Sometimes We Conquer Mountains

First of all, THANK YOU SO MUCH for all of the words of encouragement yesterday! Have I mentioned recently how much I love you all? Because I really do. And thank you for not telling me that I’m crazy, even if you’re thinking it (trust me, I’m thinking it too).  You guys are amazing!


So, as part of the whole, We’re Running a Marathon thing, we decided to do a kick-off by climbing a mountain (if you are singing Miley Cyrus right now, then my job here is done).  Also, while my knee wasn’t loving the idea of running this weekend, walking was fine, so naturally walking 8 miles with a 3,775 elevation gain seemed like a good idea!

Albuquerque has a  mountain chain called the Sandias that make up the eastern border of the city.  The La Luz trail will take you from the bottom to the top at a 12% grade incline.  I’ve climbed the trail before, and Aaron has done it many times, but we thought the whole idea of conquering a mountain seemed like a great way to jump into the 18 week marathon battle.  How awesomely symbolic are we?

We got our start at 7 a.m. at the same time as a friendly group of Canadians.  Every person on the trail at that point was running up.  I wanted to start running with them (I was totally worried about being judged as a non-runner…THE HORROR) but my knee and my fear of aggravating it further told me to keep walking.  I was impressed that so many people were starting their Sunday with a nice trail run.

La Luz starts out as a desert climate.  My incentive to walk faster was knowing that the higher we got, the less likely we were to encounter rattlesnakes!  I HATE rattlesnakes!

 {looking up to our destination}

At about mile 5, the dirt trail converts to a boulder field.  You are essentially hiking over a rock slide that happened possibly 1000 years ago! The whole thing feels a little unstable, like, yes, those rocks have been there for hundreds of years, but it isn’t like they are attached to anything.

The trail ends as a forest with wildflowers, large pine trees, and ferns replacing cacti and yucca and a magnificent view of the city and beyond.

While I wouldn’t classify this trail as a very hard climb, it is a wonderful reminder that 1) we are small compared to the vastness of the world and 2) we are not invincible.  One rock slide or one trip over the edge, and you’re done for.  Yet overcoming that fear and living life “on the edge” will be well worth the effort (symbolism AND metaphors? I’m on a roll!).

I’d be lying if I said I didn’t offer a prayer of thanks for my legs and their ability to walk, run, and to climb.  Our bodies are such powerful tools, and I am blessed to have complete freedom to use mine without limitations.  I am thankful for every step I took up that mountain.

Almost 4 hours and nearly 8 miles later, we reached the top, triumphant, and actually not all that worn out. We celebrated with our pre-made peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and beers that Aaron carried up the mountain for us! There is a restaurant at the top, but it was a Sunday, and you can’t purchase alcohol before noon in New Mexico on Sundays.  So we provided our own mountaintop party.

Instead of climbing back down 8 miles, we took the Tram (Formally the world’s longest) down the mountain in a trip that took less than 20 minutes to cover what took us almost 4 hours.  (It is of note to mention that if you opt to do this, you have to pre-park a car at the base of the tram, then drive a second one to the base of the trail.  They are about 2 miles apart).

We conquered the mountain like we hope to conquer marathon training!  And, as an added bonus, after the hike, my knee actually felt better!

Training Tuesday Week 3 and Trail Runs

This weekend was the start of  our 3rd week of half marathon training.  Even though I very proudly and excitedly ran 8 consecutive miles on Sunday without feeling all that terrible,  I truthfully expected to be faster and to have more energy by now.  Only about 4 months ago I was ingreat shape, but now I’m having a hard time getting back to where I was.  Guess I shouldn’t have taken all that time off from working out during the summer.

We’re running a 5K race in a few weeks, and I set out to finish in 22 minutes (which should put me somewhere in the top 10 women, based on last year’s results), but I’m not at all confident that I will pull that off.

And as much as I love the sunshine and hot weather, running in 91 degree heat is kind of miserable.  Thankfully, we have a recovery week starting on Saturday with 2 days off and a short run on Sunday.

