Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Our 3 Perfect Days in Zion

We arrived in Zion mid-day Sunday after a short drive from St. George and we set out to take care of some business as we knew we had a lot to see.  First we needed to get our backcountry camping permit for Monday night which required a long stop at the visitors center due to the parking situation as the park fills up quickly and you need to park in town and shuttle or run into the park from Springdale.  Luckily, we got changed at our hotel for that night and put on some running clothes, it was time to get a move on.  I would highly recommend you do not go to Zion during peak season unless you like running rather than shuttles and occasionally waiting in theme park like lines which were already starting in early May.

Day 1:A half day of hitting the easy hikes of some of the must sees.  We ran up the Pa'Rus trail to the third shuttle stop at Canyon Junction which was about 2.5 miles from upper Springdale.  From there we boarded the shuttle.  The Narrows was fully closed to hike up due to high water so we headed to the Riverwalk and viewing area first where we saw as much of the Narrows that we could that day.  This was a 2 mile round-trip run that took about 30 minutes with pictures and other play time.  The Narrows is the last shuttle stop at Temple of Sinawa so we started taking small hikes as we headed back down the valley.  The quick hikes or short paved trail walks that Zion offers right off the shuttle include the Emerald Pools, Weeping Rock, and the overlook of the Patriarchs.  (pics below!)

Day 2:  We had big plans.  A morning hike/run up Angel's Landing, a 5.4 mile round trip to up to the dangerous and beautiful peak followed by a 7.5 mile day with our camping gear into Kolob Canyon and the Kolob Arch.  We caught an early shuttle to start the Angel's Landing hike and got into the front of the line (thankfully) by running the 2 miles to the chains.  These chains are not to be taken lightly as they are at times the only thing keeping you from plummeting 1,000 feet to your death on rocks below.

It took a while to get used to hiking Angel's Landing, the initial climb is a couple miles and, in our opinion, runnable.  It will take some gas out of the tank however.  After that, the sand-coated smooth rock means you will be hiking and if there is crowd you'll be waiting to use pieces of the chain as there is only one way traffic.

Some pictures of Angel's Landing shows why people go on such a dangerous and sometimes frustratingly crowded and slow hike.  Wear your hiking/trail shoes and do not be like us, do not plan to be done by a certain time because you have other places to be.  The crowds in Zion, and especially on this trail where for some reason people who are scared of heights continue to push on and occasionally freeze while latching to the side of a chain on a downward angled rock, will make the round-trip time unpredictable.

We were able to get down from Angel's Landing albeit a little later than expected and were happy with what will likely be a once in a lifetime experience.  Hurriedly, we hopped on the highway and headed to start our backpacking trip.

Panorama from our Campsite in Kolob Canyon
We chose the Lee Pass Trailhead and Kolob Canyon hike for our backpacking trip.  After stopping by the Wilderness Desk at the Visitor's Center we were able to get campsite 7 which was about 7 miles in on the trail and 0.5 miles shy of the Kolob Arch which was our goal for a short hike after setting up our campsite.  The hike drops into the La Verkin Creek valley and comes with a lot of biting flies along the creek.  There are multiple creek crossings on the hike but most were low flowing which likely varies heavily based on recent weather in the region.  The 7 mile hike took us 2:45 each way with camping gear but could be done as a 14 mile trail run with relative ease if you're into that.  Take a good amount of water, or as pictured below, get yourself a Katadyn BeFree and fill up from the creek as you go.  The campsite was beautiful with views in all directions due to its location on the ridge and the Arch glowed magnificently when we got there during sunset.
Kolob Arch - Largest Freestanding in the World?

Day 3:  We hiked out of our beautiful campsite back out of the canyon.  We had booked another night in Springdale and planned on taking care of more of the highlights that Zion offers.  Unfortunately, you will likely have to choose to forgo certain excursions if you're on a time crunch while at Zion due to the length of some of the big attractions.  We were unable to get to the Subway and Observation Point with the way our plans fell and our decision to head to Kolob Arch.  That being said, we made sure to get to the Museum, Zion Brewing, and enjoy the views during date night to celebrate a successful trip.  Spotted Dog provided a nice upscale western dining experience if you like a little civilized dining after eating freeze-dried meals during camping.  Check out the pictures and get yourself to Zion if you haven't already!  Just be prepared for some unique excursions and crowds.

It was a rainy last day! Luckily we weren't looking to cling to the side of cliffs anymore.

