Tag Archives: colorado

Spring Break Successes: Manitou Incline and an Injury Diagnosis

Guess who’s on Spring Break right now?

Did you guess me? You’re right! Of course, break is flying, but so has the school year thus far. I’m sure it’ll all be over before I know it.

Jordan and I are in different school districts now, which means we have different breaks. His was two weeks ago. That’s lame, but I’ve managed to have some fun without him. On Monday, some colleagues and I headed down to Manitou Springs to climb the infamous Manitou Incline.

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At the bottom… hopefully my co-workers don’t mind my posting their picture on the Internet…

If you’re not familiar with the Incline: It’s a popular trail/staircase that literally goes straight up a mountain. It was once a cable car track, and when the cable car was damaged and removed, but the railroad ties stayed and looked like a staircase, someone thought, “Hey, we should walk up that.” And ever since, it’s been a quintessential Colorado workout. Because what’s more Colorado than going up 2000 feet in just under a mile?

This video from Out There Colorado gives you an awesome overview, if you can spare two minutes to watch:

The hike burns, that’s for sure. But  the view from the top is well worth it. It took me 38 minutes to get to the top. Yes, that’s 38 minutes for a 0.8-mile hike. And I was the fastest in our group (was I proud of myself for beating the 20-something Crossfit coaches in our group? Yes, yes I was).
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Once everyone made it to the top and we snapped a picture (“pics or it didn’t happen,” right?), we headed back down Barr Trail, which is a longer but much less scary way to get down (I would NOT want to go down the Incline). I ran down with my boss, which was fun. She and I haven’t spent much time together this year, and I was pleased at how well we got along. Also, this was my first trail run of 2017. I hope there are many more to come!

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We all made it!

That hope of trail runs to come brings me to my next topic: this hamstring injury that just won’t go away. I was pretty nervous about climbing the Incline, especially since the injury had flared back up again last week, causing me to skip my long run. But it held out well, and while I was certainly aware of it, it didn’t hurt badly enough to concern me.

And then, today, I finally ventured to a physical therapist (yes, nine months after this injury originally occurred. I am an idiot). She told me that it’s not actually a hamstring injury, but rather bursitis. The bursa sac where my leg joins my body is inflamed, which then irritates the hamstring. BUT here’s the best news I’ve heard in a long, long time: she thinks I can be better in just a few weeks. We have to get my pelvis realigned and improve some flexibility in my hamstrings, and then the bursa sac should stop being irritated and I’ll be okay again. AND, she said that running won’t cause any major damage — it’ll make me sore, but it’s not dangerous. Soreness I can handle. Bring on the training and the health!

I’m so relieved to finally have an answer… and regretful that I didn’t go see a PT sooner. But, live and learn, and soon I hope I’ll be healthy and enjoying more Incline-esque adventures!

 

Have you hiked the Incline? What did you think?

What’s a quintessential “your state” thing to do?

Ever had bursitis? Please tell me it’s easy to fix once you know what it is…

 

 

 

Want to Be Inspired? Crew or Pace a 100-Miler

A few weeks ago, my Internet friend Logan sent out an e-mail in search of pacers and a crew for her upcoming 100-mile race. The race was Labor Day weekend, and I had no other plans. Logan and I had been trying to run together all summer and it had never worked out, plus I’m always looking for an excuse to get into the mountains, so I wrote her back and said I was in for crewing and pacing duties. I wasn’t really sure what to expect, but I’m so glad I volunteered — this was one inspiring experience!

(This post is light on pictures… most of my time at the Hideaway 100 was in the dark, and the pictures I did take were of Logan. I feel like she should get to post them first.)

Logan started running at 5:00 Saturday morning, but I had an appointment that afternoon and didn’t get to Winter Park until about 4:00 p.m. I met the rest of the crew, and we headed up to wait for Logan at an aid station at around the halfway point. Before she came in, this guy did:
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I totally stole this picture from Bob’s (one of the other pacers) Facebook page. Anyway, this guy was cruising in sandals, and he was FAST! He stopped at the aid station, ate a bit and chatted easily with the volunteers, and then took off again at lightning speed.

Not long after Mr. Speedy Sandals came through, Logan made it to the aid station. She was looking super strong and was in good spirits.

Logan looking strong at halfway-ish.
Logan looking strong at halfway-ish.

