Health & Fitness Business Show 2014

As most of you know, last week, I was able to jet off to Las Vegas for 2 quick days to check out the Interbike and Health & Fitness Business (HFB) Shows. David’s company sends him each year to cover HFB which is a small show compared to the much larger Interbike trade show held upstairs. While David usually reports on the outdoor industry, he is less familiar with the Health & Fitness crowd, which is why he encouraged me to come again this year.

Last year, we had fun exploring plenty of new, small companies just getting started. Sadly, there were fewer exhibitors this year. The ones that were there were mostly larger, established brands. While there was less exploring of smaller brands, we did find some cool things. And when we ran out of people to talk to at HFB, we managed to make our way upstairs to Interbike where the beer was flowing (no joke), the bikers were out in full force, and new forms of bikes were everywhere. I will post more about Interbike in a different post

So the Health & Fitness Business Show is an opportunity for manufacturers to showcase their products to retail stores who sell home fitness equipment. The number of these retail stores mostly all independent) has dwindled in recent years as gym memberships grow and big box stores (think Dicks and Sports Authority) sell more equipment. However, all manufacturers seem to see an increase in retail sales and are hopeful for the future.

The best thing I found that I think you all will be interested in was the Zero Runner by Octane. This new cross between a treadmill and an elliptical offers runners an opportunity for zero-impact running in the comfort of their own home. I think this is so newsworthy that it deserves its own post: Stay Tuned.

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It was not so easy on my first try, but I quickly got the hang of it.

Last year, rowing machines were really taking off, and companies were developing new apps to connect with machines so users can have all of their workout data as soon as they complete a workout. Both trends continued this year, though not as many of the companies seemed as app-crazy as last year. Companies are realizing that users want to pick and choose a single app to hold all their data, so they are doing more to make their machines have the ability to send the data to a user’s phone or tablet.

The way Crossfit has–and is–changing the industry was another topic of discussion. Aside from just more rowers being sold, many companies were talking about accessories people can have in their homes. Kettle-balls, ropes, medicine balls and resistance bands are all big items. We talked to a representative from Spri who discussed the challenge is now teaching users how to use these items to their full capability. He used the example of ropes where people only know how to shake them up and down (as is often portrayed on The Biggest Loser). There are over a dozen ways to use a rope at home, so they are making videos to educate users (I personally do not know much about ropes!).

We saw a few new ab machines. The AbSolo looks just like basketball games at fairs, but it uses a medicine ball and makes you hold it over your head as you lean back. You then aims to hit the target and the machine will keep track of how many you hit as well as your time:

photo 2 (19)We also saw a yet-unnamed product from a New Zealand couple who debuted the product at the show. You can use it two ways: one for push-ups and the other for sit-ups. But the shape of it allowed you to safely get a solid workout. Depending on how you use it, it can assist with push-ups if you cannot do a complete one.

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David was moving too fast for my phone to capture a non-blurry photo.

Finally, in an effort to attract more females to weights, a few companies talked about how they made their products aesthetically-pleasing. I heard from several people (all men by coincidence?) that studies have shown that men want weight machines at home, but women hate how they look. So they have cleaned the machines up to make them fit better in the home. In other words, they are sleek and shiny as opposed to big and bulky with lots of bolts showing. They did look nice, but I would probably prefer a more rustic one, if I ever end up with a weight machine (unlikely since our basement ceiling is really low). Here I am trying one out:

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I guess we did not fully capture the entire machine.

As mentioned, later this week, I will recap Interbike and the Zero Runner. Sorry to drag it out, but it is easier than one big, long, massive post!

 

What a Week

Goodness. I have to say I am back in Colorado and it feels great to not have any more trips planned until a mid-October wedding. David, on the other hand, has a trip to visit his college buddies in a couple weeks and I am glad to be missing out on that one.

After our Pittsburgh weekend last week, we were home for about 48 hours before jumping back to the airport to head to Las Vegas. I will write a re-cap of the Interbike and Health & Fitness trade shows. They were fun and I am glad I went, but really Vegas needs to do a lot to improve the experience. Namely, they need to not keep the hotels and casinos at 60 degrees all the time. I was freezing! And, for an outdoor-oriented girl like myself, I would appreciate the ability to actually get outside. Somehow, I do not think Vegas was built with people like me in mind.

