Category Archives: Healthy Living

Tom Watson Trail and Maruca Sale — Running and Fun Shopping!

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After so many years of trying to stay in shape while juggling a family and many other demands, I finally figured out what really motivates me to get out the door.   Its not an inviting sunny day, a directive on my workout plan or the threat of a race.   Its most definitely getting together with friends and doing something fun after the workout — coffee, breakfast, beer or in today’s case, shopping at a popular biannual factory sale of fabulous, incredibly discounted handbags.   Dangle something fun in front of my nose and I’ll hit the trail for an hour in anticipation of my reward!!!

https://bouldercolorado.gov/parks-rec/tom-watson-park

Today’s carrot was shopping at Maruca’s biannual factory sale following our workout.   Our eager group of runners assembled at a home in Littleton to carpool up to Boulder for an hour run on the Tom Watson Trail.   The views of the Flatirons and Boulder reservoir were spectacular and we enjoyed lovely cool weather.   After a little bagel picnic in the park, we headed over to the Maruca headquarters to take our place in line.   Twice a year, this manufacturer of really cute handbags, totes and zipper cases holds a factory sale.   The rock bottom prices attract a long line of customers.   This was the first time I was able to go and was so excited to see all the goodies!

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Being a resourceful shopper, I dipped into the box of remnants and came home with a bag full of scraps and cording   So far, I’ve sown together some coordinating pieces and drafted some patterns to make my own pocketed zipper bags.   Tune in later for some photos of my creations!

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http://marucadesign.com/

 

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Pilates and The Balanced Life Sisterhood

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Pilates and The Balanced Life Sisterhood

17952978_865590493209_5858890779627771490_nAnyone who knows my workout routine knows that I love my Pilates.  I’ve tried yoga and even have a daughter who teaches it but prefer Pilates for two reasons:  you can talk to your neighbors during class and it focuses on core strength in plain English (no fancy names).   I started going to Lisa’s class at Ken Caryl Community Center about ten years ago and soon became a regular.   Most of my working out tends to be very active — running, swimming, biking, skiing, boot camp, weight lifting, etc. but surprisingly, I found that Pilates offers a great balance to all the pushing I do in very active sports and actually, helps me feel better and takes away a lot of the aches and pains.   After a few years of regular Pilates, I actually measured three quarters of an inch taller!

There are two types of Pilates:   on the reformer and on the mat.   I do Mat Pilates which is done on the floor using an exercise or yoga mat and employs controlled breathing during body weight resisted movement to build core strength.   A typical class lasts about 45-60 minutes.

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After going back to work last year, I was unable to attend my regular class and could only manage to squeeze in a few evening classes a month.   I was excited to hear about an online option from a gal in my running group.  For a low monthly fee, Robin Long, a Pilates instructor based in Boulder (now Santa Barbara) teaches classes five days a week.    After hearing about her program, I immediately checked it out and signed up for a mere $9/month.    I love the flexibility of Robin’s program as well as her encouraging upbeat personality, shorter workouts designed for busy moms and women and well as the support offered by her online community known at the Balanced Life Sisterhood.

14199258_10100593985355466_8713261057227829023_nhttps://thebalancedlifeonline.com/#

In addition to the daily workouts, Robin offers lots other cool things like:

  • Special live streamed workouts on Periscope
  • A monthly mission like getting organized, being mindful, setting goals, etc.
  • A weekly digest email
  • A new spa retreat in Santa Barbara
  • Facebook posts with personal updates
  • Special free programs like the 21 days challenge in February 2017
  • A blog
  • New healthy recipes each month.  Here’s a family favorite:  https://thebalancedlifeonline.com/slow-cooker-chicken-tacos/

slow-cooker-chicken-tacos.pngSlow Cooker Chicken Tacos

Ingredients:

  • 1 ¼ pounds boneless, skinless chicken breast, preferably organic
  • 15 ounces low-sodium black beans, drained
  • 14 ounces frozen corn, preferably organic, straight from freezer
  • 16 ounces mild store-bought salsa, preferably organic
  • ½ cup water
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon pepper
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 cup fresh cilantro, minced
  • Whole wheat tortillas (optional/we used corn to keep it gluten free)

Directions:

Add all ingredients except the cilantro and tortillas to the slow cooker. Mix well.

Cook on low for approximately 8 hours undisturbed. Prior to serving, shred chicken, add cilantro and mix well.

