By Steve Sharpton, Parsons Training Center, Tucson, Arizona
July 14, 2016
Well, after a couple of weeks off the radar, I am back…but not entirely. You see, I finally got to experience that little piece of euphoria that some people take for granted. I finally got to go on a vacation…so to speak. Now sure, this wasn’t some kind of vacation where I could go check out a place on my own or go on a long road trip through the back roads of America, this was a little excursion to Denver, Colorado where I not only got to check out a new part of America but also do some actual exploring. This was primarily a family trip for me, so the whole pure vacation idea is still yet to be accomplished, but I will take it! First of all, my travel life has been rather pathetic. I flew over more states on my way to Washington, D.C. than I have ever visited, so the idea of going on a long trip has always been filled with joy and trepidation. Plus, there was the other aspect of the drive…I was going with my mother and two aunts.
This is not the kind of storyline you see Hollywood cranking out when they dream up the proverbial road movie, so yeah, there were not going to be any wild times associated with this trip such as getting caught up in an international drug scheme or crashing a wedding. But on the other hand, we were still going up to check out a wedding, and we were going to be there long enough to not only see the Fourth of July but also my mother’s birthday and an oral surgery for my little nephew. So when I think about it, there were plenty of things to look forward to in regards to this week long trip that I was going to be a part of. Initially, I wasn’t going on the trip after a little hiccup with my car, but my aunt talked me into the trip and so, how could I not go along with it? First and foremost for me, I realized I was not really prepared for a multi-day trip such as this. I have one bag that might be able to hold a few days worth of clothes, but thanks to Youtube I was able to figure out how to put nine days worth of clothing as well as work out clothes. In all, I managed to have the smallest amount of packing, for even my bag that held my suit was a multi-purpose carrier as my aunts and mother packed their own clothing into it as well. But here is one thing that was incredibly strange for me….I was not prepared for all the sitting on the way to Denver.
Despite being as fit as I am, I still discovered I am not that great at sitting down for long periods of time. Fortunately for me, my aunts and mother were not either, so I was able to get my stretching and such at each stop we made along the way. Fortunately for me, I was in good shape, for the amount of squatting, lunging and arm stretching needed was quite necessary. The biggest reason why we kept stopping so often was due to the weather which was a very wonderful temperature since it seemingly rained all the way to the Mile-High City. That meant lots of cheap truck stop coffee, which we kept getting lucky with and kept running into freshly brewed pots along the way (the probability of this is quite astonishing). Last year I wrote about how researchers figured for every half hour at work, you can sit for 20 minutes and stand for 8…provided you stretch for at least two minutes. This would be rather difficult to sustain for a good eight or nine hours a day. But like all things in life, someone came up with an idea for battling these sitting problems. http://www.prevention.com/fitness/6-best-body-stretches-if-you-sit-all-day Truthfully, I maybe did two of these stretches (the lunges and the shoulder opener), primarily because I know many other stretches that my body would appreciate. Since my ankle was getting tight on me, I did a lot of ankle related stuff to keep me limber. Also, here is another piece of advice for you…forget about Love’s and stick to Petrol. You won’t regret it.
So here is the biggest problem I ran into during this trip…just how in the world was I going to maintain a good health and fitness regimen? First of all, the challenge would start with the altitude, which is more than twice as much as Tucson. With the exception of some dehydration issues early on, I seemed to do pretty well with the altitude issue. On the first night we were in town, I pulled out a 36-minute workout, operating on snack food and coffee. The bigger challenge was the fact the hotel’s gym was rather deceiving, for it was just a couple stationary bikes and inflated balls. And it didn’t help the next couple days were busy as heck as we spent most of our time at a wedding and then the subsequent barbecue at Washington Park the next day. I managed to sneak away from the very vegan unfriendly party and check out the park. It was like a woodsier version of my Reid Park stomping grounds in Tucson, and while my home course might not be as pretty, it was better paved. But on the other hand, it was barely a 90 degree that day and there were people running the park at all hours. So I really liked that part. Beyond that initial workout and the walk, I really didn’t get any fitness time in until my mother’s birthday, the day after the Fourth of July. At that time, I figured it was now or never, merely because I could feel my body getting mad at me. My diet had been pretty inconsistent up until that day, and with my sister and I getting some food for my mother’s birthday dinner, I had a good opportunity to take a run. You see, my sister had a piano client right next to a ridiculously nice running path, and so I had to take the opportunity. I can’t really describe my first real experience of running in high altitude, but it didn’t really hit me until the final half mile. I had only slated roughly thirty minutes for myself, and by the 25-minute mark, I was hitting the wall. I managed to bulldoze the rest of the way to my sister’s car, but I was sweating up a storm and breathing heavy. While I felt horrible at the end of the run, I recovered quickly and felt better. It may have been a mere three miles, but you have to remember I had not run for a couple weeks after dropping a weight on my foot.
