Runcation: Day 11 and 12 Aspen Cycling, Pure Barre, Kayaking, Oh My!

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?

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Sarah with Oakley and Henry

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.

Photo of Becky and Sarah

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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.

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Rocky Mountain High would be an understatement for our visit back to the ol’ silver mining town.

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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?

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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 Continue reading

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.

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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.

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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

Runcation: Day 8 Aspen, Colorado Smuggler Mt.

Ever since arriving in Aspen, I’ve felt like a giddy kid who can’t wait to play! After my jaunt down the Rio Grande Trail yesterday (you can read HERE if you missed it), I set out to tackle Smuggler Mt. Road. This is a staple run for locals and visitors as it’s short, steep and sweet. It’s only 3 miles round trip, but with its 1,050 ft elevation gain, you always feel like you get a good workout. The best part is the fantastic view you earn once you reach the top.

Photo of running up Smuggler Mt. in Aspen

So happy to be back Aspen! Starting my run at the base of Smuggler, an old silver mining road. The starting elevation is 8,007 ft.

Running up Smuggler Mt. Road in Aspen

Up we go!

Running up Smuggler Mt. Road in Aspen

And go…It was so nice the road had recently been graded so it was soft and smooth at the beginning of my run.

This trail is used by every kind of person imaginable and it’s often a funny social scene. It’s an especially great place for young, athletic, dog-loving people to meet–kind of like Aspen’s healthy version of “Happy Hour.” This morning I noticed a lot of single, buff guys heading up, but way more female friends hiking up, kvetching about their lives. I was hoping some of them would meet! Me? I was totally in my happy place, buzzing because I was back in the ‘hood doing what I love doing. Continue reading

Runcation: Day 6 and 7 Aspen, Colorado

Arriving in Aspen after six days of traveling through the blazing desert, and leaving our drought-stricken California behind, we were stunned by the dazzling green hues of the Colorado Rockies as they welcomed us back. Aspenites had suffered through an unusually long, soggy spring here, and now they were being rewarded for their patience. We were also the fortunate recipients of Mother Nature’s gifts, which made us giddy, as did the numerous friends we bumped into immediately after arriving. No matter how long we’ve been away, Aspen will always still feel like home to us.

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After spending the following morning cruising around and visiting with friends, I was itching to get out and run. Okay, I was also turning into a grumpy mom (gasp!) because I hadn’t had much alone time, nor had I gotten any exercise yet.

It was 1:00 pm when I started, the heat of the day, but since it was only 84 degrees, compared to 109-118 where we’d been just days before, it felt lovely.

Every run I’d done in the past week had involved significant hills (you can read about my runs in Palm Springs, the Grand Canyon and Arches National Park HERE, HERE, HERE, and HERE if you missed it), I opted for a mostly flat 5 mile run along the Rio Grande Trail. This was one of my old favorites when we lived here and I wanted to journey along the Roaring Fork River once again. I left my peeps at Explore Booksellers, then I ran down to the post office, then hopped on to the Rio Grande Trail right behind it.

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Aspen is 7,890 ft. so my legs and lungs still felt the altitude as I cruised along the trail, but it was easy to forget about them as I looked out at this.  Continue reading