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Colfax Marathon Ambassador

colfax-horz

 The Colfax Marathon is a weekend FULL of events. There is something for everyone. Its 2 days and 7 races. Choose from the following:

  1. 26.2 miles = Marathon – It goes through Sports Authority Field at Mile High Stadium, the Confluence, downtown, and along 7 miles of water.
  2. 13.1 miles = Half Marathon – Takes you through the Denver Zoo AND Aurora Fire Station #1
  3. 10 miles = Urban 10 miler – Follows final miles of the marathon through the stadium, Confluence and downtown.
  4. Relay = Marathon Relay – Its the marathon split among a 5 member team.
  5. Relay = Corporate Cup – Its the marathon split among a 5 member co-worker team.
  6. Relay = Government Cup – Its the marathon split among a 5 member of Colorado Elected Officials, Federal, City, County or State & Special District Employees team.
  7. 3.1 miles = 5K – This event is on Saturday at the Start/Finish of the marathon.

I have run the Colfax Half Marathon 3 times. Each year the course changed for the better. This year we run through the ZOO right by the elephants!!!!!!!!!!!

  • 2010 = 2:37:33
  • 2011 = 2:20:33 – Personal Record (PR)!
  • 2012 = 2:37:10 – ran injured
  • 2013 = Plan to beat PR

This year, the Colfax Marathon added an Ambassador Program:

cma-gridWe are excited to introduce you to our 2013 Colfax Marathon Ambassadors. This is a select group of athletes who are influential in their personal running communities. They will be helping us keep our runners informed, inspired and motivated. These athletes all have different running backgrounds, but they share a passion for empowering everyone through running. Keep an eye out for them training and racing all over the Denver Metro, joining in your local run club runs, working with our many Charity Partners organizations, and on our website and social media.

I applied for one of the positions and was one of the lucky few to receive the honors of becoming a 2013 Colfax Marathon Ambassador! This made my YEAR!!! Words cannot even express how excited I am to become one of the 2013 Colfax Marathon Ambassadors! We are a GREAT group of people and will learn a lot from each other as well as helping spread the word about the Colfax Marathon.

We are sponsored by Adidas, so our gear is all Adidas which is also AWESOME!!! Got fitted for some new running shoes Tuesday night, at Boulder Running Company – Denver TechCenter. They are the Adidas Adizero Boston 3 in RED and they ROCK! My feet are in heaven.

Did you know there are over 100 Charity Partners with the Colfax Marathon? Registered runners can choose one of these charities, like Families First (which I am helping) and raise funds for the charity of their choice. How cool is that?!

If you have any questions about any of the events at the Colfax Marathon or training for the event, please do not hesitate to contact me!

Run Happy!

 

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12 Half Marathons Completed for 2012

It is so hard to believe that it is already mid December 2012.  Seems like yesterday when I set my goal to run twelve half marathons by the end of the year. Planning to run one a month, and use September to make up for no races in January. This was, by far, the highlight of my running career.

The journey along the way brought many things. Fourteen degree weather at the starting line, frozen water at aid stations, no water at aid stations, gale force head winds, foot injury resulting in walking boot, travel to other states, raising money for cancer, first true trail race, new friends, spectacular views, and the list goes on and on.

Here is the list of the races:

  1. Ralston Creek Half Marathon – Feb 12 – 2:46:26
  2. That Dam Run Half Marathon – March 4 – 2:46:57
  3. Platte River Half Marathon – April 15 – 2:37:09
  4. Colfax Half Marathon – May 20 – 2:37:10 (my overall PR is 2:20:33 in 2011 – by far a favorite!)
  5. Rock n Roll Seattle Half Marathon – June 23 – 2:28:24 (ended up in walking boot after – no running in July)
  6. Georgetown to Idaho Springs Half Marathon – August 11 – 2:37:49
  7. Denver Half Marathon – Sept 9 – 2:31:56 (took 8 minutes off last years time)
  8. Rock n Roll Denver Half Marathon – Sept 22 – 2:23:33 (took 3 minutes off last years time)
  9. Bear Chase Trail Half Marathon – Sept 30 – 2:56:21 (first true trail run)
  10. Boulder Half Marathon – Oct 21 – 2:36:26 (took 7 minutes off 2010 time)
  11. Backcountry Wilderness Half Marathon – Nov 11 – 2:40:22 (took 9 minutes off last years time)
  12. Hoover Dam Half Marathon – Dec 15 – 2:36:27

Running is what I love to do. I may not be as fast as a Kenyan or other runners, but I finish and I get the runners high in doing so. I love helping others accomplish their running goals as well. Working with the American Cancer Society DetermiNation running group along with Life Time Fitness Run group I have been able to make that love of helping others a reality.

We all started at square one. Bought a pair of running shoes and just went out and ran. We didn’t really know what we were doing, how hard can running be? After not being able to walk after my first half marathon in 2003, I realized that there is a lot more to running than just going out and doing it. You need the proper shoes, apparel, training, nutrition and mental preparation to reach your goal. With that knowledge, I have grown as a person and athlete. I have created runners out of non-runners and helped other runners become even better runners. It is my passion.

At the end of February I will start coaching a group of Life Time Runners to train for the Colfax Half Marathon. April will start the the Life Time Run group training for the Bolder Boulder 10K, most of which I have been coaching for the Commitment Day 5K. Set goals and get out there. Start with walking and work your way up to running. It is not all a sprint.

48 GUs $50
4 Pairs of Running Shoes $250 (Thank-you Runners Roost sales)
12 Race Entries Hundreds of $$
Completing Twelve Half Marathons in 2012…PRICELESS!

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Three More Half Marathons

It is now June, and I have been keeping up on my goal to run a half marathon a month.That Dam Run Half Marathon The past 3 months seemed to just fly by, I guess running through them helps.

