My Adventure Climbing My First 14ner Part One: The Decision.

July, 29th, 2019 will forever be a memorable day in my life. It was the day I successfully hiked to the the top of Gray’s peak here in Colorado. Gray’s peak is one of Colorado’s peaks affectionately known as a 14ner. A 14ner, as the name implies, is a mountain peak that is over 14, 000 feet above see level.

There are different classes of 14ners depending on difficulty, skills and equipment needed to make it to the summit. Gray’s peak is a class one peak so I did not need lots of extra equipment but it was far from easy. In fact, it was probably the most difficult physical challenge I have embarked upon to date.

As a backdrop to my story, some of my readers may know that in my early 50’s I began trail running with the help of my trainer, Mark. I had just finished a huge goal of completing a trail half marathon when I tore my meniscus ( Nothing to do with running but rather the result of a foolish idea to try to ride a skate board.) Since this time I have been working with Mark to find activities that challenge me and help keep me physically fit while working with my arthritis and bad knee. I will tell you that the past three years have been full of ups and downs since my injury both physically and emotionally. In addition to my knee injury and lingering arthritis, I regained a significant amount of weight that I had lost prior to my running. While outwardly my life looked great, on the inside I was battling physical pain from arthritis and emotional pain that was getting the better of me.

On a cold Saturday morning shortly after the New Year, while doing crunches on the floor of Mark’s gym, Mark turned to me and said ” What do you think about climbing a 14ner? ” I was intrigued but hesitant. I do love hiking but I knew a 14ner wouldn’t be my typical mountain stroll. I am not sure what I stammered on about for the next couple of minutes, but by the time my session was over I had agreed that a 14ner would be my goal for the summer.

At first, I did everything I was supposed to do. I researched the peaks, hiked on weekends, and I talked the talk. As winter turned to spring and the school year began to wind down, I even invited people at work to hike with me over the summer hoping to inspire someone to join me on my adventure. However, the passion wasn’t there. I wasn’t fooling myself and I wasn’t fooling. Mark. I don’t remember what we were talking about that Saturday in June, but I do remember Mark calling my bluff and asking me if I really wanted to climb a 14ner. I sheepishly told him that I did not have the deep passion for the goal that I should feel if I wanted to accomplish it. It was a relief to say it out loud. It was also the beginning of lots of self-reflection and a turning point in how I view myself and my life. It was at this moment I began lots of inner work on myself. Some of the work I have done before. Some of the work will be ongoing because life is always changing and old things reappear in different ways until we master them.

For the next few weeks I kept on hiking, and kept on working regardless of my emotions. By the end of June I looked at Mark and said ” Do you think Jen would be willing to hike a 14ner with me?” Jen is one of my work out buddies from the gym who is a very strong hiker and cyclist. She is also extremely patient. I knew and needed an experienced person with me on the trail and that it was time for me to finish what I had started back in January.

With that question I was back on track to prove to myself I am strong, both physically and emotionally. I was not in it alone, ” I get by with the help of my friends.” Mark, Jen, all my friends and family… with me it always “takes a village!” I am always grateful for the support that comes my way. It is truly a gift.

So that is part one of my story. How I made the decision to hike a 14ner. Next week I will tell you about my day on the mountain.

As always, thanks for stopping by the blog.

Until next time,

Laura

Greek Vacation. I am home!

I am home from my trip to Greece!

I know this post is a tad late. When I got back home I had some computer issues and my trusty lap top has been in the hands of the Geek Squad for the past several days. Hopefully, I can now get back to my Monday morning post schedule.

What an amazing time I had. Those of you who are regular readers of my blog know that traveling has been a life long dream of mine. To be able to begin seeing the world, it’s history, and it’s people, fills me with awe and gratitude. I am beginning to experience first hand that people are people. We have so much more in common with each other than we have differences. I have always known this intellectually, but to experience it first hand touches my heart.

