Tis the season where resolutions go by the wayside and post-super bowl snack guilt sets in.
Perfect time to start training hard for my half marathon to keep me honest. Since Jan. 2 (because let’s be honest, Jan. 1 was a hangover with too much fast food and self-loathing), I’ve been eating mindfully, drinking minimally and working out consistently.
Let me repeat that: I’ve been eating mindfully, drinking minimally and working out consistently. For an entire month. This has never happened before. Sure, I went to Phoenix and ate everything in sight. And yes, I had a couple weekends with girlfriends in town and more fourth meals than I like to claim.
But all in all, I’ve been crushing my goals and seeing results. Jeans that were tight on Dec. 31 feel great. I’m down more than a couple pounds. Even more if I consider the number on the scale on Jan. 1 at 5pm (but I’m not using that number because a double dose of fast food occurred right beforehand).
So here I am – Feb. 4. Body is feeling good. Mind is feeling good. A bit frustrated with my discipline on some other goals, but eating is on track and so is working out. A challenge at work has kept me honest and focused on new habits like not checking email the second I wake up and meditating. These small victories are worth celebrating.
If I can maintain half of this momentum into February and March, I’ll be thrilled! I’ll need to amp up my mileage and continue cross-training to avoid injury this go round with the half marathon. I’ve also given myself a pace goal for the first time. The race is going to be way harder than the last one, so I won’t be bummed if I miss my pace goal. More of something to chase during training than on actual race day.
Took awkward running selfies to document that I indeed am a runner
Visited Leo’s folks in Phoenix (ate my favorite pizza in the world!)
Ran in some new places, explored winter running (hate it thus far, trying to be open)
Close friends and family visited us in Denver
Ended the mouth at Rocky Mountain National Park for a few hours
A beautiful night under the stars is the best prep for a grueling hike. That’s lesson one on doing it right.
We camped at Twin Lakes before our big hike of the year, Mt. Elbert. We only had a 30-minute drive instead of two (+) hours to get to the trailhead. We were already off to a great start!
We found directions to the trailhead the afternoon before so we knew exactly where we were going. Before we even pitched our tent, we’d found the trailhead. This was another “turning over a new leaf” moment for our hike.
We brought hiking poles! And Audrey brought us compression socks to go under our wool ones. We wore fewer of the right items of clothing. Apparently, this is what happens as you practice and learn in the world of hiking.
We had multiple breakfast items, instead of hoping we’d hit something on the way. And lukewarm coffee that we’d made the night before. OK, so the lukewarm coffee wasn’t perfect, but it was just the right temperature for drinking!
The trail’s incline had our legs begging for mercy, but also allowed plenty of breathers up the mountain. The volume of hikers who joined us a few Saturdays back was perfect, just enough to have a steady banter of positivity with the same group of 20 who we leapfrogged, and who leapfrogged us. We summitted around the same time as a veteran hiking his first 14er. Holding the flag at the top with him…pretty epic. Wish I had any pictures of it!
Throw in some square dancing on Saturday night after summiting the highest peak in Colorado, and I’d say it was a pretty damn good day.
I’ve written a post after these ladies visit me every year. Here’s some light reading from the archives from year one, year two, and year three. Year four is officially in the books!
Another glorious fall in the mountains is upon us! But tonight I’m throwing it back to August reviewing photos – foggy, rainy, soggy, cold, windy – from my latest hiking successful almost-disaster.
The #QueenPeaks (Audrey and Keebler) visited in August just like they do every year and we set out to tackle another 14er. This time, it was actually 4 at one time (Lincoln, Cameron, Democrat, Bross). The Colorado sites all say this hike is no big deal. Naturally, I cursed those sites all the way up and then down each summit. But we did it.
We ate our usual PB&Js after summiting the second peak. We got lost after the 3rd peak. We met a father and son combo with better map reading skills than us, and a lot more confidence in their navigational skills than we had. We took pictures at the top of each peak, even though you literally couldn’t see a single thing, except our huge smiles. We froze, encouraged each other, discussed the virtues of our varying levels of waterproofed gear. We laughed a ton. We asked multiple times, should we keep going? The answer was always yes, until it wasn’t after Peak 3 but then we accidentally made our way to Peak 4 and all high-fived and hugged.
