“Disclaimer: I received a free entry to the Fort Collins Human Race as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check outBibRave.com to review find and write race reviews!
As you just read above, I went to Colorado to run a race for BibRave. However, the hubs decided to run it too and make it a vacation. As a warning, this will be a long post about our Colorado adventure… for all the race specifics please check out my review at Bibrave.com
As some of you may know, I don’t do well flying. I don’t mind driving, but Colorado is about 14ish hours from home. Lucky for us Amtrak has a train that could take us there. It would be an overnight ride from Mt. Pleasant, IA to Denver. While there are sleeper cars available, we just had 2 regular seats on the upper level.
We rolled into Mt. Pleasant Wednesday, July 27. We checked our large suitcase at the train station and went to find some food. The great thing (or not so great thing) is you can bring a lot of stuff with you, including all the food. We found some Chinese food and ordered some to go. (so you can buy food on the train, but the prices are crazy)
The train was 20 minutes or so behind, which wasn’t a big deal. We just waited in the hot station. Also to note when traveling Amtrak, there is no formal security in a small station…no one checks anything… (at this time)
We boarded the train, and took our seats. It was roughly 7pm CT.
I am no stranger to riding Amtrak, it’s a great way to get to Chicago. I was most excited to get some things done with the wi-fi. However this train had no wi-fi, and I wasn’t prepared. I didn’t have anything else with me to read, just the couple of puzzles on my phone. I am not used to having absolutely nothing to do.
We were settled and cruising along, we ate our Chinese food, listened to some music, then it was quiet time. We tried to get some sleep, but every time I would get comfortable, something would ache and you need to re position. Oh well, the sun came up soon enough and just like that we were in Denver, it was around 8am MT.
Thursday July 28
After a short wait, we claimed our bags and had Enterprise “pick us up.” They took us to their office and we had our choice of a white or black Chevy Camaro. Ok, we tossed our luggage in the black one and were on our way to our first stop…. Voodoo Doughnuts. (If you recall, I once bought a bucket of day old donuts for $8)
We found a spot to park on the street, and went inside. As always there are so many options when it comes to donuts. Josh picked a cruller and I went with the Old Dirty Bastard. YUM!!
Up next, a tour of Coors Field. This is the home to MLB’s Colorado Rockies. They were playing out of town (the Mets) so instead of going to a game we thought we would check out where they play. However we arrived too late to get a spot on the 10 am tour, it was sold out. Instead of waiting around for the next one at 12, we changed things up and walked around Denver…then grabbed a bite to eat a place call the View House.
After talking to our waiter, he changed our minds for our afternoon plans. Instead of heading to the water park, we hopped back into the car and headed for Boulder. We were going to take a hike at the area called Flat Irons. We have water parks at homes, but no mountains.
Not sure how we would have traveled or made plans without googlemaps.
Somehow we figured out to park in the Chautauqua area, it appeared to be some private music venue or something. Oh well, we snagged our Orange Mud packs, since we didn’t know what to expect and headed out on the trail.
There were maps and trail markers along the way, but really you could hike around anywhere. It wasn’t a park. We hadn’t even made it a half mile and saw a deer. There were many other people using the trail too.
We motored along, but came to a place where it appeared the trail disappeared. We let some others with hiking poles pass us, then we followed them. The trail seemed to do this in many spots. We didn’t know what we were getting into. Then we came to a place where we could see climbers scaling the sides of the Flat Irons…no climbing gear. CRAZY!
It was then time for us to have an adventure of our own, the trail turned into loose rocks. If you hit the wrong one you could slide down into the ravine. We could see the dirt trail up ahead, we just needed to get there. We made it after taking our sweet ass time. It was obvious we were not experienced hikers.
We stopped to take a break, ate some trail mix. When we started hiking again, we struck up a conversation with a friendly woman from VA. She suggested we go to the Garden of the Gods. (we didn’t have time for that) She also went on to suggest checking out the tram in Estes Park. She wasn’t the only friendly person we ran into, in fact everyone out on the trail was super nice.
