Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Race #6 of the Season - Boulder Peak Triathlon

... also known as my 100th start line ...

... and one of my most terrible races ever, time-wise.

Oh, Boulder Peak, how I dislike you, with your hill of death (Olde Stage), and your crappy Olympic distance which I just don't like, and your dusty run course with no shade. I never want to do you again.

I really didn't want to do this stupid race this year, but my entry got deferred from last year.

(If you remember, we wanted to do a race pre-IM Boulder. IM Boulder 70.3 sold out, so we signed up for Peak. Then Peak got cancelled due to fire, so registration got moved to this year.)

I'm kind of but really not trained for the distance - particularly on the bike. Oh and the run. And I took like two weeks off of swimming which means I wasn't in swim shape either. Brandon, (un)fortunately, couldn't race, as the timing of Peak means get that off or get my birthday off, and we all know which one I'd rather have him around for (birfday, obvs, especially because we went and saw Shinedown this year!).

So, I was on my own for this race for the first time in quite a while. I was able to wake up (tricky these days) and get to the Res with plenty of time for a good spot and to chat with people I knew ... namely George and Szabo.

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Transition photo. Look, I still remember how to do this!

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Sunrise.

It was eventually time to get ready to swim, so I squashed myself into my old, dying wetsuit and went for a quick warm up. I was wearing my brand new Team SFQ aero top - which meant sleeves! And not needing to sunscreen my back! - that I'd never tested out before. Nothing new on race day? Pfffft ... In any case, I had tons of shoulder mobility, so life was good.

I found my Skirt friend Emily post-practice swim and hung out with her until it was time for our wave to go off.

The Swim:

Wait, do I remember how to do this open water swim thing? Fo' realz?

Yes. Yes I do.

I mean, sighting was utter shit for the first half because, duh, right into the sun. I also didn't really feel like I got into a rhythm until late in the back half of the swim ... probably because these days it takes me that long to get warmed up ... but all in all, I feel like I've had worse triathlon swims. Not much worse given my time, but y'know.

Got out, saw 45ish, thought "ah crap that sucked," and headed into transition.

Time: 46:16 (26th division, 229th gender, 593rd overall)

T1:

I love T1. So easy. Get out of the wetsuit while putting on my helmet, put my bike shoes on without sitting down ... it's amazing. 

Time: 1:40 (4th, 41st, 127th)

The Bike:

Aaaaand then I get on the bike and start pedaling and hooooo boy, my lack of training/intensity kicks in. Nothing I can do except pedal, grin, and bear it.

I should mention that I recently got new gearing on my bike. A slightly more compact crank (50 as opposed to a 52) and an 11/28 in the back as opposed to the 12/25 I had that came stock. In theory, easier climbing gears.

Yeah, well, I still needed more than one good practice climb pre-race. Ha. Oops.

I had to pause a couple times on Stage to catch my breath and yes, I did walk once (dangit), but for the most part, I was able to manage up the hill. I completely spaced on all the wonderful climbing technique Katie taught me a few weeks ago, though. Oops.

Then the downhill ... I probably went slower than I could have during the speed zone on the back side of Stage because it's pretty dangerous to take your hands off your unstable tri bike going 20+ mph down a hill, kids, but as soon as I made the turn onto Lefthand? In the paraphrased words of Buddy the Elf, downhills are my favorite.

I bombed the Lefthand descent as well as the Nelson stretch, averaging over 27 and 26 mph, respectively, on those sections. Then came the 63rd rollers ... and I remember how much I hate the stretch between Nelson and Niwot. Susan passed me at some point on 63rd, too, and I just couldn't catch her.

On the nutrition side, I did manage to eat a few bites of my Bobo's bar (whaaa? Me fuel during an Oly?) as well as destroy my bottle of Skratch right about the time I hit 51st again. Probably should have had more Skratch on me in hindsight ...

Time: 1:48:28 (21st, 204th, 580th)

T2:

I struggled a bit in transition, dealing with my basically dead tube of Body Glide for my feet and trying to squash the rest of my Bobo's bar into my back.

