Once more with feeling!

Suffice it to say, a lot has happened in the six months since my last post. The summer came and went (sadly, it’s my favorite season) complete with five weddings, a visit from our dear friends Samantha and Michael, my 15 year friendiversary trip with one of my besties, Tessa, to Steamboat Springs, and an amazing mini vacay to Lewes, Delaware with my sister and parents.  The fall allowed me the opportunity to present at a national conference, and also brought with it an amazing new job – my dream job!  And finally, this winter began with an intensifying training schedule for, yup, you guessed it, another marathon!  I have heard you get addicted, and I think I just might be.

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Colorado continues to be one of my favorite places to explore – there is so much to see!
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Lewes, Delaware is such a hidden gem along the east coast, and a Labor Day Weekend family tradition!

Over the summer, Samantha introduced me to some amazing workout classes I had been

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Cannot wait to see this lady in two weeks’ time!

too chicken to try before, barre and spin. During her visit and in the midst of our frenzy of fitness, she and I, along with our hubbies, decided to sign up for the Surf City Marathon and Half Marathon. Samantha and my hubby will be running the half, and her hubby and I will be running the full (because we be cray).  We spent a day scouring the interwebs for the right race-cation. After all, we had to find something to rival the Disney World Wine and Dine Half Marathon experience in November 2014. We narrowed it down to two races, the Napa Valley Marathon and the Surf City Marathon in Huntington Beach, California. I guess palm trees, sea level and Pacific Ocean views won out over wine (also, the Napa Valley Marathon doesn’t allow for earbuds, which would be incredibly tough over 26.2 miles).  So here we are, a mere 16 days until the Marathon, and I am seriously excited.

My training plan had a few hiccoughs early on, including a few colds, and recently has been plagued with snow storms, but thankfully last weekend’s 20 miles felt amazing. I sprinkled the fall and early winter with local races to keep me motivated, including the Hot Chocolate 15k, the Denver Rock ‘N’ Roll Half Marathon, the Esprit de She 10k, the Pumpkin Pie 10k, the Thanksgiving Turkey Trot, the Colder Bolder 5k, the Resolve 5k.  In some ways, it’s all downhill from here, especially considering the race is at sea level.

Again I made sure to incorporate strength training with running, and also incorporated some spin classes in my schedule.  This time, I gave myself over five months to prepare, both mentally and physically.  I hadn’t reduced my running all that much during the summer, so it wasn’t too much of a transition into the next training schedule. Below are the miles for my first 20 weeks of training.  Just a few weeks left before the big day – I cannot wait!

Date (Monday) WEEK Total Miles
8/29/2016 1 23.24
9/5/2016 2 12.74
9/12/2016 3 6.24
9/19/2016 4 12.05
9/26/2016 5 24.88
10/3/2016 6 18.82
10/10/2016 7 21.62
10/17/2016 8 15.61
10/24/2016 9 22.83
10/31/2016 10 18.51
11/7/2016 11 27.6
11/14/2016 12 27.67
11/21/2016 13 15.96
11/28/2016 14 18.83
12/5/2016 15 28.9
12/12/2016 16 6.28
12/19/2016 17 31.98
12/26/2016 18 28.46
1/2/2017 19 32.75
1/9/2017 20 33.31

The Race that Changed Me

I know, I dropped the ball a bit on posting this. To be fair, I did begin this post the day after the marathon, but as we all know, life happened. So here I am, not quite two months later revisiting my favorite race I have ever run…

So many people told me that it would change my life forever. They told me I would be hooked, and I would immediately want to do more. That crossing that finish line would be the beginning of something amazing, not the end. They were right.

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Somewhat hard to tell, but the hubs and I crossed hand-in-hand!
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What an incredible victory.

I can now call myself a marathoner, and to say it has changed me would be an understatement. It’s been an emotional, time-intensive, not always pretty roller coaster ride. The amount of training, cross-training, food and time that went into this one day is almost comical to think of now. Did I mention food? Was it worth it? Ten thousand times yes.

To say I was lucky would be 100% accurate. To say I was well prepared would also be absolutely true. May 15th was the combination of both elements: a solid training plan and preparation, perfect weather conditions, ideal speed and pacing, incredible support before, during and after the race (both on and along the course), a wonderful and exciting home-town course, and the list goes on. The 2016 Colfax Marathon, for me, was the perfect race.

