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.
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.
Mike and I ventured up past Woodland Park towards the Lost Creek Wilderness to do a hike we had never done before. We hiked on the Bison Peak Trail which ended being about a 12-mile hike round trip. The Lost Creek Wilderness is one of the most unique wildernesses in Colorado simply because of its terrain. Above tree line on the Bison Peak Trail, there were some of the most bizarre rock formations you will ever see. Much of the Lost Creek Wilderness, which spans 120,000 acres, is dominated by these incredible rock formations, including massive polished granite domes and towering spires. There weren’t a ton of people on the trail and part of that is because this trail is not in a super convenient location to Denver. Also, the trail was incredibly steep just to get to the top plateau areas where you can view the amazing rock formations. Once at the first plateau the trail wasn’t clear, so we just wandered in the correct direction until we found sections that looked like trail. It’s a good thing that Mike had already hiked this trail because he knew generally where we were going. Once the wind started to pick up, we stopped to put on more layers and got a random Facebook call from Andrew. It was awesome to be able to talk with him up on the mountain. Our reception was that great once we started hiking again, so we had to say goodbye and continue onwards. We hiked for another 1-2 miles until we finally reached the summit. At the top, Mike immediately found the Geocache box and found the journal that he had signed several years ago when he hiked this with Peter and the rest of the Boy Scouts. I was just happy I made it to the top because I had been tired all morning and the steepness of the trail really tried me physically and mentally. I can honestly say that the views from the top and the many plateaus of unique rock formations was well worth the hike. Since the weather looked like it could be getting iffy, we didn’t waste any time heading back down the mountain. We hiked so fast going down. One thing is for sure, I always have a great time when I am hiking with Mike.
Being Epic Pass Holders, we were able to take the ski lift to the top of the mountain which was so much easier than hiking or biking up! We took the Royal Elk trail over to the lake and sat on the far side of the shore. It was so pleasant. We then hiked back down to the hotel. Why do trips like this have to end? It seems like it would be better if we could work 2 days a week and take 5 days off. I think life would be better if we didn’t have to work so much.
On Friday, we got up and road our mountain bikes uphill and took the village connector trail all the way through Beaver Creek. It was a bit of a beast to start climbing right away up the mountain, but once on the main trail, it was pretty spectacular. The views, the flower, and the flowy single track were pretty great. The downhill was fun as well. We had lunch down by the Westin in Avon, and then took the bus back up to the hotel. It was a beautiful day with great weather. The best part of the day, of course, was getting massages at the spa. The Spa at the Park Hyatt is one of the best we have ever been to. It’s just great and never disappoints.
There are just some places that are great to go with your spouse. Beaver Creek is one of them. It’s such a beautiful place. We took the weekend to spend without the kids at the Park Hyatt, which is one of our favorite places. The hotel is great, but there are lots of fun things to do there. Soon after we arrived, we headed over to eat dinner at Splendido. The food was wonderful, but the best part were the souffle’s for dessert. They were ridiculously good. Our dinner was a great way to start our awesome weekend trip.
One of the fun things about being around Sara’s parents is their love for biking. It’s great to have grandparents who are active and want to go out and do things. There are lots of great trails by their house like the Murdock trail, the Provo Canyon River Trail, and then long loops through the mountains to make sure that your legs will be burning and your lungs weeping. Sara, Franz, and Mike did the Alpine loop, which is a stunning, beautiful climb around Mount Timpanogos. The trees and scenery are stunning. Sara flew up the climb and proved that she is still Queen of the Mountain. Coming down, Franz went so fast it was a little unnerving to try to keep up. That man has no fear. It was a great ride. Another great ride we did with all the kids was biking up the Provo River trail to Vivian Park. It’s a great ride and just a beautiful river with great scenery. The kids did great. At the top of the trail, there was a park for Madeline to play at with her siblings. The best part, of course, was that the way back was all downhill. Downhill makes for happy kids.