Time: 2:25 (12th, 136th, 409th)

The Run:

I could tell the run was going to be a struggle and a half as soon as I hit the run course. I was hoping there'd be aid right out of transition like there sometimes is - nope. Sometime late in the first mile, I saw Skirt's Nicole DeBoom flying the other way and high-fived her. 

The wonderful people from IPA Endurance at the second water station had ice (SWEET BEAUTIFUL ICE) that I took and put down my shorts, down my shirt, in my hat, and in my water, so I could have wonderful cold ice water to drink and to suck on the ice cubes. I think the heat was getting to me as I felt a bit nauseous at times. I tried to take down some of the bar - not sure it helped.

Honestly, I think that my body wasn't used to training in the heat with that much sugar/electrolyte - usually, I do more than one longish ride pre-race with said things - and it wanted to revolt on me.

Soon after mile two, I caught up to Susan and decided to just hang with her. Yeah, she was going slower than what my pace was attempting to be, but a race buddy sounded nice. So, I hung with her for pretty much the rest of the run. I saw Emily going the other way just before the turnaround - she was probably less than a half mile ahead? - and I almost thought of leaving Susan to catch up to her, but quickly decided against that.

The heat was BRUTAL. I am not used to racing in that crap.

We ran into one of Susan's friends with about a mile to go and said friend hung out with us for a little bit. I ended up letting gravity take me down the final hill and I ran the entire final stretch to the finish. Skirt sister Becky was out cheering and snapped this awesome picture, where I don't look as dead as I clearly felt:

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Plus: the debut of my gorgeous Team SFQ kit!

I was sorta hoping to hit the slip 'n' slide at the finish, but I did not have the energy.

Time: 1:28:10 (26th, 221st, 580th)

Overall Stats:
Time: 4:06:58
25/26 division (F30-34)
224/245 gender
608/639 overall

Slowest at this distance BY FAR. I figure if I had managed to keep my running pace pre-Susan, I would have at least squeaked in under 4 hours (which, not gonna lie, would have been nice), but with how nauseous I was starting to feel? I might have also crashed and burned, too. Who knows.

I did meet up with Emily and Nicole post-race for some photos, though.

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Now, time to focus on training for camp and for Pikes Peak ...

Friday, July 7, 2017

June Round-Up

In terms of numbers, June was definitely a better month.

Swimming: 10900m (6.77 mi)
Cycling: 155.8 mi
Running: 25.22 mi
Lifting: 17 sessions (4:00)
Other: two hikes (1:45), three walks (6:20), two yoga sessions (:39)

Numbers were up across the board in terms of the three main triathlon disciplines, but I know I skipped too many workouts. Which sucks.

I'm swimming longer, which is nice, but not nearly as often as I've planned. This is mostly due to our usual pool being under construction (a good thing! it's so gross!) ... which means we have to drive at least 25 minutes (with traffic, sometimes more) to our old pool. Which is obnoxious. And I don't know the good times to swim anymore. Boo. I've used this as an excuse more often than I should have.

I annoyed Katie until she agreed to drag me up a hill on my bike - which she did! - which meant that I did more climbing than I have at one time in about three years and was my longest ride by, oh, 20 miles or so, since Chattanooga. That climb, by the way, was made marginally less shitty thanks to borrowing one of her spare rear wheels with an 11/28 configuration. LIFE CHANGER. I've been riding a 12/25 since buying the bike. As a result, we just dropped some coin to get some better climbing gears.

I'm fighting the run. I know I am. It's a mental thing - I am so convinced it's a mental thing - but that block is the hardest to get rid of.

Hiking has not been as plentiful as it needs to be. We had a long one planned for the end of June ... but it being balls hot and waking up three times in the middle of the night? One of those times for an hour? Does not leave you well rested enough to drive an hour to go hike three. Then drive back the hour.

I've still been sticking fairly regularly to the TIU daily workouts, and I do think they're helping. Consistent strength work - even if it's way lighter weight than I'm used to - is better than sporadic or no strength work.

