Combining Ironman training with our family vacation was a delicate balancing act, but Aspen was the perfect place to pull it off. Knowing the town like the back of our hands, and still having many friends there, we were able to squeeze in A LOT, so everybody felt happy. It also helped knowing that I wouldn’t get too many sideways glances if I showed up somewhere still wearing my workout gear. Casual is how we roll, and so does much of Aspen.
The second week of our adventure began on a wonderfully mellow note–no epic workout, just a fab long lunch with our friends, James and Hensley, on the deck of Plato’s restaurant at the Aspen Institute. Then, while Jeffrey went to another lecture at Anderson Ranch Art Center, I took Olivia to Aspen Santa Fe Ballet’s School of Dance where she enjoyed taking ballet and jazz classes. Their studio space is gorgeous, and it was a treat for her to experience another dance school, even if she was a little uncertain at first.
While Olivia danced, I squeezed in a short 3 1/2 mile run from the ASFB studios back toward the hotel on the bike path, then down Owl Creek Road. Some days you just have to celebrate what you can piece together. And that’s exactly what I did.
When Olivia finished ballet, we let her choose where she wanted to go to dinner to celebrate her courage in trying something new, especially since she didn’t know anybody and had never tried jazz. She opted for Mexican food at Su Casa, which was just fine with me (okay, a margarita might have had my name written all over it…I repeat, MIGHT). Even though it’s not easy, we continually encourage our daughter to try new things, especially things that make her uncomfortable, as all these little things add small drops of grit into her confidence bucket. Also, they’re usually the most memorable things we experience in life, right?
After dinner, once again, we strolled around town…
And yep, there might have been more ice cream from Paradise Bakery involved for these two as we listened to a quartet playing classical music on the corner.
I made a quick stop to Ute Mountaineer to pick up some more nutrition for my ride the next day. Love this locally-owned store.
In the morning I had the joy of another big cycling day, starting off by once again riding up to the Maroon Bells.
This time it was even more fun though, because my friend Sarah joined me. We’ve been friends for more than two decades and have enjoyed this ride many times over the years. It never gets old.
After our ride up to the Bells, Sarah headed off to work while I headed Down Valley once again via the Rio Grande Trail. Yep, that meant going back up the hill to McClain Flats…woohoo. This time after cruising down to Woody Creek, I rode up to Lenado, another gorgeous rural area in the valley. I thought about stopping and snapping a picture of Hunter Thompson’s house for my friend Robert, but remembered that he always tells me to keep on grinding, so I knew he’d understand. Right, Robert? 🙂
By the time I pedaled back to Aspen, I’d logged about 50 miles with nearly 3500 ft. of elevation. Another solid day in the books, and one step closer to Ironman Arizona.
After my ride and a quick bite, I swung by Aspen Sports Medicine to see my old PT/chiro, Eric Haynie. I hadn’t seen him since we moved away a decade ago, but since he helped get me to the starting line of my first three NYC Marathons many years ago, I knew he might have an answer to what was going on with my grumpy knees. Sure enough, he pinpointed it to some bio-mechanical issues–inflexible hips and ankles, along with tight calves (the story of my life). The combination had been torquing my knees with every revolution of my pedals for quite some time. In addition to stretching exercises, he suggested switching out my pedals and cleats from Look to Speedplay, which are little more forgiving as they have a little more float.
After seeing Eric, we were off once again–this time zipping to Snowmass Village to pick up Olivia’s friend, Maia, so she could hang out at pool with us. While the girls had fun creating elaborate games and races on the rafts, I soaked my tired legs in the jacuzzi. Aaah.
A couple hours later we enjoyed catching up with our friend Curt, and sharing some laughs over a few nibbles and vino before we headed to the ballet. I was already whooped from my ride and another full day, but I’d heard nothing but good things about this performance being put on by Aspen Santa Fe Ballet, so I rallied for their 8:00 pm show. We were not disappointed. Talk about talented dancers and innovative choreography!
