Blue Sky Trail Marathon Training: Weeks 1-2

Remember when I signed up for a trail marathon, even though I live in the flatlands, because I’m crazy awesome?

One nice thing about having a race scheduled and a training plan is that it gives me something to blog about. I usually write these recaps on Sundays, but it’s still summer for 2.5 more weeks, so I’m rebelling against even self-imposed schedules.

I’ve never run a trail race, so this is a new experience for me.I wasn’t (am not) sure how to train for a trail race, as opposed to road races, so I found this trail marathon training plan online and modified it (somewhat). My goal here is to have fun, try something new, and learn about trail running, while still prioritizing other parts of my life (like my family and my job), so if you’ve followed me long, you’ll notice that my mileage is lower than any of my other marathon training cycles, and that’s okay (or so I keep telling myself).  I’m trying not to take myself too seriously and just enjoy the training and, eventually, the race itself.

Since this is a 12-week plan, training officially started the week we were on vacation, but I’d been working to build my mileage and I hit 50 miles the week before, so the first week of training was actually a bit of a cutback — perfect, since all of my vacation miles were run on a treadmill or in tiny circles around the boat. (This was also when my phone’s camera broke, so sorry about the lack of pictures).

Week 1: July 13-19

Monday: 7 miles of “hills” on the treadmill

Tuesday: 5 miles easy (boat circles!)

Wednesday: 5 miles of “hill” intervals

Thursday: 7 miles. 63 circles. This was not my favorite thing ever.

Friday: 5 miles easy

Saturday: Rest — travelling allll day.

Sunday: 6 slow, easy miles, back at home. I was super tired, since we got home after 2 A.M. and my body thinks it must wake up no later than 6:30, regardless of circumstances.

Total: 35 miles

I didn’t strength train at all on vacation, aside from a couple of short core workouts and some lunges on the track. The tiny boat gym was packed every time I tried to lift, so I gave up because I’m super motivated.

One interesting thing about this training plan is that all the runs are measured in minutes rather than miles. The McMillan plan I’ve used for my last few marathons measures easy runs in minutes, but long and speed/tempo workouts in miles, so this is new. The first week’s “long” run was 60 minutes — hence the lower overall mileage and the seven miles of circles.

Week 2: July 20-26

Monday: AM: 5 miles of long, slow climbing on the treadmill (the only place I can do long, slow climbs around here)

PM: Bodyweight/dumbbell strength training. I’ve been using this routine from Runner’s World. Why am I not going to the gym, you ask? Because The Bachelorette. (Don’t spoil it for me; I still have to watch the finale. I despise both guys who are left, though, so I’m not that concerned about spoilers).

Tuesday: 10.1 easy miles. I wasn’t sure I’d get in the 90-minute run scheduled this weekend, so I figured one double-digit day couldn’t hurt.

Wednesday: Double run: 5 miles in the A.M. and 5.1 in the P.M., both at recovery pace.

Thursday: AM: 5.7 miles of hill repeats — real ones, albeit short ones. At least real hills have downhills, even if they’re 0.5 miles or shorter.

PM: Another Iron Strength workout, followed by some foam rolling

Friday: 5.2 miles easy

Saturday: My future sister-in-law’s bachelorette party was this weekend in Beaver Creek, so I got to run on some beautiful trails — and I got a new phone (thanks, Apple!) on Friday, so I could document it for you!
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Not bad, right?

This was, of course, another “by time” run. I ran 8 miles in 90 minutes (i.e. two miles fewer and in more time than Tuesday’s road run), which makes me nervous about actually finishing this trail marathon… and also makes me think that I should spend more time running and less time photographing (or at least pause my watch when I have a photo opp). But the race has a 9-hour cutoff, so I WILL finish it, even if I have to crawl.

Total: 44.1 miles

Two weeks down, ten to go. Gulp.

Experienced trail runners: Any tips for getting faster? 

Where’s the prettiest place you’ve run lately? 

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A to Z Survey (Why Do I Love These Things so Much?)

I am a major sucker for the surveys that occasionally drift around the blog world. Learning more about other bloggers is fun, and filling them out myself makes me reminisce about the early days of e-mail, when we passed these around from awkward e-mail address to awkward e-mail address (my first e-mail address was carrottop03@yahoo.com. So much coolness). When I saw this latest “A to Z” survey popping up on several of my favorite blogs, I knew I’d have to do it, too. Enjoy learning more boring facts about me!

