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

Sea, Sand and Surf: A Runner’s Dream Come True

Although I have been running for over three years, the first time I ran on a beach was this time last month.  I kid you not!  Granted, that probably isn’t terribly shocking given I live in a land-locked state surrounded by vast plains and towering mountains, but still.  It’s always been a dream of mine to run like a majestic horse across the coastline, the sea breeze a refreshing reminder of my seashore surroundings.  Or I imagine it’s like the final scene from “Chariots of Fire” and that epic run along the beach towards certain victory.

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How magnificent! Source

But in reality I imagine my shoreline stroll looks something more like this…

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I am as graceful as bird, I’m sure… Source

Just maybe I would look like the babes of “Baywatch,” albeit minus the flowing hair, sense of urgency, and incredibly tanned and toned body.

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A girl can dream. Source

I am pretty certain everything looks better in slow motion.  And the perfect camera angle. But I digress.

Here’s what I do know, running on sand is challenging given the friction and lack of stability when you push-off.  It’s also supposed to be a really good work out. The looser the sand, the harder the workout.  According to a study conducted in 1998 by three Belgian scientists, “running on sand requires only 1.15 times more mechanical work than does running on a hard surface at the same speed,” and “running on sand requires 1.6 times more energy expenditure than does running on a hard surface” (Source).  My takeaway? Running on sand is super good for you!

During my trip to Maui this past September, I had grand ideas of spending my

The amazing view from the coastal trail, the Wailea Beach path, that stretched from Wailea's Andaz Resort to the Polo Beach Club. I would run between a 5K and 4 miles each morning.
The amazing view from the coastal trail, the Wailea Beach path, that stretched from Wailea’s Andaz Resort to the Polo Beach Club. I would run between a 5K and 4 miles each morning.

mornings running along the sand, basking in a gorgeous Maui sunrise over Haleakala, enjoying the feel of the whispering wind blowing through the palm trees, and gazing at early morning paddle boarders and surfers as I wander happily past.  The hubs and I have been really great about enjoying opportunities to workout on vacations, and love taking advantage of running in new places.  It was one of my favorite parts about our “routine” we built during our trips to London and Napa Valley, and it’s a great way to see a place as a local might.  The problem with the beaches in Maui, however, is that they aren’t consecutive.  Although incredibly beautiful, you can’t run for very long.  So that dream was somewhat dashed.  Instead, our resort offered sunrise beach yoga and boasted the perfect paved coastal path, the Wailea Beach path, which was supremely stunning and perfect for our morning run.

Sunrise yoga at its finest... it doesn't get much better than this.
Sunrise yoga at its finest… it doesn’t get much better than this. This, however, is the expanse of Wailea beach.
Feeling great after a 13.1 PR! Yay, oxygen and sea level!
Feeling great after a 13.1 PR! Yay, oxygen and sea level!

Thankfully last month I was finally able to make my dream a reality.  The hubs and I, and Rocco the Puppy (Rocco’s first flight!!), boarded a plane for Fort Myers, Florida.  We spent the week with his parents, who live just south in Naples, Florida.  To say I was excited for mid-winter sun and sand would be an understatement.  I am fairly certain that I may be better suited to sand and sun than I am to mountains, but I love Colorado just the same. And better still, a chance to run on the beach!  Florida was the second month of our 18 week training plan for the Colfax Marathon, and we had initially scheduled in a half marathon while we were there.  On Valentine’s Day we were planning to run the Paradise Coast Half Marathon, but due to heavy rains in January and early February, the race was delayed due to flooding along the planned course.  So while we couldn’t

Key lime coladas, besties, and a beach. Too good to be true!
Key lime coladas, besties, and a beach. Too good to be true!

run our intended race, we planned to fit in our own half marathon instead.  On the Tuesday morning during our trip, we ventured out along Vanderbilt Drive, and logged a wonderful (and PR-worthy) 13.1. Running at sea level after serious training has definitely paid off – we ran it in 2:07 and felt wonderful the whole way!  Later that day, one of my besties and fellow blogger, Ms. BakeNBurn and her hubby came to visit for a few days. They happened to be vacationing just a few hours away in Delray, so it was too good an opportunity to pass up!

Beautiful Vanderbilt Beach!
Beautiful Vanderbilt Beach!

With our half out of the way, the rest of the week had me excited for true beach

I could get SO used to this.
I could get SO used to this.

running. Vanderbilt beach is located in north Naples, and is a gorgeous expanse of sand and sea (well, technically it’s the Gulf of Mexico).  We were able to run about 4 miles: 1 mile to the beach, 2 miles along the beach, and one mile back.  After we returned, I was hooked.  Needless to say we repeated this run on Friday and Saturday morning. Running on the sand was great on the joints, but gives you a slightly better workout at the same time.  And better still, no music needed – the waves were our soundtrack.