July is scheduled to kick my ass (so I can kick camp's ass in August), so wish me luck!

Thursday, June 22, 2017

WRtW June Event

I missed May's event due to travel, but I was back in June. I also missed a photo of our second speaker. Oops. I'm also going to do primarily bullet points because that's how I take notes on my phone during these things.

First up, we had Susanne Menge, a health coach and speaker. Her word was stuck.

- This is about getting there (to the stuck point) and getting past it.
- She had two primary goals - getting to Kona (IRONMAN World Championships) and to self-actualization in Maslow's hierarchy of needs.
- She did well in triathlon thanks to being physical. She didn't have any goals once she got to Kona - it was just to get to Hawai'i and to get out alive.
- She did IM Canada; it was 104 degrees and she qualified for Kona, which was the culmination of goal number one. The completion of a huge goal like that can leave emptiness ... which is kind of how she ended up getting to Kona a second time.
- After that, it was time for goal number two, which has no set concrete training plan.
- She did try to decide to try for the Olympics and her body stopped her, which was the beginning of what she called hard street. If you think there's one more thing to do and it brings you to your knees ... where do you go from there? 
- Then people died and she got raped and was blamed for it which led to her divorce ... and she hit rock bottom.
- Every time there's a hard circumstance, you learn to breathe and can tap into your own intuitive capabilities.
- She developed a three g system - God, girls, and gratitude. If something doesn't fit in with those three things, it doesn't fit in her life.
- Also: self-care? So important.

(That latter point seems to be a recurring theme here recently ... hi universe, I get your message.)

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The second speaker, who I forgot to get a picture of, was Pam Moore, an author and speaker. Her word was heart.

Her book, if you're interested, is There's No Room for Fear in a Burley Trailer.

She was not athletic growing up; she tried out for the lacrosse team and it was a disaster. She stuck with it until senior year when she finally quit, but along the way she learned that she liked running (or at least the feeling of pushing yourself to your limit when running) and kept at it. She started running marathons and then started doing triathlons. As a result, people would ask her questions about getting started and she'd answer, but would refuse to identify herself as an athlete.

She finally did her first IM and people asked her why she didn't identify as a triathlete even though she did triathlons. However, the image of her as a loser in high school stayed with her.

Moore discovered and read about impostor syndrome - you think you're a fraud and not good enough. She realized the issue was fear; the fear of becoming who she really was and that she has the drive. There's also apparently a high risk for this when you're out of your comfort zone.

The final two things she imparted were really pretty awesome, so bullet points for those:
- Growth forces you to stay in your discomfort.
- We all have the strength in our heart to find the courage to conquer our fears.

The final speaker was Olympian and former pro cyclist, Mara Abbott. I know I've shared her TedX talk here and her talk shared a bit of that experience, but her main point involved her word - authenticity.

She started off with a confession - she is terrified to ride up Sunshine Canyon.

As a pro cyclist, she was a hill climbing specialist and would do repeats up that hill. She hasn't ridden it since 7.30.2016 when she left to go to Rio to compete in the Olympics. 

She related her retirement from her pro career to a divorce, and that returning to Sunshine Canyon would be like that first coffee date out when you and your ex are just friends.

Her cycling career, when it started, moved insanely fast; so fast that she didn't even know if she wanted to keep doing it and, more importantly, didn't know why she was doing it. At the end of a great 2011 season, she took herself out of the sport (retired for the first time) with an eating disorder. When she quit, she was convinced that all of her problems were cycling's fault when in reality, she had a lot of work to do herself. Abbott realized that she did actually miss the sport and that if she was going to mount a comeback, she was going to do it for her. If she was going to be a pro, she was going to do it with full authenticity.

Just post the London Games, she ran into one of the head guys from USA Cycling who knew that the climbs at Rio were ridiculous ... which prompted her to send a text to her coach about winning gold in the 2016 games (which, as we know, almost but didn't quite happen).

Eating disorders are an issue with the third chakra, which deals with self-expression. So, if she was going to come back, she had to come back with full honesty which meant with herself, too ... and also honest with the world with where she had been the past year (the 2012 season).

