Winter Wonderland Wedding

26 Feb

The West has won my heart but a 5-day trip back to NYC and upstate New York reminded me of the many good things the East has to offer.

Last weekend I traveled east for Silke and Ryan’s Winter Wonderland Wedding. Perhaps two of the neatest people in the world, Silke and Ryan are two people with whom I’ve shared many hours of fun, laughs and general great moments in life.  Their wedding weekend was nothing short of magical.  Perhaps it was seeing all my dear friends from New York or the beautiful rustic setting of the Full Moon Resort but simply put this was a very special weekend.

The weekend began with a bus ride from NYC to the Catskills with about half of the wedding guests.  Upon arrival at the Full Moon Resort we were greeting with warmth in the form of hand-crocheted buffs and hats all lovingly made by Silke herself.

After settling into our rustic cottage accommodations we made our way to the Barn for “Una Noche Mexicana”.  This was a festive evening filled with mariachi music, dancing, and pinatas all in the Mexican tradition.  Many of us took turns whacking, smushing and batting at the traditional party piece but it was not match for us overachievers as we quickly discovered the candy inside!

The bride taking a stab at the pinata!


Waffles giving the pinata a run for it's money!

Shin showing the pinata who's boss!

While it was hard to top the Friday night pinata party, Saturday was just as unique!  The wedding guests were treated not only to a beautiful ceremony and reception dinner but also to a proper Scottish Ceilidh (Ryan is a proud Scotsman so we knew we were in for a treat).

We danced the night away in proper Scottish Ceilidh style well past the stroke of midnight.

And to celebrate with the newlyweds in true style we braved the crisp Sunday morning cold for a celebratory 4-mile run.

Congrats to Silke and Ryan and many thanks for hosting such a marvelous weekend.  Best of luck to you both (and to all you newlyweds or longtime-weds) as you live your lives together.



25 Feb

Well, it’s been a while. Life happened and I’ve been absent from the world of blogs. But, I’m ok with that because in the time I’ve been gone from blogging, dreams were realized, a new year began and best friends have wed. More to come on the details but in the meantime I’ll leave you with a view from Route 36 looking west to the beautiful Front Range of the Rocky Mountains.

Rim Rock Marathon

14 Nov

Yesterday’s long training run was actually the Rim Rock Marathon.  I signed up for the race in late September not only get a proper marathon on the schedule for fall but also to ensure that I would at least have a long run of 26.2 miles prior to The North Face Endurance Challenge in December.

To sum it up, I couldn’t have picked a better long training run.  The Rim Rock Marathon was a small race with only 200 or so people in the field.   It was a road marathon but the scenery made up for that point.  We ran 24 or so miles through the Colorado National Monument – an insanely beautiful part of Western Colorado.

Apparently last year’s race was run in a blizzard so I was pleased by the blue-clear sunrise that turned into an absolutely gorgeous day.

The first 13 miles of the run were pretty much up hill yet that didn’t bother me because my toes were still cold from the chilly morning start.  Each turn of the serpentine course introduced a new, splendid view and on this clear day you could see for miles.  The red rocks glistened and changed color in the rising sun.  The bits of snow clung to the trees and crevices of the rocks.

The course was so curvaceous that at times you could see the other runners on the course ahead of or behind you.  

We ran through a handful of tunnels that went straight through the rocks.  Normally, those tunnels are off-limits to foot traffic but today the road belonged to the runners.

The last 13 miles of the course through the Colorado National Monument were pretty much all downhill or wonderfully flat.  These were some of my favorite views of the day, perhaps because I was in the second half of the run or because they really were that stunning.

Every mile we were greeted by a wee mile marker and every 2 or 3 miles there were great aid stations.  All the Hammer Gels and Salt Pills I could possibly want.  I treated this run and especially the aids stations like I was trail running.  I stopped, drank my water, said thanks to the volunteers then moseyed on.  I didn’t simply barrel through as I normally would if I were really racing, rather, I simply enjoyed the day and the aid stations.

We exited the Colorado National Monument and spent the last two miles of the race on the road headed toward the finish.  This wasn’t my favorite part of the run, but almost nothing could top the 24 miles of beautiful scenery I’d just run through.  Still feeling good, I headed toward the finish and even passed a few people.  Overall, I finished 45th with a time of 3:55.  Glad to have the miles under my legs, I enjoyed the rest of the sunny afternoon.

Marathon Fevah!

7 Nov

It’s Marathon Sunday!  No, it’s not just any marathon though, it’s the New York City Marathon.  As I type there are some 45,000 people running through the streets of New York City.  They will experience the party of the crowd in Brooklyn, the quiet of the 59th Street Bridge, the exhilaration of First Avenue, the realness of the Bronx and the finish in Central Park.  Good luck to all the runners today and have an amazing race!

Here are a few pictures from my own NYC Marathon experiences in 2009.  Happy Running!

Silke chalking the street to welcome the runners on First Avenue around mile 19.

Mayor Bloomberg takes an easy ride through the streets just ahead of the elite runners.

