Mike and I ran in the Revel Big Bear Half Marathon, and it was quite the adventure. We both PR'd which is amazing. I finished in 1:26.47 (6:37 avg pace), placed 1st in my age division (40-44), 6th female out 690, and 43rd overall out of 1101 runners. Mike finished in 1:48.41 (8:17 avg pace), placed 27th in his age division (45-49), 152nd male out of 411, and 259th overall out of 1101 runners. He only trained for 3 weeks since he had been injured and his longest run was 9 miles. That's incredible. I wasn’t injured so I spent the last few months training hard for this race including many severe downhill fast paced runs to get my legs ready for the pounding. My first 7 miles were between 6:16-6:22 pace and when I hit mile 8, I got the worst side stitch ever. I'm inclined to think I drank too much water when taking my gu at mile 7. It completely threw off my game and I had to really dig deep for that next 2 miles to get my head back in the game and to keep running sub-7. It was a mental suffer fest for the rest of the race, but I knew if I could just hold on I could still PR so that’s what I did. It just goes to show that sometimes even when you train smart you can still hit hurdles along the way. It’s how we face those challenges that determine how strong we really are.
This was an exciting month of training for my upcoming half marathon. The beginning of the month graced us with warmer weather and so I continued to bike outside as often as I could. My running training was solid and focused as I worked on race simulation long runs, hill repeats where I focused not only on running uphill but pushing the downhill sections, track workouts, fartlek runs, and some severe downhill training. I was so lucky that we had such great weather throughout the month. At the end of the month our new Peloton bike came and that was a lot of fun riding on those cooler days. My favorite run of the month was my 6-mile race simulation down Rampart Range Road in Garden of the Gods. My mile splits were spot on for my race and I felt great for most of the run. The most exciting thing I noticed this month was my weight. I finally got down to my lowest weight (108) in 16 years.
We have lived in Colorado Springs for 8 years and this was the first time that Mike and I hiked the famous Crags trail. The 5-mile trail started through a beautiful aspen lined meadow with mountain peaks in the distance. After walking through a forest of aspen trees we came to another clearing with the coolest rock formations in our view. As we rounded the corner from this first rock formation, we began to make the climb to the top of the granite dome. As we made our way to the top we came upon some astonishing gnarled ancient Bristlecone Pines sprinkled throughout the rocks. In every direction we saw the coolest rock formations and were amazed at the beauty of these rock formations and at the view of the Rampart Range, Ute Pass, and the Catamount Creeks drainage. We could've stayed up there all day, but the wind was pretty brutal at the top. After eating a quick snack, taking in the 360-degree view, and playing very quickly with an Australian Shepard, we headed back down the trail. This was a relatively easy hike and one in which we will have to do again with our kids.
The month of August found Mike and I very busy trying to get ready for the Double Bypass bike event near the end of the month and my Pikes Peak Hill climb the beginning of the month. I found myself mostly biking this month with the occasional run with the Striders or with Dionne. Mike and I had some fun rides this month. My favorite ride was our anniversary ride where we rode up and back on the Cherry Creek trail and then the South Platte River trail inn Denver. It was a gorgeous day and a fun ride. We stopped along the South Platte River trail for a quick snack and enjoyed resting for a bit before finishing up our almost 63-mile ride. Some of my other rides included Sanctuary Pointe with Emily, the 719 segment with Mike, and some of our routine Cottonwood Creek trail rides.
The Double Bypass (part of the Triple Bypass bike event in the Colorado mountains) was such an awesome challenge ride. Mike and I choose to start with the shorter but totally sweet 65-mile ride up 2 mountain passes. We climbed about 6000ft, braved the cold elements throughout the race, took photos on top of the world, tried pickle juice at the aid stations, cheered on other bikers that we passed along the way, and challenged ourselves in an epic endurance ride. I love that we do these things together. We started out together but once we reached the first climb, I went on ahead. In hindsight, I should have waited for him at the top of the first mountain pass. Mike took time at each aid station to enjoy all the perks and enjoy the ride whereas I rode it for time. I finished the ride in 4:53:52 and Mike finished in 5:24:51. The next big bike event we do we will ride together because it will be more fun that way. Go team Wilhelm!
