Race Recap: Vacation Races Yellowstone Half

Last weekend, amazing races took place all over the country. Maybe you even participated in one. (If so tell me allllll about it in the comments!) I was lucky enough to be one of those people, and I can’t wait to show you all the pictures from  the Vacation Race Yellowstone 5k and Half Marathon. I had dreamed of doing the Caldera Triple this year, but other obligations (tickets to see Roger Waters) kept me from the mother of all medals. Next year, it’s on!

Disclaimer: while I am a Vacation Races Ambassador, I did pay for my registration for this race and I didn’t receive any compensation for this race review.

I live about ten hours from Yellowstone. Honestly, when the scenery is as beautiful as it was and you’re driving your Mustang, ten hours feels like five.We drove up last Thursday and got into Yellowstone at around seven o’clock in the evening. Along the way, we stopped at an overlook to take in the most beautiful mountain range I’ve ever seen, and keep in mind, Rocky Mountain National Park is my backyard. If you’ve never been to the Grand Tetons, you need to add it to your bucket list.

Jackson Lake and Grand Teton

We came from the south which meant we had to drive through Grand Teton National Park to get to Yellowstone. We decided to buy an annual park pass since we’ll soon be living so close to a national park ourselves. Eighty bucks to support our national treasures was money well spent in our book.

I had signed up for the Bison Double, which meant I was running the 5k Friday night and the half marathon on Saturday morning. My husband and I decided to get up before dawn on Friday to see some of Yellowstone while the light was still good for photography. It was the right choice!

He was the only other guy on the road at 5:30 am. Also, he wasn’t moving for us.

Sadly, the Grand Prismatic Spring was too steamy to see.

Kepler Cascade

Yellowstone Lake and Thermal Vents

A real life postcard.

After a morning of exploring the park, we headed back to the hotel to take a nap and prep for the 5k. The weather forecast at race time was less than dry. I was volunteering at the race expo before the start, so I headed over a little early and met up with the rest of my team at the start. My husband, sisters-in-law, and their husbands all ran the 5k, and exactly none of us were looking forward to running in rainy drizzle and 42 degrees.

There’s some first timers in this pic!

The course was beautiful despite it being wet. I don’t have many pics of this race because the conditions made it hard to snap shots. We started on paved town roads for the first mile then transitioned to gravel trail riddled with puddles and mud for the rest of the race. We had to watch where we stepped so we didn’t slip in the mud. I’m glad I’d packed so much gear, options are so important when the weather is unpredictable. Plus I’d bought an emergency poncho for which I was so grateful! I was slow because of the conditions and I wanted to be sure I was okay to do the half the next morning. My husband and I crossed the finish, then waited for the rest of our team. We were disappointed to learn that the 5k medals had been lost in shipping, but we were assured that they’d be mailed to us once they were located.

The next morning, I woke up to a weather forecast calling for hail and more rain before the half marathon. Yes, hail. Well, tiny little pellets, but still, when they hit your cold cheeks, it hurts! I shook out my disposable poncho and layered up. With some fleece lined leggings, a Lioness skirt from Skirt Sports, and three layers on top, I was as ready as I could be for my first wet, cold trail half.

I knew this race was going to be my hardest one yet going into it. I knew the elevation gain was no joke, and that it was mostly on a trail. I also knew I wasn’t able to train for this race like I wanted to. Since February, I’ve had to focus on selling my house, moving, and finding a new place to live.  Doing all those home improvement projects did get me into better shape than I was in after the holidays, but I was no where near where I wanted to be for this race. Getting a PR wasn’t my goal, not getting hurt was. My strategy was to do walk a brisk pace with some splashes of running until the big hill. Then, I’d walk as briskly as I could up that bish.

Around mile five, it started to get steep. The course was still thick with mud, and I tried to stay on the edge of the trail to keep from getting bogged down. Mile six is where it started to get nasty. Hence my face in the photo below. It was yucky, but at least the sun had come out and the rain/hail stopped! Once I got over that hill, I found one of my Skirt Sports sisters on the course, and I couldn’t have been happier! Kim is the best. We’d run the Skirt Sports 13er together last year and running with her is always so much fun.

After I’d made it over the hill and found a friend, the race took on a new feel. The course turned technical with large rocks as we began to descend in elevation. I took my time through the rocks but still stumbled a few times. The views were completely worth it, though, as the course took us beside the river and through pristine forest.

As I was out there feeling better than I expected to be at mile nine, I took a moment to appreciate my body. I have ridiculous expectations of it. I ask it to do amazing feats of endurance without ever putting in the 100% training I should. As I climbed that hill and listened to those around me struggling to breathe due to the altitude, I sent my body some messages of gratitude and I promised to not ask it to do this again without the proper preparation.

