August 1, 2018

Weekend Recap: Longest Trail Run and Sweet Rewards

This weekend was another good mix of getting to see people and getting things done… though of course I always wish there were more time in the day!

My weekend kicked off with a happy hour on Friday at the Terminal Bar at Union Station. One of my colleagues is moving from Denver to Phoenix. While the people I work with live all over the place and we never even know where each other live half the time, Kate is someone I’ve never worked with but who is in the Denver office women’s book club that I run – so by her moving offices, I won’t really engage with her anymore 🙁 I’m bummed, but was happy I at least got to see her to say farewell!

I headed home around 7pm from happy hour, and had a nice quiet night cooking and getting to bed by 9pm. It was a good thing I didn’t go to bed any later, because at midnight, I unexpectedly woke up – and then could not for the life of me get back to sleep. I ended up finishing the novel I was reading (The French Girl) and getting about halfway through another novel (Ever After). More on those to come when I do my July book recap later this week! I finally was able to go back to sleep at 5am, and managed to sleep super late until 8am – which ruined my morning workout, but at least meant that I had gotten six hours of sleep and wasn’t a complete disaster.

Although I didn’t feel up for a long run / hike like I usually do on weekend mornings, I also knew I’d feel like a sloth if I didn’t do something, so I headed down to the basement and did a really quick twenty minute workout video – Jillian Michaels’ Kickbox Fast Fix. It felt good to get my heart rate up and do a little bit of upper body weights, and I woke up the next day with really sore lats / traps! I know soreness isn’t a sign of a good workout, but it still makes me feel like I worked hard 🙂

After a shower, I headed out to meet my friend Elizabeth at Mod Market for lunch. I had never been to Mod Market before, but I got a salmon curry bowl that was delicious!

A few people on Instagram asked for this recipe. Oops, I didn’t make it 🙁

We ended up hanging out for a while, and then I dashed home fast to walk down the street and meet up with my neighbor Chris for some catch up time with her. It turned out to be more than just Chris, though – her husband had to catch up on work, so we were in charge of keeping their twin first-graders entertained. I had a blast playing dominos, matchbox cars, Candy Land, and Battleship with them, while indulging in side conversations with Chris to catch up. If I thought I hung out with Elizabeth for a while, I way overstayed my welcome with Chris, sticking around for three whole hours! I was having so much fun that I totally lost track of time… I might need to just set up a playdate with the boys next time 🙂

After walking home, I settled in for a bit of work / email catch up, but didn’t get quite as far as I liked before my last plan of the day – a night out in Louisville with my friend Heather! She picked me up and we headed to Twelve Degrees, my favorite brewery in Colorado. They have delicious Belgian-style beers, plus awesome thin crust pizza. And, even though it’s summer, they had their spring seasonal pizza that I love, with asparagus and lemon zest! Heather and I had a blast sipping beers and munching on pizza, and it was a really relaxing and fun night out 🙂

The perfect pre-run meal. Tons of veggies, plus all the carbs.

Of course, after pizza and beer and not much of a workout… I woke up Sunday morning itching to run. I slept as late as I could (6:15am), and then quickly threw some gym clothes on and headed over to Flatirons Vista trailhead to get going.

Flatirons Vista was my favorite trailhead when I first started trail running, because there’s a nice 3.6 mile loop that has a bit of elevation gain throughout, but no major hills. But last summer, I bumped into my friend Karlin on the trail, and she told me she had taken a left off the loop and cut through to Doudy Draw Trailhead, where I had never run. Ever since then, I’ve eyed the turnoff, but not been brave enough to try it. Finally, I hazarded a try at it on Tuesday before work, and I loved it! A very challenging hill on the return up to Flatirons Vista, but the views were stunning and more than made up for it. On that run Tuesday, my friend Amanda commented on my Strava post and told me that I really ought to try the Spring Brook Loop right next to where I was. So this Sunday, with a long run in my mind, I decided to give it a shot.

I started on the normal Flatirons Vista Loop, veered off toward Doudy Draw, and then headed left onto the connector to Spring Brook. I chose to go around clockwise (which Amanda had suggested), and then halfway through, turned off Spring Brook to take the challenging 1.7 mile Goshawk Ridge trail. This took me all the way up to Fowler Trail / Rattlesnake Gulch, which has been my favorite trail to run / hike this summer! I added an out-and-back through Eldorado Canyon to add another two-ish miles, and then connected back to Spring Brook to continue making my way around that 4.9 mile loop. Finally, it was back up the steep Doudy Draw hill to get back to Flatirons Vista Loop, and then slightly downhill for the final mile back to the trailhead. All in, it was exactly 13.1 miles!

And despite the cloudy skies, the views were just stunning throughout!

The morning was pretty muggy and misty, and my first sign that things were going to be slower than usual was when I set out on Flatirons Vista loop and found cows grazing all over the trail. Last week, I had been inspired to run faster by a large buck I saw on the trail; this week, the cows barely moved, and I was a little nervous that I would scare them by running toward them. (There was one cow squarely in the middle of the trail when I approached, so for him, I veered off-trail a bit rather than try to pass.)

Photo taken from a safe distance.

Those cows turned out to set the pace for my whole run – I averaged an 11:25 pace, which is much slower than any run I’ve done in a while. However, the 13.1 miles also had 1593 feet of elevation gain – and the stretch from mile 3 to mile 6 was all basically a steady incline averaging a 6% grade! I will never complain about a few minutes at 4% during an Orangetheory strength day again 🙂

Though Orangetheory can’t boast scenery like this! So worth it.
Goshawk Ridge was particularly tough, and I was scared there might be snakes lurking in the long grass that kept falling over the trail… but I was still so happy to be running it.
Wildflowers, anyone?
Plus, Orangetheory never has downhill… which Goshawk Ridge does right.
This rocky vista is part of my regular Fowler Trail / Rattlesnake Gulch route. It felt really awesome to be able to run all the way there rather than drive to the start of Fowler! And it was nice to have a familiar section right in the middle of my long run.

Overall, I was really proud of how well I did – I kept running the whole way, except for one walk break of a few seconds on the steepest quarter-mile stretch of the Doudy Draw to Gate segment, which had a grade of 9-13%. (Brutal, especially when I’m already 11.5 miles into a run.) 1600 total feet of elevation is something I would have considered a solid hike in the past, and now I was running it! I was so proud of myself when I finished, and already can’t wait to go back and try it again this weekend 🙂

There were a few moments when the sun started to peek out… I can’t wait to see what this trail looks like on a clear day!
I can only imagine the views from this wide Spring Brook mesa. Still beautiful when cloudy!
Around mile 10, I was torn between getting pumped to finish and wanting to keep running forever.

I rounded out the weekend with a bunch of cooking – I made a yummy Asian salad for lunch, tossing in tons of chopped mint and cilantro that I knew wouldn’t last much longer in the fridge. And then, I whipped up a few pink desserts to take to a breast cancer charity event this week – these healthy strawberry coconut kiss bars, and a batch of these cherry cheesecake bars. Both of them are now in my freezer, all set to be brought to the party as soon as I land on Thursday night!

But lest I do all that running and baking and not have a sweet treat myself to show for it… I headed to Sweet Cow for a cone before dinner. A scoop of lavender honey ice cream and a scoop of Honey Grahams (yes, like the cereal)? That was a great reward for a run well done 🙂


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