Here Goes Nothing

17 Apr

I’m running my first postpartum long-distance race on Saturday – the Hot Chocolate 15K in Minneapolis. I haven’t talked about my training on the blog much, because well, there hasn’t been a ton to talk about. Pre-baby, I did 95% of the workouts on my training plan. Post-baby, I’ve done maybe 60%.

Which may or may not turn out to be a really bad idea. My weekly long run was the one I did consistently – I only missed one, and that was the weekend we were moving. I ended up adjusting the remaining long runs slightly, to account for that (so that my distance didn’t jump up too much in one week). The training plan I’m following (Hal Higdon’s Novice 15K) had my longest run before the race being 8 miles, and I felt comfortable doing only 7.5.

Since I haven’t talked about my training, and my training has been interesting since moving to rural Minnesota, here are what my 3 longest long runs looked like:

3 Weeks Pre-Race

6 Miles, 1:09:22, 11:34 per mile

Nevis, MN

I know my way around Nevis enough to be confident that I wouldn’t get lost (and the town isn’t that big) so I parked at the Catholic church and took off running. I decided to not look at my Garmin until my playlist ended (around 30 minutes). At that point, I had covered 2.7 miles. So I did a few more loops, aiming to hit at least 5.5 miles – and well, 5 miles would be fine too. Well, I underestimated how long the loop would be so I ended up doing a full 6 miles.

nevisrunThat elevation map looks crazy but if you look at the elevation, it’s only varying 50 ft. Ha.

2 Weeks Pre-Race

6.5 Miles, 1:15:28, 11:37 per mile

Park Rapids, MN

I pretty much saw all there was to see (some of it twice!) in Nevis, so for this long run, I headed to the neighboring town of Park Rapids and ran while my mother-in-law got her hair done. This was the first time I had mapped out a route on MapMyRun ahead of time, and then looked it up on my phone to follow it. It actually worked really well, and I would do it again, though I do recommend not making your route such a crazy loop! I didn’t get to enjoy my surroundings as much with this run, since I was constantly looking at my phone trying to figure out where I needed to turn. I also ended up getting a stomachache toward the end, so I cut my run short by 1/2 mile.

parkrapidsrun1 Week Pre-Race

7.5 miles, 1:20:21, 10:48 per mile

Bemidji, MN

It was nasty outside this day – 30 degrees, cloudy and windy with gusts up to 25 mph. I was not in a mood to go running, especially in the wind, but it was my LAST long run before the race so I couldn’t wimp out! I drove up to Bemidji where my sister-in-law lives, so she could watch Emma while I ran – a win-win! (Travis is still studying for the California PE test, which is this coming Monday! Soooo ready for that to be done with.) I had Carolyn drive me 7.5 miles from her house, so that I could run with the wind, instead of against it. I’ve done this before and it’s a great way to get your run in even when the weather is crappy. And hey, the wind helped my pace – I ran the second mile in 10:12!!

bemidjirun20140413_17025420140413_165312This last run really boosted my confidence level. Up until then, my runs had felt lethargic and slow. Like my legs just wouldn’t wake up. But this run, I felt light, fast and excited about running. The last 2 miles were tough because they were around the south side of the lake where the wind was strong, there was snow on the trail and my legs were getting tired, but I finished the whole thing!

Overall, I’ve enjoyed training for this race, but it’ll be my last for a while. I honestly only have the motivation/energy for working out about 3 times a week right now, and when I’m training for a race, I feel like the only thing I should spend my workouts doing is running – which leads to burnout and injury.

I also did not dedicate enough time to the things that are necessary training components outside of running, like stretching, getting enough sleep, fueling correctly, drinking enough water, etc. Part of that, though, is being in the middle of moving. For a while, I wasn’t sure where my foam roller was – once I found that, I started using it fairly regularly. All of my running fuel is packed up, so I haven’t been fueling during my runs at all (and really, I don’t feel like 7.5 miles really requires that – but I will fuel during the race because I could’ve used a little pick-me-up during my last run!).

