Patriot Day 5k – Post Race Recap and Unexpected PR

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Well, it’s been awhile since I’ve done a “post-race recap.” I’ve been running a few races this year but haven’t really taken the time to review them. Since this blog is partly about running, it’s about time that I recap a race of mine.

This past weekend was a “holiday” of sorts to remember and honor those that served our country on that awful day 15 years ago. I was a freshman in high school sitting at my desk in earth science watching the news as the two towers fell down.

I will never forget that day and our country will always remember those that had fallen with the towers. The company I work for, 3W Races, holds a race every year to honor those first responders and military that were there that day and that continue to serve our country. The Patriot Day race started out as a 10k and 5k but this year we only did the 5k. Not being responsible for the production of this race, I decided to run it! Talk about perks of the job!

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This race is in Denver and around a beautiful park in the city, Sloans Lake. Being a super flat course (the most flat of any of 3W’s courses), I wanted to see what my current fitness level is by racing as hard as I could. I didn’t want to wear a watch, I just wanted to go off of feel. After getting this time, I plan on picking some running goals and deciding what I actually want to do with the sport.

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I showed up to the park pretty early, getting plenty of time to talk with friends and get a warm up in. One friend in particular told me he wanted to PR which would be a sub 25 minute 5k for him. He told me he wanted run with me, or at least keep me in his sights. I figured we could run together since my time would be somewhere around 25 minutes anyway. That’s what I’ve been running in recent races.

The whistle was blown and off we went. My friend and I ran pretty hard from the start line. I have a bad habit of starting off too fast, and even though I tried not to this time, I knew we were running pretty quickly! I don’t know even remember what the time was, but we were both shocked when his watch beeped at the first mile marker. I told my friend that it’s okay, we can still get that PR as long as we hold where we’re at.

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By mile two, he was still on my shoulder; I knew he was set up for a PR. I waved my hand up, holding a “one” on my fingers telling him we only had one more mile left. I pushed it a little harder, still feeling great.

Then, with three-quarters of a mile left, I looked down and saw my shoe untied! I swear I doubled knotted that thing and ironically, I was even thinking about shoes untying while running.  UUURRRGGG. Not stopping, I just became very aware of where I was putting my feet down at.

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I passed a group and they reminded me of the mishap but I still kept going. I passed my friend’s wife on the course and told her he was right behind me. Looking up, the finish line was in sight and I pushed even harder.

Noticing that I was finishing around 23 minutes, my friend was definitely in for PR. I looked back and there he was, flying in for a minute and a half PR! So excited, we high-fived and he thanked “Coach Vestal.”

 

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Feeling pretty good, I started thinking about my PR. I honestly couldn’t remember it, but had my phone with me. Checking my blog, where I record such things, I found that I had beaten my PR as well. I couldn’t believe it. I had not goal of a PR, just a fast race. I have been feeling super slow lately, and not as fit as I used to be, but I had indeed ran my fastest ever 5k! The best part, is I still feel room for improvement!

A PR kind of day, about half a dozen of us gotten PRs! It was awesome! We all got to take turns re-setting the time clock to our times, and took some celebratory pictures then headed to a local brewery for celebratory beers.

1st in my Age Group!

I was also 1st in my Age Group!

Let me re-introduce myself….

Let me introduce myself...Hi! I'm Whitney!

Let me introduce myself…Hi! I’m Whitney!

Yes, I’m done with my National Park posts…for now….but in the process of talking about our wonderful parks, I have gained a bunch of new followers!

Welcome! Thanks for following along on my adventures; I hope you enjoy them!

Since a lot of you weren’t with me when I starting this blogging adventure about four years ago (woah. shock and disbelief!), I’d like to re-introduce myself to you all and share how I started, why I blog now and what you can expect to read from me.

Running Ragnar Road Relay 2015

Running Ragnar Road Relay 2015

Well, for starters, I’m Whitney! Currently in Golden, I have lived all over the Colorado front range growing up from Colorado Springs up to Fort Collins. While many people argue this fact, I am a Colorado-Native…Ish. I was indeed born in a different state (South Dakota) but moved here when I was measly 6-months old… So you can call me whatever you want, but I feel like a native because I have no memories of South Dakota and I was born on an Air-Force base which is like neutral territory, right? Anyway…

While I don’t believe peoples’ jobs define them, mine are pretty close to my identity which hasn’t always been the case in the past. I have always been a jack of all traits and have had many random jobs in the past (even dressing up as Mr. Peanut, true story), they have all lead me to my current careers (yes, plural). I own a mountain guiding business in Golden, CO called Golden Mountain Guides. I also do marketing and event production for a running company, 3W Races. Somewhere in there, I have found extra time and I also coach high school cross country and track & field.

My boyfriend and I, owners of Golden Mountain Guides

My boyfriend and I, owners of Golden Mountain Guides

That gives you a little bit of a back ground on me and you can understand why I believe, in my rare case, that my jobs may actually define me. Although, it is not all that defines me. I have a HUGE love for all most things outdoors including running and climbing, and probably an even bigger love for travel. All of those things led me to creating this blog.

