Tuesday, June 13, 2017

State #35, Revel Rockies, Denver, CO, Part 1

It has been far too long since I’ve posted anything, and as such, my next half marathon is here already! Time flies when you are over-scheduled, over-loaded and generally handling too much. 
I left on Friday, June 9th on a very early flight out of Bradley Airport for Denver via Minneapolis St. Paul. The flight was fine, and I got out to the Denver area without incident and on time. 
The half I chose for Colorado was the Revel Rockies series half marathon. I ran their half in Salt Lake City, Utah previously and was impressed with the organization and beautiful run. And, truth be told, I didn’t want to deal with the mountains in Colorado so much. The Revel races hold the niche of being downhill races. Enough said. Done deal. 
My cousin, Andrew, was to join me for this one, but he wasn’t scheduled to arrive in Denver until late on Friday evening, so I had the afternoon to take care of some mundane errands (groceries, shoe shopping, lunch) before I made my way to my hotel in Lakewood, CO. I was thinking I would maybe try a short run when I got to the hotel, but the area I was staying in was very commerce heavy with busy streets, and the temperatures were in the mid-90s, so I decided to ditch the idea and just relax. 
As excited as I was to run in the Denver area, I was very worried about the high altitude. Upon arrival, I didn’t feel any effects of the altitude, but after I had dinner and was back resting in my hotel room, I noticed my heart racing and breathing strained. 
Andrew arrived around 11 pm, and we said our hellos and did a little bit of catching up. We were both so tired from the travel, and I had been up for close to 24 hours at that point (plus I’d had a terrible night of sleep before my flight), so off to bed it was.

Saturday we slept in a bit, then made our way out to the Colorado School of Mines to pick up our race packets and bibs. It is always so interesting visiting various parts of our country, seeing the topography and thinking about how different each state is. Andrew and I mused that Colorado was the perfect place for a college of mining. Can’t imagine there are many of those specialty colleges around the U.S. The campus was nestled in a little valley surrounded by hills and lovely landscapes. It was a small campus, but pretty cool. We easily collected our packets and checked out the elevation maps and race routes. To my great relief, the map I originally thought was the elevation map turned out to be the race route. It was full of twists and turns, which I read to be miles up and down. Upon closer inspection, the elevation map showed a cool, long downward slide. Just perfect!
Photo of elevation map poster at packet pick up.
From the packet pick-up, we headed to lunch at a place called Blue Sky Cafe. We had a great lunch there. Andrew had a doctored up oatmeal bowl and I had a quinoa, peanut, lime, chicken bowl with other great stuff in it. Super yummy. We stopped back at the hotel briefly to drop off our things and figure out where we wanted to explore in the great outdoors of Colorado. We decided to check out the Red Rocks Park & Amphitheater because it was so nearby. 

One of the rocks surrounding the amphitheater.
The drive up was beautiful, looking at the sparsely vegetated hills decorated by the massive hulks of red rocks. As we drove up the road to the venue, we had to pass through a tunnel in the red rock. Fun! We parked and went to look at the music stage first. I have always wanted to visit the Red Rocks Theater ever since U2 released their iconic Live at Red Rocks album back in 1983. The venue is gorgeous! I can only imagine seeing a performance there, and I now will have to get back there for a concert sometime in my life. While we were there, the crew for Big Head Todd was setting up and going through some sound checks. 
View of the stage from the top of the amphitheater. You can just see Denver off in the distance to the left.
There were some walking trails around the Red Rocks Park, but the trail map was a little confusing, so we started up on one trail that we thought was about a mile and a half, but it turned out to be a little shorter. The views were beautiful as we walked along, and the red rocks dominated the landscape. It was still super hot out, so it was probably a good thing that we didn’t take on a more strenuous walk. It was hard to breathe on the ascent as it was, and I didn’t want to overdo it the day before the race. We were really sweaty by the time we were done, but it was nice to get out in to the Colorado outdoors. 
Another of the beautiful red rocks in the park.
Back to the hotel it was to shower up and rest a bit before dinner. We tried an Italian place called Brodo, on the recommendation of the guy who was working the check in desk at the hotel the night before. It was a new restaurant in the area with all made from scratch pastas. The decor was hip and the atmosphere was relaxed and cool. We sat at a high top table in the bar side of the restaurant, and had a great meal. We split a green salad and the grilled ciabatta bread. I had the bucatini pasta with meatballs for dinner, and it was divine. A wonderful Italian choice in the area. 
We stopped in a local artisan craft shop across the street after dinner where I found magnets for my kids. We made a quick stop at Starbucks on the way back to our hotel so I could get coffee for the morning, and then it was back to the room and pretty much straight to bed. Race wake up was going to be very early the next morning, as our bus to the starting line was scheduled to leave the hotel at 4:30 am. Yikes! Off to sleep it was.

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