Anyway, I have been getting outside when not traveling. I hit up the trails at Bear Creek Lake where I will be running a half marathon in a few weeks. I am pretty sure only about 2 of the 8 miles I ran were on the race course (we got disoriented a few times!), but at least I know the area now!

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It was a beautiful day for running

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This park is only 25 minutes from me and I had no idea it was here.

And then after that crazy week, I ended up running my first Color run with Beth from Shut Up and Run. She had a giveaway for 4 people fro Denver’s Color Me Rad 5K so my chances were good and I thought “why not?” It was a free opportunity to run and check out a new park again, so why not?

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The event was held at the Denver Botanical Gardens at Chatfield in Littleton and was mostly on grass and trails. I met up with Beth and her crew and then ended up running with Beth the entire time. I was under the impression that we got sprayed with color, but most of it was thrown at me or I had to throw it on myself, which I was not expecting. I did get blasted with wet orange color in the face at one station. It happened too fast for me to figure out what happened.

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Beth and I at the end. Orange splotches are a great look, huh?

And when running through all of that color in the air, it definitely gets in your lungs. I was hacking by the end of it.

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The post-run damage. Not too bad, actually!

After I was done, I came home and jumped in the shower. David was out getting some supplies for us to work on the front yard. And that was how we spent all of Sunday: building the second half of the front wall we had started weeks ago.

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It feels so good to have made progress on this, after seemingly abandoning the project due to travel for a few weeks. Look at what great helpers Shrek and Zoey are.

Now we need to haul more dirt out of there before we lay down a weed cover and mulch. Then we can start thinking about what we want to plant in the front yard. I know the spaces in front of the wall are going to be flower beds for annuals next spring. We are thinking of planting a few bushes and maybe some patches of decorative grasses in there. One step at a time, though.

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I will be back to blogging on a more regular basis soon. Hope you had a great week!

Weekend in Pittsburgh

Happy Monday! I had a great weekend at home with my parents and family in Pittsburgh.  Here is a little highlight of my weekend:

    • I got to spend time running in the big park near my parent’s house while David played golf with my dad and brother.
    • I learned Pittsburgh hills are not nearly as tough to run as Colorado mountain trails. Humidity can be hard, but only when the sun is out and shining. I do not need a water bottle with me on my run nearly as much as I need it here in CO.
    • We checked out some new breweries and restaurants in the area. Pittsburgh roads are still difficult to navigate (too many hills and turns!)
    • We went to Kennywood Park, Pittsburgh’s oldest and best (and only, if you want to be honest) amusement park. The Thunderbolt, an old wooden coaster, remains my favorite roller coaster.thunderbolt2_720
    • My cousin got married. David and I dressed up nicely.

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  • Sunday was the beginning of NFL Sundays! We had the opportunity to get tickets to the Steelers/Browns game on Sunday, but our flight left too early for us to be able to stay for the majority of the game. So we watched it at my parent’s house. The first half was great. The second one…not so much. But just before we arrived at the airport, we did manage to squeak through with a win.
  • We flew back to Denver last night in  time for the Sunday night game against the Indianapolis Colts. Both David and I are Steelers fans, but since we live so close it is fun to root for the Broncos. David even walked down to the stadium once we got home (I had late Sunday night work to get done before this morning).

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  • And I have another short week, as I am heading to Las Vegas on Tuesday night for the Health and Fitness Business show. I attended this show last year and I am excited to go back and see if anything is new this year in fitness equipment. I will report back here on this after the show.

 

Backpacking Flat Tops Wilderness, Part 2

If you missed part 1, you can read it here:

I left off with waking up to rain Sunday morning. We were all slow and took our time that morning to avoid packing tents in the rain. We knew it was not supposed to rain that day, so we were happy to wait it out, assuming the rest of the day would be dry. We did not leave our campsite until around 10:30 am and we knew we had about 12 miles to do that day. We were also under the impression that this day’s hike would not have a lot of vertical climbing, which would speed us along.