When all was said and done, according to the stats on my Garmin we hiked about 2.75 miles at 5500 feet above sea level. We wanted to make sure we were adjusted to the altitude before our half marathon on Saturday.
Next stop – Longmont. This is where we would call home for a few nights.
After checking into the hotel, we thought we should check out one of the 20 or so breweries in the area. We made a trip to the Left Hand Brewery. I chose a Blood Orange IPA, it was 8.6% and Josh went with a 4% beer. As with many of the breweries in CO, they didn’t serve food, but some snacks, and a food truck was parked outside.
The night was still young, so we went to the Pumphouse Brewery. It was ladies night, and the house drafts were only $3. There was a short wait for food, but some games in back, we gave Skee Ball a go and tied with a score of 210. We got a table, ordered food, and stuffed our faces.
It was a long day, we were tired, we called it a night, more adventure was ahead.
Friday July 29
The tentative plan was to check out Estes Park and Rocky Mountain National Park. With the one hour time difference, we were up early and on our way to Estes. (It also helped the hotel had a sweet breakfast available)
Once we got to Estes Park, we decided to take the Aerial Tramway to the top of one of the peaks. We were early, but that was a good thing. There were only 2 tram cars, one went up while the other went down. Each car could hold approx. 8 passengers.
While waiting in line and throughout the day, we were asked if we were in town for the race. Little did we know the Rocky Mountain half marathon and 5k was the same weekend. I guess the people of Estes Park recognize Bibrave gear.
We were on the second tram to the top. There was a coffee shop and a gift store. We talked to the lady behind the cash register and she told us to hike off the beaten path, she also told us to buy some peanuts to feed the chipmunks. (No thanks!)
Josh and I walked the additional mile to the summit and did some more hiking once we got there. The Garmin says we were about 8,432 feet at our highest point, 3,000 more than the day before.
We did some shopping around at the gift shop and waited in a short line for the return tram. While we waited there was a hummingbird feeder set up where 4 birds were battling out the 2 spots to feed. I have never been so close to these birds, they were used to people.
It was close to lunch time, so we braved the downtown, talk about a tourist trap. The parking situation was crazy and there were people everywhere. Since we couldn’t find any parking we opted to go to the Estes Park Brewery (shocking, more beer!) it was a little removed from the craziness.
We ordered some sandwiches and actually passed on a beer. Well….we did check out the tasting room where each person was allowed 4 samples. We topped off the visit with the house brewed root beer float.
Our next plan was to hit up Rocky Mountain National Park. I had done some light research about places to hike, but really wasn’t sure where or how you went about doing it, or if you needed to pay someone? So we just hopped into the car and headed to the park.
We were traveling on hwy 36 and passed the Beaver Meadows Visitor center, but it just didn’t feel like the main place to be, (even though it’s park headquarters) so we looped around the lot and got back on the road and drove some more. There it was, the actual entrance or pay station.
We handed over the $20 for the daily park pass and made sure to get a map. Which was the best thing we ever did. There is no phone service. Ok, so there are not many roads in the mountains, but it helped us decide to take the Old Fall River Road up and then Trail Ridge Road (Hwy 34) back down. Otherwise we would have just kept going and ended up on the west side of the mountain range.
I mentioned Old Fall River Road…now this was an adventure. This road is the original road around the park. It is still gravel, it’s only open from July-September, it’s only one way up, it’s 9 miles long, and the speed limit is 15 mph. Oh remember the part where we have a Camaro as a rental car? Yeah it sits really low to the ground, the road was rutted at all the hair pin turns, so that was fun. It was also fun to have one side of the road drop off into a ravine, while the other was a rock wall.
We reached the Alpine Visitor Center, in about an hour! We stopped here to use the bathrooms, check out the gift store and hike to the summit. We ended up at 12,000 feet. It was cool and breezy, Josh estimated maybe 50 degrees.
We looked at the map and discovered the Continental Divide was only a few more miles down the road before we would turn back. We took the obligatory picture with the sign, did some more hiking, and headed back to Trail Ridge Road.
