Runner's Footprints

Runner's Footprints

Sunday, April 5, 2020

Thoughts in the Desert

With many of our regular routines and experiences in the world on pause, many have found it difficult to create the healthy space to exhale, be inspired, and grow-- myself included. I spent four days in the desert alone with my dogs to take some time to breath and reflect, while we were on our way to pick up a delivery order of medications for my oldest pup, Max, with arthritis. I have been having extreme difficulty processing everything because I am finding myself at times angry, deeply saddened, perplexed, heartbroken and crying often on the inside and outside.

As human beings, we innately are created to be social animals; however, what this biologically means is we behaviorally crave touch. We need deep love. We need deep interaction. One act of love for primates is grooming; which is why parents love to care for their kids. It's a concentrated, act of love. What the age of technology and internet has brought is a vast great amount of advancements, global connectivity, and transfer speed of information. What we have lost in the interim is the deep connections that the human heart thrives on. When was the last time we wrote a long letter to someone we love? When was the last time we drew an extensive drawing or created a project for someone we care about to simply display the feelings we feel inside without words? How often did we really call loved ones on a regular basis and have long, deep conversations of: what are your dreams, what are your goals, how are you really feeling? It is ok to cry with me because I am crying too. This level of depth is what our souls crave and, unfortunately, with the inundation and speed of information, we are in the age of quick texts, group chats, less than 140 characters, thumb scrolling, etc. to capture and catch up on as much as we can. We watch movies / shows / concerts / games and often catch ourselves scrolling again on our phones to "optimize" our time or capture clips of video to share it on social. Imagine this was your last day on this planet: how would you truly like to experience it stripped away from mundane creations of distraction? Imagine this was the last day of a loved one: what would you tell them or would like to do for them?

In the four days in the desert, I read, listened to podcasts, watched a church service online, journaled, face-timed my family in Spain and Ecuador, took long walks alone with my pups, watched beautiful sunrises / sunsets, and hug the shit out of my dogs crying. I needed the emotional release. Upon return, I returned again to more bad news, but this time it was within my own family. Earlier this week, my maternal aunt age 48 in Guayaquil, widow and mother of two boys, was diagnosed with COVID19 and taken abruptly to the hospital without proper good bye from my cousins. Three days later, she was pronounced dead and died alone. My two cousins are now in quarantine and we have not been able to maintain contact yet. As of April 5th, Ecuador has now become the epicenter country hit hardest with the number of cases and deaths in entire South America. Ecuador has been on government enforced strict lockdown since 3.15.20. My family and I have been aiming to get regular updates from them. My aunt was 48. I hadn't seen her in years; how much I wish I just would have gone to Ecuador last year.

It does not perhaps hit home until you know someone who passes away, or much worse, it is within your own family. I share this with you because it hurts. It hurts what is happening around the world. It hurts to see so many still complain. This is our chance as a human being / as a species to rise, together. Instead of being angry, I am going to aim to be grateful and be proactive each day. We don't know when this will end, and I will be honest: it is going to be months and maybe until the rest of the year. What we know, scientists shared in January and I shared until I talked myself blue. There is no normal; this is our new normal and our opportunity to grow as a better human being from it. Some will, some will choose not, others will hurt beyond measure.

I share some tips and notes I took for myself in the desert in hopes that it can inspire you to take this time for some deep reflection. Deep action. Deep work. Write that long letter to yourself, to a loved one, take that long solo walk, take that long phone conversation and focus your energy in the right places. It is not only about time, but energy-- how are we investing our emotional, physical, and mental energy is more important than ever. We have this beautiful planet that was crying and now we are crying with it. This is our chance.

1. It shows you care about people.
2. It shows you don't think you're the queen / king of the universe.
3. It shows that you understand the order of the world. 
4. It's going to brighten your day.
5. It's going to brighten someone else's day. 

