Four 14ers in One Day

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After Greg and I got married, we thought it would be a really cool tradition to summit a 14er each year on our anniversary. We started out strong and actually conquered two on our first anniversary. I remember the hike to Gray’s and Torrey’s being tough, but we also lived at sea level at the time and had just flown out the day before (I would like to do that hike again and see if it feels any easier, now that we’ve lived at 5300′ for a few years). On our second wedding anniversary, we did my favorite 14er to date, Mt. Bierstadt. That hike seemed much easier (and “easy” is a relative term, because any 14er is challenging) and I absolutely loved it. We also conquered Quandary Peak before the end of the season that year.

For the next two years, our plans got kind of screwed up. I had ACL surgery in late May of 2014, so I wasn’t quite ready for such a big hike by July. We drove up to Mt. Evans instead, so we could technically still summit a 14er on July 17th. In 2015, I had some bad luck again and broke my pelvis right before the start of summer. I was still on crutches on our anniversary, so obviously hiking was out of the question. Luckily there was still another 14er (Pike’s Peak) that we could summit by car, so we did just that. I was in decent enough shape to climb Mt. Evans by the very end of the summer, which was fun (but parts were a little scary).

I still have some lasting injuries from the car wreck I was in last year (which will be fixed at a later date), but I was actually well enough to continue our anniversary tradition this year (and SO grateful for that!). Greg and I have wanted to hike the Democrat-Cameron-Lincoln-Bross loop for awhile now, since you can knock out all four on the same hike. We did some research beforehand and decided that this was our plan for our fifth anniversary (which was on July 17, 2016). We thought about camping overnight (and in retrospect, we should have), but decided to head out to Breckenridge the day before and stay at a hotel there (since it’s only about 45 minutes from the trailhead). We went out to dinner the night before and tried to go to bed early, but I was so anxious that I probably ended up getting around 3 hours of sleep total.

The alarm went off at 4:30 am and we quickly checked ourselves out of the hotel and headed to the Kite Lake trailhead. Once we got there, we had to park about a mile and a half away (due to some jackass telling us that there wasn’t any available parking near the trailhead), so we had a nice warm-up before actually starting the hike. The sun was just coming up, and it was beautiful!

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After waiting in a long bathroom line, we were finally off to start our big hike (around 7:30 am). We decided to do the traditional clockwise route and started with Mt. Democrat as our first summit. The trail started off pretty easy, which is a relative term because just breathing at 12,000′ is a bit challenging.

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Expo West ’15 Finds

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In my previous career, I used to envy people who got to travel for work. The only “travel” I was ever afforded was to check out another high school’s art department (ten miles away) to compare notes with another art teacher. In my current job I have to travel just the right amount: about 3-4 times a year. Two of the largest events that I travel for occur every March and September (Natural Products Expo West and East). One of the benefits of traveling east in September is that the expo is always held in Baltimore, so I get to tack on a few extra days to visit my family.

Expo West was earlier this month and held at the Anaheim Convention Center, which is right across the street from Disneyland. This event is the largest natural foods expo that we attend (and might be the largest in the world for all I know!) and we spend months preparing for it. Thousands of natural foods, supplements, personal care, cleaning, etc. -based brands set up booths for buyers, media, brokers (and other people in the industry) to visit. Last year was my first Natural Products Expo and I had no idea what to expect. It’s basically four days of insanity (1 day setting up the booth, 3 days running it).

I started working for FlapJacked about a week before Expo West last year, and really had no idea what I was doing and how to talk with brokers and buyers. :) This time, with a year of experience and two Natural Products Expos under my belt, I felt much more prepared and confident. My bosses were a lot more confident and less-stressed too, and (along with help from some of our awesome ambassadors) made a great team!

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One cool thing about Expo West and East is that I always run into a few friends. I’ve gotten to know a number of people in the natural foods industry, who I usually only see at these types of shows. It’s kind of like camp- we see each other once or twice a year and it’s like no time has passed. :) I also usually run into a few blogger friends, like my friend Ashley who stopped by to say hello over the weekend.

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ACL Reconstruction Surgery: 5 Months [or 22 Weeks] Post-Op (!!)

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It’s October 20th- which means that it’s been exactly five months since I had ACL Reconstruction Surgery (and tomorrow will mark exactly 22 weeks). Honestly, that’s pretty hard for me to wrap my head around! I know that I say this in every post, but time has FLOWN! When I look back on that horrible day (of surgery) five months ago, I get chills. Man, it sucked… and I hope that none of you ever have to go through it! But- if you do- just have faith that time will pass quickly and you will get better.

While I still stand by the fact that I want a re-do of summer and am not at all ready for winter to come, the weather has (thankfully) been awesome here and perfect for playing outside (including lots of hiking with this guy!).

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One of the ski resorts out here has already opened and others will start following soon. I have still have very mixed feelings about skiing. On one hand, the thought of skiing again makes me terrified and furious. The other part of me wants to take what I learned from recovery and face my fears and be a badass on the slopes… within reason. I think that I will just wait until I’m ready, take it slow and play it safe all season. My surgeon advised me to wait until the end of December, always wear my knee brace, to stay away from crappy snow (ice) and to take it easy. It will be interesting to see what happens.

