Being a Tourist in Your Own City

Well for the first weekend in all of July, I spent all nights in my own bed. No camping, no sleeping bags, no all-night races, no bachelorette parties. It was so relaxing.

When I was teaching, I often had an assignment for students to find ways to be a tourist in their own town. The idea was broadly defined; they could go to a small hole-in-the-wall restaurant that only locals knew about or they could go explore a new place and see it in a new light. Since I have been living within running/biking distance to downtown Denver since January, I have been trying to get to know Denver and its neighborhoods.

Mostly we have been doing this through our restaurant and beer choices. The small “nano” breweries in industrial areas that sell craft beer are our favorite places to check out. We can bring dogs and games and even our own food to these places and make a night out of it. However, there is only so much beer I can drink. This weekend we stayed in Friday night and played a war-like board game:

10570444_891594110869803_2133184993978630943_nThis game is called “A Few Acres of Snow” and it represents the British and French conflict in North America. At first, I was not happy about spending a free night playing a war game. But it grew on me and we had a lot of fun. I generally do not like historical war games, but this was fun.

Saturday was our Tourist Day! I started out by running with Zoey around the same old lake in our ‘hood–nothing new there. Then I showered, worked in the garden for a bit, and David and I decided to check out Lakeside Amusement Park. This place is not too far from us and it has an old-school wooden roller coaster that I have been wanting to ride. From driving past, the park looks like it is not in great condition, which kind of adds to the appeal of the place. I looked it up online and we could buy tickets to rides and not have to pay for an all-you-can-ride pass, as most of the bigger amusement parks make you do these days.

We got to the park around 1:00 and there were not many lines for the rides. We saw a bunch of older rides that we knew from amusement parks when we were little: the Tilt-a-Whirl, the Whip, the Spider, the Matterhorn, etc. Most of these are fast rides that go in a circle and I knew my stomach would not be happy with me if I rode them. Of course there were also the classic Ferris Wheel, Merry-Go-Round, and Bumber Cars as well. We made our way to the back of the park where the Cyclone roller coaster was:

IMG_0883It is an historic, “landmark” roller coaster (named by the American Coaster Enthusiasts) and David and I were excited to get on board. They made the larger person get in first, so I knew this was going to be a bumpy ride where we were squishing one another. It starts out in an old tunnel and then takes us up the first and the biggest hill. On our way down the hill, I was practically in David’s lap and I laughed the entire rest of the ride. Definitely a good ride!

We had also seen that there was a ride called the Wild Chipmunk, which is like a roller coaster but with individual cars. It makes plenty of jerky turns and you feel like you are about to fall off into the lake below. We had to ride that as well.

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I loved it! We also had to ride the Whip, as well. After an hour of walking around, we had seen everything and decided to head home. It was kind of sad because there were a fair share of rides there that were in disrepair and a lot of the park appeared a bit run-down. The landscaping was great with potted flowers everywhere. I could tell someone really cared about the place, but it just needs more investment. But as a family-owned amusement park, it is a rare species these days as most parks are corporately owned and operated. I hope someone can find the money someday soon to repair some rides and add new ones to it, but so that the park can maintain its old-school feel.

Saturday night, we went to the Pirates-Rockies game at Coors Field. We tried to get there early to get a jersey they were giving away, but we arrived too late. It turns out they mis-spelled Tulowitzki’s name wrong on the jerseys and they are now a collector item. 

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There should be another “T” in there.

We missed out on that. Apparently, fans were getting to the stadium by 3:00 to get these jerseys. We were there to root for the Pirates, but sadly, the Pirates did not do well.

What fun places to explore are in your neighborhood?

 

Garden, Late July

Another garden update, but this time I am not going to show you pictures of my overgrown tomato and zucchini plants. Instead, here is what I have been getting from my garden lately:

IMG_0836Zucchini, squash, and more zucchini. Some zucchini are even giant-sized.
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Squash in addition to all the zucchini. We have been eating a lot of roasted, steamed, and stir-fried squash lately. I have made about 4 loaves of zucchini bread, too. And more are on the way. I have 3 large zip-lock bags in the freezer filled with sliced and shredded zucchini, too.  And I discovered that squash soup is really good!

