My Fall 2015 Race Calendar

This Summer has been a mixed bag.  Some great runs, some not so great.  I guess that happens a lot in the summertime, at least it does for me.   I can never make any wild predictions on how my training runs will go, and it’s all based on the weather.  Hot and muggy, Steamy and boiling.  Sunny and humid.  They all sound equally tough, but typically make me stronger for the Fall race season.

I have six races planned between now and the end of 2015.  Two major races, both marathons.  Four, run for fun, pace for others Half Marathons.  This is how it will play out.

1st up…  9/13, and the Run & Ride Half Marathon at Carowinds Amusement Park.

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This is a new pacing gig for me.  Pacing once again for Beast Pacing.  Target time of 1:50:00. My goal is to come to the finish within 45 seconds under my goal.  Just put a hotel room on hold last night, hoping to take my 17 year old son with me to ride some coasters after the race!

Next up, just six short days later on 9/19, is the Marine Corps Half Marathon.  This time I will be taking my 19 year old son with me, leaving bright and early on a Saturday morning for a 2+ hour car ride to the race location.  This race is run on the Marine Corps base Camp LeJeune.  It’s the first time I’ve had to provide my drivers license number, make and model, tag #, and insurance info for my car during registration.  They need all that info to expedite parking on base.  This should be a fun race, very military pride-filled, and inspiring.  Last year about 1,000 runners signed up, so it should be a good size field of runners.

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Taper time!  After a few Halves in mid September, I will concentrate on my next race.  Chicago!  Running the Chicago Marathon for the second year in a row!  I couldn’t be more excited.  My only goals are to equal or better my time from last year, and enjoy the crowds!  This year I will be wearing my name on my shirt!

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Six days after Chicago, I am pacing another Half Marathon.  This time closer to home.  I will be pacing the 1:55:00 Half at Greensboro.  Loved the tough course last year when I ran the marathon!  This time around only half the distance.

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Ok, so I do have a few challenges this Fall.  The day after Greensboro, on hopefully not too tired legs, I am running a Half again.  This time in Durham.  The Bull City Race Fast.  No time goals other than to beat 1:55:00.  Should be a piece of cake.  And maybe a piece of cake after the race from one of the food trucks!  This is a great event that I had to skip last year because of running Chicago and Greensboro marathons six days apart.  I was actually signed up to run it last year, but just didn’t have the legs left to even attempt it.

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All racing done now for the year?  Nope!  Insert another taper here.  The next two weeks after 10/19 will be total relaxation.  Letting my legs recover, and heal.  All for the epic event known as…..

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Yes, I will cap off my 2015 racing year with an epic run through the five boroughs of New York City on November 1st.  This really is the race of the year for me.  This is the race that I have been fundraising for for months now.  It’s getting to be crunch time, and I still need help.  I really had hoped to have raised all of the $3,000 that I pledged to the James Blake Foundation before the end of the Summer.

As of today, I have raised over $1,600, but need for every one of my readers to dig deep into their pockets.  Will you please help my charity?  $10, $20, $50?  $100?  All monies go toward advancing cancer research at Memorial Sloan Kettering Hospital in New York City.  Surely someone you know has been either directly or indirectly impacted by cancer.  Let’s honor those that have lost the fight to this disease, and to help those that are currently battling cancer.  Please give today.

You can click on the following link that will take you directly to my fundraising page on Crowdrise where you can make your charitable contribution now.

Thank you for you help, and I hope you have a fantastic Fall racing season.  I hope you have as much run running as I plan on having.

Greensboro Marathon & Half 2015

As the sport of running grows and grows, so do the number of races.  I’ve read a couple of really interesting articles lately about the growth of our sport, which has led to gluttony of races when it comes to peak marathon season.

Of course there are big city marathons with big expos, lots of spectators and a big price tag that comes right along with it.  Marathons can cost upwards of $250-$300 depending on the race.  Most folks choose races very carefully, and cost can be a huge factor.  For runners like me that run more than just a couple of races a year, careful consideration must be used when deciding where your race budget will be spent.

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Trivium Racing, out of Greensboro, North Carolina puts on really quality events.  Located in the center of our state, runners from all over can convene in the city park this Fall for the third running of an great event.  Current pricing is under $100, and gets you an amazing race course, high quality bling, post race food, music and more.  Convenient free parking, included!

The inaugural year of this event, I learned about it too late in the season to run it.  I didn’t make that mistake last year, signed up early, and ran the marathon six days after running the Chicago Marathon.  The course winds in and around the city of Greensboro, through neighborhoods, and city streets, but also through beautiful countryside.  Yes, there are hills.  The course is challenging, yet so much fun!