A – Age: 29… for another week

B – Biggest Fear: Finding a body. It’s always a “jogger” who finds it. Always.

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I posted this picture on Instagram one time and someone commented, “That looks like a trail you’d find a body on.” Now I think about that every time I run here… which is almost every day.

C – Current Time: 8:40 A.M. Summer is awesome.

D – Drink You Had Last:   Coffee.

E – Easiest Person To Talk To: Aside from Jordan, I’d say my best friend, Sam. She’s an awesome listener.


She was also an awesome maid-of-honor.

F – Favorite Song:  It changes daily. Right now, I’m stuck on “Honey, I’m Good.”

G – Grossest Memory: That one guy I dated in college. Kidding, kidding. Kind of.

H – Hometown:  Olathe, Colorado. Home of the Pirates, because we have those in Colorado.

I – In Love With: Jordan. And food.

J – Jealous Of: I’m gonna have to side with Natalie on this one: People who live in the mountains. Although I am closer to the mountains than Natalie is, I’m still jealous of people who can be there in a matter of minutes.

K – Kindest Person You Know: Probably my mother-in-law. She has the biggest heart of anyone I know.

L – Longest Relationship:  Are we talking romantic relationships, or do friendships count? J is my longest romantic relationship (10 years this fall. He wins by a lot. No one else made it past three dates [see letter G]), but my BFF Hallie and I met on our first day of college — move-in day in the dorms. It was love at first sight.

This is from 2004 -- the year we moved into our apartment. Look how young we were (and how awesome my bangs were). Now we're all grown up and she has a baby. Weird.
This is from 2004 — the year we moved into our apartment. Look how young we were (and how awesome my bangs were). Now we’re all grown up and she has a baby. Weird.

M – Middle Name: Lea

N – Number of Siblings:  One big brother. Plus two (soon to be three) sisters-in-law and two brothers-in-law

O – One Wish:  To not have to think about money and be able to travel whenever and wherever I want.

I mean, world peace.

P – Person You Spoke To On The Phone Last: My parents. They’re the only people I talk to on the phone.

Q – Question You’re Always Asked:  Why do you run so much? Or, during the school year, “Can I go to the bathroom?”

R – Reason To Smile: Life!

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S – Song You Last Sang: Um.. this is embarrassing.. “Get Lucky.” It was on the radio. I sang along.

T – Time You Woke Up: 5:45. And then I saw that it was super foggy out, so I went back to sleep for a bit until it burned off enough that drivers and I could see each other while I ran. Again, summer = awesome.

U – Underwear Color: Red. Is it sad that I had to look?

V – Vacation Destination:  ALL THE PLACES! But seriously, read my last post and then tell me where I should go next.

W – Worst Habit:  According to Jordan, clicking my nails on my teeth. Apparently that’s “annoying.”

X – X-Rays You’ve Had:  Teeth, of course. Thumb, when I folded it up in a chair when I was 10. Foot, when this happened. Abdomen, when one of the bajillion GI docs I’ve been to thought an x-ray of my intestines was a good idea.

Y – Your Favorite Food:  Another one that varies, but cereal is pretty constant. Hashtag I’llneverbepaleo

Z – Zodiac Sign:  Leo. Not that I care.

Well, that was fun.

Pick a letter and answer it in the comments!

Did you have a super-cool e-mail address when e-mail was new? 

Caribbean Cruise Recap

Jordan and I make taking an annual vacation a priority. Instead of exchanging birthday/anniversary/Christmas gifts, we stow away money for a trip each year. Usually, we try to see at least one national park on our trip, but this year, we decided to mix things up and try a cruise. We joined a travel club a few years ago, and they ran a special on cruises this year, so we figured, why not? Here’s a recap of our latest adventure, complete with lots of pictures! The camera on my phone broke just a few hours before we left (and it’s still not fixed, so you might be in for some pictureless posts in the near future), so all the pictures are thanks to Jordan. 