That Dam Run Half Marathon was held on Sunday March 4th, the day after my first training run with the American Cancer Society DetermiNation group. We did a short easy run around Wash park, which was a good pre-race warm up. Eileen, my mentor and now very close friend, said she would come out for my race – YEAH someone to cheer for me!

Race morning was beautiful, the sky was blue and the sun was out. The start and finish of the race were on the top of the Dam Road at the Cherry Creek Reservoir. I live close, so it was nice to have a more relaxing morning at home before heading to the start. Once I did arrive, I walked around the various vendor tents and did some stretching. By this time, the wind started to pick up a bit. There were a lot of people there, I thought wow this is a pretty big race. Not until we were told to line up at the start did I realize that most of those people were running the 5K and not the half marathon. I was very glad they let the half marathon runners start first.

GO! We’re off! It was an out and back course and we ran across the Dam Road then down to the Cherry Creek Trail. This was the first race that ran right by my house! Maybe I should go have breakfast…not. The wind just kept picking up, REALLY?! I thought to myself, must we have a headwind? Of course, when we turned around, so did the wind! No tailwind for me – ugh!

As I worked my way back to the Dam Road, I thought, wow I bet the wind is even worse on the top of that dam… I was right! Luckily, as I rounded the corner back to the top of the dam, there was Eileen cheering me on! She ran the final 3 miles to the finish with me. I was so glad to see her, she really helped me finish. We started picking people off, like girl in the purple, I couldn’t let her beat me, then man in orange and so on. I really think if Eileen had not of been there, I would of walked in to the finish, for I was finished from running in that headwind all race. Thank-you Eileen!

Platte River Half MarathonApril showers bring wet races… Saturday April 9th, was a nice sunny morning making me think that the Platte River Half Marathon on Sunday was going to have great weather. Not the case…

Eileen and I arrived late to the DetermiNation training run, due to missing a turn, so we ran around the park for a 3 mile pre-race warmup run on our own. Steve, Eileen and I were all going to be running the Platte Sunday. We had to tell Steve NOT to run the scheduled 10 mile training run (he is a rookie runner) and just do 3. I believe he ended up doing 4 to 6 because he got lost on the route.

After the run we headed out to packet pick-up for the race.  There was a small expo, so we got our packets and walked around for only a short while and then headed home. I took it easy the rest of the day, got a nap or two in and watched movies. As the day progressed so did the bad weather. It poured down rain all afternoon and got cold out! I thought OH GREAT its going to be a wet race tomorrow.

Platte River Half Marathon

The 3 Amigos

Sunday morning came and there was a break in the weather! It was still quite cool, but it was not raining. I’ll take cold over rain. Steve and Eileen met at my place so we could carpool to the race. Once we arrived, we saw quite a few overdressed runners. I always layer so I can adjust to the weather as needed.

This was to be Steve’s first half marathon. We had him sign-up at Runners Roost during one of our training runs. We checked our gear bags, for after the race, stretched and were ready to go.

GO! I warmed up quite quickly, so by mile 3 I had taken my gloves and long sleeves off. This is good, going to be a beautiful race. The race was a point to point that started in downtown Littleton, worked its way alongside the Platte River (or should I say creek because it is so small), and makes its way into Denver at the 10th and Osage Light Rail Station. Everyone is given a Light Rail pass to get back to the start after you are finished.

Everything was going as planned and I was on track in the first half of the race for a Personal Record (PR)… then the wind blew in at mile 7 and literally blew my race apart! It was so strong at times I seriously thought I was going to blow right into the Platte River! Head and side winds really slowed me down, at times, to a halt. This sucks! Back on went the long sleeves just in time for the rain to start at mile 9. I never thought I’d be so glad to see the mile 12 hill, that brought you back over the freeway and into the finish. YEAH this thing is almost OVER!

The finish changed from the previous year, but the line for the food did not, it was still 3 miles long! I headed to the beer tent to look for Steve and Eileen, couldn’t find them so I got a beer (priorities people – don’t judge). Called Eileen to find out they were in the food area. Told her the line was 3 miles long, so she got me a burger and we all headed back to the beer tent. My burger almost blew off the plate! I was so glad we had some shelter from the wind so I could warm up. there was a live band, so after we ate, the 3 of us got up and danced – great post run stretch of the legs! After the band finished, we headed back to the start on the Light Rail and headed back to my place for showers and relaxation.

Colfax Half Marathon

April showers don’t bring May flowers, they bring more showers! REALLY?! Saturday May 12th, the morning before the Colfax Half Marathon it POURED down rain all day! I thought I was going to have to bring a kayak to the race Sunday morning! Our Saturday training run was at the Bear Creek Trail and boy was it a WET run! I couldn’t see it was raining so hard. I only ran 3 miles since I was doing the half Sunday, so Eileen was going to do 7 and Steve was going to do 15.

After my rain soaked 3 miler, I changed into a dry shirt and headed over to Target to buy some towels and get a Starbucks coffee to warm up. Once again, the so called “out and back” trail was NOT and eveyone got lost. Steve made it back before Eileen, and I had been told by a passing biker about 40 minutes prior that she was about 3 miles away. I was getting worried, 5 more minutes and we were going out to find her. Then here she came around the corner drenched and cold. Horrible time for all of us. We all got warmed up and we said good-bye to Steve, who was leaving for Massachusetts later for a week. Dropped Eileen off at her place and headed home for my nap.

Eileen brought me dinner from her dad’s restaurant (Um, YUMMY) and we relaxed to a movie – perfect pre-race evening. I took a shower, built my little Kristen and called it a night.

