I'm not sure any of us were ready for ANOTHER snow storm in Colorado Springs. This was the 3rd one this month and winter hasn't officially started yet because it's only October. When my kids get to go out and play in the snow and have a blast then I am reminded that even in the snow things can be pretty great! In typical fashion, the girls went out and played with Natalie and Noelle in our backyard. I just love that these girls have been such good friends over the last 4 years. There is something so sweet and special about friends who are really more like family. This is how we feel about the Garlock kids. Madeline is even so in love with them that she asks to go to their house all the time and she even prays for them at night like they are her own siblings. All the girls were really great about playing with Madeline in the backyard for a little bit before heading out to go sledding. The girls tried to get Madeline to sit in the sled but for some reason she just wasn't that interested. Madeline loved copying the older girls by making snow angels and throwing snowballs. She even tried racing them across the yard. Mike came home for lunch and was able to play outside with Madeline for a little bit too. After lunch the big girls headed out behind the house to the new development to go sledding. It turns out that spot became a really popular place to go sledding. I could see it from my living room window and there were many other kids who stopped by to sled throughout the day. Snow days are just so much fun for the kids. I'm glad they get to experience the joy of these fun snow days with friends they love!
This October has been way too cold already. We got our first snow at the beginning of the month and our second snowstorm this week and it doesn't end there. We are supposed to get another snowstorm next week. I was relieved and happy that I was on the ball about making sure that everyone had the clothes they needed for this coming ski season - especially Madeline. After Abby got home from school she was so excited to go and play in the snow. She kindly waited until Madeline got up from her nap and then went out back to play with her. Madeline was so excited to wear her new boots and snow clothes. All of my kids are really good with Madeline, but there is something really special about the relationship that Abby and Madeline have together. I love that Abby has the patience and the imagination to play with a 3-year old. It truly warms my heart. They threw snowballs, built a very tiny snowman, and had races in the snow. Abby was cute and ran on her knees so it would be fair. Those two are quite a pair. I love watching Madeline play. She reminds me that everything in life can be so much fun. The smallest things like playing in the snow are exciting to her and that is pretty great!
For Mike's birthday this year I booked a weekend away to Beaver Creek at the Park Hyatt for some relaxation and outdoor adventure. Since the weather was a bit colder than we had anticipated, we left our mountain bikes at home and planned on doing some hiking instead. We left on Thursday evening and got to the resort a little after 9pm. The hotel was exactly like I had remembered it a year ago with some slight updates to the lobby. We headed up to our room, which we got upgraded to a suite, and turned on a movie and ordered room service while Mike finished up some work from the day. It was nice to just sit and watch TV together before drifting off to sleep.
The next day it was so incredibly cold and snowing and so we decided to sleep in. We ate a very yummy breakfast in the hotel restaurant before walking over to the Allegria Spa to check out their services. We booked a massage for the following day and then grabbed our coats from our room so we could head to the village to do some shopping. We went into the various shops and didn't buy much except for a cute pair of ski socks for Madeline. We stopped at Rimini's for a warm ham and cheese sandwich and a Nutella and banana crepe. It all tasted so good. After a few more shops, and talking with some pretty great locals, we headed back in the hotel to grab our suits so we could spend some time in the outside jacuzzi. We love sitting outside in the jacuzzi when its cold and snowy outside. There is just something so magical about it all. The rest of the day was spent napping and relaxing before heading to dinner at Hooked which is a seafood restaurant. We ate the most delicious Japanese rolls. They were like no other rolls we had ever eaten. Then we headed out to find some yummy dessert. We decided to drive down to Vail to grab some dessert at a local Ale House. It wasn't quite up to par but that was ok because the fries we had were delicious. Then we headed back to the hotel and grabbed our free s'mores kit and headed up to the room to eat the chocolate and go to bed. It was much too cold to actually go outside to the fire pit and roast s'mores.