I certainly felt much better the next day, mainly because my aunt and I decided to do a little exploring. The good thing that benefitted me about this trip is the fact I did not go crazy on the local cuisine. I suspect if I had been by myself, I would have gone nuts, checking out the dozen or so vegan friendly restaurants Denver had to offer. But fortunately, I had access to a full kitchen and four women that were equally decent cooks willing to cook (though that doesn’t mean I didn’t participate!). Anyway, I checked out Watercourse Foods in downtown Denver and instantly fell in love. I was hoping make a return trip but better circumstances happened. The stripped seitan Cuban Sandwich I ate was amazing, especially when you consider the fact I had not even tried seitan up to this point. And if you are wondering what seitan is…http://vegetarian.about.com/od/glossary/g/Seitan.htm. Anyway, something must have been in that seitan because I was blazing that night, running my fastest 4-6 mile run ever (or it could have been a screw-up in my running program, but who cares!). Anyway, I ran a really beautiful path near my sister’s house, which is pretty standard in most of the neighborhoods in Denver and the surrounding areas. They easily put my home course at the Santa Cruz River to shame. I mean, there was a stream along several stretches of the path, and grass was everywhere! That was definitely the biggest head trip I had throughout the trip…just the amount of grass and trees dotted the landscape. You never realize how brown your world is when you check out the completely opposite spectrum. It was kind of funny how winding the path was that I took…I ultimately lost my way and kind of ticked off my mother a little, who got stuck with my nieces and nephew by herself when it was my idea for my sister and her husband to have a little date night without the kids. Sorry mom! That neighborhood was kind of confusing!
The next day was pretty cool as well, especially since I got to go up to the fabled Red Rocks Amphitheater. It was a nice compromise considering my family was thinking of going to the zoo, which I really wasn’t interested in doing. Truth be told, I think it was better for everyone involved, for we had a nice little family picnic and also had a lot of fun at the amphitheater. Not to mention, the kids got some ice cream out of the deal while I found some good apple cider that was gone less than two days later! I have to say, I can see what a lot of people go to the amphitheater to work out (which there were a lot of that day). At 6400 feet in Golden, Colorado, it was a challenge running up the steps of the theater that could hold nearly 10,000 people. My sister challenged me to run the steps with her, and despite not wearing the right clothes and shoes, I answered the challenge like a champ, outlasting her on the stadium steps (and falling only a few rows short to the top) and equalling her on the side steps as we fell just a couple flights short. Combined with the hiking and the crazy altitude, it was a good day physically. One thing that really mesmerized me along the trip to Red Rocks was the fact there was a perfectly paved bike/run path along the highway, stretching all the way from my sister’s neighborhood in Lone Tree to Morrison, Colorado, which was the little town you run into before hitting Red Rocks. That’s roughly 25 miles! So if you ever want to train for a marathon my friends, start near the Interstate 25 and just follow the path to Morrison! And it looked challenging to say the least, for the amount of hills would have made it a massive challenge, especially when you count for the 500-foot incline change. That is right, in Lone Tree, Colorado, the elevation is 5900 feet. That’s 3200+ feet more than Tucson!
From the looks of it, that day at Red Rocks kind of looked like my last stand in regards to my vacation fitness, for I ate up a storm the next day. I met another vegan Facebook friend named Elicia Amber Bach (or the Juice Pirate as she calls herself!) for some food and donuts at Beet Box Cafe. I then met up with my friend Cindy Olhms at City O’City in downtown Denver, munching on some ridiculously good vegan wraps. If you never thought macaroni and cheese and barbecued seitan could never mix, then you need to go to this place pronto! It was so good that I could barely walk. Fortunately for me, me and Cindy were unable to run that day, and I will say fortunately not because of the amount of food I ate. Due to my fullness, I could barely walk, but I kind of gutted it out when everyone at my sister’s house wanted to traverse another walking path. Since I did not run this part of the path, it was quite relaxing walking with everyone, and it proved to be some of the funnest memories of the trip. My nephew Elliott and my niece Brook kept challenging me to run with them, and I did pretty well despite my still full stomach. It was even funnier when my youngest niece Samantha tried running as well, flailing her arms around so much that she accidentally hit her head. Well, after walking a good mile or so, I decided to go for another run. I have to tell you, it was difficult because I was still bloated from all the good food and much of the path I had taken was primarily uphill (I know, I am so stupid!). Needless to say, it was a good way to end the trip, for we left early the next morning.
After seeing Denver for myself, I definitely felt I needed to make a bigger effort in trying to get a job there, even if it is a much more expensive city to live in. For some reason, the thin mountain air was really beneficial for me, like I was more at peace than I was in the sweltering fire that is my home town. I kept smiling when people were complaining about the 95-degree heat, for I constantly joked that it was a typical day in Arizona! Despite my forays into the city, I really didn’t feel any heavier or out of shape when I got home. Just goes to show how good the high altitude can be for your health and fitness. But one things is for certain…I am glad to be back on my schedule!
About Parsons Training
Parsons Training is a Tucson leader in fitness and personal wellness training. Every personal trainer with this company designs and implements effective fitness programs for their clients; these programs serve as the foundation for good health, fitness, and wellness. Additional information about Parsons Training is available at http://www.parsonspersonaltraining.com
Any views or opinions presented in this blog are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of the company.
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Steve, a Parsons Training Client, went from 400 pounds to Running half-marathons, from lifting pizzas to lifting hundreds of pounds through training with us.
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