Here’s another link to one of Robin’s YouTube workouts:

If you’re interested in trying Pilates, I encourage you to check out Robin’s free workouts available on her website or on YouTube.   I think registration for the Balanced Life Sisterhood will open up again in September 2017.   It so awesome to feel stronger with her 10-35 minute home workouts.  Let me know what you think!

 

 

Running on the East West Trail

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Sweeping Views of the Snow-capped Front Range and Pike’s Peak

I am always amazed when I have the opportunity to try a new running trail  and today was such a day.    Shari Zimmerman, a member of my running club, knew about the East West Trail in Highlands Ranch from her son who lives nearby.   And several weeks ago, when she described the beautiful mountain views and the lovely hilly trail, our group was eager to check it out.   And today was the day!

The East West Trail is tucked in the stunning Back Country neighborhood just past Mountain Vista High School on Wild Cat Reserve Parkway.   It is a soft surface trail approximately 19.5 miles long stretching from Red Stone Park to Ridgegate Parkway with future connections to Lone Tree and Parker.   We carpooled the 20-30 minutes from our homes in Littleton and Lakewood and parked at Red Tail Park just off  2674 Pemberly Avenue.   When we arrived, the park full of school children and the sun was shining.   A another warm blue-sky Spring Colorado day!    By 8:05 am, the 10 of us had hit the trail.

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http://www.douglas.co.us/documents/east-west-regional-trail-info-and-map.pdf

We knew from Shari’s description that the trail was an uphill climb for almost a mile.   And she’s wasn’t kidding!   With a pounding heart, I jogged and walked up the steep grade in about 12 minutes and at the top, was greeted with a sweeping view of the snow capped Front Range and clear views of both Pike’s Peak to the south and Mount Evans to the West.   Wow!   Vistas like this just make me love Colorado and appreciate my good fortune to live here.   After catching my breath and reading some of the trail signs, my companions and I continued on the public trail for another 20 minutes and turned around.

Along the way, there were narrow dirt paths shooting off the main trail with signs warning nonresidents to stay off  the private property.   I wondered if my sister Pam’s ls.jpg residence in Highlands Ranch would qualify her (and her guests) to use these trails?   For today, we enjoyed the wide, well maintained public trail.    On the way back, most of us were able to run a bit faster. – a real treat!   After an hour on the trail, we met back at the parking lot and all headed to Pierre Michel French Bakery  for breakfast.   What a delight to enjoy French pastries, omelets, quiches and coffee at this lovely local restaurant!

http://www.pierremichelbakery.com/

After I got home and did a little more research, I was happy to find that there is a East-West Trail Half Marathon and 10k on June 10.   I will  have spend some more time training on that big hill before I register!

https://raceroster.com/events/2017/10512/east-west-trail-half-marathon-and-10k

 

 

Kayak Swim Patrol at the Boulder Ironman 2015

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Kayak Swim Patrol at the Boulder Ironman 2015
Getting ready to push off for the race start.

Ready to push off for the race start.

At this point in my life, the closest I will ever get to doing an Ironman is by volunteering at one. Having done triathlons on a smaller scale for almost 20 years and even participating on several triathlons teams, I can relate to the euphoria of crossing the finish line after months of hard training.   That feeling of accomplishment is something I love and at times, tempts me into actually considering putting the Ironman on my bucket list.   But, after a few minutes of dreaming about it, I come to my senses and realize that its a crazy thought.   When I think about the necessary year of intense training, the potentail injuries, the family support and missed obligations, the expense and the actual task of covering 140.1 miles in the water, on the bike and on foot, it all seems like too much.   On the other hand, watching my friends and others  complete this goal  gives me that  euphoric feeling — especially when I watch athletes cross the finish line close to the 17 hour deadline.

Megan and I suiting up with life jackets for the kayak swim patrol.

Megan and I suiting up for the kayak swim patrol.

Eager to experience  the adrenaline rush of seeing thousands of determined athletes attempt to reach the extraordinary goal of finshing an Ironman, I decided to add my name to the list of volunteers.   Inspired by my daughter who told me about the openings on the kayak swim patrol (a role I filled twice at the Ironman Wisconsin), I signed on too.    As a member of the swim patrol, our job is to patrol the swim course as the athletes embark on the first portion of the race — a 2.4 mile swim.

The Boulder Reservoir at 5:30 am. We are waiting for our orientation before we head out for the 6:25 am race start.

