a lot of miles, a lot of thoughts…

Posts tagged ‘appreciated’

4.5 miles and Stairs, 1034 Glorious Stairs!

The Bisbee 1000, The Great Stair Climb

This was a much-anticipated race and I seriously could not wait! A friend had sent me the link for the race many months ago. I checked it out and was determined to go. The promo video for it made it seem just like The Secret Stairs in my little town but with more! MORE miles, MORE hills, MORE… you guessed it, STAIRS! OMG! Heaven! I do love me some stairs!

I really have no idea why. Stairs burn the legs… the quads, the calves, the glutes. Stairs take your breath away… you’re gasping for air when you reach the top of an extended stair case or when you’ve climbed a set over and over again. I choose stairs over escalators. I choose stairs over elevators. Whenever I see a set I think, “hmm, how could I turn those into a workout? So many possibilities!”

It wasn’t a cheap race for me. There was the entry fee, the t-shirt fee (that wasn’t included :(), the hotel costs (2 nights in lovely Naco, Arizona), gas, rental car fee, food and drink, and a couple of souvenirs. The most expensive race I’d ever run… but it was worth it!

The 8 hour car drive with my hubby was quite enjoyable. I had packed snacks and not even healthy ones at that! We munched and chit chatted our way over the mountains, through the desert and right into the little town of Bisbee, Arizona. Made it just in time to pick up our bibs. The time flew by. Of course, I wasn’t driving and I was doing most of the talking so I was having a great time! My hubby kept us on course, smiled, laughed, nodded his head, and chimed in when given the chance. 😉 It was a great drive!

The “lodge” where we stayed was clean, had all the amenities we needed… tv, bed, bathroom and coffee pot. It even had a mini fridge, microwave and blow dryer! Who could ask for anything more? The restaurant that was next door and the closest thing for miles was, well, uhm, yeah. We ordered a meal there but didn’t eat there nor did we actually eat the meal WE ordered. Somehow we got another lady’s breaded mushrooms, two patties of I don’t know what, and a carne asada burrito. The waitress was foul-mouthed, in a hurry, and I don’t think customer service is part of her job description. I could be wrong, but I’m pretty sure friendly was not her middle name. My husband who can usually crack the meanest person couldn’t even get her to grimace. Not with his compliments of the 14 inch long nails, the rather quiet vacuum cleaner, or the well stocked but completely unkept kitchen area situated just behind me. She didn’t like his flattery or his jokes. She was a pretty tough cookie. And, then when he had to go back to try to get OUR meal, she didn’t find him charming AT ALL! 😉 Needless to say, I didn’t get my enchiladas and the lady who didn’t get her mushrooms? Well, since Mike didn’t know where she was staying, she didn’t get those either. The girl with the apron couldn’t care less about the lady and her shrooms. Oh well.
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The morning of the race we got up, dressed and headed for the town of Bisbee. In the daylight it was very charming and we saw this big hole in the ground, like the size of a crater! A serious hole! We decided to check it out on our way back. We parked on the outskirts of town and walked to the starting line. Lots of people meandering their way towards the lady with the bull horn. People donned in all sorts of running apparel. Even some in costumes (there was a Halloween contest going on as well). Everyone was friendly and excited. We chatted with a couple of different people. Most it was their first time and they were just as anxious as I. My husband wasn’t anxious. He was, shall we say, just along for the fun. The last time he had run was the 5K we did in July. So, he was not feeling prepared or excited or anxious. I think he may actually have been dreading it! But, he was there… all smiles, friendly, and cracking jokes with anyone who was near. I’m pretty sure he just wanted the race to start so it could be over.
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Then it was time to get in our corrals. Whoo hoo! This is the part I love and dread at the same time. Here is where you see who you are up against. Reality? I’m truly only running against myself but the competitor in me always checks out who’s standing around me. I basically am looking for people about my age. Hmm, am I faster than her? did he train more than me? But once you move up to the starting line and they let you go, all of that is forgotten and I run my race.

I did meet a women whose name is Molly. She was a tiny little thing and looked fit as a fiddle. This was the first stair race for both of us. And, she was about 5 months post chemo. It wasn’t her first race since her treatment but probably the most challenging race. I was inspired. The trials in my life have been nothing compared to hers and if she’s fit and fierce than I have no excuse. Seriously.

