That Dam Race: My First Half Marathon of 2015

Well another half marathon bites the dust, and I have [truly] begun my 2015 running year with a bang!  Last time I posted I had to admit, I was feeling a little lack-luster in the running-love department.  Sunday, however, I had to commit since I had signed up for the Run Denver series and the final race, That Dam Race, to be exact, took place on Sunday, March 1st.  What a way to start the new month!  I have to admit, I was getting especially nervous for this race mostly because I just wasn’t feeling it, and also because of the almost constant snow from Friday, February 20th through Friday, February 27th.  Other than Tuesday last week, Denver was getting completely dumped on by the constant snow cloud cover.  I honestly had no idea what to expect for the road conditions, and thankfully the Saturday – Sunday snow didn’t appear or else I think I might have given up hope.

I wish this were me...

I wish this were me…

My reaction in reality...

My reaction in reality…

I suppose the weather gods were somewhat on our sides this year.  The snow stopped Friday and didn’t reappear all weekend.  Although the temperatures never really rose above mid-20’s all weekend, the sun did come out, and in Colorado that can mean a lot.  So Sunday morning I rose in all of my nervousness (I haven’t been this nervous for a race in quite some time), made my way the 10 minute drive to Cherry Creek High School, and prepared myself for the 13.1 miles ahead of me.

It's cold but I am still smiling!

It’s cold but I am still smiling!  See all the snow?

Chilly starting line in all its glory.

Chilly starting line in all its glory.

Apparently when folks set off on this race last year, it was a balmy 8 degrees, so I was pretty content with my moderate sunshine and 20 degrees.  The wind was minimal, and the starting line was stunning.  It’s almost unreal how serene the roadway is that skirts the edge of the Cherry Creek Reservoir.  It’s lifted above the top of the water by several stories, and on a clear day you can see the mountains stretch out in both directions to the west.  The Dam Road, befittingly named, is a perfect start and finish line for this race, and overlooking the frozen reservoir, it was quite a stunner.  Sadly I didn’t take many photos as my fingers were pretty frozen…

For an out and back course, this one was very lovely!

For an out and back course, this one was very lovely!

The course started along the Dam Road then took a sharp left turn onto the Cherry Creek trail.  This trail winds its way through the outskirts of Denver all the way into downtown.  Thankfully we

Yay two medals, no frozen fingers and happy to be finished!

Yay two medals, no frozen fingers and happy to be finished!

didn’t have to run quite so far, but after winding our way down from the top of the reservoir wall, we made our way under I-225 and took the trail heading northwest.  It was beautiful – everything covered in a blanket of snow, the trail meandering through wooded sections, open fields, and in between cozy neighborhood communities.  You’d almost never know we started so close to a busy highway.  The trail had just some minor little hills and bumps, but was otherwise flat.  The sun managed to stay out for nearly the entire run, until I climbed the steep hill to make my way back to the Dam Road for the final 2.5 miles.  At this point, thankfully I wasn’t running against the wind, but I did notice my lips were starting to freeze.  Just in time for my triumphant, well sort of, finish!  While running the last 2 miles, I noticed my friend Kristin running in the opposite direction, away from the finish.  I thought this odd, but as she put it, “I had to cool down, and I had to keep running to stay warm!”  She ended up winning second in our age division for the entire race series.  She is bad ass (obviously in a really good way).

She met me at the finish, I got my snazzy medal and water bottle, and we worked our way back to the vendor stands.  I was hoping for some hot Coda coffee or hot chocolate, but by the time we made it to the van they had already packed up.  This was disappointing, especially considering the many folks finishing after me.  I did get a Clif bar and walked with Kristin to her car.  She dropped me off at mine, and as my own personal reward, I went next door to Starbuck’s.  Grande nonfat with whip hot chocolate.  Yum.

On the plus side, I finished the Run Denver race series in its entirety – all four 5ks and the final half marathon.  I must say, the bling for the series was pretty worth it.  I do run for the bling afterall, and I am totally not ashamed of that.  I would have been one of those kids in soccer that wanted the participation trophy.  I still have all my awards from high school afterall… sitting right next to my husband’s.  We are part of the Millenial generation, after all.

