The Run Denver Race Series

Back in November, in the high of completing my fifth half marathon of the year, and third within a month, I thought it’d be a great idea to look ahead and plan for my 2015 race schedule!  Once you get bit by the run bug, there’s no turning back.  I started looking at small, local races, knowing the appeal of easy-to-manage race day events and the fun runner and volunteer atmosphere.  These smaller races and series truly showcase the running community with which you surround yourself.  I checked, and first looked up That Dam Half.  After running my first half marathon in February 2014, I was immediately addicted and wanted to find another one I could do right away.  That Dam Half was only a week out from the Disney Princess Half, so unfortunately I wasn’t able to sign up for it with enough confidence that I’d finish easily, or at least well.  So instead I decided I would save this race.

Don’t stop me, don’t stop me, don’t stop me. Hey, hey, HEY! Freddie Mercury, I don’t want to stop at all. Source

Now you may be thinking, “Why is this race called ‘That Dam Half’?”  It’s true, Colorado is not exactly known for its large bodies of water, but just 15 minutes down the road from me is the Cherry Creek Reservoir.  Cherry Creek cuts its way through Denver, much of which is followed by Speer Boulevard.  It’s derivation point, however, is out east towards the reservoir.  Conserving water is something we Coloradans must get used to, so reservoirs were established throughout the state.  Not all are in the same use at this point, and truth be told, the Cherry Creek Reservoir is now more for recreational use than anything else.  The reservoir is part of the Cherry Creek State Park, which boasts good biking and running trails all over and great views of the mountains out west.  Thus, That Dam Half quite literally winds its way around the reservoir and dam!  That is my long, drawn-out explanation for the obviousness of the name…

After checking out the half registration, I noticed there was a series built around this race, the Run Denver Race Series.  You provide me with a package of races, I cannot resist!  Especially when they have cute themes, are all close-by, and each is small and local.  So in December, I began my five race series, which includes 4 5ks, of which I am not normally a huge fan, and That Dam Half.  We kicked off the series with the Rudolph Ramble 5k, which took place the day following the ColderBolder 5k.  Obviously I ran both, because why not!  These races would guarantee me at least 14 races in 2014.

Great start to a fun race.
Great start to a fun race.

The Rudolph Ramble took place on December 7th, and it was so much fun – folks donned jingle bells, reindeer antlers, santa hats and other holiday-themed paraphernalia.  Given the size of these races, many folks brought their kids and dogs to participate.  This race took place in City Park, just north of the Cherry Creek area of Denver.  I have now run a number of races in City Park, some more treacherous than others, but this day was perfect.  Not too warm (it was unusually warm this weekend, unlike the year before when the high was 6 degrees), sunny, and no breeze.  We took a wide loop around the park and finished by the pavilion, where volunteers were lined up with goody bags (I mean nice drawstring goody bags!), water, Evol burritos, Aspire sports drinks, bagels and bananas, along with other goodies and freebies.  I am all about the freebies, so I just cannot resist.  What I liked most, however, were the awesome long-sleeve BornFit race shirts.  The shirts were a periwinkle blue with the Rudolph Ramble logo.  Part of the series perks included a BornFit grey half-zip, with which I am now obsessed.  Good swag for a small series.

The post race goodies were really impressive given the size of the race.
The post race goodies were really impressive given the size of the race.  Can you feel my excitement?

Two weekends ago I participated in the second race of the series, the Polar Bear 5k: Thrill of the Chill.  Thankfully, like the previous race, it was the opposite of

Krisitn (aka the running machine!) and I post-race on a perfect day!
Kristin (aka the running machine!) and I post-race on a perfect day!

chilly.  I am fairly certain it was about 60 degrees that day.  This time the race took place in Washington Park, or Wash Park as known by the locals.  My friend, Tessa, came to cheer me and her roomie on during the race.  They live in walking distance from the park, so it made for a great morning for all of us.  This race wound its way around the park, and took one additional loop through the middle to meet the 3.1 miles.  The volunteers for these races are notoriously fantastic, and there are folks interspersed throughout the course cheering on the runners.  The course is just the right ammout of small inclines and flat, so you can really work on speed for this race.  Like the race before, many participants had dogs and kids join in the fun.  Kristin, my friend’s roommate, took 1st in our age group, so we got to celebrate her during the award ceremony.  Personally, I felt great throughout the race and ran a 30:50 5k – I am determined to bring my 10k time solidly under 10 minutes per mile, so I think I am on track.

Cruising into the finish line and feeling good.
Cruising into the finish line and feeling good.
Yup, she's a rockstar!
Yup, she’s a rockstar!

