I turned 32 a few weeks ago. Thirty-two is not a milestone, and there’s no way I could “run my age” like I did two years ago, since I’m still fighting injury, but still, it was my birthday. I wanted to celebrate in my favorite way: hanging out in the mountains. We’d loaned our camping gear to some relatives, so camping was out, but we decided to drive up Poudre Canyon and go for a nice day hike. We have a book called The Best Front Range Hikes, so we consulted the Fort Collins section and chose Big South.
We left home a little later than we’d planned, as always tends to happen, and arrived at the trailhead around 9 a.m. The trailhead is farther up the canyon (48.7 miles, according to my book) than some more popular hikes, but as I told Jordan, it was my birthday and I wanted to see some quakie trees. The book claimed that the hike was within an hour of Fort Collins, but it was more like 90 minutes — not helped by road construction in the canyon. No matter, though — the skies were blue and storms weren’t in sight, so our later start didn’t matter.
The Big South trail is just before the Big South campground, which looks like a lovely place to camp, right by the river. The trailhead is on one side of a bridge, and the campground on the other, so when you see the bridge, you’ll know you’re there. We went to the campground first to use the restroom, then started our hike.
The trail is lovely; it goes along and above the Poudre River, which was flowing fast and full when we were there. Since it’s right beside the river, a wide variety of plants grow alongside the trail — shrubs and bushes, wildflowers, and wild raspberries, which made a tasty but not very filling snack.
Big South is a nice, easy hike, for the most part — gently rolling without any major climbs. Parts would be great for trail running, too, but some places were much too rocky, at least for a trail running novice like me, and would have to be hiked.
A number of backcountry campsites dotted the trail — I think we saw 10 — so if you’re a backpacker, this might make a fun trip — not too challenging, but with lovely river views.
We took our sweet time, enjoying the coolness of the woods, the roar of the river, and the beauty of the vegetation around us. Big South seemed like a place we would see lots of wildlife, but we saw only ground squirrels and birds. And butterflies, like this one who perched on my hand for a few minutes.
We hiked out for about 3.5 miles before turning around. My book said that the trail continues for 7 miles before dead-ending at a washout, but that the best views were in the first three miles, so we turned around and meandered back down, stopping for lunch beside the river. On the way down, we finally saw our first people of the day. We ended with seeing only four people, so the lack of a crowd was definitely a plus!
Big South made for a lovely little birthday hike. I don’t know that I necessarily agree that it’s one of the “Best Hikes of the Front Range,” but it was pretty, easy, and quiet, which all make it a winning hike. If you’re in Poudre Canyon and want to get away from the crowds at Greyrock and Hewlett Gulch, consider giving Big South a try!
If you were writing a “Best Hikes of Where You Live” book, what would you include?
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?
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 .
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.
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.”
Last week, I recapped all the Skirt Sports fun of Friday and Saturday of the ambassador retreat, but Sunday was, by far, my favorite day of the weekend. I mentioned once or twice on the blog that I was running the 13er, but since my training had been minimal, I’d decided to run it as a training run: nice and easy, soaking in the scenery and the camaraderie with my newfound buddies.
Early on, everything went according to plan. The race started at 6:30 (sounds early, but in June, I’ll take an early start any day), so I rolled out of bed at 5, ate a granola bar (one I’d never tried before, breaking the “nothing new on race day” rule because, training run), slathered on sunscreen, woke up Jordan, and drove the 20 minutes from our hotel to the start. Once there, I wandered around, chatted with some of the ambassadors I’d met earlier in the weekend, and of course, stood in the porta-john line.
Before long, I heard the “line up” announcement, so I filtered in somewhere in the mid-pack, trying to ensure that I’d treat this as a training run and not push, especially at the beginning. Soon, the gun went off, 125 watches beeped, and we started a long, easy downhill run. I kept my pace easy, but I realized that I’d taken this mid-pack thing too seriously and I couldn’t run comfortably, so I did a little bob-and-weave until the crowd thinned out and I settled in to my long-run pace — a little faster because of the downhill.
As I took in the beautiful scenery, I realized that I could see the lead bike, so I counted women in front of me. I was in sixth. I told myself to calm down. “This is not a race for you, self. You’re not in race shape. Start pushing it now, and you’ll die by the hill at mile 7.” Believe it or not, I actually listened to my own advice. I know. Maybe I’m learning something in my old age. So I kept cruising at a nice, easy pace, enjoying the view and the coolness of the morning, even taking a couple of pictures along the way.
