Patriot Day 5k – Post Race Recap and Unexpected PR

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Well, it’s been awhile since I’ve done a “post-race recap.” I’ve been running a few races this year but haven’t really taken the time to review them. Since this blog is partly about running, it’s about time that I recap a race of mine.

This past weekend was a “holiday” of sorts to remember and honor those that served our country on that awful day 15 years ago. I was a freshman in high school sitting at my desk in earth science watching the news as the two towers fell down.

I will never forget that day and our country will always remember those that had fallen with the towers. The company I work for, 3W Races, holds a race every year to honor those first responders and military that were there that day and that continue to serve our country. The Patriot Day race started out as a 10k and 5k but this year we only did the 5k. Not being responsible for the production of this race, I decided to run it! Talk about perks of the job!

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This race is in Denver and around a beautiful park in the city, Sloans Lake. Being a super flat course (the most flat of any of 3W’s courses), I wanted to see what my current fitness level is by racing as hard as I could. I didn’t want to wear a watch, I just wanted to go off of feel. After getting this time, I plan on picking some running goals and deciding what I actually want to do with the sport.

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I showed up to the park pretty early, getting plenty of time to talk with friends and get a warm up in. One friend in particular told me he wanted to PR which would be a sub 25 minute 5k for him. He told me he wanted run with me, or at least keep me in his sights. I figured we could run together since my time would be somewhere around 25 minutes anyway. That’s what I’ve been running in recent races.

The whistle was blown and off we went. My friend and I ran pretty hard from the start line. I have a bad habit of starting off too fast, and even though I tried not to this time, I knew we were running pretty quickly! I don’t know even remember what the time was, but we were both shocked when his watch beeped at the first mile marker. I told my friend that it’s okay, we can still get that PR as long as we hold where we’re at.

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By mile two, he was still on my shoulder; I knew he was set up for a PR. I waved my hand up, holding a “one” on my fingers telling him we only had one more mile left. I pushed it a little harder, still feeling great.

Then, with three-quarters of a mile left, I looked down and saw my shoe untied! I swear I doubled knotted that thing and ironically, I was even thinking about shoes untying while running.  UUURRRGGG. Not stopping, I just became very aware of where I was putting my feet down at.

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I passed a group and they reminded me of the mishap but I still kept going. I passed my friend’s wife on the course and told her he was right behind me. Looking up, the finish line was in sight and I pushed even harder.

Noticing that I was finishing around 23 minutes, my friend was definitely in for PR. I looked back and there he was, flying in for a minute and a half PR! So excited, we high-fived and he thanked “Coach Vestal.”

 

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Feeling pretty good, I started thinking about my PR. I honestly couldn’t remember it, but had my phone with me. Checking my blog, where I record such things, I found that I had beaten my PR as well. I couldn’t believe it. I had not goal of a PR, just a fast race. I have been feeling super slow lately, and not as fit as I used to be, but I had indeed ran my fastest ever 5k! The best part, is I still feel room for improvement!

A PR kind of day, about half a dozen of us gotten PRs! It was awesome! We all got to take turns re-setting the time clock to our times, and took some celebratory pictures then headed to a local brewery for celebratory beers.

1st in my Age Group!

I was also 1st in my Age Group!

Hiking to Sky Pond, Rocky Mountain National Park

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Sky Pond. My phone camera does NOT do this hike justice. I am in the works of getting a new phone and/or nice camera.

(Did you know it’s the Centennial Celebration of the National Parks? It is! The National Parks Service is officially celebrating their 100th birthday on August 25th. I absolutely love and respect the National Park Service and plan on doing a whole bunch of National Park posts this month, starting with Sky Pond in Rocky Mountain National Park….)

Starting out at 4:30am sounded rough but ended up being well worth the early morning call. I pulled into the parking lot and everyone climbed into my car. We were all sleepy-eyed but ready to make the journey to Rocky Mountain National Park.

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Even though the weather was predicted to be overcast and rainy, I still had a feeling there might be a lot of people trying to hike in Rocky Mountain with it being just a couple of weeks before school starts.

We got to the trailhead right around 6am, thankful that there was only a few cars in the parking lot. The five of us ladies set out to the trails.

Four out of the five of us. Photo credit to my friend Denise.

Four out of the five of us. Photo credit to my friend Denise.

Nine miles round trip, this hike is described as being strenuous and predicted to take up to nine hours! We figured, all of us being a part of 3W Races, a running company, that It shouldn’t take us near that amount of time.