We booked a red-eye flight because it was significantly cheaper than more pleasantly-timed flights, and we decided we’d deal with being tired and spend our money on excursions. We flew out of Denver at 11:30 on Friday night, landing in Miami at 5:00 a.m. I’d hoped we could sleep a bit on the plane, but the screaming twin babies behind us had other plans. Ah well; we made it to Miami in one piece, got our luggage, and spent most of Saturday morning waiting: waiting at the airport for the transfer to the ship, waiting at the port to be allowed to board, waiting in line to get on the boat. By lunchtime, though, we were on the boat, eating boat food and ready to start our adventure!

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We explored the boat for a bit, and once we were allowed in our cabins, we napped while we waited for our luggage to be delivered, then took some much-needed showers and headed to the dining room for dinner.

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The next morning, the boat docked at Half Moon Cay in the Bahamas, and we set off on our first excursion: snorkeling. We got on a little boat, got fitted with snorkel gear, and were taken out away from shore, where the water was deep and clear, and the coral and fish were gorgeous.

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Boat selfie!

We went snorkeling in Hawaii on our honeymoon, and this was so much better. The water was crystal-clear, and the variety of fish was incredible.

Before we knew it, our time was up and we had to head back to the island. We grabbed some lunch, and then went on excursion #2: a bike-and-hike tour of the island.

Jordan rides super-fast.
Jordan rides super-fast.

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We had a good time cruising around the island, but when we booked the tour, we were expecting to learn about local culture. What we didn’t know was that Carnival owns this island, and the only people who live on it are a few maintenance staff. Everyone else comes in the day that the cruise ships arrive. The “tour” was basically, “here are some excursions that you could have done if you paid for them.” That was a little disappointing. But the beach was pretty. photo 5 (11)

On the hike portion, our guide told us about the types of plants and animals on the island, and she showed us some ruins from the island’s first settlers. That part was interesting, and we hiked to the island’s high point: a whopping 60 feet!

At the 60-foot "summit"
At the 60-foot “summit”
Jordan and some ruins from the island's original inhabitants
Jordan and some ruins from the island’s original inhabitants

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When we got back from our tour, we had just enough time to dip our toes in the water one more time, and then we had to get back on the boat.

The next day, Monday, was a day at sea, so we spent the day reading and playing in the pool. Those are not very photo-worthy activities, so the only picture I have from Monday is from that evening, which was one of the ship’s “formal” nights.

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I’m mostly sharing this picture to prove that I do occasionally wear something besides running clothes.

On Tuesday, we docked in Saint Thomas in the US Virgin Islands. I ran on the ship’s (tiny) track that morning, so I got to watch this as we approached:

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Not a bad view, right? We had an early-afternoon excursion booked but the morning was free, so we walked around the shops in St. Thomas, which is famous for its jewelry deals. I’m not a big shopper, but my watch died a few months ago, so I hoped we’d find a new one here. We did. Yay!  After shopping, we grabbed a quick lunch and headed back to the ship, where we met our guides for the next excursion. They took us to Sapphire Beach, which was billed as a secluded, quiet beach with great snorkeling.

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The beach was beautiful, but it certainly wasn’t secluded: a resort backed up to it. The snorkeling was mediocre at best — the coral was really close to the surface (we both banged ourselves up on it) and the water was murky — nothing like the experience we had in the Bahamas. We got frustrated trying to snorkel, so we spent most of the afternoon just chilling on the beach — not a bad thing, but disappointing since we’d paid for what was supposed to be a snorkeling trip. Not cool, Carnival.

On the way back from the beach, the bus made a quick photo stop at one of the high points on the island. Beautiful.

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The next day, Wednesday, was by far my favorite day of the trip. We docked in Puerto Rico, and our first activity was a zip-lining excursion. I was a little nervous about it, since the St. Thomas excursion had been a letdown, but this one did not disappoint. We loaded onto a bus that took us out to a former plantation just outside the city of San Juan. As he drove, the bus driver also acted as a tour guide, and he was knowledgeable, funny, and interesting.

EcoTours, the zipline company, also impressed me. The staffers, all college-aged guys, were personable and knowledgeable, and safety was clearly a priority. I also loved the zipline course: it was beautiful, and it was fun, requiring hiking and crossing suspension bridges between lines. The longest line was 1,000 feet, so we really got to enjoy the views. If you go to Puerto Rico, check out this company! Here’s a zipline photo dump for your viewing pleasure.

