Post Vacation… Vacation? UK Trip Part I

You know that feeling you get after an incredible, phenomenal, epic vacation?  It’s like a punch in the gut type of sensation when you return to reality (especially as an adult… with responsibilities).  Well I am trying my hardest to avoid that feeling by following up my adventures through the British Isles (and Scotland is still part of the UK!) with a mini mountain retreat.  This afternoon the hubby and I will be making the drive up to Vail to stay with our friends and their folks (thank you, Betsy!) for a relaxing little getaway weekend.  I adore Colorado in the “fall,” which is really like a two week whirlwind of beauty in this state, so I finally really get to take advantage of it!

I do feel that I should finally comment about the amazing holiday the hubs and I were able to take in England and Scotland.  About six years ago I had the wonderful opportunity to study abroad with ten other students in the United Kingdom.  We lived in London, but traveled to numerous other parts of the country over a month long excursion.  My husband has not really left the country, except to go to Canada and Turks and Caicos (for Mrs. BakeNBurn’s wedding!), so for years we have been planning this trip to the UK, knowing it’d be a great gateway to European travel.  Being the anglophile I am, I could not wait.

We left on Saturday, August 30th to begin our 14 hour journey to London.  We flew from Denver to Dulles, outside of Washington DC, and then took a red-eye to Heathrow.  We arrived in London around 10am local time (after both of our flights arrived EARLY – when does that happen??), after maybe 2 hours of sleep… but we gathered ourselves, made our way to our charming hotel north of Hyde Park, cleaned up and hit the London streets.  We walked first through Hyde Park southeast toward Buckingham Palace.  Of course we took some obligatory photos of the palace and the guards.  We then followed the Princess Diana Memorial path towards Westminster Abbey and the Westminster Palace (the Parliament building).  We crossed the Thames and meandered along the bank for some time through a festival taking place, then crossed back over into Charring Cross, worked our way to Trafalgar Square, and stopped for a quick bite at one of my favorite chains, Pret a Manger (yum!).  We had walked this whole way, got our bearings, and appreciated the absolute gorgeousness of the day.

2013-04-19 16.34.51
Gates to Buckingham Palace.
Necessary photo op in a red telephone booth!
Necessary photo op in a red telephone booth!
Big Ben and the Queen's Clock Tower.
Big Ben and the Queen’s Clock Tower.
Beautiful day wandering around the Parliament building.
Beautiful day wandering around the Parliament building.
The ever-beautiful Westminster Abbey!
The ever-beautiful Westminster Abbey!

We ended the day by taking the Tube back to Paddington, one of the two conveniently located Tube stops, and had a filling pub dinner at the Pride of Paddington.  Of course I ordered fish and chips and my first Bulmers of the trip.  Let me tell you, the ciders of America will never compare, even the imported Magners and Strongbow are bottled in the US, and the essence of true cider is lost.  I will step off my soap box, but just know, if you go to the UK and want a great cider, Bulmers is a true delight.

Really, try a Bulmers.  SO GOOD.
Really, try a Bulmers. SO GOOD.

The next day we arose, after a lengthy night’s sleep, to our only rainy day of the entire trip.  We decided it was the perfect morning to spend at the British Museum.  We took the Tube to Tottenham Court Road and wandered towards the

Who doesn't love a rainy day at the British Museum?
Who doesn’t love a rainy day at the British Museum?

beautiful wrought iron gates of the museum entrance.  We made our way through ancient Greece and Rome, ancient Egypt and Cleopatra, and ancient China, with a good long look at the Rosetta Stone and the Pantheon freezes.  Occupying much of the morning, we found a quaint little eatery, Salt and Pepper, to grab a sandwich and cup of tea.  I realized the Brits love sandwiches and toast.  I haven’t had that much bread in a long time.

 

Glass ceiling surrounding the round reading room.
Glass ceiling surrounding the round reading room.
Freeze from the Pantheon in Greece.
Freeze from the Pantheon in Greece.
The incredible Rosetta Stone.
The incredible Rosetta Stone.
Moai!!
Moai!!

