Fitness: Memorial Day Weekend Hiking

Memorial Day weekend is the unofficial start of summer across America and in Colorado, that means hiking, camping and all things mountains! Some of my friends hiked (or tried to hike!) 14ers (Heather, Paula, Heidi), others camped (Courtney, Lauren, Liz). My weekend was slightly less ambitious but it did involve some mountain time!

Our friend (and Alex’s best man), Alex V, recently moved to Albuquerque and drove up for the weekend. It’s very fitting to spend the weekend with Alex V. because he’s an officer in the Army. Coincidentally, we also got to spend last Memorial Day with Alex – a trend, I hope!

This weekend, we wanted to take Alex and a couple of my Alex’s friends (co-worker + co-worker’s visitor) who are newish to Colorado on a hike that would be really cool. Usually, I take my visiting friend’s and family to Boulder – it’s close to Denver and a relatively easy hike. Alex had a different idea – St. Mary’s Glacier.

We hiked (and glacaded!) this trail in March for Birthdaycation so I was pretty excited to see what the trail looked like without snow!

No snow!

This hike is pretty easy for non-altitude lungs. It is 3/4 mile to the glacier (only 1/2 to the glacier lake) and is sometimes steep but not super challenging.

(vs. March)

It was a warm hike (~60*) – no coats needed his time! We brought our pup, Philly, and even she was feeling the heat. She ran straight for the lake to cool off.

The dog had a blast on the glacier – we let her off her leash for a bit and she swam, ran and explored nearby. It’s so refreshing to see our very skittish dog have fun and wag her tail.

We hiked the additional 1/4 mile to and up the glacier and looked back.

(^^ click photo for full screen panoramic)

On Monday, after Alex V. had left for Albuquerque, Alex and I decided to head out to Golden for a short hike. He and Alex V. are meeting next weekend in Alamosa to backpack and camp so my Alex wanted to take his pack and new clothes for a hike to ensure it all ‘works.’

Now, I fully understand and endorse trying your equipment before a big trip – but this hike is the culmination of WEEKS of practice packing, unpacking, repacking and pack weighing. Every night, Alex spends about 30-45 minutes sitting on the floor, tinkering with his bag. It was great to see the pack finally in use after all that practice. :)

We hiked a trail just outside Golden, Colorado called Mt. Galbraith Park. We hiked 1.3 miles on the Cedar Gulch Trail into the Mt. Galbraith loop. The loop is 1.6 miles around but we decided to only hike part of the way around before turning around. We’d already hiked 40 minutes, the afternoon was getting late and Alex and I were both getting hungry. It took us about 1 hour and 11 minutes to hike 3.15 miles.

This was our turnaround point. After meeting a friend earlier that morning for a self-directed bootcamp at Red Rocks, I my legs were more than tired and I was very happy to turn around.

But while we’re talking about hiking – I found the most awesome hiking pants at REI last weekend! I’ve never hiked more than a few miles but plan to start hiking longer trails, conquering a 14er or two this summer, backpacking and camping.

We stopped at REI this weekend so the Alex’s could shop for more camping/backpacking equipment (surprise!) so I took the opportunity to try a few pairs of hiking pants on. I immediately understood the value in owning a pair of these pants – they’re light-weight, made of ripstop material (won’t tear!) and are really cute!

I loved these Columbia Just Right Modern Pants with a drawstring pant leg.

I also tried on an REI pair that I liked a lot that rolled up instead of drawstrings. I passed on both pants this trip and opted to buy a camping/backpacking/casual jacket instead. I’ve still got a few weeks before I’ll need hiking pants but I can use the jacket now.

Summer is definitely my favorite season in Colorado and I’m so happy to spend my first summer with Alex in Colorado – it’s the first year I can finally take advantage of everything Colorado has to offer and we’ve got big summer plans!