We meandered along fields until we stopped around 12:30 for a snack/lunch. By this time it was dry and sunny so we could spread our tent rain flies out to dry (took about 5 minutes). Then we continued on. And we climbed. And we climbed some more. And we kept climbing until we reached the top of the “flat tops” (think flat mountain peaks) at 11,700 feet of elevation. Somehow, we had misread the map and did not realize that the next 6 miles of the day would be at a high elevation above tree line (no trees growing there) in the afternoon.

If you are not familiar with hiking in the high country, most people do not plan to spend about 3 hours (6 miles) above tree line in the afternoon in Colorado because the threat of thunderstorms is strong and dangerous almost daily in the summer. We knew it was not supposed to rain that afternoon, but you never can be too sure and some of the clouds had a bit of darkness to them. When we looked at the map, we realized that there were only 3 ways down from where we were: 1) to turn around and camp below and have a 10+ mile hike Monday, 2) to hike 6 miles to the Devil’s Causeway to CROSS it and then come down the pass we had climbed up Saturday, or 3) to hike about 8 miles, go over another pass and then come down to camp at Mosquito Lake. The flat tops are surrounded by cliffs and we could not just climb down them whenever we wanted.

None of these were ideal options. The point where we had to decide about whether we crossed Devil’s Causeway or went to Mosquito Lake was about 5 miles away. So we risked it and decided to hike along until we got there. And I must say, it was beautiful:

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We really felt like we were on top of the world. The weather held off and, aside from some very strong winds, we were feeling OK. My back was hurting, though, and there was little trail that we were following. We just kept walking in the right direction, which was much harder to do than I imagined with a big pack and no firm trail for my feet.

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I was tired and  beginning to think Devil’s Causeway might be the way to go. I had been the one most opposed to crossing it, so I spoke up. I just wanted to be DONE for the day. By this point it was late afternoon and to hike to the Causeway was about another 2 miles and then we had a mile down. But once we were across it and beginning the descent we would be in “safe” territory (not on top of the flat tops anymore. The rest of the group agreed to cross Devil’s Causeway and I made David promise we would walk across safely with the dogs on short leashes. I knew I could do it myself, but the dogs were my biggest concern.

When we got to the sketchy part we needed to cross, one of the girls in our group had crossed the Causeway several times and felt confident going over with her pack. She dropped her pack off and came back for her dog. In the meantime, I wanted to get it over with so I went over with my pack. I knew that, rationally, I was fine and I had a solid 3 feet of rock to walk on. However, it is extremely disconcerting to be up there and know that there are no walls on either side of you. I used my hands a lot. By the time I crossed, my legs were shaking.

I was very glad I had my pack with me because I had a small bottle of wine inside. To distract myself from watching the dogs cross, I opened my pack and searched for it. I opened it, took a sip and had it waiting for everyone as they safely crossed. There were some that did the trek twice: first with a pack and then with a dog. Once was good enough for me. Shrek was the first dog who made it over and then I spent some time giving him cheese treats and rewarding his good behavior as Zoey and Remy arrived safely (complete with their human escorts). By this time it was 6 pm and we knew we just had about a mile of downhill walking to do. Luckily, there was no rain and thunderstorms, but it had been a big risk that we took to assume it would not come.

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Jut after crossing the causeway.

We settled into camp, set up our tents and made a delicious dinner of rehydrated mashed potatoes, stuffing and canned chicken. Our own version of Thanksgiving dinner and we deserved it. Our grand total of hiking that day was 14 miles; along with messing up how high we would be hiking, we also underestimated how far it would take us to get there. We thought it would be 12 miles to get to mosquito lake (which is at least two miles farther than where we ended up). Fourteen miles was a lot, but we all managed to do it.

The next morning, we were up and packed by 7:30. We had two downhill miles to hike out to the trailhead where we had started. By 8:45 am, our trip was complete and we were ready for the journey home.

