Holiday Night Hike

All my life, one of my favorite Christmas memories has been seeing the Boulder Star light up the side of Flagstaff Mountain. The Star was first lit in 1947 as a gift from the City to the people of Boulder. What I didn’t know until recently is you can hike to the Star, too! You can also drive to the bottom and climb up, but where is the fun in that? I asked my sister, Carla, to join me, and it was on.

We’d never done a night hike before, so we had to prep a bit by picking up some headlamps. I was also super excited to try out my brand new Skirt Sports Toasty Tights (review coming soon), vest, and new beanie. We started out at about five-o’clock and it was already around forty-seven degrees. We parked near the base of Flagstaff Trail to start the 2.3 mile round trip hike.

The hike wasn’t easy. It was steep and technical in many places, and the directions I pulled off the web were not very clear. It was tricky to navigate in the dark when the directions said to look for the “junction after the popular bouldering spot”. We passed no less than five popular bouldering spots with junctions after them so thought we might have missed the right one. Luckily the road winds in the hear distance and made a good navigation point for us. The views on the way up were worth every foot we climbed in elevation.

As we came up to the Star from the south and we spotted two deer bucks grazing. No one else noticed them, and Carla and I squatted down at a safe distance and watched them for a few minutes. They started to spar, and we could hear the knocking of their antlers as they butted heads. It was so awesome to see them, and for my sister and I to be the only people who saw the deer. This is why I love Colorado!

The climb to the top of the Star was SO STEEP. It was fun to reach the top with my sister and create a new tradition together. This is such a uniquely Boulder holiday experience and I’m so glad I finally did it. Getting down was tricky both of us fell on our butts and took it super slow from that point on. We found the trail back no problem with the help of our headlamps. I’m not sure what happened with my GPS watch but we did make a loop of sorts, and I was surprised by the elevation we gained on this hike! I’m already excited to do it again next year, and maybe take some adult cocoa next time!

What holiday traditions do you have? Have you ever hiked at night? Share with me!

Recipe Box: The Best Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

You know when you have weeks that feel like they’re never going to end? How about when that week is capped off by having to take your car to the shop AND going to the dentist to get shot up with novocaine?

Those weeks are not so great.

My favorite way to fix weeks like this one has been is to bake. Not only does baking do positive things for my mental health, it also results in delicious treats, which are generally good for my soul. I don’t subscribe to feeling guilty about food anymore, either, so making cookies or brownies or some other treats every once in a while is great – and definitely not something I feel like I have to earn or work off later.

Probably the most-loved recipe in my collection is my great aunt’s recipe for Oatmeal Chocolate Chip cookies. It’s the most popular cookie in our family – my sister has perfected it – and we made a ton of them for my wedding to share with our friends and family.

And now I’m going to share it with you. Love this recipe, bake it with care, and most of all – enjoy it.

Chocolate Chip Cookies (from Auntie Joyce)

1 cup margarine (or butter)

3/4 cup brown sugar

3/4 cup white sugar

 

2 eggs

Dash of salt

1 1/2 cup of flour

1/2 tsp baking soda

1 tsp hot water

1 tsp vanilla

2 cups oatmeal

1 package chocolate chips (or however much you want)

 

Preheat oven to 350 F. Cream together margarine and sugars. Add eggs and salt and mix. Add flour, baking soda, water, vanilla, and oatmeal – mix well. Stir in chocolate chips. Bake for 12 minutes. Eat your face off.

How to Cheer at the Philadelphia Marathon

The Philly Marathon is this coming weekend and I have cheered at this race more than any other. I was recently chatting with a few folks that will be cheering for friends and family this year and trying to explain my location strategies for maximum viewing potential.

While I was drawing with my fingers on the table and explaining my route, I thought it might be easier if I just wrote a blog post! And here we are!

source (with added stars from me)

When I’m cheering, it’s usually for a friend staying with me, so I end up being there super early to escort them to the starting area.

If time is on your side and you’re chilling on the streets of Philadelphia (please sing along with me), my suggestion is to visit the Starbucks located at 16th and Arch Street. It opens at 6:30, which is a half hour before the elites begin and leaves you plenty of time to grab something yummy before staking out your spot on the street.

Make sure you’re standing near cool people, get comfy (dress for the weather and have comfortable shoes on), and get ready to CHEER!

I start off right by the purple star, just past LOVE Park. There’s some construction in the area but you should be able to grab a prime spot to catch your runner just after they hit the mile mark of the marathon.

Cheering for Victoria during mile 1 in 2012 (this was when the half and full were on the same day/course)

I like telling my runner what side of the street I’ll be on so they know where to look for me. For the first area, I like being on the runner’s right. That way I can easily cross through to my next cheer zone AND I don’t have to run across the street in front of athletes.

Also, remember that this is a big race with lots of corrals. Tracking your runner is always a great way to know where they are on the course. You can also look at their bibs for corral placement so you know that when you see your runner’s corral color, you know it time to look for them in earnest.

Swoop, the Eagles mascot cheered with us too!