Yeah, the medal was worth it.

Yeah, the medal was worth it.

As I mentioned last week, my new favorite thing is listening to “This American Life” while I run.  Best decision ever for a half marathon on your own.  Thankfully the first podcast I pulled up was this past summer’s “The Radio Drama Episode,” which included journalistic stories told in artistic ways, from opera to comedy, and a musical to a play.  It was AMAZING.  I also realized, it’s not wise to listen to an incredibly funny comedian while trying to run, especially while trying to run uphill.  Breathing and laughing aren’t good friends.  My Bose running earbuds performed sensationally and I was thoroughly entertained.

Do you listen to anything when you run – if so, podcasts or music?  What were the worst conditions you’ve ever had for a race?  Anyone else not a huge fan of running in 20 degree temps?

Runner Confession and Reflection

I guess I spoke too soon.  Here I was boasting about Colorado’s unseasonably gorgeous weather, and low and behold we get a foot of snow.  It didn’t stop snowing all weekend, and took me two and half hours to drive the 11 miles to work on Monday.  And it’s supposed to snow today and Thursday… and again on Saturday and Sunday… Insert foot in mouth.  Well you live and you learn…  And when you live in Colorado, you tend to get snow.

It started Friday night and kept on going through Monday morning!

It started Friday night and kept on going through Monday morning!

My first half marathon of 2015 is coming up on Sunday, and I have some definite mixed feelings about it.  Because of how crumby the beginning of 2015 has been, I just haven’t been in the spirit of training.  I’ve maxed out at 7 miles, and just haven’t been in the training mood.  Thankfully this last week was a bit of a kick in the butt.  Although I wasn’t able to run outside last weekend, I spent Saturday and Sunday pushing it at the gym, and reached a total of 12 miles.  Not ideal for training, but it’s something, and I am feeling more confident.  I am also more focused on overall fitness and strengthening, and I could feel the difference over the weekend.

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This week I very well could be running through the frozen tundra, which isn’t entirely motivating.

That Dam Race features a half marathon and 5k that flank the Cherry Creek Reservoir. I’ve taken a peek at the course map and elevation chart and it should be interesting… Definitely doable, but what goes down must also go back up.  I am trying not to run for a certain time, given my lack of training enthusiasm, the potential for inclement weather, and potentially questionable road conditions.  And I need to ease myself back into this running season, so this is probably a good way to start.

I have already signed up for a few more spring Colorado races, including the Cherry Creek Sneak 10 miler on April 26th and the Colfax Half Marathon on May 17th.  The Cherry Creek Sneak was started by a local running club and has gained a lot of momentum since then.  The event features a plethora of race distances, including 10 miles, 5 miles, a 5k, or 1.5 mile sprint.  I learned about this race through a colleague, and now a whole group of CU Denver staff will be participating in each of the distances.  The Colfax Marathon and Half Marathon is now a bit of an institution here in Denver.  It’s probably the biggest local marathon and half marathon that I know of in Denver proper.  This year marks its 10 year anniversary, so of course I requested the commemorative half-zip (it is in purple after all).  This course takes you through the Denver Zoo, which to me sounds incredible.  Of course I also have the BolderBoulder in my sights on Memorial Day.  I was a bit of an eager beaver and may or may not have registered the day after the race last year… You know… The hubs and I are really hoping to have a good time (literally and figuratively) – we want to hit an hour *fingers crossed*.  While it’ll be great to hit 15 races in 2015, I won’t feel horrible if I don’t get there.

Time to hunker down and pound some pavement.

Time to hunker down and pound some pavement.

Beyond May, I hope to do the Liberty Run 4 miler again on the 4th of July.  I have decided holiday races are the best way to fit in those miles early and still have plenty of time to enjoy the day.  I am registered for and an ambassador to the Esprit de She Westminster 5k/10k on August 27th, of which I will be completing the 10k.  Remember, if you sign up for this race, use code EDS039 during your registration!  It’s a great race series specifically for women, and personally I think it is an incredibly powerful and inspirational experience.  In October I am once again registered for the Denver RNR half marathon, and I am hoping the hubby will run with me again this year.  This time I will try to take more pictures!  I have registered for the Denver Hot Chocolate 15k in early October, but I am *hoping* to be presenting at a conference in Las Vegas that weekend.  I’ll find out in April!