I also think that I should’ve done more strength training and cross training in building up to this race – if not during the training plan, at least before beginning training. I think my muscles atrophied a lot during pregnancy and as all runners know, it’s possible to develop the muscles you need for running by running – but you usually end up being out of balance and more easily injured. My knee joints have been the thing bothering me the most, and I’m sure tight IT bands are somewhat to blame (it has gotten better since I got my foam roller out). But I also think that if my legs were stronger from non-running activities, and limber from more yoga, my knees would be happier.

So after this race, I’m looking forward to doing more yoga, walking and maybe a few exercise videos. I’ll probably still run once a week just to keep my fitness up, but I need some variety back!

From Urban to Rural

15 Apr

20140413_170254Being in northern Minnesota is like being in a different world. You wouldn’t think that things were so different in the same state that I grew up in, but they are.

It feels weird to say but I think I’m struggling with culture shock. I grew up in a town of 80,000 people, but after living in major metropolitan areas for the past 12 years, even that feels small to me. Now I’m out in the middle of nowhere: 10 minutes from a town of 350 people. I’m used to there being 3 Targets within 10 miles of my house. Now the closest one is 65 miles away. I expect businesses to be open 24 x 7 x 365. Here, they close at 5 pm on Fridays and aren’t even open on Sundays. And because this is a tourist area, a lot of the ‘area attractions’ are only open from Memorial Day to Labor Day.

Travis’ parents have deer carcasses hanging in a tree – a tree you can see from their kitchen window. They shoot porcupines and beavers for being nuisances to trees. They hunt and fish year round. They have more guns than I have fingers. They lease land from a logging company specifically for hunting.

Don’t get me wrong – I love my in-laws (hence my willingness to live with them for several months while we look for a house). And it is true that they’re farther out in the boonies than many people. But a lot of these things are just realities of living in a rural area. To visit specialized doctors or go to a real shopping mall, they drive all the way to Fargo – 3 hours away, one way. Just Walmart is 25 minutes away.

It’s one thing to visit during holidays; it’s another to actually plan on living here. To be honest, it has made me start questioning my desire to live in Brainerd (with neighboring Baxter, the population is 20,000). They have a Target, Kohl’s, Menards, Home Depot, JCPenney, Walmart and Fleet Farm. They have a Starbucks and a library. There’s no shopping mall, but I hardly ever shop at full-price stores anymore anyway.

I have a friend Emily who lives in Park Rapids (the nearest town to here, population 3,500). She grew up in Ramsey, a northern suburb of the Cities, and she said it was a big adjustment moving to Park Rapids. It took a couple of years, but now she feels like Brainerd and Bemidji (13,000) are the big cities. So it is possible to adjust.

I think a common question for city folks like me when they come up here, especially in the winter, is “What do you people DO here?” I grew up in Minnesota and have been around Travis’ family enough to know that there are lots of winter activities: snowmobiling, ice fishing, snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, downhill skiing, sledding, ice hockey, broomball, ice skating. Only problem is, it’s often too cold outside to do that stuff!

I think a lot of my apprehension comes from having Emma, at the age she is. There’s a very limited amount of things she’s willing to do, and those things have a time limit – either because she gets bored, or I get tired from pushing/holding/lifting her. And for pretty much all of those winter activities I listed above, Emma is too young (though she will be old enough next winter for some of them). In the city, it was nice to have lots of parks, museums, shopping malls and playgrounds (open year round) to choose from. There were walking trails near our house. So part of my trouble now should get better once we move from tiny Nevis to bigger Brainerd.

The other part of my apprehension comes from just not being plugged in to our new life here. We’re in this limbo stage, where we’re too far from Brainerd (1 ½ hours) to start getting plugged in, and the people we meet here will be too far away to stay in touch with once we move . So I don’t have many friends or activities to occupy my time other than hanging out at home and venturing into town a couple times a week. The relaxation has been nice, but after another couple months of this…?

But when I think about why I question moving to Brainerd, my main reason is fear. Fear that I’ll be bored to death. Fear that there will be nothing to do. Fear that my city-girl self won’t be able to adapt – or won’t want to adapt – to small-town ways.