That evening we had dinner at a restaurant recommended by the friends we are visiting this weekend: The Gay Hussar.  It’s a tiny, obscure, and nondescript Hungarian restaurant on Greek Street full of history, political drama, and some of the best caricatures I have ever seen!  After an incredibly delicious dinner, we strolled down the street to the Queen’s Theatre for a show of Les Miserables.  Overall, it was a fantastic start to our trip.

The hubby's first live performance of Les Mis!
The hubby’s first live performance of Les Mis!

On that note, I must ready myself for the weekend ahead.  I anticipate a lot of R&R mixed with hiking, running, and enjoyment of this beautiful state in which I live.  Cheers!

 

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?)?

Yoga on the Rocks and a Beautiful Saturday Hike

I have never experienced anything quite like Yoga on the Rocks.  That one hour of my life was so serene, so peaceful, and

Watching the sunrise over Red Rocks - so surreal!
Watching the sunrise over Red Rocks – so surreal!

yet incredibly fulfilling all at once.  I had initially heard about Yoga on the Rocks from the instructor of LacyFit, Amy Lacy.  The program is put on by Core Power Yoga and co-sponsored by Whole Foods (excellent combination).  Amy had participated with a group of friends at the end of July.  The pictures she posted were incredible!  Thousands of people from all over Colorado, and beyond, participating in a massive outdoor group yoga session, while the sun bathes you in light on the steps of Red Rocks… yes please!  Personally I am not a huge yogi, but I have done a few videos at home and sessions with friends.  This type of experience, however, was completely up my alley.

After learning there were three classes left for the summer, I checked

So grateful for my yogi friends!
So grateful for my yogi friends!  Tessa is on my left and Ade on my right.

my calendar and called my two main yogi friends, Ade and Tessa.  Ade and I bonded over joblessness and hiking after moving to Boulder, Colorado post-completion of our respective graduate programs.  Tessa is my longtime friend from high school who initially moved to Colorado shortly after I did, then spent two years in Istanbul, Turkey, and just moved back to Denver this July!  It was meant to be, we were all free on August 16th!

Knowing I would have to awaken prior to the sun, I figured this would be a good opportunity to seize the day, and asked if the ladies would also like to join me for a hike around Red Rocks after yoga.  Thankfully they were on board, so we had a whole morning of stunning scenery and physical fitness ahead of us.

Red Rocks is about 25 minutes southwest of Denver proper, nestled in the foothills of Morrison.  These naturally occurring jagged red rocks quite literally set the stage for an outdoor amphitheater.  There’s really nothing quite like it!  I remember visiting Red Rocks on my very first trip to Colorado in 2007.  Little did I know then that I would live a short drive away someday.

I picked up Tessa early that morning and Ade drove down from Boulder and met

Prepping for our morning yoga session!
Prepping for our morning yoga session!

us at the amphitheater.  The sun was just peeking above the stage and thousands of yogis were laying out mats, stretching, and taking pictures of our surreal surroundings.  The early goers got free Core Power Yoga mats and awesome bright orange sunglasses.  Obviously we all put those on immediately.  People-watching was awesome, mostly for the incredible yoga pants all over the place.  The program started just after 7:00am, and it was truly a perfect morning: barely a cloud in the bright blue sky, light breeze, and sunny.  It was the best Saturday morning I have had in a long time.

There's definitely nothing quite like it!
There’s definitely nothing quite like it!
The one artsy shot we had to get - stretching it out after a great class!
The one artsy shot we had to get – stretching it out after a great class!

Although not the most challenging yoga class, it was designed for yogis of all strengths and skill levels (good for a novice like me!).  The poses focused all areas of the body, and the instructor was very cognizant of the wide array of experience throughout the amphitheater.  She had us repeating throughout the class, “Where are you?  Red Rocks!  What are you?  Alive!”  At first it seemed like a silly chant, but looking around, it meant so much more.  Very few people in the world get the chance to do this, and what a perfect day and way to celebrate just being alive.

