Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Race Recap: The Colorado Marathon

The Colorado Marathon has been on my bucket list for a few years now. Mostly because it's in Fort Collins (I went to school at CSU, and barely ever get up there anymore!). I had also heard it was a good race to try and BQ at because of the downhill. So I decided to sign up last fall, thinking it would be attempt #2 at a BQ (it wasn't, but I'll get into that in a minute). It's a pretty pricey one - about $40-$50 more than any other local marathons, but since it's a Team Beef race, I decided I could justify it, if only once.

I know I've mentioned this in a few places, but not sure if on the blog...but essentially, I didn't think my BQ Attempt #1, 2, and 3 through very well. My original plan when going for my BQ was to try at Phoenix Marathon (#1) on 2/28, again at Colorado Marathon (#2) on 5/3, and then finally at Revel Rockies (#3) on 7/19. Well...that sounds all fine and dandy and like there's plenty of time between #1 and #2 to improve. Well newsflash: there wasn't. To truly full-out race, you need 3 weeks recovery time post-marathon. Plus 3 weeks taper time pre-marathon. That left me with only 3 weeks of actual training time in between the Phoenix and Colorado Marathons. Definitely not enough time to significantly improve. Add to the fact that while I had a blast at Phoenix and was SO happy with my time there, I was exhausted from the structured, 50-60 miles per week training I had been putting in for the months prior to the race. So I ended up changing my plans. I took the weeks in between Phoenix and Colorado easy. And decided to instead, just run the Colorado Marathon as a training run for Attempt #3 (which will now be attempt #2) - Revel Rockies in July. So that's what I did. I went in with the idea of running it "for fun", and just having a good time with it.

And overall, I'm happy with how it went. I ran a 3:54 "easy" marathon (vs. 3:41 at Phoenix) and could significantly tell a HUGE difference in my recovery time needed post-Colorado vs. post-Phoenix. So I think it's safe to say that I made the right decision. I know I was not ready to BQ at Colorado and attempting it, would have only hindered my training rather than helping it. I just hope I have enough time now to really improve enough and strengthen my quads prior to Revel (so they can handle the downhill) to hopefully get that BQ!

So anyways, keeping that in mind, that I was taking this race easy and NOT going for those two exciting little letters, here is my race report:

I had some prior commitments in Grand Junction Saturday Morning (the end of season 5K for my Girls on the Run team), so I couldn't leave for Fort Collins until a little after11am. It's a 5 hour drive, so that put me into town around 4pm. I checked into my hotel (Best Western Kiva Inn - it was okay), stopped at The Oval real quick for a picture, and then headed to the race expo. It was a pretty small expo, but there were a few booths there, including Skirt Sports, so I tried on some of their new items I'd been eying online, before heading to a grocery store to pick up some breakfast for the next day. After that I just hung out in the hotel for awhile watching TV until Sheva came - a friend I had met through Team Beef, as we had decided to split the hotel room. Once she got there we chatted a little and then I attempted to get some sleep.

#Selfie at The Oval (CSU Campus)
My #FlatRunner all ready for the next day!
I slept off and on before getting up at 3:15 the next morning (these marathons are going to kill me, if only from lack of sleep!), to leave at about 4:15 and head to downtown Fort Collins to park and catch the bus. There was a long line already for the buses (buses ran from 4:15-5:00), so I waited in that for awhile before getting on one. Different from most point-to-point races that have school buses, these were luxury buses. Kind of nice, but at the same time, I have a feeling this is one of the reasons the cost of this race is so high, and I'm not sure it's worth it.

The bus ride was fairly long - it takes awhile to wind up Poudre Canyon. It was about 5:45 by the time we got off the bus. I circled through the bathroom line once and was waiting around (apparently looking pathetic, see below), before spotting Ellen and Kristyn - who I had done a training run with 3 weeks prior. I went and stood around with them and then we all decided to get into the bathroom line one more time. The line was insanely long by this point (I do not think they had enough porta-potties for this race), and we ended up getting through it with about 2 minutes to spare before the race start (cutting it MUCH closer than I like to, especially in a marathon - thank goodness I was running this one for fun or else I would've been way more stressed out about it). I ALWAYS see people wearing PJ pants and trash bags to stay warm while waiting for the start of a race. So the ONE time I decide to do picture gets taken and posted on The Coloradoan website (and maybe in the actual physical newspaper too, although I didn't see it). Figures. (Reminded me of those #BadLuckBrian posts).