I have to admit that it’s easy for me to fall into the trap of feeling superior in a small town. “These small-town folks – how in touch with the real world are they? Look where they live. Look what they wear. Look how they decorate their houses. Look what they drive. Look what they do for fun. I’ll never be like that.”

That judgment, though, is just me trying to rid myself of some of the awkwardness I feel from being out of my element. It’s also very arrogant – saying that I know everything there is to know about the world from living in a big city, and small town people are small-minded and have nothing to teach me.

God’s love frees me from having to judge others. Being grounded in His love for me enables me to be confident in who I am in Christ, so I don’t need to prove myself to anyone. When I am confident in who I am, I don’t feel pressure to completely conform to the culture and lose my identity, but I also don’t need to dig my heels in against everything that is different from what I’m used to.

For example, I’ve been thinking about running in the winter up here. Often it’s so cold that I will have to run inside. Brainerd does not have an indoor track (that I know of) so it will be either a treadmill or nothing. I could get frustrated and grumble about not being able to run in the winter, saying “This sucks” and “Stupid small town” or I could embrace the opportunity to expand my horizons, and snowshoe and cross-country ski more. That is a big benefit of the small town! The trails for that sort of thing are MUCH closer than they were in Denver.

The anxiety and uncertainty I feel about moving to Brainerd reminds me that this move requires faith. Just like moving out to Colorado required faith. Faith that God is leading us. That we’re leaving behind everything and everyone we know to forge a new life, in faith that God is everything He says He is, and will do everything He has promised.

The Jesus Calling devotion today was EXACTLY what I needed to hear:

“Trust Me, and don’t be afraid. Many things feel out of control. Your routines are not running smoothly. You tend to feel more secure when your life is predictable. Let Me lead you to the rock that is higher than you and your circumstances. Take refuge in the shelter of My wings, where you are absolutely secure.

“When you are shaken out of your comfortable routines, grip My hand tightly and look for growth opportunities. Instead of bemoaning the loss of your comfort, accept the challenge of something new. I lead you on from glory to glory, making you fit for My kingdom. Say yes to the ways I work in your life. Trust Me, and don’t be afraid.”

Are you a city-goer or small-town folk? 

Have you ever made the switch from urban to rural, or vice versa? I can see that going either way would be challenging!

Emma’s 1st Birthday Party

10 Apr

We had a small, simple party for Emma’s 1st birthday, and just invited Emma’s grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins. Those in attendance were Grandma Sheri and Grandpa David (my parents), Grandma Beth and Grandpa Al (Travis’ parents), Carolyn (Trav’s sister), Matthew (Trav’s brother), Diana (Matthew’s girlfriend), and Drew (Carolyn’s son) – and then of course, me, Travis and Emma. My siblings were unfortunately too far away to make the trek, or were out of the country.

For decorations, we went with a pink and green theme. I made tissue paper pompoms and a word cloud that described Emma.

IMG_5579 (Large) IMG_5610 (Large) IMG_5605 (Large)The party started at 11 am on Sunday with brunch (well, actually we didn’t eat until noon…). On the menu were biscuits and sausage gravy (a tribute to Emma’s nickname of Biscuit), quiche, fruit salad and ‘brunch punch’. For the cake, I made The Pioneer Woman’s Strawberry Shortcake cake. Everything was delicious and turned out well!

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IMG_5608 (Large)Unfortunately, since the party had gotten started later than planned, Emma needed a nap before the rest of the festivities. So while Emma took a short 40-minute nap, the rest of us did dishes and hung out.

Once Emma was awake again, it was time for cake! We gave Emma her little smash cake first and watched her destroy it. She was so interested in the frosting that we had to hold her arms until everyone had their cameras ready!

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She only ended up eating some of the frosting, and then just smashed the rest of the cake around. It was a big mess by the end!

After Emma was done with her cake, we dug into the main cake. Oh. my. goodness. So delicious.

