Saturday, April 30, 2016

Month Four: 4 Adventures, 4 Lunches, up to 4 miles trail running and no excuses

Wednesday is quickly becoming my favorite day of the week. Now that I’m part-time I don’t have to fly on Wednesday nights and my only standing commitment is teaching a 5pm Bootcamp for my favorite group of people at DCI. Charlotte is at school all day and when I come home I have the house all to myself which means uninterrupted nap time.

Wednesday is also adventure day with Dawnelle.

For April we did not miss a single adventure week, not one. In fact the rule stands that unless we are puking or dead we don’t miss. Am I tired from getting 4 hours of sleep the night prior? Sure. Is Dawnelle tired from getting up at 4:45am and teaching two classes prior to our adventure? Of course. Yet something happens from that moment we come together and begin our expeditions magic happens. The tired, the excuses, the overworked feeling, all of that fades and we come alive.

We kick started April with another hike up Sanitas. Since we were now committed to our 16 mile trail race in Alaska it was time to start training. We began up the east ridge this time and then ran one mile down the Lion’s Lair trail. From there we ran the one mile back to just below the summit and down the west ridge to the parking lot. We hit 17,480 steps and 7.9 miles by 2pm. I’ve never trail ran in my life and this was my first time sans water and backpack wearing tennis shoes.

The Tuesday prior to our Sanitas adventure my friend Jessica and I had attempted Chasm Lake at the base of Long’s Peak but were turned away due to weather. Needless to say my legs were tired on Dawnelle and I’s hike from my 6 mile adventure the day prior. Jessica and I made a date to go back to Chasm Lake on Friday where we were able to successfully make it to Chasm Lake. While I’ve summited Long’s Peak in the summer and taken the Loft route down to hit up the lake I had never been up there in the winter. I am so thankful for my hiking all winter and adventure days because they prepared me for this very sketchy winter climb. I will say Chasm Lake was the hardest climb I’ve done in winter and by far the scariest due to the potential for falling 500 feet down a sheet of ice. We took our ice axes, studied the route and were adequately prepared for our expedition and it was an amazing day because of all our hard work.

The second Wednesday of the month was not only exciting because Dawnelle and I were headed to Colorado Springs to tackle the incline but also because we launched QiTopia Summer Adventure Training Camp that day. Our deal of the day for $100 off registration cost was good for the first 5 people that emailed us while we were climbing the incline. Our goal was to make it to the top in 39 minutes and we hit it at 37. If you’ve ever done the incline you know this is not an easy task but this was my 4th and Dawnelle’s 3rd time up there so we had the incentive to keep going the whole way. Once we reached the top we ran the 3 mile trail down then headed to lunch in Denver. I shaved 8 minutes off my previous time and proved to myself that anything was possible if I just didn’t stop and make excuses for myself. 

We also had 3 groups of 2 sign up for our Adventure Training Camp and after more marketing only have 3 spots left! I’m thrilled because our training is going to get people in shape for hiking the 14er Mt. Yale and will be filled with urban and outdoor bootcamps. Proceeds from our trip will go directly to our Alaska fund and the race in Alaska benefits Cystic Fibrosis research. So essentially we are adventuring for the good of research and funding for those who are less fortunate to have good health than us!
The third week of the month of April was free week in Rocky Mountain National Park. I took advantage of a rare Tuesday off and hit the park solo to hike to Nymph Lake, Dream and Emerald Lake and Lake Haiyaha. The weather in Denver was not so great and I was tired from flying Monday evening but I took the chance that the weather would be better in Estes and was rewarded for my efforts.
I also had the whole trail to myself once I veered off to Haiyaha.

Dawnelle and I drove up Wednesday under the threat of cloudy skies. We piled on layers and broke out the hand warmers but the weather turned and we ended up hot and shedding jackets on our way back. Since neither of us had hiked to lake Bierstadt that’s where we went and it’s a great 4 mile loop with not too much elevation gain. The views were nill at the lake due to the clouds and falling snow but we were more interested in hiking for time than views so after a few quick photos we were off.

On our way back down to Denver we stopped at the Colorado Cherry Company in Lyons which is a restaurant I’ve passed many times on my way in and out of the park but never stopped at. I’ve always been intrigued by the sign which promises pizza, beer, wine, cherry cider and pie. How could you not love that combo? Part of our adventure day, perhaps the most important part is the food we are going to eat after our excursions. We try to pick a restaurant neither of us has frequented so this fit the bill perfectly. I will say my eyes were bigger than my stomach and though the pizza, soup and bread and cherry pie seemed like a good idea at the time there was much stomach ache and skipping of dinner later.

