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Copper Mountain 25k (2:58)

Copper Mountain 25k (2:58)

This is going to be one of my lengthiest race recaps, so don’t say I didn’t warn you!  Before running the UnderArmour Running Series at Copper Mountain, I had no idea what to expect.

While I have run one trail race in NJ, it didn’t have the same climb and elevation changes that races out west do.  I had not run a trail race out west, and I had never raced at anything above 7000 feet of elevation.  I went into the race with zero expectations but finishing.  I could have finished in 2 hours or 4:29 minutes and felt good about it.  In short, I exceeded all expectations for the race including my time and experience.

Due to the length of the recap, I’ve broken it up a little bit.

Before the Race:

Before the race, I fueled as if I was running a marathon.  I knew I would be running for several hours with extreme climbs, so I knew I needed to get as much fuel as possible.  There were several food places available at Copper Mountain, my favorite being the Ten Mile Tavern.

The 25k started at 7:30 am.  Around 7 am, I realized I couldn’t get my Nathan Hydration Pack open.  I had opened it back home to make myself familiar with it.  After basically attacking Sarah to help me, I went over the Fleetfeet Rochester guys, and they were able to open.  Since the pack had gone from 0 elevation to 9000 quickly, the vacuum seal was shut entirely.  After that situation was thankfully fixed (in writing it sounds like I’m calmer than I was), I was ready to go.

Even though there were 5 aid stations, I opted to bring my own water.  I was 100% happy that I did, and if I raced again, I would choose the exact same one.

The Race:

After chatting with Jill at the start, we were off.  I started towards the back, and in hindsight, I could have probably started a few rows up.  The first mile was my slowest because we were so boxed in. I felt like I could move faster than I was but the number of people made it difficult. I logged a 15:10 first mile and I was happy with it.  I was winded, but also I knew it was faster than the pace I needed to make the cutoff.

under armour copper mountain race me running

The next mile was a long incline.  It wasn’t steep, but it was narrow and singletrack.  I kept plugging along with nothing of note except the crowds had begun to spread out.  I was still with a relatively large group of people which kept me motivated.  I wasn’t in it alone.

Around mile 2, began one of the hardest inclines I’ve run.  Not the hardest, because that comes later on.  The switchbacks were steep, and I could see rows and rows of people higher than me climbing.  It made me mentally question, what am I doing?  I have all of that to go.  What kept me together was the people around me.  I was neither the first nor the last.  I was a solid midpack person.  Seeing others going through the same thing made me feel more motivated.  I didn’t feel like I was climbing a mountain alone.

We climbed, and every time I felt I needed water, I sipped some from my pack.  I was thankful for the hydration pack, and if I run the race again, I’ll use the same one.  I ended up drinking all of my water in the pack.  My calves were tired, and for a few brief moments, I thought about walking.  I didn’t, but it crossed my mind.

under armour copper mountain race me running

Around mile 4, I took my first gel.  It was just under an hour, and I planned to take a gel every hour.  I don’t have a flavor preference, and honestly, my stomach can handle any flavor/brand the tasteless being my least favorite…but it will go down).

The switchbacks were done, and we began climbing a fire road.  People spread out, and I had my own space.  It flattened for a brief moment, and people flew by me like I was standing still. With my running college nickname, Mac truck Hollie, I went the same speed.  (Mac truck because I go one speed uphill, downhill, and on flat surfaces).  I knew the climb was not over.

We climbed for a while and then I saw a sign that said: “stay to the left”.  Suddenly, I saw racers coming down the opposite side.  Many had the 50k bib, but a few had 25k too.  They were a few miles in front and had already reached the peak.

Mile 6 and 7 were rough.  You were climbing and watching racers ease down the downhill faster and with less effort. I knew they had already put in the work to get there. I just kept plugging along and staring out over the mountains.  It was beautiful, and I could see for miles.

Finally, after a couple of 12-minute miles, I reached the top.  The energy at the top was unreal.  People cheering, Taylor Swift playing, and a table of cookies, gels, Gus, Powerade, and Red Bull.  I grabbed another GU and Red Bull.  I took in the view for a second and just stared out while drinking my red bull.

under armour copper mountain race me running

I had never had Red Bull while running but I decided since half of everything I was doing was new anyway to just go with it (new shoes, new hydration pack, new elevation, new race terrain…).