She dropped off her first pacer, Katie, and picked up her second, Kevin. While they ran, I took Katie back down to her car. On the way down, while it was still daylight, we saw a moose (and a crazy woman walking up to it to take its picture). On my way back, in the dark, I caught something out of the corner of my eye. I turned my head, and a massive moose was running right alongside the car! I decided then that Logan and I were going to make a LOT of noise while we ran. No midnight animal encounters for us, thanks!

I made it to the next aid station not long before Logan came in. She traded Kevin for Bob, and soon they were off again. While they ran, I snagged an hour-long light nap in the back of Logan’s Subaru. My fear of oversleeping and missing their return meant I just kind of drifted in and out, and soon Bob texted us to let us know when they were close. I sneaked off to find a bush, layered up, and got myself ready to run.

When Logan came in, she explained that she had a pretty wicked blister but didn’t want to pop it, so we’d try just hiking. I didn’t admit it at the time, but I was SO glad we hiked. We climbed up to about 12,000 feet, and my 3500′-dwelling legs and lungs were burning. Plus, it was FREEZING! I didn’t complain, though — the number-one rule of pacing is that you suffer in silence and try to keep your runner’s spirits up, because no matter how rough you’re feeling, she’s got over 50 miles on you! I told myself not to be a weenie, and tried to channel some of Logan’s general badassness.

Nonetheless, I was pretty happy to drop back below treeline, where we hit the aid station again and headed off on our next, mostly downhill section. (Embarrassing: shortly after we left the aid station the second time, I puked. Yep, me. The one running 12 miles, not the one running 100. Stupid altitude.)

Now that we were back where I could breathe, I tried to keep up a steady stream of chatter. I’m not usually a very talkative person, but I figured that the best way to help Logan stay out of the pain cave — or at least out of her own head — was to jabber, so jabber I did. Logan was actually still in good spirits (admirable — I would’ve been a bear after 70+ miles!), so we actually had some conversation; it wasn’t just me yammering on. (But mostly it was). We hiked a lot and stopped at an aid station to pop Logan’s blister, which had shifted and become unbearable. Once it was popped, she was able to run a little more, and  after what seemed, remarkably, like a short while, we were back at the final aid station, where Logan picked up Deidre, her last pacer, and headed toward the finish.

Bob and I ate some aid station food (best. bean burrito. ever.), then headed down to wait for Logan to cross the line. The early morning cold had us shivering, so we alternated sitting in Logan’s car with the heat blasting and jumping out to see if she was coming. We watched another runner, who had leapfrogged with Logan for most of the race, finish and collapse in a heap, a mixture of exhaustion and elation. We chatted with a volunteer, one of the many amazing volunteers out there that day and night. And then, finally, we saw Deidre coming up the sidewalk, so we knew Logan was close.

Within seconds, she came into sight, still running. She managed to JUMP as she crossed the finish line (I have no idea how she had the energy for that, but check out the awesome picture on her blog), and then she was done and allowed to finally sit down.

I stole this picture from Facebook, too. Can you tell it was chilly?
I stole this picture from Facebook, too. Can you tell it was chilly?

Crewing and pacing Logan was an incredibly inspiring experience for me. Watching her push through the hard, dark places and overcome them to finish the race left me admiring her, of course, but it also made me wonder just how much I too could do. Seeing the wicked-fast winners come through the aid stations left me in awe of the human body’s capabilities. And chatting with the volunteers, most of whom hadn’t slept, who bent over backwards to help the runners with no thought of reciprocation, and many of whom were gearing up for the 50k racers who started Sunday morning, restored some of my faith in the goodness of human nature.

Will I ever run 100 miles? No, probably not. But pacing and crewing was extraordinary, and if I get another chance to pack that much inspiration into one short weekend, you can bet I’ll sign right up.

Blue Sky Trail Marathon Training, Week 5

I decided to go back to posting training recaps on Sundays. I write these as much for myself as for you guys, and now that school is starting again, my life is easier if I follow a routine. My plan is to post on Sundays and Thursdays again, but don’t be surprised if Thursdays don’t happen for the first few weeks of school.

This was my fifth week of trail marathon training. I finally had another 50-mile week, so I feel more like I’m actually training, if that makes sense. Let’s pretend that 50 isn’t where I usually start  my training, and now I’m worried because I’m barely hitting 50 seven weeks out…

Monday: 

AM: My plan was to do a long incline workout on the treadmill. At 3.8 miles, I paused it and hopped off to use the bathroom, and when I came back, the incline had stopped working! Not wanting to lose my momentum, I hustled outside and ran three miles at tempo pace, then a cool-down. It wasn’t what I was planning, but it ended up being a solid workout nonetheless. (Side note: I later found out that my treadmill isn’t broken; it  just needed recalibrated. Huge relief.)