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After ziplining, our bus driver/tour guide dropped us off in downtown San Juan. We didn’t really have enough time to take a taxi to the “real” beach, so J and I walked down off a pier, just enough that I could say I’d been to the beach in Puerto Rico.

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Then, we went to Castillo San Cristobal, a fort at the San Juan National Historic Site. We’re both kind of history nerds, so touring the old fort (originally built in the 1600s) was interesting and a lot of fun.

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We spent only a few hours in Puerto Rico, so I would love to go back someday. There’s a ton that I’d like to see and do!

Our final port was at Grand Turk. None of the ship’s excursions appealed to us (at least not enough to pay for them), so this was a beach day — not a bad choice, since the beach was beautiful.

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Friday, the final cruise day, was another day at sea. Honestly, it was a boring day. We could never get in the pool because it was so crowded, so we’d read for a while, walk around in the air conditioning for a while, repeat.

On Saturday, the cruise was over and we were back in Miami. Our flight didn’t leave until 9:15 that night, so we rented a car and explored Miami for a few hours. We visited the Botanical Gardens (where I made a new friend),photo 5 (15)

spent a few hours wandering the Lincoln Road Mall, where we had an amazing lunch (if you’re ever in Miami, eat at Spris. It was honestly the best meal we had the whole trip), and took a stroll at Oleta River Park. Before we knew it, we were back at the airport, back on a plane, and eventually, back home.

We certainly had a lot of fun on this trip, but I don’t think we’ll do another cruise. I like to get away from people on a vacation, and that’s pretty much impossible on a ship. I also like to do things on our own timetable and not be subject to someone else’s schedule. But we had a great time, and the towel animals were fun.

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I thought this frog looked good in my glasses. Intellectual frog wants to discuss books with you.
I thought this frog looked good in my glasses. Intellectual frog wants to discuss books with you.
What is this?!
What is this?!

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Since this is a running blog and all, I should probably briefly discuss my training on the trip. In short: training on a boat kind of sucks. My options were to run on a treadmill in the well-equipped but very hot and crowded gym, or run on the nine-laps-per-mile track, which was also crowded and hot but at least had an ocean view and an occasional breeze. I chose the track on all but hill-training days, but the longest I ran on the trip was 7 miles (that’s 63 circles. My sanity could take only so much). I still got in all my scheduled runs (this week didn’t have  a long run on the schedule, which was kind of weird but also perfect), so I was satisfied.

As always, vacation was a ton of fun, but it’s also good to be home. Now it’s time to start planning for next year’s trip! We’re thinking the Smoky Mountains, but no decisions have been made yet. Any suggestions?

Have you ever been on a cruise? 

Tell me about your favorite vacation ever (and maybe we’ll steal your spot)!

You Don’t Have to Wear a Bikini to Love Your Body

I got my first bikini when I was 19. I wasn’t allowed to wear bikinis as a kid, and my confidence levels wouldn’t have allowed me to wear one, anyway. My sophomore year of college, three girlfriends and I moved into an apartment complex with a pool, and the girls convinced me to buy a bikini. After a long day of shopping with my patient roommates, I bought my very first two-piece. I wore it for a few summers, and I added a few more bikinis to my swimsuit collection. I even bought a skimpy one for my honeymoon, because that’s what you do, right? (There will be no original pictures in this post, by the way. I have students who read this. So you get some random comics I found on the Internet. You’re welcome.)

But here’s the thing: I’ve never felt comfortable in a bikini. I wore them in college because my friends told me I looked “hot.” I wore them in my 20s for the same reason, and because I thought I was supposed to. But I’ve always felt too naked in a bikini. The first time I went swimming with my brother in college, I was so embarrassed when I took off the shirt covering my swimsuit that I couldn’t wait to jump in the water. Walking around in Mexico with my in-laws, I wanted to crawl in a hole when I couldn’t find my cover-up. I felt like they were seeing parts of my body that just shouldn’t be seen by family.

This discomfort has little to do with body image. As I’ve gotten closer to 30 (less than a month now…), I’ve learned to love and accept my body. Of course I can still obsess over flaws, but I’m not letting myself do that anymore, because it does no good. I know I can wear a bikini, but I don’t really want to.  Ironically, though, in the last few years I’ve felt even more obligated to wear a bikini, thanks to the body positivity movement. Don’t get me wrong: I love the movement. I think it’s fantastic that women are being encouraged to accept their bodies and embrace their own beauty even if it doesn’t fit society’s narrow definition of “beauty.” (Related note: my new favorite Instagram page is @effyourbeautystandards. They post pictures of gorgeous women of all shapes, sizes, and skin tones. Go check them out.) But I also think that sometimes the movement implies that you have to wear a bikini to prove that you love your body. And that’s just not true.

