Fort Lauderdale A1A Half Marathon 2017

Going into the Fort Lauderdale A1A half marathon, I had two goals. Have fun and get it done!

I can say, without a doubt, mission accomplished.

But of course, there’s a story that goes along with every race and this one is no exception.

This race was a last minute add in my established race schedule. A couple of weeks ago, we decided to take a last minute trip to Florida in celebration of my 12 year old’s birthday. He had big fishing plans. I had big relaxing on the beach and by the pool plans.

However… my parents live in Pompano Beach and they have been pushing this race since they watched the marathoners run past their house in years past.

Mer's mom was out cheering for the runners doing the #a1amarathon this morning! Way to go runners!

A post shared by scootadoot (@scootadoot) on

And just like that, I was signed up for the A1A half! Now, I haven’t been actively training for the half marathon distance but I knew that I could go into it with the expectation of just enjoying the run and soaking it all in.

My mom was my personal chauffeur for the weekend and she made sure I got to and from both the expo and race without having to think about logistics. Isn’t that half the battle when it comes to planning for race day? I’m so grateful for her!

We visited the expo on Friday afternoon, right as it opened. My expo experience was quick and easy. It had great embellishments like a wrapped Lexus with all of the runner’s names, as well as a wall from Dick’s Sporting Goods that had the names of the runners.

We were asked to write on the wall why we run.

The bib pickup was at the back of the hall and was arranged by last name. A photo ID was required for pick up and there was a bit of a line but it moved along. The t-shirts were at the next table over – separated by men and women cuts.

I’ll be honest, the shirt sizing feels off, which is a nothing new to me. I was going to inquire about switching up a size but there was a sign that said that shirts could only be switched on race day. I didn’t plan on carrying a shirt with me to the race so, oh well. Sticking with it! Along with the shirts we also got a goody bag filled with lots of things from the race sponsors and coupons.

There was a heat advisory for the day of the race. Race organizers did a great job of keeping everyone informed through email and posts to Facebook. I was surprised that they don’t have more of a presence on Twitter, since that’s something I’m used to with big races. Given that it was going to be so warm, I made sure to hydrate the day before the race and planned to stop at every water station.

The race was schedule to begin at 6am, which meant that I set my alarm for 4am. Super mom was able to drop me about a block from the start line (because she’s awesome). I assumed that she would drive home and then come get me later, after the race. Instead she parked her car nearby and stayed for the entire race. (Again, because she’s awesome!)

At local races I’m usually able to walk around and stumble upon people I know but in Florida I was in a sea of unfamiliar faces. I knew a few of the BibRave Pros were going to be at the race so I shone the bat signal into the sky (aka – I sent a message out on social media) and soon Samantha found me! I can’t even tell you how great it was to see a smiling face in the crowd of people.

@nacole99 and @scootadoot selfie time!

After the Star Spangled Banner was performed on saxophone (that was something different from the norm!), it was time to join the self-seeded corral.

I was pretty sure that I wasn’t going to be setting any records, so originally I placed myself near the 2:45 half pacer and figured I would see if I could hang with him for awhile (thanks for being so welcoming, Gary!). We started to run, people waiting to start the Susan G. Komen run were cheering along the chute, and I had a smile on my face.

And then, 2/10 of a mile in, this happened…

What the what?! Dumbfounded. I think that’s the right word to describe exactly how I felt as I just watched more and more and more of the train slowly make its way down the tracks. Should I pause my watch? Keep it going? Is this train ever going to end? 

You could feel the tension in the crowd as we watched the train crawl by.

Unimpressed faces, all around.

Thankfully the race organizers decided to bring everyone that was stopped by the train back to the start and we were able to begin the race again. There was an audible collective sigh of relief when they walked through the crowd to reel us back in.

Walking the wrong way across the start line…

As we started again, they played Quad City Dj’s “C’Mon ‘N Ride It (The Train)” and I couldn’t help but laugh. I already had it in my mind that I was just going to have to roll with whatever this race threw at me and this just confirmed it. 13.1 (13.3?) we’re coming for you!