Sunday morning arrives and NO RAIN!!! WAHOOO!!!! In fact I was able to wear shorts and a short sleeves for the race. It was a 6am race start, so Eileen was going to see me at the finish. Got to City Park and searched all over for the gear check. I finally asked a volunteer, to be directed back across the park behind some trees – REALLY can we hide it more??? Checked my bag and headed for my starting coral. It was packed, we were spilling outside of the barriers. No worries, with chip timing, it is not a big deal, for your time does not start until you hit the starting mat.

GO! We are finally OFF! Started out good for the first mile, then I started feeling a pain in the ball of my left foot below my pinky toe. Kept running and it started getting worse. Mile 3 I stopped and took off my shoe to see if my sock was messed up or something, no it was fine and so was my shoe. Put it back on and kept going, and it kept hurting more and more. Almost to the point that I thought I was going to have to stop running all together and pull out of the race.

Mile 5 a miracle happened, my foot no longer hurt and I took off! So the first half sucked and I rocked the second half, so no PR set this time. I didn’t even look around in the finishing chute, I just ran! Got my water, snacks and exited the finish area. Now to find Eileen, which proved not to be easy. The place was PACKED with people, tents and vendors. So I decided to go get my bag out of gear check and call her. I worked my way over to the gear tent and was floored by the mile long line of people waiting to get their bags – are you freaking KIDDING ME?! I had no choice, I needed my bag. After waiting for over a half hour, someone that had just retrieved their bag told us to go around to the other side of the tent to the shorter line. We all ran over there, but it didn’t move. I decided to go up front and peer in the tent to see if I could even see my bag – THERE IT IS! No one heard me, so I went in and got it myself. WORST bag pick-up EVER! Called Eileen and we met by an RV and I sat down and ate.

Recapped my horrible race for her and just relaxed. Once I finished eating, we headed back to our cars and met at Starbucks for a relaxing coffee on the patio.

A bad start to my race, turned itself around and made for a great day. Race number 4 of 12 complete for 2012…

Never give up! Run Happy!

 

 

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Cancer is Stupid and Dumb

Cancer: The uncontrolled growth of abnormal cells in the body. Cancerous cells are also called malignant cells.

It leaves most of us feeling helpless when friends and or loved ones are hit with it. No one should have to deal with this disease. I decided to do something to help find a cure… run! Not to run away from cancer, but to run for cancer. Running is a HUGE passion of mine, ok, ok, it’s an addiction, but as a friend said, “At least it is a healthy one”. I am running a half marathon (13.1 miles) each month this year.

  • February 12th = Ralston Creek Half Marathon
  • March 4th = That Dam Run Half Marathon
  • April 15th = Platte River Half Marathon
  • May 20th = Colfax Half Marathon
  • June 23rd = Rock n Roll Seattle Half Marathon
  • July = TBD
  • August 11th = Georgetown to Idaho Springs Half Marathon
  • September 9th and 22nd = Denver 1/2 Marathon AND Rock n Roll Denver Half Marathon
  • October 21st = Boulder Half Marathon
  • November 10th = Backcountry Wilderness Half Marathon
  • December 15th = Hoover Dam Half Marathon

I know a lot of you don’t run unless someone is chasing you. Running for me is therapy. I am not the fastest runner, but I finish the race. This is how I’m going to help find a cure for cancer, by running.

In January, I received an email from the American Cancer Society telling me about the DetermiNation Team, in Denver, that would be running the Rock n Roll Seattle Marathon and Half Marathons. I have seen their booths in various race expos, and my nephews used one of their signs to decorate for me when I ran the 2010 Rock n Roll Denver Half Marathon. That sign hangs in my apartment. Cancer was still very fresh in my hurting heart after losing someone to it in December. I decided to go to one of the informational meetings and see what it was all about.

Team DetermiNation

During my Ralston Creek Half Marathon in February I met Meghan, from the American Cancer Society. We had been emailing back and forth about DetermiNation. After talking to her at the race, I was convinced this is what I had been looking for – running for cancer! The next week I went to the meeting and signed up to join the DetermiNation Team. I was so excited I thought I was going to burst! Finally I was going to use my passion to help others!

Our Kick-Off Party was held at the Uptown Tavern and we got to meet most of the runners, the coach and our mentors. We all had a great time and I could tell it was a fantastic group of people – this was going to be AWESOME! Friendships were formed right away.

The training would be 16 weeks long, and our first training run was on Saturday March 3rd at Washington Park. It was just a quick run around the park, which was fine with me since I was running That Dam Run Half the next day. After the run, we met in the parking lot for a stretch and information from Meghan. My mentor, Eileen, found out that two birthdays had occurred within the past few days, so she made one cake (yellow with chocolate frosting – my favorite) for Steve, and brought an angel-food cake with strawberries for Meghan! OMG that cake was YUMMY!!! Perfect post run snack in my book!

Eileen also came to my race the next day and ran me in for the last 3 miles – more on that in my That Dam Run post…

Each training run is at a different location on Saturdays. I love that, for I am finding new places to run along with new people to run with! This last Saturday’s run was on St Patricks Day at Runners Roost. So we all wore green to celebrate!

I am running for Kathie Thiessen. We lost her in December after only just being diagnosed in August with cancer. She fought hard, but cancer finally won. Everyone called her mom. She is greatly missed. She raised 4 wonderful children, one being my former brother-in-law, Kendall, that I love dearly! I love his 3 sisters, Monica, Andrea, and Jenelle as well. I know Kathie is proud of all of you!

My list of survivors and those I’ve lost is an ever growing list – each one of them will have a place on my shirt during the Rock n Roll Seattle Half Marathon. I’m going to Kick Cancer’s Butt One Mile at a Time!

You can help support my mission by donating to my site http://main.acsevents.org/goto/kristenirene EVERY dollar helps, no donation is too small.

Lets Kick Cancer’s Butt together!

