Monday, July 30, 2012

Hut Trip

This weekend Jeff and I joined my friend Beth and a group of her coworkers for a Hut Trip.  We stayed at the Fowler-Hilliard Hut which is located at 11,500’ about 6 miles west of Vail Pass in central Colorado

hut trip mapThe Fowler-Hilliart Hut is part of a system of backcountry huts in the Rocky Mountains connected by 350 miles of trails and is maintained by the 10th Mountain Division Hut Association.  The name honors the men of the 10th Mountain Division of the U.S. Army who trained during WWII at Camp Hale for mountain climbing, Alpine and Nordic skiing, and cold-weather survival.  Camp Hale was constructed in 1942 and when it was in full operation, housed approximately 15,000 soldiers.  After 3 deployments, Camp Hale was decommissioned in November 1942 (you are welcome for the history lesson).  The land is now maintained by the U.S. Forest Service. 

We were lucky in that you could drive up the Forest Service roads to get to our hut.   We still only took 1 truck to haul our gear and the rest of us hiked the 7+ miles.  The hike started 9,300’ and ended at 11,500’ where we were staying (see above map for the location, the red line is our hiking route).  It was a gradual uphill (much easier than last week’s run) and I sort of wish we were running it.  But we walked to enjoy conversation and to get to know new friends who would also be staying at the hut.  But when we got to the hut, I did head out for a 3 mile run at elevation to get in a sweat before drinking wine the remainder of the day.

Hut Trip HikingThe Fowler-Hillard Hut was ridiculously nice and has spectacular views!  It has a capacity of 16 and was built in 2010 (a fire in 2008 took out the original hut).  Our group reserved the entire hut so that we wouldn’t have other random hikers sharing our space.  But a majority of the huts are booked on a per person basis so typically you never know who you will be sharing your hut with (this could be fun or really creepy).

Hut PhotosWe immediately settled into the hut and played dice (Yahtzee and Farkle) and card games while sipping on some classy boxed wine out of our plastic goblets.  The was also pellet gun shooting and wood chopping (somehow it was turned into a manly wood chopping competition); before we knew it, it was dinner time and we started putting together our foil dinners.

Wine Fueled Dice Games The foil dinners were fantastic; chicken, steak, and every vegetable you could think of.  Everyone made their own combination of the meats and veggies and had their own method for foil dinner folding.  FYI, it was decided that the foil pocket method (NOT the burrito method) most evening cooked the dinners in the quickest time (as a few of us already knew). 

Foil Dinners The rest of the evening included more games of Farkle, drinking the rest of the boxed wine by the fire (I think everyone must have had at minimum 2 bottles of wine each, normal), S’Mores, and passing out.  What a fun Saturday!!!

CampfireI woke up Sunday morning, enjoyed coffee on the deck, and read a book about Camp Hale and the 10th Mountain Division.  We then packed up, cleaned the hut, and headed back down the mountain.  Jeff and I decided to run it and got in 6 miles at an 8 min average pace (and hungover, I might add). 

Trail Running

Another AWESOME weekend in the MOUNTAINS!!!!  I definitely want to do another Hut Trip, especially in the winter to snowshoe, cross country ski, and backcountry ski.  So much to do in the mountains, LOVE IT!

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Vail Trail Half Marathon

After a weekend of camping, Jeff and I got up early Sunday morning to run a Trail Half Marathon up in the mountains of Vail Ski Resort.  As I discussed in the previous post, this was going to be a TOUGH course

Not only were the first 9 miles up hill, but it started at 8,200 feet at the base of Vail’s Golden Peak and climbed to the top of the mountain to 11,300 feet before going slightly down mountain and leveling off to finish the 13.1 miles at 10,400 feet at Eagle’s Nest where the Gondola is.  Jeff and I live at 5,450 feet, so our lungs and bodies are not accustomed to the altitude! 

