Goodbye, Alaska

I know that saying goodbye to your childhood home is a pretty standard part of growing up for most people. At some point or another, usually after we’ve left home for college or jobs or other adventures, our parents decide that it’s their turn. Whether it’s to downsize, or even to move to more agreeable climes, when the parents determine it’s time to leave, it sets in motion a bittersweet series of goodbyes. Some more difficult than others.

So, this past weekend, I went back to Alaska to do just that: say goodbye to my childhood home. My family has lived in the same house for 21 years – most of my life, and longer even than my youngest sister has been alive. But now that we’re all grown, and my parents have both retired, they wanted to be closer to family. So, they found a cute little lake house in Northern Wisconsin and sold our old home in Alaska…

The trip home this weekend was short – about 60 hours or so – and in that time we packed and sorted and cleaned and remembered. We visited some of our favorite places, ate some of our favorite food, and when the time came to leave for the airport Sunday night, we cried. Driving away from that house for the last time was weird. On one hand, it didn’t feel like the last time I’d be there at all, but on the other, all I could think about was how I didn’t know the next time I’d be in Alaska.

I haven’t lived at home full time in more than 10 years, but this weekend felt like I was officially leaving home for the first time. It is sad to say goodbye to a house and a community I’ve loved so well for so long, but this whole process has given me a chance to reflect on just how lucky we were to have lived in such an amazing place. The memories I have of Alaska are so special, and growing up there has shaped me in so many ways. I will miss being able to go home to Alaska whenever I need to, but I’m so grateful to have been able to call it that at all.

Alaska, I love you. Stay classy.

We’re just missing one sister. Anna, we love you!

If you ever go to Anchorage, this is the best pizza you will ever have. Moose’s Tooth.


This view will never not be my favorite.

Rock ‘n Roll Marathon Series Race Expo Philadelphia 2017

Disclaimer: I received a free entry to the Rock ‘n Roll Philadelphia 2017 race 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! All opinions are my own.

The 2017 Philadelphia Rock ‘n Roll half marathon is tomorrow; the 5k/10k are happening this morning in mere moments. While thousands of runners will be pounding the pavement today and tomorrow, they’ll also visit the Health and Fitness Expo at the Pennsylvania Convention Center.

The expo is free and open to the public so I was able to bring my parents along for the ride into Philadelphia with me. Besides visiting the expo, we also went to Reading Terminal (which is a must do if you’re visiting Philly!).

If you’ve never been to a Rock ‘n Roll expo before, here’s a small taste of what you can expect.

Rock 'n Roll Philly Expo

Signs, signs, everywhere signs. Rock ‘n Roll is great with expo signage.

Rock 'n Roll Philly Expo

Ready. Set. Rock.

Rock 'n Roll Philly Expo

Check in is first. With waiver in hand, you’re able to quickly find the line that matches your corral/bib number. Make sure to bring your identification with you because they will be checking!

If you aren’t able to make it to the expo, you can have a friend pick it up. The friend is able to pick up two packets for “free”, after that there is a $20 charge per packet. There is no mail option, but with more race series having that option, it’s something I know many would appreciate.

Within this section you’re able to visit the corral change area if you feel like you might be able to run faster than the time you originally estimated. I swung by there to move up one corral. I didn’t need to provide any type of proof of time, it was easy.

Rock 'n Roll Philly Expo

Mullet crew – party in the back! Holla!

Section 2 was supposed to hold the t-shirts, bags, and runner tracking.

Unfortunately, the t-shirts got held up on their way to the expo and weren’t there when I arrived when the doors opened. That took me by surprised and we stopped to chat with a volunteer to get the scoop.

She offered a few options: stay until 2pm when the shirts were expected to arrive (no dice, had to be home for the kids), come back to the expo tomorrow (a pricey venture from NJ), OR we could pick it up after the race on Sunday. Winner, winner, chicken dinner!

The Rock ‘n Roll series is usually terrific with communications, but the email regarding this was sent at 11:15 am so we were already in Philadelphia. I know that they aren’t set up for separate shirt distribution at the race so it will be interesting to see how they pull that together. I’ll keep you posted after tomorrow.