This year I will be pacing the Half Marathon at this event.  I hope to take one of my sons along with me to experience this great race.  Running Chicago again this year, I figured I better run the half this time around, since I am running the New York City Marathon a few weeks later.  Gotta leave some steam in my legs for the Big Apple!

This years race is on Saturday, October 17th.  Pease join me!

RUN LOCAL!!!  Support the fine efforts of quality race directors like Richard and Libby.  When races are done right, we need to support them!

New Promo for @AvlMarathon

Are you already signed up, or considering running the Asheville Half, Marathon or both next Spring?  On March 12th and 13th, Asheville, NC, and the Biltmore Estate are welcoming runners for a weekend of running.  The past three years the Half and Full Marathons were run at the same time on the same day.  In 2016, the Half is on Saturday, and the Full is on Sunday.  Running both means you will be running what they’ve coined the Backyard to Vineyard Challenge!  This level of challenge will bring in all sorts of running fans for an amazing weekend in one of the most beautiful and hip towns in all of North Carolina.

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Right now, through September 15th, they are offering a free “In Training Tee shirt” for those that sign up with a new registration.  The picture above shows you where to go to register, and please let them know I sent you!  In the referral box at checkout use “INVITEDBYPAULAMA”. In the discount code box enter code “2016EARLYBIRDTEE” and the good folks in Asheville will send you an awesome shirt to train in.

Come run with me in Asheville next year!  I’ve run the Half and Full at this amazing destination race, and let me tell you, these folks do races right!  Since the regular cost of the training shirt is $25, for every person that signs up between now and September 15th, I will make a personal donation in the same amount to my NYC Marathon charity, the James Blake Foundation.

Run a great race, or two!  Get a free shirt, and I donate to charity.  How awesome is that?

Running Fury 325

Why, oh why must vacations end?  I am on serious depression mode today, fueled by my first day back to work.  Ugh!  I’d rather be running!  As soon as I finish this post, that is exactly what I will be doing!

Fall plans are coming together in a serious way now that Summer is starting to wind down.  Well, we still have a ton of Summer left, but now that the kids are due back to school on two weeks, it will start feeling more like Fall.  You know, back to school season.  With one in college, and the other entering his senior year in high school, my days “with child” are numbered.  As they enjoy their last two weeks off, my focus has turned to Fall running season.

I have two marathons this Fall.  Chicago and New York.  Both epic, both meaningful in different ways.  The past few weeks I have been trying to figure out my best game plan for ramping back up my mileage to get me into marathon readiness mode.  I typically like to run some Half Marathons in the Fall, and this season is shaping up to be no different.

I have been debating a race down at the coast this September.  My older son wants to run a few Halves, so I have been busy at work trying to find a few.  I found us the Marine Corps Half, down at Camp LeJeune, in Jacksonville, NC the third week in September.  It works out well for him, and I kinda promised him we would do that one together.  Then, this past week something very interesting fell in my lap.  Another pacing gig.  So, without further ado, I will be pacing the 1:50:00 Half on September 13th, down in the Charlotte area.

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It’s actually the Run & Ride Half Marathon at Carowinds.  This will be my first time running one of their events.  Normally they are pretty pricey, even when you sign up early.  They have events at a half dozen amusement parks around the east.  Price of the run includes a weekend pass to the park, so you can enjoy the thrills and chills of rides and coasters before and after the actual race.  Kinda cool!

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A flat course winding in and around the park, going behind the scenes, and under huge coasters.  How much fun will that be?  This year, Fury 325, the parks newest roller coaster opened.  It’s the world’s tallest and fastest giga coaster.  I can’t wait to try it!

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Just have to figure out which one of my sons will accompany me on this weekend amusement/running trip.  Should be a good time.

On into October, plans are coming together nicely for a back to back Half weekend the weekend after Chicago.  I’ll be pacing the Greensboro Half, and then running the Bull City Half the following day.  Of course, New York is two weeks later, so these two races will be my last training runs.  Last October I packed it in, as well.  October is such a great month around here for finding all sorts of distance events.

So, what about you?  Has your Fall running schedule come into a clearer picture now that Summer is fading?  Now is the time to firm up racing plans, and get those race fees paid early, while you still have time.  Don’t wait until the last minute.  Can’t wait to hear what you have scheduled!

Happy running!

#RunBullCity – Bull City Race Fest Discount Code

Just wanted to take a moment and spread some hype about a great local race.  The Bull City Race Fest is taking place this year on October 18th, in downtown Durham, NC.  This race festival includes a family friendly 1 mile run, an awesome 5 mile run, and the ever popular Half Marathon.

