Category Archives: Fiance

The running.

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Oh boy. Lots to report in the last few weeks.

First things first. I ran a half marathon! It was really satisfying, but mostly really hard. I could really tell that training long runs on trails helped me A TON in the first five miles. I was averaging a minute below my mile time and hardly felt tired or winded at all. The next five miles were a little harder, I definitely felt like I was working, but I was still comfortable. The last three miles were pure hell. Part of it is the way the course is set up. The first ten miles are along the Colorado River with beautiful red rock canyon walls on either side of you. This section is gently sloping downhill (you’re following the river downstream) and there’s only one real hill to speak of (at mile 9). The race planners were kind enough to put a Japanese drum group at the top of the hill to distract you from the pain of running uphill. However, right at mile 10 you break out of the canyon and onto the main highway through Moab. This part is barely uphill, but you’re running on the tilted shoulder of the highway with cars, 18-wheelers, and Jeeps flying by not 10 feet away. This part was so demoralizing. All I wanted was to be done with the race (I was running farther than I ever trained at that point) and instead hundreds of people were ogling us while they drove by. The last three miles were really hard. But the finish finally came, and I crossed the line in 2 hours and 12 minutes. My unofficial goal was to be under 2:15 (this based on absolutely nothing because I didn’t train for time AT ALL), so I was pleased with the result. After the race we sat around in the sun, drank chocolate milk and ate oranges, and tried to stretch a little. Here are some photos from the day:

The bus drop-off about 10 miles up the canyon. It was windy and overcast.

The bus drop-off about 10 miles up the canyon. It was windy and overcast.

to the start

We had to walk about 1/4 mile to the start because it’s such a narrow highway and the buses couldn’t turn around at the exact start location.

at the finish

Kyle and I at the finish. Sunny and beautiful! Notice that my shoes are already off – my blister doubled in size during the last 2 miles.

The half marathon was pretty fun, overall, minus the pain during the last 3 miles (from my blister and from my lack of sufficient training on long runs). The course was beautiful, the weather was great, and it felt like such a huge accomplishment. Seriously, I’ve been talking about running a half marathon since 2009, so it’s nice to finally cross that off the list.

Let’s see…what other good things can I talk about before I have to talk about THE HUGE BAD THING?

Wednesday was Kyle’s birthday. It was pretty great. We both had the day off, and decided to go for a nice, long (slow) trail run. I swear Kyle could run twice as far as I run when we go running together, but he’s nice and waits for me when I’m moving at the pace of a turtle. Anyway, we headed out to the Lunch Loops, an area right on the outskirts of Grand Junction that has amazing endless trails. We’ve done a lot of running there in the past, but we almost always do the same 3-7 mile runs on the same two loops. Kyle wanted to show me a whole different part of the area. The first three miles were STRAIGHT uphill. As in, I ran maybe half of it and walked (dragged myself) up the rest. But the view from the top was incredible. If you know Grand Junction well, this will mean something to you. If not, just know that you had an incredible view of every major landform within 100 miles in any direction – the Uncompahgre Plateau, the West Elks, the Mesa, the Bookcliffs, the Monument. So cool. So many different kinds of geology. So pretty!

Here's our view looking back into the Monument.

Here’s our view looking back into the Monument.

And here are a few other scenes from Kyle’s birthday run and other runs we’ve done at the Lunch Loops.

holey bucket

This trail is called Holey Bucket and is strewn with various rusty, broken and old buckets all along it.

holy cross

Any guesses on the name of this one? You got it, holy cross! I have no idea what the history of this cross is, but the view is pretty amazing don’t you think?

kyle

Here’s Kyle at the top of Eagle’s Wing

jewell

And here’s Jewell hanging out in front of another holey bucket (or this actually might be a piece of a car – there’s another trail called Clunker…) at dusk.