Attempting Mt. Whitney

Attempting Mt. Whitney

Dang, I can’t believe it’s been a little over four years since I started this! You can see history in the making here, with my first post. After reading some old stuff, I feel that I have come a long way.

Originally this blog was made to document my goal of running a race in every state. While I still really want to accomplish this (I’m up to 13 states!), over the years my blog as become way more than that.

Running like the Wind, or at least trying to, in Washington.

Running like the Wind, or at least trying to, in Washington.

It became a place to vent, to challenge myself and others, a motivation outlet and seeker, and has been becoming a sort of lifestyle blog. Back in the beginning of the year, I “re-branded” Racing the States. While the web address still reads the same, I have come to title my blog “Racing and Wandering” and changed the look and feel completely.

Now, I’d like to think of this writing outlet as a “wanderer’s lifestyle” blog. I still run, a lot, but I have a stronger desire than ever to see very inch of this world. In the last couple of years or so, I have gotten more opportunities to do so by means of travel and have seen some incredible places (last year I got to go to London baby)!

My dad and I on a double-decker bus in London.

My dad and I on a double-decker bus in London.

I’d like to be able to share my adventures with my readers, in addition to my running. I’d like to motivate more people to seek out what makes them happy, and if it’s travel, offer up places to explore, ways to do it wisely (and cheaply) and hope that you never feel stuck in this world.

Death Valley!

Death Valley!

Follow along! Click that button to the right…

Instagram is my favorite! Or Facebook is ok too.

Happy Birthday, National Parks!

Hiking to Sky Pond in Rocky Mountain National Park. Photo Credit: my friend Katja

Hiking to Sky Pond in Rocky Mountain National Park. Photo Credit: my friend Katja

(If you’ve been following me over the last few weeks, I have been doing a series of National Park Posts. It’s all culminating to this one post, celebrating the Centennial of the National Park System and showing my National Park Pride! Official turning 100 this Thursday, August 25th, I wanted to write about them to show different ways you can enjoy the parks.

Through my posts, I took you Hiking in Rocky Mountain and Arches, Climbing in Joshua Tree, Wandering in Death Valley and Exploring in Mt. Rainier.

I absolutely love and respect the National Park Service and when Cotopaxi reached out to me to help show my National Park Pride, I couldn’t resist the opportunity to write about them. I want to encourage you to find your closest National Park and explore, learn and discover what nature has to offer.)

Christine Falls in Mt. Rainier National Park

Christine Falls in Mt. Rainier National Park

When I was younger, I used to take yearly road trips with Mom or Dad. Many of these road trips were around Colorado and some were out of the state, but a lot of them ventured into National Parks.

Picture from my scrapbook...Yellowstone National Park with my Mom.

Picture from my scrapbook…Yellowstone National Park with my Mom.

As I’ve gotten older, my love for the outdoors and exploring has grown exponentially but it has only been in the last couple of years that I have had a lot of opportunities to get out and travel more; many times into National Parks. I’m super grateful that I had met my boyfriend, Ben, who shares an equal love for adventure and travel.

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Climbing in Joshua Tree National Park

This year alone, Ben and I have ventured into five national parks! We’re also in the process of planning out a New Mexico/Texas road trip for the end of the year that will check off another two National Parks (Carlsbad Caverns and Guadalupe National Park) and several other National Preserves and Monuments (in addition to going through Roswell, NM…. yes….aliens!).

There’s a TON of National Parks all across the country, and I bet there is one close enough for everyone to get to.

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There are a million ways for you to get out and enjoy a national park…. Climbing, hiking, driving, camping, running, star-gazing, canyoning…… the list could go on and on!

2013, Acadia National Park! Explore by myself before my best friend's wedding.

2013, Acadia National Park! Explore by myself before my best friend’s wedding.

I know what some of your are thinking….”All that travel is expensive! Plus they raised their prices for National Parks! BLAH!”

Exploring in Arches National Park

Exploring in Arches National Park

Well, thankfully, the money does go to a good cause (ya know, like preserving the place) but there are many ways to travel cost-efficiently. My boyfriend and I bought a season pass and it has saved us literally hundreds of dollars. In addition, we are very cheap travelers: we don’t eat out much, camp instead of stay in hotels (yes, even in the winter), and don’t splurge on souvenirs (I collect those squished pennies you get from the crank machines. 51 cent souvenirs!).

Now, hopefully I have sparked a little inspiration for you to start planing your National Park trip and don’t forget to wish them Happy 100th Birthday!

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Links:

National Park Centennial Information

FindYourPark.com

Cotopaxi – an outdoor gear company that cares. Check out their travel backpacks to support their fight against global poverty

I know you can get in FREE to Colorado’s National Parks Aug 25th-28th…I would assume that’s the case across the nation! 

Rocky Mountain National Park...check out that air I got! I'm on the left! Photo credit to Katja again!

