Be Bold, Be Bolder, Be BOLDEST! BolderBoulder 2015 Recap

My very first BolderBoulder in 2013!
My very first BolderBoulder in 2013!

I am pretty sure you all are aware of my deep love for the BolderBoulder 10K in Boulder, CO.  It was, indeed, the race that started it all.  About three and half years ago, I made the commitment to myself that I would run the BolderBoulder, this infamous race in my then hometown, that everyone kept talking about. I knew I wanted to be healthier, and let’s be honest, Colorado has that effect on most people, and I thought running was the best logical first step (pun totally intended).  It didn’t require any hand eye coordination (which is key for my incredible lack of athleticism), expensive special equipment (also key as I was the only one working at the time while the hubs was in school), or a gym membership (hello beautiful outdoor running space – Colorado’s Front Range is exceedingly runner friendly).  So I tied up my laces on a terribly old pair of sneakers, and hit the pavement.

Now here I am in 2015, with a total of 28 races completed, including seven half

Last year's Patriotic BolderBoulder, this outfit has since come in handy.
Last year’s Patriotic BolderBoulder, this outfit has since come in handy.

marathons, and three straight years at the BolderBoulder.  I honestly can say I didn’t anticipate getting to this point.  My running path led me to many other forms of exercise that I would have been too scared or intimidated to try before. Starting last summer, I participated in my friend Amy’s LacyFit classes, which were HIIT bookcamp-esque classes twice a week. I went regularly to the gym with my husband to use the hand weights and elliptical. I take Zumba classes once a week at my campus gym, and who doesn’t want to get their dance on with some salsa and cumbia moves?  Recently, I have been positively obsessed with Core Power Yoga and Tone It Up, which have elevated my fitness routine to muscle toning and sculpting.  It’s been a wild ride over the past 3 years, and I, and my body, are so grateful for the inspiration the BolderBoulder has brought me.

I cannot lie, I may have signed up for the 2015 BolderBoulder the day after the 2014 race… I was pretty pumped about it. So I have been anticipating this race for some time.  It is the nation’s largest 10K, and I would say one of the most impressively planned races I have ever seen.  I have nothing but respect for the incredible details that go into this race.  The sheer number of wave starts alone is mind-boggling, and any race that has 50,000 participants is hands down incredible.  So I went into this year’s race with even more appreciation and a lot of excitement.

Congrats SEESTER!
Congrats SEESTER!

I had spent the weekend, through that Sunday, in Maryland celebrating my sister’s graduation from the University of Maryland, so I was a little anxious knowing I was coming from sea level.  Still, the hubs and I woke early the Monday of Memorial Day to hit the road by 5:45am.  The traffic into Boulder on race day is always a bit questionable. We had a new plan for parking this time around, and decided to park under the 29th Street Mall in their garage.  We were going to begin with our friends Scott and Danielle, as well as their friend Eli, whose start wave was around 7:25am.  Although we left with plenty of time, with the slow line into the parking area, as well as a pitstop at actual bathrooms (halleluiah!), we were still late by 2 wave starts.  Luckily you can join any wave after your own, just not before it.

When we were last in Disney World in November 2014 for the Wine and

Our awesome race buddies. How cute are they??
Our awesome race buddies. How cute are they??

Dine Half Marathon, the hubs and I picked up Mickey and Minnie bride and groom ears.  This amazing couple will be tying the knot this upcoming October, so we thought they’d appreciate a little Disney bling.  Little did I realize this would be incorporated into a full blown BolderBoulder costume!  They dressed as bride and groom, complete with the ears, and boy was that adorable!  So I knew I had to step up our game. Last year’s America themed ensemble was pretty amazing, but what about this year? Well, I had a tiara, and never pass up an opportunity to wear a sparkle skirt, so Aurora it was!  The first time the hubs and I went to Disney we bought him a Prince Phillip shirt that says, “Sorry girls, I’m taken!” So combine that with some navy shorts, and voila! A themed costume! What can I say? I may be a race costume junkie.

My handsome Prince and I making our way!
My handsome Prince and I making our way!
Danielle did the
Danielle did the “Amy” face!!