This place has become our playground. We take the dogs out here a couple times a week, we did most of our half marathon training here, we ride mountain bikes here occasionally (Kyle more than me, because the trails are super technical and I get scared. And scarred.) This is one of the greatest parts of Grand Junction and is something I’m absolutely going to miss.  I mentioned some bad news. It’s not terrible, but it’s not great. I don’t have the energy to go into it all now, but I’ll update again soon with our life plans. They’ve changed.

 

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Running, running, running

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Remember this post? The one where I told you I was running a half marathon in March? Well, guess what? It’s March. Our run is 12 short days from now and in the past week I’ve ranged all over the spectrum from terrified to excited to terrified to slightly less terrified to resigned. The run is in 12 days and at this point, the only thing I can do about it is run. Today, tomorrow, the next day, and every day until I take a few days off right before the race itself.

And I have been running. In 2011, I took about a month and trained for a 10K. It was a lot of fun and I ran it in under an hour which I was really pleased about. And as soon as it ended, I stopped running. Not completely, I guess, but I stopped running consistently because I was tired of treadmills, I accomplished my goal and I had just met a really fun boy. But if you’ve followed my various attempts at blogging (visit here or here for past iterations of this blog, don’t be fooled by the top post being the same, they are two different blogs!) you’ve read my words “I want to run a half marathon” on and off since summer of 2010. As terrified of the prospect as I am, I’m excited that I’m finally accomplishing something I’ve thought about for so long. Ultimately, I know that just finishing will be a huge success and I don’t care AT ALL about the time that I finish with (just as long as I don’t get picked up by the sag wagon along the way).

I ran 7.5 miles yesterday. It hurt. 13 miles is going to REALLY hurt. But we’ve been training on the trails near our house, and our run yesterday had 1000 feet of vertical gain. Our race is along the Colorado River with a slight downhill trajectory the whole way. That will be nice. I’m pretty sure I won’t be able to walk at all for the rest of the weekend. But I’m excited. It’s a strange mix of emotions. I’ll keep you updated.

Here's the summary of my run yesterday. Like I said, I'm not gunning for time...

Here’s the summary of my run yesterday. Like I said, I’m not gunning for time…

Also, wanna see something pretty? This was my prize after running 5.5 miles on the treadmill last Sunday. My grand plan was to run while watching the Oscars to distract myself from the pain and mind numbing boredom of running on a treadmill (we randomly got 3 inches of snow the night before) and I wanted to run 7 miles. Around mile 5 I started having some annoying pain in my right foot. If you know me, you know the right side of my body is a disaster, so this wasn’t really a huge cause for concern. But it got more and more annoying. Finally, at 5.5 miles, I stopped and pulled off my shoe. What a nice surprise! Not.

Nasty little blood blister. I guess I need to invest in some fancier socks.

Nasty little blood blister. I guess I need to invest in some fancier socks. Sorry for the gross picture of my foot…

But it’s starting to clear up and I’ve been wearing my trail running shoes on every run since then, so hopefully by race day I’ll be healed and happy!

In other news, I had my first advising appointment for Montana State University today. My adviser called to talk about my class schedule this summer and start sketching out what my 4 semester science extravaganza will look like. Yet another thing to be terrified of. Seriously, in all 4 years of college I (grudgingly) took 3 science classes (5 if you count those I did during study abroad programs – I don’t count them). And now I’m going to be taking 3/semester. My schedule is looking very packed full of lecture and lab hours, with little time to do anything other than eat, sleep, study, and play with my parents and my dog. That’s ok, there’s not much else to do in Bozeman, MT. Oh wait…

Take a look at my schedule this summer…yes, that’s right, two labs…

Ah, science classes. Whitman wouldn't recognize me!

Ah, science classes. Whitman wouldn’t recognize me!

