Take Me Back to Colorado

Disclaimer: I received a New Original BUFF®️ 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!

I realize while I wrote a race recap for Vacation Races 5k, I never wrote about the second half of the Elk Double, the half marathon.

It was absolutely incredible; in fact, the whole weeks vacation was one that I’ll carry with me always. Being able to run and spend road time with Jenn is something that I always enjoy.

Jenn wrote about the details of the 2017 race. Words can’t express just how glad I am that I got to experience her hometown race with her and just spend time with her and her family. It’s hard to have friends that you don’t get to see all the time but it makes the time you DO get to be together that much more special.

Instead of focusing on the details of the race, I would like to narrow in on one of the things I appreciate the most about Vacation Races.

They are very tuned in to the “Leave No Trace” mindset. Their races are cup-free, which means that they have hydro-pouches available with registration or you can bring your own hydration pack (as seen above).

After running a few other races recently where I’ve had to wade through smashed paper cups on the ground (oh, the woes of being a back of the pack runner), it really stands out to me just how much of a difference using a hydro-pouch or carrying a pack can make.

I’ve been trying to be mindful about my global footprint and the small chances I can make that may make a lasting impact and trying hard to implement them whenever possible.

I am by no means perfect and there are some things that are so convenient to do (paper plates, plastics, etc.) but I want the beauty of our earth to last a long, long time. This isn’t a new concept or even a unique one, but I do want to create less waste and reuse when possible.

Which leads me to the New Original BUFF®️ I’m testing through BibRave. BUFF®️ is a huge part of all my runs, whether using it to wipe sweat away, keep my neck warm, my hair back, the list goes on.

I’m particularly stoked because the new BUFF®️‘s microfiber is made from 2 recycled water bottles that have been removed from oceans and landfills. A little less plastic floating around out there in the world works for me!

As is always the case, there are a ton of designs to choose from. However, I’d just gotten home from my Colorado trip and realized that I didn’t get anything souvenir related for myself. Problem solved!

I’ve used my New Original BUFF®️ on a few training runs during some absolutely hot and humid days and most recently at the Bird-in-Hand half marathon last weekend. With a UPF 50 I’m protected by the sun during those sunny runs.

Bird-in-Hand was anything but sunny however, there was still a bunch of sweat. What can I say, I’m a sweater!

With my previous half marathon being in the mountains of Colorado and this one in the hills of Pennsylvania, it was a nice way to transition from point A to point B. Good memories were made at both with my rock star friends and right now I’m just enjoying life and feeling fortunate that I’m able to have all these incredible experiences.

What small (or large) things are you doing to help the environment? 

How To Not Die In The Mountains

One of my goals this year is to do more adventure sports. Adventure sports are activities I used to refer to as “outdoors-y”, but “adventure sports” sounds so much cooler. Everyone where I live is “outdoors-y” so I was surprised to learn that isn’t what it’s really called. That’s one of many things I learned at some recent classes I took through REI and Alpine Rescue Team, classes I highly recommend!

The Maroon Bells

First, I took a “Cross Country Skiing Basics” class at my local REI store in Boulder. It was free, so I was a little concerned it was actually a giant sales pitch in disguise, but it wasn’t at all! What was great about this class was I learned what type of skis I would need for the area around my new neighborhood. I also learned what type of clothing I’d need and how to properly layer everything. Technically, I will be “backcountry skiing” which sounds a bit scary to me. This is where I should divulge that I’m a Colorado native who’s skied twice in her life, and neither of those times were in the last twenty five years. Come to think of it, that might be how I die in the mountains.

This will absolutely be me.

Next, I took a “Women’s Snowshoeing Basics” class, again through my local REI store. They offer lots of classes on various topics, so check your local store’s calendar. Like the XC skiing class, this one also taught me what types of snowshoes go with what type of terrain, as well as what type of clothing was best depending on the weather conditions at the trail head and at the higher elevations. The weather can be very different at each location and change quickly when you’re high in the mountains. Layering is the key to regulating body temps and avoiding hypothermia, and so is blocking wind and moisture. Luckily, the instructor said that if you can walk, you can snowshoe, so guess which adventure sport I’ll be taking up first?

