The beauty of a runcation is that while your legs may feel tired from running four days in a row, you know you only have a limited amount of time in the place you’re visiting, so you’re determined to “get it while you can.” At least that’s how I felt during our visit back to Aspen. I also wanted to spend time with friends, so what better way to do both than to enjoy a workout out together?
After running 8 miles during the Aspen Backcountry Marathon with my friend Patty Bryant, and hiking up Aspen Mountain and doing yoga the day before (you can read about it HERE and HERE if you missed it), I borrowed a bike and rode up to the Maroon Bells with my dear friend, and fitness partner in crime, Sarah.
Sarah has been a friend for more than two decades and when I lived in Aspen, we often enjoyed cycling together in the spring and summer. Today was a fabulous day to share that joy again.
Riding up to the Maroon Bells made for a perfect rest/cross-training day. Although the ride up is a good challenge—about 20 miles round-trip with a steady uphill that eventually reaches 9,570 ft.—we cruised and had fun chatting and soaking up the beauty around us. It never gets old.
Riding up to the Bells also reminded me just how much I love cycling. I ride at home in Santa Barbara, but it’s never relaxing as drivers seem to have little regard for cyclists. Perhaps it’s the California car culture thing? Here, two wheels rule, and it always makes for blissful rides, especially on this road, which is closed to private cars much of the day. I definitely appreciated every minute of this ride. And zooming back down from Maroon Lake at 30-35 mph? Woohoo!
After our ride, I regrouped with my family and had a fabulous vegetarian Vietnamese noodle salad for lunch before we headed to the John Denver Sanctuary along the Roaring Fork River, where we strolled through the beautiful grounds and soaked up the the serenity and the JD vibe. My mom was a HUGE John Denver fan when she was alive, so this place brought back fond memories of her and the time we spent here, pushing my daughter in a stroller when she was just a tiny peanut.
Rocky Mountain High would be an understatement for our visit back to the ol’ silver mining town.
Later that afternoon my sweet girl and I hiked a short way up Buttermilk Mountain so she could play in the packed snow, which was left over from the X-Games half pipe. I was happy we could also squeeze in a little chillin’ by the pool too, especially since I managed to sneak in a little reading between swimming laps and having raft races. I’m loving Scott Jurek’s Eat & Run book. Have you read it?
Monday morning was another fun day with my friend Sarah. She convinced me to join her for an early morning Pure Barre class—something I’d never tried. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but soon discovered it consisted of lots of small isometric moves, which reminded me about muscles I had forgotten I owned.
It started with a few minutes of dynamic warm-ups, with the music pumping, the high-energy instructor, Lissa, peppering us with instructions, and me doing my best to keep up. Then we moved on to arm weights followed by quad/glute/calve work at the barre, and then finally a little Pilates-like ab mat work, sometimes with a ball, other times with a stretchy band. An hour later, batta boom, I left feeling like I had gotten a good workout, and definitely in need of focusing on my core more (the story of my life). I had to chuckle when I was told, “If your muscles shake during class, you are making progress.” I must have made tremendous progress because there was a whole lot of shaking going on.
One of the highlights of our trip involved Sarah once again (this girl is a go-getter!). After doing Pure Barre in the morning, she organized a float trip for us through the Nature Preserve that evening. Aspen had gotten so much rain during the spring that the Roaring Fork River, which usually is too shallow to paddle in this area, was primed for some floating fun.
Sarah loaded up her vehicle with her SUP, a double Ducky boat for my husband and daughter and a single for me. After a little trepidation, hearing the loud roar of the river above us, not fully understanding how mellow it was around the corner, we set off paddling.
It was such a blast, and so exciting to see my daughter embrace this experience after getting over her initial uncertainty. Sarah was a superb guide, giving us advice, pointing out big nests of blue herons, a family of geese and a beaver working on his dam, and also warning us when we needed to duck down in our boats as we approached a bridge because the river was so high. This was a seriously fun and relaxing way to spend the evening.
It’s hard to even call all this fun cross-training, but since I used a few arm and core muscles to maneuver my boat, and could still feel my shaky triceps from our morning Pure Barre workout, I’m going with it.
Stay tuned for my next running adventure, which takes me on another fun jaunt and some good people-watching. It’s Aspen after all!
PS: If you missed any of my other Runcation posts, you can read them here:
Day One: Palm Springs North Lykken Trail
Day Two: Palm Springs South Lykken Trail
Day Three and Four: Grand Canyon Bright Angel Trail
Day Five: Arches National Park-Delicate Arch Trail
Day Six and Seven: Aspen’s Rio Grande Trail
Day Eight: Aspen’s Smuggler Mountain
Day Nine: Aspen Mountain
Day 10: Aspen Backcountry Marathon