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.

chariots-of-fire-beach-run-o
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.

Jill-3
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?

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.

2015: The Journey Unknown

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And this is only the beginning of our journey!
And this is only the beginning of our journey!

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

10854842_10103255472513838_2831095774162283244_o
Look at my happy, healthy hubby!

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

Denver Rock ‘N’ Roll Race Recap!

Um, hello Monday, where did you come from?  Ever have one of those weeks (or series of weeks) that in every way flies by?  I have just experienced this the past three weeks.  I am actually not entirely certain where October has gone and how Halloween is THIS WEEK.  But here we are, regardless.  Oh, and my office is dressing up as the crew from The Life Acquatic with Steve ZissouHow amazing is that?  And if you haven’t seen the movie, you definitely should – Wes Anderson is a genius.

A little over a week ago my life was occupied by first a promotion (hooray!  Have I mentioned how much I love my job?), and an incredible training opportunity for our office.  Our entire staff was able to attend certification training for the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator personality assessment.  It was life changing!  If you haven’t taken the assessment and received a personal interpretation of the report, please invest in yourself and do it!  It is so enlightening about individual self, communication and interaction with others, and provides a deep understanding about the people with whom we surround ourselves.  I learned so much and just want to share it with everyone!

Two weekends ago was a big one for the hubs and me.  We participated in my hubby’s first half marathon, and my first half at altitude!  Ms. BakeNBurn gave me the idea to register for the Denver Rock ‘N’ Roll Half Marathon after reading her post on the RNR USA.  After traveling for two weeks abroad, coming down with a serious and lengthy cold, and making major transitions at work, I didn’t entirely feel prepared for this race, and was just praying for a 2:30 finish.  Thankfully two weeks prior I ran the Denver Hot Chocolate 15K, and appreciated those 9.3 miles as practice.  The next weekend the hubs and I went for an 11 mile run in some horrendous weather conditions, and felt pretty good afterwards.  But still, there’s something about hitting those full 13.1 miles that feels different.

Saturday we went to the expo downtown at the Colorado Convention Center, not knowing it was also the Denver Zombie Crawl that day.  The city was nuts, and the expo closed at 5pm.  We arrived at 4:25pm… Thankfully we easily got our bibs, shirts, and VIP passes (definitely worth the investment, even just for the porta potties!).  We meandered a bit around the expo, but knowing everything was going to close, we wanted to beat the rush out and left at 4:45pm.  Besides, we had to wake the same time the next morning, so an early dinner and bedtime were calling our names.

We woke early, readied ourselves and were out the door by 5:30am.  As per parking instructions for our VIP passes, we had to be in the garage by 6am before they began closing the roads around it.  We made it just in time, given the traffic right around the garage.  We took our time putting on our bibs and readying our outfits and paraphernalia, and made our way to Civic Center park for the VIP area.  Unlike at RNR USA, participants were able to pay a $65 fee for VIP area access, rather than spend a certain amount in Brooks gear at the expo.  This was a huge bonus, with pre-race snacks, heat lamps and chairs and tables, and private VIP porta potties.  Race day facilities leave much to be desired, so the fewer individuals utilizing these porta potties, the better.  And boy, was it worth it.

Ready to run this race!
Ready to run this race! Gotta love the cozy VIP tent…

I grabbed a yogurt with granola and bananas, knowing I get the munchies when I run, and hung out in the warmth of the

45 minutes after the "start" I was raring to go!
45 minutes after the “start” I was raring to go!

tent until 10 minutes before 7:15am, the supposed starting time of the race.  We made our way through the crowded, congested throng of people, not finding our way to corral 14 until 7:20am.  The race still hadn’t started at this point.  Finally we heard the gun go off and the wheel chair starters were off.  Then the national anthem was performed and FINALLY the first corral left.  We didn’t move up for quite some time, and didn’t cross the starting line until 20 minutes later.

Thank you Marathon Photo for this awesome shot!
Thank you Marathon Photo for this awesome shot!
Aaaand we're off!
Aaaand we’re off!

The course first took us through the city along 14th street, and then veered off towards Auraria Parkway, at which point we cut back across to the Speer bridge, crossing over I-25 into the Denver Highlands.  If you’re familiar with the Highlands, you’ll know it’s got a fair amount of hills.  The course took us up towards Sloan’s lake, which was absolutely stunning early in the morning with the sun rising over the Denver skyline, reflected in the calmness of the lake.  I would share a picture, but as I was running for time, I didn’t stop for pictures.  Apparently I passed my coworker cheering along Sheridan Boulevard, and didn’t even know it!

Thankfully a beautiful course with lots of good sights and plenty of water/aid stations.
Thankfully a beautiful course with lots of good sights and plenty of water/aid stations.
Totally unaware of the photographer, go me!
Totally unaware of the photographer, go me!

Finally we looped around the lake and took Tennyson Street, and down 29th, before coming by Federal Boulevard and back into the city.  Between the 10K mark and mile 7, the run along 29th was amazing, as the entire street was lined with incredible signs and cheering folks emerging from their homes to rally the runners.  Some of my favorite signs included one held by a 7 or 8 year old boy, which read, “Run faster! I just farted!” and another later in the race another sign read, “You paid for this?”  My absolute favorite was a sign that read my mind: “Keep running, people are watching!”  I am definitely a bit of a self-conscious runner, so I want to be seen actually running when there are spectators.  Silly, but effective!

Once we made it back into downtown we had just hit mile nine.  We ran down 15th and turned left towards Coors Field.  The

Sprinting together towards the finish line!  I love it!
Sprinting together towards the finish line! I love it!

band here was performing “Billy Jean” by Michael Jackson, so obviously I broke into a dance as we crested the hill.  It was awesome.  We wrapped around the stadium and took Walnut north and then ran back down Larimer, before cutting across 20th to Lincoln.  Here the marathoners veered off for the second half of their race which took them through City Park and Wash Park, some of my favorite areas to run in Denver.  We, however, were well on our way to the finish line, which was good because I couldn’t imagine doing another one of these!  With about three tenths of a mile to go, passing right by the capitol building, the hubs and I grabbed hands and sprinted with all our might to the finish line.  It was an epic rush of adrenaline and speed, topped with a heaping pile of victory.  We were so thrilled to have finished strong and together.  We weren’t as fast as we wanted, but better than projected: 2:20:28.  That’s a time I can definitely live with!

Weee! I love running!
Weee! I love running!
Now that's a money shot - capitol in the background!
Now that’s a money shot – capitol in the background!
We flit, we float, we fleetly flee, we fly!
We flit, we float, we fleetly flee, we fly!
Victory!!
Victory!!
New shiny medal hooray!
New shiny medal hooray!
These medals are amazing!
These medals are amazing!

After the race we collected our awesome medals (complete with bottle opener on the back – awesome!), chocolate milk (my post-race tradition), Gatorade, water and Lara bars and found our way through the crowd back towards the VIP tent.  Although we weren’t terribly hungry, I wanted my mimosa like whoa.  I may have had that mimosa on my mind since we arrived in the tent.  I munched on a yummy biscuit, drank my mimosa, and recharged my phone at their charging station.  Yet another genius element of the VIP tent.  The hubs and I then took our leave of the chaos of downtown and made it back to the garage.  It took about 30 minutes to exit the garage, which is irritating when all you want to do is go home, shower, and relax, but we made the most of it.  All in all, it was a fun race and a victorious start to our shared half marathon career.

Will run for mimosas!
Will run for mimosas!

Have you ever run a Rock ‘N’ Roll race – what did you think?  Do you prefer to run through cities or run races in remote areas?  How cool is a medal that doubles as a bottle opener?

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?)?