Who is Ted?

I'm the father of two beautiful daughters and an amazing wife. For fun, I enjoy the long hours of seemingly endless suffering that endurance sports (mostly running, cycling and triathlon)provide. During my "down time" I'm an avid beer snob and self-described gourmet chef (in other words I like to burn things on a stove or grill).

Sunday, January 27, 2013

The week in training . . . January 20, 2013

The Pueblo Reservoir
The weather gods have continued to be generous in their allotment of sunshine for Southern Colorado.  There have been some absolutely gorgeous days and while I haven't made it out as much as I'd like, it has been nice to be able to run without worrying about tights, mittens, hats, base-layers, etc. My training this week began with the second half of back to back longer runs (13 miles each) and then finished on Saturday with my longest training run to date.  Here's the rundown for the week:
Sunday, January 20th:  The day before I'd done 13 miles and it was a bit of a slog.  I just didn't feel as good as I'd hoped and I finished the run feeling beat up, tired, and sore.  I'm not sure why this happens, but I may have to look at moving back my Wednesday strength training to Tuesdays to see if that helps me get a little more recovery.  Sunday morning it was time to set out for the other 13 miles for the weekend (this is a modification that I'm going to be incorporating into my training schedule.  I will be alternating one long run of 20+ miles with slightly shorter back to back runs on opposite weekends).  This time I decided to incorporate more of the 5 min run:1 min walk practice, and it definitely made a difference.  Even more surprising, my overall time didn't change that significantly.  On Saturday, I ran 13.3 miles in 2:23:36.  On Sunday, I ran 13.1 miles in 2:29:06.  That's less than a six minute difference, and I walked at least 20 minutes or so on Sunday.  I also felt much better after the run today than I did the day before, and recovery was much easier.  Go figure?
Monday, January 21st:  Taking advantage of a day off, I decided to get to the pool this morning.  I haven't been in the water much lately so it was fun to go and get a swim workout in again.  I had no expectations really so I swam for just under an hour and managed about 2000 yds.  By the end of the day, I was pretty spent, so I looked forward to a day off on Tuesday.
Wednesday, January 23rd:  Back at the YMCA for an early a.m. workout.  I worked on weights first followed by an incline treadmill workout.  When I got home, I discovered my daughter was sick, so I wound up staying home for the day.  It wound up being a good thing, as I felt really tired myself.  In fact, I decided to take an extra day off on Thursday so that I would have more time to recover for Saturday.
The Reservoir Trail runs just to the right of this road.

Saturday, January 26th:  I didn't feel terrible today, but as anxious as I was to run, I didn't feel 100% either.  I can't really put my finger on it, but I still felt a little spent from the week, despite resting on three of those days.  The only thing that I can surmise is that my Monday and Wednesday workouts (swimming, weights/treadmill) were essentially strength training workouts, and perhaps I'm not quite used to doing that much strength training since I've mostly been about the aerobic lately.  Nevertheless I set out for my long run which I'd planned to be 24 miles and I felt pretty good after a couple of miles.  I decided to employ the 5:1 ratio right from the start today in hopes that it would help me to manage the distance a little more effectively.  I chose the Pueblo Reservoir for my route as it has a nice combination of uphill/downhill, and there are a fair number of dirt roads and trails to run on as well.  That said, I have go to get up into the mountains to do some run/ hiking so that may be the key workout for next weekend. 
I felt very strong and comfortable through the first half of the run and I kept a solid pace and was managing to cover about five to six miles every hour.  This is the pace that I hope to keep for the CPTR in May as it will allow me to complete the race in around 10 hours which will be well below the cutoff.  The second half of the run was much tougher however.  My legs felt very heavy and tired, and my heart rate began to rise above 145, even when I was running downhill.  I continued to employ the 5:1 when I could, although it was difficult at times when I encountered steep but short hills which would cause my heart rate to quickly jump above threshold.  I've seen great progress with the MAF method of training and in a couple of weeks I'll do my third MAF test (Starting next month, I'll likely begin to add some speed work back into my training which I'll talk more about later).  My pace per mile also began to drop from about 10:00-11:00 minute miles to 11:00-12:30 per mile by the end of the run.  And as an added bonus, I'd miscalculated my route a little bit, so the return trip wound up being a bit further than I'd planned.  By the time I reached the car, I'd covered 25 miles.  By 8:30 last night, I was completely spent and I feared that the exhaustion, along with the aches and pains would really inhibit my training for the next week.  This morning however, I'm actually quite pleased with my recovery and while I'm still a little sore,   I'm already thinking about a spin on the bike trainer or a short run later today.  We'll see if I continue to feel as good.
Plenty of single-track . . . just watch out for Mountain Bikers!
 So the week in review looks like this:
Swimming: 2000 yds
Cycling: 0
Running: 40.21 miles
Weights: About 15-20 minutes
Beers Sampled:
Compass IPA (Bristol Brewing)
Tecate (Montezuma)
Craft Lager (Upslope Brewing)*
*The can says this one's made with snow melt!