1. Too much info: forces our brain to focus on things we already know, find funny, has superficially changed, trending topics that are aligned with our beliefs, and see flaws in others than ones in ourselves. We aggressively filter. 
2. Not enough meaning: We tend to find quick stories first. Lack of meaning is confusing, so we fill in the gaps. Distractions then becomes a story filled with gaps lacking meaning.
3. Need to act fast: lest we lose our chance, we jump to conclusions or not well thought out actions. 
4. Not knowing what we should remember: we try to remember the important bits. These decisions inform our mental models of the world. 

1. What have I learned? 
2. What mistakes have I made? 
3. What do I need to avoid?
4. What do I want to focus on?
5. What am I grateful for? 

1. use best practices
2. measure and evaluate your progress weekly
3. get feedback
4. don't quit with failure
5. chuck your work uninterrupted

1. diversify your source of fulfillment
2. change your environment
3. journal everything
4. organized your closets / storage and donate
5. wave, smile, say thank you to everyone on the streets

1. Balance is between ready aim fire to "ready fire aim".
2. Automate as many things as possible.
3. Journey is greater than genesis.
4. You'll be happier if you love the journey more than the destination. Love the climb.
5. Your relationships will all change dramatically.  Adaptation and evolution is life.
6. The past is best used as a wellspring of gratitude. 
7. Procrastination is ok if it works.
8. Procrastination is a silent killer of your deepest dreams. 
9. You can be spontaneous even when you have plans. 
10. Money can buy a lot of things, but the most important thing it can buy is freedom: escaping the mental and physical rat race. 
11. The people that are holding you back mean well. 
12. Getting older isn't a bad thing. 
13. Happiness should be a central focus in marriage: the other person's happiness. 
14. Finding yourself is great, losing yourself is better. 
15. It's ok to fail at stuff. 
16. Be afraid of regret not failure. Take the calculated risk. 
17. How you manage your energy is more important than time.
18. Your health is your wealth.
19. EVERYONE knows something you don't. Have the humility to listen and you'll keep growing. 
20. Experimentation is the best way to get advice. 
21. Focus on the smallest changes that make the biggest difference -- PARETO principle 80/20 rule: 80%  of the results come from 20% of the causes.
22. Keep a journal. 
23. You are WINNING if you can be grateful, excited and focus on your journey, even in the tough times. Find mentors and coaches during this time for guidance.
24. Find meaning in your obstacles.
25. If you don't like the story you are telling yourself, tell yourself a different story.
26. Your weaknesses are your strengths. 
27. Separate how you spend your time from how you make money.
28. Have an attitude of gratitude. 
29. Only thing that goes up with age is maturity. Focus on your character and wisdom. 
30. Lessons aren't learned from lists. Get out there, experiment, and put things into practice. 

"Tough times create strong men. Strong men create great times. Great times create weak men." Lets rise as individuals and rise as a species. Thank you for reading and my deepest hope is as many of us remain healthy, safe, and love one another. 

Stay informed. 
Stay inspired. 
Stay growing.
Stay consistent. 

Wednesday, January 22, 2020

How to Fuel for Endurance

There is a great deal of information available regarding healthy eating and sport nutrition science. One important question to always ask yourself first is: what is your goal? Is it to: improve your health, maintain weight, lose weight, build muscle, fuel properly for optimal performance? Each have their own fueling mechanisms and tips. There is overlap in the goals above; therefore, it is important to first identify what your main goal is in order to explore and experiment with what advice will work best for you. 

If you are looking for tips on “How to Lose Weight as an Endurance Athlete” you can visit: here. Below are my tips on "How to Fuel for Endurance" in training or races to optimize your physical performances. Experiment with what works for you. 

For Training LESS than 1HR:
Normally, you do not need to emphasize too much about consuming a surplus of calories before or during training that is less than one hour. Our bodies have a large caloric reserve, particularly fat and glycogen storages. You can opt to fuel with a small calorie intake or caffeine boost 30 minutes prior to training. After any training, you will want to consume something with high quality protein either in solid form such as: lean chicken, grilled fish, salmon, hummus, etc. or a protein drink/smoothie. What type of protein drink or shake you choose will depend on your goals. If you are looking to simply refuel, pure protein drinks usually are around 200 Calories per serving and a great, quick option. If you are looking to refuel with a meal replacement, a protein smoothie with a ratio of proteins/carbohydrates is a great option, but keep in mind these smoothies can vary between 400-600 Calories so it is meant to be a meal replacement. 

