Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Revisiting The Incline Summer Edition


Last December, y'all who were with me back then may recall that I went with the track team down to Colorado Springs and we ran up the Manitou Incline - the 1-mile, 2200' vertical climb up the side of a mountain. (ran?  haha...um, hiked is a better word).

Last December, I had barely run in 5 months due to that stupid little pain in my foot. I was grossly out of shape, evident at how bad I sucked going up. 

Fast forward 6 months: I got the brilliant idea I needed to go back down and run hike that beast again.  I mean.... if I was in horrible shape in December, let's add an additional 3-months of zero running followed by a couple handfuls of runs since May, mostly on my 0% inclined treadmill - December had nothing on me compared to how poor my fitness had gotten by May (I admit it, I've been a treadmill hog in my return to running....I'm just a little too fearful of the foot copping an attitude when I'm 4 miles from home; trust me when I say I've been there, done that, and hobbling many miles on a screaming heel isn't exactly the most fun I've ever had). 
The group at the start.  Anyone notice one of the Happy Trails duo?
But my foot's been feeling better.  Not perfect, but better.  My son, Brendan, needed some vertical training for his upcoming Mt. Whitney ascent in July.  A client/friend I've been working with is in the same boat as Brendan. And my other son, Ryan, loves the Incline and is always eager for any run.

Seemed like the perfect time to do a little Incline!  I emailed Kathleen and Steve from Happy Trails and thankfully they were free and anxious to go up too, along with about half the state of Colorado and 300,000+ tourists.  Gotta love the tourist who has no clue what they're getting into ;).
I tried to find out exactly how many RR ties there are to the top and best I can find is 2744
That's a LOT of steps.
The Manitou Incline was built as a cable car to carry materials to build pipelines on Pikes Peak. After the pipelines were finished it was turned into a tourist attraction. After a rock slide damaged a section of track in 1990, the Manitou Incline was closed down and the rails removed. Some locals started using it for a tough workout and it has become the most popular hike in the Colorado Springs area since.
I think I literally saw my PT's blood pressure rise a couple hundred points when I told him today I went up that thing.  :)
That's my son, Brendan, hauling up 40 extra lbs with his backpack

View from the top.  Stunning!
My friend/client and I at the summit.  She's going to ROCK Mt. Whitney next month!
The group at the top, sans Ryan, who had some asthma problems and bailed half way up.
That's what he gets for being super fast.
I really had no idea how I'd fare on this thing; I only knew my foot was feeling better, my tanked cardiovascular fitness was sloooooowly climbing out of the pit it's been suffocating in for a year, and it was time to test the waters.  Slow and steady was my approach and that's what I did.  I don't know my overall time this round, I stopped a bit more than I did in December because I was worried Brendan was going to fall backwards with that heavy pack on so I'd hike up a bit and then wait a minute or two for him to catch up (in December, he drug my sorry ass up that thing....but he didn't have half a small human on his back then either).

Amazingly, I felt great.  Really great!!  Yes, I was slow but I wasn't gagging on a lung.  I wasn't gasping for air.  I wasn't sitting on the side of a step in tears, screaming I couldn't make it (thankfully no one in my party was that victim, but I did witness this); I really wish I would have had the foresight to wear my HR monitor because I am certain it wasn't skyrocketing off the charts like it had in December. 

Yet, the real test for my heel was getting down this thing (thus my PT's gasp).  One could go back down this little incline, and a few do, but most op to go down the back side of the Incline and take the Barr Trail down to the bottom, a very nice single track dirt trail, which is the trail that will take you to the top of Pikes Peak (used for the Pikes Peak Marathon race in August).
Barr Trail and 14,011' Pikes Peak in the background (thanks HT for the pic I stole :))
Running downhill forces you on your heel more, and this was concerning (duh).  Add to that, the trail is chalked full of extruding rocks and tree roots - very easy to whack your heel.  It probably wasn't wise to run down, but I told Kathleen I was going to try and the heart-of-gold soul she is got in front of me and I just tried to follow her footsteps, concentrating on mid-foot landing - and trying to not do a face-plant! 

That girl only hits the trails and runs like a gazelle, graceful and floating over the bigger rocks like they didn't even exist.  Me, I mimic more the grace of an elephant and my arms are flailing every which way.

But I made it.  The entire 4 miles down.  Only stopping once to talk to a guy with a "Quad Cities Marathon" t-shirt on (one must talk to anyone from your hometown, right??).

And my heel?  Happy, happy, HAPPY!

Ok, well maybe not 100% pain-free, but the pain I had was minimal and manageable and I ran a heck of a lot faster than I ever thought I could.

When I reached the bottom, my spirit was elated.  SOARING!!

This was exactly the confidence building day I needed!

Kathleen and I chatted for awhile after our run as we waited for the others to make their way down - it was the best conversation I've had with anyone in months.  K, who's been dealing with her own personal health and fitness demons the past few months, felt amazing up the Incline and fully understood how incredible this day felt to me.  She understood how this past year and a half has been nothing but hell for me. ...about reaching the brink of defeat .....