Mile one you’ll see lots of smiles and everyone is looking strong! As both a spectator and someone who’s run the half course I can tell you that the energy here is fantastic.

After your runner passes, you can cut through the couple of blocks to line up with the yellow star. I usually walk down a bit so that I’m just past the 10k mark.

You can hang anywhere from miles 5.5 to just before 7 and it’s minimal walking so you do you!

Cheering for Kyle in 2013

The crowds are THICK in this area, sometimes a few people deep. Bring a bright sign, a cowbell, and your best yelling voice. While you’re waiting for your runner, you can cheer on other runners because they’ve got their names on their bibs. Show them what the city of brotherly and sisterly love is all about!

Brooke made this sign in 2011

After you see your runner during this stretch, you have a couple of different options. If you’d like, you can go shopping for a bit. Depending on how speedy your runner is, you might have some time to get some food before they come through the finish line.

Or, if you’re crazy, like I know many of you are… you can make the long trek to cheer for the runners along Kelly Drive (red star).

This is where the course gets a bit quieter. It’s hard to get out there and cheer and there’s nothing that’s too accessible for a cheerer. BUT THAT DOESN’T SCARE YOU, DOES IT?

No. I didn’t think so.

So what you’re going to want to do is head toward the finish line… and just keep walking. That’s right, keep on going. The marathoners are doing it and that means that you are too, if you want to cheer for them.

When I was cheering in 2013 my Fitbit informed me that from start to finish, I traveled 10 miles. TEN. This isn’t for the faint of heart! A lot of people bring/rent bikes to cheer, by the way, and that’s always a great option.

This section of the course is an out and back so if you’d like, you can see your runner on the way out, cross the street (safely) and see them on the way back too. Or, if you’re like me, your runner can see YOU as they run by.

Try really hard not to be like me.

Thankfully I caught her on the way back, at around mile 24.

Runners at this point might be in survival mode. I usually adjust my cheering to fit the situation. If someone looks like they’re hurting, I’m more subtle in my cheering. If someone is looking strong, I’ll tell them just that. That stretch of road can feel like forever to a runner so I always want to be compassionate.

If you station yourself at mile 24, then you miss out on seeing your runner cross the finish. I *just* missed Kyle! Sure, I could have run there but I didn’t. Having experienced both, I think that I’d rather see my runner come across the finish line (or be right before it).

But honestly, I think that anything you do, you can’t lose because your runner will just be so happy to see you every single time. It really does make a difference that you’re out there, supporting them!

2010 Vic’s a marathoner!

2013 Kyle’s a marathoner!

I’m still trying to see if I’ll be able to make it into the city this Sunday to cheer on those running the marathon, but if not, I’ll be hooting and hollering from here. Guaranteed!

What races do you like to cheer at? Have you ever done the Philadelphia Marathon? (Or any marathon? Not me!) BibRave Pro buddy, Joe, is running his first this weekend!

#SugarScoot Sugar Detox & Water Intake Challenge Update

The good news is, I don’t have diabetes. The bad news is my glucose levels are still wonky. It’s time to up my clean eating game by cutting sugar and drinking more water. Are you in?

BibRave Pro: Garmin Forerunner® 935 (with giveaway news!)

Disclaimer: I received a Garmin Forerunner 935 Multisport GPS Watch from Garmin to review as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review find and write race reviews!

My BibRave Pro one year anniversary is coming up soon! It feels like just yesterday I announced that I was chosen as a BibRave Pro and I can’t believe how quickly it has flown by. It’s far and away ranks highly among the best experiences that has come along with blogging. That’s saying something, since I started an online journaling way back in June 2001.

Through BibRave I’ve met and connected with tons of incredible people, both online and in person – I want more of the in person variety! The opportunities to try so many cool products and races as a BibRave Pro have been wonderful.

What I love about BibRave in general is that it’s consistently good. I love the positivity, the unconditional support from my fellow Pros, the people I meet during the Tuesday Twitter #bibchat!

Last week I got the news from our BibRave Pro coordinator, Erin, that I was chosen to try the Garmin Forerunner® 935 and I lost my mind. If you live anywhere in the New Jersey area, you might have heard me freaking out! I definitely scared a few children (my own so it’s okay).

I charged it overnight, synced it with my phone, and then put it on my wrist. I immediately started getting alerts!

I love my previous watch, the Garmin Forerunner® 220, but it isn’t nearly as fancy!

The Forerunner® 935 is really awesome and has great features like a heart rate monitor (really pumped about that), step counter, sleep monitoring, calories burned, V02 max, gym, running and swimming features (among others), and that’s just to name a few.

I’m still learning all the watch has to offer because there’s a lot!

I’ll keep you posted as I go along about all the new and exciting things I come across. I’m sure there will be many!

In the meanwhile, there’s a Twitter #bibchat happening this evening and there’s going to be a Garmin Forerunner® 935 given away to a participant!

If you’re the lucky one then we can both find out all the cool things TOGETHER. Join us tonight on Twitter at 9pm est.