Rock 'n Roll Philly Expo

What am I doing here? “Running” for chocolate milk and beer and a medal (and my shirt too).

Rock ‘n Roll Marathon Series sets up huge black curtains, so you have to follow their pattern throughout the room and their sponsored vendors area. It’s a good flow and if you’re looking to buy additional race merchandise, you have ample opportunity.

Buy it here, buy it there, you can buy it everywhere!

Rock 'n Roll Philly Expo

I stopped by here to grab a pace bracelet. I probably won’t stick with a team since I do intervals but I’m always grateful not to have to do running math.

The Rock ‘n Roll expos are bigger than most and there’s many booths and information along the way. Some pertain to me, some do not… but I love looking around and browsing.

Rock 'n Roll Philly Expo

Bringing my parents with me means lots of pictures OF me. I took a moment to write my name on the large signing wall.

I am pumped for running through Philly tomorrow morning. Not so much for the early wake up time but I’m hoping it stays cool and I’m planning on wearing my hydration pack so that I don’t melt. I’m running solo so I’m ready to run by feel – if I feel great, I’ll push it. But if not, I’ll just enjoy the sights and sounds that the Rock ‘n Roll course has to offer!

Keep rocking!

Ready, Set, Go!

This past weekend I didn’t run a race.

However, that doesn’t mean that I wasn’t at a race! I always love volunteering at races whenever possible and the series that I love returning to time after time (I hope you’re singing with me) is the Run the Vineyards events, hosted by Good Day For A Run.

This year I’ve volunteered at three of their races and at each one I’m reminded of how much I love our running community. Most recently, Rachel and I were stationed at the mile 6 water stop of the 15k at the Bellview Winery Good Day For A Run 5k/15k Festival.

We brought along a cheering playlist (made especially for the occasion), a speaker, and a lot of sassy spirit!

It was SO MUCH FUN volunteering. Honestly and truly, if you have the opportunity to get out there and help out a race, you should embrace it fully! We danced, served up many, many cups of water, and cheered for the 250 participants.

So what’s up next for me? This coming weekend is the Rock ‘n Roll Philadelphia Half Marathon. 

Disclaimer: I received a free entry to the Rock ‘n Roll Philly race 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!

And I’m really freaking excited! Because of these medals…

Philadelphia Rock 'n Roll 2017 medal

I’ll be getting the one in the middle.

And this shirt…

Philadelphia Rock 'n Roll 2017 shirt

And running in Philadelphia! I haven’t done a race in Philly since the spring so I’m looking forward to returning and having a rocking time. I don’t think that I’ll be PRing this race but that’s not really the goal this time around for me. The goal is to get out there and have FUN!

Music, after party, beer: it’s like they know me.

Online registration is closed but you are still able to register at the Health and Fitness expo prior to the event.

Then in October I’ll be returning to the Run the Vineyards races, this time as a participant!

A 5k through 2 neighboring vineyards, free pictures, a wineglass award (with a glass of wine), long-sleeved tech shirts, and an after-party with music and food. Um, I feel like I should do this every weekend.

I registered for this race with a group of friends and I know that we’ll have fun because it’s always a party when we’re together.

The weekend following that I’ll be heading down to Winterthur, Delaware for the Run Inspired 10k.

Disclaimer: I received a free entry to the Run Inspired 10k race 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!

This is a new to me race that benefits Operation Warm which distributes coats to local children living in poverty. I’ve heard that this course is hilly but I’m looking forward to my favorite distance and also to the after party. Are you sensing a theme here?

I have friends that will be running this race too and it’s always great to see familiar faces along the route. If you want to be one of them, you can register now with the code BIBRAVE to save 10% on a race entry. (And then let me know so I can look for you!)

Fall racing, it’s your turn to shine! Let’s do this.

Chick Chat: Warm Fuzzies

Recently we were discussing things that make us happy. Of course there are the classics, the tried and true favorites that we return to continually. And then there are the newer things that we’ve recently stumbled upon that we can’t stop thinking about and make us forget about the craziness of the world for a short while.

We wanted to share our lists with you and would love to hear what you’re loving right now, too!