PM: Basement strength training, per usual

Tuesday: 

6 miles of sunrise fartleks, followed by core work. I love fartleks. IMG_1983

Wednesday: 

8 miles easy… although they didn’t feel easy, because it was unusually muggy. I’m sure my southern friends would scoff at my definition of “muggy,” but it was rough for me.

Thursday: 

AM: Short hills for 7.2 miles. This road and I are becoming very good friends this training cycle.
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PM: Another round of basement strength.

Friday: 

6.3 recovery miles. My training schedule called for another interval workout, but I’d already done three quality workouts this week. Another one, especially the day before my long run, just seemed like a request for injury, so I took it easy instead. And I played with the camera timer…
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Saturday: 

15.2 trail miles. I randomly ran a few miles with a woman who went to high school with my husband and is training for the same race I am. Small world. I also fell THREE TIMES. Graceful I am not. Don’t worry, I’m not hurt. Just dumb.

At least I had pretty things to look at while I fell on my face. Maybe this is why I fell: too busy gawking at the scenery to look at where my feet were.
At least I had pretty things to look at while I fell on my face. Maybe this is why I fell: too busy gawking at the scenery to look at where my feet were.

Sunday: 

Rest

Total: 50.3 miles

Five down, seven to go.

Have you ever fallen while running? Did you feel as foolish as I did?

Teacher friends: when do you (or did you) go back to school?

Turning 30 Like a Boss

Saturday was my 30th birthday. I’ve never been a big birthday celebrator, but I wanted to do something special this year. I’m not exactly the partying/go-to-Vegas type, so a weekend of outdoor adventures was much more my style.

My birthday weekend kicked off Friday night with the Chase the Moon 12-hour relay. A group of blogger friends and I did the race last year (recap here), and three of us, along with two new team members, returned this year to try to defend our title as champions of the five-person relay.Though winning would be a nice bonus, my main goal was to run 30 miles over the course of the race, because running enough miles to equal your age is a totally normal way to celebrate.

I’ll post a full race recap once the official race pictures are available, but here’s the Cliff Notes version: we thought we won but took second, due to some miscommunication and a teammate getting lost;

Cereal Killers, take 2: Aimee, Mary, me, Brooke, Malia. I'm pretty sure Mary and Malia don't blog, but they have really cool Instagram pictures, so that's where clicking on their names will take you.
Cereal Killers, take 2: Aimee, Mary, me, Brooke, Malia. I’m pretty sure Mary and Malia don’t blog, but they have really cool Instagrams, so that’s where clicking on their names will take you.

I ran my 30 miles;FullSizeRender

and the course was beautiful, especially at sunrise!
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Even though we didn’t win like we thought we did, running 30 miles and hanging out all night with four awesome women was a pretty darn fantastic way to kick off my 30s… especially because Mary bought me cupcakes. I had cupcakes and pancakes for my birthday breakfast. Hashtag noregrets.

To continue the weekend of me-celebrating, Jordan and I originally planned to head straight from the race to the mountains for a night of camping, Earlier in the week, though, I found out that my bridesmaid dress for my brother’s wedding was in, so I had to schedule a fitting for Saturday afternoon. Instead of heading right to the high country, we went to my brother’s house to borrow his shower and then ran a few errands.

By mid-afternoon, still running on zero hours of sleep, I was getting a little (ok, a lot) loopy, but a 30-minute catnap as we drove to the mountains left me feeling remarkably more alert. We camped just outside Golden Gate Canyon State Park, which was beautiful. Campfire + camp stove cooking = perfect birthday dinner. IMG_1934

Naturally, the refreshing effect of my car nap wore off fairly quickly, so we crashed pretty early. A quickly-deflating air mattress had never felt so good.

We hadn’t planned much for Sunday, as I wasn’t sure how tired and sore I’d be after running 30 miles. To my pleasant surprise, I wasn’t very sore at all, probably because I’d taken my sweet time and run slow and easy each lap and had breaks in between. We were both pretty sleepy, though (Jordan had crashed in the back of the car Friday night while I ran), and we lingered over our coffee at camp, so we didn’t get a very early start on our hike, but we were okay with it. IMG_1935

Once we’d packed up camp, we drove back into the park and went for a five-mile hike (Horseshoe Trail to Mule Deer Trail to Black Bear Trail and back to Horseshoe. I definitely recommend this loop if you go to Golden Gate Canyon). Enjoy this photo dump from the hike.