The first couple of miles were along Las Olas Blvd., a cute little shopping district. Since we wound up starting a half hour later than planned the sun was coming up and it was warming considerably.

The first water stop was short on volunteers I wonder if they thought that the runners had all passed through with the first wave of people that made it before the train. The volunteers that were there hustled to make sure that everyone got cups of water. I was very grateful for them!

Just before mile 3, my mom was waiting by a drawbridge and I was so happy to see her along the course! I got a little teary-eyed as I continued along on my way but then reminded myself that I needed to stop so I didn’t dehydrate myself, especially as we turned onto A1A, right along the beach.

The sun was strong and I was looking for some sort of respite. Thankfully, right past mile 4, we turned into Hugh Taylor Birch Street Park and its beautiful canopy of trees. Whew!

2 miles in the shade – YES PLEASE!

We looped through the park and eventually came out around the area we entered.

I was very impressed with throughout the entire race was the flow of things. Even though the runners were on the road, they had some lanes open to cars. There were police and other volunteers stationed at each intersection and I felt safe the entire race.

Around mile 7 I was getting a bit more sluggish and decided to switch from 2:1 intervals to 1:1 intervals. That was a good decision on my part and pushed me through the second half of the race. On the way to the turnaround I saw both Christine and Samantha in their BibRave shirts. Always great to see familiar faces!

I bopped to my music, thanked every volunteer I saw, pressed on multiple signs for a power boost, pet dogs, and oh, stopped at the unofficial beer station!

Sure, I’ll drink your beer random strangers! Please and thank you!

I believe that the beer station was around mile 11 and by this time, I was ready to be done. It was humid and hot and my glasses were fogging.

I knew my mom was ahead and that thought kept me running with my 1:1 intervals. Also, this view!

Annoyingly, even though I used Glide, I knew I was chafing in multiple locations. You know, naturally in all the places that I forgot to apply the Glide.

Around mile 12, I spotted my mom once again and I was so very happy to see her! I handed off my iPod and focused on finishing the last mile.

There were a multitude of photographers on the course and they snagged nearly 20 pictures of me through the race! Even though it wasn’t a fast race for me, I actually purchased the pictures because I look like I’m having a blast in nearly every single one of them. And I was! The double thumbs up was strong this race.

The finish line was a little confusing because there was a Publix inflatable we ran under and then a bit further up the actual finish line. I just kept running until I saw the timing mats and medal racks!

I see the finish line! I think! Maybe?

The medals for this race are completely different each year and I love the beautiful stingray design of this one!

Plus, it opens like a locket to reveal more beauty.

The finish line party was impressive! Tons of vendors giving away lots of drinks and food. I was all about the hydration so after grabbing water, I also chugged a chocolate milk, and then beer with my momma (although even I couldn’t drink it all)!

I’m so grateful I had the chance to run this race! Even though it was hot and I thought I was melting, it reminded me how much fun I can have while running. It was a bucket filler race and I’m so glad that I did it!

Next on my race agenda is the Haddonfield Adrenaline 5k back here in good ol’ New Jersey. What is on tap for you?

Road Tested: Stunt Puppy Leash

Disclaimer: I received a Stunt Puppy leash 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! All opinions are my own.

When looking back at my blog posts on Scoot a Doot, there are common threads that really stand out to me (and most likely you as a reader).

  1. I really enjoy exercising and everything that goes along with it.
  2. I’m obsessed with my dog, Gemma June!

Three years ago this month, when my family was looking into adopting a dog, there were a few things that were given. We wanted to adopt a black dog (they’re notoriously overlooked) and we wanted to get a dog that I could run with. Based on that criteria, we began our search and quickly fell in love with Gemma.

She was approximately 8 months when we adopted her and once we got the okay from the vet, I started running with her. We worked hard on leash running manners and being a good doggy citizen.

Gemma’s been by my side during run streaks and training runs. She’s also stuck right next to me (on the couch) when I’ve been recovering from injuries and personal loss. She’s my ride or die.

