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.

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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The ride up is always breathtaking.

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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…

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to giant games of chess and checkers…

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to Jenga

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

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

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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.)

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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.

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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.

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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

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Week 28 of Ironman Training: Rocky Mountain High

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.

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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.

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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?

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On a side note, this picture of us at dinner cracked me up because it unintentionally captured the ridiculous size of my Garmin. I’m so accustomed to wearing it, I don’t even think about it anymore, but holy cow, that’s as big as a brick! Quite the fashion statement, huh?

After dinner, once again, we strolled around town…

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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.

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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.

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In the morning I had the joy of another big cycling day, starting off by once again riding up to the Maroon Bells.

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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.
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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? 🙂

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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.

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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!

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Photo credit ASFB website

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). 🙂

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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.

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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.

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My run took place in the evening while Olivia was at another dance class. Here she is with her awesome jazz instructor, Eric Chase.

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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!

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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!

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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
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 27 of Ironman Training: High Altitude Fun Continues

I started my second ride in Aspen early in the morning because I knew it was going to be a long one–about 4 1/2 hours. Let me tell you, it’s no easy task sneaking out of a hotel room without making a peep when you’re trying to navigate a bike and your gear through a darkened room. I got into ninja mode though, and left my peeps peacefully snoozing.

It was gorgeous this time of the morning, but I forgot how cold it can be in the mountains, especially for this Cali girl! Yep, I’ve turned into a complete weenie. I rode from the hotel into town past Buttermilk Mt. and Highlands, then headed down Cemetery Lane, before powering up McClain Flats to the Rio Grande Trail.

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The Rio Grande Trail is a bike and running path the follows where the historic Denver and Rio Grande Western Railroad once ran up and down the Roaring Fork Valley. Forty-two miles long, it connects Aspen, Woody Creek, Basalt, Carbondale and Glenwood Springs, with side links to Snowmass Village, Lenado, and Old Snowmass. It’s a cyclist’s dream to be able to ride for hours without having to think about cars. And the path is well-maintained. No potholes here!

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I rode down to Basalt, 18 miles from Aspen, then pedaled upstream along the Frying Pan River toward Ruedi Reservoir.

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I was happy by the time I headed back up to Aspen it had warmed up nicely so I could peel off my jacket and arm warmers. Loving this blue sky!

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Then it was back up over McClain Flats for a kick in the butt hill at the end of a 61+ mile ride. Booyah! It’s beautiful and flat on top, but getting up to it on both ends is always a good challenge.

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After my  ride, I ran a couple miles to keep practicing what it’s going to feel like in Arizona when I run a marathon after riding 112 miles. There’s a reason they call this a “brick” workout; that’s exactly what your legs feel like when you first get off the bike. Surprisingly though, they come back to life soon after you get started.

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I finished my run at the base of Buttermilk Mt., where our hotel was located. The X Games are held at Buttermilk every year, so the snow you see in the background is left over from the half pipe.

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My sweet girl was happy to see me when I finished, and even happier to go on a mom-daughter outing while Jeffrey went to a lecture at Anderson Ranch Arts Center in Snowmass Village. We hopped on the hotel shuttle and ventured into town for lunch and shopping.

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There I spoiled her with her favorite treat from Paradise Bakery. This little enterprise brings in more revenue per square foot in Aspen than any other business. That’s more than Gucci, Louis Vuitton, and all the others. You’ll usually find a line out the door every hour of the day.

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Jeffrey joined us later in the day at Herron Park, where we lazed along the Roaring Fork River and sipped on ice blended lattes from Cafe Ink.

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Its icy waters were perfect for tired feet.

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Such a fun, relaxing afternoon…these girls got goofy and giddy.

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After our lazy afternoon, I did another short swim workout at the hotel (still gasping for air), then we dined down in Basalt along the river at the Riverside Grill before watching more of the Olympic Trials way past our usual bedtime, then crashing for the night.

The next day Olivia was invited to spend the day with her friend, Maia, and her family at the Aspen Recreation Center (ARC), a world-class fitness center with an ice skating rink, rock climbing wall, tennis courts, swimming pools and more.

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It’s a well-designed facility situated near all the schools and it has stunning views of Tiehack. It seems Aspenites know how to prioritize their tax dollars to create wonderful things for the town. So nice.

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Any parent knows it’s a luxury to have solo time on vacation, so I opted to take a rest/recovery day and spend time with my guy instead of riding for several hours. Aaaah. Thank you Alicia Dewey for your generosity!! Olivia had a blast and so did we!

Later in the day I arranged to pick Olivia up “Down Valley” near Carbondale while my husband was doing some work on our property. While I waited, I decided to sneak in a quick run. It wasn’t long by any stretch of the imagination, but it was a good chance to move my legs some more and work my lungs again. This is a typical view in this area.