For those of you who don’t speak Registration lingo, those classes are Intro Chemistry and Intro Physics. Two semesters of classes crammed into 2.5 months. Sounds lovely, no? Here’s the funny thing: most of the PA schools I’m looking at don’t require Physics, but because some PA schools out there do, I’m hedging my bets and taking it anyway. This is one of the most frustrating aspects to PA school: they don’t all have the same requirements. Not even close. Some schools require 16 hours of biology and 4000 hours of paid experience (ahem, University of Washington, ahem), some require 9 specific science classes with 1000 hours of paid experience, but your experience MUST BE FINISHED by the time you apply in October (to start school in June), some require the GRE, some don’t. Is your head spinning yet? Mine has been for the last 9 months. So my strategy is to take as many required classes that seem to be consistent from school to school, then add in the ones that are specific to the places I’d really like to go, and try to squeeze more in during a second summer semester at MSU. We’ll see how it goes!

A slightly different flavor…

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Last weekend was all about snow and winter and being chilly, and it was great! However, coming home to Grand Junction where it hasn’t been above 32 degrees since December 15 and where the inversion is trapping the cold and creating terrible air quality, was not quite as great. Another cold weekend was not in the cards for me. Luckily, Kyle was agreeable and we planned to drive over to the Front Range to bask in some beautiful sunshine and 40-plus weather!

When you hear “Front Range” most folks think Boulder or Fort Collins, Denver or Golden. Not us. We wanted warm sunny weather and lots of fun places to play. We headed to Colorado Springs. The forecast was calling for 50s and sunny, and Kyle found some great places to play. When we arrived, we immediately went to Red Rock Canyon Open Space, a city owned park that allows biking, running and dogs. Perfect!

This crazy rock formation was right outside town, and there were great running trails all around it.

This crazy rock formation was right outside town, and there were great running trails all around it.

This site used to be a sandstone quarry, look at the crazy shelves cut into the hogback. I’m not sure why the stairs were there…

It's the site of an old quarry. See the stairs carved into the rock?

It’s the site of an old quarry. See the stairs carved into the rock?

But Kyle figured it out. He did a couple laps during the run.

stairs

Kyle did some stairs during the run.

The area looked out over western Colorado Springs. See that huge rock fin in the distance behind me? That’s Garden of the Gods. Pretty cool.

I was excited to be wearing shorts!

I was excited to be wearing shorts!

After the run, we were both super hungry. We (almost unsuccessfully) navigated busy downtown Colorado Springs parking scene and found Phantom Canyon Brewing Company. We both had delicious salads, a cup of the most amazing green chili stew I’ve ever had, and some tasty beers.

We treated ourselves to dinner and delicious beer at the Phantom Canyon Brew Co.

We treated ourselves to dinner and delicious beer at the Phantom Canyon Brew Co.

That night we “camped” in the Walmart parking lot. We had grand plans of finding a nice spot up in the forest somewhere, but it got COLD, we got tired, and since we were planning to ride through Garden of the Gods in the morning, it didn’t make a lot of sense to go too far out of town.

The next morning we got up, ate some bananas and peanut butter, and drove to Garden of the Gods. I didn’t take enough picture of the park itself, but it’s a pretty great thing. In the early 1900’s, a man donated the whole park to the city and now it’s open to hiking, running, horseback riding, mountain biking and road biking. All for FREE! Amazing. However, Bailey was not stoked that she didn’t get to come.

Bailey's reaction to hearing she had to stay in the truck during our bike ride.

Bailey’s reaction to hearing she had to stay in the truck during our bike ride.

We started our ride from the Trading Post. There were these crazy/cool welded saguaros in the parking lot. Here’s my attempt to be artistic.

The cool decorative Saguaro's in front of the trading post.

The cool decorative Saguaro’s in front of the trading post.

The ride through the park only lasted a few miles, but it was scenic! These huge red rock fins jutted up from the ground, and there are whole networks of trails winding around, through and over them.

Gorgeous views in Garden of the Gods.

Gorgeous views in Garden of the Gods.

From there we continued riding through the city. Colorado Springs has a great network of bike paths, so not much of the ride was on roads. We finally popped out near Colorado College (my #2 choice after Whitman!) and it was fun to meander through campus and imagine being a student there.

