The best part about being overtired is that when you finally emerge in the morning after a solid night of sleep, the world feels brimming with possibilities.
I grabbed my camera, my trail running shoes, and headed down to Manitou Springs to climb The Incline.
I stopped along the way when the beauty of the mountains became too distracting, which was often.
The mountain range stretches alongside the entire highway 87 corridor, and it was such a change from my flat Central Sands home.
As I got closer to The Incline, I started thinking seriously about the challenge I was about to undertake. Can you see that little path up the mountain there? That doesn’t look so bad.
It’s the base of Pike’s Peak, and it’s one mile long, but 2,000 feet up.
As I got closer, I started thinking, “Yeah, maybe that will be hard.”
“Really hard. Did I bring enough water?” Spoiler alert: I didn’t. I had my distance running hydration belt with a couple little bottles of water, and I started the climb.
I had planned on running up part of it, and I made it exactly .1 miles before I was huffing and puffing like the big bad wolf. I was climbing next to a mom and her three kids- I’d say between the ages of 10 and 15. They were not having fun. It was really hard! They’d run up ahead of me, then stop to rest in the shade and I’d catch up. I heard the mom say, “Okay, we can rest until this girl in pink catches up, but then we’re heading off again.” The teenage girl looked at me as if to say, “I don’t want to go! Why are you still climbing, ‘girl in pink?!'” I told them both that I wasn’t going anywhere quickly, so they’d have time to rest. 🙂
I made it about halfway up before I had to sit down to take a break, and it hadn’t occurred to me until that point to turn around and enjoy the view! It came at a great time, when I had to start bartering with myself. “Okay, let’s take one step up and take a rest. One step, one breath.” Finally, I decided to sit for a moment. I was getting sick to my stomach.
I didn’t notice, in the picture above, the writing on that man’s chest… but he has big letters DNR on him. Either he’s a giant fan of our Department of Natural Resources, or if he had health trouble on the climb, he wanted to die up there. Intense.
The farther up that I got, the steeper the steps were. I got to a point where I couldn’t even step up like a normal step- I had to swing my leg up onto the next step and use my arms to help push myself. It was crazy. I was out of water. I thought, “I’m an athlete. What the heck is this? I look and sound like an out-of-shape elderly woman.” It was then that I saw a fit-looking man projectile vomit.
Oh, yeah. Altitude sickness. No wonder I felt like yakking myself. The point to cut out early was about 2/3 of the way up, and I saw the family again. The kids asked if they could stop climbing and go get ice cream. Their athletic mother said, “No- ice cream only happens if we finish.”
Jeez. Some pep talk. I pushed ahead.
I met a new friend and her mother, and we talked to each other to help cheer us on. We all questioned our sanity and wondered why we’d want to do that, and before we knew it, I was at the top.
It was awesome. The view was beautiful, and the trailhead at the bottom looked SO FAR away. I really wanted some water. Luckily for me, I didn’t have to go back down the way I came up… there was a trail to run down. The fastest three trail miles of my life happened there on Barr Trail, and I kept running downhill straight to Aaron’s car.
That warm Kleen Kanteen and Nalgene full of water were a Godsend. I opened those car doors and changed out of my trail shoes into my sandals. Oh, my little toes were thankful. I rolled down the windows, made a mental note to buy some Febreeze for the car, and headed out of town.
Until I remembered Garden of the Gods. I really wanted to head back, to drink my weight in cold water, and take a shower, but I couldn’t pass up such a beautiful location. Plus, I love rocks.
After wandering around that natural beauty for a while, I went straight to Sonic, where I drank 44 ounces of iced tea and ate an ice cream sundae for lunch. I know how to live it up on vacation!
I only stopped once on the way back, to take a picture of this crazy looking little hill…
Once I arrived back in Boulder, I swung through Target to grab a few things (including that Febreeze, which made Aaron’s car smell like ‘fresh linen’ instead of ‘sweaty Heidi’), took a fabulous shower and went swimming at the pool in Aaron’s apartment complex.
It was a fabulous way to unwind. There is a Which Wich close to Aaron’s apartment, so I refueled with some amazing carby goodness, then headed downtown to have beer with the talented (and obviously sassy) Tim Romano. We talked fly fishing, photography, fly fishing photography… you get the idea.
I made it back to Aaron’s apartment just in time to watch some TV and relax. I felt awesome… DOMS later, maybe?
Up next? Finally, some time on the water. Both on it and in it.
Miles this year: 343.65