We were fortunate that the last week of the month we had the only nice weather day for a trail run. Although we had done Matthews/Winters before up by Red Rocks the previous time was in ice and completing the loop. This time we hit the front side of the loop and ran two miles in to an overlook then two miles back. I hate regular running on concrete but there’s something special about trail running. I get to be in nature, on the trail and away from my worries just moving at a faster pace than my standard hike. I don’t carry my pack with me so there’s a lightness and freedom in my stride and Dawnelle is teaching me the art of WuWei running where the concept is going slow to go fast. As Dawnelle says, “Leave no trace leave no tracks.”

We couldn’t just trail run and have that be it for adventure day so we headed on over to Kompound Training Center for a Muay Thai class. I must say it’s intimidating to be the new kid at a studio. It’s even more intimidating to be the new kid in a place where the women wear mouth guards and know how to properly wrap their knuckles. We were totally out of our element and we loved it. We learned how to hook and jab, capture our opponent and then had lightening rounds of punching bags, push-ups and core work. Everyone was SO nice at the Kompound and the only other two girls in class were engaging after class. To be a student and put yourself in the arena can be intimidating but I’m so glad we went and I can’t wait to go back and learn more. Chances are high I’ll never be a professional fighter but I’m happy to learn a few tricks and tips along the way.

Closing on another month of adventures I reflect not only on all the places we’ve been but all the people we’ve met. From the trainers at the Kompound to the lady running Colorado Cherry Company and the guys in shorts who took our picture in Rocky Mountain National Park – half of the fun has been engaging with new people. We’ve been telling others our story and hoping to inspired more people to get out and explore the city and state they live in. It doesn’t have to be complicated and most of our adventures haven’t even cost us anything but time, some gas and lunch money. A standing date every week, rain or shine, tired or not has encouraged us to hold to a commitment we made and we’ve never regretted a single moment of our time together.

Part of the fun is not truly knowing where we will go next. May will hopefully lead to nicer weather and more trail runs but we’ve got a whole slew of summer plans and it isn’t even here yet. Don’t forget to follow our Instagram and facebook to see where our adventures lead us next….

Thursday, April 14, 2016

In Defense of the Overdone Birthday

One day out of the year I’m the Pinterest Perfect Mom. I don’t hand make Valentine’s cards or Thanksgiving pies by scratch. I won’t knit my daughter a personalized Christmas stocking or decorate the exterior of the house to the extreme for Santa. I can’t even remember putting together an Easter egg hunt or basket to date. No, there’s only one day a year I care about everything being thought out and beautiful and that is my birthday.

Some might say March 31st is my daughter Charlotte’s birthday but it’s not…it’s her BORNday. That day is in actuality MY BIRTHday because it was the Easer I labored for 8 hours un-medicated to bring my daughter into this world. Three years ago my life changed forever as I became a mom for the first time. When her first born day approached in 2014 I knew I wanted to make it extra special so I enlisted the help of my friend Lacee. I had seen Lacee’s baby shower photos on facebook and was astounded when she told me she had pulled the whole thing off by herself. Lacee turned her passion for baking and decorating into a business called Bash + Butter so she was perfect for the job.

I don’t even want to tell you how much I spent to bring my daughter’s Charlotte’s Web party to life that first year. I invited everyone that had seen us through our journey as first time parents to celebrate. To keep my daughter alive and thriving for a whole year seemed a momentous occasion and we were renting a house at the time so I didn’t care how many people attended. The more of everything the better.

My husband accepted year one for having a large party but wasn’t too keen on a repeat for the second year milestone. He’s the type of person who would rather forget his birthday than celebrate. Growing up, however, birthdays were always a big occasion in my household. I was one of four children so the majority of the year was spent sharing and sacrificing for the greater good. Our born day was the one day out of 365 where we could have and do anything we liked. My grandmother would cook us anything we desired for dinner and purchase the cake we wanted most. Out of all the chairs around her dining room table only one would have balloons tied to it and that was the mark of your special day. My day in May is still more of a week-long celebration which frequently involves travel to another country or state. I want Charlotte to have that same feeling about the day she was born- the feeling that you’re important, you matter, you’re here for a reason and people love you.
So for her second birthday I may have invited fewer guests to make my husband happy but we still had an amazing Tutu’s and Ties for Two party.

They say it takes a village to raise a child. This is also true of pulling off the perfect Pinterest worthy party. This year I have many people to thank for helping me bring Charlotte’s Fairy Special Third Birthday to life. Lacee was my go to for the invites and all the sweet treats. She’s taught me a few tricks on decorating and table presentation so I don’t rely on her as heavily for that aspect anymore but she takes my food ideas and brings them to life. From cheesecakes in a shot glass to donut holes and pretzel wands everything was covered in edible glitter and dazzled the eyes and stomachs of each guest.