On the way back, the traffic came to a stop. We couldn’t figure out what was happening, did someone have car trouble? Then we saw a set of antlers….and another…there were 2 Elk just chillin by the roadside.
“Did you see the rack on that one?”
We continued on our way, taking all the pictures and admiring all the views. The paved road was a lot easier to navigate, and there were guard rails on the steep ravine sides. We made one last stop at the Hidden Valley Ranger Station area. There were actual flushing toilets and it was solar powered. This was cool to see in such a remote area.
I really wish we had more time to spend here, or drive the entire way around and do some hiking.
On the way back we stopped at a cherry store. We grabbed some things to bring home, but most importantly grabbed a slice of cherry pie. I love a good road side attraction or food stand.
Up next…dinner with fellow Bibrave Pro – Katherine. I’ll bet you’ll never guess where we dined….ok it’s obvious, another Brewery. This time it was Oskar Blues. We sat outdoors, the weather was ridiculously awesome, no humidity! OMG the beer menu was insane here, if I really took the time to read it all, I would still be there. I chose a sour and Josh went with an IPA. We split a pizza, as we had 13.1 to run in the morning. We enjoyed each other’s conversation and had a great evening. At one point a giant thunderhead started to form in the distance, and people came outside to take pictures, like it was a rare occurrence.
We said our goodbyes after making some rough plans to meet up the next morning, and Josh and I went back to our hotel….where we discovered cookies on the front desk.
Saturday July 30 – RACE DAY
As I mentioned 65 chapters ago, I have all my race details in a review on Bibrave, if you want to check that out.
The race was in Fort Collins, about a 45-50 minute drive from where we were staying in Longmont. We woke up at 4:45 and brewed coffee in our room, and ate the bagels we snagged from the previous days breakfast bar (oh sneaky.)
Gear: Sparkle Athletic Skirt, BR tank, Procompression socks, Brooks Ghost 9, Addidas &’ boy short, BR tech had, SPIbelt, Garmin Fenix, Moving Comfort Bra, Plantronics bluetooth headphones
We arrived near the start/finish area and easily found a place to park on the street, for free!! We had yet to get our bibs, so we walked the block to the packet pick up and got our things. We had received confirmation emails, but we just told them our names, and got our stuff. I was disappointed in the race shirt. I have 2 of the exact same shirts, same color, same brand….so now I have 3 of the same shirt, just must be a popular color this year.It does fit nice though.
We met up with Pro Katherine again, her Boyfriend, and their dog Ellie. Bibrave Pro Alex was also running the 5k, and we snapped a picture together.
Then as a surprise, we spotted Carol and her daughter Susan. Carol is a family friend from Iowa, and her daughter lives in FoCo. They had surprised us and signed up to volunteer for the race. This was awesome, races don’t happen without volunteers.
After using the facilities, we were ready to start. There were some announcements shouted to the crowd, then someone yelled “Go!” The half marathon was off…it started a half hour before the joint start of the 5k and 10k. The unique thing about the 5k was you could race the trolley.
Anyway….. I was off running the half marathon. It was 2 loops around town, part of it on the Poudre Trail, with some gravel spots. There was a spot we went downhill (actually a busy street, I wished we were coned off to run against traffic.) It never felt like we went uphill, but the Garmin stats showed we did some climbing, so I thought it was mostly flat. I also wasn’t bothered by the elevation of around 5000 feet. All that hiking paid off!
There were liquid Aid Stations only, and I knew ahead of time (thanks to all the website info) there would be water and Nuun, which I don’t care for…however I didn’t bring anything else with me, cuz I just didn’t…sometimes I hate carrying all the things with me…hello chafe! (ok so I had some 2Toms…OMG I am rambling here, are you still reading?) Alright I knew that I would need something, so I took the plunge and actually drank some Nuun…along with stopping for every water stop.
FREE PICTURES- WAHOO!
I had a good race, I enjoyed the low humidity and new place to run. I crossed the finish line in 2:18 something, with a Garmin distance of 13.31. It was also at the same time the kids race was finishing, on the same finish line. I was not happy as I had to come to an abrupt stop to not trample anyone. I also had a hard time getting to my medal, and to some cups to get a drink of water. Perhaps they can make 2 finishing areas….