CC has this crazy schedule where they take 1 class at a time for 3 1/2 weeks, then get 4 days off, then start the next class. As a budding anthropology major, I had visions of field trips and off-campus classes in places like northern Mexico or southern Utah. While I think CC would have been great, I’m so happy I went to Whitman. I got my fair share of field trips, and met some amazing people.

From there, we wound our way back up to Garden of the Gods and hopped off our bikes. We had lunch at the Marigold Cafe and Bakery, a delicious restaurant on the west side of town that I absolutely recommend if you’re in the area. I had a crab cake salad (what is better than that, seriously?) and Kyle had a spinach salmon salad with bacon and goat cheese. It was tasty! Then we headed up north to the Jared’s to pick up my engagement ring (we’d dropped it off to get sized the day before – now I don’t have to have that silly spacer in there!), and went back to Red Rock Canyon for an afternoon run. From there, we decided to hit the road to meet some friends in Avon for the evening/morning and make our drive the next day a little shorter. Bad decision.

We got caught in a NASTY snowstorm in the mountains. It took us 4+ hours to do a 2 1/2 hour drive, and Kyle was literally crawling around some of the corners on the passes. It was scary, but I was really glad he was driving. We finally got in at about 9:30 pm and got to spend some nice, relaxing time with our friends. The next morning we went to a fancy brunch at the Westin.

The decor and bar at the Westin.

The decor and bar at the Westin.

Our friends are about as laid-back and unpretentious as you can get, so it was funny to be in this incredibly fancy/expensive hotel with them eating brunch with the people who were spending $400+/night to stay there. But the food was amazing…eggs benedict with habanero hollandaise, huevos rancheros with avacado in little individual sized cast iron ramikins, goat cheese, zucchini and spinach frittata, french toast stuffed with marscapone and fruit preserves and on and on and on. It was amazing.

After a short walk around the golf course to let the dogs burn some energy, we headed home to Grand Junction where, miraculously, it was above 40 degrees and the snow had started to melt. What a great weekend!

 

 

 

 

 

 

And then a month went by…

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Sorry about that! I went home for about 10 days for Christmas. My parents sold their house recently and are living in a 550 square foot cabin on our friend’s farm, so internetting and blogging was not really gonna happen. But it was a great break from reality – fun to be home spending every waking (and non!) with my family. We skied, baked, watched movies, ate (a lot!), went to a play and generally enjoyed living out of town. and on the night before Christmas eve, my sister got engaged! Her boyfriend (now fiance) was visiting for a week before Christmas and he popped the question the night before he left! So excited to start planning her wedding!

Here are some photos from my time at home:

blackmore

Mt Blackmore from our Christmas tree hunt.

The Elephant Spring in Yellowstone.

The Elephant Spring in Yellowstone.

Bull elk staring us down.

Bull elk staring us down in Yellowstone.

The Christmas Spiders that are hung up in downtown Bozeman every year.

The Christmas Spiders that are hung up in downtown Bozeman every year.

huston dogs

The three dogs we were taking care of on the farm.

And then I flew to California to meet up with Kyle and his familiy in June Lake. Here I got to reunite with Jewell, visit some of my favorite places from a past life (www.bigwidewesternworld.blogspot.com) and have an exciting outing of my own!

My happy dog and I when we were reunited!

My happy dog and I when we were reunited!

We went of an a skiing adventure but Kyle's boots and bindings didn't fit together :(

We went of an a skiing adventure but Kyle’s boots and bindings didn’t fit together 😦

Kyle at the sand tufa - some of the coolest geologic formations I've ever seen!

Kyle at the sand tufa – some of the coolest geologic formations I’ve ever seen!

Down at the lake's edge...I had no idea what was coming...

Down at the lake’s edge…I had no idea what was coming…

We're engaged!

We’re engaged!

Carson Peak from the front yard.

Carson Peak from the front yard.

Deserted ski resort.

Deserted ski resort. We skinned up to the top!

Looking downhill to Mono Lake.

Looking downhill to Mono Lake. A gorgeous day for a ski!

Pub crawl shirts - June Lake The Lost Season.

Pub crawl shirts – June Lake The Lost Season.