....and driving through on sheer grit and determination.

Like every worthwhile pursuit in life, you just gotta begin by putting one foot in front of the other - and move those feet in the right direction.  Reconnecting with my passion to run, the thing I have loved since I was young, is more than remembering the runner I once was. It is the culmination of who I once was was, who I am now, and who I am becoming.

Reminding me that .....everything is possible.  Thanks, Manitou Incline - I had an amazing day!

Run Strong, Friends!  Happy Summer!!!

54 comments:

Jennifer said...

Great post! So happy you were able to have such a variety of adventure, in one day, and have no pain! I just have to look at pictures of the incline and my HR goes up. Someday I will make it out there to try it! XOX

Kandi said...

Love it! Looks like an awesome workout and I'm so happy that you were able to do it mostly pain free. You live in a beautiful part of the country. Someday I'll get out there to see for myself.

Adrienne said...

Great post and yay for the foot! My lungs burn just looking at that thing!!

Running and living said...

So happy your heel is better! It's about time, ha! If you keep doing these awesome adventure runs, you will be in tip top shape in no time! Jill is baaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaack:)

Julie said...

WooHoo!!!! How awesome that your heel is feeling so much better! That sounds like a truly great day. I think the Incline is something I'm just going to pass on. :)

I'm very happy for you!

Jason said...

Yes, love it. That is great news and so happy for you. Hopefully that heel is finally cooperating with you and this was a big test.

See you tomorrow....ha ha ha....love that.

Johann said...

Really great outing and workout! This is something you don't do alone I think. So good that you are without pain. I've been reading about Pikes Peak marathon in "Extreme Running". It looks like a really good race.

Suzy said...

YAY!!! I'm so glad your heel felt well. I hope it keeps getting better. I think a climb like that would do me in. Then again, half my runs are all of 100' above sea level so 2200' sounds daunting.

Amanda@runninghood said...

This is AWESOME Jill. So happy to see the word happy written in here so many times! Makes me happy! Hope your spirits are still soaring from that "high". :) Looks beautiful.

HappyTrails said...

That was SO much fun - made even more fun by the fact that you had a good day and the heel behaved - we need good days now and then, in the midst of our challenges, to encourage and remind us that a whole slew of good days are laying in wait soon. Don't give up - happy days will be here again! That was just one!
Let's go climb it again in a few weeks, ok? It will only make us stronger! Thanks for being a big part of a great day! :-)

XLMIC said...

I love how your son had to make it harder :) I wish I had a tough-as-nails kid like that! You are a warrior, Jill. Tackling that so successfully is so inspiring for me. I know it felt great to get up feeling better than in December, but I know it felt BEST coming down w/o that heel giving you a load of screaming crap :) YAY!!!

TX Runner Mom said...

What an awesome view from up there. Great post and awesome job climbing!

Beth said...

It is so great to hear that your heel is feeling better, if anyone deserves it, you do!

Marlene said...

YEAH! Way to tackle the climb - and descent. Brave indeed but YOU knew you were capable. What a boost!!! And hello incredible views. Will you take me up when I come visit? :)

Meg said...

IT sounds like you're BACK, so happy for you!!! I can't believe that incline, I'd be dragging my way to the top but with friends, you made it look FUN and easy. Stud!!
Happy Summer for sure!
When are you coming this way?
We've already had running peeps passing through and visiting...consider yourself invited!
xoxo

marathonmaiden said...

HIZZAH! i'm so glad you were able to do this. looks like so. much. fun.

Cory Reese said...

Those pictures are incredible! That looks like so much fun!

Terzah said...

Can I come with you next time? :^) I love hard things that turn out well and make you feel deservedly good about yourself. And though I've lived in CO for 9 years now and have heard lots about this trail, I've never done it. Pikes Peak Ascent is on my bucket list, so this would be good practice.

CautiouslyAudacious said...

Good job! Great pics too! The way down is also hard on me, knees tend to hurt more.

Caratunk Girl said...

First - I am so happy to hear your heel was happy!! YAY! What a confidence builder, right?

That looks freaking awesome, I think I would cry the whole way down though. My knees hate downhill. I wish I was closer, I totally want to do that!

BabyWeightMyFatAss said...

sounds like a great day! Had know idea you were from Quad City!

Rose @ Eat, Drink, and Be Meiri said...

I must be crazy, but that looks like so much fun!

I'm glad it didn't kill your heel!

Char said...

It's good to hear you're back to your masochistic best. There's nothing like a huge audacious challenge to really get you going and feeling like you're alive.

Shellyrm ~ just a country runner said...

So happy to read this! What a great day for you. An amazing workout and the heel behaved!
As always so envious of your beautiful surroundings!

Generation X (Slomohusky) said...

Great! Great news on your heel. Fun to see all of ya in one pix! I must do this some day. Yet, I think my Achilles just popped looking at the Pix?!

funderson said...