Do I recommend beach running? YES! Whenever you have the chance, give it a try. It’s both relaxing and invigorating, challenging and easy.  Here are some amazing tips from Competitor.com to help you plan a great beach run during your next seaside escape, or for those of you lucky enough to live next to expansive stretches of beach:

  1. Find the right beach: As I mentioned, not all beaches are created equal.
    Wailea was nearly perfect, just not for beach running.
    Wailea was nearly perfect, just not for beach running.

    The more space you have to work with, the better. Also, take into consideration whether its likely to be a more crowded beach (public access) or not, and the time of day you want to run matters. Earlier is usually better.

  2. The type of sand is also important: Softer sand is harder to run in as there is less friction and resistance. Firmer sand can be easier but less of a challenge.  Find your happy medium, or maybe start on the firmer stuff and see how far from the surf you can handle.
  3. Check tide charts: If you’re seeking more firm sand, make sure you go at
    Take me back...
    Take me back…

    low tide so you have more of the firm sand to work with.

  4. To shoe or not to shoe? I am definitely someone who likes a little more support when I run, but keep in mind beach running can lend itself to either, especially if the sand is softer.  The choice is yours!
  5. Be careful and conscientious
    Sun, water and sand - heaven for the soul, tough on the skin.
    Sun, water and sand – heaven for the soul, tough on the skin.

    of your body: It can be quite a shock to the body to go from pavement to sand.  If you trail run, or run on groomed trails, it may not be too hugely different, but ease into it and try not to push too hard the first time out.

  6. Sun protection is vital: the ocean reflects the sun rays and beaches are usually light on trees, so make sure you wear sunscreen, a hat, sunglasses, etc. to protect your skin and eyes!
  7. The last recommendation is my favorite: skip the music. As I mentioned, the ocean or tide makes for a sensational natural soundtrack. Give yourself a chance to listen and enjoy!

As an aside, here’s how last week stacked up for training – we made it to 17 miles!!

Day of the Week Cross Training Miles Run
Monday, 3/14/16 Yoga Sculpt N/A
Tuesday, 3/15/16 Yoga Sculpt 3.08 mile run
Wednesday, 3/16/16 N/A 4.02 mile run
Thursday, 3/17/16 Zumba N/A
Friday, 3/18/16 N/A 3.61 mile run
Saturday, 3/19/16 Yoga Sculpt N/A
Sunday, 3/20/16 N/A 17 mile run

Have you ever run along a beach? What are your beach run recommendations? What is your favorite running surface? Anyone else always wanted a Baywatch moment?

What Goes Around Comes Around

Everyone loves a comeback story.

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What a difference a year makes.  Imagine all the possibilities and all the experiences that can occur within 365 days.  I guess even more considering we just had a leap day.  This past year was a personal challenge for me, and while we all face challenges on a daily (sometimes even hourly) basis, it was a year that really tested my values and my passions.  I spent much of this past calendar year working two positions at work, and although I am not in a position to complain about financial stability, the gift of employment, and colleagues who helped keep me sane, it was a real struggle.  I am a perfectionist, sometimes to a fault, so not being able to give 100% to either job upset my equilibrium, and ultimately forced me to realize that I had to prioritize.  Unfortunately that meant giving up something I love – writing.  My blogosphere wasn’t the only thing to be left by the wayside, but at that time it wasn’t adding to my life.  Rather, it became a burden, an additional obligation, and that’s never what this platform was meant to be for me.  I knew it wouldn’t be a permanent change, yet I had to reach a point where I had the time to dedicate and the satisfaction of writing and sharing my thoughts and experiences.  Long story short, I think I am back.

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The gorgeous estate at Robert Mondavi. My favorites, however, were Quintessa and Schramsberg!

Many things have changed over the last eight months since my abrupt absence.  I am no longer working two jobs (HOORAY!!!), the hubs and I travelled to Napa, Maui, Las Vegas, Vail, and Naples, Florida, we kept on running (my love of running returned full-force this past summer), I completed 16 races in 2015, and this past weekend I completed my 10th half marathon with That Dam Run Half Marathon (and had my best official time of 2:09:18!!).  I am finally sub 10-minute miles on a regular basis, and running has never felt so good.  The summer was a whirlwind of visitors, yoga, sunshine and celebrating engagements and weddings.  Fall settled in

There's nothing better than a Maui sunset. Absolutely nothing.
There’s nothing better than a Maui sunset. Absolutely nothing.

nicely, and the winter so far has been beautiful and mild.  I’ve been baking like crazy (shocker), and have taken up photography (still a lot to learn but I am loving it so far).  The biggest news, I think, is that I officially signed up for my first ever MARATHON! There, I said it, the “M” word.