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To make this, I used about 4 yellow squash, 2 zucchini, half an onion, 2 garlic cloves, about 2 cups of chicken broth, a few handfuls of swiss chard, and a bunch of fresh parsley. Boiled it all together and then used my hand mixer. It is really much better than I thought it would be!

IMG_0840And to go with soup, of course are fresh salads with spinach, lettuce, carrots, and steamed beets. Sadly, the spinach is all gone and what is left of the lettuce is about to bolt due to the week of 90+ degree days. The swiss chard is doing well, so we have some greens.

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We are so happy to see the bean plants are producing beans. I harvested the first batch this week and they are delicious.

The tomato plants have tons of green tomatoes, but none are ripening. So I brought some inside to see if that will speed things up.

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I hope this works. Otherwise, I guess I will be making plenty of fried green tomatoes!

A Zoey Update: 4 Months, Post-Adoption

Next week, we will have had Zoey for four months since we adopted her at the end of March. It is hard to believe time flies this fast. She is definitely a part of our family and is fitting in well. We think she may have attached herself to me more than David, but that is fine with me since Shrek and David are attached at the hip.

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Sleeping peacefully under my desk.

She has graduated from 6 weeks of level 1 doggy training with an excellent trainer. We are satisfied in her progress in just about all behaviors–except leash walking. This is where it is tricky because I want to be able to walk her and spend time training her on how to walk properly on a leash (i.e. no pulling, heeling, no zig-zagging, etc.), but each time I try to take her out, Shrek appears and gives me his sad, puppy-dog eyes. I cannot NOT take him, so our training walk turns into a fun two dog walk. Recognizing this is an issue, I have made the decision to start walking both dogs and then taking Zoey out on her own after we drop Shrek off at home. So that is something to work on. I bring treats to help her along because she is extremely food motivated.

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“I will sit pretty and stay still for approximately 10 seconds. That is progress, right?”

Another problem we have is at night. Like most houses in Denver, our backyard is adjacent to an alley with plenty of open dumpsters. These dumpsters attract raccoons at night. We have a dog door to the backyard so the dogs can roam freely out there. Zoey, however, can hear a raccoon (or something) rustling in the alley and charges out back, barking like the animal she is. We are still working on this one.

She eats really well and has not gained nor lost any weight since we got her. She weighs a solid 41 pounds.

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“Look at my tongue; I am well-fed.”

She has run up to 5-6 miles with me, but these summer months are tough for her. She likes her water breaks, and I am not going to push her to run that far when there is not water available.

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“We like to lay and pant after walks in 90+ degree weather.”

She has gone on an 8 and a 12 mile hike with us where she was running ahead and coming back to check in with us along the way, so she went much farther than us. The dog has endurance!

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“I’m a good hiker. I can even hike in the snow!”

Zoey and I joined Aimee and Sam for a 5 mile hike in Castlewoods Canyon State Park, so I finally got to see Zoey alongside a pure German Shorthaired Pointer. Although Zoey weighs significantly less than most GSPs, I am convinced she is mostly GSP. Look at her and Sam leading our hike:

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Zoey definitely took a liking to following Sam. Sam was a little apprehensive of this little pup, but put up well with her.

And then later, the two sat down for a conversation:

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Caption this one!

For having her for just 4 months, Zoey has been on a number of adventures with us. She has travelled across the country to Pennsylvania and back, and she has survived hiking in water-filled slot canyons in Utah. While she is turning into a solid hiking running buddy, she is also a loving companion to snuggle with at home:

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Using my leg as a pillow.

Overall, Zoey has adjusted quite well and we are happy to have her in our home.

Weekend Adventures in the Mountains

When do I not have a weekend adventure in the mountains lately? I know I live in a pretty great place. As I mentioned on Friday, I took off for a 2-day girls bachelorette weekend. Friday afternoon, two friends came over to my house (since I am west of the city), we packed the car, and we were off! Unfortunately, we faced a lot of traffic heading up I-70.

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Sarcastic thumbs up. This traffic was bad.