This is the overlook from Weeping Rock, a short steep uphill hike that can easily be a small part of a day.

 Weeping Rock with a wide stream of misting leakage dropping from above and a beautiful overlook
 The view from Angel's Landing hike

Emerald Pool 1 being filled by a water fall from the rock above the trail.  A similar and beautiful scene similar to Weeping Rock.

Got our electrolytes back the old fashion way.  Utah beer is an interesting experience...  do your best to avoid the IPAs.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Athlete Nutrition Review - Hammer Fully Charged

This past month I tried Hammer Fully Charged Pre-Exercise Igniter as a replacement for my beet juice, tart cherry juice, and beta-alanine dietary supplements.  It may just be for you too.

Use Fully Charged for:  Hammer Fully Charged is a pre-workout supplement that provides caffeine, sustained energy blends, and Nitrous Oxide exercise support to improve performance and maximize muscular and mental function.

What’s In It:  Green Tea Extract, Nitrous Oxide Proprietary Blend, Taurine, Tart Cherry Extract, Beta Alanine, L-Carnitine.  These ingredients claim to provide mental and physical sharpening, increased blood flow and supply to muscles, and amino acids for muscular efficiency.

Review:  During our racing careers we go through phases and experimentation with our diets.  There is an endless supply of new and rediscovered super foods in a dietary world that feels cyclical in nature.  Like many triathletes, I have tried most of them.  I used Beta-Alanine a decade ago, started using beets two years ago, and grew up with a tart cherry tree which has made it easy to utilize tart cherries in my diet as a recovery aid.  Hammer Fully Charged combines all three of those ingredients in their proprietary blend in addition to amino acids, taurine, and the everyone’s favorite supplement caffeine which comes from green tea.  Naturally, an all in one product is preferable to three different concoctions each day so I gave it a try through a training cycle including long runs, hill repeats, interval workouts, and three races. 
Day 1:  Mixed my first glass.  Fully Charged mixes into cool water easily and provides a pinkish hue.  The flavor is tart cherry, I personally smell and taste a watered-down bubble gum which is pleasant enough for a supplement and not painful to drink.  I went out on my first run 30 minutes after replacing my pre-run glass of water with Fully Charged.  The biggest test of these supplements to me is if my stomach can handle it; I did not notice any difference in my stomach which was a great start from day one.
Day 2-7:  I continued to drink a single glass in the morning before my first workout.  I felt great during this week, it was my first week of build into a training cycle.  A progression long run, hill workout, and my first race all occurred with good results and no stomach issues which has always been my complaint about other beet supplements. 
Day 8-14:  It took over a week until I started noticing the flush from the Beta-Alanine in the Fully Charged.  Research shows that Beta-Alanine requires a period of loading and then maintenance to provide the buffer effect.  By itself, Beta-Alanine is usually cycled for 4-6 weeks prior to your primary event.  This was my best week of the cycle.  Every day I felt I could meet or exceed my workout goals.  There is no doubt the Fully Charged wasn’t hurting and I kept feeling good; I found a supplement that made my legs feel like my other beet supplements – faster and fresher.  I continued to be happy about how easily my stomach handled the blend of supplements in Fully Charged.
Day 15-21:  I continued to sleep and recover well this week which was the final of this cycle before a down week.  One of the more common uses for Tart Cherry is as a sleep aide which is what I used it for in periods prior to beginning Fully Charged.  Sleep is vital to recovery so a supplement that can provide some quality to your shut-eye can be worth its weight in gold during harder cycles.  After making it through my last race and long run during this test period while hitting all of my goals has made me feel that there isn’t a fall off between Hammer’s all in one product and supplementing with the three separate products I was consuming otherwise.  I am a believer and since it is cheaper and easier to consume; Hammer Fully Charged will replace my other supplements going forward until I am convinced otherwise.

-Multiple Performance Enhancers in One
-Easy on the Stomach
-Caffeine source without the acidity of coffee before a run

-Tart Cherry Flavor preference
-For most this is a morning or early afternoon supplement only due to caffeine content
-Beta-Alanine flush can be unpleasant but is short lived

Recap:  After a three week hard training cycle I would highly recommend Hammer Fully Charged as a supplement to add to your arsenal.  Hammer Fully Charged provided the same exercise feel as similar beet or blended performance enhancing products at a lower cost and in an all-in-one supplement.  Easy to dissolve and drink before exercise without the stomach difficulties of other products. 