Coco hates the cold. Lily just loves the sled. #seniordogs

The last class I took was a “Map and Compass” class, and it was the one I was most excited for. It was hosted by Alpine Rescue and it taught how to navigate by, you guessed it, map and compass! They also taught us how to triangulate your location using nearby landmarks. My sister, Carla, who is my frequent hiking partner, came with me. Not only is this a great skill to have since we spend so much time hiking, but we are planning our June trip to the Grand Tetons and Yellowstone and plan to do at least four hikes in those unfamiliar Parks. We don’t plan to stray from the trails, but safety first, yo! This skill does require some practice so she and I will be “hitting the maps” soon. What’s awesome is Alpine Rescue is an all volunteer organization and they will come save you on the mountain 24/7, 365. If there is a similar organization in your area, consider making a donation to support their efforts.

Shots I snapped driving to the map & compass class. Elk!

These classes were fun and informative, and they gave me so much more confidence to get outside, especially in the winter! I will probably need to win the lottery before I can take up any type of skiing, but snowshoeing while a bit out of my comfort zone is something I want to try.  I always wanted to learn how to navigate because you just never know what can happen. It’s one of my two big fears about the mountains, and I feel like I conquered it a little. With practice will come confidence. It feels good to push myself!

 

How do you like to push yourself? What new skill have you always wanted to learn?

Over the River, Through the Woods

Did you hear??! Probably not, because it’s just became official, but I’m moving to the mountains! I am the soon-to-be owner of a lovely acre-and-a-half near Rocky Mountain National Park. Here’s a little update via vid. Lemme know if ya have any bear tips.

 

I can’t wait to buy things like snowshoes and cross-country skis. Maybe even a canoe!

A Food & Flowers Picture Post From Whole Foods

A new Whole Foods opened up, and it’s the closest one to my house! I’m excited because, well, Whole Foods, AND healthy eating is good, right?? So I got to go to a grand opening tour and I took tons of pictures and recorded it on Facebook live (at the request of Whole Foods Boulder/Longmont). So If you’ve never been to one, here’s what it’s all about!

First, let’s start with the floral department since it’s always by the entrance, and it’s my favorite of all floral departments in any grocery store. And because pretty. And we need some beauty in our lives.

Looks and smells like summer.

Then you walk through the produce, and I’ll let the tour guide take over from here. (Apologies for the spotty cell reception I was getting on my iPhone.)

Not bad, eh? I also love the personal care section. They have great bath items (I’m a fan of relaxing soaks), and you can even find the perfect gift.

It’s bar soap, folks. Handmade. Smells amazing!

LOVE this.

What Boulder smelled like when I was a kid.

And they also fed us, which always makes for happy bloggers. 

Whole Foods is really about the idea of LOHAS; Lifestyle of Health & Sustainability, and it’s reflected in their products and company policies and operations. Their mission statement says “… we offer a place for you to shop where value is inseparable from values.” So while they have a reputation for being pricey, which to be frank, can be true depending on the item, remember that with those extra dollars you’re supporting values like sustainable sourcing, fair wages for workers, and local farms to name a few.

What is your favorite store? Do you have Wegmans? Because I don’t and I want to know all about it!

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Race Recap: Denver Broncos Back to Football 7K

Something weird happened over the last few years. I started wearing more orange. I began paying attention when my husband was watching our local NFL team games. I found myself yelling at the refs for making shit calls against our guys, and screaming for joy when they won. Somehow, I became a football fan. You may have heard of my team, they won the Superbowl last year.

hat

My new Broncos hat. I can’t wait until it’s cold enough to wear!

My family is just as mystified as I am at this development. It’s something I can’t explain or  make sense of myself. But, it’s happened, and so when I found out that the Broncos host a 7k (all hail John Elway) AND that the medal is pretty sweet, I invited a bunch of friends to join my team, the Happy Hoofers!

bibs

We’ve got our bibs!

