Lazy days of summer

I'm probably not the only one surprised that the summer solstice has already come and gone. It's been a quiet start to the season for me, with no big adventures or races planned anytime soon, the whole gimpy hand thing, and a disconcerting decline in my running fitness — possibly due to allergies, asthma, or just falling out of shape ... I admittedly have been a bit lazy.

I actually had a decent start with running in Colorado when I first moved here in late April — back when there was still some snow on the ground and I wasn't acclimated. Now, instead of improving, I'm getting worse. I wish I could see stats of my VO2 max now versus 13 months ago, because I'd expect to see a decline. Although I doubt that the whole "I ruined my lungs during the Tour Divide" theory has real merit, this continues to be my fear. Hard breathing doesn't earn me much these days. My legs remain bored with slow plodding, and yet plod slowly is all I can do before dizziness sets in. Because of this, three-hour runs don't leave me feeling tired afterward, but three hours is about the amount of time I can tolerate before frustration takes over the fun factor.

So it's difficult to get too excited about running. I'm hoping to carve out more opportunities for alpine adventures, where the plodding is slow and the breathing is difficult, but the scenery is so intoxicating.
 
Beat and I went for a 14-mile walk along Niwot Ridge on Saturday, up to 12,400 feet. Alpine ridge-walking is perhaps my favorite form of outdoor recreation. The gimpy hand makes it difficult because I can't manage much scrambling, which puts a lot of alpine terrain off-limits. But it won't be that way for much longer, I hope. Although until about a week ago I was pessimistic I'd ever recover, recently my hand has made some real improvements. Now I can grip a steering wheel without pain, which I haven't been able to do since before CTS symptoms showed up in March. I have one of those liberal surgeons who tells me the recommended recovery period is eight weeks, but it's fine to return to activities as soon as I feel comfortable. Since I still have pain, numbness and very limited strength, I don't feel comfortable with scrambling and biking yet. But I may be able to grab that second trekking pole soon.

This morning I joined Eszter for a jaunt up Green Mountain. She's visiting her hometown (maybe she doesn't consider Boulder her hometown ... so we'll say the town where her parents live) for the next two weeks, and it was fun to talk about bikepacking and the Trans-Am while out on slow run. 

She asked about my first impressions of Boulder, and I realize I haven't written much about that. My point of view is skewed because I reside 25 minutes outside of town and can live like a hermit if I want, and sort of do. I occasionally work in coffee shops and enjoy this, although this is a college town and the crowdedness of coffee shops reflect that. I've only visited a few local restaurants, and they've all been pretty good, but not "San Francisco good." I still do about 80 percent of my grocery shopping at Trader Joes ... habits die hard. Beyond that, there's a lot about Boulder that reminds me of my hometown, Salt Lake City. It definitely has a strong mountain west feel. The scenery from main street is hard to beat.

I've been following the antics of a running group that I joined, but I have yet to show up at a group run — mostly because of my location and scheduling, but also because of fitness insecurity. That's another thing about Boulder — the trail running scene can feel a bit intense. After living in the Bay Area with its seven million people, I grew accustomed to generally falling in the top 25 percent of women on most non-downhill Strava segments. Here, I'm working as hard as my lungs can manage and still struggling to crack out of the bottom half. Well, it's my fault. I was warned not to compare myself to Boulderites on Strava.

Anyway, someday I'll be able to ride a bike again, and then I'll just head out to explore miles and miles of forest roads, and none of this will matter anymore. Until then, I'm on the hunt for amazing routes in the Indian Peaks Wilderness that don't require use of hands.

Comments

  1. hahah I've been here my entire laugh and I still can't keep up with the majority of Boulder runners :) But, if you guys ever want to join in on an alpine adventure or backpacking trip, let me know!

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    1. We'd love to join you for an alpine adventure! Please keep me in the loop. You can e-mail me at jillhomer at gmail.

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  2. I fall out of love with running periodically. I think it's fine for your body to do other things at times. Ha, that's funny about the running scene. I don't Strava, thank goodness, but there's so little where I live that I would get a false sense of superiority. Then I go places like Sun Valley and I think, oh, people wear tights and soft shells to ski in and don't lug along backpacks. I feel so out of place in a big adventure town because I'm so used to seeing nobody out there.

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    1. I managed a 14-mile out-and-back today where I only saw one other hiker. There's always potential for lonesome trails. What I miss is an ability to push myself very hard. Not that I was ever all that anaerobically inclined, but I'd love to go back to being able to sprint up a hill until my legs burned and I felt like I was about to puke. I don't get anywhere near that zone these days before I start wheezing/gasping/blacking out. There may be a way back to to there; I'll have to figure it out.

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  3. I noticed IMBA is headquartered in Boulder. I don't know what is your stance on bikes access to wilderness, but I feel that they could really use people like you who have actual real experience with bikepacking. I hope you will ride again soon!

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    1. I'll have to check it out! I actually don't support bikes in wilderness areas ... that's a whole 'nother discussion (it boils down to my view that there still should be some open spaces that aren't commodified as recreation areas.) But I would like to become more involved in bike advocacy/new trails. Thanks!

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    2. Please look at sustainabletrailscoalition.org it's not so black and white and IMBA supports them now after some period of disagreement

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    3. "How many more miles of trail must become unsustainable before Wilderness areas become practically inaccessible to everyone?"

      My views may come across as elitist, but I don't agree with wide-scale accessibility of wilderness. There aren't many places left that are relatively free of human presence, which has an observable effect on animal behavior, water quality, etc. Of course I recreate in wilderness areas, and benefit from trail maintenance. But if the trails fell into disrepair, people could still visit. Yes, it would be fewer people. In my view that's a good thing.

      On the flip side, if bikes are allowed in wilderness areas, there's a new and fairly powerful industry waiting to build new trails, and potentially thousands of users who have the capability to travel long distances deep into wilderness areas where hikers (and equestrians, which at this point are a fading group) currently only travel in very small numbers. This is great news for me as a cyclist, but not for me as an advocate of untrammeled wild spaces.

      Of course it's a complex issue. There are already high-traffic or through-trails through wilderness such as the PCT and CDT, and I also don't see the point in keeping bicycles off those trails beyond user conflict problems. But it is difficult to rewrite the laws without imposing universal access versus a universal ban.

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  4. Hey Jill, I just had an idea. Since you love cycling but you can't grab handlebars, you should try unicycling! That'll distract you during your recovery.

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    1. Since my balance is so stellar I can't even keep myself upright while running, that's a great idea! ;-)

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