This Sunday I will be participating in the third installment of the race series, the Super Bowl 5k also in Wash Park.  Finally something I would rather be doing on Super Bowl Sunday (especially since the Broncos didn’t make it this time… we won’t go into last year, but I definitely do NOT want the Seahawks to win…).  The following Sunday will be the Valentine’s Day 5k, and I will finish the series on March 1st with That Dam Race Half Marathon.  I couldn’t imagine kicking off 2015 any better way – time to pile on the miles!

Do you have a favorite race series? Do you prefer big races or small, local events?  Any fun themed races coming up?

Friday Favorites: Dry Winter Blues Edition

Living in Colorado definitely comes with its benefits.  It is, after all, a place some folks dream of living.  It’s nice to be outside in every season (I won’t go as far as to say everyday), and there’s something to do in every season (that, I think, is a little more rare).  Between hiking, biking, running, rock climbing, summiting 14ers, camping, skiing, snowshoeing, and everything else in between, it’s an outdoor enthusiast’s dream!  The lack of bugs and humidity also tend to make it more bearable, and having over 300 sunny days a year is simply ideal.

The dryness and altitude, however, wreak havoc on this former east coaster’s skin!  My hair, for the most part and with regular deep conditioning, loves it, as do my hairstyles.  But my skin I think actually revolts against this arid climate.  So I thought this Friday I would share some of my favorite remedies and products to keep my skin soft, moisturized, and hopefully, glowing all year long.

1.  Arbonne Liquid Foundation Broad Spectrum with SPF 15 Suncreen: I am one of those people who wears makeup every day, and most definitely facial sunscreen. It’s not that I don’t like my skin or appearance, but the preppster, always ready for a photo-shoot face persona has never worn off.  So I have been loving my new makeup routine recently with my liquid foundation from Arbonne.  I use this product in buff and it blends perfectly, evens my skin, and feels so soft on.  I put additional facial sunscreen on first, but even having an additional amount of SPF makes me feel better about all these sunny days.

This stuff blends and evens like a dream.

2.  The Secret of the Himalayan Body Butter: Did I mention Colorado is a dry, dry place? I always used lotion before moving here, but now I cannot live without it.  Before moving, my brother got me this body lotion and sugar scrub set as part of a Christmas gift.  I am now hooked and cannot live without it.  Unlike most body butter, it’s light and not greasy, but it’s effective!  This body butter is especially good for elbows, knees and heels, where the skin gets the driest.

Smoothy smooth skin!
Smoothy smooth skin!

3.  The Righteous (Body) Butter: Speaking of body butter, this one is intense. Whenever it’s an especially dry day, and particularly after I have used either a sea salt or sugar scrub, this is my go to for re-hydrating.  It smells fabulous and kicks butt when it comes to moisture.

Pile on the moisture. This one packs a punch.
Pile on the moisture. This one packs a punch.

4.  Lush Ocean Salt Face and Body Scrub: It’s necessary to slough off the dry, dull skin during these harsh winter months to keep skin glowing and soft. When I discovered this amazing sea salt scrub living in Boulder, I never looked back.  It’s just the right amount of scrub which dissolves without a weird residue, and it smells like a tropical drink in the middle of winter – it does feature lime, coconut, grapefruit and sea salt, after all.  It’s great for face and body, and I cannot get enough of it!

From dry and dull to glowing and glamorous!
From dry and dull to glowing and glamorous!

5.  Crabtree & Evelyn Ultra-Moisturizing Hand Therapy: My poor hands. I don’t think I can ever keep them moisturized enough.  I am very particular about hand lotion.  I want it to smell good, but actually be effective during these dry days.  Most lotions seem to fade quickly and I feel like I need to reapply constantly.  Thank goodness for Crabtree & Evelyn.  Sadly they just closed the only store front in Colorado, but I have found them sold at various spas and retailers, and where would we be without online shopping?  Their lotion in the Gardeners scent is ideal.  It’s herby and not overpowering, but pleasant and calming.  J ’adore.

Delightful scent, powerful hand therapy. Source
Delightful scent, powerful hand therapy. Source

These are some of my favorite moisturizing winter-time products, and when it comes to Colorado winters, it’s all about skin protection!

What are some of your favorite, or most effective moisturizing products?  Do you have the same dry-skin winter problems? Any other remedies work for you!

2015: The Journey Unknown

The end of 2014 came and went, in a bittersweet and far too fast blur.  So many fantastically fun things happened and life got rather too much in the way to report on them!  I finished out my running year with 4 holiday themed races, 2 10K’s and 2 5K’s, and achieved my best 5K time yet: 30:21 at the ColderBolder (it wasn’t a high of 5 degrees this year like it was last year, so I was happy to run it this go around).  I’ll share more about these races later, as I think they’re worth posting about.

