Dude, the air is just so thin…

Howdy friends,

As you might remember from my last post, I am scheduled to run the Old Port Half Marathon on July 11 – that’s 6 days from now – and I got my friends Margaret and Wendy to sign up for it, also.  You might also remember that I had a terrible 12 miler 2 weeks ago, my last shot at a long run before the race, given a 7 day trip I had in between.

Well, let me tell you about that trip. I took off for Colorado Springs last weekend for an SSATB board meeting and we stayed at the most luxurious place called The Broadmoor Resort with amazing views of Pike’s peak. After a 4:45 a.m. alarm and three plane rides, I arrived at the resort at 4:30 p.m. – just enough time to lace up and jog around the small lake a couple of times to get a run in before our 6 pm dinner to start the meetings. It was gorgeous, but I could hardly move. A quarter mile felt like a 5k.  I assumed it was the early start + 3 planes. No problem, I thought.  I’ll have a chance to shake it out later.

Fast forward 3 days, no more runs (though some excellent late-night bowling after our meetings!), and I left the Broadmoor to drive out to the Tarryall River Ranch, nestled in the Tarryall Mountains of Pike National Forest, CO.

I arrived at 5pm and was met at the gate by Paula, the ranch manager. She got me to my cabin by 5:10 and on a horse by 5:20. No joke. By 5:45 we were already friends and had ridden our horses up to an incredibly beautiful look-out point. Just a taste of what the week would hold for me. By 6:30, we were back, horses untacked, and we were at the dinner table to meet up with the other guests.

Since this is a running blog, you might be thinking, “just get to the running part already, ok?”  I’m getting there.  But first, I had to settle into the fact that I was vacationing at a dude ranch. I went out on TWO rides on Tuesday – one all morning, then back for lunch, then one all afternoon. Heaven.  I kept thinking, “I have to stop and take a picture,” but then we’d ride another 10 minutes and I’d think, “No, THIS is the spot that needs a photo.” I have a million photos and they are portraits of amazing views.

So, after day one of riding (that’s two rides!), I got back and put  my running shoes on and set off.  Mind you, I was in the mountains. At a very high altitude. I’m not sure how far up the ranch was, but it was of the ‘so-high-up-you-have-to-drink-gallons-of-water-and-gasp-for-air-just-because-you-laughed-a-lot’ kind of altitude.The air was thin. For real.  Running was impossible for me.  I would go about 1/10 of a mile and have to walk. Heave for air. Then start again. It took me about 30 minutes to go two miles. It felt awful.  But, I had my phone strapped to my arm, so I kept stopping for more scenery photos – like this one from that brief run:

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The funny part was that other ranch guests saw me set off on a run after all the rides came in – disappear around the bend – and come back 30 min later. They were all hugely impressed and told me so at dinner. I had to confess to all of them that it only looked like I went running because of my running outfit, and that, in fact, I would run a few steps, stop, lean over to drag air into my lungs, walk, and then try again – over the course of 30 min. Nothing to be too impressed about.

Wednesday was a break from riding and we went white water rafting on the Arkansas River. That was pretty awesome. Evidence below:

DCIM101GOPRO

DCIM101GOPRO

The only downside to this bucket list adventure was that I pulled a muscle in my ribcage – I think when our boat ran into a rock. Or maybe with all the crazy paddling through rapids. Or maybe both together. In any event, I was just a little sore. But I was only half-way through my dream vacation, so I took some Advil back at the ranch. And then I learned how to line-dance (which isn’t really running, but was still cardio!). I woke up more sore than the night before.

Next day was an all day ride – with the most unbelievable views and two river crossings on horseback. Here, we are stopped for lunch:

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On Friday, my last day to ride, we set out and rode a bit harder, requiring a bit more work on my part. The muscle on the right side of my ribcage was tight and sore. I shook it off again.

Here is a view from my last ride:

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Then, after we got back for lunch, I could have rested, but who would want to rest with a nice cup of coffee when the ranch is full of 4th of July celebration shenanigans? I mean, really, how could I resist games like this race seen below? (And, this game is really hard!)

I just couldn’t stop myself from joining in the fun, and every time I did, I made things a little worse for myself. By Friday evening, my ribcage was on fire. I sneezed and it brought a little tear to my eye.  So… all of this to say, I’m having a hard time believing I can kick out 13.1 miles next weekend. I know I’m not really injured in any serious way, but a muscle pull puts a serious hitch in my giddyup.  Plus, my suitcase didn’t hop the 3rd flight home today, so is still somewhere out in the world, but not here with me. And my running shoes are in that bag. So, I can’t even give it a try tomorrow.

On the upside, it’s not hard to trade a hot half-marathon for a week jammed with experiences, ranging from the breathtaking to the thrilling to the absolute whacky, anytime. We’ll see how the week goes and I’ll let you know what happens with the Old Port race.

Onward!

NOTEI have to just give a special shout-out to Paula and Colton who run the Tarryall Ranch.  They are the most amazing hosts and ranchers. They have a top notch wrangler staff who are cheerful, confident, and fun.  Keith, the cook, is an outstanding chef who kept us more than well fed and was blast to hang out with. If you ever want to try a ranch vacation, check this one out:  http://www.tarryallranch.com

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