 

 

 

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Ralston Creek Half Marathon

Sunday February 12, 2012 marked the first half marathon of the year, so I had to run it. I had heard about the race from my friend and co-worker Lysette in December or January (they all blur together). Checked it out online and said, “I’M IN!” As a half marathoner, one goes into withdrawals from not running them. My last half marathon was way back on November 12, 2011, I was starting to twitch…

Saturday morning, at 6:30am, I headed to Life Time Fitness for an easy run on the dreadmill with the Run Club (thanks Greg for being the only one tough it out and show up). After running I would man (or actually woman) a table for the Open House representing the Run Club. It was snowing… I thought GREAT! The race director had just emailed me on Thursday telling me the course was free of snow/ice…that was all about to change.  Luckily, by the time I left the gym at 11am, it had stopped snowing, and got sunny out. Even if it is 30 degrees out, the sun in Colorado can melt the snow and you WILL see people walking around in t-shirts – yes, I was one of those people.

Aidan's 10th Birthday

Aidan, my middle nephew, had his 10th birthday coming on Wednesday February 15th, so we celebrated Saturday night with family and friends. I went up to my sister’s house for Chinese and, by Aidan’s request, chocolate chip cookie pan instead of cake. Yummy pre-race dinner and dessert. I left at around 8pm so I could come home and make final preparations for my race in the morning.

I made my “Little Kristen”. This is done by laying out your entire outfit for the race from head to toe, including pinning on race bib and chip on your shoe if there was an early packet pickup. In this case, we did not get to pick up our race packet until the morning of the race. So I had to make sure I had my race belt that I clip my race bib on. This belt also has holders for my GU (Tri-Berry flavor), and a pocket to hold my Swedish Fish (small red ones only) and Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cliff Bar. These are EXTREMELY important for me to have at EVERY half marathon.

Preparing breakfast for the morning is also done the night before. In a bag, that I will bring to the race, is a water, banana and plain bagel. On the kitchen counter is my bowl, packet of oatmeal (yes Bev, I eat oatmeal now… a lot has changed since I was 5 years old and ran away from home to your house), protein powder and coffee cup sitting on the Keurig. NOW I can relax in bed with a show and get my beauty rest…

Sunday morning arrives, and I’m woken up by my Golden Retriever Wrigley pushing her nose under my arm – time to get up mommy! Normal routine, get up, brush teeth, feed dogs, take dogs out to do their “thing” and then come back in to eat breakfast while watching the news. Note to self – it is FREAKING FREEZING OUTSIDE!!! Its not snowing, but it is only 7 degrees out! Oh boy, this is going to be a cold race. Well, it is only 6am, maybe it will warm up a bit by the 9 am start time…NOT!

The race was in Arvada, CO, so it was about a 40 minute drive from my place. I arrived an hour before the start and got a sweet parking spot on the street by the port-a-potties (a runners dream – easy access & no line) and right by the Start/Finish line. It is STILL only 7 degrees out… Picked up my race packet, grabbed a coffee from the Boyer Coffee tent and headed back to the car to keep warm. Sat with the car running for heat, listened to music, looked at the route map and did some stalking on facebook.

The car that was parked in front of me left, I thought either they forgot something, or they are volunteers heading out onto the course. It was the latter, I saw them at around mile 8 handing out water. Someone else pulled into that same spot a short while later. It ended up being Meghan from the American Cancer Society DetermiNation Denver team (that will be running the Rock n Roll Seattle Marathon and Half)  to have a tent at the finish of the race. I too will be running with this group, in Seattle, in June (that will be a later post – stay tuned…). With a half hour left to the start, I put the layers on to run. This consisted of 3 technical shirts – one short sleeved and two long sleeved, with the top one having a half zip top, goat sleeve, fleece hat, gloves and running pants. Plus I strategically placed my iPod under all of the layers to make it easier to peel them off as needed. I am a trained professional after all…

Stopped off at the no line local port-a-potty and headed to the start area. Ate my banana in the car, so now I was eating my bagel and got a little more coffee to keep warm. Looked around for Lysette, Kemp and Heather, but didn’t find them – 3 other friend that I knew were running the race. They were all in the second wave that started 45 minutes after mine.

Finally it was time to line up at the start. I dedicated this race to my friend Ryan Beehler, who we lost one year ago to the day, He was taken far too early from this earth. The race director went over the course and warned us about the snow/ice sections on the route. Lysette found me at the start and gave me a hug and wished me luck – I wished her luck as well and said see you at the finish! Five, four, three, two, one and we’re OFF on a 7 degree morning in Colorado.

I pulled my goat sleeve over my face to help with the cold – that helped a lot. Both of my big toes were frozen and numb. My cycling shoe toe covers would of been nice to have, but would of come right off probably. Mesh shoes are NOT warm in sub-freezing temperatures. After about mile 3 I started warming up. The goat sleeve came down, and was just around my neck, then the gloves came off and went into my pockets. I could also finally feel my toes again – whew!

Finisher Medal

There were several tricky snow/ice sections, one of which I almost went down on. The two girls behind me even screamed when I slipped – told them “careful there”. The scenery was fabulous. We were near the foothills, which were snow covered, and were surrounded by open space. At the first water stop we got Heed (like Gatorade but tastes HORRIBLE, I call it Heave) and water to drink. I drank some Heave and then tried to drink the water, but it was FROZEN!

Around mile 6.6, right before the big switch-back hill, we were passed by a mountain biker letting us know that the lead runners, from the second wave, were about to pass by. There they go in their short shorts and tank tops – are you freaking kidding me?! Maybe I could run that fast if I was half naked in 7 degree weather! One by one the second wave of runners started passing us like we were standing still. Ok, I was walking up that bitch of a hill, but they made it seem effortless.

