Category Archives: Healthy Living

The Flowering Fragrant Trails of Spring

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Just days after our last snows in Colorado, spring flowers start to emerge to brighten up the landscape and fill the air with lovely fragrances.  During this time of year,  I make it my mission to get outside as often as possible to fill my senses with the joy that spring has to offer — and actually surprised myself with how many wonderful many blooming trails I’ve visited lately.   Here are some of the highlights of my recent adventures in Jefferson County:

Crab Apple Route, Littleton,  April 23, 2018 – Blooming Bike Ride

A group of us got together to ride the 7 mile Crab Apple Route in Littleton — a 40 year old loop lined with crap apple trees that bloom for a few beautiful weeks in April.

 

South Platte Trail, April 29, 2018 – Crab Apple Trees just North of Hudson Gardens

The Sunday Run I attend with the Columbine’s Running Club is secretly known at the LTR’s (Love to Run) and we meet at Carson Nature Center every Sunday at 8 am, 7:30 in the summer.   About two miles down the trail, there is a tunnel of crab apple trees that bursts into white and pink blossoms at the end of April.    Running through this fragrant stretch of the trail is a worthy goal for my Sunday workout.   Once I reached the trees, I had to stop, close my eyes and take a few deep breaths to saturate my senses with the heady aroma of the sea of flowers surrounding me.

 

 

Writer’s Vista Park, Highline Canal, April 30, 2018 – Pam’s Last Marathon Training 

During my sister Pam’s marathon training this winter and spring, I often agreed to accompany her on the trail.   At her last training run before the big race, we met at Writer’s Vista Park to run one of our favorite trails.   It is a relatively flat tree-lined crushed gravel trail that winds through the backyards and horse pastures of Littleton.   As an added bonus, the crab apples trees were in full bloom.

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South Valley Park, May 5, 2018 – Trail Running Practice

Pam and I decided to participate in a trail running program this spring and so far, the training has taken us to a variety of beautiful trails in Jefferson County.   I ended up missing the group on Saturday morning (since it was rescheduled to the evening) but hit the trail at South Valley on my own and enjoyed the pleasant weather, spectacular rock outcroppings and many flowers.

 

 

Hildebrand Ranch Open Space Park, May 10, 2018 – Fly Girls Flower Run

The leader of our Thursday morning running group (Suzanne Buntrock) selects a different trail every week depending on trail conditions, weather and this time of year, flowers.   One of our favorites in the spring is the Two Brands Trail at Hildebrand Park. The park is accessible in two spots — in the Trailmark neighborhood near my house and from a parking lot just past the Denver Botanic Gardens on Deer Creek Canyon Road.   It runs along the hogback and wraps around my neighborhood of Trailmark.   This week, the flowers were blooming!

 

 

Deer Creek Canyon, May 12, 2018 – Training Running in the Rain

Our trail running group meets rain or shine and despite the morning drizzle on Saturday, we all met at Deer Creek Canyon Park.   The run up the trail was damp but fragrant and beautiful.   Many of us “power hiked” up the slippery trails but when the the path evened out, we jogged.   Dashing up the “stairs” was challenging and fun but definitely an exercise I might have skipped if alone.   The jog down was a nice reward after the two mile ascent.   We heard about a very challenging half marathon called “Fear the Deer” being held at the park next weekend.   Pam and I are committed to train and sign up to do it next year.

 

Chatfield State Park, May 16, 2018 – Walking Bennie along the River

My friend Suzanne is a naturalist guide at both Chatfield and Roxborough State Parks and we often meet to walk.   I always enjoy our get together’s because she is so familiar with the flora and fauna of the area and I inevitably learn something new.   On this day, we were walking her grand dog Benny who poked along while we looked at trees felled by beavers, enjoyed new flowers, found plum trees and choke cherry bushes and marveled at the running water in the river.   A beautiful day for a leisurely stroll in the park!

 

Massey Draw in Ken Caryl, May 17, 2018 – Fly Girls on the Private Trail

Thanks to Kim, a resident of Ken Caryl Valley, our Fly Girls group, could enjoy a morning workout on the Massey Draw Trail in her neighborhood.   Our hike/run started with blue skies and a warm morning.    The dirt trail ascended quickly and was decorated with mobs of bright flowers all along the route.    I was too busy snapping photographs and chatting with Jan to run too much.   We still worked up a sweat climbing up the trail and down.    A lovely prelude to our coffee talk at Atlas Coffee down the road.

