On March 31 Michael and I hiked to the top Mount Sanitas for my first time in 2018. On the way down he gave me the Seven Sanitas Summit Challenge: hike Mount Sanitas six more times before April 14.
Why the challenge?
At the end of March Michael and I decided to plan a trip for some backpacking in Utah for mid-April. We found backcountry permits for the Lathrop Trail in the Island in the Sky district of Canyonlands. The Lathrop Trail starts at the top of a mesa and extends down to the Colorado River and then back up to the mesa. The 21-mile out and back is flat to gradual aside from a 1.5-mile stretch that is quite steep with about 1200 feet of elevation gain/loss.
Since my heart still isn’t at 100%, we decided to test out my abilities on Mount Sanitas, a trail in Boulder with a 1250-foot gain over 1.3 miles and is similar to what we would encounter on Lathrop Trail. I used to hike Mount Sanitas allllll the time – before work, after work, weekends, you name it. It definitely is a butt-kicker and is one of those trails that you love to hate.
Knowing that I could get to the top just fine, Michael then extended this challenge to me. By doing Mount Sanitas 6 more times we would both gain more confidence in my abilities and wouldn’t be quite as nervous that anything negative would happen while backpacking.
This link has some more information on the trail itself.
Quick side note on my heart health
Before I continue I’ll give a quick update on my heart. Since the yurt-defibrillator-shock fiasco things have been going really well! With the new medication that I’m on I haven’t had any arrhythmias that needed my ICD to kick in with therapy. This is huge! I went from receiving 1-5 therapies daily (caused by VT) during the first two weeks of January to receiving NONE mid-January through now.
After getting shocked I had a hard time getting back to exercising. It’s not that I didn’t want to, it’s that I was scared to. I was scared that I would receive therapy again or, worse, get shocked.
I took it easy and tried to go for daily walks or hit the gym for some leisurely biking or ellipticaling (<- don’t think that’s a word). I continued to get stronger and more confident, especially since I hadn’t had any episodes with the new medication. Each week I tried to push it just a little bit more.
And that brings us to today!
Let the challenge up Sanitas begin
March 31 was my first time hiking Mount Sanitas this year. I started out very slow and only slightly scared with my only goal being to get to the top safely. I tend to do best when I settle into an all-day easy pace so that I don’t have to stop for breaks. One step at a time, slow and steady progress.
And guess what?! I did it! And then I did it 6 more times! I hiked it through a range of weather – hot and sunny, foggy and snowy, chilly and windy – sometimes by myself, sometimes with Michael.
Here are my times for hiking to the summit (does not include the hike down):
- March 31 – 45:30
- April 1 – 44:36
- April 3 – 41:16
- April 5 – 38:53
- April 8 – 50:13 (took an alternate route up which was .6 miles longer)
- April 10 – 39:45
- April 12 – 38:53
You can see that I was able to shave off about 6.5 minutes from my first hike to my last. It may not sound like much, but the trail is only 1.3 miles long, so I’ll take it. Back in the day I could run/hike to the top in around 30 minutes – lots of room for improvement!
Not only did I get faster, but I got stronger and more confident in myself. I was able to feel that rush of endorphins that I hadn’t felt for so long. It’s such a good feeling!
I had forgotten what it’s like to pursue a goal – a clear, concrete goal with a deadline. Up until 2017 I had trained for either a half marathon or a full marathon at least once a year for 7 years. It was a lot of time and a lot of work, but so satisfying. Without working towards anything specific (because my general “get back into shape” wasn’t super inspiring) I felt a little lost.
The Seven Sanitas Summit Challenge left me feeling driven and motivated, excited to tackle anything that came my way. I know Michael has a few more challenges for me coming up. I can’t wait to smash them. I’m lucky to have a partner that encourages and inspires me.
And here are some extra pictures, because I took a lot during my 7 times up and down.