My friend Crystal who attended my first Telluride Yoga + Hiking Retreat graciously provided me with the floral arrangement for Charlotte’s second celebration. She inspired me at my yoga retreat because she had quit her day job to become a florist. She told me she just enjoyed being around beautiful things all day that made people happy. Her company Azalea Botanics is thriving and I enlisted her to make my daughter a fairy garden that would double as the centerpiece for the party. I want to teach my daughter responsibility by gifting her with plants that will far outlast one day’s celebration. Crystal created a miniature world so beautiful and special and I cannot thank her enough for this.

Jackie is a fellow contributor for the Denver Metro Mom’s Blog and a woman I also admire for having her own business – Fancy Flamingo. I know firsthand it’s not easy being a small business owner and I’ve enjoyed seeing her creations through her companies’ Instagram page. She was having her own celebration of success by holding a contest which I entered and won! I never win anything so I was truly humbled and grateful to receive this handmade banner from her for Charlotte’s big day.

Turning three meant I also had to step up my game as a party hostess so I arranged for a special guest to arrive and meet Charlotte. I must admit I had counted on 11 children so I was a little disappointed when not all of them showed. I had to remind myself though that since my daughter was the guest of honor she’s the only one who truly mattered and I couldn’t worry about anyone else who couldn’t attend.
All the way from Pixie Hollow came Tinkerbell. As a first time mom this was also my first time hiring entertainment but I was so happy I did. The 45 minutes Tinkerbell visited gave the children someone to focus on and she did an amazing job of singing, granting fairy wishes, reading a story and hand painting. Charlotte could hardly speak three words to her she was so in awe. I know my child can be shy because we’ve had disasters with Santa and the Easter bunny so we prepped her well in advance on her special guest’s arrival. To see the look on her face when Tinkerbell walked in the door and gave her a rose will be a memory that melts my heart even on the coldest days.

My parents flew out and with their help and the cooperation of my husband we were able to give my daughter another amazing party. As I was cleaning up the mounds of glitter left behind once everyone had left my mother commented, “The best hour of your life is the one after your child’s birthday party is over because you know you have 365 more days until you must do it again.”
“That’s the problem, “my husband chimed in. “We know we HAVE to do this all over again next year.”

I smiled to myself. I don’t mind the work, the money, the hours of clean up and set up and take down necessary to host. All of that pales in comparison to the work it took to bring Charlotte earth side and I’ll never forget her born day. I remind myself soon she’ll probably want a pizza party at a bowling alley or in the future maybe she won’t even want to spend our day with me.

Until then her day is mine. 

Monday, April 4, 2016

The #Adventures Continue in March

For the past 3 years or so I've been teaching a noon Friday class at QiFlow. It started as cycle power, a fusion class of a 30 min spin ride then a 30 minute kettlebell workout then turned to a cycle yoga sculpt. In March I passed along this class to another teacher in favor of changing up my schedule so I could fit in more adventures. As Dawnelle pointed out, the luxury of being a fitness instructor is creating your own schedule and if your schedule isn't working then you make changes.

So to celebrate my first noon class off on March 4th Dawnelle and I went up to North Table Mountain in Golden for a MobilityFlow workout. This is a hike I've done many times and the views never get old and the incline never becomes less steep. We perched ourselves on the edge and moved for an hour high above the city of Golden.

Part of our adventure day is showing other people that adventure is possible any day of the week. You don't need a lot of time or to drive very far to have an experience outside. We fit this time in after I taught my 9am class and before I had to teach at 4:30 while both of our kids happened to be at school. We rounded our time out together with lunch at Whole Foods.

Though my next adventure wasn't with Dawnelle I was able to fit another trip in to the Loch Vale with Chad, Jessica, Nick, Becca and Michelle with my daughter Charlotte. The weather had been rather warm and so the snow was packed and melted out on parts of the trail making it great conditions for hiking Charlotte 6 miles. Last trip to the Loch Vale was on New Year's Eve and we were met with high winds and cold temps so this was a nice redemption hike. I know firsthand it's not easy to take your child out hiking in the cold and I had to teach from 9-10 this Saturday as well but if you want to do something you find a way not an excuse.

Dawnelle and I were back to adventure week the next Wednesday where we trekked up to Boulder to hike the three mile loop Mt. Sanitas. Though only 6,863 feet high, you gain about 1,000 feet in a mile and a half of hiking. The Wednesday we went also happened to be a Meet Up group's day on the mountain and Dawnelle and I ended up getting separated by hikers. I confess, I was 8 minutes slower than she was because I got started talking to a women who thought I was a part of their group and was talking to me about 14ers. If there's anything I love it's talking mountains so it was worth the slow hiking for me.