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Dinner was take-out picnic items from Whole Foods, vino and an evening by the pool. Olivia and I had a great time splashing around where she kicked my butt in raft races. And then there was the jacuzzi….aaaaah.

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In the morning, it was time for another early morning ride. This time it was about 45 miles, starting from the hotel, going part way up Red Mountain, then up Independence Pass past North Star Nature Preserve to Difficult Campground.

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Then it was back “Down Valley” again via McClain Flats, then the Rio Grande Trail. This time I jumped off in Old Snowmass to revisit an area we lived in during the early 90s. It’s such a gorgeous valley, and I couldn’t help but stop by Rancho Gringo, our old barn, which we renovated and turned into our home many moons ago. Our old tractor was still there too, which brought back great memories of Jeffrey harrowing the meadow between zipping around the world on his photo assignments. What a memorable chapter in our lives.

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Continuing on past our property, I pedaled back along Capital Creek Road and then back on East Sopris Creek Road. Cars were never an issue while riding here, which was such a treat!

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I stopped at the bottom of Watson Divide before heading back to the Rio Grande Trail and heading down to Basalt where I met my peeps for breakfast at Cafe Bernard, a french-style cafe owned by our friends Kathy and Bernard.

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After cruising around Basalt, then going to the Saturday Farmer’s Market back up in Aspen, and bumping into lots of old friends, we grabbed take-out salads and wraps from another of our favorite places, the Big Wrap, owned by our friend Babs. I find eating out tedious on vacation so getting stuff to go and sitting in a park or along one of the pedestrian malls suits me perfectly.
The next day was Sunday (already!), and we couldn’t believe we’d already been in Aspen for a week. After breakfast at Peaches once again (great coffee and poached eggs over fresh, organic veggies), we headed up Independence Pass to hike to the Grottos.

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Ballerina hiker…

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Cheeseball hiker…

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After our Grottos hike, we went back to the hotel so Olivia and I could hoof it up Buttermilk to play in the snow. Even though Olivia was born in Aspen, snow is still a novelty to her, so I humored her by joining the fun and “skiing” down on our shoes.

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Then it was time for another run! Jeffrey and Olivia dropped me off at the bottom of Cemetery Lane so I could run on the Rio Grande Trail while they went shopping for picnic items. At 2:30, it was hot at altitude, but it was a fab run along the Roaring Fork River.

I headed Down Valley for a couple miles, then looped back around and headed back Up Valley, eventually logging about 6.3 miles before ending my run at the Benedict Music Tent where my family was waiting with a delish picnic. Running at high altitude still felt hard, but being distracted by all the natural beauty around me helped take my mind off how sluggish my legs felt.

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The perfect ending to a full and fabulous day…classical music (Berlioz, Dvorak, Stravinsky, and Ravel) and a fab picnic…not to mention bumping into several old friends. I’m not sure how I got so lucky! Life is good.

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If you aren’t exhausted by now, stay turned for week two of our Aspen adventure….there’s more fun to come!

Until then…Happy Trails
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 Tri-cation

After a late night on the 4th of July, my husband and I were in need of coffee (understatement of the century), so we headed to Main Street Bakery, one of our favorite haunts, owned by our friends, Bill and Jane Dinsmoor. Once fueled up with a hearty breakfast and major caffeine, I headed out on my first high altitude ride. Woohoo!

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I choose one of my all-time favorite rides–up to the Maroon Bells, which is always a good challenge—about 20 miles round-trip with a steady uphill that eventually reaches 9,570 ft. The road is mostly closed to private cars so it’s a cyclist’s dream.

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This view never gets old. It was the backdrop to our wedding many years ago, so it also holds an especially dear place in my heart.

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Once again, it did not disappoint.

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The ride down from the Maroon Bells is always exhilarating, and at times, nerve-racking. Flying down at over 40 mph, all you can do is hope a marmot or another little critter doesn’t decide to cross the road in front of you. So far so good!

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After riding up to the Bells, I ventured up Castle Creek Road to the historic ghost town, Ashcroft, another 20+-mile trip, which peaks out at 9,500 ft. It was such a treat riding along the creek and mostly having the road all to myself.

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For those of you who don’t know, Aspen has a rich silver mining history. Before skiing, celebrities and all that hooha, this town was booming with silver. Between 1879 and 1885, Ashcroft had about 2,000 residents and 20 saloons. What remains now is nine original buildings, maintained by the Aspen Historical Society, all nestled in the eye-popping Castle Creek Valley.

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I knew my peeps were waiting for me to return so we could do a family outing, so I didn’t stay to snap pictures of the ghost town. It was another mostly downhill zoom, with a few rollers, all the way back to the hotel. 47 miles total for the day with nearly 3500 ft. of elevation. A solid first day of riding.