A brief synopsis of my journey includes several days in Athens exploring the history of the city and a day at the Acropolis; Followed by explorations of mainland ruins such as Delphi; Cape Sounion and a Temple of Poseidon on the edge of the Aegean; Mycenae,fabled home of Agamemnon and thriving archaeological site; Epidaurus, a center for ancient medicine with an amazing amphitheater.The ancients believed in holistic healing so music and theater was part of medical treatment; and finally to wrap up the mainland portion of my trip was a quick visit to Nafplion, a picturesque seaside town which was also the original capital of modern Greece.

The second half of my trip was a cruise in the Agean with stops at Mykonos, Kusadasi Turkey, Crete and the Minoan ruins, Patmos, where St. John wrote the book of Revelation, and Santorini.

My trip wasn’t all smooth sailing (pun intended) and I did get a good case of jet lag combined motion sickness the second day of the cruise that almost kept me from seeing Crete. With the care of my tour guide and support of friends I made on the tour, I was able to get off the boat in time to see the ruins. No need to go into all the details but I now have a very profound respect for a good tour guide. I will never take one for granted again. I also know I will not be spending extended time on cruise ships when I retire!

My experience on the cruise ship is a convenient segue to share my insights into traveling with a tour group. I know some people wonder if this method of travel is right for them. Even a couple of friends of mine that travel on their own have asked me about it. I will say there are definite advantages to traveling with a group as well as at least one obvious disadvantage.

A group tour is not for you if you like to do things solely on your own terms or if you like to spend hours or days getting a real in depth feel for a city, museum, or whatever catches your fancy. It is also not for you if you like being spontaneous.

Tours are on a tight schedule and odds are it may not be your schedule. You are often given free time to explore on your own but it may not be enough for what is on your agenda. An escorted group tour wants to give you as many experiences as possible and a general feel for a place or culture. By their nature, these tours have pretty limiting time constraints.

On the other hand an escorted group tour may be right for you if you have other considerations to take in mind.

An escorted group tour takes the hassle out of making reservations at hotels, booking the best flights, and booking tours at special tourist sites. This is nice if you are not sure what the best and safest options are for you or you are pressed for time. I will never forget when I was in Rome seeing the line to the Vatican extend for blocks on end while we just walked in. That day it was well worth being in a group for my personal travel preferences.

Tour groups offer local expertise that you may or may not get by your own efforts. At the Acropolis I overheard several conversations by people who were not entirely sure what they were looking at. Meanwhile, I was getting a very helpful mini history lesson. Several of my day guides on the trip had degrees in Archaeology. They really knew there stuff. Even if you read up on things before you go, if you are like me, it may be overwhelming or confusing when you get to a site or you may just want more information.

Tour groups often lead to meeting interesting people. I have never felt alone on a tour. I can not promise that everyone will have my experience but I have met many wonderful people by traveling with them. It may sound corny but the groups I have traveled with become like a temporary family. I have come to notice that one of the reasons my fellow travelers enjoy group tours is their interactions with other people. This is true for me as well. Finding out where people are from, what careers they have held, what inspired them to take this particular trip etc. adds to my overall travel experience.

Tour groups offer a greater sense of safety. No trip is without risk. However, if you choose to go with an escorted tour group, someone is responsible for making sure you have a safe and fun trip. If you are not where you are supposed to be someone will be looking for you and notifying family if necessary. If you lose your passport or have some other type of problem, it is the tour guide’s job to help you sort things out the best they can. Being a single woman, this is a strong motivation for me to travel with a group.

Ultimately, it is a personal travel preference. For now I will continue to find group tours that peak my interest.

How about you? Have you ever done a group tour vacation? Would you ever consider it?

As always, I would love to hear from you!

Until next time,

Laura

On The Road

Hi everyone!

I know that I am several days late on my post but the reason is because I am traveling. Yay:)

I arrived in Greece yesterday and spent the day wandering around Athens experiencing the sites and sounds.

Today will feature the Acropolis and Cape Sounion. I am so excited to see first hand the history that shaped Western civilization.

I will begin posting photos on my FB page soon.

This is a short post since I just have my phone to type with but I wanted to let you what I am up to.

Until next time,

Laura

Simple Ways to Enjoy Summer

Good morning and happy Monday!

