aspen extreme

“Aspen…where the beer flows like wine.” – Lloyd Christmas

Our weekend in Aspen was fantastic.

From a pasta feast to running a half marathon to a Wildcat victory to fall foliage, it’s another weekend for the books.

But as always, let’s start from the beginning…

Friday:

The York’s, The Lehman’s, Mr. B and I headed up to Snowmass Village after work on Friday. We were meeting up with the Westerman’s (who live in Basalt) at the host hotel, The Silvertree, to take advantage of their pasta dinner for all the runners.

Kevin, Eric, Listy and I were running the half marathon in the morning and needed to do some serious carbo-loading (Mr. B’s foot still hasn’t healed so he gave his spot to Eric).

I started with a side salad and ended up having the pasta primavera as my entree. Holy pasta! I think Listy described this dinner the best; “That was the worst expensive meal I have ever had.” Ski villages in the off season are not up to par. But hey, what can ya do.

Luckily, we had Ian to keep us entertained with his spaghetti eating skills. Love this kid.

Saturday:

RACE DAY!

Mr. B and I were up by 6am because we couldn’t sleep. Even though I ran this race back in 2008, I still had nerves. Running up a mountain would cause anyone to have jitters, right? Right.

The race didn’t start until 8:30am so I took my sweet time getting ready for the race. I watched the sunrise. S-t-r-e-t-c-h-e-d. Ate my usual pre-run breakfast: banana slices on top of a piece of bread with peanut butter and a cup of coffee.

Registration opened at 7am so we headed down there shortly after it opened to pick up our timing chips, bibs and swag. I was very impressed with the organization.

After registration we headed back to the hotel room so I could finish putting my camelbak together and stretch a little more.  At 8:00 we headed to the starting line to meet up with everyone to take pictures. The weather was PERFECT: seventy and sunny. Gorgeous.

There were 1,000 runners this year so they staged the start in 5 minute waves.  For some reason I ended up being in wave 5.  Everyone else was in wave 3. I was like hell-to-the-no, I wasn’t going to start this race by myself!  I was a real rebel and jumped into wave 3. Shhh….don’t tell anyone.

The gun went off and there were no tears this time, only determination to finish in under three hours.

Mile: One

BRUTAL. I think that is the only word to describe running up a mountain.

I had to walk the entire 1.25 miles because my heart rate was going bananas, and I knew if I didn’t pace myself there was no way I was going to finish strong (valuable lesson learned from 2008).

Mr. B ended up walking to aid station #1 to take pictures of everyone walking/running.  It felt wonderful to stop and give him a kiss even though it was only 10 minutes into the race.

I made a quick stop at aid station #1 to chug some water and center myself before going on. That mile was a killer, but my recovery was fantastic. I stretched my quads and took a couple of deep yoga breathes and then I was off!

Miles: 1.5 to 6

After the aid station, you start running downhill on switchbacks, which then leads you into some slow rollers to tight, muddy terrain. It was hard to get into a groove because a lot of people walked the first part and then once they saw the downhill they went CRAZY! People were stepping on your heels to move, and since it was a single track trail you literally had to stop and get off the trail to let people pass.

I swear if people could learn how to say, “ON YOUR LEFT”, it would make things a lot easier. Oh and do not wear headphones. Huge. I had to scream at people to try and pass them, but they couldn’t hear me so I had to dodge around them…so not cool.

Other than annoyed, these miles flew by. Even with the stop and go routine I kept a descent cadence. The best part was that my legs didn’t feel heavy, which goes to show that Jennifer has definitely helped me build muscle mass. Hooray for boot camp!

Miles: 6 to 10

Aid station #2 was at mile six and I took advantage of the pit stop to eat a handful of jelly beans because I knew mile seven was another serious elevation gain. I also stretched and did some deep yoga breathing to bring my heart rate down.

Once I arrived at mile seven, I walked this bad boy. I knew if I ran it I wouldn’t have a strong finish. I met some very nice people while hiking mile seven and in a weird way it felt like a congregation of people believing in a higher power, just searching for a way to finish. We were all there together to push and believe in one another.  Truly an awesome experience.

The serious downhill starts after the mid-race climb at mile seven.  Now, when I say downhill you would think that it would be easy, but hells no. Imagine running down a steep dirt path while jumping over huge rocks and tree limbs with 500 people running behind you. Es no bueno. I kid you not, I saw more carnage on the trail then on I-70 in western Kansas. People had bloody elbows, knees and tons of rolled ankles.

Thankfully I didn’t fall, but there were a few moments were I could have crashed.

Miles: 11-13.1

At this point I was safely off the mountain, and running into downtown Aspen. We ran over a couple of bridges and then into a rolling meadow. I knew this meadow was going to be tough so I imagined my self being chased by mountain lions and/or bears and it made me keep going. Okay, not really, but I tried to imagine myself at the finish line giving Mr. B a huge hug with a great time under my belt.

Once I hit the 200 yards mark my shoelace came untied. I saw a security officer up ahead and stopped to ask if she would tie my shoe because I knew if I bent over I might not make it back up. She obliged. Thanks security lady!

After that I was in for the home stretch. I actually finished running in with another girl I didn’t know. She was much nicer than that S.O.B in Dallas.

I was so excited when I finished because I beat my old time! YIPPEE!!!!!

2008 (OLD): 3:03:13
2011 (NEW): 2:38:53

It was such a relief to finally have a good time and to know that all of my hard work had paid off!

Whew.

As we waited for everyone to finish, I grabbed some food at the one of the tents. The food was actually pretty awful. I just ate the bread and brownies. The worst part, they didn’t have any booze. WTF!

Anyways, the race was intense, but I am glad I finished and didn’t hurt myself. I will say, if this race had an MVP award it would go to Listy. She actually helped a girl that broke her ankle (bone sticking out) to an aid station that was 3 miles away. Yep. I am pretty sure Listy just entered sainthood, or at least goes home with the Green Lantern trophy.

Once everyone crossed the finish line, we headed back to the hotel to shower and then were off to the Westerman’s for football, beer, and FOOD!

K-State pulled off an amazing victory over Miami. Go Kitties!

We drank, played cornhole, ate pizza, and sat by the fire. It was the perfect way to end a fall Saturday.

Thanks Eric, Amy Jo, and Ian for letting us hang at your crib! You’re such great hosts.

Sunday:

Mr. B and I crashed early on Saturday night so we woke up early and headed to the Frying Pan River for a scenic drive and then to downtown Basalt for some grub.

We stopped at Bernards for brunch. I had their hot tea because my throat hurts from yesterdays dust inhale.

After our relaxing brunch it was back south to Aspen to take the scenic drive back home by way of Independence Pass.  The pass is only open in the summer / fall and has been called one of the most scenic fall drives in America.  They weren’t kidding!

We arrived back in Denver around 4pm.

I made a quick stop at the grocery store to pick up dinner, followed by blogging, and then it was time for some low impact TIVO viewing and a good nights sleep.

Have a great week!