Thursday, June 24, 2010

Oh, and by the way...

Yes. I am in the right place. 

I am driving home today on I-70. See an ad for some Duluth work pants. I am driving a truck. Lots of trucks all around me. I am salty and sweaty and covered in dirt from running 13.1 miles with burros. I am exhausted. My skin is brown from the sun. Country on the radio.

And I know. That I made the right choice. Because these are my people. This is my home. This. Right here. Is who I am.  I believe in all the stuff they say about simple values. Because as it turns out, my values are simple, too.

I go to bed with my man. Sometimes I eat too much cookie dough ice cream. I exercise every day and drink lots of water. I walk over to my parents' to do the laundry.

I dream in wide open blue Colorado skies. When I say I am from Dillon here, it actually means something. "Summit" is more than the peak of a mountain - it is the county I grew up. We go to Saudi Aurora and eat pizza with Nick's little brother.

I take long showers and stay in bed way too long. I help my parents shovel giant mounds of dirt. I don't have a job. But I still eat and laugh and sometimes even go out for sushi.

I can wear whatever I want. Including cowboy boots. And trashy denim outfits. I can roll in grass. I can run mountain trails. I can cuddle with a yellow lab. Or a donkey.

I can go to a Rockies' game against the SOX with my best friends on a Thursday night. And wear PURPLE. 

I can talk about past accomplishments and recognize the power of the present. I can dream in fast forward. I can reminisce in slow motion.

Yes. I can see a billboard for work pants that "never wear out" and be reminded that yes indeed, I really am in God's country. 

Thank goodness for that.

Day Eleven - 13.1 Miles Later...

Today my legs felt like rubber bands. But I kept going. 

This morning I met up with Bill to pre-run the "Slacker's Half Marathon" trail. This race is taking place this weekend - 13.1 miles from Loveland Ski Area to Georgetown.

We parked Nick's sexy truck at the Georgetown Visitor's Center and went in Bill's red pickup and green trailer (yes, he does dress as Santa Claus, remember) to Loveland.

They are laying down new road up there, so we were sharin' the road with tractors, semis, bobcats (the machinery, not the animal), etc.

Nestor and Thumper were our burros for the day. Nestor is old and Thumper is sort of a baby - definitely a burro racing novice. But they were good boys! Bill and I only ran for about 6 miles and walked the rest of the way. We made sure to run when we passed the old Georgetown Train and random people on the highway who were taking pictures of us! Check out the link for the train! It is a narrowgauge and SUPER cool.

When we rolled into Georgetown it was about lunchtime and people came out of the woodwork to say hi to Bill. Apparently I was with a local celebrity. We left the burros munchin' on some grass on the sidewalk (!) and went and gave the Georgetown officials the report on the trail. When we came back they were just where we left them! Bill said that it wouldn't be a big deal if a burro was wandering the streets in Georgetown. LOL. Check out the Georgetown site! It is such a cute little town.

The best part of the day was getting the burros over some grates in Georgetown. They are terrified of grates. You have to yank them for like five minutes to get them across - and even then they jump over the grates like deer!

Lessons learned:
Thumper refused to run without Nestor. Nestor wouldn't run without some butt-thwacking. Which means sometimes I was behind Nestor, holding Thumper's lead, smacking Nestor's butt. Burro racing really is a team sport. Most of the way Bill was smacking Thumper's butt from behind, too.  

So I guess you could say Bill and I were smacking each others' asses for 13 miles. And this is probably the only sport you can actually say that in an appropriate way.

Also: Burros love banana peels. Yep. It is a big treat for them. Perfect way to win them over after breakfast!

Today's Bonus: We saw a big fat marmot wriggling around in the cool dirt on the path. So fat and cute. **In case you don't know what a marmot is, here is a pic I did NOT take:

I DID IT! And my reward? A Rockies game against those nasty Red Sox tonight.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Day Ten - Breakin' Nails, Learnin' 'Bout Burros

Today I got dirty. Real dirty. And I liked it. 

Headed up to Bill's ranch this morning and met the crew - lots of cute dogs including two enormous labs that lumbered toward the truck in tail-wagging ecstacy and a wolf german-shepherd pup who was absolutely ADORABLE. and Shetland sheep and mini goats and Scotland Highland cattle and llamas and...AND about 30 burros!