Today is Memorial Day here in the USA.  Along with paying tribute to those who have given their lives in service to this country, it is also the unofficial beginning of summer.  Solstice may not be until June but In my hometown of Greeley, schools are out, barbecues are being fired up, cars are heading to the mountains, and outdoor swimming pools are opening up for the season. As far as we are concerned, summer is here.

Whether  it is the warmer weather, the extra hours of daylight, or seeing all the children enjoying their time away from school; knowing summer is near fills most people with excitement and joy. Whether we have a vacation during the summer months or not, we can find ways to make the most of the warm weather and extra hours of daylight.

Here are some of my ideas for enjoying summer:

Have a meal outdoors

Whether it is morning coffee on the patio, lunch in the park, or a barbecue with friends; get out in the sun and fresh air while enjoying a meal. I believe the fresh air helps us to slow down and enjoy the moment while nourishing our body. I bet it is probably good for digestion too!

Go to a park

City and neighborhood parks can be beautiful and inspiring places. Gardens, walking trails,  water features, historical points of interest, are common features of parks these days. Take a stroll, read a book, have a picnic, or sit and watch people and nature. I have a goal this summer of visiting a different park in Greeley each week. We have dozens of parks here and I tend to stick to my favorites. Time to widen my horizons.

Get active

Go hiking, biking, swimming or any other activity that you enjoy. If you haven’t moved your body in a while, summer is the perfect time to create a new healthy life style routine. Of course, use common sense and make sure your doctor says you are fit enough to engage in any activities you want to pursue. Even an evening stroll after dinner is a great way to start moving your body outdoors and enjoying the summer weather.

Explore 

Take a day trip and explore your own hometown or surrounding area. Most of us are not aware of the businesses, sites, activities, history, and art all around us.  The vacation planning site Trip Advisor  isn’t just for big vacations. This site can give you the top things to do right in your area.

Check out your hometown’s website for summer activities.

Most cities now have websites promoting why your town is a great place to live and work. My hometown,Greeley, started a campaign several years ago called Greeley Unexpected. Our town now promotes everything Greeley with a click of the mouse.  New restaurants, First Fridays filled with art and live music, city sponsored 5k runs and bike rides, movies in the park, museum days, and just about anything else you can think of can be found easily on line.

Go to a Farmer’s Market

Buying local is a great way to support your community as well as enjoy summer. Fresh, locally grown food tastes the best and is the best for your body’s health. Farmer’s Markets are popping up everywhere. If your town does not have one, chances are a nearby town does. My sister and brother in law, Cindy and Pete, have a summer/ fall ritual of riding to the Farmer’s Market in Greeley on their bikes, spending the morning shopping, ( they have a wagon they can attach to one of the bikes to haul groceries) and then stopping at a little restaurant for breakfast on the way home. That is what I call enjoying life’s simple pleasures. 🙂

Think like a kid and plan like an adult

What did you love about summer as a kid? Popsicles,  fresh watermelon, crafts, summer sports, day camp, the swimming pool, movie matinees, the summer library reading club? Can you remember the last time you scheduled activities just for your relaxation and enjoyment? When my nieces were young, I used to enjoy hearing about the things my sister, Cindy, would plan for their summers.  Cindy was a master of planning adventures on a budget. I know the girls had magical summer adventures and relaxing down time thanks to creative planning by my sister. Great summers don’t just happen. It requires the wonder of a child combined with the planning strategies of an adult. We cannot be forever nine years old,  but we can recreate some of the childhood joy summer brought us by consciously structuring our days to enjoy a piece of summer. OK, so day camp is probably no longer on our list of things to do, but how about a summer ceramic class or summer sport league? Go ahead and eat a Popsicle while you plan some adventures based on what brings you joy and sparks your curiosity today.

Plant something

Nothing says summer quite like green lawns, flowers, and vegetable gardens. Perhaps you have a yard and garden that brings you joy and is the envy or your neighbors. If you are like me, it is a small patio with several small containers. Either way, summer is a time for life and growth in nature. It is satisfying to nurture a plant or two and reconnect to the cycles of the seasons.