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Backpacking Flat Tops Wilderness, Part 1

Hope everyone has survived the Tuesday after Labor Day. We got back yesterday afternoon from a fun and exhausting adventure in the Flat Tops Wilderness. David and I joined three of his co-workers for a 3-day, 2-night trip.

We began our trip on Friday night when we drove up to the mountains. David and I drove with Shrek and Zoey with the other (3 humans and 1 dog) rode separately. One of his coworkers’ parents have a house near Vail with plenty of room to sleep all of us. We did not arrive until 10 or so because we wanted to avoid all traffic heading towards the mountains on a Friday afternoon of a holiday weekend.

We slept well in a nice bed that night before getting up, eating a filling breakfast of toast, eggs, and sausage and packing our bags. We knew our Saturday hike would only be 6-8 miles so we did not need to get too early of a start. After a quick stop at a supermarket for some last minute food, we were off!

The Flat Tops Wilderness is in northwest Colorado, an area I have not explored too much. From where we stayed near Vail, it was a little over an hour drive northwest. The area is most known for the Devil’s Causeway, a very narrow strip of rock with a straight fall on either side. We knew about this and had decided ahead of time that going over it with our packs and 3 dogs would not be a smart decision. But we got to hike around it and see it.

We knew the first few miles of our Saturday hike would take us up a 11,000 ft pass near the causeway, so we were prepared for an uphill hike for the first few miles. After that, we were going downhill to a series of lakes. The hike up was intense, but we were all so excited to be out there that we barely felt it. We got to the pass where we stopped to eat lunch. One of our people make a quick climb to see what the causeway looked like from above. He came back and confirmed that it looked difficult to do with dogs.

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Zoey and her new pal Remy were enjoying leading out pack and running through wide, open fields. Both being under two years old, we did not know if we could trust them to walk across the narrow Devil’s Causeway. Zoey and Shrek (not pictured) were good hikers and wore their packs the entire trip.

We finished lunch and continued on. The downhills felt great and we were flying with time. After 6 miles, we got to one lake that could be a possibility for camping. But it was only 4 in the afternoon and we felt we could go on. The best part was that once we were away from the causeway (the thing most people come to Flat Tops to see) was that we saw no one at all for the rest of the afternoon. We were completely away from people.

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One of the many lakes we passed.

We ended up stopping at Long Lake, about 8 miles into our trip. There was plenty of space for 3 tents and lots of water nearby. After a brief shower of rain where we all huddled in one tent and ate an appetizer of cheese and summer sausage, the rain was done and we were ready for a pasta + veggie dinner. I brought a lot of my garden veggies (tomatoes and squash) and was glad to get rid of the extra weight the first night.

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A view of Long Lake at night.

We played some games in the tent and were then ready to sleep. Throughout the night, I could hear sprinkles of rain on the tent. It did not seem too bad, but by early morning, the sprinkles had turned into a light shower. There is nothing worse than taking a tent down in the rain so we all stayed in our tents longer than we anticipated. I did not mind the extra rest, but it turns out we could have used the extra hours later that day.

To Be Continued….

Home Improvement

Remember how excited I was about our staycation project to work on our front yard? We thought with a week off, we could go camping for a few days and then come home and tackle the front yard. Well, we did that, but turns out we needed the entire week (and more!) to complete all we had wanted. We are also camping/backpacking this weekend and then next weekend going to Pittsburgh for my cousin’s wedding. So I am not sure when the rest of this project will get done.

When we started, our front yard consisted of grass and weeds:

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Grass is difficult to grow well in Colorado (because it is so dry) and often ends up with more weeds than grass (unless you use chemical weed killer, which I refuse to use). So we have been getting inspiration from our neighbors and decided we want to zero-scape the front yard. Grass works well in our backyard for the dogs.