At the end of the class, Whole Foods stations were located at the top of the

This was the perfect post-yoga hiking trail - not too tough with awesome views!
This was the perfect post-yoga hiking trail – not too tough with awesome views!

amphitheater with fabulous giveaways and snacks.  We grabbed some vitamins, protein milk, granola and yogurt, Justin’s nut butters, and some snack bars from Cascadian Farms and Lara Bar.  We knew we needed some sustenance before heading off on our hike.  After a bit of wait getting out of the parking lot, we made the 3 minute drive over to the parking lot for the entrance to Matthews Winters Park.

Hiking up the Red Rocks trail.
Hiking up the Red Rocks trail.
Picture perfect day!
Picture perfect day!
All I could say was, "Wow!" View from the top of Morrison Slide trail.
All I could say was, “Wow!” View from the top of Morrison Slide trail.
A successful day all around.
A successful day all around.
I still can't get over these views!
I still can’t get over these views!

We started on the trail which takes you up and over some rolling hills, very un-Colorado like, towards the Red Rocks trail.  This eventually connects with the Morrison Slide trail, which boasts incredible views of Red Rocks and the valley beyond.  The sky was so clear we could see nearly all the way to Pikes Peak.  We connected back to the Red Rocks trail and took that back to the parking lot.  We were done with our morning activities by 11:15am, and at that point, it was time for tacos!  Much like Pirate Bobcat, I live for tacos, so Tessa and I ventured in the Highlands for fajita tacos at Patzcuaro’s.  So good.  Needless to say, it was an all-around perfect day!

Yup, pretty much amazing.
Yup, pretty much amazing.

Although I don’t have anything quite as exciting planned this weekend, I will be packing for my trip to London and Edinburgh.  I leave in TEN days and absolutely cannot wait.  As much as I love Colorado, I adore the UK!

Have you tried a sunrise yoga – what did you think?  Do you love to rise early on weekends and seize the day?  Any fun post-summer travel plans?

Waffle Doughnuts and August Adventures

I was not really aware, not being an expert in the field of doughnut creation, that such a thing could exist: waffle doughnuts.

Seriously - first cronuts, now wonuts?  Brilliant!
Seriously – first cronuts, now wonuts? Brilliant!

Mind blown. Tomorrow is my boss’ birthday so we celebrated today, and thankfully my cleanse is coming to an end. I may have partaken in the deliciousness. If you haven’t tried them, you should, preferably with chocolate icing. What can I say? I have a sweet tooth!

Other than the delightful world of doughnuts, August is shaping up to be a pretty fantastic and adventurous month! Last weekend the hubs and I had the pleasure of hosting some of our dearest friends from Washington D.C., Alex and Colleen. They flew out for a whirlwind of a weekend trip and we were up to the challenge. They arrived late last Friday evening, so we decided to have a relaxing evening in so we could rise early on Saturday and head into the mountains for a quick day trip. If you live along the Front Range and have attempted the journey up I-70 this summer, you know what a bear it’s been to get past Idaho Springs. Given the long winter months in the mountains, all road construction takes place in a short window, and a lot needs to be completed in a limited amount of time. In other words, it was slow going, but we finally arrived in Vail just before 11:30am. We wandered around the town a bit, basking in the mountain air and watching the Keen Kids Adventure Race (it was a pretty epic ordeal). The race was a series of obstacles, starting with a climbing wall, followed by a bike race, and ending with an inner tube race along Gore Creek. I cannot deny that it looked like so much fun. And because it’s Colorado, these kids were fiercely fit and very competitive.

Beautiful views from the Mountain Standard patio!
Beautiful views from the Mountain Standard patio!  The race is in full swing.