I honestly don’t know how I would cope right now without cute animal photos and videos on the internet. Here are my current faves:

I’m big on escapism when I have time for it. My husband and I like to watch old sitcoms on Netflix and Hulu. Comfort TV, we call it. I Love LucyWings, and Married With Children all get airtime, and when my husband isn’t home I binge watch the BBC 1995 Pride & Prejudice miniseries

I’m a fan of video games but since my TV and PS3 are in storage, I had to take a break from Skyrim. Now I’m playing Texas Hold’em poker and Forge of Empires on my phone.

I haven’t had much time for reading lately, but audiobooks have been my jam when I’m driving or in the background at work. Although, Hillbilly Elegy and How the Right Went Wrong aren’t exactly stress-free listening, both were worth my time and aggravation; I recommend them.

Books

One of my goals for 2017 was to read more. I said I wanted to read 30 books… but I’ve gotten through six. Granted, four of those have been Game of Thrones books, and those suckers are long. But still. I just finished Chasing Excellence by Ben Bergeron and it was really eye-opening. Bergeron is the coach for two elite Crossfit athletes and throughout the book he discusses competitive mindset. Highly recommend. (I’ll be doing a full review of this next week!)

Podcasts

I think I’m subscribed to three or four podcasts that I listen to regularly. Here are my top two:

Girls Gone WODJoy and Claire make you feel like you’re one of their best friends. I started listening to this podcast last year, though at the time I wasn’t doing Crossfit. It didn’t matter though, because their subject matter and conversation goes so far beyond the sport of fitness. They talk about fun things, like Mean Girls, and hard things, like body image, and are always working to educate themselves and their listeners along the way. I cannot recommend them highly enough.

Pursuing Health with Julie FoucherThis is another Crossfit-related podcast that goes beyond Crossfit. Julie Foucher is a multi-year Crossfit Games athlete, and two-time podium finisher. She is also a recent medical school graduate and a doctor at the Cleveland Clinic. This podcast captures Julie’s passion in taking what she’s learned from Crossfit and in the field of medicine, and using it to empower others to live healthier lives. Her perspective as an athlete and a healthcare profession is unique and really welcome. Two thumbs up.

TV Shows

I’m just gonna give you a list of stuff you need to watch. Stat.

  • Game of Thrones. Duh. You have at least a year, if not a year and a half to get caught up before the last season starts. There’s no better time to visit Westeros!
  • Big Little Lies. DUDE. I hadn’t read the book before I sat down to watch this mini-series, so I didn’t know what to expect. What I got was amazing performances from Nicole Kidman and Reese Witherspoon and Shailene Woodley. Holy wow. So. Good.
  • Parks and Recreation. Whenever I’m down or need a good laugh, I sit down with Leslie Knope and the good people of Pawnee (First in Friendship, Fourth in Obesity). The first season is a little slow, but hang in there and you’ll thank me later.
  • West Wing. I’ll be honest, I watch this primarily because it’s one of the best shows in television history, and it helps me ignore the shitstorm currently in the White House. Bartlet 2020, anyone?

Movie

Singin’ In The Rain – recently my son asked if we could watch together. Naturally, I said YES. Then I tried to reenact this scene by myself. It went as well as you might expect.

I’ll leave the dancing to the professionals. Even still, this movie just makes me very happy.

Tying into movies, let’s talk about my current favorite music!

Music

The soundtrack from the movie: Sing! It is so good. My kids love it. My parents love it. My husband (who is a little cranky at times) loves it. And, of course it goes without saying because it’s made my list, I love it.

So me.

It’s the perfect music to cook dinner to, to drive to, to run to, it’s a brilliant mixture that fits so many different occasions. Good, good stuff.

Podcasts

I’ve been listening to podcasts mostly when I clean/do the laundry. Those two things don’t make me happy but the podcasts makes the chores bearable. I save a lot of my tedious tasks for Friday because that’s when both are published.

BibRave Podcast – The BibRave podcast has been in existence for just over a year now and while it was at first hosted by BibRave founders, Julia and Tim, it has since expanded to include more hosts (Andy and Jessica). It’s not a secret that I’m a BibRave Pro so one might think I have a vested interest in listening. Honestly, I’d listen no matter what.

