Gem Lake Hike–Rocky Mountain National Park

View of Longs Peak from the trail

After crackling thunderstorms last night, it was a perfect clear morning in Estes Park.  We decided to go exploring and took a 3.4 round trip hike to Gem Lake in Rocky Mountain National Park.  It was bucolic like a mofo.

A kindly retiree offered to take our picture in front of the vista when she caught us pulling MySpace shots.

My husband channeled his inner mountain goat and hopped around on boulders as I stuck to the trail and tried not to have a heart attack.  The trail was shady and the ascent was not too steep (and, since it was an out-and-back, the descent wasn’t either)!

The willow groves looked like green stained glass windows in an outdoor cathedral.

The lake itself was more of a pond, but it was insular, surrounded by cliffs, crags, and chipmunks!

A man atop the boulders!

We did not, of course, feed the chipmunks.  That would have been illegal and unkind.  Instead we just teased them by pretending we had food for them when they came and harassed us.

Gimmegimmegimmegimme…oh you big jerk!

The mile back down the hill gave me a little trouble, but I took it easy and took little tiny steps.  But you’ve gotta stay in shape, right?

I dunno. Might be trying to lift too heavy–whaddya think?

Anyway–there are more photos to come, but I’ve got to go change out of hiking clothes.  We’re going to the Stanley Hotel tonight (of “The Shining” fame) for a “Ghost/History Tour”.  Eek!

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San Diego Rock and Roll Marathon Recap

A thousand thanks to all the people who supported the North County Rape Crisis Center!

Well, it’s over.  I completed the San Diego Marathon.

The city was delightful, with just enough fog cover to keep me at a comfortable temperature the entire time.  We arrived the day before and enjoyed carbohydrates from one of the most well-stocked beer shops I’ve ever seen in California: Bottlecraft.

Flight of Mikkeller–the first I’ve had since I drank it in Copenhagen!

The next morning my husband and I walked uphill from our downtown hotel for about a mile.  The starting line was parallel to Balboa park, full of spandex, loud music, and people–many of whom were wearing jerseys representing their work to raise money for Leukemia and Lymphoma research.  Throughout the race the purple-jerseyed men and women would yell “Go Team!” to one another, the names of people for whom they were running printed and painted on the backs of their shirts.  When we all took off, we ran underneath a crane where a child-survivor of leukemia stood with his family, waving to the crowd.  One man ran wearing his POW/MIA shirt and carrying an American flag.  I was happy to be representing the Rape Crisis Center, and I was amazed to see how much personal history, emotion, and dedication to their causes so many wore so proudly.

Even without the prominent featuring of children with cancer, for some reason starting lines always get me choked up.  The runners in tutus, face paints, and other costumes, and the sound of impromptu cheering and cowbells adds to the cloud of positive energy that would be overwhelming to anyone–emotionally sensitive or not.

A blue fish in schools of purple–just call me “Swimmy” because “Runny” just sounds gross!

The first eight miles were nothing short of fantastic for me.  I was nervous, as previously mentioned, about the fact that my knee had been giving out for my last few runs; however, my energy was high, my lungs were clear, my knee was braced, and my clothes fit well.  I wasn’t having any problems until about mile 9 (it’s always mile 9) when the marathon broke from the half and went onto the closed-down portion of Highway 5.  The road was severely banked, as any good highway should be, but that was what got me into trouble in the first place.  I started feeling twinges.  I had promised J.T. that if my knee gave out I would stop running all together and accept the DNF.  I really did not want to do that–especially because of the $1400 or so people had donated to the Rape Crisis Center because I said I’d go the full 26.2.  I decided to walk for awhile, even though everything else felt good, because my knee seemed to be all right as long as I wasn’t lifting it too high or bending it too much.

I’m toward the back center–going strong through Balboa Park and Downtown!

Things evened out at about mile 11 and I worked back up to a steady pace until about mile 16.  Now both knees were starting to hurt along with my hips.  I walked/jogged for awhile and took a couple of breaks by the side of the road to stretch–I knew from the Ventura half-marathon that this kind of stiffness was normal and that stretching would help me get going again.  I tried to enjoy the bands that were playing by the side of the road and allowed them to propel me forward.  My favorite were the two guys dressed in Nintendo character costumes playing grand pianos and singing Bohemian Rhapsody.  I wished that I could have had a picture of that!  We also ran past a car dealership with a familiar mural of a whale, and realized that I’d seen it in an episode of Arrested Development (the one where Lucille almost runs her car into George Sr. and screams “YOU COULDN’T HANDLE IT!”…you know….).

About mile 19, however, I was starting to realize I was in trouble.  I kept “pulling over” to stretch out, started to try to jog again, and then felt the same hitch in my knee when I tried to bend it.  I slogged through another mile until I’d reached the 20 mark.  At this point I could barely walk my knee hurt so much.  I trudged to the red medical tent, managing to explain my knee problem without breaking down into tears not-befitting a badassthlete (you love it), and they gave me an ice bag and some Tylenol.  I sat for a little more than fifteen minutes watching people who looked as if they had trained way less than I had and were in not as good of shape plug and puff by me as the time slipped by on my watch.  There was a group called the “crane crew”, their shirts advertising where their artificial hips, screws, and pins were.  There were numerous portly men and women who looked far more winded than I felt or had felt the entire time.  There was a blind elderly woman, stalwartly tapping her cane in front of her as she made her way down the route.  Let me make this clear: THEY ARE AWESOME!  I’m happy for everyone who finished and was happy to see them out there.  It was just hard to watch the walkers passing me by, knowing that I had the training and energy to run at least most of the race but not being able to.