Now for the formal progress update:

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Currently: September 2014

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TGIF! Man, September has been a whirlwind of a month! Greg was traveling during the first two weeks and the day after he got back I set off for Maryland for a week and a half. I had to fly to Baltimore for work (for Expo East) but went a few days early to visit family. It was really nice to spend some quiet time with my family and see a few friends (including my dear Ashley- the day before she gave birth to her beautiful daughter!).

It’s very strange to me that fall is already here and October is around the corner- but I’m going to try and embrace it! Because of surgery, I was kind of robbed of summer (at least the first half), but it definitely ended on a positive note. I’ve pretty much been able to get back into all of my favorite activities and am so thankful for that! There’s still a way to go until I’m “normal,” but I’m extremely pleased with my recovery.

I just got back from enjoying an incredible weekend in Steamboat Springs. It was my first time visiting there and I can’t wait to go back! Paige and Shane had planned on going for their anniversary, and since Greg and I were planning on going somewhere that weekend, we all decided to go. The four of us had dinner one night and went on an amazing, beautiful hike another morning. The aspens are changing color and everything is just beautiful.

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Greg and I brought our bikes and took a nice ride along the river before we left. It’s hard to think that the next time we visit Steamboat it will be covered in snow!

Alright. Without further ado, here’s what’s going on in my life lately:

Currently: September

Current books: Wild by Cheryl Strayed

I’ll admit it- I’m not much of a reader. My friend Natalie told me (raved about, actually) about this book a year ago and I put reading it on my to-do list. It wasn’t until I saw the trailer for it earlier this month that I actually took action.

The movie comes out later this year, and I was determined to read it first. I started reading it on the plane to Maryland was immediately sucked in. I tried reading before bed each night, but usually only got through a few pages before I dozed off. I read more on the plane back to Denver, and still have about 1/3 of the book to go. I think it’s pretty safe to say- this will end up being my favorite book of all time (and I can’t wait for the movie!). GO READ IT!!

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ACL Reconstruction: 15 Weeks Post-Op

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Happy (belated) Labor Day!

I am so not ready to see the summer end! On one hand, I’m glad that it went by quickly because I was not in the best of shape for most of it. But, I also feel totally ripped off! Now that I’m a lot more mobile, I want a re-do of summer! At least there’s still fall (which is the best for hiking, cycling, running and a lot of other outdoor activities!).

This Thursday will mark 5 months since I had my skiing accident. Time flies! Today is the 15 week anniversary of my ACL reconstruction surgery, and so much has changed over that period of time. In many ways, I’m pretty close to “normal” and can do just about anything that I could do before tearing my ACL. I’m also constantly reminded that I am still pretty far from normal and have a long way yet to go. I do everything a little bit slower, with less intensity. I’ve back been to teaching my group exercises classes for over a month now, but still can’t lift quite as heavy, crank as much tension on the flywheel or pedal as fast (I know that this will improve with time!).

Here’s the formal update on my progress…

Pain Level:

No pain (and very little swelling)! There is still quite a bit of tightness in my left knee, but it’s improved a great deal. I have just a tiny bit of pain and sensitivity in the area around my large incision, but nowhere near where it was even a few weeks ago. I can kneel down on the ground now, do a standing quad stretch and kind of get into child’s pose. All three of those were a very big deal and I celebrated each accomplishment! I often have numbness around my knee (mostly below the knee cap), which I’ve heard is very normal. It’s still very weird.

I’ve actually been having more pain in my right (non-operative) leg than my left, because I tend to bear more weight on it- especially when I’m running. All in all, the level of pain in pretty much non-existent and a million times better than it was during the first few weeks after surgery.

Here’s a photo of my knees today (directly after a run!):

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I wish my scars would start to fade a bit more (some people’s scars fade right away!), but it will take some time. My left quad muscle is definitely growing back and my calves are pretty much the same size now. My left leg is definitely still weaker than my right, but at least it’s starting to look similar in size.

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Blend 2014

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It’s still a little hard for me to believe- but this year’s Blend Retreat has come and gone. This was the third annual gathering for Blend (and also the third year that I’ve been in attendance). I helped out in some capacity during planning for the first two years and stepped into a co-organizer role this year. I’ve been friends with the other two organizers Lindsay and Janetha for a few years now, but have gotten a lot closer to both of them over the last year thanks to countless emails, phone calls and texts.

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I really had no idea just how much planning went into organizing this type of event! Lindsay wrote a great post about the “what, why and how” Blend all came together- which you can check out for details.

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7 New Favorite Finds [from Expo West]

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One of the best things about working at or attending an event like Expo West is all of the new discoveries. Since it’s the largest natural products expo in the world, there’s a lot of different companies/brands represented- 3,000 to be exact. Admission into the expo isn’t cheap. Vendors pay a pretty penny to set up a booth in hopes to make enough connections and catch the eye of various [important] people in the natural foods industry over the course of the event. It also isn’t cheap to attend the conference, and after seeing the amount of free products that are given away, I can see why!