What goes up, must come down. Finally made it to the top and got to make up some time running down the other side. It takes me 4-5 miles to warm up, so I had gotten my second wind at the top of that hill and felt like I was flying down.

Along the route, I had eaten a few GUs, (I have one every 4 miles) some Swedish Fish and a few bites of Cliff bar. Well, around mile 9 my blood sugar dropped and I had to walk and eat as much Cliff bar as I could to get back to normal so I wouldn’t pass out. At mile 9.6 my friend Kemp passed me and patted my on my shoulder – “Go Kristen”. Then at mile 9.9 Heather, a friend and teacher for two of my nephews, passed me – “Hey Kristen”. That helped more than they know. Was starting to feel better, so back to running I went. It felt like it cooled off again, so I decided to pull my goat sleeve back up over my face…it was frozen solid!

I knew this was not going to be my best race, but I didn’t care. I just wanted to run and start the season for 2012. Finally at mile 12, my friend Lysette passed me. She said “run in with me”, as she flew by. Remember, those 3 friends started 45 minutes AFTER I did. It doesn’t matter to me, because no matter how slow I go, I am lapping everybody on the couch!

Finally, I could see the finish line. My legs were like frozen lead and I couldn’t even pull out a sprint at the end. Nearing the finishing mat was myself and one other guy. I heard the announcer say, “Who will finish first?”, well it was the other guy and he won a prize – UGH! Oh well, I was done and did not get frost bite. In fact, it had warmed up to 14 degrees! Lysette, Kemp, Heather and her family cheered me across the finish line. I got coffee and water right away, along with a breakfast burrito – it was egg, cheese and potato, no chili – YUMMY!

Heather won second in OUR age group – I got 31st, and yes, there were more than 31 in our age group… Lysette’s friend won first in her age group (over 60 somewhere), as she always does.

After the awards I went to breakfast with Lysette, Kemp and a few of their friends. That was the best omelet and hasbrowns I had ever eaten…OK I may of been a little hungry and anything would of tasted good. We all ate with our coats still on, guess we were still defrosting.

This was the first running of this race and I would do it again!

Run Happy and Stay Warm!

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Chilly Cheeks Duathlon

Bike staged

Bike Staged and ready

Saturday January 21, 2012 I completed my FIRST Duathlon – The Chilly Cheeks Duathlon #2 at the Cherry Creek Reservoir. It was a cool sunny and overcast day and clear of snow. I arrived an hour before the start, picked up my race packet and got my bike racked and transition pack ready. Boyer’s coffee had a tent with free coffee, so I headed there for a warm up.

This Duathlon was a Run (1.5 miles), Bike (3.5 miles), Run (2.5 miles), Bike (7 miles) and then 50 yard run to the finish. There were 3 different waves, A, B, and C, all were mixed with all levels of athletes. I was in the B wave. I started off with my bike shorts, bike leg warmers (no not the kind from the 80’s), short sleeved tech shirt, long sleeved tech shirt and gloves. There were some pretty serious racers there with top notch triathlon bikes. They were the ones that had their bike shoes clipped into their pedals – that would just be a crashing disaster for me. They also wore their bike helmets for the runs – really does it take that much time to put on your helmet? Then there were the semi-serious like me, down to the super casual like those in cotton everything with coats and a borrowed bicycle. It was a HUGE mix of athletes and abilities. That is what I love about racing, it is for EVERYONE! Of course I made friends, and found some people that live near my Life Time Fitness so I recruited them to join and do our Cycle and Run Clubs – I can’t help it its my passion!

1st Run Leg

First Run Leg

The A Wave took off, so those of us in the B Wave lined up for the first run. The woman next to me was debating on whether she should wear her stocking cap or not. Five, Four, Three, Two, One… and we’re off! Wahooooooooo! Run number 1 started on the road, then made it’s way to the trail. I felt great, but was still warming up. We made a 1.5 mile loop back to the bikes.

I switched my visor for my helmet, running gloves for cycling gloves, and running shoes for cycling shoes. Ran my bike to the mounting area and took off. This is FUN! Well, until the hill came… but I took that hill and shoved it in my back pocket. It was a fun 3.5 mile loop with a sweet downhill to make up for the uphill. I clocked 29 mph down that hill – wahoo that was fun! Made it back to the transition area and dismounted – oh, ok, my legs are like rubber now… Racked my bike, took off my helmet, shoes and long sleeved shirt. Put on my running shoes & visor and took off running for the second leg.

1st Bike Leg

First Bike Leg

Man I could really feel my legs, and they felt like slugs! So, this run was a bit slower than the first and part of it was thru some sand, so that didn’t help my sluggishness… It was another loop, but different from the first leg. The more elite athletes in Wave C were now starting to pass us in Wave B, but I don’t worry about that, I compete against myself. Since this was my very first duathlon, I was happy where I was at. When I made it back to the transition area, it was a lot harder to change into my bike shoes that it was the first time.

Strapped on my helmet and ran my bike to the mounting area and took off. As I headed up the first hill, of the loop we would do twice this time, the wind started kicking in. The rest of the ride was either in a head wind or side wind. As if my legs were not already hating me, the wind had to help them hate me more. I just put my head down and pedaled through the best I could and had fun with it. As I was nearing the end of the second loop, I was trying to decide if I would run the 50 yards from the transition area to the finish in my socks, or actually put on my running shoes. I had seen a lot of people running in their socks to save time, but with my luck, I thought I may get hurt. So as I dismounted and ran my bike into the rack, I switched shoes.

As I ran through the aisles of bikes to the finish line, people stopped and cheered for me. It made me feel like I was about to win a gold medal! They announced my name as I crossed the finish line and a race official came up to me with a Rudy bicycle helmet and said, here you win this! WAHOOO!!! I was beat, hungry, thirsty and couldn’t stop coughing (I had forgot my inhaler), but I thought to myself, wow that was awesome, I am going to sign up for the next Chilly Cheeks Duathlon being held on February 25th!

