Saturday, August 10, 2013

July in review and lessons learned

Photo of the month: Linds and I on the summit of Pikes Peak (07/06/2013)

Just the facts:

Total ascent: 36,500 vertical feet

Mountain summits: 

Mount Sentinel (11 summits)
Pikes Peak
Mount Deanstone
Mitten Mountain
Mount Jumbo

Now the fluff:

A note on vertical feet or elevation gain. I use vertical feet as my primary indicator of success in terms of this project. Vertical feet measures the distance from the base of something to the top of something "as the balloon rises". With mountains, we are talking base to summit. If you to climb a ladder vertically, straight through the middle of the mountain from base to summit, you would be tracking the vertical feet measurement. To give you a sense of scale, The Empire State Building rises an impressive 1,454 vertical feet. The average level of a home is ~10 vertical feet. That coffee, sitting on your table, comes in at about ~3 vertical feet (floor to tabletop). Mount Sentinel, the mountain I spend a bulk of my time training on, comes in at just under 2,000 vertical feet (1,950ish). Pikes Peak boasts about 7,800 vertical feet. Vertical feet simply gives you a vertical measure of two points and does not account for the elevation. 

July was a banner month. January was the last month that I hit 36,500 vertical feet of ascent or more (62,700 feet). I learned many lessons from January's efforts. The most important being that 60,000 feet a month or more is not tenable for my body or social life. Post-RA me simply isn't up to the task and post-Linds me simply doesn't want to throw myself headlong into a futile endeavor to the determent of our relationship. In February, I dropped steeply to 36,350 feet and continued dropping to the low 20,000s through May. By June, I was ramping back up to the 30-40,000 foot range, right where I want to be. 

Truth to tell, I am feeling really good. My mind continues to be my biggest enemy. Pre-RA, I had very little respect for the recovery needs of my body. In 2008, I ran, on average, 18 miles/day with a smile on my face (a little over 6000 miles for the year). I dismissed all aches and pains outright. Post-RA, I am hopeless when it comes to aches, pains, twangs, twinges, pops, cracks and creaking. When I feel a slight twinge in my knee when going from a seated to standing position or hear a pop in my shoulder when stretching, my tendency is to leap to the worst case scenario: it's over, there is a good chance I will never be able to walk or climb again. Honest, objective discernment over real or perceived problems with RA is, in my estimation, the single greatest challenge of dealing with the disease. It is amazing how emotional physical aches and pains can become. I have tons to learn in this area. "Remain calm! Don't panic!" These are my mantras in times of broken focus. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't. 

Our brains are extremely powerful organs often controlling physical outputs - pain, illness - through thought inputs - worries, anxieties.

Prayer remains the greatest tool in working through these times: the very act of prayer calms and quiets the mind and allows for honest analysis and a sense of correctitude regarding the ultimate course of action. Linds has been alongside me as I rediscover my prayer life. Prayer, in my life, is an opportunity to acquiesce that many things lie out of my control and no amount of worry or misguided focus can change that. It is a time to cede control to a higher power (whatever that means to you) and say "I don't know what is happening, I don't have the answers and that is 'okay'!". And then move on: let go and let God (not sure who first said that, but it's a good one).

Onward and upward,


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