By the time you read this, I’ll be on a cruise in the Caribbean (you’re allowed to be jealous). I did pack my bikinis, because I need more than one swimsuit (putting back on a wet swimsuit grosses me out) and I am a cheapskate who won’t throw out a perfectly good swimsuit. But I also bought a new tankini. It’s cute, and flattering, and most importantly, I feel comfortable walking around in it.

I truly believe that if you want to wear a bikini, you should rock it! But you don’t have to wear a bikini to prove that you love your body. You can be beautiful in a tankini, or a one-piece, or a mumu if that’s what you feel like wearing. If it makes you feel good, wear it, regardless of what other people –on either side of the argument — think about you.

What type of swimsuit is your favorite to wear?

Have you ever worn something you weren’t comfortable in just because you felt like you were “supposed to” wear it?

Movement in the Classroom: Why it Matters and my Plans to Incorporate More

Sitting all day is a struggle.

Kids need to move to learn.

Sitting in their desks all day makes students sleepy and disengaged.

Our kids sit in desks all day, moving for four minutes every hour as they hustle to their next classes, then sitting again. That’s not good for their health or their learning.

None of this is rocket science. I’ve known this for a long time, and I’ve always tried to give my students the chance to get up — planning activities that require them to move around, telling them that they can stand and work if they need to, even allowing the occasional bathroom break when I know the kid doesn’t really need to pee, just to move. This summer, though, I’ve done more research on the evils of sitting and benefits of allowing kids more natural movement, and I’ve decided that my former efforts are not enough. It’s time to up my classroom movement game.

This learn-about-movement quest of mine started as I listened to Ben Greenfield’s podcast. In one episode, he mentioned this school in California, which is trying to raise enough money to purchase standing desks for every student. Greenfield explained that this project is great, because we need to teach kids that “they don’t need to sit to get sh*t done.”  Amen, Ben.

For the next few days, I paid closer attention to my own learning process. I was reading a book on pedagogy — a book that I wanted to learn a lot from. As I read, I moved from standing, to sitting on my stability ball, to draping myself, belly-down, over the ball, to pacing. This is natural for me; I can’t just sit and study. I’ve never been able to. And then it  hit me: If learn best when I’m moving, why am I not giving my students the same opportunities?

I dug deeper into the research, buying James Levine’s book Get Up: Why Your Chair Is Killing You and What You Can Do About It. (Side note: Everyone in America should read this book. Seriously, it’s fantastic). In the book, Levine details his decades-spanning research into sitting and how it’s literally killing us. Diabetes, obesity, and a slew of other health problems are directly related to our proclivity for sitting in chairs all day.

Most relevant to my current interests was Levine’s chapter on learning, but the chapter on workplaces that encourage NEAT (nonexercise activity thermogenesis — i.e., not sitting all day) was also helpful. Levine names eight benefits of NEAT workplaces:

“1. Increased productivity
2. Improved health measures and decreased healthcare costs
3. Decreased employee stress
4. The ripple effect: Although these programs are delivered to the workplace, we consistently see the benefits ripple into employees’ home lives.
5. Increased happiness
6. Positive atmosphere
7. Decreased staff turnover
8. Hiring advantage” (137).

While the last two aren’t as relevant to the classroom, the first six are absolutely things I’d love to see in my students. The chapter on learning provided even more evidence that our kids need to move more. Levine and his team designed a NEAT school –one in which students were free to stand, sit, walk, shoot baskets, etc., all while learning their lessons —  and studied the students’ learning. Here’s what they found:

  • “[Parents] reported that their children came home from school more relaxed and happier to do homework.”
  • Students diagnosed with ADHD were able to focus on lessons without becoming a distraction to others
  • Student test scores (because we all know how important those are these days) “improved by 10 to 20 percent.”
  • “[A]ctive learning is associated with improved educational attainment and better health” (161).