I know there are a lot of factors outside my control on race day. As runners, we know that every run is different and you absolutely cannot predict how you will feel throughout the race. I have thanked my lucky stars over and over again that I felt great, set a great pace that I was able to maintain for almost the entire race, and I experienced no real pain. Occassional discomfort is a given when pounding the pavement for over 26 miles, but I am grateful for no pain.

The week leading up to the race was amazing. I got in some last great miles, focused on toning and strengthening through Core Power Yoga Sculpt and Tone It Up workouts, tried to get more sleep and stayed on track with a good diet. The nerves definitely set in throughout the week, and by Friday it was all I could think about.

Day of the Week Cross Training Miles Run
Monday, 5/9/15 Yoga Sculpt 3.25 mile run
Tuesday, 5/10/16 Yoga Sculpt 3.65 mile run
Wednesday, 5/11/16 TIU Beach Bod, TIU K&K Slay, TIU Tush it Real Good, TIU Toned Arms 3.77 mile run
Thursday, 5/12/16 Yoga Sculpt 3.71 mile run
Friday, 5/13/16 Rest Rest
Saturday, 5/14/16 Rest Rest
Sunday, 5/15/16 RACE DAY BABY Colfax Marathon: 26.43 mile run

Thankfully my boss let us leave a bit early the Friday before the race, so I dashed over

Inspiring women and great friends make packet pickup even better!
Inspiring women and great friends make packet pickup even better!

to the Health and Fitness Expo, housed at none other than Mile High Stadium!! I met up with a few amazing Oiselle ladies whom I met through Instrgram to comemorate the event.  Their first marathon experience was the Colfax Marathon in 2015, so they have been amazing guides and friends to me throughout this process. I’d never been inside the stadium until that day, and the expo was located on the United Club Level. Walking through the expo felt like a dream. I sampled some awesome items from Clif, purchased a Colfax Marathon hat and half-zip, and claimed mine and the hub’s bibs and tech shirts.

SO delicious, and just around the corner from Mile High.
SO delicious, and just around the corner from Mile High.

After the expo, we of course took some epic photos outside the stadium, and then meandered over to Strange Brewing Company for a couple of celebratory beers. The Grapefruit IPA is absolutely delicious and I highly recommend it. This was just what I needed to calm some of my nerves, before heading off to Patxi’s for a delicious whole wheat salsiccia pizza and a glass of Meiomi.

The next day I did very little, which was absolute perfection. I started my morning with a relaxing breakfast and puppy cuddles. I sat down to watch

I am so lucky to have been able to surround myself with such an incredible group of runners!
I am so lucky to have been able to surround myself with such an incredible group of runners!

the highly recommended “Spirit of the Marathon” documentary, which follows the training journey of 6 inspiring athletes as they prepare for the Chicago Marathon. What I loved most is that the documentary focused on both elite athletes as well as regular runners of all ages, races, backgrounds, and experiences. Talk about a major motivator. If you haven’t watched this before a race, it’s a complete must-do.  I spent the afternoon doing a few quick errands, and then I met up with an incredible group of runners for a delicious dinner at Firenze a Tavola in the Highlands. The Pappardelle con Cinghiale with their homemade pasta and wild boar ragu was to die for, and made for the perfect carbo-load pre-race dinner.

Race day started at 3:45am for my morning wake-up call. I was able to sleep fairly well the evening prior, in spite of some seriously weird dreams (broken legs… yikes!). I had everything ready to go: my outfit, my water bottle and accoutrements, my shoes, my throw-away, and our gear check bag. The hubs and I awoke and assembled our items with groggy acceptance, and left the house at 4:35am.  Thankfully we live about 15 minutes south of the starting point at City Park, and could park easily on the south side of Colfax so as not to be caught up in the road closures.

Thanks Gary for such a great shot, and being an expert selfie-taker!
Thanks Gary for such a great shot, and being an expert selfie-taker!

We waited in the car for about 15 minutes before making the 15 minute trek to the northeast corner of City Park, near the Nature and Science Museum. We dropped off our gear check bag and met up with one of my runspirations and some of her incredible running friends, with whom I am thrilled to have had the opportunity to meet.

