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Photography trip: Maroon Bells, Aspen, Colorado

September 28, 2014 |  by  |  Denver, Photography, Travel  |  No Comments

Sara and I left Arvada Friday night after work and headed up to Glenwood Springs. We stopped in Vail at Vail Village for a dinner break at the Alpenrose (German food) before pushing on to Glenwood Springs. We were both surprised by the size of Glenwood Springs; we thought it would be just another sleepy little mountain town, but it was pretty moderately sized! We saw a couple really cool hotels on the way in, like the Hotel Colorado. But since we were really only planning on resting our eyes for a few hours before pushing on to Aspen, we stayed at the Frontier Lodge. It was what you’d expect from a motor inn…clean and modest accommodations with just a hint of skeeviness.

Our total time spent at the motel was about six hours. We were awake at 2:45 AM and got back on the road at about 3:15 AM. The drive down to Aspen was spookily dark. We were startled more than a couple times by the reflection of elk eyes on the side of the road as they lazily grazed on grass. It took us an hour to get to White River National Forest and another ten minutes to get to the Maroon Bells parking lot. We got there at about 4:30 AM, more than two hours before sunrise. This was a purpose to the madness: Maroon Bells is one of the most photographed spots in Colorado and it would be especially busy with the aspen trees at the peak of changing their colors this weekend. Getting there early was a good call, since the parking lot was almost full by the time we got there (the parking lot also serves as a trailhead for the Maroon Bells south ridge trail.)

It was pitch black as we made the short walk from the parking lot to the lake. We counted four or five other photographers there that early and we had our pick of where we wanted to set up. We set up our tripods and our camp chairs and settled in to the chill of the night. Photographers and hikers trickled in in a steady stream throughout the wee hours of the morning. For my neighbors and me, it was the calm before the storm. No messing around with camera settings, lens decisions or angle-jockeying. It was just serenity in nature.

And then sunrise happened and it was time to get to work…

Doesn’t this picture look absolutely serene? It’s like we are the only ones at the lake…

This shot made being up early worth it

This shot made being up early worth it, Canon 5D Mark II, Canon 24-70L f/22

Well this is what it looked like along the lake front. It was chaos for people who didn’t arrive early enough, as they jockeyed for position to try to set up their tripods and cameras.

Lots of photographers...

Lots of photographers…

LOTS and LOTS of photographers

LOTS and LOTS of photographers

More continued to trickle in all morning. We heard so many different languages being spoken: Farsi, Spanish, Korean, Mandarin, Hindi, German were what we recognized. There were countless others that we couldn’t identify!

Sunrise, Maroon Bells

Sunrise, Maroon Bells, Canon 5D Mark II, Canon 17-40L f/8

The picture above is one of the first shots that I snapped all day. The sun is just peaking over the mountains behind us, just barely enough to light up the trees and the Maroon Bells mountains. I juggled between using and not using my polarizing filter and ended up using it only for a few shots.

As the sun continued to rise, I had to continue changing camera settings; as the sun intensified, the sky started becoming really bright, which blew out the highlights in the photos. At that point, it would’ve been nice to have a graduated neutral-density filter, but I think I lost mine along the way somewhere :( But I made do by bracketing all my shots (one shot under-exposed, one shot over-exposed, one shot properly exposed) so I could blend them on my computer later.

It wasn’t just the Maroon Bells that were photo-worthy. The Aspen trees were absolutely stunning, as they were in their full color change!

Fall colors of Colorado

Fall colors of Colorado, Canon EOS-M 35mm

Canon EOS-M, 35mm

Canon EOS-M, 35mm

Canon EOS-M, 35mm

Canon EOS-M, 35mm

Aspen leaves

Aspen leaves, Canon EOS-M, 35mm

After the sunrise, we were back in waiting mode while we waited for the sun to rise a little higher, in order to get a photo of the lake and trees fully illuminated. Unfortunately, as soon as the sun was just starting to illuminate the whole scene, the wind started picking up and ripples started forming in the water, destroying the glass-like qualities of the water from earlier in the morning.

IMG_1092

Sara, me and my tripods still feeling chilly

So at 9:30 AM, the wind wasn’t slowing down and the ripples weren’t going away. We were hungry, tired and faced a long drive back to Arvada, so we decided to pack it in. We headed into downtown Aspen, walked around for a while and had some well-deserved breakfast and coffee at Peach’s Corner Cafe.

I blended three exposures for this one.