For Training MORE than 1HR:
Here is where you will want to focus on calorie quantity and quality depending how long and intense you are training or racing. For any long training session and/or event such as a marathon, ultra marathon, or Ironman, consume complex carbohydrates (polysaccharides) mixed with protein and/or healthy fats before, during, and after.  Simple carbohydrates (monosaccharides or "sugars") are the first choice during activity, as it gets absorbed into the bloodstream faster. Some examples that have worked for longer training sessions or races of two hours or more are listed below. These are my go-to snacks that are healthy, contain quality micro/macro nutrients, and normally do not upset my stomach. The longer the endurance training or event, the MORE essential it is to find a fueling strategy that works with your gastrointestinal (GI) tract.

You will find some athletes report after an Ironman, marathon, or ultra marathon that they were sidelined, slowed, or DNF’d (did not finish) due to GI tract distress, cramping, etc. Most of the time, this is avoidable and due to lack of training the GI tract to withstand a fueling strategy, while racing for 4, 12, 24 hours, or longer. Physiologically, our GI tract can be trained; however, it needs practice equally as our muscular and skeletal systems need in order to endure the length of these events. Long training sessions AND training the GI tract to process a large amount of calories is necessary for a optimal performance. My strongest Ironman and ultra times have rose from a combination of proper training, race execution, and the final touch of a proper fueling strategy that has been practiced and honed in on during long training sessions. Practice different fueling strategies in training first before utilizing it in a race. Below are some ideas:
BEFORE: 200-500 Cal 1-2 hours before start
Vital4U energy shot 30min before available in 4 flavors (35 Cal/packet with 150-200 mg caffeine)
* greek yogurt with fruit, granola and/or almonds/walnuts
* whole wheat bread toasted with almond butter and sliced banana drizzled with honey
* whole wheat crackers with peanut butter, sliced banana, sprinkled with walnuts
* lean chicken breast with pico de gallo (normally this is for my afternoon or evening sessions)
* whole wheat bread with avocado, hummus, tomato, and tapatio (adds sodium)
* bowl of fruit with cottage cheese
* light smoothie with frozen banana, almond milk, flax, chia, and 2-3 fruits
* Stryve biltong lean beef biltong sticks (100 Cal/serving of protein)
* Mas Korima Korimalitas snack bites made of Pinole (100 Cal/packet of carbohydrate)
* Liquid IV electrolyte powder mix at the correct osmolarity for your cell absorption
DURING: 100-500 Cal/hr
Vital4U for races, I take a 2nd energy shot halfway. During long training sessions, I may opt for a 2nd energy shot depending how much sleep I had the night before.
* gels (average across several brands are 100 Cal/packet of simple carbohydrate)
* high calorie powder mix in my bottles (long bike rides or mountain runs at 100 Cal/scoop)
* Andale Pinole mix by Mas Korima (100 Cal/scoop)
* nutty bars 
* salty trail mix
* almond butter sandwich 
* individual packets of almond butter
* chips (great salt content)
* crackers with cheese
* turkey wheat sandwich with avocado, spicy hummus, veggies, salsa (lunch on mountain days)
* Liquid IV (hydration multiplier) comes in three flavors taken one packet/hr
* most of these options are meant for training 2 hours or more. Experiment with liquid and solid nutrition.

AFTER: 100-300 Cal within 30min of finishing
* protein drink or chocolate almond milk
* Stryve biltong
* lean grilled chicken with wild rice and steamed veggies
* grilled fish with kale and couscous  
* blackened salmon with quinoa
* grilled shrimp or scallops with baked sweat potato 
* ceviche or mariscos with pico de gallo and air popped popcorn
* Liquid IV 3-4 L/day with the hydration multiplier throughout the day
* Drink Present CDB Infused sparkling water (0 Calories/can) for its anti-inflammatory properties and relaxing effects during sleep
Drink Present comes in three flavors
It is important to consume protein within 30 minutes of finishing your activity because your cells are most active in enzymes and mitochondria to assist in a quicker absorption rate. Having a packet of protein powder helps conveniently to get the protein efficiently in when you're done training/racing. Within 1-2 hours or when your appetite returns (as some athletes report to not being hungry post long endurance events), have the healthy, balanced meal. Every healthy meal will help strengthen body systems and, most importantly, set it up to be stronger for the next training session or event. Recovery happens faster by how we refuel. 