We took out Mr. Zeffles and Jacky as well as a new, untrained burro Brad called "Doctor Knows it All." Brad and Bill showed me how to put the saddle on Mr. Zeffles and reviewed the burro-racing basics:
  • Run on the left. 
  • Pass on the left. 
  • Don't let them get out of control on the downhills. 
  • Work as a team and encourage each others' burros. 

We did a 4 mile loop- lots of uphill, some flats and downhill. It was AWESOME. 

So, I quickly learned that Ralph's sweet little Ruby is like driving a Cadillac - cruise control, power windows, power brakes, power steering that you can control with your pinky finger. These guys I ran with today are NOT mini burros like Ruby. They are full-sized male burros. They may have been gelded, but they sure are full of it. Each are close to 500 pounds - and rowdy! These guys are like driving my mom's 1973 FJ-55 Landcruiser. No power brakes. No power steering. No electronic ignition. Just pure willpower, baby!

To get Mr. Zeffles up the hill I had to drag, prod, smack, holler, and beg. And he would mostly cooperate. My favorite is when he didn't want to cooperate, he just push his head into me like he wanted a snuggle - but really he was pushing me into a wall or a hay bale or off of the road.

The biggest challenge was keeping up with these guys on the downhill. They like to race each other and they are fast! I was sprinting as fast as I could and I still had to give up on my burro at one point and let go of the lead. Luckily I caught him within about 20 seconds, but it was tough! And I broke a few nails (girly sigh).

Somehow or another Bill talked me into doing the 13 miles with him tomorrow morning...

BOO YA! :) Thanks a million to Bill and Brad for their patience.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Day Nine - Bethany Secures a Burro!!

SO today I did the 8.4 mile loop at Apex, in Golden, near Heritage Square.
It was tough. It was hot. I had to walk a lot of the uphills. Running on the downhills made my knees hurt. I ran out of water. I almost got hit by bikers - several times. I started to wonder if I was really cut out for this burro racing thing. I started to feel discouraged and out of shape.

And then I listened to the forest and creek and the birds and smelled the mountain air and watched the miles disappear behind my running shoes, took a deep breath, and kept on going. Yes, I had to take breaks. Yes, my legs will be sore tomorrow. But I did 8.4 miles!

Bonus: I saw a family of elk up there - two babies, a big dad, and a cow. They were dappled in the shade when I was on the "Enchanted Forest" portion of the trail. It was pretty magical.

And the biggest news of the day... BIG BIG news! I got a burro!!

With the help of the lovely Bill Lee of Laughing Valley Ranch, I have secured a burro! Bill is quite the Summit County/ Park County character. He does storytelling, Santa Clausing (with a Reindeer!), and serves as the resident "Mountain Man" for lots of festivals, etc.

He also happens to do the long course at Fairplay EVERY year! He says the long course is considerably more grueling than running 100 miles in one day, which he has also done. AND he also happens to have a bunch of burros that he often lends out to amateurs like me. http://www.laughingvalleyranch.com/.

Tomorrow morning I head up for a practice run with Bill - he is going to try to match me up with a burro of similar speed (or slowness). He asked me if I wanted to run from Loveland down to Idaho Springs with him - a half marathon with one of his burros - just for practice. Luckily he also offered me the option of running 3-4 miles with him and the burros. More like it. SO tomorrow is the big day! I'll make sure to take pics of the next step in the adventure.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Day Eight - Catching Up

Yes, I know - it's been awhile. But I've been running!

The highlights were running in Golden on Thursday along the creek - there is this great loop that you can do a few times to get in extra mileage. There are shirtless men and bikini-clad ladies lounging in the creek and plenty of kayakers. Lots to look at to make you forget your legs are running. And the best part!? Lunch afterward with my Outward Bound people. Nice.

And more running at Wash Park - the scenery never fails.

My training got a little slowed down this weekend because, seeing as it was my birthday weekend, we packed in the activities and festivities.