After each challenging hike, I walk away with a lesson. The first 14er I hiked – Pike’s Peak – I learned about patience and the importance of planning a solid route. The second one, from August of 2015, Grey’s and Torrey’s, I learned my ankles much prefer high hiking boots and that Audrey is a master at creating detailed trail guides.
This one has some very valuable lessons:
There’s no McDonald’s open at 3am between my house and the trailhead which meant no Egg McMuffin. I believe in Egg McMuffin’s as one of the most perfect foods so this was a bummer.
I get lost on my way to every 14er Trailhead I’ve attempted to get to. Maps, Eliza, maps!
Waterproof pants and trekking poles are on my Christmas list this year.
Walking in sleet for two hours without waterproof pants or gloves sucks.
Physically, I’m the wussiest of the #QueenPeaks, but I bring a great attitude and an even head in tricky situations, which has to count for something, right?
And the most important lesson? Trust. The father/son combo we met ended up being saving graces. By the time we’d met them, we were very cold, very stiff, very tired, very over it. But the five of us trekked on to the top of the 4th peak and down what we learned was the wrong path off the mountain. When the path we were on ended (at some abandoned mines – very cool!), we had to scramble up the side of the mountain which is tough when you’re as beat as we were. The dad offered his hand out to get me over a ledge and I took it, 15 minutes into meeting these folks, I trusted them wholeheartedly and really enjoyed chatting about our strategy off the mountain. The trust I have in Audrey and Keebler is endless, and on each adventure we go on, I’m reminded of how lucky I am. The three of us have a blast, but we also balance each other in any questionable situations (on and off the mountain). And trust in myself and my body.
With the right motivators (a warm car, a beer, beef jerky, etc.) plus the positive encouragement of people I adore, I can really tackle any challenge I put my mind to, even when my body is giving up on me. It’s a pretty darn cool thing.
We concluded our wonderful trip driving home to Denver on a Friday afternoon through Glenwood Springs. Besides Independence Pass, which we took up to Aspen, the drive back to Denver on I-70 through Glenwood Springs is one of my favorites.
While on the trip, I signed a contract to start with an amazing new company in an exciting role. Leo has final interviews scheduled with a couple companies. And so we returned home with our hearts full, our dreams reinvigorated after both being laid off on the same day, and faith in nature and good company to make everything right in the world.
All of the anxieties of the unknown. Of starting something new. Of wondering if the path we’re on is the one we’re meant to take. All of the anxieties melted away by a week with my love celebrating nature.
Returning from one home in the woods to our little home in the city. Both feel right and for that I am lucky.
After day 1, 2 and a half of our summer adventure we headed off to Aspen/Snowmass. The land of money a plenty and some of our close friends. We had a mad scramble to beat the sun going down and managed to tear down camp in twenty minutes, make the drive across Independence Pass and get down into another valley to set up camp before losing the light. It was real close, but we made it! And Mixie, our pup who gets car sick, made it through one of the worst drives for car sickness ever without issue. It felt like a blessing to have the pup happy while we were stressing about bears and beating the sunset.
Many of the campgrounds we drove past along the Pass had huge bear warnings requiring hard shell campers. No tents allowed due to the high bear activity. Naturally worried, I wasn’t feeling good about this. But we trekked on and I kept telling myself not to live in fear – fear of nature, fear of the unknown, fear of getting out of my comfort zone. This is presenting itself as a theme of my 30th year on this fine earth.
After the fire ban at Twin Lakes, where we’d planned to stay for a few nights, we were happy to be in the spot that we’d call home for three days. Our buddies suggested we set up camp at Snowmass Creek, I suggested we camp without bears. They quelled all my fears by explaining the site, shielded from bears by the creek/river, and also reminded me of response protocol on seeing a bear. Bears are natural, we’re playing their house, we should respect them, but not fear them. Then we talked about the recent mountain lion attack in Aspen. Yep, I was anxious. But I also do not believe it is the animal’s fault when they have encounters with humans, so I always want to be mindful of not putting an animal in harm’s way because of my own actions.
