“At first an ordeal and then an accomplishment, the daily run becomes a staple, like bread, or wine, a fine marriage, or air. It is also a free pass to friendship.”
~ Benjamin Cheever, Strides

Saturday, August 24, 2013


For those that haven't seen the summit registry yet, I did reach the summit of Mt. Rainier yesterday!  Summit day was a brutal 17.5 hours long!  I promise a full recap in the next few days.  For now, here are a couple of pictures from the climb.
Rest stop on the way to Camp Muir
Ready to leave Camp Muir, 12:30am
Climb team at the first ladder.  Above Disappointment Cleaver

Me and my Stepmom at the Summit

Monday, August 19, 2013

Bags are Packed

I had all these fancy plans of extra posts this week, but my cat got really sick and my focus became trying to get her stable before I stranded my husband with both a sick cat and a rambunctious two year old.  I was partially successful.  Ginger is stable and resting at home with numerous medications and the need for subcutaneous fluids.  My husband is so lucky.  (Sarcasm is free today!)

My bags are packed and my friend Deb will be here any minute to take me to the airport.  I admit, things got real when I dropped my toddler off at daycare this morning.  She clamped on and wanted extra cuddles.  Mommy wanted them too.  This will be the longest we've been apart!

Holy crap.  I'm climbing Rainier.  THIS WEEK.  I check in with my climb team TOMORROW!

I'm not sure what access, if any, I'll have while in Washington.  Here is a link to my climb guide team's site for tracking.  My climb team should summit, weather permitting, on August 23rd.  You can check whether we made it by looking at the RMI blog or the RMI summit registry.  Hopefully, my name will be listed on the summit registry as one of those on the team making the summit!

I spent a lot of time last night playing what if games with my training plan.  I need to buck up and not allow self-doubt in at this late date, but that can be so tough to do sometimes!

Sorry for the lame text-only blog post today.  Hopefully, I will have some fantastic photos and stories for you in a week!  I'm off to conquer a mountain!

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Training Tuesday: Panic time

Week of August 5-11, 2013:
Current Weight: 156.8
Total Lost to date (since September 2011): 64 lbs

Oh crap.  One week from today, I'll be checking in with my climb team on Rainier.  I'm not even excited yet.  I've been in denial that it was so close, and now that it's one week away, I'm panicking a tiny bit.  Did I do enough different from last year?  Did I do ENOUGH period?  Too late to change anything now.

New things from last week
Switched out hill repeats for mile repeats on Wednesday.  Also switched out my long hike for a dam step session. Brought the family along (Avery loves the nearby playground).  Did extra repeats on the hill to practice mountain rest step. 
Family that does the steps together....
Fun Stuff from last week:
Avery turned 2 on Saturday!  She's been practicing her terrible two tantrums and perfected them on Thursday, a couple days BEFORE she turned 2.  I also took the front side of her crib off on Thursday because I'd had enough heart attacks from near head dives.  Coincidence?  Oh.  And she has already fallen off the "big girl bed" 3 times.
Big girl beds require Mickey Mouse pillow cases.
Here is what the week looked like day-by-day:
Monday:  Rest day/appt with Dr. Bright about PF
Tuesday: 1 hour strength training; 5 mile recovery run
Wednesday:  MIT Speedwork, ran 7.61 miles including mile repeats
Thursday:  Ran 5 miles recovery, 1 hour strength training
Friday:  Rest day, birthday party errand day
Saturday:  Ran 10 miles, 9:35 avg.  Toddler birthday party
Sunday:  93 min at the Dam Steps (26x steps, 4x hill rest step, 30x total).
T-ball is great exercise Mommy, but I'm doing it my "SELF."
This week will be more of the same.  I will be hiking today with some friends wearing my husband's mountain boots.  That's right, my husband's boots.  I've been complaining about my boots being a smidge too small.  Turns out, my husbands boots are size 42 (mine are 41).  Why didn't I know this before???  I'm going to try his boots today to see how they feel, I will potentially wear his on the mountain if it goes well.  

I have to go through my pack list and my climb gear list to begin the packing process this week.  I also need to buy the foods for Avery to have pack lunches for her first week at a daycare.  Other than "doing nothing stupid," those are my major to do items this week before we all find out if all this training will pay off or not.

I will not panic.  I will not panic.  I will summit.  I will summit.

What routines do you go through the last week before a major race/event?

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Training Update - Taper?

Week of July 29-August 4, 2013:

No weigh-in this week.  I'm suspicious that I have gained a few pounds during this last push of training and have zero desire to confirm or deny that fact.  I'll deal with it post Rainier.  I mentioned in my last post that it was my last big training hike before the climb and how excited I was to "taper" for the mountain.  Technically, my training schedule originally called for a 9 hour hike last weekend and a 7 hour hike this weekend.  Training plans are meant to be changed though.  Hopefully, that won't be on a list of things I regretted when I didn't make it.  My trainer, my husband and my dad seem to think my original training plan was a bit excessive and I will be fine with the modification I made for my own sanity and to save my feet.  Time will tell.