Well I suppose that concludes my runner check-in for the time being.  I am hoping for a fun, easy race experience this

I am in love with my hubby and these headphones!

I am in love with my hubby and these headphones!

weekend.  What I do know for sure, I will be rocking my Bose running headphones and listening to “This American Life” podcasts while running those miles. #Obsessed.  For Valentine’s Day my hubby got me these INCREDIBLE headphones (no more iPhone headphones for this girl!), and it just made me appreciate how far we have come and how different our lives are now.  The best part?  We did it together, and we changed for the better.

Have you ever felt a slump during training?  Ever lose some of your motivation toward your goals – what did you do to overcome it?  Don’t you just love holiday themed races?  Anyone else obsessed with running headphones and/or “This American Life”?

For the Love of Love, Food, Running… and my Puppy

This is a big month for the ones I love.  Not only is it the month of Valentine’s Day, of which I have always enjoyed (I am one of those major saps, and have been lucky enough to have the very best Valentine eight years running), but it’s also the birthday month of the hubs, my best friend, and my puppy!  Big news, my pup, Rocco, is officially a real dog as of yesterday – he is two years old.  I have already made a promise to myself that he will forever be called “Rocco the Puppy,” aka “Rocco T. Yaco,” aka “Mister Taco.”  Nothing will change the view I have of my one and only perfect pup.  But I digress…

Who wouldn't want kisses from this sweet pup?

Who wouldn’t want kisses from this sweet pup?

Along with all the love flowing through me this month, I am amping up my training for the continuation of half marathon season.  Thankfully Denver has been absurdly mild this winter so far, and

Beautiful but snowy, slushy and icy run through Wash Park.

Beautiful but snowy, slushy and icy run through Wash Park.

the past few weekends, well except last Sunday, have boasted temps in the 50s and 60s, with some days reaching near 70!  It’s been ideal weekend running weather, and I am so grateful.  With this in mind, I completed the last two 5ks for the Denver Race Series.  On Super Bowl Sunday, I strapped on my Yak Trax (which have been the unsung heroes of my winter running routine), bundled up, and hit the roads of Wash Park the morning after a decent snow storm.  Of course all the snow melted within the next few days, but it was a gorgeous winter wonderland run nonetheless.  This past weekend, the hubby decided to join me for the Valentine’s Day 5K: Love on the Run.  It seemed so appropriate that he was there!  It was a stunningly gorgeous day and I was so happy to have the chance to run around Wash Park with him.  After the race, we did another 2.1 miles to round off at 5.2 miles.  We’re trying to pile on the miles each weekend as we near the March 1st That Dam Half Marathon.  When the weather is nearly 70 degrees, there’s really no excuse not to take advantage of it!

The month of January was a bit of a blur, after the death of my grandmother, preparing for and performing at her memorial, and making some big shifts at work.  I have been more than happy to welcome this next month and hope the year improves from here.  I know the old adage that when life hands you lemons, you make lemonade, but you surely hope you don’t have cuts on your hands and you have some sugar to make the lemonade sweet.  In other words, 2015 got off to a rocky start, so I could do with a sweet, lovely transition…

On a high note, the hubs and I have not only been running quite a bit more, but we’ve been trying out great eateries around the Denver metro area.  Denver really is an up-and-coming foodie fantasy land, so it makes sense that I run so I can eat.  Let’s be honest, don’t we all, really?  Given that the hub’s birthday was last week, we went to TWO restaurants in honor of his last year in his 20s.  First we dined at our favorite steak house, Del Frisco’s.  Although a chain steak house, it’s a constant delight.  We have found a favorite waitress, know the menu like the back of our hands, and always order the Del’s Delight dessert at the end.  In every way, we always have the perfect meal.

The Ocean Prime Berries and bubbles cocktail, which actually bubbles!! You must try it.

The Ocean Prime Berries and bubbles cocktail, which actually bubbles!! You must try it.

