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Runtrails' Rocky Mountain Journal
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"To accomplish great things, we must not only act, but also dream,
not only plan, but also believe." Anatole France


I'm one of those people who always has plans and goals for my life. None was quite as grand as last year's thru-run/hike of the Appalachian Trail, but nonetheless there were always plans and goals for my educational, career, athletic, and other personal spheres of life. I strive to cherish but learn from the past, live fully in the present, and plan for the future - I'm always a work in progress!

I try not to make my plans/goals too rigid because there are so many variables in life. I'm getting better at that as I get older and learn what I can and cannot control. Flexibility in all aspects of life is so important to achieving goals and being satisfied with your life. As the old saying goes, there is more than one way to skin a cat. (Poor cat!)

If Plan "A" doesn't work out, have a Plan "B." A Plan "C" isn't a bad idea, either.

During the AT trek I had three "rules" I tried to follow:

  • Don't get injured

  • Have fun!

  • Be flexible and adaptable

I didn't do so well with the first one, but at least there were no hike-ending injuries, only down-time. I definitely had fun most days. And, boy, did Jim and I learn to be more flexible and adaptable! Every day presented challenges that required at least some part of Plan "A" be modified.

This trip will be be no different, although it should be less stressful in many ways. I have to admit we're getting a wee bit stressed out right now, however. It's Sunday night. We are leaving our home in Virginia on Wednesday morning. Do the math. There's a lot we still need to do in just two days for our three-plus month foray out West with our camper and two 80-pound "ultra Labs."

See this AT entry if you're not already acquainted with Tater and Cody, who are shown with Jim and me in the photo below on the first day of our AT run, April 30, 2005:

I intend to follow the same "rules" this summer. I won't have any fun if I'm injured, and we'll lose our sanity if we're too rigid. Adaptability = fun.

Here is our Grand Plan. It is subject to change, of course. Life is like that!


May 24: leave our home in Virginia

May 25: arrive at campground southwest of St. Louis, MO

May 27: run the Berryman Trail 50-miler in the Mark Twain National Forest

May 30: arrive at campground in Dayton, WY, where we'll stay for three weeks getting acclimated and tapering for our goal race and visiting friends and relatives in Billings, MT

June 16-17:  run the Bighorn Mountain Wild & Scenic 100-Mile Trail Run (both of us are entered)

Funny story here - I don't have time to dig out the CD with the photos from our previous Bighorn training runs and races, but I found some of OUR photos on the race website. Here are two from a training run in 2003 before the race. Both show a dirt road runners use near the Dry Fork aid station location. The aspen leaves are just coming out in the first photo with Jim:


June 20: head for the Denver, CO area to re-supply and visit the Colorado Trail Foundation's headquarters. If we have enough energy, we'll start chipping away at the northern sections of the Colorado Trail  (CT) between Denver and Breckenridge (approximately Segments 1-6). I plan to run and walk the entire 483-mile trail. I'm hoping Jim can do most or all of it, too, but it's not an important goal for him. He just wants a lot of acclimatizing at high elevation so he'll be more than ready for the Leadville Trail 100-miler in August.

Late June: arrive in the Silverton, CO area and find a couple of nice, free forest service camping spots where we can "boon dock" for two to three weeks while we run the southern sections (approximately Segments 20-28) of the Colorado Trail and volunteer several days for the Hardrock 100 Endurance Run (we're "giving back" to the sport, not running that one)

~ July 20: move farther north to complete the middle sections (approximately Segments 13-19) of the CT.

~ August 1: arrive in Leadville, CO and stay on a friend's property for about three weeks while we run and hike the Leadville Trail 100 (LT100) course and finish up the Colorado Trail (approximately Segments  7-12).

August 19-20: run the Leadville Trail 100-miler. Jim registered months ago. I haven't. I'm waiting to see how I feel after running most of the Colorado Trail. If I'm in great shape, I might enter the race. If I'm injured or too tired to be able to finally finish it this time (I'm 0 for 2 there), I'll crew Jim and maybe pace him some. He doesn't need a pacer; it's just fun to pace each other in a hundred-miler.

This photo is from an August, 2004 training run on the north side of Mt. Hope near Twin Lakes (about a mile below Hope Pass):

If I still have any remaining segments of the Colorado Trail to complete, I'll do them after LT100. If not, we'll probably head back home a few days after the race. We love to travel, but after living in the camper that long we'll be anxious to get back home.

There you have it. I'll probably report two or three times a week (not daily, like on the AT) to share adventures and photos. We're excited to be heading to the Rockies for two of our favorite races, and we're looking forward to seeing ultra running friends we haven't seen since we moved to Virginia in 2004.

We hope you enjoy our newest journey vicariously in this journal (especially those of you who read it at work and live for the weekends!). Even better, we hope some of our tales will make you want to get out and enjoy the great outdoors yourself.

We've had such a heartwarming response from people all over the world who were inspired by an arthritic 56-year-old woman (me!) who beat the odds to finish the Appalachian Trail. Well, now I'm 57 and I'm still looking for near-impossible challenges. I think finishing the Bighorn race will be more difficult than finishing the Colorado Trail because the CT doesn't have time cut-offs! That's one reason I enjoyed running the AT so much.

Tune in to see if I can beat the odds again . . .

In the next few entries I'll be discussing our training since last year's adventure run, the gear we'll use, nutrition/hydration plans, and the Berryman race. It may be a few days before I'll have time to write another entry. Gotta get that camper packed!!

"Runtrails & Company" - Sue Norwood, Jim O'Neil, Cody, and Tater

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2006 Sue Norwood and Jim O'Neil