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Mt. Flora

1My husband is an avid mountaineer. He has over 40 of Colorado’s 14ers under his belt as well as many, many 13ers. He gets up above tree line and at elevation on a regular basis. Me on the other hand – I may live at 5,280 feet but I am pretty much a flatlander. I don’t get up to the mountain nearly as much as I would like to. So, I was so excited when my husband suggested that we hike Mt. Flora. Mt. Flora is a 13er near Berthoud Pass.   Mt. Flora stands at 13,146 feet and the majority of the 7+ mile hike is on a ridge high above tree line. According to SummitPost the total distance from Berthoud Pass to Mount Flora is 3.6 miles one way with about 2200 feet total elevation gain and 350 feet elevation loss.

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We got to the parking lot at Berthoud Pass around 9:00 a.m., coated ourselves in sunscreen because we would be walking directly next to the sun, and headed up the old Berthoud ski hill towards Colorado Mines Peak. Instead of continuing up the road to the radio towers on the top of Colorado Mines Peak we took the trail pointing towards Mt. Flora. From this point Mt. Flora is 2 miles away. The trail was very easy to follow and was mainly made up of fine gravel and stones. While you are pretty constantly climbing upward the incline never seems overwhelming. The higher we climbed the more mountains you could see and the views were incredible. There were vast open fields that made you think you were in a scene from The Sound of Music. You expected Julie Andrews to start running across the field singing The Hills Are Alive at any moment.

3On this hike you get a lot of bang for your buck. For a relatively easy hike you get to see a lot of mountains. The higher we climbed the more beautiful our surroundings became but the higher we climbed the windier it got. At times there was probably a 30+ mph sustained wind. The wind was definitely the most difficult part of the hike. Because it was a relatively warm day the wind wasn’t freezing cold but it was just constantly blowing in your face. Before long my eyes and nose were running and at times it was hard to catch your breath.  But, we tucked our heads and continued upward!

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Along the way we saw so many wildflowers. Colorado’s rainy spring and summer has lead to an amazing wildflower season and the greenest I’ve ever seen Colorado. There are a few of what some might consider false summits along the way (or in my case I had no idea which mountain we were going to summit so when we passed over one and headed to the next I didn’t even realize and just thought it was part of the hike). We hit the summit in about two hours and spent some time taking pictures and visiting with a friendly marmot before heading back the way we came.

5We passed a lot more people starting up the trail as we were headed down then going up which always makes me worry a little bit. Living in Colorado you need to be thunderstorm aware and get up and down mountain as early as possible in the day before the thunderstorms roll in. I think this summer has been one of the most dangerous for lightning strikes and its hard to go more than a week without seeing another news story about people getting struck while hiking above tree line. So my PSA for the day – don’t be an idiot, hike early, and keep your eyes to the sky!

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It took us significantly less time to get back down then heading up and before noon we were back at the truck and ready to head to Idaho Springs for pizza at Beaujo’s.  There is nothing more satisfying after a day of hiking or skiing then pizza at Beaujo’s!

 

What is your favorite hike and what makes it so special?

 

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Interval Running

Since I started running I have always been an interval runner. When I was starting it was out of total necessity. I was actually unable to run a long time without a break and so with the help of the Couch to 5k Program I ramped up to my first 5k using the interval method. Two years and a half marathon later I am still a committed interval runner. But now I think it’s a lot more about my mental ability then my physical ability. I can run long intervals with just a minute rest but mentally I need to know that a rest is coming up or I just spaz out and obsess over how there is no way I can run any further. After my bronchitis I got back to a comfortable 4-minute run/1-minute walk interval and have been following it religiously.

A couple of weeks ago I was reading the Runs for Cookies blog and Katie was talking about using the Jeff Galloway’s run/walk method for her training after recovering from a stress fracture. Katie was talking about the different intervals and how she changed the intervals throughout her training. Something finally clicked in my head and I thought maybe I should start mixing up my intervals to see how it affects my pace. So on my next run I switched from my usual 4:00/1:00 interval to a 2:30/0:30 interval and I was amazed by the difference. It felt awesome! The 30-second break was exactly what I needed to take two sips of water and then start running again (for the past couple of weeks running with water has become a must – something I hadn’t done in the past either). I felt like my running was stronger and that I was actually improving from day to day instead of just being stagnant in my running. Before changing my intervals I would get my 3-5 miles in each time I ran but I was never increasing speed.   By changing the intervals every time I run my pace is improving a little bit each time.