It’s been three years since I began my running journey, and I don’t know if I ever thought to myself when I started, “Hey there self, let’s start running so we can eventually run a marathon.”  But what motivated runner doesn’t at least once consider the possibility?  After two of my running inspirations (including my best friend Ms. BakeNBurn) ran the Marine Corps Marathon this past October, I knew it was only a matter of time before I succumbed.  During the month of December I simply couldn’t stop thinking about it, and finally, by mid-January, I committed.  I will be running the Colfax Marathon, Denver’s (currently) only marathon, on May 15th!

Get ready Colfax! This year I am coming for you with full force!
Get ready Colfax! This year I am coming for you with full force!

 

So now comes the fun part, the training plan.  My initial plan was a bit, well, ambitious.  After consulting my experienced friends and reading as much as I could find, I am settled halfway into my 18 week training plan.  My typical week consists of three runs during the week (usually between 3 and 4 miles), three yoga sculpt classes for cross training and leg work, one Zumba class for funsies, and a long weekend run.  I have incorporated a number of races throughout this time to keep me on track and in race day mode.  At this point I have run 15 miles, with 16 planned for this upcoming weekend.  Below are my weekly totals for the first eight weeks of my training plan:

Date (Monday) Week Total Miles
1/11/2016 1 22.23
1/18/2016 2 22.61
1/25/2016 3 23.53
2/1/2016 4 19.19
2/8/2016 5 13.27
2/15/2016 6 36.32
2/22/2016 7 24.27
2/29/2016 8 27.91
Two of the amazing women and runners I met through Instagram - also both signed up for Colfax!
Two of the amazing women and runners I met through Instagram – also both signed up for Colfax!

Over the past few years I have connected with some amazing people through the blog, Instagram, Facebook, etc. and have been lucky enough to not only meet them, but also train with them.  I am constantly amazed with the connections you can make and how those connections are made.  Thankfully there are so many people with a world of experiences, suggestions, and incredible stories to help me along this journey.  My biggest supporter, however, has been my husband. He didn’t even hesitate when I told him I wanted to sign up. He simply looked at me and said, “Well then, sign me up too.”

This guy keeps me going. I am so blessed to have the best hubby and training partner!
This guy keeps me going. I am so blessed to have the best hubby and training partner! (The handsome one, not the beaver!)

So here’s my hope, for myself and for this blog: to keep writing, to chronicle these experiences, to take whatever inspiration I can find, and to keep this party going.  Who’s with me?

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!

Cherry Creek Sneak: The Race That Brought Me Back

I cannot lie to you, the internet, or myself.  The past few months I, for some unknown reason, loathed running.  It seems odd as running was the activity that really brought me into the world of fitness to begin with, but I just didn’t have the desire or drive to hit the pavement or trail.  My running shoes were feeling severely neglected as I sought other means of fitness.  Granted, it is always good to switch up your routine and workouts, to help balance the toning of all of your muscle groups and to make sure you stay committed, but this was getting a bit dire.  Especially because I had signed up for a race through work, and needed to commit to doing it with coworkers, and my boss, as other race participants.  You can’t tell the Vice Chancellor you didn’t feel like representing the university because you haven’t wanted to run.  Well, technically I guess I could, but I surely didn’t want to.

Probably my last good run before the race was early April, and it was only 5 miles!
Probably my last good run before the race was early April, and it was only 5 miles!

Earlier in the year I had heard about the Cherry Creek Sneak through a chain of work emails sent out to fellow running colleagues.  This is a local race that boasts 4 different distances for the runner in all of us: 10 miles, 5 miles, 5 kilometers, and 1.5 miles.  The event takes place each April in one of my favorite areas of Denver, Cherry Creek.  It’s an old, established area of Denver with gorgeous stately homes and quaint, older cottages.  It’s eclectic and charming, and a gorgeous area to run through.  Being that I had signed up for the Colfax Half Marathon, which would take place less than a month later (AH! This Sunday!), I thought it best that I register for the 10 miler.  Once the hubby said he’d join me, I was committed.