The next morning, we woke up to cold temperatures but sunny skies. We ate another fabulous breakfast and then headed out on our hike up to Bear Lake. We took the Bear Lake trail which followed the creek. It was awesome to be able to hear the creek alongside the trail almost all the way up to the lake. Most of the trail was snow covered with the snow that had fallen the day before. It was actually really great to hike in the snow. The hike up to the lake was relatively easy and we enjoyed being together. It was super peaceful up at the lake and we enjoyed playing with two little birds who enjoyed our crumbs. We decided to head back a different way and took the Overlook trail which had us venture across the various slopes. It was pretty spectacular hiking through dense forests before popping out on the open slopes only to cross and then hike once again through another set of trees. This went on for quite some time and eventually we lost count of how many sections we went through. As we looked at our watches it became clear that we needed to pick up the pace if we were going to make it back in time for our 3:00pm massages. At one point we actually started running on the trail when we could. With only 15 min before 3:00pm, we were getting desperate to find a short cut back. So, like idiots, we decided to get off the wooded trail, and just walk/run/slide down the last sloped mountain straight back to the hotel. It was kind of crazy going straight down the mountain. Mike used his hiking poles and glissaded down some of the snowier sections. We just laughed and laughed all the way down. We made it back to our room with only a few minutes to spare. We spent the rest of the afternoon getting pampered and then relaxing in the 5-Step Aqua Sanitas Water Sanctuary. It was the perfect way to unwind after our 8-mile hike. After showering and getting ready for the evening, we headed down to the bar in the lobby area and ordered the most amazing appetizer while we killed time waiting for our dinner reservation at Mirabelle's. We ordered the Cheese and Charcuterie Platter and it was DELICIOUS!!! Then it was off to Mirabelle's to eat some tasty French cuisine. It was the perfect way to end a pretty perfect day and a pretty fantastic getaway to Beaver Creek! Of course, it snowed throughout the night and when we woke up to go home it was all snow covered. That was pretty magical!
Peter had the MOST INCREDIBLE cross-country season of his high school life so far. After a roller-coaster season last year, this was such a reward for probably the hardest working athlete I personally know. After his swim season ended in May, Peter quickly jumped right back into running and started running with his high school team during the summer. He attended BYU cross-country camp in July and had a blast learning some new techniques and tips for his upcoming season. His goal for this season started small...it was just to make the varsity team. He did that, barely, on the time trial at the beginning of the season the second week in August. He came in at number 7, earning him a spot on the varsity team for the first meet of the season. In order to keep his spot he knew that he had to run well during each meet and stay in the top 7 for the boys team. Probably one of my favorite parts of this season was watching the utter determination on Peter's face when he raced. He had such excellent focus this season that showed not only in his times but also in his face. I can't even begin to describe how exciting this season was to watch.
AUGUST 23, 2019
CHEYENNE MTN STAMPEDE
NORRIS PENROSE EVENT CENTER
5K - 19:33
The first meet was the Cheyenne Mountain Stampede at Norris Penrose Event Center. The weather was kind of crazy that day, with a 30 minute delay for the varsity race due to some lightening and thunder. By the time the varsity race started, it was drizzling only a little bit with some cloud cover. Unfortunately, the sun did come out and the humidity set in. Peter ran well during that race considering the nasty weather, coming in at number 5 for the varsity team. Sean, the number 2 runner, was out this meet due to illness. Peter was on top of the world with his place even though he wasn't all that thrilled with his time. He was hoping to have run faster. He ran that race in 19:33 which was already close to his PR from the last season. That's not too bad for the first race of the season.
AUGUST 30, 2019
5K - 18:10.00
The second meet was the Widefield Invitational at Widefield HS. After some hard work during training, Peter was determined to finally break 19 min. That is just what he did at this race. He started out his race like he normally did, hanging with Hayden until about halfway through the race. Then after the halfway point he started to pick things up a bit. With some hills in the mix, he was able to keep pushing a little harder until the end was in sight. He was moving at speed. I was floored when I saw him round the track at the finish. His time...18:10. He was so shocked when he looked at his watch at the finish that he accidentally slowed down enough that the guy next to him beat him by a hair. It wasn't a huge deal but a lesson learned to not look at the clock but run hard right through the finish. Needless to say, Peter was extremely happy with himself at this race. He came in 6th for his team and 25th overall. The boys team also finished in first place for the meet.
