Funny how it works than when you let go of something, the resulting space allows for it to occur. Just when I said, “I want to do as little training as possible for Chile,” I found it within me to start training again with passion. I think it also helped to do the big public Everest presentation for some closure and to leave opportunity for an Ojos opening.
I also noticed how scheduling can work for or against training. I‘ve classically trained with the least amount of resistance first thing in the morning just after rolling out of bed (years of early childhood early morning awakenings primed me to be a morning person). These “golden hours” provide the best focus and least resistance to whatever I most want to achieve. For most of the summer, those hours were devoted to writing my Everest book. With the manuscript in the editor’s hands, I can use these prime morning moments for training. With the decision made the night before, I just jump out of bed and hit the gym, trail, or track.
Tuesday morning I was back to the backside of Signal Hill running intervals. The sun was rising as a giant golden orb from the ocean’s horizon and I was breathing hard going up and down the hill. Life’s funny… I’d just heard from someone who heard me speak soon after returning from Denali. She remembered the Doggie Doo story and wrote to say she was still following my adventures. So as I ran up the hill, I thought I would re-share the infamous Dog Crap story as many folks who are now in my cyber support crew may have missed it the first time. So here it is-from my first, as of yet unpublished book, A Year on Denali,
Learning from Dog Crap
Tuesdays mean intervals. Intervals are another word for suffering. They involve running up the backside of Signal Hill at close to max heart rate for 5 one-minute intervals and then running uphill for 3 three-minute intervals at 85% of max heart rate. Basically-it’s one big sucking wind experience that humbles the body, mind and soul.
I did my usual warm up route-up to the back to Signal Hill where I start the intervals. The past few Tuesdays I chose to run the interval up the hill, then keep walking up the hill during the rest interval. Today I had a leading to walk down the trail during the rest interval…I followed that leading and this is what transpired.
The first interval…I ran very hard and got a ways up the hill. Near the end of the minute, I passed some dog crap. I noted it in my mind. Beeper rang, I walked down hill past the dog crap-not quite back to the spot where I started.
The second interval…Ran hard, passed the dog crap earlier in the run, got higher up the hill. Beeper rang, walked down past the dog crap again but not as far down as interval one.
The third interval…sucking big wind, passing dog crap, getting higher on the hill…I realized that I was enjoying running the same strip of trail over and over again-a new experience-have always liked circle routes more than out and back noticed that I kept passing the same dog crap over and over again…had some universal sense that we are all passing by dog crap-it was metaphoric connection to our issues/burdens/stuck spots…also some sense of dog crap as karma and needing to pass it by several times until we are done with it.
The fourth interval…really sucking big wind, passed the doggie doo, got higher on hill…realized that passing the same way, passing the dog crap filled me with a sense of comfort, surrender and acceptance instead of shame and disappointment…with each interval, I passed the dog crap sooner and easier than the time before…
The fifth interval…feeling like my lungs were going to escape through my nose, heart beating like wildfire, leaping over the doggie crap-celebrate the end of the 1 minute intervals…take the rest period to walk all the way to the bottom of the hill…
Begin again…running uphill…slightly slower for much longer…have a new definition for suffering…keep feet moving…pass the dog crap…rejoice…keep feet moving…
Repeat two more times…get to highest spot on the hill today…think I’ve finally passed the dog crap for good…look down…there is a new pile of dog crap to pass…
In the writing, it doesn’t seem nearly as profound as it felt at the time…there was just such a sense of relief and compassion in the moment of realization of universal dog crap…that and surrendering into going over the same ground over and over again but moving a bit further forward each time…both were quite moving and filled me with joy and excitement….Life lessons come in many forms…though never did I think that dog crap could teach me so much.
The Rest of the Week
As training weeks do, the week passed quickly with the sweet arms of fatigue wrapping themselves around me by Thursday evening. I finished the week’s training Friday at 5 pm…remembering that last Thanksgiving weekend, I had also been training on campus long after everyone else had headed home to begin festivities. It was good to be back at it. With each peddle, step, and repetition building a foundation of excitement and determination that I’ll carry with me to Chile.
I had a long chat with Altitude Tech yesterday. I will become one of their sponsored athletes. They are providing me with altitude simulation equipment to use while I train for Ojos de Salado. Their system will allow me to sleep at altitude before leaving home making acclimatization on the mountain much easier. They can’t provide financial sponsorship as they are an emerging company but I’m excited to have a home-based altitude training system at my disposal to complement the hypoxic training I can do at the university. The Altitude Tech website is http://www.altitudetech.ca.
For Ojos, I’m doing hypoxic interval training on the bike instead of the treadmill. This week, I was back training at 4000 meters and I was pleased to have no side effects. I guess my body remembers how to exist with only 12% oxygen. Thursday, I spent an hour riding with low O2 sats while watching the Empire Strikes Back. Earl is my hypoxia babysitter-making sure nothing bad happens while I’m depriving myself of oxygen. Earl chose Empire Strikes Back because it was the movie where Luke meets Yoda. Earl thought Yoda was a good companion for my hypoxic brain-he was right.
I returned to MacDonald Drive Junior High this week. They invited me back for their Thanksgiving Assembly. You may remember they hosted my wonderful Everest send-off. They also gave me a school pin to carry with me on the mountain. I returned the pin yesterday as part of my presentation. MacDonald Drive was the first school that had me for a second visit and I premiered my new presentation for Grades 7-12. It went over well and I look forward to polishing it over the upcoming months. The principal purchased 10 Eyes of the Spirit Toques to give out during the school year as prizes. Do let me know if you’d like one to grace your noggin for the upcoming winter.
I spent much of today building a small shed in my backyard. I made good progress and always think it’s fun to visit “The Yard.” Like the world of high altitude climbing, I don’t find many other women in the lumberyard. I enjoy surprising the men in the yard with my knowledge and skills in carpentry and love the fresh smell of lumber in the car. Speaking of my car, it received $5500 in damage. I’ll be without Tigger for two to three weeks. I’m driving a rental for now–a boring square Mitsubishi that I’m calling the “Silver Bullet.”
I’m thankful to have all of you along for the journey. May your festivities of gratitude be filled with joy and connection.