 I cannot believe I have lived in Colorado 11 years and I've never hiked this peak before. The downside to hiking 14ers is that tends to be the only hiking I do on weekends in the summer and I ignore much of what's in my own "backyard." While crowded, this was a great steep climb that would be conditioning for longer steeper hikes. I'm not a huge favor of city views from the top because I prefer the solitude of wilderness but you can certainly see for miles on a clear day on Sanitas. We were going to take a class at the Boulder Movement Gym after but the times weren't convenient so we opted for lunch at a brewery downtown that neither of us had visited. Adventure day is all about trying new things and saying yest to the infinite possibilities each day has for a new experience.

I missed the next week of adventure with Dawnelle due to being out of town. My husband and I traveled to Orange Beach, Alabama with my daughter to visit my in-laws and grandfather in-law. Orange Beach and Gulf Shores was where I spent many spring breaks and summers so it was a delight to be able to come back to a place I hadn't been in years. The water was, of course, a little chilly but we were lucky to have some decent weather during our week that allowed for beach time and tanning.

My parents even made the five hour drive from Birmingham just to spend two nights with us so that was pretty exciting as well.

Chad and I flew home on a Saturday and so Dawnelle and I planned a make-up adventure Sunday the 20th. We went to Red Rocks for adventure 9/52 for Dawnelle's birthday workout celebration. We did 42 exercises in-between climbing the stairs 10 times and alternating who carried up 10lb weights in each hand. After 21 reps of an exercise at the bottom we would climb to the top and do 21 more then climb down. My legs were shaking after the day and I could still feel my calves the next day. While working out we discussed taking our adventures to the next level by trying to register for the Lost Lake Run in Alaska which opened for sign up April 1st. We also decided the outdoor workouts would be fantastic for a summer movement camp that we wanted to host at QiFlow. I'm happy to say that on April 1st we both successfully registered for the 16 mile race (help me) in Seward, Alaska and yesterday we launched the QiTopia Summer Movement Camp. So many people ask to adventure with us we thought this would be the perfect way to train others to hike the 14er Mt. Yale at the end of June. Our weekly adventures have become not only great training for us but also brought up ideas that we never would have had were we meeting in a coffee shop.

There's not many things that get in the way of our weekly meet-ups but a blizzard on March 23rd happen to be one of them. We planned to hike to Maxwell Falls even in the conditions but school was cancelled for both our kiddos which meant we were stuck inside. I must admit I enjoyed the snow day even though there wasn't much I could do but take care of my daughter and watch the blizzard from inside.

Sometimes you just have to recognize when you're safer where you are. That meant we were still three adventures short of our goal of one a week.
Wednesday the 30th we had our hike to Maxwell Falls and the blizzard certainly left a nice icy blanket of snow. Maxwell Falls is a popular hike that I've done in the summer with various friends so it was a nice change to hike the trail in crampons. The tallness of the trees and solitude of the hike lent itself to brainstorming about our upcoming adventure training and the pros and cons to hiking large groups of people up a 14er. Dawnelle and I have very different opinions about speed and attire when it comes to our adventures but that makes us realize there's more than one way to do things out there. I'm the person that likes to take their time and document while she's in it for the workout and speed but we both manage to enjoy our outdoors equally in a way that benefits us both...

I'll tell you some things I've learned. There aren't many people besides my husband and sister that challenge me the way Dawnelle does. She challenges me physically by proposing things I'd never do like trail run or hike without a backpack. She'll insist we carry weights on an already tough climb or that we start the day with a 5:30am workout then go from there. Mentally she'll ask me questions like, "I just don't understand why you are so resistant to______" and it forces me to look in upon what I've clung to. I'm accustomed to having more experience than those I hike or adventure with so I'm not accustomed to someone telling me there's another way of doing things and maybe their way is better. I realize now just how set in my ways I am about certain ideas (like carrying a full pack hiking at all times) and how I'm not willing to budge on others (hiking pants over cotton pants always). I would have never signed up for a 16 mile trail race in Alaska if it were not for her and I certainly wouldn't normally care about doing another workout on top of a mountain after hiking.

These adventures are not only challenging me they are changing my way of thinking and viewing life. I'm more open to saying yes and knowing also when it's ok to say no. I know we're just on the cusp of something even better than I can imagine. Dawnelle always says, don't knock down doors...but if they open you must walk through them.

I have a feeling I'm about to walk, run or jump through a lot more...
*Follow @yogimagee on instagram for adventures as they happen in real time! #adventuresofnatandd