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TEAM Success!

Platt River Half

Strong Finish in Platte River Half Marathon

Life Time Fitness… I LOVE YOU!

I am a runner, no Kenyan mind you, but I am a runner. Completed my 4th marathon (26.2 miles) last June and finished strong in a half marathon (13.1 miles) on April 10th. The number of half marathons I have run are too numerous to count. The Platte River Half Marathon, in Denver, 2 weeks ago, was by far, the most memorable race I have run over the years. It wasn’t the course, the volunteers, the spectators or the beer at the end that made it special. On that April Sunday, I got a Personal Record (PR), by cutting 15 minutes off of my fastest half marathon! I finished the Platte River Half Marathon in 2:29:02 in a head wind!

How did I accomplish this you ask?! Easy, I am almost 8 weeks into TEAM Weight Loss at Life Time Fitness. I have lost 15 pounds and 3 pant sizes since I started!!!! Which improved my running. WOOT!!! DO THE DANCE OF JOY!!!! It is NOT a diet, but a lifestyle change. There is no more soda at lunch, no more french fries by the handful,  I am just making better food choices over all. With the help of Mandy, my personal trainer and nutritionist, I now successfully read food labels, track my food, have healthier alternatives and work out 6 days a week.

I have tried to lose weight on my own, without results. It just took the right tools and knowledge to get it correct. Life Time Fitness was able to provide me with those tools to help me reach my goals.  The tools for me were:

  • Polar RS400 Heart Rate Monitor
  • CardioPoint test (to find my heart rate zones to make workouts more efficient)
  • Regular workouts (not just running on Wednesdays and Saturdays)
  • Nutrition knowledge
  • Accountability
  • TEAM Weight Loss
  • Run Club (became Run Club Lead)

All of the above helped me get to where I am today. I am a new person and feel FANTASTIC! As I ran the Platte River Half, I kept looking at my watch in amazement. First, I hit 5 miles in under an hour and when I hit 10 miles in under 2 hours I thought to myself, “WOW I think I am going to get a PR today!” Mile 10 had the worst of the head winds for the day, making me feel like I could walk faster than trying to run in it. The break in the race was mile 12, after climbing the steepest hill of the route, we turned a corner and FINALLY got a tailwind! I could see the finish line and could feel myself filling with emotion. This was it! I was accomplishing one of my long time goals – to run faster. As I crossed the finish line, I yelled out “I love you Life Time Fitness AND Thank-you!”

My journey is not finished yet. There are 4 weeks left in TEAM Weight Loss and I also joined the 90-Day Challenge, so I will continue to improve in all areas with a smile on my face!

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1,098 Steps

Fight for Air ClimbSunday February 27, 2011 I climbed the highest building in Denver, CO. The money raised from the Anthem Fight for Air Climb helps the American Lung Association fight for cures, clean air and smoke-free kids. I raised over $300 for the cause! No one should struggle to breathe. I was recently diagnosed with Exercise-Induced Asthma, so I know what it is like. That is why I choose to join Team Life Time Fitness and take on the challenge.

Wow 56 floors, 1,098 steps, this would really be a workout. Have I ever done something like this before?? NO! The most stairs I had done in the recent days were the steps up and over the freeway to get to the train every morning. Those felt long, so how was this going to feel?

Denver Buildings

Denver's Tallest Buildings

In 1928, the Republic Building was built with financing from Republic Drugs. The former U-shaped medical tower housed a drugstore and some of Denver’s most prominent physicians and dentists in its 12 stories. The Republic Building was demolished in 1981 to make room for Republic Plaza. Construction was completed on the 56-story office tower in 1984. Republic Plaza is Denver’s tallest office building and a prominent local landmark. Located on the 16th Street pedestrian mall, Republic Plaza is in the heart of downtown Denver’s central business district. Republic Plaza includes 1.2 million square feet of office space, and three retail levels devoted to shops, restaurants, and business services. This elegant building is renowned for its spacious three-story marble lobby that features a quarterly “Art in Public Places” program of Colorado and regional artists.

Republic Plaza

Republic Plaza

I work in 1999 Broadway, which is the 5th tallest building in Denver. It is a 544ft (166m) tall skyscraper, was completed in 1985 and has 43 floors. 1999 Broadway has a unique shape, it is shaped like a triangle with a scoop in the side. This is caused by the desire to retain the historical Holy Ghost Catholic Church at the base. The church stands partially inside this scoop, where there is an interesting curved concourse at ground level. Firefighters often come to our building to practice on the stairs. Many mornings I let them in before the building opens, as I come in to start work at 5:30am.

It is fun being in the heart of downtown. I would love to see the view from the top of each building. That Sunday in February, I was finally able to get the view from Republic Plaza.

There was free parking in a garage down the street from Republic Plaza. As I arrived my two other team mates, Brentnie and Jonathan, from Life Time Fitness were standing on the corner waiting for me. After meeting up with them, we headed to the building. I kept looking up and thinking OMG what am I about to do?

Kristen Top

Kristen at the TOP!

Upon entering the lobby, the smell of sweat overcame us all! WOW! So glad Life Time Fitness does not smell like this (due to their fantastic ventilation system). There were several booths of vendors set up with a lot of people milling around.  We headed down stairs to packet pick-up and registration. I had already picked my packet up on Friday after work. Then it was on to gear check to unload our sweats and coats. We found the end of the line that led to the start. It was quite long, but went rather quickly. Each person was let up the stairs in 8 second increments. There was a timing clock and an official at the bottom of the stairs letting each runner go one by one.

