click on any picture in a post for a larger view

Monday, May 7, 2012

Flora en route to Top of the World

DESPITE the joyful brutality of yesterday’s run, plus some red wine with dinner and after dinner, and waking at 6AM and getting breakfasts, lunches made, and  3 sons off to to school, I went for a trail run this morning.  I took my usual “shortish” run route, an out-and-back to Top of the World.  Perhaps I shall get “back  on track” (not the actual track, thank goodness), but my life, which means my mental and physical fitness.  I’m not saying that it’s trashed.  But it’s starting to slide.  It started to slide quite a few years ago when the U.S. economy took a tank.  But I kept going strong in the beginning, stronger than I would have imagined – that is until I went and registered for the 50k I just recently ran.  It was then during my pre-race freak-out that my diet (meaning the types of calories that I consumed as opposed to a calorie deficit plan) went out the window and my workout regimen started to fall down the mountain.  (No, that’s not fair.  It was the non-gym renewal that threw my workout regimen for a loop.  I feel like a spoiled child.  I mean, we can’t have everything we want.  I will have to do without a gym membership.  What’s important in life – NOT GYM MEMBERSHIPS! : )

And again, I digress.

The skies were blue and lovely and the weather nicely warm this morning around 10AM.  Perfect for a trip to Top of the World. I had a delightful time drenching my cotton t-shirt in salty sweat while snapping pictures of the flora along the way to Top of the World.  (Thanks Johann for your post on cotton-t’s – I was miserably chaffed after this past weekend.  Cotton was a welcomed relief today.)  Many of the flora photos didn’t all come out, mainly because I didn’t stand still to take snap the pictures.  Funny, though the hills are covered with a multitude of colors, mostly the yellowish flowered pictures turned out. 

Entering Wood Canyon before a climb up Cholla Trail to West Ridge:

My plan today was to take it nice and easy, put in some elevation gain and focus on breathing.  I also planned on, and did relish the heat.  I studied every runner that I came upon, and noticed they were all mouth breathing. How do you tell?  Open mouths.  And I daydreamed also.  I daydreamed about running the Transrockies Race one of these days – hopefully by age 50. (which is just a few short years away).  In other words, I lost the focus of the moment, the present.  But that’s okay.  I was still able to take in the beauty and notice the glorious spring flowers. 

I did spy a beautiful patch of purple flowers on Park Avenue Nature Trail.  I took a step in close to capture a photo and heard the rattles.  Did you know that rattlesnakes can’t hear well?  They feel your step vibrations in the earth.  I like that.  Makes me feel safer – like I don’t have to wear a cow bell to warn them.

When I heard the rattles, I stepped back, focused on my surroundings and stepped back in for a photo.  Rattle, rattle, rattle.  I backed away from the sound again quickly.  I couldn’t see the snake anywhere.  As such I decided I’d get a photo of those purple flowers another time.  (If I can’t see the snake, I’m not going to take my chances).

One more note before venturing on to the flora pictures.  I met my ex-marine, currently mixed-martial arts acquaintance on an obscure single track, exactly about the time I was thinking about his nasal breathing recommendation.  I smothered him with questions, which he had lots of answers.  Funny, I have military men in my family, and some of them runners.  They never mentioned nasal breathing to me.  Ultimate Fighter A-Rod answered lots of my questions, as he was visibly pleased that I felt improvement on the first try.  He said it would take at least a month to get nasal breathing down on the run.  And can you believe this?  The marines used to duct-tape his mouth shut because he had such a difficult time with nasal breathing.  Yikes!!!!!!!!!!!!

I am going way off track – but I suppose that’s the nature of a trail runner. Smile

Flora en route to Top of the World:ELEVATION

Glorious.  Simply glorious.


  1. Beautiful flower pics! I love flowers and wild flowers on the trails are my super favourites! Yay for cotton! :) Transrockies looks like an amazing event. Maybe I must plan to do it with you some year...

    1. Thanks for reading Johann. The Transrockies is a definite on my "bucket list." Would sure be fun to see you there!

  2. Keep up the nasal breathing. I started that a few years ago and it made a HUGE difference. One of my favorite tricks is to put the tip of my tongue on the roof of my mouth. What happens is a psychological reaction that is very powerful; your brain knows if your tongue is up there and you breath through your mouth you will choke on your own tongue. So the brain redirects breathing to the nose. Happy breathing. :)

    1. I am definitely keeping with the nose breathing. I have way more energy now. And I have tried the tongue on the roof of the mouth and it does help a lot. Thanks Scott!

  3. So whats the big deal with nasal breathing? Everything I ever heard was "in through your nose and out through your mouth" well my mouth is bigger and allows in my oxygen so I breathe through my mouth, but lately Ive been trying to switch to nasal breathing in hopes it will help me. But Im not sure exactly how its supposed to help.

    1. Khourt -- what Scott said (below) AND I also read that mouth breathing is a reaction to stress -- we developed this reaction to stress as babies when we cried. So when we mouth breathe, our body starts doing its stress reactions, like the release of cortisone and its other chemical reactions. I've noticed a huge difference in the stress level with nasal breathing. One of my reactions to stress is to tense my shoulders (pull them up) and it was a problem with my running. My shoulders actually ached. Now, my shoulders stay totally relaxed. Weird.

  4. Here is my understanding
    1) moisture - breath out on a mirror with your mouth and then with your nose. Big difference. You'll lose a lot of moisture in your lungs when you mouth breathe. You'll actually need less fluid when you nose breathe.
    2) Air conditioning - your nose conditions the air for your lungs by adding moisture and heat (and literally filtering particles). Your lungs are able to open up a bit more when they are moist and warm.
    3 Co2 - believe it or not Co2 is a vasodilator (opens up). When one breathes through the mouth protective Co2 can be washed from the lungs. This can cause stuffy nose or tight lungs. When you're putting in max effort you're producing so much Co2 you probably don't have to worry about it.

    When I'm in the aerobic range I can very comfortably nose breathe. For output up to Vo2 Max I progressively breathe more but only need to open my mouth when I get up to that 90/95% of heart rate max or greater range.

    1. I ran 18 hilly miles of nasal breathing today, and I ended the run with lots of energy. With mouth breathing, I would have been draggin' in on the final stretch.