Colorado Take Three

Two weekends ago, Darren and I took our spring vacation. After such a long winter we both needed to get away. It’s no surprise that we decided on Colorado and with plane tickets under $230 a few months back, it was easy to twist his arm. Since we’ve been to Colorado not once, but twice, we wanted to make sure we got a chance to see what we’ve missed. I also had a list of things I was hoping to check out, and well, I wasn’t disappointed.

We flew in on Friday and did the whole downtown Denver thing. We checked out the Rialto Cafe, Uptown Tavern and the Hornet Restaurant all while catching up with D’s friend from college. Nothing too exciting, but we were exhausted. I’m pretty sure I was asleep during dinner.

16th Street Mall

16th Street Mall

Saturday we got up early and headed up to Boulder. It was a beautiful day, so we were able to enjoy the local Farmer’s Market, hiking up the Flatirons, and do a little shopping. The Flatirons were absolutely amazing. The path up the mountain was perfect for a little morning hike. And while we weren’t fully prepared, I could see us doing a lot more hiking up there.

So, so neat

So, so neat

My hill workout for the day

My hill workout for the day

Looking down on Boulder

Looking down on Boulder

Once we finished up around Boulder, we headed south to Golden. I really didn’t know much about it, other than the cool sign in town and it’s the home of Coors beer. But I had to get a picture of the sign, it was on my Colorado Bucket List.

Welcome y'all

Welcome y’all

Shortly after our drive through we headed towards Red Rocks and made a quick visit to see one of our favorite places.

So much beauty in Colorado!

So much beauty in Colorado!

Denver is hidden behind Darren's shoulder, you almost miss it

Denver is hidden behind Darren’s shoulder, you almost miss it

With all of our exploring we were starving and headed back to Denver. We checked out TAG Restaurant, Osteria Marco and caught a live band at Appaloosa Grill.

Sunday morning I was able to sneak out for a few miles and run with Courtney through Washington Park. It was my first time there and I loved it, seriously so beautiful and full of runners all shapes and size. Reason number 5,937 to move to Colorado. We caught up, got 5 miles in and even saw an eagle in the middle of the park, how cool.

Next up on the tour of Colorado was a trip to Colorado Springs. I had heard that the Garden of the Gods was something to check out, but I had no idea how amazing it would be. The pictures I took can’t even describe how breath taking it was. If you’re ever in Colorado and have a few hours to explore, check this out.

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Simply amazing

Natural beauty

Natural beauty

Pikes Peak in the distance

Pikes Peak in the distance

If checking out these views doesn’t relax you, then I don’t know what will. While we were in Colorado Springs we checked out a local brewery, Trinity Brewing Company. The strangest thing was that there were no TV’s but the place was packed. It’s great to see that people still enjoy each others company and don’t need to be glued to technology.

We finished up the weekend back in Denver, checking out REI and of course D Bar Desserts. For the first time, I left the entire vacation up to spur of the moment decisions. I usually need to plan everything, but I’m glad I didn’t this time. The only bad thing was that I didn’t want to leave. Every time we go out to Colorado, I want to move there more and more. Hopefully we’ll be out there in the next two years.

Have you ever checked out any of these Colorado hot spots? Where else in Colorado do you recommend to visit?

 

Rocky Mountain Love

Over the weekend I finally took my vacation for the year. It couldn’t have come at a better time, with stress completely smothering me. The plan was spend Thursday to Monday out in Colorado, split up the time between Vail, Steamboat Springs and Denver. Due to a snow storm that came through and our lack of experience driving snow covered mountain roads, we had to unfortunately cut out Steamboat and head back to Denver. It was a wonderful trip filled with beautiful views, relaxation and enough food and drinks to keep us happy until Thanksgiving. My personal favorite day was Friday, which was filled with running in the mountains, shopping, and a spa day. Who wouldn’t enjoy that.

Rather than dive into all the details, I’ll share some of my favorite pictures from the trip. The best part, I didn’t get altitude sickness this time! Win for me. We did however travel to Breckenridge, which is at 9,600 feet. I felt a little lightheaded, but I luckily beat the altitude this time around. I’m still in love with Denver, and cannot wait until I can call it home…one day.