I ran up the first 5 flights, then thought to myself, ok better pace myself a little better there are still 51 flights left! The ventilation system was blowing into the stair well, which was nice and cool. Floors 10, 17, and 35 would be the water stops along the way. There was NO ventilation from floors 18 to 30 – that was brutal! My heart rate was through the roof during most of the climb. At floor 15 I said out loud, “Who the hell talked me into this?!” The people in front of me said, “I was just thinking the same thing.” One step at a time I kept telling myself.  On the 20th floor I had to use my inhaler, that helped.

Team Life Time Fitness

Team Life Time Fitness

As I reached the 28th floor, there was a guy sitting on the steps. I rested on the landing, and saw him using his inhaler. Raising my inhaler up, I asked him how he was doing. He said it was brutal. Told him to just take it easy, that is was not a race and he could sit there as long as he needed to. Then he told me he was really dizzy. I asked him if he wanted me to get someone, and he said no.  I patted him on his back as I went by him and said hang in there and rest, then up I went to get help for him.  Since the next stop was not until floor 35, I tried to hurry for him. At floor 30, I found a volunteer and told them about him, and they said they would go take care of him for me.

Chugging up and up and up I went. Everyone was to stay to the right and pass on the left.  It never was really very crowded. Once in a while a big surge of people would come through, so I just stepped to the side on a landing and let them pass by. As you would get closer to a water station floor, you could hear cheering and cow bells ringing. It made you push a little harder.

Floor 35, the last water stop before the top! This is it! Take a break and push through the pain. Actually I felt slight burning in my thighs, but my knees were not hurting like I thought they would. So, this was a good thing, all of my training for running was paying off. Really the only annoyance was my heart beating out of my chest to the wall. I didn’t need my heart monitor to tell me I was above my anaerobic threshold!

Sounds started filtering down from the top… I was almost there I could taste it! Just a few more floors and another accomplishment would be added to my list. Now the legs were feeling really heavy, but not painful. Just keep going, don’t stop, the top is near… Rounded the last landing and the final stretch of stairs. “I’M ON TOP OF THE WORLD” Ok, maybe the top of Denver, but it felt like the world. Once I grabbed some water and caught my breath, I found Brent and Jonathan. We got our team photo taken and I got my individual photo taken. I DID IT!!! My final time was 22 minutes and 55 seconds. Will I do it again next year? Maybe…

 

 

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Life Time Fitness Run Club

LifeTime Run Club

When I lived in Seattle, I was part of a large running group, Chuckit, and I absolutely loved it! You become a family, and spend many training hours together. In 2007 I moved to Colorado and was hoping to find this same family to train with in the Rocky Mountains. It was hard, most clubs were quite a distance from where I lived, so I trained alone…

In 2009, I joined Life Time Fitness, when the club in Westminster, CO first opened. Started first with the treadmills, then the upper body machines and finally to the lower body machines. One day I found a flyer about the Run Club at Life Time Fitness. Found out it was FREE with my membership! So I signed up at the Activities desk and started getting emails.

One Saturday in January of 2009, I decided to run with the Run Club. It was freezing outside, so I dressed in my usual outdoor layers. A couple runners showed up, then a Life Time Fitness trainer. I asked her if she was with the Run Club, and she said “no, I’m Brent and am teaching the CardiO2 training upstairs” and I was welcome to join them on the treadmills. So I changed into shorts and joined them. It completely changed my running! I was exhilarated and wanted more!

Polar RS400

Polar RS400 Heart Rate Monitor

Talked with Brent all about the program, and got signed up for the next 8 week session. In the mean time, I purchased a Polar RS400 Heart Rate Monitor and took the CardioPoint test.

Identify the optimal heart rate zones where your workouts are most effective. Ideal for everyone from beginner to performance athlete. Measure key cardiovascular training markers, including anaerobic threshold, aerobic base and VO2. Know how many calories you burn during exercise. Develop a customized cardio plan.

The test consists of you wearing a mask, that measures your oxygen, while you run on a treadmill. You look funny, and I felt like Hannibal Lecter. The results are what make your training effective. Now, knowing the where my “zones” are is what changed my running for the better.

The CardiO2 Training was phenomenal. I got to know and train with some really great people, two of which worked for Life Time Fitness. I used what I learned from this training and applied it to my everyday workouts.

In December of 2009, I still had not run with the Life Time Fitness Run Club, instead I trained on my own. I had started my Rock n Roll Seattle Marathon training. Spent countless hours running inside on the treadmill due to snowy weather. My longest run on the treadmill was 15 miles – yes, brutal!

After a few months of training on my own, I went to Roadrunner Sports to get some new shoes. There I met Nate, and within a few weeks we started a running group with the store. I created a Google Groups site that the group used to communicate and it took off from there. I did all of my long runs with the group and got great support.

My marathon came and went and I continued to train with Roadrunner Sports. That is where Emily from Life Time Fitness found me. She saw what I had done with the group and asked if I would like to help the Westminster Life Time Fitness Run Club improve. I of course said “YES!” We met and talked about different ideas. I paced a runner for 10 miles at the Life Time Fitness Leadville 100 Trail Run, helped out at the Life Time Fitness UDO Race, ran with the group, and helped Emily out however she needed me to.

In November 2010, I moved from Erie to Denver, now the Westminster Life Time Fitness would be too far of a commute. Opening in December, only 15 minutes from my new place, was the new Centennial Life Time Fitness! I was ECSTATIC!!! I could stay with Life Time Fitness – OH HAPPY DAYS!!! Emily contacted Justin, Centennial’s Run Club Coordinator, and Meredith, Centennial’s Group Fitness Manager, and told then all about me. I met Justin at the Open House and kept in close contact.

Justin and I worked well together in those first few weeks of the gym opening. He and Meredith decided to bring me on as a Run Club Lead. I felt like a little kid on Christmas when I got the news!!! WOW! I was actually going to get paid to do something I love! All of my years of training, running and organizing had finally paid off.