I ran over to the start and got ready to go - starting my Garmin about a minute prior and tucking it away in my spi-belt (I wanted the data post-race, but didn't want to be distracted/enslaved to it while running). The gun went off and I just started an easy pace down the canyon. It was still cool, but the sun was pretty bright depending on which way you turned. The first 15 miles are run down the Poudre Canyon - which was absolutely gorgeous - this was probably the most scenic road marathon I've done in Colorado yet (even more scenic than Aspen Valley). They had aid stations about every 2 miles, which was great (although only one fuel station and not until mile 19 - I was VERY disappointed in that - but at least I knew beforehand and could bring my own).

Right before the start.
Very soon into the race - the sun was intense! Also, without realizing it until after the race, I was running right behind my instagram friend Mary (she's in the yellow!).
This tunnel was so cool!
Looking back at the tunnel!
Free Race Photos!

I chatted with several other runners during this section - a guy from Oklahoma (he was wearing a shirt for Red Coyote Running - a running club/store? that an instagram friend of mine runs for - so we got chatting about that), a girl from Wisconsin (who wanted to do 50 marathons in 50 states - I believe this was #4 or 5), and a few brief hello's to fellow Marathon Maniacs. The 3:45 pace group caught up to me right around the half-way point. I had figured I was running about that pace, but this solidified it for me. I thought about trying to keep up with them, but in the end kept at my own pace (slowly, slowing from them). I also saw Ellen up ahead and worked toward slowly catching up to her (she was easy to spot in a Team Beef shirt).

I just LOVE this photo - it shows the beauty of this course so well!
Terry, a friend from DailyMile, took this photo!

Around miles 15-16 you exit the canyon and start to head towards Fort Collins. The beautiful, gorgeous, shaded canyon with the river is gone - right about the time that you're starting to get tired - which is mentally pretty tough. I'm not sure there's much that can be done about this - obliviously it makes sense to end the race in town, so you kind of have to go through this section. I think the worst thing about it is that the shade is gone, and despite how rainy and cold this spring has been, it was HOT that morning. I caught up to Ellen somewhere around here and we chatted a little - she was having side stitches, so wasn't running as fast as she wanted to - but that did mean I got to say hello, as well as snap this picture of her and Filip - another Team Beef member who I knew from facebook, but had never met in real life. There was probably a solid mile where the three of us were all running in a row...Team Beef Represent!

Running behind Ellen and Filip
Another photo by Terry
Another official Race Photo
Miles 18-23 were kind of a blur. I was getting tired, but I wasn't in as much pain as I remember being in at Phoenix by this point (my quads were shot by that point in the race). At Mile 19 was the only aid station with fuel, so I grabbed some honey stingers and kept going. I think it's around Mile 22 (not positive though) that we got onto the bike path - my least favorite part of the course.

Finally, you exit the bike path and get back onto the road around mile 24...but just in time for a HUGE hill. I walked it. I knew I was getting tired, so I just figured, what the heck, I'm walking this. And I did. And it was so nice. Until I had to start running again. That's the thing about marathon's - the more you start walking at the end, the tougher it is to get going again. That's why I didn't stop at all at Phoenix - and why I probably won't allow myself to stop at Revel (which, for me, means wearing a hydration pack because I cannot run and drink from those stupid paper cups to save my life). Anyways, right after the big hill was also about where you start getting into town, which was a nice relief. I tried to pick my pace up a little, but I'm not sure I really did. Finally I hit 25 - I was ALMOST there! At the last aid station, the volunteer was telling us we would all make sub-4:00, which was a nice relief. I kept running and finished in 3:54:13!

Coming into the finish line. I know I look terrible, but check out my Quad!!! #BeastMode

Race: The Colorado Marathon
Location: Fort Collins, Colorado
Distance: Marathon (26.2 Miles)
Date: May 3, 2015
Elevation: 225' gain / 1353' loss
Bib Number: 153
Weather: 40's at the start, 60's at the end
Gun Time: 3:54:41
Chip Time: 3:54:13
Average Pace: 8:56
Overall Rank: 281 of 1015
Gender Rank: 77 of 484
Division Rank (F25-29): 11 of 87
Half Split: 1:51:08
Garmin Splits: 9:10, 8:19, 7:44, 6:09 (there is NO way, I ran a 6:09 mile - my garmin must have had a freak-out or something), 8:22, 8:28, 8:36, 8:25, 8:37, 8:40, 8:55, 8:52, 8:39, 8:53, 8:43, 9:18, 8:50, 9:12, 9:00, 9:53, 9:17, 11:14 (the huge hill), 8:58, 11:09 (walked through an aid station I think), 9:07, 9:52

Race Swag
Course Map
Elevation Profile - disregard mile 3-4 though - it obviously got messed up - this is also right around the time that it said I ran a 6:09 mile...