We may have gotten derailed by a bachelorette limo party on Friday night... And Father's Day! And an engagement photo shoot on my birthday - shoutout to the lovely Katie Derus of KD photography... http://www.katiederusphoto.com/. Although I haven't seen the pics yet, I am sure they'll be gorgeous.

Okay, so I have a little catching up to do. But fear not. Today will be another long run - hoping to head up towards Golden/ Heritage Square to do 7 miles today. The goal is 10 miles by the end of the month.

And the best news is I'm hooked up with Brad M. Wann - Media Relations for Western Pack Burro Ass-ociation, who is helping me search for a burro. 

Keepin' on keepin' on, y'all!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Monday, June 14, 2010

Day Two: Wash Park Recovery

Today was all about visiting my grandma, reminding myself of life's priorities, and taking a recovery run at Wash Park. The norm so far has been once around and back to my apt - about 3 miles. Today's goal was twice around - about 6 miles.

So here's the Ipod report (on shuffle):
I felt like Louis Armstrong's "What a Wonderful World" was especially appropriate for today - park jammed with cute couples, lush green grass, adorable dogs, and plenty of fellow runners. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z1Y2zdyRin8.

I admit I had to walk for two short songs. And just when I felt like stopping again Madonna's "Die Another Day" came on. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gBycCIszyxQ.

Made me want to run much faster than all the boys. And I did. For a song. Then Nelly's "Heart of a Champion" came on. And I ran my butt back to my apartment - almost 6 miles completed! Victory!

Bonus: heard a sound like a snowball hitting asphalt during my run. It was a fat squirrel who had fallen flat on his back out of a tree branch! Poor guy was stunned - like a turtle stuck on his shell. But he squirmed around and scampered off. 

In other news, Nordstrom Rack @ Park Meadows is having a ridiculous sale on BCBG dresses... Like $17 kind of sale.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Day One

Dreams are not always the fluffy soft kind. There are also the gnawing, aching kind that make you feel a little itchy. A little scared. The kind that make your stomach drop out.

Competing in Burro Days is one of those kinds of dreams. We've been attending Burro Days for the last ten years. The women who run are gnarly. They are determined. They are badass. They have long braids and ripped thighs.

It always made sense that someday I'd be able to compete. But the summers tick by...

So this is the summer. No job. No commitment. Open road. Open trail. Muscles waiting to be tested.

Two weeks ago I said goodbye to good friends and a tempting PhD program in order to make the pilgrimage from Boston, MA to Denver, CO in a Penske truck. Fiance. Colorado sunshine. Dreams to be chased.

So I emailed Ralph Herzog, Burro Days guru. And he invited me to come "run with his animals," as he calls it.

Today I began my Burro Days journey. June 13. Fresh snow up in Fairplay. Nick laughed when we woke up. I laced up my running shoes, convinced to prove my "hard core" commitment.

 We arrived up on Ralph's ranch and met Ruby and Cochise. Cochise is 30 years old and cannot run more than 2 miles at a time (the big white burro). There is also a mini horse that is part of the pack. I was in charge of Ruby. 

Two miles later, the burros had taught me a little something.

Number one: burros like to LEAD - not be LED. Ruby refused to even move if I moved past her nose. She preferred me back by her haunches. She calls the shots - not the humans.

Number two: burros have two speeds: quick trot and slow as !&@^%. Ruby was either pulling me the whole time or walking in slooow motion.

Ralph laughed and encouraged me to let her pull me along when she was goin'. He also encouraged me to give her a good whack on the butt with the lead rope when she was lollygagging. This was tough because she was so darn cute. But I did manage a convincing "HAH" accompanied with a butt-thwack a few times.

After we put the burros away, Ralph asked if I'd like to keep running a bit. I didn't know it would be a four-mile run (on top of the two we had done). At ten thousand feet, my lungs were dying. Phew. More training is definitely a must if I'm going to survive this.

SO - next step: Ralph's going to hook me up with some Idaho Springs donkeys. And I am going to get my ass in gear over the next few weeks! (pun intended)

Bonus: we saw a MOOSE on our run! He skidded to a stop in the mud, took one look at our motley crew, and stomped back into the forest. AND Nick took some great nature shots while I was running...