So we landed at an incredible spot, just 15 minutes out of Snowmass but far enough away to be without cell phone service, one of my favorite things. Some views from day 4 & 5, which rounded out our Summer of Love and Unemployment adventure.
On day 3 of our adventure in the Colorado mountains, we finally had a chance to take out our kayaks. But what to do with the pup?! Take her with us, of course.
First things first – safety. Get your dog a life vest. Sometimes we camp out next to extremely fast moving water. Dogs need a life vest in these conditions, just in case they get away from us when playing in the water and caught up in the river. This time, we wanted to bring her out to the middle of a lake. And she’s never really sway before. Again, life vest needed. If you’re wearing a life vest, your dog should be too. Mixie is wearing this Outward Hound orange life vest (affiliate link) and she didn’t mind it at all!
We tried putting it on her at home and she freaked a little, so we were nervous. But as soon as we were on the beach gearing up to take kayaks out, she was was totally fine! We gave her about an hour the day before to run around and play in the water with us to get her more comfortable. She loved it! The beach was enclosed on both sides by greenery so it was perfect. She ran back and forth non-stop, played fetch with a few sticks and tried to drink the entire lake. The dog life is the good life.
Next, we lifted her into the boat with me. This is where having two people helps – I’m sure I would’ve tipped the boat trying to lift her in myself! At first, the instability of the boat in the water made her nervous. A few ear rubs and affirmations of happiness, and we were ready to push off from the shore.
Mixie sat between my legs facing me at the beginning. Plenty of room for me to paddle while resting my feet on the footrests or straight out in front of me. She got excited a few times and put her paws up on the side of the boat to jump out. Each time, I gently put her paws back in with me and calming reassured her. No panicky voice. No yelling. Operation: keep a six month old puppy calm on a boat? It went perfect!
As she got a little more comfortable, she turned around and faced out into the great blue/green yonder. She was an absolute angel as we did laps around the lake for a few hours. I think we’re ready to bring her out onto a lake with deeper water next time!
And so Day 3 continued without a hitch!
Or so we thought… it’s summer in Colorado and fire bans are the norm. There weren’t any in place at Twin Lakes when we got there, so we thought we were safe. But, alas, a fire ban was put in place on our second day and we were camping on US Forest Service land in a non-conforming campsite. That means no campfires for us. And what’s camping without a campfire? We had about three hours left of daylight to tear down camp and get somewhere else where we could spend the night. Time to think fast. So, off to Aspen we went to round out our camping adventure.
Day one, Buena Vista. Day two, Cottonwood Lake. We meant to camp up there, but when we pulled up it was a more formal campground than we wanted. We wanted some seclusion and don’t love camping on concrete slabs close to our neighbors. We’ll have plenty of time for that when we have kiddos. For now, we prefer some privacy away from other campsites.
Plus, there were such strong winds, we weren’t going to be able to take our our new kayaks (thanks, Sports Authority, for that employee discount!). So, we stopped. We took pictures. We ate peanut butter and jelly sammies and then we cruised on to our next spot – the tried and true Twin Lakes!
Mixie gets car sick. A lot. You see that dripping nose in her close-up? She was probably about to puke. Like she did 5 miles after we left our house the day before. And then 45 minutes after that. And then 30 minutes before we got to our first destination. We had a lot of puke on day one of the trip. Because that’s the best way to start off five days without access to a shower.
We figured out the trick to keeping her vomit free on day 2: if we can get her to look out the window, have fresh air in her face and hold her super tight so she isn’t unsteady in the car around turns… she might not puke. Good thing I love having a 40 pound dog on my lap snuggling for 3 hours. 🙂 The Mixie Monster is the best pup in the whole world. She loves camping, being off the leash, exploring with us, and chasing bugs.
Day 2 of our 5 day adventure was a success! Day 3… we ran into some challenges. But more on that to come.
Getting laid off is scary. Getting laid off is emotionally draining. Interviewing for jobs drains every last drop of energy that you have. Submitting dozens of resumes, cover letters and forms only to hear back nothing is frustrating.
