The Blonde Runs

Colorado lovin'


…Handies Peak and Lake City

The first week of June, my family, Nick and I went camping in Lake City. It’s about a 6 hour trek from the Denver area, but definitely pays back by way of the views, the 14ers, and the local bakery. We found a campground right on Lake San Cristobal; and since it was early in the season, there weren’t any other campers nearby.

This was our campsite view, including the beaver sighting on the 2nd night.


I also saw my first moose!


There were several Cat 1 and 2 14ers in the area, so we all summited Handies Peak together. “We all” included my parents (my mom’s first!), brother, sister-in-law, 2.5 year old niece, 9 month old nephew, Nick, me, and 2 dogs. We were quite the party! It was an early season 14er climb, so there was a lot of snow left on the mountain. Snow fields covered much of the trails, and on the way down, we were falling through, up to our knees, in the areas we couldn’t go around. Aside from dealing with the mud, of course. There was no one else at the summit, so we couldn’t get an entire family photos, but below are bits and pieces. Clearly, the view was spectacular…




There were also several waterfalls in the area, so we searched one out and viewed the North Clear Creek Falls.


The town of Lake City, in the San Juan Mountains, itself is small. 400 people small. Resting around 9,000 feet, it’s probably best known as the site for the Alferd Packer Massacre. Time to read up on your cannibalism stories. Main Street is all boardwalk, tourist shops, homemade fudge, soda fountains, bakeries, local coffeehouses, restaurants, and cute.


This was a great Colorado find! A hidden gem. I’d definitely return and recommend it to those who are looking for some camping/hiking/4-wheeling off the beaten path.

Next stop, Minnesota!



…a 2012 wrap up in pictures (mostly)

My little running world has definitely been full of ups and downs in 2012.  Each has been a memorable learning experience and I know they will propel me toward my next goals.

Here is a photo-doc of 2012 with only a smattering of words.

Boston Marathon-April

While this 2nd running of Boston was less than thrilling, due to the heat wave (~90 degrees), I endured and finished with a PW.


Leadville Heavy Half-June

I had always wanted to run in the Leadville Series, so I hit the trails/mountains during the summer and geared up for the Leadville Heavy Half (15.4 miles) with my friend Danielle.  The twist, I would run another half marathon the next day.


Steamboat Springs Half-July

The day after running Leadville, I drove to Steamboat Springs for another half with my friend Erika.  I was really excited to attempt back-to-back halves, but I crashed and burned on this 2nd race.  The last 5 miles were painful.  I am happy with my attempt but would train differently next time.


Great Urban Race-August

The boy’s brother came into town and wanted to run the Great Urban Race in Denver.  It’s a mix of running, puzzles, and challenges.  Surprisingly, we landed a 6th place finish!


Redline Turkey Day 10k-November

All that running in 2012, coupled with a late 2011 marathon caused some scar tissue in my left hamstring. After a few rounds of PT in September, along with some build up in October/November, I felt ready to get back out for a race. This first race as a Oiselle ambassador was run with Erika and my brother on a cold, windy, Thanksgiving morning.  I loved getting out there!



This year, I was also able to run/hike some 14ers this past summer.  Some old, some new.

Grays and Torreys-May



Mt. Elbert-June


Mt. Sneffels-August



I met some fabulous, inspirational people.

Scott Jurek

Courtney C


Bridger (my new nephew)-Juliet (my niece)



I’ve done a little bit of travel.







Telluride, CO-August and September (2 trips)


Minnesota-March and December (2 trips)




And of course, my proudest accomplishment was being accepted as a Oiselle ambassador-September

Oiselle Team Badge


To finalize 2012, I have one more race to run.  Tonight, a local Resolution 5k at 6pm.  It’s the best way I know to end a year and start a new one; with a run.  Nothing amazing, just something fun, light, and a reminder of why I do what I do.  My love for running has carried me for over 20 years.  It has brought about new distances I never knew I’d attempt, new friends I never knew I’d make, to new places I never knew I’d travel.  Running helps define me.

I am a runner.  



…around Telluride and a Mt. Sneffels summit

I’ve had this obsession with Telluride lately. And by lately I mean for years.

Telluride is a small Colorado mountain town about 7 hours from where I live in the Front Range. It’s not easy to get to, in that you have to WANT to get there. A lot of highways and byways and one particular road that leads you directly through downtown; and essentially ends at Bridal Veil Falls. For as long as I can remember, in my adult life, I have had a small affinity for this magical place that seemed so far away. Specifically, I’ve wanted to attend their Bluegrass festival held mid-June, but it’s just never worked out.

Now, I’ve had the pleasure of visiting twice! In one month.

Round One
My family and I ventured to Telluride the first week of August for no other reason than to enjoy an area none of us had experienced. The fresh mountain scenery. The gondola rides. The locally owned restaurants. The Victorian inspired homes. The friendly people. I was immediately smitten.