Wedding Wednesday: Living Together Before Marriage

Wedding Wednesday is a feature on my blog documenting our wedding planning process – thoughts, reflections, ideas, milestones. Follow along as we plan a wedding in our home city of Cincinnati while we live in Denver.

Living together before marriage seems to be something people feel very strongly about, one way or the other. I’ve felt strongly both ways and, ultimately, ended up with a compromise.

In college, I felt set in stone that I would live together with a boyfriend/fiance before we got married – how else would you know what it was like post-marriage?! If you could live harmoniously, if his living habits would mesh with mine, if we were on the same page with keeping things clean? Sure, you can see how someone lives when you spend a lot of time with them and see their own apartment but it’s not the same as LIVING with someone.

I have a distinct memory of an early date with Alex at Maccaroni Grill and we had a frank discussion about living together before marriage. Not that we were even thinking of our own marriage at that point but we were going to a wedding and I knew the bride and groom hadn’t lived together. At the time, I thought that was absurd and wanted to talk about it. I was pro-living together while Alex was firmly against it.

Fast forward 3-4 years and we’re out of college. I’m living on my own in Denver (Alex is in Cincinnati, Milwaukee or Florida – depending on the year). As I’ve gotten older, I’ve seen friends live together with boyfriends they thought they would be with forever and then watched the relationship end. I’ve thought a lot about what I want for my life and my relationship and my feelings shift from WE-HAVE-TO-LIVE-TOGETHER-BEFORE-MARRIAGE! to not really being a fan of the idea.

Pos-college, I’d decided that I absolutely did NOT want to live together before marriage – have you seen the divorce rate of couples who co-habitate before marriage?! But more than that, I loved the idea that after we got married, we’d start our new life together in a new space to both of us. It would outwardly symbolize the ending of our lives separately and the joining of our lives together. Old fashioned but romantic to me.

During our many conversations about how we would finally end our long distance relationship (pre-engagement), I made it clear to Alex that if he moved to Denver or I moved to Milwaukee or Florida, I expected we wouldn’t live together – I could find roommates! He could have his own apartment and settle into life in Denver! I didn’t want to live together if we were just dating.

Last July, after we got engaged, the game changed and so did my opinion of our expected living situation. We were facing the reality of ending the LDR and (finally!) getting in the same city. With Alex quitting a job, the both of us paying to move him across the country and finding a new job, the expenses were adding up and it didn’t make sense to tack on the cost of a second apartment as well. We mutually decided that living together in my apartment was the best choice for us.

I felt very comfortable with Alex moving in – we were engaged and were committed to making our relationship and living arrangements work. Being engaged meant that if it got hard, we’d have to work through the hard parts – neither of us could bail. It made financial and emotional sense to both of us. So in September, after moving from Florida, Alex moved in with me.

It’s funny to think about how set I was on my views before we were engaged – it was either black or white for me. But now that we’ve lived together post-engagement, pre-marriage, I have to say that I wouldn’t have had it any other way. I’m glad we didn’t wait until after we are married because in these past 9 months, we’ve worked through a lot of the ‘growing pains’ of living together.

Both of us had lived on our own (no roommates) for the past 2 years so having another person in our space, all of the time, and adjusting to his mode of operations took some time. But I’m so glad we’ve worked out those kinks pre-marriage so that after the BIG DAY (3 months!!!), we are already past bickering about the stupid stuff and are into the enjoying living together part.

By no means am I knocking anyone who does live with their partner pre-engagement/marriage – I know many couples who live together happily and harmoniously without the ring and that is awesome! Each person and relationship needs to examine what their views are and what works for them!

Food: Cookbooks & Paleo Clam Linguine

A couple of weeks ago, Alex and I walked up the street to Barnes and Noble to spend the evening browsing books. He looked at hiking/camping/backpacking books while I made my way to the cookbooks. I’m not very good at cooking things from my brain – I like having a recipe to follow – so perusing cookbooks/food blogs helps me understand new ways I can cook an ingredient or mix certain flavors together.

