Friday, June 7, 2013

I Conquered the Hill.......and the Mountain!

I know it's been a little bit since I've written an update post. This semester was crazy busy with school and organizations. Just ask Adam, I was hardly home and when I was it seemed like we were always going in different directions.

So just what have we been up to in the past 4-5 months? Well Adam made it through another calving season despite the cold weather and snow and they are almost done with planting for this season. I made it through my last semester of classes in pharmacy school and I can now say I'm 4/5 of a pharmacist! Woohooo!

I hope to catch you up with all the details in future posts, but right now this entry is about conquering the hill and a mountain in the past two weeks.

Believe it or not running a half marathon was the second most challenging thing I did in the past two weeks.  Allow me to explain.

This past Saturday I ran the Hospital Hill Half Marathon. Run is word that I like to use loosely here, because my pace was turtle speed at times. You see, I signed up for this half marathon back in February. I thought I would have ample time to train and maybe even improve on my time from the last half I ran. Well my best laid plan for training worked as well as a snail trying to juggle. School got in the way the majority of the time, but the weather was also a big factor this spring. It was warmer in January than it was in March and I hate running in the cold! Anyway, my training never made it past five miles, and I probably ran that distance over a month ago. Are you starting to see the predicament I got myself into?  I seriously considered just going to the expo, picking up my race packet and not running the 13.1 miles. I could still go to the race and cheer on my brother's fiance, but at that point I didn't even think I could run the 5K in a decent time.

So it's the day before the race and I go to the expo to pick up my race packet and everything is fun and exciting. This was also the 40th anniversary of the Hospital Hill run, so it was a big year for the race.  I'm kind of getting excited to run and starting to think, maybe I can do this.

My future sister-in-law, Kari, is a runner as well. Granted she is much more talented at running than I am. We met up before the race and chatted for a little bit, then got in our respective groups to start the race. The race started and I just kept putting one foot in front of the other, trying to maintain a steady pace. It was an absolutely awesome day for a run. There was cloud cover and it was cool. We couldn't of had a better day for a race. I was thankful the weather was on my side that day, because that was one of the few things I had going for me.

Kari and I before the race.
As I'm running through the city that I've become so familiar with over the past three years I realize the first big hill is coming up. It's the hill in front of Children's Mercy Hospital and it is a doozy. I made  it up that one and kept on going. The turn for the 5K was coming up and I seriously considered hanging a right and calling it a day, but something told me to keep going. I'm running down the street I drove down everyday to get to school and I can feel that ache in my knees starting.    I just pushed the thought of slowing down to the back of my mind and keep putting one foot in front of the other. I'm coming up on the turn for the 10K, and once again I seriously considered turning here and calling it a day. For some stupid reason I didn't turn and just kept on getting farther and farther away from the starting line.

We get to mile five and the pain in my knees is getting worse and the balls of my feet are starting to blister. I walked at the water stations, but at this point I took a breather and walked up the Rockhill Road hill. I just kept chugging along, then about mile 7 I noticed the runner in front of me didn't have her running partner anymore. I caught up to her and started a conversation and it turned out she lived in Manhattan and was going to vet school at K-State and we knew some of the same people! How crazy is that! So we ran with each other for the last half of the race and talked about school and what we wanted to do once we graduated. We get to the last three miles of the race and I honestly don't know how I managed to make it this far, but I'm now determined to finish despite the fact my knees were on fire and my feet were blistering.

I had to walk the last 2.5 miles because the pain was so intense. I jogged the last downhill half mile and crossed the finish line with the encouragement of the runners beside me.  I looked back at the finish line and think, "Holy crap, how the heck did I just run 13.1 miles?"  Somehow, someway I conquered the hill and earned the medal at the end of the race. My time wasn't horrible considering I didn't train for this race. It was only 10 minutes slower than the half marathon I trained for last last year.  I finished with a time of 2:48:52.

Every muscle in my body ached and I couldn't wait to get home and relax. Even though I regretted running the race at the time, looking back I'm glad I did it and pushed myself to my limits.

Post race photo. 
It has almost been a week since I ran the half and my feet still hurt and I know I won't be running for awhile so my body can heal. The moral of the story is: put in the time to train for a race like this. I would like to run this race again next year and have adequate training under my belt so I can see how much my time improved.

Believe it or not running this half marathon was the second most physically challenging thing I did in a weeks time. The first involves the country of Peru and a really tall mountain.

Once I finished up finals this year I got packed up and left on a plane to travel to Peru for a medical missions trip with the United Planet organization. Eleven of us went on this trip and we had a great time! We were there for eight days and did a lot of work in the clinics and got explore the city of Cusco, Peru. I hope to write future posts about the work we did there, but for now the rest of this post is about conquering a mountain.