Monday, January 21, 2013

Racing in 2013 (2013 Tentative Event Schedule)

Last year it wasn't until  May when I posted my schedule of races for 2012. Looks like I've got a head start on that this year.  Currently, I'm registered for three events in the coming year.  Selecting the right combination of races is always fun, especially since there are so many different races from which to choose nowadays.   A variety of factors come into play and selecting one race can easily negate another due to cost, schedule, etc.  Last year, I believe I spent close to $1000 on races and probably a little more when you consider all of the travel, meals, lodging, etc.  This year, I'm hoping to lower the cost of my race schedule events a bit.  I'm also looking at a little more variety in 2013.  Instead of the calendar being dominated by triathlons in 2013, I'm going to mix it up with a few other events.  Ultras, Century Rides, and maybe even a long distance swim may wind up on the list.  I've broken down my plans into three categories as follows:
Definitely: These are races that I will definitely do this year.  They're ones that I've already registered for in most cases.
Maybe:  These are races that I'd like to do, but I haven't registered yet.  Chances are that 1 or 2 will make it on my schedule, but not all of them.
Doubtful:  These are races that I probably won't do in 2013.  Most likely there is a restriction because of the date or the cost for the events.  If circumstances change, I may add them, but it isn't very likely.
So now that we know the criteria, here's the list.

Here are the races that I will Definitely be doing in 2013:

The Collegiate Peaks 50 Mile Trail Run (May 4, 2013): This is going  for to be my first event this year and I'm very excited about it.  This is also my biggest challenge for the year (Considering it my running "A" race for 2013).  I've been running quite a bit on the weekends, and I've rediscovered how much I enjoy running again.  Currently I'm alternating between a weekend long run of 20+ miles, and back to back long runs (this weekend was back to back 13 milers)  in preparation.  We are also taking a trip to Buena Vista in March where I hope to do one loop of the two-loop course.

The Bolder Boulder (Memorial Day, 2013):  I haven't registered yet, and I probably won't until later this spring.  That said I've done this race nearly every year since 1986 (I missed '95-97 when I was out of the country).  My only expectation for this race is to go and have a good time at the event.  The Bolder Boulder is the kickoff to summer!

The Mountain Top Cycling Club Experience Ride (June 22, 2013):  This one got added to the calendar today.  106 mile ride starting in nearby Woodland Park, CO.  T-shirt, BBQ lunch, massages, on course support, all for $30.   I've been wanting to do a century ride for at least a year now, and the cost of this one made it too good to pass up.  This also fits well with one of my summer goals which is to do a lot more cycling and make some big improvements over the past years.  Similar to the running that I'm doing now, I think the best way to do that for the long term is to add volume.

Ironman 70.3 Austin (October 27, 2013):  Austin, TX will be my first WTC event, and my first destination triathlon.  We are taking the whole family down to Texas in the late fall for this one.  I'm looking forward to it, and it has pushed my triathlon season back a little bit further this year.  That's okay as it will give me more time to train.  Austin is also my "A" race for triathlons this year.  For the last two years, my major race has been at the end of July.  I'll look forward to having some extra time this summer and fall to swim, bike, and run in preparation.

Georgetown to Idaho Springs Half-Marathon (August 10, 2013):  Just added this one.  There was a one day registration sale of $15.00.  I do love a bargain!  My wife has done this one the last couple of years, and I always feel a little tempted to join in.  Easy course, nice post-race treats, etc.

Maybe I will do one or two of the following events this year:

Open Water Swim Boulder Reservoir (August 31, 2013): I wanted to do this last year, but I was just too busy with work.  This race falls on labor day weekend, so it's always a bit of a challenge to do.  If we happen to be in the Denver/ Greeley area however, then there's a strong chance I will do this one.  At $30.00, it's also easier on the pocket book.