Here is what the week looked like day-by-day:
Monday: 3.18 mile recovery run before my First Aid/CPR certification class
Tuesday: 1 hour strength training; 85 minute hike with 40 lb pack
Wednesday: Ran 8 miles at Sharon Woods
Thursday: 1 hour strength training; 34 minutes Dam Steps with 43 lb pack
Friday:  Rest day
Saturday: 14 mile run with the 9:45 pace group; 7 mile bike ride with trailer
Sunday:  5:04 hike at Tar Hollow State Park, 45 lb pack

The Week in Pictures
We were excited to see this sign on Tuesday, but it wasn't too bad.
1, 3, 5, 7, 9, 10!
I just love this tree in the path.
I saw the local sports medicine doctor on Monday to make sure I didn't need to do anything drastic and wasn't doing any damage to my feet by continuing to workout.  He said that it was the beginning (or ending) of plantar fasciitis.  He seemed to agree with me that it was likely caused by my crazy hard soled mountain boots and the amount of hill training, but warned me that sometimes it just creeps up as well.  He said that based on what I told him, what I was doing was fine, that I could keep pushing for the mountain.  If it persisted beyond the mountain, we would talk about potential PT solutions.  Honestly though, after leaving the mountain boots behind all week, my feet feel much better and didn't bother me at all during the weekend.

Other mountain training things?  I tried training my stomach to find a good dehydrated meal for the mountain.  I tried many, many of these things.

Nothing like dehydrated shrimp to keep you going!
This past week, I decided I was carrying cold pizza up for my dinner at Camp Muir.  I'll use a combination trail mix, GU, protein bars, chocolate and peanut buttered bagels for the break meals.

I loaded all my gear except for food, water and my sleeping bag into my pack this week and weighed it.  19 lbs.  My water weighs 5 lbs, my sleeping bag weighs 2 lbs.  I'm estimating food will be around 5-8 lbs.  (For those keeping score, that means my pack from Paradise to Camp Muir should be between 30-35 lbs if I don't overpack food).  To the 19 lb pack, for my hike on Sunday, I added a 10 lb weight wrapped in a sweatshirt, a second sweatshirt and an extra bottle of water, a first aid kit, my water and snacks.  (For a total of ~45 lbs).  The idea was to have my pack around 5-10 lbs heavier than my camp muir pack for my last big hike.  I will use this pack until I have to unload it all to pack for my trip.

Avery's birthday party is this weekend and family is coming to town.  This is part of the reason for no 7 hour hikes.  That, and everyone is yelling at me that I don't need it and it could be harmful.  So, instead I'll be taking the family for a nice trip to the dam steps on Sunday.  They are so lucky.

How did I measure up on my changes to my training from last year?  Ok, I think.  I'm definitely in a lot better shape than I was before my climb attempt last year.  I still have several kernels of doubt that I think will be there even AFTER I gain the summit.  For now, I will be easing off on the workouts a bit for the final two weeks to the climb.  Damn.  Two weeks.  Two weeks from today I will be starting mountaineering school and practicing arresting glacier falls.  I wonder if they will add anything extra to prepare us for the ice shelf that we now have to climb in the new route?

How is your training going lately?  Anyone else have something big coming up soon?

Would the concept of an ice shelf to climb in the route freak anyone other than me out?

Anyone else ever tried dehydrated meals?

Monday, August 5, 2013

Redemption and Tears

Sunday.  Bloody Sunday.   Wow.  I think I just dated myself, huh?

Yesterday (Sunday) found me once again driving south past Circleville to Tar Hollow State Park.  I'd decided to re-tackle the North Loop of the Logan Trail, the loop that had my friend Richard and I turning back a little over a month ago as we ran out of time.  (Another Wake Up Call).
It looks so innocent with the manicured flowered sign
After my more recent experience with the South Loop of the Logan Trail left it's mark, I wore capris, gators, and a long sleeve technical shirt to protect against scratches.  Based on instructions from my trainer, I wore my hiking boots instead of my mountain boots because of the heel pain issues I've been experiencing recently.  My husband (and my dad) insisted that bringing a machete would NOT be a good plan.  Party poopers.

The weather in Ohio could not have cooperated more!  It was a fantastic 65*F when I started, and still only 75*F when I finished, very unusual for the beginning of August.  My pack started at 45 lbs (estimated 7 lbs heavier than my Camp Muir pack will be).

