I climb a lot of mountains. In fact I find great joy in conquering mountains with high elevations, but what I realize now is that spending more than a few hours at these high altitudes makes for a constant head ache, and runs that leave me looking like road kill.
I spent the last week in Colorado Springs, Colorado and hot damn did my lungs feel like they were being squeezed. I ran three times, and the first time I literally thought my heart was going to beat through my skin. I live at sea level, and gaining 6000 ft was an adventure in altitude awareness.
I was spending time with my family at the Air Force Academy, because my younger sister is a freshman there. It was parents weekend, so I gathered some of my hippie belongings and headed south.
The campus is beautiful, surrounded by trees at the foot of the rocky mountains. I’d have a hard time studying with all the adventure that surrounded me. Military life is fascinating to me, and it was fun to see my sister in her new element.
The architecture was great too.
I shamelessly admit I found the above statue extremely attractive. Not to mention the story behind the hero.
Post military activities there was one free day to explore. I recently saw an article that shared the “Most Beautiful Place in Every U.S. State” and it just so happened Colorado’s most beautiful spot was Garden of the Gods.
These red rocks formed millions of years ago through a shift in the earth. With over 15 miles of trails I was able to finagle three other members of my family to wander around four of those miles.
I discovered I’m not the only billy goat in the family.
This walk was by no means steep, nor difficult, but the elevation and heat helped bring my heart rate above resting. I enjoyed the views, but I’d argue there are probably other places in Colorado that are more beautiful. I’m partial to blue and green mountains.
I’d like to make it back to CO someday to explore more of the mountains, and to summit Pikes Peak. I’ll be sure to acclimate myself to the altitude first, it’d be a shame to pass out mid hike.
Q: Do you prefer red rocks, or green trees? I don’t think I need answer this one…
52 thoughts on “Altitude Awareness”
Rachael @ Catch Me If You Can
that peak through view is AWESOME! i love green mountains, brown mountains are great but they just dont compare to lush green mountains with snow caps. my sister lives in denver and she keeps sending me jealous-inducing climbing pics just like you do haha
I want to explore more of Denver, and then Boulder!
GiGi Eats Celebrities
# 1 – When are you coming to Jackson so we can climb THE GRAND (I will only do it with you)
# 2 – When are you going to climb Mt. Everest (I will not be joining you on that excursion)
# 3 – I am so happy to be visiting your blog right now. I feel like you’re hugging me!
No idea what THE GRAND is, but it’s officially on my list. Everest will never happen, I value my life. We are going to real life hug in TWO MONTHS!!!!
GiGi Eats Celebrities
Prepare yourself for some EYE PORN… The Grand (Teton): https://www.instagram.com/p/BHFofxsDbKy/?taken-by=gigieats
My god. My life will not be complete until I see this in real time.
Running at high elevation is def different. I found that out the weekend I went to visit the Grand Canyon. I ran in Williams, AZ- just a mile and I thought I would collapse. I also plan to hike the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu at some point- I need to figure out my altitude issues before then. Pretty pics!!
Being an Indiana girl, I would take anything- red mountains, green mountains, purple trees, … anything!
Haha I like your style.
I have never experienced elevation but really want to! I think it would be fascinating.
I think I prefer trees. Red rocks make me think of barren waste land (totaly figment of my imagination I know)
Haha your imagination is great.
Kristy from Southern In Law
What a gorgeous place to explore! I never say no to any kind of awesome view, however, I don’t think I’ve ever experienced a red rock landscape!
I’d never say no either, that’s a good way to put it!
Wow, Colorado looks amazing,in part because of your amazing photos! I didn’t know the AFA is so cool… That architecture with the backroad is amazing. And who IS that man? What a memorable statue.
Sounds like a great trip… And congrats to your sister to getting in!
I’m a flatlander as well… 60000 has way too many zeroes for me to think I’d want to try and run there.
*background, not backroad. Stupid auto-correct
Haaaha “way too many zeros,” so true!!
An Unrefined Vegan
I get such a heart-string tug whenever I think about CO or see photos. Sigh. Such a beautiful place. Big congratulations to your sister. She is entering such an interesting and challenging world and I’m sure you are proud of her.
And you ain’t kidding! The first time I returned to Boulder after being away a few years I wondered why my morning run was such a slog. $#@! altitude!! But you know what they say in the military, right? Pain is weakness leaving the body.
Ha! Exactly, plus I decided if I run at that altitude and die, I’ll be an Olympian when I return to Seattle.
My heart is with green, but it’s nice to explore the red rocks once in a while. I think this is the PNW deeply rooted in me. 😉
Yup, same! ❤️❤️
I gotta have my greens. I have family in Las Vegas and as cool as the desert was, I missed my trees. There’s something so dry and barren and isolating about all that brown. Give me trees, give me life.
Amen, agreed, you nailed it.
kathy @ more coffee, less talky
anything green and/or rocky is my jam.