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Super Half Marathon Race Recap

Colorado Springs has a wonderful and popular race every Super Bowl Sunday, including a half marathon and a 5K that start downtown, and finish a bit up the trail.
Afterwards, we are treated to beer at a local pub to get ready for the game.
Both Jess and I beat our times from last year by a minute or so which could be credited to some amazingly warm February weather in Colorado Springs hitting near 60 degrees.
My race started fast, too fast as always, and I soon found myself with last year's winner and the new eventual master's record holder quickly losing one of our Fossil teammates as he ran away for a commanding win and course record of 1:11.  My group had a much more conservative goal of sub 1:20 which would require a steady effort on the long 7 miles of gradual climbing followed by negative splits on the way back to town on the slight downhill.
At about 5 miles, we were approaching an underpass with a mostly blind turn, last year's winner was on the inside and a bike came flying around the turn.  He juked and leapt but came down awkwardly on his right leg.  He instantly had trouble putting weight through his knee.  We checked on him and he decided he just needed to walk back.  It was a heart-breaking to see such a talent get injured in a small race that he was in for fitness reasons only.  From that point on, I only had one person to race - the 50 year old who continued to yo-yo back and forth.
After the turn-around, with the heart rate drop of turning downhill, I felt the energy I had hoped to notice earlier in the race and started moving up.  No offense to 50 year old badasses like this guy out there, but I just had to win that head to head. It took more effort than I hoped at times but running the hills intelligently allowed my pace to drop about 15 seconds per mile.  This year on the bike and run I'm focusing on keeping my cadence during fatigue which feels great so far.  With no 20 mile runs under my belt yet, and 2 more months in Boston training, I am encouraged by a 17 mile day with 13 at Boston goal pace.  In the end, I pulled back from 10th to 6th overall for a finish just under 1:19.
Jess ran with multiple different friends who all ended up separating by mile 10.  I found her at mile 12 and we ran in for her finish and new personal course record.

After the race we joined the crew for a few brews and the presentation of the golden ball to our teammate for his epic win.  Another one of our teammates, dressed as John Elway!, handed off the balls to the winners which made for a great Fossil Brewer's Cup showing.  Our women's team won the team competition while the men's team was unable to defend last years victory and came in a mediocre second place to the Air Force Track Club.

Happy Running Friends!
Thanks to Fossil Craft Beer, TriSports, and Pikes Peak Sports for the support!

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Views from a Sunday Long Run and a Fun Weekend

One of the most beneficial things that I began doing a few years ago for Boston Marathon training was to add more strength runs and increase my number of back to back long run/hard run days to build some muscular characteristics that help come marathon day.  Also, getting out and doing some hills often comes with beautiful views!  Here to post a few pictures from the last few days of running in magnificent Colorado Springs!


Thursday, January 26, 2017

Entering the Year of the Rooster with a New Winter Training Approach

The last few winters all looked the same: build marathon fitness and running strength for the Boston Marathon with a sprinkle of swimming and cycling so there wasn't a complete lack of familiarity for the summer triathlon season.  Luckily, I think my race schedule stumbled me into a more sustainable training pace that can be combined with the most important thing during the off season, fun hobbies!
Winter is the time to spend time on hobbies
and keep it fresh.
In the spring, Jessica and I are both running marathons, but I am following up Boston with Ironman 70.3 St. George merely 3 weeks after.  This means, with my recovery from Boston taken into account, that I will have no time to build for that race and I will need to be St. George fit on Patriot's Day when I toe the line in Boston.  Due to this schedule, over the last month I have felt the need to start the year with more swimming and cycling than ever before which in turn has created a cardiovascular and strength base for running that is usually not as present.  I have found training more sustainable and successful than usual.  I have a few thoughts and found a few tools have been the reason why.

1.  Don't sweat the small stuff, rest early before you do too much too early, and spend time doing new or old fun things.  In Colorado, that is hitting the slopes!

2.  When you have a race on the horizon, train right.  Start with structure in all aspects of training.  In my past winters, training with running structure only led to stale and plateaued cycling training which didn't set up enough of a base for success by the time triathlon season rolled around. What I have found to be my favorite new investment was a pair of Garmin Vector 2's which have allowed me to determine weaknesses such as right leg dominance during fatiguing longer cycling sets, and a more fun experience on Zwift.
Power training to work on your
weaknesses before they affect
your race season.