SEPTEMBER 7, 2019
LIBERTY BELL INVITATIONAL
5K - 17:28.70
After last week's amazing race we were hoping that Peter would have another great race on one of the fastest courses of the season. We went out earlier that week to buy him some racing spikes but the store was all out of blanks, which he would need for this course as it was mostly pavement. Unfortunately we weren't able to find any before the race so he just wore his regular running shoes. That clearly didn't stop him from doing really well on this course. He started out similar to all his other races and kept picking up the pace the second half of the race. When I saw him come down the last 200 m stretch of the race I looked at the clock and I couldn't believe it. He was going to break 18 min. He didn't just break it by a little, he destroyed it. His time for the course was 17:28.70 which was now his all time personal best. I was so glad that everyone supported Peter at this race. The entire family came up to join him. Even Andrew was able to see him run before heading off to college.
SEPTEMBER 19, 2019
MONUMENT VALLEY PARK
5K - 18:25.66
The varsity boys and girls took the week before this meet and rested from racing in the Rock Canyon Invitational. It was a great break for these kids who had been training so hard. Coming into this race Peter was a little nervous since this isn't his favorite course. It's hilly and the trail is usually exposed to the sun. This race always feels pretty hot. Still, he ran a great race and wore his racing spikes for the first time. His previous time on this course was 19:10 from last year. This time he destroyed that time and came in 4th for the varsity boys and ran it in 18:25.66. Wow...what an improvement from last year. The advice his coaches gave him for next meet on this course was to push it at the top of the hill the second time around and pick off people the last flat and downhill part of the course. Great advice!
SEPTEMBER 27, 2019
CASA GRANDE, AZ
5K - 16:46.17
The most coveted race of the season is the Desert Twilight XC Festival down in Casa Grande, AZ. Only the top 7 runners for boys and girls who had been consistent up until this point were asked to join this trip. Peter was so excited to be able to go and run in AZ at lower elevation. Mike and I left the girls with friends and flew down to support Peter in this race. Our team ran in the Sweepstakes race, which was the most competitive race of the night. They boys ran at 9:30pm which made for an extremely fun and exciting race to watch. Before the race Mike told Peter about the time he ran cross-country in high school and went out with a fast first mile of 5:10 (what he didn't tell him was that it was by pure accident...he crashed the rest of the race). I don't know what it was about what Mike said but Peter took that as a challenge, and he ran his first mile in 5:09. The course ran straight out on grass and some dirt paths and then wound back, zig zagging back to the finish like switchbacks on a mountain. This made it so much fun for the spectators who got to see them a dozen times throughout the race. Once they passed us on one straightway, we just ran across to the next straightway until eventually we were down to the last two and ran as fast as we could to see the finish. Peter looked strong the entire race and was extremely close to Josh who he normally is 20-40 sec behind. As I was watching the finish, I saw Josh and thought I had more time before Peter came in. Then in a split second I glanced across and saw Peter on the other side from where I was, only a few seconds behind Josh. I couldn't believe it. He ran such a great race and had an incredible time of 16:46.17 and was 4th on his team!!! At the beginning of the season Sean and Jackson told him that he would be able to break 17 min. Sure enough, they were right.