Downhill Until it’s Uphill:

Then I began the long stretch downhill.  I’m not a great downhill runner.  In fact, downhill is a very weak point on mine.  I am clumsy and injury prone while running downhill, so I take my time. Many people passed me downhill which was fine.  I didn’t care.

The next few miles were all downhill.  In my mind I thought, is this it?  Are we done climbing?  The hardest is done.  I was logging around 10 min miles and cruising. For the next few miles, I ran alone and enjoyed it.  Just me, running downhill, on an open fire road. I found some secluded woods and quickly used the restroom.

For the next few miles, we kept going down and mentally I had checked out of climbing anything else.  Which is unfortunate because around 10 miles we crossed paths with racers who were climbing.  It was a mix of bibs and I asked someone climbing if we were going that way.  He said yes, and it wasn’t the only climb.

All of a sudden, a racer going another way said: Whoa, are you Tim’s wife?  I said yes, and it turns out one of his college skiing teammates was running the race too.  We caught up after the race which was neat…you never know who you’ll see on the mountain.  Seeing someone, I knew gave me a second wind.

under armour copper mountain race me running

Once we reached the bottom, ready to go up, I knew I was about get served a piece of humble pie.  We dipped to a point and with a water stop.  I grabbed Powerade and began on the first incline.  The include lasted about half a mile, but it was grueling.  My calves were screaming at me, but I was passing people.  I thought to myself, I must really be stronger in the uphills.  I climbed, and my run became more of a cross between a short stride and hike.  I was still moving about the same pace, but I think I could contend for race walking.

We reached the top, circled around and went right back down.  The same racers I passed, passed me.  Someone called out, yeah Jersey.  I asked where he was from and he said Denver…so I said yeah, Denver (clever I know).

After the downhill, we went right back to the uphill which honestly didn’t seem as bad as the earlier uphill.  Maybe I was more mentally prepared, but I powered up and passed the same people who passed me going downhill.  I knew we had to go downhill for a few more miles so I knew they would all drop me later (which to no surprise, they did).

Technical Downhill is Hard:

Around mile 12, we started the technical downhill.  Out of everything, it was my absolute least favorite part. Not because I thought it was a bad course design, but because both downhill and technical trails are my weakness.  Together, at the end of the race was grueling.

I had to pay attention to every place my feet landed for the next 2 miles and it made me slower, less efficient, and worried.  I didn’t want to roll an ankle or fall.  I didn’t care though, my goal was to finish not to run fast and hurt myself because I wasn’t paying attention.

I was extremely fortunate there was no one really around me for almost a mile. I was able to take my time without getting into other racers way.

Around mile 14, a man came barreling through and almost ran into me.  We ended up climbing up a short incline to the fire road and going down.  He quickly ran by me on the wide open road.  From there, I knew I had about a mile and a half.  Just 1.5 miles to go.  I told myself, half of a 5k and a downhill 5k at that.  My quads had started cramping, and my IT band was singing me a sweet hate song.  I wasn’t injured, but 7+ miles of downhill made it tighten up.

The final mile headed into more single track downhill, and we popped out.  I looked down, and I could see the village.  I could see the finish line. OMG, I’m doing it.  I kept staring at this surreal finish line.  Then I crossed, and it was done.

under armour copper mountain race me running

Post Race:

I grabbed a couple of bananas, chatted with people, and then went up to my hotel room for a while.  I felt proud and accomplished.  I enjoyed my first big trail race and it could not have gone better.  Under Armour did a great job and I liked the course a lot. Looking forward, I’m not married to trail running, I just like to run.  I am thinking I’ll do the Under Amour Killington Race as well.  I’ve heard while the elevation is lower, it’s much more technical.  Like anything in my life, I can’t plan too much until closer but I would like to do it if my schedule allows!

Questions for you:

What is the hardest race you’ve ever done?

Have you ever done a trail race?