The second restaurant we tried out with our foodie Friday friends, Scott and Danielle.  Naturally we dined on Friday at a restaurant I have often overlooked, but pass by nearly daily: Ocean Prime.  Now I know what you’re thinking, “Isn’t Colorado a land-locked state?”  Well, yes… unless California, Nevada and Utah suddenly erode into the Pacific Ocean, we are still situated rather more in the middle of the country, albeit the west.  However, you’ve got to love the ease of moving fresh food quickly around the country, and there are some sensational seafood restaurants in Denver.  Ocean Prime did not disappoint.

Last week, as a pre-Valentine’s day dinner, the hubs and I trekked across town to the infamous Beast+Bottle restaurant, whose philosophy of utilizing the whole

Beast+Bottle has been one of my favorite Denver meals to date.

Beast+Bottle has been one of my favorite Denver meals to date.

animal (and vegetable/fruit for that matter) provides a most delicious experience.  We had previously gone for brunch with our dear friends, Peter and Ade, but decided this would give us the delectable dinner we’d been craving.  The past few years we had picked a new place to dine on Valentine’s Day and were constantly disappointed – by the service, the small portions, and the hurried atmosphere that stole the show of savoring a great dining experience.  This year we decided not to go out on Valentine’s Day but instead something before and after.  With that said, this was one of the BEST meals we’ve enjoyed in a LONG time.  I had the pork special, the hubs enjoyed the lamb special, we split a flatbread, and gorged on amazing desserts.  Need I say more, homemade strawberry Klondike bar.  Whoa.

What can I say, I like things in martini glasses.  "Your Own Pear-Sonal Jesus" cocktail from B+B infused with pear and creme de violet.

What can I say, I like things in martini glasses. “Your Own Pear-Sonal Jesus” cocktail from B+B infused with pear and creme de violet.

Perfect day to run with the one I love!

Perfect day to run with the one I love!

For Valentine’s Day itself, I think my hubby and I have a new tradition.  In November I registered for the Resolution Race series in City Park, and one of the races includes Le Cours de L’Amour (aka, the Course of Love).  Needless to say, my hubby was happy to join me on this one.  We ran really well together, finishing in just under 1:02 with a 9:58 pace.  This race is much like the Lucky Laces (which is part of the same series) 10K I completed last year.  It is 2 laps of a 5K through City Park, which is quite lovely, with some great views of the mountains in the distance, and a trail that hits exactly at a mile high.  The day was stunning, with a high of 65 degrees, a light breeze and wonderful morning sun.  After the race, the ladies were handed a pink rose rather than a medal.

Yup, Valentine's Day threw up all over me.

Yup, Valentine’s Day threw up all over me.

City Park really is a lovely spot to run, walk dogs, etc.  Worth wandering through on a nice Denver day.

City Park really is a lovely spot to run, walk dogs, etc. Worth wandering through on a nice Denver day.

Finally on Sunday, with winter storms looming, we went for a 4 mile run.  We wanted to go further, but the snow storm brought on some fearsome icy gusts of wind that made it quite a challenge.  2015-02-15 15.58.55With a few more miles logged for the weekend, we donned our Sunday best and headed for the Brown Palace Hotel in downtown Denver for a picturesque and perfect afternoon tea.  We were completely spoiled during our holiday in England and Scotland.  We enjoyed 3 afternoon teas whilst there, including the Pump Room in Bath, a Parliament tea along the Thames, and a Homecoming tea at the Edinburgh Castle.  This was our first afternoon tea since returning to the states in September, and it was just the perfect way to end a busy and eventful two weeks.  All I know is there is nothing better than exploring new places to eat, new races to run, and new adventures with my husband.  I am one lucky gal.

Gorgeous tea at the Brown Palace and my favorite date.

Gorgeous tea at the Brown Palace and my favorite date.

That is a good spread, complete with Kir Royal.

That is a good spread, complete with Kir Royal.

If you haven't been to the Brown Palace in Denver, go on a sunny day, stand in the middle and look up.  The stained glass ceiling is breathtaking.