Downtown Telluride (yours truly)

View of Telluride from the Saint Sophia Gondola Station

Then, there was Mt. Sneffels.

An unassuming 2+ 14’er, with a silly name, bragging of a decent 1700 foot elevation gain in just a mile. My brother, dad, and I drove in on the 4WD road as far as we could, but had to hoof it about a mile and half to the highest trailhead.

With Kismet Mountain (a 13’er) looming before us, our true destination was hidden for much of the climb.

The San Juan Mountain Range is much more rugged than the Front Range peaks. There would be no “running” of this 14’er, as the terrain was primarily loose rock, or scree. Oh yeah, and that pesky incline. Combined, it made for a very interesting climb. In fact, this 14’er was downright scary. At least for me. I found the climb to be pretty difficult with so much sliding rock. Everywhere. Even Gerry Roach suggest wearing a helmet on this one because of the potential for rock slides. And at that incline, those rocks start coming down fast. And hard. I found out, several times, along the way.

This was the view on our left as we made our way slowly up the Lavender Col.

We then ascended a steeper gully that would take us to the summit (between the two rock outcroppings). There were no trails here, so we just had to cross from side-to-side making our own path. I primarily had three points of contact all the way up and stayed really low. Otherwise, I had fears of falling. In reality, this was just a “short” hike, distance-wise, but it took well over an hour.

The view after the long ascent, back down to the saddle. Low clouds were beginning to roll in, but it was still mid to late morning and no storms were a threat.

At this point, directly right of the photo there was a “V” notch (two boulders together) that needed to be climbed over. “Climbed” like leave-your-pack-and-find-your-own-hand-holds-as-you-hoist-yourself-over-the-boulders-with-exposure-to-your-left-that-drops-directly-down-the-gully-so-don’t-fall-or-you-might-not-see-tomorrow. So my brother and I did it, as my dad decided to call it a summit from where he was. I don’t blame him.

A short scramble and we made it.

Brother/Sister Summit

No. 7 is in the books.

The climb down was almost scarier than the climb up. With the scree and incline, every step moved beneath you. Every step was really a slide. And many steps caused mini-rock slides. I was nervous descending. I’ve never had so many thoughts about how I was going to react WHEN I started sliding all the way down. But, I didn’t. My dad was a huge help!

Overall, this was the most difficult 14’er I’ve summited. It was the shortest 14’er and yet took the longest with time. And at only a 2+, I’m not sure how I would be with a full 3, much less 4 or 5. Perhaps for now, I should focus on the 1’s and 2’s!

Round Two
Over the Labor Day weekend, the boy’s family was in town from Minnesota. They had been mentioning the 4 Corners area and Telluride, as they had never been either. While they left a few days prior for their road trip, so they could explore a little further southwest, we decided to meet them in Telluride for the long weekend.

I was anxious for the boy to see the area because I knew he would LOVE it. And he did. Chase did too.

There was an indie film festival in town, so we spent the weekend walking around town, people watching (we saw this movie guy, but failed to catch a glimpse of Ben Affleck, Jen Garner, Bill Murray, and others), and connecting with the locals in some street-side Jenga competitions.

I’m officially in love with Telluride. It’s a shame that I’ve lived in Colorado nearly my entire life and have just now discovered this gem. Isn’t that the way it is though, sometimes? You don’t always realize what you have in your own backyard. With so many opportunities to travel and explore our scope has broadened and we often look too far beyond ourselves and our environment and we miss out on the true beauty that surrounds us.


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…Mount Elbert

For Father’s Day, my brother had this fabulous idea to hike a 14er with our 59 year old father. So, last Thursday, we woke up at early-thirty to make our way into Leadville to summit the highest peak in the Rocky Mountains: Mount Elbert.

Unbeknownst to me, Mount Elbert is the highest 14er in Colorado, the highest peak in the Rocky Mountains, and the 2nd highest in the US (after Mount Whitney). I guess I didn’t know all the 14er factoids, but my brother, the Gerry Roach of the group, filled me in from time to time.

Our goal start time was 7am, and with a quick jaunt into Leadville (1h 30m), followed by some county roads and a 4WD stretch, we reached the 10,400′ east ridge trailhead around 6:40. After some last minute preparations and some really bad photos (naturally, those didn’t make the blog), we were on the trail at 7:02am.

As we started on the Colorado Trail, there were pink and black ribbons marking the route for the Leadville Race Series. I was super excited about this, since I will be running the Heavy Half (15.46 miles) on Saturday. Yes, 2 days from now. So. Not. Ready. But that’s another post.

