Rim Hugger: Boulder

Mandy and I love watching Extreme Weight Loss. During our fitness journey last year, we watched it every week and we both would always want to go workout after each episode ended – even if we had gotten one in that day already! This season, Chris and Heidi Powell had all of the participants stay in Colorado and many episodes featured them working out at Red Rocks Amphitheater. I have a customer in Boulder and so when a meeting was scheduled for this week, I knew I had to make time to come to Red Rocks.

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The last time I visited, I met up with our awesome friends Molly and Zach and we tried to go check out Red Rocks at night. Unfortunately, the guard caught us in the parking lot and politely asked us to leave. Womp womp. This time though, I made sure that I was within the visiting hours and I set off on my epic stairs workout. When I walked in and saw all the stairs, I set my goal to run up and down ten times. After my first lap, I envisioned myself curling up in a little ball and crying for the foreseeable future. I had WAY underestimated the layer of difficulty that the altitude would present! It definitely felt like my lungs were being ripped out of my chest. I struggled through five stair runs and then started the final portion of my workout.

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Starting at the bottom, I snaked my way through all 70 rows all the way up to the top. Across the row, up the two stairs at the end, and back across the next one. I didn’t realize how many people were cheering my on until I got close to the top and I could hear their voices over my headphones. There was a pretty large group of people checking out the amphitheater at the top and as I turned to run each row, there were a few shouting words of encouragement at me. Pretty awesome! The workout was tough but well worth it – I definitely need to see a concert at Red Rocks sometime. It is such an incredible venue!

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Some of my coworkers had told me about a hike that they took before our meeting and encouraged me to do it in the morning before heading to the airport. The Mt. Sanitas trail is very popular in Boulder and they assured me that they had casually hiked up and it had taken them 45 minutes. I gave myself an hour just in case and headed off to the trail after a wonderful breakfast at The Buff Restaurant. Side note: if you are in Boulder, GO THERE.

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I had decided to train run as much as possible to get a little Spartan training in at the high elevation. I started up the steep back side of the mountain and it was a fantastic trail. It was a mix of climbing on my hands and feet, natural rock stairs, and a steep dirt trail. I got winded quickly, but the view on the way up to the peak as the sun rose was really, really pretty.

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Once I hit the peak, the trouble began. My ascension had only taken 30 minutes but I apparently got on the wrong trail from the summit. Lucikly the (wrong) trail that I had gotten on was flat and dirt and I was able to cruise along at a fast pace. It wasn’t until a half an hour had passed without seeing anyone else that I realized I wasn’t heading in the direction that I thought I was. Then the trail ended. Just flat out stopped. Here I was in the middle of the woods – alone, no phone signal, and no clue where I was. I was pushing up against the deadline I had set for myself to get back to the hotel and I was totally lost. I said a prayer that I would get myself found again and sprinted off on the path I had just come. Finally after a mile or so, I found a fork in the trail and took off down the path that I hadn’t been on before. Another 30 minutes or so later, I finally came out on a road and my phone picked up service again. Victory? Not quite.

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I pulled up my map and realized that I had a two mile run/sprint down the mountain road to get back to my car. Ouch. I sucked up the burning in my muscles and the pain from the blisters that had formed and set off. Glad I run with my head up though because I ran right up on the little guy shown below. Is that an elk? A deer? I don’t know but it was really cool. I ran right up to him and he didn’t flinch at all. Just kept eating his leaves and let me run right by.

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Finally, I got to my car and got off to the airport. My leisurely 45 minute hike had turned into a scary “get-lost-in-the-woods-and-have-to-run-for-your-life” sprint. I had been gone for almost two hours, but it certainly made for an unforgettable experience!

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Nacho Average Baptism

This past weekend we celebrated Conner getting baptized! I took it as an opportunity to gather our family and friends to have a little fiesta in the parking lot. jBRcKqnn7eTUBxI1GaXJIDNy796iwli5Emid9EkMypw I attempted to make the piñata cookies that I have seen time and time again on Pinterest. These were super labor intensive. The first step was acquiring a donkey cookie cutter. Oh wait, I already had one in my cookie cutter stash. HAHAHA! As for the intensity of the process, I’m talking make the cookies, die them, then layer them on top of each other to create the different colors. Then you let it freeze for a few hours before cutting and baking. Conner helped me make these cookies and after we got them out of the oven and cut, we decided to skip putting the m&m’s inside of the cookies and just leave them cut as-is. I also made churro truffles that were a HUGE hit. I will be making those again for sure.