What should have been a 1.5 hour drive took us four hours to get there. We stopped for bathrooms and snacks and met another car filled with ladies (including the bachelorette) that was also stuck in this mess. So at least we got to socialize for a bit before heading out for the last stretch to Dillon, CO. Once in Dillon, one of the friends of the bride had set up a lovely shower party for her.

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The shower was lingerie-themed. Being the non-conformist, practical person that I am, I did not think I needed to get the bride another nightie. Since we have had our fair share of hiking and running adventures, I got her this sports bra from Sturdy Girl Sports:

I have two Sturdy Girl sports bras and I cannot say enough great things about them. The owner lives just outside of Boulder and Denver in Louisville, CO, so I feel great getting her a practical gift from a local, small business. Plus, the bras are so sturdy that they come with special instructions on how to wiggle yourself into the bra, which provided entertainment for the group.

We were all tired on Friday and went to sleep fairly early. I managed to wake up and go for a quick 4 mile run Saturday morning on a bike path near the house where we were staying. When I got to the path, I could turn left and go uphill or right and go down. I chose left and I was so glad I went up. I had great views of the sun rising:

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Any run with full views of the mountains is perfect.

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Looking out over the Dillon Reservoir.

When I returned back to house, most people were up and eating breakfast. I changed into my swimsuit, grabbed a bagel and coffee, and we were ready to go to Steamboat Springs. The drive was a little over an hour and the views were gorgeous. We went right to the Yampa River and rented tubes. Sadly, we did not get many pictures on the river because we did not want to ruin our phones or cameras in the water. We did manage to get this one for the bride:

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Can you find me? Even David did not recognize me. I am second from the right.

We took two relaxing trips down the river before checking into our hotel. We had planned on going to the Hot Springs, but it was too hot. We decided to rest and enjoy the hotel pool for a bit before our dinner plans.  We cleaned up and met up in the hotel bar:

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It was time for our 8:00 dinner reservations at Mahogany Ridge Brewery and Grill. They had done well preparing a table for all 11 of us. I had some delicious Asian tofu noodles. Dinner lasted a while, but we were able to extend the night by finding a bar with dancing and music. We had to start the dancing with a shot:

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Flash photos on iphones in dark bars make us all look like we have crazy eyes. This was the only shot we did all night so we needed to document it.

We danced for a while before heading back to the hotel. We had wanted to do a hike on Sunday, but we decided it was best to leave early. After all the traffic on Friday afternoon, we were afraid of running into traffic coming back into Denver. So after breakfast at the hotel, we hit the road to come home. Even though we did not hit the hot springs or go for a hike, it was definitely a fun weekend!

 

 

 

Steamboat Springs Weekend

I am heading to Steamboat Springs this weekend. A good friend of mine is getting married in a few weeks, so we are doing a girls’ weekend/bachelorette party in Steamboat. We will be tubing in the river on Saturday, followed by the Strawberry Hot Springs (my favorite!)

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View of the hot springs from above.

It is funny because most of my trips to Steamboat involve running. My first trip there was in 2011 when I ran the Steamboat marathon. It was my second marathon and it was a hot and hilly course, but absolutely gorgeous.

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This does not show off the course very well, but it does show my awesome outfit. In retrospect, a black shirt, black skirt, and black compression shorts were probably not the best idea when temps got well into the 80s.

Then in 2011, I was in Steamboat again when my relay team from the Wild West Relay finished there. It was my first relay race and it was awesome. Sadly, I cannot find any pictures of it.

Last year, David and I went and went to Steamboat on marathon weekend. He had something for work there and I wanted to watch the race. I had thought about running the half marathon, but decided against it, as I knew the altitude would have crushed me. We had a fun weekend and went hiking at Fish Creek Falls.

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These falls are about a .25 mile hike from the parking lot and attract a lot of visitors.

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If you go beyond the falls, however, it is a great hike in the mountains and a lot less crowded.

We are planning on doing a quick hike on Sunday morning before we come back to Denver. Maybe we will hit the falls again or go somewhere new. In any case, I hope to be able to squeeze a run in at some point! Have a great weekend!

