#60HikesDenverChallenge – Denver: Washington Park

wash-park

(For 2017, I have a goal of getting through all 60 trails in the book “60 Hikes Within 60 Miles Denver Edition.” You’ll see these posts all year-long. You can find a lot of info on each of the trails in the book, but I’ll highlight some things each time in addition to including my experience and opinion on the trail. The number below is associated with how they are labeled in the book if you have it.)

Trail #18 – Denver: Washington Park
Completed: 1/25/17 | Mode: Running!
Location: Denver – Virginia Ave. & Downing St.
Distance: 2 miles (I ran extra and got in 3.25)
Difficulty:  Easy, peasy
Surface: Hard packed dirt on the outer trail and a mix of concrete, asphalt, and dirt inside around the lakes and fields
Exposure: Lots of shade from GIANT old trees!

20170125_133816

My Experience: 
It’s well known to people who know me that I hate driving. I hate driving in Denver even more. So when I needed to run an errand for work in Denver, I decided to kill two birds with one stone. The only trail in the book that is in Denver proper is Washington Park. Now, I’ve run here before, a handful of years back on a first date with a guy I met while trying out online dating. I remember making two full loops around the park (about 5 miles total) and thinking it was a lovely run. Coming back to this park, I can’t help but reflect on the terrible online dates I had back then, but also on how in-shape I was, being able to easily bust out 5 miles on a whim. The three plus miles I did this past week was pretty exhausting, but I digress.

Wash Park (what the locals call it) is a little bit of nature amidst the busy city. While you can still hear and smell the cars, there are giant old trees around every corner reminding you just how old Denver is. The trail encircles a few ponds, large fields, and tennis quarts. This is a super popular place for summer activities. Think volleyball, running (duh),  kite flying, paddle boats, and more! A lot of races happen here as well.

20170125_134642

Pros
-Flat
-Lots of surfaces to choose from (hard packed dirt and concrete/asphalt)
-Can get a lot of miles in here depending on how many loops you want to do

Cons
-Can hear/smell/see cars
-Can get crowded especially on the weekends and in the summer
-Traffic around and to/from here can be a nightmare
-Limited amounts of “good” parking

20170125_133109

Tips
-If you’re driving into the city, I’d visit during the week when there will be plenty of parking. Side street parking gets tricky.
-Depending on how many miles you’re trying to get, you can do the outermost loop (like I did) and then add some miles by going around the little ponds to create variation.

Overall
Although I’m still unsure as to whom this book would be intended for, I’m going on the assumption that people who live in Denver would buy this book to experience trails close to home (within 60 miles). I’m not sure this place needed to be included, not would I call it a “hike.” Sure, it’s a great city escape and lovely place to run for the locals, but I wouldn’t come back, driving 30 minutes, just to run here.

20170125_135444


Check it out (affiliate link):

Check out some of the other popular cities:
Seattle:

Washington D.C.

San Francisco

AND LOTS MORE! 

Patriot Day 5k – Post Race Recap and Unexpected PR

14317326_1108122009222852_8338638971827496891_n

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!

20160910_093452

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.

14238129_1108118839223169_1466040881162767160_n

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.

14333021_1108142412554145_5583417664489418444_n

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.

14322436_1108145382553848_8098956716847978293_n

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.”

 

14322209_1108145492553837_7849198881209233696_n

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!

Colfax Marathon Relay – Pre Race Prep

Picking up my packet for the 2016 Colfax Relay

Picking up my packet for the 2016 Colfax Relay

At 4:00am, tomorrow morning, my alarm will be going off.

At 4:45am tomorrow morning I will just be parking my car.

At 5:00am tomorrow, I will have finished my coffee and start walking over to City Park in Denver.

2016, running!

2016, running!

At 5:15am, I’ll be starting my warm up for a 6.4 mile run.

When it gets to 5:45am, I’ll have taken off all my warm clothes and be waiting in Coral A with a bunch of other eager runners.

And at 6:00am, tomorrow morning, I will starting the first leg of the Colfax Marathon relay for the third year in a row!