2zlG4xgoje8uqIugyoLUlb1CCqpYhUgiIuwxpaRvPAAFor the main course we had a taco bar complete with chicken and all the fixin’s.
ED0K5MzPwxxSd4tnZQBiv4OWKjWt2_MiPni4W7tg0VY RCkwI0ycikFOyMEGC4bbs6B-NQa2Cg3VI-IvnyADGpYOne of my favorite party foods/decor was brought in from my parents. I love when my family comes because they always bring a little something special to the party. They made fiesta mints or as they told me “vegetarian burritos”. BZJf-wWoC9qmHAIeXwKoDo608x_vcLxrQ47p5z6COJYAnd the real reason for the celebration was this guy right here. Conner made the decision that the next step in his relationship with Jesus was to be baptism. I am so proud to be his wife and loved seeing him make his public profession in front of the whole church.
Nacho Average BaptismHere is the whole video as well! What occasion are you planning a party for right now?

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Fall Date Night Ideas

Happy Fall Y’all! It’s the weekend and it’s time to have some fun! We believe in date nights and memories over materialistic things, so we wanted to encourage you to get creative in your relationships. I know today, we are off to do some tailgating as it is Georgia Tech’s Homecoming game! We came up with a fun printable for you to download and print as a check-list for the fall. What is on your fall date night bucket list? Which of these do you think you will try first?
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If you want to print this and put it on your fridge, download it here: fall date night-2

When you go on your date, tag #mcfallfun so we can see how you do date night!

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Doggone Good Birthday Pawty for Brinkley

I love a good celebration. I also love my dog like he were a furry child. For those reasons alone we couldn’t let our fur-baby’s 3rd birthday go by with out a little fun party. You can put me in the same category as “crazy dog lady”. I give you full permission to judge me as you read how we celebrated with a little paw-ty.

I think the best thing about a celebration is the little details to make sure the “guest of honor” feels special. Well, for dogs it is a little different, but I still applied the same things to his party.

  1. Activity Brinkley likes
  2. Food he enjoys that others would enjoy eating too. This includes a snack, dessert, and a main course.
  3. Party decorations to carry out the theme.

So for our Birthday Paw-ty we did the following things:

Doggie Birthday Paw-tyFor the evening we took little Brinkley to the dog park to play with his friends and then celebrated with a doggie pupcake. We picked it up at a local dog shop as a treat from him and he LOVED it. At first he was confused by the saucer-sized treat, but once he licked it and we cut into the treat he was obsessed. Luckily for us, we grabbed the second half of the treat before he could eat it so that he could enjoy the treat for a few days beyond his birthday.

Items on the menu for the adults included peanut butter flavored pretzels, chocolate “bark”, and hot dogs.Feast for a dog

As for the decorations we kept it simple with just some themed napkins and the dog themed food. When I was at the store, I happened to find the cutest napkins to go along for the party. Dogs in costumes. Yes please.

While this all may seem a little “crazy dog lady”, I couldn’t help but have this mid-week celebration for the furry family member. So really the question becomes, please tell me I am not alone in celebrating our dogs birthday!

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Traditions We Have: Post Travel Breakfast

We have a few traditions that we made up for our family. Some traditions revolve around holidays or birthdays that were passed down from our families. Since getting married we have tried to discover our own little traditions like themed food for holidays or post travel breakfasts. 2014-09-21 13.31.53Here is a little glimpse at what has become one of my favorite traditions- post travel breakfast. We set aside time the morning after either one of us returns home from traveling to reconnect over bacon and eggs. Okay sometimes it is pancakes and blueberries but you catch my drift. We try to pick a new breakfast spot so that we can experience our local community, but sometimes we opt for omelets at home.

Post Travel Rex Grill

 

What traditions have you made up for your family? I would love to hear about ones you have created or ones that have been passed down from your family.

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Money Monday: Conquering the Grocery Store

Money MondayMandy and I have a very different view of the grocery store than we did a year and a half ago. Furthermore, the way that we grocery shop has changed as well. Before our fitness journey started, our trips to Kroger consisted of lots of packaged meals, cake mixes, ice cream, and treats. With the reduction in our caloric intake came a reduction in our grocery needs as well. During that transformation, we developed some tips and tricks that help us not only save on calories, but on cold, hard cash as well.

For consistent readers of our blog, you will know that we love to plan for things. Grocery shopping is no different! We use Google Docs to organize and plan our weekly Kroger run. By using the cloud Google Doc, we both have access to the list at all times and can add meal ideas and ingredients. Having a list that we stick to once we get inside the store also helps to keep us from randomly wandering the aisles and grabbing everything that we see. Have we mentioned I am a marketer’s dream? I used to drop $120 at Kroger when I only walked in to get a gallon of milk. Lists keep me honest.

Notice up there where I said weekly? You didn’t misread that. We made the conscious decision to limit ourselves to one grocery store trip a week. We plan our menu on Sundays and swing by on our way home from church. When you run to the store every day to pick up one or two items, it inevitably turns to four or five items when you start saying “oh shoot, I forgot we ran out of this thing yesterday”. Those little things add up quickly and will deplete your budget really fast!

