So yeah...how's 2020 treating you?
I won't rehash what already has been said and I will try to refrain from using words like "unprecedented" and "uncertain times." This year has definitely been one long, strange trip and I think we'd all agree, there is no end in sight. Let's just all take a moment to be thankful that the murder hornet threat turned out to be unsubstantiated and the Garmin cyber attack resolved itself fairly quickly. Everything else that's going on...I got nothing.
What have I been up to? Well, that's a great question. Prior to the world losing its collective mind, I was counting on an aggressive fall running schedule with the Marine Corp Marathon on October 25th and then the New York City marathon six days later. Obviously, none of that is happening. In fact, during the first few weeks of the pandemic, I struggled just to get through the day, let alone get a few miles in. The combination of the uncertainty of the fate of humanity PLUS working from home, home schooling a fourth grader, AND a global crisis?
My little brain was fried.
Consequently, I did what many others did as well - I laid on the my couch, ordered far too much Thai take-out (yellow curry is my comfort food), and packed on the pounds. It wasn't until mid-May when I put a dress on and questioned why it was so tight around my hips. A quick jump on the scale shocked the hell out of me. I haven't weighed this much since 2012, a year after I started running. After a week of crying, moping, denial, and kicking stuff, I put on my big-girl pants and called the only person I knew could help me: Reinier.
Every Monday for the next month, I spent in his garage lifting heavy stuff and whining about my life. Thankfully, the man not only has a great sense of humor but an incredible amount of patience to boot. He encouraged me to run "just one mile a day." Kim circa 2017 would have laughed at this; she was clocking 35+ miles a week BEFORE Thursday morning's speed work. However, 2020-Global-Pandemic-Kim couldn't seem to shake her pad thai habit or locate her running shoes.
At the end of the day, however, I listened. I got my miles in. I stopped shoveling noodles down my throat. I bought arugula. I actually ate the arugula. Around 80% of the fruits and veggies purchased at the store were consumed as intended, instead of meeting an untimely death in my fridge. I ghosted my Uber Eats guy. The pounds began to melt off. Whew.
Randomly, Scott and I spent a long weekend in Utah in early July and that's when I realized how incredibly inexpensive it was to travel now. We had the best time riding horses, drawing by the pool, and playing golf; that vacation was really a turning point for my mental health. It felt SO good to be out of the state, and more importantly - outside.
I stopped feeling sorry for myself and decided to set some big, hairy, audacious goals. If all the races were going to be cancelled, well then dammit, I will make my own.
Several hours and a few phone calls later, I could not believe my good fortune. Somehow, there were a few open slots left for the hotel on the North rim in late September. It was during the week, which was not ideal, but holy cats - there was actually an opening! Because it closes for the winter on Oct 15 every year, the season is so short and they book up so quickly. I managed to find a place on the South rim, too, that matched our dates and the next big thing suddenly sprouted wings.
So what the heck is this trip all about? Well, my friend Dan and I will be taking the three biggest trails in the park - hiker highways, really - and covering just over 48 miles in two days. Starting on North Kaibab, we will descend about 5,400 feet over 7 miles into the canyon, then cover just over 7 more miles on flatter ground. From there, we'll hit a little campground called Phantom Ranch, which is a where most people spend the night. We, however, will be continuing up another 9+ miles out of the canyon on the Bright Angel Trail to hit the South rim. All on Day 1. We will spend the night on the South Rim (hotel, thank you very much, WITH air-conditioning and private bathrooms), get up the next morning, head back into the canyon on South Kaibab until we reach North Kaibab Trail, and then up and back out. Seems pretty straight forward, right? My biggest concern at that point was how I was going to fit my 27-step nightly skincare routine into my hiking bag.
What, you think I wake up looking like this?
Like everything in my life, I was inappropriately overconfident until I actually had to do it. So with Reinier and another friend - who happens to be an elite cyclist - we set off to conquer Griffith Peak, a ten mile hike with about 3600 ft of elevation gain. I stupidly texted Reinier the night before and said something ridiculous like, "ONLY ten miles? And we get to walk it?! This sounds luxurious!"
Kim. Oh, Kim. Oh silly, silly, stupid Kim.
That morning in August, I learned how freaking heavy a backpack was; 3L of water felt like a small child on my back. I learned how much damn food you need to bring and that I hated all of my food within three miles. I learned one mile may take you twenty-five-freaking-minutes and it is the LONGEST TWENTY-FIVE MINUTES OF YOUR LIFE. I learned the first four and half miles may take you over two hours (unless you are an elite cyclist; then it only take 1:40). TWO HOURS of climbing. Straight climbing. Imagine getting on the stair master at the gym and just going at it nonstop for TWO HOURS. That morning, I slogged behind Reinier and Max like a grumpy toddler, silently letting the tears run down my cheeks as I fretted about just about everything. I kicked a lot of rocks, annoyingly pulled my pack way too much, and considered throwing in the towel.
In my excitement over scoring a reservation, I also had foolishly chosen to disregard my darn-near paralyzing fear of heights. I've had this fear for as long as I can remember, and it's so bad, I literally cannot change the air filters in my house because they are "up too high." Okay, you may be asking yourself, if I can't change an air filter, what in god's name am I doing hiking the Grand Canyon? Yeah, that's a great question. I have no idea either. I mean, like every single marathon I've ever done, it all starts out as a good idea. And then I realize, I am in WAY over my head.
Even now, typing that, my hands are starting to sweat.
It's been a long, strange journey since that climb. In my attempts to multi-task, Scott and I would hit Wet N Wild and while he climbed seven stories to go down the slides, I climbed seven stories...and then went back down. And then up again. Then down. My one-day PR at Wet n Wild is 208 floors. All of the lifeguards were laughing but hey! I got some serious steps in while the small Bear was having fun.
Each weekend trip to Mt. Charleston provided more helpful training. I've summitted Charleston Peak twice, Griffith twice, the Saddle six separate times, and then just on Sunday, I decided to create my own route. Eighteen miles and 5,394 ft of elevation gained, I have never been so happy to see my car. Or my sandals. I also made the very tough decision that I will be bringing NO skincare products with me because quite frankly, I'm not carrying that shit.
We leave for this epic adventure in just under two weeks - the biggest miles are behind me. And I'm VERY happy to report that while this hiking stuff takes FOREVER (what happened to the days of running 20 miles AND still being on time for 9am baseball?), it's just as effective as running in terms of weight loss. Reinier, magic man that he is, managed to carve off 13 lbs and close to 4% of body fat. While not quite "fighting weight," now I can concentrate more on how much my water weighs instead of my booty.
So stay tuned! The real adventure is just beginning. Excited to be back to blogging and as always, thanks for reading!