If you haven’t been to the Brown Palace in Denver, go on a sunny day, stand in the middle and look up. The stained glass ceiling is breathtaking.

The Run Denver Race Series

Back in November, in the high of completing my fifth half marathon of the year, and third within a month, I thought it’d be a great idea to look ahead and plan for my 2015 race schedule!  Once you get bit by the run bug, there’s no turning back.  I started looking at small, local races, knowing the appeal of easy-to-manage race day events and the fun runner and volunteer atmosphere.  These smaller races and series truly showcase the running community with which you surround yourself.  I checked Active.com, and first looked up That Dam Half.  After running my first half marathon in February 2014, I was immediately addicted and wanted to find another one I could do right away.  That Dam Half was only a week out from the Disney Princess Half, so unfortunately I wasn’t able to sign up for it with enough confidence that I’d finish easily, or at least well.  So instead I decided I would save this race.

giphy

Don’t stop me, don’t stop me, don’t stop me. Hey, hey, HEY! Freddie Mercury, I don’t want to stop at all. Source

Now you may be thinking, “Why is this race called ‘That Dam Half’?”  It’s true, Colorado is not exactly known for its large bodies of water, but just 15 minutes down the road from me is the Cherry Creek Reservoir.  Cherry Creek cuts its way through Denver, much of which is followed by Speer Boulevard.  It’s derivation point, however, is out east towards the reservoir.  Conserving water is something we Coloradans must get used to, so reservoirs were established throughout the state.  Not all are in the same use at this point, and truth be told, the Cherry Creek Reservoir is now more for recreational use than anything else.  The reservoir is part of the Cherry Creek State Park, which boasts good biking and running trails all over and great views of the mountains out west.  Thus, That Dam Half quite literally winds its way around the reservoir and dam!  That is my long, drawn-out explanation for the obviousness of the name…

After checking out the half registration, I noticed there was a series built around this race, the Run Denver Race Series.  You provide me with a package of races, I cannot resist!  Especially when they have cute themes, are all close-by, and each is small and local.  So in December, I began my five race series, which includes 4 5ks, of which I am not normally a huge fan, and That Dam Half.  We kicked off the series with the Rudolph Ramble 5k, which took place the day following the ColderBolder 5k.  Obviously I ran both, because why not!  These races would guarantee me at least 14 races in 2014.

Great start to a fun race.

Great start to a fun race.

The Rudolph Ramble took place on December 7th, and it was so much fun – folks donned jingle bells, reindeer antlers, santa hats and other holiday-themed paraphernalia.  Given the size of these races, many folks brought their kids and dogs to participate.  This race took place in City Park, just north of the Cherry Creek area of Denver.  I have now run a number of races in City Park, some more treacherous than others, but this day was perfect.  Not too warm (it was unusually warm this weekend, unlike the year before when the high was 6 degrees), sunny, and no breeze.  We took a wide loop around the park and finished by the pavilion, where volunteers were lined up with goody bags (I mean nice drawstring goody bags!), water, Evol burritos, Aspire sports drinks, bagels and bananas, along with other goodies and freebies.  I am all about the freebies, so I just cannot resist.  What I liked most, however, were the awesome long-sleeve BornFit race shirts.  The shirts were a periwinkle blue with the Rudolph Ramble logo.  Part of the series perks included a BornFit grey half-zip, with which I am now obsessed.  Good swag for a small series.

The post race goodies were really impressive given the size of the race.

The post race goodies were really impressive given the size of the race.  Can you feel my excitement?

Two weekends ago I participated in the second race of the series, the Polar Bear 5k: Thrill of the Chill.  Thankfully, like the previous race, it was the opposite of

Krisitn (aka the running machine!) and I post-race on a perfect day!