So, to sum things up, I did like this race...however, I didn't like it enough to justify it being SO much more expensive than the rest of the local road marathon's I've done in Colorado ($130 vs. typically around $90 for early bird rates). The scenery for the first 16 or so miles was spectacular. I love Fort Collins - although I have to say there was WAY less course support than I expected. Finishing downtown was fun and I got to have my beer in the Beer Garden. We got a finisher's art print which was kind of cool. I'm honestly not sure that they really had much at the finish line, food-wise, other than water bottles. There was an "after party" at one of the restaurants in Old Town, except it didn't start until noon - so we (my parents came up to see me finish!) headed to Beau Jo's instead for some pizza before I headed home (5 hour drive post-marathon on barely any sleep = SO fun, by the way!).

  • GORGEOUS course - this really was the absolute best part about this race, and probably the only top contender that would get me to run this again.
  • Very well organized event from the expo, to the bus shuttles, to the starting and finish line.
  • Easy parking, pretty close to the bus pick-up and finish line
  • Shirts, medals, personalized bibs, and finisher's print were very nice
  • Luxury buses were nice (but again, not worth the extra money, I would happily ride a school bus and save $40)
  • My outfit worked well for this - Skirt Sports Vixen skirt with enough room in the pockets for my phone (so I could take lots of pictures!), and 4 gels. I opted not to carry my own water to this one since I was running for fun and could stop at the aid stations.
  • My pre-race clothes - despite the "lovely" picture of me, I was pretty warm waiting around for the race to start.
  • Not a huge line for the Beer Garden (always a plus - there are so many races I do that I don't end up getting my free beer because the line is just outrageous)
  • Free Race Photos!!! (I believe this was new this year, but always an added bonus!)

  • I'm sorry, but ONE aid station with fuel, that isn't even until mile 19, is not acceptable for a marathon. I was so excited they had Honey Stinger sponsor this, but come on - you need, at minimum, one more aid station with gels - and WAY earlier in the race. For $130, I should not be having to carry 4+ gels with me.
  • Running on the Shoulder: the course was open to traffic, and they were kind of intense about making sure people were running on the shoulder. Generally, road shoulders are slanted and that gets tough to run on. I wish they would close at least one lane so that didn't have to happen.
  • They needed more porta-potties at the starting line.
  • Hot and exposed for the second half
  • No food at the immediate finish line
  • Not a ton of course support
  • Very expensive ($130 for EARLY registration)


Maybe someday. Definitely not every year, especially with how far it is and the high price tag. If I lived in Fort Collins, I would probably do it every year, but just for the scenery.

P.S. PLEASE take a minute to vote for me in the Runner's World Cover Photo Contest: You can vote multiple times (I believe it's every 12 hours).

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Skirt Sports 13er Giveaway Winner

Thank you SO much to everyone who entered my Skirt Sports 13er giveaway!

The winner is....

You won the basic level entry into the Skirt Sports 13er/10K/5K! Please contact me at as soon as you can so I can get you all the info you'll need to register!

If you didn't win - there is still plenty of time to register! BUT you'll need to register by May 24th to get the race logo printed on your finisher's skirt (you can still register after, but your finisher's skirt will be blank). Again this is an awesome opportunity to race and get a gift certificate to Skirt Sports. Details about each race can be found here:

Local Race in Colorado:

Virtual Race:


Also, a quick little request. I entered the Runner's World Cover Contest - so if you don't mind, please take a minute to vote for me:

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

GIVEAWAY: Skirt Sports 13er/10K/5K Race Entry

As a Skirt Sports Ambassador Captain, I have the exciting privilege to giveaway an entry into the Skirt Sports 13er (10K & 5K options available as well if you're not quite up to 13.1)!! They have both a virtual option and a local race in Boulder on June 14th (virtual race can be ran anytime from 13th-16th) so anyone can enter, no matter where you live!

Here's some basic facts about the giveaway:

AND an awesome Finisher's Skirt - forgot to add that in!

So...the big question you're probably asking: what's so exciting about this race?

Several things. For starters the awesome new name they have for Half Marathon's: The 13er! Because it's not "half" of anything. Even as someone who has ran many full marathons, I can agree with this. Racing shorter distances definitely does not make them any easier - generally you're running it faster and figuring out how to pace yourself is always tricky business (I actually think the 5K is one of the absolute hardest distances to truly race because of this). 13 miles is a huge accomplishment. I still remember signing up for my first half marathon - it was a bigger deal to me than signing up for my first full because at the time I was still a newbie runner and had only ever ran 6 miles (and had only ran 6 miles once or twice). 13 was still unfathomable to me!! Crossing that finish line of my first half marathon was the defining moment for me when I started to truly feel like an actual "runner"! So I am so glad Skirt Sports understands that and is celebrating the distance for what it is. No more of those "I'm ONLY doing the Half" comments!