IMG_5681 (Large)Once we all had our sugar rush, we moved on to the gift opening. Emma was actually able to tear the wrapping paper once we got it started, so she semi-unwrapped her presents. She received a lot of great stuff, including a piggy bank, baby doll and stroller, books, clothes, sound puzzles and this fun activity house.

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IMG_5689 (Large) IMG_5685 (Large)Emma was pretty excited about the baby doll.

All the adults were exhausted by that point, so we just sat around talking (some napping) and watching Emma play with her toys (and trying them out ourselves). Once we got our second wind, it was time for Emma to do some finger body painting!

I got this idea from the blog Fun at Home with Kids. It was a hit! Emma was fairly tentative about it at first, but after about 5 minutes, she really got into it… as you can tell.

IMG_5704 (Large) IMG_5707 (Large) IMG_5709 (Large) IMG_5714 (Large)IMG_5717 (Large)IMG_5721 (Large)

IMG_5728And that was it! Emma went down for another nap (her naps were strange that day – too much excitement!) and our parents all had to leave soon after the fingerpainting, so we took a group picture (unfortunately, without Emma) and they got on the road. Carolyn, Matthew, Diana and Drew stayed for dinner, which was really fun. A great way to end the day.

IMG_5739 (Large)Emma’s actual birthday was on Monday. We didn’t do anything that special, but I did dedicate the day to quality time with Emma, instead of multi-tasking while watching her. We spent some time outside and had some ‘water fun’ in the bathtub. Pretty lowkey but it was nice after the whirlwind of Sunday!

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Emma Grace: 12 Months

8 Apr

Emma is one year old!

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She is a wild, funny, giggly, curious little girl! We love her to pieces. Here’s what she’s up to at 12 months:

Size

We had Emma’s 12-month checkup today at her new doctor in Brainerd. The nurse and doctor were both very nice. I think we will like going there. Emma now weighs 21 lbs 2 oz (71%) and is 29 inches long (37%), with a head circumference of 18.39 inches (91%). At 9 months, she was 74th percentile for weight and 66th for height, so she’s tracking along pretty good.

She’s still wearing size 4 diapers, and is wearing all 12-month clothes, and starting to wear 18-month sizes.

20140324_182402Eating

Emma is still a really good eater – if we give her the foods she likes. ;) She has gotten somewhat pickier about what she will eat than she was when we first started solids. Or should I say, she’s not a huge fan of most ‘table foods’ as the doctor calls them. She still prefers to eat purees and spoon-food like yogurt, oatmeal and soup most days. She does really enjoy feeding herself cut-up fruit, puffs and cheese, and also likes deli meat and tofu. But she will not touch a vegetable to save her life. She will eat them in purees, but not as finger foods. So we usually just resort to purees.

We always know when Emma either doesn’t like a food or is finished with it, because she’ll pick up a piece and throw it off her tray to the dogs. They are loving this development. Even though it’s not something we want to encourage, it’s just so darn funny to watch.

We switched from formula to whole milk this past week and it went well. She didn’t care at all. She also weaned herself from nursing at the end of March. Because of my low supply, I had slowly worked down to only nursing her in the morning. But then one morning, she wanted nothing to do with it. Just like that, we were done. Surprisingly, I was actually more sad about her not drinking formula anymore, than I was about not nursing anymore. Probably because it was such a gradual transition. And her drinking whole milk means she’s no longer a baby!

She’s still drinking all of her milk out of bottles, but I’m going to start sippy cups in earnest soon, per doctor’s orders…

Emma still has only 6 teeth. Whenever she has a rough night or seems to be in pain, I think she might be teething, but nothing so far.

20140328_074042Sleep

I was dreading our move to Minnesota, because when we were here at Christmas, Emma slept awful. But she totally surprised me and has slept better here than she was sleeping in Colorado! She now sleeps straight through the night without waking up, or if she does wake up, she can get herself back to sleep after 5-10 minutes. It is so nice to not have to get up anymore! Most nights, she goes to bed around 6:30, though if she takes a longer/later nap, she goes to bed as late as 8:00. I definitely prefer the earlier bedtime, because she still gets up at the same time in the morning – usually 6 am. The past couple of mornings, I’ve heard her crying/squawking at 4:15 am, which is waaaayyy too early, but she fell back asleep eventually thank goodness.

