Checking Progress

A little over six weeks ago I was pacing at the last aid station of the Never Summer 100K thinking I was in way over my head. My job was to run as pacer with my buddy (the true badass runner) for the last eight miles of her arduous day on her feet. I was a fan of short trail runs, but did not consider myself anywhere near eligible to be in that particular middle of the night race environment. I hoped my solid trail senses, honed with a lot of backpacking and hiking miles over the years, and willingness to be out there keeping her company were enough. Newsflash–we had a blast. I came home and determined I wanted to try this.

I have gone from a comfortable three mile per session jogger to pushing double digits runs and looking for new trails. I actually wake up excited to put on my running shoes. It is a new sensation. But am I making any progress?

To test that, I got up and drove to Ouray this morning for a lap around the Perimeter Trail. It’s a 6-plus mile loop around one of the most charming places in the world, with a delightful stretch of trail through my winter happy place–the Ouray Ice Park. You climb up from the bottom of the canyon, seems like a half dozen times, and run a narrow little piece of ground around aspen groves, beside penstocks, over gorges, through tunnels, and past much more. I had hiked it before, but I had never tried to run it. That seemed like something only those crazy mountain runners should try, not us valley dwellers.

It is with serious satisfaction that I can report it was brutal. It was also wonderful (except the poison ivy trying to take over the stretch by the troll bridge). I sucked wind on the ups but reveled in the downs. I took pictures, that’s what I do when I need to get some air back in my lungs or when the scene just requires a digital memory. I ran the ice park stretch vowing to do better this year with balancing skiing and ice climbing, and all this new cardio should help with that. I made it around the trail in under two hours with a lot of stopping along the way. I think progress is being made, if not in my leg strength and endurance, then definitely in my happiness quotient. It is just so nice to be out running trails with stellar jays yelling at me, deer refusing to yield to traffic, and thimble-berries for snacks. This is why I’m doing the work.

The buddy I paced is now the one I look forward to running with once a week to swap trail stories and catch up on life. We have some adventures lined up where we are both going to be badass runners and have a whole lot of fun.

Nervous pacer to happy runner.

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