We were in corral F this year, so it didn’t take too much longer after the first wave to set off. Oddly at that moment I felt incredibly comfortable and sure of my journey. I knew the destination, and all that was between me and victory was 26.2 miles. Over the past 18 weeks I had put in over 400 miles, so this was just a drop in the bucket. I started off feeling great, though quickly realized a bathroom break would be in my near future. I’d been very determined to hydrate all morning, but the nervous bladder wasn’t feeling that.  So at mile 2 I dashed to the porta potties for the quickest bathroom break of my life while the hubs traversed onward.

So focused at the starting line up - Gary (aka the Hulk) was ready to go!!
So focused at the starting line up – Gary (aka the Hulk) was ready to go!!

The first 10K took us out of City Park and onto Colfax up until Speer Boulevard, at which point we ran through the firehouse and made our way onto the Cherry Creek Trail. At the base of the trail I experienced my first sighting with my best friend Tessa and her roommate and equally amazing friend Kristin. Kristin, I should mention, is a beast and a HUGE source of inspiration for me. She has run Boston twice and is a truly an incredible runner, and person. Seeing Tessa and Kristin there cheering me and all the other runners on at 6:30am meant the WORLD to me. After passing them I definitely teared up with love and excitement.

This section of the first 10K took us along the Cherry Creek and Platte River, and is my weekly training path. It felt like home, and was just the boost I needed. A little familiarity can go a long way. Tessa and Kristin biked down the other side of the trail to meet us again as we turned left from Cherry Creek to the Platte River. Best cheering squad EVER.  After passing Elitch Gardens theme park, we turned left towards the Broncos Stadium at Mile High. Running through major sports stadiums might be my favorite thing ever (um, hello Homerun for the Homeless 5K and Bolder Boulder 10K), and is just such an amazing feeling.

135895-503-020hAfter this point we ran out of the stadium, wrapped around the parking lot, and turned right onto Colfax again (appropriately named marathon, I think). This section was up-hill, but I was still feeling great so I kept on running. We eventually turned right to head towards Sloane’s lake, a great trail surrounding the lake on the edge of the Highlands. The west side of the lake has a perfect vista of the Denver skyline, which I first experienced my first year running the Rock ‘N’ Roll Denver Half Marathon in 2014. Around the lake they had the Chinese Dragon dancers performing for the runners. Tessa and Kristin popped up yet again, and it was at this point I started pacing Jared, a dentist from Florida who is also a Denver transplant. He and I ran together for quite a while, so we chatted it up.

After returning to Colfax for a short stint, we entered into Lakewood and again turned right to run through the Rocky Mountain School of Art campus and some Lakewood neighborhoods. Some hills reared their ugly heads, but thankfully Tessa and Kristin appeared just in time! At about mile 14 Jared and I parted ways so I could run up the hill into the quaint Lakewood suburbs. I walked for a bit to partake in my Vanilla Bean GU, and heard my name by a passing runner. My friend Dana was running the relay, which tracks the same course as the marathon. I was able to catch up with her for a short time and chat about her recent engagement and puppy, before dashing off as we turned east on Colfax.

The next section from mile 16 through 19 was spent fairly solitary but completely peaceful. The city was just beginning to wake up and there were plenty of people cheering along the sides of Colfax. And thankfully this entire section is downhill! Little victories. I flew down Colfax in a blur, and turned back towards Broncos Stadium. Prior to running into the stadium, the race team errected an actual wall just prior to mile 20 that you can literally hit.  Needless to say I did just that, and can thankfully say I didn’t hit any figurative walls the entire run.

Yeah, I was really happy... I couldn't stop smiling!
Yeah, I was really happy… I couldn’t stop smiling!
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Sam and I running through Mile High!

Finally we reentered Mile High, and it was here I met Sam, who was running his first marathon in 24 years. He and I ran together through the stadium, and after exiting Tessa and Kristin greeted us one more time (THEY ARE THE BEST). We turned back onto the Platte River trail and chatted about our motivations and what gets us through. His daughter was graduating that day, and he had determined to run Colfax for her.