The Boulder Reservoir at 5:30 am. We are waiting for our orientation before we head out for the 6:25 am race start.

In preparation for the race, those of us with boats were asked to bring them up to Boulder Reservoir two days early for inspection and drop off.    On Friday afternoon, I made the 45 minute drive up with two kayaks — one for me and one for Megan — and to pick up the coveted parking pass which would give us early morning access to the Rez parking lot.    Even the athletes would have to bus to the start line of the swim so I was happy to be able to drive right up to water’s edge and leave once my job was completed.    With our shifts starting at 5 am, Megan and I headed up to Boulder the night before the race to stay with my friend Patty.    Up by 4:15 am, our lack of sleep was rewarded with fewer miles to drive, little traffic and an early arrival to our pre-sunrise shift.

Megan paddling to her station on the swim course.

Megan paddling to her station on the swim course.

We assembled with dozens of other volunteers near the lifeguard headquarters on the beach and scrambled in the dark for our volunteer t-shirts, snacks and water bottles.    Rows of kayaks, paddle boards, jet skiis,  piles of paddles, life jackets and more lined the quiet beach.   As the glimmer of the new day began to appear on the horizon, an official Ironman captain greeted the group for a brief orientaiton.   He underscored the importance of our role in helping athletes in trouble and identifying any potential problems.    We lined up for whisltes, extra flotation devices, warning flags and jerseys with the number of our locations on the swim course.    Megan and I dragged our boats from the secure storage area and prepared to embark on our mission.

Working the "hot zone" at buoy #2, I had a perfect view of the Boulder Flatirons.

Working the “hot zone” at buoy #2, I had a perfect view of the Boulder Flatirons.

Having experienced the thrill of working in the “hot zone” at the Ironman Wisconsin — the beginning and the end of the race — I picked the yellow jersey for Zone 2; an area just 500 yards from race start.   Once in the water, I realized that the race start was clear across the reservoir and started the mile long paddle to my position.    When I could hear the inspirational tunes blaring at race start, I knew I was close.   After positioning myself with a view of majestic Flatirons in the distance, I paused to take a few photos and waited for the race to start. Once the horn sounded and the splash of hundreds competitors hitting the water commenced,  I knew the water would soon vibrate with the movement of thousands of athletes.

Within minutes the fastest swimmers reached my zone and the calm waters turned into a frenzy. Fortunately, the weather conditions were close to perfect with few clouds in the sky, warm water and air and almost no wind.   But even with perfect conditions, there are inevitably problems with so many swimmers getting in the water at once —   shoving, kicking, gasping for air, panic as tight wetsuits choke precious breaths and also, the glare of the sun rising in the East — the direction of the first leg of the swim. Within 10 minutes, the first swimmers started to pass buoy #2.   As the cluster of swimmers thickened, panicked ahtletes started to signal to me for help and some even grabbed onto the boat.   For the most part, I was able to communicate to the swimmers that I wanted them to grab the bow of the kayak.  Several times, however, desperate swimmers tried to climb on top of my boat and nearly tipped me and my kayak into the churning waters.   I was less worried about getting dunked  than how I’d get myself back into  the kayak.   Fortunately, I was never had to face with this dilemna. In an effort to  reassure stranded swimmers I said things like ” How are you?  You’re doing to be fine.   Relax, hold on, catch your breath.  You’ve got this!”  Sometimes, they stopped because of a tight wetsuit restricting their breath, other times because they’d gotten the wind knocked out them from a kick or a shove.   Of the 20 or so swimmers who grabbed ahold of my kayak, all of them were men and all were able to get their wits about them to continue.

After the majority of swimmers had passed the 500 meter mark, I was directed to head to a new position on the race course.   IMG_9455Paddling a mile across the reservoir to another leg of the swim course, I enjoyed the sweeping views of the front range and the perfectly calm waters.    Once I reached my destination, I found  myself lined up with a fleet of extra kayaks and paddleboarders.   The frenzy of the “hot zone” was over and I was able to sit back and cheer the swimmers on.    I saw several friends swim by and started to calculate how much time was left, the distance to the finish line and whether the stragglers would  make it.   I also spotted a strong swimmer pulling a little boat carrying a young handicapped man.   I wondered if this was the father son duo made famous in the news.    If it so, I was honored to witness this endearing testiment of fatherly devotion in person.    With 20 minutes left in the race, a boat captain signaled that I could head to shore if I wished.   But, as I made my move, I was lured by he roar of the music at the swim finish and by the joyous congratulations broadcast to swimmers as they completed this leg of the race.   I couldn’t help but linger on the sidelines to vicariously experience one  euphoric moment after another.   And as so many of we Ironman addicts can attest, the most exciting moments happen in the last few minutes  of each stage of the race.    When the last few competitors  are collectively cheered, conjoled and willed by a fleet of enthusiastic volunteers, often with seconds to spare, to victoriously cross the finish line and keep their spot in the race.   Woohoo!!  Woohoo!! Woohoo!!