Our first step was to dig up all of the grass:

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Then we removed the clumps of grass, which was not easy. We took them around back to the dumpster and nearly filled it up with grass clumps. But the next step we did was more fun: we dug out space where the little hill had been to make room for a retaining wall:

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Once we had the hills on both sides dug out, we took a trip to the stone store to fill the Jeep up with rock for the retaining wall. They weighed the Jeep empty and then filled to determine how much we had bought. Luckily, our wall is relatively small so it is not too expensive. We stopped at the hardware store to get mortar and all that good stuff. And we began building the wall:

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So far, we only built the wall on the left side of our front walk. The right side we will have to do in a few weeks when we have a free weekend. And we still have big piles of dirt in the yard. Our neighbors must love us.

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It is all about the work-in-progress, right? The process instead of the end result. Anyway, after 3-4 days of working on the straight, I was ready for a break. My back was killing me, and that was when I left to go to Boulder to run that unofficial half marathon. And now I am in the mountains until Monday night. Have a great Labor Day weekend!

#trailtime with Sierra Trading Post

Wednesday night, David and I attended a special blogger/media event at South Denver’s Sierra Trading Post store (he’s media, although most of the attendees were bloggers and he’s connected to me). Most of you probably know the glory of the online Sierra Trading Post where you can get outdoor/running gear at major discounts, right? Well just this week, they opened their first store location in Colorado. Another one is opening later this year in Fort Collins.

One cool thing about the stores is that there are digital monitors everywhere. These monitors display a variety of pictures and promotional material. Each time anyone Instagrams a photo with the hashtag #trailtime, that photo will appear on the monitors. Cool, huh? I am going to start using #trailtime a lot more on all the trails I have been doing lately.

To promote this store, Heidi and a few of her colleagues at STP organized a fun night at the South Denver store. The store was huge and offered quite a variety of clothes, shoes and outdoor gear.

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We played an ice-breaker game where we had to identify pictures of various Colorado landscapes (Red Rocks, the Sand Dunes, the Maroon Bells, etc.). We got to mingle and meet other people for a while. We filled up on some food brought in from Qdoba before more games took place.

There were three games we each played in teams. My team’s first game was to shop around the store to grab the ten items essential for a backcountry day trip. Between Heather and David, my team was able to get 9 out of the 10 things correct. In case you were wondering, a rain jacket is NOT an essential item, but a repair kit is. I am still unclear on what you need to repair, but I guess it makes sense (shoes, pack, zippers, etc.).

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Shopping around the store, wondering what else we could possibly get. David looks deep in thought. I am rethinking my decision to wear old, frumpy jeans to events where I will be photographed.

The next game was a race to put up and take down a tent. I thought we had this one for sure! But we ended up with a broken tent and had to explain this to the race warden who was timing us. She understood, but it still caused us a good minute of confusion.

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There were no pictures of my team putting the tent together, so I snagged one with Brooke (my Chase the Moon teammate!) in it.

The final game was the least fun: knots. We had to replicate 4 knots that were already tied on the table. I managed to get one of them based on looking at it. The rest of the 7 minutes we all spent staring at the knots and trying to remember things we may or may not have learned years ago. Somehow we managed to get 3 out of 4 before our time was up. After the frantic-ness of that game, I am happy to report I still have no motivation to learn knots.

Following the games, we wondered around the store and contemplated what we could use our 30% discount on. Then David and I found all the Icebreaker Merino wool clothes and it was all over. I ended up with a pair of long underwear bottoms and a top. It should come in handy this weekend when we are backpacking in the Flat Tops Wilderness for Labor Day weekend. In the meantime, if you are home this weekend, be sure to check out the online Labor Day sales going on at Sierra Trading Post through Monday Sept. 1.

Myprotein and Myvitamins Product Review

Who doesn’t love a nice big, refreshing smoothie past-workout? Especially in the summer when there are many fresh berries in season. I don’t know if I have ever shared any of my go-to smoothie recipes with you, so they are at the bottom of this page. In the meantime, I was contacted by a rep at myprotein and then given a bag of vanilla protein powder from myprotein to review. Myprotein has been a big hit in Europe and is just entering the US market.  What I appreciate about this product is that it is a low cost (@ $15/bag), solid protein product.

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I Instagramed this picture one Saturday morning after a run because the smoothie just made me so happy.

In addition to the protein powder, they also sent a 30-day packet of myvitamins. I got the Total Acai Berry antioxidant packet of vitamins.