So we got under way just a few minutes behind schedule.  The morning was practically perfect, even just a little chilly, which is always good for race days.  The month of May seemed like monsoon season along the Front Range, so I was more than thankful for dry race conditions. I passed through the first mile without even realizing it and we quickly made our way through the mile 2 marker. I have come to just enjoy looking around during the BolderBoulder now, given that Boulder once was my home.  Right before mile 4 at the Casey Middle School hill, and the highest point of the race, runners pass my former home on the right, along with my favorite mini Whole Foods ever, Ideal Market.  After that point, the last 2.2 miles are just so much fun.  You find your way onto Pearl Street with cupcakes waiting (although I have never partaken), and then weave your way onto Folsom after passing a chipper group of cheerleaders.  The number of entertainment stations along this course is a bit baffling for as short as it is.  Someday I will have to do a mid-race keg stand.

I enjoy this route more and more each year.  LOVE Boulder!
I enjoy this route more and more each year. LOVE Boulder! Source
One of the best feelings.
One of the best feelings.

Of course there’s nothing like making your way up Folsom and onto the CU Boulder Folsom Field for the victory lap.  The stadium is full of folks who already finished cheering and applauding the runners toward the finish line. The finishers are projected onto the Jumbotron, and there are photographers scattering the finish area.  It’s truly one of the coolest feelings I have ever had when finishing a race.  Oh, and I PRed, best time yet for a 10K! 1:00:31:82.  I was a little bummed, thinking I’d run it in less than an hour, but next year!

Aren't we cute? Too bad we didn't win the #BBBestShot contest!
Aren’t we cute? Too bad we didn’t win the #BBBestShot contest!

After the race, we met all met up for obligatory post-race stadium photos, got our goodie bags (why didn’t they have the lunch bags this year?) and Beer (Oskar Blues, soooooo good), attempted to peruse the Expo (SO MANY PEOPLE), and then headed over to the VIP section. Hello world, I have arrived, a BolderBoulder VIP.  My friend Danielle’s sister works for the race, so we took the elevator up to the VIP zone, which had yummy food, beverages of all types, and a stunning view of the stadium.  No really, it was spectacular.  We got some great photos, relaxed, and enjoyed watching runners make their way across the finish line.

The gorgeous view of the Flatirons from the VIP section.
The gorgeous view of the Flatirons from the VIP section.

Afterwards, we met up with some other friends at the Chautauqua Dining Hall in Chautauqua Park, and all I will say is lemon almond pancakes.  Yes.  A beautiful day, wonderful people, and my favorite BolderBoulder to date.

Keep On Marching: Esprit de She March Madness Giveaway!

As we draw to a close this month of March, I am grateful for the frenzied blur of fun I was able to have along the way.  I started the month with my first half marathon of 2015, mid-March I was able to visit Disney World with my family (no race this time), and I end the month with a new lease on health and fitness (updates to come, but I can say I have discovered the healing power of yoga, and I am hooked… I know I am late to this party).

I had such a great time in Disney with my family!  Love this goofy bunch.
I had such a great time in Disney with my family! Love this goofy bunch.

This month I made the pledge to go #Streakingwiththecoolkids – a mile a day in March.  I know, I know, not quite what it

Yeah, I am spoiled when this is the view that gets me through the miles...
Yeah, I am spoiled when this is the view that gets me through the miles…

sounds, but I assure that by streaking we mean making those miles fully clothed.  Whether running, walking, or just getting up and moving, this initiative kept me going forward all month long.  With it being the final day of the month, I can say that I have officially, including today, traversed 180.57 miles in the month of March.  It’s almost bizarre to add it up and see it in black and white.  When we really set our minds to something, we can accomplish so much.  This is an average of 5.82 miles per day during the month, and is part of a larger goal I set for myself, to reach 2,015 by the end of the year!

With the last day of the month upon us, I wanted to let the world know about an AMAZING opportunity through Esprit de She.  This race series is located in cities across the country, and hosts races for runners and triathletes, and hosts duathlons too!  It’s a race series designed for women with a plethora of options and combinations.  I have raved about it before, but it is a series I am very passionate about.  Although last year was my first experience, it was amazing and I cannot wait to run the Esprit de She Westminster 10K again this August.