An amazing Food Truck Rodeo greets runners at the finish line.  And let me just say that the race course is beautiful!  Challenging, but gorgeous!

I have a friends and family discount to offer when you sign up.  Save $5 by entering code “USB13” at checkout.  Check out the race website at https://www.bullcityracefest.com.

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Join in me this Fall at one of our areas most amazing races!  Follow them on Twitter at @BullCityRace.

are you #UnStoppaBull?  Prove it this Fall!

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Aspen Valley Half Marathon – Race Recap

As I sit here on the couch, still in complete recovery mode from an epic weekend of running, my thoughts are now gathered and ready to recap the first of two races.

The Aspen Valley Half Marathon – Colorado

My plane ride to Denver was uneventful, and arrived right at 8pm local time.  Since I traveled from the east coast, it was 10pm, “my time”.  I took the shuttle out to the rental car pickup, and within a speedy 20 minutes, was off and driving west.  I had mapped out my journey west prior to getting there, but included none of the necessities like finding somewhere to buy a drink for the trip, and also stopping for a bite to eat before the epically dark trip into the mountains.  I knew it would take about four hours to drive from the airport to Aspen, without stops.  Once I found a place to stop off and grab some food and drink, I was on my way.

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Being completely unfamiliar with the area, I tried to stay focused on the road.  I took Interstate 70 west.  I’m sure the drive is tough enough during daylight because, let’s face it, you’re driving through the Rocky Mountains, but driving it in total darkness added more interest and intrigue.  In other words, stress!

I had to come up with plan “B” more than an hour into my trip, because in the darkness, I completely missed the first exit that I needed to take.  Once I noticed it, I decided I would just go up to the next exit, and come back around to make the correction.  Well, the next exit was too far away to double back around so I just decided to keep going and take the longer interstate route.  It was a long drive!  Making it worse and even more stressful were two incidents.  The first being a car fire.  Not mine.  As I was driving west of Vail, I started seeing smoke in the distance.  As I got closer I realized that a car on the side of the road was completely ablaze.  I mean, ON FIRE!  Luckily there were already a few cars stopped to help the passengers of that car, and I could see the fire trucks coming in the opposite direction.  I slowed down, and carefully passed, although for a moment I thought, watch it explode as I drive right next to it.

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Another 1/2 hour later there was road construction happening, where the interstate was closed in my direction for repairs.  That meant we were merged into one lane for eight miles.  Complete agony!  I was so tired, and this wasn’t helping.  Needless to say, the trip was long, and taxing on my body, after having flown for almost four hours to Colorado.  My ass was killing me from all of the sitting!  I finally made it to my hotel at 1am.  (3am, “my time”). Exhausted, I fumbled around getting my race stuff ready for morning, and hit the hay about 1:45am.

I woke up about three hours later to get ready for my Half.  I was thanking my lucky stars that I was only running a half marathon and not a full.  Plus, the fact that I was there to pace the 2:15 group, I knew that even being so tired, I could still manage that.  After meeting up with fellow pacer, Jill, from the Denver area, we made our way to the parking lot about five miles away to get ready, and wait for a shuttle to take us to the start.  Jill had never paced before, so I gave her some advice while swapping running stories.  Jill, if you ever read this, it was a pleasure meeting you!

We met up with other pacers for the Half, and I took a few photos before we boarded the shuttle.

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I have never been to Colorado, and since I arrived in the dark the previous night, I was just in awe of the natural beauty of the mountains.

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The starting line was just so picturesque.  I knew it was going to be a beautiful run from Snowmass to Basalt.  I got rid of my drop bag, and we all got lined up to start the race.  I met up with a bunch of runners who wanted to run with me.  Tricia was the most vocal.  She was a part-time resident of Colorado, part-time New Yorker.  She told me she would be running the New York City Marathon, so maybe we will bump into each other there later this year.

The run was beautiful.  My plan was to keep an even pace, so once we broke out of the crowd, I settled into a 10:14 per mile pace, allowing a tiny cushion just in case.  I had no issues with the high elevation, the air was so crisp and clean.  Chatting with runners all around, we made our way down the Rio Grande Trail toward Basalt.  Even pacing, perfect pacing and company, it was a very enjoyable run.

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Most of the course is downhill, but a few uphills on the final miles were just enough to test your legs.  I had no trouble, but many folks were having to walk the uphill portions.  I guess my hill work paid off!

Nearing the finish I started thinking about having to race again the following day.  I was happy I was getting in the shake out run I wanted, but worried that it was too much.  I didn’t have any leg issues, and no trouble breathing.  Pacing the 2:15 was really a great warm up.  I hope I felt that way later in the day.