This month was bike heavy for sure as I got ready to race the Pikes Peak Hill Climb and prepare for the Double Bypass. I tried to sneak in as many runs as I could. I met with the Striders at Red Rocks and did hill repeats. On a separate day we did trail climbing on Red Mountain and Iron Mountain with a road tempo on the tail end of the run. I also ran a new route with Dionne and Caryn up the Sunrise trail. That was a lot of fun. The rest of the month was spent road biking up Gold Camp Road, mountain biking from Pulpit Rock to Austin Bluffs, a practice ride to the top of Pikes Peak, long rides on the Cottonwood Creek trail, and exploring and getting records on the 719 bike segment. I crushed the previous women’s record by 3 minutes and came in under 1 hour for the segment. It was a month of fun both on the bike and on the run.
New Orleans can be done in 2 days, but one last thing that must occur when you are in the deep South is a trip into the Bayou. So, we got up, had breakfast, and headed east, just shy of the Mississippi border. We had a small boat tour of the East Pearl River and associated sloughs and bayou. It did not disappoint. It’s amazing how much life there is tucked into the grasses, bald cypress, water, and mud. From crawfish, to honeybees, to ducks, to pigs, racoons, alligators, and fish, there is a lot to see. It is a much different way of life than we are used to in super dry Colorado. Houses flood routinely, hurricanes threaten occasionally, and the humidity and heat never relent. It seems a distant world from the filth of New Orleans. It was fun to be in a different form of nature than we are used to in the mountains. There were lots more bugs and tons more water. The thought of our family living in a little cabin on the bayou makes me laugh. We wouldn’t last long.
After the tour, we headed back to the city. On our way, we grabbed some po’ boys and our culinary trip to the south was complete. We went back over bridges and water to the city and our hotel. Thank goodness for nice hotels. Driving into the entryway is like arriving through the gates of the castle. It is a refuge from the world just outside in the streets. We rested a bit, then headed back to the airport for our evening flight. Then it was back to Colorado, reality, and the life we know.
Written by Mike
Sunday arrived with a trip to church. The Brady family, who clearly was a big piece of this ward, decided to move to California and this was their farewell Sunday. It was an entertaining sacrament meeting and very much more diverse than anything we have attended in Colorado. After church, it was back to the WWII museum for the Pacific campaign and the planes. It was interesting to see the boys talk about their knowledge of Japan, the pacific, and relate it to the events of WWII. I think that they could really feel the misery of jungle warfare, the tenacity of the Japanese, and the unforgiving nature of Naval Warfare from their experiences living in Japan and being a part of 7th fleet.
After the museum, it was time for a New Orleans Sunday brunch. So, it was back to the French Quarter and off to Broussard’s where the boys had oysters for the first time, chicken and waffles, and I had Josephine Benedict. The service was stellar and the food good. The boys really enjoyed their chicken and waffles.
Sufficiently stuffed, the boys headed back to the hotel for a nap and refuge from the heat. I wandered around the shopping areas of New Orleans for a little bit, then headed back to the hotel. New Orleans and the WWII museum are a fitting mix. The WWII Museum shows the very best of mankind right beside the very worst of mankind. The depravity, vile disregard for life, lust for money and power that ushered the world into the misery of WWII brought out the heroism, charity, selfless sacrifice, and courage of so many. It is both a tribute to and a rebuke of humanity. A reminder that we must strive for the best, extoll the good, and prevent the evil. New Orleans is much the same. There is no place on earth that exhibits the depravity and worst of humanity than Bourbon Street in the French Quarter. If sin has a smell, then it is the fetid odor that stifles the air of Bourbon Street. It is truly horrific. The sights, sounds, and smells remind you that humans will resort to their bassist most animalistic natures for what they perceive is a good time. But in the end, they are only trading their birthright for a mess of pottage. It is sobering to witness. The musical, culinary, and architectural delights are almost no match for the sewage which swills around it. It endures, but only if people chose the good and not the bad.