We counted down the miles together, stopped for orange slices at the mile 11 aid station, and were fueled by the thought of our medals waiting for us. Unfortunately, the Bison Double medals and the Caldera Triple medals were lost in shipping along with the 5k medals. But we did get our half marathon medals, so it was great to have that waiting for us at the end along with the always yummy post race fuel box and bananas.

It hurt so much but we did it!

Kim and I hugged goodbye before I took a few family photos with our race team. I think some of them may have caught the race bug! I’m already planning to come back for the Caldera Triple next year, maybe we’ll make it a tradition!

It was a fabulous race in one of the prettiest places I’ve ever been. Aside from the medals being lost, everything went smoothly and we all had a blast. This race may not be an annual one for me due to traveling, but it’s certainly one I’d like to do every few years. Vacation Races didn’t disappoint, they really now how to pick their locations! It was so gorgeous everywhere you looked that I wanted to share a few last photos with you of your Yellowstone National Park.  Enjoy!

Elk buck

At the Grand Prismatic Spring

Bison herd

You could literally reach out your car window and touch them. But DON’T.

Half medal with Old Faithful erupting in the background

 

As a safety reminder, I ask that when you read my recaps of high altitude races to not underestimate the affects of altitude. I’ve lived at over 5000 feet elevation all my life, and soon I’m moving to 8500 feet. My lungs and muscles are acclimated to the elevation despite having asthma. If you do a race at altitude and you aren’t already acclimated, be sure to train appropriately, take precautions against altitude sickness, and be kind to yourself on the course if you don’t hit your pace goals.Save

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Vacation Races, Here I Come!

Sometimes, begging actually works. I don’t recommend you use the tactic often, but I’m not above begging for something I really want, even if that something doesn’t exist. Believe it or not, begging can be a very effective tool. Case in point, after running the 2016 VR Rocky Mountain Half Marathon, a.k.a, my favorite race, I basically begged the Vacation Races race series to let me be an ambassador even though they didn’t have an ambassador program.

Pro Tip: When begging, bargain by making promises to spend money on their races. 😉

When I heard from the Race Director a few days later, I was ECSTATIC.  After applying and hoping, it’s official, I’m a VR Ambassador!! I can’t wait to represent the series at this year’s Yellowstone Half and the Rocky Mountain Half. Maybe (hopefully) a few more!

 

I wanted to be an ambassador for Vacation Races because I think they put on the best races in the country. The courses are spectacular, the race organization is top-notch, the medals are absolutely THE BEST, the aid stations are the best I’ve ever seen (water, energy drink, bananas and oranges), and I feel that you really get your money’s worth with a fantastic overall race experience. Honestly, I’d take a VR race over one at Disney any time. I can’t say enough good things about VR, and I can’t wait to share more stuff from my favorite race series with you. Details about the program are still coming out, so I’ll share any codes I get in a future post.

 

Have you ever done a VR race? How did it go for you?  Is one of their races on your bucket list? 

Road Tested: Earth’s Care Triple Action Pain Relieving Ointment

As a runner and someone who works out with weights multiple times a week, I’ve had my fair share of aches and pains over the past couple of years.

In fact, it’s a joke among the people at the gym during my hour that there should be a personal safety/accident free countdown posted with the amount of times I’ve fallen (box jumps)/bled (sandbags – don’t even ask how I managed that one)/generally messed myself up in some way, shape, or form.

What can I say? I’m accident prone.

2016 has actually been fairly accident free as far as I’ve been concerned, which means I was overdue to injure myself.

And I did.

I’m now dealing with sore back muscles, which, in the grand scheme of things is low on the injury scale but still annoying.

From lifting weights? Oh, no no. That would be far less embarrassing than this. It would make sense even.

My back is sore from (of all things) wrapping presents. Yeah. I know. Adorable.

I like wrapping presents while sitting on the floor, in front of the television. Being that I’m not in my 20s anymore… and I’m nearly not in my 30s anymore, being hunched over for an hour at a time isn’t fantastic. I’ve wound up walking around with my hands on my lower back and hollering at kids to get off my lawn.

Then I realized they were my kids and I like them playing outside, so I let them stay.

When the opportunity presented itself from BibRave to try out Earth’s Care Triple Action Pain Relieving Ointment, I thought it was the perfect time to try a new-to-me product and hopefully fix myself up so that I could continue on with my wrapping and other various holiday merriment, pain-free.

One of the things that stood out to me immediately, before receiving the product, was the company’s dedication to both the environment and its customers. I always appreciate companies that care for the earth; it says so in its name and you can see it throughout their standards and product line.

via earths-care.com

The menthol aroma clears the sinuses completely and it instantly brought back memories of my dad using different medicated rubs after playing tennis. Ah, nostalgia.