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Greenfield Meadow. I won that top in a giveaway on Brooke’s blog. Thanks, Brooke!
Frazier Meadow.
Frazier Meadow.
Hiking up Black Bear Trail required a bit of bouldering.
Black Bear Trail.
Amazing views from Black bear Trail!
Amazing views from Black Bear Trail!

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Not long after we took those pictures, some sinister clouds started moving in, so we picked up the pace a bit and didn’t stop for more pictures on the way back to the car. Our timing was perfect: we had just enough time to get off the trail and eat our PBJs before the rain started. Win.

The best birthday weekend ever ended with a drive back to Denver, where we returned that deflating air mattress and stopped at my best friend’s house to meet her new baby, then headed back home.

If the first weekend of it is any indication, 30 is going to be a pretty darn good year.

What’s your favorite way to celebrate a birthday? 

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? 

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.) 

Race Recap: Skirt Sports 13er

Ever since the lovely ladies at Skirt Sports and Sweat Pink reached out to me about running the Skirt Sports 13er (yes, I got the entry and gift certificate for free, but all the opinions here are my own), I intended to treat it as a training run. I knew that a month and a half after my last marathon, I’d be coming into the race with little to no speedwork. I also knew that I’d spend the week prior to the race running trails, which would leave my flatlander legs tired. So I really had no goals for this race, other than to have a good time. Spoiler alert: That’s exactly what happened!

The race started at 6:30 a.m. Yes, that’s early… but it’s Colorado in June on a course with no shade, so really, the early start time was fantastic. Jordan and I had stayed in Estes Park with his family the night before, so we were on the road by 4:30 and at the start at about a quarter to six. I picked up my bib and goodie bag with no trouble, did a warm-up mile, and hit the porta-potties (of which there were plenty, thank goodness… at a race this female-filled, we need a lot of them!).

The race started on the other side of an overpass from the expo/finish line. I guess that last year, racers had to run over the bridge, which caused bottlenecking, so the organizers moved the start line this year. As we headed up the bridge, Skirt Sports founder Nicole DeBoom (who is pretty much my hero) gave us all high-fives. photo 3 (14)

We received a few instructions and some encouragement at the start line, and soon we were off! Because I’m a chump, I got caught up in the start-line energy and set off WAY too fast for a training run. And then, at my too-fast pace, I fell in with a couple of super cool women, and we started chatting, and so I continued at that too-fast pace for a few miles. Whoops. By the time we hit a steep-ish hill at around mile 4, I caught my error and made myself slow down. I was not in race shape; I should not be racing. 

Once I slowed down, the group of women I’d been running with pulled ahead, and I was running on my own for quite some time. The course was gorgeous; I was kicking myself for not bringing my phone; since this was a training run,  I could’ve stopped to take some pictures. Instead, here’s one that Nicole sent me a while back to use for race promotion:

Image courtesy of Skirt Sports
Image courtesy of Skirt Sports

We had views of those mountains, plus cattle pastures and open spaces, pretty much the whole race.

At mile 7ish, the race heads up a massive hill (nicknamed “The Bad Relationship” — ha!). Confession: I walked a bit. I was being a baby and really had no reason to walk, but… I did. Then, the course turns into an open space for a little out-and-back. Races with those little out-and-backs bug me for some reason, but it wasn’t long.

From the open space on, the race is either flat or downhill, which was nice. I did run out of water in my handheld (totally my fault for not refilling it at the last aid station), and because it was getting warm, I started to get a little lightheaded and chose to walk again. Had I been racing, I probably would’ve just pushed through, as the next aid station was near, but again: being a baby.

The last couple of miles were uneventful but HOT: I was really glad the race started so early. I crossed the finish in 1:46:something — my slowest half ever. 

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And this is why I usually don’t do races as training runs: I was mad at myself. That’s dumb, and I know it, but sometimes my emotions get the best of me for a bit. The mad didn’t last long; I reminded myself that it was a training run, and that I had intended for it to be all along. I drank some chocolate milk and all was right with the world again.

Here’s a list of key points about this race. I was going to break it into pros and cons, but some things are subjective, so it’s all one big list. You can decide if you want to run it without me classifying things for you.

