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).
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.
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.
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).
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!
Who is inspiring you lately?
Are you running the 13er? If so, let’s meet up!