Sunday, September 23, 2007

Tara's Visit and two 14ers!

I'm not really sure what it is, but I have some sort of infatuation with the mountains of Colorado. I am constantly awed by their beauty, especially when I least expect it. I've been hiking all summer long and have had the opportunity to take in some of the most incredible views, but this past weekend I went on my first Fall hike and was once again, amazed! Three words pretty much sum it up...I love Colorado.

Tara, my college roommate, was visiting in town and we had been talking for months about climbing a 14er when she came to visit. So I brainstormed and tried to think about what would help her to "make the most of [this] opportunity." So after throwing a few ideas around, we decided on camping in the Missouri Gulch and hiking 1,2 or potentially 3 14ers; Belford, Oxford and Missouri.

On Friday, Tara arrived in the Springs, and we were ready to hike! Zach and Jeremy, two friends from the Springs, met us at my house, we loaded up my little CR-V and we headed West to Buena Vista.

We made it to the Missouri Gulch trail head a little after 5pm, made all our last adjustments, loaded up our packs and we were off! We forgot to get a before shot, I think we were all so excited, well, at least I was : )

We stopped about a mile or so in on the trail to take our first pictures. I think this is one of my favorites from the whole weekend.

The boys being boys...

The girls

We made it to the fork for Belford & Oxford and Missouri-our goal for the night, found a great little campsite a little after 7, and managed to get our tents up and settled in before we lost all the light of dusk.

As the last ray of light disappeared, the moon began to rise over Mt. Belford.Tara and our tent!

I wish I had taken pictures of our little fire and dinner, but I guess I forgot, we were hungry! After eating and talking for a little bit, we decided to turn in and try to get a good night sleep for the next day's hike. We had been warned by another hiker who had been up there for the past three nights that the wind had been pretty intense, but aside from a few gusts throughout the night, it really wasn't that bad.

After a little bit of a late start (us girls were too cozy in our sleeping bags to get up on time) we started up the trail our focus on Belford and Oxford around 7:30 am.

An epic pose, about halfway to the top. Yes, that's snow in the background!

We made it! Tara, the flatlander, did great! I, on the other hand, was doing all I could trying to keep up with her!

Tara and I on the top or Mt. Belford with our next challenge of the day in the background...Mt. Oxford...

We only stayed briefly on the summit of Belford because it was so stinkin' windy and we were getting cold fast, so we decided to just keep going. Going down the saddle was fun, it was nice to be going downhill for a change! But inevitably, we had to start going up again in order to reach Oxford. After a few stops to catch our breath-13,000+ft is high!!- we summited our second 14er of the day! Way to go Tara!

Here are the four of us, Tara, me, Zach and Jeremy.

It had been a great day so far, two 14ers, what more could you ask for : ) Well, we had met this other guy on the trail who was shooting for Missouri on top of Belford and Oxford, so Zach and Jeremy, eager to make the most of every opportunity, decided to attempt the difficult and technical traverse to Missouri. As much fun as that would have been, Tara and I decided that two in one day was good enough for us, so we wished the guys good luck and they were off. We hung around the Oxford summit a little longer until the wind made us shiver and then decided to head back towards Belford and the trailhead.

Here's Tara on the rocky traverse back to BelfordBack on Belford for the second time that day, with a fun picture of Oxford behind us. The wind had died down a bit on Belford so we decided to enjoy warm sun on the summit for a while. Besides, we had plenty of time since Zach and Jeremy had gone to do Missouri, or so we thought...

Tara and I made it down Belford back to the fork (where we had left our packs) chatted with a nice couple from Fort Collins, trying to see if they had seen our friends, when Jeremy emerged from the willows! We were shocked and thought he had beaten us, but as it turned out, he started the traverse, but then decided against it and went straight down while Zach continued on. Well, we weren't sure what the weather was going to do, so as nice as it would have been to hang out in the willows just off the trail while we waited for Zach, we packed up and continued down the trail. We took our time, figuring we'd have to wait for Zach back at the car, but at one of our rest stops, we heard a familiar voice coming up behind us and sure enough, Zach had caught up to us! He told us his amazing story of the traverse to Missouri, and though I wish I could have made it, it sounded like it would have been pretty insane! Anyway, well done, Zach, three in one day!

One of my favorite parts about this trip was the foliage. Not quite at the height of it's colors, but still radiant!Here we all are, finished at last! Tara, did you ever think you'd make it up two 14ers in one day?! I am so proud of you! After a long day of hiking, what's better than a nice big dinner! Unfortunately, nothing in Buena Vista opened until 5, so we waited around for something to open. Tara and Zach were a little tired...

I really think this was one of my favorite hikes of the year. Thank you Tara, Zach and Jeremy for making it such a great trip!