 

 

Roxborough State Park, May 17, 2018 – Naturalist Wild Flower Training Hike

 

When my naturalist friend Suzanne mentioned that she had to attend a wildflower talk this evening, I was immediately interested.   How can I go?   Do I have I have to sign up?   It was a training for naturalist guides, she said, but she’ll call and see if I could tag along.   Yes, I was in.   She picked me up at 5 and we headed to Roxborough State Park and there, met about ten other naturalist guides.   The leader Ann handed me a sheet with a list of about 50 wildflowers and told me that we’d be attempting to see almost the entire list in the next two hours.  Wow!   What a treat and a mind bender.   We hit the trail with our list, pens and cardboard squares for note-taking.   The tree-lined trail was chock full of blooming flowers of every color — naturally growing in this spring forest.  Ann shared scientific detail of each flower we observed, the family name, species identifiers, uses by native Americans, color, etc.    Rather than being overwhelmed, I took great notes, many photos and left with the urge to come back tomorrow to solidify the new knowledge I’d gained.

 

Whew!    Its hard to believe I’ve been on so many trails and enjoyed so many flowers during this busy time of the year!   My gardens are keeping me very busy after all.   I’m within days of planting warm season crops so have been prepping plots, tending to seedlings, planting the last of the cold crops, weeding and shopping for garden provisions.   But busy or not,  I wouldn’t miss the opportunity to inhale the beauty of the season!

 

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My Hawaiian Adventure at the Lavaman Triathlon – 2016

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For years, I’d heard about the Lavaman Triathlon in Kona, HI and had secretly wanted to participate.   When my friend Sally’s husband Todd organized a team to do the Lavaman and raise $100,000 for a leukemia and lymphoma research in his wife’s honor, I decided to join the cause.  In addition to training to successfully complete this Olympic distance event, I would also be faced with the challenge of raising a big chunk of money and convincing my husband to support this BIG, expensive adventure.  I reasoned with Dave that this trip would occur in the month of our 20th anniversary so might be a great way to celebrate this milestone.

Fast forward six months and I’ve accomplished all three!!

While preparing to get to the start line, I faced some BIG challenges.   After nearly, 19 years as a SAHM, I started a full-time job in early January.   Balancing my new schedule with a busy training schedule -as well as a family and home to care for — was daunting.   I adjusted my goals from getting faster (a real stretch for me) to just being able to do the event and feel good at the end.   In the midst of all the training sessions and fundraising, my seven year old Honda Odyssey with nearly 220,000 miles broke down and needed a $1500 repair.   With plane tickets to buy, a bike to ship and trip expenses, we decided to garage the ailing vehicle and divert the repair money to the Hawaii trip.   Fortunately, my 19 year old daughter had left behind a car when she moved last fall and we were able to put it to use.   I booked my mother to watch the boys, arranged time off from my new job and talked my husband into joining me.

The Trip – April 7, 2016

Hoping to arrive before nightfall, I had booked an very early flight through LA with several connections.   Realizing only later that this early flight meant leaving the house at 3 am to catch my 5:30 am flight, I understood the wisdom of paying more money for a direct flight.  Note to self  – saving money is not worth the extra travel time or early departure.   Arriving early enabled me to participate in two days of bike and swim workouts, rest up, acclimate to the hot weather and connect with team mates.   On Friday morning, I joined the team in the lobby of the Palace Tower to hike down to the beach for the swim.   It was quite a hike – about 1 1/2 miles – along the beach and a rocky lava rock path; a trek which provided an excellent preview of the final run section of the race.   After a brief talk by our coach, we jumped in the ocean and swam a lovely half mile around a buoy in the distance.  With the exception of the taste of salt in my mouth, the swim was very pleasant.