We had lunch along the creek, with full view of the festivities, at a fantastic restaurant called Mountain Standard. By 12:15pm the place was packed – a good sign in my book! We had a light lunch, mine consisting of a fantastic caprese salad with homemade ricotta and fried polenta “breadcrumbs”. It was delish! If you find your way to Vail, it’s a definite must, especially in the summertime.

After lunch we stopped by my all-time favorite Christmas shop (let’s be honest, Vail looks like an eternal Christmas card), The Gilded Spruce. They provide some incredible ornaments made in Colorado, as well as European treasures. I was born in Germany, so I grew up with traditional German Christmas ornaments, including handmade wooden German pyramids/windmills and smokers. This shop definitely takes me back to my childhood, and I love being transported to a Christmassy winter wonderland! Better still, I love visiting the shop to see my friend Peter’s mother, Betsy. Although I wasn’t sure if she’d be working that day, I had to stop in. Luckily she was there and the shop was quiet, so we were able to catch up and introduce our friends. The hubs and I will be returning to Vail in months’ time with our friends Peter and Ade, and Betsy is kind enough to put us up!

Great day with friends and the hubby in my favorite mountain village!
Great day with friends and the hubby in my favorite mountain village!
Picture perfect day in the mountains!
Picture perfect day in the mountains!
This view needs no filter.
This view needs no filter.

After the Gilded Spruce, we wandered the town a bit more, checked out some shops, and walked by the gondola and the finish line of the kids’ race. The day was beautiful, and the mountains are utterly peaceful. We left around 3:00pm so we could get back with enough time to relax before dinner. The hubs made some signature cocktails before we got an easy dinner nearby. The next day the boys played golf, while Colleen and I got in some serious pool time.

The hubs got the Fort's Game Plate, complete with bison, elk and quail!
The hubs got the Fort’s Game Plate, complete with bison, elk and quail! 

That evening we went to dinner at the Fort. I have been hearing about this place since moving to Colorado, and although the hubs had been before, it had been many years. The Fort is a Colorado staple: it serves dishes more common to the region, including bison, elk, quail, and the occasional rattlesnake. The structure itself it a replica of Bent’s Fort, an old fur trading fort built in 1833, constructed by a family seeking the true western experience nestled in the foothills outside of Denver. Now it is a culinary collaboration of Native American and southwestern flavors, and boy is it good! The service is spectacular, the food awesome, and the portions are insane. We left with tons of leftovers and full stomachs. If you visit Denver anytime soon, you simply must go to the Fort.

Monday morning we dropped off our friends at the airport bright and early, and the rest of this week has been a blur. I can’t believe it’s Friday already! Last night after an awesome Zumba class I went to the Matador in the Highlands. I had recently read about the incredible Jalapeno Cucumber Margaritas from Chocolate Covered Race Medals, and thankfully some of my local sorority sisters had planned a happy hour there for Thursday. They did not disappoint whatsoever. I could have had way more than two, but thankfully I did not so I could get home safe and sound. I can’t wait to take the hubs and get some grub (we just munched on an awesome plate of nachos). Everything there looked awesome.

Tonight the hubs and I are hosting some of our friends for a couples date night at our house. They are thrilled as they have

I cannot wait for Yoga on the Rocks - watching the sun rise over Red Rocks while doing yoga, yes please!
I cannot wait for Yoga on the Rocks – watching the sun rise over Red Rocks while doing yoga, yes please!

two adorable little daughters, ages 3 months and 2 years. My hubby has some awesome brined grilled chicken, corn on the cob, sweet potato fries and arugula salad planned, and I will work on a sweet treat for dessert. Tomorrow morning I am rising before 6:00am so I can meet up with two of my gal pals for Yoga on the Rocks. Red Rocks is a stunning outdoor amphitheater carved into the red rock face of the foothills by Morrison. Starting at 7:00am during most Saturdays in the summer, they host a giant yoga class with people and their mats lining the many rows of seating all the way down to the stage. I cannot wait! Afterwards we plan on doing a short 4 mile hike nearby.