IT’S CONTEST TIME!!!

In the spirit of March Madness, and on this last day of March, I am happy to present the Esprit de She March Madness Giveaway!  All participants that register in the month of March using referral code EDS039 at checkout will be included in a drawing to win a custom Esprit de She performance Moxie Cycling jersey (valued at $58)!

You know you want in on the fun of Esprit de She!
You know you want in on the fun of Esprit de She!

Once registration is complete, please notify me at rockymtnpearls@gmail.com that you have signed up using referral code EDS039. I will select 3 winners and notify you by the end of the week! Winners will receve their Moxie jersey before the end of April.

So game on everyone – who wants to join the winning bracket?

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.

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.

10854842_10103255472513838_2831095774162283244_o
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!

Esprit de She: Where the Ladies Lead the Lanes

You don’t have to tell me, I already know… I stink at blogging abroad.  What can I say?  I was caught up in the awesome that is England and Scotland.  And can we talk about what an interesting time to be in Scotland?  Today is decision day!  More on that later.

Rather than reminisce about the adventures the hubs and I experienced while gallivanting (a word not used nearly enough) throughout the British countryside, I wanted to blog about a long overdue race recap.  The Thursday before my hubby and I left for the UK, I was invited to participate in the Denver Esprit de She!

As per usual, the pre-race selfie.
As per usual, the pre-race selfie.

This race series is designed specifically for women, and I can say with certainty has been one of my favorite races to date.  The incredible support I received from women on the course and off was truly spectacular.  My friend Christie used to work for Athleta, one of the major sponsors of the event.  Along with sponsorship from Lifetime Fitness, this race took place just north of Denver in Westminster, Colorado, outside the Lifetime gym along I-25.  Thankfully the race took place with enough time after work that I was able to fight the traffic to get there with 30 minutes to spare.

Before the race began, there were vendors lining the outdoor pool area, which would be available post-race as well.  In front of the starting line was a stage, and fitness instructors were leading the awaiting runners in fantastic choreographed

Race photographer must peg me as a sportswear model!
Race photographer must peg me as a sportswear model!

dances.  Given my affinity towards Jazzercise, kickboxing classes, and Zumba, I obviously jumped right in!  Christie arrived with about 10 minutes prior to the start of the race (post-work races aren’t always easy to commute to!).  She and her friend Karen came together, and thankfully all three of us have similar paces.  We made our way up to the starting line.  Because the race hosted both a 5K and a 10K, the organizers made sure to let the 10K-ers go first, given the extra distance and later end times.  As you might expect, given this was a ladies only race, I had to accessorize.  I wore my Race Junkie “This Beauty Runs Like A Beast” shirt with my purple Under Armour leggings and purple Sparkle Skirt!  I like to make an impression, even when I run.

 

We all started the race together, but about 2.5 miles in decided to each go our own pace.  I was feeling particularly good during this race, despite the unexpected hills.  Unlike with the BolderBoulder, I didn’t want to psych myself out by looking at the elevation chart.  I should know by now that if it is in Colorado, there will be hills, and the elevation is high regardless.  I might have wanted to prepare for these hills though.  The course itself left much to be desired.  It was an out-and-back course, and for those doing the 10K, it was out-and-back times two.  Much of the course looped around the Lifetime Fitness facility and parking lot, and ran right along the highway.  In some ways this was good, because I couldn’t hear my Nike running app telling me my pace, which probably reduced my stress and anxiety over the need to run faster.

The 10K course was just double the 5K.
The 10K course was just double the 5K.

