Tag Archives: boulder

Passion, Empowerment, and Delusional Optimism: 2017 Skirt Sports Ambassador Retreat

I struggle with crowds. Getting to know new people is hard. I’m shy and awkward, and it takes me a while to warm up to people before I can act like my true self. So even though I’d gone to last year’s Skirt Sports Ambassador Retreat and had a blast, I was still a little nervous (but a lot excited) about this year’s retreat. Would anyone I’d gotten to know be there? Would I stand around awkwardly while everyone else chatted and caught up, or would I be able to edge out of my comfort zone to make some new connections and strengthen old ones?

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Here I am, doing what I do best: standing around awkwardly and hoping to find a friend… (photo cred Jenn Allen, “the creative Skirt.”

Of course, I didn’t need to worry. Skirt Sports has compiled a group of kind, uplifting, and delightful women, and last weekend’s retreat, like last year’s, left me rejuvenated and inspired.

Friday night: Mixing (drinks) and Mingling

The retreat started Friday night with a cocktail party at the Skirt Sports store in Boulder. We shopped and hobnobbed, reconnecting and meeting new and new-to-us ambassadors. Noodles and Company provided our dinner (nom nom nom), and we ate, drank, and socialized for a bit before Skirt Sports founder and all-around badass Nicole DeBoom and Skirt Community Outreach Manager (and also badass) Noelle Wilson spoke to us about the company, the program, and the Skirt community in general. As Noelle put it, “This program is not about product. It’s about community.” That’s how I’ve felt at every Skirt event since I learned about the company more than two years ago.

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Noelle and Nicole. I want to be like them when I grow up. Photo cred Jenn Allen again. 

We also had a little fashion show previewing the fall products. I even volunteered to model. In front of people. Aren’t you proud of me?! I can’t show you photo proof, though, because the fall styles are still on the DL for a while, but trust me, I did it. Also trust me: there’s some fan-tas-tic stuff coming out this fall. I need to start saving money now. (She says as her husband sets up an appointment to get new windows…)

The night wrapped up with drinks, cake, and chatting. I shouldn’t have worried about my awkward self; I had a wonderful time catching up with my Skirt family. And LOOK AT THIS PICTURE:
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Do you see who’s sitting across from me? That’s Mirna Valerio of Fat Girl Running. She’s pretty much a celebrity (seriously, she’s been on CNN and Buzzfeed and a bunch of other places, and she has a book coming out in October), and she’s a Skirt ambassador, and WE HUNG OUT. The next day, we took a selfie. LOOK AT IT.
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But I’m getting ahead of myself. I’m just so excited. Since we’re here now, though, why not talk about Saturday, which was my favorite day of the retreat?

Saturday: Hiking, Learning, Inspiration

Saturday started with a hike at Eben G. Fine Park in Boulder. I haven’t spent much time in Boulder (because I’m a CSU Ram and Boulder was home of the enemy, the CU Buffs), but now that I live less than an hour from it, I need to go more — and specifically, back to Eben G. Fine. We had four options for hikes, and I took the longest one. Our group was the Snot Rockets.

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Wearing Skirts doesn’t mean we have to be boring and ladylike all the time. Photo cred Jenn, again. 

Our hike was about 1.25 miles up a hill, and while it was hot and steep at times, the views at the top were more than worth it.
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If you looked the other way, you could see all of Boulder, including the CU campus, but I didn’t take pictures of that, because who cares.

Nicole gave us a snot rocket clinic at the top.
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Maybe now I can blow them without getting snot on myself. Maybe.

Although I could have stayed at the top all day, we took a group shot and then headed back down for more fun.

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Fellow ambassador Melissa has mad selfie skills. 

After our hike, we had breakfast and listened to four wonderful speakers:

  • Maria Uspenski of The Tea Spot (who also gave us tea samples and those neat bottles a bunch of people are holding in the picture above). She spoke about how tea basically saved her life. Seriously.
  •  Mary Sutter, a Skirt ambassador who taught us how to social media…we’ll see if I improve. I promise I’m trying.
  • Mirna, the bomb.com, who talked about and read a chapter from her book, A Beautiful Work in Progress. It was just one chapter, but man, it’s good. I preordered it on Amazon. You should, too.
  • Dr. James Rouse of Skoop. I’ve used Skoop for quite a while, ever since they sent me some to review (read that here), but until recently, I thought they were just a company that made good protein powder. After I listened to Nicole DeBoom’s podcast with Dr. James, and especially after hearing him in person this weekend, I learned that it’s so much more. Dr. James is one inspirational fella, and for me, his talk was the most impactful part of the weekend. He talked about “delusional optimism,” and about how it is essential for life. He talked about love, and how love should drive all we do. He suggested that before we do anything — eat, speak, exercise, whatever — we should ask ourselves, “What would love do?” Although it’s a bit reminiscent of those once-trendy “WWJD” bracelets, I love this advice. I even changed my phone’s lock screen to an image (that I stole from Google) that says “What would love do?” so that every time I open my phone, I ask myself that question. I hope it will help make me a kinder, more loving, and more conscious person .
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Enraptured Skirts listening to Dr. James. Photo cred Jenn, again. 

Dr. James’s talk was a emotional but perfect end to the day, and we all headed our separate ways to prep for The Big Day on Sunday.

Sunday: The Race

Last Monday, my new physical therapist told me to take 7-10 days off running. Since Sunday and Monday are not 7-10 days apart, my options were 1) stay at home and pout, 2) be an idiot and run anyway, or 3) spectate this year’s 13er. I am trying to be less of an idiot, so I made a sign and parked myself about 3/4 of the way through the giant hill on the 13er course.