On Saturday, Jeff and I got in 5 miles along the Frisco to Copper paved bike trail which was at approx 9,100 feet.  I STRUGGLED with my breathing so I knew Sunday would be tough for me (we still ran at a 8:00 pace).  Plus I get altitude sickness every time I go skiing and am above 10,000 feet (I get nauseous and light headed, in fact I have passed out before).  So I was going to take it very easy (and be very careful to listen to my body) during this “race” and enjoy the scenery.  Jeff, on the other hand, isn’t effected by altitude as much as me, felt great on Saturday and was ready to give it his all on Sunday.

IMG_2468 (I SWEAR we did not plan to match our shirts…. so embarrassing to match….we are such dorks.)

The race started and I immediately felt a little out of placeTrail runners are a bit different than road runners…. everyone was doing the shuffle-jog as they headed up the mountain. 

I have two speeds, RUN and WALK.  A slow jog feels weird and almost painful to me?  So I was doing my usual run (well, quite a bit slower at a 9:00 pace) and was passing people left and right as they shuffled along.  After about 1/2 mile into the 13.1 miles, I was out of breath and knew this was going to be a LONG race

I ran the first 1.5 miles, felt like complete crap with my lungs and calves burning…. and at this point decided to take a run-walk approach.  I would walk the steeper sections, and then pick a point ahead of me and run to it, and then walk again.  I would pass people when I ran, and those same shuffle-joggers would pass me right back when I walked.  Then they would get farther and farther away…. in fact a 70-year-old woman was one of those smart shuffle-joggers who knew how to properly trail run at elevation.

At first it was demoralizing for me (I am NOT used to being passed or going this slow!), but then I just kept looking around at the beauty and completely changed my mindset.  This was NOT a RACE for me, this was a TRAIL RUN!  I struck up conversations with people, stopped to take pictures, and thoroughly enjoyed myself.  What was the point of torturing myself for something I was ill-prepared for when there was so much to enjoy??

I was running/walking/hiking along routes that I had skied in the winter! 

vail half 1The views around me were spectacular! 

vail half 2I met a friend; a women originally from Australia, who came here 8 years ago to be a ski instructor at Vail and now is married to a Colorado guy and lives very close to me (I got her to take a picture of me running).  She talked about her love of trail running, about enjoying the run, nature, and scenery…..and not concentrating on a specific pace or goal.  No stress running, the beauty of trail running! (And at this trail run, they gave out Honey Stinger Waffles, wooo hoooo!)

vail half 3I was doing something I had never done before… and something that I can’t wait to try again!  I would love to actually train for a trail race and see how I can improve, but not stress about a time, just push myself and enjoy the run.

vail half 4Jeff felt great and finished in 2:20 (WOOO HOOOO!)….and I finished in 2:53 (almost doubling my half marathon road PR, ha!) but enjoyed *most* every minute of it (some of it really hurt and was hard, that was not that enjoyable). 

IMG_2481Jeff is going to do a recap of his race as well, he had a hilarious story about crazy women sprinting the last 4 miles and getting mad at him when he passed them…. see next post!

Monday, July 23, 2012

Into the Mountains

Friday after work, Jeff and I headed to the mountains to camp two nights before running a trail half marathon on Sunday morning…and to beat the heat.  In Denver it was going to be in the upper 90s, in the mountains it would be in the 70s.  No brainer on where to go for the weekend.


We found a spot at the Prospector Campground located just north of Frisco, CO on the Dillon Reservoir.  Right when we arrived we saw an ominous cloud coming our way and heard some thunder, so we rushed to erect our tent.  As we finished putting up the tent, the clouds were above us and it started dumping rain.  There was no sense in sitting in our tent to wait it out and instead went into Frisco for dinner and a few beers.

Moose JawIt cleared up a little, we finished our food and beer, and headed back to our campsite.  Because it was still raining a bit, the rest of the evening was spent in the tent, drinking Moscow Mules from our copper cups, and playing Gin Rummy.