Remember, your individual needs may change as you become more efficient. They may also change as you vary your intensity in training and races. You will notice some athletes will need less than others because they are either pushing at a higher intensity or have already trained to require less. What works for one may not necessarily always work for another. Experiment with what works for you and implement that strategy for you on race day. Feel free to contact me if you're looking for an endurance coach to help you reach your next fitness / health goal this season.

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Celebrating +400 races

Runner's World Magazine, 2013
I'm asked often: how are you so motivated so often? I commonly am categorized as a "machine", "beast", "tiger". I love it and honestly accept it. However, it isn't by accident. I'm also human. I'm weak. I cry. I have many nights solo hustling hard towards work projects and deadlines to make my goals and dreams happen. I'm not your typical female and I am proud of what my father has taught me in that sense. To suck it up. To figure it out. To take every challenge, fear, and setback with the biggest damn fire you can and go head on. It's part of the biggest reason why I'll take goals on my own. I am comfortable on my own. I'm comfortable traveling solo, taking on challenges on my own, training probably 90% of the time alone -- you learn and discover truly what you are made of. Your mind is a very powerful tool. Allow yourself to tap into its deepest realms alone first. Going through struggles, setbacks, solitude, freedom, livelihood, everything in between. I will not settle. I will not be ordinary... and this is where it started. When I was very young perhaps ten years old, I decided then and there: I WILL BE EXTRAORDINDARY. There are 7.7 billion people on this planet -- how will you write your story? I wrote it on my mirror. I wrote it on my notebook. I imprinted in my mind. I wanted to make myself believe it and I knew my dad believed it deep down. Little by little as I achieved thing after thing beating who I was the day before in advanced math competitions, art competitions, music competitions --- I began to believe. I am extraordinary. It is NOT because I am talented. It is because I put in hours after hours towards a craft each night at age 5, 10, 15, 20 and every single year I have breath. Many believe all I do is run and that is all my life, but one beautiful thing my sister told me when I was a teen: "I know you will succeed in anything you put your heart into because, Nadia, you pour EVERYTHING you have in it. You don't care if others are doing less or are naturally talented. You do you and aim to succeed and be the best Nadia." She was right. I have that imprinted in my mind. Be the best version of myself.

I ask myself and ask you: who are we after the motivation wears off? We all have bad days, struggles, setbacks, days that make us ask: why me? YOU are not alone in your struggle. It’s normal and part of the process of continually trying to seek more. You are allowed to feel weak. You are allowed to feel helpless. You are allowed to just give yourself a day to say: I know this is meant for me to dig deep and figure shit out. I cannot count the days or even years I've cried alone in frustration, solitude, helplessness, and learning what it takes. My mom has seen it. My dad has. My siblings have. Many, many times they have not as many will never see it. Who am I after the motivation wears off? 

I'm here to tell you, YOU are meant to be extraordinary. Find the beast that thrives within you because I PROMISE you if you dig deep enough, you will find it. And when you do, it becomes something very special that allows you to find the eternal fire within yourself. We all have it. You do, too.

* * * 

I’m honored to share my podcast interview @therunduo for a kick reminder what we are capable of if we apply yourself beyond 100% every day possible. My interview starts at 33:00 for a 30min listen. Feel free to share then lace up those shoes no matter what the situation is and get your body moving. Approaching my 21st anniversary of running, celebrating over 400 races collectively around the world and one relentless fire that will not go out. /// If you need an endurance coach, contact me via email and I am happy to guide you to reach your next level goals.

