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Tuesday, July 27, 2010

sleeping and running at altitude

I’ve just returned from a brief Rocky Mountain High. Hilary and I were up/out/over at her family reunion near Granby, Colorado. It’s a pretty fun affair. They hold it in a different place every two years. This is the second time I’ve attended. Lots of good folks in that family. I think there must have been like fifty of us but I forgot to count. Maybe only thirty-five. We did a lot of singing and praying and eating and (strangely) watching videos from past reunions, which is actually kind of cool to see the younger versions of the people sitting next to you. Oh yes, and a talent show and a couple campfires complete with ‘smores and John Denver covers under a rising full moon. Pretty neat tradition they’ve got going.

But, man, that’s a long way to drive. Roundtrip is something like thirty hours. Luckily, it’s through some of the most incredible scenery in the world. That short stretch of Arizona through the Virgin River Gorge is super. Then you hit Zion and go for a run dressed as Jesus and it’s sweet (Birkenstock sandals, wide-brimmed hat/halo, fully unbuttoned short-sleeve surf-styled/Mexican collared shirt.) Then incredible skies and canyons through Utah and a beautiful thunderstorm followed by rainbows. Followed by uncountable crossings of the Colorado River, and the two mile vertical climb up and over the continental divide. Cowboys and horses and trucks and farms and old, old ranch houses and fields and peaks and rocks and you just keep rolling on and on and on.

After all that, we arrived at 8,750 feet or so. That seems like a pretty high elevation. It’s not out of this world or anything, but pretty well up there. Hil and I found an awesome little loop trail that we did a couple times. It wound around and over a creek and up a hillside past pines (sadly being heavily hit by that beetle or moth or whatever that is sweeping the West) and cottonwoods and it was such a nice little trail loop that I wish I could find waiting for me outside my door every morning.

Interestingly enough, for a guy that lives at approx. 580 feet above sea level I had no negative altitude affects. More interestingly enough, I did experience some positive altitude affects. Sleep was very deep and restful with intense and remember-able dreams. And running felt great. It was almost as if I could breathe better up there. There wasn’t so much oxygen/air to get in the way of the flow. I took great big lung-fulls of air and felt like I could have run forever. Very interesting. Of course, it probably had more to do with the inspiration gained from the beautiful surroundings that overrode any limiting physical abilities.

Upon returning to LA, or really, upon passing through Victorville, a great sadness overtook me. After spending close to a week traveling through the most incredibly beautiful landscape I hit the smog and the freeways and even though I was tired from the drive all I really wanted to do was to turn right around and go back. But here I am, back at home, and I know that the secret beauty of this place will return to me soon. And I’ll be grateful…

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