Now, obviously, I’ve got to take baby steps here. I can’t exactly convert my entire school into a NEAT school in the month before classes resume. But Levine and his staff also found that “using a NEAT classroom for only 45 minutes per day increased a student’s activity for more than 36 hours” and that after just one class period, “students were more active for the rest of the day” (159). Even more encouraging: Levine also found that a mere five minutes of movement increased kids’ activity over the course of the day.

What are those baby steps I’ll be taking to increase NEAT in my classroom? Here’s what I’ve come up with so far:

  • Get a few stability balls so my kids can still be sitting, technically, but also engaging more muscles and moving more naturally while working.
  • Move my two torso-height bookshelves out from the wall so kids can stand behind them and use them as standing desks (I use them when I’m grading presentations, and it works fine. I just need to give the kids space to get back there… and find a new home for the junk I store behind them).
  • Keep clipboards handy so kids can stand or pace slowly while still writing.
  • Incorporate more movement-centric studying — simple things like jumping or walking while memorizing prepositions, for example.

That’s where I’m at right now. I know this is a running blog, but it’s my running blog, so I plan to write occasional updates here: one, it might give other teachers ideas and allow people to give me more ideas, and two, the accountability of posting about this will help prevent the mid-year “let’s just go back to what we know” trap that we all tend to fall into.

How much do you sit on a given day? 

Any other suggestions for how I can create a sit-less classroom?

That Time I “Wasn’t Doing a Marathon this Year”

Remember a month or so ago, when I kept whining because I didn’t have a goal? Remember how I told you that I didn’t want to run a fall marathon because I just had too much going on this summer?

Yeah. About that…

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I signed up for a trail marathon. I might be insane, as I still live in non-trailland. But I want to do this, even if it scares me and will be hard and will be by far the slowest marathon I’ve ever run. Plus signing up for it gives me a reason to get to the trails as much as possible between now and October 4.

This will be me the next three months:
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(I found this on Facebook, but the original source is in the bottom corner, so I’m not plagiarizing, right?)

I found a trail marathon training plan on the internet, and I’ll be pretty much following it, but since I don’t have trails to train on daily, here’s my general plan:

Monday: Long hills on the treadmill (because that’s the only place I can run uphill for more than a mile)
Tuesday: Mid-distance, easy pace
Wednesday: Double recovery runs
Thursday: Short hill repeats (done on real hills — the only ones I’ve got)
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That road and I are going to become very good friends.
Friday: Recovery
Saturday: Long, on trails as often as possible
Sunday: Rest

Monday and Thursday will be interchangeable, depending on the weather and my schedule, and when the race gets closer, I’ll move my long run to Sunday, but that’s the general idea. I’ll also keep strength training 2-3 times a week and do core work 5-6 times.

Last Saturday, since I’d committed myself to this thing, I got up at no o’clock in the morning and drove to Devil’s Backbone near Loveland to train on trails and, as that’s part of the race course, see just what I’d gotten myself into.

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Yeah… definitely not regretting this choice. At all. I do need to learn how to run on this stuff,
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but my Instagram friends assured me that all it takes is practice and accepting that I need to slow down.

I’m nervous and anxious, but mostly excited. Here’s to new challenges!

What’s your next big goal?

What’s the last thing you did that scared you?

Exploring Our Own State: Camping in Leadville

If you know me at all, you know that I’m a mountain lover at heart. Sure, I live on the plains now, but if I don’t get my mountain fix, I get antsy. Ever since we moved here, my mountain fixes haven’t come often enough. After all, we’re busy (like everyone else), and going to the mountains meant spending money (that we didn’t have) on hotel rooms. Last summer, though, I had a little breakdown, during which I told J that I desperately needed more mountains in my life.photo 2 (23)Who doesn’t need more of this?

The solution was a simple one: start camping. As a kid, I camped with my family, but I hadn’t camped since college. Jordan hadn’t camped much at all, so we knew this new experiment would be an adventure. Our Christmas lists consisted exclusively of camping gear, and all winter and spring, we kept a sharp lookout for good deals. Our biggest purchase was a tent and sleeping bags. A few months ago, Cabela’s ran an amazing deal: a tent and two sleeping bags for $200. We couldn’t pass that up… even though the tent was a 6-person and WAY bigger than we needed.