Then a group of fire fighters dressed in all their gear headed to the front and they let them have a head start. I couldn’t imagine wearing all that “stuff” AND run in boots. Who does that? Apparently THEM! Again, if they can do it? There is no reason for me to have doubts.

We finally make it to the starting line, they drop the banner and off we go! Running through the streets of this old mining town. They aren’t smooth and they are winding. And, they are AWESOME! We reach the first staircase and the adrenaline is practically jumping off my body! The stairs go up in between two buildings, just like the Secret Stairs in La Mesa. I’m sure I’ve got the biggest grin on my face. I am absolutely loving it!

If you want to walk up the stairs you stay to the right, if you want to run or go faster than those on the right you move to the left. I start on the right and quickly realize that I wanna run! I move to the left and up those babies I go! Whoo hoo! I’ve never been so grateful for all those Tuesday runs in La Mesa!

Staircases two and three are just as fun, and the same thing, I start on the right and quickly find myself on the left. We are now also running through the hilly neighborhoods. People are on the streets, on their porches, in their driveways cheering us on! It was amazing! When I hit staircase number 4 I was so happy and all the little people in my head were having a big cheerfest! “We are so doing this again next year! Yeah! This is FUN! OMG! Where has this race been all my life! Whoo hoo!” Seriously, I was so excited.

My leg had been hurting from my last challenge and I was a bit concerned about being able to run this race. But, I was so excited, if my leg hurt I didn’t even noticed. I think it was caught up in all of the excitement and the adrenaline and endorphins were at maximum levels. No pain at all!

After staircase number 5 it was a run up a hill and then another hill and out along the outskirts of town. Beautiful. The path was a little sketchy as the pavement was broken up but I didn’t care, it was awesome!

My goal was to run the 4.5 mile race in under an hour. I didn’t know how my leg would hold up and I didn’t know the route. But I figured that would be pretty respectable. And although Sheila was chattering at me every mile I didn’t hear a word she said. There were always people cheering or clapping! Plus the voices in my head were singing! So, I really had no idea about my time.

I powered up each and every staircase, even 6, 7, 8 and 9! I was winded, but my legs weren’t tired. They were enjoying those stairs! Even the hills were fun!

When I hit the last staircase and I knew I was headed to the finish line I tried to push even harder, go even faster, I really wanted to RACE to the finish! And, after you came up those last stairs, it was downhill to the end. It was simply awesome!

I crossed the finished line at the clock time of 52 minutes something but final chip time said 50:10. (16th in my age group!) I was STOKED! I was grinning ear from ear! I hugged my medal! I loved the after race snacks! It was like heaven! Do you think heaven will have stairs? Oooo… now that’s sort of an oxymoron for people, huh?
Me and my medal

Medals

Staircase 8
Anyway, I gathered all the goodies and waited for my hubby to finish. I watched as runners crossed the finish line, happy as can be. Some looked completely worn out, some looked like they had just run 4.5 miles and climbed 1034 stairs, but all finally turned that “I think I may die” face into a smile. And, even when my husband came down that hill you could tell he had felt every one of those miles and every single step, but when he crossed the finish line, even he smiled a little. 🙂

My words cannot describe how awesome that race was. I loved everything about it. The winding roads, the broken pavement, the uneven stairs, the overgrown pathways, and even the cars driving along beside you! I wanted to sign up right then and there and do it again next year! I was gonna book my room and tell all my Team RockStar friends to join me. It was THAT cool!

After the race my husband was feeling it. His legs were sore and he was tired. A couple of years ago – now this is his version – he says I forced him to walk a 5K that took us on a local freeway and up a few hills and he pulled a hamstring. It took literally months for his leg to heal and it hasn’t been quite right since. Now, this is my version – a couple of years ago he told me about a 5K that some of the teachers at the elementary school were doing and thought it would be fun to join them. So we did. I wasn’t a runner then, I didn’t do hills, so I didn’t PUSH. HE did. And because he did, he pulled his hammy. I had nothing to do with it! But every time he gets signed up for a race, the pain in his leg becomes my fault. 🙂 Whatever!