We all face the temptation and the risk of muting ourselves ... when we commit to goals that aren't our own, when we stay places where we shouldn't, when we say it's okay when it's not ... if we are practicing to be someone we're not, nothing good happens.

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July's lineup hasn't been announced yet, but I know either next month or in August we're going to hear Shirin Gerami, who you might remember from last year's Kona broadcast, so I'm excited for that.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Race #5 of the Season: Skirt Sports 10K

The final part of the Skirt Sports Ambassador weekend 2017 (first part see here) was the race on Sunday. The race, put on by 3W Races, offered three different distances - a 5K, a 10K, and a 13er (because it's not half of anything). 

I waited until race morning to register because I wasn't sure what distance I wanted to run. My original original plan was to run the 13er, but I was NOT trained for that. I mean, I could have probably hung out at the back with some people, but I didn't feel like doing that for 13 miles. If I was going to run the 5K, I was probably going to want to race the 5K ... and I really wasn't trained for that, either.* Soooo ... 10K it was. Even though I hate that distance. But it's okay, because I ended up finding a race buddy to do it with.

(More on that in a bit.)

I've been having some issues waking up early in the morning now that I've quit the day job, but somehow I was able to roll out of bed ass ridiculously early (the race has starts around 6am ... which is good for a June race. Because it gets stupid hot here.).

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Car face.

I got registered, hit up the porta potty line (... for an all-women's race, even though it's small ... they need more toilets), and in general, just wandered around. 

At one point, I noticed a SMASH-Dimond tank in the bathroom line (that's basically the elite version of Team SFQ) so obviously I went over and said hi. Because my extreme introvertedness occasionally decides to hide in venues I feel comfortable in. So that's how I met my teammate Sarah, basically. She ditched that line and we jogged over to one of the local hotels to use their bathroom instead so she didn't miss the start of the 13er.

The 13er went off and it was soon time to start the 10K. I lined up by myself, but soon dropped back to stay with Deb, one of my fellow ambassadors and one of the most wonderful souls on this planet. We had briefly talked about doing the race together on Friday, and I wanted to run with someone, so this worked out wonderfully.

They changed the course again this year - it was behind the Home Depot as usual, but then up a little-used side road up to the 36 bike path and then around Davidson Mesa.

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Sneakily taking a photo of Deb. Also: look at the view!

Deb and I chatted throughout our run/walk - something I never do usually - and it was really nice. I also got to enjoy the beautiful views from the mesa ... another thing I probably wouldn't have been able to appreciate had I been racing.

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Finishing! Pic courtesy Jen Allen.

Overall Stats:
Time: 1:17:40
18/25 division (F30-39)
53/76 gender
54/77 overall (all female race ... must have had something weird happen?)

After the race, some chocolate milk and delicious Kim and Jake's. And waiting for the 13er runners to come in.

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New friend Sarah coming to the finish, getting third in her AG!

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Running celebrity Mirna Valerio coming to the finish of the 13er.

After the race, several of us went out for one last group event, brunch at Murphy's in Louisville (proceeds benefiting Running Start).

One last group photo, and we were back to our regular lives.

This weekend is so amazing, and I love being able to spend some time with my Skirt family. Brandon and I occasionally toss around the idea of moving out of Colorado, but I don't know if I could leave my Skirt sisters - seriously. There might be other races scheduled on Skirt weekend, but it would be so hard for me to not go to this retreat every year.

Friday, June 9, 2017

2017 Skirt Sports Ambassador Weekend

As a reminder, I am a Skirt Sports Ambassador. As such, I get to represent this AMAZING company. As a captain, I get a teeny bit of compensation in the form of a discount (for me and a code to share) and a gift certificate each year. I was not obligated to go to this retreat and totally not required to write about it, either. Buuuut, it was awesome, and I live an hour southeast of it, so clearly, I did/am doing both.