The second reason this race is pure awesomeness is because not only do you get a race bib, finisher's skirt (shown below), and sponsor swag, BUT you also get a Skirt Sports gift certificate! Included in the race entry is a $50 gift certificate (or you can upgrade to more $$$ if you want!) to spend on any Skirt Sports gear you'd like (perfect for trying out your first skirt if you've never had one yet, or stalking up on more if you already have several like me!!!).

This awesome finisher's Skirt is also included with your entry!
(Winner will need to register by May 24th to get the logo printed, otherwise is will be blank)

Now, unfortunately, despite my namesake, I'm sad to say that I will be out of town the weekend of the race for both family and work trips, so I will actually be doing the Virtual Option - but I look forward to sharing all about it after I finish (in fact, I'm hoping I can work it out to run it in Chicago on the Lakefront Trail!!!). If you do win and you live in Colorado though - definitely sign up for the local race - it's run in Louisville/Boulder and so will have the gorgeous Flatirons as your background, plus you'll get to meet all of the awesome Skirt Sports folks (and spend that gift certificate - if you haven't already!).

So without further ado, enter below to win (please also include an email address in the comments below as well - I want to make sure I can contact you if you win)!!! Entries are accepted until midnight MST on May 18th, and I will announce the winner on my birthday, next Tuesday, May 19th!

(Also, please note the following if you decide to do any of the instagram entries: Rafflecopter will not let me put underscores in my instagram name - so if you're looking me up on instagram, I am @Kate_Runs_Colorado)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Please note: I have been provided this giveaway race entry at no cost to me, by Skirt Sports. All opinions regarding the race are my own and have not been influenced by Skirt Sports in any way. This contest opens on 5/13/15 and will close at midnight at end of day on 5/18/15 (MST). One winner will be announced on social media by first name and last initial on 5/19/15 and notified by email. If the winner does not respond by 5/22/15, a new winner will be selected. By entering to win, winner consents to providing their email address to Skirt Sports so they can receive a special congratulations from them. Skirt Sports will not sell, provide, or use the email for any other purposes. Winners have the option of upgrading their registration ($125 or $275 gift certificate upgrades available), but will be required to pay the difference above and beyond the $85 basic entry fee.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015


If you follow any of my social media posts, you've probably seen me using the new hashtag #REALwomenmove. It is another AMAZING movement conjured up by Skirt Sports. Here's an awesome quote from Nicole DeBoom (founder of Skirt Sports):

"We are surrounded by messages of intimidation and exclusiveness in the world of fitness. My #REALwomenmove goal is to stop the madness and show women that being fit is something we can all do, regardless of our size, shape, or activity level."

I encourage you to read more about it, but clicking this link.

So what does #REALwomenmove mean to me? Well - a lot of things - but mostly it's about getting up off the couch and moving - no matter where you are at in life! I know I used to be intimidated by people who exercised a lot. I was afraid of trying something new - afraid I would look dumb, or do something stupid. But I'm here to say - don't be intimidated by what other people can do. Everyone has to start somewhere! Believe it or not, the idea of exercise used to scare me. I didn't understand why anyone would want to run or hike or bike. It was hard, it was uncomfortable, it made you sweat and feel gross.

So how did I go from that, to finding a love for running marathons and hiking mountains?

Well, it's kind of a long story which I'll detail below if you're interested. If not - the short version is that I essentially just decided to try it one day...and then another, and after a little while, it just kind of "clicked". I understood why people liked to explore the outdoors. It was beautiful. It was fun. It was rewarding. It was exciting to see my body get stronger - things that used to seem SO hard, didn't seem so hard anymore. So before I get into my long story - if you decide not to read on - I just want to challenge you to get out there - no matter where you're at, and move. Don't be intimidated by others liked I used to be. Don't be scared and think you can't do it. No matter what sport you try - just try it. Anything is better than nothing! Just move! You never know where it might take you! I know it's cliche, but it's so true: life really does begin at the end of your comfort zone!