Harvest Moon Triathlon (September 8, 2013):  An even more likely option than above is this triathlon in Aurora in early September.  It's a long course triathlon for about $160, which is still a pretty good deal (consider that Austin is costing upwards of $300).  This also fits well with the triathlon season starting a little later.  As it currently stands, I probably will only do 2 triathlons this year which means that doing two 70.3 distances would be my preference.  In addition, I've never raced out at Aurora before, but I here great things about the venue, and this event in particular.

Rock Canyon 1/2 Marathon: This one seems to have a way of getting onto my calendar each year.  It's local, cheap, and a race that's always more about getting out there and doing it.

Rattlesnake Triathlon (Crazy Double) (August 17-18, 2013):  If the Harvest Moon Triathlon doesn't make it onto the list, then this might.  I would like to do the double event consisting of an Olympic distance on Saturday, and a Sprint on Sunday.  A good amount of triathlon spread over two days.

Doubtful:  These are the races that are probably  not in the cards for 2013 for a variety of reasons.  I'll keep them on the list for next year, and who knows, one might sneak in to the schedule anyway:

The Spring Runoff (March 3, 2013): Although I've done this race for 10 years in a row, I'm thinking about passing this year.  The main reason not to run is that it just doesn't fit in with my schedule this time around.  I still might do it, if I have longer runs planned.  Have to wait and see though.  Plus  I'd love to put the $30 towards another one of the races listed above. I may think about volunteering for this one.

Ordinary Mortals Triathlon (May 10th, 2013):  I was sorry not to do this one this year.  I'd really hoped to do it again as it's a great way to start off the season.  Unfortunately, it's the week after the CPTR, and I just don't think I will be recovered enough to jump into a triathlon.  Instead, I may wind up volunteering for this one.  I joined the Soco Triathlon Club this year, and since it's a club sponsored event, it might be a way to get involved.

The Greeley Triathlon (June 9, 2013):  Sigh.  This is another event that I'd enjoy doing and is the only triathlon that I've done twice.  It's incredibly close to my parents house, and not too expensive, but I just don't think it's going to be in the cards this time around.  Of all the doubtful races, this one could wind up being one that I do, but I'll have to wait and see.

Boulder Ironman 70.3 (August 4, 2013):  Although this event would slide nicely into my schedule in early August, and it's one that I've considered doing for the last couple of years, I think I will be limited to just one WTC event this year simply because of the cost.  I just can't see shelling out another $250-300 for this event when I can wait four weeks and do one of a similar distance for half that amount.  I hear nothing but good things about how well these races are organized, and Boulder would be fun just for the fact that there are so many triathletes in that town.  If I win the lottery or get a summer job, then the chances of doing this event increase, but I may look ahead to 2014 for this one.

As always, circumstances can change.  There may be new events that come along and are intriguing or other circumstances my arise that result in an alteration to the schedule.  At any rate, there are some cool things already in the works for 2013!

Saturday, January 19, 2013

The week in training . . . January 13, 2013

It has been cold this month.  I would estimate that of my last 5-6 runs, the weather has been below 30 degrees each time and below 20 degrees on at least a couple of occasions.    In fact, the school was on a 2 hour delayed start on Monday and Tuesday this week due to the extreme cold weather.  That definitely puts a damper on exercising outside.
Finally, on Wednesday the weather broke, and we've been treated to four consecutive days of 50 degrees or better.  Today in fact the weather is supposed to break into the 60's.  Great day for a run!
Sunday, January 13th, 2013: After my 21 mile run the day before, I was seriously debating whether or not to even try and get a run done.  I finally decided that I would at least try to get about 5 miles in.  As it turned out, I wound up doing 7 miles and felt surprisingly good from the day before.  I went back to doing a 5 to 1 run/ walk ratio, but it was a great recovery run overall.  It was also nice to get those miles "in the bank" so to speak with the week under way.
Wednesday, January 16, 2013:  Despite my best intentions to work out on either Monday or Tuesday, it just wasn't in the cards.  I did just a touch of core work on Monday a.m., but on Wednesday, I got out of bed  at 5:00 and made it to the YMCA for an early morning workout.  Like the week before, I split the workout into two sections.  The first 15 minutes I did some quick sets in the weight room including squats, calf raises, pull-ups, shoulder press, and sit-ups on the reclined bench.  After that, I moved over to the treadmill and did a slow mixture of running and walking for 30 minutes.  The entire treadmill workout was done on a grade between 4 and 9%, and although my pace was slow, it was a challenging workout.  In fact, the workout was really a good one.  I came back home feeling invigorated and strong from the leg work.
Thursday, January 17, 2013:  While the girls were at Tae Kwon Do, I took advantage of the afternoon time to do a quick trainer ride.  I pushed the cadence a little more today, and once again I felt remarkably good on the bike.  I'm excited to see how the training from this winter and spring pays off on the bike this summer, and I'm expecting some good gains.  I wound up riding for about 40 minutes.
The Collegiate Peaks
Saturday, January 19, 2013:  A little before noon, I set out from the house for a 13 mile run.  It was wonderful to go for a run with shorts and a long sleeve shirt instead of jacket, hat, mittens, etc.  I may have been a little overdressed in fact.  The first ten miles of this run were great, but the last three miles were a big challenge.  I got back to the house feeling much more sore than I'd expected.  I wonder if the mid-week strength workouts had something to do with that.  I'm scheduled to head out tomorrow for another 13 miles, but I'll do a couple of things differently.  First, I'll wear some compression shorts as this seems to help my muscles on the longer runs.  Second, I plan to take water this time and do a better job hydrating.  Lastly, I will return to doing a 5 to 1 ratio for the run.  I'm hoping that these things together will make for a more successful run.  At any rate, I'll definitely get a feel for running on tired and sore legs.
The summary for the week looks like this:
  • Miles run: 22.29
  • Miles biked: 10.7 (estimated)
  • Weight training and other workouts (about 20 minutes)
  • Beers sampled (in order of preference)
    • Stranger Pale Ale (Left Hand)
    • Compass IPA (Bristol Brewing)
    • Train Wreck Ale (Home/ Bridgette Brewing)
    • AP Porter (Home/ Bridgette Brewing)
Thanks for reading!