RunnersOur group is already planning on some group events.

This is just the beginning. Our group is growing everyday. Currently we run on Wednesday nights at 6pm, on the treadmills until the weather gets nicer, and Saturday mornings at 8am outside for longer runs. This will expand as time goes on. One night we had 16 people on the treadmills with the group!

I am so fortunate to be part of such a great gym along with a fantastic group of people.

Run Happy!

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Half Marathon for the Cure

MRI

Foot MRI

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Year after year, I Race for the Cure to do my part in helping to find a cure. Seattle and Denver are the two cities I have raced in over the years. Denver is by far the largest – over 50,000 people participated!

This year was different than the rest, for I was unable to run it, I had to walk. Lets go back in time… June 26, 2010 I completed the Rock n Roll Seattle Marathon. After the marathon, I have severe pain in my big toe, upon removing the nail polish, the bruise is revealed. I may lose my toe nail. A week later I am still in pain, so I have to have a hole drilled in the nail to relieve the pressure – NOT a fun task. The hole did help a lot. Several weeks later I start running again.

Next toe stop: Leadville 100 in August. I’m pacing my runner, who has already ran over 60 miles. We are in the pitch black with nothing but our headlamps to guide the way. Three miles into the 10 mile journey… BAM! I slam that same big toe into a tree root. “Oh, that is going to leave a mark” I say to myself. And that it did. As the days and weeks wore on, it started hurting more and more. The pain gets to be too much and I head back to the doctor.

Toe

Owie Toe Smiles at Me

Thinking that it is the nail that is causing all the pain, I am ready to hear that it will have to be removed. Upon examination, my doctor says that the nail looks fine, except for the fact that it may come off, and what I may have is a fracture in the toe. An MRI is scheduled (after a trip to Urgent care and an X-Ray) to find out the cause of the pain.

The doctor says I have to stop running until we find out what is going on. I tell her, but I’m training for the Rock n Roll Denver Half Marathon on October 17th. Mmm she says, well you may have to sit it out. I had not registered yet, which really seemed like a good idea at that point. She saw my face drop and then said, lets wait and see what the results say.

The day AFTER the Rock n Roll Denver race sells out, I get my MRI results. It is NOT a fracture, but a bone bruise – which she says is just as painful. There was also soft tissue swelling at the end of the toe. So what does that mean, I ask my doctor?! She said, well you need to rest for several weeks, no running. “You can run the half marathon, but you must ice it immediately after the race”, she says to me. “I’m not going to lie to you, it is going to hurt” she says. She put me on 600mg of Ibuprofen 3 times a day. All I am allowed to do until the race is ride my bike and swim. I walked the Race for the Cure, which she told me I had to do slowly, but I wanted to do more.

Rock n Roll Denver

Rock n Roll Denver Half Marathon

Now I need to find an entry for the half marathon. I Google for free entries and the only ones available are for charitable entries. Those entries get you registered for the race, but then you must raise $1250 for the charity by November 1st – uh NO WAY, too impossible. I start scouring Craigslist. Answered several ads, but heard nothing back. Posted an ad of my own stating my case and adding photos of me running. That was Thursday, over the weekend I hear nothing. All I see on Craigslist is postings for others wanting entries too. GREAT what am I going to do?!

Sister's Race for the Cure

Sister's Race for the Cure

Monday is here and I drag myself out of a cozy bed to go to work. I am very busy right now at work, which is great, so I didn’t even see that I received a new email… There it is! A response to my “Wanted” post on Craigslist! It read:

My sister lives in Aurora and was looking to do her 1st ever half at this race… but due to some training injuries and work demands, her training hasn’t been what she wanted and she is looking to get her bib to someone who would put it to better use. Her work blocks craigslist, so I am helping her find a suitable buyer…

SCREAMING for joy, I jumped out of my chair! I answered him right away (he and his wife were coming from Omaha to run the race too), and we worked out the details for meeting at the Expo. I was on cloud 9!

Marathon for the Cure

Marathon for the Cure

NOW, I want to make a difference with this race. This was a sign that I was meant to run this event and pay it forward. While looking at information on Race for the Cure, I stumbled upon Marathon for the Cure. Google found it for me once again, so I read more about it. I would need to raise $500 for Susan Komen for the Cure. This was an obtainable goal and I was determined to make it happen. Here is a little information about Marathon for the Cure:

Susan G. Komen Marathon for the Cure® is a grassroots fundraising program offering fitness enthusiasts the chance to join in the fight against breast cancer by running or walking a full or half marathon.

Marathon for the Cure expands the reach of Komen for the Cure beyond the Race for the Cure 5K Series and offers participants the opportunity to raise much needed funds in support of Komen’s vision of a world without breast cancer, while training for and running or walking in some of the most elite distance events in the world.

Race for the Cure

Race for the Cure

Right away I set up a participation site and a Facebook page fund-raising efforts. My excitement for this entire event is not describable with words. This years Race for the Cure touched me more than any I have done over the years. Seeing all the names of survivors and those that were lost to breast cancer really hit me hard. I want to make a difference, I want to help, I know others that have it, have survived it and have died from it. In my 20’s I had a scare when a lump was found, but I was one of the lucky ones, it was not cancer. I had never been so scared in my life over those agonizing weeks of tests and waiting for results. I cannot even imagine what it is like to get the news that you have breast cancer.

We are all in this together, we can ALL make a difference. Every donation can help find a cure for this terrible disease. Cancer does not care what race you are or how much money you make. I am going to fight cancer 13.1 miles at a time. I dedicate the Rock n Roll Denver Half Marathon on October 17, 2010 to fight against Breast Cancer. And I am going to kick it one boobie at a time! Lets do it for the girls!

Run Happy!

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