Episode 19 featuring Nadia Ruiz 
on The Run Duo podcast. Listen on:

Friday, October 19, 2018

Mt. San Gorgonio Summit 11,503'

We get one special life on this world, why not make the most of it. Every morning or night, I take a moment to ask myself: how did I make today amazing, what am I grateful for, how will I make tomorrow great? I found my fire very early in my life, but just like with any fire, you have to continuously feed it fuel/gas for it to remain ignited. The more you feed it, the more it will flame. Taking these moments of reflection, meditation, and mindfulness are very important for everyone. It allows us to have direction, look back on how far we've come, and also to be present to appreciate what is around us now. If we allow ourselves at any stage of our life to focus too much on the future, past, or present, the others will suffer and not in the good way. Therefore, we should continuously give ourselves that space to work on ourselves to be balanced within our mind and spirit. We never know when our time will end in this lifetime either decades from now or tomorrow, living purposefully takes conscious effort -- and this does not take a great deal of money. It first takes time in creating the mental space within ourselves and making the decision: yes, I will live today focused, grateful, and purposeful. 

Almost losing my life, almost losing my sister's life whitewater rafting having her hand slip mine over an eddy, almost losing my father's life to cancer, losing all my grandparents to chronic health problems has given me my personal perspective that I will not and can not take a day for granted. The road to achieve our goals and personal definition of success can be a lonely road, but find what ignites your fire and keep that flame up because in the end when we are in our last months of life we never say: I wish I would have worked more at my desk or had that car, new house, etc. We say: I wish I would have lived more. You have the power to live today. 



Vivian Creek Trailhead 
10:40am start - 6000’
11:40am Mile 3 (1:00) - 7900’
1:40pm Mile 8 (3:00) - 10,800’
2:07pm Summit (3:27 up) - 11,503’
30min lunch
2:37pm leave
5:40pm finish (2:43 down)

start 51F
summit 25F windchill // 10-15mph winds (mild)
finish 55F

Caloric Intake: 
200 Vital4U, drip drop, eggs - wake up
400 sandwich - 2hrs before start
200 almond butter
100 Stryve biltong stick
300 pita chips, pineapple
200 stryve stick, Vital4U - Mile 8
500 sandwich, Matcha almonds - Mile 8.5 Summit
300 almonds - Mile 11
400 snack peas - Mile 19 finish
700 ceviche and brown rice bowl - home
3,300 TOTAL

Rehydration Strategy: 
3 - 1L water with Drip Drop
 * 1L morning/during drive
 * 1.5L ascent to summit
 * 0.5L descent to finish

My first solo attempt and successful summit of Southern California's highest peak. Checking mountain weather first, always having the proper gear from head to toe, navigation, training, and extra fuel/hydration in case of emergencies. Always inform someone of your exact location, start, end, etc. If it is your first attempt, do not go alone. I have been on this mountain and all socal peaks several times in the past twenty years. I now wanted to take the plunge to go solo and happily enjoyed every peaceful moment of no service. Trek on safely, friends. 

34 summits in 3 months to celebrate my 34th year // so far:
9/21 Baldy summit (ski hut) - 4000’
9/23 San Jacinto summit (devils) - 4400’
10/4 Wilson summit solo - 4900’
10/5 Echo mtn - 1400’
10/12 Three Ts solo (icehouse) - 4700’
10/14 Gorgonio solo (vivian) - 5300’
24,700 TOTAL // so far and to be continued... 

Goals and dreams that make you wake up excited are always worth it. 
Never stop dreaming and striving towards them however difficult it gets. 

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Ruco Pichincha Summit 15,413'

The Andes Mountains are filled with volcanoes and peaks for the elevation seeking soul. Quito, the capital of Ecuador, sits nestled inside the Andes at 9,000' with several volcanoes relatively nearby to choose to ascend. A few to play with are:

Ruco Pichincha 
Guagua Pichincha
Los Illinizas

My first visit to Quito was at the age of nine when my mom was finally granted US Residency; she happily then brought us to Ecuador to visit our extended family for the first time. It was then as a child that I fell in love with the mountains. My mom is from very humble beginnings in the countryside Loja where we would need to trek at least one mile for running water to them camel buckets back home. I ran around the Andes hills unknowingly that the love was deeply planted then. 