Hooray! Wonderful! I'm glad you had such a great day.

Anne said...

Look at all those happy faces at the top! And what a view!! I'm glad you're physically doing so much better, Jill.

ajh said...

Yeah Yeah Yeah for such a good day for you (and Kathleen) in so many ways. Loved reading this!

Irene said...

That's fabulous, girlie! Everything really is possible. What an incline... Yeah, I'd be a bit concerned if my son was carrying that weight up THAT steep of an incline. Great photos.

Mike said...

Wow, those pics are awesome! Congrats on the heel cooperating too. The HR data would have been interesting, maybe a repeat workout is in order.

The Green Girl said...

That's what I'm talking about! ::high fives::

Liz said...

Those pictures are awesome! I'd love to live near some mountains like that and see those views!

Laura said...

So happy for you....and the heel!

Andrew Opala said...

Interesting that you have Manitou in the local Indian languages like we have here.

Great God Manitou!

Molly said...

YAY!!!!! what an amazing day, so happy that the hell, I mean heel is behaving for you. You sound very happy chickie!!! : )

tahoegirl said...

Holy crap. What day were you there? I was visiting my cousin who lives there and we did it Monday! I was terribly difficult for me coming from sea level, but it was amazing!

racing dawn said...

Yay! Yay! Yay! That looks amazing and gorgeous!!! I so would love to come and do that! Colorado is gorgeous!

And so happy that is was a good experience...mostly pain free. :)

Big Daddy Diesel said...

Is it bad that my first thought was "wow that is freaking crazy" directly followed by, "I soooo want to do that"

Do people do repeats on that monster?

Happy Feet 26.2 said...

oh happy day! Sometimes just doing something different adds so much spice to the routine. This week I hit the power line trails, and NOT being a trail runner, I was elated to leave the trail remaining upright, and without an injury. I call that success! It added a spark to the week.

termite said...

i'm soooo happy your heel is better!

what a view! i loved the one looking down. *wowee*

and yes, everything is possible.
everything. :)

xo

Aimee said...

Awesome, awesome, awesome! I am so happy for you! And, how beautiful is that at the top?!

Jenn said...

Hey Jilly! A little behind here nursing the strep throat nastiness and just taking a blog break!

First of all, before I even get to your post, THANKYOU so much for all of your support! You are really really one of the REAL ones!! I love you and your thoughtfulness and your comments and your sincerity.....

OK-this view. Breathtaking. I MUST MUST visit you and do this!! You sound so AMAZINGLY happy in this post. Like bits and pieces of YOU are just all coming back together and after all this blech you're BACK!!!! Your paragraph at the end there was AWESOME. JUST AWESOME!!! And you're right Jill, EVERYTHING is possible!! Smiling right now thinking of you:)

Julie said...

Yay! Jill!!! So freaking happy for you girl! A heel that is pain free and a spirit that soars! Is there anything better? I am thinking not! This was a great post and your excitment jumps out...loving it! Keep up with the positive attitude and there is nothing that you will not be able to do! So happy for you Jill! Love and hugs for my Colorado blogger friend!

2 Slow 4 Boston said...

I think the best part is that your heel felt fine. Coming in a close second was that you made it up with ease considering.

I'm starting to think about Pikes Peak more and more every day.

Chris K said...

F yeah. This is one of the best posts you've had in awhile. I mean in relation to your heel and all. Not in relation to your normally entertaining posts. Cuz they are always entertaining. And, I'm not blowing sunshine either.


Looks like Team San Diego is collaborating on the big Jill visit in July.

Teamarcia said...

Girl Im so happy for you! What a cool excursion and the heels behaving!! Can't tell you how much I loved reading this. Somebody's on the comeback trail. Half marathon end of July? What do you think?

Paul said...

Jeez,that is STEEP. Yoikes!

Glad you had a great day running!

Alisa said...

First time visiting your blog! That looks like funny! Or maybe I'm just a masochist. I'm moving CO up on my list of states to visit just so I can battle the incline.

Small Town Runner said...

Oh my GOODNESS that's steep. I would LOVE to see the look on your PT's face when he heard! haha.

This is what I get to look forward to...hiking in cool places with sons I can hardly keep up with. This is good incentive to keep in top shape :)

Black Knight said...

I am so happy for you. Looking at the pic, I think that the arrival at the top is an unforgettable moment.
Great post.
For a sailor like me the mountains are always a nice surprise.

ownyourbackbone.blogspot.com said...

You blog is awesome! I hope your back feels better. So nice to meet you. Great Mom, Great Runner, Great Person, Great Blog.

Christi said...

Jill that is so freakin' awesome!

bangle44 said...

That's awesome! Sounds like a blast. I saw that thing when I was in town last year and couldn't believe people went up it. Now I want to do it. Great pics.

Brett Martin said...

I miss the incline so so much :( I moved to Texas last August and I want to go back so bad! Its one of my favorite challenges, and I felt great every time I finished!