Anyway, we spent the rest of the day taking in the sites, enjoying the little shops and the atmosphere. Remember that big hole? Come to find out, it was part of the copper mine that Bisbee was built around. We didn’t get a chance to go into the mine because we missed the last tour plus the sign said it was 47 degrees down in the mine! I was wearing my running skirt! I would have frozen to death underground!
Copper Mine
We stopped and got dinner at a little mexican food place, took it back to the lodge and watched tv before going to bed. It was a great weekend get away! It really was. I’m very thankful to my friend who shared the link with me. It is now on my Top Ten List of the Greatest Things I’ve Ever Done!

The ride home was uneventful but fun as well. I got to drive part of the way and my lead foot didn’t get us into any problems. I was a very good driver. 🙂

Anyway, I wanted to share my Bisbee adventure. It was very memorable and great fun. Sadly, I won’t be doing it again. The price went up and because of all the other expenses that go along with it, it’ll just have to remain a wonderful memory.

If you ever get the chance to do the Great Stair Climb in Bisbee, Arizona I’d recommend it at least once. A great time, a great course, many great memories!

Day 29, the most successful cuz I had a plan (and was able to follow it)!

By nature I’m a planner. I like routine, I like structure, I like lists. I’m basically a creature of habit. Every once in a while I like spontaneity but too much of that and I’m all out of sorts. Yeah, I’m pretty boring.

This challenge has caused me to step out of that comfort zone. I really try to plan the next day. Run this far in the morning, run this far before noon, run this far in the afternoon and so on and so on. But, sometimes when I get up in the morning my feet or my legs are just not ready to go. It derails my plans and I have to alter my game plan.

But not today! My plan was to go to Lake Murray and run ALL 29 miles there. That’s 4 times around the lake. Now, Sheila, she can’t hang for much more than 7 miles. I knew I’d have to charge her.

This is how it all broke down. Park outside the park by the Starbucks. Walk into the park to warm up the legs, start running at the gate and to the bull’s eye, snap a picture, stretch my legs, and head back to the car. Charge Sheila, drink some water, have a snack or two. Once my phone was charged enough, I’d walk back into the park and do the same thing all over again. And then again, and then again

I wanted to be able to run the 7 miles in under 2 hours (with the way my leg felt I figured I’d be doing a lot of walking) but miraculously I was able to run the whole way and kept my times under an hour and a half. I felt good, I ran well, and I finished strong!

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Where there’s a will, there’s a way. Where there’s a plan, there’s comfort! 😉

Day 28. I can do this… I can do this… I can…

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Since last night was sort of a bust, I decided to try the Hillsdale route again. Around and around the middle school I went. This time I got in just a little over 8 miles. Best part? I had a friend stop by and chat with me. He was even willing to run a bit with me but my legs were done. Still, made me feel good when he came out in support. I run a lot of these miles by myself, but I know people are “watching”. 🙂

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An hour or so later… headed to the mill. Felt strong and ran like the wind!

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My youngest had a late afternoon football game so while his team was warming up I did lap after lap around the football field.

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I don’t know if you’ve ever run around and around and around some place. I happen to do it quite a bit. In my many rounds I’ve noticed a few things. The first time around no one really pays attention to you. The second or third round, someone realizes that they have seen you before. The fifth or sixth round, they start looking for you. Some will even look down at their watch (or on their phone) and start timing you. You hit round 8 or 9 and now they are watching you the whole way. You’ve now made eye contact with many of them and you get an occassional nod or smile. About lap 11 and they are now intrigued. Some will even call out to you, “how far?” “how many have you done?” Any more laps than that and people actually stop talking and simply watch in awe. Not because of how far you ran, but because you simply keep going. When its all over and you finally come to a stop, if you are anywhere near them, they say things like, “wow, I could never do that” or “that was crazy” or “you’re a machine”. Regardless, you’ve touched them somehow and they are now a part of your run. Its touching, inspiring and motivating. If only they too would get up and lace up…

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My son’s team won! Yeah Norsemen! But, it was back to the mill for me. Ugh. It seems like all I do is run. We wanted to celebrate the win and take the boys out for pizza but I had to finish the miles. I said, “give me just two hours and I’ll be done.” Yeah, no such luck.