Although the course was lackluster, the race volunteers were fantastic.  They were full of spirit and great cheers, and of course, I elicited lots of sparkle skirt enthusiasm.  These were the folks, again, primarily women, that kept me going.  The

Myself, Christie and Karen before the race began!
Myself, Christie and Karen before the race began!

best part of the course was that the finish line was at the bottom of a hill, so you could truly speed your way through the finish line.  At about mile 4 I began running behind a woman that had my ideal pace, and I followed her through to the end of the race.  I crossed the finish line, feeling this had been my best 10K yet, and indeed it was!  A new PR for the books: 1:01:53, a 9:58 average pace.  In all honesty, my best time ever.  With the amazing race support, the women on the course and off cheering me on, and not worrying about my splits, I had a fantastic time.

We made the most of those props.
We made the most of those props.

The fun, thankfully, wasn’t over yet.  Great volunteers were there to greet me, as our names were announced over the loudspeaker, with chocolate milk (always a favorite in my book), Aspire natural sports drinks, and bottles of cold water.  As the ladies and I made our way back to the pool area, tasty bites were prepared, including peanut chicken and rice, roasted tomato hummus and quinoa, and other yummy nibbles.   White wine was provided by Joel Gott wines, with a cute little plastic souvenir wine glass, mini manis were available (although the line was long enough to deter me), and samples of Lifetime’s spa items were available.  Of course Athleta had items available for purchase, and freebies were offered by Luna, Aspire and Yoplait.  The best part, however, was truly the Aspire photo booth, with an appropriate assortment of props, and the ability to send to your e-mail or post to Facebook or Twitter.  Awesome!  Christie and I enthusiastically partook.  I had an amazing night surrounded by awesome women, and happily got a PR out of it.  And thanks to Christie’s connections with Athleta, this race was free!

At this point I knew I was happy with my time!
At this point I knew I was happy with my time!

Registration for the 2015 Denver Esprit de She opens in November… I have a feeling I will happily pay for it this time around.

Have you participated in an Esprit de She or other lady-only races?  How did you like the experience?  Any recommendations for smaller national races to try?  Who cannot wait for the weekend (can you tell that I am stoked?)?

Making the Most of It: Pre-Trip Festivities!

Another amazing Colorado weekend in the books.  With my trip to the United Kingdom a matter of FOUR days away, I am trying to make the most of my last week in Colorado before we leave.  Over the weekend, other than prepping for our impending travels, the hubs and I were busy hosting the in-laws for a delectable home cooked meal, getting in some miles in preparation for our fall races, and I met up with some local sorority sisters for a hike and an unexpected adventure.

Saturday started off with a nice five mile run with the hubs, followed by necessary errands to prepare for our trip.  With all of the changes we have made in our diet and regular exercise routine, my hubby has lost quite a bit of weight.  It was definitely time, possibly overdue, to get him some new duds to show off his svelte figure.  Obviously we want to look our best abroad, and London is a classy city, so it was the perfect opportunity to take advantage of updating his wardrobe.  Besides, I love shopping for him… there’s something so enjoyable about dressing men!

That evening we hosted my in-laws for a home cooked meal as a thank you for taking care of our adorable pup, Rocco, while we’re away.  We’ve

I cannot begin to express how much I am going to miss my puppy boy!
I cannot begin to express how much I am going to miss my puppy boy!

had our puppy for just over a year and have never left him for more than 4 days.  This is going to be a big switch for us, and I can already tell I am going to have separation anxiety.  Luckily my in-laws also have a Chihuahua who is our pup’s best friend in the whole world.  Something tells me this will be a vacation for Rocco too.  On the menu for the evening was a delicious cheese plate with Manchego and Pecorino cheeses, rosemary olive oil crisps and crostini from Whole Foods, and black seedless grapes.  With this in mind, the hubs and I decided to go Italian.

We prepared homemade pork meatballs, which we seasoned ourselves, freshly made creamy polenta (my first time making it!), and topped with homemade San Marzano tomato sauce, Parmigiano-Reggiano and arugula.  I am a bad blogger and didn’t take a picture of the awesomeness.  The recipe was based off of a dish I used to order at my favorite little Italian restaurant in Boulder, Radda Trattoria.  The hubs and I were so spoiled because this restaurant was just across the street from our townhome, so it became a restaurant staple.  The meal is called Polpette e Polenta, and is too delicious for words.  Without fail, this was always what I ordered.  It’s also this restaurant where I first had a Martini Basilico, which my hubby has beautifully been able to recreate at home (YAY!).  We finished the meal with my mother-in-law’s homemade peach bourbon upside down cake.  Overall, it was a phenomenal meal.