After a quick change, we zipped over to the music tent to enjoy a wonderful dollop of culture, a free classical music concert showcasing young, up and coming conductors. The Aspen Music Festival and School is world-renowned, bringing conductors and musicians from all around the globe. While we were visiting, all kinds of big names were in town to perform, including Midori and Soprano Renee Flemming (to name but a few).

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I was famished from my earlier ride, so after the concert we grabbed some take-out and headed to one of Aspen’s many walking malls and plopped ourselves down to chill out and enjoy evening in town. There’s no better place to hang out and people-watch during summer.
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The next day we were up early again, and hiked up Smuggler Mt. before breakfast with our friend Sarah and her Corgi, Henry. Smuggler is an old silver mining road that’s short and steep (1.5 miles up with 1,050 ft. of elevation), and it’s a staple for locals. It’s a great go-to run or hike when you want a good workout, but don’t have much time. Our daughter was a trooper on this steep ascent, and was especially happy to have Henry and Sarah to distract her from her tired legs and burning lungs.

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The view at the top always makes the effort worth it…Aspen Mountain and the town below.
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When we got to the top, Sarah encouraged us to continue on and do the Hunter Creek Loop. Love her enthusiasm! It was a wonderful hike–another 4.5 miles. The sign below warned of mountain lions, but hikers we passed along the way let us know about a bear they’d seen nearby–a very common thing in Aspen.
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After our hike, we headed to Peaches Cafe for a well-earned lunch and a much-needed iced latte. FYI the quinoa bowl at Peaches is to die for. Then we swung by the Aspen Art Museum, which has a killer view of Aspen Mountain from its rooftop cafe.

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Then it was time to swim! I hadn’t done a swim workout in a week so I knew I needed to get my butt back in the water. There are multiple pools in Aspen, but I opted for the hotel pool, which was convenient (and free).
PoolHotel
OMG, I thought running at altitude was challenging. I was completely unprepared for how hard swimming felt. After four lengths of the pool, I thought my lungs were going to blow. If there’s a will, there’s a way, though. I kept at it for another 20 minutes before I finally called it for the day. Short and sweet. Fortunately, only Olivia was there with me to hear me gasping for air. Ha ha. And then there was the jacuzzi afterward. Aaaah.
HottubHotel
The one thing I was extremely happy about on this vacation is that my coach, Matt, gave me a general overview of what he’d like me to accomplish while in Aspen, but kept it open so I could take my family’s plans/ideas into account. They were more than supportive of all my training on this trip, but I always made sure to keep it in balance. After all, the point of a vacation is to spend time together, right?

Check back tomorrow to see what the rest of the week looked like. It involved my longest ride, several runs, and another gorgeous hike with the family.

Until then…Happy Trails
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 DinnerWeek 27 of Ironman Training: Taking This Show on the Road (Tri-cation!)

Week 27 of Ironman Training: Taking This Show on the Road (Tri-cation!)

As you know, life doesn’t stop when you’re in the throes of Ironman training. It’s summer, baby, so this family took off on an epic 16 day road trip to the Rockies! I had every intention of blogging each day while we were there, but I quickly discovered there weren’t enough hours in the day to write, train, be fully present with my family, and enjoy our time in Aspen. Soooooo….here’s a recap.

First of all, packing for a tri-cation is anything but simple. I thought I took a lot of gear on last summer’s run-cation, but whoa Nelly, our little Prius was packed to the gills. Then there was the bike, which we strapped on to the back of our car. Thankfully, I have a supportive family who understands all the crap important items I need to bring for training.

TriGear

BikeCar
We left Santa Barbara on July 1st and drove to Las Vegas, about 5 1/2 hours away. Vegas is not my cup of tea at all, but it’s a convenient stopping place, and our daughter loves it (for some unknown reason). We plopped ourselves in the middle of this concrete, high-rolling freak show (did I mention not my cup of tea), which was 111 degrees when we arrived, and settled in for the evening.

Hotel
Thankfully the hotel and pool are enough to entertain our sweet girl, so that’s what we did. Not a workout by any stretch of the imagination, but crazy people-watching and cooling off before having dinner and crashing for the night.

VegasHotelPool38thFlPoolOlivia

BikeHotelVegas

Bringing the bike was kind of a pain in the ass, but Olivia was always happy to help, no matter how many sideways glances we received as we pushed Lucy through hotels.

As you can imagine, this mama was super excited to leave Vegas the next day. Our plan was to stop at a couple national parks on the way to Aspen (much more my cup of tea), but we were so busy before we left, scrambling to get everything packed, organized and buttoned up, that we didn’t do much research. We’d originally planned to swing by Zion National Park, but a friend reminded us that it would be miserably hot in July, so we altered that idea and opted for Bryce Canyon. With its higher altitude, it would likely be cooler. In addition to Bryce, I also pushed to throw in Grand Staircase Escalante Monument, since it was nearby, and I’d seen a ton of eye-popping images of it over the years.

