I (mistakenly) thought that by going part time I would have MORE time. In reality I have the same amount of time and more space to become less efficient with my time. Isn't it funny how the more stuff you have on your plate, the easier it is to cram it all in? You are efficient with your time because you have to be. *sigh*
I truly enjoyed my off season and took advantage of the extra time to spend with H and DB, and getting ahead of tax season at Cadence. And by the time it was time to train again, I was chomping at the bit. We started incorporating strength training right away which was definitely lacking from my schedule over the last year.
I finished off 2017 with a long weekend in Sedona with the #bff. We drank a lot of coffee, did a little hiking, talked about life and the book we're writing and plans for the future. Despite my fear of heights H navigated me up the inconspicuous trail to the top of Cathedral Rock for sunrise. She literally had to hold my hand on several occasions, not because I was going to fall, but because my mind convinced me I *could* fall. Maybe this will be the next fear I work on in my mindfulness training...
|Cathedral Rock: worth the climb!|
DB and I spent a quiet holiday season at home and for new year's eve, we joined a group of my Team HPB athletes for a 10k swim to finish out a 100k month that one of the girls was tackling in December. She crushed it and we had a lot of fun on NYE, celebrating with a late lunch after our long swim.
|Colleen's 10k swim! #teamwork|
January rolled in quickly and we found ourselves at Team HPB's first annual early season bike camp. True to her word, Hillary had us ride easy over the 3 days racking up 300 miles and 20k ft of climbing, a good launching point to kick off training for the new race season. Contrary to April training camp, where it's basically attack, attack, attack for 5 days... we eased into camp with a jog and a sprint swim, rolled up a new mountain each day, and by the end of the 4th day we found ourselves in better shape than when we arrived. Feeling strong, refreshed and ready to train after the long off season. We capped off the long weekend with a 10k swim, in true Team HPB fashion.
|Smash Dimond FTW!|
|Mt. Lemmon climb.|
After camp I had a couple solid weeks of training then spend a few days at my favorite place: The Grand Canyon. Rach and I drove up on a Monday and after we checked in at the lodge, we stopped by the Phantom Ranch desk to see if there were any cancellations. The attendant told us there were beds available in the women's dorm on Tuesday evening and we quickly signed up!
|Hitting the road to the GC!!|
Our hiking plans changed to incorporate the overnight stay at Phantom (a GC must!!) and we stocked our backpacks in preparation for the next morning before having a quick bite to eat. On Tuesday we got up early to be fed, caffeinated and on the trail shortly after sunrise.
|Plateau Point. My heart is full.|
We took Bright Angel Trail to Indian Garden where the Plateau Point Trail branches off and travels, mostly flat, for 1.5 miles out to an overlook where we had a break and a snack. We set our meditation timers and sat for 10 minutes. It was the most difficult 10 minute meditation I've ever had as I could hear the Colorado River far below me and I struggled to keep my eyes closed against the beauty of the backdrop. Refreshed and refueled, we made our way back to Indian Garden and continued down Bright Angel to Phantom Ranch.
|View from the Plateau Point|
We got checked in and after claiming our beds in the women's dorm we headed to the Cantina to enjoy a beer and some snacks. We played a few rounds of checkers and chatted with some fellow hikers who were spending the evening at Phantom. I love the characters that you meet at the bottom of the Grand Canyon. These are my people. Adventurous. Dirty, smelly, hungry. Full of life and stories to tell.
|Beers taste better after hiking!|
The Cantina closed to get ready for the first round of diners and we took a hike back down to the river where we sat and waited for the sunset. That deep in the canyon, you can't actually see the sunset as the canyon wall to the west blocks the view. We also discovered that you can't see the moon from the river either-- that night was the super/ blood/ blue moon and we missed it. A group of hikers we sat with at dinner planned to get up at 2 am to be above the Tonto Plateau in time to see it, but we opted to sleep in and enjoy breakfast before getting on the trail.
I woke up early on Wednesday morning. The wake up call for the first breakfast is 5 am and I was already lying awake when they came by with a soft knock on the door. I got dressed quietly, knowing my entire dorm was eating at the second breakfast and slipped out into the chilly morning. I hiked down to the river and sat in darkness on the beach, just looking up at the stars. We don't see a lot of stars in the city. So to appreciate the Milky Way in all of its glory was amazing.
After a breakfast of pancakes, eggs, bacon, fruit and coffee we headed for the South Kaibab Trail and the South Rim. I LOVE the South Kaibab Trail. There is something so beautiful in the raw, rugged, exposed terrain. It is by far my favorite trail and I love to hike it from river to rim. On rested legs and full bellies, the climb is much easier than at the end of a double crossing. And it's easier to stop along the way and appreciate the beauty.
|No filter needed. South Kaibab and the Colorado River.|
After about 4 hours of hiking and sight seeing, we reached the South Rim and hopped on a shuttle back to the Grand Canyon Village. We stopped and had lunch on our way back to the cabin, opting for food over showers. The hot showers felt great after refueling and we relaxed in our cabin for a few hours before dinner. Pizza and beers were on the menu for that night at the Maswik Pizza Pub with a sunset walk back to the cabin to help our dinner digest.
On Thursday morning we were the only 2 hikers on the early shuttle back to the South Kaibab trailhead. We hopped off the bus and started down the trail just as the sun was beginning to threaten it's arrival. We secured our spot at Ooh Aah Point where we sat for an hour and watched the sunrise. The sky went from dark with a thin line of red and orange, to pink and lavender, to full blue all the while casting amazing colors across the canyon walls. The red-orange of the rocks never looks more beautiful than at sunrise.
|The terrain of the South Kaibab Trail.|
By the time we finished watching the sunrise, and got up to hike out others were beginning to make their way down the trail. But that first hour and the show put on by the canyon at sunrise was all for us. We grabbed a quick bite and a cup of coffee back at the visitor center before hitting the road and I dropped Rachel in Sedona to spend some time with the #bff on my way back to the valley... and back to work.
That afternoon wasn't all a let down though... I submitted my application for the Ultraman World Championships in November! Invitations don't go out until mid-March so I have a few more weeks to wait but I could not be more excited about the prospect. Fingers crossed!
Tomorrow I'm "racing" a half marathon. First official race since Ironman in November. It might not be pretty, but it will be fun. I look forward to blowing off the cobwebs from the run legs, and kicking off a block of training where we'll be increasing my run mileage. Bike camp isn't exactly over yet, I hope, but we need to start thinking about April because racing season is rapidly approaching!