You sit? I sit on top of you.

I’m speaking for both of us here when I say we were very excited when the opportunity to try Stunt Puppy through BibRave came along!

Gemma is 50 pounds of muscle and although she’s nearly 4 years old, she has the exuberance of a puppy. She can occasionally forget her own strength.

The right running gear is imperative when it comes to us running together. From the get-go she’s always worn a harness on outings rather than relying solely on a leash hooked to her collar.

The harness is safer; hooking the leash on her collar doesn’t give me enough control of her body. Control is important, especially when we’re running together, because I don’t want her (or me) getting hurt. She has a lot of momentum so clipping it to her collar could hurt her neck.

The Stunt Runner leash is designed to clip to your choice of a harness or collar. It has a bungee-like lead that has a nice amount of give. If she runs a little bit further away or suddenly sees something that interests her (bunnies, squirrels, other dogs), it isn’t a jerking motion.

photo via Stunt Puppy

You’ve got to walk before you can run so Gem and I took a few shorter walks around the neighborhood to get a feel for the leash.

A concern of mine was that the waist belt might shift, especially if she moved in front of my body. She’s trained to stay on my left but I’m also guiding her with my hand if she forgets her leash manners. Thankfully this wasn’t an issue.

While walking there were a few times she pulled ahead of me. The waist belt didn’t budge because I had it fitted to my waist. With verbal cues, she was right back where she belonged, next to me.

We graduated to running with the Stunt Puppy leash and it’s fantastic. When we run together she doesn’t have time to explore the way she does while on walks. We’re both out there, running with a purpose, so there’s no investigating going on.

My older son was eager to try the Stunt Puppy leash with Gemma as well. Adjusting the belt to fit him was easy.

I actually wanted to see how he’d do with her anchored to his waist, rather than his hand since she thinks she can get away with more when she’s paired with one of the little people. (She’s a stinker like that.)

He liked it a lot and he’s actually asked to take her on more walks since because he feels like he’s able to control her. Plus, he doesn’t worry about dropping the leash. Not that I think she’d actually go anywhere… she has it way too good here!

In the past I’ve volunteered at a dog shelter and I think the Stunt Runner would be great for walking the dogs that may or may not have leash manners. Anchoring at the waist gives you more control overall and having both hands free would be a great asset.

Jazz hands!

Stunt Puppy gets two enthusiastic thumbs up from me. I can do that because I have both of them free! I’m really happy with how well it works with Gemma and I know it will be the standard to-go from this point on during our outings.

Stunt Puppy #BibChat is happening this coming Tuesday, February 14th at 9pm EST on Twitter. Come join in! Want to save? Use code BIBRAVE217 on the StuntPuppy website for 20% now through 3/15!

Do you run with your pup? What’s the longest distance you’ve done? Gemma and I have gone 5 miles together but around 4 she starts looking tired.

Race Recap: 2017 Chili Run

What do you get when you add runners with chili and beer?

You get a good time, that’s what!

What exactly is The Chili Run? It’s an out and back, 2 mile race in Pitman, New Jersey hosted by Good Day for a Run. It starts and finishes at a favorite restaurant of my family’s, Carolina Blue. After the run, that’s where the chili and beer comes in!

As soon as I heard about this race, it piqued my interest. Why?

Because I (mostly) love to run.

And I love to eat chili.

And I love to drink beer.

My friends have raved about it in the past, solidifying its place on my race bucket list. There are not many races in New Jersey in the winter months so I was looking to keep my training alive and also to socialize. Yes, I said it. I wanted to see my friends!

Jog ‘n Hog buddy, Rachel, heard the siren song of chili and running as well, so we signed up together. Run 856 and Run 215 unite!

Registration was $35 after a group discount, plus a processing fee.

Packet pick-up was a breeze. They had race day pick-up as well set times at the local running store. I chose to grab mine the day before at Mullica Hill Running Company, Rachel got her packet the morning of the race. No muss, no fuss.