Waiting in our corral with a ton of other fans in the shadow of the storied Mile High Stadium was definitely a unique experience. We were #UnitedinOrange! It took a while for our corral to go as they were releasing waves every five minutes. We waited over an hour to start and were already pretty hot and thirsty by the time we got going at 9:30-ish. Still, we were excited to be part of the energy.start Collage

When we got the the first water station at mile 1, we were so happy! Until we were so sad. They had run out of cups, and we didn’t have bottles with us. We’d have to wait until mile 3.something for the next aid station. We really hoped they had cups! The course took us through the old Victorian neighborhood that surrounds Sports Authority Field (us natives will always and forever call it Mile High Stadium). I was too thirsty to get pictures. :-p Then we did a half circle along Sloans Lake before turning back toward the stadium to run onto the field!

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Running into the stadium through the Bronco head and being on the jumbotron was awesome but I wish they’d let us snap a few photos before they pushed us through. How often do I get to be on the 50 yard line of my teams home field. NEVER. That’s how often.

finish collage

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Me and my sister on the JumboTron!

 

My goal with this race was to get some folks who might not ever consider “running” a race to try it out. I think for those who have never been to any kind of running race have preconceived notions about what level of fitness you need to participate, and how far a 5k (or 7k) really is. My friends where surprised that it wasn’t quite what they expected and they had more fun than they thought they would. Once folks realize they can do it at a pace they are comfortable with, they enjoy it. Not everyone has to be fast!

bite

They’re real!

I’m not sure I’ll do this one again. As much as I love my team, I felt the race organization could be better. The race didn’t start until 8:30 so it was pretty warm and it took quite a while for us to start. Not to mention, the water station ran out of cups before all the runners had left their corrals, and I saw far too many people cutting the course and cheating. It’s 4.3 miles for Pete’s sake, does one really need to cheat???  I call shenanigans!

It was a success, though, because my group tried something out of their comfort zone and they had fun! They are all so proud of their medals and of themselves! My sister-in-law had such a good time, she’s already signed up for a Christmas 5k, and I hope this is the start of a new hobby for her. I couldn’t be more proud of her! Kudos, Toni!! <3

All photos courtesy of my wonderful husband. Thanks, Honey!

 

What Fall races do you have planned? Who’s your team? I want to know below!

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Race Recap – Vacation Races Elk Double at Rocky Mountain Nat’l Park

I want to let you know that this will mostly be a picture post, because this race is just sooooo pretty. Also, I want to formally declare my love for Vacation Races, and this event in particular. VR, I LOVE YOU. If you’re reading this, pleeeeeeeease let me be an ambassador for your race series. Since I live within driving distance of  six out of nine of your events, I would make an excellent representative because I plan to run them all in the near future. But my first love for your race series will always be the Rocky Mountain Half Marathon.

This was the second year I’ve run the #RMHalf. They even added an extra special challenge this year, the Elk Double, which consisted of a 5k on Friday night, followed by the half marathon on Saturday morning. Three medals for two races means I. AM. IN. Many of my fellow Skirt Sports Ambassador Sisters were also running the races, and created a team. Team WTF? Where’s the Finish? I was so stoked to run with a team; I usually run races all by my lonesome.

packing

Packing for the big weekend and Coach Lily the Pug approves of my outfit selections.

In the interest of transparency, I want to state that in my (limited) half marathon experience, this group puts on the best races with the BEST Medals. Dare I say it, even better than runDisney.

I dared and said it. I retract nothing.

For proof, they had free smores and hammocks at the race expo. They had water, electrolyte drink, and Honey Stinger Gels at EVERY half marathon aid station, and at three of those stations, they also had bananas, orange slices, and porta potties.  VR really takes care of their runners!

smores

I was excited to try my new Skirt Sports skirt with bib magnets built in for the 5k. I was expecting to have to adjust my bib as I ran, but nope! The magnets kept it perfectly in place and I didn’t have to put safety pin holes in my new skirt. I was winning at life!

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5K Outfit: Skirt Sports Race Magnet Skirt, Electric Tank, Injinji socks, NB Shoes

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At the 5k Start

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Spirit of the Rockies: Anglers, Canadian Geese, and runners share the natural beauty!

Geese

Even the geese were cheering for us!