I blended three exposures for this one., Canon 5D Mark II, 24-70L

I hope you enjoy the photos! I’m trying to decide which of the 300+ I took is my favorite and how I want to print and display it.

 

I went to Disneyworld!

September 28, 2014 |  by  |  Travel  |  No Comments

I checked off one of my lifelong dreams while I was in Orlando a couple weeks ago: I went to Disneyworld!

So right now you’re probably thinking that I have low standards when it comes to lifelong dreams, but hear me out. Since I grew up in Anaheim, I went to Disneyland semi-regularly as a kid. Once I started junior high school, my parents bought me an Annual Pass, so I went with my friends to Disneyland all the time [man, what a great way to get annoying preteens out of the house in a safe and controlled environment!] And of course, I got my high school/college job at, of course, Disney’s California Adventures! So it’s pretty clear that I have lots of fond memories of Disneyland! Walt Disney’s Magic Kingdom in Orlando was always a far-off, mysterious different-yet-same facsimile of my beloved Disneyland and I desperately wanted to go and see what it was all about. My dad took frequent work trips to Florida and I always asked him to take me with him so I could go to Disneyworld, but my requests were always rebuffed.

So after the trade show I was in Florida for ended, I got some more work done in my hotel room and I had my first real opportunity to go to the Magic Kingdom! I slinked off to Walt Disney’s Magic Kingdom to do a half day in the park. My pass was a trade show special, which allowed me park entry at 4:00 PM. I was so excited that I was in line to get into the park at 4:01 PM.

Park "ticket"

Park “ticket”

The ticket to get in was pretty cool! All of your Fastpasses are stored on the card, so you don’t have to carry around any more Fastpasses in your wallet. I was able to sign up for some Fastpasses in advance too, which was a pretty cool feature.

In front of the iconic entrance of Disneyworld

In front of the iconic entrance of Disneyworld

So far everything looks the same on Main Street USA

So far everything looks the same on Main Street USA

As I walked into the park and heading into Main Street, USA, everything felt very familiar. Sure, some things were slightly off: the streets were much wider, the store fronts were bigger and the layout was slightly different, but it was still very similar!

The entrance to Adventureland

The entrance to Adventureland

I don’t know what I was thinking, but for some reason, I thought I knew where everything in the park was. Let’s explore the lunacy of that idea. I have never been to the park in my life. I took a cursory glance at the park map online before I left for Florida, and before then, I don’t think I’ve ever seen a map of the Magic Kingdom. I got a map of the park when I walked in, but I didn’t give that more than a quick look. My confidence was bolstered when I walked in and everything looked basically the same. But my world came quickly crashing down as I walked into Adventureland; nothing was where it was supposed to be. Attractions were “missing” or in the wrong places. Geographic landmarks were in the wrong place.

Besides being extremely wary a grown man walking aimlessly around a Disney park alone, a stranger would have also noted the shell-shocked expression on my face as I tried to figure out what to do and how I would get there. First on the itinerary was going to my favorite attraction at Disneyland: Big Thunder Mountain Railroad!

My favorite attraction at Disneyland

My favorite attraction at Disneyland

The Florida was close enough to the California version, but just different enough. I liked the queue at the Florida version, but I felt like the California version of the rid told a better story, even if it was slightly shorter. Edge: Disneyland

Something that's not at Disneyland...Liberty Square

Something that’s not at Disneyland…Liberty Square

After BTMRR, I moseyed on over to compare another attraction, the Haunted Mansion. This was located in Liberty Square, since New Orleans Square does not exist in the Magic Kingdom (Florida is too close to New Orleans I guess?) Again, the rides were very very similar but just different enough for me to be able to tell. Edge: Tie

At this point in the game, I was sweating bullets from the humidity. I was extremely uncomfortable and I honestly could’ve called it a day there! But I decided to tough it out since I knew I probably wouldn’t be back any time soon; The Pirates of the Caribbean was close by, so I checked that out next. The Anaheim version has a bayou theme at the beginning of the ride, which the Orlando version lacks. The rides themselves were almost identical though. Edge: Anaheim

I went back over to Adventureland and got on board the Jungle Cruise. I liked the queue and the attraction a little more than I did the Anaheim version! Edge: Magic Kingdom. Next on the list was back to Liberty Square to check out the Hall of Presidents. The air-conditioned show provided a respite from the heat and humidity, but it was also surprisingly cool to watch an abbreviated history of the United States. And much to my surprise, I really liked the animatronic presidents interacting with each other.