The most exciting part of this month is my countdown to London and Edinburgh!! The hubs and I leave in two weeks’ time for an incredible adventure, and it’s all I can do to make it through the day without wanting to drive to the airport and leave right now! Have a great weekend everyone – make it an adventurous one!

Any amazing weekend plans in your future?  Have you ever done a mass yoga class – what was it like?  Where is your favorite day trip?

Fridays are Meant for Favorites

Oh happy day, it’s Friday Favorites!  Which in essence means it’s Friday, and therefore implies it is practically the weekend!  So let’s talk favorites.

  1.  Sparkly Soul Headbands

I discovered Sparkly Soul headbands while working my way through the enormity that is the Run Disney Expo.  I found their booth, and immediately saw two things that grabbed my attention: headbands and sparkles.  Long ago I admitted my love for headbands and my saddening realization that they would not be a staple in my wardrobe in Colorado.  These running headbands are awesome – they don’t slip and slide, they don’t cause headaches, and they add a little je ne sais quoi!  I have worn them during multiple races and cannot get enough.  I ordered their red, white and blue stars version for the Liberty Run 4 Miler on the 4th of July!  Now through the 4th you can receive 25% off any headband with the words Red, White and/or Blue in the description with coupon code “USA”.  Enjoy!

My "crowning" glory, if you will, for the Liberty Run 4-Miler!
My “crowning” glory, if you will, for the Liberty Run 4-Miler! Source
  1. StrideBox!

My friend and fellow blogger, the Bake N’ Burn Bombshell, introduced me to the concept in April and I received my first box this month!  If you’ve seen ads for the BarkBox, a monthly box of goodies for dogs, this is essentially the same thing for runners!  Brilliant!  For about $15 a month, it introduces you to new products, allows you to explore different accessories and companies, and helps you find other options for fuel, apparel, training sessions and workouts.  This month’s box came with a number of great goodies, including a chocolate peanut butter PureFit bar (which I ate before LACYFit yesterday), Muscle Milk Energy Chews (which I plan to try this weekend on my long run), Water Sensations water infusions, and Paper Shower body wipes (I think these will be awesome to save for post-Disney Wine and Dine Half Marathon!).  Each month provides something different, and so far, I am pumped and can’t wait for July’s delivery!

Loving my monthly delivery of StrideBox goodies!
Loving my monthly delivery of StrideBox goodies!
  1. Chap Ice Revo

I admit, I am super late to the chapstick sphere club, but after getting a free Chap Ice Revo ball from CU Denver, I am obsessed!  This minty, moisturizing ball of awesome is constantly in my purse and is so refreshing.  Let’s be honest, the sphere is just too fun.  I will branch out to eos soon, but I am also a plane old chaptstick kind of girl sometimes.  It’s hard to go wrong.

I have the mint version, which is so refreshing and tingly on my lips!
I have the mint version, which is so refreshing and tingly on my lips!
  1. Benefit Chacha Tint

I am one of those women who wears “race makeup.”  I protect my face with SPF BB Cream, throw on some waterproof mascara, obviously apply some handy Chap Ice Revo, and finish with Benefit Chacha Cheek Tint.  This tint can be used for both lips and cheeks (I just use it for cheeks), and it the absolute perfect sunny glow.  I started wearing it on a daily basis, and not only does it last, but it looks so natural.  I was not blessed with a natural flush, so I have always relied on blushes.  This blush is by far my favorite.  Especially once I get to my full summer tan, it still pops, but in a subtle, natural, just back-from-the-beach kind of way.

I may need to invest in the chacha balm too!
I may need to invest in the chacha balm too!
  1.  Laura Mercier Foundation Primer Radiance Bronze

I’ve been on a new makeup trying kick of late, and am all about samples to find new products to purchase (who doesn’t love the Sephora samples?).  I discovered this product in this very way, and now have no idea what I did before it.  This makeup primer does double duty: it keeps your makeup in place and lasting from day to night, and it also provides a touch of bronzey glow to amp up your summertime look.  What more could you ask for?  I have been attempting a looks-like-less is more routine, starting with this primer, applying some SPF CC cream, then the Benefit Chacha Tint, along with summery eyeshadow and some plumping mascara.  Beachy and casual, but still polished.