As always, I would love to hear from you! How do you enjoy summer? Is your summer just getting started or wrapping up? ( for my readers Down Under.) Do you have favorite summer memories?

Until next time,

Laura

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hiking One Step At A Time

 

 

Whoever originally came up with the saying ” One step at a time.” was as wise as Socrates in my opinion. This saying has helped me immensely over the years.

This weekend I went hiking west of Ft. Collins. There is a trail in the foothills called Towers road in a beautiful area called Horsetooth Open Space. Trail runners, hikers, and mountain bikers use this road for practicing their endurance. It is only a little over 3 miles long but in that 3 miles it has a 1,7000 ft elevation gain. Even among the most fit of people, it is rare to see a smile on those headed to the top. No, these people have expressions of pure grit and determination. The smiles are reserved for those heading down the mountain.

I knew going into the hike I wanted to get about a 1,000 ft. elevation gain and about 5 miles of hiking. I planned a route that took me two miles up Towers road and then would take a connecting trail which would have scenic views  back to the parking lot.  The total distance would be 5.3 miles with a 998 ft elevation gain.What I did not realize was how long it had been since I challenged myself to a steep incline.

I felt strong for the first mile and kept a strong, steady pace. As I began my second mile I started to question my ability. My lungs were definitely working, my quads were complaining, and my knee was a little grumpy.  I knew I could make it but a desire to opt for an easier hike was building up in my mind.

It was then I looked up and noticed that the surrounding mountains seemed to have distinct rock formations that I could use to mark distance. I smiled as I made my plan. “I will hike to the first group of rocks and then decide what I will do.” I told myself. Actually,  I already knew what I would do. Once I got to the first group of rocks, I would pick another group of rocks further up the trail and hike towards them. This process was how I was going to trick my mind into hiking the full distance and not back out.

When I reached the 2 mile mark and the connecting trail down I was feeling proud of myself. I knew the remaining 3.4 miles back to the parking lot was  going to be a beautiful hike and a piece of cake compared to the uphill climb. I also knew that by focusing on one short distance at a time I could make it all the way up Towers on my next hike. It would add and extra 700 ft elevation gain and another 1.4 miles in distance. I was so glad I kept going and did not turn back early. It would have been so easy to do and so easy to justify in my mind. The good news for me is that up to this point in my life I have always had just one more step in me.

This week as I navigate through the list of things I need to get done as well as working towards personal goals I want to achieve, I will take a moment to remember the mountain air, picture a formation of rocks ahead on the trail, and take that first step.

As always, I would love to hear from you.

Until next time,

Laura

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Power of Just Getting Out of Bed and Summer Fitness Goals.

 

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Lory State Park

This was a weekend I did not want to end. What started out as a somewhat questionable morning with a low energy level and burn out from the previous week, quickly turned into the perfect weekend that I needed.

Getting out of bed Saturday morning instead of sleeping in turned out to be a good decision. My alarm went off at 6:00 am. Even though it was an hour later than my weekday alarm, I did not feel rested. I stumbled through my coffee and drove to meet my trainer, Mark, desperately wanting more sleep but determined to keep my commitment to myself to put my health and fitness first. .

Mark had me laughing in no time and combined with the exercise and sunshine coming through the window I started feeling more alert than I had all week. By the time Sunday evening came around I had spent time in Old Town Fort Collins, gone on a hike, spent time with my family, snuggled with my cat,  finished my weekend chores, and taken a bike ride. I felt relaxed and at peace.  Being out in the fresh air and seeing people I care about did more for my soul than sleeping and hiding away could have ever done. Sometimes amazing things transpire just by making a commitment to get up in the morming.

With my mental and physical batteries recharged I began thinking about the summer. Summer is when I have the most opportunity to work on my fitness goals. I am committed to health and aging as well as possible. The past two years have been a challenge as I adjusted to my knee injury and worked on regaining my strength. I am feeling stronger than I have in a long time and I am ready to set some personal fitness goals for summer 2018.