Here in Colorado, they don’t give out medals for 5ks. They just don’t. Not sure why, but maybe it has something to do with the commonly seen “140” oval stickers on cars. I guess folks here don’t really get behind the 5k distance. So, I’m VERY proud of my first and only 5k medal!

5kmedal

Ummm, so on a “related to the Rockies” note…my high school BFF lives a half a mile from the start line for the races, which was awesome, because I stayed at her house and walked to the 5k start. What wasn’t as fun was navigating the bear in the tree a few houses down from said friend’s house. I think he was sleeping, and he had the cutest bear butt. As long as that butt stayed in that tree.

bearbutt

You can see a casually hanging paw and adorable tail.

I found out later that team WTF? finished in FIRST PLACE for the 5k!!!! No thanks to my slow arse which finished in 38 minutes, but yeah! So I got 2, 5k medals and I cannot even. I had to get the gold 1st place medal from my WTF? team mates the next day, but I was stoked!!  Then it was time to rest, fuel, sleep, and get up at 4:30 for the half marathon!

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Flat Me for the Half: Skirt Sports Eclipse top, Cougar (Lioness) skirt in Free Love print, two pairs of socks; Injinji toe and PROcompression.

halfstart

I only smile this early in the morning on race days. Trust.

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Mountain valley mist rising as the sun rises in Estes Park

halfriver

The weather was perfect, and the course is so gorgeous!

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I saw an Elk whilst doing the Elk Double! Life is complete!

I always love seeing mile marker 6 because it means I’m almost halfway done!

mile6

In the middle of the dreaded looooooong (3.5 miles-ish) low grade hill.

gorgeous

*heart eyes*

thatviewtho

This view is worth the altitude.

stanley

The course takes you right past the most haunted hotel in America!

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Coming up on the finish

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dog

The cutest!

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Just a few more steps!

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Team WTF? Where's The Finish

Team WTF? Where’s The Finish

bling

That bling, tho!

Done

This was my big event for the season and there was no doubt in my mind that I’d enjoy the race, but the fact is I came away with a lot more than I expected. My goal was to push myself and I did. I shaved five minutes off my time from last year. But the best part by far was I got to know my Skirt Sisters better, and together, we placed in the race. That’s because #REALwomenmove. Especially together.

What is/was your big race this season? Do you runs with a team at races? Did you visit a National Park this summer? Let’s discuss below!

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Spring Time is Trail Time!

This week, I needed an injection of motivation in my runs. I’m training for the Skirt Sports 13er in June, and I’m super excited for the race. Not so much the training. After talking to Mer about how I don’t take advantage of where I live nearly enough, I decided that it’s finally time to start trail running in earnest. I have every hope that will invigorate me to get in a training groove. I know a lot of you run trails. I see your gorgeous photos on Instagram and am so inspired by the gentle rolling hills and flat, heavily treed forests you run through. I wanted that to be me.

NCAR

NCAR TRAIL

I checked out this trail and put it on the to do list.

So I struck out this week. I chose a pretty famous trail in Boulder, the Chautauqua (pronounced sha-talk-wa) Flatirons Trail, for my first foray. That is when I realized I was sadly unprepared for what I was about to tackle. Here are my lessons learned.

The goal is the top of those pointy things.

The best part of my trail run (read hike) was that everyone was smiling and friendly and happy. In general, people are pretty friendly where I live. We smile at each other as we pass on the street. We hold doors open for one another. We say please and thank you to strangers. But the folks I saw on the trail that day weren’t just wearing polite smiles for the sake of being pleasant. No, no, they were positively radiating happiness. Their smiles said “it’s a gorgeous day and we’re alive and we’re free and LOOK AT WHERE WE LIVE. I love everyone I see!!!” It was marvelous! Nature heals everyone’s spirit. I’m not sure about you, but I can always use more of that kind of energy in my life.

north

Just because I’m a native doesn’t mean I’m a natural. I forgot what “trail” can mean here in Colorado. What some folks might call a trail, others would call a hiking path. Emphasis on hiking. I was out of breath less than a quarter mile into the trail. I’d looked at the trail on a map before heading out, but I didn’t pay too much attention to the elevation change. My bad, lungs.