Sleep was elusive for much of this trip–something that’s especially tough when you’re training hard–so after yet another night of few zzzzs, Jeffrey and I headed into town for some much-needed coffee. This time we opted for good java from Peaches, then a decadent breakfast of oatmeal pancakes and spinach eggs from Poppycock’s. Spinach is good for you, so I could justify every damn last bite, right? (never mind all the rest of it). 🙂
From then on, it was another packed day with a whole lot of this and that, going here and there, and doing dumb, yet necessary things like hand-washing a pile of workout clothes. This is just a tiny portion. The balcony looked like Green Acres.
Then of course I needed to squeeze in a run and a swim workout. After playing frisbee in the park with Olivia, I headed to the pool. Even though there were multiple options for lap swim in Aspen, somehow this was the one thing that seemed hard to fit into the equation while we were here. I never drummed up the hard core attitude I needed to drag myself to the early swim or evening master’s class. Instead I had my own little sufferfest in the hotel pool.
Fins, hand paddles, music…nothing made swimming feel easier here. I cut myself some slack though, and celebrated the fact that at least I got it done on some small scale. With 25% less oxygen at this altitude, eventually I figured out that I needed to alter my breathing in order to settle into it. Breathing every fourth stroke made be feel like my lungs were going to blow, but when I alternated every other stroke when necessary, it became more comfortable . Even so, I’d still collapse on the chaise after my workouts.
My run took place in the evening while Olivia was at another dance class. Here she is with her awesome jazz instructor, Eric Chase.
Jeffrey dropped me off at the North Star Nature Preserve were I knocked out 5 beautiful miles, running up the Pass to Difficult Campground, then back into town. It’s remarkable how many easily accessible trails are found in Aspen. It makes running and cycling so much fun!
At the end of my run, my sweet husband texted and asked me to meet him at the art museum for a mini date. There are few museums in the world I’d go to in my sweaty running clothes, but Aspen is so casual, I didn’t hesitate. Not to mention, we had the entire place to ourselves. Jeffrey had ordered wine and nibbles right before the rooftop cafe closed and they told us we could stay as long as we liked. Okay, maybe not the best recovery fuel, but definitely the best way to end another fun and full day. Love this guy!
There’s only a couple more days left of our Aspen adventure…check back again if you want to follow it to the end. Next time I’ll be going up, up, up…
Until then…Happy Trails
PS: As always, if you missed any of my previous posts about Ironman training, you can click on the links below:
Kicking off My Journey to Ironman Arizona
Week One of Ironman Training: Believe
Week Two of Ironman Training: The Power of Friends
Week Three of Ironman Training: I Think I Can
Week Four of Ironman Training: Progress
Week Five of Ironman Training: Wind at my Back (and Front) and Peeps by My Side
Week Six of Ironman Training: Baking a Cake
Week Seven of Ironman Training: Courage
Week Eight of Ironman Training: It’s All About the Base
OMG, You did WHAT?! (AKA Sleep Deprivation + Training = Embarrassing Moments)
Week Nine of Ironman Training: Growing Pains
Week Ten of Ironman Training: Trust
Week Eleven of Ironman Training: Speedbumps and Breakthroughs
Week Twelve of Ironman Training: A Bundle of Sticks Can’t Be Broken
Week Thirteen of Ironman Training: Spring!
Week Fourteen of Ironman Training: Rollercoaster
Week 15 and 16 of Ironman Training: Staying Happy and Healthy
Week 17 and 18 Ironman Training: Inspiration and Purple Rain
Weeks 19 through 21 of Ironman Training: Transitions
Week 22 and 23 of Ironman Training: Holy Epicness…Julie Moss
Week 24 of Ironman Training: Consistency is the Key
Week 25 of Ironman Training: Embracing New Challenges
Week 26 of Ironman Training: Hills, They’re What’s for Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner
Week 27 of Ironman Training: Taking This Show on the Road (Tri-cation!)
Week 27 of Ironman Training: High Altitude Tri-cation
Week 27 of Ironman Training: High Altitude Fun Continues