Prior to the start, we hung out in the heated tent area of Carolina Blue. It was a runner’s reunion, seeing both new and old running pals.

The race started at 10am. Hello, awesome! Usually races start right around sunrise so this was appreciated. We headed to the start around 10 minutes prior; after announcements, safety information, and the National Anthem, we were off.

The weather was perfect and hills were, well, hills. It was only 2 miles so we prepared for the challenge. Rachel and I hadn’t seen each other since the summer so it was a great time to catch up and chat as we ran together.

The feeling of this race was one of camaraderie, which is always the best feeling, in my opinion! There was a lot of hooting and hollering and high fiving as we passed on the out and back. I don’t think I stopped smiling the entire time.

As we approached the finish line, I saw familiar faces in the crowd of people hanging out and cheering. My husband and kiddos were there! It was a terrific surprise!

They stopped while on their way to Lowe’s! Yay for hometown races!

So, you all know that I’m a Type A planner but there’s one thing for which I did not plan well.

I started the Advocare 24 Day Challenge last Monday, which meant no chili or beer for me! I didn’t want to self-sabotage during this 24 day period. No biggie though, I joined Rachel as she grabbed hers and we chatted some more (no surprise there!).

That cheese looks really good though, not gonna lie.

There were other fun things like an ugly sweater contest, prizes for the fastest team, biggest team (yay Run 856/609!), and free photos.

 

Communication from Ken at Good Day for a Run was fantastic both leading up to the event and after, from the packet pick-up and race information to links with results and pictures.

The super cute swag! I know my younger son has his eyes on it already because he loves penguins. 😉

Also, I got EXTRA swag, not from the race coordinators but from Rachel! Her cousin makes these gorgeous cookies and while I can’t eat it right now, it’s waiting for me in the freezer.

Are you local and sad because you missed out on this? Good news, there’s a second date for The Chili Run – February 11th. I have a feeling it is going to sell out FAST so if you want to register, get stepping!

Road Tested: Knuckle Lights

Disclaimer: I received Knuckle Lights 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! All opinions are my own.

“All deliberate change first comes from denying the logic that most gives you comfort.” – Notes from The Universe

Years ago, I began receiving daily emails from Notes from the Universe. This one came back around on Facebook’s On This Day app and it could not be more timely.

You see, I’m trying, with every fiber of my being, to step outside of my comfort zone when it comes to running.

This means running hills.

This means pushing the treadmill up to 6.2, 6.5, and even 7.0 for the briefest of moments.

And (what I’ve been most resistant to), this means running in the DARK.

Running in the complete dark frightens me for several reasons. I always play the “what if” game.

  1. What if a driver cannot see me? During broad daylight drivers aren’t paying attention the way they should!
  2. What if I trip over something because I can’t see it? I am not the most graceful being on the planet.
  3. What if there’s someone lurking in the bushes? Or behind a tree? Or, or, or…
  4. What if there’s a snake? I’ve seen snakes during daytime runs so it could happen!

I could continue but I won’t. Suffice to say, I could come up with a lot of reasons why I shouldn’t run in the dark.

But there’s a very big reason why I will.

That’s right, I’m running Ragnar in June and at least one of my legs will be during the night. Rather than going into that with blinders on (you see what I did there?), I know that I need to be prepared mentally, physically, and most importantly, with the right gear.

Cue Knuckle Lights!

Knuckle Lights are exactly what this scaredy cat needs while running in the dark. The amount of light that each lamp emits is powerful: 280 lumens (lumens equals brightness, for those not in the lingo know). There are three settings on each: high, low, and blinking.

The Knuckle Lights design helps me feel safe while running in the dark. They have adjustable straps so they a nice and snug across the fingers. The wide and sweeping beams mean that I can see a great distance in front of me, not just what is directly in my path.

I really love that they are rechargeable! I haven’t used Knuckle Lights to the end of a charge (and I’m a little OCD about putting them back on the charger after a run), however according to Knuckle Lights the charge will last 4 hours on high, 8 hours on low, or 14 hours blinking.