So how do you make a Moscow Mule?  You are in luck, I will tell you:

moscow mule Jeff beat me in Gin Rummy 9 times out 10.  I think he was cheating.  Or gave me too many Moscow Mules to impair my Gin Rummy playing abilities.  A fly also got in our tent so Elle was terrified all night and kept trying to unzip the tent to run away.  Even after we killed it she still was shaking and sulking in the corner of the tent.

tent2 Elle kept photo bombing pictures and we captured this particularly hilarious image (you know how people say dogs and their owners sometimes look similar?  Sadly, this might be true):

IMG_2410 The next morning we woke up to sunshine.  We made some delicious ham and egg breakfast sandwiches and relaxed all day enjoying the mountain scenery around us.  The sun was pretty warm so we picked up a shade structure.  Plus the Ginger (Jeff) can’t be exposed to the sun longer than 10 minutes or he burns up.  And yes, our dogs take over our camp chairs.

breakfast sunny day We also walked around and took in the views.  I can’t get enough of mountains and feel so lucky to live so close to them!


By Saturday evening, more storms rolled in causing us to abandon our campfire dinner.  We cooked our brats on the camp stove and ate from our car as the lightning struck around us (we don’t mess with lightning).  We retired to our tent and were asleep by 8pm…. we had a trail half marathon to run in the morning!!!!

Friday, July 20, 2012

What I have been up to…Part III (first concert at Red Rocks)

…continued from Part II, after a quick weekend in Breckenridge, Jeff and I returned to Denver Sunday for our long(ish) run and a concert at Red Rocks…

Sunday morning Jeff and I slept in and then got out the door around 10am for a HOT (in the upper 80s and SUNNY) 8 mile run at a 7:55 pace.   We stopped every mile and a half for water and drank about 16 oz of water throughout the run to stay hydrated.  The heat really didn’t effect us and will only make us stronger runners when it cools off!!!

Sunday evening Jeff and I headed to Red Rocks to watch O.A.R. perform.  I am not really a O.A.R. fan, but Jeff used to be in college so he got us the tickets.  It turned out to be a great concert, mostly because Red Rocks is an AMAZING venue, but O.A.R. put on a very entertaining show.  Their opening band Rebelution was also entertaining and I might download some of their songs (reggae rock).
red rocks Seriously, I LOVED Red Rocks… mostly for the rocks.  I honestly could have cared less about the music ;)
Every seat in the venue had a great view of the stage, the surrounding scenery, AND downtown Denver!  Everyone MUST go to a concert here in their lifetime.
red rocks 2 In addition, the people watching at this concert was phenomenal.  The $hit show around me was equally as entertaining to me as the rocks and music.  I watched a slew of drunk slutty college girls “dance” (more like a sway-stumble combined with an awkward grind-like motion) and make out with multiple males.  In addition, these girls’ fashion choices were perplexing.  When did neon come back into style?  And what about midriff baring tops?  One thing I did respect about the fashion choices was the practicality of their shoes.  No high heels for these girls, they actually had foresight and must have known that their alcohol consumption would not be conducive to heels; everyone had on flip flops or gladiator sandals.  Nicely done drunk college girls, nicely done…and thank you for entertaining me!
IMG_2388Being the old lame people we are, Jeff and I left before the encore so avoid the traffic and to get to bed before midnight.  I hear the encore was awesome and that O.A.R. went up to GA and performed in the audience right where we were sitting.  Oh well.

Well, thank is What I Have Been Up To lately.  Still running daily and started real training for our upcoming races.  In fact, Jeff and I are headed to the mountains tonight to camp near Frisco, CO and running a half marathon in Vail, CO on Sunday.  Here is the course and profile:
Vail Half That, my friends, is what death looks like.  I am shooting for a 2:30 half marathon time with this ridiculous course.  Not only will be be running at elevations that have known to make me pass out from skiing, but we will be running UP HILL for 9 MILES.  What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, right?