That was the narrative at the start of our summer when Leo and I knew both of our jobs (which we loved and thought were our forever jobs) were coming to an end. And then we shifted gears. Majorly.
Getting laid off together is awesome. We should get a dog knowing we’re both going to have all this free time – happiest day ever! Getting laid off together at the start of the summer is so much fun. It’s the best time of year to be unemployed! Each interview is a chance to decide if that’s the path we want to take our lives. Submitting applications, dozens of them, and hearing radio silence still sucks in this narrative, in case you were wondering. We get to spend time together, laugh, go on adventures together. Getting laid off together is, overall, awesome.
We both consider it a strange blessing to have been laid off because we got to spend three full uninterrupted weeks enjoying each other. We celebrated our new house. We spent a ton of time playing with Mixie. We drank lots of beer and wine. We ate great food. And my favorite part? We spent 5 days camping around Colorado!
First up, Buena Vista, where Leo’s old coworker (and some of our favorite people) – also laid off – purchased a piece of land. The best time to hatch a dream? When you’re both laid off. We hope to be as lucky as JT and Moira and own a piece of paradise in the next 10-15 years.
To say we are lucky to have come out of the laid off situation with our heads still above water is an understatement. We know we are lucky. I hope that everyone of the 14,000+ folks that were laid off from Sports Authority this summer gets back on their feet. But I can only reflect on my situation, and we decided to make some damn sweet lemonade this summer. Love the life you live. Live the life you love.
So, we got a puppy. After getting married and buying a house, it just seemed natural, right? Might even stave off a few questions about when we’re having kids (rude question – fyi). We now have a fur baby. And she’s up there with the top three things that’s ever happened to me. In 30 (almost – zoips) years. She’s way up there. Mixie is named after a wonderful waitress we had on our honeymoon who brought joy to an oceanside al fresco dining experience at the Royalton in Cancun.
We’re more than a month into into being puppy parents and despite a bout of diarrhea, a handful of accidents in the house and more than a few overspends at Petco, the happiness has yet to subside. A few things I’ve learned since becoming a puppy parent.
Waking up without an alarm clock is a special privilege | If you asked me two months ago about how I felt regarding wake up calls before 6:30am, I might have explained that while I’m a morning person and LOVE waking up early, it’s a daily struggle. If you asked me about it today, I’d give you a big smile because I was woken up by a little pup’s whimpers followed by a run around the yard, an hour of playtime, a happy breakfast, a whole lot of kisses, and a little 30 minute nap with a pup by my side. All before 6:30am. Seriously. This is the greatest joy. I’ve read countless articles on Quora on how to wake up early and take on the day. Why didn’t any of them just tell me to get a puppy?
An afternoon spent doing nothing but playing is a blessing | You’ve heard it before. As adults, we lose the joy of play. The freedom and disregard for responsibilities. Having a puppy has brought that back to my life. I set my phone down. I’m present. I play. I run around my yard. Barefoot. I enjoy grass between my toes. I’m brought back to being a kid growing up in the midwest playing with a big black lab on a summer day. I break a sweat not because my waistline needs it. Or because it’s “healthy.” I do it because it is fun. And my Mixie loves it. I spend hours at a time playing. And I’m not thinking, “oh shoot, I need to make time for play.” I’m just doing it. And loving it. Thank you, Mixie, for bringing playtime back to my life.
The happiness of a pup greeting you at the end of the day makes any day good | I’ve said it a thousand times: I bring a ridiculous amount of optimism to any situation. But even I have bad days. Days when the world for whatever reason just isn’t feeling that good vibe. With recent changes in my job, my husband’s job, and the trivial things impacting our lives, plus majorly sad and scary news stories this month, I’ve had moments where I’m sad and a bit beaten down. And then I come home at the end of the day and there’s a big puppy smile waiting. Mixie probably thinks of me as food, shelter and good belly rub. But I think of Mixie as the icing on my life cake. She is just the best thing ever.
Raising a puppy (as with a child, I wonder?) brings out the best darn teamwork in a relationship | Getting sappy here…just a warning. Leo and I are teammates in everything, and we respect each other immensely. Living with Mixie feels like a daily challenge of give and take. We’re cautious about giving too much attention, too much food, too much playing, too little discipline, too few or too many toys, the list goes on. We discuss every aspect of this little pup’s life as a team, and I’m so thankful to have a wonderful partner in it.