Building Back Up and the Big Blue Bear in Denver

Remember at the beginning of the month when I said I would take all of my runs in July easy? I have been dealing with sluggish runs and breathing issues since early April and have not done any real speed work since March. It felt good to take a break and get my medications figured out so I can run without wheezing and gasping for air.

Well, that ended on Tuesday. But it ended innocently enough. I was running with Zoey for 3 miles around the lake. I did not have my Garmin on, but I know it is a 3 mile loop. Running with Z is not exactly easy. She pulls, she sniffs, she twists, she pees, and she goes after all those geese like there is no tomorrow. So I never take her if I am doing a “serious” run. But for whatever reason, I decided we would increase the intensity just between one light post and the next. Then we jogged to the next post. Then we sped again. We did this back and forth for a lot of the run, but I have no idea how many times nor how fast. I dropped Zoey off at home, then took off by myself on a different, more hilly route. When I got to any uphill portions, I increased the speed and effort. By the end of the run (about 5.75 miles), I felt great!

As said earlier, so many of my runs have been sluggish and slow lately that I have been lacking the post-run endorphins. Even if I have no idea how far or fast I went for most of my run on Tuesday, I still felt like I got a good workout in and that made me feel great. This afternoon, despite the heat, I broke out my speedy shoes. (Admittedly, it has rained a lot this week and cooled things down into the 70s, which feels cool).


I am having fun with Instagram these days!

I hardly ever pre-program my Garmin, but I decided to do it today, so I would try something new and run based on time and not miles. I set it for a 15 minute warm-up, 20 minutes tempo, then another 15 minute cool-down. I had no idea what the tempo pace would be, but I would be happy with anything under a 9 minute mile. I purposefully ran the warm-up and cool-down very slow. I do much better running when I run slow paces slow and then fast paces fast, instead of hovering in the middle constantly.

In retrospect, I probably should have aimed for a 15 minute tempo OR I should have run the tempo a bit slower. After 15 minutes, I needed to stop and take a short break to catch my breath. After I was done, my workout looked like this:

1.38 miles @ 10:54 pace for 15 min
2.33 miles @ 8:35 pace for 20 min
1.3 miles @ 11:06 pace for 14:27 (I stopped right at 5 miles)

Then I walked for a bit and then ran another mile @ 10:25 to get home to run a full 6 miles. Definitely not the fastest or farthest I have run, but for an afternoon in July after not pushing the pace for a long time? It is a start. And now I am ready to go again! Taking a break from speed has been a good thing and I needed it. But I am ready to start training again, hopefully for a half or two in the fall. I need to look into finding some good ones. And I think it will help me start posting re-caps of my week in running again so I can see the progress. I will try to make them interesting.

So here is an interesting thing I have learned about Denver over the past two days:

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There is a big blue bear staring into the Colorado Convention Center.

I have seen this bear before, but I have never really thought about it. David has an uncle who lives in Arizona who visited Denver a few years ago. On his visit, he liked this bear and went inside to buy a small replica of it. It recently broke and he wants a new one, so I had to run by there the other day to pick one up for him.

The bear, named “I See What You Mean,” is 40 ft high and was installed in 2005 as a public art campaign. At the time it was installed, there was a drought in CO and many bears would come down to the cities to look for food. When someone got a picture of a bear peering into someone’s house, the artist was inspired. Plus, for something as big as a convention center, where ideas are being exchanged, he thought it was appropriate. You can read more about it here.

Chase the Moon 12 Hour Endurance Race Re-Cap

We did it! On Friday night, Cassie, Aimee, Logan, Brooke and I ran Chase the Moon 12 Hour Endurance Race. We only ran for 10 hours, but we somehow still managed to win first place for an all-female, 5-person relay team for finishing 60 miles in 10 hours.  Amazing, right? (Hint: It was a pretty small field of competition).

Friday started out with Logan meeting me at my house. We then proceeded to go to the store to pick up 1) our favorite cereals since we were Team Cereal Killers, 2) markers and poster board for signs, and 3) glow sticks since we would be running all night. We then hit the road to get to Highlands Ranch, just south of Denver. Of course, making our way through Denver traffic on a Friday afternoon was not easy at all and we were anxious to get there.