Leaving Tomorrowland

Leaving Tomorrowland

After the Hall of Presidents, I decided just to walk around to see the other lands I didn’t get a chance to see yet. The sun setting that day was beautiful! It actually improved my mood considerably, which was soured by the persistent heat and humidity.

The Florida sun setting over the much more impressive castle

The Florida sun setting over the much more impressive castle

Mainstreet USA at dusk

Mainstreet USA at dusk

There's an Emporium at the Magic Kingdom, too!

There’s an Emporium at the Magic Kingdom, too!

They were already ready for fall

They were already ready for fall

As I was leaving the park, I decided to hop on for one last trip around the park on the Walt Disneyworld Railroad.

Striking their fall colors

Striking their fall colors

Main Street USA before I walked left

Main Street USA before I left for good

While I was there, I was constantly Edgar, Kim and Bicky, fellow Disney park enthusiasts. I knew going into this that I would be comparing Anaheim and Orlando the entire time. And at the time, I expressed displeasure at the park! I didn’t like the fact that so many of the attractions that I know and love from Disneyland weren’t at the Magic Kingdom; since there are four parks at the Disneyworld Resort, all of the attractions were spread across all four parks. Subjectively, the humidity made things bad, and the Magic Kingdom just wasn’t what I was used to and it made me uncomfortable. After cooling off in my hotel room and taking a little more time to reflect, I ended up having a favorable opinion of the Magic Kingdom! The fact that the two parks were similar but different is actually kind of cool. Since I’ve been to Disneyland so many times, it was actually cool to explore something new, even if the newness is eerily similar. Kind of like actors and their siblings: bizarro versions of themselves.

So will I be back? Yes! But will I be back any time soon? I’m in no rush..

Rent-a-Chickens: Penny and Scarlett

September 16, 2014 |  by  |  Interests, My House, Pets & Animals  |  2 Comments

I got chickens!

Well…I rented chickens. Yes, it’s a real thing! I saw an article about rent-a-chickens in the newspaper, so I sent an email to inquire about renting my own chickens (cost, level of effort, etc.) Well I got sporadic messages back from the chicken rental folks until I suddenly got an email saying, “When can we drop them off?”

 

The chickens figured out how  to step over the fence...

The chickens figured out how to step over the fence…

After I signed a check for $200, they showed up with a couple chickens, a coop, food and bedding. Sara and I promptly named the hens, ‘Penny Henny the Buff Orpington’ and ‘Scarlett the New Hampshire Red.’ For the price tag, this obviously isn’t a fiscally motivated move to try to save money on eggs. Hell, it doesn’t even make sense to rent chickens for more than one season, unless you REALLY don’t want to take care of chickens in the winter, which is one of the things that the chicken rental folks hang their hats on.

“Now what?”

I had no idea what to do once we had the chickens besides name them. Sara wasn’t much help, despite the fact that her dad has chickens of his own. But luckily, these chickens are pretty low maintenance. And they came with instructions. Feed and water them in the morning and let them out to scratch around the yard. Collect eggs in the afternoon/evening and then let them back in at dusk. Don’t give them onions or avocados. Clean their poop. Bingo.

The chicken coop

The chicken coop

The birds quickly established their own pecking order…Scarlett is at the top, so she eats first and drinks first. Aside: isn’t it funny how many phrases and idioms come from chickens? Pecking order, cooped up, flew the coop, rule the roost, like a chicken with its head cut off (*gulp*), cock sure, fussing like an old hen.

The pet that gives back...eggs AND poop. Lots of poop.

The pet that gives back…eggs AND poop. Lots of poop.

We’ve been collecting one or two eggs every day, so production has been good. The only time we had poor production was when Penny started brooding. Even though there’s no rooster around to fertilize, Penny decided that she was going to hatch one of those eggs in the coop. After doing exhaustive research online on how to “break” a chicken from brooding, I had to pick her up and not allow her back into the coop. Even though these hens were hand raised and not afraid of people, I still didn’t want to pick her up. She growled at me. The darn chicken growled!!

Luckily the problem seems to have fixed itself when we went to California for a long weekend. We got back and Penny was back to her usual self!

"What are you doing with that?! Do you know how long it took me to pop that thing out?"

“What are you doing with that?! Do you know how long it took me to pop that thing out?”

Other than the brooding issue, I’ve had a very positive experience with these chickens! I throw my fruit and vegetable scraps out there for them every day (they LOVE corn cobs and fruit) as treats. I’ve been saving some of their poop to compost, but I have no idea where to start with that.