On the other side, there is the Garden District and Commander’s Palace. It may seem a bit much to take an eighteen and a twenty-year-old to such an establishment, but it embodies Haute Cuisine and fine service. You would think eating at 8:45 pm was late, but the restaurant was packed with people. The immediate thing that you notice is the service. The service is impeccable. Everything about it is refined, thoughtful, and done in a way that dignifies the gust and does not demean them. The second thing you notice are the happy faces of people enjoying wonderful food. No one is sitting around miserable, waiting, wondering, or wishing. Everyone is enjoying themselves. And what’s not to enjoy? The food is exemplary. Peter had turtle soup and Andrew and I had the gumbo. For main courses we all had quail (you get a quail, you get a quail, you get a quail!). Peter said it was the best thing he had ever eaten. It was quite good. For dessert, Peter the bread pudding souffle, which is divine. I had the peaches and cream, and Andrew had the cookies n’ cream. Good food brings out good conversation and the evening was awesome. I am grateful that we could be together and enjoy an evening of laughs, tasty food, and excellent service. You can’t help but feel great after such an evening.
Written by Mike
Getting up early to fly somewhere is always so painful, but when you have a limited schedule, sometimes, it’s all you can do. Before the boys went off to college, I decided to do a quick trip somewhere. But where to go? The boys are really into WW2 history and have lived in and studied both the major enemy countries. They are really into Jazz, Peter playing trumpet and Andrew playing trombone. They are really into good food. So, we decided on New Orleans, home of Jazz, the WWII museum, and tasty southern cuisine.
Of course, we headed off on Frontier airlines, which was a little painful and certainly a little eye opening. It was the people’s flight. Lots and lots of unique, loud, and voluminous people. Once off the plane, we got our bag and then got on the rental car bus, which takes you on a 30-minute tour around the airport, to the old airport parking garage. It was not very glorious or efficient. The rental car folks still had printers from 1987, so that was interesting too. It’s like they took the entire airport and made it new and nice, except for the car rental people. They left them to perish by themselves. As if one day they are just going to open a new rental car place by the new airport and not tell anybody at the old place.
Once in our California Camry, we headed directly to the WWII museum, parked, and then left for our first taste of goodness. The Cochon Butcher. Just a couple blocks from the museum, the meats are delicious, the mac and cheese divine, and the Bavarian pretzels other worldly. A tasty way to start the day since we didn’t have breakfast in Denver. After lunch, we headed back to the museum and indulged ourselves in history. The WWII Museum is so well done, it’s just amazing. It’s probably one of the best museums in the world in my opinion. There is so much information, so many interactive displays that you could spend hours pouring through all of it. It really is worth the journey. As a parent, taking kids to museums, they just kind of look around at some stuff and then ask when they can have ice-cream. Now, the boys were content to watch every video, read every placard, explore every nook and exhibit in the museum. It was a lot of fun. What was even more fun were the discussions that we had at dinner that night and later in the day as they drew comparisons to the lessons of WWII and current events. Fascinating.
After the museum, we hustled over to the hotel, dropped off our stuff, and then headed to Preservation Hall where we were entreated to Shannon Hall and the Preservation Hall All-Star band. Trumpet, Trombone, Drums, Bass, and Piano. So close. So good. So inspiring. To see musicians who have mastered the craft up close was a gift to the senses. The pianist’s forearm muscles were like the strings of a bass bounding and pulsating in a way that made his fingers resurrect music from the worn ivory keys of the upright. The trombonist smooth and powerful while the trumpet led everyone higher and higher with unapologetic grandeur. The drums and bass provided direction and confidence to the endeavor and for an hour we were reminded that somethings in life are best enjoyed in the moment.
After the performance, we grabbed some Beignets at Café Du Monde and headed back to our hotel for dinner and more jazz. The boys had gumbo, truffle oil fries, Crawfish Fet toast, and shrimp and grits. Dessert was peach bread pudding and a smore’s board. After that, the only thing one could do is go to bed.
