Colorado Springs: Olympic Training and Trails

We went on a tour of the Olympic Training Center today. It was so cool! The olympic nerd came out in me 100%. It’s weird because I’m not usually a huge fan of sporting events but I love the Olympics. I think it’s because the Olympics signify more than just a sporting event. It’s the entire nation coming together to cheer on their team, the entire world coming together to compete. If the world can come together in peace for a sporting event, then there is hope for humanity left. Maybe I romanticize the whole thing, but I love it nonetheless. Before we even entered the building, I was impressed by the grounds. The first thing I noticed was all the statues outside. I loved the figure skating statue, since that is one of my favorite Olympic sports. The focal point of the gardens was the large statue of all the athletes holding up the world. It was like they were all working together, just as the actual olympians do. We had tried to go on the tour earlier in the week but didn’t have time to wait for the tour to start. Winter tours are conducted every hour and apparently according to the Olympic Training Center, Winter starts on August 15th and last until May31st. The same guide was there as the last time we tried to go. He offered us 50% off our tickets for having to come back. The full price of the tickets is $5 and we only had to pay $2.50 each.

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I walked past Olympic torches on the way to the auditorium where we watched an introduction video. The video showed clips from past Olympic games, training footage and even a Rio teaser video. Once the video was over, we began our tour. We saw olympians working out and training. I was walking amongst olympians. There were so many interesting training facilities that I didn’t even know existed. There was even a room that pressurized to train athletes to build up their endurance as if they were working out in the Alps. Apparently the room even gets to an altitude level equivalent to Everest.

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I said hello to Olympic hopefuls, watched as they lifted weights, shot riffles and practiced on the parallel bars. I couldn’t believe that these were people who would be potentially representing our country in the next Olympics.

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The training center was extremely walkable. We spent the hour walking the grounds and stopping in various buildings. The center was vibrant, decorated with colorful figures which represented all the sports in the Olympics. There were colorful flowers along every walkway. Aside from the decorative elements, the sun above was shining. Colorado Springs claims to have 300 days of sunshine which makes it the perfect location for the Olympic Training Center. With the sun shining above and a clear view of Pikes Peak and the Rocky Mountains in the background, there is a positive environment for training. As we left, we watched as the countdown clock ticked down one more minute until the Olympics. I took a moment to day dream of being in the shoes of those olympians.

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After watching athletes at the Olympic Training Center, it was time to test our own fitness on a hike. We were going to Red Rock Open Space, which was my friend’s favorite spot in Colorado Springs. This hiking trail wasn’t even on my radar to go to when researching and planning my trip. Yet, I am always up for adventure.

We packed up and headed out for the hike. It was 90 degrees outside, the air was thin, the breeze nonexistent. I was prepared for an enjoyable hike. What I got was not that. The views were beautiful but that hike itself was brutal. We took the hogback trail, the longest trail at Red Rock Open Space at 3.3 miles. The hike started off flat and easy. It was deceiving. It barely looked like we were walking up much of an incline. While the hike didn’t seem too steep at first, I could already feel it in my lungs. The humidity was heavy and the sun hot above. The only thing that kept me walking was to get to the shade of trees down the trail. I could’ve stayed under the shade forever.

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Suddenly we came upon this large rock formation that we decided to climb. Climbing the formation rejuvenated me for a short while. We took a short break here to collect ourselves. We studied to trail map and rehydrated. Here, we were able to stop and truly enjoy the views around us from the rock formations where we were, the pond below us and the mountains in the distance. It was truly beautiful once you give yourself the moment to appreciate it.

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The hike increased in difficulty after this stop. We seemed to be going completely uphill for the next duration of the hike. I was so out of breath, I couldn’t even catch it with the thin Colorado air. As we neared the end of the trail, we begin going down hill. Right before the trail ended, there was a lake. It was the perfect scenic spot to end our hike. I wish that I had a bathing suit. The water looked so inviting after the long, hot hike.

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