I went back through my running logs (yeah RunHelper+ app) and compared two identical runs with one using the 4:00/1:00 interval and one using the 2:30/0:30 interval. When I was running the 4:00/1:00 interval I was averaging 9:42/mile (yes I realize I am slow runner but it’s better than just sitting on the couch eating bonbons) and with the 2:30/0:30 interval I was averaging a 9:25/mile. I know to some that is not a huge deal but for someone who has seen so little improvement in pace over the past year this is a big deal. I am going to continue adjusting the intervals to see what works best for me…and who knows maybe someday I will get over this mental block and finally just be able to run the entire time!

No matter what interval I use I am ALWAYS a sweat mess at the end of my run!

No matter what interval I use I am ALWAYS a sweat mess at the end of my run!

Do you use interval training and what have you found successful?

The Cheyenne Mountain Zoo

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Friendly giraffe begging for Weetabix

One of my most favorite places in Colorado is the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo.  When we lived in Colorado Springs we found the zoo by accident when exploring our new city and have made it a habit to visit often.  About a week ago we battled the I-25 traffic past the Renaissance Festival in Larkspur and spent a great afternoon at the zoo.

I have always loved the giraffe exhibit where you can feed the giraffes giraffe crackers (aka Weetabix) or lettuce and get an up close and personal experience.  If you get there too late in the day and the giraffes have eaten too many giraffe cookies their diet consists of lettuce.  Every time I go I wonder how much they eat in a day with all those visitors buying them all those treats and waiting for the giraffes to come up and snatch them out of their hands with their long blackish tongues.

Since our last visit they have finished the new elephant and rhino exhibit and we were excited to see that too.  The elephants were happily playing in their new yard giving themselves dirt baths and the rhinos were in their building trying to save themselves from the sweltering heat.

As we meandered through the zoo, and the hoards of people, we got to see baby wallabies, alligators attacking dragonflies, the meerkat on his perch, and the moose drinking from his pond – as well as a ton more sleepy, less active animals that were not particularly photogenic.

While the zoo is a fun place I often feel a little out of place without a child tagging along behind me and I often feel guilty for wanting to get up close to the animals when I know I should step aside and let the children see…but, luckily I don’t actually have a conscience so I just run up the glass and peer through to see the next animal…in all fairness I try not to shove the children 🙂

 

What keeps the moose from walking out of his pen?

What keeps the moose from walking out of his pen?

Sleepy wallaby

Sleepy wallaby

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The hungry alligators

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A curious meerkat

After our visit to the zoo we had to stop by a couple Colorado Springs favorites before braving the traffic and heading back north.  A stop for lunch at McCabe’s for some chips and curry and a tasting at Trinity Brewing (I highly recommend the The Menacing Strawberry, Farmhouse Fraise) were the perfect ending to a great day!

What is your favorite zoo?

Running with Asthma

Right after Christmas this year I started getting a really sore throat and everything went downhill from there.  It started with a sore throat and it quickly moved in to my lungs.  I was coughing and hacking non stop annoying everyone around me.  Around mid January I finally went to the doctor and was diagnosed with bronchitis.  I was given antibiotics and an inhaler and sent home to rest.  By the end of January I wasn’t feeling any better and had to return to the doctor.  Again they told me I had bronchitis and was given a heavier dose of antibiotics and was told to continue the inhaler.  By mid February I found myself in urgent care on a Saturday because my primary doctor was afraid I had pneumonia.  I had xrays and a full examine and was told I did not have pneumonia but I still had bronchitis and to top it off I had asthma.  Asthma?!  I was given another round of antibiotics and some strong cough medicine and sent home again.  This time, after two months, I started feeling better.  I slowly felt myself getting my life back and I was so excited.

