Tuesday, June 30, 2015

"Best Vacation Ever"

So in the kid's terms, our trip to Aspen was the "best vacation ever"! We have had pretty amazing vacation in the pasts, and I know that kids have a hard time comparing those kinds of things-but it still felt good that despite my racing addiction we managed to have a pretty nice family weekend. Finishing up Ragnar Trail Relay in Snowmass Village left me feeling pretty run down. I mean I was running on 1 hour of sleep by the time we reunited at the finish line.

I was so thankful to have them at the finish. They all pitched in to help pack up our campsite. A shower felt like heaven after 21 hours of running and camping in the rain. Then we joined friends for dinner and let the kids play in the pool. I really wasn't up for much else other than that.  I literally reached a point where I was falling asleep on the side of the hot tub (and it was only 7pm). But a hotel pool is one of the best gifts you can give children! However after 12 hours of sleep I was ready to join in on the family vacation and we made Sunday the best day that we could.

It started with a Gondola ride in Aspen which brings you to a summit of 11,200 feet and a panoramic view of the Elk Mountains.

Joel did a great job at showing his panoramic photography!

We were able to share this journey with some great friends, The Jarrett's. Mike ran the relay with my as one of the 8 snowballs while his beautiful wife (and dear friend of mine) Jessamy corralled kids with Joel. Asher got very upset anytime someone assumed they were a family (which happened quite a lot since they were touring the town together with 6 kids). The kids became best buddies by the end of the weekend.

From there, we drove a few miles away to do some hiking at the Maroon Bells.
The Maroon Bells are two fourteeners separated by about 1/4 of a mile, and this spot is said to to be the most photographed spot in Colorado.

We had a lovely time hiking and exploring.

We then took the long way home which took us through Independence Pass (only open in the summer).

It was like driving through another world and again, we had a great time exploring. 

Thus the "best vacation ever" was one super fun day of exploring. Colorado just has so much to offer in this area and we are loving every second of it!

Thursday, June 18, 2015

8 Snowballs

School is over and summer is officially in full swing at the Thorson household. What better way to celebrate than whisk the family away for a weekend adventure?! Okay okay so they might not have had a choice on being whisked away. I, of course, was running another race and basically begged Joel to join in on the fun. It was Ragnar Trail Relay in Snowmass, CO weekend! For any of you who have no idea about Ragnar-well, you are missing out on some serious fun. I am extremely competitive. It is hard for me to run a race just for fun, however, Ragnar relay races allow for us competitive people to let lose. I was hooked once I ran the Appalachians Trail Relay last year, and couldn't wait to join a trail team in Colorado: 8 friends, 3 trails, 1 billion stairs., unforgettable stories. Somehow I found myself in captain role and pulled a team of 8 strangers together (some of us not meeting until race day!). We had Alicia and Ty from Longmount, Rachelle and Brandy from Lincoln, NE, Alison from Denver, Jen from Colorado Springs, and Mike and I from Castle Rock.

It all begins with setting up your campsite, which we were there doing at 8am. Yes, you CAMP! The campsite opens at 8am and teams from all over become neighbors. Teams have staggered start times so there were team starting as early as 11am, while our team was slotted at a 4:30pm start. A later start time meant more time to hang out and get to know each other...that plus 21 hours of running gave us plenty of time.

I lead the team off at 4:30pm. Each person does 3 legs, running each of the 3 trails, varying in difficultly, once-resulting in each team member running a total of 15 miles (a team total of 120 miles). The trails started at 8,200 feet but with gorgeous views. Unfortunately the rain (which started the same time as our team) put a bit of a damper on the views but we kept going! Our Nebraska girls, the flatlanders, blew my mind at how fast they were at elevation. 

The rain didn't stop. In our down time we attempted to stay warm and catch a few Zzzzs. The rain  put a dampness in the air but not on our moods. Well, of course there were a few low points...like only getting one hour of sleep and the nasty fall I took during my night leg, but it is all worth it!

And the rain brings rainbows! This was the view from the top of the 7 mile loop and some lucky runners were blessed with a rainbow. (Picture not mine-this was my night leg)

The night runs seem to be feared amongst most runners, but seem to hold the most magic. Running through the tiki torches and the quietness under the stars-it was my favorite run of the whole thing (even though it took me awhile to figure out that the mountain lion stalking me in the brush was just my bib rustling).

I loved seeing all the headlamps dancing across the mountain.

Ragnar does an amazing job of having a campfire going all night and morning..a place to stay warm while waiting for your runners to come through transition...
...a place to socialize, and a place to have smore's...YUM.

And 21 hours and 14 minutes later, we crossed the finish line as a team, with 120 miles behind us and placing 4th in the Sub-master's category!!!

"8 Snowballs with a Chance in....Snowmass" became Ragnarians!
Once strangers, now friends already talking about next time.

And now I am sure you are wondering how my family got involved in this adventure. They came and went from the campsite, cheering runners on and eating with us, playing in their heated hotel pool during the rain. After the campsite was torn down and this adventure was over...I got to spend a day and a half with my family exploring Aspen and hiking. It is a whole other realm of pictures to share with you so I am going to save that for me next post. But my kids say it was the best vacation ever!