When I was finally released, I walked tentatively at first.  My knee still hurt a LOT.  There were only 6.2 miles left, though, and I didn’t have a phone.  I would have to ask for a phone from a stranger in order to get J.T. to come rescue me, possibly from one of those people holding a sign that said “NEVER NEVER NEVER GIVE UP”.  Yeah.  Right.  After a minute or two I felt a bit better and thought I might be able to run again.  No such luck.  I decided I was going to walk as fast as I possibly could even if it took me seven hours to finish.  Which, incidentally, it almost did.

My humiliation threshold was about to its limit, but I still had some pride left.  When I finally made it to the finish line, I ran as fast as I could without screaming through the chute.

It looks like I’m finishing like a marathon champ! You can see my right foot turned a little funny–that’s a clue to how I was really feeling at this point…

I’ve recovered a lot and I’m pretty sure I didn’t tear anything (I probably would have if I hadn’t just sucked it up and decided to walk the rest of the way).  My knee is clicking still and I’m wearing a brace and dosing on anti-inflammatories.  I’m going to probably wait a few weeks to run again.  Hopefully this won’t be a permanent problem.  The injury was a curve ball, and I’m very disappointed that I couldn’t finish how I wanted.  Those last few miles I felt the way that my dog must feel when we go on walks together–“why are we going so fricking slow??  I have way more energy than this!!”

I’m happy I finished in spite of my disappointment, and I’m also very happy it’s over.  I doubt I’ll do another marathon anytime soon, but that might be because I don’t know how my knee situation is going to end up.  The memory of the half marathon from last month–and the fact that I had a disastrous half marathon before that successful one–is helping me hold on to hope that maybe someday I’ll take it on again.  In the meantime I’m going to work on rehabilitating my knee, losing a few more pounds of fat (because I won’t be needing as many carbs–therefore won’t have excuses to eat too many of them!), focusing on strength training (but only squatting once a week), and maybe working back up to half-marathon level (because I know I can do those awesomely now).

Icing up–with my awesome medal that I got in lieu of an awesome finish!

Thanks for following my progress, and again thank you to everyone who supported me and donated to the Rape Crisis Center.  You’re all amazing!

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Heeeeere weeee gooooo!!!

I feel like I’m at that point on the roller coaster as it slowly clicks up and up and up.  That exact same fluttery feeling is weakening my fingers and bubbling inside my chest.  I got my bib (number 28153–tells you how many people are here right now), and we’re all checked into the hotel.

A first little camera-phone picture of the transfer–better pics to come!

Due to being a printer-geek I destroyed all but one page of iron-on transfer so we’ve only got a backing, which is fine since I’m going Also my knees are feeling way better and I’m reasonably sure I’ll be ok tomorrow–thanks ice and glucosamine!

We’re out of here to go check out Little Italy.  I’d say you don’t have to carbo-load necessarily the night before as long as you’ve been consistently eating them for at least a week.  But I want to, so it’s going to happen.

Time to Rock and Roll!

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Checkhov and my meniscus

Checkhov said that once a gun is introduced into a story, that gun must be fired.

Today I saw an old family friend while we waited for our tires to be rotated.  We started to talk about running, and I mentioned my knees were giving me a little bit of trouble.  He mentioned that during his last half marathon he’d torn his meniscus and can only run five miles at a time anymore.

A few minutes ago my husband made me promise not to try to finish the marathon if my knee started to hurt the way it has the last couple of times I’ve run.  Only one of us can afford to have surgery this year–and I don’t want it to be me.

I’m hoping that this isn’t a case of the gun that must be fired, and that these discussions don’t amount to foreshadowing.

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Now let’s not fall apart at the last minute

My “tapered” long run was scheduled for yesterday and about a mile in my right knee thought it might be cool to freeze up and then remain willfully in place, leaving me galumphing like a goose with its wings clipped.

So I walked back home–turning a planned eight mile into a little less than two (which is akin to the length of the walk from my hotel to the starting line of the marathon this upcoming Sunday.  I’ve been icing, stretching, and taking a-lot-a-lot of ibuprofen.

I also bought iron-on-transfers to put all the names of the donors to the Race Against Rape where they can be seen and photographed!  Since I haven’t surrendered the shirt to a particular shop for image transferring, I’m putting the task off for a couple of days just in case there are any last minute donors!  All proceeds go to my former place of employment (and the place where I continue to volunteer): The North County Rape Crisis and Child Protection Center.  I’m not saying everyone MUST donate, but usually I get a “sorry can’t do it this time–i am le broke” or “damn, girl, i already gave you money for your wedding eight months ago” in lieu of this sadly metaphorical silence.  I realize that the word “rape” sends people screaming for the hills, but ignoring it doesn’t make it go away and acknowledging that it’s a problem has not given anyone genital herpes of the eye as far as I’m aware.  Just sayin’.

And that said–I have gotten a lot of donations from people!  And I am very thankful for that.

We’re in countdown mode.  I’m going to get some snaps at the chiropractor in the morning so that should help matters.

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