So without further ado, my story:

I'm sure most of you have all heard me say it before, but, here it is again: I was never athletic growing up. In the slightest. I tried dance and gymnastics a couple times when I was really young - but never stuck with it long enough to really get good at any of it. My longest lasting sport was Volleyball - which I played from 7th grade thru 11th grade. Despite actually putting in a solid effort to the sport, I just didn't seem to improve enough to even get to play much. I was the bench warmer. The most fun I had was probably my sophomore year when I played for a club league. I ended up getting put on their "B" team - but it actually ended up being a blast because for once I was good enough on the "B" team to actually get to play!

Well after high school, I went to college and didn't do anything. The most active I was, was during my Freshman year when I lived on campus, and walked to all my classes. It wasn't until sophomore year of college that I ended up gaining the "freshman 15" (or as it really was - the "Sophomore 30"). I had moved off campus, was driving to classes, and was eating out ALL THE TIME. I kept that weight on for the remainder of college.

In 2011, I had graduated college, was working full time for the first time in my life, and was getting married in a short 4 months. And I knew I needed to make a change. I'll be honest though - the original reasons were purely image based - I didn't care about my health - I just wanted to "look good" for my wedding. So I started counting calories and joined a gym. I ended up going to the gym about 3-4 days a week and would do the elliptical or take a yoga class. I didn't love it - I purely went in an effort to lose weight. Surprisingly, I was motivated enough to actually keep all of these habits up and I ended up losing those 30 lbs I had gained in college! I was on cloud nine. As much as I had wanted to lose weight, I didn't realize how simple it would be if I actually did it consistently (I think that's what kept me motivated so much - actually seeing results).

However, the real mental change came later that summer when I started hiking with my husband. He had grown up doing a lot of outdoor activities including hiking and backpacking, and so I thought it would be a nice activity we could try together (and I could go to the gym one less day a week!). Well, it ended up completely changing my outlook on exercise. I realized how incredibly beautiful the outdoors could be. I discovered a new found love for this state that I had lived almost my whole life in. I understood why so many people wanted to move to Colorado! This was the first time in my life that I realized exercise could be something you did for pure and utter enjoyment!

I spent the remaining summer of 2011 falling in love with hiking the Colorado mountains. I experienced sunrises, alpine lakes, snow in July, wildflowers and even got caught in the rain. It was incredible. I was officially in love with hiking. It was a new found sport I felt like I could do. Me!? The girl who was NEVER athletic. Was it hard at times? Yes! But it was ALWAYS worth it.

Unfortunately, I don't like being cold and as such don't participate in many winter activities - so I spent the following winter getting back into my old habits of not exercising much. That's when I started to see some of the weight that I had lost come back on. So in the spring of 2012 I joined a gym again (I had moved during this time and no longer had one), and started run/walking on the treadmill. I had seen a lot of friends on Facebook participating in 5K's and so I decided I wanted to do one. I signed up for the Komen for the Cure 5K race in Aspen in July 2012. I ran it with my husband and we finished in a little over 34 minutes. I was really proud of myself for running the whole thing - it was literally the first time I had ever ran that far! Despite not running it that fast, the feeling of accomplishment of crossing that finish line stuck with me and I kept running. Just like hiking, the more I ran, the more I understood why people did it. I would get up early in the morning and run a few miles - watching the sunrise. I also swear something about running seems to give you heightened senses I think - because the sights, sounds, smells - they're all just better when you're running. By the end of that summer, I hooked.

So there it is - it's kind of a long story, but also kind of a short one when I think about it. In 4 years I went from hating even the thought of exercise, to being a 9-time marathon finisher. I've now hiked 7 of Colorado's 14ers (mountain peaks over 14,000'), I've ran from Ouray to Telluride via 13,114' Imogene Pass. I've covered 50 miles with my own two feet in 12 1/2 hours. I've done things that used to seem seriously CRAZY...and yet now I've done them. Simple, ordinary, regular, REAL me! 

We ALL have to start somewhere. It may be intimidating. It may be scary. But once you get started, I guarantee it will be worth it. So get out there, be your REAL, true self, and MOVE! And while you're doing it, take some pictures and tag them on social media with #REALWomenMove. Skirts Sports will be giving away some cool stuff for every 5000 hashtags!!!

I'm going to leave this post with some inspirational quotes, as well as some photos of some of the most beautiful places I've gotten to visit - all because I made a choice 4 years ago to get out and move!

"Every accomplishment starts with the decision to try."

"What if I fall?
Oh, but my daring, what if you fly?"

"The miracle isn't that I finished. 
It's that I had the courage to Start."

"Know your limitations & then defy them."

"It never gets easier. You just get stronger."

"Get lost in nature and you will find yourself."

Flattop Mountain & Hallett Peak

I've been wanting to hike to the top of Hallett Peak ever since I found out it was the gorgeous mountain towering above Dream and Emera...