While we were in Peru our coordinators planned a weekend excursion to Machu Picchu.  This was the part of the trip that everyone was excited about and once we were there it was just absolutely spectacular! If you ever get the chance to go to Peru I highly recommend spending a weekend going through Machu Picchu.The Incan ruins are a sight to see and it is truly amazing and difficult to fathom how this civilization built these massives structures without modern mechanization. Machu Picchu is considered one of the seven wonders of the world because it is a site the Spanish did not find during their conquest, and therefore it was not destroyed by the Spanish Conquistadors.

Machu Picchu with the Wayna Picchu mountain
in the background. This is the mountain we climbed. 
Part of our excursion to Machu Picchu included the option to climb the mountain that you see in the background of all the MaPi pictures. They only allow 400 people to climb this mountain a day and tickets are already sold out through the end of June. Our group decided to go ahead and go for it. We were here, we might as well just do it. The mountain looked pretty daunting from the MaPi grounds, but it looked even more tough to tackle once we were at the base. Our ticket allowed us to enter the trail at 10AM, we stood in line and we had to check in at this little hut and write down our start time. We all got through the check in and did a team huddle to kick this adventure off.

Our group gearing up to conquer this mountain.
Pictured from left to right: Megan, me, Brett, Bethany,
Rachel, Stephanie, and Jordan.
Photo credit: Jordan Gard
We were are all excited to climb this mountain and we took off pretty quick. We all kinda forgot that we were at a higher altitude than what we were used to in Kansas. So we were all huffing and puffing pretty quick and had to take several breather breaks to catch our breath and just look out at the view, which was extraordinary.  We also soon learned that this mountain climb would get the nickname, "stairmaster on an overdose of steroids." We climbed a lot of steps that day and it would be interesting to know just how many stairs there are to get to the top.

Some of the stairs on our journey to the top. Brett,
Jordan and Bethany were our leads as we made our way.
Stephanie and Rachel were my mountain climbing partners. 

We continued to climb and we start to see the first group of people come back down the mountain. We ask them how much further do we have to go and some of them said, "15 minutes and some said 30 minutes." So we knew we were maybe close to half way to the top. Our legs were already on fire from all of the stairs, but we kept pushing onward. We made it to a lookout point and took some time to take in the amazing view.

Looking down on the Machu Picchu ruins. Yeah, we were pretty high up at this point. 

UMKC School of Pharmacy Class of 2014 on top of Wayna Picchu!
(L-R) Jordan, Stephanie, me, Rachel, Sara, and Brett 

A 360 degree view from Wayna Picchu. 

We were almost to the top of the mountain and we had the option to start our decent or continue a little further and say we made it to the very top of this mountain. It was unanimous to go ahead and climb to the very top. We get to a point in the mountain where we have to climb through a tunnel for a little bit, then to get to the very top we have to climb a ladder and at the top there are three large rocks we can stand or sit on. We didn't stay at the top too long because there was a swarm of gnats that kept buzzing around us and made it difficult to enjoy the view. 

Getting ready to crawl through the tunnel to get to the top of Wayna Picchu.
We did it! We made it to the VERY top of the mountain!
You can see how little Machu Picchu looks in the background. 
Now that we were at the top of the mountain, we only had one place to go.....down.  I'll have to say going down was the worse than climbing up. On the trek down you could see how high you are and the precarious situations we had somehow managed to get ourselves into. We took our time with each step down, because the steps were hardly large enough to hold our feet.  Keeping three points of contact was essential for us to prevent a mental breakdown and freaking out from the steepness of the steps. 

The girls making their way down the mountain.
You can see just how steep the steps were.
Pictured: Stephanie, Sara, and Amy.

The sign that is almost at the top of the mountain. It said the altitude was
2,693 meters, which is 8,833 feet. Yikes, that is a ways up there!

Another view of the steep stairs on the way down. 
We all made it back to the bottom and we conquered that giant mountain
in the background! Our whole hike took two hours.
It was a relief to make it back to the bottom of the mountain. Our legs were dead and had no more "up" left in them. Climbing this mountain was one of the most physically and emotionally challenging things I have ever done, and it is awesome that we were able to push ourselves beyond our comfort zones and conquer the mountain!

If you ever think you can't do something, just push that thought to the back of your mind and keep putting one foot in front of the other.  If I can conquer the hill and the mountain in a weeks time you can do anything you set your mind to!

More Peru stories and adventures will be posted in the near future, I can't wait to tell you all about it!

Have a fantastic weekend! 


  1. Look at you go! You never cease to amaze me in what you do.

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