April 6, 2018

Weekend Recap: Solo Ski Getaway

Last weekend was pretty spectacular, and it helped me start this week feeling refreshed… and hopeful about a new direction I’m planning to take going forward.

Work has been pretty intense lately, and while I’ve fit in time for fun on weekends, there hasn’t been a single day in the last month that I haven’t had to do a few hours of work to keep things afloat. I know that I have workaholic tendencies, but when I discussed my weekend work with a trusted coworker and asked him if I reasonably could have let the work go till Monday, he agreed with me: “No, no you couldn’t.” However, one of my projects is wrapping up soon, so I’m hopeful there is a light at the end of the tunnel and I’ll soon be able to get back to a better work life balance. And last weekend, I was able to take Sunday completely off work – responding to a few emails on my phone, but otherwise not even opening my computer. It was glorious!

I kicked off the weekend with a Passover Seder dinner at my friend Sarah’s house. Sarah and I met in a trail running group last spring, and we clicked pretty quickly, but both of us were a bit hesitant to become friends given how far apart we live from each other. (Sarah lives about 25 minutes south of Denver, and I live 20 minutes north of Denver – not easy for either of us to get to the other!) But as we tentatively still met up for a few things, we discovered how much we have in common – and one of those commonalities is our love for entertaining at home. I had never been to a Passover Seder before and always wanted to experience one, so I was especially excited to see the fantastic meal I knew Sarah would put together.

My contribution to the meal: this apple kugel. Funny story is that I picked out a different kugel recipe to make and sent it to Sarah for approval; she said no go and sent me this recipe instead. To some that may sound picky, but I love that Sarah is just as picky as I am about entertaining, and I’m glad we’re close enough that she can tell me what she wants rather than having to sugar coat it 😉

Sarah’s Seder wasn’t completely traditional, but it was delicious, and the company was all fantastic. I brought the aforementioned apple kugel for one of our desserts (Sarah also made an incredibly decadent and delicious carrot cake: this recipe from Sally’s Baking Addiction), our friend Kelli made latkes (not traditional for Passover but we didn’t care because they were fantastic), and Sarah’s husband Brian spent all day cooking a melt-in-your-mouth brisket. Combined with haroset and a cheese platter (told you it wasn’t totally traditional), I absolutely stuffed myself on all the delicacies, and left with a bit of a stomachache as a result. Oops!

I definitely went back for seconds on the latkes.

But Saturday, I didn’t have plans to see many people, and so was able to get back on track. After some work in the morning (including a surprise work call that woke me up at 7am), I headed to Denver for a volunteering commitment, and then was back home to sneak in a few chores and a quick trail run.

The views from my neighborhood trail make me SO happy. I’m psyched to get back to running now that spring is here!
Speaking of spring… I inadvertently snapped a pic (oops, fat fingers) of my new running tights. These were only $9 at Old Navy, and the flowery print makes me happy!

After the run and a shower, it was off to Easter services at my church before getting back to work. I was trying to get as much done as possible Saturday so that I could take Sunday completely off – and I ended up being successful in that. My last task of the night Saturday was packing not just one but two suitcases: lounge and ski wear for a night in Beaver Creek, and a completely opposite bag of warm weather business clothes for my week in Florida. I had booked a one night getaway for myself at The Pines in Beaver Creek, and was planning to ski all day Sunday, relax by myself all night with no set plan, and then ski a bit more Monday before driving back to town and heading straight to the airport. This ended up being one of the best “vacations” I’ve ever had!

I was a little worried about the drive to the mountains, since it was snowing Saturday night into Sunday. But the snow ended up tapering off by 7am, so only half my drive was in light snow, and the skies were clear by the time I got to Vail Pass. I still took it easy driving, and ended up getting to Beaver Creek around 9am – a little later than I had hoped, but not bad. I dropped my stuff off at The Pines and hopped on the shuttle to the base. I was a little disappointed to have to take the shuttle rather than use the ski-in ski-out trail (which was closed), but I suppose that’s why I was able to get such an inexpensive rate ($129) at such a luxury property 😉

While I usually have a gameplan for how long I’m going to ski and what I’m going to do after, this time, I went into the day with no agenda. Ski as long as I felt like it, then maybe head to check out the apres scene in town, or hit the hot tub, or read a book in my room. The snow in the morning was great, though, and I found myself doing run after run down Larkspur Bowl for a while, and then President Ford’s. I knew that the warm weather was going to bring slush in the afternoon, so I wanted to get as much skiing in as possible before that happened.

I did have one goal for the day: I was hoping to ski at least 25,000 feet, which would be my biggest ski day every clocked through the Vail Resorts Epic Mix app. But I ended up skiing 10,000 feet in my first hour alone, and 25,000 feet by noon. I could have called it quits then, but I was having a blast and didn’t want to stop – so I decided to see just how much I could ski before my legs gave out. By 1:30pm, I had skied 36,000 feet – more than double what I’ve ever skied in a day before.

I also ventured up to the lift on Grouse Mountain – an area that only has steep black diamond runs, where I’ve usually been scared to go unless I’m with someone else reassuring me that the terrain is good that day. I ended up loving the single blacks on the left side of the mountain, and feeling fantastic as I cruised down listening to music. I had been changing playlists with each area of the mountain (yes, I am a creature of habit, and my tendency is to ski one chair / area for a while before moving onto the next), and was thoroughly enjoying the Rascal Flatts country music I was listening to on Grouse. Rascal Flatts got me through so many marathons back in the day, and it felt great to be listening to those familiar songs as I took on a new challenge.

These views!! I loved it up here and can’t wait to get back on my next BC trip.