2014 Relay team, and all City of Golden employees running colfax!

2014 Relay team, and all City of Golden employees running colfax!

As always, I am running with four other lovely ladies that all work for the City of Golden in some way. Consisting of HR, police officers and rec center employees, our ladies relay team, the Golden Foxes, are racing in the Colfax Marathon Relay – The Government Cup to try to raise money for the Foothills Animal shelter.

A couple of years ago, we placed 4th and raised $1,000 for a different Golden charity. I hope we can do it again!

2014 Packet Pick Up

2014 Packet Pick Up

Chances are, when you finally read this, I’ll have finished the first leg of the relay, approximately 7:00am, and be patiently waiting around the expo for the rest of the Golden Foxes to finish so we can celebrate!

Celebrating after the 2015 Race!

Celebrating after the 2015 Race!

Check out my recap from 2014.

Have you run any of the Colfax Marathon weekend events?? 

Denver’s Race for the Cure – Post Race Review, 10+ years in the making!

SGK_racelogoYesterday I ran the Denver Susan G. Komen Race For the Cure. This was the…….??? Ya know, I’m not sure how many times we’ve run it!  We, as in my Mom and I, think we started doing this event in 1999, which would put it at 15 years in a row! That may not be entirely accurate, but close enough. I have done it every year and there was only one year that my mom had to miss out due to prior engagements.

If any of you have read my “About Me” you’ll know that it’s because of this race that I really started running.

Correct me if I’m wrong, Mom, but I believe we started running the event back then to support a family friend who had survived breast cancer.  I was in either 7th or 8th grade and we first ran the race when it used to be held at the Denver Civic Center park.

Back then, it was “small” race.  We would challenge ourselves to run to every other street and take walking breaks in between. I remember that not many people were there and the expo area was super small. It was like a traditional neighborhood race where they had boxes of bananas and bagels that people could grab after they finished.

Past Race for the Cures

Past Race for the Cures

 

Now, it’s held at the Pepsi Center and there is thousands of people and I have taken to running the whole thing. I don’t remember what the race was like when we first starting running it, but as it became larger and larger, it has become a run/walk, not timed and just mass amounts of people.

As the years went on, we had more reasons to run the Race for the Cure. One being my Grandma who survived breast cancer a few years ago. Now, not only is it a tradition for my Mom and I, but it’s also a run in celebration of her.

As the race has grown, the race has changed as well. Last year they decided to add a “competitive race” before the joggers/walkers so that people who wanted to could actually run…and run fast! We didn’t know that was an option last year, and were kinda mad when they wouldn’t let us go up to the start line yet.

This year, the same competitive race was still an option but they decided to change the course. And not only that, a lot of other things changed: the sponsors, the expo, as well as the organization.

This Year’s Race:

Because this event is so big in the Denver area, they offer a large-scale RTD and car pool system. My Mom and I always do transportation this way and met at Arvada High at 6:30am to take the bus to the race start in Denver. Knowing the course was different but not sure what to expect, we exited the bus and took a look around. It was actually very confusing. There wasn’t much signage and nothing was in the same spot. Usually there are loud speakers and constant announcements. I didn’t hear any of that. Also, the same parking lots were blocked off, but they just set up everything backwards.

20140928_071924

We finally fingered out where everything was but still had trouble figuring out where the actual start was. There was one “start line” sign near registration, but that is not where the official race was. Maybe that was for the newly added 1-mile fun run/walk, I’m not sure.

We followed the crowd to the street and up the off-ramp from the highway. Now, it was 7:45am, the time the “Competitive Race” was set to start. We looked up ahead and saw people running/walking and realized they started. We registered for the 8am regular run/walk. This is what we have always done and we usually nudge ourselves close to the start line so that I can run and not have to dodge that many people and my mom runs/walks at her pace as well.

20140928_072022

This year, as we got in line, we just kept walking. We thought they would separate and blockade off the noncompetitive people and then have a huge count-down and start our race like they always do. But people just kept walking. It was really strange. It says all over the website and brochures that the run starts at 8am. The line kept moving so we guessed that we would just go ahead and start. Everyone around had the noncompetitive bibs on as well. We passed under the start line and just kept walking! It was so frustrating and felt so unorganized. There was so many people we couldn’t run. Frustrating for me as an avid runner and for my mom as well because likes to run it too! There was just nowhere to go!