IMG_9471 By 9 am, Megan and I had pulled our boats ashore and were ready to pack up.  Playing a key role in the pivotal journey of so many was as awesome as was having the opportunity to be on the water at sunrise.   Can’t wait to do it again!!

Alpine Flowers at their Peak — Hiking Upper Piney Lake Trail, Colorado

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Alpine Flowers at their Peak — Hiking Upper Piney Lake Trail, Colorado

1610975_1611224589116975_4121019414959504395_nJuly 14, 2015.   My husband and I recently had a rare opportunity to enjoy a week in the mountains sans bambini.   Our last interval of more than two days without children  happened more than three years ago!!    With almost a week to ourselves, we decided to head up to the Beaver Creek/Avon area of Colorado to relax, hike, read, explore the surrounding mountain towns and sample local microbrews.    One day, Dave suggested we try a hike at Piney River Ranch, a resort situated in the Eagle’s Nest Wilderness and only accessed by driving up an 11 mile long bumpy unpaved road.   With perfect sunny warm temps on our side, we headed to Vail Exit 176, turned up Red Sandstonre Road and followed it up to Lost Lake Road.   After nearly an hour of winding and bouncing, we arrived at the parking lot of Piney River Ranch — a seemingly remote location buzzing with tourists just like us.

IMG_9065We parked just steps away from the entrance to the Ranch, jumped out and walked toward the quaint resort dotted by cabins, yurts, a gift shop/resturant and a few other small buildings.   We were immediately impressed by the beautiful little lake rimmed by majestic mountains, blue skies, aspen covered foothills and clusters of colorful wildflowers dotting the grassy fields and meadows beyond   After passing a little playground and a horse picturesquely lassoed to a ponderosa pine, we were drawn to the canoes tied to a little dock jutting out into the quiet waters.   The $30/hr canoe rental made us think twice and we wondered whether we could bring up our own boats someday.IMG_9073

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We then hiked up to the lodge headquarters to pick up a brochure and check out the accomodations.  After popping our heads into the adjoining dining hall with ribs posted as the dinner special, we reviewed the map and set out on the seemingly flat dirt path known as the Upper Piney River Trail.    The narrow path quickly left the resort property and headed out toward the tops of the Gore Mountain Range in the distance.   We heard that there is a waterfall about two miles out and headed in that direction.   Along the way, the plethora of blooming wildflowers was amazing and pause for much photo taking.   I cannot imagine a more beautiful mountain hike or a more perfect day to do it.IMG_9091 IMG_9089 IMG_9083 IMG_9108 IMG_9095

After returning from an hour and a half on the trail, we decided to have lunch  at the rustic pine resort lodge.   For such a remote location, the place was filled with other hikers, travelers and large family groups — quite fun to observe while waiting for the delicious burger we split.   The summer breezes blowing through the open windows and double deck doors punctuated by the laughter of children and their families enhanced our dining experience.   We both thought about how awesome it would be to vacation up here with our children one day    What fun we would have boating on the lake, fishing, hiking and looking at the stars.    After lunch, we relaxed in a set of Adirondeck chairs overlooking the peaceful lake shores and the mountain vistas.   What a great day!!!IMG_9116

The picture taking was breathtaking and voluminous.   Here, I share many photos —  as much for you as for me.   Enjoy!!!IMG_9078 IMG_9080IMG_9113 IMG_9115 IMG_9108 IMG_9107 IMG_9106 IMG_9103 IMG_9102

 

 

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My Son’s Garden Plan

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IMG_8381Now that my garden is mostly planted, it was time to invite my son Dylan to plant his.     Since he was very young,  this precocious child has shown a great interest in the garden and has always been excited to manage his own section of the plot.    Due to our decision to eliminate two fairly large crops this year (beans and corn), we have a lot of extra space in the community plot; a row measuring 4 by 15 feet.   And Dylan is psyched to claim it.