Oh hai, rocks.

Oh hai, rocks.

Looking at my FitBit later, it said I’d climbed 48 flights, and I didn’t even make it close to the top of the mountain. I realized I’m not at the fitness level I thought I was. It was hard.

elevation

 

That’s when I wondered if I should stick to flat trails on the plains, at least until I get stronger. My rugged pioneer blood deceived me into thinking the hike was no big deal and I could handle it because I’m from this place. My blood lied.  Also, I needed water, which I didn’t bring. That brings me to …

Always wear your CamelPak. Everyone on the trail, errr, hiking path, had a backpack of some sort. Not far in I was wishing I had brought mine, too. Once I was surrounded by trees, the wind died off and I was hot. Having water and a place to store my pullover would have been awesome. In this area, seeing a black bear or a mountain lion is not uncommon. So in the future, maybe some bear spray or a change of underwear in my pack might be helpful. Just saying.  And don’t forget the sunscreen!

carin

Dress Appropriately. Duh. The day I went it was in the mid 60’s and overcast. The mild wind held a crisp bite to it, though, which is typical this time of year at our elevation. I was wearing capris, a tank, a long sleeve tech shirt, and a fleece pullover. Rule numero uno about living in Colorado, dress in layers. The chilly wind was giving me ear aches and I really needed a beanie. I went back to the car for a hoodie I could cover my ears with and then I was sweltering. There was no winning with the gear I had. It was cold in the open spaces and hot in the forest, so layers are uber important.

Brrrrrrrrr!

Brrrrrrrrr!

Be a Good Steward of the Trail I saw lots of baggies of dog poo lying next to the trail. This is great in that people are cleaning up after their dogs, but hopefully they remember to pick their baggie up on the way back down the mountain and toss it in the trash. I read another trail runner say she always tries to pick up at least one piece of litter while on her run. I love this idea. I will be packing a grocery sack in my CamelPack for this purpose in the future!

 

Looking back over Boulder

Looking back over Boulder

There is Nothing more Calming to the Soul than Nature’s White Noise It is essential that when you’re out there, pounding your feet on the soft dirt, that you to actually stop and take a moment to be present. There is an indescribable sound you only hear in the forest of the Rockies. It’s the sound of the wind whispering through the tops of the ponderosa pines, the hum of a hummingbird as it speeds by, the sound of aspen leaves quaking, combined with the rushing swoosh of a distant creek or river. There is the calm stillness in the forest. A place where technology and obligation are far removed from the fallen tree you find yourself sitting on.  Don’t forget to sit. Take big deep breaths. Look around. Be grateful for this time to connect with our environment. You will leave with a more grateful heart and calm center.

tree

Do you run trails? Where? Which are your favorites? What do you like about trail running that you don’t get out of road running? Tell me all about it in the comments!

 

Race Recap: Rocky Mountain Half Marathon

On Saturday, I participated in the 2015 Rocky Mountain Half Marathon presented by Vacation Races, who, in case you aren’t familiar, hosts races at various national park locales across the country. I was super excited to register for this one because the Rocky Mountain National Park is celebrating 100 years this year, and as a proud native of Colorado, I really wanted the commemorative medal!

Got my bib and my shirt!

Got my bib and my shirt!

I’ve been to the location of the race, Estes Park (pronounced Estis) many times, but I’d never gotten up at 3:45 on a Saturday morning to get there before. The race started promptly at 6:00 am, and we arrived at about 5:35 with plenty of time to park and walk to the start. My saint of a husband came with me and brought his camera. He’s a keeper for sure!

Not quite awake but I'm ready to run!

Not quite awake but I’m ready to run!

Sunrise over Lake Estes

Sunrise over Lake Estes

The race entry was limited to 1500, and 1329 raced. I felt this was a perfect number of people for the course. There was lots of room to move and maneuver, and I was never alone on the course even though I was running by myself.

Just keep waiting, just keep waiting...

Just keep waiting, just keep waiting…

And I'm off! I'm the one in purple (of course).

And I’m off! I’m the one in purple (of course).