Another perfect day for a hike!
Another perfect day for a hike!

The next morning I met up with two local sorority sister for a Sunday morning hike.  We drove west towards Morrison, the same place I had hike the weekend before, but this time we went to a trail on the opposite side of Red Rocks amphitheater.  The trailhead, Mt. Falcon, takes two paths.  One, the Castle Trail, is mountain biker friendly, so a number of adventurists passed us on the trail, impressively navigating the terrain on bike.  At the first summit, you can see beautiful vistas of the valley below and the Denver skyline in the distance.  Although we decided not to go to the top of Mt. Falcon, for timing reasons, we took the Turkey Trot trail around the back side of the foothill, which allowed for amazing views and a gorgeous woodsy atmosphere.

My hiking buddies, Kaitlin and Christie!
My hiking buddies, Kaitlin and Christie!
The Turkey Trot trail took us through some beautiful woodsy paths.
The Turkey Trot trail took us through some beautiful woodsy paths.
Love these views!
Love these views!
We found Red Rocks!
We found Red Rocks!

After hiking, we drove to downtown Golden for lunch.  We sat on the back patio of the Buffalo Rose bar and grill, and quickly realized we were in the middle of the USA Pro Challenge cycling race.  The main street of Golden was lined with spectators trying to catch a glimpse.  I’d never seen a cycling race in person, so when the hordes of cyclists passed a dizzying speeds, followed closely by pace cars, I was pretty excited.

Definitely an unexpected surprise for our day!
Definitely an unexpected surprise for our day!  Source

Shortly afterwards we tried to leave Golden, and realized the city was shut down for the race.  We managed to cross into the entrance to the Coors factory, and the guard at the gate allowed us to drive through their property

Fort Keg, it's a pretty formidable structure.
Fort Keg, it’s a pretty formidable structure.

to get back to the highway.  Having done the Coors factory tour four times now, I had absolutely no idea how HUGE the factory is.  We drove for quite some time through service roads connecting the facility together, interspersed with Coors’ own railway system.  It was impressive.  Then we saw the castle of kegs, and that was incredible.  I doubt they were full (that would not live up to the Coors cold-brewed standard), but it definitely made me wonder how much beer could fill all of them…  It was in every way a memorable day!

Yeah, not sure we really should have been allowed back here... oh well!
Yeah, not sure we really should have been allowed back here… oh well!
The sunsets along my run are always so beautiful!
The sunsets along my run are always so beautiful!

This week, interspersed with packing, I have jam-packed in fun events and last-minute get-togethers.  Yesterday I fit in a 5K run in preparation for the Esprit de She 10K this Thursday.  The sunset was stunning, and the weather perfection (finally).  Hello 65º!  I hope Thursday night has similar weather.  Tonight, after Zumba, I am stopping by the Esprit de She Packet Pickup Party at the Athleta shop in Denver’s Cherry Creek area.  Not only can I get my bib, but as a participant we also get 20% off in store, snacks, giveaways and more.  Yes please!  Tomorrow evening I will be going to the Squeaky Bean with my friend Danielle for pre-trip cocktails.  The Squeaky Bean boasts one of the best professional mixologists in Denver, so the drinks are fabulous.  Finally, Thursday I will be running the Esprit de She with my friend Christie, and cannot wait for the post-race festivities.

Have a great week everyone – make every day an adventure!

How did you make the most of your last summer weekend?  Do you know how much beer could fill all of those kegs?  What are you looking forward to this week?

Denver Father’s Day 10K Recap

This past weekend I convinced my hubby to run another 10K with me, just a few short weeks after the BolderBOULDER.  I am one lucky duck because he lovingly agreed without any begging on my part.  The race took place on Father’s Day, and was therefore appropriately named the Denver Father’s Day 5/10K.  The hubs and I wanted to get him a qualifying time for the Disney Wine and Dine Half Marathon in November, and because we didn’t run the BolderBOULDER for speed, this was a great opportunity.

