Saturday, October 20, 2012

Colorado Pumpkin Patch

 We have a long running tradition of going to a pumpkin patch every this year was no different. However, it wasn't a real patch, but it had all the fun things our kids like to do...

 Hadley thought the pumpkins were perfect for sitting on :)

Zoo trip

The girls have a had a few days off of school this month so we decided to make a trip to the zoo. We had been having some nice weather that week so we figured that day would be nice too (Sometimes I forget how fickle the weather is in Colorado!). Well, it's started out brisk but sunny, but before we knew it he clouds were rolling in. We hurried along seeing all the main attractions, making it to the big indoor primate house, our last stop, as it began to rain. Besides being cold and a little wet, it was a great visit. Hadley was super excited about all the animals. So much in fact, that she became very offended when we wouldn't let her into the cages with the animals!

 Feeding the birds is always a great time...especially when we escape with out being pooped on!

 As we left the Zoo in the pouring rain,we decided to drive up to Will Roger's shrine, which is on the mountain behind the Zoo. We hadn't eaten our sack lunches yet since it was too wet and cold to eat them on the picnic benches, like we usually do on Zoo visits. While we sat in the car, eating, the rain cleared and the sun came out. We then had a great time exploring the "castle" as the kids like to call it. It has amazing views of Colorado Springs.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Ragnar Colorado 2012

Last May, Brandon and I got an email from Torie, my sister-in-law, asking us if we were interested in running the first ever Colorado Ragnar. We were instantly intrigued by the idea of running a 200 mile relay race with 12 friends and family members. I thought it would be great way to get into running, something I had not really done since high school as well as getting back into shape since my radiation treatment had pretty much wiped me out. We then had to find a team of 12, which was challenging and the team members changed numerous times before the actual race. Torie was a our great team captain...naming us the Angry Nerds.
Training started out rough as one mile (and a really slow mile too!) on the treadmill was torture for me. However, I soon found a friend to run with, Trinette. I was able to run further with her than I ever had before and I actually enjoyed the experience. By the end of the summer I was amazed that I could actually run over 20 miles in one week.

About 2 weeks before the race there were some issues and we (the Colorado Springs crew) ended up switching from Van 2 to Van 1 which meant we now had a different set of legs to run. It made me a little more nervous and Brandon's legs which he now had to run looked pretty intense (long miles, high altitude and lots of hills) During the previous week Brandon had started having pain in his knee and had come to the conclusion it was iliotibial band syndrome (ITBS). He did some research and decided it would be best to stop running until the race, in hopes that the rest would allow him to run his legs.

 Thursday night before the race we headed up to Breckenridge to stay at a condo, so we could be able to make our 6 am check in time. Those who were in Van 1 with us were Colleen Conlin, Alea Franklin, Dustin Bluhm, and Chad Murdock. We didn't get to the condo until about 11 and I don't think many of us got much sleep that night. When we showed up to the Ragnar start line to do our safety training and pick up our running bibs it was pretty had rained the night before and it was still cloudy and cold. I was super nervous and excited since I was runner 1. I didn't know how it would be....I had never competed in any long distance running race in my life (not even a 5k!)

Waiting for safety training and getting our nerd on!

I started out with a pretty easy leg, 3.7 miles.  There were some really steep hills right off the the kind where everyone who had the same start time as me, had to walk some. I definitely felt the altitude as my lungs were burning up those first hills. After that, I got into my rhythm and finished up my leg at a pretty decent pace. I was happy to see my team mates cheering me on as I handed the baton off to Alea.
Alea, was a last minute add onto our a little more than 1 week before the race! She is Colleen's sister and law and an avid runner. She lives in Washington, at sea level and was nervous about huge elevation change. Although it didn't really seem to phase her a bit..she rocked all of her legs including this one.

Brandon was excited to get the slap bracelet baton from Alea, and get his monster first leg out of the way. It was almost 9 miles with major hills, and did I mention it was at about 10,000 feet! After about a mile Brandon started to have the knee pain he was hoping to avoid but he just kept on going. It was a gruelling run and to make matters worse we couldn't figure out where Brandon was to cheer him on so we just got to see him at the end. When he handed off the slap bracelet to Dustin you could tell he was in major pain, and was limping instantly. Even with all the pain he had he finished his leg at a 9 minute mile pace. At that point we didn't know if Brandon should attempt his next leg.