After departing the Cherry Creek trail, Sam and I separated and I ran onwards up Lawrence Street to then make the final major turn onto 17th street. This would essentially take us back to City Park, where the finish line awaited. After crossing Broadway, 17th boasts quite a nice hill. I ran up half, walked the rest, and then kept on running. Honestly I could walk the hill faster than I could run it, and it was a fantastic stretch for the hammies. By this time I had less than a 5k left to go.

I began looking around at the people left around me, a mixture of the Urban 10 milers, relay participants, and the determined marathoners. Suddenly I looked to the right and there was the hubs! I arrived at the right time for us both, and we were able to finish those last few miles together. This, for us both, was perfection. Coming into City Park, I heard a shoutout and turned around to see my friend Perri, Dana’s sister, a transplant from the East Coast like me! She had finished the half marathon like a champ and gave me the last boost I needed. After turning a corner, Kristin showed up one more time on her bike, and just ahead was the finish!!

Crossing that finish line was one of the best moments of my life. Immediately a rush of emotion fell over me. I had never before had such an incredible race experience. I had never run this far in my life. And better still, I was able to cross the finish line with my best friend and love of my life. The culmination of thoughts, emotions and knowledge of success made all of the miles, all of the struggle and self doubt, and all of the times I wanted to quite worthwhile.

The best feeling ever.
The best feeling ever.

Throughout my journey, my girlfriends from the east coast continued to text me and virtually cheer me on. They were all tracking my time and sending me words of love and excitement. My family, too, texted me with notes of encouragement. The support I received throughout this entire process is undeniable and something I don’t think I will ever fully be able to express. When I think about what got me through, it was because of the love and dedication from each and every one of them.

As you know, food had become a major priority to me during my training. Honestly, it

Green chili smothered burrito... mmmmmm....
Green chili smothered burrito… mmmmmm….

also became a major thorn in my side. I had, however, been imagining for months my first meal post marathon. I really wasn’t sure how I would feel once I was done. I definitely was looking forward to food, but wasn’t voracious either.  After we picked up our drop bag, Robbie and I slowly moved towards our car. Tessa and Kristin met us at Benny’s, our favorite local Tex Mex restaurant in Governor’s Park. To say I ordered a burrito bigger than my face might be an understatement. The sad part is that I have CRUSHED this burrito in the past, but that day, I was only destined for three quarters of it. Oh well, it was delicious all the same.

After we drove home, the hubs and I got cleaned up and promptly passed out on the couch. The day ended with some incredible Cuban food, and an early bed time.  Recovery over the next few days was actually easier than I had imagined. By Tuesday I was completely back to normal and actually went for a short jog on Wednesday.  Since then I have participated in the BolderBoulder 10K, the Liberty Run 4 Miler, and the Sand Creek Half Marathon and still feel amazing. Is another marathon in my future? Absolutely!!  I am just not sure which one yet….

 

 

And Now We Wait

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Ready to run – can we go now? Please? Why must I wait??

Patience is a virtue I could probably do without. Waiting is definitely one of the hardest parts. I am probably particularly bad at waiting, given that I am a ridiculous planner. I have the next four months planned out, and probably some key weekends in the months following that. It’s what I do and who I am, and I love my calender for that reason. But having to wait for something you’ve been anticipating greatly for the past 18 weeks is especially hard. And I am growing more impatient by the second!

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My last few runs have felt really great leading up to the Colfax, so I am hopeful race day will be more of the same! I’m so thankful for the Highline Canal – my favorite training trail!

The Colfax Marathon, Denver’s currently only marathon, takes place this Sunday. Come 6:00am MST I will be (hopefully) ready and raring to go! Since January when I committed myself to training for this race, it’s seemed like such a distant dream, and almost unattainable. With my longest training runs behind me, and the longest run of my life ahead of me, I just want to be in it and doing it.

The past two weeks have been a huge whirlwind of events and excitement.  Two

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We always discover new places when my parents visit – Sanitas Brewing Company was so good!

weeks ago my parents were in town while my dad attended a conference in Broomfield, Colorado. Work has been picking up with the semester ending and new student orientation sessions. I spent this past weekend celebrating one of my bestie’s birthdays by participating in the Homerun for the Homeless 5K, and I also celebrated one of my running buddy’s upcoming nuptials. Thankfully these have all combined to be nice distractions, but now that it’s the week of the race, it’s all I can think about.