Coming through the finish line, I grabbed a medal and water, and waited to welcome in folks from my pace group that had faded along the course.  We high-fived and chatted before heading over to a nice picnic area set up as the finisher village.  There was all sorts of food from custom made salads, to donuts, coffee, beer and more.  There was music and friendly runners everywhere.

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My finish time was 2:14:41.  19 seconds under the goal.  I thought I ran it perfectly.  My pace after mile 1 never wavered more than two seconds from my goal pace.  What a great, relaxing atmosphere to soak up an achievement.  I relaxed with some other pacers for about an hour before we hit the road back to Denver.  I had an expo to attend, so I needed to get going.  That is a story all itself, as I traversed through Independence Gap, and over the Continental Divide.

Wow!  What an amazing and tiring trip so far.  I wouldn’t have done it any other way!  The Aspen Valley race was very well done.  If you ever find yourself in Colorado in July, I would surely recommend this race.

Runcation Commences NOW!

I don’t go back to work for another 176 hours.  That’s a full week off!

I needed it desperately!  It’s been damn six months since I could say that I am on vacation. This kind of vacation is the best kind, too.  It includes not one, but two races.  It includes air travel, a rental car, and all the fun I can have packed into a few days.

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I am officially on RUNCATION!  I actually don’t leave until Friday early in the evening, but I am officially on break.

First order of business is a short run this evening when the suns brilliant rays duck down behind the trees.  I need a shaded 90 degree run, since it’s going to be hot regardless.  After that?  Not much.  No plans the rest of the night.  Unless you call laying on the couch with my two chihuahuas date night.

I have had a serious lack of sleep the past three nights, and I plan on remedying that tonight and tomorrow night.  You see, I need to catch up.  This weekends trip to Colorado won’t offer me much down time, or sleep, so I need to catch up with myself and bank a few hours before I leave.

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I actually won’t arrive in Denver until about 8pm on Friday evening.  Then I have a four hour drive to Aspen before settling in for the night.  I won’t get much sleep, as it’s an early wake up call to pace the Aspen Valley Half Marathon on Saturday morning.

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After running through some absolutely picturesque scenery, it’s a drive back to Golden, Colorado.  Marathon #20 on Sunday morning before traveling home that evening.

I just can’t believe this runcation is finally here.  Seems like it’s been in the works for years.  I’ll try to keep my blog updated the best I can over the next week, since I have two races to recap afterward.  Luckily I was smart enough to not return to work next Monday morning.  I will have two days to rest and recover from an epic running weekend.  Plenty of time to rest my feet after 39.3 miles of racing in the Colorado Rockies.

I think it best, now that I am really starting to soak it in, that I plan a runcation every year.  One that’s not just a weekend getaway.  Don’t get me wrong, I love those, too.  It just really feels amazing that I have this time off, and get to do what I love (running) at the same time.  Yes, a week long runcation is necessary for my mental health.  How about you?  How often do you take vacations?  Have you ever taken a vacation just because you wanted to run?

Runners Abuzz About the Asheville Marathon

As a runner, what makes you decide to run a race?  Have you ever thought about it and really nailed down an answer?  Is it all about the location?  The price?  The size of the event?  The perks/swag?  Medal?  Runner reviews?

It may be a total combination of all of the above, but the best way to decide on a race is runner experiences.  There are so many “review websites” out there, including Marathon Guide, BibRave, Running in the USA, and so many more both domestic and international sites.  You can even find most races now have their own Facebook page, and quotes from previous runners on their websites.

As a two time runner of this brilliant race here in my home state of North Carolina, I wanted to share some quotes, sort of the “what people are saying” about the Asheville Marathon & Half at Biltmore Estate.  I reached out to previous runners of the event on the events Facebook page, and heard some interesting and positive remarks.

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Sheri Manley Gewelke – “I love running in the vineyards and all the tranquility of the Biltmore grounds of the a Full Marathon….. and the sweet, happy spirits of all of the willing volunteers at the aid stations… and the swag from the race is first class, the monogrammed blanket is such a keepsake.”

Silvia Henry says “One of my favorite parts of this marathon is taking the left on the bridge crossing over the river onto the west side of the estate.  I have run this marathon three times and make it a point every time to slow down and take a second to enjoy it.  It’s so peaceful and gorgeous!”