Written by Mike
After dropping off Emma to XC camp in the mountains, Mike and I headed off on a short little hike before heading home. It was such a beautiful evening as we ventured off on the McCullough Gulch trail. This hike had everything. There were beautiful trees, waterfalls, and a mixed trail of dirt, rocks, and tree roots. It was unique and fun, and we absolutely loved it. We didn't make it all the way to the end of the trail due to time but the parts that we did hike were spectacular. The sunset on the way back was epic too. We will have to come back when we have more time to finish the trail to the top.
June is always the most coveted month for exercise outside in Colorado. The weather is finally warm but the mornings are still cool so you can enjoy being outside without sweating too much. I joined Peter on a run through Fox Run Park. I wasn’t in the best shape, so I was really sucking wind running up the back section of the park. In my defense, Peter was running rather fast. He realized he had gone out too fast and said, “Don’t worry mom, we can slow down!” What a good kid. It was the first time I had run with him in a long time, and it was so much fun. I joined the Striders for some of their last running workouts at Garden of the Gods and joined in the group photo. I biked in the Gardens by myself and with Mike, did some mtn biking in the Pineries and at Red Rocks, and biked with Mike up in Denver. We hit our longest ride ever biking 70 miles along the Cherry Creek Trail from Cherry Creek State Park to South Platte River Trail to Bear Creek Trail and back. It took us a little under 5 hours. It was a great training ride for our Double Bypass adventure in August.
The next morning we woke up early, ate an amazing breakfast in the restaurant, and then drove to through the tiny town of Minturn and headed to the Fancy Pass and Missouri Lake Trailheads. We started up the Fancy Pass side and planned on making the big loop all the way around to Missouri Lake. The start of this hike was mostly in the trees, and it was shaded which was wonderful. There were a few sections where some big trees had fallen into the trail, and we had to climb up and over them to get through the trail. After some steep ascent we popped out and saw the lake. It started to sprinkle and hail which was crazy and sort of fun. We were glad that we came prepared with our light running rain jackets. As we made our way to the pass, we heard thunder and stopped for a moment to access the situation. We started to turn around but after a minute we decided it was best to keep going up the pass since the clouds and sky in that direction looked clearer. So, we booked it up the snow field, being very careful with our footing. We had to post hold several times since there were some deeper sections. Once we popped out over the other side the meadow bowl was littered with wildflowers and we had a 360-degree view of the most amazing mountain ranges. This was our favorite part for sure. As we made our way across the meadow and up towards Missouri Pass it started to thunder again. It kind of took us by surprise since we thought that had passed, so we hiked as fast as we could up the pass. There was one section where I feel into hip deep snow, and it took a little bit of help to get out. After we made it over Missouri Pass the clouds part and we could see Missouri Lake. This hike literally took my breath away! With every turn there was something amazing to behold whether it was another part of the lake, beautiful wildflowers, or distant mountain ranges. This was one of the best hikes I’ve been on in Colorado. Overall, the hike was a bit challenging but very doable in one day. After finishing our hike, we drove back to the hotel and got ready for some pampering. We both got massages and then spent some time in the grotto area where we sat in the adult only underground hot tub. It was amazing! For dinner that night we ate at the Japanese restaurant, and we were both stunned at how tasty the food was. We will definitely be returning to this hotel and restaurant someday!
With all the crazy end of year festivities and spring sports season being pushed into June, Mike and I desperately needed some alone time away. In typical Mike fashion, he booked an amazing trip to Beaver Creek and Vail. We drove up early on Friday morning and parked our car in Frisco and got on our bikes to ride up Vail pass. The trail leading to Vail was incredible with amazing views of the mountains and the river. We were pleasantly surprised at how much easier Vail pass was to bike than we had originally thought. After turning around at the top, we coasted down the path and loved every minute of it. We headed back towards Frisco and then decided to bike around Dillon Lake. On the opposite side of the lake, we found a farmers’ market. We walked our bikes through the market and found some great street tacos for lunch. Then we headed back on the trail to make the full loop back to our car. We ended up riding around 46 miles. Then we got in the car and drove to Beaver Creek where we stayed at Ritz Carlton. We normally stay at the Park Hyatt, but this was a wonderful change. Everything about the Ritz was amazing. We spent the first night ordering room service for dinner and watching the Olympic trials.
