A bend in the road is not the end of the road unless you fail to make the turn....

It's gonna get harder before it gets easier. But it will get better, you just gotta make it through the hard stuff first.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Finally packed.

In the last 5 weeks I had the most consistent block of training and work. In each one of those weeks, I had run 60 miles/10 hrs (+/-), walked with a backpack 2 hrs, lifted weights 4 hours, did yoga 2 hrs, and provided massages for 33 hrs (a hell of a lot, and sort of unrelated, but hey, it matters as time on my feet and arm exercises). All of it in the midst of the August heat and humidity of Central Texas! I had 2 days off work: one was planned for (and went to San Antonio to visit friends), and one I was on call, and never got needed (and thank God for that). I worked so much (and am blessed with ability and people who need my services) that I've been having dreams of massages, its disasters and anything related.

But alas, finally, I packed my backpack last night as a practice and for the weigh in, and this morning I was dreaming strictly hiking! Yeah, time to go! (I am also day-dreaming while massaging, so I guess it all equals out).

So, for the purpose of documenting my first solo self-supported backpacking trip for the whole week (not first backpacking of course, not first "whole week", and not first solo, but a combination of three), I had taken photographs of what I am taking (I also had a request for that). I didn't weigh separately each item prior the picture, although I did weigh a few clothes items I had choices of to pick the lighter one (like long sleeve shirt, windbreaker, gloves, etc). The tent's footprint is left behind, as well as a sleeping pad. Space in my rather smallish pack is quite an issue, which is a good thing, that was the intention last year when I bought this new pack.

Clothes: left - unpacked, right - packed, minus set I am wearing
Clothes: 2 sets of underwear/shorts/socks/sportsbra/t-shirt, 1 windbreaker, 1 long pants, 1 Marmot rain jacket, sleeves, gloves, buff, hat.
Cooking utensils

Food - all 15 lbs of it, mostly junk food I never eat in normal life.

Tent (above and below), poles, sleeping bag

Water purifier, reservoirs, plus 2 1L Nalgene bottles

There is also a medical kit, camera, cell phone, a book on trail description, a map, a whistle to aware the bears of my coming, personal hygiene stuff, knife, headlamp and a flashlight, and a few random items.

All packed the backpack weighed 35 lbs - without water. 4L of water will add about 8 lbs more (the first 3 days there are stretches of 20+ miles with no water sources). Once I put it on (without water) - it felt somehow much easier than 30 lbs dumbbell I had been carrying for practice (probably weight distribution).

I walked with Larry empty-handed this morning, and it felt like I was floating up the road (and I kept dropping poor guy behind). Good stuff, I am ready.

I am outta here. I still have 5 hrs of massages today, and 3 more tomorrow morning, then - off to Tahoe area!

Am I biting more than I can chew? There is only one way to find out. I haven't been that excited in quite a while. Bring it!

Sunday, July 12, 2015

TRT - getting focused

Last Fall I had decided I want to backpack Tahoe Rim Trail. It is longer than Wonderland (172 miles vs 96 miles), but it is somewhat more benign with elevation change (approximately 25,000 feet of gain for TRT vs 33,000 feet of gain for Rainier circle, and spread out more too, yet somewhat higher the whole time).

Larry couldn't commit this summer for a 10-days away from work/kid duty, so I offered my good friend Lori B. to join me. She agreed, and I began dreaming. Unfortunately, some life's demands prevented Lori from coming to the trip, and as of last 2 weeks, I had to make some changes and wrap my mind around a new thought: in about 5 weeks I am embarking on a solo circumnavigation of Lake Tahoe, all 172 miles of it, bears, lack of water, beating sun and the whole shebang.

Big p.s.: I will have a help from my friend Gretchen to spend night before/after, shop, do a couple water drops, and to get to and from a trail head - thank you!!!

My plan (which I meticulously figured out by reading the best book out there on TRT, purchasing a detailed map, and then ending up buying a smaller booklet with map-per-section AND elevation profile, which, by the way, below is wrong, but best I found to steal online) looks like this: start at Tahoe City, go clockwise in 22-26 miles a day increments and complete in 7 days (spending 6 nights with creatures).




I had done backpacking as long as I remember myself (well, since 10 years old, and no, not with parents, always with friends or short trips by myself, and later with my first husband and kids, then Larry, lucky for me, is in love with it), and I had done a week-long trips on numerous occasions, with alone backpacking outings occasionally - but never in combination, let's be honest. So, this is going to be a blast! I am not taking it lightly, but I am so looking forward to it, and the challenges and solitude fuel me incredibly.

So, since the time I came back from Oregon in mid-May, including our Pikes Peak/Incline combo in CO on 4th of July weekend, and this last week, things had escalated where my training is concerned.

Just of note, I am getting fitter in many ways, what reflects in the way I look too, loosing 4% of body fat and gaining muscle too. I am sitting at just a touch above 133 lbs (from 140 past winter) with 15% fat measured at the end of June (and counting), and finally fitting in to my running shorts from 2 years ago (not very comfortable yet, but I can wear them to the gym).

Here is an example of my week: I am now running 5 days a week, and cross-train on a Stairclimber once (30-45 min). My highlights of the runs were a Hill Loop in 10:02 (vs 1:06 2 weeks ago, but still a far cry from sub-54 min PR in 2013), and a 10 milers on flatter roads in 1:41 (with first mile in 11:15, all others were 10 low and sub, what almost freaked me out, as normally I average 11's). Good stuff.
Post-6M hill run

10 miler tempo

4 days at the gym with weight lifting, and 1 Vinyasa yoga class.
This week in training.