The trail immediately begins to incline with very few switchbacks. I take off up the mountain, in my slow-as-molassas-semi-run-slash-jog. No better way to prepare for a race that you aren’t prepared for than to try to run at 10,000 feet elevation and higher a few times the week leading up to said race. I stop around mile 1, waiting on my dad and my brother. After hanging on with them for a few minutes, my dad insists that I go on with a “Just go, Bek.” Don’t have to tell me twice. So I head on up the mountain. Running when I can. Hiking a lot. The incline on this 14er was much different than the handful of others I’ve done. Mt. Elbert has such vertical from our route, that some of it was more efficient to hike than run. Oh yeah, and my breathing was a factor. Mainly because I couldn’t.

This was a hard part. I promise.

About half way up, I got a great view of the Twin Lakes:

The route was clear and I didn’t see anyone on the trail. Not even Anton Krupicka. And I was disappointed. So was Courtney, as she was hopeful I could get a picture for her.

I finally summited after 1h 50m of active time.

My 6th 14er.

I took some photos. Chatted with a German. Ate some peanut butter crackers and peanut M&M’s. My brother summited about 20 minutes after I did. And my dad about another 20 after that. Not bad for an old guy.

Whomever summited first that morning must not have done the research. The sign is wrong. He must have gotten that false info from wikipedia. Fact.
Elevation is 14,433. And yes, I’m counting.

On the way down, I stayed with my dad and brother; a) because it was a Father’s Day event so I should spend time with my Father and b) because my brother gave me a hard time about running ahead. I think this was primarily because he was jealous that I didn’t have poles slowing me down and that I summited before him. He’s sort of competitive. Especially since I’m the younger sister. And yes he reads this. 🙂 So the decent took about as long as the climb. NBD.

It was dreadfully hot by the time we got back to the trailhead a little after noon. I was glad we were done. However, some were just getting started! And wearing jeans and cotton t-shirts! No thanks.

All in all, it was a great day with dear old dad and kinda cool brother. My dad was hardly even sore the next day, so he has insisted we summit another this summer. Okay!

Next up, I “race” two half marathons this weekend and my training has been less than. Summer problems…



…Grays & Torreys

Last week, a coworker of mine asked if I’d be interested in running Grays and Torreys to celebrate her birthday. Having a soft spot for 14ers, and birthdays, I quickly agreed. Yes, please.

I met Laurel, and her friend Maggie, at 6:30 this morning, to make our way into the mountains for a double header. As far as 14ers go, Grays and Torreys are some of the easiest to traverse. However, most don’t start traversing any 14ers this early in the season. Lucky, or unlucky, for Colorado, the snow was lousy and the weather’s been warm. It means early fire danger in the high country (of which we’ve already had several outbreaks). It means early water restrictions in town. It means that it’s really green now, but will likely be brown in July. But it also means, getting a head start on 14ers.

I climbed Grays and Torreys back in 2009 with Erika. But I was looking forward to a new 14er experience: running them. I’ll be honest, “running” is kind of a stretch. Yes, you can run the trails until about 12,500 or 13,000 feet, depending on the mountain. Then, the ascent is either too steep, you run into snow, or the terrain is not safe for running. Oh yeah, and you may have trouble breathing.

The three of us started right at 8am. The sky was blue, the sun was bright, and the trail was clear.

We started an easy jog, slowly picking away at our 8 mile route. When you start out at 11,280, you can’t do much more than an easy jog. I probably don’t have to tell you that the higher we got, the more difficult it was. Duh. We were able to consistently run until about 12,500. From here to 13,000, the incline was such that it was faster to hike it. At the Y, we went right to summit Torreys first.

Around 13,000, we hit the snow. Or, what was left of it. We’ve had such a light snowpack this season that we didn’t even need gaiters. With the bright sun, it was mostly slushy at this point. We hiked through it. Literally. I fell in, up to my knees, two different times! I’ve got some minor scratches to prove it. We pushed up the crags to make our first summit for the day.

Happy Birthday Run, Laurel! (from the top of Torreys)

After a few pictures and a few energy blocks, we made our way down Torreys, and back across the snowy, slushy saddle to summit Grays.

We much preferred the ascent to Torreys over Grays. Being on the windward side of the peak was rough. It was really kicking up, and my hands were getting so cold. Grays ended up being a more difficult climb (Torreys is typically) due to the wind and more snowpack. Laurel lent me an extra pair of microspikes and we slipped them on before making our final ascent and summit for the day.

Looking back at Torreys (view from the top of Grays)

Needless to say, we quickly made our way down. Probably not remaining at the top but for a few minutes. Brrr…

On the way down, we were able to move at a pretty quick pace over the snow. Once we’d made it to drier ground, we took off the microspikes and were finally able to run again. My legs were so tired from the double ascent, but I kept them moving. I was stumbling over baby heads and rolled my ankle a few times. Not to the point of stopping, but it will probably be sore tomorrow!

Grays and Torreys
8.08 miles
3h 28m of run time
3h 57m total time
25:49 pace