According to running guru Aaron, this is the training we’ll be doing this week:

Saturday: 4 mile run

Sunday: 1 hour and 15 minute run (we got 8 miles in)…up 5 minutes from last week

Monday: Easy 3 mile run;  strength training

Tuesday: Interval training: 1.5 mile warm-up, 7 sets of alternating 5-k speed quarter miles with jogging quarter miles (so…14 times around the track: 7 at a brisk pace, 7 at a jog pace), 3/4 mile cool down jog/walk; strength training

Wednesday: Easy 3 mile run;  strength training

Thursday: Tempo run:  15 minutes easy jogging pace, 20 minutes 10-k pace, 5 minutes easy jogging pace (40 minutes total, up 5 from last week)

Friday: Rest or easy run


We decided to switch it up a bit during our Saturday morning run and head to the foothills.  Trail running is great for training.  Getting off the hard asphalt really helps to reduce the impact on your body.  Also, the terrain is constantly switching from uphill to downhill so all muscle groups are getting a good workout.  Plus, the air seems a little more fresh (if not thinner) than it is further down into the city.

Despite the risk of extreme fire,  numerous bear sightings in the area, AND rattlesnakes potentially attacking me (my personal irrational fear), it was a great 4 mile jog!


(Candid shot of me staring at the gourds).

A Celebration of NOT Being Housebound

I semi-ignored all chatter of Hurricane Irene until Friday (Hurricane during Hurricane season in the Bahamas? Novel!) when I finally realized that the entire East Coast was going to be obliterated.  And then I couldn’t stop watching.  I don’t know what it is about natural disasters that drives my interest so much (maybe because THANKFULLY I have never been in one aside from some small earthquakes), but we had CNN on from Friday evening until Sunday morning, watching the storm as it made its way up the coast and waiting for mass chaos to ensue.

Even Giuseppe watched the coverage. 

In a moment of gratitude over not being one of the 65 million people affected by the storm, we thought we’d celebrate because unlike the masses stranded without transportation and under evacuation orders and curfew restrictions, we had complete freedom to be outside and just out of the house in general.

Actually, before making it out, we decided to try some Polish chocolate that one of Aaron’s clients brought from Poland.  Not as impressed with the candy, but I love packaging in foreign languages.  It makes the contents a little more of a surprise. You never know what kind of crazy things Polish people might put into chocolate.

After a somewhat unsatisfying chocolate experience, we decided that it was about time for Giuseppe  to visit the Nob Hill cafe that inspired his name,  Cafe Giuseppe. Plus, I had run out of coffee and desperately needed a coffee fix.

Sunday, after watching CNN try desperately to convince the nation that Irene really was that bad (not to say that flooding and any damage isn’t bad, it just wasn’t mass chaos), and after enduring an 8 mile run in the hot sunshine, we decided to take a quick trip up to the top of the Sandia Mountains for a hike.

It was nice to finally see some greenery and plant life after a summer with no rain.  The Sandia Crest is in a different climate zone, so it actually gets moisture more often than we do in the city.

Aaron packed us a picnic lunch complete with sandwiches, chips, cookies, and sangria for us to enjoy overlooking the city from over 10,000 feet above sea level.

Once we made our way back home (in time to watch Lady Gaga have an identity crisis on the VMA’s of course), we got our own little bit of hurricane weather with a downpour of a thunderstorm to usher us (fittingly) into the week.

Friday Night Hike

The Lavenders are doing a 5-K race this morning, so last night, instead of our usual run, possibly compromising our racing speed, we decided to take advantage of the amazing weather and late evening daylight and go for a Friday hike in the foothills.

Rock climbing is not my forte

I love my mountains.  If I had ultimate power, I would take the Sandias and plop them next to whatever city I lived in.   Unfortunately I also have an irrational fear of rattlesnakes, so during the hot summer months, I am perfectly happy just looking at them from afar as opposed to actually hiking in them.  But this time of year, the trails are relatively rattlesnake free, so I had no problem being nature girl for an hour.


Yesterday we opted to go to the Embudito Trail at the top of Glenwood Hills between Montgomery and Manitoba. The trail was DRY.  Without a doubt a small mistake could easily start a fire like the one that broke out  this week at the top of Menaul and Tramway.  Kind of amazing how venerable this dynamic habitat is.  

But otherwise, the trees are blooming and birds are unhibernating.  We even found a small stream of run-off (we did slightly venture off the approved trail, but Aaron is kind of a mountain man who really knows his way around the foothills, so I trusted his judgment). 

Aaron was in charge of the pictures (hence the 10 or so taken of my backside as I hiked down in front of him), and his Android Retro Camera really makes the trail look amazing. 


Happy Trails!

A & A