“I love seeing the Biltmore Estate off in the distance and pretending to wave at the Vanderbilt family as they allow me to run on their beautiful private grounds” – Kay Ziemer

To quote a runner who hasn’t yet run this race, Courtney Sobieski Sklenar says “I’ve never run this race before, or even been to Asheville for that matter.  I’m so grateful that my third half marathon ever will be at such a gorgeous location, and that I get to experience this course with people from all around the United States.  I can’t wait for March to get here!”

Crystal Rabiipour Shirk says “I know some people would call me crazy, but that one and a half mile hill at mile three is one of the things I look forward to the most in the race.  It’s the challenge of it, and then being rewarded by running right up to the Biltmore house, through the gardens and around the Bass Pond”.

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As a previous runner of both the Half and Full marathons, I can tell you that there are views galore along the race route.  The entire race is run exclusively on the grounds of the Biltmore Estate.  Beauty and history await your arrival at the Asheville Marathon!

Target Pace- Aspen Valley Half Marathon

Two weekends from now I will be finishing up the Revel Rockies Marathon, and hopefully be celebrating with a nifty BQ.  First things first, however….

On July 18th I will be here…

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Running high up in the Rocky Mountains.  After a post I saw yesterday on Facebook, they have less than 50 spots remaining in the races.  No, I won’t be running the marathon that day.  I have opted to be a part of the pace team that will be running the Half Marathon.  Looking at the course details and several pictures from previous races online, it should be a beautiful run!

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I will be running with Beast Pacing.  I specifically chose a pace time that would be well over my average for many reasons.  1.  I’m going for a BQ the following day.  2.  I want a nice and easy warm up for Sunday.  3.  I want to get used to the elevation again.

I will be pacing the 2:15:00 Half group.  It should be very interesting, to say the least.  That is a pace of 10:17 per mile.  My slowest Half Marathon to date was a 1:58:45 last Fall when I was pacing a 2:00:00 group.  It’s going to be a challenge to slow it down even more, because even at the 2:00:00 pace time, I felt like I was barely moving at times.  I’m hoping to have a big group in Aspen, and even at the elevation of 7,890 ft. above sea level, at that pace I will have tons of air in my lungs to belt out encouragement and vocally keep everyone on track.  The Aspen Valley Half will be my 27th Half Marathon, and 6th state running that distance.

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The weekend of the 18th and 19th will be my first time time running in Colorado.  Running back to back races allows me to knock off another state in my 50/50 quests at both distances.  It may take forever for me to complete this goal, but there couldn’t be another more perfect opportunity to add a state to both of my lists.

Revel Rockies Marathon the following day will be my 20th marathon, and 7th state overall.

Do you have any lofty running goals like running all 50 states, or even on all 7 continents?  How about pacing?  Have you tried pacing a race yet?

Rocky Mountain High

Travel plans are all set, and I am ready for another crazy running adventure!

July 17th will find me on an airplane heading west.  First stop?  Denver.

I’ll grab my bag, hit the rental car desk, and head out.  Destination?  Aspen, high up in the Colorado Rockies.  I am so looking forward to it, although I’ll be driving it at night, and I won’t have a bunch of views until morning.  Probably won’t get much sleep, but it will be worth it.

I am pacing the 2:15 Half the following morning at Aspen Valley.

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I am utterly beside myself, it will be so much fun!  Love pacing!  Have never paced a half over a two hour finish, so this should be a nice warm up for the big show on Sunday morning.

After Aspen on Saturday morning, I will be heading back east toward Denver.  Stopping off in the foothills for the Revel Rockies marathon expo.  Yes, I should probably change my clothes first, and douse myself in cologne and deodorant since I won’t have the chance to shower first.

At the expo, I will be meeting up with a bunch of other race ambassadors, and grab my team shirts to pass out.  To date, I have had 20 runners from all around the country sign up on my Revel team.  One had to drop out due to injury, and others may still join, but right now the number sits at 19.  The race offers custom team shirts for team of 12 or more.  I can’t wait to see it, and show it here on my blog.  I’ve seen the mock up, and it’s going to be really awesome to run in it.

After the expo, hopefully a quiet night in preparation for my marathon the next morning.

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I ran Revel Big Cottonwood last Fall, and it was incredible from beginning to end.  The Rockies event will be just as amazing I’m sure.  If I’m feeling good, I will be going for a BQ.  If not, there will be other races. Not going to stress about it, this crazy weekend is all about having fun.

I don’t plan on indulging in any cannabis, but these two races back to back should give me a Rocky Mountain High like no other!  After the marathon on Sunday, I’ll chill and relax with my team and other ambassadors before heading back to the airport in the early evening for the non-stop flight back to Raleigh.  Just blogging about it, is getting me so excited.  Looking at the calendar, I head to Colorado on this epic adventure just five short weeks from today!