Naps are still hit or miss. I’ve been trying to put her down according to the clock and not her sleepy signs, because around me, she doesn’t really make them. The only thing she does is rub her eyes, and sometimes it seems like I’ve already missed ‘the window’. Most days, she takes 2 naps that are 45 minutes to an hour long. Sometimes, I get lucky and she sleeps for longer. On the days I’m really desperate, I’ll take her for a drive around her naptime, then carry her into her room in her carseat and she’ll usually sleep for about 2 hours. But that game plan won’t work anymore once we buy her a new carseat (which we haven’t done yet, and aren’t really in a hurry to do).

Emma isn’t rocked to sleep for any naps or bedtime anymore, for the sheer reason that she won’t allow it. She cries, pushes away or won’t settle down if we try. So it’s into the crib for crying-it-out. Sorry babe, but you gotta sleep.

20140322_184308Development

Emma has gotten really good at crawling and pulling up on things. She loves to open drawers and empty the contents. She loves helping to unload the dishwasher (even when you’re loading it!). She can push toys and her walker around while walking behind them. She’s not walking yet, but she has stood on her own without aid several times, so she’s making progress toward that end!

20140326_161434She still carries toys around in her mouth like a puppy dog, and chews on everything. I don’t let her play with books very often, because she will destroy them with saliva. She won’t sit still for books ever, so I read them to her while she plays with other toys – if she’ll let me. Sometimes if she sees me with a book, she’ll grab it. Then if I try reading a different one, she’ll grab that one too. We were reading the Little House on the Prairie series during baths (for that reason), but have gotten out of the habit with the move.

I mentioned in my letter to Emma that she has learned how to play peekaboo, wave, clap and give five – for the most part. Sometimes, we try to get her to do it and she looks at us like we’re crazy. She has also started to lift one hand in the air, like she’s declaring something – or if she has a toy in it, like she’s offering it to you.

Emma doesn’t like her jumperoo or walker much anymore – she likes her Johnny Jumpup sometimes, but she mostly just wants to be mobile and finding stuff to make a mess with. We call her Destructobaby. I find myself looking for things that Emma can empty/clear out. We discovered the spice cabinet here at Grandma and Grandpa’s, and that keeps her busy for a good 30 minutes. The Tupperware cabinet is also a favorite, but she often gets sick of that faster. And then it’s on the next mess while Mommy picks up after her! I thought I would be frustrated at that part of parenthood, but she enjoys it so much (and I’m so happy to find something that occupies her) that I really don’t mind. Forget about organization for the foreseeable future though.

Emma LOVES our dogs and often squeals in delight when she sees them, or gets close enough to touch them (which is rare, because they have started to avoid her!). Emma is still a very vocal, loud girl. She doesn’t say any words yet really – though I think she might say ‘dada’ in reference to Travis – but she babbles a LOT. She also giggles, laughs and shrieks. Who knew a little baby could be so loud?

Well, I think I’ve covered almost everything! I’ll be back tomorrow with her birthday party post.

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One Year… {A Letter to My Daughter}

7 Apr

My Dearest Emma,

You are one year old today. Happy Birthday! Daddy and I bought you a baby doll and baby stroller for your birthday, and it’s amazing to think that a year ago, you were the size of that doll. So small. So delicate.

Now you are a curious and independent girl who loves to investigate and take apart everything. Your favorite thing is making a mess – whether of your birthday cake and ‘finger’ paints yesterday, or drawers and cabinets full of tupperware, toiletries, papers, books and sometimes, your own toys (though you’d much rather play with adult stuff!). You aren’t interested in the toys that we give you to play with – you want to decide on your own.

You are constantly excited – giggling, belly laughing, bouncing up and down, waving your arms and legs, making your ‘oh’ face of excitement. You are learning new things every day – you can give Grandpa five, wave, clap, play peekaboo, open and close doors and drawers, follow people into another room and find tiny objects on the floor that aren’t visible to the adult eye.

