"Gratitude feels best, not when it gets breathed in, but when it is blown into the sails of others, that the vehicle of their journey has more power"
--- Friend

"Love and truth are the two primary manifestations of divinity in which we can partake, and by partaking in them we become truer manifestations of the divine."

--- Robert Wright

Monday, June 11, 2012

Keeping active

I decided to be nice to Mr Achilles Tendon so I am limiting my runs till it feels better. I hope he knows what a sacrifice this is and starts behaving soon. At least I can do hikes and bike rides. And then there are my backpacking workouts. Oh, yes, that is so much fun - NOT. Bay Area is blessed with numerous trails just minutes away from the urban madness. Unfortunately I don't always have the time to get away even for an hour. So I have to improvise. I find a building where I can use a staircase without anybody frowning, put my 60lb pack on, and off I go. Trust me, 60 flights of stairs even with the best music blaring in my ears is booooooring. Right now I am quite sure I could get to a 100 flights and if my mind lets me do it, I'll try this week. 

My weekends are usually filled with hikes and bike rides. 

Mt Diablo 3,864 feet (1,178 m) was my destination a couple of weekends ago. It is quite a drive for me so I don't get there as often as I would like to. This time my plan was just to go long and fast on any trail my eyes would find interesting. That was fun except for one nasty spill. I wanted to take a picture but I did not want to stop on a gravel downhill. The rest is a big, black and blue bruise on my butt. I saved my camera though. I was also very grateful for the advice somebody gave me to keep hands out of hiking poles straps on the way down. The way I fell, I am sure I would have done some serious damage to my wrist had I kept them in the straps. 
Despite all the fun and stunning views, this was not the best hiking day. I felt tired and slow. I was beginning to question if it made sense to even attempt the challenge I set up for myself and my kiddo for the following weekend.

The challenge was to do a on day 30 mile hike/run in the Santa Cruz Mountains. I have never hiked that distance in one day. I had attempted it a few months ago but the strap on my backpack broke and I had nothing with me to fix it so that ended that try. This time I examined our packs very carefully and figured that we would just do our best. Considering how lousy I felt the weekend before I did not hope for much.
We started in the dark. For some reason it seemed fun to us not to turn our headlamps on. I know, I know, I was just asking for another spill, especially that the hike starts in a very dark canyon the moonlight does not reach, full of roots and rocks. But guess what, we managed without even one stumble. As we got on the side of the mountain, the skies lightened and we could see almost to the ocean where our hike would end.
We could have not asked for better weather: not too hot, not too cold with slight wind, just perfect. I decided to skip running to pamper my Achilles and I am glad I did. I will run that trail yet but right now I do not want any injuries before my John Muir Trail adventure.
We kept a pretty steady pace trying not to go faster than 3mph. Pacing is something I don't do well. I tend to go too fast in the beginning and I pay for it later. This time I made sure to be smart about it and actually paid attention to my Garmin. Usually I only check the distance and wait till I get home to check the pace and other data. This time I was making sure that we did not push to hard especially during the first 15 miles.
I cannot believe how fast the time flew - must have been good company. We talked, joked, and then there were stretches of time when we would just hike in comfortable silence. A truly enjoyable experience. I those silent moments I was reminiscing about our past hikes. I recall our first hike, a 2 mile loop, 2.5 year old kid, and a very overweight mom. We both ended that hike tired but happy. Now both of us were going for a 30miler. Not too bad, I thought.
The last 3-4 miles were very hard on my "baby's" feet but I heard not even one word or complaint. Now that made me really proud. I am actually glad for that painful stretch. It is one of those experiences that makes a person stronger.
As for me, strangely, unlike the weekend before, I felt great. I still had quite some miles left in me. No aches, no pains, not much of a fatigue.

We finished our 30 miles with a huge hug and a feet soak in freezing ocean waters.

My baby is NOT a baby anymore.