I found Josh and Katherine and we made our way to the post race festivities. Katherine waited with a friend as the results were announced for the 10k. Josh and I went through the post race food line. A Snooze pancake was part of the spread, but just one with fancy icing and granola. There were orange slices, bananas and watermelon too. There was a table with cups to fill with water or lemonade. The race is very environmentally conscious and there were compost, trash and recycling bins.
From this area we took our food and went to the beer!!! Each participant was carded and given 2 tickets for 3 choices of O’Dell’s Beer…Yep more drinking! We lounged in the grass, and discovered Katherine placed 2nd in her AG, YAY!!! Carol and Susan showed up after their duties, they were given pancake vouchers and beer tickets too. However they were out of pancakes, and the beer packed up before we were able to cash in the second ticket.
It was time to move on with our day, so we said our goodbyes to Katherine…hope to meet up again.
Susan offered her shower to us, WAHOO!!! We were prepared to take a water bottle bath in the parking lot, but this was great!
After we were cleaned up, we had to go check out another brewery..of course! We drove over to Funkwerks. I really like the raspberry sour I can get in Iowa, they had it on tap!! They also had it brewed with peppermint and cocoa notes, so I got that. Josh got the regular raspberry. It was their 6th birthday! They had a raffle going on, for every beer you purchased you had a chance to win a prize. Sadly Carol and Susan won nothing…however I put my hand in and pulled out 2 free tacos (from the cart outside) and Josh won a 4 pack of beer!!! They also had munchkins on a tray for all.
We sat in the shade outside and enjoyed each other’s company. Susan smartly packed some delicious snacks. Including this snack mix Carol travels to Colorado to get…apparently the Costco at home does not sell Utz snack mix.
It was time for us to say goodbye. It was so nice to meet up with them.
Josh and I decided to stay in Fort Collins for the remainder of the day. We walked around the downtown area. We stopped to get a key lime cookie ice cream sandwich, YUM!
Then of course, we stopped at another Brewery…this time New Belgium. This place was huge! All the brew tours were sold out, but we managed to snag some tasters and a flat bread from one of the food trucks on the property.
It was almost too busy for us, so we took off and headed back towards LoCo. What will we do when back in Longmont? Well drink more beer of course…this time it was different. Josh found a running store with beer taps in the back room – Shoes N Brews!! PERFECT!!!
We shopped the store, ( I got a sample of Run Gum to try) then when they closed up, walked around back to have some more beer and a giant pretzel.
At this point, we were both tired and hungry for a real meal. Instead of leaving and going to another brewery, we found a Mexican restaurant where we loaded up on all the water!!! Plus chips and a little bit of salsa, as it was kinda hot. Once we were full, we called it a day and crashed back at the hotel.
Sunday July 31
A day to sleep in! However we were awake by 7 am.
We didn’t have much planned for the day, but we managed to fill it with lots of things.
We grabbed a breakfast muffin, juice and coffee from the breakfast in the lobby. Then decided to go run on the path that goes between Longmont and Boulder.
We drove to the Kanemoto park to get on the “trail.” After we started moving, we quickly decided to only make it a 3 mile run, our hammies were sore. We enjoyed the weather, the company, the sights along the way. Colorado is just great for running!
Once done, and back to the hotel, we grabbed some more breakfast – just oatmeal then got our things packed up to head back towards Denver. We had a train to catch at 7pm that night.
With a lot of time to kill, we thought we would eat a real meal. I scoped out a place, thanks to Google, called The Buff in Boulder. It was a breakfast joint near the University of Colorado campus. It was a happening place. (Note it was not a brewery!) We had a 45 minute wait, but really didn’t have much else to do.
Once seated, we noticed they had a deal on 99 cent mimosas and bloody marys with food purchase, score!!! We each ordered a mimosa. We also ordered the most delicious breakfast!! Then of course had an additional drink, I had a bloody mary this time.