So when I found some Paleo cookbooks, I pulled a couple off the shelf and flipped through. I’m not a hardcore paleo eater but I do try to stick to the principles as often as possible. My favorite book was The Food Lovers Make It Paleo. I read the Clam ‘Linguine’ recipe and made a note to try it at home. It looked too easy!

With this past weekend being the unofficial start to summer, I wanted to kick off the summer grilling season with this meal on Friday. We always grill burgers, chicken, sausage, veggies but grilling clams was a new adventure for us.

(Recipe here)

The recipe swaps linguine noodles for spaghetti squash but when there was no spaghetti squash to buy at the store, I decided to try cucumber ‘spaghetti’.

I took one cucumber (regular sized – this plate is small) sliced it length-wise and then sliced those pieces length-wise again.

I was really excited about the clams in this recipe. My dad used to make us spaghetti + clam sauce as a kid and I haven’t had clams at home in a long, long time. I bought 12 ‘small’ fresh clams (they were pretty big for small clams!) from our local grocery store and fired up the grill!

I just put these guys on the grill and let them cook for about 10 minutes. As they cooked, the clams popped open.

It worked!

(FYI: any clams that are opened before grilling/cooking, do not eat! Any clams that don’t open during cooking, do not eat!)

I pulled the clams off the grill and added to the ‘linguine’ I made before grilling the clams (cucumber spaghetti, asparagus, mushrooms, shallots, garlic).

This meal was excellent! With no seasoning on the clams, they kicked ass. So fresh and flavorful!

Clams are definitely on my radar – they’re a bit pricey ($0.89 per clam) but they’re a nice change-up to my normal meals. 10 minutes on the grill and they’re cooked!

And that, my friends, is the beauty of cookbooks and food blogs – new meals and inspirations!

Food: It's Better Homemade

Some things are just better when you make them yourself.

I like making dinner, desserts, snacks at home because I know exactly what I’m putting into it and exactly what I’m eating. I’m not over the top about label checking or stressing about what I’m eating when I eat out but I do appreciate the value eating homemade brings. Especially when it’s super easy, too!

This week I’m enjoying 2 homemade treats and am making a very delicious homemade dinner and dessert tonight. But let’s get to the good stuff – snacks!

First – homemade peanut butter ‘cups’

These are so easy to make! I used a mini-cupcake pan so they’d be ‘bite-sized’.

Ingredients

  • Chocolate chips / chocolate of your choice for melting
  • Peanut butter

Directions

  1. Melt 1/2 bag of chocolate on the stove; I used 14 oz dark chocolate disks meant to be used in food ‘crafts’ and candy making.
  2. Spoon melted chocolate into bottom of cupcake spaces and shake tray so chocolate sets evenly; place in fridge to set for 30 minutes or until firm.
  3. Spoon a dab of peanut butter on firm chocolate in cupcake spaces – the amount and type of peanut butter is up to you. I used Kroger brand Natural Crunchy Peanut Butter.
  4. Melt rest of chocolate and spoon over peanut butter and shake tray again to set evenly; place in fridge for 30 minutes or until firm.
  5. Pop your peanut butter cups out of the tray and Enjoy!

** Store in the refrigerator! These melt quickly at room temperature. Natural peanut butter has zero preservatives in it so at room temperature, it becomes runny. I imagine this is the same reason why the chocolate melts in your hand (and mouth!).

You can use either a stove or microwave to melt your chocolate. Last time I made these, I used a microwave.

I do suggest that you use enough chocolate to cover the entire base of the treat. I initially left mine with some peanut butter showing and it was TOO gooey and very messy. When removing from the tray, I had to use a knife to pop these babies out.

I really like that these have 2 ingredients – melted chocolate and natural peanut butter.

 The second snack I’ve been enjoying is popcorn!

I’m sure no one is surprised. I’ve declared my love for stove-top popcorn on my blog before – I love that I can make it how I want to and that there’s no crazy ‘butter’ stuck to the side of the microwave popcorn bag. What is that stuff anyway?!