OCTOBER 9, 2019
5A METRO LEAGUE FINALS
FOUNTAIN FORT CARSON HS
5K - 18:58.03
After an amazing experience at Desert Twilight, Peter knew that coming back to elevation would be tough. The varsity kids had another week of no meet so that was nice coming off a really fast race in AZ. Unfortunately, two of the varsity boys were not doing so well. Caleb, their number one runner, was already out for the season with a stress fracture. Jackson and Taylor both had small injuries and Jackson didn't end up running in this meet. The weather was kind of nutty on race day. It was extremely warm and very humid for Colorado and the wind was pretty strong. The race was moved a day earlier due to the predicted snow storm. No one had a particularly great race during this meet. Peter said this was the hardest race of the season so far for him. He came in 3rd for his team and ran the course in 18:58.03. This definitely wasn't his best time of the season but a personal best for this course.
OCTOBER 17, 2019
5A REGION 5 CHAMPIONSHIPS
MONUMENT VALLEY PARK
5K - 17:45.00
Today was the final meet of the season and Peter was determined to run this faster than last week and the last time he ran this course a few weeks prior. With the advice in his mind from the last time he ran this course, he was determined to end his season well. He looked good the entire race. I decided to cheer him on at different points of the race. I made it a point to be at the top of the hill so I could remind him to push it at the top just like the coach had told him. I could tell Peter was in the zone because I'm not sure he even saw me or heard me cheering him on. After the last push up the last hill I booked it to the finish. He did what he set out to do and finished his cross-country season with another great time. He ran this course in 17:45.00, beating his time a few weeks ago by almost 40 sec, placing 3rd on his team. He was extremely happy with his time and his performance but a little bummed that some of his fellow teammates didn't have great races, landing their team in 7th place overall and not making the cut to go to State this year. With all their teammates healthy and uninjured they were between 3rd and 4th for the region. Only the top 4 teams are eligible to run at the State race. At least there is always next year for Peter to make it to State.
I’m not sure whether we are just optimistic parents or just plain nuts because we decided to take Peter, Emma, Abby, and Madeline on a 14er up to the summit of Mt. Huron. Mike and I hiked this last summer and thought it was one of the easiest 14er's so we figured our kids would have no problems. Emma and Peter really didn’t struggle at all during our hike while Abby and Madeline definitely had their moments of dislike for us on the trail. The weather was a little cooler when we started and since it was the fall with no worry about afternoon thunderstorms, we knew we could leave later in the morning. We were on the trail by 9:30am and started our adventure with Madeline out of the pack and walking right with us. We put her in the backpack to begin with but she was quick to tell us that she wanted to walk. She hiked for the first ¾ of a mile up the trail and just had the best time. We didn’t stop that much the first mile. It was uphill, of course, but the trail was mostly straight. By the time we made it to the switchbacks we put Madeline in the backpack and Mike carried her through the 16+ switchbacks. We did stop a few times for snacks and to remind the kids to be drinking plenty of water and to just rest our legs from the mildly rocky and steep switchbacks. Mike was really good about letting Abby know when we would be done with the switchbacks. It was important to give her updates about the upcoming sections of the trail. Up until this point most everyone was pretty happy and doing quite well on the trail. Madeline had a few moments of sadness, but it was probably because she wasn’t used to sitting in the pack for long periods of time. We tried to entertain her by singing songs and at one point I turned on some kid songs from my iPhone to keep her spirits up. That lasted until we popped out up and onto the meadow area of the hike.
