Year End What’s Up/ What’s Next

Well, 2014, it’s been real.

This year has been a huge tornado of firsts and changes. Sometimes, a few life path alterations keep us pointed in the same direction, but I have had so many this year that I truly feel like my life has started in on a new journey.

The year started off in an epic way- my first lifting meet! I flew down in January to Dallas Texas to meet up with some of the best people on the planet- other Rebels from Nerd Fitness. We met up at a Crossfit gym, and cheered each other on towards a mountain of PR’s. Hanging out with them was a highlight for me, and now that it’s almost a year later, I miss them all so much. Such good people.

Nerd Fitness Crew

In May my best friend and I did our very first Spartan race. It was one of the most challenging things I had done. The water was freezing, the obstacles were difficult, and the finish was epic. I’m thinking I might even shoot for more in 2015…

Spartan

June brought one of the most epic things I have ever done, which led me to one of the most amazing communities ever. GORUCK. I participated in a Light, and now I have plans to get a challenge in 2015, and maybe a few more events? Hint hint, GORUCK, a scavenger in Colorado would be cool…  My reward to myself and a belated birthday present was Ziva, my GORUCK pack. Easily the most comfortable bag I’ve ever owned.

GORUCK Light Class 322

Most of my summer was spent hiking, 14ers in specific. There are quite a few that I still want to get to, and 2015 has their names written all over it. I’m really excited to get back out on the trails and to keep pushing my limits. I was trying to think of which summit was my favorite, but I don’t think I can nail it down to just one. Catching sunrise on Mount Sherman was amazing. Getting 3 out of 4 of The Quad was challenging and fun. Pikes Peak was an awesome hike and though it was long, it was gorgeous, with multiple different types of terrain. Evans’ summit was quick, and the way down was… trailblazing…

The Quad

In August I took a twist with my 5k adventures and started to Ruck them (ie, carrying weight in a pack, and instead of running I do a quick walk, like a shuffle, but more effective.) I had been shooting for 45 minutes or less with the weight, and at the Esprit de She I clocked in at 44:08!!! I was on fire and I felt amazing!

Esprit de She 2014

In the fall I started attending November Project on Wednesday mornings, before work. The workouts are killer, and though I’m the slowest person there, I never feel unwelcome, and I always get a good burn. Free fitness? Hello. I’ve even been given the positivity award twice, which is crazy because THEY are the ones who keep me positive!

NP5280

I finished up the year taking a massive step towards a Life Quest goal of mine (Becoming a Search and Rescue K9 handler). This December, I completed my Wilderness First Aid certification. We spent 2 days in the mountains working through lessons and scenarios, and the scenarios specifically showed me that this is what I want to be doing.

Med Training Group

Unrelated to health and fitness, my life took another huge turn. In September, I felt like I was being called out of ministry. I had been working at my church full time for almost 8 years, and the thought of leaving my job scared me and made me sick to my stomach. But, God provided and showed me where he wanted me to go- and confidently I went. The change has been one of the most difficult things I have ever done, but I know it was the right thing.

Related to health, I also started to see a chiropractor. I am feeling great, and I am hoping that the long term benefits to this are everything that I hope they will be. My Chiro showed us our X-rays and walked us through all the different aspects to them; I feel sort of like an expert on my spine! All the areas where it Zigs instead of Zags directly relate to issues that I have physically and emotionally. It’s amazing.

Upcoming for 2015:

1. More Spartan! I’m thinking a Super?

2. More GORUCK! A challenge in June for my birthday!

3. More November Project! Ya’ll good?

4. More 14ers! Bierstad, Quandary, Democrat…

5. More safety! I’m applying for my church’s safety team!

6. More lifting! I am determined to get my 500# club patch this year!

I’m preparing for a wild ride…

The Manitou Incline

So this weekend my friend invited Mr Ham and I to climb the Manitou Incline with her and her boyfriend.

For those of you who don’t know about the Manitou Incline, up until February of this year (2013) it was illegal for hikers to be out there climbing it. The Incline is an old railway that used to be used to get folks up to the top of the mountain, and now that it’s out of service, all that’s left are the railroad ties. Someone, probably breathing the thin mountain air, had the brilliant idea that these ties, now resembling stairs, should be a fun weekend activity for fitness enthusiasts everywhere.

All that being said, I had no idea what we were getting into.

Before we left I happened upon a site that had some information about the hike and what all it would entail. From the description on this site it appeared that we should be able to get up the incline in about an hour. Awesome.

We packed our water belts accordingly and headed down to the springs.

As we pulled into a gas station in town we saw the incline in person for the first time…

First sight of the incline

It was at this point that I realized we may have under-packed…

We finished up at the gas station and made our way to the trailhead. Lucky for us our friend had gathered a ton of information about the hike, including the warnings about where not to park. It became evident that we would not be able to get anywhere near the trailhead and instead we opted for parking downtown Manitou.

As we walked towards the start of the incline the expansive stairs towered above us, as if they led straight to heaven.

We posed for a quick team photo and got on our way!

The Asylum

We started our hike feeling great about how we were doing and the pace we were going. The incline hadn’t gotten steep yet, so we were making really good time. The part that caught me off guard was the people running up the incline, past us. I suppose some folks use the incline as a training run!

Slowly but surely we plodded up and it started getting steeper and steeper.

I would be able to go about 10 steps and have to stop to let my muscles release. I pushed off my knees with everything that I had.

Hammi pushing

I tried a few different methods to keep my pace going and about halfway up I started to follow a girl who was using a step-pause-step-pause method.

I got in behind her for a while and continued my uphill battle.

About two-thirds of the way up we paused for an extended break, wherein I turned on the cheese (my defense mechanism?)

Super Cheese

I was feeling good so I took off a little before my team and connected with another person from our run club, which was awesome.

She and I hammered up the incline little by little.

There was a part where we thought that we had reached the top, only to discover that it was a false summit. If you have ever encountered one of those, you know it’s a hard mental block to overcome. We paused for a bit and decided to push on.

We were SO high up!

So High Up!

Finally after 3 hours of pushing on and heading up up up into the heavens, we summited!!!

I was so happy and proud and just beside myself to stand up at the top! (Truth be told, even though I knew that I had been right to not go all the way to the top of Long’s Peak a few weeks prior, having not summited that day was slightly heartbreaking and needed to be redeemed.) The hike was 3 hours and a mile long, straight up in some parts.

MI Summit!

As I sat on top of this gorgeous mountain waiting for my friends and hubby to finish, I was overwhelmed with gratitude for the life that I have.

I really don’t have enough words to describe how full my heart is. I’m so lucky to be alive.

The way down, if you choose to not go the way you came up, is a nice 2.5 miles down the side, with easy switchbacks. My hubby and our friend went to check on the car meter, and the ladies were behind me, so I was all alone. I started a slow jog/ trail run down the hill and caught a nice cadence that made my run easy.

I came upon some college kids and one shouted “watch out guys, runner behind us.” Well, that was a bit overstating things, but I replied “I wouldn’t say that.” with a smile.

I don’t know why I can’t just accept that I have changed, and I am that athlete I dreamed of being all those years. I spent a lot of time on that silent run alone down the mountain reflecting on things. It took me about 40 minutes to get down the mountain, and the amazing feeling of accomplishment was so worth all the pain I’m feeling (2 days later…)

Life is good. So good.

*ps* if you want more information about how to keep the Incline sustainable for generations to come, visit The Incline Friends!