Saturday, January 12, 2013

The Week in Training . . . January 6, 2013

Two loop course on the southwest side of Pueblo

After a "down" week and a successful MAF test on Sudnay to start off this week, it was back to work and back to a regular week of training.  This included a "long run" today which wound up being about 21 miles.  Here's the rundown:

Sunday January 6, 2013: As mentioned this was the updated MAF test for the month.  The total run wound up being about eight and a half miles.  The test portion of the run proved successful.  My average pace per mile has dropped by about 30 to 40 seconds from a month ago.  I'm looking forward to the next test in early February.  8.6 miles; 1hr 21m 42s.

Monday January 7, 2013:  A light day after the MAF test but it was also the first day back at work.  I got up a few minutes early and did 20 minutes of light strength and core training.

Wednesday January 9, 2013:  I got up extra early this morning and headed over to the YMCA, arriving at 5 am when it opened.  I split the workout into 30 minutes on the stair machine and 10 minutes on the treadmill at an 11% grade (walking).  The purpose of this workout was really more about getting up and to the YMCA today, so I can't say that it was especially challenging.  I will continue going for a while (alternating with swimming) so that I can get used to some early a.m. workouts over the course of the winter.    I'm also considering some additional strength training for my legs during the next few weeks which I may incorporate into the a.m. workouts at the Y.

Thursday January 10, 2013:  I was up early again today and managed a 45 minute ride on the trainer before getting ready for work.  I was able to move the resistance up a gear or two and while the cycling is taking a back seat  to running right now, I still think that I'll have a stronger cycling base compared to a year ago. I plan to slowly raise the resistance on the trainer throughout the winter so that when summer does start, I'll be much more used to pushing a bigger gear at a higher cadence.  Plus with a fall triathlon as my other "A" event this year, I'll be able to really concentrate on cycling throughout the summer.  I'm looking forward to notching a couple of 100+ rides during June, July, and August.

Saturday January 12, 2013:  The cold weather started coming on Thursday evening and included an extremely windy day on Friday.  On Saturday morning, the wind was light, but temperatures were in the low teens as I set out for my long run.  And the little wind we had was quite cold.  I was really looking forward to the run however, and the opportunity to try a few of the items that I'd gotten for Christmas including a new pair of Brooks shorts, Injinji socks, and a Hydrapak.  I selected a two loop course out near the Pueblo Reservoir just so I could switch up some of my running.  The trails near the house are great, but I've been running out that way quite a bit so it was nice to do something a little different today.   This course also included a good uphill or two and a bathroom stop near the reservoir.  The shorts and socks were great.  The shorts have a "boxer" style liner and the socks proved to be very comfortable and did a great job of preventing any hot spots or blistering.  Unfortunately, I forgot that the hose on my  Hydrapak would not work very well in the cold weather.  After 30 minutes, the water in the tube was frozen solid which meant no water for the run.  Still, I managed 21 miles after 4 hours and 8 minutes.  I'm glad that I didn't have to run further today, but I do believe that I could have slogged it out for another hour or so.  At this point, a marathon would definitely be within reach.