On the first hill, a pretty small one (even for flatlander me), I passed one woman and told myself not to think about how I was now in fifth. I kept running and kept smiling, waving to the cyclists passing on the other side of the road and telling myself to take it easy. I stopped and filled my handheld at the last aid station before the infamous hill, and then I started up.
This hill is nicknamed “The Bad Relationship,” because it hurts, but you’ve “just gotta get over it.” It’s not very steep, but it’s long, and by the time you get to the steep part (the last quarter mile or so), your legs are getting pretty tired. Last year, I think I walked part of the hill, so my goal this year was to just keep running. “Eat that elephant,” I told myself. “One bite… er, step… at a time.” And so I did. Up, up, up, past the fourth-place woman, up.
Just after the crest of the hill, I also passed the third-place woman, but 0.1 miles later, I had to pull off and hit the porta-john. I reminded myself that it didn’t matter, because I’m not racing. A mile or so after the hill, the course heads into some trails at an open space for a few miles, and at the entrance to the park was an aid station manned by high schoolers. When I turned down their water (my handheld was still half full), one girl said, “Oh, please take some water!” Since I wasn’t racing, I said, “I didn’t know it meant that much to you!” and I turned around, jogged back, and chugged her water. The kids all cheered, and it made us all laugh. That moment was well worth the few seconds I lost off my final (non-racing, remember?) time.
At around mile 10, the race has a short out-and-back. I saw the lead bike and the lead woman coming back past me. I saw the second-place woman coming back past me. And then I reached the turnaround without seeing anyone else. Somehow, I’d gotten into third place! “Okay, self,” I thought. “You’ve got three miles left. You’re in third place. Let’s keep it that way.” I let myself pick it up, then, finding speed that I didn’t know my legs had after so many months of slow running. I cruised down the long, final downhill, watching the second-place woman and hoping I could catch her. I didn’t — she ended up finishing six seconds ahead of me — but I finished third, in 1:42:40. That’s more than ten minutes slower than my PR (from 2012, the last time I actually raced a half), but third place in a race in which I expected to be mid-pack was pretty darn exciting!
When I crossed the line, Skirt Sports founder (and my hero) Nicole Deboom greeted me with “Are you freakin’ kidding me?!” and a big hug — despite my sweaty grossness– and then Nicole and the top three finishers posed for a picture.
Here’s an example of why I admire Nicole so much: she greeted almost every single person who crossed the line in the same way, from the first three to the Running Start participants to the final finisher. Take a minute to scroll through the pictures from the race, and you’ll see Nicole hugging, high-fiving, and celebrating each person. I know I said this in my last post, but this is why I love Skirt Sports so much. Yeah, the clothes are amazing (and they have pockets!). But the community? That’s what makes this company amazing.
Anyway, back to me. #narcissism. After I finished, I drank some chocolate milk and got my award (a champagne flute, a Skirt visor, and a box of Love Grown Power O’s. Not sure which part of the prize I liked best). I’ll admit it, I kiiiinda want to pick a race and actually train for and race it. That podium is addicting.
J had to take off to be on time for a meeting in Breckenridge, but I stayed and cheered for the rest of the race, alternating standing at the finish line and chatting with my new friends. And dancing in the sprinklers.
I’m ashamed to admit this, but I’d never stayed until the very end of a race before. Now, I will whenever I can. Seeing those final finishers come in was inspiring. They put so much time and effort into their training and their race. They deserve to be cheered on just as loudly as the pointy-enders, and, as I learned from this article, that doesn’t always happen.
This race was a perfect wrap-up to a weekend of inspiration, camaraderie, empowerment, and celebration. I’m prouder than ever to represent this company, and I’m already excited for next year!
Have you run any races lately? Tell me about them!
Any recommendations for a goal race later this summer/fall? I’m thinking a half or 10k.
P.S. If you want in on the Skirt Sports love, use my 20% discount code: RRR20.
Last weekend was one of the best I’ve had in recent history. I’d been looking forward to the Skirt Sports ambassador retreat and 13er (13er, not half marathon, because “it’s not half of anything”) for weeks, even though I wasn’t sure if I could make it to all the events due to house-hunting. I made it, though, and I came away refreshed, inspired, and proud that I get to represent this incredible company.
