Monday, July 27, 2015

Wyoming Road Trip

Wyoming Road Trip, Fort Collins Colorado, Old Town Fort Collins

This last week, Daniel and I packed up the car and headed somewhere I've never been—Cheyenne, Wyoming. While Cheyenne might not seem like a typical "destination" trip, it was sure a vacation for us! Daniel lived in Cheyenne for several years and had long-awaited showing me his hometown and introducing me to his childhood friends.

We left Wednesday morning and drove the 10 ½ hours across Idaho, Utah and Wyoming to reach our destination. Our first stop was the gym at F.E. Warren Air Force Base—after that many hours of driving, our legs were in need of a good workout. We then headed to meet some of Daniel's friends—all of whom were amazing and so friendly—before heading off to Cheyenne Frontier Days and none other than Aerosmith! We had great seats and totally jammed out—my favorite songs were "Dude Looks Like a Lady" and "Sweet Emotion." It was definitely an experience, that's for sure!

The next day, we enjoyed huge meals at the Tortilla Factory, which is renowned for their Mexican chorizo & eggs breakfast. We decided that it would also be fun to venture down to Fort Collins, Colorado, so we jumped in the car and made the short drive across the border. We walked around Old Town Fort Collins, stopped in at all the boutiques, sampled fudge, ate Walrus Ice CreamBEST ICE CREAM EVER!—and sipped a cocktail at Social. My only Fort Collins regret was not picking up a chocolate chip cookie sandwich with peanut butter icing from Mary's Mountain Cookies. BIG. MISTAKE. I tell you.

After returning back to the house Thursday evening, we grabbed a couple of bikes and toured around downtown Cheyenne as the sun was setting. The town felt like a ghost town—it was totally empty, probably due to everyone being at Frontier Days—but it was so unlike Boise! After biking for a while and realizing our extreme hunger, we ended up at the Rib & Chop House, which was probably my favorite place to eat on our entire trip. I enjoyed a HUGE pulled pork stuffed potato and a cup of gumbo as well as a mountain of a brownie sundae.

Friday, our last day, was filled with some much-needed relaxation. We again went to the Tortilla Factory for breakfast, stopped by Eileen's Colossal Cookies—which totally made up for not going to Mary's Mountain Cookies—because these ones were SO GOOD. I picked a frosted sugar cookie but also tried the oatmeal raisin, chocolate chip, snickerdoodle and scotchies. I also learned how to ride a scooter (while Daniel schooled me on a Yamaha), and again visited the Chop House for a killer dinner. This time I got a bowl of gumbo (because a cup just wouldn't cut it!) and the hot apple cobbler à la mode for dessert. Again... best meal. Our trip wouldn't be complete without another trip to Frontier Days to wander through the carnival, munch on a funnel cake (you bet I did!), and do a decent amount of people watching.

Looking back, I didn't take many photos. I've been trying to "unplug" a little more lately and traveling without my camera or phone on me all the time is clearly having drawbacks! The benefit, however, is I'm able to live a lot more "in the moment," and I see no negatives in that at all. Check out the sparse assortment of the photos I took of our roadtrip below.

Wyoming Road Trip, Cheyenne Wyoming, Cheyenne Frontier Days, Aerosmith Concert
Watching Aerosmith jam out! There were over 18,000 people in the crowd.
Wyoming Road Trip, Fort Collins Colorado, Old Town Fort Collins, Walrus Ice Cream
Daniel claims Walrus is the best ice cream EVER. I had cake batter with cookie dough & brownie mix-ins and cannot argue with him! In fact, I won't even debate it. It was amazing!
Wyoming Road Trip, Cheyenne Wyoming, Eileen's Colossal Cookies
A Cheyenne treat—a frosted sugar cookie from Eileen's Colossal Cookies. It was colossal. It was amazing. I want like 10 more.
Wyoming Road Trip, Cheyenne Wyoming, Scooter Rides
Puttering around one of Cheyenne's neighborhoods while learning to ride scooters & bikes. We didn't go far but sure had fun!

While we didn't make it to every place we wanted to go (hiking Vedauwoo, Denver, and Estes Park will have to wait for the next time), we did manage to fit a good amount of Cheyenne into our short trip.

What I enjoyed most—in addition to the buffet of Cheyenne eateries, the beautiful sights and the hometown feel—was the people. Daniel has some of the kindest, nicest friends. They absolutely lavished us with generosity, their time, and their hospitality. I am so grateful to have finally met them and cannot wait to plan a return trip. And hey, if I happen to sneak in a scotchie from Eileen's and a cone of Walrus along the way, that just makes it all the merrier.