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Training Last Week: Working and Running at 12000 Feet

Training Last Week: Working and Running at 12000 Feet

So much to unpack from last week and weekend.  To say it was one of the best weekends I’ve had in awhile is an understatement.  I don’t even know where to start.  Training last week was good.  Even though I positive split like a boss, I had a decent “first workout back,”,  Then as most people know, over the weekend I ran the hardest running race I’ve done.  Can’t get much better than that!

Monday: 20 minutes easy
Tuesday: 60 minutes easy
Wednesday: 12X400 road/90 seconds rest (average 6:10)
Thursday: Am 30 minutes easy/PM: 2 miles Colorado
Friday: 45 minutes easy Colorado
Saturday: UnderArmour Copper Mountain Trail 25k (2:58)
Sunday: Rest and travel home

Thoughts:

There isn’t much to unpack there.  All of my runs were just that, easy.  I don’t have too much exciting about them because there wasn’t too much excitement that happened.  I ran easy.  My easy 2 miles in Colorado was a 2 mile (26-minute run) through the trails we were going to be running.  Running those miles, made me wonder, how the heck I would finish the trail race.

12X400 Workout:

The workout started well, and the first 6 averaged around 6 minute pace.  The second 6, however, just felt like a brick hit me and I couldn’t get my feet to move any faster.  I didn’t hurt injury-wise, but it was a reality check that I haven’t been doing speed the last few months so I won’t go as fast as when I was.  The second 6 averaged about 6:20 which with some work I hope I can progress faster than that again.

Copper Mountain Trail Race (2:58)

The Copper Mountain Trail Race was one of the best races I could hope for. I was running an intense trail race in Colorado, something I’ve never done, at an altitude I’ve never done.  I haven’t felt that nervous for a race since my first marathon, the NYCM.  I had no idea what to expect, and my only goal was to finish.  Making it to the top, I didn’t feel sick at 12000 feet of altitude, but to be honest, I think it’s because I hydrated well and took my time.  My slowest miles were definitely in the beginning.  They weren’t the hardest climbs, but I didn’t want to take it too fast.

The hardest parts (for me) were actually the technical downhill climbs towards the bottom.  Because I run (and walk) on my toes, my calves are far stronger than other areas of my legs.  I got passed by far more people on the downhill (maybe about 10 or so?).  I am very proud of my finish.  I had no idea what to expect and had zero expectations.  I could have finished in 4:29 (the cut off was 4:30) or the time I did and feel happy about it.  I’ll have a full recap soon.

The next week will be a lot of TLC.  I would like to get in a workout, I will be traveling again for a big family big birthday.  Probably no races next weekend, as I am going to the Taylor Swift concert ha!

Posts from the Week:

Today is My Birthday

Hiking Indian Wells State Park

Questions for you:

What has been your hardest race to date?

What is the highest elevation you’ve ever run? 

Today is My Birthday

Today is My Birthday

As my unoriginal title indicates, today, July 12th, is my 28th birthday.  Some years I write X number of things I learned before age X.  Other years, I don’t even write a post about my birthday.  Some years I spend with family, some with my husband, friends, and others I’ve spent alone.  I haven’t learned a heck of a lot new since last July 12th, and there is no way I could write 28 things I’ve learned since 28.

Last year, I decided I wasn’t interested in material items or junk.  I stopped buying new clothing, and in 2018 my New Year’s Resolution is not to buy any new nonathletic apparel (I don’t go crazy on buying athletic apparel either).  After bills, I’ve chosen to spend my money on experiences rather than things.  Experiences like races, diners, and traveling to random places.  Things that I can look back on and think: dang that was fun.  I don’t need or want any useless junk.

As I reflect upon that, I’m also sitting on an airplane to Denver, Colorado.  I’m doing something out of my comfort zone, and maybe the hardest thing I’ve ever done.  I’m going to run the Copper Mountain 25k.  My only goal is to finish.