Perfection is just over those mountains

Vail Village

Beautiful snowy views

Oh, just some snowy roads

Breckenridge in all it’s beauty

Do we look like Coloradans?

The most beautiful view in Denver

Someday, home sweet home

Have you ever been to Colorado or been in the Rocky Mountains? Did you take a vacation this year?

Platte River Race Recap

Yesterday’s post explained my love affair with Denver. Today I’m excited to share my first experience of an out of state race. To catch you up to speed, I had a minor set back on Saturday when I had the joy of feeling full altitude sickness. We drove into the mountains, and a combination of curvy roads, altitude change, and dehydration caused me to be out of commission for 2-3 hours. I still wasn’t feeling up to par by Saturday evening, but I knew if I stayed in bed all weekend, I would feel even worse.

This is where I started to panic. Weak as can be, I was somehow supposed to run a half marathon the next morning. How is this even going to happen? I honestly regretted the race and trip at this point. I was pretty sure I wasted time and money just for me to end up sick. Darren wasn’t going to let me waste any more time. So after driving all over to find me food and drinks I could keep down, I was finally able to get out of the hotel and we kept the night low key, and I made sure to over hydrate.

Sunday morning came, it was race day! Good morning to an early wake up call, nervous stomach, and over thinking. Luckily I was feeling better, at least I thought I was, I always feel like a train wreck race mornings, mostly due to the nerves. One less thing to stress about was the weather, it was perfect, almost too good to be true. A little bit of sun, a little bit of a chill, and not a drop of rain or snow in sight!

Perfect weather!

How could you not relax driving towards this on the way to the race?

We got to the race early, and I took my first steps in the parking lot. My pace was slow, but I wanted to shake my legs out. I decided to wait until race day to do any running. If I had a bad run on Saturday, I knew I would worry about it right until the start and even during the race. I took my spot in wave 3 (2:15 and above) I wanted to make sure I’d start with a comfortable pace and wouldn’t try any 8:30 miles.

Ready to go!

The race started off at a good pace, and I quickly found a comfortable spot. With every turn the mountains were in the background, almost surreal. There were many times in the first mile that I still couldn’t believe I was out in Denver running a half marathon. Am I crazy?

Quickly after mile one we headed to a paved path which immediately made for a very tight run, there was even one point where we were stopped and walking because there were so many people. Water stops were every two miles, which I made sure to take full advantage of. I was already thirsty before the first stop, and I knew staying hydrated would be key to making it to the finish line.

The first couple miles I spent figuring out my pace, checking over my body to see how I felt, and trying to find my place in the crowded path. I decided beforehand I would take some Gu at mile 4 and 8. Well, it must have helped because when I got to mile 5, I was at a 9:30 pace. Whoah! Slow down and don’t get ahead of yourself.

Miles 6 through 9 I kept a pretty even pace. I stopped at all the water stops and took my Gu at mile 8. At this point in the race I felt comfortable, my body felt good, my pace wasn’t too quick and I was just taking in the moment. The wind started to pick up, but I tried not to let it get to me, and I kept pushing on. I even passed people, something I have rarely done in a half. The course up to this point followed the Platte River and we had multiple bridges to run over and under. Including a few that shook and reminded me of running at Bur Oak. There was even a dirt path next to the pavement that gave provided some relief throughout the race.

Right around mile 10 the path opened up a bit and I could tell we were getting close to the finish and into the city. The sky also darkened at this point, and it became a race to get to the finish without getting caught in a storm. Lucky mile 11 came and I started to cramp. I knew by this point I was a little dehydrated and my pace started to slow. I started checking my Garmin about every ten seconds. Throughout the race I had been on pace to PR, and like always I knew it would come down to the last two miles.

Mile 12 finally showed up and it was the mile I had been dreading the entire race. There was a “small” hill right at the finish. This hill lasted what felt like a half mile and once everyone made it to the top, the wind took full force. I was blown around multiple times, I started to think I was going to get blown off the bridge and wouldn’t make it to the finish. Coming down the bridge, I knew I was close, and as we turned the corner I could see the balloons at the finish line. My first thought was, “OMG, it’s finally here! Just keep moving, and the cramps won’t kill you” I was so excited for this moment!