Scarlett

Scarlett the New Hampshire Red

Penny Henny

Penny Henny the Buff Orpington

Admittedly, I’ve grown attached to these birds. I’ll be a little sad once they leave in a month or so to go back to the farm. I’ll also miss the freshest eggs ever! I have the option of renting the same hens next year, but I’ll probably just buy my own coop and hens. It just doesn’t make sense to spend $400 for six or seven months of hens. Even though it’ll be a pain in the ass to take care of them in the winter, I don’t think it’ll be that big of a deal. And if it is, we could always have some really really fresh chicken…

Volunteering the 2014 Boulder Ironman

September 15, 2014 |  by  |  Triathlon  |  No Comments

On August 3, I had the pleasure of volunteering at the Boulder Ironman. I volunteered for the third shift, the last shift of the day. I wanted to do the last shift for two reasons: 1) I wanted to be on the run course when the age-groupers were running and 2) Selfishly, I didn’t want to roast in the hot sun all day during shifts one and two.

I reported to my shift a little early and arrived to a scene of controlled chaos. Volunteers were handing out water, ice, cold sponges, sports drink, gels, bars, broth, cola, orange slices and cookies. Anything to alleviate their pain. After finding my volunteer captain, I was assigned to pass out water at the first table that runners would see.

Our aid station was at miles 12 and 23, if my memory serves me correctly; but to be honest, none of the volunteers quite knew where we really were. So I got to see people so close to finishing after swimming 2.4 miles, biking 112 miles and running 23 miles with just 3 miles to go.

I earned the right to wear an Ironman tshirt...by way of volunteering!

I earned the right to wear an Ironman tshirt…by way of volunteering!

photo 2 (1) photo 3 (1) photo 4 (1)

By the time I got to the race, the pros were long done, so it was just age groupers left on the course. As you can see in my pictures I snapped, there were very few people actually running by this point…most were in a slow walk/shuffle-run. I don’t say that to take anything away from them, because they had given everything in their race. They baked under the relentless Boulder sun and they were “just” a few miles away from an unbelievable physical accomplishment. So it was truly an honor for me to give them water and provide words of encouragement that I hoped would give them a slight morale boost.

Some of the triathletes were in truly good spirits when they came by. They laughed and joked around with us as they went by. Others were emotional disasters; they would start crying at the drop of a dime to anything we said. And finally, there were the ones that resounded with me the most; the ones who were terrified about being swept up because they weren’t making the time limit. I could not imagine the anguish of going through a year of training, suffering all day on course and then being swept up just a few miles away from the finish line. Of course, I did see the people who just had enough and quit, but I think everybody who made it through our aid station made it to the finish and didn’t get swept up.

It was truly a humbling experience for me as well. I think when most people think of Ironman athletes, they think of lean, super fit machines. But I saw athletes of every different age, race, ethnicity, shape, size and even some missing limbs suffering on the course who earned the right to call themselves Ironman. So even though that doing an Ironman requires physical stamina, it also requires the mental fortitude to push aside pain and finish.

Bringing this back to myself (hey it’s my blog after all), I completed the Ironman Boulder 70.3 (still a blog draft, haha!) almost a year to the day of the full Ironman. I did exactly half the distance of these athletes and I literally limped to the finish. So while I think I can imagine the mental pain and suffering that these guys and girls went through, I’m pretty sure that it’s just incomprehensible.

Volunteering gave me the opportunity to get priority registration for the 2015 Ironman but I didn’t take them up on that offer. I’d give myself a 50% chance of ever doing a 70.3 race again and a 5% chance of doing a full Ironman. As the months tick by, the pain of the 70.3 disappears from my memory and the percentages get higher and higher. But if I ever were to do a full Ironman, it’d probably be years or decades from now, when I’d have more financial flexibility to invest in better equipment (hello tri bike!) and more importantly, more time to devote to training.

Tales from Orlando: Humidity is Brutal

September 14, 2014 |  by  |  Running, Travel  |  No Comments

I was in Orlando this past week for a trade conference for work. The Walt Disney Swan & Dolphin Resort boasted some running trails, and since I was six weeks out from my marathon, I brought my running shoes with me.

Now sometimes I get this crazy notion in my head that just because I live in a city at mile-high elevation (well technically Arvada is ABOVE the mile high line at 5,344′), that I’m a real badass. In fact, because I run all four seasons here in Colorado, I think I’m even more of a badass. But you know, I know and we all know that there is nothing further from the truth than me being a badass. But sometimes I do need a good butt-kicking to remember that no, I am not a badass. And was my butt ever kicked.