Despite warnings about avoiding the coral near the shore, I managed to cut my toe on my way out of the water.   At the time, I noticed that my toe hurt but didn’t realize I needed medical attention until after a three mile walk and finding a pool of blood in the shower.   Having packed only carry-on bags, I had not brought a first aid kit.   Note to self — don’t forget band aids and Neosporin!   Fortunately, our team coach, Mary Carey, rescued me with the needed supplies and advised me to sit out the Saturday swim.   The cut looked pretty nasty and was very bothersome considering the extensive walking required to navigate around the huge Hilton property.   I worried about getting it infected and the possibility that I might have to quit the race.   With such an investment in time and resources, I focused on letting  the cut heal and tried to be positive about participating on Sunday.

Race Day – April 10, 2016

The 4 hour time difference between Denver and Kona made it relatively easy to get up before dawn to meet the team in the lobby at 5 am — a full 1/2  mile and an elevator ride from my hotel room.   We had been instructed to bring head lamps for the mile ride to transition in the dark but afraid that I might crash before the start line, I decided to bypass this challenge and walk the mile to transition.   Confident that the weather would be Hawaii warm in the predawn hour, I didn’t wear a long sleeve shirt and later regretted this decision since it was a windy, chilly 68 degrees.  But no matter, I got everything set up, networked with my rack mates, applied sunscreen, drank water, stood in line for body marking, got my timing chip,  took photos with team mates, and enjoyed the view of the Mauna Kea volcano silhouetted in the distance.

Choppy Swim – .9 miles

By 6:45 am, we marched down to the shore to start lining up for our waves and do practice swims.    Initially, I thought about skipping  a warm up swim to avoid a chill but later, changed my mind since my wave  was slated to start 30 minutes after the start.   Jumping in the water helped stave off some of my nervous energy and provided a good distraction since the water was warm and calm.  Of the many triathlons I’ve participated in through the years, this was one of the nicest and more picturesque starts.   I knew I could do it and only hoped I wouldn’t come face to face with a shark in the water.   For this reason, I kept my eyes closed when my head was in the water

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At 7:45, our wave was called to get in the water for the deep water start.   After a few minutes of treading, the signal sounded and we were off.   As usual, the start was a tangle of arms and legs and churning water for a few minutes until I found my space.   I had no trouble rounding the first buoy but later had difficulty seeing the course so resorted to following someone ahead of me.   Unfortunately, I passed them and had to take a few moments to breast stroke and look around.   Several times, I think I was actually sighting the swim patrol’s paddle boards and not the buoys.   Why do they use SUPs that are the same color as the buoys?   Halfway through the course, I noticed that the water was getting choppy much like the drill we’d practice in the pool with a lane of swimmers churning the water with kick boards while we swam through.   Simple — I can do this!

Windy Bike – 24 miles

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As I exited the water, I knew I’d completed the easiest part of the race for me.   I’d forgotten my watch in Denver so I had no idea what my time was but figured I’d done well enough when I saw that most of the bikes were still in transition.   Once I reached my spot, I shoveled down a pb&j, guzzled some water, took some salt, slathered on sunscreen and put on my socks and bike shoes – all somewhat difficult being wet.  After buckling my helmet, I ran down the lane to the bike start and started to face my bike fears.   These fears had prevented me from adequately training on the bike and now that I was actually facing a 24 mile bike ride, they were pushing forward in my thoughts.   During the mile ride out to the main road, I kept telling myself, “you can do this, you can do this, you can do this!”   These magic words must have helped because once I reached the highway, I was OK and happily able to focus on pedaling, enjoying the view, feeling grateful to have gotten this far and knocking out this portion of the race.   As expected, I was slow and nearly every woman I knew on the team passed me on the bike course; each one of them saying “hi” as they hurtled past me.   I tried to congratulate myself for doing well on the swim and to just be OK with the fact that I am weaker on biking and running.

The bike ride was a very straight forward out and back course with relatively easy hills compared to my hilly home state.  The only negatives were the few goats that ran out into the road and the strong head wind on the ride back.    The views were spectacular and I especially enjoyed seeing the Anaeho’omalu Bay on the ride back to Waikoloa.   At the turn around, I decided to get off my bike for a few minutes to drink water — a move I might not have had to make if I’d actually done enough bike training ahead of time.    Upon passing the 20 mile mark, I cannot tell you the sense of euphoria I felt as I approached the entrance to the road back to transition.  With one mile to go,  I had made it without a flat tire, without dying of exhaustion, without falling — I was almost to the final leg of the race!!!!!