I got up on Sunday all stiff with my body blackmailing me that if I don't start moving, it will totally freeze up on me. So I hopped on my bike to hit the trail early before it got too hot. I usually carry two spares but this time I had only one since I used the other one just the day before. Guess what, one mile into the ride I get a flat. That trail is covered with these little thorny things that seem to like my bike a lot. I was not going to ride without another spare. So I had to wait for the stores to open while the temps kept on climbing up. To make the long story short, I did my 34 miles in the hottest part of the day and for the first time in my life I welcomed the headwind.

A short update on my blind friend, Teresa. She is working hard. Her weight lifting is going great. We are slowly intensifying her cardio workouts too. She is improving her diet too though that change is the most difficult for her so she is not losing much weight. It will take time and I only hope she won't get discouraged. Right now her enthusiasm is still very high and we are both working hard on keeping it that way. She seems to like it that I feel comfortable making jokes at her expense. Good. :) 


Danni said...

Sounds like a wonderful hike!

Karen said...

I love the difference just a couple days make. Wrecked one day, awesome the next. :) Your hike sounds nice, it must be so wonderful to share with your son. Will he be joining you on the JMT too?

Dr. J said...

Good, I think you made the right decision to rest your A. Tendon.

I hope it heals quickly, Ewa!

Giorgio said...

In the meanwhile, limiting your runs is the right choice.
How could you start in the dark with no headlamps? Glad you enjoyed your hikes and bike rides!

Linda W. said...

Congrats to you and your daughter for completing a 30-mile hike in one day! I'm in awe!

Jen said...

How fun! All that hiking is going to keep you in really good shape for when you can return to running. Until then, you sure are enjoying some beautiful scenery.

Jody - Fit at 54 said...

I live vicariously thru your pictures - such amazing beauty & no matter how you feel, the beauty you see is a reward! I do hope your bod & you feel better soon... maybe hormones - my answer to all probs with women in their 40's & up! ;-)

So glad you rested the achilles!

WONDERFUL you & son time - these times will be the most important times when we get into old age!

Mary said...

Did you hike it all barefoot?

Char said...

20 miles is such a long way. How nice to spend all that quality time with your offspring. A wonderful memory made.

Johann said...

You are tough Ewa! Great hike and all-round workouts. The way you handled that 30 mile definitely shows how strong you are. Your 60 flights of stairs (aiming for 100) confirms this. Well done!

Jill said...

You are so much stronger than you realize. You are! There is no way I could hike 30 miles without something aching and shouting at me by mile 5. You are going to do so well on Pikes Peak. You ROCK, my friend!

So cool that your daughter was game to do this incredible hike with you. These precious times with our kiddos are so rare ... I know you'll look back on this amazing day and smile when she's off to college (and asking for more money :)).

Great job with your friend, Teresa. She will get there with the weight (unlike me who is just a struggling mess!)


ajh said...

Thanks for all the nice comments!

Joy said...

You are AMAZING!! You really push yourself!! You are so inspiring!!

Keep up the great work and stay focused!!

misszippy said...

Sorry about the achilles. You are doing the smart thing and look how active you are staying anyhow! That will pay off.

I think it is just the best that you can get out and hike with your son like that. What a great thing to share--I'm sure he cherishes it too.

Black Knight said...

I love the pictures and above all, being myself a sailor forever, the ocean one.
You are very strong and motivated, 20 miles is a long and tough hike, congrats.

Mark said...

Nice Blog!!!

Sheri - The Motivational Girl said...

Sure hope your achilles heals up soon! You are so inspiring!

D.M. SOLIS said...

You are the fiercest!

Peace and more good things for you!


D.M. SOLIS said...


How did I not know about your wonderful blog? I have just found this and joined. I love your tales of your adventures. If there's a post that tells when and how you began on this healthful adventure, please let me know. Most inspiring, and I love your fabulous photos.

Thanks for all you do to encourage healthfulness, my friend. Peace and all good things for you in hiking and trail riding, and in life!


Ewa said...

Diane, thank you for your wonderful comment.
I haven't been blogging for a while. Maybe, just maybe I'll come back...