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The Homerun for the Homeless 5k ran right through Coors Field, the home of the Rockies! This weekend I’ll be running through Mile High Stadium – home of the Super Bowl Champion Denver Broncos!
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Feeling good and cannot wait to crush Colfax!

I suppose it’s not a matter of whether or not I can do it at this point. I feel good, my body is strong, I am fueling it well, I could always use more sleep, I’ve incorporated cross training, and I have the miles in me. Now it’s just putting all the pieces together on race day. You never know what each race day will be like, but all you can do is prepare yourself as much as possible and stay positive. That of course doesn’t mean I won’t hit a wall or think about stopping. But it does mean I have to push myself beyond those negative forces and know that I can do it.

I am so blessed that I have had so many amazing people cheering me on throughout this process, from my closest friends and family, to complete strangers. Some of my favorite moments included a mid-week lunch run high-five from a random passerby on the trail, to finally meeting one of my Instragram runspirations for a weekend run, and all the moments in between.

ganrupl
And to think this is what I said to myself 18 weeks ago…

As I pick up my packet (and hubby’s too) later today, I think it will finally hit me that this is real. I’ve been a bundle of nerves all week, but knowing it’s happening will likely make me feel better. I cannot guarantee this Sunday will be the best race of my life, or even in the top ten. What I can guarantee is that I will try my hardest. I will strive to endure and cross that finish line. And no matter what, I hope to become a marathoner.

Day of the Week Cross Training Miles Run
Monday, 4/25/16 Rest Rest
Tuesday, 4/26/16 Yoga Sculpt 3.1 mile run
Wednesday, 4/27/16 Yoga Sculpt 3.14 mile run
Thursday, 4/28/16 TIU Band Workout, TIU String Bikini, Zumba N/A
Friday, 4/29/16 N/A 3.2 mile run
Saturday, 4/30/16 N/A 3.2 mile run
Sunday, 5/1/16 Yoga Sculpt 6.2 mile run
Monday, 5/2/16 Yoga Sculpt N/A
Tuesday, 5/3/16 Yoga Sculpt 4.1 mile run
Wednesday, 5/4/16 N/A 4.17 mile run
Thursday, 5/5/16 Zumba 3.64 mile run
Friday, 5/6/16 Rest Rest
Saturday, 5/7/16 N/A 6.7 mile run
Sunday, 5/8/16 N/A 9.94 mile run

Anyone else running a marathon this weekend? Any recommendations for a first time marathoner? What do you do to prepare for race day? What is your favorite post-marathon meal (can you tell I am always hungry?)?

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.

Colfax Half Marathon Race Recap

A month ago I took part in my first ever Colfax Half Marathon.  The Colfax race series is an institution in the state of Colorado, and has apparently been featured in Runner’s World.  Other than the BolderBoulder, it’s the one “local” race that has really become nationally known.  I had been hearing about it since joining the running community three years ago, but hadn’t thought to sign up until this year.  The Colfax has five different options for distances and participation: a 5K, 10-miler, half marathon, full marathon, or team relay.  I still have not committed myself to the idea of a full marathon, so I happily signed up for the half.

The weekend of the race was a really exciting weekend – my boss graduated from CU Denver with her MPA (the same degree I have) and I could not have been more proud!  I rose early Saturday

What a gorgeous setting in which to graduate.
What a gorgeous setting in which to graduate.

morning to attend graduation and volunteer for commencement services.  Commencement is truly one of the most exciting days on any college campus – the air is thick with accomplishment, promise, and aspirations for the future.  It was the perfect day and I was thrilled to be a part of the day.

Coolest race expo venue ever!
Coolest race expo venue ever!

After graduation, I drove out to Denver’s air and space museum (who knew they had one??), Wings Over the Rockies in east Denver for packet pickup. This was BY FAR the coolest location for packet pickup.  You entered and immediately picked up your bib and race reminder information, then the expo led participants through the massive hanger lined with planes from all eras.  It was incredible.  My aeronautics-loving husband would have loved this place but I graciously offered to pick up both of our packets on my way home.