Thanks for a great trip, Cheyenne. It won't be the last time we see each other.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Freakin' Fast Half Marathon

Freakin' Fast Half Marathon, Boise Runner, Downhill Half Marathon

This past Saturday was a new experience for me—my very first downhill race—the Freakin' Fast Half Marathon! Not only was it a downhill run, it was also my third competitive half marathon. It was another race that I was blessed to be able to run with my mom and we both had a great time!

The nationally certified course began at the base of the Bogus Basin Ski slopes and dropped more than 3,000 feet over the 13.1 miles down to the bottom of the hill—which is why it's so "freakin' fast!" I started out quick—my first mile coming in at 5:45—and just kept cruising from there. I went a little bit up and down with my times, hitting a sub-5:00/mile on the steepest portion and coming in around 6:30/mile on the two miles with a little bit of an uphill incline.

I wasn't too concerned with my pace, however, because I just wanted to finish injury-free! I'm still in the beginning weeks of training for the Air Force Half Marathon in September, so I didn't consider myself "prepped" for this race, though I knew I'd be able to complete it without a problem. I just didn't want to over-do it and hurt/strain/injure something! Thankfully, besides for my feet feeling hot, I didn't experience any physical problems during the race. My mantra the whole time was, "Down-Hill Ba-by!" which I said every four steps when I was feeling tired, and it definitely helped me stretch it out and speed it up!

Over the span of the course, I went back and forth with another lady several times before taking the lead around mile 9. Once I crested the uphill portion during mile 11, I kicked it into high gear from there and literally sprinted into the finish, crossing in a time that even I couldn't have expected! I finished as the 1st Place Overall Female with a time of 1:17:23, averaging a pace of 5:54/mile. I was also the 6th overall finisher out of 361 total participants.

My mom did awesome as well. She finished in 1:45 and had a great race. As soon as I crossed the line and chugged some Gatorade, I jogged back up the hill to meet her and we finished together as we always do. And if you'll notice our cute matching outfits in the photos below—they were sponsored by Gordmans and we absolutely adore them!

See more photos of our race below!

Freakin' Fast Half Marathon, Boise Runner, Downhill Half Marathon, Mom and Daughter Running Together
A shot of the crowd at the top of the hill. It was 6:30 am—we were chilly and ready to run!
Freakin' Fast Half Marathon, Boise Runner, Downhill Half Marathon, Mom and Daughter Running Together
Cheesin' it while waiting for the start.
Freakin' Fast Half Marathon, Boise Runner, Downhill Half Marathon
"Workin' it" & cruising into the finish line with a thumbs up. I was stoked to finish in 1:17!
Freakin' Fast Half Marathon, Boise Runner, Downhill Half Marathon, Gordman's Athletic Wear
Our awesome shirts, part of our running outfit which was sponsored by Gordmans—my new favorite place for affordable—and cute—workout gear! Aren't the finisher medals fun?
Freakin' Fast Half Marathon, Boise Runner, Downhill Half Marathon, Mom and Daughter Running Together
Coming up to the finish line with my mom. She's a rockstar!
Freakin' Fast Half Marathon, Boise Runner, Downhill Half Marathon, Mom and Daughter Running Together
We did it! We were both glad to have the race over with. We can't decide which we like better (or should I say least?)—killer uphill runs or dreadful downhill runs. We've decided flat races are our favorite!
Freakin' Fast Half Marathon, Boise Runner, Downhill Half Marathon, Mom and Daughter Running Together, Final Kick Events
Celebrating being "Freakin' Fast" with Christie, the super-cute organizer of the race & owner of Final Kick Events.

If you'd had asked me prior to the race what my goal was, I'd have said it was to 1) either beat my PR (maybe try for 1:25?) or 2) just finish without any injuries. I did both! As I was watching the miles fly by, I was estimating my finish time and couldn't believe I was on pace to finish sub 1:20. In fact, I achieved a new personal record by taking almost 9-minutes off my prior best time, which I ran at the Famous Idaho Potato Half Marathon in May, and have taken a total of 16-minutes off my time since the Volition Half Marathon in March. Granted, I know it was a downhill race—hey, the course is certified, after all!—but I was still so jazzed to run that time!

This race was so encouraging for me. Not only did I do well, but I got to run with my rockstar mom and also had an amazing post-race experience. As I normally do, I prayed throughout the duration of the run (running is my favorite time to pray!), and after I finished and began my trek back up the hill, I was listening to Hillsong's "Oceans" and was completely overcome with emotion. I felt strength, excitement, joy, gratitude, and humility—knowing that I did not run that time by myself. I was protected, that's for sure. God is so good!

What a great freakin' race!

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