So March rolled around, I kept on running, but was just not happy with it.  March turned into April, and my mood hadn’t changed.  Part of it, too, was that I was so in love with Core Power Yoga and the Tone it Up workouts, that running didn’t seem quite as appealing.  So finally the weekend of the Cherry Creek Sneak arrived, and rain was in the forecast.  If you haven’t kept up with Denver weather (let’s be honest, it’s a fascinating and ever-changing subject here), it rained for over a week straight, with about 3 inches of snow by the end), and I was truly dreading the race.  Sunday morning I woke up feeling groggy, tired, and just not in the mood to run.  But I am not one to back down from a commitment.  So with a sense of foreboding, I dressed for the race and hoped for the best.

You just gotta fake it til you make it!  Pre-race and pre-rain...
You just gotta fake it til you make it! Pre-race and pre-rain…

The hubby and I found a spot to park and walked a few blocks towards the starting line.  The 10 milers started first at 7:30am, so we arrived with about 20 minutes before the start.  I searched around for my colleagues, but didn’t see anyone.  Eventually we just readied ourselves for the race, lining up in our time corral, and prayed for a decent 10 miles.  This was not my most optimistic start, to be sure.  After one of the best race-day national anthems ever, we were off!  Luckily the rain had held off to start, and we made our way from the east side of the Cherry Creek Mall toward Colorado Boulevard, and then looped back toward University Boulevard.  We ran to the northwest corner of the mall and turned left onto 1st Avenue.  We’d already gone 3 miles at this point, and I was feeling pretty good.  Time was passing quickly, it was the perfect temperature for running, and I was actually enjoying myself!

Before the rain descended upon us, the race was going really well!
Before the rain descended upon us, the race was going really well!

As we ran past Denver Country Club, we turned right onto Downing and made our way up the first real hill of the course.  Overall it’s a fairly flat course, which typically makes for great running

times (and happy runners).  We got up the hill and turned right onto 6th Avenue before making our way toward Cheeseman Park.  Any Denverite knows that the city is spattered with local parks, trails and greenbelts. Given my race history, I am most familiar with Washington Park, City Park, Central Park, Confluence Park and Sloane’s Lake.  I had never before been to Cheeseman Park.  The park includes an outer trail which loops in an oval around the perimeter of the park.  It is a gorgeous space with a beautiful pergola and amphitheater along the eastern edge of the park and large trees all around.

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Once we made our way out of the park, we hit the 10k mark, and the drizzle began.  Rather than turning back the way we came, we headed further east on 6th avenue.  Mile 7 was possibly the

Feeling damp, but still happy!
Feeling damp, but still happy!

longest mile of the entire race, because this is when it really began raining steadily.  The temperatures dipped and it felt like we were never going to turn around.  Police officers lined the streets, and truly I felt for them, having to stand out there until all the 10 milers ended.  At least I was moving!

Making it to mile 8 was a huge feat, and at that point I realized my legs still felt great and I could make it.  The cold rain was not ideal, but two miles is a drop in the bucket in the grand scheme of things.  We made our way back to 1st Avenue, which led us straight past the mall and toward the finish line.  My only complaint is that the 5k participants were finishing at the same time, and were primarily walking in large groups, which made running around them very difficult.  The finishing area, as a result, was rather bottle-necked and confusing.  Robbie and I sprinted the last tenth of a mile toward the finish and were instantly slowed by walkers.  I was hoping for a much more triumphant finish, but I did it.

YAY THE END! It's always the best part of every race.
YAY THE END! It’s always the best part of every race.

Immediately afterwards we grabbed water, a half a Panera bagel, and delicious banana, and made our way straight to the car.  It wasn’t worth trying to find folks.  The 5 milers were set to begin at 9:35am, and their whole five miles ended up being rainy and cold.  I’d prefer 10 miles with 3.5 miles in the rain, than 5 miles entirely in the rain.  Thankfully the hubs is BRILLIANT and brought towels to wrap around ourselves in the car, and turned the seat warmers on high.  Rain and cold aside, this race was fabulous, and I am happy to report it was just what I needed to regain my love for running.  I am SO excited for this weekend’s Colfax Half Marathon, and I look forward to the BolderBoulder the week afterwards.

This month I got my running drive back!
This month I got my running drive back!

It just goes to show you, sometimes you need to step away for a little while to rediscover why you love it in the first place. The hubs is so wise, and at the beginning of April he told me to just take a break from running and focus on my other pursuits.  I did just that, and after the Cherry Creek Sneak, I have been running almost every weekday during my lunch hour and feel so refreshed.  So here’s to the next run – no one run will ever be like another, so take the time to appreciate the journey!

Ever just have a running slump? What did you do to get out of your running rut?  Anything you recommend to keep your runs happy?

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”?