Fog hanging around in the valley.

Fog hanging around in the valley.

The hike was well-marked and it’s only the last half mile that is sort of strenuous with natural stairs and a scramble up a waterfall. That’s right, A WATERFALL!

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Timberline fall from a distance. This waterfall is the one you climb, but off to the right of the main water shed.

Starting out on a very gently incline, you catch beautiful glimpses of the valleys of Rocky. Then, under a mile, you reach your first landmark, Alberta Falls.

Alberta Fals

Alberta Falls

As you keep hiking from there, you reach a few junctions in the trail leading to other (assuming) wonderful hikes. If you do want to hike to Sky Pond, I suggest making sure you read the map well or bring one with you, knowing where to turn. There are signs, but sometimes they don’t always say, “THIS WAY TO SKY POND!” For the most part, you stay on the main, prominent trail.

Photo Credit: Katja

Photo Credit: Katja. Check her out on Instagram.

Reaching about 2.8 miles into the hike, you get to The Loch, a fairy tale looking lake surround by enchanted forests. Maybe it was just the overcast morning and all the conversation about books, but we really did feel like we were walking through a story book.

The Loch. Photo credit: Katja

The Loch, Lisa and I. Photo credit: Katja

After completely passing the lake, the trail starts inclining a bit steeper, but still not that hard. When you’re at about 3.25 miles, you start to hike some rock stairs and get to a point that looks like the trail ends. There’s a sign pointing up and you realized you have to get to climb a waterfall. I thought this was the coolest part of the hike!

Climbing up the waterfall!

Lisa climbing up the waterfall! Denise and Susan waiting at the base.

The trail/climb is to the side of Timberline Falls, a speculator waterfall from the water shed of Sky Pond. Not an incredibly difficult climb, but super fun to scramble up the side of a waterfall. Given my rock climbing experience, this was a blast, but I could see this as being a bit scary for some.

Photo Credit: Katja

Going up! Photo Credit: Katja

From the top of the waterfall, you see Glass Lake. It was a little overcast, with clouds just hanging on the top of the surrounding peaks and ridges, but a breath-taking sight nonetheless. (I don’t have a great picture of Glass Lake specifically.)

This is by far one of my my favorite photos ever of myself. Taken by Katja.

This is by far one of my favorite photos ever of myself. Taken by Katja.

We looked around for the next cairn marking the remaining .2 miles of the trail to get to the second lake, Sky Pond. With more fairy tale stone paths through patches of bright green, lush grass, we reached the end, and gazed upon the water. I can imagine seeing the reflections of clouds on a bright, clear day, but after the 4.5 mile hike, it was beautiful.

Lisa looking at Sky Pond

Lisa looking at Sky Pond

On the way down, we stopped to eat lunch on a big rock by the Loch then continued back to our car. Now, we were seeing the masses, super grateful for starting our hike when we did, agreeing none of us like crowds.

Photo credit: Katja

Photo credit: Katja

Getting There:

  • The Sky Pond hike starts at the Glacier Gorge Trailhead in the park.
  • Easiest if you enter Rocky Mountain National Park by the Estes Park entrance (northeast side of the park).
  • It is $20 to enter the park (I have an annual National Parks Pass – saved us SO much money this year!)
  • If you do get there later in the day, there is a second, HUGE, parking lot one mile from the trailhead that has a free shuttle to Glacier Gorge. You pass it as you come to Glacier Gorge.
  • Click here for a map to the trailhead.

Tips:

  • Get there early; like all the other articles say, this hike is well travel and crowded, especially near Alberta falls.
  • Bring “grippy” shoes; the waterfall climb can be a little slick. We all hiked in our trail running shoes and did great.
  • Bring plenty of water and nutrition. It’s not too incredibly strenuous, but depending on your fitness level, make take you a little bit longer than us. (We did the hike in about 5.5 hours versus the predicted 9).
  • We went in August, and happened to be on an overcast day with wind – make sure you bring layers of clothes, sunscreen and/or a hat to prepare for any weather.  As you climb up higher, weather can change drastically and quickly. This hike reach about 10,500 feet in elevation.
  • Hiking guide.

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July 23rd, Castle Rock Prairie Dog Half/10k/5k – Review/Discount Code

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Many of you know I work for a running company in Colorado called 3W Races. This is a dream job that I started almost two years ago now!

I mainly do marketing for them (emails, local event promotions, acquiring sponsors and social media) but I have been transitioning into more race production and race day tasks. For our big races, our half marathons, after set up, I am the volunteer coordinator and organize all the water stations and course marshals. This means recruitment, mapping  out where they go, communication with volunteers and making sure they get to the right location and do the right thing.