I usually visit Ecuador once every three years on average to 'play' in the mountains and visit family. This time, I came to celebrate some pre-birthday activities with my father. I had my eye on Ruco Pichincha to start as eventually my dream is summit to 19,000 and beyond. I did my research and was a little nervous about summiting my first foreign major summit. But we all need to start somewhere. 

Getting to Ruco:
From Quito, the best method to reach Ruco is take an inexpensive taxi ride (about $2-4 USD) to the base of el TeleferiQo, the highest tram ride in the world. Opening in 2005, it travels about 20 minutes taking you from the base in Cruz Loma at 10,000' altitude to 12,900' altitude, the top of el TeleferiQo. It runs 9am-7pm daily at $4.50 per Ecuadorian resident or $8.50 for foreigners. Make sure to bring your passport or any government ID. I used my CA Driver's License. 

Year-round Quito holds relatively the same weather pattern at the equator: 50s Fahrenheit during the day / 40s Fahrenheit at night with varying wind patterns and thunderstorms. It's mountain weather at 9000'. So time your summit attempt when Quito has really great weather. The sunrises at approximately 6am and sets at 6pm year-round. We were very lucky Quito had a 'warm' day in the 60s and clear sunshine. Thunderstorms or heavy cloud cover usually roll in at higher elevations in the late afternoon so you don't want to be at the summit 2-3pm or later. The later it is, the more risk you take as you descend the rocky scrambling terrain. Recently at the time of this writing, a couple separate groups of locals and foreigners got lost near the summit being found the next days hypothermic. Never take summiting higher elevation lightly. Mountain weather dictates your summit and safety. 

Our summit:
We started relatively late at 11:30am so I calculated a hard turn around point at 3pm: we turn around no matter what wherever we are. I was determined for the peak, but also nervous my dad wouldn't make it due to a stomach virus he was fighting for a week prior. So I packed his nutrition and hydration filled with high density calories and coca tea. I also made him pack in layers. With unpredictable mountain weather you always want to have a base tech layer, 1-2 insulating layers, and a wind proof/waterproof outer layer. My dad tends to run cold so I made him pack extra. We were fortunate to have good weather in the high 40s and mild 15-20mph gusts. That was challenging for my dad, but something I was accustomed to fortunately. 

We began our trek at the top of el TeleferiQo at 12,800' elevation. Thin beautiful marshmallow cloud filled sky. Taking it one step at a time, my dad and I aimed for the summit. He set the pace and I watched him cautiously making sure he was drinking and eating. The best way to handle altitude is do what you can to avoid the early signs of altitude sickness: headaches, dizziness, nausea, light headedness. Keep hydrating before your thirsty. Keep snacking as caloric expenditure is higher at higher elevations. Surprisingly, my dad was on a mission. He held a brisk pace and I followed trotting behind carrying extra food and layers just in case anything was needed for us. 

As we neared the peak, I gazed around and tears began to gather in my eyes. Grateful. Happy. To be right where I was. Climbing in such a beautiful landscape and bringing my dad along to get a taste of what I love so much about the mountain tops. I cried because it had taken so long for me to become grateful to be where I am currently. Three years ago, my life drastically changed leaving me very lost. I didn't know who I was anymore. I didn't want to live anymore. I didn't understand how one's heart can hurt so much with such a deep pain inside. Losing something that defines us, something that becomes a part of us, feels like darkness. During times of severe hardship or drastic loss, some resort to self-destructive behavior: drugs, abuse, or worse suicide. Because we are confused with pain. Pain that seems will never go away. What did I do? Resort to the mountains. I couldn't understand what had I done so wrong to feel so much pain. I couldn't understand why everything seemed to be at the height of my life then lose the most meaningful things in my life. But now I know. To learn. To learn to value what you have because you never know what you have until you lose it. Three years ago, I made some major changes in my life and sold almost everything of high monetary value that I owned and only kept my laptop, car, and my two precious companions: Max and Bruno. I needed to redefine myself. To help myself find value again on what is important within me. As my 32nd birthday approaches, I have battled a cancer scare in solitude, divorce, heartbreak, infertility, betrayal, and I know there is still so much to learn. On the bright side, I have my freedom, my ability to climb mountains, my precious dogs, and my inner fire reignited again to seek my life goals. That was what I lost. But I have found it again and even if I needed to start again, I know now I am strong enough to try again. I know I rather die adventurously than live miserably. 