Tuesday morning, I woke up at 6 AM (4 AM Mountain Time), ate a banana and headed out the door of the hotel to run six miles. I kid you not, after less than five minutes of running, my shirt was soaked completely through from sweat. As a result of my perceived badassery, I chose not to bring a water bottle with me on the run and after a couple miles, I was dying.

Tower of Terror at Hollywood Studios

Tower of Terror at Hollywood Studios

Dying or not, I needed to get at least six miles in on Tuesday. Thanks to the awesome sights to see at the Resort, I was able to leg out most of the run. I ran along Disney’s Boardwalk (which I had never heard of before running on it) to the entrance of Epcot, back along the Boardwalk to the entrance of Disney’s Hollywood Studios, back to the Boardwalk and then back to the hotel for a couple more loops.

Entrance to Hollywood Studios

Entrance to Hollywood Studios

Somewhere on the Boardwalk

Dying somewhere on the Boardwalk

Six miles didn’t happen that day. I had to call it quits at mile five because 1) I was dead tired 2)My shirt doubled in weight from sweat and I felt disgusting and 3) I was dead tired. But I did get a good lay of the land running that morning, as well as catching the tail end a great sunrise.

I ran after the trade show ended on Wednesday as well, hoping to get in four miles (but realistically being happy with three since my legs were shot from standing all day.) Instead of a sunrise run, I got a beautiful sunset run instead. I basically ran the same route, from the hotel to Epcot to Hollywood Studios back to the hotel.

Sunset on the Boardwalk

Sunset on the Boardwalk

Somewhere near the boardwalk

Somewhere near the boardwalk

Please note the lack of hat or visor in both of my selfies above. That was because I was trying to save room in my carry-on. That was also a critical mistake, because sweat got in my eyes and stung them like crazy.

I’m happy to be back running in dry Colorado weather again. This served a reminder to never sign up for a race in Florida in September.

Race Recap: Area 13.1 Half-Marathon

September 7, 2014 |  by  |  Running  |  No Comments

The Area 13.1 race bills itself as an “escape from alien invaders”, but I’d describe it as a race with some inflatable aliens at the start/finish line on a beautiful dusk/night course. There were no “aliens” along the race course (or people, but more on that later) and I don’t think anybody took the race organizers up on their $250 contest for best alien stations along the course.

With the Denver Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon coming up in ~6 weeks, I approached this race as a training run and didn’t have any finish times in mind.

Pre-Race

This was my second evening race, the first being the Boulder Sunset Triathlon a couple years ago. Since this was only my second, I had no idea how to fuel for this race! So I stuck to a turkey pasta dinner the night before the race and kept feeding on carbohydrates and sipping water throughout race day. About an hour before the race, I had another bottle of water and a Bonk Bar.

The Race

An inflatable alien and me. I dressed in neons to the nine.

An inflatable alien and me. I dressed in neons to the nine.

The race started promptly at 6:30 PM at the Douglas County Fairgrounds in Castle Rock, Colorado. The half marathon had an extremely small field (204 runners) so there was no wave start. During the two miles of the race, I was not running my own race. Since the race was on a paved trail, there wasn’t much space between runners; this forced me to go out the gates a little too fast as I tried passing runners to create some room for myself. At mile 1.5 (the 5K turnaround), I saw a water station but opted to skip it. This would later bite me in the ass.

At mile three, I settled in a good rhythm and looking at my watch, I thought I could be in striking distance of a sub-2 half-marathon. I also started thinking about nutrition. I brought my own Gu gels but I didn’t bring my own hydration, so I was dependent on the course for water. My plan was to take nutrition at 4.5 miles and 9 miles, but I was at the mercy of the course’s water stations. As the miles ticked by, I was at mile six and there was still no water. At this point, I was worried because I knew that if there was only water at the 6.5 mile turnaround (if there was water at all!), I wouldn’t get water again until mile 11.5.

The course was a lot hillier than I anticipated…mostly since there was no course map available for me to look at. There were a number of steady climbs and drops, but since I do a big hill every time I go to/from the Ralston Creek Trail, the hills didn’t phase me too much. The course itself was beautiful…it ran on the East Plum Creek trail and had grand views of Castle Rock and the wildlands around it. I even saw four deer along the way!