I haven’t been secretly training for trail races, but after running the Xterra 10k a few months ago and having fun, trail no longer terrifies like they once did.  I’ve spent a lot of time this spring and summer hiking and it’s become just as fun to me as running. It will be my longest run in a long time, the highest altitude I’ve ever run, and maybe not my wisest idea.  As I mentioned on my blog, when the opportunity first presented itself a few weeks ago, I said no but thought: why not? I have nothing to prove, and it’s getting me out of my comfort zone.

I’m really looking forward to running this weekend.

A few highlights of adventures from age 27:

Visiting the Grand Canyon

grand canyon north rim

Our vacation last year that we booked two plane tickets to Denver and a rental car with no plans.  We ended up driving 2600 miles and seeing amazing places.

road trip through colorado

PRing at the Phoenix Half in February Phoenix Half marathon feb me running

10 Mile Hike through GrayBeard Trail (North Carolina)

Air Force Marathon (half for me) with my husband and in laws

Apparently, I decided to nap and close my eyes right there…

Private Flying over NYC

flying over nyc

Those are just a few of the many memories I have from age 27.  I can only hope 28 will be just as fun!

Questions for you:

When is your birthday? How did you celebrate last year?

Any last minute trail tips?

Four State Vacation

It’s taken over a month to finally recap my entire vacation.  I still have a few lingering diner reviews left, but with one phase of life over and the next moving forward, I figured it would be best to wrap finally wrap the trip up.

As I mentioned a month ago, my husband and I had no plans when we went out there.  We booked two plane tickets and a rental car.  We had no hotels booked, no plans of which towns and cities we would see, but figured we would wing it.  We didn’t imagine we would drive to four different states and put over 2600 miles on our car…but we did.

road trip through colorado

So where to begin?

We flew into Denver.

We stayed for a few days in Denver.  We explored the city a bit, and went for a few gorgeous runs.  We also got to see my good friend Kevin and his wife which I haen’t seen in a while.  

While in Denver, we drove up and went hiking at Flagstaff Mountain in Boulder.  We went to a few diners including Sams 3 which was on the Food Network as well as the brand new Snooze Cafe.

Next, we headed out West towards Utah.  My good friend Janae had said there were a fun 5k/13.1 and we thought…why not.  It’s only about 400 miles, right?  Plus, we would see what we would see.

Earlier in the year one of my closest friends, Angela, moved to Colorado (from South Jersey). The route to Utah went right through her town which we had been planning to do anyway.  We stayed the night at Angela and her husband’s house, went for a gorgeous run, and of course at her local diner: The New Castle Diner.

Then we continued towards Utah.  It was a scenic and beautiful drive.  Most of the time we didn’t have cell service which was actually nice.  No internet, blogging, or Facebooking.  Just the road and rocks on either side.

We got into Provo late that night, found a nice hotel near the race.  Since there was a half marathon, packet pickup was the night before at the mall.  We overheard some locals talking about the “lazy people” doing the 5k…YAY for being lazy.

haunted half 5k provo ut me running

The race itself was tough.  NJ is at sea level, Utah is 4000-5000 above (I can’t remember).  There was also a massive hill at the end of the race, and I finished in 19:40 dry heaving the whole way.  You can read more about the Haunted Half 5k here.

haunted half 5k provo ut me running

No, seriously it was painful

Janae, who just had her baby, finished and placed in her age group.  It was great to hang out, and the morning was definitely one of the highlights of the trip.   Another state I’ve raced in, not that I’m even sure how many that is.

After the race in Utah, we drove South.  We stayed the night, woke up the next morning and explored both Bryce Canyon and Zion National Park.

Hiking in Zion National Park

Both were beautiful, and we could have spent days, weeks, and probably months in either.  I hope one day to get back and spend more time and each.  Both have half and full marathons too, which would be fun to run if we trained appropriately (IE: at elevation).  Judging from the 5k, it might be awhile. We went to Meme’s cafe for lunch in Zion, which was an “interesting” experience.

After that, we stayed overnight and headed down to the North Rim of the Grand Canyon.  We were only a few hours away, and I’ve always wanted to see it.  A few hours away is a lot closer than NJ, so we decided to just drive down there.  It was absolutely breathtaking!

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We've always wanted to go to the Grand Canyon…so we did.

