Saturday, March 3, 2012

Running My Mountain

     Last week I ran what I had perceived to be my ultimate running goal: running up Spiral Drive to the top of "S" Mountain and down.....
     Let me preface this by informing you that I have increased my average "long run" mileage to four miles.  Four miles of running on flat ground without stopping.  Pushing my lungs to their limits.  I started running seriously about two weeks after Malachi was born.  I had to start from scratch since the pneumonia took a toll on my lungs last winter (not to mention the sports-induced asthma that is now known as "EIB"- exercise-induced bronchitis).
      As much as I love running, starting over for me meant running as far as I could (less than one-tenth of a mile), then walking until I could breathe again, picking up running again until I couldn't breathe, then walking and so on & so forth.  A repeated cycle that allowed me to slowly increase my mileage (ok, so I actually jumped from three to four miles on accident-a trail that I thought was three turned out to be closer to four) and now I can run four miles without stopping. 
        If you've ever driven through Salida, CO, chances are you've seen the huge white letter "S" on what I believe is really called "Tenderfoot Mountain".  At night the "S" and a heart light up alternatively.  At the Christmas parade, a huge Christmas tree design is laid out on the mountain and lit alongside a display of fireworks.  This is also where the fourth of July fireworks are set off.  And where the legendary "Hill Climb" is held each FIBArk (another goal I have is to participate in this).  As a family, we've even parked half way up and walked the rest.  So you can see, "S" Mountain is kind of a big deal in town, and naturally, running it would be a goal.
        The afternoon I started my mission was a bit windy, and I'm not quite sure where my head was when I decided to run up the mountain.  Afterall, the higher you climb, the windier it would be.  I started my journey before our family's parking location.  Before the water-tower.  I parked right after the turn onto Spiral Drive, then got out of my van and started running.  After a few seconds, I realized I felt like I was running on air, which I know some people enjoy, but not me.  I looked down and sure enough, I had forgotten to change into my running shoes (I believe in minimalist-shoe running).  I ran back to the van and changed.  There.  That felt better.
             I tried to start at a mild pace, but my speed was faster than I intended, so I just went with it, knowing that soon I would be struggling to run up the winding hill. I use a running app on my phone to keep track of my times and mileage, and was surprised to find that the distance from where I parked my van to the top of the hill was only 1.93 miles. I thought it should have at least been three. But, I made it. The wind was so intense that I had to remove my hat about three-tenths of a mile before I reached the top so that it wouldn't blow away. I rested at the top for four minutes, then started my descent. And the wind grew worse. Oops. But, I had to make it back to my vehicle, so I ran. Running down a mountain is alot easier than running up, but running down after running up is wearisome since you've already ran up. That being said, I eventually made it back to the van.
            Since I've hit this milestone, my thoughts have turned to "ok...so....where do I set my goals now?", "how much should I be running?", "how long should my long runs be for me to be considered a serious runner?". After doing some online research, I've decided that if I want to eventually run a marathon (complete one. I know my chances for winning are slim.) my "long runs" should be about twenty miles. That's a long way away from the four I'm doing now, but I'm sure I'll get there ;)                                    

                                                  view of Salida from top of "S" Mountain

                                                        side view from the top

                                          me at the top ;) there's a little white house with windows...
     

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