Apparently I’m not as limber as I thought because applying it to my own back was not easy. After a bit of a struggle (read: flailing around, trying to rub the ointment into my lower back) I enlisted the help of my husband.

He complained that his hands will forever smell like “candy canes”. To which I politely pointed out that it could be far worse, and to quit his bellyaching.

It honestly felt amazing, like it settled into my muscles and worked its magic. What’s the magic, exactly? I’m going to go with the triple action formula of three natural ingredients: Camphor, Menthol, and Wintergreen Oil.

I’ve used the product for a couple of days now and it’s helped significantly. I consider that a win!

Finding Earth’s Care products in my area have proved a bit challenging; the closest store that carries it is 15 miles from here and over the tolled bridge. However, there is a 15% off your first order on the website and I’m planning on taking advantage of that deal.

What do you use for pain relief? 

Disclaimer: I received Earth’s Care Triple Action Pain Relieving Ointment to review as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review find and write race reviews!

Building Each Other Up

I met Nicole DeBoom when I stopped in the Skirt Sports warehouse to pick up a Christmas gift for Mer last year, and my girl crush started then. Not because she’s the Ironman winner, a successful entrepreneur, or because she is hilarious, but because she is real. Authentic. I know that word gets thrown around a lot these days, but you know when it’s genuine and when it isn’t. Nicole is the real deal, and so is her message.

At a recent event, she shared a few stories. Stories about how she made her first running skirt an wore it as she won 2004 Ironman Wisconsin, and of her calling to help women change their lives. And in this video, she shared the story of her daughter’s birth, and, trust me, it was one for the books. My sides were aching by the time she finished. She is the cutest.

Earlier this year, she started a Podcast called “Run This World” where she talks with “…visionaries who are creating change in the world”. Nicole and her guests go deep, and they aren’t afraid to be honest about the struggles they’ve had on their journey. They share their stories with us, and in doing so, empower us to tackle our own challenges with grace and self acceptance. This is why I enjoy working with Skirt Sports, because they are genuine in their goal to help women feel feed good in their skin and in life.

Nicole in the skirt that would inspire Skirt Sports

Nicole in the skirt that would inspire Skirt Sports

My favorite episode so far was an interview with Kara Burns titled “From Prison to 26.2”. By the title you can guess what it was about. I was so touched by Kara’s forgiveness of herself and her determination to move on from her past. Kara reminded me that no matter how hard we think something is, it can be overcome with discipline and determination. She was so honest about her mistakes and their consequences, and she didn’t shirk from  the pain she caused those she loves the most. She is a beautiful soul, and I hope to meet her at a Skirt event one of these days. Her positivity and was truly inspiring.

nd_podcastgraphic_flirt

Every episode has the same root message, love and positivity. We can always use more of that! Nicole and her guests inspire us to pursue our goals and keep sight of what’s truly important.  Next time you go for a run, check her out. Each episode lasts about 45 minutes, so they’re perfect for tuning in while you get in a few quick miles. I highly recommend it!

 

What do you like to listen to while training? What’s your favorite Podcast?

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I’m a BibRave Pro!

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Agggh, you guys! I am so stoked! It’s official (there’s my badge!); I’m pleased to announce that I’ve been selected as a BibRave Pro!

BibRave is a great site where runners from all over can post their reviews of races and connect with other runners, both locally or in an area you’re looking to run a race.

I love reading what people have to say about all aspects of a race and I especially like reading what locals have to say if I’m traveling for a race. Their knowledge is invaluable!

Don’t get me wrong, I am a blog reader through and through but it’s cool to have all the information centralized. If you click on the badge above, you can find my profile and then we can be friends over there, too.

Tuesday nights on Twitter at 8 pm CST (9 pm for us east coasters) they host #bibchat. I love Twitter chats because it’s another way to connect with like-minded individuals and get feedback/ideas that I might not have considered. I do my best to stay awake for it but I have definitely fallen asleep mid-chat only to wake up in the morning, cuddling my phone. Waking at 5 am can do that to a gal.

As a BibRave Pro I’ll have opportunities to try out products that are running/fitness related. Which is especially great for readers here because I’ll be sharing my thoughts on Scoot a Doot. Your own personal guinea pig, right here! You also might see BibRave Pros at races – you can spot them in their bright orange apparel.

Good things ahead!

Are you on BibRave? (If not, join me over there, it’s lots of fun!) If you are, share your profile link with me so I can add you!

Journey 2 a Million Giveaway Winner

If you’ve been hanging out with us here in our little corner of the interweb for a while, then you likely know we are big supporters of Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation and their annual September event, Journey 2 a Million. The event encourages folks all over the world to track and donate the miles they walk, run and/or bike throughout the month.

