When Things Aren’t Quite Like They Should Be

The second half to the title of this post is:

  • …roll with it!
  • …who cares!
  • …they’re even better!

The impetus for this post is the four days I spent in southwestern Colorado last weekend. Several friends and I went to run another half marathon (something I swore I would do only once), spend time enjoying Durango, and hike another 14er. The trip didn’t go quite according to plan…

Downhill Running: My goal time for this half marathon was 1:55, a seven minute improvement from my last one. Reasons that should have been possible? There was a lot of downhill in this race, with a total descent of 1,400 ft. And…well…that the only reason. Reasons that shouldn’t have been possible? So many! The starting altitude was 8,100 ft, I hadn’t run more than six consecutive miles since the end of May, more than half of the last 1.25 miles of the race was steep uphill, it turns out running on pavement for that long is really hard on your feet, and it turns out running on that much downhill is actually really hard on your whole body. Gravity slams your knees into the ground and forces your quads into action in abnormal ways. I wanted to walk as much on the long downhills as I did on the long uphills. But what was the outcome? I crushed my fastest pace ever (from the last Bolder Boulder) and my last half marathon time to finish in 1:51:24!

Crippling Pain: The brutality of the race wasn’t just in my head. My friends were hurting too on Sunday, much more so than from any other race we’ve done. We couldn’t walk down stairs or lower ourselves onto a toilet without extensive assistance from our arms propping up our bodies using any available surface. We had booked three full nights in Durango because we thought we were going to check out the town, go out drinking every night, walk around, have big meals, and in general, have an amazing time in the city. Turns out we did a lot of lying around, watching junking TV, soaking in the hot tub, stretching, and groaning. But you know, sometimes that’s just what you need. I’m always on the go and it was pretty nice to be forced (even if by non-functioning muscles) to take it easy.

The Missing 14er: Despite our agony, we were still determined to hike a 14er two days after the race. We purposely chose the easiest one of all 58, knowing anything harder wouldn’t be possible. But it never happened. We plugged the trailhead into our map app and set off on a beautiful morning drive over Coal Bank Pass, Molas Pass, into the charming town of Silverton, and then off into the stunning wilderness where it all went wrong. Somehow, we had come at the trailhead from the opposite direction we should have, yet the directions we had still made sense. We saw the right signs and the turns that we needed and everything was fine until it wasn’t. When we hiked much further from where we left the car to where the trailhead should have been, we determined that we were on the completely wrong side of Cinnamon Pass. The day was winding down quickly, especially with a 6.5 hour drive back to Boulder, and it was still sad to admit that we weren’t going to make it to the mountain, much less summit. But, we ended up having a fabulous hike anyway because there were no other hikers around and the scenery was stunning. We found a seldom used trail up a 13er that included passing by some old, windblown mining buildings and scrambling up scree that could have easily come loose and sent us sliding down the mountain face at any second. And I’m ok saving Handies to tack onto another 14er/camping/hot springs weekend.

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So nothing was quite what I thought it would be and yet it all contributed to another magnificent Colorado weekend that made me feel immeasurably lucky to be born me. And while I’m fiending for a change of venue for my life, the anticipation of this trip and the trip itself has left with a list of 10 more must-do hikes and races in Colorado, on top of my plan to hike all Class 1 and 2 14ers. I need at least three more summers here to accomplish it all, but my life clock is ticking away and there’s a whole lot of world out there calling my name. What should I do? Is there a “should” for my master life plan or do I need to just roll with it and let the universe decide my next step? Help!

2 thoughts on “When Things Aren’t Quite Like They Should Be

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