Fact: I never remember the finish to a race. I get into a weird sprint the last 50 feet and black out everything. But, I actually remembered this one, and I was thrilled to see Darren on the side, taking pictures, so of course I had to smile. I glanced at the clock and saw 2:16. I missed it. But….Garmin said 13.2, and by my calculations for a 13.1 race, I got a PR by a few seconds. WHAT!!

Couldn’t have done it without him

Here I am, in Colorado, running my first half of the year, and I ran a PR for 13.1 miles. I never even dreamed this would happen. Throughout the race I knew I had the chance of getting close, but after the last two miles, I gave up the idea of finishing strong and just wanted to finish. I don’t even know how it happened, but I felt great during the entire race. Even with cramps at the end, I couldn’t have asked for a better race. I was relaxed, and just let my legs lead the way. I was so excited to say that I finished and I had half number 5 under my belt. Half number two in the 25 challenge was in the books! I ended up placing 727/1421 of all the lady runners, and 64/110 in my age group. Not bad.

This race was exactly what I needed to jump start half marathon season. I fell in love with the distance all over again, and I can’t wait to enjoy so many more this year. Colorado, not only did you give me an amazing experience, but you’ve given me a whole new meaning to the words, I love running.

Love.

Up next is the Earth Day Challenge Half Marathon in Gambier, Ohio. Molly will be dominating the race, and I’ll be celebrating my birthday! (and running of course)

Hey Colorado!

Tomorrow I leave for the great state of Colorado! After 15.5 weeks I’m ready to take on 13.1 miles of high altitudes and a new adventure. I’ve been looking forward to this for months, as if my blog didn’t already show it. I’ve got my list of everything to pack, iPod is ready, and I’ve checked the weather about a hundred times.

I’ve had ups and downs in training, but I’ve come a long way. In no way am I expecting a PR on Sunday, but I don’t plan on just coasting through it. I’ll be running in altitudes that I can’t even imagine, and although the course is rumored to be flat, I guarantee it will be a challenge.

I’m excited to explore Denver and see this amazing city that so many people rave about. I’m even more excited to see things through a runner’s eye, find out why so many runners go out there to train. More importantly, how running in Denver will hopefully make running in Ohio much easier.

I’ve come so far, cutting down my mile pace by at least two minutes. I’ve used Gu on more than one occasion, and I’ve spent many nights with my foam roller. I’m back to the point in my running where I can just feel where a mile is. I’ve already run two PR’s this year and I haven’t even hit the peak of race season.

The greatest thing…

After running this weekend, I’ll be mentally ready to start training for my marathon. Every race this year is a challenge, and training for those wonderful 26.2 miles that await me in October.

I can tell myself to be cautious, to make sure I pace myself, drink lots of water and Nuun all weekend. But honestly, I’m going to enjoy it, soak up every single moment, and just do what feels right. I’m ready.

Platte River Training: Week 11

I must say that I can’t complain with this week of training. Week 10 ended with a tough long run, so I took this week as recovery and a way to regroup before I hit the 12 and 13 mile marks the next couple of weeks. I kept the mileage this week relatively low, and ran every other day. My legs were a little tight in the beginning of the week, but I think with the way I planned things, I was able to really benefit towards the end of the week.  Each run felt great, even my 4 miles on the treadmill. One of the best moments, was the run I did on Tuesday. Apparently I had my fast pants on because I saw a sub 8 number on my Garmin, haven’t seen that in a while!

Hello speedy!

Monday: Rest

Tuesday: 2.5 Miles

Wednesday: Rest

Thursday: 4 Miles

Friday: Rest

Saturday: 5 Miles-St. Malachi Race

Sunday: Rest

The week ended with St. Malachi, race recap to come tomorrow. This week I’ve got a 12 miler on the schedule for Sunday and need to decide on the Cleveland 10 Miler before race fees go up. But even more excited, only one month until Colorado!