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

8 Hours of Tri-ing!

Oops! So, I just realized that I had downloaded the pictures from my most recent race, but never posted them! So here's the report from my first (and probably only) triathlon of the season! But don't worry, after the Chicago Marathon, I've decided to shift my focus from marathons to triathlons and can't wait-already-for next summer!

Anyway, so the Colorado Springs Tri Chics all started when I got this email from Helen asking if anyone would be interested in competing as a team in this 8-hour triathlon race. And me, always looking for a grand adventure, jumped at the opportunity! Plus, it would ensure I'd get to race this summer, so I was in. I trained off and on, around my marathon training and mountain climbing as much as I could but I was really just looking forward to having fun at this event, and we certainly did!

So the day started with the alarm going off at 3:45am. It's a good thing I'd done some pretty early hikes this summer...3:45 didn't really seem that early. (I think this is a sign I'm going insane...) Anyway, I packed up, met Dee and Helen (for the first time as well) at Dee's house where we loaded up into her XTerra and we headed off for Denver, well Aurora actually.

We made great time and got to Cherry Creek State Park right around 6am and met up with our other two teammates, Susan and Beverly. We finally figured out where we were supposed to park and set up our "pit" area. Helen brought this sweet tent that kept us cool and out of the hot hot hot sun in those long afternoon hours! This is Beverly's picture that she so eloquently calls, "The Set-up"

I'm not gonna lie, I was a little nervous, and the butterflies were definitely fluttering around, but once the race started, it all turned into adrenaline.

For those of you who aren't familiar with the race, let me explain it for a minute. It's basically a race against time. For our race, we had 8 hours to complete as many complete triathlons as possible. It was a 1/2 mile swim, 9.2 mile bike and a 2.8 mile run. Competitors had the opportunity to compete solo or as a team. We opted, obviously, for the team and for many reasons, I'm glad I did, but most of all because I got to meet and compete with four fabulous and very talented women : ) So I wasn't actually racing for 8-hours straight, but we were as a team, make sense? Anyway, aside from being a little disorganized, it was a fabulous race, and I'd love to do it again next year!
Ok, enough details and onto the race!
I got this picture just after the gun-the first swimmers racing down to the water to begin the race! There are the leaders! The water was beautiful!
And here's Susan, in the white cap, coming up from her first swim of the day.
Here I am, getting pumped for my first event...the bike! The course was actually pretty nice, and other than almost getting lost, I did pretty well-29:34

And I'm off! Catch me if you can...I dare you!
Here I am cooling off before my was hotter than hot early in the afternoon just before my run and the water made all the difference in the world! For 2.8 miles, I ran it in 23:05. Not bad, for a distance runner!
Cool transition shot. Dee's ready to take off for the water!

So, by this time of the day, around 2pm, the clouds were continuing to slowly creep in from the mountains and we were afraid we might get some lightening. Now, those of you who know me, know that I'm a swimmer at the core and having just bought a new wetsuit, I wanted more than anything to try it out and see what it was like. My team knew this and so after discussing it for a bit, they decided to send me out for my swim before they closed the waterfront. I couldn't have been happier! After my run, I raced back to the pit, peeled on my wetsuit-no easy task after a sweaty 3 mile run, by the way-and waited for Dee to come back from her swim. I had no idea how I was going to do in an open water race. I knew how I would have done in a pool, but open water with currents and waves from passing boats, there are a lot of unknowns. Well, after less than 20 minutes rest from my run, Dee tagged me in and I ran down to the water and took off. The water was a perfect temperature, though it did take my breath away for the first 50 yards or so. But as soon as I got into my groove, it was like I was flying through the water, passing people left and right and it felt great-I could have stayed in there all day! I finished my two laps and ran up the hill and tagged Beverly in for her next swim. I looked at the clock and realized that I'd swam it in somewhere around 15 minutes, and I was elated! I was expecting to make it in around 18 minutes, so to come in a little under 15 was far more than I ever expected!! Me in my wetsuit-I just had to!

It was a wonderful race and a fabulous day, but it of course eventually came to an end. Here's Helen, our final runner, crossing the finish line to officially complete our 8-hours of Triathlon!

The Colo Spgs Tri Chics with our medals! From left to right, Beverly, Dee, me, Helen and Susan

So the race was over and we had a bit of time to kill before the awards, so we went back and grilled some dinner, which was delish! We hung out for a while, I know I tossed around the idea of skipping the awards ceremony, but we decided to stay, and it's a good thing we did...we took first in our division! Yeah, we rock : ) This was our award which our fearless captain, Helen will proudly display in her home for us!

A great day and a great race. Thank you wonderful ladies, for making this such an enjoyable and memorable experience. I'm looking forward to future races with you all!!