Quick disclaimer before I get into my recap: As a Skirt Sports ambassador, I get some free and discounted product, but I’m not compensated for posting about them. I’m not one of those bloggers that have 85 ambassadorships and rep a ton of companies; I’m a Skirt ambassador because I love the product and I believe in this company and everything it stands for — namely, empowering women and embracing those of all shapes, sizes, and abilities. All opinions here are truly my own.
My weekend kicked off early. Jordan had a meeting in Loveland on Friday morning, so we went up Thursday afternoon to house hunt; we stayed with a friend in Fort Collins that night. Since Logan lives in Fort Collins and is my kind of crazy, she and I decided that a 4-a.m. wake-up call and a sunrise hike/run at Horsetooth Rock would be a great idea. We were correct.
Friday afternoon, we did some more (unsuccessful) house shopping, and then I headed up to Boulder and the new Skirt Sports store (on Pearl Street; if you’re ever in the area, hit it up!) for an ambassador cocktail reception. I have to admit that I was a bit nervous at first, as I’m a socially awkward penguin (as J says) and I didn’t really know anyone there — at least not in real life.
Of course, I had no reason to worry, because Skirt Sisters are as cool in person as online, and soon I was at ease. The tasty food (provided by Mad Greens and Kim and Jake’s Cakes) and beverages (provided by Ska Brewing and Bhakti Chai) also didn’t hurt.
After some time to shop, eat, and chat, Skirt Sports owner Nicole Deboom spoke. I first met Nicole (and fell in love with Skirt) before last year’s 13er; you can read about that here. The more I read Nicole’s articles, listen to her podcast, and spend time around her, the more I admire her. She is committed to inspiring and empowering women, and her passion shows through everything Skirt Sports does, from the #REALwomenmove campaign to using ordinary women as models to the Running Start nonprofit.
Nicole talked about finding your word: the one word that names your purpose and drives everything you do. Her word is “relationships.” I’m not sure yet what my word is, but I’ve been giving it a lot of thought since Friday night.
After Nicole spoke, we had a little fashion show to preview the new stuff for this fall and next spring. I can’t post pictures yet, but I can tell you there’s a lot of cool stuff coming up. I’d better start saving money now. The night wrapped up with cake, which is, of course, the best way to end an event.
Saturday morning, we met at Skirt Sports community outreach manager Noelle Wilson’s house in Lyons for breakfast (provided by sponsors Justin’s, Two Moms in the Raw, Bhakti Chai, and Noosa… yum) and a beautiful hike… complete with a few unplanned hill repeats when we couldn’t find the trailhead.
Also Amy’s picture.
After the hike, we split into two groups for breakout sessions. My group went with Nicole and brainstormed some outreach possibilities for the future. These women are super smart; they had some great ideas that I’m excited to see come to fruition!
After the breakouts, we came back together as a group, and Kate and Amy led a session on selfie-taking. Maybe now I can decent pictures while I run… but I probably won’t. Knowing how to do something and actually doing it aren’t always the same thing.
I had to leave before the wrap-up because we were doing more house-hunting, but the morning was absolutely wonderful. I’m so thankful that I had this opportunity to spend a weekend with such smart, strong, and wicked-cool women!
The weekend culminated in Sunday’s race, which will have its own post later this week. Stay tuned!
What’s the most inspiring, empowering, or exciting thing you’ve done lately?
Ever since the lovely ladies at Skirt Sports and Sweat Pink reached out to me about running the Skirt Sports 13er (yes, I got the entry and gift certificate for free, but all the opinions here are my own), I intended to treat it as a training run. I knew that a month and a half after my last marathon, I’d be coming into the race with little to no speedwork. I also knew that I’d spend the week prior to the race running trails, which would leave my flatlander legs tired. So I really had no goals for this race, other than to have a good time. Spoiler alert: That’s exactly what happened!
The race started at 6:30 a.m. Yes, that’s early… but it’s Colorado in June on a course with no shade, so really, the early start time was fantastic. Jordan and I had stayed in Estes Park with his family the night before, so we were on the road by 4:30 and at the start at about a quarter to six. I picked up my bib and goodie bag with no trouble, did a warm-up mile, and hit the porta-potties (of which there were plenty, thank goodness… at a race this female-filled, we need a lot of them!).