Eventually, we made it to Mountain Vista High School where the race would be. Cassie and Aimee were already in the parking lot when we pulled in. We picked up our packet info and we were ready to set up our tents and chairs on the field. We took a pre-race picture:

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Logan, Brooke, me, Cassie, Aimee. I really am not that short; our team was just tall.

Before we knew it, it was 7:00 and the race was about to start. Cassie was our first runner and she was ready to go.

I only managed to get her back. She started too far back in the crowd because she was afraid of getting lost and then had to push through all the folks ahead.

I only managed to get her back. She started too far back in the crowd because she was afraid of getting lost and then had to push through all the folks ahead.

The four of us hung out to chat and eat while Cassie was running. They made me set up an Instagram account (@RunWriteHike–follow me!) and we played with our phones on various social media. It was still light out so we could see people coming back down the trail. Aimee got ready for her loop:

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It was a 10-mile loop and the first runner was back within one hour. Fast! Before we knew it, Cassie was the first female who came back down.

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Cassie handing off to Aimee. Cassie was going so fast, I could not focus my phone. The clouds made the sky at dusk look really cool as the moon was coming out.

From here on out, I have few photos because it was dark and the night was a blur. Aimee came in and Logan went out. I tried to get coffee because I was running next and it was already past my bedtime. Sadly, the coffee was not available yet. Around 11:00 David called and said he and his friend who was in town were going to stop by. I told him I was going to be leaving soon for my run so he needed to get here soon.

Then, Logan came in and I had to start my leg by calling David and telling him not to come because I would be running for a while. I was so flustered when I started. But I went up and found the trails. It was really fun to be running at this time of night. The trails were well marked for even and odd loops (it was washing machine style so evens and odds went opposite directions. After a mile and a half, I tripped and fell, landing on my hands and knees. I was OK, so I got up and kept running. This proceeded to happen a few more times and then I told myself to just go slow and enjoy it. And I really did enjoy everything about the run. I liked meeting other runners passing by on the trails, the two aid stations and check points had very nice volunteers, and the moonlight was pretty. Much of the course was up and down and at one point, I was running up on a ridge and it was fun to look down and see the glow of other runners’ headlamps. How fun to be out there in the middle of the night with all these other crazy runners! I tripped and stumbled a few more times and I knew I would just be lucky to make it back down without any significant injuries.

Finally (like two hours later–remember I went slow!), I made my way back down to hand off to Brooke. As I came down, I heard someone yell my name. I yelled “Cereal Killers” so they knew it was me and, as I passed them, I told them I fell three times. Before I knew it, David was in my face running with me, asking me if I was OK. I shrieked loudly; was so surprised. He ran the last .1 mile with me to hand off to Brooke. He and his friend had decided to come after all and wait for me. But then they left shortly after I re-capped my run to them.

Brooke ran, then Cassie ran her second loop. By then it was 5 am and getting light again. Logan had been checking the standings all night and figured we had a good lead over the other two all-female teams. The web-page had said that at around 5 or 5:30, the course would be broken down into a 10K loop. This sounded much better to all of us than a 10 mile loop. We asked around, trying to figure out when that would happen so none of our runners would have to run 10 more miles. We could not get a straight answer before we were finally told that was not happening and the course would remain a 10 mile loop. Needless to say, we were tired and cranky and this news did not make us happy.

So when Cassie came back in, we called it quits. The only way we could not win would be if another team tried to send another runner up and got to a check-point and earned a few more miles, but they did not have time to do another 10 mile loop. We got out medals and broke down our camp but decided we should probably stay for the awards. Sure enough, we won first place for our division!

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The race photographers took some pictures of us that I guess we will get later. I came home and managed to sleep a little bit on Saturday, but then got up and had an active day walking around Denver with David and his friend (since they did give up a large portion of their Friday night to come to my race). I then spent most of Sunday catching up on lost sleep. I loved this race and had so much fun with my team! I just wish the instructions had been more clear at the end of the race when we were all tired. But we still did well (thanks entirely to Cassie!) so I am not complaining.