They are weatherproof too, which is especially helpful because while I am able to stay inside for a treadmill run, my dog always likes to be walked no matter the weather or the time of day!

Each box comes with two lamps, a charging dock, USB cable, and a power adapter. Additionally, you can also charge by plugging into a computer.

Oh! Have I mentioned that the Knuckle Lights are magnetic? They are automatically drawn together by magnets on the inside of the lamps. That way they stick together when not in use and you’re not searching around for a missing lamp. Brilliant!

There are a few different options when it comes to Knuckle Lights; rechargeable Knuckle Lights retail for $59.99. And SCORE, you can use code “bibravepro” and receive 10% off your order.

If you’re not feeling the basic black, check out what they recently posted on their Instagram.

All the pretty colors!

I’m looking forward to getting a lot more use out of my Knuckle Lights – they are now a standard grab and go item while running in the dark and I know Ragnar is going to be THAT. MUCH. BETTER with them along for the run.

Join us next Tuesday, January 24th for the BibRave Chat on Twitter! I’ll be there with Knuckle Lights on. #bibchat

How do you stay visible during your runs? What makes you a little nervous in regards to running?

Road Tested: The RunnerBox

Disclaimer: I received The RunnerBox 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! All opinions are my own.

 

Subscription boxes are not a new thing, but they’re a fairly new practice to me. What exactly is TheRunnerBox? Well, for those of you who aren’t up-to-date with the lingo…

RunnerBox has been going strong since 2012 and is the brainchild of athletes Staci Dietzel and Laura Jorgensen.

When BibRave presented the chance to try The RunnerBox, I was more than game! I am always curious to try things before I buy them; subscription boxes are a great way to go about that without spending a ton of money on products that you might not like or use.

Plus, MAIL. Who doesn’t love getting packages in the mail?

Not for you, pup. It’s for ME!

The first thing that stood out to me, was the shaky shake noise it made. I was pretty sure that the good folks over at RunnerBox would probably not provide me with maracas for my run so that was intriguing. My guess was rice. (Spoiler: I was incorrect.)

The box was chock-full of products. I tried to take my time opening it, but I was excited!

Love the Mia Hamm quote!

Look at all of the splendor!

It is amazing how much they were able to fit in that little box. It was like a magician’s hat, more and more things kept popping out. There was no rabbit (thankfully) but I did unearth what was making the noise: Banza’s Chickpea Pasta Mac and Cheese and Chosen Foods Mango Bites with Chia. Both ah-mazing!

Yum! I loved these as a snack after my workout earlier this week. I’m a big fan of chia. I liked the crunchiness of these.

This was one I wasn’t sure I would enjoy, but I did! Mint Chocolate Crisp Oatmega Bar!

I’m still making my way through the products in the RunnerBox but it’s pretty safe to say that most things have been a hit. The HotShot wasn’t my thing because I can’t handle hot/spicy combination but that’s more on me than it is on the product. I have a friend who is a big fan so I plan to pass along the second bottle to her!

Let’s get down to brass tacks here, because I’m sure you’re probably wondering about cost of RunnerBox. There are a few different tiers of pricing, depending on your wants and needs.

6 months: $23 EVERY 2 MONTHS FOR 6 MONTHS
1 year: $22 EVERY 2 MONTHS FOR 12 MONTHS
Standard: $20 EVERY 2 MONTHS 

With the Standard option you are billed automatically until you request them to stop. That seems like it would be a slippery slope to me because who would ever want to stop getting these?! They do offer one-time options too, for birthdays and gifts.

Additionally, they have boxes like The Cyclebox and The Tribox for athletes in those fields. I like that they have specific boxes geared toward specific sports and things aren’t all clumped into one box.

All in all, the RunnerBox is a great way to check out products and find new favorites. I definitely have!

Have you tried any subscription boxes? Which ones? What in particular do you like about them? 

