A Little Mountain Run on my Own

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Had a wonderful Mother’s Day celebration with my family yesterday. My husband always works major holidays, so we try to work around them. Today, the kids let me sleep in, then I got up and made the little ones breakfast and we ate together, which is always fun – and is the usual way I start all my days. I did my cleaning and got the kids going on theirs, then headed off on a nice mountain run by myself. Being alone is something I don’t do very much of. I’m the mom of five. I’m married and I have so many wonderful friends. I have a very blessed and rich life and much to be thankful for.

Once in a while, though, I really just crave time to myself. Time where I can run my own pace, without any pressure to speed up or slow down, time to sort through feelings that are hard to process when others are around. Sometimes it’s nice to just commune with nature. Gaze at the flowers, the trees, the hills, listen to the wind, hear the sound of my own feet hitting the dirt – even listen to the steady rhythm of my own heart beat.

Today, I did just that. It was hot out – 83 degrees and I went at the warmest time intentionally – from about 12:30 pm – 4:00 pm when it was sunny and I’d have to fight the heat a bit. I have three races coming up in the next few weeks. A marathon on Saturday, Pocatello 50 two weeks after that and Big Horn 50 two weeks after that. Each one is likely to be pretty hot, so this type of training is really essential to help my body adapt to the temperatures and stay steady and strong despite them.

My friend, Donna knew I was considering buying some trekking poles for the two technical, steep 50 milers I have coming up, so she offered to loan me hers for the weekend! That was so nice! I took them with me today since this particular climb is really steep, has some fairly technical sections and would give me a chance to test them out on a shorter run before buying some of my own. I have to say I was impressed with how easy they were to adjust to my height, with how lightweight they were (hers are the Leki brand and they telescope to the size you need), they also were not hard to get in a rhythm with and I liked the ergonomic handles since I found them comfortable and they did not chafe at all. I had decided to hike the entire first half (to the summit) and then run the whole way down – keeping the poles in hand the entire time. Since I just did this same run last Sunday, I also thought it would be interesting to see if I was faster/slower with the poles. This Sunday was about 30 degrees hotter than last Sunday, so I knew that would be a factor that may skew things a bit, but it was still fun to do it and see how it compared overall.

I bumped into a pal on the way up who was coming down. I said, “Hello!” and he said “Hi,” then passed me and I heard him say, “Christie???? Is that YOU?” It turned out to be my pal, Tom! I don’t think he recognized me with my trekking poles, hiking uphill and I didn’t recognize him walking on a downhill (he’s one the of the fastest downhill runners I know.) We both got a good laugh out of that, and stopped to chat about hiking poles. Turns out, he, too, tried a pair on this same path awhile back. He shared some ideas about them, we said our goodbyes and I was off, trudging up the hill again.

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I have to admit, I enjoyed the uphill section this week and I don’t think it was the poles that made me feel that way. They were fine and everything, but the main thing that made me enjoy myself more was not having any pressure to run uphill. I just let myself power hike. That’s always what works best for me and when I try to make myself run even some of it, I end up miserable. My right hamstring is still hurting from last Sunday’s hike/run since I was trying my best to push the pace to catch up to my faster friend. I was having a hard time and could not catch up no matter how I tried. So, today, I just relaxed, enjoyed the lovely spring flowers cropping up everywhere on the hillsides and just kept myself steady and determined.

It went well! Despite the heat, I felt strong. I took my S caps and ate as needed and never got tired or needed to slow down my effort level. Once I reached the summit, I snapped a few pictures and stopped to sit on a rock and enjoy the amazing views of the entire valley. I admit, I felt so good, so happy, so open to the beauty and so free to be me, that I cried a little bit. I cleansed some feelings, wiped my tears and then headed down the mountain, feeling refreshed and a little more at peace in my soul.

I almost landed on another bull snake, who was stretching his four feet body across the trail, but thankfully, he turned back and got out of my way before I landed on him! Eeek!

I had the poles fully extended, so ended up running with them held like two long sticks floating vertically above the ground as I flew down the hillside. I had fun, but was thinking, “I think I’ll do it without the poles next time.” My best mile was mile 13 with a pace of 8:37. I ran by feel entirely today. I tuned into my body and finished strong. It felt really good to be in control. I think more training on Lucky Peak will help me with my next two hard fifty milers! I’ll keep doing it!

Elevation Gain: 3,247 feet. Average HR: 157 Max HR: 190

P.S. Interestingly – My overall time was very similar today to last week’s. I don’t think the poles helped me much, but they were really fun to try out! I missed having my hand bottles, which I could not use while holding the poles.

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