The meadow section is such a fun part of the trail. It’s not steep and it levels out quite a bit. We told Abby it was flat, to which she replied, “This is not flat AT ALL.” I replied, “This is as flat as you get climbing up a mountain.” I’m not sure she loved that response, but it was true. It was flat enough that you didn’t feel like you had to work very hard. Peter, Emma, and Mike went ahead while I walked with Abby across the “flat” meadow trail. We only stopped a few times to rest our legs for only a few seconds before continuing on. We finally made it to the end of the meadow where we met the others at a large rock at the bottom of the next big push up the mountain. We stopped there for a good 10-15 minutes to actually sit down and have some snacks and hunker down out of the wind. We ate grapes, various cheeses and crackers. It felt good to eat and to sit. At this point it was either turn around and head back or push it to the top. We decided to keep on pushing. Mike continued to carry Madeline, for which I was super grateful. The wind started to pick up and so we decided to grab the bigger blanket we had brought in our packs and put it over Madeline’s pack so we could cover up her legs. Her pants kept riding up and so there was a small section of her leg that was exposed. As strong as Mike is, I could tell that this was taking a toll on him. With the extra weight from carrying her coupled with the ridiculous wind it made our journey quite hard. Madeline was not a happy camper by this point. We had her all bundled up in the pack, but I could tell she was tired and a bit cold. At one point we took her out of the pack and took turns just carrying her in our arms. I could literally only do it for 20 ft at a time. It became frustrating that we were not moving very fast. Where once our hands were nice and warm, the wind started to turn our hands numb and cold. I’m not going to lie; this was a much harder ascent this time around. Between Madeline and Abby, Mike and I were struggling to keep their spirits up and our own. We let Peter climb ahead since he is such a fast hiker and Emma even took off. She ended up coming back down the trail several times because she didn’t want to get that far ahead. Other travelers along the way told her, “You will have hiked more than anyone else as you go up and down and up and down the trail.” She got a chuckle out of that. Once we made it to the cathedral spires, it was the last rocky scramble to the summit. With only 400 ft of rocky scramble we were too close to quit. I think we all cried a little bit as we made our way to the top. Abby had several melt downs and Madeline had fallen somewhat asleep from all the trauma from the wind. I kept checking on her and calling her name just to make sure she was conscious. She was ok; just tired and a little cold. At one-point Abby refused to go any further. Another hiker was making his way down and stopped to give her some of his oxygen. She immediately perked right up. She and Mike took turns getting some more oxygen in their lungs before continuing on. That sweet traveler let Abby keep the remainder of the oxygen to use on her way up. It was really sweet. We all did make it to the top and stopped very quickly for a quick photo. Peter had been sitting there for an hour by the time we arrived. He was pretty cold, but he hunkered down behind some rocks to wait for us. He is pretty experienced with climbing 14ers so we knew he would be ok. The views from the top were pretty remarkable. It was too bad it was so windy because we really couldn’t spend very much time up there.
The rocky scramble back down to the cathedral spires was probably the worst part of the hike. It was hard to find the path we had come up and we got a little off the beaten path at the beginning. Tempers flared a bit, but we did make it back to the real trail. All I could think of was poor Mike. He had carried Madeline in a pack with the wind blowing him all around. I couldn’t have done what he did. I wanted to get down this next section back to the meadow fast and the only way to do that was if Abby hiked at the same pace as the rest of us. I linked arms with her, and we just flew down the mountain. Every time we turned on the trail, we switched positions so that she was closer to the mountain. That made her more comfortable and she was able to keep up a good pace. It was so crazy how our hands started to unthaw the further down the trail we climbed. As we neared the last section of this part of the hike, I noticed Mike was slowing down, so I let Abby and Peter go ahead while I waited for Mike. Emma had already made her way into the meadow by that point. Later Mike told me that his legs were starting to shake uncontrollably so he had to stop more. By the time we made it to the meadow we all met up at the same rock as before and ate our lunch. We should have eaten earlier but it was way too cold at the top so this was the first place we could eat. Mike took off the pack and laid down on the ground. Madeline finally perked up but didn’t eat a lot of her sandwich but was happy to eat tons of fruit snacks. After a good period of resting I took the backpack and carried Madeline down most of the way down. She was quite the chatterbox on the way down and her spirits were pretty good. I think she was happy to be warmer and out of the wind. Just when I was about ready to be done carrying Madeline, she wanted to get out and walk. Thank goodness. She walked the last ¾ of a mile back to the trailhead. It was so cute listening to her little conversations with me. She talked about all sorts of funny things. It made the last part of our hike rather enjoyable. By the time we all made it back to the car we were so relieved and proud that we had made it together to the top of Mt. Huron. Did we push ourselves past our limits…maybe? But what could be better than teaching our kids that they can do hard things. Afterall, there are always life lessons when hiking in the mountains together!