Well, a few weeks ago I got a email from Active.com (the site where I register for the majority of my races) and it was an announcement for an all women's trail running clinic up in Red River, NM at The Enchanted Forest Cross Country Ski Area there. Since I had been thinking about signing up for a trail half marathon (which was really stupid now that I've done this clinic) and I have a quite substantial amount of fear/reservation about doing trail runs I decided that I'd check on attending. I wrote to Ellen, the coordinator for the clinic, and warned her that I was slow, had ankle and hip issues and a fear of trails and she told me that not to worry the class was for all levels and speed. So once that was cleared up I went ahead and checked with my local running friend, Teresa, to see if she might be interested in joining. After a week or so she decided that she was going to go and so we got registered and worked on logistics.
Day Before the Trail Clinic
Last Friday finally arrived and it was time to head out to Red River. Now, I'd never been up there and I didn't do any research other than finding a place to stay. It is about a 5 hour drive from home and the drive is pretty boring until you get up to the mountains. I'd say an hour or so out of town I started coughing for no reason, like I had something in my throat...this is something that would hang out for the whole weekend. It was just a cough...I didn't feel ill or anything so I think it had something to do with the altitude. When we arrived in town and got settled, we walked up and down the main road and stopped at some of the gift shops, candy shops and knick knack shops before hitting up Texas Red's Steakhouse for a bison rib eye. Now, if you really know me you know that I usually take pics of my food especially if I'm traveling but I'm not sure why I didn't this time around. The bison rib eye was good, but too lean for my taste. At least now I can say that I've tried it, but I'll stick with beef rib eye thank-you-very-much. After dinner we headed back towards the hotel stopping at several other shops on the way. Teresa found a map that showed the elevation in town to be 8,672 feet. I thought that was great because I wasn't feeling tired or anything so I was taking it as a good sign for my Madison Half Marathon in July where the race starts at 9,200 feet elevation. About the only thing, aside from the cough, that I could attribute to the elevation at this point was my skin becoming very dry and itchy. We got back to the hotel and turned in for the night to rest up before the big day on Saturday.
Trail Clinic - Day 1
I ended up waking up at 3:22am on Saturday. Not a happy camper especially since I couldn't fall back asleep and my phone signal was sporadic. We headed out to a light breakfast (just some donuts and coffee/hot chocolate) at T Buck's Hole Thing since we knew there would be some breakfast at the class. Then we headed down to the town grocery store so that I could get some lotion because my skin was just itching terribly. While I was picking up my items, Teresa met Laurie who was going to be our primary instructor for the class. Laurie looks like she has zero body fat and has so much energy it's crazy! Here's a little bit of her bio:
Since we had a little time before the class started, Laurie said that there had been big horn sheep near where we were going to go check out a mining area. So we decided to search for some big horn to take pictures of as well. After we got the last of our stuff ready for the class, we packed up and headed west to go check out the mine and look for those sheep. As luck would have it...there were no sheep to be found! The closest we got were a few rocks we thought may be sheep. So, with our photo hunting mission failed we headed back to town and checked out the car show before over to the ski area for the clinic."Laurie Lambert has been a lifelong runner and racer. She's an avid trail runner and cherishes long mountain runs with her favorite four-legged running partner. Laurie has raced road and trail extensively all over the U.S. and the world in 10K's, half-marathons, and marathons and is a three-time member of the U.S. National Snowshoe Team."
|My favorite car at the car show...lover the pearl paint job!|
|This would've been the hub's favorite car...he drools over '69 Camaros!|
|Pre-run discussion & introductions|
"Kimberly Ritterhouse is an avid fitness and nutrition enthusiast. After being diagnosed with a gluten allergy Kimberly had to rethink fueling and adjust to new ways to conquer "bonking" on long hikes and runs. She has a passion for teaching and sharing her joy in the beautiful Sangre de Cristo mountains. Kimberly has a level 3 Yoga-Fit certification and has run several half-marathons and the San Diego Marathon. She has also been a two time snowshoe racing national qualifier."
Trail Clinic - Day 2
We were awake and packing everything up by 6:30am. We decided against breakfast since there was going to be breakfast at the clinic so instead we packed up and went to look for the big horn sheep again. Strike 2. Apparently the sheep either 1) did not want to be found or 2) got chased off by the rally that was in town the weekend before. For both my friend and I our luck with finding some of the unusual wildlife is pretty much nil. (However we did see a female bedded down on the side of the road on the way to the clinic and on the side of one of the hills the night before). Since we struck out again, we headed back into town and made one last check of the room before checking out. As we drove through town, we noticed that The Pied Piper's Pastry Shop was already open so we stopped and picked up some goodies. I had an apple turnover which was seriously yummy...yet again no picture. Wow, I'm really lacking on my foodie pictures!
At the base camp we were the first to arrive so we helped set up while we waited for the others to get there. After allowing some time for everyone to eat we broke up into groups...one the ones that wanted to go faster (yet slower than the day before) and one that preferred a slower pace on easier trail/forest roads (this was where I was). This run/hike, while even slower than yesterday, was still hard for me with the elevation. I was still lagging behind but at least the head pounding was less than the day before, the breathing situation was just a little bit improved but my heart rate monitor was maxing out at 168-178bpm with almost minimal wogging (walk/jogging). I usually don't get into the 160 range until the middle to late portion of my half marathons and even then my heart rate recovers pretty quickly when I start walking...no so at elevation. It seemed like it took forever to get my heart rate back down into even the 150bpm range! I do have to admit that the trip was worth it with some of the views that we got to see. We did a couple of staged action shots of everyone and managed to finish about a 4 mile loop. I almost thought I'd come out of this clinic unscathed, but I ended up spraining my ankle about an hour into the jaunt...then it slipped another 3-4 times as we were returning to base camp. Luckily (or unluckily) my ankle has been sprained many times before although this time I did hear it pop; I was still able to mostly walk on it with just a slight limp and as soon as we got to camp I put some ice on it. It only ended up swelling to about twice it's normal size without any bruising.
|Wheeler Peak in the background.|
Full group except for Ellen who is taking the pic.
|Wheeler Peak/Gold Hill/East Red River View|
9,960 feet in elevation at this point.
|Latir Wilderness with view of Red River|
|Concentrating too much on my feet!|
|"Most likely to never become a vegetarian Award|
(and bravest newcomer to trail running!)