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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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…
Kanab…what can I say? Sleepy and charming…
with a wonderful camera shop, which my husband and daughter explored while I was running…
and one REALLY great restaurant, the Rocking V Cafe.
The Chicken Escalante was to die for, as was the wine and homemade bread.
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.
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.”
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.
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?
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!).
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.
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.
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…
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