Goal 1: Climb a grade 1 or grade 2 14’er

Colorado has dozens of mountains with peaks over 14,000 ft. These peaks are rated according to difficulty and technical skills needed for the climb. Grade 1 and 2 peaks are within the capability of reasonably fit people. The trails are well marked and no special skills or equipment are needed. My main challenges will be getting my knee ready for a 3,000 ft elevation gain and getting my lungs used to hiking at higher elevations than I have the past several years.

Goal 2: Explore bike trails in different towns.

Last summer I spent a great deal of time on my bike. In the end I fell short of my goal of doing a 55 mile ride. Not only did I not meet my goal, I got sick from the heat during the ride and the end result was I became very burned out on bike riding the rest of the summer. Today, however, as I rode from Greeley to Windsor along the Poudre trail, I knew I was ready to enjoy my bike again.  There are some things I have admit about bike riding. First, and foremost, I do not like riding in traffic. I will, if I have to, but it causes me great stress. I do, however, love riding on the car free multipurpose trails found in every city. These trails often connect to other trails allowing a person to ride 50 miles or more without ever riding to close to a semi truck going 65 miles an hour or  distracted driver. In addition, many towns now have bike paths in newer neighborhoods where traffic less congested and speeds are much slower. I can work towards my goal of a 55 mile ride on my terms while seeing many of my favorite towns and exploring new towns from my bike seat. I have not decided as of yet if I will sign up for an official ride this summer. I will see where the summer takes me.

As always, I would love to hear from you. Did you have a good weekend? Do you have any fitness goals for the summer?

Until next time,

Laura

 

Some Thoughts On Traveling Alone

When I was in High School I had a little after school ritual. When the weather allowed,  I would Make a glass of Lipton ice tea and go sit on the back porch step. There I would sit and let the worries of high school life melt away. I would admire mom’s roses and Crab- apple trees and listen to the hum of nearby traffic from the highway. There in the late afternoon sun I would dream. Dream of a life of adventure and travel. All the places I would see and all the things I would experience.

For many years travel and adventure was only a dream. The reality of my life in the early years did not afford me the luxury of traveling the world. Still, I dreamed. Finally, I have a reached a point in my life where I have been able to start making my life long dream of traveling the world a reality. Last spring I went to Italy for my maiden voyage outside the US. Seeing another country, and such a beautiful and historic one at that, left me feeling richer in my soul. This past week I spent several days in Cancun experiencing Mayan ruins as well as some adventures like zip lining in the jungle, repelling, and snorkeling. This June I will be heading to Athens, Greece and the surrounding islands. In my mid 50’s I am becoming a world traveler at long last. Should I have ever had any doubts?

One thing that does come up in casual discussion is the fact that I do travel alone. Well, not really alone.  My trip to Italy was with a tour group. In Mexico, I signed up for guided tours. In Greece, will be with a tour group as well.  So far I have enjoyed meeting the people in my groups and have never felt lonely. Even so, it is interesting and sometimes a bit of a concern, to some people that I do not make plans with family or friends to take these trips.

Reality check, I am not 23 with a whole bunch off BFF’s ready to travel at a moments notice. Nor is it probable that I am going to meet someone in the next several months who is going to sweep me off my feet and show me the world. No, if this girl is going to see the world in the time she has left in this life, she is going to have to make it happen on her own terms. So far it has been worth it.

I am writing this to encourage others to follow their dreams and if this includes travel, not to put it off until you can convince someone to travel with you. As we age it becomes more difficult to match schedules and interests. Maybe you are single like me. Maybe your significant other has no interest in seeing the world or even the country. Either way, this is your life and if you want to experience something only you can make it happen.

Travel can be dangerous. I don’t even want to mention what had been going on in the Cancun area right before my trip. But then again, I am a school teacher in the US. I’m done with the false feeling  of being safe. Heck, there are places in my hometown of Greeley of which I know to stay clear. Bad stuff happens. Life is dangerous.  Just like we avoid bad neighborhoods and rough towns at home, we can be smart about our decisions when we travel so that the odds of keeping safe and having a good time are in our favor.