The race started on the other side of an overpass from the expo/finish line. I guess that last year, racers had to run over the bridge, which caused bottlenecking, so the organizers moved the start line this year. As we headed up the bridge, Skirt Sports founder Nicole DeBoom (who is pretty much my hero) gave us all high-fives.
We received a few instructions and some encouragement at the start line, and soon we were off! Because I’m a chump, I got caught up in the start-line energy and set off WAY too fast for a training run. And then, at my too-fast pace, I fell in with a couple of super cool women, and we started chatting, and so I continued at that too-fast pace for a few miles. Whoops. By the time we hit a steep-ish hill at around mile 4, I caught my error and made myself slow down. I was not in race shape; I should not be racing.
Once I slowed down, the group of women I’d been running with pulled ahead, and I was running on my own for quite some time. The course was gorgeous; I was kicking myself for not bringing my phone; since this was a training run, I could’ve stopped to take some pictures. Instead, here’s one that Nicole sent me a while back to use for race promotion:
We had views of those mountains, plus cattle pastures and open spaces, pretty much the whole race.
At mile 7ish, the race heads up a massive hill (nicknamed “The Bad Relationship” — ha!). Confession: I walked a bit. I was being a baby and really had no reason to walk, but… I did. Then, the course turns into an open space for a little out-and-back. Races with those little out-and-backs bug me for some reason, but it wasn’t long.
From the open space on, the race is either flat or downhill, which was nice. I did run out of water in my handheld (totally my fault for not refilling it at the last aid station), and because it was getting warm, I started to get a little lightheaded and chose to walk again. Had I been racing, I probably would’ve just pushed through, as the next aid station was near, but again: being a baby.
The last couple of miles were uneventful but HOT: I was really glad the race started so early. I crossed the finish in 1:46:something — my slowest half ever.
And this is why I usually don’t do races as training runs: I was mad at myself. That’s dumb, and I know it, but sometimes my emotions get the best of me for a bit. The mad didn’t last long; I reminded myself that it was a training run, and that I had intended for it to be all along. I drank some chocolate milk and all was right with the world again.
Here’s a list of key points about this race. I was going to break it into pros and cons, but some things are subjective, so it’s all one big list. You can decide if you want to run it without me classifying things for you.
Girl-power vibe. The racers are almost all women, and everything from the pep talk at the start to the finisher skirts to the kick-start program participants was women-centered and focused on making us all feel like badasses. I loved it. Plus, it’s always fun to see women as the overall winners, since that doesn’t happen in most races.
Awesome little expo. There was gluten-free cake (I heard it was amazing, but I was all hot and no food sounded good), EVOL burritos, chips, salsa, fruit, Two Moms in the Raw granola, kombucha, chocolate milk, Skratch … all sorts of tasty business. Plus, since Home Depot was a race sponsor (and the start and finish lines are in their parking lot), they had a booth set up where kids could make crafts while their moms ran. They also had a DIY race bib display project. I did not make one, because I don’t do crafts, but it’s cool for those that are crafty.
Finisher skirt. And bucket. I have about 12 million race t-shirts, so I LOVED getting a cute little skirt.
(photo from 13er website. Obviously.)
I also was pretty excited about the free Home Depot bucket, because with all the yard work we’re doing, we needed another one.
Hot, and no shade. It’s June, so of course it’s going to be hot. If you run this, be prepared. I was wishing I’d worn a hat and carried my bigger handheld.
Great aid station support. Carrying the small handheld wasn’t a big deal, because there were plenty of aid stations, and all the volunteers were super friendly and encouraging.
Well-marked and well-staffed. If you get lost on this course, you’ve got issues. Bonus: Every mile-marker/directional sign had an “I run for…” poster, each with a different picture under the “I run for…” headline. Everything from margaritas to shirtless firemen was featured. The signs were funny and provided nice little pick-me-ups along the course.
Not many spectators. Aside from the aid stations, I saw only 3-4 groups of spectators along the course. That’s fine with me, but if you’re big on crowd support, you might have to recruit some friends to cheer along the course.
Beautiful and challenging course. This course is at the base of the foothills, so if you’re a flatlander like me, train for the hills — there are several, and that “Bad Relationship” is serious business.