Our giant tent. My six-foot-tall husband can stand upright in it.
Our giant tent. My six-foot-tall husband can stand upright in it.

Finally, last weekend, we were ready to test out what we’d acquired. It was also our seventh wedding anniversary — perfect timing for a weekend escape. We chose Leadville as our destination, mainly because neither of us had ever been up there. This was a good choice.

We left late Friday morning, stopped and had a quick picnic lunch at the visitor center in Georgetown, and enjoyed a gorgeous drive up to Leadville, arriving mid-afternoon. We checked into Sugar Loafin’ campground (we figured a commercial campground would be a gentle intro to camping), set up our tent, and then spent a few hours wandering around Leadville. Unbeknownst to us beforehand, Leadville was hosting a BBQ and beer festival/competition, so we snagged what Jordan calls a “walkin’ around beer,” then explored the stores. We stopped at the Leadville Race Series store and asked them to recommend a good hiking/running trail (more on that in a second). Then, we headed back to the campground, built a fire and cooked some dinner on the camp stove, and spent the evening just relaxing.

Yeah. Campfire.
Yeah. Campfire.

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The next morning, we woke up early, ate some eggs and tortillas, and drove a couple of miles up the road to Turquoise Lake. Since I wanted to trail run  for a bit (because #operationbecomeatrailrunner) and J wanted a shorter hike, the Leadville Race Series store folks suggested that he drop me at one end of Turquoise Lake, where I’d run a six-mile trail, then meet him at the trailhead to Timberline Lake. So that’s what we did, and I’m so grateful to them for that suggestion. This was one of my top-three runs of all time. See if you can guess why. photo 2 (25) photo 3 (19) photo 4 (11) photo 3 (20)

Yeah. Beautiful. Plus it was completely runnable, even for my trail-newbie legs. It’s also part of the Leadville 100 course (probably the flattest, least technical part), so it was kinda cool to see part of the storied race course.

The trail ended at a campground at the other side of the lake. I misunderstood the guy at the store (and the map…) and thought that the Timberline Lake trailhead was at that campground, so I ran to the far end of it. No trailhead. I thought I was just dumb and missed it, so I turned around and ran back. Nope. Finally, on my way back to the far end, I saw a guy running who looked like he knew what was up. I asked where the trailhead was, and he told me I actually had to run up the road a little way. I felt silly, but at least now I knew where I was going.

I easily found the trailhead (after adding 1.5 miles of back-and-forth at the campground…) and started running up. Not far up the trail, I saw some cute guy.
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Wheet whew. (That’s a catcall whistle). I ran just enough farther to make my watch say 8.5 miles (because heaven forbid I stop at 8.4), then came back to hike with J.

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We intended to hike up to Timberline Lake (obviously), but about 1.5 miles in, the trail was covered by the river. We didn’t really want to wade and get our feet wet and cold, since we’d barely started hiking, so we headed back down to where the Timberline Lake Trail intersected the Colorado Trail, and instead hiked on the Colorado Trail for a while. There was no lake, but it was still gorgeous!photo 5 (9)

We hiked the Colorado Trail until we got hungry (we’re really serious hikers), and then we headed back down to Turquoise Lake, where we ate our PBJs and dipped our sweaty toes in the chilly mountain water. photo 1 (27)

We dallied at the lake for quite some time, then eventually cruised back down to town, because ice cream. By then, it was too late to start another hike, but too early to just go hang out at camp. We decided to drive over to Twin Lakes (about 20 minutes away). We’d talked about camping there, so since we were so close, we figured we’d go check it out. It was pretty, but we were glad we’d chosen Leadville.

We spent another delightful evening chilling by the fire, and the next morning, took our time about making breakfast and packing up camp. photo 1 (28) photo 3 (21)

We still left reasonably early, because we wanted to beat the nightmare that is Sunday afternoon on I-70. So we said goodbye to this view and headed back down to where it was 95 degrees. Lame. photo 4 (12)

To best sum up this weekend, I’d have to say (in my best Joey from Friends voice), “Camping? Good. Marriage? Good. Trail running? Good.” I can’t wait to go back!

This bear perfectly sums up my feelings.
This bear perfectly sums up my feelings.

Have you ever been to Leadville? 

Where do you camp: commercial campground, rustic campground, dispersed, or backcountry? (Or in a hotel. Ha.)