Since I wasn’t going anywhere anytime soon, I decided to stick with my mom this year and run with her for the first time in many years. We dodged people left and right and tried to actually speed up, but it wasn’t working that well. Finally after about a mile the crowded thinned enough so that we could actually continued to run in a straight line. We ran off and on toward the finish line!

SOOOO many people!

SOOOO many people!

When we finally completed the race, we headed towards the expo area. As the race has gown over the years, so has the expo area! It’s quite the spectacle and it gets quite hectic. Every year the same sponsors, more or less, have been there. In the past, Sports Authority was a regular (always giving out bags to collect your goodies), the Shane Company (always has hats or visors), Allstate (always a wheel to spin for awesome prizes like a backpack and pink fuzzy gloves), Ford (giving out collectible scarfs – I have a dozen or so from all the years), Safeway (with DELICIOUS steak and string cheese), Yoplait (with bins to collect the pink lids), and a dozen or so other booths giving out the normal: Snacks, chapsticks, pens, coupons, cowbells, etc, etc.

Finished!

Finished!

I have actually collected a fair about of food and goodies from past Race for the Cure events. This year however, Ford, Yoplait, Safeway and Sports Authority were nowhere to be found! It was actually quite shocking and left we wondering what happened. (I speculate at the idea that Susan G. Komen foundation losing sponsors. There has been a lot of controversies with the foundation over the years and I have no idea what has happened with their sponsors). Even with those sponsors gone, there was still a ton of booths to collect goodies from. My favorites this years were the Honey Smoked Fish Co (handing out decent sized portions of their 5 Super Food Salad), the Allstate booth (I spun the wheel and won a sweet pink backpack purse thing and a pair of pink fo-Ray Ban sunglasses), and all the food (Duh, I’m super food driven. Tell me there’s free food and I’ll be there)! But I definitely missed the steak, string cheese and yogurt!

Slacker and Steve are host of a local after-work radio station show! They are hilarious! Yi!

Slacker and Steve are host of a local after-work radio station show! They are hilarious! Yi!

With the race course and whole expo area being set up different, that left all these booths to squeeze in a smaller space than before. Which also meant all of the racers squeezing in the same space! HOLY CROWDED, BATMAN! My mom and I always get the race done relatively fast, which means we get to wandered the expo before most. But just because of that fact doesn’t mean we aren’t waiting in a lot of lines and getting lost in the crowds! The line for the Honey Smoke Fish was like 20 min (Sooooo worth it) and only got longer. By the time we were almost ready to leave, I was thinking about revisiting a shoe-lace donation booth where they would give you new pink shoelaces if you donated yours and for every pair of shoelaces donated, they donated a dollar to the a breast cancer research fund. Unfortunately the booth was in the center, the most crowded area, and I got a few people deep and bailed. MISSION ABORTED!

After that craziness, I was little overwhelmed, and wanted to head home. We caught our bus back to the school and the followed up with a trip to IHOP…..mmmmmm…..pancakes….. I love me some pancakes! OH, and these were pumpkin pancakes!

komen_logoOverall: I love the tradition of running this race with my Mom, especially in celebration of my Grandma. This year, however, was way less organized than it has been for a really long time. I have no idea why! What I don’t like is that it seems to have become a social gathering and not necessarily for the right reasons and it gets so overwhelmingly crowded. I’m a little iffy on the Susan G. Komen foundation (I wont get into it, but there has been some controversial things with where the money comes from and goes to as well as some lawsuits from the foundation regarding the use of the pink ribbon symbol. Do your own research; make your own opinions).

Above all, the race and the foundation have the right idea and their hearts are in the right place, as well as all the racers’, volunteers’ and workers’.

Your Turn: I’m actually curious if other people have done the Race for the Cure, whether in Denver or another City, and what you think of it all! Let me know in the comments! 

Related Links:

 The Race for the Cure Denver Website

Susan G. Komen Denver Website

More info (Wikipedia) on Susan G. Komen Foundation