When I initially posted about stove top popcorn, some of you let me in on a little tip – I can make my stove-top popcorn in the microwave! This week, I tried it.

It worked! My mind is blown and my life is changed.. and I wish I was being dramatic!

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup Popcorn kernels
  • 1 Tbsp oil
  • Popcorn salt or other flavoring of your choice

Directions

  1. Place kernels in a brown lunch paper bag.
  2. Add oil and salt/seasoning to the bag and shake it up.
  3. Fold the top of the brown bag over a couple of times and staple shut.
  4. Place in microwave and microwave on high for 2+ minutes. (Bag will be oily – I put a paper towel under the bag to keep the microwave clean)
  5. Like with any bag of popcorn, remove from microwave when popping slows. (In my work microwave, this was about 1 minute)
  6. Shake it up, cut off the stapled part of the bag, let cool and devour.

SO FREAKING EASY.

I didn’t measure any of my ingredients for my experiment – I used the end of my bag of popcorn (a bit less than 1/4 cup) and the end of my canola oil (a bit more than 1 Tbsp). It was too much oil I think – the bag was really wet – but I put it on a plate to keep my desk from getting dirty.

Part of the beauty of this super easy microwave popcorn is that if you don’t finish the bag in one sitting, you can fold over the paper bag again and save it for later. I made my popcorn on Wednesday and am eating the rest today – tastes just as great! The other part is that I can make homemade popcorn in the microwave. I don’t have to make it the night before and bring it in anymore!

 What homemade snacks and treats do you love to make? Do share!

Wedding Wednesday: Honeymoon Booked

Wedding Wednesday is a feature on my blog documenting our wedding planning process – thoughts, reflections, ideas, milestones. Follow along as we plan a wedding in our home city of Cincinnati while we live in Denver.

We did it! We booked honeymoon flights!

Where, oh, where are we headed?

Seattle, WA!

We tossed around a few ideas (Costa Rica was a very close contender) but ultimately settled on a trip to the Pacific Northwest. It’s a part of the country that neither Alex or I have been before so it’ll be a lot of fun to explore new cities and mountains together. And we’ve heard that fall in the Pacific Northwest doesn’t suck, either.

When honeymoon talk first came up in our conversations, Alex pulled for the Pacific Northwest while I argued for Costa Rica. I felt strongly that we should do something ‘bigger’ than the Pacific Northwest for our honeymoon. We are not really sit-at-the-beach-for-a-week people. It’s nice for a day or two but it’s not our dream vacation. Costa Rica offers relaxing beach time but also active tourism (volcanoes, surfing, trails to hike, ziplining, scuba, etc). And we could pick an all inclusive resort where we wouldn’t have to worry about food or drinks. After all this wedding planning, not making more decisions sounds heavenly.

But a conversation I had at Blend with Lauren put my squarely on Team Seattle. She and her husband Greg went to the Pacific Northwest for their honeymoon (similar time of year, too) and they had so many great things to say.  They gave me recommendations for where to stay, what we should definitely check out, what to avoid.

The more we thought about it, the more sense the Pacific Northwest makes for us this year:

  • Reasonably priced flights: 2 tickets on Frontier were just slightly more expensive than 1 ticket to CR (and Frontier hooked us up with upgraded seats for our honeymoon!!!!).
  • Mountains + sea: we love hiking and being outdoors and already have a few hikes planned!
  • Beer: we love beer (we homebrew!) and we love drinking local beer. Lots of breweries in Seattle & Portland (and lots of wineries too!).
  • Seafood & local food: yum! Super fresh seafood is a real treat.
  • Weather: September should be excellent weather in Seattle – CR/Caribbean is rainy and it’s hurricane season in September; we’ll go to CR for spring break next year instead.

So last week, we bought our tickets and we are confirmed to go!