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The next one that I have been working on is coming up on July 23rd. We have the Summer Splash Prairie Dog Half, 10k and 5k in Castle Rock. This race in particular I got to run two years ago! It’s a beautiful course that is just hard enough to give you a workout and feel accomplished without being too hard.

The year I did it, I placed second in my age group for the half marathon! I remember that day pretty well because I showed up early to help set up, ran the race, then stayed after to help clean up. I also remember my knee hurting really badly for that race after doing a double race weekend. You can read all about it HERE.

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Anyway, let’s just cut to the chase. I’m writing this post to invite all you (Colorado) runners to run with us!  As you can see from the picture below, I am offering 18% off any of the distances (which is probably the biggest discount we, as staff, are ever allowed to offer). *Cough, cough* we may be having a friendly office competition to see who can get the most people to register. Cough*

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This year’s race has awesome swag: a gender specific t-shirt, souvenir race bib, wooden finisher’s plaque, and a SPINNING medal for half marathon participants! If you place overall, you get a unique wooden carved trophy (pictured below) and if you place in your age group, you get a wooden, carved plaque (not pictured).

So, if you’re interested, check out the website HERE, sign up HERE and don’t forget to use you 18% off discount code ( 3WWHIT18 )!

Gear Review – SLS3 Compression Foot Sleeve

20160511_110723 (I was given a free pair of the SLS3 Compression/Plantar Fasciitis Foot Sleeves in exchange for my review. All opinions below are my own.)

After trying the SLS3 running belt, I was stoked to try another product by SLS3. I use my running belt all the time and I had bought a pair of SLS3 compression calf sleeves I run in regularly.

I got an email to be part of a blogger group to try the plantar fasciitis foot sleeves and thought, “Well, I do have plant fasciitis and I like SLS3 products, so yes, I’ll try those!”

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I’ve been battling the dreaded plantar fasciitis, a bad word to runners, off and on for a few years now. Although mine is un-diagnosed by a doctor, I’m 99% sure I have it and it sucks. I am lucky that it hasn’t gotten to the point of side lining me completely. When I first discovered the signature bottom of foot pain, I did my research, read every book I could, and came up with a routine. Every time I feel a little twinge, I use my methods and it’s gone.

With my running being off and on as it has been over the last 6+ months and me admitting not taking care of myself due to low energy and lack of time, I haven’t been able to shake this bout of plantar fasciitis as easily. The foot sleeves were calling my name!

What are they? They are compression sleeves that just cover from above your ankles to right before your toes. Claiming to help with the relief of plantar fasciitis, Achilles tendon pain and stress fractures by applying  compression, increasing circulation, reducing inflammation, and providing support for weak ankle muscles.

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While, I can’t prove if they reduce inflammation and increase circulation, I can say they did relieve some pain!

SPECIFICS:

  • Come in black or pink
  • Three different sizes to choose from (S, M or L based on shoe size)
  • Moisture wicking fabric
  • Interchangeable (each sleeve is not right or left foot specific)
  • Machine washable

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PROS:

  • Alleviated my foot pain relating to plantar fasciitis and achilles tendon issues for a brief time
  • They fit under socks
  • Cool, in temperature

CONS:

  • Stiff when you run in them
  • Thick. Yes, the fit under socks but I could still feel them
  • Too tight for LONG periods of time

 

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Originally, I was wearing them to treat plantar fascitiis, now I have some weird achilles pain and I have been using them for that. While great for a temporary relief post-run, I don’t like them while running.

Althought the website says, “Helps relieve joint and muscular pain even during sleep,” I once, accidentally, fell asleep in them.  I did order my size based on their sizing guidelines, but they must have been too tight because I woke up to shooting pains in my feet! I quickly took off the sleeves and the pain was gone, leaving me to believe that they were cutting off my circulation.

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Would I recommend them? Sure! If you have achilles pain or plantar fascia issues. However, they aren’t a cure for either issue, just a temporary pain relief. I personally will put them on while I foam roll (my calves because that’s sometimes the root of feet issues) and then keep them on as a barrier while ice.

I would also suggest them for if you need some ankle support while running. I don’t necessarily need a brace or ankle support, and running in them was stiff and uncomfortable for me, but if that’s a need for you, they would work well.

I’ll save mine for recovering on the couch!

Find them:

On Amazon for $18.90

SLS3