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? 

A Walk in Her Shoes Feeds a Village

We love doing good, don’t you? We knew you’d say yes! We knew that because our readers are the kindest and sweetest. It’s true. Pat yourself on the back.

We know you like to give back, especially when it’s super easy to give. And we especially love when our training miles count for something. That’s where this fantastic charity event comes in. It’s called the Walk in Her Shoes Challenge, and its goal is to bring awareness to the struggle women and girls face in some of the world’s poorest communities. The Challenge’s goal is to bring equal opportunity and human dignity to women and girls in developing countries. Here’s a quick video to learn more.

One of my Skirt Sport Sisters started a team called the Sole Sisters, and we’d love to have you join us. It’s free, and you don’t have to donate or raise funds if you don’t want to, but your walking and running miles are valuable and count toward the Challenge. You can join our team here. We have already raised enough to build a well for clean drinking water! What I love about this Challenge is that it helps women and girls get access to necessities like clean water, good hygiene and basic medical care so that they can spend more time in school and earning a living than gathering food and water. It’s an empowering program that helps enrich communities around the world.  If you’re so inspired, you can donate to our team by clicking on the graphic below.

I hope to call you teammate soon! Do good, feel good, always, Scooters.

What are your favorite charity events? Have you ever participated in a virtual fundraising event before? Tell me all about it!

Constant Virtual-ness!

My lucky day came a few weeks ago when I won a race entry! Yes, I won something, an entry for the Mad Eye Moody Virtual 5k, sponsored by Hogwarts Running Club! I was all,

Of course I immediately texted Meridith to share the good news and of course she decided to run it with me. Because friends. And Harry Potter. We get bibs to print out, and we got to list our House and pick our bib number. Being that I only recently read the series, Meri played Sorting Hat for me and to no one’s surprise, I’m in Slitheryn. I was kinda like

Then she reminded me that Draco and Snape turn out okay in the end, and I do have a dark streak. So, yeah, let it be known once again that Meridith was right as usual.

Our favorite thing about this race is that the proceeds go to a fantastically fitting charity, Limbs for Life, which provides free prosthetic legs to those who cannot afford them or who have used up what insurance or their state health agencies can provide. This incredible organization utilizes gently-used prosthetic legs and parts in conjunction with prosthetic clinics and skilled clinicians nationwide to provide freedom and mobility to hundreds of amputees every year.

I would tell you to sign up, but it’s sold out! But never fear, they are sure to have many more virtual races throughout the rest of the year. Their events from last year make me wish I could accio all the medals right to my medal rack, and in 2016 they raised almost half a million dollars for charity.

Half a million, folks. That’s some impressive Muggle magic and dedication!

Meri and I are running this on 2/4, and I’m sure we will be Instagraming and Tweeting our “race”. Our medals should be arriving in the mail any day now, and I can’t wait.

The eye moves in a circle!

This will be my first virtual race and I’m excited to see how I like this format. I kick off half marathon training soon, so using virtual races as a way to earn medals for long training runs might be a way for me to stay motivated. I’ll keep you posted!

 

Do you like virtual races? Why or why not? Share your spells for a successful virtual run in the comments1

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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.

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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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Race Recap – Stomp the Grapes 5k

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A little under an hour from my home, tucked away in the town of Egg Harbor City lies a winery that hold a special in my heart: the historic Renault Winery. 

Nearly 15 years ago my husband proposed marriage to me in the gourmet restaurant; We hosted our wedding in its banquet hall 13 years ago in May. We’ve been back many times since then for festivals, wine tours, dinners, and brunches.

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But I’d never been there for a run before! When Chrissy (my long-time friend and running partner in crime) asked if I would be interested in doing the DQ Events Stomp the Grapes 5k at the Renault Winery, my immediate response was YES!

Chrissy and I have been on a bit of a training run hiatus for the summer months so I was really looking forward to meet up with her! As an added bonus, the Renault Winery is exactly the same travel distance for each of us, so it made perfect sense.

There was day of packet pickup which is always appreciated. We got our cotton t-shirts (originally the description said they were supposed to be tech t-shirts so we were a little disappointed with that change) and our race bibs.

We met up nearly an hour before the race began so we were able to take our sweet time and meander around the grounds for a bit.

We stared longingly through the gift shop window, which didn't open until 10am.

We stared longingly through the gift shop window, which didn’t open until 10am – thankfully we were able to visit after the run!

And relaxed on the patio with a fan whirling overhead.

Relaxing on the patio with a fan whirling overhead.

It was great to take that hour to just nose around the area and catch up on each other’s lives. We wandered around, chatted with other runners, and eventually found our way to the starting area.

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This wasn’t the start line but how much fun is Prohibition Alley? The Renault is one of the oldest continuous running wineries in the U.S.A.

It was a chipped course but there was no mat at the start so your time began when the clock did. We lined up near the back of the 250 participants and waited for our instructions. We knew that the course was an out and back and it was mainly going to be on a dirt trail.