At the beginning of March I had a half marathon schedule which I downgraded to a 5k but was still determined that I was going to run.  I had actually run a 5k in January while I had the bronchitis and that was horrible (I would not advise anyone to do that)!  My 5k in March was rough but I was still feeling better than the last couple of months but I started wheezing about a mile in to the race.  I could still run but I could feel and hear the wheezing and it was definitely not something I had experienced before.  Shortly after the race I went back to my doctor for my final check-up and was told that because of the bronchitis and the scarring in my lungs I now have exercise induced asthma.

IMG_2751I figured that this would be short term and I would be back to myself in no time and be asthma free.  I used my inhaler before longer runs and was feeling better.  Then summer came.  The heat and humidity seem to be my asthma triggers.  I was told that it was cold weather that usually wreaked havoc with asthma! I would warm up and within minutes of running I could feel the wheezing starting again.  In all honesty I keep forgetting my inhaler and have had trouble getting in to the routine of using it regularly but I can definitely feel the difference when I use it and when I don’t.

The weirdest thing is going through 34 years of my life without asthma and suddenly having it.  If I have had to deal with an inhaler since I was little maybe it would be easier to deal with but I have found it to be very discouraging.  At a recent boot camp we were running steps and I had to stop because I couldn’t breathe.  I knew I could still physically run the stairs but my lungs were failing me and I had to stop and step to the side to catch my breath.  This was the first truly terrifying moment I had with my asthma.  I have been proud of myself from not letting this be my excuse for not continuing to run and exercise.  I just need to work on managing it better.

If you live with asthma do you have any suggestions on how to cope with it?

Happy Knitter to Jolly Runner

11745352_10205682082023823_4659982871437127151_nHello from the Jolly Runner, formerly the Happy Knitter.  I blogged on and off (more off than on) as the Happy Knitter for a couple of years.  I shared my growing knitting skills and over time I realized I am never going to be as talented a knitter as my amazing family members who can knit a pair of socks in a day and sweater over a long weekend and my trusty readers can only take so many pictures of hats and scarves (my specialty).  When I was blogging before I often get sidetracked with other projects and just life in general so I wanted to redirect my blogging energy towards my entire life instead of just my knitting life.  Over the past years I having been getting further and further from knitting topics so I am taking the leap in a new direction.

This is from my new “About” page and hopefully will give you an idea about who the Jolly Runner is.

According to Merraim-Webster the definition of jolly is:  adjective jol·ly \ˈjä-lē\ : full of happiness and joy : happy and cheerful : very pleasant or enjoyable.  When I run I am jolly.  When I don’t run I am the opposite of jolly…and it isn’t pretty – I believe the opposite of jolly is gloomy.   So while I may not always be The Jolly Runner it is my goal to get to a place when I am more jolly than not.  Running keeps me balanced and makes me feel more confident about myself so I am going to stick with it.

I realize the word jolly often goes hand in hand with visions of plump Santa Claus and happy go lucky elves and sadly I also fall in to that category as well.  I am not your typical runner.  I have never been called skinny and while I am never last in a race I am also never first – I slide in to the middle of the pack and contently run my own race working on beating my own records instead of completing against everyone else.  I remember always struggling with my weight and wishing I was thinner so I consider myself a work in progress.  In the past couple of months I have recommitted to running after some time off because of an injury and several bouts of bronchitis and am actually watching what I eat instead of just shoveling food in to my mouth like a backhoe.  It was a sad break up with Ben and Jerry but it had to be done.  I have lost some weight, built so muscle and continue building my confidence.

So, while I want to keep my jolly attitude it would be okay with me to shed the jolly physique.

But, this blog is about more than running.  It’s about my life, my family, my love of the outdoors, my insane love for my dogs and everything else that comes up.  I will also have some “things to do” in Colorado as well as trail reviews and other fun hiking stuff…I live in Colorado and love it so you’re going to hear all about it!  I am opinionated person who doesn’t always have the favored opinion.  To many I may seem quiet and reserved but I don’t really believe that is who I really am.  In the past I have been afraid to share my thoughts and ideas but I am trying to be more open.  I know that not everyone will agree with me but I have just as much of right to share my ideas as everyone else.

What do you want to see on this blog?