All in all a good week of training.  I am now less than four months from the CPTR and I know that if I can keep logging a long run each week, I'll be ready.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Maffetone #2

The last day of Winter Break saw temperatures approaching the fifties and so it seemed like an ideal time to conduct my second official MAF test.  MAF is an abbreviation for Maffetone, the training method developed by Phil Maffetone.  The goal of this training is to improve your metabolic efficiency by teaching your body to burn fat as fuel more efficiently.  Aerobically, you are basically building a "bigger engine," and over time, this should pay off by increasing your endurance at a given pace, at a certain heart rate.  During the month of December, I began building my training volume in preparation for the Collegiate Peaks 50 mile trail run this coming May.  My running mileage has increased significantly over the last several weeks including a long run just over a week ago of 20 miles.   This graph shows the increase during the last 6 weeks of the year.
 In fact, during the month of December, my total running mileage reached 117 miles, which is easily the most I've done in the last 3 years of training.    During that time, I've continued to train at or below my aerobic threshold.  I was very anxious to get out and run today to see how all of this Maffetone business was working.  As I mentioned in the first posting about the MAF test, a key is having some consistency in the testing conditions.  Here are some of the things that I tried to keep the same for each of the tests so far:
  1. The previous day's workout was similar (riding the trainer) as the previous day.
  2. The test was conducted under similar weather conditions (between 45-55 degrees).
  3. The test was conducted at about the same time of day (between 12:45 and 2:15 p.m.).
  4. The test was conducted on the same course (a high school track) with an equal amount of warmup prior to beginning (2 miles).
  5. The same equipment and clothing were used to conduct the test.  
  6. The target aerobic threshold zone remained the same for both tests (between 139-144 bpm).
 Having kept those variables as consistent as possible, I was able to record the following data today. The graph below compares the data from the two separate tests:

As you can see from the chart, the results are quite significant:
  • My initial mile was 23 seconds faster this time and my last mile was a good 39 seconds faster than before.  
  • The level at which I was able to maintain a certain pace was also significant.  During the first test, my pace dropped by a total of 48 seconds between the first and last mile.  This time the difference was only 32 seconds.  This suggests that I'm not only able to run each mile faster, but I'm able to sustain a faster pace for a longer period of time.  
  • During MAF #1, my pace dropped by 31 seconds after the first mile.  During MAF #2, the decrease was only 15 seconds (or about half).  
  • On average, my pace per mile was 35 seconds faster than during the first test.
  • All of my mile splits were below 9:00 minutes this time.  During the last test only one of my splits (the first) was below the 9:00 minute mark.

I will continue to train this way during the next 4 weeks and I'll look to do another test in early February (again I'll be hoping for a day of good weather!).  After that I'm going to introduce a minimal amount of speed work including intervals and tempo runs.  I will still plan on doing a MAF test in early March as well and it will be interesting to see the impact, if any, that this has on my overall performance.
Here is a final summary of the two tests:

MAF #1 (12/8/2012)
MAF #2 (1/6/2013)
Miles run
8.42 miles
8.60 miles
Total Time
Maffetone Test Mileage
5 miles
5 miles
Maffetone Test Time
Average Heart Rate
Average Mean Pace
Median Pace (Mile 3)
Median HR (Mile 3)
Time of Day
1:30 p.m.
12:58 p.m.
51 degrees
45 degrees
Clothing/ Equipment
Brooks Shorts, T-shirt, Mizuno Wave Precision 12, Tifosi Sunglasses, Road ID
Brooks Shorts, T-shirt, Mizuno Wave Precision 12, Tifosi Sunglasses, Road ID

Saturday, January 5, 2013

2012 Favorite Beers Countdown

Time for a beer post again!   Although I didn't keep track, I would guess that I sampled more than 200 different kinds of beer over the past year.  The beers on this list are exclusively Colorado brews. Since I live in Colorado, I'll acknowledge an immediate bias, and yes it is great to live in a state with some of the highest quality craft brewing in the world (Note to people in Oregon: The fact that I like Colorado Beers doesn't mean that beer from Oregon isn't any good, it is).  To create this list, I simply thought back to all of the beer that I've enjoyed during the last 12 months to identify those that were most memorable and left a lasting impression.  From that list, I ranked them based on my own personal preference.  What you won't find in this list is an intricate analysis of the head, color, aroma, and flavors for each of these beers. This is not the Beer Advocate and while I appreciate a thorough evaluation of these elements, it isn't the purpose of this list.  In addition to the taste, I would guess that some of the beers on this list probably made it on here in part because I associate them with a fond memory from this past year.  