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I simply couldn’t get them done. My legs were tired. I was exhausted. And, I was starving! So, I did as much as I could and out for pizza we went! I’d just have to finish when I got home.

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After beer and pizza, running is about the furthest thing from my mind! But, I still had a mile and a half to go. I can do this. Slowly. I can do this.

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Day 28. Definitely a LONG day. I can do this. I really can.

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Sometimes I need a little encouragement…

I had a conversation with my sister earlier today and it made me think about a few things. So, I’m gonna start this post with a few requests. Please hear my heart…

Yes, my ankle/calf is in pain. No, I’m not sure what is wrong with it other than it feels like the muscle is being pulled from the bone. You know when you eat a chicken leg and you pull the meat from the bone with your teeth? Yeah, that’s how my leg feels. (Glad I’m not a real chicken, I can only imagine!) Especially during the last miles of the first and second runs and all of the third run. Yes, it would be wise to rest my leg. Take it easy. No, this challenge isn’t going to win me any money, make me famous or even matter in a few months from now. Yes, only a few people even know I’m doing this challenge. Its not like its hit the major news networks. Yes, you think I’m crazy and I’m not listening to my body. Believe me, I’m listening! I hear it every time my foot hits the pavement! Yes, it hurts. Yes, I’m running with a bit of a limp. Yes, again, I know I should take it easy. Yes. You are right. You are oh so right. But… and you know what it means when you say but? Right? Whatever was said before the “but” doesn’t matter.

I am doing this challenge and I will run through this pain until I simply can’t run any more. Why? Cuz that’s just what I do, that’s just who I am. I set a goal, I work towards achieving the goal, and once complete I set another goal. So, instead of telling me all of the things I shouldn’t do, or am doing wrong, or giving me reasons -excuses really- to not push through, to not persevere… instead… encourage me, give me tips to make the chicken leg heal itself, feel stronger, feel better, not consume my run. Better yet, add me to your prayer list. Ask God to bring healing to my legs and the strength to finish this challenge. I know the challenge is “a bit out there” but I run, and I create these challenges, because there’s someone out there who can’t run, who can’t complete the challenges and so desperately wants to. They “hear” or read about my determination and my will to push through, overcome, and conquer whatever I’ve set before me and they are empowered. I run because they want to but can’t. So, rather than find reasons why I shouldn’t, or why you can’t – or won’t – find reasons why WE do.

God gave me a strong, healthy body. He gave me the ability to run. And for some reason, he gave me the desire to share my passion for fitness and running with others. So, I honor Him. Please do me a favor and cheer me on! Not drag me down. I can do that all by myself. 🙂

So… having gotten that off my chest. Here’s day 12. Enjoy.

First run of the day. Early, about 6 am. Looking to do 8 miles.
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The run, the usual route. Not fast, leg hurting, especially going down hill. Mile 6 I called my husband to let him know I wouldn’t make it home in time before he left for work. He always makes me breakfast (eggs, half a piece of toast, a nibble of bacon and strong black coffee). I didn’t want him to worry about that since I was going to be late.
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But, he drove down and picked me up. He could tell by my voice that I was struggling. He decided to give me a lift. Breakfast was waiting for me when I walked in the door. 🙂 My husband believes in me. 😉

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Before the second run…
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The run. Walked towards the end. Leg on fire. Kids did awesome tho!
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After the run.
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Last and final run. We tell the XC kids, its all in your attitude. If you expect to have a great run, even if you don’t, it will have been better than if you had expected it to be bad! Smiling! Let’s do this!
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The run. Limped a majority of it. Cheetahs ran hill repeats again. Could only watch. 😦
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After the run. Another day down. 🙂 Ready for some ice! And, a drink! 🙂
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Last week I ran 28.9 miles. This week I’ve run 50.5. Sheila says so.
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If I’ve offended you in any way, cuz I asked for positive feedback, thoughts and vibes, I guess… well… that sucks for you. When you set a goal and you tell me about it… I believe in you. I know you can do it. I know you will do whatever you can to achieve it. And, I will do anything I can to help you rise to the occasion. Do unto others… 🙂

Icing my chicken leg. Peace out…