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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.

Reunited with Angela and it feels so good. 25 degree running…well not so much

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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.

Made it to Bryce Canyon for incredible views of the Hoodoos and Rainbow point.

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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!

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

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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.

For Halloween, I traveled to 11,000 feet and dressed up like someone who likes winter.

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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).

I didn't wake up thinking I would take my first ATV ride this morning, but here we are.

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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?

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November Training

To get it out of the way, November was not really the month I wanted or hoped.  After getting home from one of the best trips of my life, I got food poisoning.  For the entire month, it’s taken a toll on me both physically and mentally.  The doctor said it could last up to 70 days and while I’m staying positive it won’t, I don’t feel 100% 30 days later.  I’m not violently sick, but I am tired, and my body has struggled to digest certain foods including dairy (something it never has).

me running sunrise

Thinking out loud, my workouts and racing in November were slower than anticipated, but you have to run for the current fitness you’re in.  Something that can be much easier said than done.

Mileage: 212
Range of Pace: 6:00-10:31-untimed
Workouts: 3
2X(6.5 tempo runs)
12X400s

Races:
11/11 Haddonfield Road Race  (19:59)
11/12 Blueberry Challenge 5k (20:01)
11/18 Philadelphia Half Marathon (1:27.57)
11/24 Medford Turkey Trot (19:02)

Thoughts:
I didn’t have a favorite race but did have a favorite workout. None of my races felt especially good.  To be honest, my slowest race, the Blueberry Challenge 5k) was probably the best.

My workouts felt better though. The minute I finished 12×400 at 6:00 min pace, I felt strong.  I haven’t felt that in charge of my running in a while.  Food poisoning has made longer runs a struggle (with the constant of the feeling of vomiting and using the bathroom), but speed and track workouts have been fine because I’m never too far from anything.

December:

The first half of December will be busy for me.  Ironically, tcloser to the Holidays will be less crazy.  I won’t race as much, but that is only due to the limited amount of races in NJ/Philadelphia during the next two months.  I’ll hopefully do more track workouts.

I mentioned on Instagram but my 2018 is to break 18 minutes in the 5k.  I have been in that fitness before but never been able to run the race.  I’ll do more track workouts and see where it takes me.  I’ll definitely do some half marathons in the spring as well, but I do hope 2018 brings a 5k PR.

 

Posts from the month:
Training without a Coach
How to Build Back Mental Confidence

Posts from Vacation:
Hiking: 
Hiking Flagstaff Mountain in Boulder
Hiking Zion and Bryce Canyon
Visiting the Grand Canyon

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)

Shoe Reviews:
Nike Zoom Fly Review
Brooks Levitate Shoe Review

Questions for you:
What are your goals for the last month of the year?
How was your November?

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?

 

Hiking 7 Bridges (Colorado Springs)

To answer the obvious question:  Do you hike over 7 Bridges?

The answer is yes!

My husband and I were looking for an easy going trail in Colorado Springs a few days before we left.  We had done a shorter run in the morning and just wanted something active.

The 7 Bridges seemed like a fun and unique trail.  The path takes you over 7 bridges and stream crossings.  Each bridge looks relatively similar but it’s fun to conquer each one and have “something” to look forward too.

You begin by walking on an easy dirt railroad bed. After about .7 miles, you reach the bend on the road which begins the 7 Bridges trail. It’s about 1.7 miles one way.

I thought it would be fun to take photos at the Seven Bridges but for some reason, I accidentally deleted bridge number 6.  Rest assured, it does exist.

So here we go up the Seven Bridges:

7 bridges hike colorado springs

Number 1

7 bridges hike colorado springs

Number 2

7 bridges hike colorado springs

Three

7 bridges hike colorado springs

Four

7 bridges hike colorado springs

Waving at 5

Insert 6 here, which for some reason I deleted from my phone.

7 bridges hike colorado springs

So excited for bridge 7, that I took a nap while standing

The trail itself is simple and easy and there were plenty of younger kids, as well as a few dogs.  At the 7th Bridge, it just abruptly stops.  I do think there could be a sign that says, end or something.