Sooooo…we set off for Kanab, Utah, which Google said was only three miles away from Grand Staircase.

RaodTripCarFamily

RoadTripUtah
People, I’m hear to tell you…NEVER believe what Google says without doing your own “real” back-up research. It turns out Grand Staircase Escalante Monument isn’t 3 miles away, but 1 1/2 hours away from Kanab, and after driving for many hours, and arriving at Kanab in the late afternoon, we weren’t excited about adding a 3-hour round trip to the day. We quickly nix’ed the Grand Staircase idea and simply strolled around Kanab, which took about 5 minutes.

When you’re annoyed by your own stupidity, what else can you do but go for a run, right? I headed toward the mountains and quickly came upon Squaw Trail with Utah’s famous red rocks. It didn’t take long before I felt like this little side trip was more than worthwhile.

SquawTrailKanab7216

SquawTrailSignKanabRedRocks

RedRockRunFeetKanab

KanabRedRocks
It was a perfect run to set my happy vibes in motion. Olivia joined me for my final mile in town too, which was fun…

OliviaRunKanab
Kanab…what can I say? Sleepy and charming…

MiniHorseKanab
with a wonderful camera shop, which my husband and daughter explored while I was running…

KanabPhotoShop
and one REALLY great restaurant, the Rocking V Cafe.

RockingVCafeKanab
The Chicken Escalante was to die for, as was the wine and homemade bread.

RockingVMealKanab
The next morning, we made a family decision to bypass Bryce Canyon all together and head straight to Aspen. We were most excited about getting to the mountains and we knew we could always hit Bryce on the way back if we were still inspired.

We arrived in the late afternoon on the 3rd, strolled around town and drank in the beauty of our old stomping grounds. No matter how many years we’ve been away (10 years already), Aspen will always still feel like home to us. As we say, there’s magic in these mountains. The rich green color was such a contrast to our drought-stricken California, not to mention the crisp, clean air, and deafening blue sky. Aaaaaah.

DowntownAspen7316
After a yummy dinner, Olivia and I ventured over to the base of Aspen Mountain so I could sign up for the Boogie’s Buddy 5-mile race, which was taking place the next morning. This race is a fundraiser for the Buddy Program and the course is always a good challenge. I knew coming from sea level to 8,000 ft. would make it even more “exciting.”

BoogiesRaceBanner

BoogiesRaceBib
In the morning, after a mile and a half warm-up with strides, I met my dear friend, Sarah, at the start of the race. Sarah is an awesome athlete who is always up for adventures.

BoogiesRaceStartSarah
I have to admit, I was already winded from my warm-up, so I was happy the first two miles took us down the Rio Grande Trail, a gorgeous, gently sloping bike path that follows the Roaring Fork River. But then we turned onto Cemetery Lane and headed up the hill. Boom. That was all it took to turn my sea level legs to lead. Fortunately, I spotted an old friend, Curt, who was cheering and ringing his cowbell near the top of the hill, which helped me lift my feet a little higher. Then we went down and back up another hill, then meandered through the West End where Sarah’s son, Spencer, and husband, Richard, were volunteering and cheering us on. So sweet.

As you can imagine, I was happy to log this race in the books. Even though it kicked me in the butt, it was a fantastic way to start the 4th of July. Booyah! I think my finish time was 46:something. Ha ha. High altitude training was officially underway. Got oxygen?

PostRaceCelebration
After the race, it was time to enjoy Aspen’s quintessential small town 4th of July Parade, which was a mix of kids on bikes, people walking goats and alpacas, floats, horses, military veterans, a plethora of firetrucks, political statements, irreverence, and lots of candy throwing and water fights (no drought here!).

4thofJulyParade

OnlyInAspenGroup

OnlyInAspenParade

HillaryParade
After the parade we zipped down to visit our friends, Tom and Lindy, who live in a beautiful house along the river in Woody Creek.

TomOlivia

FamilyPicToms
Later in the evening, we enjoyed a fantastic al fresco dinner with our friends, Sarah, Richard and Spencer, and Sarah’s parents, Kathy and Dave (sadly no picture–we were too busy catching up). Then the grand finale, fireworks over Aspen Mountain. There was no better way to cap off our 4th of July.

Fireworks
High altitude training kicked into full gear the next morning, when I rode 47 miles with nearly 3500 ft. of elevation. Since this blog post is already looooong, I’m going to break it down into several posts. Check back tomorrow and see what fun was in store! I venture off to one of my all-time favorite places.

Until then….Happy trails…
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