Mount Bierstadt: First 14er and 7 Teachable Moments

During these past six months, I have rededicated myself to investing in my overall health and fitness: I have a monthly membership to a fitness center and have my own personal trainer, who trains me hard twice a week (hi, Brittany!). When it comes to my health and fitness, these days I am not merely working out for aesthetics: I also know that this time around, I am in it for the long haul, and that this is a lifestyle, not a hobby.

We started hiking Mount Bierstadt before dawn and got to enjoy seeing the sunrise on the mountains.
Along the trail towards Mount Bierstadt: look at the beautiful sunrise behind me!

So, what better way to test my endurance than to hike a 14er (if you had asked me this time last year about hiking a 14er, I would have promptly said, “No thank you!”). This is exactly what I did over this past weekend with Ryan.

For those who aren’t familiar with the term “14er”, the term refers to mountain peaks that are 14,000 feet and higher, and Colorado boasts over fifty of them alone. These mountains vary in difficulty in terms of elevation, length of hike, and terrain.

Mount Bierstadt sits at 14,060 feet and is considered a Class 2 mountain to hike.
Mount Bierstadt in the afternoon, with storm clouds rolling in.

It was only last Thursday (July 5th) when Ryan and I decided to hike Mount Bierstadt, which sits at 14,060 feet and is considered a Class 2 mountain. Before this, we had only driven up Pikes Peak and Mount Evans, so Mount Bierstadt was going to be the first 14er for us to hike. I admit, I was a little nervous about hiking it, even though as Ryan researched about the mountain, he said that overall, other hikers seemed to think that the mountain was an ‘easy hike’. I read over a blog post by Laura Skladzinski at 50by25 about her experience with Mount Bierstadt, and the post helped me prepare mentally for the challenging parts of the climb.

The whole hike up and down Mount Bierstadt took us about 9.5 hours round-trip, for a total of 6.9 miles and 2,729 feet in elevation gain (we already started at about 11,000 feet at the trailhead). The trail is very popular among people of all fitness levels, including families–although I am not sure how many of these families made it to the summit. Needless to say, the whole hike exhausted us out, but we made it to the top with relatively no altitude sickness symptoms. Hoorah!

Anyhow, we did take away some lessons from the whole experience, which will be handy for those of you who are curious to try out a 14er in the future.

Continue reading Mount Bierstadt: First 14er and 7 Teachable Moments

Daily Post Day 49: When Running Becomes Freedom

I used to think I would never be able to run long distances. Years of humiliation, huffing and puffing through the annual mile run in physical education class…I was almost always the last student to complete the mile. Shame coated my mind.

Back in September, I laced up my new pair of pink sneakers and decided it was time for me to take up running (after experimenting with different workout programs over the course of my fitness kick).

I held my iPhone in one hand and my water bottle, keys, and ID in the other. Listening to my app’s voice coach, I walked along Sunset Boulevard to warm up. Cars passed by and the breeze swept through my clothes. Fresh, crisp air mixed in with gasoline fumes.

I fell into a trance along the path when suddenly the voice coach yelled “Start your running!” Huff, puff…I found my PE days flashing through my mind and then I found myself flying away from those painful memories.

For the first time in my life, I realized that running liberated me and gave me life. And ever since that autumn day, I have enjoyed running like I was born to do so. Hey, even a personal trainer here in New York said I’m a “natural runner” with my stance and all. Encouraging!

When spring rolls around, can’t wait to take my running back outdoors and off the treadmill. I love basking in nature and feeling the wind against me as I run to my freedom.