Elite American Runner Ryan Hall (check our those leg muscles).

My New York City Running Club – The Reservoir Dogs – stellar cheering section at mile 19!

Me passing mile 19 in 2009

Walking home after 26.2 miles with Missy and my wonderful pacer Silke.

Wild Wyoming

25 Oct

A Wild Wyoming Hunting Adventure

This past weekend my aunt and uncle invited me to their home in Wyoming.  New to the west, and this being the first time in my life that I’m within driving distance, I couldn’t pass up a family visit!  There was of course some incentive – good company, good food and good fun – but also, my uncle Ed said he would take me Elk Hunting!  Yes, that’s right, happy-tarian me went elk hunting.  I can honestly say though, after my experience, I can see why people really like hunting.

Initially, I was scared I wouldn’t be able to keep up with Mountain Man Uncle Ed.  Luckily, Ed’s theories on hunting can be described as glorified hiking with a rifle. Knowing that, I figured I could handle anything Wyoming or Ed threw at me.  So, on Saturday we set out from the house at 5:45am after Ed fixed homemade oatmeal with raisins and blueberries, two cups of tea for me and a pot of coffee for him.  It was 38 degrees and rainy, not your perfect hunting weather, but we headed to the first of two hunting spots for the day.

The rain was relentless when we reached the first trailhead, so we left the rifle in the car and headed out for a short hike to see the sights.  Atop of the mountain behind me (above) is where we would have gone weather permitting.  Being hunting season, Ed and I were both decked out in brightly colored clothes so as not to be mistaken as elk ourselves.

Thoroughly soaked from our short hike, we climbed back into the vintage truck and drove to the second hunting spot for the day.

After a beautifully scenic drive we reached a lovely nook of trees in rolling hills near the old mining town of Morgan, WY.  Luckily, the rain finally stopped so we grabbed our gear and headed out.  This is where hunting and hiking converge because we meaned through gorgeous pine trees, aspen groves and summited a bald mountain top.

Gradually, we began to recognize the signs of animal life throughout the forest.  Ed pointed out not only the scat of moose, elk and deer but also where the moose had eaten the bark off of trees.

The elk poop has the tiny divot at the top (pictured above on the left) while the moose poop was round and larger (pictured above on the right).

With so many signs of animals, we could help but get excited that we might see an elk or a moose.  As we walked, Ed pointed out fresh elk scat – a true hunter knows when it’s fresh and when it’s a month old.

Our glorified hike truly turned into a hunting trip when Ed saw fresh bull elk tracks in a nearby pile of mud.  Ed’s excellent skill as a hunter shown when he followed the elk tracks through the forest and not five minutes later we actually saw two, huge bull elk.  I was stunned while Ed was already down on one knee looking through his scope.  The elk were faster than us both though because just as Ed knelt to aim, the two elk too off down the hill.  As the elk ran, so did we.  Ed took off at a sprint and newbie hiker-turned-hunter me ran after Ed!  As fast as we ran, the elk were faster but it was truly exhilarating.  At one moment, Ed turned to me and said,

“Can you smell them?”

And yes, I could.

I’ve never experienced a more distinctive waft of animal in the forest.  But just as quickly as I noticed the scent, it was gone, fleeting just as the elk themselves.  Alas, we didn’t “get an elk” but seeing elk, smelling elk, and seeing more elk scat than you could imagine, I consider it a great first hunting experience.  The peaceful meandering through the forest, combined with the brief kick of adrenaline when we actually spotted the elk was a unique combination of energy and balance.  Some folks hunt with 4-wheelers or horses or tree stands but I like Ed’s glorified hiking approach the best.

Back home with my Aunt Theresa, we recounted our day’s encounter over a tasty pot of moose chili (seriously good).  I wish my Uncle Ed luck as he searches for this year’s elk, perhaps I’ll be with him when he does.

Boulder Firsts

16 Oct

It’s only Saturday evening and it’s already been a fantastic weekend.  It all started on Friday afternoon when I walked into the kitchen at work (yes, I have a new job – wahoo)!  We  don’t just have any ordinary kitchen at work though, it’s almost fully equipped with a refrigerator, sink, dishwasher, dishes, microwave – basically everything you need except a stove and oven.  For a work kitchen, it’s pretty deluxe.

Well on Friday afternoon my best guess is that someone really had a craving for camp cooking or they were testing out a recipe for a future issue of the magazine because they whipped up something tasty on this sweet camp stove!  I’m so glad that part of someone’s job at my office is to test trail recipes out on the camp stove.  Nice!

After work I made my way into town to meet up with my friend Chris, from Jackson, WY.  We grabbed dinner and his dog William kept us company.

Chris was in town promoting Teton Gravity Research‘s new film Light the Wick. The film captured a bunch of skiers sometimes gliding, sometimes falling down huge mountains in Alaska, Croatia and Jackson, WY.  

Part of the film included a 3-D segment; while the idea was great the execution was poor in this particular flick.  Although the 3-D effects were lacking, the glasses rocked.  Here is Gewn sporting the custom made specs.