I stopped by a few booths, including the Run Colorado store (I got the hubs a shirt that read “Run Commando” which he and I both got a kick out of), Bani Bands for some adorable headbands, and a local yoga mat vendor which infuses their mats with essential oils – I got a gorgeous purple mat that smells like lavender!  At the end of the expo, I picked up our tech shirts and Colfax 13.1 stickers, and headed back home.

The next morning arrived terribly early. Our race start was 6:45am, but it was recommended we park by 6am… oof.  Because we couldn’t cross Colfax (I mean, it is called the Colfax for a reason), we parked on the south side of Colfax, about a 15 minute walk to City Park.  Denver has apparently had a monsoon season as of recently, so Saturday and Sunday were the first nice days in over two weeks.  It was definitely a blessing, because running 13.1 in the rain isn’t ideal… I have already done that once before.

Pre-race smiles all around!
Pre-race smiles all around!

We made our way over to the far edge of the park near the Natural History museum for the starting line. On our way, we passed a large group of marathoners making their way out of City Park and turning west onto Colfax – that was really exciting to see, but also mildly tiring knowing how much further they were going than I.  We were randomly placed into corral N, although we were never asked to provide qualifying times so I am not sure how these corrals were sorted.  The first group started at 6:45am on the dot, but by the time it got to our corral, we’d been waiting over 20 minutes, with no space to stretch, and standing on cold pavement.  Starting a run cold isn’t really fun, but you persist!

Once we finally got going, we looped around City Park, and headed north toward the entrance to the Denver Zoo.  I can’t lie, this is one of the reasons I was most

And so we run!
And so we run!

excited for this race – you get to run through the zoo!  The volunteers held amazing zoo-related signs throughout the zoo, as we snaked around the winding pathways.  It was a little tough this early on in the race, as people were still fairly clumped together, but we got to see camels, flamingos, an elephant, and a sleepy cheetah, along with a number of other animals lazily waking up before the day’s excitement.  Once we headed out the facility entrance, we ran east toward the Natural Science Museum, and looped in front of the front doors.  Finally the race made its’ way onto Montview Blvd., which is where we would spend the majority of the time running.  While the marathoners were heading west towards Sports Authority Field at Bronco’s Stadium, we were heading towards the Aurora Fire Station.  After about 3 miles on Montview, a fairly flat, not overly exciting road, we turned right before hitting Havana and loopped into the fire station.  Fire fighters and EMTs were waiting there to cheer us on – coming through the other side of the station was an awesome backdrop of the Colorado flag and photographers waiting to shoot.  You know I posed for this one.

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What a good spot to pose – almost like they planned it that way…
This was a good way to do an out and back, and at least I can say I ran on Colfax!
This was a good way to do an out and back, and at least I can say I ran on Colfax!
This is my intense face.
This is my intense face.

Shortly afterwards was a Clif gel shot station, water, and a line of policemen and women cheering and clapping.  Finally, we emerged onto Colfax – the entire race series’ namesake!  Colfax was wide open, and people stopped along the road to cheer and encourage runners.  It was nearly 9 miles in at this point, and the time of the race when you need a little more pep in your step, so the enthusiasm was truly welcome.  After a good stint heading west on Colfax, we turned right and made our way onto 17th Avenue.  Shade was seriously needed because the day was warming up and I hate disrobing in the middle of a race.  On 17th, you pass by gorgeous, stately homes, families in their yards with sweet signs, half dressed firemen from the Denver Fire Fighters Calendar, and a whole lot of shade.  It was the best last 3 miles a girl could have hoped for.  This stretch takes you all the way back to City Park.  Coming up on the park was so exciting. You turn right and follow the loop around the western edge of the lake, hurtling towards the finish line, with the marathoners finishing next to you.  I *barely* had a half marathon PR, literally by 6 seconds, and felt amazing running through that finish line.  Would I do this one again?  Heck yes I would!

Don't you love that feeling of victory?
Don’t you love that feeling of victory?
Another half in the books!
Another half in the books!

The hubs met me at the finish line, and we waited in the amazing post-race vendor area to find a friend who had participated in the relay of the marathon.  It was a gorgeous day, and a great way to start the summer.  I am so lucky to live in such an amazing city!

Wahoo!
Wahoo! Gotta love some bling! And it spins!

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.

giphy
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”?