Additionally, we get creative with our menu and try to buy in bulk to cover multiple meals. Instead of planning to have chicken stir-fry one day and steak fajitas the next, we will buy a large pack of chicken and use it for both. Then the next time we have fajitas, we will get steak and use the rest of the pack for something else. This doesn’t mean that you have to only buy one thing and eat it for every meal that week, but be flexible and strategic about which meals you have in which week. If you can buy one item that can be used for multiple meals, you will save money when you go to checkout!

Finally, the old adage about staying on the perimeter of the store is true. The outside edges of the store hold all of the fresh produce, meats, and dairy. In addition to being healthier, these items are also less expensive. A cart full of Hungry Man meals and Hamburger Helper is always going to be more costly than fruits, vegetables, and quality ingredients. It takes a bit more leg work in the kitchen, but that’s just one more opportunity to spend quality time with your spouse and cook together!

What are some ways that you have found to cut down on the cost of groceries?

 

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Training for Adventure Racing

Adventure Racing Tips

This past weekend we flew to Philadelphia, PA and completed the Spartan Sprint at Citizens Bank Park. This was Mandy’s first obstacle course race (OCR) and my second in what has become an almost obsession. Suffice to say the Spartan bug has bitten me and we have at least four more races scheduled in the next year. I’m crossing my fingers for more than that!

For those that haven’t heard, Spartan is one of the major brands in the exploding market of adventure and obstacle course racing. Spartan features three distances (Sprint, Super, and Beast) that correspond to a 5K, 10K, and half marathon with between 15-25 obstacles thrown in. The founder, Joe De Sena, is an ultramarathoner/multi-day adventure racer/all-around freak of nature and wrote a book called Spartan Up which I would highly recommend even for those who don’t run his races. The book outlines his philosophy on fitness as well as the history of the Spartan brand. One of his key beliefs is taking life head on and learning to deal with the unexpected frustrations of daily living. In fact, his motto is “Get comfortable being uncomfortable” and Spartan races embrace this fully.

We are Spartans!

Unlike some of the other OCRs, no two Spartan Races are ever the same and the course is never released until you arrive on race day. For that reason, participants have to be prepared for anything. A lot of the obstacles are mainstays such as the dreaded Spear Throw or Rope Climb, but they have been known to sprinkle in some crazy stuff just to mess with seasoned runners. Joe also firmly believes that the burpee is the perfect exercise so anyone that skips or fails an obstacle is hit with a 30 burpee penalty. Don’t expect to leave a Spartan without doing at least a few even if it’s just for fun!

Below are three things that we did to get ready to tackle the unknown course that awaited us in Philly.

  1. Running – At the core, these are races. Whether you are doing a Sprint or a Beast and whether it is in a stadium or the woods, you will be running the vast majority of the time. While the race is different from a standard road race, getting out and pounding the pavement is essential. Before I ran my first Sprint – which is usually between 3 and 5 miles – I planned to be able to run at least 6 miles without a problem. You would be very surprised how much energy even the smallest obstacle can take from you. Also, breaking up your rhythm to complete the obstacles along the way creates added difficulty.
  2. Pull-ups – Most of the classic Spartan obstacles involve some form of climbing. Most races have multiple wall climbs in varying heights. The classic high school gym rope climb gets a muddy makeover, but the climbing is no different. They also like things such as cargo nets or monkey bars. The ability to lift your body weight will be tested often and in a bunch of different ways. Obviously strength training of any type will be very beneficial, but if I had to pinpoint one workout it would be pull-ups. You don’t have to be able to do 100 at once, but practicing pull-ups will definitely help. If you can’t do them, use the assisted machine at the gym or try Walk the Planks.
  3. Burpees – As much as I wanted to cross the finish line and be able to claim a burpee-free race (aka no failed obstacles), it hasn’t happened yet. In fact in the race in Philly, the Atlas Carry involved moving a large rock, doing 5 burpees for fun, and moving the rock back. It’s pretty safe to say that you will be doing at least a few no matter how great you perform. Joe De Sena starts every day with 300 burpees and for the couple of weeks leading up to the race, I incorporate them into my workouts every day.

Finally, in addition to the three things outlined above, you can prepare yourself mentally as much as possible. Go to YouTube and watch the myriad of GoPro course videos, how-to obstacle guides, and workouts from elite racers. Use websites like DirtyMiles to research past courses and prepare for the obstacles that you might see. Go to playgrounds and use the equipment you can find to get whatever experience you can on obstacles.

Above all though, get ready to have an awesome time! Even if you fail every obstacle on the course, there is a huge team mentality among the racers and you can expect to find a helping hand when you need one. Good luck training! Spartan up and I’ll see you at the finish line to celebrate with our free beers!

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