Now, we’d like your tips! Lauren and a few other Twitter friends (Hi Kristie!) have hooked us up with GREAT suggestions – but we’d love to hear your suggestions too! Any breweries you love? Must try restaurants? Things not to miss while we visit? Super swanky hotel we can stay at on our first night in Seattle?? 

Fun: 10 Questions From Poptart Yogini

My friend Poptart Yogini recently posted 10 questions for her blogger friends to answer. I am a sucker for posts like these and these questions are pretty thoughtful. (PS – are you reading her blog? Check it out!)

  1. would you rather be able to dance, sing or draw? Dance! This girl has no rhythm, as much as I try!
  2. on pinterest, would you rather have the clothes you pinned appear in your closet, the decor you pinned show up in your house (and you can change it as you please) or have the recipes you pinned show up on your kitchen table? I vote decor – I have no concept of home design so it’d be fun to mix-n-match till I find a look that works.
  3. for the next five years, which five countries would you like to live in, changing every year (you would still work and have a life.  this is not a vacation.  feel free to state a city too)? (Nantes, )France; Costa Rica; (Toky0,) Japan; Scotland; Canada
  4. for the next five years, which five states would you like to live in, changing every year (you would still work and have a life.  this is not a vacation.  feel free to state a city too)? I’d hate to leave Denver but if I had to… Chicago, IL; New York City, NY (just for 1 year, right?!); San Francisco, CA; Portland, OR; Minneapolis, MN.
  5. in what event would you most like to win an olympic gold medal? My teenage dream was to be on the Women’s Olympic Volleyball team!
  6. which disney princess do you want to be? Meh – maybe Princess FIONA (is that Disney?) I like that she was different and independent. I guess Belle from Beauty and The Beast was too.
  7. if you were hosting snl, who would you want to be the musical guest? Ryan Adams.
  8. if you could take one class at hogwarts, what would it be? (Never seen or read Harry Potter books… can’t answer!)
  9. would you rather have the power to see the future or fix the past? I think see parts of the future – I don’t want to know everything!
  10. what is your favorite pop tart flavor (i’m running out of creative juices for questions and well you know, i’m a fan)?I don’t eat ‘em – I did love Strawberry as a kid, though. 

Your turn! If you so choose to answer these, leave a comment below with your post! I’d love to read your responses.

 

Health: A Visit To The Chiropractor

It’s been 3 weeks since I woke up with extreme lower back pain and tightness. The tightness comes and goes – some days I can bend more than others – but it’s been constantly tight and sore. When the pain showed no signs of fixing itself, I started asking for recommendations for a local chiropractor.

If you’re like me and have never been to a chiropractor, you may be wondering what exactly does a chiropractor do? What is an appointment like? I’m not sure how typical or not my appointment is but this was my experience.

Yesterday at 4:30 p.m. was my first ever chiropractor appointment and I had NO idea what to expect. I went in with some reservations (are they going to listen to me? are they going to tell me what is wrong? or will they just crack my back and send me on my way?) and an open mind. Many of my friends (and you readers!) swear by the chiropractor so the least I could do was give it a fair shot.

(Oh crap… do I have to take my shirt off?!)

I walked into the small office and filled out new patient paperwork – describing my issue, other medical conditions that may be affecting or a result of back pain, etc.

I was then brought into a small exam room to talk with the doctor – we reviewed my paperwork and I described my pain to him and that this was my first appointment. He explained what the rest of the appointment would entail and told me not to be nervous. He would help me if he could and refer me to someone else if he couldn’t.

After our short chat, I was brought over to a different exam room where one of the assistants too my vitals and a photo for their records. This was the first appointment I’d been to that required a photo.

They used this fancy thing to take my blood pressure and pulse – it was big and bulky and felt almost like I was wearing my Garmin. It goes on the wrist and tightens much like the arm cuffs do but is more accurate, the assistant told me – no human error with counting.

I also stood on 2 scales to determine how I carried my weight – did I lean to one side more than the other?