The turnaround was at the top of yet another steady climb, and I immediately slowed to a walk so I could take Gu and drink some water. I ended up have two small Dixie cups of water and my Gu. I wouldn’t have minded having a little more water, but at that point, I was thrilled to have any water at all. After the water stop, I felt reinvigorated. I was closer to the front of the pack than the back of the pack, so I saw lots of runners coming the other way…psychologically, that’s a big boost. On the way back, I passed quite a few runners and was only passed once.

photo 4

Coming down the chute in sight of the finish line

 

I was feeling great and I was just on pace to squeak by another sub-2 half marathon. And then mile 10.5 happened. My pace, the hills and lack of steady hydration and nutrition caught up to me and it felt like I hit a wall. My pace dropped 30″/mile then 45″/mile slower and it took all my mental fortitude not to take a walk break. During this slow down, I was passed by the only runner who would pass me the entire way back. I knew I just had to make it another mile to get to some water, but one mile seemed so far. But then like an angel from heaven (who, some purport are simply aliens), a race volunteer was riding by on his bike handing out water bottles. I greedily grabbed a water bottle, sucked down my Gu, drank some water and trudged on towards the finish. I knew I had Sara waiting for me at the finish line, so that was another psychological boost for me to hustle.

My coveted alien head medal.

My coveted alien head medal.

My official finish was 2 hours 3 minutes 47 seconds, which was 4 minutes off my PR at the Surf City Half Marathon this year. But it edged my second fastest race by 7 seconds, the 2011 Boulder Spring Half Marathon. Given the hills and lack of water on the course, I was pleased with my results. My pace was 9’27”, which was definitely not a negative split. I finished 53rd out of 204 overall and 8th out of 23 in my age group.

I think I would do this race again next year. The medal and tshirt are cool and since I registered early, it wasn’t a very expensive race. I was definitely disappointed in the lack of on-course nutrition…I would’ve been okay with it if they explicitly said that there would be extremely limited support so I could plan on bringing my own water bottle. And I wouldn’t mind a little more actual alien themed stuff along the course and at the expo, since well, it’s an alien themed race. But overall, I was happy with the race and happy with my time.

 

Race Recap: Tri Rock Colorado 2014

September 3, 2014 |  by  |  Triathlon  |  No Comments

Long time no blog! I’ve been spending a lot of time working on my wedding website so I’ve been out of commission on this site. But here I am, slowly catching up! I’m about six weeks late on this one.

I was supposed to go out to Lawrence, KS for the Kansas 5150 Olympic distance triathlon, which I registered for way back in January. The plan was for my parents to fly out to Colorado and then drive out to Kansas with Sara and me, so they could tell me about their lives back when they lived in Kansas. But plans changed as my mom had an unexpected surgery (she’s fine now), which precluded her from flying out here. Appropriately, my dad cancelled his trip as well to stay close to home to take care of my mom.  So the new plan was for Sara to go with me to Kansas, but our return schedules didn’t line up since she needed to spend an extra day with her grandparents in Harper, KS. So I waffled on making the 8+ hour drive to/from Kansas alone up until the Friday before race day, when I went to Runners Roost in Denver and paid for the sprint distance Tri Rock Colorado triathlon.

This is the shortest triathlon I’ve done. Even though this was billed as a sprint distance tri, the distances were really short! The swim was 500 meters, the bike course was 12 miles and the run was 3.1 miles (5K.)

Swim

Sorry for stealing your image, MarathonFoto

Sorry for stealing your image, MarathonFoto

The swim was at the Aurora Reservoir in Aurora, CO. I got to the reservoir with just enough time to set up my transition area before I had to head down to the swim start. I watched the Olympic distance athletes start and then had some time to kill before my race started. I squeezed into my wetsuit (this is probably my last season wearing that wetsuit) and warmed up as I waited.

I was one of the last waves to start, which led to a congested swim course. I had to slow down a lot in the beginning because I kept running into other swimmers, which really took me out of my cadence. I only did one open water swim this year before the race, so although I felt confident swimming open water, I wasn’t super comfortable. Hopefully that makes sense.

I ended up coming out of the water at 14:53, pretty slow.

T1

My T1 was uneventful compared to my tri club team member Bob, who had a bike chain issue!

Bike Course

Sorry again, MarathonFoto

Sorry again, MarathonFoto

I headed out of T1 at a high cadence, determined to get a good start. Cycling is traditionally my weakest discipline of the three sports, so I wanted to make sure I was conserving enough energy at the beginning to tackle the rolling hills of the course.