IMG_1190I find it hard to review nutrition products because it is difficult to tell when you are having a good day or a bad day if it is associated with the given product. The vitamins are good and full of antioxidants (and little else) so that works for me. I find them easy to take and I really don’t think too many antioxidants are a bad thing.

As far as the protein powder goes, I like the vanilla for having a neutral taste which makes it easy to put in abut anything. It is an affordable price and contains few extra ingredients than the whey protein. The website has a major sale going on right now so check it out!

As I mentioned above, I like to use protein powder in smoothies. My favorite dairy-based recipe includes:

half a cup of yogurt
half a cup of milk
one scoop protein powder
one banana
half a cup of berries

And then for non-dairy, I do:

a cup of orange juice
two bananas
one scoop protein powder
a handful of greens

Sometimes I add greens to the first one, too, if I have them available. Really, whatever is available makes a great smoothie. What is your favorite smoothie recipe?

Pickling and Fermentation

As my garden has been progressing this summer, I have gotten into a number of ways to preserve things. My freezer is already stocked with bags of frozen zucchini and squash. I have several jars of canned beets and even more of canned beans.

When my cucumber finally began to come in a week or so ago, I was thrilled. Many of the cucumber plants had struggled so I had no idea if they would make it. As much as I love fresh cucumbers (they really are a tasty vegetable), I really adore pickles. Salty, tangy, crunchy…what’s not to love? I knew there were recipes for quick, refrigerated pickles that can be ready in 2 days. So before I went on my camping trip last week, I made two jars of cucumbers (one jar has them cut length-wise; the other are cut in small rings) and filled them with equal parts water and cider vinegar, garlic and fresh dill from the garden. Oh and salt, of course.

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I was nervous they would taste too much like cider, but they turned out great! I was really impressed with the flavor and so excited I could make great-tasting pickles so easily. Am I the only one who enjoys cold, salty pickles after a hot run?

Anyway, I was intrigued about the process of fermentation and wanted to research if what I was doing was actually fermenting. I had a feeling it was not and indeed I was correct. Any pickles that are created with vinegar are not fermented, but the vinegar adds a similar flavor. These vinegar-soaked pickles are then a quick solution to replicating a fermented cucumber.  I remember seeing large ceramic canisters in China used for pickling cabbage and I knew that my process was not the same.

So I did some reading and I am excited to try pickling my cucumbers using this easy method that I found. A pickle that is actually fermented brings beneficial bacteria to your digestive system, just like many other fermented foods. Fermented foods are also packed with many vitamins and nutrients. Our industrial food system is (for good reason) obsessed with sterilizing our foods. What this does, however, is also get rid of good bacteria. And making pickles with vinegar instead of just a salt brine is just another example of sterilizing out food from bacteria.

In the meantime, I had a bunch of extra carrots and decided I wanted to try pickling them. So I used more cider vinegar and they are now “pickling” in my refrigerator for two days. Vinegar is still good for you! I am just experimenting with pickling any and all foods in a variety of different ways these days.

IMG_1185For the record, I have a home yogurt maker where it is easy to make your own yogurt. I used to have a starter culture for kombucha where I could make my own tea. These are also examples of homemade, fermented foods.

Unofficial Boulder Trails Half Marathon

A few weeks ago, I received an email from a friend and coworker of David’s stating that her husband was organizing a half marathon on the trails of Boulder. The course would start northeast of the city on some trails and end southeast of the city. Aside from a few road crossings, the entire course would be on trails. When I realized it would be the last Sunday of our vacation week, I was in!

The two things about the course that terrified me were: the elevation gain would be near 2,500 feet and getting lost. I get lost easily on courses. Although I was familiar with the majority of trails on this course, there were a few places where I was unsure how trail A linked up with trail B. Furthermore, we started running close to 3 pm, which meant that it would be a hot day. Luckily, temperatures stayed in the low 80s and the second half of the course was almost entirely in the shade.