We approached 15,000' altitude, the first time I had every broken that mark. I took a moment to take a deep breath in. And out. Beauty exists around the world; we need to take the moment to exhale and experience it. I looked above and ahead and saw what I had read about and what my dad had feared: the last 500' of scramble to the top. The beautiful mountain landscape had turned into a daunting, dark rocky terrain that towered over our heads. We climbed on all fours grasping for dear life and breathe. Our pace slowed as each exhale I felt I was becoming more and more lightheaded. My dad lead the entire way and he continued to do so on the scramble. I would lose sight of him around the rocks and he would shout: Cachito! I'm right here, I'm coming. Truth was, I was very nervous. To get hurt, fall, or get seriously injured. Suddenly I hear my dad yell ecstatically: Cachito we made it!! The summit is here! My desperate face for air turned into a wide grin as I forgot I was scared and quickly crawled to the top. I stood there with my dad smiling. He took his first video as he narrated it climb. Tears gathered in his eyes as I saw behind his reading glasses. My old man made it and I knew what it meant to him. I knew what this meant to me. Gratefulness. Gratitude to be alive to be experiencing this exact moment with my father. We made it. 

The greatest of all evils is: comparison. If you find yourself comparing yourself to what others have, you will not have the time to value what you have. To have the time to nurture what you have. We can look at our situation and be disappointed or we can try to work on the areas that need working on. This is how I wanted to celebrate life. Inhaling the beauty. Exhaling the negativity. One day at a time. 


Ruco Pichincha 15,413'
Moving time (1:48)
Total time (2:30)

Round Trip
Moving time (2:57)
Total time (4:15)

Calories Consumed:
Breakfast - smoothie, yogurt with granola & fruit (500)
Mile 0 - tamale (300)
Mile 3 - banana, almond butter, kimbolito (500)
Summit - granola (200)
Finish - trail mix (200)
Total (1700)

Route Details:
Mile 0 - 12,800 
Mile 1 - 13,500 -- 700' gain
Mile 2 - 14,200 -- 700' gain
Mile 3 - 15,000 - 800' gain
Mile 3.3 - 15,500 -- 500' gain 
Total route 6.5mi, 3000' gain

12,000 altitude
13,000 altitude
15,000 altitude
15,413' summit

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Mt. Langley Summit 14,042'

Getting Out of Your Comfort Zone

Last minute, I craved some sky and higher altitude than 12K so researched a peak and went for it. As Labor Day weekend is a very popular weekend for outdoor activities, all hotels were sold out in Lone Pine, which sits at 3700' elevation and a 3 hour drive north from LA. Next best thing: car camping. Coordinating with a couple friends who were planning their double 14er summit weekend, we all stayed overnight at Horseshoe Meadow Campgrounds, where the trailhead to the summit begins and sits at 10,000' elevation under the stars. 

It was a very crisp night at 37F and I had forgotten my sleeping bag. I slept in all my gear layers, but it wasn't enough. I might have gotten maybe 3hrs of interrupted sleep due to discomfort, not ideal when trying to climb to 14K the next day. Overnight, I drank almost a liter of water due to an increased thirst at elevation, which I discovered later would lead to about 3 urine stops within the first two hours. Tip: Space out your hydration throughout the days prior.  I had not. 

Mile 1. We started on the Cottonwood Trailhead shortly before 6am when the first sun rays began warming the tops of the pines. No permit is required if you are not camping overnight in the wilderness. Only a parking pass is required for $6. We excitedly began with the intention to summit, but keeping priority first that weather and/or our bodies may not allow for a summit. The first five miles meander through the serene tree lined wilderness and climb slightly over 1000' collectively, therefore, a very gentle climb. At Mile 4, you come to a section where the trailhead breaks off to New Army Pass or Cottonwood Lakes. We ran into a couple who recommended Cottonwood Lakes (Old Army Pass, it's a mile less, climbs a little steeper, and much more scenic with lakes). 