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I haven’t participated in any 5ks recently so it was a nice change to get back to a shorter distance, especially in the hot summer months.

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However, I will say that this course was no joke! The dirt trail was sand, rather than compact dirt, so each step was an effort that seemed to slog on longer than it should. The humidity didn’t help either and while the trees gave us nice shade, the air was soupy.

I was a little disappointed because while the run takes place on the Renault Winery grounds, I thought we might be running a bit closer to the vineyards. This course didn’t have much of a winery feel. How can I stomp the grapes if I’m not near any grapes?

This was the only portion of the run near the vineyards - right at the very beginning and very end of the course.

This was the only portion of the run near the vineyards – right at the very beginning and very end of the course.

The volunteers along the course were great and we made friends while we were running with people keeping the same pace as us. We pushed along, walking for little spurts but mostly running and reminding ourselves that it would be over quickly and then we’d be getting our reward of wine!

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The finishers wine glass with celebratory wine. There was also a meal option for an additional $10 which we opted not to pre-purchase.

There were 3 wine choices and both Chrissy and I went with the Pink Lady. It was refreshing after a hot run! And we also got a chance to go back to the gift shop once it opened. For the record, I got Blueberry Champagne, a favorite among the wedding buddies back then and now!

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You say banana, I say bah-na-na!

I’m already counting the days until Chrissy and I start our weekly training runs in Atlantic City again in the fall! I’ve missed this girl like crazy!

The fall races I’m registered for are in November: Run the Bridge event and the Philly Half. Who wants to make a bet that I’ll sign up for more in the interim? It’s probably a sure thing.

Hey, have we connected via all the social media outlets? Drop a note with your blog, Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter links (click on the words to find us at each!).

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.

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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!

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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!

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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!

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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.

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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!

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

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

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Mountain valley mist rising as the sun rises in Estes Park

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

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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.

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*heart eyes*

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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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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

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That bling, tho!

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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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Summer Races…and Beyond – The 2017 Caldera Triple

A few weeks ago, I turned forty. Surprisingly, it wasn’t horrible. In fact, it was pretty flippin rad. First, my Subaru that served me well for 11 years decided it didn’t feel like driving anymore. Goodbye, rD magnets.

I loved this car so much.

I loved this car so much.

So I was forced to get a new car.

Hellllooooo, Lover.

Hellllooooo, Lover.

This really was a coincidence. Promise. No for real, though. But in a way, you could say I got a pony for my birthday. (I’ve always wanted to say that!) Since before I had a license, I’ve wanted a classic Mustang. I can’t afford a classic, but my husband agreed to this new one. Because he is the best. (And he liked it a lot, too, truth be told.)

THEN, as if that weren’t enough, my husband (being the absolute best husband on the planet (see above new car)), had arranged a gift for me long before my Subaru died. This was my face when I opened my itinerary to SPACECAMP, something I’ve wanted to do since I was eight.

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They do have an adult program and I will have to get in the Multi-Axis Trainer. They claim it doesn’t make you sick. Ummmm-hmmmmm. Anyway, I work for an aerospace company and I’m a space/sci-fi fanatic, so yeah. I’m SO STOKED I CANNOT EVEN.

But birthdays tend to make me reflect on what I’ve accomplished and what I still want to achieve. My birthday did remind me that at 40, I need to focus on fitness. My biggest fitness goal is to not be frail in advanced age. To keep running, I need races to stay motivated. I’m registered for 3 races this summer that I’m excited for: The Skirt Sports 13er, and the Elk Double Challenge hosted by Vacation Races.

Last year I ran the Skirt Sports 10k at the 13er, but this year I wanted to represent with my fellow skirt sisters and do the half. It will be a whole weekend of strong women supporting each other, and that’s pretty hard to beat.

PR of 1:23:42 and I'm thrilled!

PR of 1:23:42 and I’m thrilled!

I loved the Rocky Mountain Half in Estes Park so much last year that I registered for their inaugural Elk Challenge this year. It’s a 5k on Friday afternoon and a half on Saturday morning. My oldest friend lives in Estes Park, so I’m staying with her that Friday night. SLEEPOVER! Seriously, though, last year’s half was my favorite race to date. Yes, even more than runDisney. I know, but it’s true! It’s still my favorite medal.

Poking around the Vacation Races website,  I made a discovery that will likely be the death of me and my pocket book. It’s called the Caldera Triple  because who wouldn’t want to run in view of the Grand Tetons one week, followed by Yellowstone the next? And a 5k in between?? I SAY BRING IT, NATIONAL PARKS.

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Image Credit: Vacation Races

2 National Parks, 3 races, 4 UH-MAZING medals, and some of the prettiest land in the nation. Who’s with me?

Have you ever done a Vacation Races race? What races do you have planned for the summer, or beyond?