Thursday, July 19, 2012

What I have been up to…Part II (stupid runners)

…continued from Part I, Jeff arrived in Breckenridge for the day last Saturday…


When Jeff got to Breck, we immediately headed out for a run.  Breck is at 9,000+ feet; my lungs were BURNING!  But we got in a nice run on a paved bike path for just under 5 miles at around an 8 min. pace.  We ended our run near the gondola and spur of the moment decided to take the gondola up the mountain and then run down
First of all, we had not looked at a map and really had no clue which road or path led down the mountain to the base area.  How stupid did we feel, how hard was it to go down?!?  Apparently it is not as easy as it might seem.  We are used to running on roads in the city, not in mountains on trails!
  • Mistake #1- We asked some mountain bikers how to get down the mountain.  They haphazardly pointed in a direction and we headed that way.  (Note to self, never trust mountain bikers if you are runner, mountain bikers hate runners apparently… and never depend on others for directions)
  • Mistake #2- We did not notice the giant black cloud coming our way. Within a mile after getting “directions” to get down the mountain, the temperature dropped 20 degrees, it started raining and hailing, and lightning was striking all around us. 
  • Mistake #3- Instead of taking cover, we just ran faster.  But we still didn’t know where the hell we were and the dirt road was NOT going down, instead we were climbing back up the mountain. 
  • Mistake #4- We didn’t tell my parents where we were running, how far, or how long it would take us.  We knew they were worried about us, especially Safety Phil (my dad).  Jeff told me to call them, but I realized I did not have their cell phone numbers memorized.
Finally we asked a car that drove by how the hell to get down the mountain.  Again, he haphazardly pointed in a direction and said “Take the next trail you see and it will take you straight down.”  Being the clueless people we were, we continued running until we saw a trail and hoped for the best.

Half a mile down the trail we saw the mountain bikers that gave us the “directions.”  We stopped and gave them a funny look and they replied “We saw you go the wrong way and couldn’t figure out where you were going.”  Seriously, you didn’t yell at us to tell us the correct way?!?  I am now anti-mountain biker.  We did not ask for additional directions and continued along the trail.
Cold, wet, and now 7 miles into our run and back to where we originally started (we went in a giant loop), we decided to take a shuttle down (the gondola was closed due to the weather).  We got off the shuttle about a mile from rental house and started jogging, a cold, slow, ready to be done jog.  Then we hear a honk and look up and see my dad.  Apparently he got worried because of the storm and was driving around trying to find us (thanks Dad! And sorry we didn’t communicate with you). 
Luckily we were just a little cold and wet and were in a pretty well-traveled area….and was never really in any danger.  But this run taught us some important lessons for trail running in the mountains to avoid future mishaps that could get us in trouble (this goes for hiking too):
  1. Plan ahead, know your route, but have a map with you, maybe even a compass and/or GPS, just in case you get lost. 
  2. Prepare for any and all weather conditions.  Even if you start out and it is sunny and warm, a storm can easily roll through and conditions can change rapidly.  Bring layers and a rain-resistant jacket.
  3. Bring water and food.  Just in case you get lost, be prepared to run longer or further than you set out to.
  4. Tell someone where you are running and when you expect to return, and call them when you get back.  That way if 10 hours later they don’t hear from you or can’t get a hold of you, they can alert the authorities.
Lesson learned.  We knew these rules but got caught up in the moment.  Whoops.  But it was an important lesson to remind ourselves to be safe!!!
After our botched run, Jeff and I joined my parents and aunt for a stroll through downtown Breckenridge (where an awesome beer festival was going on…. $25 for unlimited samples?!? Must do this next year).  We then stopped and had a beer at Breckenridge Brewery before heading back for a great dinner.
IMG_2378Thanks Aunt Jane for letting us stay with you over the weekend, we had so much fun!  YAY for the mountains in the summer!!!!
Jeff and I had to leave Saturday night to get back to the rat-dogs.  Those silly rats need to learn to be self-sufficient so we can leave them alone all weekend (we are cheap and hate to board them). 
…Part III will continue with our first concert at Red Rocks the next day (Sunday evening)!

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

What I’ve Been Up To…Part I (Family Time)

I really haven’t been into posting to this blog lately.  No real reason, I just really haven’t felt like writing and I’ve been busy with this and that.  But I have been up to some fun things and thought I would give a little summary of my happenings since the last post. 