On Saturday morning, the bunch of us (Chris, Gwen, Erik and myself) decided to climb the 3rd Flatiron.  Truth be told, this was my first multi-pitch climb ever.  I’ve climbed in Alaska once while on belay from a top rope but this was a new experience.

Here, Chris scopes out the very crowded route.  He was a stellar climbing partner and I felt completely safe with the gear he placed and the route he suggested.

We reached the summit a few hours later.  It was a great newbie route because at some points it was like climbing a ladder with the excellent foot and hand holds.  The view was stunning and you could see for miles.

The great Saturday was topped off with a great dinner with Paul, Patricia and Sean.

Going West!

10 Oct

A week ago today I arrived in my new home – Boulder, CO!  After two days of driving, 1,216 miles, a Topeka, KS hotel, a few tumbleweeds and beautiful scenery, I arrived.  I thought I might have more to say about the solo road trip, but I’ve spent a week mulling it over and I’ve concluded that the road trip was simply part of the journey (literally and figuratively) — a journey that began months ago when I quit my old job to pursue my passion.  Thankfully, the journey continues!  But in the meantime, here are a few pictures.

Dad and I spent about 3 hours putting together and installing my Yakima bike racks – luckily, once they were on the roof of the car, the bikes were fantastically stable!  Thanks Dad.

St. Louis, MO drive-by, taken about 5 hours into my trip on day one.

Ta-da!  Welcome to Boulder!

Crafty Lady

28 Sep

This past weekend I attended a high school friend’s daughter’s first birthday party (did you get all that?). This being my first ‘First Birthday party’ aside from the birthday I had when I turned one, I really had no clue what to get, make, or bring for a modern day toddler.  Rather flummoxed and needing a unique birthday gift I turned to the craftiest person I know – my Mom!

My Mom is a crafty lady.  As a kid, when school was cancelled due to snow and my brother and I tired of making snow angels, Mom was always ready with some cool art activity or crafty project.  She even wrote a book about fun art activities for kids of all ages that require minimal utensils and ingredients but provide hours of fun. Being the saint she is, all the proceeds from the book sales go to Healthy Moms and Babes, a local Cincinnati, OH/Northern Kentucky charity helping foster the health of mothers, children and families.

With my brother and I grown and no longer needing snow day entertainment, my Mom put her talents to work professionally.  For the past eleven years she has worked as a Kenton County Kentucky 4-H Youth Development Agent.

Everyday she puts her two Bachelors degrees and one Masters degree to work with local kids teaching them about everything from entrepreneurship to sewing.  Now those are tax dollars well spent!

Even after all these years, I’m glad I can still call on my Mom, the crafty lady, for help. We put our heads together, took a quick trip to the fabric cabinet and pattern drawer and came up with a plan…

…a vintage tote bag with modern fabric and a personalized touch.

Happy Birthday Maya (mmm, yummy cake!)

To Do List

22 Sep

Climbing a mountain has been on my ‘Life’s To Do List’ for as long as I can remember.  In my quarter century-plus on this planet, I’ve climbed a few mountains, or what some may argue big hills, but nonetheless:

The Aonach Eagach Ridge in Scotland

The Enclosure next to the Grand Teton in Wyoming

Mt. Fuji in Japan

Regardless of the mountains I’ve climbed and the mountains I intend to climb, I can’t seem to cross this particular item off my To Do list.  Contemplating this on my run this morning, I decided that I welcome this perennial challenge on my To Do list.

Mountain climbing, whatever the size of your hill or peak, reminds us that ever day we seek to accomplish our goals and check one more item off our To Do list.

  • Change oil in the car
  • Make cookies for this weekend
  • Fix dinner
  • Change jobs
  • Write marketing plan
  • Prepare for sales meeting presentation
  • Etc., etc., etc.

And the list goes on.  Personal or professional, admit it, we’ve all got a To Do list. But have you ever noticed that not matter how diligently you work on crossing items off, new one’s appear?  In reality, there will always be on more item on the to do list.  But rather than hating the constantly growing list, I think that if you’ve found your passion, some of the items on the To Do list become like mountain climbing.  There will always be on more mountain to climb, one more peak to bag and one more summit to see but you’re not at all upset that you simply can’t cross it off the list.  And I’m ok with that.

What’s on your Life’s To Do list?

Run@Work Day

17 Sep

Today is Run@Work Day.  Some of you may be thinking that today is the day you jump on a treadmill and lug your computer, Blackberry or iPad up there with you to literally run while working but thankfully that is not the case.  Instead Run@Work day means that all of us dedicated runners, wanna-be runners, and happy walkers encourage our colleagues to schedule at least 30 minutes of running or walking into their daily routines.

Put down that donut, that Snickers bar and lace up those shoes and take walk around the parking lot. Evacuate your cubicle and see some midday sun. Attempt the four flights of stairs in your office parking garage instead of the elevator.  And lastly, enjoy today since it’s Run@Work Day and it’s a Friday.

I’m off for a run!