3.  Keep all the sports fun.  I was often focused and enjoying my running improvements in the winter as I marathon trained.  What that did was make cycling dull and a simple cross training tool.  With power training on Zwift along with virtual races, my cycling took meaning and it has become easier to get on the trainer five times a week.
Zwift has different courses, workouts, and races to keep
indoor cycling fresh

4.  Use your cross training time to improve your weaknesses and solidify your strengths.  My time swimming is a great time to remind my body of the importance of core strength and body stability.  Performing cycling workouts and running workouts that are different than your main season workouts also keeps things fresh and fun.  We are blessed in Colorado Springs with one of the best running groups in the country, Pikes Peak Road Runners, who sponsor the year long running competition of the Brewer's Cup.  It's good to get out and party have fun with friends.  You may not get the chance as much during the middle of the season.

Winter is the time for fun!

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Winter Focus: Triathlete's Training Bible Product Review

The off season is a great time to relax, recharge, and find focus and motivation for the upcoming training push into next year. This year I undertook some "light" reading compliments of my friends at TriSports.com. It was a fun experience to read about training from another perspective and to connect the dots of what could be missing to maximize my training. Read below for my take on the "Training Bible".

The Triathlete’s Training Bible : 4th Edition – TriSports.com Product Review
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Background of the Triathlete’s Training Bible:
Joe Friel made his mark on triathlon long ago with his first edition of The Triathlete’s Training Bible, and to his great credit, he did not stop growing when he achieved success with his first book.  Sports Science is an evolving field a lot like nutrition and other fields that try to identify  what can be done to maximize the ability of the human body.  As he mentions in the foreword, this book is for “high performance” and is meant for those who have some understanding of what it takes to train for triathlon regularly.  As a doctor of physical therapy and certified strength and conditioning specialist , I thought this book would provide an interesting read and an opportunity to  compare the current exercise science research with the information provided in this book.
Key takeaways on what the training bible can teach a triathlete:
  1. Succeeding in triathlon requires work on the mind and the body.   Proper goals, focus, and purpose are as important as training volume, intensity, and rest.
  2. Determine the Three Physical Metrics to determine fitness:  Aerobic Capacity, Anaerobic Threshold, and Economy.  Develop your basic abilities, aerobic endurance, muscular force, and speed skills, then your advanced abilities, muscular endurance, anaerobic endurance, and sprint power, in order to improve your physical metrics.
  3. Learn  to manage your training load.  Utilize tools of pace charts, heart rate, and power to create zones of training that allow you to apply an appropriate training stress and also successfully rest.  In the book you will be able to use the information to create your custom zones.
  4. Plan your year based on your goals and your longest race/A race for that year.  Then drill down to determine training periodization with weekly volume and finally daily planning.
  5. Develop triathlon specific skills early to gain your competitive edge as it takes less time to maintain those skills after they are learned.  Use warm ups to practice motor patterns and hone your skills.
  6. Mimic sport specific motions during weight lifting to maximize the benefit of your gym/strength training time

Why I like this book and recommend it:
I’m a firm believer that many athletes know just enough about sports science and nutrition to be caught in fads and poor training regimens.  For most triathletes, this book is as good as taking an entry level exercise physiology class in college.  It’s important to take the time to gain full and diverse knowledge about your body and training.   From this book, a triathlete can acquire an improved in-depth understanding of how the body adapts to loads of training, during rest, and to periodization which will help the athlete listen to their body with improved success and less guessing.   Triathletes can learn about all of the concepts of training during the preliminary chapters of the training bible.  Knowing how and why the body responds to training allows an athlete to find increased value in what sometimes seem like endless hours of training and commitment.  Once these foundations of knowledge are established, the reader is then provided with workouts and explanations of workouts in order to apply those concepts.  Examples of brick workouts and ideas of how to vary training are found in the appendices.  Personally, I love how Friel lays out specific workouts for each of the abilities that a successful athlete needs; this allows the reader to further test themselves and improve specific weaknesses.  We all avoid certain types of workouts that are our least favorite but this book can help you understand if what you’re avoiding is actually a true weakness as well.  Bottom line: Utilizing the training practices in the book will allow triathletes to specialize, properly overload, and adapt their training for maximum benefit and time efficiency.  

Happy Swimming, Biking, and Running!

Sunday, October 9, 2016

ITU Long Course World Championships Race Recap and the End to the Season

The revenge of humidity...

