Week 28 of Ironman Training: Finishing Aspen Strong

Cycling in Aspen was pure joy for me during our two week vacation to the Rockies. On my last ride, I knew I was going to dearly miss all these open roads when I got home, not to mention a trail system connecting most of the valley. But, instead of lamenting that fact that we would be leaving soon, I tried to enjoy every second, and bottle up the joy this trip had given me.

Once again, after doing my early morning ninja maneuvers to sneak my bike and myself out of the hotel room without waking up my peeps, I did a short hill ride up West Buttermilk, then met my friend Sarah for the rest of the ride (so much fun). Don’t be fooled by her sweet smile. She is a wickedly strong athlete. I’m trying to convince her to think about an Ironman event in her future! She would kill it.

Sarah and I rode along the Owl Creek bike path toward Snowmass Village, beginning with several sharp, steep switchbacks. I huffed and puffed up each one while Sarah powered along effortlessly. Then the trail eventually flattened out, and soon became a downhill whizfest as we looped back around, flying down to Brush Creek Road in the brisk mountain air. Woohoo!

At the bottom of Brush Creek we stopped to take a couple more pictures, including one Sarah set up with her camera on a nearby hay bale, using at timer. This, my friends, quickly became an exercise in hilarity, but we got one!

On a side note…during our visit I continually kept an eye out for of an Aspen cycling jersey, hoping to pick up a memento that would support one of the local bike shops like The Hub of Aspen, owned by Charlie, or Aspen Velo, owned by Mike. Because I’m not an extra small or extra large though (the only sizes they had left), I ended up opting for a simple Colorado jersey. With its blue sky color and mountain graphics, I thought it would be a perfect reminder of all the joy I had experienced riding here.

After crossing under Highway 82 on the bike path, we rode down toward Woody Creek, then connected to the Rio Grande Trail again and headed back up to Aspen. Once again, Sarah headed to work and I continued on solo. I had originally planned to ride for 5 hours, and finish with some epic mileage, but my knees were exceptionally grumpy that morning, reminding me that I’d ridden over 225 miles on this trip already, with lots of elevation gain, so I decided to be smart and end it on a strong note rather than coasting back in with a whimper.

I still have four months to go until Ironman Arizona and my number one goal is to get to the starting line healthy. This is no small feat for my injury-prone body.

So instead of heading back down valley again, I checked in with my peeps. They were driving into town for breakfast, so it was perfect timing. I quickly turned onto the pedestrian-bike corridor and zoomed into town to meet them at Peaches.

Pedal power rules in this town. Aspen even has something called WE-cycle, a progressive community bike share program, co-founded by our friend Mirte Mallory, with 190 bikes racked in 43 stations around the valley, ready to take you wherever you want to go.

During the summer Aspen is ablaze in color with flowers adorning every street corner and window box. The bear proof trash cans (behind) are even pretty with their aspen leaf designs.

During our visit, I had planned to hike up Aspen Mountain and meet Jeffrey and Olivia for lunch, but somehow that never worked out. With so many hours of cycling, while also trying to accommodate everybody’s wishes, there simply weren’t enough hours in the day to pull it off this time. Olivia had been more than patient with me about it, so instead of hiking up, she and I took the gondola up while Jeffrey met with friends and did some work.

The ride up is always breathtaking.



What was very cool is that the Skiing Company has added a lot of fun summer activities at the top–from big nest-like structures to climb in…

to giant games of chess and checkers…


to Jenga

to multiple xylophone-type instruments and much more. We didn’t even get to badminton, bocce ball and some of the other fun!

But we did get to a rousing game ping-pong!

After lunch and a few pictures, we headed back down the mountain (fyi–not a good day to forget your sunglasses at 11,000 + ft.)

I thoroughly enjoyed my time with Olivia, but I was still itching to run/hike up a mountain while in Aspen, so after we picked up her friend Maia again to swim at the pool, I hoofed it up Buttermilk Mountain. It’s not nearly as intense as Aspen Mountain, but still 3 miles up on the summer road and about 2,000 ft. of elevation.

It was utterly glorious. I had the entire mountain to myself. And for the first time on this trip, I forgot my phone so I could not take pictures. Darn. It was a blessing in disguise though, as I was totally in the moment, enjoying my last adventure in Aspen– a steady heart-pounding run to the top where I was rewarded with the stunning view of Pyramid Peak and the Maroon Bells. This is a screen capture of a winter image.

Screen shot 2016-07-26 at 7.43.18 AM

I rang the giant gong at the CliffHouse, soaked up the moment, then hightailed it back down the mountain where my peeps were waiting to go to dinner. It was the perfect exclamation point to an incredible two weeks in Aspen. I couldn’t have asked for a more memorable tri-cation.


Until next time, Aspen….thanks for making me stronger and fitter, and for filling me up with your natural beauty and the blessings of good friends.

Life is good.
xo Becky


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
Week 28 of Ironman Training: Rocky Mountain High

Runcation: Day 9 Aspen Mountain

After getting my sea level toes wet in Aspen, running along the Rio Grande Trail and up Smuggler Mountain (you can read about it HERE and HERE if you missed it), I was excited to take on Aspen Mountain. The mountain is the heart of town, and it offers many challenges for accomplished skiers in the winter, and good ones for hikers in the summer, too.

My husband and daughter dropped me off at the base of the mountain at 9:00 am. It was a bit later than I had planned to get started, but that seems to be how we roll on vacation. As I said, flexibility is key–especially when balancing your fitness goals with your family’s idea of fun.

My goal was to get the top of the mountain in time for a free yoga class at 10:30, with my peeps taking the Silver Queen Gondola up to meet me with my yoga mat after they’d had breakfast. YES, I love and appreciate them!

As I set off, I had the intention of running up all 3,267 vertical feet of the mountain—from 7,945 ft. to 11,212 ft. I knew it would be a sloooowwww run, but I thought I could at least shuffle along. After about a quarter mile though, my legs and lungs reminded me that this was one steep mountain and a whole lot of altitude. That’s when my “run” quickly turned into a hike with lots of, “I think I can, I think I can, I think I cans.” Every once in awhile I’d dig a tiny bit more and take off “running” again, but it was a grind. It made me think about all those ultramarathoners we admire who run this kind of stuff all the time. Booyah!

Photo of Becky Aaronson hiking up Aspen Mt.

Regardless, it was fabulous to be on the mountain again. Even though I never skied Aspen Mt. when I lived here (my skiing skills are marginal, at best-gasp!), I did enjoy hiking Aspen Mt. in the summer and snowshoeing up it in the winter—even doing several community uphill races.



Today’s lung-busting effort took me an hour and fifteen minutes to reach the top—just in time for Jeffrey and Olivia to meet me with my yoga mat, and to stop and enjoy the stunning view for a few minutes before heading to the class.


Photo of a yoga class sign on Aspen Mountain

Photo of the top of Aspen Mountain during yoga class

The view during our yoga class

The yoga class was held at an overlook on the mountain, and was led by a sweet and talented instructor named Jess Ewart. I rolled out my mat on the ground next to a tall, athletic looking guy and his wife, who I later learned Continue reading