I took some water on the bike, but I didn’t take any nutrition otherwise. Despite my best efforts to tackle the hills, I ended up averaging 15 MPH on the course, criminally slow for such low mileage.

T2

Nothing about my T2. I think I took a caffeinated Gu while I ran out of transition, but I can’t remember…see what happens when I wait six weeks to blog about something?

Run

Sorry I'm not sorry.

Sorry I’m not sorry.

The heat and humidity were definitely both factors by the time the run course started for me. I am lucky that I spent the previous few months building up a good running base otherwise this 5K would’ve really beat me up. I spent the first half mile getting my heart rate back down and after that, I was in good shape (considering the heat.) I did run a negative split on the course, finishing with a 9’11 clock pace (my GPS watched tagged me at 8’58” so let’s split the difference.)

 

After the race, I headed to the beer garden to kill some time before I went to go watch for Bob to finish the race. Since my race was basically 1/3 of the distance of his (sans the run), I had lots of time to kill. I was the second one in the beer garden (I think it was 9 AM?) so I nursed both of my beers before I grabbed a quick bite while I waited for Bob to finish. This was his first Olympic distance triathlon, and despite his bike issue, he still killed the course.

Bob and I showing off the bling

Bob and I showing off the bling

So sitting here six weeks later with a retrospective, critical point-of-view, I am definitely not happy with my my swim and bike times. However, I do think I was performing to the best of my ability at the time. So that means any self-directed criticism really should be directed at me before the race for not having trained harder!

This was my only triathlon of the season, as I transitioned into marathon training after this race, in anticipation of the 2014 Denver Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon. Next year I hope to have a couple triathlons (one Olympic, one sprint) on the calendar, but with the wedding date set for June, I am afraid I won’t have the time to dedicate to training.

Today’s Daily Dose of Idiocy: 6 “Californias”

July 15, 2014 |  by  |  California  |  No Comments

Some Silicon Valley dummy wants to divide the state of California up into six separate states.

One of the things that bugs me is that this Silicon Valley tech investor basically divided up the richest parts of Northern California (Silicon Valley, San Jose, the entire Monterey Bay, San Francisco, Oakland) and then randomly drew lines on a map to divide up the rest of the states.

Why is Orange County lumped in with Imperial County, San Bernadino and San Diego? Why is Santa Barbara part of the state with Los Angeles? Besides the fact that some of these counties touch each other on a map, there is no other obvious relationship.

IDIOCY IDIOCY IDIOCY IDIOCY

IDIOCY IDIOCY IDIOCY IDIOCY

The part that bothers me the most is that they actually got enough signatures to put this on the ballot and that people are wasting state resources on this.

Colorado Corporate Challenge 10k Recap

July 9, 2014 |  by  |  Running  |  1 Comment

This race came out of nowhere; a couple weeks ago (a week before the race), a couple coworkers and I saw this race listed in an email somewhere and on a whim, decided to sign up for the race. The race was the “Colorado Corporate Challenge”, part of the Heart & Sole Half-Marathon/10k race. Teams of 3 or more runners compete to be the fastest in Colorado (but really, probably “just” the fastest in the Boulder area.)  One of my coworkers is really fast (former University of Northern Colorado collegiate runner) while my coworker and I are both average runners, so we were just doing it for fun rather than trying to realistically win anything.

Pre-Race

Based on my BolderBoulder race day experiences, I was expecting Pearl St. in Boulder to be jam packed and full of people. I was pleased to find that the streets were mostly empty and there was ample parking everywhere…probably because this race is 1/50 the size of the BolderBoulder. That’s a good thing! Mega races are fun sometimes because of all the energy from the crowd/runners are fun, but smaller races like this are just so much less stressful.

Since there was a half-marathon option for the day, there was a good spread of vendors as well as nutrition and water stations in the expo area before the race. My only major complaint about the race was the fact that the lines for the port-a-potty were long and not well managed; I was just able to use the port-a-potty before the race started, so I didn’t get a warm-up run in nor was I able to take my last few sips of water before the race started.

The Race

COcorporatechallengemap

I didn’t have much pre-race nutrition beyond a few Jelly Belly SportBeans. And since I was rushed, I didn’t get to drink any last minute water before the race started. The course started on an incline over the first mile and a half, and coupled with the morning heat and humidity, I wasn’t feeling great. Right at about the 1.5 mile marker, the steady 2-mile decline started. At about 2 miles into the race, I saw my boss running with his wife (they were doing the 2-lap half marathon), so I tagged along with them for about a mile or so, which helped me take my mind off the race. The next 1.5 miles were uphill again, so my pace tailed off again, but I was able to finish the race strong.