  • Girl-power vibe. The racers are almost all women, and everything from the pep talk at the start to the finisher skirts to the kick-start program participants was  women-centered and focused on making us all feel like badasses. I loved it. Plus, it’s always fun to see women as the overall winners, since that doesn’t happen in most races.
  • Awesome little expo. There was gluten-free cake (I heard it was amazing, but I was all hot and no food sounded good), EVOL burritos, chips, salsa, fruit, Two Moms in the Raw granola, kombucha, chocolate milk, Skratch … all sorts of tasty business. Plus, since Home Depot was a race sponsor (and the start and finish lines are in their parking lot), they had a booth set up where kids could make crafts while their moms ran. They also had a DIY race bib display project. I did not make one, because I don’t do crafts, but it’s cool for those that are crafty.
  • Finisher skirt. And bucket. I have about 12 million race t-shirts, so I LOVED getting a cute little skirt.

    (photo from 13er website. Obviously.)
    I also was pretty excited about the free Home Depot bucket, because with all the yard work we’re doing, we needed another one.
  • Hot, and no shade. It’s June, so of course it’s going to be hot. If you run this, be prepared. I was wishing I’d worn a hat and carried my bigger handheld.
  • Great aid station support. Carrying the small handheld wasn’t a big deal, because there were plenty of aid stations, and all the volunteers were super friendly and encouraging.
  • Well-marked and well-staffed. If you get lost on this course, you’ve got issues. Bonus: Every mile-marker/directional sign had an “I run for…” poster, each with a different picture under the “I run for…” headline.  Everything from margaritas to shirtless firemen was featured. The signs were funny and provided nice little pick-me-ups along the course.
  • Not many spectators. Aside from the aid stations, I saw only 3-4 groups of spectators along the course. That’s fine with me, but if you’re big on crowd support, you might have to recruit some friends to cheer along the course.
  • Beautiful and challenging course. This course is at the base of the foothills, so if you’re a flatlander like me, train for the hills — there are several, and that “Bad Relationship” is serious business.

I thought this was a great little race, and I’m planning to be back next year — racing it this time! I’m grateful to Skirt Sports and Sweat Pink for the opportunity. If you have a chance to do a Skirt Sports event, do it (even if you’re a dude)!

Can you do races as training runs, or do you get frustrated like I do?

What’s your favorite half marathon? 

A Few Days in My Happy Place: The Mountains

This is a picture-heavy, word-light post. Because mountains.

I was very fortunate to spend most of last week in the mountains, continuing my work on Operation Become a Trail  Runner and just enjoying my favorite place in general. From Monday afternoon to Thursday morning, J and I attended an education conference in Breckenridge. The conference was great, but the best part was spending an hour or so every morning running on the trails right behind our hotel.

photo 1 (18)

There was still quite a bit of snow up high, so this creek was flowing fast.

photo 2 (16)

I really hoped to see a deer or elk here, but nope… just a pretty park. Not complaining.

One morning, I decided to run up the ski-lift maintenance road. I  turned around about half a mile past this:

photo 3 (11)

And was rewarded with this view, to which my iPhone camera just couldn’t do justice:

photo 4 (5)

The final morning was cloudy and misty, but the mountains were stunners nonetheless.

photo 5 (3)

And I took a “runfie” because sometimes I remember I’m a blogger.

photo 1 (19)

I always look confused in selfies. Probably because I feel like a fool taking them.

We left Breckenridge at noon on Thursday and headed straight to Estes Park, where we met Jordan’s family for the weekend. We drove over Trail Ridge Road, which neither of us had ever done. It was stunningly beautiful; if you ever have the chance, drive it! Again, our iPhones couldn’t capture the breathtaking beauty of the mountains, but here’s a series of pictures from Trail Ridge to give you an idea.

photo 1 (20) photo 2 (18) photo 3 (12) photo 4 (7) photo 5 (5)

photo 2 (17)

We stopped at the Alpine Visitors Center, where I read this on a sign about the area’s history: “The Ute People believed the trails were living beings who held the community together.” I kinda love that.

photo 3 (13)

Friday morning, I woke up and drove a few minutes from where we were staying to Lily Lake, which is technically in Rocky Mountain National Park, but on the non-paying side of the entrance stations. I took a side trail and ran for a while, catching these foggy mountains from just above the lake

photo 4 (6)

Somehow, I got on the wrong trail and ended up on private property. Please don’t tell.

photo 5 (4)

(This time I look confused because I was…)

I fairly quickly made it back to where I meant to be (thanks to studying the map for a looong time the night before), and headed back in time to clean up and spend the day playing tourist in town with my in-laws.