As I approached the transition area, I hit a speed bump a little too fast and all the stuff in my stem bag exploded out onto the road.   This  mishap took a few minutes to recoup from but did not compare to the inevitable deflation I felt as I got back on my bike and faced the stream of competitors packed up and heading back to their rooms and cars after completing the race.    Uggh!!!   “It’s OK”, I had to tell myself, “they started earlier than me and besides, I am here to have a good time, not win!”.

Whew!!   I got off my bike and ran to my spot, peeled off my helmet and bike shoes and quickly, changed my shirt, ate the other half of my sandwich, tied my running shoes and dashed off to the run start.    By this time, the teen volunteers staffing the run zone were busy texting, socializing and unaware of us stragglers heading out.   I had to stop and shout for directions.   “Which way?   Hey, which way is the run course?”   Hmmm….being near the back of the pack does have it disadvantages!   I was finally pointed to a path across the lava field adjacent to the transition area.

Hot Run – 10k

I could tell right away that the day was heating up and this run was going to be a hot one.   After so many training runs during winter conditions, I wasn’t going to complain a second about finally being able to wear shorts and a sleeveless top.   Thankfully, the route was well staffed with water stations and abundant bags of ice which I positioned at the back of my neck or down the front.   About two miles in, I ran past the aid station where my husband Dave was working and briefly said “hi” as I slogged past.   As I proceeded, I saw many of the teammates who had passed me on the bike, heading back on the run course toward the final leg of the race along the shore.   Such is life!

Finish Line on the Beach (!)

Our coach had warned us to try to pick up our pace earlier on the run since the final section along a narrow dirt path just above the rocky shore followed by a trail of chunky lava rocks would necessitate a much slower speed — walking for me!  It was a hot slow journey but lovely, nonetheless.  Halfway through the run, I was so happy to have made it this far and still feeling pretty good.   As I ran past our wonderful coach at about mile 5, all I could say was “I’m getting hungry!”   The last mile seemed to take forever — especially the final 100 yard dash (?!) in deep sand.   I crossed the finish line, stumbled toward cold water and the shiny medal.   After that, I searched for sustenance, grabbing some cookies and fruit and then, headed to the shore for a quick dunk to cool off.

The water was miraculously cool.   After hoisting myself onto the beach, I sat in a stupor on the sand for about 10 minutes.  I noticed someone like me (in a sweaty tri suit) with a plate of food and realized that there was some real food for us; not just cookies and fruit!   I mustered the energy to get up, search out the buffet and gratefully, loaded up with a burger, chips, fruits, coleslaw and more.   I found another team mate and together, we parked our weary bodies in a shady spot to eat and recap the race.   Later on, my husband appeared to finish off what I couldn’t eat and wait in the line for beer.   Sitting about 20 feet away was a group of other Team Sally members, including Sally, Todd and their daughter, Hannah, I wanted to go over to congratulate them and take photos but once seated, I was immobile for almost an hour.  The toughest part of such a big athletic endeavor often comes after crossing the finish line. The getting up, the trudging back to transition to collect one’s bike and gear and then, getting back to home base all seemed improbable after over four hours on the race course.

The Icing on the Cake

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While Dave waited in the long food line at the Kona Brewing Co beer tent, I decided to take one last dip.   As I waded in, I heard a voice over my shoulder say “Hey, you passed me on the bike course!”   I turned putting my hands up and shook my head, “not me!”   The real truth is that everyone had passed me on the bike course.    But as I looked up, my eyes fell upon the most handsome shirtless man in the race – God’s gift – looking straight me.   “No, you passed me!” he said, “Some of you gals are so fast!”.   No way, I thought.  I took a deep breath and just decided to go with it and enjoy the moment.   We chatted about his hopes to do an Ironman in Sydney, his 18 year old daughter going to USC and my plans to do a half marathon with my sister.   As we turned to say goodbye, we shook hands and exchanged names.   His name was Murray.  Thanks Murray for that undeserved compliment — it was almost as good as earning the Lavaman medal.  A nice ending to a long, fun day.

 

Stay tuned for a recap of my second Lavaman in March 2018!

https://runsistersrundotorg.wordpress.com/2016/04/18/my-hawaiian-adventure-at-the-lavaman-triathlon/

April 2016

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/

 

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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