A post shared by Hollie (@fueledbylolz) on

After the Grand Canyon, we progressed east towards Colorado.  We wanted to make a stop at the Four Corners: where Utah, Colorado, Arizona, and New Mexico meet.  It’s a bucket list item, just to say you did.  It wasn’t too crowded when we got there.  You can stand in all Four Corners or lay there…

For the next couple of days, we just enjoyed the drive, view, and hanging out.  We saw a lot of cute towns.  We drove through Uncompahgre National Forest and over a terrifying mountain pass in which it was snowing.  We decided to stop and take a photo at the top.  It was one of the most incredible views of the trip.

Afterwards, we headed to Tim’s relative’s house in Montrose, Colorado.  It was nice to see family, and they took us for a 10+ mile four wheeling expedition up a mountain.  I’ve never been four wheeling before, so it was a brand new but so much fun experience.  The mountain in the background is actually the mountain we drove over and took the photo (above).

After an enjoyable visit in Montrose, we headed back towards Denver.  We stopped in Colorado Springs for a couple of days.  Initially, we wanted to go walk around the Air Force Academy, but there were essential meetings, and we weren’t allowed on.  We should have started our trip that way!  We decided to hike the Seven Bridges Trail (yes, you cross 7 bridges) as well as the Grey Back Peak Trail.

We also stopped (of course) at the King Chef Diner which was featured on the Food Network.  If you’ve never been, you have to go.  It is definitely one of my favorite diners that I’ve been too, including in NJ!   There are two locations but we chose the 13 seat, small purple castle.

They are most known for their Burritos.  Even with running and hiking, I left full.

King Chef Diner Colorado Springs

Finally, we wrapped our way back to Denver, and it was time to go.  At the airport, I ended up getting food poisoning which I’m still dealing with but that is a blog post for another day.

In summary:

12 Days
4 states
Over 100 miles run
Highest elevation 11000
Lowest elevation 3200
Temperatures between 28-80 degrees
And 2600 miles driven (on the dot)

I had one of the best trips of my life, and it was nice to spend time with my husband before he deployed.  One day we want to do something similar again, but going North to Montana and that way.

Questions for you:

Have you ever been on a road trip?

What is your favorite vacation?

Brooks Cascadia 12 Shoe Review

When going out west on Vacation, I knew I needed a trail shoe.  My husband and I have hiked several times on the east coast, but many people indicated how rocky and rigorous trails could be out west.  Thinking out loud, there have probably been times I could have used a trail shoe while hiking out east too.

brooks cascadia 12 shoe review

The Cascadia seemed like a good option.  I’ve had success with many Brooks Running shoes including both the Ghost 10 and Glycerin 15.  Instead of getting a hiking boot, I opted for the gortex (weatherproof) Brooks Cascadia.

Brooks Cascadia Fit:

The Gortex version makes the shoe stiffer and less breathable but that is precisely what I was looking for.  I wanted a shoe that would protect me from harsher elements.  That being said, it still fits appropriately.  In my running shoes, I’ve worn between 10-11 wide.  I purchased a pair of 10.5 shoes and have been fine.  The upper is constructed from a double mesh material that I found highly flexible, breathable, and provided a durable layer of protection.

brooks cascadia 12 shoe review

Brooks Cascadia Ride:

Personally, I’ve used these more for climbing and hiking versus running on trails.  I’ve used them a couple of times to run, but for the most part, they have been great hiking shoes.

There is a lot of cushion for a trail shoe.  My biggest fear was getting a trail shoe that was firm or rigid.  Since we have done 10+ miles of hiking before, my feet would not be happy with that.  The cushion of the Cascadia is soft like the Ghost but hard enough to grip the ground appropriately.

It doesn’t have the grooves of a rigorous hiking boot, but did have enough for the hikes I was doing.

The Gortex version allowed me to cross several streams without too much of an issue with my feet getting wet.  Something that was ideal.

Final Thoughts:

I like the Brooks Cascadia 12, and I’m so glad I decided to purchase it.  Since purchasing, I’ve done a variety of trails including Zion National Park, Colorado Springs, and even hiking in New Jersey.  It definitely makes a difference when hiking.  I’m glad I finally took the plunge and purchased a pair.