I’m not sure how accurate this was for me – since she told me what it was measuring, I made sure to stand flatly with my weight evenly distributed (my numbers were essentially the same on each scale – 79.1, 79.1). If she had told me just to stand on the scales, I wonder if my reading would have been different.

Next the assistant took 4 xrays - 2 of my neck, 2 of my lower back – to determine if there were any fractures and to assess how my bones/spine is aligned. I never saw my xrays so I’m not sure what, if anything, they revealed.

After vitals, scales and xrays, it was time for the roller tables. The main space in the center of this chiropractor’s office was an open room full of these roller tables.

I laid down on my back with my head towards the wall, feet where the pillow is placed.  That white towel is a heating pad and directly below that is a hole in the table the length of my back. I got situated on the table and the assistant turned on the rollers – a rhythmic roller rubbed up and down my spine while the heat warmed my back to help loosen the muscles. I was on the table for about 10 minutes. It was a very strange sensation but as the minutes went by, my back did feel like it’d loosened up a bit.

After my time on the table was up, it was back into another exam room, with another crazy looking table. This time, the doctor came in and pulled my arms and legs to ‘re-align’ (see also: pop) my shoulders and hips. I laid on my stomach and he cracked my upper back. Then I stood against a wall and he popped a different part of my back.

And that was it.

In this last exam room, he told me that my xrays showed that my pelvis was twisted (which way? how? why?) and that it looked like I had experienced a trauma to my next at some point – had I been in a car accident? (no, never. Never had a neck injury or problems). He’d told me that my back probably hurt from a pinched nerve which could be attributed to a number of things like swimming, yoga, walking, volleyball (even though some of these are no/low impact and one I’m not playing and haven’t since September).

I never saw my xrays and don’t feel like I got a straight answer about why my back was hurting and what I could do to fix it. When he said pinched nerve, I asked if they go away on their own or was there something I should be doing to fix it? He said that I should come back Tuesday or Wednesday for another treatment (roller table + back cracking) and we could talk about it then.

At $40 an appointment, I don’t have the money to just stop in for a back cracking and some chit chat twice a week. Especially when my back isn’t feeling any better. I expected that I would have gotten better answers and a plan for what I can do to help my back get better. But I didn’t.

Is this typical of a chiropractor’s visit? I feel pretty disappointed in the experience – I wanted answers, I want my back pain to go away and I don’t want to drop $80 (and only 40 minutes per appointment) this week to talk to the doctor about it.

Knee: 4 and 6 Month Surgery Check Up

Friday I went to my knee doctor for a 4 and 6 month check up on my knees. Under normal knee surgery circumstances, I would only be seeing my doctor if I was having pain or issues with my knee but because I’m part of a study with the DeNovo product. (DeNovo NT is the name of the graft that was implanted into my knee)

What this appointment meant was a quick visit with my doc to check out swelling (none), movement (full range) and strength (getting there) and then lots of paperwork to complete about my knees.

For surgery follow-up, I’m tasked with rating my pain and ability to perform certain tasks post-surgery. I completed the same questionnaire before surgery (for both knees) and will complete the same/similar questionnaires through the balance of the study (specified intervals for 5 years).

It was fun to answer the same questions post-surgery because I remember what I marked pre-surgery and it reminded me how much better my knees are now. Since surgery, I threw down my crutches and haven’t looked back and this appointment forced me to consider how far I’ve come.

I was also given the 100% green light to start running, jumping, doing impact activities again. I know I’d run a few times 5+ weeks ago and I shouldn’t have – I was so anxious and excited to see what I could do that I didn’t want to wait. When my left knee (most recent surgery) became sore, I stopped all running. Sometimes my left knee is still sore – because it’s only been 4.5 months since I had SURGERY on it (duh, Lynne) but I know it’s not because my implant is ‘broken’, it’s just because it’s still healing.