They host interesting guests and touch on all aspects of running and cross-training, as well as taking care of yourself and body. Even though I’m not at the running 100 mile race level (and probably never will be) the most recent episode from Tim’s Leadville 100 was relatable and unlike other podcasts I’ve listened to.

Team Shenanigans Podcast – This is hosted by a fun bunch of folks from all over the place. Usually spanning an hour, the Team Shenanigans crew talks a lot about runDisney events (which I haven’t actually run since 2015) but also discusses other races and events. The dynamic between this group is great and they remind me of friends that I’d hang out at a bar(becue because I don’t really hang out at bars much these days).

One of my favorite recent episodes from earlier this summer was when Caryn became a Queen of Connecticut by completing a race in every town of CT (that’s 169 towns, btw).

We’d love to hear some of your favorites! Please share in the comments.

To Our Readers Who are People of Color

5 Things to Know Before You Get Married

A few weeks back, I celebrated my fifteen year wedding anniversary to my high school sweetheart, Rick. We were together for eight years before we married so we’re celebrating almost twenty-five years together. We’ve learned a LOT in that time. We’ve watched nearly all of our friends marry, have kids, and divorce. We’re the last ones standing so-to-speak, and since I’m occasionally asked for marriage advice, I thought maybe I’d share a little bit of what I end up telling those who ask. This mindset is what works for me, but I don’t pretend that I’m an expert an any way, but here goes.

  • Make sure you’re in love with the person and the vision of your future together, and not just in love with the idea of a wedding. If only I had a dollar for all the times I’ve heard young women wax on and on about their wedding and then look like a deer in headlights when I ask “what goals do you have after the wedding?” I strongly feel this is a common mistake with young women. We’re groomed from such an early age to dream about being married to our prince charming in the perfect gown and having our special day where we’re the most beautiful girl in the whole world. The reality is that your wedding day zooms by so fast you hardly remember it later and what’s left is a gorgeous gown, some amazing photos, and that person you wake up next to every morning for the rest of forever. That person is the reason to get married, not the gown, the reception, the gifts, or the attention. And not because he/she will give you a family, your own house, or financial security, or because you were told your whole life that you’re supposed to get married and have kids because that’s what grown-ups do, but because you are madly in love with them. Love is the reason to get married, and it’s the only reason because if you don’t have love, you won’t stay married for long. Promise.
  • You don’t get to tell the other what to do. Just because you got married doesn’t mean that you get to tell your husband where he can go with whom and for how long any more than he can tell you what to do, how to dress, and that you can’t have guy friends. To be married, you must trust. You must trust your husband to make the right choices, and when he fails (like we all do), be there to help him through that and recover from his mistakes. That’s the “better or worse” part of your vows. You don’t surrender your free will or agency when you get married. He is his own person and so are you. You each have your own identity. I don’t care where my husband goes or with whom, just as long as I know whether or not he’ll be home in time for dinner or if I should just pour myself some cereal because I’m lazy.
  • Don’t ever make your spouse choose between you and their family. Sometimes loyalty can get tricky. When a situation arises that puts your spouse in a tough spot, don’t make it harder by putting them in the position of having to take sides. No one will win this way. I’m not saying you have to swallow genuine feelings to maintain harmony, but there is a graceful way to let your feelings and expectations be known without making your spouse feel like they’re being pulled in two directions. There are times to let it go, and there are times when you must quietly and firmly stand your ground and say “I am your wife/husband, and I deserve xyz. I need you to back me up this time.” Choose your battles, and choose diplomacy over war every time you can.
  • It’s going to be fucking hard sometimes. Marriage is work. For some, it’s constant work, for others it’s easier. I had a friend tell me once after being married for a short time, “This is too hard, it shouldn’t be so much work. He should just sweep me off my feet all the time.” Um, NOPE. I wish, but no. All these RomComs  and Disney movies have addled our female brains about the nature of true love and commitment. I guarantee you will have to put in effort to make your marriage happy and to make it last. Some days you won’t like your spouse at all. Sometimes, things are said and done that take a long time to heal and be forgiven for. We’re human after all, and sometimes we hurt those we love the most. My advice here is to be present, be accountable, and be compassionate. Own up to your half of the argument. Validate your spouse’s feelings. Listen to them. Support them, and help them grow and change to be a better person. Recognize when YOU need to grow and change to become a better person. We all need those closest to us to call out our bullshit and help us see ourselves for who we really are. The trick is to come out of that process with the love you took into it. Being humble in marriage is key.
  • Never stop talking and sharing. It’s cliché, but love, trust, and communication really are the bedrocks of a happy marriage (in my experience anyway). You need to laugh together and hold space for each other. You need to be emotionally available to your spouse and be comfortable sharing any and all feelings whether good or bad. You need to be able to hash out the hard stuff and appreciate the accomplishments. A strong foundation of love, trust, and communication will help you build a true partnership, and give you comfort in that you have a partner that you can always count on no matter what happens in life. As long as you’re both committed to the marriage and have love, you can work through the tough times and come out stronger and more in love than before. That’s a reward I feel many marriages don’t experience because we are a culture of giving up. I’m certainly not saying you should stay in a relationship that’s abusive in any way, but you must be honest about what marriage is really about. Sometimes it’s painful and uncomfortable, but if you have a core of love, trust, and communication, you can overcome as a team. Together. And believe it or not, your love for your spouse grows even deeper after you weather the trials together.

