For me that somewhere is much more pitiful than I had hoped. Yesterday I completed hike #3 in our series of training hikes for my upcoming EXTREME Hike for a Cure for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation (for more info and to support my cause visit my fundraising page here.) But first, let me back up a little bit since I have been horrible at updating my blog these last few weeks. Please forgive me. After all, I have been training for a 30 mile hike people.
I know I promised those who have donated that there will pictures of me red-faced from exertion, and I’m sure those will come, but in the meantime you will have to settle for a few pre-hike shots and an account of my recent struggles on the trail. Note that I hate myself in pictures, so I hope this helps satisfy your need to see me embarrassed in some small way. The following pictures are awful, and for those reasons if you do not already know me – I’m not pointing myself out.
US National Whitewater Center – Hike Kickoff July 14th
Unfortunately the weekend of our kickoff there had been torrential downpours and the hiking trails at the USNWC were closed. We still intended to get in our 3 miles, so we did laps around the center. Did I mention we completed those laps on a sweltering 100-degree day without a cloud in the sky and I was only a day recovered from strep throat? That’s dedication. Or, we are all mildly insane. Possibly a combination of both.
Since I kept up with previous hike alumni during the kickoff weekend despite the fact I was coming off three days bed rest, I felt pretty good about my ability to tackle this hike. The following weekend made me re-think my confidence in a big way.
Crowder’s Mountain July 22nd
I’m no stranger to Crowder’s Mountain. It’s roughly a 30-minute drive south from me, and one of my favorite spots for a quick weekend hike. Since I’d hiked it plenty of times I figured this would be an easy training, and our calendar had it listed as about 2-4 miles which I had done plenty of times before. Easy peasy. Apparently I didn’t appreciate how more challenging a trail can become depending on which direction you decide to come up, and which side you choose to go down. Note to self: Rock Top trail is hard as hell when you choose to climb up the extreme vertical incline covered in gigantic rocks.
I started out at the head of the pack with a few other ladies and feeling quite content with my ability to breeze through. The first few miles I was keeping pace, but once we reached a steep vertical incline where we had to climb over rocks, my pace ground to a halt. I find myself slowing basically to a stop, taking a brief moment to rest before continuing to trudge up the mountain. At this point those other ladies are completely out of sight, and so is my confidence. What the hell have I gotten myself into? It is only week 2 and I can’t keep up.
I make it through, slowly but surely. I even manage to catch up with the group pretty quickly, and on the downhill I rock it out no problem. I’m not the fastest, (that’s this chick who’s a machine – she literally runs circles around the rest of us) but I am already at a 3 mph pace which is exactly what we need to maintain for the Big Hike. I’ve learned my weak area, and that’s steep elevation. This terrifies me because for the first 2-3 hours I will be climbing the following, in the dark —
Yeah, you read that right. For the first ten miles we are increasing from about 3000 feet all the way up to 6000. Currently I can hardly tackle an elevation gain of a few hundred feet. I repeat, what the hell did I get myself into?
I keep reassuring myself that you have to start somewhere, and from here I can only get better. This is the craziest thing I have ever committed to and I’m pretty freaked about how I’ll perform on Hike Day. In high school I was the one who refused to exert any real effort in the quarterly mile run test – this princess walked it every time. I wasn’t involved in a sport, and I’ve spent most of my life avoiding any situation in which I might break a bone or suffer major injury.
At 25 I find myself unexpectedly becoming an athlete. I spend more of my time in sneakers and sports bras than six-inch heels, and I’m constantly in a state of sweatiness. And you know what? I absolutely freakin’ love it.