a lot of miles, a lot of thoughts…

Posts tagged ‘secret stairs’

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!

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24 days of constant running…

And I don’t mean just running every day but literally running ALL the time! (Or so it seems.)

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I started the day with a great run outside. It was early, I was feeling good. I took a route that I had just recently run. A little hilly, yes, but very few stoplights! As I came over the freeway I was thinking “who would have thought that I’d ever run over a freeway? Or up a hill? Or even run period?” I’m still amazed at how much I grow with each decision to try something different and push myself a little farther.

Anyway I took a wrong turn (I know, imagine that!) and as I rounded the corner I look up and there is one gnarly hill! Where did THAT come from?!? I mean, that hill was not part of the gameplan. Ugh! But up it I went. Beautiful views as the sun was rising. Never so happy to see my street, tho!

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Second run was a quickie on the treadmill. Although, I don’t really have “quickies” any more. My pace is downright turtlish. Which is another funny thing. But I’ll get back to that later.

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Runs 3 and 4, both on the mill. Just trying to get it done. My goal was to have only 4 miles left so I could finish with Team RockStar. Every once in a while the plan works!

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So excited to run the Secret Stairs with Team RockStar! These people are one of my rocks. Always uplifting, always glad to see me and always ready to try whatever crazy thing I put out there. I was so glad to see them and so glad to finish the day with them.

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As we were heading up Cinnabar (a monstrous hill) we were talking about pace – this is where we get back to the turtle comment. One of the RockStars said that “if you’re running a 10 minute pace, in most circles, that’s fast.” And on good runs lately, that’s my pace. It’s slower than my old average but apparently, or maybe she’s just trying to make me feel good, I’m still fast. Regardless, she lifted my spirits and I long for those 10 minute miles.

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Day 24. 24 miles…

Day 17, did I get ahead of myself?

I’m a planner, or a strategizer, or maybe just a dreamer. I’ve been thinking about this challenge for months. Seriously. In the beginning it was just an idea. I tossed it around in my head. I was looking for something. Something I could sink my teeth into. Ironically, at the time this challenge was merely a thought I was barely running. I was coming off an injury from another challenge and pressing through to run some races that I had already signed up for. You know, once you pay, you run. Regardless. But, I knew I needed something. Something big.

And then the idea took on a life of its own. It became real to me. And, I knew it was a bit out there and I didn’t want to leave anyone out. So I figured out ways that other people could do a version of the challenge.

And then I started telling more and more people. Yes, got some flack. Yes, got some eye rolls. Yes, got some “you’re crazy”. But I could visualize myself doing it. I could see me run the roads, run the tracks, run on the mills. I knew I would get up early to run, stay up late to run, adjust my schedule to run. And I waited. I waited for September. Every month I participated in some sort of challenge. All geared to set me up for success. All geared to make my core stronger, my legs sound, and my mind ready. I knew this would be a challenge that would test me. Physically, mentally and by the grace of God, emotionally.

I know there are other runners out there that could do this challenge and not even think twice. I know there are runners who could run circles around me, faster and longer. And I know there are runners out there who wouldn’t even give it a try; not any of the levels. But, none of them are me.

So, day 17. Day 17. I was already thinking about day 18 and day 20. I’m dreading day 20 actually. Not because I don’t think I can run 20 miles, but because I need to get all 20 in before 11 am. But, that’s a whole other post.

I had planned out day 18. 3 runs, 6 miles each. One in the morning, one around lunch and then one with either the high school or the Cheetahs. I got ahead of myself. I didn’t properly plan for day 17.

Day 17… I got another late start but it wasn’t too hot and I figured I’d hit the road. I plotted out a course that was originally about 7 miles long. I knew I was running with Team RockStar later that night and I figured I’d probably have to finish on the mill. I was feeling good the first mile or two. Not my best pace but better than the latest runs. I’m getting slower, which sucks, but rather than beat myself up about it, I simply go at a pace that I think I can go for a long time. On a gimpy leg? That’s slow. Anyway, somewhere during that run I decided to do a bigger loop so that I could maybe hit 10 miles. I hit mile 5 and out of nowhere my legs just shut down. I was coming up a hill and I literally slowed to a walk. If I’m close to the crest (and I’m still running) I try not to walk, I try to pull myself up the final incline but not today. And, gradually the mile times got slower and slower. And, finally I was walking up all the hills.
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My legs were sore. My ankles were aching. But the pain wasn’t the same as before. I’ve run through the whole “muscle being pulled from the bone” pain. I have that weird ability to just overcome. It happened when I did my 1000 miles challenge and well, I guess, no I know, prayers work.
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Anyway, I was beat after those 10 miles. Seriously beat.
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I didn’t run with the XC team. I stayed back with two of the runners and we did some drills and core work. I was saving my legs. I really wanted to run the stairs and hills with Team RockStar.

The second run was all that it was meant to be. Its a challenging 4 mile run loaded with hills and stairs and it didn’t disappoint. Coming down the hills was brutal on my ankles. I had to walk down some of the hills cuz the pounding was just too much. But I really enjoyed that run.
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And, then I finished the day with a run on the mill. Watched some Netflix and put day 17 in the books. It was weird. I should have planned it better. I shouldn’t have forced that first 10 miles. About 8 miles is my max right now. Anything over that, and I’m toast. But, I was so ready for day 18 that I let day 17 get the best of me.
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I know better. How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time. How do you run 465 miles in September? One day at a time.

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