In the Colfax 5k race that Alex and I did this past weekend, we ran the first mile and my knee felt great! It was a bit sore on Sunday but it’s back to normal today.

After this, my next post-surgery check up will be in 6 months – and I think it entails an MRI, too. I’m very curious to see what my ‘new’ knee looks like on the scan! (pre-surgery MRI images here)

IN BACK PAIN NEWS…

I’ve been having back pain for 3+ weeks now. I’m taking y’alls advice and scheduled a chiropractor appointment for this afternoon. My fingers are crossed for a magic adjustment and that I leave the appointment with no back pain/tightness!

Fitness: Colfax 5K Run

Once upon a time, I signed up for 2 very ambitious races before I was even off crutches from surgery. I registered for the Cherry Creek Sneak 5 mile race – which I slept through – and the Colfax Urban 10 mile race.

Spoiler: I didn’t run the Colfax 10 miler.

The 10 mile race was this morning and I am in no shape to be running 2 miles, let alone 10. I had a brief stint of running (when I SHOULDN’T have been running) and called it quits when my left knee (most recent surgery) felt really sore.  So I’d planned to drop to the 5k weeks ago – even without running, I can still finish a 5k.

But even a 5k requires carbo-loading the night before (Friday).

Alex and I really dig the Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free Pizza Crust Mix. We make and eat pizza probably every other week using this crust – it takes a fraction of the time of real dough and it’s tasty! This pizza had diced tomato, red onion, fresh jalapeno and turkey bacon. And LOTS of mozzarella cheese. Mmmm.

I was on beer duty last night and picked up 2 6-packs of beer that hail from the cities/states/region where we’ll be honeymooning in September. (Honeymoon post on Wednesday!)

This Deshutes Red Chair NWPA is good! I’m a big fan of hoppy beers like IPAs so the Northwest Pale Ale variety caught my attention at the liquor store. It’s less hoppy than an IPA and has a nice citrus aroma.

We woke up on Saturday morning for the Colfax 5k run only to find cold, gray and rainy skies out the window. For my first ‘race morning’ in a very long time, it was hard to get excited about getting out the door, knowing we’d be walking in the rain. But we changed our clothes, grabbed extra sweatshirts and sweatpants for the post-race warm up.

We got to the race and parked at 8:40 a.m. for a 9 a.m. start. The timing was perfect – Alex and I were able to find the tent to change our numbers from the 10 mile to 5k (should have been done at the expo Friday night but the Race Day Registration tent helped us out), pin on our numbers and get to the corral to start just moments before the race started.

Serendipitously, the rain stopped for a few minutes as the race gun went off and the first racers took off. Alex and I started off running at an easy, comfortable pace and made it just under the 1 mile marker before I needed to slow down. My body is not used to running! My knees and back felt okay but my muscles and lungs were dying.

We walked the rest of the race at a brisk pace. The rain drizzled most of the time with spurts of harder rain – it was very cold! My back really started to hurt at mile 2.5 (I am making a chiropractor appointment on Monday!) but my knees held up the entire time. I’m not 100% sure what our finishing time was – I never had a time goal for this race – but I think we finished in about 45 minutes.

I really appreciated Alex walking with me – he could have coped out and stayed home, under the warm covers, but he wanted to be out on the course with me. We spent the 3.1 miles talking and laughing, just being ourselves. No distractions, no other obligations. No talking or stressing about work or the wedding. Just being together. This paragraph is so sappy but spending the morning with my guy was the highlight of the race for me.

(Holla SparklySoul headband!)

…Until we finished and got to the food. (Kidding!)

But seriously, after we finished, we bee-lined for the food, hoping for coffee or hot chocolate – something to warm us up! Instead, we found the Garbanzo table!

They were handing out little plates of their pita sandwiches – a pita wedge, vegetable salad and your choice of hummus, tabuleh  and garlic dressing. Alex grabbed one but I didn’t. I wasn’t in the mood for Mediterranean food at 10 a.m.