After a trip last year to USA Long Course National Championships in Oklahoma City, I learned that I would in fact be coming back this year for a similar, but longer, course at the same venue for World Championships.  ITU Long Course distance includes a 4km swim, 120km bike, and 30km run which leaves you out in the water, wind, and sun for significantly longer than the American 70.3 distance for championships.
The 10 days leading up to the event showed a cold front coming in on the day of the race.  With the preceding week reaching the high 90s I was praying for that kind of luck.  When we arrived 2 days before the event it was hot and humid but we went out and got a taste of Bricktown and the local scene.

A replica of a Massachusetts lighthouse at Lake Hefner OKC - Never seen anything like that before ;)
On race day morning it was warm and humid but clouds were gathering in the west.  They were still calling for rain to arrive at some point during the day but the sun burned off those early clouds making the start clear and sunny.  I was hoping that my cloud friends would return after the swim.

The swim was my biggest concern since I had only been able to swim for 3 weeks prior to the race after my clavicle fracture had healed enough from my bicycle race accident in July.  The impending cold front brought in strong winds with gusts up to 35mph and in the shallow water of Lake Hefner the race field got to experience white caps, swells that block sighting, and constant violent rise and falls that represented water much more turbulent than any reservoir should ever be.  The organizers stuck with the regular swim course instead of the shallow water course and it was a mistake.  The mistake was two-fold, first off, the super shallow water was so turbulent from the wind that many athletes dropped out after the first lap, but secondly, about a half mile into the swim, I looked up to sight and saw 30 swimmers standing in knee deep water wading to the next buoy.  It was a shock, as the water was too shallow to swim in with the breaking waves and the fastest way was to stumble and step on rocks in the shallow water until the water was deep enough to resume swimming.  During the swim, that occurred 4 times, 2 times out and back which made it quite an experience.  Due to the turbulence, I was in pure survival mode with my lack of swimming shape by the end and was happy to be getting out of the water even as far back as I was.

I took my sweet time in the transitions due to the length of the race and downed a full gatorade and bar before leaving for the bike and run portions.  As the temperatures climbed on the bike, hydration became more important and difficult as the strong side and head winds made effort difficult to dose and control of the bike was challenged by rough roads.  Luckily I was able to finish the bike at a decent pace where I moved up many spots (since I lost so many swimming) and put myself into the run with a chance at a good showing.

Surprisingly, despite being out for about an hour longer than I had originally planned by the start of the run, I felt good on my feet and started moving past other runners.  At this point, I was begging for the rain that never came.  Based on what I heard afterwards, I think my cursing at the sun and gusts of wind was shared by athletes from all countries.  I went through a tough middle portion of the run, but with significant intakes of fluid and sugar combined with cups of ice down my trisuit, I was able to move myself to fourth place in my age group and miss a world championship medal by one spot.  Still, all smiles and a great, but sufferfest of an, experience!

It was tough for everyone out there, and the number of dropouts was high, but the experience was new and challenging which will light the fire for my return to full health and a more successful 2017.

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Return to the Tri : 106 West Triathlon, Dillon, CO

A week has passed since I took my new bionic titanium shoulder to my first triathlon since my bike wreck, clavicle fracture, and subsequent ORIF and fascia repair.  It was an interesting 8 weeks as I returned to training as I have never experienced this type of injury before nor have I been so limited.  Happily, I have regained some swim form quickly as a week from today I will be performing the longest continuous swim of my life at Lake Hefner in Oklahoma City for ITU Long Course National Championships.  The journey of this year won't end with a top podium finish, but the motivation to return to form should only help next year.

106 West Tri was an Inaugural Triathlon Race in Dillon (only about 9000 feet elevation, NBD) that featured a cold swim in Lake Dillon for the first time ever (legally).  At check-in you received a cowboy hat and the promise from the race directors that you're likely quite stupid to pay to torture yourself in such a way.  One thing was certain, and that was you can always just look up and take some pain away with how gorgeous the surrounding area of the race is despite your lack of oxygen.    
The swim was over slowly, as I don't claim to be the fastest swimmer and a collarbone fracture doesn't make your slinged arm much stronger.  I was glad to be out of the water and start my two laps of the long climb to Montezuma at 10,200 feet and the windy "this should feel easier" descent.  My new Quintana Roo PR6 from TriSports is super light and fast which has made my lack of fitness this year easier to deal with.

I tried to treat this race as training, so I went out at what I considered a very sustainable tempo effort on the bike.  It worked well today as I wasn't spent on the second climb especially as the wind picked up.  The wind for the last 5 miles back to T2 was the hardest part of the ride as my weak shoulder stabilizers and deep wheels didn't cooperate together well.