The beginning of the hike started fairly uneventfully with a steep 300 foot climb.  During the climb I had to climb under that same tree from last time, and climb around a few trees.  The climbs were tough, but not as tough as I remembered them being.  Progress???
I meant to get a picture of the uphill behind me, but my aim sucks.
 In fact, I mostly focused on my new audio book and training, and didn't take many pictures in the first hour.  I had to laugh (and pull out my phone for a photo), when  I came across my first MAJOR tree scaling opportunity.
If you squint right - maybe it's the ice shelf I hear is present on the current Rainier route?
 And then, I had to take the phone back out when I saw this beautiful scenery.  It actually makes me smile to think that I was actually feeling good enough during the climb to ENJOY it when a beautiful view came along.  It helped that the thorn coverage wasn't nearly as extreme on the North Loop, and that I had long sleeve coverage to protect my arms.
Nature at it's finest
About an hour and 45 minutes in, I crested a ridge and a dirt road, the path turned back into the woods here, but I walked down the road a bit to get my first real extended view of the surrounding area and forest. I considered taking my first break here with the view - but since I was still feeling decent and this was my last major training hike, I stuck to the two hour plan.
I definitely enjoyed the view for a couple minutes first though.
Next, it was back into the trees...and again I was crawling under trees.  Again though, this time I laughed about it.  Could the weather be making this much of a difference?  (It was about 20*F cooler than when I hiked the South Loop a few weeks back).
At least these trees were mostly above my head and required minimal ducking
I enjoyed my first break at 1:58 minutes into the hike.  (I'd found a nice fallen tree near a creek to sit on).  I drank 20 oz of Gatorade in one gulp (or so it seemed), and a protein bar.  I checked my Garmin.  I'd been stopped for only 4 minutes.  Planned breaks on Rainier are 10-15 minutes, so I decided to wait for 10 minutes.  It was almost hard to stay resting for all 10.

I wondered around at the bottom of the valley for a while and missed the turn up a ridge.  I started getting into more and more dense crap and didn't see the red paint splotches that marked trees on the trail.  After a bit of searching, I backtracked and found the sharp turn just past a dry creek that led STRAIGHT up a ridgeline.  It was tough, and the pictures weren't doing it justice, so I decided to let my fact tell you how steep this was for Ohio.
It was steep, really!
Pictures never do a hill justice.
But, here you can see a GOOD paint splotch marking the trail.  Most were not that visible.
I took my second break at 3:32 minute mark.  Again, because I hit a location that was near a conveniently placed tree stump, and I'd passed the 7 mile mark, so I knew I had less than 3 miles remaining.  I had the rest of my Gatorade, some water, some trail mix and a Peanut Butter GU.  The trail mix was awesome, I will definitely be bringing that with me to Rainier.

As I continued on the trail, I couldn't resist smiling.  I was so close to done and I felt GOOD.  I'd been feeling so beat up during training lately, that I could barely hold back the feeling of elation that was threatening to overwhelm me.  So, naturally, this is where I encountered a tree that was too big to really climb over, I elected to climb around it, which still required some fancy footwork with a heavy pack and trekking poles.
I climbed up and over the root system instead..
After another big uphill, I got to enjoy some steady downhill (tough on my feet!) and more scenery.  I also missed a trail turn again, and had to back up and search for more red paint splotches.  Every slight bump on the road was merely shrugged off though.  It was the hike that couldn't be bad somehow.  Even when the gnats reappeared as it warmed up.

At 9.5 miles, I was near enough to my car that I could hear people playing basketball in the parking lot, and knew I just had to climb down off the ridge, but the only visible trails didn't go that direction.  My guidebook said to head north - which would have been a short fall off a steep cliff according to my compass.  I got a tad frustrated knowing which way I had to go, but not how to get there.  Ultimately, I choose to head one direction down the path and see if it turned, it did.  Before long, I was back to my car.

I dropped off my pack, downed some water, grabbed my change of clothes and headed to the primitive nearby restroom type facility to change before the long ride home.  I glance up and around me - and realized based on where I'd left from the lot and where I'd returned, I'd climbed over and around all those surrounding tree covered hills.  I was in awe and couldn't stop smiling.  I had to take pictures.  And of course, one picture couldn't capture it all...so here are two.
The hills between my car and the start of the trail, I really should have taken one more of the starting location.
My car and the hill I came down at the finish of the loop
All in all, I hiked 9.8 miles in 5:03:21 including two 10 minute breaks.  On the way home, after I ate my protein bar and drank some water, it's possible that I pounded the steering wheel in celebration/exaltation.  It's possible I got emotional enough to almost cry.

I'm officially in taper for the mountain.  Damn, if that isn't awesome enough to make me want to cry.

Have you ever had a peak training workout bring you to tears of joy that your long training session is over?  (I have to keep reminding myself, that my next couple of weeks will still be the same level of training mid-week.)