Things I believe help ensure safe travel:

  • Leave an itinerary with someone. Flights, hotel name, tours. Anything that can trace your steps.  I have read it is good to leave a copy of your passport with someone as well.
  • Be aware of your surroundings, always.
  • Do research on your vacation.  Find out as much as possible about the area to which you are traveling , the hotel you are staying at, tours that you are interested in taking. Trip Adviser is a great resource to read about other people’s experiences. Expedia is good for finding  hotels and reliable companies for outings. They also provide customer ratings.
  • Consider investing in backpacks, purses, and jackets made for travel and discouraging thieves. Pacsafe at https://www.pacsafe.com has lots of purses, backpacks etc. designed for anti theft travel and Scottevest at https://www.scottevest.com/ has clothing designed for carrying everything from wallets and cellphones to water bottles in hidden pockets undetected.
  • Don’t wear flashy, designer items that make you a target for pick pockets, con artists or other predators. You will always stand out to some degree as a tourist but you can keep the bull’s eye on your back as small as possible.
  • Be friendly ( It is fun to meet new people) but trust no one. Watch how your drinks are made and do not leave them unattended.
  • Sign up for guided tours. It is the job of the tour guide to ensure you have a good time and arrive to and leave from your hotel safely.
  • Stick with your travel group. There is safety in numbers.
  • When alone in a hotel lobby or restaurant, look confident and self-assured. My friend, Tracey, suggested to look like you are  walking with a group of near by people if you are feeling a little unsure of your surroundings.
  • Don’t get drunk, stoned, or  do anything stupid that compromises your ability to stay alert or defend yourself.

If I am honest, there are times I get nervous doing things alone. It is hard to coordinate with people to go on hikes, bike rides, and yes, travel. I try to let people know my plans for hiking or a day trip to a mountain town, as well as big vacations. No system is full proof but at the end of the day I want to say I lived the life I wanted to live to the fullest.

One final thought. There is a really big perk to traveling alone. You don’t have to worry about the comfort or interests of anyone else. You get to do exactly what you want to do without compromise. I know that a vacation with your loved one is pretty wonderful but if that isn’t in the cards, some quality “me” time is pretty awesome too!

As always, I would love to hear from you. Have you ever traveled alone? Would you ever consider it?

Until next time,

Laura

 

 

 

A Day of Unexpected Twists and Turnes

There is a wisdom and art to aging gracefully. Perhaps it is my discovering this wisdom that keeps me coming back to  the same themes as I sit down to write my blog. Getting outdoors, finding balance in life, and spring cleaning my mind.

Another beautiful Colorado weekend was at hand as well as an extra hour of sun light on Sunday compliments of the beginning of Day Light Savings Time. I had decided several weeks ago to make hiking a priority this summer and knew I needed to make time to spend several hours on a trail.

I had the day planned out in ensure I would have plenty of time to hike as well as plan for the upcoming work week. Well, I did have a plan. I ignored my alarm and barely made it to church by 10:00. I had a plan to head to Devil’s backbone outside of Loveland right after church but I ended up staying and having a much needed talk with my priest and friend, Father Brian, instead. Better late than never, I headed up to the hills about 1:30. When I arrived the parking lot to the trail head was full. Up to this point I had been going with the flow. This was my first flash of frustration for the day. Fortunately, A car left as I was was being turned away and I was allowed in at the last minute.

Running late and almost being turned away from my hike finally caught up with me. Somehow while enjoying the fresh air and sunshine my brain soon returned to the familiar habit of worrying. “Will I have time to go to the store? Should I try to pick up cat food? That’s  an extra stop.  I need to finish grades first thing tomorrow morning. Don’t forget to get the pictures from music classes approved so you can upload them to your music page. You have to talk to Steph about the showcase before you go back to Hudson. You only have two weeks to practice. ” Blah, blah blah.

Just as a realized my mind had slipped into overdrive worrying about very mundane things, a lady hiker smiled and said ” Do you see the herd of deer over there? I looked down into the valley and there was a herd of about 20 deer peacefully grazing. I had almost missed it. What else had I neglected to notice? I was in the foothills of the Rockies on a glorious day worried about picking up cat food. “Enough of this nonsense!” I thanked her as we watched the deer for a few moments before hiking off on our separate ways. The rest of the hike I enjoyed the beauty, exchanged pleasantries with dozens of hikers and runners, and embraced an afternoon of hiking and relaxation.