I knew the race would be small, given that this was the inaugural race and the route was located in a section of Denver not often used for races.  Stapleton is a newly developed area of Denver that was built over the old Denver Stapleton Airport.  While the airport no longer exists, the control tower still stands, and newly built homes, townhouses, apartments, and parks have taken its place.   The race began in the middle of Central Park along Martin Luther King Boulevard and Central Park Boulevard.  The 5K course ran entirely through the park, while the 10K course veered off onto the Westerly Creek Trail.

People-watching while waiting for the race to start!
People-watching while waiting for the race to start!

The race didn’t start until 9:00am, which is surprisingly late for a starting time, so we leisurely woke at 7:00am, changed into our race-day attire, ate some breakfast, and were out the door by 7:45am.  We were picking up our race packets at the event, and I was worried the line for packet pick-up would be similar to that at Lucky Laces (some folks missed the start because the line for packet pick-up was so long).  However, given the small size of the race, we didn’t have to wait at all.  In fact, we were able to park in the lot just beyond the race-day tents, walk right up, get our bibs, and still had 40 minutes to spare.  We watched the kid’s fun run take off and made note of the speedy 8 year old at the front of the pack.  Afterwards we wandered around and commented on the participants of the ugliest tie contest.  There were some incredibly ugly ties, I am sure it was a close call.

Finally we lined up to get ready for the race to start and noted how few people there were.

My obligatory pre-race photo op.
My obligatory pre-race photo op.

Little did I realize that these small races are breeding grounds for speed.  Local athletes use these races as opportunities to place, focus on their time, and just be downright impressive.  The hubs and I were a little out of our league, but we were there to enjoy ourselves regardless.  Finally we set off and worked our way around the park.  Just over two miles into the run, the 10K group veered off out of the park onto a gravel trail to complete the additional four miles.  The trail took us east onto some questionable terrain.  Portions of the gravel trail were washed away by rain and a nearby creek, leaving large cracks in the earth.  Another section had some construction going on around it, which left large muddy tire tracks in the ground.

Great views of the mountains and the old Stapleton Airport control tower to the west.
Great views of the mountains and the old Stapleton Airport control tower to the west.

Finally, this trail hooked up with the paved Westerly Creek trail, which, one would hope, follows Westerly Creek.  The scenery was lovely, the views of the mountains were awesome, but the entire race was void of shade.  Given that the day was very sunny, and the temps were already warm around 9:00am, it was a bit on the toasty side.  Truly I can’t complain too much, given the whole lack of humidity thing, but I haven’t come across many courses without a spec of shade.  Thankfully there were two aid/water/Gatorade stations along the course: one around two miles, and one just after four miles.  The race volunteers were amazing, signage was excellent, and the event itself was incredibly enjoyable.

Just keep running, just keep running!
Just keep running, just keep running!
Sweet taste of completion!
Sweet taste of completion!

Upon reaching the finish line (obviously hand-in-hand yet again), we knew we were among some of the last to finish.  At that point we were so happy to be done, get a qualifying time for the hubs, and grab some Naked Juice and burritos before heading home.  When you run with the pros, you just can’t worry about being left behind.  Overall it was a good local event with awesome race volunteers and workers, a quiet laid-back atmosphere, and a whole lot of impressive people.  I would probably do the race again, although an earlier start may be worthwhile.

Up next I will be participating in the Liberty Run 4 Miler in Washington Park, a nice easy drive from my house.  The Run/Walk takes place on the 4th of July at 8:30am and includes a competitive race walk.  I didn’t know this was a thing until recently reading The T-Rex Runner’s blog post on the sport.  I am pretty excited to see this first hand.  While I personally plan on running it, I am intrigued!  You can be sure that I will be decked out in something obnoxiously Patriotic – Americuh!

 

Something legendary, perhaps?
Something legendary, perhaps? Source
Hey Barney, I can be legendary too!
Hey Barney, I can be legendary too!

How was your Father’s Day?  Did you have any races this weekend?  What are your thoughts on small, local races?