Kristin (aka the running machine!) and I post-race on a perfect day!

chilly.  I am fairly certain it was about 60 degrees that day.  This time the race took place in Washington Park, or Wash Park as known by the locals.  My friend, Tessa, came to cheer me and her roomie on during the race.  They live in walking distance from the park, so it made for a great morning for all of us.  This race wound its way around the park, and took one additional loop through the middle to meet the 3.1 miles.  The volunteers for these races are notoriously fantastic, and there are folks interspersed throughout the course cheering on the runners.  The course is just the right ammout of small inclines and flat, so you can really work on speed for this race.  Like the race before, many participants had dogs and kids join in the fun.  Kristin, my friend’s roommate, took 1st in our age group, so we got to celebrate her during the award ceremony.  Personally, I felt great throughout the race and ran a 30:50 5k – I am determined to bring my 10k time solidly under 10 minutes per mile, so I think I am on track.

Cruising into the finish line and feeling good.

Cruising into the finish line and feeling good.

Yup, she's a rockstar!

Yup, she’s a rockstar!

This Sunday I will be participating in the third installment of the race series, the Super Bowl 5k also in Wash Park.  Finally something I would rather be doing on Super Bowl Sunday (especially since the Broncos didn’t make it this time… we won’t go into last year, but I definitely do NOT want the Seahawks to win…).  The following Sunday will be the Valentine’s Day 5k, and I will finish the series on March 1st with That Dam Race Half Marathon.  I couldn’t imagine kicking off 2015 any better way – time to pile on the miles!

Do you have a favorite race series? Do you prefer big races or small, local events?  Any fun themed races coming up?

Friday Favorites: Dry Winter Blues Edition

Living in Colorado definitely comes with its benefits.  It is, after all, a place some folks dream of living.  It’s nice to be outside in every season (I won’t go as far as to say everyday), and there’s something to do in every season (that, I think, is a little more rare).  Between hiking, biking, running, rock climbing, summiting 14ers, camping, skiing, snowshoeing, and everything else in between, it’s an outdoor enthusiast’s dream!  The lack of bugs and humidity also tend to make it more bearable, and having over 300 sunny days a year is simply ideal.

The dryness and altitude, however, wreak havoc on this former east coaster’s skin!  My hair, for the most part and with regular deep conditioning, loves it, as do my hairstyles.  But my skin I think actually revolts against this arid climate.  So I thought this Friday I would share some of my favorite remedies and products to keep my skin soft, moisturized, and hopefully, glowing all year long.

1.  Arbonne Liquid Foundation Broad Spectrum with SPF 15 Suncreen: I am one of those people who wears makeup every day, and most definitely facial sunscreen. It’s not that I don’t like my skin or appearance, but the preppster, always ready for a photo-shoot face persona has never worn off.  So I have been loving my new makeup routine recently with my liquid foundation from Arbonne.  I use this product in buff and it blends perfectly, evens my skin, and feels so soft on.  I put additional facial sunscreen on first, but even having an additional amount of SPF makes me feel better about all these sunny days.

7625.lg

This stuff blends and evens like a dream.

2.  The Secret of the Himalayan Body Butter: Did I mention Colorado is a dry, dry place? I always used lotion before moving here, but now I cannot live without it.  Before moving, my brother got me this body lotion and sugar scrub set as part of a Christmas gift.  I am now hooked and cannot live without it.  Unlike most body butter, it’s light and not greasy, but it’s effective!  This body butter is especially good for elbows, knees and heels, where the skin gets the driest.

Smoothy smooth skin!

Smoothy smooth skin!

3.  The Righteous (Body) Butter: Speaking of body butter, this one is intense. Whenever it’s an especially dry day, and particularly after I have used either a sea salt or sugar scrub, this is my go to for re-hydrating.  It smells fabulous and kicks butt when it comes to moisture.

Pile on the moisture. This one packs a punch.

Pile on the moisture. This one packs a punch.

4.  Lush Ocean Salt Face and Body Scrub: It’s necessary to slough off the dry, dull skin during these harsh winter months to keep skin glowing and soft. When I discovered this amazing sea salt scrub living in Boulder, I never looked back.  It’s just the right amount of scrub which dissolves without a weird residue, and it smells like a tropical drink in the middle of winter – it does feature lime, coconut, grapefruit and sea salt, after all.  It’s great for face and body, and I cannot get enough of it!

From dry and dull to glowing and glamorous!

From dry and dull to glowing and glamorous!