Amazing addition to my daily makeup routine!
Amazing addition to my daily makeup routine!

I hope you enjoy these favorites and give some of them a try (if you haven’t already!).  This weekend I am due for a long run with the hubby, a delectable anniversary dinner at Flagstaff House in Boulder (the best views in town!), and some serious pool time.  Have a great weekend everyone!

Have you tried any of these products or companies – what did you think?  Any fun plans for the weekend?  Please tell me I am not the only one with raceday makeup routines, right?

 

How I Almost Died and a Celebratory Weekend

Last week I decided to try out my friend Amy’s fitness class, LacyFit!  I know, two Amys in one space can get rather confusing, but she is a fabulous representation of the name, in my opinion.  I didn’t quite know what I was in for, but had heard about the class from my dear friend Danielle.  I have been wanting to incorporate more full-body workouts into my routine, particularly to focus on my core and my arms.  My legs get plenty of attention between running and the elliptical, but I very often neglect my arms.  In reading the class description on the LacyFit website, it didn’t sound too daunting…

“The toning circuits focus on a specific muscle group: arms, legs & abs. Light weights are used in the toning circuits to achieve high repetition, so your muscles become long and lean, rather than bulky. After each toning circuit, there is a cardio burst which is what keeps your heart rate elevated for the entire workout, getting you into the fat burning zone. The cardio bursts are intense, but short, so you can get thought it!”

Amy, our fearless leader (shown with the braids), is an incredibly inspiring instructor!
Amy, our fearless leader (shown with the braids), is an incredibly inspiring instructor! Source

The class incorporates barre, boot camp, pilates and a whole lot of fun (and shared groans and laughter), which is just what I had been looking for.  I thought I was in pretty good shape, definitely the best shape I have ever been in.  I was wrong, terribly wrong.

The class I attended took place in Denver’s Washington Park, more commonly referred to as Wash Park.  We began the class with a four minute warm-up run around a portion of the park.  No problem, I thought to myself, I can totally handle this.  We followed-up the run with barre-style leg circuits.  I wasn’t too worried about that, and although tough on the thighs, I can handle a little extra leg strengthening.  After the first circuit we did modified mountain climbers for 30 seconds followed by a one minute sprint.  Easy peasy.

The next circuit continued leg work, with a cardio burst of actual mountain climbers and another sprint.  Next we focused on our arms, using 3 pound hand weights, while engaging our core during some exercises.  I really enjoyed this section, as it’s an area I’ve wanted to improve.  Although I didn’t master the push up, I felt pretty confident with the rest of the exercises.  After the next cardio burst we began our abs circuit.  I thought I was going to die, and that I was indeed the weakest human being on the planet.  I have never had much issue with my core, and didn’t think much of my abs.  While I am not toned beyond belief with chiseled abs, I have always been pretty satisfied with my core.  In other words, I don’t have a 6-pack but I am comfortable in a bikini.  However, I apparently have no strength in my core and struggled through the last two circuits.  And I mean I really struggled…

All I want are some B Spears abs... I will have to work for it.
All I want are some B Spears abs… I will have to work for it. Source

I made it through, and I am definitely motivated to keep going.  Amy did an amazing job pushing us on, pumping us up, and making sure we knew why we were doing each exercise.  She explained the benefit of this workout format, how each movement contributed to our strength and our muscles, and made sure we had fun all the way through.  I cannot wait to go again this Thursday.  As she mentioned, each class is different, so you never get into a “routine.”  My goal is to be able to complete the core circuits easily (maybe not perfectly, but easily) by the time this summer is over.