It was now about 1:30 and we still had some time. We drove over to the University of Colorado football stadium to check things out. We noticed they had a real grass field, they also had barbed wire fence around the area, they didn’t want anyone to get it. We wrapped up here with still more time to kill…so I suggested going to Red Rocks as it was sort of on the way.
In the mean time Josh had been checking the train schedule to make sure it was on time, and it still was.
By the time we got to Red Rocks the weather had started to cloud up and it was really windy. It didn’t however stop us from more sightseeing. Red Rocks was gorgeous! The bad part was we could only see the surrounding area as there was a concert that evening and they had closed everything down for sound check. We were glad we stopped and checked things out.
From here it was time to get the rental car back to Enterprise. They closed at 4pm, which was approaching. The plan was to park near Union Station and check our one suitcase, then take the car back, but of course there was no parking available.
Being flexible, we drove to Enterprise and returned the car, then Ubered back to the train station. There was no way we were going to haul all our bags around Denver (remember Josh won beer.)
Uber dropped us off and we checked our bag with Amtrak, where we learned the train was running about a half hour behind. The guy at baggage check says the heat out west causes the train to slow down, and he estimated the train would be later yet, not until 8pm.
We sat down at the train station and discovered FREE WIFI!!! So we just sat and chilled for a while. We had been on an adventure the past few days. We would decide what to do next, as Josh kept checking the Amtrak schedule.
Well, we ended up chilling in the train station too long and never went anywhere else. We used the facilities and got some sandwiches to bring on board. Then we went outside to wait in the line to board the train. We wanted to make sure to be in line early so we could get 2 seats together.
Then the train was delayed more…but a nice older gentleman came up behind us in line, Phil. Phil was on his way to Osceola to get a ride to the Winnebago dealer in Iowa, to then take an RV out west, as they can’t be shipped. He loves to travel and his wife doesn’t, this was a perfect way for him to do so. It was nice to talk to him, we learned about all kinds of things, and how we originally lived in Holbrook, IA. It made the never ending wait go faster.
Finally at 8:27 pm, one of the conductors said the train was backing in. Finally at 8:35 we saw the train, but it had to unload first, then all 180 new passengers had to load back up. It wasn’t until 9pm MT we were on our way back to Iowa, about 2 hours later than planned.
Josh and I got our 2 seats together and settled in, finally eating our sandwiches. This is when I discovered my tray table was broken and I could barely reach the foot rest, did I shrink? While the seats are much roomier on a train, I just couldn’t get comfortable.
It was late, but I wasn’t tired, so I started typing this novel of a recap of events…are you even still reading? It was something I could do without wifi. I also played the Sudoku game on my phone.
We had invested in neck pillows as we thought we would be more comfortable to try and sleep. They were a good investment, but I was never in the right position… I suppose I got 4 hours of sleep. Then we woke up….Josh grabbed us a bagel and some coffee from the cafe…and that was the good news…
Quiet time was over and the conductor was making all the announcements. The first announcment was there was only one driver of the train and he had to make notes, and in order to do that, we had to stop…ok no big deal, we were rolling once again…
Then the next announcement “Ladies and Gentlemen, there was a rollover accident up ahead and they need to clear the tracks” So we were stopped again.
Then there was another announcement “Ladies and Gentleman, a crossing arm is broken ahead” So we were stopped again
Then “Ladies and Gentleman we are stopping to pick up a BNSF worker” — stopped….
Then the lady that is working on our car tells us our shitter is full…AHHHHHH!!!! Will we ever get home???!! I have to pee!
We start rolling again, and this time keep moving. I wrap this novel up as we are about 40 minutes from our stop. Only now about 3 hours from our original arrival time. (We got off the train at 1:30pm CT)
I really did enjoy the train, but as with all travel there will be bumps in the road. I will take it again. I will also go to Colorado again, I hope to get to spend more time hiking around.
There is so much to see and do. I also hope to run more races, especially in the summer when the humidty is about 40%, such a treat for us Iowans.
However before we return, we need to take a break from drinking and maybe eat more salad.
Thanks for reading the lengthy post….stayed tuned for the next adventure.