After we made it 1.7 miles, we noticed a person running with their dog along another trail so we decided to explore.  So we decided to keep going at the top.  Ultimately it led us out towards Jones Park and to some of the most incredible views.

We actually walked on the side of a mountain.  I wanted to show how good I was at hiking, but ultimately nearly fell…so there is that.

7 bridges hike colorado springs

7 bridges hike colorado springs

7 bridges hike colorado springs

Almost to Jones Park

If you are ever in Colorado Springs and looking for a fun hike, I highly recommend the Seven Bridges!

Posts from Vacation:
Hiking: 
Hiking Flagstaff Mountain in Boulder
Hiking Zion and Bryce Canyon
Visiting the Grand Canyon

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)

Question for you: What is your favorite hike or area to hike?

 

Visiting the Grand Canyon

After visiting Utah, my husband and I drove back towards Colorado. One thing we wanted to do was see the Grand Canyon. While it was a little bit out of our way, being so close it was hard to say no.   Where we stayed in Utah, it made the most sense to go to the North Rim.  I’ve always wanted to go the Grand Canyon, I mean who doesn’t?

The first and possibly most crucial stop we made, was when we saw the wild Buffalo.  I have always wanted to see them, and it was cool to see them in person.  No, I had no intentions of getting any closer than that, as who knows with wild creatures.

grand canyon north rim

After driving about 20 miles into the park, we came up to the lodging area and the actual canyon.  We had been warned the lodging was not open but that was fine by us because it was much quieter at the North Rim versus the South.  In fact, there were maybe about 20 people there.

grand canyon north rim

It was honestly breathtaking to just look out and see nothing but the canyon for miles.  It was also terrifying to look down and know you were over a mile high.

grand canyon north rim

The daredevil and clumsy person in me, said that was far enough.

grand canyon north rim

grand canyon north rim

grand canyon north rim

My husband was a little bit more adventurous.

grand canyon north rim

In total, we spent about 2 hours just walking around.  Like with Zion and the Grand Canyon, we wanted to see the Grand Canyon, but we also wanted to do other things too.  It is definitely somewhere we could (and eventually plan too) spend more time at.grand canyon north rim

After the Grand Canyon, we took to the road for the day and drove over to the Four Corners Monument.  It’s where Utah, Colorado, Arizona, and New Mexico all meet.  It’s definitely a bucket list item.

Like many monuments, you stand in line for a chance to take a photo there.  Or look at it, whatever you want to do.  I decided to lay there.  Keep in mind it is a $5 fee that goes towards the Navajo Nation, which isn’t included with Park passes.

Posts from Vacation:
Hiking: 
Hiking Flagstaff Mountain in Boulder
Hiking Zion and Bryce Canyon

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)

Questions for you:
Have you ever been to the Grand Canyon or Four Corners?
What is your favorite monument you’ve been too?

 

Exploring Bryce Canyon and Zion Park

It’s taken me a little longer to catch up on blog posts about our vacation.  Between assimilating back into real life NJ, being sick, and preparation for the Philadelphia marathon weekend, it’s been busy.

Anyway, one of the best days my husband and I had was at Bryce Canyon and Zion National Park.

We knew we wanted to go to both but timing wise, it wasn’t going to work out to spend a lot of time at both. We decided to drive through Bryce Canyon and look out and then spend a little more time in Zion National Park.   They aren’t too far apart, so you are able to do both.

Personally, we could both spend a lot of time in either.  They are two gorgeous parks!  Hopefully, sometime in the future, we will be able to go back and explore.

Bryce Canyon: 

While visiting Bryce Canyon, we went out to Rainbow point and walked around.  There is a 10-mile hike you can do and look over the Hoodoo Ampethetiar.  If we had more time, we would have done it!

The park itself is easily driveable.  It’s about an 18-mile drive to the tip of Rainbow Point, and there are several spots and opportunities for photos.