Part of the perk of being a Skirt Sports Ambassador every year is getting to attend the retreat/weekend that Nicole and company put on in Boulder at HQ every year. I've gone every year they've had it and the ladies keep outdoing themselves every year. The weekend culminates with a race on Sunday - which will get its own separate post.

The weekend kicked off with a cocktail reception at the store on Friday night. We got to meet new ambassadors, say hi to old friends, shop for more Skirt (if that's even possible!), drink, eat some great food, and hear about Skirt. We also got a sneak preview of the upcoming Fall/Winter 2017-18 line, but no pictures of that.

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Friday night festivities.

We then met back up Saturday morning for hiking, speakers, breakout sessions, a workout, and more food.

We had a choice of hikes to go on. Since I'm training for Pikes Peak Ascent, I went on the longer one. I also learned that I need to get a lot more vert in my life ...

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As our hike was the "Snot Rocket" hike, Nicole decided to put on a clinic on how to blow a snot rocket up at the top.

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On the way down.

After the hikes, we met back up for a quick breakfast, and then we started the speakers.

First up was Maria Uspenski from the Tea Spot.
- She started a cold brew tea; the idea of which came because of her experiences with Ride the Rockies.
- Think about hydrating with tea - it can save your teeth, you know what you're putting into your body, you can cater to your own needs, it has antioxidants and antibacterial properties, and obviously, the caffeine is helpful.
- Self-care is non-negotiable. You have to take care of yourself first before you can take care of anyone else.

Next we had fellow ambassador Mirna Valerio read us a chapter from her upcoming book (available for pre-order), talking about fat, body image, and self-acceptance. Following Mirna was another ambassador, Mary Sutter, our resident social media expert answering some questions about that.

Somewhere in there we had a workout - either yoga or a HIIT-style bootcamp (I did the latter), but after all of that, we took a break for lunch.

While we were eating lunch, we were split into groups by regions to come up with a new idea for Skirt, Shark Tank-style. A wide range of ideas were thrown around, but I don't want to mention them here just in case they end up in the works for the company. Don't want to leak any proprietary information, after all!

After that, we had our final speaker of the day, Dr. James Rouse, whom you might remember from my post on February's Women Run the World event.
- He wanted to remind us all how good we are.
- Don't lose a sense of your true self.
- We all (want to) improve ourselves, but sometimes, we are just sick of one more book that tells us we suck.
- There's a space in between self-improvement and self-acceptance, and in that space is self-compassion, which is the secret sauce of awesome.
- It gives us an unfair advantage over the inner critic.
- There is an opportunity for an uprising in our inner dialogue.
- We just need to live life loving and well.
- Each and every morning, ask yourself, what would love do now?, and then live your day off of that answer.
- Put into place five practices - optimism, play, functional nutrition, mindfulness, and gratitude.

All in all, it was a day full of fun, amazing energy, and a little bit of sweat. And a few pictures, which I'll share now.

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Taking a picture of Emily pretending to take a picture of herself with the Skirtmingos.

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Catching Lisa resting.

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Me hamming it up for the ever amazing Jen Allen, our official weekend Skirt photographer. This was during the workout break.

I would be remiss if I didn't also acknowledge all of the amazing sponsors who came together to help Skirt Sports put on this weekend for us!

- Noosa Yoghurt

- Ska Brewing
- Justin's Nut Butter
- Skoop! (Healthy Skoop)
- Golden Root
- Bhakti Chai
- Alpine Start (instant coffee)
- Noodles & Company
- The Tea Spot
- Kim and Jake's Cakes
- Mad Greens
- Skirt Sports
- 3W Races

The energy would continue on to the Skirt Sports 13er/10K/5K the next day ... which you will read about in my next post. Probably Wednesday.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

May Round-Up

May ... was an improvement. In some respects.

Swimming: 7900m (4.91 mi)
Cycling: 42.05 mi
Running: 24.36 mi
Lifting: 16 sessions (4:22)
Other: one curling session (1:30), one hike (1:00), one rowing session (:10), one softball session (:20), five walks (12:50), four yoga sessions (1:07)

There were a few positives with this month - more swimming, more running, getting on the trails (some of those runs were trail runs!), more strength, more diversity. There was also some bad - little cycling, some inconsistencies.