Out on the run, the one thing that took away from this race occurred.  The swim was nicely done and fun, the bike course was closed and amazingly well set up, but the run had water cups the size of mouth wash or sample cups.  I have never needed to walk, I've survival shuffled of course, but never felt a need to walk in a race until this day.  After one lap of frustrating lack of water or nutrition for a high altitude dry race, I began to get annoyed and to bonk.  The last lap I spent my time seeking out bathrooms (there were none along the course or even at the turn around by the finish) and then I walked through water stations taking 5, 6, 7 mini shot sized cups of water, Nuun, and Coke.  Luckily it gave me enough of a boost to finish at a mediocre pace rather than completely fall apart.  I'm sure that will be corrected for what will likely be a more popular and competitive race next year as word gets out.
I was happy with a 7th place OA finish and the AG win!  Won't be so easy if I get to come back next year.
On Sunday, Jess made me summit Mt. Quandry, one of Colorado's "easy" 14ers.  I've slept ever since until this moment.  Thanks for all the support and good luck for the remainder of the season!

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Steamboat Springs Race, Rodeo, and Friends Weekend

A lightly planned weekend trip thanks to our friend Shelby who acted as our host and guide in Steamboat Springs was the perfect way to spend the Independence Day weekend.  We drove with the hordes of people to upstate Colorado late on Friday night to the secluded ski town and fell in love with the livable, diverse, and aesthetically pleasing town quickly.  I imagine the place will become increasingly exclusive as people continue to learn how livable it is year round.  The best way to explore your first day is a race (duh) so three of us ran the Mountain Madness Half Marathon which included beautiful quiet roads and one nasty long climb.  I had my best performance since coming back from an unplanned layoff and was able to use the big hill to run away and hang on for first place overall in the race.  It has kept me sore for a few days!  The local running community was friendly and lovely just like the views.  This was just the start of our mountain town getaway!
1st Place Mountain Madness Half Marathon
After the race we cleaned up and went out on the town with friends.  Shelby took us to Storm Peak Brewing to try out the local brewery scene.  The crew we were with (besides the two very underage boys) are all members of the Brewer's Cup in Colorado Springs so you know we have to grab a cold one after a race.  Storm Peak had a great variety and each was clean on the finish and thoroughly enjoyable.  Worth checking them out especially since they are dog and kid friendly.
"The Fit Shall Inherit the Earth" - Endurance Conspiracy

That night, we ventured to the nighttime clothing optional hot springs at Strawberry Park.  Obviously, at night, in a place with nudity, I didn't get my camera out for my own sake and yours.  Jess and I have been to multiple Hot Springs in Colorado including Mount Princeton, Pagosa Springs, Glenwood Springs, and Conundrum Hot Springs.  Strawberry was unique in its layout and feel which means we'd highly recommend the unique experience if you're in Steamboat.  No lights and large very hot pools contained along the edge of the river with a lot of extracurricular activity around at all times.  It is also well worth taking a short swim in the stream of mountain run off before hopping back into the hot pools to enjoy the lively tingling of returning feeling to your feet.  Go after dark, take $15 per person and a flashlight ... but be careful where you aim it!!

The following day we spent the morning hiking the ski resorts summer trails, watching the kids enjoy playing on the "beach" by the main square in ice cold water, getting great food and outdoor hangout time along the river at Sunpies, napping for way too long, and then we headed for the rodeo and bbq! Jess, the horse lover she is, has never been to a rodeo in her life and was quite excited for the experience.  We didn't know (should have clarified) that we had signed up for a "Ranch" Rodeo which means we missed out on a few classic events such as bull riding, mutton busting, barrel racing, and of course, the rodeo clown.  This rodeo featured cowboy competitions of Bucking Broncos (cool) and very repetitive cattle herding and handling competitions (got long).  The venue in Steamboat is really nice and relaxing with beautiful views and the old west mixed with the upscale ski town is a pretty awesome dichotomy to experience in the same town.  
Hang On Buddy!
On July 4th Steamboat has a nice parade where the kids collect endlessly thrown candy and avoid camels, horse poop, and fire breathing metal dragons followed by watching a summer time ski jumping competition.

If you're willing to take a little bit of a longer drive and get up there to Steamboat, you'll be doing yourself a favor.  Jess was looking at homes there the night we got back home.  It is a town that can accommodate the cowboy, skier, mountain biker, runner, food enthusiast, and beer drinker in all of us.  Happy Travels!
Jess telling this horse how good of a job he did.