Dustin ran a great next leg....back the way Brandon had come. After only knowing Dustin for about 20 minutes, we asked him to join our Ragnar team only 2 months before the race. We promised him the easiest runner position since he didn't have much time to train. Unfortunately because of the last minute van change he had to take a more challenging runner position. Despite the changes in his leg lengths he did great. We were so glad to have him on the team...he was great company and provided lots of great entertainment like the best of Saturday Night Live commercials, music and movies that made Alea want to throw up :) As well as helping out us first time Ragnarians (he is a veteran, hailing from the awesome, award winning team, Lord of the Ragnar.)

Dustin handed off to Chad by a lake and got off to a great start on a challenging leg. We have known Chad for about 2 years now and were so excited when this amazing man was willing to join team Angry Nerds! He did a great job on his run but ended up feeling not so great when he finished....he was starting to have IT band trouble again, something he had dealt with in the past but overcome.

 Colleen was the last runner in our van and was a total rockstar! She ended up running over 20 miles (within 24 hours) and always had a smile on her face. She even did a little jig on her way up an very steep mountain run. It's not hard to absolutely love Colleen Conlin...she has so many admirable qualities that I could hardly list them all here. Her positive attitude and fun personality made her a bright light in my Ragnar experience. She so hard core...and fast. Someday when I grow up...I want to be just like her :)
 After Colleen finished, we handed of the slap bracelet to my sister Allison, and we then had a long break while Van 2 ran their legs. We were at Copper Mountain so we decided to eat at a local restaurant...Brandon ate a huge Calzone! The rest of ate a little lighter :)

We then headed up to the next major exchange and tried to get some rest outside at a park. We pulled out our sleeping bags on a grass field next to the parking lot, put in some ear plugs an took a nap. As it got closer to the time for Van 1 to run again, Brandon was trying to decide what he was going to do. He really wanted to run but we knew his leg would be a problem. We decided to give Brandon my leg of the race and I took his, to give him a shorter run. We told Brandon he didn't need to run at all but he wouldn't give up. It was a tough 3.7 miles but he got it done! Here we are below as a whole team...minus April who was running. 
During Brandon's run it became began the first night runs. I ran along side a road in the dark for about 5 was kinda freaky and I only saw a few other runners the whole time. Luckily because I was scared I ran around 9 minute miles...a PR for me :) We handed off to Van 2 about 12:30am. We then headed to the next major exchange to take showers and get some sleep. It wasn't really comfortable sleeping on a high school gym floor, but we were so tired we actually did sleep some. 

Around 4:30 am I was slated to get the baton from was cold and dark and I was starting to worry I wouldn't be able run the 6 miles (the last 4 miles were a pretty steep uphill...with no down hill). I was also worried about getting lost (some team members had gotten off course a few times already) and the fact I had to run in the dark for a second time. Luckily I had my husband and other wonderful teammates who told me I could do it. As well as snuggling me in the cold (thanks Colleen!) I also realized this was my LAST leg of I gave it all I had. Up that looooong hill, my team cheered me on many times...Brandon and Dustin got out of the car to offer me water and encouragement a few times as well. I just keept on going and even started singing out loud the Weezer I was listening to. It was a great feeling to finish...I really felt like I had accomplished something.

Later that morning, Brandon took the final leg for our Van...less down hill and less miles then his assigned leg. This is Brandon about to hand off the baton to Van 2. You can see the pain he is on his face. As Torie put it...this what it looks like to dig deep. I totally agree. I was in tears when Brandon came in. I was so amazed by his ability stay strong in the face of horrible pain. He was still disappointed that he was not able to run like he had trained for but I know that the whole team was not disappointed in him. We were proud of him.

This is the view we had most of the time driving to and from each exchange.

Here we are at Snowmass resort, over looking the final down hill run of Ragnar. We were so glad to be done! We spent some time resting down by the finish line. Some of us were even lucky enough to get  free 10 minute messages. Me, Allison, Torie and Joe met April at the top of he hill and ran down with her. The final 20 yards the whole team joined in to cross the finish line.
I'm so glad I got to run my first race ever with my best friend. It really was an amazing experience, that I wouldn't trade for anything. Don't be surprised to see us running another Ragnar next year!
Callie as the next generation of Angry Nerds!