We headed up to meet the group yesterday afternoon. The plan was to meet at the finish so we could be shuttled up to the start. David was planning to drop me off and meet me at various points along the course. We got a call as we neared Boulder from a friend who was running with his girlfriend. He was having car trouble and needed a ride. We picked him up and I learned that his girlfriend would not be running. We had been planning to run together so I was a little concerned about running alone. When we got to the start, we took a picture of all the runners and I realized I was the only female.

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Not only was I the only female, but also many of these guys seemed like tough trail runners. What had I gotten myself into? David assured me I could call him if I got lost and reminded me not to try to keep up with these guys. Knowing I do much better on trail runs where I start nice and easy, I knew this would not be a problem.

We started running close to 3:30 and right away, I was in the back of the pack. It was cool, I knew where I was and I was feeling good. By the second mile, I had pretty much lost all the guys. David met me for the first time and brought me a cold Nalgene filled with Gatorade. Nothing tasted so good! He left with plans to meet me close to the 5 mile mark.

I could do this! Except after I left the familiar trail I was on, I was unsure how to get to the next one. I found myself running through a neighborhood. I panicked but reminded myself to keep running south. I found a bike path and then, eventually a trail. It looked like where I needed to be. However, I soon realized it was not. I texted David my location to let him know I was not on course, but I was close. He called a few minutes later to let me know I should keep running in that direction and he would meet me.

By that time, I remembered reading in one of the emails that there was an option we could take that would be along roads and not have nearly the same elevation gain. At this point, anything to get me to the finish would work. By the time I met up with David I realized I had two options that would make me feel less discouraged about running alone: 1) to skip the next big trail with elevation gain or to have him drive me to the next trailhead. Knowing I did not want to stop, I opted for the first option.

I stayed on roads until I reached Chatauqua park where I could easily get on the Mesa trail, a trail I know very well. The roads, however, were not lacking their own elevation gain. It was a long, steady hill to reach Chautauqua. By the time I was there, I found David again and he told me I had managed to get myself into 7th place. Phew! At least all the runners would not be waiting an extra hour for me (my biggest fear) at the end.

I was near the halfway point, but was on familiar territory and it was shaded and cool. Before too long, two familiar guys approached me. We chatted and one moved ahead. The other stayed with me and we spent the next few miles chatting. He was a lifesaver in terms of taking my mind off the pain. We were doing a lot of hiking at this point, as there were many steep climbs. We got to know each other’s life stories and I kept him from getting lost.

By this point, I was anxious to get to 11 miles because it would all be downhill from there and I knew David would be hiking in from the finish to meet me somewhere. The downhill, when it finally came, felt glorious! I felt like I could do this forever! My new running buddy was still with me and we were giddy to be on such a great trail. Finally, about one mile out, I met David and he told me who had finished and how everyone was doing. It turned out most of the leaders were just 15 minutes ahead of me and there were only a couple runners behind me. I was shocked we were all so close together, even with my slight detour. I ran ahead and finished that last section of the trail feeling great.

By the time my watch hit 13.5 miles, I had reached the end of the course just minutes over 3 hours. The leaders had finished around 2:45 and the “winner” of this non-race had just completed the Boulder Ironman weeks ago.  Even with my detour, I managed to climb over 2100 feet of elevation, so it was not too far off the the original course. The people who followed the real course route ran 13.9 miles and gained 2400 feet of elevation. But finishing with the crowd was good enough for me! Most of the guys, when we talked at the end, admitted they thought they could finish this course in 2 hours and were not prepared for how difficult the trails would be. They also all thanked David for being out there cheering them on a various points. Towards the end, he was giving them sips of water when they passed and needed it. He was a one man crew for the whole team. I grabbed a cooler I had packed and handed out orange slices at the end and everyone was so appreciative. Nothing tastes so good post-run than orange slices.

At the finish line, many of us decided we needed to go to the Southern Sun, a local restaurant/brewery to refuel. Perfect end to the day. We had a great day and would certainly do this again. David wished he had been more prepared with bottles of water he could give out to the runners, as a mini aid station. We even talked about courses we could set up in Denver that would be less of an intense trail race and more of an urban run!