Over the course of the three days that I was working at the Expo, I had a few chances to walk around and check out the various booths. I would say that I recognized about half of the companies that were there, but the other half were completely new to me. A lot of brands introduce new products at the expo-  including some that won’t even be on store shelves until months later- so I got to be among the first to try them out!

To say that I came home with a lot of stuff is an understatement. I was advised to bring an extra suitcase along with me in order to bring everything back to Colorado! I ended up packing a large suitcase and only needing to use up half of it for my clothes and things for the weekend- and easily filled the rest of it up with all of the goodies I got from Expo.

When I got home, I laid out (almost) everything that I had gotten from the weekend:

swag bag

And- this isn’t even everything. I had duplicates of several of the items and had put a few things away. I also have a case of Dave’s Killer Bread being shipped to my house this week (because I couldn’t pack it in my suitcase!). Sadly, I even had to throw a few things away (that I knew I definitely wouldn’t use or eat).

My jackpot of delicious food items includes many of my old favorites, but there’s also a few new discoveries in there. Because I love to share news of great products with you, I thought I’d pick out my seven favorite new (to me) finds from the weekend. Note: the products shown in this photo feature several that I’ve been a fan of for quite a while – but I’m just focusing on new favorites for today.

In no particular order, here they are:

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WIAW 81: Expo West Eats

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Happy WIAW, my friends! Let me tell you… it feels really good to be back in Colorado eating “regularly” again after this weekend! Expo West is most definitely a foodie’s paradise and it was really great to be able to try so many delicious bites over the three days that I was there. That being said, I can definitely conclude that I prefer to eat balanced meals over snacking my way through the day. I tried so many delicious foods over the course of the Expo and had planned on getting photos of most of them… but nope, that didn’t happen. It was a bit too chaotic to actually snap a photo of pretty much anything (and most of the times that I got a chance to walk around I was so hungry that I couldn’t waste time digging out my phone!). Don’t worry – I’ll be back tomorrow to share details on my favorite new food finds at Expo West.

As for today- it is what it is. Here’s a look at the images that I did manage to capture over the course of the long weekend.

Paige and I decided to fly out to Anaheim early on Thursday morning so that we could have that day to explore the area. We didn’t need to be at the expo until the next morning, so we pretty much had the whole day free. After landing, we drove straight to Huntington Beach to get lunch. The restaurant we chose (whose name I can’t remember) had an impressive list of tacos, so we easily settled on that. I got shrimp + avocado tacos:

shrimp tacos

Yes, they were as good as they look. :)

On Friday morning, I actually got up early and worked out (it was the only day that happened, since I learned that standing for 12-14 hours was enough to drain all of my energy) and ate breakfast at the expo. It was pretty much the only “real” breakfast I ate the whole weekend!

That night, we went out for dinner at Pieology, which is a like a Chipotle for pizza! You get a blank crust and have any toppings you want added on. There were various cheeses, sauces, veggies and meats (and you could have as many toppings as you want!).

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California Love [at Expo West]

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Hey friends!

Whew- the last five days have been a whirlwind! I’ve been going nonstop ever since I left for Expo West last Thursday morning  (and may be lacking a bit of sleep…). The expo took place Friday, Saturday and Sunday and I hopped back on a plane to Denver early Monday morning. It was a wonderful, crazy, busy weekend and I certainly learned a lot about the natural foods industry. Representing FlapJacked was also great and I’m excited to see what any opportunities from the expo will provide for this awesome company. I also got just a little bit of beach time at the beginning of the trip…

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It felt so good to wear a tank top and flip flops, but was also a little bittersweet. I’m ready for summer!

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Working Out on the Road

Happy Friday, my friends! I’m away in sunny California spreading the FlapJacked love at Expo West all weekend. If you’re going to the expo, please come by and say hello! FlapJacked’s booth is number 5352, located in Hall E. The last event that I worked with FlapJacked was Fitness on the Rocks this past summer, which was a blast! I didn’t know at the time that I would go on to work for these two goofballs (and I say that lovingly) as their social media manager!

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They really are the best. :)

I’ve been lucky enough to travel quite a bit over the last few years and really love to be able to take a few short vacations with Greg each year. When we were still living in Maryland, most of our vacations would be to Colorado, where we’d spend the week hiking, kayaking and cycling- which were all followed by enjoying lots of craft beer. I know that it’s okay to take a few days off from your normal exercise routine, but the truth is- I just feel much better and have much higher energy when exercise is included in my day. (That being said, I always take at least one rest day per week.)

When I have to travel somewhere, I know that I’m going to get in some exercise at some point each day. If I’m flying out early in the morning to my destination, that day usually ends up being a rest day. I like to exercise in the morning whether I’m at home or on the road, so that I can have the entire rest of the day to do everything else. Exercising while on vacation comes in many different forms for me and can include workouts in a hotel gym, body weight and cardio exercises in a hotel room or a run or hike outdoors (depending on where I am).

Here’s a few of the ways that I keep up with my exercise routine while traveling:

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