*Best time in any given state is used for the 50in100 challenge.
Run the Rockies Half Marathon: CAUTION - this race begins at 9,600ft and remains above 9,000ft through the finish line - so be prepared (and well hydrated) if you are thinking of doing this race. The course is absolutely beautiful with the first 6 miles mostly downhill next to a really nice stream with fantastic mountain scenery all around. This is a perfect 10k race (there is a 10k option) as the altitude wasn't really a factor yet due to the net loss of ~500ft. The second half of the course was through some rolling hills which became very challenging as our legs and bodies were beginning to feel the effects of running in the mountains. We played it safe in the final 4 miles and even walked up two hills (it felt like my heart was literally going to beat out of my chest), which gave us enough energy to finish strong and somehow set a new state PR.
Tips: Hydration could be an issue at this race. The second water stop was not well placed - first water stop at mile 2.5 but the next water was not until mile 7.5. If you run this be prepared for some serious elevation and make sure you either bring your own hydration (only water on the course, no gels or Gatorade) or are prepared to wait 5.0 miles for your second water break.
Highlight: Very small race (~300 finishers in the half) but it seemed like everyone that came out was really friendly which made for a great race. The high-fives and shouts of "Go Chicago" from fellow runners were awesome, especially for such a small race (great job Blair, Hawk, Phil and age-group winner Larry). The only sad-face for this event was no finisher's medal to commemorate our adventure, but we'll get over that!
Denver Rock n Roll Half Marathon: The gear check was a disaster as the port-a-potty lines collided with the gear check lines, and the gear check (organized by last name) was not well marked. Hopefully the race coordinator will remedy this for future races. The first few miles through the city were fine - but at about mile 3 or 4 we looked at eachother and asked in unison "does it feel like we have already run 10 miles?" The altitude effects came and went throughout the race, but there was a noticeable difference. Near mile 8 the course ran by a lake which was quite striking as the sun was coming up. When the marathoners split from the half marathoners at mile 12 we were excited to be done. The altitude was present and so were the hills (modest hills), but all-in-all it was a fun race.
Highlights: One week after running the Chicago Marathon is not an ideal 'rest' period before running a half marathon but with a great group of friends gathering in Denver we couldn't pass it up! It was a thrill and honor to be a part of Rob, Wayne and Ashley's first half marathon.
June 2011 Trip Recap: Ft. Collins, Highlands Ranch and Evergreen
October 2010 Trip Recap: Denver, Red Rocks and Golden
Ft. Collins, Highlands Ranch and Evergreen (June 2011)
Day 1 (Friday):
As we exited the highway to Ft. Collins we immediately began to wonder what we had gotten ourselves into - apparently "Aliens kidnapped her goldfish, and she needed money for randsom" (we're guessing the "D" in ransom was likely from too much doobie)?
Fiona's Deli (Ft. Collins) serves up some tasty deli treats - a ton of sandwich options. We both tried the turkey reuben, which was good but not fantastic (no sauerkraut). The home-made sugar cookies were really good and the milkshakes looked awesome but we were trying to avoid too much dairy before beer tastings. We would give this place another shot if we were in Ft. Collins as the ambiance and staff were really nice.
The New Belgium Brewery tour (also known as a visit to the Mothership) was fantastic! A lot of companies claim to have a "fun" work environment, but New Belgium truly walks-the-walk. Not only was the tour well organized with plenty of stops along the way for samples, but the staff treated everyone like adults (we were allowed to walk throughout the facility with a beer in hand) and even at times as kids - take a look at Kristin's ride down the swirly slide in the factory below (yes, they have a swirly slide inside the factory for no other reason than because it's cool). The guide was laid back but still extremely knowledgeable both about the beer making process and New Belgium's operations (and also quite a runner - 5k PR of 14:20)! Our favorite beer on tour was the traditional Abbey Ale but everything we tried was good (the Lips of Faith was a sour beer we didn't really care for, but it was interesting to sample).
Tip: You have to reserve your tour well in advance of your visit - but it's definitely worth it!
The Odell Brewing Company (about 2 blocks from New Belgium) offers a small selection of micro-brews. The tasting tray (~$4) gives you a good idea of the types of beers the brewery produces. Overall the beers were pretty good, but our favorites were the Easy Street Wheat (light and very easy drinking yet flavorful) and the India Pale Ale (very hoppy and bold). A good stop for a quick sample.
For our pre-race dinner we met up with our good friends Wayne and Lindsay just outside Denver at Slattery's Irish Pub. Kristin and I sampled the Tilapia with white rice and vegetables, which was light and well prepared. It's hard to give a full review of the restaurant as it was so good to see Wayne and Lindsay that we at times forgot we were even in a restaurant eating. For desert we headed to Yogurtland, a self-serve frozen yogurt shop which was excellent. Kristin and I tried a ton of flavors but our favorites were the Kona Coffee and the Tart Superfruit (it's tart, but oh so good).