COcorporatechallenge-pic

Sorry for stealing your picture, SkiPix.com, but this was too good to pass up.

During the last half-mile or so of the race, I caught up to someone training for the Boulder Ironman and talked to him for a little bit. He ran four miles before the half-marathon and planned on running another seven miles afterwards. What an animal! I almost felt embarrassed to tell him that I was/am considering dropping down to the Spring-distance for my next triathlon.

My chip time was 55:26, two and a half minutes slower than my BolderBoulder PR. That put me at a ~8’55” pace, which I was still happy with (in my world, anything under a 9-minute mile is a good pace!) No negative split this race and my pacing was all over the place, but oh well!

Post-Race

Me post-race

Me post-race in my short shorts glory.

A view of the finish line

A view of the finish line

Team Coalfire finished 7 out of 15 teams, but considering our 1st place “competitors” averaged 48:00 finish times, I’m not complaining. After cooling down, the team and I caught the half-marathon finishers from the rooftop of the Lazy Dog while drinking a “refreshing” Avery IPA and then we headed our separate ways.

BolderBoulder 2014 Recap

June 23, 2014 |  by  |  Running  |  No Comments

(This one is almost a month old, sorry!)

To cap off the best weekend ever (Sara saying yes!), I ran the BolderBoulder 10K on Memorial Day.

Pre-Race

pre-race

My past experience running the BolderBoulder made me cognizant of the terrible traffic and parking conditions in Boulder on race day. I decided to take advantage of the bevvy of public transportation options and took the RTD from Broomfield with Sara.

We timed it so we got there about an hour before my wave (Wave E) left, which was the perfect amount of time for me. I was able to take a couple port-a-potty breaks, drink some water, do some dynamic stretching and take a little pre-race nutrition (Jelly Belly Sport Beans) without feeling rushed at all.

It was a little windy before the race started, but not uncomfortable enough to make me wish I had brought a jacket.

The Race

For a race that supports 55,000 participants, the BolderBoulder was extraordinarily well-run! The majority of the races I participate in seem to always have delays, but every single BolderBoulder wave left at the exact second they were scheduled for. I ran with the E wave, for runners expecting to finish in 53:36 – 54:15 (8:37/mile – 8:43/mile), which I qualified for with my Surf City Half Marathon time.

I kicked off my race exactly at 7:15:30 AM. Out the gates, I felt like I was going way too fast. I didn’t do any warmup running before the race, so my legs felt tight the first 15 minutes. I got swept up in the euphoria of the cheering crowds and kept up the speed of the wave. I ignored my GPS watch for the most part the first couple of miles, but I knew I was running too fast and needed to slow down.

After my first couple of miles, my legs loosened up and I was feeling great. I decided not to slow down and just go for it until I really had to. I started looking down at my watch at around mile 4 and I realized that I could finish under 54 minutes if I kept up my pace.

I charged the last hill on the approach to Folsom Field (all that hilly Arvada running is paying off!) and played the “glance frequently at your GPS watch but don’t trip” game on my stretch to the finish. After I crossed the finish line, I checked my watch and I PRed! My old PR was also at the 2011 Fans on the Field 10K, with a time of 56:17. My previous course record (and only other time participating) is 56:49 at the 2012 BolderBoulder. Glad all my extra running is paying off!

Nutrition

When I train for longer distance races, I normally don’t take any nutrition (water, gels, etc.) for runs of 7 miles or less, so I didn’t prepare for any in-race nutrition. Pre-race, I chomped on some caffeinated Jelly Belly SportBeanz to get some caffeine into my system and sipped on some water.

During the race, I ended up taking water at miles 3 and 5. It was a sunny morning and I was sweating a lot more than I expected. This probably slowed me down 15 seconds total since I still haven’t mastered the art of sucking down water while running, but luckily that wasn’t the difference between 52:00 and 53:00.

Results

Chip time: 52:58:00 (PR)

116 out of 439 in my division
4405 out of 21032 in my gender

I finished with a negative split again this race.  This probably had more to do with the fact that the first half of the race was mostly uphill than any particular training attributes.

Mile 1: 8:34
Mile 2: 8:27
Mile 3: 8:55
Mile 4: 8:34
Mile 5: 8:24
Mile 6: 8:20

bb10k2014paceelevation