The first hill is in sight.

The first hill is in sight.

People are walking a half a mile into the race. Altitude + hills = no bueno.

People are walking a half a mile into the race. Altitude + hills = no bueno.

I love when the mountains are pink from the sunrise!

I love when the mountains are pink from the sunrise!

I scoped a lot from the course, starting at mile 1. The course took us around the eastern edge of Lake Estes, and the views were pretty grand just like they were every mile of the course! Although the National Parks Service supports these races,  we didn’t run through Rocky Mountain National Park. Instead, the course runs along the paved streets of the town, but the scenery is still spectacular. Nestled in a small valley with the lake and surrounded by Longs Peak, Mount Meeker, and many other peaks, Estes made sure the Rocky Mountain Half lived up to its name!

The weather was perfect for running. It was 54 degrees Fahrenheit when we got to the race, and by mile three, I was stripping off my hoodie and tossing it to my husband as I ran by! They also had a gear check at mile three for you to leave your jacket and they’d bring it to the finish for you. Nifty!

Mile 3 and I'm feeling strong.

Mile 3 and I’m feeling strong.

mile3view

It’s so pretty!

A bit further along came the first long hill of the course. I ran/walked it and felt good at the top, only I knew what was coming ahead. A slow, gradual 4 mile uphill slog where most of the 490-ish feet of elevation on the course is gained. There was a lot of walking going on in this section, folks. At least it was pretty!

Mile5

mile5ish

The long, slow climb.

The long, slow climb.

This is about the time that Meri texted me to see how I was doing. I whined to her about the never-ending hill of little oxygen, and she reminded me of something very important.

I love this girl.

I love this girl.

Then I rounded a bend and saw this view. I stopped complaining.

longspeak

At mile 9, the hill ended! HOORAAYYYY! I stopped for a potty break, grabbed some Honey Stinger energy gels, half a banana, and some Nuun and was off again. I loved that the aid stations had water, Nuun, energy gels, bananas, and orange slices. Way to keep us hydrated and fueled, Vacation Races!

mile10

It seems that mile 10 is were my body starts to whine and get annoyed. My hips start to get tight and pinchy, and I’m ready to be done. I put my head down and slogged through the rest of the race. I didn’t take any photos or video.  My husband was down at the finish waiting for me and he got to see the elite runners come in. They were lucky enough to see some elk on the course!

Elk are a common site in Rocky Mountain National Park. That buck has HUGE antlers!

elk3

The elk were not cheering for the runners, and moved on to the golf course.

The finish is in site and I CANNOT WAIT.

The finish is in site and I CANNOT WAIT.

Aaaand DONE!!!

Aaaand DONE!!!

I finished with a time of 3:17:47, much slower than my 1st half marathon. It’s okay, the elevation at this course was just under 7500 feet, plus there were lots of hills and no cushy Boardwalk to run on. I expected that my time would be quite a bit slower than at the April Fools Half. All in all, I’m quite pleased with myself!

It's so pretty and special and I love it!

It’s so pretty and special and I love it!

The medal for this race is really fabulous. It’s huge and heavy and bronze plated and I can’t wait to get a medal rack!!

medal

medalback

I think I need to get this baby engraved.

I’m so proud that I ran this race and accomplished it. I knew going in that this would be the hardest thing I’d aver asked of my body, and I did it. It was hard and it hurt, but it wasn’t as hard or as painful as I expected it to be. This is something I’m super proud of, and will be for a long time. I conquered the Rocky Mountain Half!

soproud

Then it was time for recovery. Pro Compression socks, Mexican food, and vintage Batman. Perfect ending to a prefect day!

recovery

If you’re considering a Vacation Race, I would recommend you do it. I have nothing negative to say about the race. It was well organized, well sponsored, and well stocked. They fed us generously, gave us a pretty shirt and a GORGEOUS medal, and we got to run in a spectacular setting. Really, what more can a runner ask for?

What’s next on your race calendar? Have you done a Vacation Race Series race in the past?Do you like Mexican and/or classic sci-fi? Let’s chat in the comments!

*No compensation of any kind was given to me by Vacation Races for this race review/recap.