I was very lucky to get to see my family last week.  My aunt rented a house in Breckenridge for over a week and invited my parents and my brother and I (plus our families) to join her. 

So my parents came through Denver last Wednesday and stayed the night.  My parents then left Thursday morning for the mountains….

….but were quickly replaced by my brother, his wife, and my nephew who stayed the night Thursday. 

Friday morning I finished up some work then headed to the mountains with my brother’s family to join my aunt and parents (Jeff had to work and would join us Saturday). 

On the drive to Breck, I got to sit in the back seat with my nephew answering the slew of questions he bombarded me with.  He is 3 and is in his “Why?” phase.  But this kid has legit questions and actually listens and comprehends the answers that are provided to him.  In fact, his questions seem very mature and he notices things that most adults miss.  Mark my words, this kid will go far in life

We arrived in Breckenridge, ate some lunch (BLTs using tomatoes that my parents picked from their garden before they left Kansas City), and then headed out for some fun.


We took the gondola up the mountain where we had some summer ski slope fun.

Alpine SuperSlideMy nephew said he wanted to ride the Alpine SuperSlide with his coolest family member…. plus I needed some extra weight to go down the mountain faster.  Thanks JP, we are a good team!  Even Grandma and Grandpa had fun zooming down the mountain; old people can have fun too (haha)!  Also, it was weird to ride the ski lift without skis on and without snow below you…for some reason it didn’t feel as safe?

Alpine SuperSlide2JP and I tried to catch my brother to ram into him, but we didn’t (plus we would have gotten in trouble).  Instead we just screamed “Weeee weeee WEEEEEE!” like that commercial with the pig.  Great fun was had!

 Alpine SuperSlide3

We then played a fabulous game of “Stop the Train” and checked out downtown Breck.  We ended our afternoon at a playground.  Note to self, don’t let my dad push me on a swing…. he pushed JP so high, I thought the kid was going to circle the swing set.

breck fun My brother and his family left early Saturday morning.  It was so great to see them and to hang out!  Thanks for the fun times!

Part II of “What I have been up to” will continue another day, when I get around to writing it.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Getting Back On (the) Track

Day 1 of “officially training” for a Half (and Full) marathon started yesterday.  Jeff and I got back on track…. by actually going to the local high school track and doing speed work (oh yeah, like what I did there??).  We decided to try out a new track, a track that was a little further away than the dirt track we had previously been running at, but it was an actual rubber and in good condition track.  In addition, it has a GREAT view of downtown Denver and goes around a turf soccer field so there is lots to look at while running around in circles.

TRACK We will be visiting this track weekly to “get faster.”  

Last night we completed the following workout, felt great, and finished in the following times for a total of 5 miles at the track:

  • 1 mile warm up (7:55 pace)
  • 1 X 1200 in 5:05 (in 4:45), 400 recovery jog
  • 2 X 800 in 3:05 (3:07, 3:02), 200 recovery jogs
  • 4 X 200 fast (:35, :36, :37, :37), 200 recovery jogs
  • 1 mile cool down (8:35 pace)

Not too shabby for our first track workout in a while.  We also brought a cooler of nice cold beers to reward ourselves if we completed the workout in (close to) the allotted times (we only were slower on 1 of the 800s).  We probably broke a law by drinking them in the parking lot of a high school, but oh well, we deserved it.  At least we covered them in our fancy Brooks running singlet coozies. 

IMG_2332 Run Happy my friends. 

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Finally got some rain in Colorado….

This weekend Jeff and I were planning on heading to the mountains to do some camping.  Unfortunately the weather had other plans and for the first time in months we finally got some rain in Colorado (hopefully this keeps more fires from starting).  And its not like Pacific Northwest rain; rain here comes with crazy thunder and lighting and flooding downpours…. not optimal camping conditions
rainSo instead of relaxing in the mountains, Jeff and I stuck around and got $hit done around the house.  Lame, but much needed.  Finally we washed, dried and put away about 20 loads of laundry and cleaned the house. 