My Favorite Gear of the Summer

What have I been wearing and loving this summer? I figured I would compile a list of some of my favorite running and hiking gear that has not proven me wrong so far this summer.

Balega Running Socks

I am very picky about socks, as I think they are some of the most important investment runners can make. Bad socks=Blisters, while Good Socks=Happy Feet. I have two pairs of Balega running socks that I have been wearing regularly and I love them both. Balega socks are consistently ranked in the top 5 of all outdoor socks and I love them.

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The violet pair is slightly thicker and perfect for trail running, while the white pair is thin and feels great running on the roads.

IMG_0754Both pairs of socks are low and barely come above my shoe. A tab in the back, however, assures that they will not get lost beneath the shoe. The socks hug my feet in the right places and provide extra cushion in the heels and balls of my feet. In short, these socks are worth it!

Headsweats Running Visor

I had seen Headsweats visors for a while, but just this summer one happened to fall into my lap. David got a free promotional one at work that I quickly snapped up and use on a daily basis. And now there is no going back. Before this visor, I would usually wear a hat on my head to block the sun. If I could not deal with a hot hat, I would simply opt for a headband to keep the hair out of my face and sunglasses.

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With my Headsweats visor. Perfect for Colorado’s hot, sunny weather.

Salomon XT Mission W Trail Running Shoes

I bought these back in May, anticipating a summer filled with trail runs. And they have done me well. I prefer light, cushioned shoes. I do not think that you need trail running shoes for most trails, but I do like having a different shoe to go to when I am hitting up the trails.

The one thing I was skeptical about with these shoes was that back of the shoe extends out to rub against my heel. I was afraid of blisters. However, I have loved these shoes and have had no problems with blisters.  I have even worn them on concrete and they feel great (a bit heavy for road runners, but I can deal with that). I appreciate the non-tie laces, too!

Deuter AC Aera 28 SL Day Pack

Not too long ago, David came home from work with a new female-specific day pack he had won. Being a female-specific pack, I grabbed it and claimed it as my own. (This was also the same day he brought home the Headsweat visor. It was a good day for me).

My initial reaction was that this pack seemed too technical for the small amount of gear it can hold. But since I have taken it on an 8-mile and a 12-mile day hike, I have to admit, it feels really good. Plus, it has room to hold more than enough things I need for even a day hike in Colorado where the weather is constantly changing. When it started to rain on our hike in Vail a few weeks ago, I was able to pull out the rain cover and not worry about my stuff getting wet.

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Pack with the raincover on.

The pack has a mesh back to keep it off of direct contact with my back, making space for excellent ventilation. The padded straps on the waist and shoulder allow for me not to feel the weight of the pack. And I love the color!

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And I have so much more gear I want to talk about, I may make another post sometime soon. Tell me what gear you are loving this summer.

Team Cereal Killers

I am so, so excited for Friday night! Like, I can barely contain my excitement that I want to go ahead and get all of my work for the week done NOW so that maybe Friday night will be here earlier than anticipated. On Friday night, a group of cool women bloggers and I will be doing the Chase the Moon Endurance Relay Race.

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Glow in the dark medals? Yes, please!

Chase the Moon is a 12-hour race that can be run solo, or on relay teams of 3 or 5 people. Originally, we had a 3-person team, but somehow we managed to 2 more to join us. The course is made up of a 10 mile loop on trails down near Highlands Ranch, south of Denver. Luckily, it is not in the mountains so there is not a lot of elevation gain like most trails and it will not be too cold sitting around at night. We have a bunch of gear and games ready to go to keep us occupied throughout the night. The relay goes from 7pm Friday night through 7am Saturday morning, so one of us will be running at all times throughout the night. I am mostly excited to see the solo runners that will be running all night by themselves to see who can make it the farthest.

So here is a little preview of Team Cereal Killers. The name originated from jokes on twitter that none of us knew each other (at the time our team was formed) and we could be serial killers. So obviously we had to share our love of cereal as our team name.  So who are the Cereal Killers? Well, since our team was formed I have had the pleasure of meeting 3 of my four teammates. Here is a little preview of our All-Star Team:

LOGAN @ MOUNTAINS AND MILES

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Totally stole the picture from Logan’s blog.