5.  Crabtree & Evelyn Ultra-Moisturizing Hand Therapy: My poor hands. I don’t think I can ever keep them moisturized enough.  I am very particular about hand lotion.  I want it to smell good, but actually be effective during these dry days.  Most lotions seem to fade quickly and I feel like I need to reapply constantly.  Thank goodness for Crabtree & Evelyn.  Sadly they just closed the only store front in Colorado, but I have found them sold at various spas and retailers, and where would we be without online shopping?  Their lotion in the Gardeners scent is ideal.  It’s herby and not overpowering, but pleasant and calming.  J ’adore.

Delightful scent, powerful hand therapy. Source

Delightful scent, powerful hand therapy. Source

These are some of my favorite moisturizing winter-time products, and when it comes to Colorado winters, it’s all about skin protection!

What are some of your favorite, or most effective moisturizing products?  Do you have the same dry-skin winter problems? Any other remedies work for you!

2015: The Journey Unknown

The end of 2014 came and went, in a bittersweet and far too fast blur.  So many fantastically fun things happened and life got rather too much in the way to report on them!  I finished out my running year with 4 holiday themed races, 2 10K’s and 2 5K’s, and achieved my best 5K time yet: 30:21 at the ColderBolder (it wasn’t a high of 5 degrees this year like it was last year, so I was happy to run it this go around).  I’ll share more about these races later, as I think they’re worth posting about.

One of the most exciting things thus far: I was selected to be an Esprit de She Brand Ambassador!  I cannot wait to share the Esprit de She love and event information.  Although the Denver event won’t be until August, there are Esprit de She events throughout the US, which include running, duathlons and triathlons – something for everyone!  I participated in last year’s Esprit de She 10K in Westminster (there’s also a 5K!), Colorado and loved this race.  It is still my 10K PR, and I had a phenomenal experience throughout the entire process, from warming up with a workout dance instructor, to the cheering squad along the entire route, to the amazing after party at Lifetime Fitness.  It was an all-around awesome experience.  Besides, you end the night with a few glasses of bubbly, so what could be bad about that?  Check out upcoming races throughout the US – if interested, please use code EDS039 when you register!

Esprit de She take two in 2015!  This time as an Ambassador!

Esprit de She take two in 2015! This time as an Ambassador!

Another hugely exciting thing is that my darling friend, Danielle, asked me to be in her wedding.  Having moved from Maryland to Colorado three and half years

This gorgeous lady, and my ColderBolder buddy, will be saying "I do!" in October!

This gorgeous lady, and my ColderBolder buddy, will be saying “I do!” in October!

ago I never knew I could make such phenomenal friends to the point that I would be a part of their big day!  I have already been invited to a wedding in Colorado, which was a stunning and fantastic affair celebrating two of my favorite people, Peter and Ade, in October of 2013.  There is something different, though, about being asked to be a part of the entire experience!  I cannot wait for her and Scott’s wedding day this October in Vail, Colorado.  It’s sure to be a beautiful and memorable wedding.

This year the hubs and I are hoping to take a few more trips, including wine country in June, and a fabulous beach trip in September (this week we’re deciding

I miss Hawai'i!!  Maui is so stunning!

I miss Hawai’i!! Maui is so stunning!

between Hawai’i and Mexico… tough choices).  I realized I haven’t legitimately seen a beach, or really ocean, since Mrs. BakeNBurn’s wedding in March 2013!! That is ridiculous.  It needs to be remedied stat!  We have both been to Maui, and I have also visited Oahu and the Big Island, but know so little about Mexico, particularly the West Coast since it is easier to get to from Colorado.  Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.  Otherwise I will have a bachelorette party at an undisclosed location, a long weekend in Disney World with my family (I can’t stay away!), and potentially a conference in Vegas to look forward to!  I will also be attending my sister’s graduation in May, so I will be back in the DC area before long.

My last beach vacation - I miss large bodies of water!  Isn't Mrs. BakeNBurn beautiful?

My last beach vacation – I miss large bodies of water! Isn’t Mrs. BakeNBurn beautiful?

This past year was really a great year for me and the hubs.  I had a job I loved, we were both settled in our home in Denver, we have a fantastic set of friends

And this is only the beginning of our journey!