You still don’t like being held much – you are a mover and a shaker! You love to be on the go, and that makes going down for naps a challenge. You love the puppies, and often crawl very fast toward them. They are a little scared of you and your wild ways, so they don’t often sit still to let you pet them, but you have gotten much better with being gentle and not grabbing handfuls of fur when they do stay!

You love being outside. When sledding the past couple of weeks, you had a toothy grin painted on your face the whole time. You have ridden a tractor, a snowmobile and a wagon for the first time, and you rode up the driveway being held in the front seat of the car. So much excitement!

You are very detail-oriented. You love playing with zipper pulls, buttons, caps, door stoppers, and always check out when something has a screw, bolt or other sort of small inconsistency. When we took you to the aquarium in Denver, you didn’t pay a ton of attention to the fish. But when we got you in the elevator, you were entranced by the fake steel rivets on the wall.

You love to eat! The foods you like to eat all the time, all day long are cheese, strawberries, grapes, clementines, and yogurt. You also like bananas, applesauce, butternut squash and mango, but you get sick of them a lot faster. You still like to be fed purees fairly often, but you also like finger foods. It depends on your mood. You just started drinking cow’s milk this past week and the transition went great – in fact, when you drank your first bottle of it, you showed absolutely no reaction or even recognition that the taste was different. That was the case when switching from breastmilk to formula too.

You have started to love your Daddy more. When he walks in the room, you light up. You get excited when you hear his voice, and you love it when he rough-houses with you (even though sometimes it goes slightly too far and you get scared). You still prefer me (Mommy) when you’re sick, hurting or tired, but it warms Daddy’s heart when he can take care of and soothe you, so let him do that more, ok?

You are loved. Your cheeks are kissed at least 500 times each day. It’s just so hard to stop! We squeeze your chubby legs, play the drum on your ‘snare belly’, and spike your hair all because we love you – every inch of you. You will never understand how much your daddy and I love you – we don’t even fully understand it ourselves. It’s a love that goes deeper than words. You are a part of us. We will never be the same since you came into our lives. This line from “On the Night You Were Born” says it well:

“Heaven blew every trumpet

and played every horn

on the wonderful, marvelous

night you were born.”

Love,

Your Mommy

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We Made It!

27 Mar

Last Thursday and Friday, we loaded all of our possessions into a 26-foot U-Haul moving truck. Our awesome friends and family helped us. Nothing had to be left behind! Travis and I slept on cots for Thursday and Friday night, my dad on an air mattress, and Travis’ parents got a hotel room. Oh, and Emma slept in her pack & play.

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MovingtoMN 022 (Large) MovingtoMN 025 (Large) MovingtoMN 026 (Large) MovingtoMN 027 (Large) Early Saturday morning, Emma, Grandma Beth and I flew to Minneapolis/St. Paul. Emma did really well on the flight. She played with toys and the in-flight magazines until she crashed.

1966916_721446454552346_1619279792_nAfter we landed, Emma and I drove my dad’s car (that he had left at the airport) to Rochester while Beth headed up to Nevis in her car.

Meanwhile, Travis, Grandpa Al and Grandpa David drove the moving van, pickup truck and SUV (with our 2 dogs) to Minnesota. My dad split off in Omaha – he kept going NE to Rochester while Travis and his dad headed north to Sioux Falls. My dad arrived in Rochester just a little before 11 pm. The dogs were very ready to get out!

Emma and I stayed in Rochester until Tuesday morning. We had a great time hanging out with Grandma Sheri, playing with fun toys (books and magazines count, right?)…

998461_723575161006142_640768047_n…and shopping for Emma’s Easter dress. We looked at every dress in every store in the Apache Mall before deciding on this one. (Apparently, I’m very picky?) Emma will look so cute in it! I also had to buy this one and this one because I’m obsessed with neon coral and stripes.