Logan and I have been following each other’s blogs for over a year, but I still have not met her! This Colorado native has temporarily relocated to DC where she pretends she is still in the Rockies running ultra distances on the trails. She recently completed her first 50 mile race!

CASSIE @ RURAL RUNNING REDHEAD

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From one of our two failed runs together.

Cassie is a super-fast, dedicated runner who lives out in eastern Colorado away from the mountains. We have met up twice this spring/summer to run on trails and both times have been less than ideal. The first run was actually not that much of a fail, but we just did not know the trail we were one and ended up running about 4 miles on several small trails and roads near Red Rocks Amphitheater.  The next run was with a larger group and we sadly got lightening-ed out. Hopefully the third time will be a charm and Chase the Moon will not be another failed trail run!

BROOKE @ WRECKING ROUTINE

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Thanks for the picture, Brooke.

Brooke is a teacher/trainer/recipe maker who has recently moved to Colorado after a year of teaching in Vietnam. As a former teacher in China, I knew we would have plenty to bond over.  And the recipes she posts on her blog are really simple and good! The two of us met up a few weeks ago to do the November Project one early Wednesday morning. We then met up again to do a trail run at Green Mountain. Both were successful workouts filled with good conversation!

AIMEE @ RUNNING WITH SAM

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Again, I had to swipe this photo from Aimee’s blog. I could also look at it all day long because it is an amazing photo.

Aimee is another PhD blogger (!) who moved to Colorado last year. I am obsessed with Aimee’s dog Sam, the German Shorthaired pointer. When I got Zoey and thought she might have some pointer in her, I was all over Aimee’s Twitter account with questions about the breed and how to deal with a one year old, hyper dog. Obviously, her answer was trail running and keeping the dogs active. I had the best time meeting Aimee and Sam when we hiked the Manitou Incline in Colorado Springs a few months ago. I am not really on Instagram at all, but she takes and posts the best pictures of Sam that it makes me want to join. I am convinced that Sam and Zoey need to meet up and go on a long hike together one day so they can bond and be best friends.

Visiting Great Sand Dunes National Park

Yesterday I posted about our hike in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains in southern Colorado. While we were there, we camped at campground in San Luis State Park. This state park happens to sit right next to Great Sand Dunes National Park, so we decided that we needed to drive in and check out the dunes on Sunday morning. We were happy to hear that dogs were allowed at this national park (they cannot hike in most national parks because of the wildlife).

On Saturday night, the camp hosts informed us that there would be a bonfire and s’mores for all campers. Free s’mores? We were in! It turns out, the host had invited her son who lives in the San Luis valley and has researched its history extensively, to come talk about the valley. It was really a great idea to get us to know more about the place we were staying. It made me want to stay an extra day to see more fun things, but we knew we wanted to be back early on Sunday, so all we had time for was a quick trip to the sand dunes.

Great Sand Dunes National Park has the tallest sand dunes in the US. Originally, they were formed with sand from the Rio Grande in the San Luis valley. The wind would pick up the sand and deposit it in the east of the valley, right at the base of the Sangre de Cristo mountain range.

It was about a 15 minute drive from our campsite, but we could see the dunes from the distance.

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We entered the park and parked the car. By the time we got there, it was about 9am, which was early. We knew not to get there late in the day when the sand would be too hot to talk on.

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Crossing the sandy field to get to the dunes.

There are two things that make this a fun park to visit: 1) they allow dogs and 2) they allow you to climb the dunes!

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Zoey and I making our way over to the dunes.

We did not want to climb to the top, however, because we wanted to get home and did not want to get even more sand all over ourselves and the car. Plus, we were sore and tired from the hike the day before. We climbed up the first base dune before turning around to go home.

The sand felt nice and cool at this time of day, so if you go, make sure you go in the morning. As we were leaving, we saw many people were carrying snowboards and sleds with them to ride down the dunes. I don’t think it worked too well, but still a fun thing to try.