Saturday, the whole family was heading into RMNP, so I decided just to hike instead of run. The whole clan walked around Bear Lake; then J and I took a side trail for a few extra miles before meeting back up with the group for lunch. I love getting off the super-popular trails and off to where it’s just me, Jordan, and the wildlife.

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We watched this guy for several minutes. He ignored us. That’s a good thing.

And here’s another fast-flowing stream. It was gorgeous. (And yes, I’m rocking my Skirt Sports).

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By the time we finished our sandwiches, afternoon thunderstorms were starting to brew, so we headed back into town.

Sunday morning, we were up at 4 and gone by 4:30, headed out of the mountains and down to Louisville for the Skirt Sports 13er, which I’ll recap soon!

The week was awesome and left me wanting more mountains. Luckily, I don’t have to wait too long, as we’re going camping in a couple of weeks for our anniversary!

What’s your favorite hiking/trail running spot?

Ever been to Breckenridge or Estes?

Fall Classic Marathon Training: Week 7 and Western Colorado Adventures

I got an e-mail today explaining that the Colorado Fall Classic Marathon had to change its name because the Colorado Marathon folks got all worked up about it. (The e-mail was worded more professionally than that, don’t worry.) I think that’s a little petty on the Colorado Marathon’s part, but whatever. Either way, I’m still training for the same race, and Week 7 of training was a much-needed recovery week. Here’s how things went:

Monday:
AM: 6.1 easy miles

PM: An hour-ish of full-body strength training

Tuesday: 
AM: 7 easy miles

PM: Core, stretching, and foam rolling. My right hip is finally loosening up, so I guess all this foam rolling is paying off.

Wednesday:
AM: Tempo intervals for the week’s only real workout (besides a long run). I did 5 x 2000 meters with 400m recoveries. It was unusually humid for Colorado (96%…ew), so I was a sweaty mess when I finished. 10.5 miles total, including warm-up and cool-down.
photoPM: Core, etc.

Thursday:
AM: 6 recovery miles

Later AM: An hour of strength training. We were heading out of town to visit my family, so I did my strength work right after my class ended at 10 instead of waiting until later in the day. I had no idea the gym would be so busy at 10 a.m.!

Friday:
I started the day with an easy 4.3-mile run, enjoying the sunrise over the mountains.
photo 1After breakfast, we took off for Telluride. It’s not quite two hours from my parents’ house, and Jordan had never been there, so we thought it’d be a fun adventure. We took the Last Dollar Road on the way there. It was really ugly.
photo 2We had to look at horrible scenery like that for the entire drive. It was really hard on us.

When we got to Telluride, we planned to hike to Bridal Veil Falls. Turns out, it’s not a great hike — the “trail” is a road, so hikers have to dodge (and get dusted by) four-wheel-drive vehicles. But the views on the hike more than made up for that:
photo 4And the fall itself was well worth it.
photo 5After the waterfall hike, we had a picnic in the town park, rode the gondola, and went into several shops whose merchandise cost more than my monthly paycheck.

Saturday:
I had mentioned to my folks that I was hoping to get in a 20-mile downhill run while I was there, and Dad had determined which route would be best for me. He offered to drive me up to the start, and Mom and J tagged along because they love me. (As Dad put it, though, spending an early morning in the mountains is really no sacrifice).

This was my favorite run in a long, long time. For reasons that the pictures make obvious, this is one of my favorite places in the whole world. We spent a lot of time here growing up, so this run was full of memories and overall nature-loving. We saw several deer on the way up, as well as an elk who was too swift for me to get her picture.
photo 2 (1)This is where my run started:
photo 4 (1)This was on the way down:
photo 3 photo 5 (1)And this was where I finished:
photo 1 (1)Not too shabby, right? And my family was leap-frogging me along the road, so I had my own mobile aid station. That was awesome, because I only had to carry my handheld bottle instead of a big Camelbak.

This run was not only beautiful, but  also terrific downhill training. Check out this elevation chart:
elevationI was still sore today (I’m sure the seven-hour car ride yesterday wasn’t helpful), so I take that as a good sign that I’m getting prepared for the race.