Once I realized what I was doing in my mind to sabotage my enjoyment of the day,  I decided to shift my perspective.

  • I overslept because I was exhausted and needed some sleep. I am more refreshed for it.
  • I left church late because I chose to have a much needed conversation with a friend.
  • A parking space opened up a just the right time. What good luck.
  • I was open to the people around me on the trail showing me how to get back on track. I had lots of positive encounters with humanity today.

As I write this I can happily say I had a relaxing Sunday. I was able to clear my mind of negative thoughts and emotions, and get some much needed fresh air and exercise. I added a mile from my last hike ( 5 miles) and my knee feels great. In addition,  I enjoyed an unplanned rest and and a much needed conversation with a friend. Going off plan actually gave me more than what I had planned for.

Perhaps a part of wisdom is not just knowing what is important in life but knowing how to adjust as things start to veer off course. Sometimes the unplanned twists and turns in the day work out better than what we had planned for ourselves.

As always, I would love to hear from you!

Have you ever had things veer off course just to find things not only work out but turn out even better than you expected?

Until next time,

Laura

 

 

MY First Hike Of 2018

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This weekend I found myself driving up to Coyote Ridge outside of Ft. Collins, Colorado for my first hike of 2018. I have not been on these trails or any mountain trail very often the past two years. In 2016 I had half of my meniscus removed and my recovery was not quick. The past two summers I focused more on bike riding since it is easier on the knees.  I did a few hikes but I found myself frustrated at what I perceived to be a dramatic loss of strength. I am ready to hike on a regular basis again. I am feeling much stronger and I feel that it is time to head back up to the hills.

As a pulled into the Coyote Ridge parking area a familiar feeling rose up inside of me. Before my surgery I had begun trail running. Countless hours had been spent training on these trails.  My mind flashed back to meeting my friends Shawna and Jason at 5 am on weekends as we prepared for what would be my first and only half marathon.

As if on cue, the moment I stepped from the parking lot onto the trail, several trail runners who had been walking  next to me broke out into a warm-up pace jog and whisked quickly on by. My heart sank just a little. ” That was then, this is now.” I told myself and regained my resolve to have a great hike. I felt strong as I climbed. My heart rate was up just enough to feel the workout but not so high that I had to sit down. I had a good pace, the weather was perfect, and the scenery beautiful. I ended up hiking 4.5 miles and about 500 ft. elevation gain which was just perfect for my knee. When I reached the 2 mile mark I was tempted to go much further before turning around because I knew some of the best scenery was still ahead. I could tell however, my knee would be done long before I got down to the parking lot if I continued on. That’s OK. I have a starting point. I know what a comfortable distance and elevation gain is for me at this point. Now, I can talk with my trainer, Mark, about goals for the summer.

That’s the thing about life. We don’t know when we are going to get thrown a curve ball . Things change and we adapt. It is not always pleasant or easy. Before my injury I planned to run for many years to come. I had my eyes set on a half marathon near the Grand Canon for 2016 and was entertaining the idea of possibly training for a full marathon. It never occurred to me I would spend the better part of two years trying to regain flexibility, strength, and dealing with arthritic pain. There were many days when getting through a day of teaching was tough on my body.

Mark’s Business is named Evolve ( @icanevolve on Facebook if you want to check out his page.) and that is what I intend to do. I am getting stronger every day. It may not be exactly the way I had envisioned but I am definitely stronger and wiser, for moving forward.

As a side note, I did not injure my knee running. It was an ill thought out moment during a teacher in-service day involving a skate board and a slick gym floor.

As we age, we become aware that it is quality of life is of utmost importance. As I move through my 50’s I am grateful for the opportunity to get out in nature and move. I want to be as healthy and strong as possible in the years to come.

I would love to hear your thoughts on hiking and physical fitness as we age. Have you tried something new or had to give up something that you used to enjoy?

Until next time,

Laura