#10 Wall Breaker E.P.A. (Bridgette Brewing, Homebrew)~ Lest you think that this beer was anywhere near as good as the others on this list, let me assure you that it wasn't.  That said, this was the first year that I made my own beer using the Mr. Beer Kit.  Wall Breaker was named in honor of my third marathon attempt (also my third brewing attempt), and it was a recipe that I developed myself.  For a first foray into boiling and dry hopping, I was quite pleased with how this one turned out.

Chunkin Pumpkin poster
#9 Chunkin Pumpkin (Crabtree Brewing)~ I'm not a big fan of "fruity" beers and I'm not really all that crazy about pumpkins in general.  I mean, I'll eat a slice of pumpkin pie if you give me one, but I'd prefer a Cherry, Peach, or Apple pie any day.  That said, I was impressed with this beer.  I had the opportunity to sample it at their new taproom in Greeley,which used to be an 80's nightclub where I spent many a "teen" night.  In fact the last time I was in that building, I was probably swilling some Old Milwaukee Light beforehand.  See, sometimes getting older is okay.

#8 Deviant Dale’s (Oskar Blues Brewery)~ This beer would probably be higher on my list if I'd had a chance to drink more of it.  It was one of the beers I enjoyed at this year's Foam Fest.  In the last 12 months, I've acquired a taste for "hoppy" beers and Dale's doesn't disappoint.  Currently, this brew is selling for about $14.00 for four at our local liquor store.  Even if it is a 16 oz. tall boy, that's a bit more than I can afford for an everyday drinking beer.
#7 Ranger IPA (New Belgium)~ You either like this beer or you don't.  It is very strong with the hops and the bitterness is something else.  This beer is my "comeback player of the year" beer.  The first time I tried it was back in 2011 and I thought it was awful.  But like I said, I've acquired a taste for hoppiness, and so I've learned to enjoy this one much more.

#6 90 Shilling (O'Dell)~  This is a classic Colorado beer, and the flagship beer for O'Dell. It's similar to New Belgium's "Fat Tire," and I've come to enjoy it as an everyday type of beer.  O'Dell doesn't get the same amount of attention that New Belgium does, but they continue to put out excellent beers from their Northern Colorado Brewery.  In fact, I haven't really had anything from O'Dell that I didn't wind up enjoying.  If I were to give an award for best Colorado Brewery, they would be a contender.

Shamrock Logo
#5 Winona's Big Brown Beer (Shamrock Brewing)~ Here's one for the home team.  Apart from the obvious bonus points for referencing Primus in the beer name, Shamrock has come on strong during the last half of 2012 with a variety of beers to complement their standard rotation.  Maybe it's just the timing, but I love walking into this place and sampling some great beers.  Matter of fact, I'm going to try and convince my wife that we should go there tonight for some beers and dinner.
#4 Double Pilsner (O'Dell)~ See, I told you that O'Dell brewing was a strong contender as a brewery.  This beer was on the short list for number 1 this year.  It has great balance and drinkability.  I enjoy pilsners because they offer something different than the standard ale.  Hard to go wrong with this beer.

#3 Zora's Oatmeal Pale (Strange Brewing)~ Originally at #2 on my list, this was the most unique beer that I sampled this year (also at Foam Fest).  In fact it was my favorite hand's down at the Fest back in August; very different from what was being poured by the other breweries present.  That said, this is definitely a one pint type of drink.  At any rate, it is no longer in production, so you'll just have to take my word for it.
#2 Nitro Milk Stout (Left Hand)~ Full-bodied with a rich creamy texture, this beer is the "go to" stout that we drink (Shamrock's 3rd Street Coffee Stout get's a mention here).  Last September we had a "brewing" party to produce some porter and while we were at it, we did a blind sampling of 5 beers.  The Milk Stout was the runaway favorite, even beating Guiness, which tasted thin and a bit smoky.  

#1 Shift Pale Lager (New Belgium)~  This was the beer that I cracked open after completing the HITS Triathlon in Sterling this summer.  The race was great, but also scorching hot, and after the two hour drive back to my parent's house, the crisp, slightly hopped beer was an ideal way to reward myself after the long race.  Shift also comes in really big cans which means there's more to drink!  And even though they ran out of this at the finish line of the Horsetooth Half-Marathon, this is my post-triathlon/ race beer.