Mile 6. You climb only another 200' where it opens up to the beautiful meadows, crystal lakes, and get your first view of the gnarly rocky ridge you will need to ascend. The 360 degree terrain is mesmerizing. After reaching the rocky ridge base around Mile 6 at 11,200' elevation, you begin the most difficult half of your ascent. The majority of hikers at this point are carrying only a day back to summit as they camped overnight at the lakes to split the ascent over two days. Tip: Drink, eat, drink, pace, and listen to any early signs of altitude sickness especially as you climb to higher elevations.

Mile 8. When you reach the top of the ridge breaking 12,000' elevation, the views in front of you are mountain range after mountain range, something my soul simply loves to see. Turn around to see what you just climbed in less than two miles will shock you. Welcome to the Sequoia National Forest. 

Mile 9. The climbing becomes forgiving again for the next two miles climbing only about 800', so if you're an avid climber, this may not phase you. If you're sensitive to altitude, this will tax you. Mile 9.5 at 12,500', we stopped for a 30min lunch eating my foot long subway sandwich. Extra jalapeƱo and mustard on chicken with veggies hit the spot. After this point, we all went on our own pace to the summit. Less than two miles left to the summit; it will be the most challenging 1500' gain of the day. Be prepared for some scrambling, crawling on all fours, and being brought to complete stops (for most). There were a few laying down and taking naps even though we were so close to the summit. 

Mile 10. Above 13K, that will do it to you. Pushing the effort, I passed hiker after hiker. My goal: get absolutely uncomfortable (safely) to earn that summit. I was nauseous, sleepy, lightheaded, and breathing very heavily. It felt awesome! Inside, I missed this extreme type of discomfort due to altitude... that feeling of pushing so hard you want to vomit. I was uncomfortable yet so happy to be right where I was.

As my birthday nears, I always take the month to reflect and celebrate if I can where my life has brought me, asking myself: have I accomplished what I wanted this past year? What areas have I grown in? What areas do I still need to work on?  What actions will I do to today to ensure I am grateful? Normally, most do this during the New Year; however, I find my mind is more reflective at different times, not when everyone else is doing it. I usually do it during my very long or difficult training days, therefore, I enjoy reflecting often. I took a moment to look around at the vast open space and gave thanks. Thanks for suffering in life. Thanks for losing. Thanks for failing. Thanks for the insatiable hunger to keep learning. Because if I had not suffered, lost, or failed, I wouldn't be the woman I am today.  

Summit. I reached the summit and allowed myself to enjoy it for an hour until my body could not take the cold any longer. Some found signal at the summit; I stayed disconnected to just really take in that moment. We were as high as cessnas fly. But we didn't fly up there; we climbed on foot and our bodies can do that. Survive discomfort. Survive suffering. Survive pain. One thing it does is it teaches us: we are strong enough. We are capable to endure more. 

Get comfortable with being uncomfortable. To go further. To go faster. To go higher. It's when we're uncomfortable where we learn. Learn what we really can do. 


Mt. Langley 14,042'
9:30 moving time (2016)
12hrs total time
6:18 moving time (2017)

Horseshoe Meadow Campground, Cottonwood Trailhead

Sept Temps:
10K - 37F overnight 
11K - 46F day
12K - 50F day
Summit - 32F, 20mph winds
10K - 45F evening 

Calories consumed:
Mile 0 - fruit salad (400) 
Mile 4.5 - chips, string cheese (500)
Mile 9.5 - subway, almonds (700)
Mile 11.2mi - bar, yogurt, nuts (600)
Mile 12.5 - yogurt, nuts (400)
Mile 16 - Bar (100)
Mile 22.4 - soup & crackers (300)
Total (3000)

11,000 altitude via Cottonwood Lakes