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My Western slope pal Kate stopped to take a selfie with me and my sign. She still got second in her age group. 

Once everyone made it past me, I spectated at the finish line. Hanging out at the finish of a race that I had once hoped to win, but couldn’t even run, was harder emotionally than I expected, but the vast amounts of positive energy there didn’t let me spend too much time feeling sorry for myself. Just like last year, I was amazed by the positivity and support that all these women exude. At most races, the last finisher comes in to a mostly-taken-down expo and maybe a handful of straggling spectators. At this race, the last spectator was greeted with screams, cheers, cowbells, and high-fives, plus a hug from Nicole DeBoom.

And that, my friends, is why I’m proud and honored to represent this company. It doesn’t matter if you’re fast or slow, injured or healthy, fat or skinny or somewhere in between, these people support you and encourage you and push you to go far beyond what you think is possible. In a world full of division, anger, negativity, and polarization, we could all use a little more of that “delusional optimism.”

Maybe we could all use a little more Skirt.

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Getting Inspired with Skirt Sports and Melody Fairchild

On Tuesday night, I had the opportunity to attend Skirt Sports’ monthly clinic, this one featuring Melody Fairchild. A few weeks ago, Nicole DeBoom, Skirt Sports’ founder, had contacted me and the other Sweat Pink ambassadors who are running the 13er, hoping that we could meet her and each other before the race. Boulder’s a bit of a haul for me, but since it’s summer, I was able to go. And I’m so glad I did.

First, some background on Melody Fairchild: As Boulder high schooler, Melody accomplished some incredible feats — the first girl in the U.S. to  break 10 minutes in the 2-mile, winning Footlocker twice (she still holds the record), and losing only one race in her high school career. From there, she went to the University of Oregon, made the Olympic trials twice, and had professional success, as well. Now, she runs for Newton, coaches kids and adults, and travels the country presenting motivational speeches. To learn more about Melody, visit her website, melodyfairchild.com (which is also where I stole this picture).

Melody National Masters 5k 2014 - Big Win!

Back to Tuesday night: I arrived a bit early, as I always tend to do, and milled around the Skirt Sports boutique, picking out lots of things I wanted and reminding myself that I’d already spent my gift card. Then, Melody walked in and we started talking. I’ll admit that I was nervous and a bit star-struck, but she was so nice and down-to-earth that soon my nervousness receded. We talked about blogging, running, and her recent trip to Africa, and as we talked, other women begin to filter in, until the place was bustling.

Soon, Nicole herded us all into the back room, where Melody would present. Melody started by talking about her career — how she got started, the dark places she went through and how she overcame them, and how all those experiences shaped who she is now and led her to help young runners, especially young women, who struggle with the same pressures and difficulties. Even though Melody is incredibly talented, everything she discussed was relateable to all of us in the audience. She talked, for example, about why running is so transformative: whether you’re a little girl running up a canyon (as she once was) or an elite athlete, running changes who you are and your perspective. As you run, your outside perspective changes, she said, and so does your inside perspective. I loved that.

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One of my favorite gems from her speech was when she talked about thinking positively and trying to keep ourselves from mentally dwelling in dark places. She said, “If you think something enough, it becomes a belief. So you’d better make darn sure your thoughts are uplifting.” That hit home for me  — too often, my thoughts about myself, my abilities, etc., are anything but uplifting. Do I really want to believe all those negatives? No, no I do not.

That’s the message that Melody tries to bring the young athletes she works with, especially talented young women. As she discussed the struggles these youth endure, I found myself nodding, because I see those traits in my students, too — the drive for perfection and the extreme disappointment when they fall short, the mindset that failure is permanent and defining rather than something to learn from. Melody’s perspective gave me some new ideas and tools to use when I talk to my students as well as for myself.

Melody’s talk left me inspired and, of course, jonesing for a run. Luckily, Skirt Sports clinics also include a short group run, so we headed out on a gorgeous Boulder trail for an easy 30-minute run. By the time we got out there, the sun was setting, and the near-90-degrees heat had eased up a bit, thank goodness. On the run, I chatted with a few other women and ate a lot of gnats.

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After the run, Nicole took me on a tour of the Skirt Sports offices, which left me even more inspired. I love that the company is so focused on empowering women, not just on selling their product, which is evidenced in the programs they create (like these clinics and Kick Start, a program for new runners) and even in their advertising. Nicole showed me their design room, where I got a “sneak peak” at upcoming seasons (spoiler alert: They’ve got some really cute stuff coming out in the fall and next spring!). Then, we toured the warehouse, so now I know exactly where to go when I steal stuff (just kidding).

Skirt Sports founder Nicole DeBoom in the warehouse
Skirt Sports founder Nicole DeBoom in the warehouse

We ended the tour in Nicole’s office, where she still has her original business plan — a piece of yellow paper on which she did her first brainstorming for the company. Seeing how she’s taken her company from that one post-run brainstorm session into the amazing business it is today was pretty awesome.

I finally dragged myself away at 8:30, which meant I didn’t get home until 10:00 — a late Tuesday night for this grandma — but it was so worth it. I came home feeling inspired and empowered and wanting to spread that feeling. If you want in on some of this inspiring Skirt Sports action, it’s not too late to sign up for the 13er (or 10k, or 5k), which is next Sunday, June 14! Use the discount code SP20 for 20% on the real OR virtual races! (Full disclosure:  If you register and put my name as your referrer, I get a gift card. So… please do it). And if you’re local, definitely check out the Skirt Sports clinics on the first Tuesday of each month!

Image courtesy of Skirt Sports
Image courtesy of Skirt Sports

Who is inspiring you lately?

Are you running the 13er? If so, let’s meet up!