Speaking of yoga, I had a falling out with the studio I used to practice at and took training due to some small yet important enough reasons for me, and in June I only took 3 classes, 2 of which were in some random studio I wasn't particularity happy with. This week I tried Yoga-Yoga NW and while it was much slower (and easier) than I am used to, with an open mind I was able to enjoy it enough to buy a 8-class card, and will see where it will take me, at least it's a close-by place to do it once a week. (p.s. if anyone cares/interested where my yoga teaching stands, I've been so busy I haven't even began putting resume together, yet along applying for positions, but I am thinking I'd like to be at the general gym, helping regular Joe's and Jane's see benefits of yoga, not be afraid of the word and elitists status of some of the studios and that one does not need to be folding in a pretzel to be a yoga practitioner).

This Sunday I also added a power-walk with a backpack. I put 20 lbs to start with and took a very mildly rolling loop of 6.3 miles, where I averaged just sub-15 min/mile, and it felt like not enough weight. Next week, 25 lbs and more hills! It felt good to know I am in better shape than last year when I did same thing prior Wonderland.

Miles 0-3-6
With that, on another news, Larry signed up for my favorite gym - Pure Austin! After a 2.5 years break from gym membership, he is back, as he is NOT going to miss out the backpacking trip that is planned for next year - John Muir Trail 220 miles in Yosemity, CA!!

With my health slowly, but now with more certainty, improving, we are back to having more precise goals and plans, running, backpacking and life.

Wednesday, July 08, 2015

In search of a perfect place.

It's no secret when I moved to Texas, it was a temporary arrangement. Granted, "temporary" meant 10 years, a rather long haul, but I knew that, buckled up, and dreamed. Lucky for me, Larry always had the same dream - living in the mountains. We both struggle with somewhat a depression dealing with flat horizon, long steamy hot summers and lack of tall trees and fresh air. We scouted a number of places, pretty quickly mentally settling up for Colorado Front Range. The state has to be in the middle of the country geographically so each of us can easily travel to see our kids, and friends and family, and thus also close enough to a major airport (our love for travel is not going to disappear just because we live in a beautiful place - there are plenty to see/visit/explore!). The city has to be small, with friendly neighborhoods, where one can (if choose so) walk to a street with local shops and coffee spots, at which "everybody knows your name". It better still have some kind of a job market, because nobody truly retires at 50. A close proximity to the mountains - real mountains, mind you, not foothills, not bumps, but high peaks with forests accessing them - is a must. The city must be vibrant with its own life, and it would be nice if it's close enough to a bigger city with some kind of serious music/art/theater options. Yet it shouldn't be "in" the mountains, as dealing with 8 months of snow is technically only marginally better than dealing with 8 months of summer. A potential for cross-country skiing, downhill skiing, river rafting and lake gazing are a huge plus, even if within 2 hrs drive. No ocean front, please.

And so our frequent visits to the state of CO in the last 4 years were surrounded by research and a general feeling. We kept wavering on Loveland/Longmont areas, and couldn't "feel the love"...until we stared to the map and pointed at Colorado Springs, which we only passed by a couple of times, but never stayed in.

A new trip was planned, as the interest rose.

And it didn't disappoint. All I can say, we got a dream materialize. 4 more years. It's all downhill from here on now...A peace and calm are nesting in our hearts.

Garden of the Gods was our first stop

The smiles were so wide, my face hurt!

I jumped of joy, and then broke into tears from emotions overflowing.

Colorado Springs. Mountains views anywhere you look.

Check this out! Who wouldn't want to be on the streets?

Yes, they got this! A yarn store - actually, 3 of them!

Cheyenne canyon

Cheyenne canyon, top of Waterfall

Cheyenne canyon

Cheyenne canyon waterfall, I added a pin for Moscow!

Enjoying Manitou Springs

Checking out Incline for the future

Barr trail our day to do "Pikes Peak marathon", 26 miles round-trip from the base to Pikes Peak 14-er and back

Pikes Peak hike

OMG, this is awesome!

Barr trail

First look at Pikes Peak from the trail emerged.

Trees are getting sparse, air - thin.

The walk slows down some.

Still mastering a smile, before the final push.

Snow patches in the last 1,500 feet of climb.

Larry set a PR for minimal whining! May be he just couldn't waste his breath for talking.

Top of Pikes Peak, way too crowded with tourists from cars and cog rail!

Time to get off the mountain before the storm rolls in. Rule #1.

Throwing some running on nicer downhill stretches.

A day after Pikes Peak brought us to Incline.

Incline. 2,000 feet in less than a mile climb. Yep, we got that!

Now I know how people come back to beat their time, again and again.

With 4:45 start, we were treated to the most beautiful sunrise at the top of Incline.

More of Barr trail.

Visiting Leadville, 4th of July parade.

Start of Leadville 100 - 6th Street

4th of July fireworks at Manitou Springs.

A local trail to Red Mountains.

A view on Manitou Springs from Red Mountain.

A view on Pikes Peak from Red Mountain.

Happy to see real trails.

A welcoming site - Dazbog coffee was introduced by Russian immigrants to Central CO a century ago.

We'll be back. Pikes Peak and Garden of the Gods.