Day 2 (Saturday - Race Day):
Post-race we stopped in for brunch at the Butterhorn Bakery in Frisco (~0.5 mile from the finish line). After a long race we were both hungry and the biscuits and gravy topped with a poached egg (for me) and the traditional fried eggs with ham (for Kristin) filled us to the brim. The fresh squeezed orange juice was great, but the coffee was a bit watery and disappointing. The outdoor seating solidified our thumbs up for this breakfast stop.
After a quick shower we drove to Evergreen for a nice wedding - congratulations again Dave and Liz, we had a great time and are very happy for your two! After the ceremony we enjoyed a drink with Scott Thomas at the Willow Creek Restaurant before the reception (Odells 90 shilling ale on tap).
Day 3 (Sunday):
We enjoyed our "last meal" in Colorado with Wayne and Lindsay at a new hip breakfast joint called Snooze. I'm not sure if the name means you can put your name in and then head back home for a snooze before you get seated (we waited over an hour) or not, but the food was pretty good. The green chili sauce on the breakfast burrito was very good, but the burrito needed a bit of sausage or bacon to be really good. Kristin tried the home-made granola, which was excellent (honey and yogurt with fresh fruit to-boot). If we didn't have such good company to make us forget about the long wait (thank you again for being such gracious hosts Wayne and Lindsay) I'm not we would have stayed around long enough to try the food. Good food - but 1 hour+ wait good? Not sure.
Denver, Red Rocks and Golden (October 2010)
Day 1 (Friday):
Downtown Denver is a really nice city to walk around. We followed a quick stop by the Colorado Convention Center to pick up our race packets and stop for a photo with the famous Big Blue Bear looking into the glass convention center with a photo on the steps of the Denver Capital Building where we snapped for a group photo on the step marked "5,280 feet above sea-level". In addition to major sites the 16th Street Mall area is a great place to walk around (a lot of shops, stores and restaurants).
Pinkberry - I'm not sure if this qualifies as a restaurant, but this frozen yogurt shop is awesome! Right along the 16th Street Mall Pinkberry is a super light and flavorful frozen yogurt with all the fresh toppings (kiwi, strawberry, blueberry, raspberry among others) that will fit in the dish. Very good!
Brother's Bar was previously home to Real World Denver and is now a sports bar. The outside seating was nice and the drink specials were decent. I could see hanging out on the patio on a nice day any time. Appetizers were ok (deep fried) but the drinks were good.
D'Corazon is a great mexican restaurant in downtown Denver. The fajitas (1 order is plenty for 2 people) were tasty, but be warned the margaritas are very strong. Atmosphere was nice, a bit loud, but a lot of fun for our group of friends. Very reasonably priced.
Day 2 (Saturday):
Red Rocks Park I was a little hesitant to go see an amphitheatre but I am really glad we made the trip. The natural rock formations are really beautiful and the amphitheatre itself serves as a make-shift gym for locals. We saw at least 40 people running the steps, doing pull-ups on stage and doing push-ups in the concourse area. While it made me feel lazy to be watching from the surroundings I can see why people make the trek up to Red Rock to workout as well as to catch a concert. We found a 1.5 mile 'easy' trail hike which was more of a moderate trail - we were definitely sweating by the end but the rock formations were almost surreal. Make sure to bring plenty of water if you make the worthwhile trip to Red Rocks (whether you are hiking or not), and be on the lookout for moose as you exit the park (we nearly hit one running across the road).
The Alley in Golden, CO is a good lunch stop if you are headed to the Coors Brewery tour. Very reasonably priced sandwich/chips/cookie/drink (including bottled water) combos. They were out of sprouts but the turkey sandwich was good. Nothing out of this world, but a good local lunch stop. Our group split between The Alley and D'Deli (very similiar sandwich shop located next door) because the line was so long at D'Deli Next but all in all it sounded like the food was the same at both.
Coors Brewery Tour in Golden Colorado. This free tour takes you through the entire brewery where you get an inside look at how beer is brewed. Very informative and enough creative exhibits to entertain people of all ages. The best stop on the tour is the fresh beer tasting straight off the production line (not the beer in the tasting room at the end). Highly recommended tour.
Tip: Unless you are from a high-altitude environment (or are Superman/Wonderwoman) you will likely feel some effects from the altitude in Denver. Make sure to stay well hydrated and realize that alcohol will go straight to your head if you don't keep drinking water.
Colorado Half Marathon Medals
June 11, 2011: Run the Rockies Half Marathon (No Medal, just a sweet shirt!)
October 17, 2010: Denver Half Marathon
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