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Beaten Up by Barr: Another Trail Running Rite-of-Passage

I have a love-hate relationship with mile markers.  It's great to know where I am, but when I'm running up a mountain it's also disheartening to see just how long I've been at it and how far I've yet to go.

Here's a story about my first run to Barr Camp, mile marker by mile marker:

½. My calves are screaming for mercy. I'm the only person going up Barr Trail, my legs would like to add "with good reason."

 1: Who knew the human calf muscles could do this? Let's not find the point at which they spontaneously combust.

1 ½: Only 1 ½. Don't think about the nearly 6 miles left before you'll see a downhill.

2: Finally, another running heading up.

2 ½: Ignorance is bliss.  Is it that my legs realized that my brain wasn't listening to their protests so they've stopped searing?

3: A sign pointing to Barr Camp - 4 miles.

3 ½: Marks the top of the Incline.  My watch hits 1 hour.

4: I've never come this far up Barr before.  This feels amazing!  It's just me and a trail on the edge of the world.  I start smiling and don't stop until I get to Barr Camp.

4 ½: I'm an endurance girl at heart.  I can feel it now, the run may not be pleasant, but I can put one foot in front of the other for a very long time before it gets old. 

5: Still a happy runner.  It's getting cold - there are patches of ice which adds an element of interest.

5 ½: Is it just me or has the last 1 ½ been sort of flat?  Don't question it, embrace it!  My mile splits range from 12 minutes right here to 19 minutes where it's rockier and steeper.

6: Another sign to Barr Camp. ½ mile.  I have to do a double take to make sure I read that right.  Only ½ a mile? I'm seriously doing this thing?

6 ½ (give or take): Barr Camp. My watch reads 2 hours and a few odd minutes. It's cold up here, I chat with the other runner who was taking break there and then turn around before my body has time to realize it's tired or sore or lacking oxygen:-).

Down, down, down: Running back down literally takes half the time.  One good wipeout, a few nice ankle twists, and a stumble or two later I'm back in Manitou with another 13.5 miles and 3:21 on the trails under my belt.  That's a morning well spent (followed by lots of time spent icing my legs and foam rolling).

Here's what 3 solid hours on Barr Trail taught me this morning:

  • it gave a new meaning to the phrase "respect the mountain."  I now see how unrelenting the climb really is.
  • Mind over matter goes a long way - I've run enough miles and enough hills to know that even if my legs are burning and my lungs are totally confused I can finish a hard run.  
  • You read a lot about how hard I am on myself - this was another lesson in trust. Yes, the mountain is to be respected, but I am also beginning to trust myself to rise to the occasion, train hard, run smart, recover well and enjoy the challenge.

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Comment by Carol Braker on May 14, 2014 at 1:15pm

It's nice to know it's not as easy as people make it look when I see them fly past me! Nice description. 


Comment by Gene Chavez on May 12, 2014 at 9:19pm

Awesome job Mary!

Comment by Shelley Hitz on May 10, 2014 at 9:12pm

Great work!  And yes...I agree..."the mountain is to be respected."  :)

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