Caring for a creature that would have been put down if not for the kindness of the adoption organization that we went through… perspective, I suppose | Sometimes I shy away from reality because my relatively pleasant bubble is a pretty great place to be. After we’d already fallen in love with Mixie for a ton of reasons, we started to learn more about her story and it crushed us. We were already planning to adopt her, had already put the paperwork in, and then we started to learn about where she came from (Shawnee, OK – high kill shelter). Simply put, there are a lot of wonderful pups available for adoption, and by adopting them, you save them from being put down. Just do it.
Our honeymoon first. We went to Mexico (note obligatory clouds over ocean and land coming into view photos below) and stayed at the Royalton Riviera Cancun. A beautiful resort owned by a Canadian company. After a mixup with our reservation, a panicked first two hours and a whole lot of arguing with the hotel and not being able to get in touch with our travel agent, we changed into our suits and headed down to the pool. No point in crying over spilled milk. Or crying in paradise period! Off we went and never looked back to those first two hours.
Even though our issue was never resolved — we booked an ocean-front room; however, we were given a presidential suite overlooking the beautiful mangrove-looking swamp jungle behind the hotel — it ended up being a blessing. At the end of each afternoon, when we were ready for a bit of R&R before dinner, we returned to our room and had a huge balcony with no people in sight for miles and miles. That kind of privacy made it feel like we were a million miles away on our own island where topless sunbathing is encouraged while you catch up on your favorite magazines (looking at you T&C). In retrospect, I actually think this was a preferred experience for me because it gave me the solitude I worried would be missed at an all-inclusive resort in Mexico.
Our stay ended up being incredible. The food was fantastic. The beach was beautiful and nearly empty. The water was warm and the cocktails waiting at our chairs were cold after a swim in the salty magical ocean. This is one of the most luxurious experiences I’ve had in my life. When there’s nothing to do but swim, sun, read, sip, eat and snuggle with your best friend in a beautiful place? You’d be a fool to be anything but happy.
One of my favorite parts of the trip was leaving our phones in the room safe and being entirely disconnected for five days (and then some – when we got home, we didn’t turn them back on hardly at all until we went back to work on Monday!). During our entire stay, I took ten photos. Five of them here from the sunrise on our last day. Five more on my GoPro which I haven’t plugged in yet. High-fives to our coworkers/bosses who make these kinds of breaks a reality. We spent so much time enjoying each other’s company, laughing and not having a care in the world…
Except one major life detail. We were closing on a house the day we got back from vacation. We actually had to cut our trip a day short to get back in time! All ended up working out smoothly with the closing, and we got the keys for the house while our sunkissed faces tried their damnedest not to peel. Happy homeowners!
We moved the following weekend – Sunday – after Leo’s birthday that Saturday. Thank goodness our friends are supportive of day-drinking on rooftops in beautiful Denver weather. Otherwise our 7am wake-up call and 8am movers arriving would’ve been rough! We had a great day celebrating him surrounded by so many people we love. Now we just need spring to come so he can start taking advantage of my golf-friendly birthday presents.
For another day… we’ve been eating mostly paleo since just before March 1st. It’s March 17. My stomach has been without issue for 3 weeks. This is the longest stretch of time that I haven’t battled major stomach issues since I can remember. I’m documenting some of the food on an Instagram account (yes, it’s one of those annoying food accounts that posts all the time about food and food and cooking and food) so I can remember meals I’ve tried and liked/disliked. I actually don’t recommend you follow it – I’m not photog or chef or stylist. But I do highly recommend keeping that kind of an account to capture a new way of cooking and thank all the wonderful people whose foods I stalk online and try to recreate in my amazing new -to-me kitchen with vintage bronze tiles.
@newnukem on Instagram is my most perfectly captured and filtered life. @elizagreyinlove on Instagram….is a different story. This month it’s food. Next month, I’ll have a new hobby to capture. And it won’t be pretty. Just like my cooking.