Any vacation wouldn’t be complete without some silly long hike. Mount Timpanogos seems like a straightforward hike, and for the most part it is, but it is a long, long hike. The waterfalls, wildflowers, and stunning views make it all worth it. Peter and Andrew basically raced up the mountain, proving that it's really annoying to go hiking with younger people with good lungs and springy legs, but we kept up with them pretty well. Emerald Lake was beautiful and there were mountain goats just hanging out alongside the trail. Crossing the snowbanks was tough, but getting to the summit wasn’t too bad, especially since we’re pretty used to the altitude. The views from the top were perfect. It was a beautiful day to be in the mountains. The real beast was coming back down. It’s just a long, long way by the time you get back down. The entire hike was sixteen miles round trip. Sara ran down the last couple of miles and the boys spent time just enjoying all the waterfalls. Afterwards, it was a race to IN-N-OUT for everyone so we could refuel our bodies. It was such a great hike, but one we would pay for with sore legs for the next couple of days.
written by Mike
One of my favorite things to do in life is go hiking. So it was a great day to be able to get up early and hike with my best friend up Y mountain. Bonus fact, it was also the place of our first date. It was fun to hike up the switchbacks, take in the views and just sit and talk and look over the world. Plus, we did it all before anyone else really got up in the morning. There’s something great about being up in the mountains and watching the sun come up on the world. Makes you grateful that you were around for another year to take it all in. Later on that day, we had doughnuts and opened presents. I’m always happy when I get a surprise for my birthday. For years, I have been coveting a new Taylor guitar. It was pretty great to be surprised with a new guitar for my birthday, super fun to play with great sound and great action. Abby was a sport because her birthday got delayed until we got to Utah. I think it paid off for her in the end and it was worth the wait. Great food and good times. Birthdays are about being with family, laughing, and eating too much frosting.
written by Mike
Mike and I decided to head up to Staunton State Park for a new adventure ride. We left early in the morning and arrived at the State Park in good spirits. It was a little cool when we left but the initial climbing at the beginning of the course helped warm us up quickly. We rode a big clockwise loop starting with the Staunton Ranch Trail. This steady uphill climb was mostly a rather wide single track. The trail was incredible with amazing views. This trail eventually dumped us onto a service road that took us up a short distance until we met up with the 4-way intersection. We took a left and headed on the Marmot Passage Trail. This was a pretty spectacular section of the loop. It was a steady uphill climb for almost a mile that brought us to the top of a beautiful lookout that overlooks Lion’s Head. The top was mostly a rocky section and I was having so much fun navigating the rocky section that I didn’t even stop at the top to see the views. The rocky descent was super fun and reminded me a little of biking Slick Rock in Moab. Once at the bottom of this little section, we decided against doing the Chimney Rock and West Meadow Trail and instead bypassed this section altogether by riding up the Bulging Elk Trail that looped back around and took us back to the 4-way intersection. This time we headed on the Border Line Trail and put our bodies to the test on the hardest climb in the park. We climbed for about 1.2 miles. It was grueling at times but definitely doable. We made the short trek up to the overlook and took that as a much-needed break. The views were something else! As we continued to descend, we headed onto the Mason Creek trail and just loved biking through the Aspens and other tree sections. We were diverted to the Bear Paw Trail for part of it as a short section of the Mason Creek Trail was closed for rejuvenation. There was another great overlook at the top before the super fun descent all the way to the bottom. This was probably the coolest ride we’ve done in Colorado by far. It was such a beautiful place to bike and only an hour away from our house. We will definitely be coming back here to bike, hike and camp!
The last time we biked Rampart Reservoir was almost 6 years ago. We decided to ride it again, now with more experience on the mountain bike. We decided to go counterclockwise, although part way Mike informed me that this direction was much harder than the clockwise loop. Great. We were already too far into the course to turn around and go the other direction. The first few miles were tough with many impassable sections. It felt like we were off the bike too much. The saving grace on the first section were the incredible view. I guess that is really why people keep coming back to bike this place. The course isn’t always rideable but the parts that are can be really fun and the views on a sunny day are pretty amazing. We finished the 11.57-mile loop in 2 hours and 10 minutes and then headed to Rudy’s for some yummy BBQ.