Made it to Bryce Canyon for incredible views of the Hoodoos and Rainbow point.

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Zion National Park:

Like Bryce Canyon, we could spend days in Zion National Park.  Before arriving, we planned to do a longer hike but quickly realized timing would not allow us too.

We still wanted to get back to Colorado and spend a few days there too!  When we arrived at the park, it was crowded and it was hard to even find parking.  By the time we were able to park and get out of the car, it was nearly 1 pm.

We could have begun the hike but it was a lengthy one and I didn’t want to be hiking at dark.  You had to take a bus to a certain location, then start, then take the bus back.  It was just a lot and if you’ve ever seen me hiking hangry…well…my husband would have left me there. Hiking in Zion National Park

So we just decided to explore and climb up to our own rock.  We didn’t have an exact trail or route but it was more fun that way.  We pulled over at a random spot and just hiked.  Even with hundreds of people inside the park, we didn’t run into anyone.

Hiking in Zion National Park

Sitting in a rock seat

Hiking away from everyone was much better for us anyway.  If you ever go to Zion National Park, don’t be afraid to just stop and explore. Hiking in Zion National Park

You don’t need a trail or destination.  And yes, we actually made it up an entire rock.  You can see the main road in the background.

To be honest, both Bryce and Zion were two of my favorite spots.  Eventually, my husband and I plan to go back.  You could spend days, weeks, and even months just exploring.

road trip through colorado

Posts from Vacation:
Hiking: 
Hiking Flagstaff Mountain in Boulder

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

Diners: 
Sams 3 Diner (Denver)
New Castle Diner (Colorado)

Questions for you:

Where is your favorite place to hike?

Have you ever been to Zion or Bryce Canyon? 

 

Training: Traveling and Hot Half Marathon

Training: Traveling and Hot Half Marathon

Last week was quite the interesting week.  Yay for some sort of excitement of training right?

As most people know from Instagram, I ran the Crawlin Crab half marathon.  I’ll go into more detail, but it wasn’t on my radar this year until last week.  I’ve always wanted to do it.

Monday: Easy 60 minutes
Tuesday: Easy 60 minutes
Wednesday: Easy 60 minutes
Thursday: Easy 60 minutes
Friday: Rest
Saturday: East 45 minutes
Sunday: Crawlin’ Crab 13.1 (1:32.30)+2 miles

Total: 50-53 miles

My weekday runs were just that, easy, and uneventful.  If I had known that I would be running a half that Sunday, I would have probably run less each day or had an extra rest day because the half added a lot more mileage to my week.

Crawlin’ Crab 13.1: 1:32.30

On paper, this looks like a personal worst.  It’s over 5 minutes slower than what I ran just three weeks ago at the Air Force Half on an easier course.  However, at the start, the weather was 75 degrees and 95% humidity.  I felt as though I was swimming.

As I mentioned, I didn’t plan to run the Crawlin’ Crab, but when my husband’s plans changed, I was left with a weekend with nothing to do so I drove back to hometown to see my parents.  I had always wanted to do Crawlin’ Crab, so I toed the line of the half.  Having the hardest week, thus far in my training, plus the weather, made it easy to determine it wouldn’t be a fast race for me.  Everyone suffered from the weather, and even though I was swimming, I placed 4th female and 9th overall.

In all, I’m happy with the week of training.  It’s not what I expected, but the Crawlin Crab felt more like a workout versus a hard race.   I was more happy to meet my goal of having fun and seeing several friends.

Progression (I’ve decided to just keep the last 5 weeks to keep it less cluttered):
Week 6: 45 miles (1 workout)
Week 7: 40 miles (13.1 miles workout)
Week 8: 43-45 miles (2 workouts: 1 race/1 tempo)
Week 9: 41-43 miles (2 races)
Week 10: 50- 53 miles (13.1 miles workout)

Posts of the Week:
September Training
Why I Don’t Post Paces Online

Questions for you:
Did you race this weekend?  There were a lot of good ones!
What was your best workout?

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