To say that I could still feel my abs through the weekend would be putting it lightly.  It hurt to laugh.  Getting out of bed in the morning was an actual struggle, and not just because I was sleepy.  Hats off to fitness instructors – I dream to have your core strength one day.  And to not feel pressure every time I give a good chuckle.

Fabulously girly dinner for Danielle's birthday!
Fabulously girly dinner for Danielle’s birthday!

This weekend was all about celebrations!  Friday night I spent the evening with some amazing ladies celebrating my friend Danielle’s birthday.  We went to the 9th Door in Denver, a fancy tapas restaurant with a chic, mysterious vibe.  We all had a great time over tapas and drinks.  Danielle’s weekend was full of surprises, as planned by her boyfriend Scott (our Foodie Friday pals!).  She and Scott spent the day up in Boulder, doing all of her favorite things.  The day was topped off with AN ENGAGEMENT!!!  I am so incredibly excited for them both and can’t wait to celebrate with them soon.

Saturday, the longest day of the year, was my grandmother’s 92nd birthday.  She is one tough lady, and I only wish I could have been home to celebrate it with her.  On Sunday my parents celebrated their fortieth wedding anniversary in New York City.  I know they’re having a blast, and can’t wait to hear all about it.  Tomorrow will be another big day: the hubs and I will be celebrating our third wedding anniversary.  How time flies!  I cannot believe it’s been three years already, and that come July, we’ll have lived in Colorado that

Happy anniversary to my amazing parents!
Happy anniversary to my amazing parents!

long.  It’s been an incredibly beautiful whirlwind of a journey together, and I am so eternally grateful for all the blessings I’ve experienced in my life.  Have a great week everybody!

 

Have you ever taken a boot camp style class?  What do you think about them?  Any big celebrations in store this week?  Is anyone else bummed that our days are now getting shorter? #summersolsticeproblems

 

Runbelievable BolderBOULDER and Jam-Packed Weekend

Well I feel ashamed I have not yet recounted the results of the BolderBOULDER yet.  It’s been nearly three weeks… but a fun and crazy three weeks it’s been.  After Samantha, aka Miss Bakenburn, and her hubby departed Colorado, the hubs and I hosted another guest, had an amazing weekend trip to Vegas, and continued preparing for another 10K.  I’ve decided our home is much more like a bed and breakfast than a home, which is perfect because I love being the hostess with mostest!

But back to the BolderBOULDER… I am easily distracted on Fridays.  This is honestly one of my favorite running events.  It is so much more

We were looking rather Patriotic ourselves!
We were looking rather Patriotic ourselves!

than just a race.  The BolderBOULDER, or BB for short, is a massive celebration for Memorial Day.  It honors our nation’s Veterans with ROTC running units, military personnel parachuting into the CU Boulder stadium, and an incredible tribute at the very end.  Even if you don’t run the race, watching the excitement and participating in the spectacle are well worth it.  50,000 people participate each year, so it’s a pretty big event!

Our day began at 6:00am, when we left for Boulder.  Typically it is a 45 minute drive from my home south of Denver to Boulder.  Given the enormity of the BB, I gave myself plenty of time.  We hit some unnecessary traffic due to a cop car on the side of the highway, but made it to the parking garage on CU Boulder’s campus by 7:30am.  Our wave, FL (one of nearly 100 waves), was set to depart at 7:39:50am, but after the walk to the start line and stop at the bathroom, we arrived 5 minutes late.  Luckily you can always start in a later wave than your assigned one, and so we were off with group GA!

Before starting the BolderBOULDER, on the way to our start wave!
Before starting the BolderBOULDER, on the way to our start wave!
We found the start line- ready to go!
We found the start line- ready to go!