With our XTERRA Beaver Creek triathlon only two months away and still scheduled to happen both Mike and I spent a great deal of time this month getting in our biking, swimming, and running. Luckily Flying Horse opened up their swim lanes by reservation only on May 11th. We swam three days, biked twice and ran 3-4 times every week. We had fun swimming together and biking at Red Rocks, Stratton Open Space, Black Forest Section 16 and the occasional road bike on the Cottonwood Creek Trail. It has been nice to have a race to work towards, even though in the back of our minds we know at any time it could be cancelled. What’s even better is that we have been able to train together. I’m so glad Mike and I like doing the same things!
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!
I really do think there is nothing quite like doing something fun with your spouse. Mike and I both love many of the same things. One of the things we love to do that is easy and pretty accessible from home is biking together. We have really tried to take advantage of this great weather to be outside together. We decided to head out on our road bikes to bike from our house all the way to Costco via the Cottonwood Creek trail and the Santa Fe trail. The only major roads we had to cross were Briargate and Union Blvd. We road Royal Pine from our house across Briargate and once we popped out onto Austin Bluffs, we got right onto the wide sidewalk which turned into the trail at Woodmen. We biked all the way through the new section (which is AWESOME) and stopped at the Crit Café at the Criterium bike store. It was so amazing to sit outside on the patio sharing a burger together. I couldn’t think of anywhere I would rather be than spending quality time with Mike. Thank you, Mike, for lighting up my life with adventure and your amazing presence.
Back in the spring I found out that Billy Joel was coming to Denver to perform in August. There was no way I was going to miss out on this opportunity to see one of my favorite singer/songwriters of all time. I grew up listening to Billy Joel and watching his incredibly fun and entertaining music videos on laser disc. I remember sitting with my brother, Greg, watching those laser discs over and over again. Since I didn’t delay in getting tickets I was able to get some pretty great seats on the floor. Mike and I ended up making a date getaway to Denver and spent the evening at the concert and then stayed at the Ritz Carlton for the night. We got upgraded to a suite which was awesome. Thank you Platinum American Express card! We ate dinner at Elway’s at the hotel and then headed on over to the concert at Coors Field. We were pleasantly surprised at how cool it was to be so close on the field with the floor seating. We walked around and got a closer look at the stage before the concert started. We’ve both been to many concerts, but I think this was probably one of my favorites. Everything about the concert was perfect from the stage set up, to the great set list of songs, to the hilarious comments made by Billy Joel, and of course being there with Mike. I couldn’t think of a better way to spend our anniversary this year than to watch Billy Joel and stay the night in Denver together.
On a normal summer day, Quandary is a miserable slog up boulders (like most 14ers) and a line of neophytes trying to cut their teeth on a tall mountain. However, this was no ordinary summer day. Instead, we went early in the season while there was still plenty of snow on the mountain. We arrived at the parking lot early in the morning, only to find a moose hanging out right by the road. A good omen for the rest of the hike. The start of the hike wound up through beautiful forests and it was cool with the promise of sun. By the time we reached tree line, it was clear we would be in snow to the summit. Perfect. The snow was firm, so there was no post holing and we climbed quickly into the clear morning ski. Denverites were wondering who the speedy little kid was that was passing them, and all I could do was puff out of breath for someone to tell him to slow down. In the end, Peter would make it to the summit a good 30 minutes before me. The climb was excellent, and we had our spikes on as we made a straight line to the top. We stayed at the summit for about 20 minutes, had lunch and then headed down. The best part was that there was snow covering all the big nasty rocks, so we could glissade all the way back down. On our way, we saw mountain goats playing in the snow. It was quite the site to see. Once back to treelike, we ran back to the car (Peter because he can, me because I had to). It was a great climb with lots of wildlife, clear skies and good memories. So glad to have a cool kid like Peter who likes to be out in the mountains. It makes all the hard work worth it.