Just past the Garbanzo table, I spotted a great big familiar looking bus – ELBY the LOVE bus!

Love Grown Foods is a Boulder-based granola company that makes some kick-ass granola. I love local companies who support local races!

The team was handing out little cups of Sweet Cranberry Pecan granola with a scoop of Brown Cow Yogurt. THIS is what I want to eat post-3 mile run/walk.

 There were tables with bagels, Sport Beans, Popchips, Body Glide, Pepsi Next (I grabbed one – 1 can is only 60 calories) and water. We found the coffee table at the end, grabbed a cup and headed back to the car. Once we stopped walking, the rain and wind really made us cold.

Despite the weather, it was a really great morning. I’m proud of myself for not chickening out and not going to the race – I had a long internal debate when I woke up about going: If I wasn’t running, did I want to just walk 3 miles in the rain? But I already paid for the registration so I should at least go get my shirt & other goodies, right? Did I care about the shirt THAT much? But I wanted to get my shirt and post-race swag, run my legs a little bit and walk my legs the rest of the way. It would have been easier and warmer to stay home but I didn’t.

Today was the Colfax 10 mile, half and full marathons – it was a much sunnier and drier morning/day for these longer races! It’s been fun to watch friends finish via Facebook and Twitter – congrats, guys! Hopefully next year, I’ll be ready to really run one of these races next year too!

Fun: My Love Affair with NPR and This American Life Live

I ‘discovered’ NPR in college through my favorite radio station, WNKU. Cincinnati radio is pretty dismal - made up of top 40, hard rock, oldies, easy listening and Christian stations. WNKU was different – it was a neighboring college’s excellent alternative radio station playing Rock, Soul, Blues, News and More.

The News part came in the form of NPR and once I started co-oping (interning but it took place of school classes and I got paid), I listened to NPR on the way to my job in the morning and on the way home in the evenings. Soon, it was the only radio station I listened to. WNKU gave me my first taste of NPR programing like World Cafe with David Dye and E-Town (which is recorded in Boulder!).

After moving to Denver and finding my local NPR station, KUNC, I happened to be in the car one Saturday morning and caught my first ever This American Life show. Each week, the host Ira Glass, features a theme and brings the listeners a variety of stories and perspectives about that theme. Themes range from switched at birth (<–it happened!) to garbage to the middle of the night. Each show is thought-provoking and interesting. It’s hard to turn it off because you want to find out how the story ends.

This American Life is, no contest, my favorite radio show. So when I saw on Twitter this week that This American Life was broadcasting a live show in theaters (the Invisible made Visible show) I knew I was going to get my butt to a theater and see it.

The show originally live broadcast on Thursday, May 10th at select theaters across America, Canada and even as far as Australia! Earlier this week on Tuesday, a few theaters were showing the taped show again – with only 4 theaters in the Denver and surrounding metro areas, I was lucky to find a theater relatively close by in Lakewood (15 minute drive from my apartment). I excitedly bought tickets for me and Alex – I couldn’t wait to SEE the voices I’ve come to instantly recognize and love!

The show was fantastic – it was 2 hours long and set up into 4 acts, just like the radio show. In between acts, the show featured dance, music (with OKGO!), a short film and a segment about photography. I won’t spoil any of the stories by describing them here – you should check your local NPR station and find out when this week’s This American Life is on and catch the radio version!

I will leave you with this humorous short film, created by Mike Birbiglia, that debuted during the orignal live show.

Well, readers, thank you so much for coming out to read  my blog.  (<–I love Terry Gross!)

If you haven’t heard This American Life, I highly recommend giving it a listen! There’s also a TV show version that you can find on the This American Life website.  

Are you an NPR listener? (<–is that ‘an’ or ‘a’? I know ‘a’ is grammatically correct.. but I would say ‘an’.) What’s your favorite show?

I also love Car Talk, Fresh Air, Marketplace, Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me… actually, there isn’t a show that I don’t like!