Sunday:
Rest. I stretched a bit when we finally got home (I-70 traffic is the worst), but that was it.

Totals: 54 miles running, 3ish hours strength, a couple of hours hiking, and a whole lot of family time and outdoors enjoyment.

How was your weekend?

Ever been to Telluride?

 

Colorado Fall Classic Marathon Training: Week 1 (Actually)

The week before we left on vacation, I titled my weekly workout recap post “Week 1 (Sorta),” because I didn’t want to “officially” start training until after vacation, so this one is “Week 1 (Actually).” It was a tough week — the first time I’ve topped 60 miles since October — but a great one. I had some solid training runs and some beautiful training runs with pretty flowers, so it was a win, all around.
photo 5

Monday:

AM: 11. miles easy

PM: 45ish minutes full-body strength, along with Greg McMillan’s Runner’s Core workout. I was at the gym for more than an hour, but I spent at least 15 minutes jabbering and not working out, since I’d been on gym hiatus for couple of months and had people to catch up with.

Tuesday:

AM: 13.1-mile hill run…although it’s four miles from my house to the hills, so it was more like a 5-mile hill run sandwiched between 8 miles of flat. I’m going to have to start driving or biking out there for hill runs. It was a beautiful morning, either way, and the top of my favorite/least favorite hill has a pretty view:
photo (3)I need to find out who owns this property so I can get permission to run out there.

PM: 30ish minutes of core and stretching. Having The Bachelorette back makes it easier to make myself do these things. I tell myself I can only watch trashy TV if I’m also stretching and/or doing core.

Wednesday (National Running Day)

AM: 5.2 recovery miles. J rode his bike as I ran, which I loved. We need to find a better route, though; this isn’t exactly a bike-friendly town, so I think we’ll have to stick to the park when he comes along.
photo 1PM: Basically the exact same as Tuesday.

Thursday: 

AM: 9 miles with 4 at tempo. Tempo runs are always hard for me, and I was tired, sore (still, from Monday… clearly it had been a while since I’d lifted), and hot. I told myself to run what felt like tempo pace and not focus on the actual pace. I was pleased, when I did check, to see that I was hitting the right pace. So that was good.

PM: 45 minutes of full-body strength and McMillan core again.

Friday

Friday was my favorite running day ever. Maybe that’s an exaggeration, but not by much. J had meetings in Denver (he’s kind of a big deal), and we figured there was no sense in letting the other half of his paid-for king-size hotel bed go to waste. So I left home bright and early and drove down to Green Mountain in Lakewood. I wonder why they named it that.
photo 3I got in some solid trail running, which I desperately need before the Chase the Moon relay in July, and some good downhill training to prep for my marathon in September. I wanted to just go forever, but I made myself stop at 6.2 so I wouldn’t be too sore for Saturday’s long run. And I took a selfie, because that’s what bloggers do, right?
photo 4

Then, I found J and borrowed his hotel key, cleaned up, and went to Athleta and bought some new shorts with a gift card I’d had since Christmas. It was pretty much the best day ever.

Saturday

I was excited to do my long run in Denver and get a change of scenery. Since J needed to check out of the hotel before his meeting started (i.e. before I was done running), I drove to my brother’s house and ran from there. He lives by a lake, so I did a couple of lake laps, then hopped on the Platte River Trail, which goes through downtown Denver. I didn’t take any pictures because I was too lazy to dig my phone of its pocket on my Camelback. I am a good blogger, remember?  You can go look at Amy’s blog; she lives near my brother and runs around that lake all the time. And she is a better blogger than I am, so she has pictures. Too bad she was running Ragnar Snowmass this weekend, or we could’ve run together.

Anyway, I ran 17 miles (it was supposed to be 16, but math is hard), then went to brunch with my brother, which was nice. I’m not sure why, but that 17-miler really took it out of me. I was beat. I guess it was a combo of the high-mileage week, the trails and mediocre sleep Friday, and the slowness of the brunch restaurant, which made me miss that 45-minute refueling window by a long shot (but they comped one of our meals, so it wasn’t all bad).

Sunday

30 minutes easy yoga. It felt amazing on my tight hips.

Totals: 61.6 miles running, 3ish hours strength/stretch/yoga

So overall, not a bad week at all. It feels good to be training hard again!

How was your week? Are you training for anything right now?

Do you ever get to tag along with your spouse on work-related trips? What do you do while he/she is working?