Rocky Mountain National Park…check out that air I got! I’m on the left! Photo credit to Katja again!

Exploring Mt. Rainier National Park

20160426_160305(Did you know it’s the Centennial Celebration of the National Parks? It is! The National Parks Service is officially celebrating their 100th birthday on August 25th. I absolutely love and respect the National Park Service and plan on doing a whole bunch of National Park posts this month. Check out my last posts about Rocky MountainArches, Joshua Tree, and Death Valley. Next up is this one, Mt. Rainier National Park….)

Back in April, Ben, myself and a friend of ours, took a journey to Washington. It was a trip to combine many different things: a half marathon for me, my Grandpa’s Memorial service, family time, vacation and some Mt. Rainier fun.

Photo Credit: My aunt Bambi that lives out in Washington.

Photo Credit: My Aunt Bambi that lives out in Washington.

Ben and his friend Matt had plans to climb Mt. Rainier. I had no desire (yet) to do this climb, let alone the route they chose, but went with them to the National Park. I was their communication to family and friends via the internet while they climbed. While their climb is their story to tell, this left me with a lot of free time to explore Mt. Rainier National Park, or at least the parts of it that were open in late April.

Ben and Matt started toward the summit from the Paradise parking lot. This is on the South side of the big mountain. During the winter months, a majority of the roads and entrances to Mt. Rainier are closed due to snow. Winter in this area can extend into June, we were told. We were visiting right as lot of the snow was melting, but that still only left one entrance open to get to paradise, through the town of Ashford.

Ben and Matt starting their climb.

Ben and Matt starting their climb.

After waving good-bye as they started their journey, I doddled, trying to figure out what to do and see. I don’t mind doing stuff by myself, but having company on adventures is always more fun, in my opinion. Not letting being alone stop me, I studied the map for some trails I could explore. Not a lot was open but I had driven past a couple of signs for waterfalls, and thought, “I should start there!”

Leaving Paradise, as I drove down the road, I first came across Narada Falls. At first, when you look over the edge of the parking lot you can see the fast-moving river and the side of a massively wide waterfall. There’s a trail you can take to the view-point down below. I started and was thwarted by a massive wall of snow, waist-high that came right up to the guard rail. I was super bummed as another lone-hiker came. I watched him hop right up on top of the snow and defeat this obstacle (why didn’t I think of that). So, I followed!

The trail-blocked with snow

The trail-blocked with snow

 

After getting over the snow, I realized that was the only part of the trail that was difficult. The rest was snowed on and a little slippery, but was manageable. The other traveler was in town on business and decided to journey into the park for a quick trip. We helped each other take pictures, then went about our ways.

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Next up was Christine Falls. Just a quick drive further down the road and I was there. I hopped out of the car and took in the beautiful view. There was a trail that takes you up about the falls, but I was going to save that for the next day.

When traveling by yourself, you take a lot of selfies!

When traveling by yourself, you take a lot of selfies!

After getting some rest, trying local restaurants (dinner the night before and breakfast), then talking to the rangers, day two brought some more exploring.

I drove back into the park (stopping at every view-point along the way) and did the short, flat historical hike called the “Trail of Shadows”. I learned all about the town of Longmire (a health destination in the late 1800’s for people to cure all that ails them by soaking in the once hot springs and using medicine from the native plants nearby).

View from the trail, through the trees you can see Mt. Rainier.

View from the trail, through the trees you can see Mt. Rainier.

Then I drove my way up the road again to hike the trail behind Christine Falls with the destination Comet Falls in mind. The ranger did warn me that he didn’t think the trail was passable, but I decided to try it anyway, because I’m like that.

I made it about 1.5, maybe 2 miles at the most, before the trail was blocked by a steep snow slid (see picture). With better shoes and an ice ax or walking pole, I probably would have attempted it. But looking at the bottom of the slope and my trails shoes, I opted to skip it; envisioning myself sledding on my butt to the icy river some 100 ft down. No thank you!

What I would have had to hike over to get to Comet Falls.

What I would have had to hike over to get to Comet Falls. Would you do it?

The rest of my day was spent at Paradise, staring at the slope, looking for my boyfriend to return, terrified, not knowing they were staying one more night on the mountain due to weather. That’s a whole different story filled with worry, a lot of tears and looking for a hotel at 11pm.

Top of Christine Falls

Top of Christine Falls

Getting there:

  • Looks like the only way to enter during winter is from the south/west side of the park where we did, through Asford; the snow leaving all other road impassable.
  • There are THREE total entrances during the summer. We only got to see this part of the park.
  • Mt. Rainier Website

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Tips:

  • Best time to visit: Summer – Temperatures are great, roads are open and trails are passable. (Unless you’re a mountaineer, then consult mountaineering books to find out when the best time is to visit.)
  • Skiers and Snowboards: this is a magical place! You can hike up and ski down; I wish I had brought my board!

We can’t wait to go back!

Oh, by the way; the boys made it to the summit, safe and sound (and back down again)!

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