High Altitude

After living for so many years at sea-level it is always a treat (torture?) to return to the land of my birth, the mile high state, Colorado. It is even more fun to take in a couple of fun morning runs as I attempt to re-acclimate to breathing at 5,280 feet above sea level. This time I have had the pleasure of doing these runs with my daughter. When I participate in a sporting activity I am always aware of my personal positioning as my competitive nature comes out. Thus it has been a pleasure to run with my daughter and to see the look of agony on her face, not as I beat her, but as she discovers the reality of oxygen at altitude. Now those who have lived in Colorado for their whole lives and those who have never left the safety of sea-level really have no idea of what I am talking about. Burning throat, tight lungs, and without that all powerful oxygen, the limbs are also tingling and while it may go away after a few minutes, it is nothing to laugh at or push too hard, and so we walk for a bit.

So off we go before breakfast or a proper cup of coffee (black please), out into the cool morning air of late June (should have worn a long-sleeve) and down the road chasing rabbits out of their quiet hiding places. We push down the road and maintain a comfortable pace as the sun continues to rise in the east, bringing with its height some more heat (good thing I didn’t wear the long-sleeve). Looking over my shoulder it is clear that we (both) could use a break and perhaps to walk a bit as the lack of oxygen is turning a fun jog into a device of pain. Walking we talk about our current visit and the future. Nothing big, nothing deep, just the kinds of talks that can only really happen on run in the morning.

Looking for a big finish, and to make up for those few minutes we walked I casually propose  that we run fartlek’s using light posts (100 yds?) as reference points. We agree not to push too hard on the sprints, but by the second sprint we are both pushing a little harder, faster, edging each other out, pushing. We slow for the final sprint and then it is on. We both take off at about the same pace, then push it a little more, faster, faster, legs turning over, leaning forward, the corner is less than 20 yards away, I can see that my daughter is ready to downshift into another gear, and I am doing my best to use my length to advantage, the final corner gets closer, there she goes, I dig, she digs….and at the line………..


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