathoners stories I will be reading in this link up!! Oh yeah, speaking of link ups…..I’m linking up with Tricia and Holly aka Chicago marathon finisher for another edition of Weekly Wrap. Head on over there and prepare to be inspired by some seriously incredible women balancing life, children, full-time jobs and a lot of running!xoxo,
Finding “Fabulous” at Fifty, even while occasionally slacking!
Considering the fact that I’m doing good to be able to run a mere three miles these days; my dream races most likely won’t be getting crossed off my “bucket list” anytime soon. But hey, I’m only 49.75 years old…there’s plenty of time!
I love reading other runners dream races because it gives one a little glimpse of who they are, what motivates and excites them. I’m not really that into big races; I enjoy the energy of them but not the chaos of trying to navigate all that they entail just to get to the starting line. I do love to travel; however, I do not want every trip to be centered around a race. Therefore, my husband and I make a point to get a run in everywhere we travel believing that there is no better way to see a city, town or countryside better than on foot (or bike). We’ve run the historic streets of Charleston and Boston, covered just about every inch of Central Park, hiked the mountains of the Grand Tetons and explored every nook and cranny of Key West on bicycles. With that being said, there are a few races that are on my bucket list and one day will get crossed off!
Anyone who knows me even in the slightest, knows that I am a self-proclaimed wine connoisseur and I can’t think of a better way to spend 2 1/2 hours covering 13.1 miles!
Isn’t this just absolutely beautiful? And of course, the bling is fabulous as well ….both beautiful and functional!
Okay, I know this sounds crazy to all of you marathoners out there who dream of running THE New York City marathon. What runner wouldn’t love to be a participant in, what I believe to be, the greatest marathon in the USA! However, I must be realistic …I will never run a full marathon and I’m perfectly okay with that. Therefore, I set my sights on things a little more feasible. While the hubs and I have travelled to NYC many times and run the streets of Central Park numerous times, we absolutely love the energy of the Big Apple and I imagine the route of this race (Central Park to Times Square and ending at Battery Park) would be filled with an energy as only New York City can deliver!
To be honest, it wasn’t until last year that I even knew this race existed. While planning our summer trip to Wyoming, I stumbled upon this race series and found it interesting, at the very least. However, it wasn’t until after our incredible trip to the Grand Tetons that I decided to add this one to the bucket list of races! In case you missed my vacation recap (check it out), I’ll let you in on a little secret ….I absolutely fell in love with this part of the country and secretly want to sell everything we own, pack up the necessities and move to Jackson Hole!
I’m absolutely in love with this medal! Actually, the entire series of National Park races are just beautiful and would be a wonderful goal for some of you “series junkies” out there. Each finisher’s medal represents the NPS emblem for that specific park.
Now that my insatiable desire for travel has been stirred, I must go and begin researching and planning next summer’s vacation. It’s never too early!
I’m linking up with Marcia, Patty and Erika for Tuesdays on the Run! Today’s topic is, obviously, bucket list races and destinations. Go on over and check out these ladies and some of the many others who have linked up …you never know which race you will be inspired to run!
What races are on your bucket list?
Have you ever participated in any of these three races? If so, send me the link to your race recap …I’d love to read it!
Finding “Fabulous” at Fifty, one bucket list item at a time!