Colorado looks amazing! (ive never been)
Equal opportunist, I like your style.
It was like we switched places! I was in Seattle while you were here in the Springs. I couldn’t agree more about green and blue mountains, it’s one of the things I’m most excited about in moving to the PNW!! Colorado Springs is beautiful in it’s own way, but I am so ready to be back in a moist and green climate….AND excited to run at Sea Level because all. the. oxygen.
Ahhhha, how funny! I hope you enjoyed your trip to Seattle!
I had no idea you were so close! Colorado Springs is hours north of us here in ABQ! I haven’t been to Garden of the Gods yet but it’s on my list.
You’re right about the elevation. It certainly hits people hard. I never felt like I was dying but I can tell when running is easier or harder. My 12 mile run last weekend up at 10k feet took 3 hours!
When we moved here to ABQ (mile high) from MN (basically sea level) my wife got off the plane and immediately went to bed for about two days.
Oh how funny! We were basically neighbors. I have a whole new respect for you’re mountain runs. You’re amazing.
Thank you for saying so. That is very kind. Come back and run in the clouds sometime!
I’ve never run at altitude, but from your description, I can see why elites do it as part of their training. You rebel playing on the train tracks! Glad you had a good time with the Fam ❤
It was cray, but I felt like a boss coming back to WA and running around with ease.
I think anyone who calls his/herself a runner needs to visit Colorado! Still haven’t been there but now I’d actually like to! I used to think it was one of those “boring” states but the nature speaks for itself!
TBH it was OK, it was a bit brown for me!
Beautiful pics as always. I do prefer the green but arid climates have their own beauty too. I am with you on altitude sickness, it is no fun. -Kat
That they do, I appreciate the arid and then appreciate my green. 😝
Gorgeous!!! Even though we have family just outside of Denver, I haven’t been in ages… But man, that elevation change sounds killer!! I totally would’ve sat down on the side of the trail and told my family to come find me when they had finished. (Joking… Mostly. 😉 )
Hahaha I had to call for backup last time I was in Arizona because it was too hot, I used my get out of jail free card already.
I think every runner needs to venture out to Colorado once in their life! I used to think it was a “boring state” but seeing all the nature pics from there (and vegan food spots!) has changed my mind greatly! Still haven’t made the trip out there though!
**I’m finally able to comment on your blog, yay!
Washington still has my heart haha! Ahh I haven’t checked my spam in a while, I’ll make sure your comments haven’t been eaten!
Christina Does It All
Oh, I know that feeling of feeling like lungs are on fire from change of altitude. And panting like a dog that is on the verge of passing out. Or something.
Pretty pictures! We have family reunions in Colorado so I have many a lovely memory there.
Also, that is a yummy looking statue…. (I think I just made it even weirder.)
haha I love you. Thanks for making me feel less like a creep for the statue.
What a beaaaautiful pictures 😮 It is amazing to be able to wander around in nature like that.
I couldn’t agree more! 🙂
Some of my very good friends live in Colorado Springs and they love it so much! I think I need to go visit them now. I would love to hike Pikes Peak and visit Garden of the Gods!
I also found that statue to be attractive. Ha ha!
Oh and I live in Utah and I’ve heard people talk about how much harder it is to run here! I’m used to it, but am curious to know what that would feel like!
Now I’m curious to run in Utah!
Green trees for me! Rocky Mountain National Park is also good for them, and altitude too : )
Not going to lie, that statue is pretty attractive LOL.
Anyways! Glad you could make it to Colorado for your little sister and see her in her new element. It looks and seems gorgeous there!
Bahaha thank you for agreeing about the statue.
Nicole @ Foodie Loves Fitness
Altitude acclimation is no joke! It’s such a weird sensation to just feel kinda dizzy and like you can’t take a deep breath. Whenever I watch hiking documentaries and people are like getting nosebleeds from the altitude, it totally freaks me out a bit!
Have you ever heard of indoor altitude training? I tried this gym out for the blog a few years ago that simulates altitude in a seemingly normal workout studio. It was kind of wild!
Ohh I’ve not heard of that, but I would totally try it! That’s a fantastic way to improve lung capacity and cardio endurance.
In the 12 years I lived in Colorado, I climbed 23 of the 14ers there, several more than once. Strangely, moving there directly from the Midwest did not induce altitude sickness at all, the worst I’ve ever felt was severe dehydration symptoms due to youth and inexperience (20-something back then).
If it makes you feel any better, scientists still aren’t sure was causes altitude sickness. Obese couch potatoes can feel fine driving up to the top of Pike’s Peak while elite athletes barf themselves silly right next to them. An old hiking buddy of mine, fit as anyone I know, suffered pulmonary edema in the Andes while his overweight, out of shape buddy had no symptoms on the same trip. I was born at 400 feet but feel better the higher I go. It’s a mystery.
Oh my gosh!! Those are some crazy facts, and indeed a mystery! Just proves each body is different.