Before heading out to buy seedlings, Dylan sat down and wrote his wish list.   From the seeds in our collection, he will plant corn, carrots, beans, beets, and pumpkins.    From the seedlings I grew, he will plant some big max pumpkins and zinnias.    At Home Depot, we bought hot peppers, mint (for tea), a raspberry bush, onion starts and seeds for Mammoth sunflowers, birdhouse gourds, and Japanese lanterns.    His other requests, peanuts and potatoes, are hard to find locally so I will to mail order them.     I think its amazing how quickly he came up with his wish list.   And even more amazing that I did push him to plant other things like tomatoes, basil or salad greens.

So, today, after his baseball practice, we will head down to Rosedale garden and start to plant.   He is particularly excited to employ the Three Sisters Method for his corn, beans and pumpkins.   I am excited to see how his garden grows.

Shopping for plants for Dylan's 2013 garden.

Shopping for plants for Dylan’s 2013 garden.

Dylan's 2009 plot

Dylan’s 2009 plot

Ayurveda: A New Approach to Eating Right

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One of the coolest features of the Red Rocks Fitness Challenge  is the opportunity to take online nutrition classes.   I attended my first class tonight and was very pleasantly surprised at how interesting and applicable the topic of discussion was.     Before signing on, the instructor, Tracey Stevens, emailed me a survey entitled “Ayurvedic Questionnaire”.    The questions fell into five categories:  mental, behavioral, emotional, physical and fitness with 3 choices each.     The scores fell into three areas:   winter/vata, summer/pitta and spring/kapha.   My scores ended up pretty evenly balanced between these three areas with my personality most aligned to vata or winter.

I learned that Ayurveda is an ancient Indian system known as the “science of life” .   The three aforementioned categories, vata, pitta and kapha or “dosha’s” refer to elemental substances that roughly describe a person’s personality, propensity to certain illnesses and preferences.  According to the survey,  I am primarily vata or winter, for example, since I tend to me more quick, imaginative, speedy, energetic, etc.   But with these qualities, I also have a propensity toward certain physical ailments related to skin disorders, fatigue, insomnia, headaches, etc.     So, using the information about my personality type, I can work on balancing myself out with a better diet, exercise and lifestyle plan.

In summary, our instructor gave us some homework to assist us in our weight loss/maintenance goals.   I think her suggestions could be helpful to everyone so I am sharing them here:

  • Rise with the sun.
  • Morning time between 6 and 10 am is the best time for physical activity.
  • Eat a decent breakfast with protein when you are hungry.   9 am is OK.
  • Eat a large midday meal as close to 1:30 or 2 pm as possible.   Eat until you feel full.
  • Eat a snack for dinner or nothing at all.
  • No snacking between meals.
  • Go to sleep by 10 pm or when tiredness comes.
  • Eat foods that are in season.
  • Participate in physical activity that helps balance you out.   I should do yoga, for example, because it might slow me down.
  • Moisturize inside and out.

I am looking forward to learning more about Ayurveda and how it might enhance my life.   What about you?

Boot Camp with A View: Red Rocks Fitness Challenge

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Red Rocks Amphitheather in Morrison is not only a fabulous concert venue but also a beautiful place to get a great workout.

Red Rocks Amphitheather in Morrison is not only a fabulous concert venue but also a beautiful place to get a great workout.

When my friend Cindy invited me to join the Red Rocks Fitness Challenge, I was immediately interested in participating.   Of course, the challenge of working out on the steps and benches was a bit daunting, not to mention the steep climb up from the parking lot.    But the opportunity to spend time working out in this beautiful natural amphitheater was undeniably compelling.    The series is sponsored by Health One and taught by trainers from Denver Park and Recreation.  One of the unique aspects of the challenge is that your fitness level, measurements and weight are measured at the beginning and end of the series.   Prizes are given for the most progress in several categories.   The other aspect that attracted me was the availability of weekday and Saturday workouts.    I am now signed up, measured and ready to start.    Tuesday and Thursday mornings will be my days with Saturday mornings if I can make it.   Yesterday morning, I met up with Cindy to attend my first 7 am  workout.   And, I was quite surprised to find that the 50 minute session very doable.    Not easy but not a killer either.   I credit my weekly attendance at Janet’s Ken Caryl boot camps and the recent running and swimming clinics I’ve attended for preparing me for this new challenge.     I am hoping to see some results and will enjoy the view along the way.

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