On Tuesday, Emma and I headed up to Nevis (a 5-hour drive). Emma slept the first 2 hours, then we stopped for lunch. I took the dogs and Emma on a very short walk and then got back on the road, but Emma was not having it. So we went shopping at the Shopko in St. Cloud and I bought Emma’s birthday present and a cute swimsuit top for me, among other things. She still wasn’t the happiest about being in her carseat after our shopping trip, but she fell asleep after 10-15 minutes, and woke up when we were only about 10 minutes from the house. Whew!

The minute I walked in the door, I was organizing and unpacking. There’s something in me that can. not. stand. things being out of place and messy. By the end of Wednesday, everything was pretty much in its place. So today we went to the library in Park Rapids!

10155088_723504804346511_2129091930_nNow I’m on to planning Emma’s birthday party. We’re just doing a small brunch up here in Nevis, with some cute, simple decorations. Well, that’s all for now!

 

Our Top 15 Colorado Memories, Part 3

22 Mar

If you missed them, check out Part 1 and Part 2.

………………………..

Continuing on with my top 15 Colorado memories (in no particular order)…

11. Climbing Grays and Torreys

These were the only 14ers I climbed in Colorado, and it’s easy to do both in one day because they’re connected by a saddle. We camped out at the base of the mountain with our friends, Michael and Amy Leon. Unfortunately, it rained that night, and the seams on Michael and Amy’s tent were no longer waterproof. We ended up getting out our extra rainfly in the middle of the night to put on their tent.

DSC03402Early the next morning, we hit the trail. My back has never hurt so bad as it did on that hike – and I wasn’t even carrying a pack! I learned time and time again that being in good running shape does not equate to being in good hiking shape – that’s its own beast. But we made it to the top of both peaks and on the top of the 2nd mountain (Torreys?), the clouds cleared enough that we could see the amazing view.

DSC03424 DSC0340412. Camping with the Normans

Mark and Sarah were the first friends of ours from back home to come out and visit us in Colorado. We, of course, took them camping and hiking. There was still a decent amount of snow up where we were hiking, and on the way down the mountain, we slid down the snow on our shoes/butts – if you’ve never tried it, do! It’s really fun. We also gorged ourselves on Beau Jo’s pizza in Idaho Springs – something we did fairly often when coming home from the mountains.

DSC02427 DSC0242313. Christmas with the Brehenys in Estes Park

For Christmas 2012, Travis and I stayed in Denver instead of going to Minnesota. Our friends Paul and Carrie graciously invited us to join them at a condo in Estes Park with their 2 kids. It was so much fun and a nice change from spending the holiday by ourselves.

blendsgiving 021 (Large)14. Camping at Lutheran Valley Ranch

For Memorial Day 2011, our friend Randy let us camp on his property down at LVR near Colorado Springs. We did a couple of really nice hikes while we were there and the dogs unfortunately got quilled by a porcupine. They survived though.

memorial-weekend-2011-033-large1 memorial-weekend-2011-023-large115. Hiking Bear Peak and South Boulder Peak

Bear Peak is really close to Boulder. It got pretty steep near the top but it was so worth it for the view! The worst part of the hike was actually the way back…it was downhill the…whole…way.     Distance: 7.6 miles roundtrip     Elevation Gain: 2,461 feet

We hiked South Boulder Peak (separated from Bear Peak by a saddle) on July 4, 2008. It was a gorgeous day for a hike and a lot of the trail was in the shade. But this was by far one of the hardest hikes I’ve ever done–not the longest or the highest elevation but the most straight up (1,800 ft elevation gain in about 1.1 miles, to be exact). I didn’t think I would make it – I started getting dizzy and nauseated. But I made it to the peak, which I was able to enjoy for about 30 seconds before all the bugs at the top forced to me to leave.      Distance: 7 miles roundtrip    Elevation Gain: 2,949 feet

DSC02107 DSC02462 DSC02114And that’s all 15! Of course, we have many other great memories so this list is by no means exhaustive. Colorado is a great state, and I feel like we did a good job of enjoying what it has to offer. We didn’t get to everything on our ‘bucket list’ but hey, Colorado isn’t going anywhere!

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