One of the best things about summer is being able to exercise with Mike. Since his morning case got cancelled, we decided to head to Mt. Herman for a morning hike together. I love this hike even though it isn’t very long. It is a steep mile or so to the top, so you feel like you got a slight workout without having to work hard. One of the best things about hiking is the great conversations that Mike and I have as we are hiking. That is the biggest reason why I love hiking with Mike more than any other sport. Sometimes we can chat on the bike, but hiking is a little easier to hold a real conversation. This hike ends at the top with the most beautiful view of the valley. I wish I could start every day like this one. Life would truly be perfect if I could spend time like this every morning with Mike.
May is always an unpredictable month when it comes to exercising outside. For the most part the weather was pretty good, but we did have the random snowstorm and chilly, windy weather. Still, Mike and I were able to go on an awesome long ride on the Cherry Creek Trail in Denver towards Cheery Creek State Park. We biked all the way to the park from downtown and around the lake. It was so nice to bike somewhere other than our typical ride on the Cottonwood Creek trail. I headed to the pool once which was nice and spent some time on my mountain bike. I enjoyed some more Garden runs and a fun run with some really fast girlies in my running group.
I was finally able to start getting back into real running and biking shape this month. I had some amazing runs at Garden of the Gods with my running group and good friends. I even managed to get back on the mountain bike and attempted the Ladders/Gold Camp/High Drive/Captain Jacks ride with Tina and felt pretty good on the ride. I started getting back on the road bike since the weather was finally a little bit nicer and did some rides along the Cottonwood Trail and even the Sinton Trail. I still had to wear all of my layers on most of the bike rides, but it felt good to be riding outside instead of on the trainer. While visiting my parents the end of this month I was able to get in some good rides in warmer weather. I had my longest ride ever at 60 miles at 4000ft of climbing. It was a great month to jump start getting ready for the summer months of riding.
There wasn’t a ton of exercising in March as I was slowly adding back in running and biking after my surgery. It felt good to get outside and run, even if I had to do it in the snow. I surprisingly love running through fresh snow. There is something so calming about a new snowfall. I was able to run up Rampart Range Road with Dionne and Amber and did pretty well until the last mile or so. Mike and I biked together, and I actually got QOM on one of the Cordera segments. I was completely shocked. The last half of March I was preparing for our upcoming trip to Disney World so although I didn’t run or bike during the end of the month, I did do a lot of walking.
The beginning of this month didn’t start out too well with 2 weeks of being sick with what I can only imagine was in fact COVID-19. Add kidney stone issues on top of that and this was a slow month of exercise. Nevertheless, I managed to get out a few times to run, bike, and do some Cross-fit with Mike. This was Mike’s best month of exercise. While I was sick, he was diligently in the garage doing a variety of Cross-fit workouts and then lifting more afterwards. He also went on a few mountain bike rides by himself. It was a good month for Mike and just an ok one for me.
This month was filled with lots of biking and running adventures and a fun hike up the Incline. The weather was so nice this month and although I had to pull out the long sleeve shirts, I was able to get by with wearing shorts for most of the month. I ran a few times at Garden of the Gods and a run at Bear Creek Park with Striders. I even had an amazing brick workout day with Mike. We ran 10 miles from home down to Costco, then got on our bikes and rode 21 miles around Garden of the Gods and downtown back to Costco. Mike and I had some fun mountain bike rides around the Falcon Trail and the Pineries loop. I had fun hiking the Incline with Caryn and her friend and then took it easy on the run down Barr Trail. It was a fun and successful month of exercise.
I loved every minute of biking and running this month. Some of the highlights this month was mountain biking with Mike at Pineries, biking up Cheyenne Canyon Rd with Caryn and some fun people from USATF, and finally meeting the Striders for some group runs. I’m lucky I had great running buddies during the worst of COVID, but it was great to see people I hadn't seen in a while and to feel the desire to not slack in the group workout. I loved our track workout of 5x1000s with 200m recoveries and the tempo run up Section 16. Both were solid workouts. Exercise is such an integral part of my life and I'm so blessed I have great people to exercise with every month.