Then and Now, Prom ’94, and October ’14

What relationship advice has worked for you? Do you have wisdom to share? I always have something to learn, so share your tips in the comments.

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SPARK Crew at Ragnar PA

At the beginning of June, I embarked on an adventure that was a long time coming. RAGNAR, PENNSYLVANIA. 

Since I’ve known Cam, she’s been talking about participating in Ragnar Relays and finally, I was able to join her and 10 of our teammates at Ragnar PA. We’ll be writing about the experience as soon as we get our collective act together, but for now, I need to tell you about Momentum Jewelry’s SPARK Crew.

I’ve been a Momentum Jewelry fan since I first saw their wrap bracelets right around the time we began our blog in 2013. A few years ago I was fortunate enough to be chosen as a brand ambassador.

You will never find me without at least one (usually multiple) pieces of their jewelry somewhere on my person. The company’s mission is to inspire and motivate and encouraging you to “living your passion”; that’s something that the jewelry does for me on a daily basis.

It only stands to reason that when I first heard about Momentum’s SPARK Crew, I knew that it would be a great fit with Ragnar. For those of you who don’t know what a Ragar Relay is, it’s when a team of 12 people (or less, if you’re an ultra runner) do a 200(ish) mile relay from point A to point B. It’s about runner camaraderie and “a free-spirited desire to get out there and experience an outdoor adventure with friends.”

Passion, adventure, friendship? Check, check, and check!

My van mates and I decided that we would morph from Ninjas (our team’s theme) into our SPARK Crew gear just before leg 13 of the race.

It was getting close to dark on the first day and we knew that many people would need an extra boost to make it through the night hours. Our task as the SPARK Crew was simple: to share the SPARK(lets) and encourage our fellow runners.

Donning our bright green shirts, we approached folks left and right, handing out the SPARKlets. At first we all felt a little awkward walking up to people but that quickly dissipated once we saw how well received and excited runners were to get the “you got this” SPARKlets.

We briefly explained our mission and wound up having some great conversations along the way. Some teams even gave us little things in return (not at all what we were expecting!).

Proceeding to the next exchange and we continued to hand out SPARKlets there, along with holding on to a few for when we saw someone struggling or just looking like they needed a boost.

We cheered “you got this” out of our van windows to runners as we drove to our next exchange. It became our van’s mantra as we wound our way from the hills of Lancaster to the hills of the Pocono Mountains. Are you sensing a theme here?

If you thought I was kidding about the hills, Ragnar even shared 50 Photos that Show How Ragnarians Tackled the Hills of #RagnarPA on their site. The picture above makes an appearance! But seriously, look at those hills. Insanity.
I loved having the chance to make an awesome experience even more awesome for others. When we push ourselves to our limits, that’s when great things happen. Thanks to Momentum Jewelry and of course, my ninjas. Cam and I will be back more with Ragnar thoughts ASAP. And remember… you got this!

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