We started the race at a good, easy pace, taking in the sights and sounds.  There are bands and performers located all throughout the course.  Seriously though, there are 36 groups performing over 6.2 miles – that’s pretty amazing!  Each kilometer and mile are marked, including the highest point of the race, Casey Hill, at 5,391 feet located just after mile marker 4.  We ran fairly steady with our friends until just about mile 3.  Elevation can be a beast when you aren’t used to it, and because you can’t “see” elevation, you don’t really think about it until it is hard to breath.  On a vacation to Colorado before moving here, I experienced elevation sickness, and I felt absolutely horrid.  We didn’t want them to go through that mid-race.  At that point the hubs and I went on ahead so our friends could get into a comfortable rhythm and ease their pace a bit.

We really enjoyed the race this year!  We had a bit more practice this time around!
We really enjoyed the race this year! We had a bit more practice this time around!
Aren't our ensembles super cute?
Aren’t our ensembles super cute?

The hubs and I ran all the way through to the finish, constantly commenting on how much easier it was this year.  Last year’s BB was our very

You definitely feel like a rockstar crossing the finish line!
You definitely feel like a rockstar crossing the finish line!

first race, after only discovering running 3 months prior (and starting a running career at altitude no less)!  While we had a blast, it wasn’t easy.  This year, however, was a breeze.  We were able to enjoy the belly dancers, local bands, Irish Step Dancers, the group of fiddlers, the cupcake break, doritos, and slip-n-slides so much more.

By far, the best part of the race is the end.  You run up Folsom Road into the side entrance of the CU Boulder stadium, then loop ¾ of the way around the stadium with spectators and completed runners cheering you on.  It’s a barrage of sound, excitement, and glory.  In that moment, you feel like a pro!  Needless to say, the hubs and I locked hands and sprinted through the finish line.  After crossing, you work your way through perfectly calculated post-race check-points: first timing tag removal and finisher photos, then Gatorade and water, and finally lunches in bright green lunch bags and beers for those of age.  You emerge from the stadium into an impressive post-race expo with local and big-name vendors scattering the campus.

Yeah, we were that couple - holding hands through the finish line!
Yeah, we were that couple – holding hands through the finish line!

After meeting up with Samantha and her hubby, we wandered the Expo for a bit and then decided to head back to Denver for a delicious barbeque and cocktails.  Ultimately it was the perfect Memorial Day weekend, and I cannot wait to run it again next year!

What an awesome accomplishment!!
What an awesome accomplishment!!

As I mentioned, the very next week one of my hubby’s dearest friends from high school and college came to stay for a few days before throwing his other friend’s camping bachelor party.  It was a great visit, and was the perfect way to kick off my birthday week!  He arrived on that Wednesday and we went to Barolo Grill, an incredible Italian restaurant nestled in the Cherry Creek district of Denver.  What makes this restaurant so phenomenal is the dedicated wait staff.  Each year, the restaurant sends its staff, and of course chefs and line cooks, to Italy to learn more about the cuisine, the wine, and the culture of food in Tuscany (makes me want to be a waitress again!).  The service is excellent, the food divine, and I got an amazing little treat for my birthday.  What can I say?  I don’t celebrate the day, I celebrate the month!  The next month we went to my favorite steak house of all time, Del Frisco’s, home of the best filet Oscar and the VIP – Svedka Clementine Vodka infused with fresh Hawaiian pineapple. INCREDIBLE.  May and June are turning into some amazing months for friends, fun and food!

This weekend marks 2 big things: Father’s Day and the US Open (golf of course people).  The hubs began watching the first round yesterday, and is so thrilled for the weekend.  I see gin and tonics in our future… But besides that, the hubs and I are running the Denver Father’s Day 10K this weekend!  We wanted to get a 10K in the books together, and as it is also puppy daddy day, we thought it’d be fun to do something together that we both enjoy.  This race will take us through north Denver, in the Stapleton area.  It’s looking like it’ll be a perfect weather day – mid-80’s, partly cloudy, and a light breeze!

Any plans for the weekend and Father’s Day?  Have you ever run the BolderBoulder – what did you think?  Are you going to watch the US Open?  Any predictions on the victor?