One of the most exciting things thus far: I was selected to be an Esprit de She Brand Ambassador!  I cannot wait to share the Esprit de She love and event information.  Although the Denver event won’t be until August, there are Esprit de She events throughout the US, which include running, duathlons and triathlons – something for everyone!  I participated in last year’s Esprit de She 10K in Westminster (there’s also a 5K!), Colorado and loved this race.  It is still my 10K PR, and I had a phenomenal experience throughout the entire process, from warming up with a workout dance instructor, to the cheering squad along the entire route, to the amazing after party at Lifetime Fitness.  It was an all-around awesome experience.  Besides, you end the night with a few glasses of bubbly, so what could be bad about that?  Check out upcoming races throughout the US – if interested, please use code EDS039 when you register!

Esprit de She take two in 2015!  This time as an Ambassador!
Esprit de She take two in 2015! This time as an Ambassador!

Another hugely exciting thing is that my darling friend, Danielle, asked me to be in her wedding.  Having moved from Maryland to Colorado three and half years

This gorgeous lady, and my ColderBolder buddy, will be saying "I do!" in October!
This gorgeous lady, and my ColderBolder buddy, will be saying “I do!” in October!

ago I never knew I could make such phenomenal friends to the point that I would be a part of their big day!  I have already been invited to a wedding in Colorado, which was a stunning and fantastic affair celebrating two of my favorite people, Peter and Ade, in October of 2013.  There is something different, though, about being asked to be a part of the entire experience!  I cannot wait for her and Scott’s wedding day this October in Vail, Colorado.  It’s sure to be a beautiful and memorable wedding.

This year the hubs and I are hoping to take a few more trips, including wine country in June, and a fabulous beach trip in September (this week we’re deciding

I miss Hawai'i!!  Maui is so stunning!
I miss Hawai’i!! Maui is so stunning!

between Hawai’i and Mexico… tough choices).  I realized I haven’t legitimately seen a beach, or really ocean, since Mrs. BakeNBurn’s wedding in March 2013!! That is ridiculous.  It needs to be remedied stat!  We have both been to Maui, and I have also visited Oahu and the Big Island, but know so little about Mexico, particularly the West Coast since it is easier to get to from Colorado.  Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.  Otherwise I will have a bachelorette party at an undisclosed location, a long weekend in Disney World with my family (I can’t stay away!), and potentially a conference in Vegas to look forward to!  I will also be attending my sister’s graduation in May, so I will be back in the DC area before long.

My last beach vacation - I miss large bodies of water!  Isn't Mrs. BakeNBurn beautiful?
My last beach vacation – I miss large bodies of water! Isn’t Mrs. BakeNBurn beautiful?

This past year was really a great year for me and the hubs.  I had a job I loved, we were both settled in our home in Denver, we have a fantastic set of friends

And this is only the beginning of our journey!
And this is only the beginning of our journey!

around us, and we had a ton of visitors throughout the year.  My own personal goal of showcasing my interior design initiative, very novice I admit, to the world was realized. Somehow a few of my Instagramable moments were regrammed by Pottery Barn, which is my home decor Mecca. Beyond that, the hubs and I were able to have 2 amazing vacations together, and worked on ourselves as a unit.  This was so successful that, and I have to brag here, the hubs lost 45 pounds!!  I had no idea he had that much to lose, but he looks and feels great, and I couldn’t be prouder.  Once he had shed somewhere around 35-40, we actually had my awesome friend, and photographer, Laura, take some family shots.  She’s the incredible owner and photographer of Red Mountain Studio, and if you’re in need of great shots around the north Denver area, definitely check her out!  It’s amazing to see the things we have accomplished, but even more so to have watched his transformation and how happy he is.

Look at my happy, healthy hubby!

I know 2014 boasted so many great things, but 2015 is looking just as promising.  Here’s to the journey ahead and wherever it may lead!

2014: An Imperfect, Though Fabulous, Year in Review


Looking back over this past year, I have been so blessed to have such incredible experiences, phenomenal friends, a job I love, and family that always supports me.  I had made myself a promise last year to work on goals to improve myself, my relationships, and my day-to-day.  Although I like to think we should always be trying to improve and never settle for just okay, I think 2014 was a pretty great year.