I swam more than I have the past two months combined, but I know I need to swim more. And I'm starting to.

The bike ... has been a struggle. A huge struggle. Hopefully I can start getting over whatever mental block I've got there and just. freaking. ride.

I'm also struggling a bit with the run, but I'm trying. I'm trying to figure out what's going on and I think I've muddled through a few things. I've learned some things regarding Pikes Peak - mainly that I need to get more hike training than run training - so we'll see how that goes this month. Hopefully solid numbers, but hopefully a LOT of hiking as well.

The thing that probably stands out the most from the above list is the strength - sixteen sessions! Crazy, I know. A few people I know have started the Tone It Up Bikini Series. I learned about it a bit too late (and don't really want to completely get into the food part of it), but I did learn that there's a daily workout on the site. There's some cardio (which I generally ignore due to all the stuff I do on a regular basis), but there's also usually a daily lift. So I've been doing that. It's not much - usually only around 15 minutes a day - but it's manageable, which is what I think I need right now. I can also do it at home in my basement, which makes it even better.

Cross your fingers with me that June will be better - and except for the bike, so far, it has been. Also send vibes into the universe to make sure I swim, as my usual pool is going to be closed from the 10th through July 17th. Which sucks, yes, but the wet area is SO GROSS that I'm thankful this is happening. Because ew.

Friday, June 2, 2017

Race #4 of the Season: BolderBOULDER 10K

After we "ran" this race last year, we knew we'd never want to "race" it ever again. It was just too much fun. So, we were hoping to do the same this year.

But then we learned that Brandon wouldn't be home. And my running had been shit, so I knew I didn't want to sign up to run it by myself because then I know I would have actually tried to run it.

Thankfully, I saw on ... Twitter, probably, that or Instagram ... that Katie was for sure running it and not seriously (if you recall from last year's recap - or clicked on the first link above - we encountered her and her peeps last year). I messaged her and asked if I could run with her and she said yes. I had to track down a SMASH Horizon tri tank which was a bit tricky, but thankfully Hillary and Lauren are awesome and I got one overnighted to me.

I met up with Katie, her husband Thom, her friend Jen, and a friend of a friend Jamie at RallySport that morning and then we all walked over to the start line ... with a small detour at the trampoline in mile one. I dropped my stuff off at the mobile locker (wasn't sure if I'd be heading back to Katie's car or not and I had already paid for it), ditched Thom so he could find the friend he was running with, and lined up.

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From L to R - Jamie, me, Jen, Katie.

We actually ran the first mile relatively well - it was a 10:something. That's also because there's really nothing fun to do in mile one except for the aforementioned trampoline, and we'd already hit that (well. not me.).

From then on ... steadily slower, but steadily a LOT MORE FUN. Slip 'n slides (both!), beer, Doritos, doughnuts, lots of bacon, watermelon, grapes, cupcakes, Otter Pops, pee stops, lemonade and a lot of laughs.

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Slip 'n Slide #2. That weird sideways slide meant that side of me was drenched.

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Katie and I snarfing ALL THE CUPCAKES. Katie, if I haven't already mentioned it, is also TeamSFQ with me.

All in all, it ended up being my slowest - but way most fun - 10K ever. Which is probably going to be par for the course in BolderBOULDERs. Because dude.

Overall Stats:
Time: 1:44:30.8
411/501 division (F33)
17198/23214 gender
34348/43752 (I think) overall

We hung out in the stadium for a bit to meet up with Thom again and then caught a bus back to Rally. Jen split off and I went to get my car to then drive to Longmont where we all grabbed some lunch. I then took Jamie back down to Denver (so she didn't have to bus it back) ... where I got rear-ended. Joy.

Even that unpleasantness (even combined with my wicked sunburn. knew I forgot something ...) couldn't overshadow what an amazing morning I had. Many thanks to Katie for letting me tag along and for the pictures. Which I stole to use for this blog.