Questions for you:

Do you have a separate pair of trail shoes?

Have you ever used a Gortex or weatherproof product?

Hiking Grey Back Peak Trail

The final hiking post on vacation was also in Colorado Springs.  The Grey Back Peak Trail is about 3 miles and follows a ridge up to a summit.  It’s a fairly easy and quiet trail, and we didn’t see a single person or horse out there (apparently, you can ride your horse).

It starts here on a somewhat single track trail.  You don’t climb much but just follow the straightforward trail for about 1.5-1.7 miles.

Grey Back Peak Trail

There are plenty of rocks to stand and take photos on, if that is your sort of thing. It’s one of the most scenic hikes we have done thus far because you have a view almost 100% of the time.

Grey Back Peak Trail The final hiking post of vacation was also in Colorado Springs. The Grey Back Peak Trail is about a 3 miles and follows a ridge up to a summit. It’s a fairly easy and quiet trail, and we didn’t see a single person or horse out there (apparently, you can ride your horse there).
Once we made it to the end, we were rewarded with a great view overlooking Colorado Springs. We saw several military planes flying too and from the bases. I joked, we can never truly get away from planes. 😉
Grey Back Peak Trail
On the way back down, I wanted to climb up one of the rocks. Most people know by now how clumsy I am, so it was better thought than done. With a running start, boost from my husband, and several attempts I made it up. It makes me look more bad@$$ than I actually am.

In all, it was a great short hike. We were out for about two hours. If you are looking for something relaxing with a great view, I highly recommend the Grey Trail in Colorado Springs.  It was a short but quiet hike.  With a view the entire time, it was one of my favorites!

Hiking: 
Hiking Flagstaff Mountain in Boulder
Hiking Zion and Bryce Canyon
Visiting the Grand Canyon
Hiking 7 Bridges (Colorado Springs)

Running: 
Haunted Half Marathon 5k (19:40)
Two Weeks of Training: Easy Miles Out West

Diners: 
Sams 3 Diner (Denver)
New Castle Diner (Colorado)
King Chefs Diner (Colorado Springs)
Snooze (Denver)

Questions for You:
Do you have a favorite trail?
Have you ever been horseback riding?

Snooze (Colorado)

While in Denver, we tried to make our rounds to a couple diners.  I’m not 100% sure Snooze is considered a diner.  It more or less falls into the gray area.  Anyway, Snooze was right near our hotel and my good friend, Kevin, said it was good so we decided to give it a try.

We arrived at Snooze in Westminster on a weekday, and it was busy but not chaotic.  They quickly sat us in one of the modern booths.

Atmosphere: A
Snooze has several locations, and the one at Westminster is the newest. The inside has a full-length bar, is very open, and plenty of booths and tables.

Snooze Denver colorado

Coffee: A
The coffee was brewed hot with plenty of whipped cream.  It was good.  I appreciated how large the coffee mugs were too.

Food: B
The menu at the Snooze is unique and fun.  They have several breakfast and lunch options including pancakes, omelets, and small salads.  I ordered the B.E.A.T Sandwich which came with bacon, fried egg, arugula and sliced tomato served with bacon-tomato aioli on a toasted ciabatta roll.

Snooze Denver colorado sandwiches

I liked the food and the ciabatta roll was great, however, the portion size was small.  I could have used a little more food.

Service: A
Even though it was busy, our waitress was kind and attentive.  She refilled everything quickly and our food came out fast as well.  I have no complaints.

Cost: $$$
For my sandwich and coffee, the cost was $12, which I did find more pricy for the amount of food.

Overall Thoughts/Would I Come Back?
I liked Snooze and if I’m in the Denver/Colorado area I would go back.  I might end up ordering two entrees though.

Atmosphere: A
Coffee: A
Food: B
Service: A
Cost: $12-$20
Overall: A

Closeby diners I’ve Been:
Sams 3 (Denver)
New Castle Diner (New Castle, Co)
King Chefs Diner (Colorado Springs)

See all Diner Reviews Here.

Question for you: What is your favorite breakfast?

 

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