I had no idea when I wrote about my 2014 goals last January that I would have accomplished so much.  I am not a believer in resolutions simply because we are human, and if I am unable to do something I wanted to do, I don’t want to see it as a failure.  We are meant to adapt and change as our environments adapt and change around us.  That’s human nature.  As my dad used to say, “Semper Gumby, Always Flexible.”  But the goals I set out for myself ended up being a driving factor throughout this past year.

I can honestly say I curse less (I like to call it my Disney Princess speach – have you ever heard a Disney Princess curse?

Can I go back... please?
Can I go back… please?

No. Exactly.), don’t drink during the week (except during winter break and vacations, but come on, that’s me time!), worked harder on relationships, became more of a fitness nut than I have ever been, attempted to read more (I had a lull, I will admit), traveled to Disney (twice! I have a problem…), DC, Vegas and the UK, focused on broadening my cooking repertoire, forced myself to change my routine for the better, and ultimately worked on being a better blogger.  Again, life happens and all of these goals had to be assessed or readdressed at one point or another, but I made meaningful progress for myself.  That is really what matters.

When I started all of this, particularly the health and fitness piece, I had never even run a half marathon. I had actually only run a 10K and 5K in all of 2013.  I went to Zumba each week, jogged throughout the week, and worked out fairly regularly, but I wasn’t working towards anything.  I can happily say that I completed 15 races in 2014, including 5 half marathons, 1 15K, 6 10Ks, 1 4 miler, and 2 5Ks.  I didn’t anticipate doing quite so many, and thought folks planning to do 14 in ’14 were positively nuts.  Yet here I am, I have already completed my first race of 2015, and have 10 more planned during this year.

Photo Jan 07, 12 42 11 PM
Just some highlights from some of the races this past year!
I am so lucky to have this guy by my side!
I am so lucky to have this guy by my side!

My hubby and I are, thank goodness, often on the same plane of understanding.  He and I often make goals together.  We recently discussed that we both want to complete a marathon together.  I don’t know when, I don’t know which one, but at the end of my life I want to say I did it.  Will it be a 2015 goal?  Probably not, but I intend to train as though it were.  I also want to participate in a triathlon, partly for the fact that cross training is always a good idea, but also because they just look so gosh darn fun.  Of course I am thinking sprint distance, but after the year I have had, who knows what that will turn in to.

This past year taught me a lot about myself: what I am capable of, how hard I can push myself, and how great it feels being the best version of myself.  Can I be better, absolutely!  Always strive for perfection and allow yourself to realize you may never achieve it all.  That, however, doesn’t mean I will ever stop trying.  Let’s have a great year, no matter what life throws our way!

How was your 2014? Any goals you were most proud of accomplishing? Any new or exciting goals to add to the 2015 queue?

Happy New Year To My Gram

Like most of the blogosphere, I had intended to write the typical New Year’s resolution (or in my case, goals) post, but this new year began rather abruptly.  Early Friday morning my grandmother passed away.  She lived to be nearly 93, and made it just past the beginning of 2015.  Her life was blessed with adventure, love, family, and a long list of memories and meaningful accomplishments.  She met the love of her life in World War II when they were stationed in the United Kingdom, married, had two children, my aunt and my father, and got to see much of the world before she was 35 thanks to the army.  I must admit, if she and I could compete together in a triathlon, she’d dominate the swimming portion and I would eek by in the running – she was always a fish, and swam for most of her life.  Growing up I made the trek up from Texas to Maryland (by car… oh my) every summer with my family to visit both sets of grandparents.  Gram, as all her grandkids called her, could always be found in the pool, with lemonade for the kiddos nearby, and we spent long summer days frolicking through the woods surrounding her home.  We probably caused her many moments of havoc, but she could always be found with a smile on her face and hugs for everyone. My sister and I were her only granddaughters, so we had a special relationship with my Gram.  She found ways to make us smile, even when I was being a total brat (oh and boy was I).

My beautiful Gram on my wedding day in June 2011. She was always smiling her gorgeous smile, and now she is smiling on all of us.

It amazes me everything the Greatest generation lived through and saw.  The incredible amount of change they experienced is truly phenomenal.  The fact that war brought her and my grandfather together, and that she lived to see the first manned space flight, introduction of television, much less the internet and cellular phones.  It makes you take a step back and realize what’s most important in this crazy, diverse, and rushed world we live in.  So to my Gram, thank you for the memories, the stories, and the endless summer days.

I am happy knowing that my Gram can finally be at rest after many years of deteriorating health, and will now be reunited with my Granddad.  She surpassed him by 14 years, and I am just grateful for the extra time we were able to have with her.  May this new year be blessed with joys, incredible moments worth cherishing, and if there be hard times, may they be times we overcome together.  Here’s to a beautiful and blessed 2015!