I thought this was a great little race, and I’m planning to be back next year — racing it this time! I’m grateful to Skirt Sports and Sweat Pink for the opportunity. If you have a chance to do a Skirt Sports event, do it (even if you’re a dude)!
Can you do races as training runs, or do you get frustrated like I do?
This is a picture-heavy, word-light post. Because mountains.
I was very fortunate to spend most of last week in the mountains, continuing my work on Operation Become a Trail Runner and just enjoying my favorite place in general. From Monday afternoon to Thursday morning, J and I attended an education conference in Breckenridge. The conference was great, but the best part was spending an hour or so every morning running on the trails right behind our hotel.
There was still quite a bit of snow up high, so this creek was flowing fast.
I really hoped to see a deer or elk here, but nope… just a pretty park. Not complaining.
One morning, I decided to run up the ski-lift maintenance road. I turned around about half a mile past this:
And was rewarded with this view, to which my iPhone camera just couldn’t do justice:
The final morning was cloudy and misty, but the mountains were stunners nonetheless.
And I took a “runfie” because sometimes I remember I’m a blogger.
I always look confused in selfies. Probably because I feel like a fool taking them.
We left Breckenridge at noon on Thursday and headed straight to Estes Park, where we met Jordan’s family for the weekend. We drove over Trail Ridge Road, which neither of us had ever done. It was stunningly beautiful; if you ever have the chance, drive it! Again, our iPhones couldn’t capture the breathtaking beauty of the mountains, but here’s a series of pictures from Trail Ridge to give you an idea.
We stopped at the Alpine Visitors Center, where I read this on a sign about the area’s history: “The Ute People believed the trails were living beings who held the community together.” I kinda love that.
Friday morning, I woke up and drove a few minutes from where we were staying to Lily Lake, which is technically in Rocky Mountain National Park, but on the non-paying side of the entrance stations. I took a side trail and ran for a while, catching these foggy mountains from just above the lake
Somehow, I got on the wrong trail and ended up on private property. Please don’t tell.
(This time I look confused because I was…)
I fairly quickly made it back to where I meant to be (thanks to studying the map for a looong time the night before), and headed back in time to clean up and spend the day playing tourist in town with my in-laws.
Saturday, the whole family was heading into RMNP, so I decided just to hike instead of run. The whole clan walked around Bear Lake; then J and I took a side trail for a few extra miles before meeting back up with the group for lunch. I love getting off the super-popular trails and off to where it’s just me, Jordan, and the wildlife.
We watched this guy for several minutes. He ignored us. That’s a good thing.
And here’s another fast-flowing stream. It was gorgeous. (And yes, I’m rocking my Skirt Sports).
By the time we finished our sandwiches, afternoon thunderstorms were starting to brew, so we headed back into town.
Sunday morning, we were up at 4 and gone by 4:30, headed out of the mountains and down to Louisville for the Skirt Sports 13er, which I’ll recap soon!
The week was awesome and left me wanting more mountains. Luckily, I don’t have to wait too long, as we’re going camping in a couple of weeks for our anniversary!
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!
I’ve always thought that the half marathon was poorly named. I mean, I get that 13.1 is half of 26.2, but calling it a “half” seems to diminish the accomplishment of running 13.1 miles. And it is an accomplishment that should be celebrated.
The awesome ladies at Skirt Sports share my opinion, so they named their race a Thirteener, because “it’s not half of anything.” I kind of love that.
Know what else I love? Giving stuff away. (Okay, so this is my first blog giveaway, but I already know I’m going to love it. And so will you). Skirt Sports is giving one lucky reader an entry to the 13er (or the 10k or 5k), PLUS a $125 gift certificate!
The race is in Louisville, CO, on June 14, but if you’re not a Coloradoan, don’t despair: there’s also a virtual option, so you can join the Skirt Sports fun wherever you are!
Disclaimer: Skirt Sports also gave me a race entry and gift certificate. And look at the fun things I got!
I’ve never done this race before, but it looks like a ton of fun: a finisher skirt instead of a shirt, cake at the finish, and raffles! I’m excited to participate, and I hope some of my readers will, too!
Ready to enter? Click here to head to a Rafflecopter with several entry options! The giveaway is open until April 30 at 11:59 p.m.