I guess I had one other goal for the day as well: I wanted to be at the base of Beaver Creek at 3pm, when the chefs come outside to pass out chocolate chip cookies fresh out of the oven. When I went into the day, I doubted I’d still be skiing at 3pm, and assumed I’d walk over from a bar or something… but instead, I was making it a point to ski down, grab my cookie, and head right back up Centennial Lift after. This was the only food break I took all day, but it was delicious and well worth it!

Why is Beaver Creek my favorite mountain? This is why.

With one hour to go, I set my sights high: I wanted to cross 50,000 feet. With each lift I took, I planned my route down and started calculating just how much I could ski before the lifts closed at 4pm. I ended up getting on my last lift at 3:58pm – just in time! And my total for the day ended up being 53,378 feet – an unbelievable total that’s nearly triple what I’ve ever skied in a day before. My legs were definitely tired… but it was worth it.

My friend Heather and her husband Kirk recently bought a second home in Edwards (the next town over), and they were in Beaver Creek as well, so we met up in town and then they came over to my hotel for drinks and some hot tub time. This is one of my favorite parts of staying up in the mountains, and I was thrilled to have a few friends to join me for it! Heather and Kirk were incredibly generous in inviting me to come stay with them anytime, and also sold me pretty hard on the virtues of Eagle County. My townhome in New York is still under reconstruction after the devastating water damage in January, but once it sells, I’m planning to get a place in the mountains – I’m just totally undecided right now whether I want to make Breckenridge or Vail/Beaver Creek my home base.

When Heather and Kirk headed home for dinner, I stayed in the hot tub with a new glass of wine, and got to chatting with some of the other guests. It was so relaxing to just sit in a hot tub with wine and no agenda at all – that’s not my usual MO! And since I hadn’t eaten all day other than that chocolate chip cookie on the mountain, the wine made me extra relaxed and carefree 🙂

Photo of the pool rather than the hot tub, because I was too content in the hot tub to get up and take a pic of the spot I was actually sitting 😉

After another hour or so, I was about done with the hot tub, so headed up to my room to shower and get ready for dinner (somewhere – didn’t know where). But after a long and luxurious shower in the beautiful spa-like bathroom, I didn’t feel like going anywhere – so ended up curling up in bed with a protein bar rather than going out to dinner. Hey – it’s my vacation, I can do what I want!

I probably fell asleep around 9pm, and woke up just before 6am to no alarm… glorious! I lazily caught up on the news in bed for a little while, and then since I had a few hours before the lifts would open, I headed down to the gym for a quick workout. I didn’t want to wear out my already-tired legs, but I thought it would be great to get my heart pumping a bit, so I ended up doing 15 minutes each on the elliptical and treadmill. Running at 8,000 feet is no joke, and I opted for run-walk intervals at an easy 7:00 pace on the run. Good enough!

I rushed to get ready, then caught the shuttle back to Beaver Creek Village. I was hoping to get a breakfast burrito before hitting the slopes, but didn’t have a ton of time so ended up settling for a spinach feta wrap at Starbucks instead. I used to love these, and it had been a while since I had eaten one – yum! And it was made even more delicious by enjoying it while sitting on a sunny patio 10 feet from the lift line, which also meant that I was able to catch literally the second chair up the mountain. YAY!

Look at that beautiful corduroy! I got to make first tracks on several trails and it was just so peaceful and relaxing and amazing.

Since I was only taking the morning off work, I had to ski hard and fast – but bolstered by the confidence of how well I had done the day before, I set an aggressive goal of 30,000 feet for the day. Once again, I headed to different areas of the mountain and kept doing the same runs repeatedly – 8,000 feet on Centennial, 8,000 feet on Larkspur, 8,000 feet on President Ford’s, and then a mix of Larkspur, Grouse, and Centennial to close out the day. I was pushing it to get the last few thousand feet in before I had to leave, but I managed to just squeak in over my goal at 30,659. Wow! That meant in two days, I had skied 84,037 feet. For comparison, in all of the 2016-2017 season, I skied 84,871 feet.

This weekend made me so happy – to get a break from work, to ski harder/stronger than I ever have before, and to have some time to myself without any outside expectations of what I should be doing. I absolutely love my home, but when I take time off and stay home, I feel guilted by the many things I should be doing (seeing friends, running errands, cleaning). I realized that actually getting away from “real life” gives me such a different break, and that perhaps I need to start booking these one-night getaways for myself rather than just trying to relax at home.

It’s been a long time since I’ve taken a real vacation, which I always justify by saying that I’m lucky enough to live in two places where other people typically vacation (Florida and Colorado). But I’m realizing that just being there isn’t enough; the vacation mentality that’s so rejuvenating isn’t just about a physical location, but how I approach the time that I’m there. In over a year of traveling to Florida, I have yet to set foot on a beach (and have only glimpsed the ocean once, despite my office being less than a mile from the shoreline). As much as I love Colorado and am always spending my time in Florida wishing I were home, I’d like to pick a weekend soon to stay in Florida for a mini-vacation where I can enjoy the beaches and get my mind to take a break from all the every day stressors.

So, new goal: mini-getaway at least once a month going forward. With how much I travel for work, I don’t want to be away from home any more than I have to be, but this weekend showed me that just one solo night in a hotel (not for business) can be a gamechanger to my mindset. This week has been so much less stressful than previous weeks, even with some of the biggest roadblocks ever thrown my way, and I definitely attribute that to the R&R I got last weekend.

And coming up this weekend: not to sound spoiled, but I’m doing another night in the mountains. My brother Erik is coming to visit, and one of his friends got us a great deal ($85!) on a hotel in Breckenridge, so we’re going to stay there Saturday night to ski tomorrow and Sunday. I’m really excited to hang out with my brother, ski, and hopefully enjoy two full days off work. We’ll see how that goes!


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