And this is only the beginning of our journey!

around us, and we had a ton of visitors throughout the year.  My own personal goal of showcasing my interior design initiative, very novice I admit, to the world was realized. Somehow a few of my Instagramable moments were regrammed by Pottery Barn, which is my home decor Mecca. Beyond that, the hubs and I were able to have 2 amazing vacations together, and worked on ourselves as a unit.  This was so successful that, and I have to brag here, the hubs lost 45 pounds!!  I had no idea he had that much to lose, but he looks and feels great, and I couldn’t be prouder.  Once he had shed somewhere around 35-40, we actually had my awesome friend, and photographer, Laura, take some family shots.  She’s the incredible owner and photographer of Red Mountain Studio, and if you’re in need of great shots around the north Denver area, definitely check her out!  It’s amazing to see the things we have accomplished, but even more so to have watched his transformation and how happy he is.

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Look at my happy, healthy hubby!

I know 2014 boasted so many great things, but 2015 is looking just as promising.  Here’s to the journey ahead and wherever it may lead!

2014: An Imperfect, Though Fabulous, Year in Review

Looking back over this past year, I have been so blessed to have such incredible experiences, phenomenal friends, a job I love, and family that always supports me.  I had made myself a promise last year to work on goals to improve myself, my relationships, and my day-to-day.  Although I like to think we should always be trying to improve and never settle for just okay, I think 2014 was a pretty great year.

I had no idea when I wrote about my 2014 goals last January that I would have accomplished so much.  I am not a believer in resolutions simply because we are human, and if I am unable to do something I wanted to do, I don’t want to see it as a failure.  We are meant to adapt and change as our environments adapt and change around us.  That’s human nature.  As my dad used to say, “Semper Gumby, Always Flexible.”  But the goals I set out for myself ended up being a driving factor throughout this past year.

I can honestly say I curse less (I like to call it my Disney Princess speach – have you ever heard a Disney Princess curse?

Can I go back... please?

Can I go back… please?

No. Exactly.), don’t drink during the week (except during winter break and vacations, but come on, that’s me time!), worked harder on relationships, became more of a fitness nut than I have ever been, attempted to read more (I had a lull, I will admit), traveled to Disney (twice! I have a problem…), DC, Vegas and the UK, focused on broadening my cooking repertoire, forced myself to change my routine for the better, and ultimately worked on being a better blogger.  Again, life happens and all of these goals had to be assessed or readdressed at one point or another, but I made meaningful progress for myself.  That is really what matters.

When I started all of this, particularly the health and fitness piece, I had never even run a half marathon. I had actually only run a 10K and 5K in all of 2013.  I went to Zumba each week, jogged throughout the week, and worked out fairly regularly, but I wasn’t working towards anything.  I can happily say that I completed 15 races in 2014, including 5 half marathons, 1 15K, 6 10Ks, 1 4 miler, and 2 5Ks.  I didn’t anticipate doing quite so many, and thought folks planning to do 14 in ’14 were positively nuts.  Yet here I am, I have already completed my first race of 2015, and have 10 more planned during this year.

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Just some highlights from some of the races this past year!

I am so lucky to have this guy by my side!

I am so lucky to have this guy by my side!

My hubby and I are, thank goodness, often on the same plane of understanding.  He and I often make goals together.  We recently discussed that we both want to complete a marathon together.  I don’t know when, I don’t know which one, but at the end of my life I want to say I did it.  Will it be a 2015 goal?  Probably not, but I intend to train as though it were.  I also want to participate in a triathlon, partly for the fact that cross training is always a good idea, but also because they just look so gosh darn fun.  Of course I am thinking sprint distance, but after the year I have had, who knows what that will turn in to.

This past year taught me a lot about myself: what I am capable of, how hard I can push myself, and how great it feels being the best version of myself.  Can I be better, absolutely!  Always strive for perfection and allow yourself to realize you may never achieve it all.  That, however, doesn’t mean I will ever stop trying.  Let’s have a great year, no matter what life throws our way!

How was your 2014? Any goals you were most proud of accomplishing? Any new or exciting goals to add to the 2015 queue?