To support the event, we always create a team and give away prizes for most miles. This year’s winner is @Jeasmada93who racked up 130 miles for the team. Jenny, you are amazing, and we hope this little prize will show you how much we appreciate you and your miles!

alsj2mprize

Tank from Oiselle, Hat from Skirt Sports, and Wrap from Momentum Jewelry

Thanks to those that participated, and a BIG thanks to our prize partners, Momentum Jewelry, Oiselle, and Skirt Sports.

Until next year! <3<3

Race Recap – Vacation Races Elk Double at Rocky Mountain Nat’l Park

I want to let you know that this will mostly be a picture post, because this race is just sooooo pretty. Also, I want to formally declare my love for Vacation Races, and this event in particular. VR, I LOVE YOU. If you’re reading this, pleeeeeeeease let me be an ambassador for your race series. Since I live within driving distance of  six out of nine of your events, I would make an excellent representative because I plan to run them all in the near future. But my first love for your race series will always be the Rocky Mountain Half Marathon.

This was the second year I’ve run the #RMHalf. They even added an extra special challenge this year, the Elk Double, which consisted of a 5k on Friday night, followed by the half marathon on Saturday morning. Three medals for two races means I. AM. IN. Many of my fellow Skirt Sports Ambassador Sisters were also running the races, and created a team. Team WTF? Where’s the Finish? I was so stoked to run with a team; I usually run races all by my lonesome.

packing

Packing for the big weekend and Coach Lily the Pug approves of my outfit selections.

In the interest of transparency, I want to state that in my (limited) half marathon experience, this group puts on the best races with the BEST Medals. Dare I say it, even better than runDisney.

I dared and said it. I retract nothing.

For proof, they had free smores and hammocks at the race expo. They had water, electrolyte drink, and Honey Stinger Gels at EVERY half marathon aid station, and at three of those stations, they also had bananas, orange slices, and porta potties.  VR really takes care of their runners!

smores

I was excited to try my new Skirt Sports skirt with bib magnets built in for the 5k. I was expecting to have to adjust my bib as I ran, but nope! The magnets kept it perfectly in place and I didn’t have to put safety pin holes in my new skirt. I was winning at life!

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5K Outfit: Skirt Sports Race Magnet Skirt, Electric Tank, Injinji socks, NB Shoes

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At the 5k Start

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Spirit of the Rockies: Anglers, Canadian Geese, and runners share the natural beauty!

Geese

Even the geese were cheering for us!

Here in Colorado, they don’t give out medals for 5ks. They just don’t. Not sure why, but maybe it has something to do with the commonly seen “140” oval stickers on cars. I guess folks here don’t really get behind the 5k distance. So, I’m VERY proud of my first and only 5k medal!

5kmedal

Ummm, so on a “related to the Rockies” note…my high school BFF lives a half a mile from the start line for the races, which was awesome, because I stayed at her house and walked to the 5k start. What wasn’t as fun was navigating the bear in the tree a few houses down from said friend’s house. I think he was sleeping, and he had the cutest bear butt. As long as that butt stayed in that tree.

bearbutt

You can see a casually hanging paw and adorable tail.

I found out later that team WTF? finished in FIRST PLACE for the 5k!!!! No thanks to my slow arse which finished in 38 minutes, but yeah! So I got 2, 5k medals and I cannot even. I had to get the gold 1st place medal from my WTF? team mates the next day, but I was stoked!!  Then it was time to rest, fuel, sleep, and get up at 4:30 for the half marathon!

flathalf

Flat Me for the Half: Skirt Sports Eclipse top, Cougar (Lioness) skirt in Free Love print, two pairs of socks; Injinji toe and PROcompression.

halfstart

I only smile this early in the morning on race days. Trust.

mist

Mountain valley mist rising as the sun rises in Estes Park

halfriver

The weather was perfect, and the course is so gorgeous!

bullelk

I saw an Elk whilst doing the Elk Double! Life is complete!

I always love seeing mile marker 6 because it means I’m almost halfway done!

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In the middle of the dreaded looooooong (3.5 miles-ish) low grade hill.

gorgeous

*heart eyes*

thatviewtho

This view is worth the altitude.

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The course takes you right past the most haunted hotel in America!

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Coming up on the finish

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dog

The cutest!

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Just a few more steps!

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Team WTF? Where's The Finish

Team WTF? Where’s The Finish

bling

That bling, tho!

Done

This was my big event for the season and there was no doubt in my mind that I’d enjoy the race, but the fact is I came away with a lot more than I expected. My goal was to push myself and I did. I shaved five minutes off my time from last year. But the best part by far was I got to know my Skirt Sisters better, and together, we placed in the race. That’s because #REALwomenmove. Especially together.

What is/was your big race this season? Do you runs with a team at races? Did you visit a National Park this summer? Let’s discuss below!

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