We also took the opportunity to check out some local food and drinking establishments.  There was a new brewery that just opened in our neighborhood called Hogshead BreweryThese guys know what is up and the two beers they had on tap were outstanding.  It is located in a repurposed 1950’s gas station that they remodeled to be a bright and welcoming modern brewery.  Loved it here, Jeff and I will be going back frequently I am sure.
HogsheadWe also got some New York style pizza and some awesome cupcakes (I think we found a comparable cupcake to Cupcake Royale our Seattle go-to dessert location when we lived there).  The cupcakes were made with dense cake (like we prefer) and butter cream frosting.  Yum.
yummy food
This morning we decided to get in a trail run (to run off all that junk food and beer).  We did about 5 miles of running and over a mile of hiking (we decided to walk the steep parts) at Deer Creek Canyon about 30 minutes southwest of where we live (and near where my current project for work is located).  Yet again, we loved trail running; we really need to do weekly trail runs.  I didn’t bring my camera on the run because of the threat of rain, but we will do this again and get some photos of the views and on the trail.  And next time we do this trail, we will go counter-clockwise (less steep up hills) and get in the back loop to get in 8+ miles…..
deer creek canyon2 deer creek canyon Tomorrow we “officially” start a half marathon training plan and will get our weekly mileage in the 30-40 mpw range (currently hovering just under 25 mpw and haphazard running) and will incorporate more speedwork.  Jeff and I just signed up for the Georgetown to Idaho Springs Half Marathon on August 11 and we both want to PR…. so we have some work to do!  (by stating it here, maybe I will actually push myself to run faster)

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Getting scuba certified

This week my friend Beth went through the PADI scuba certification to become an open water diver.  I got a call from her Saturday after her first open water dive…. and it didn’t go so well.  They have various skills tests and she panicked during the skills test where you have to flood your mask and clear it of the water.  Although it is really simple, it feels super awkward and unnatural

I get why she panicked, because I did the same thing during my scuba certification (7 years ago when I lived in Florida).  I freaked the heck out and had a mini panic attack which brought on an asthma attack (which was also probably mental).  When it first happened I was embarrassed and frustrated with myself.  Why was this simple task SO hard?  Well, breathing under water is not natural and your brain reminds you this and tells you to get to the surface.  Especially when your mask is full of water and you have water up your nose.

Was I not going to pass over this mental game and waste the money I spent to get certified??  Fortunately I had a patient instructor who talked me through the skills and I ended up passing and getting my certification.  I then went on to get my enriched air and deep water certifications as well.  I LOVE scuba diving; it was amazing to breathe under water and swim with so many beautiful creatures.  I was so glad I stuck it out and now have my lifetime scuba certification.


(I know you are super impressed by the hotness of me in scuba gear under water.  Don’t lie, you think I am sexy.)

Back to Beth…. she was so upset and didn’t think she would ever be able to do the mask clearing without panicking, and not pass the class.  I reassured her and told her I had the same mental issues, and that doing it was mind over matterYou had to tell yourself to stay calm, concentrate on the task and think of the reward.  We went to the pool and practiced the skills.  She was able to do the mask clearing and was confident when she left to go back a few hours later to try again.  I got a call later that she completed all the skills tests, including completely removing her mask, replacing it, and clearing it of water.  She was so proud of herself, and I was proud of her too!

This scuba situation also reminds me of the mental games that go into running. Specifically the mental game that occurs during the last 6 miles of a marathon.   Running that long is not natural.  Your body wants to stop and you are constantly fighting your mind and the urge to give up.  But you tell yourself, “I trained 4+ months for this, I can’t stop now!”  And you think of the reward of crossing the finish line; what an amazing feeling it is to complete a marathon. 

Dang, this is a really nerdy post.  I have effectively made everyone gag at my comparison of getting scuba certified to running a marathon.  Sorry about that folks.  I will try not to cheese out like this again.  Really I just wanted to remind everyone that I am a super cool scuba diver and to insert a photo of myself to prove it to you (joking).