Keeping Busy in the New Year


As with every new year, plans are made, goals are set, and we all strive to make this one be the best one yet!

This year has started off with me doing the Ragnar 30 Day Challenge. And starting Focus T25. And committing to another round of the Advocare 24 Day Challenge. (You’ll notice those last two are two competing companies. See me, caring not.)

Of course, I’m continuing my 2 times a week weight training session and running, too. Running in December sort of fell by the wayside but I need to start stepping it up again.

Because races.

There are SO MANY RACES that I have on my radar. I would love to do them all and I suppose eventually I will; however, these are the ones that have made the schedule for the first half of 2017. There are a couple of newbies along with a few tried and true. February and May are empty as of right now… but there’s always last minute additions (Broad Street?).

january

There aren’t too many races to be found in my area in January, which is why I’m stoked for this one! Local race organizers, Good Day For A Run have two dates for this race, January 29th (I’ll be at that one) and February 11th. I’ve had this race on my radar for a couple of years now for several reasons.

  1. It’s right down the street from my house. (It was right down the street from my old house too!)
  2. It’s a 2 mile chipped event. I’ve never run a 2 mile race before! Have you? The quirky distance definitely has me intrigued.
  3. It starts and ends at one of my favorite restaurants. And after the race? There’s chili and beer!
  4. The swag is unique – a CHILI BOWL.
  5. My buddy, Rachel, is coming down to run with me!

I’ll keep you posted with how it goes!

march

In March is a tried and true race, the Haddonfield Adrenaline 5k. This event is hosted by our local South Jersey Running Company which fosters a great sense of community within our local runners. Minus last year, I’ve participated in this race since 2012. This is the only race that my husband looks forward to each year so it basically goes without saying in our house that we are going to register.

We always see a large group of friends at this race and the party that’s held at the Haddonfield Running Company after is a good time. This is one of the few 5ks that I’ve done that have finisher medals (and they’re awesome) as well as Brooks race shirts.

My PR from this race has been my 5k PR since the first year I participated. This year needs to be the year that I finally beat it on March 18th.

Here’s a couple of past race recaps, if you’re interested: 2012, 20142015

april

This is when things start ramping up!

April 1st (which just happens to be my 40th birthday, btw), I’ll be running the Hot Chocolate 15k in Philly for the very first time!

I’ve had my eye on this race since Brandi did a guest post for us in 2015. The swag looks awesome: a medal, hoodie, chocolate mug and goodies at the finish… plus I’m getting a visor because I used the BibRave code: BRPhillyHC.

I’m running with honorary Chick, Christina. Christina is celebrating her 40th birthday just before mine so we’ve declared this a joint birthday celebration!

Side note: Christina will be representing Scoot a Doot at the Disney Marathon this coming weekend! If you want to follow along, swing by the Scoot a Doot Facebook page.

April 23rd marks the 6th time I’ll be running the April Fools Half Marathon. So what keeps me coming back to this race? It’s flat and usually a lot of fun. I do training runs in Atlantic City so it’s familiar territory and through the years they’ve added things like free race photos and an awesome finish line village, complete with free beer.

I’ve run this race since its inauguration and since it switched dates to later in the month, I’m able to do both the Hot Chocolate 15k and this race. Win all around!

Blast from the past?Here’s last year’s recap.

Rounding out April, I’ll be running another Good Day For A Run race, the Heritage Vineyards 5 Miler. I participated in this race last year for the first time and it was absolutely perfect, which is why I’m returning for a repeat! It’s just down the road from my house (in the other direction from the Chili Run) and it’s an easy race for me. Easy packet pickup, easy drinking wine, etc.

The swag isn’t shabby either: a race shirt, free photos (I love free race photos – it should be standard!), a wine tumbler and wine ticket. People bring snacks or buy them from the multitude of food trucks and make a day out of it! If the weather cooperates, that’s my plan!

june

Ah, Ragnar. I don’t want to say that this is the most important race but it’s definitely the one that has been on my bucket list the longest amount of time and also I’m quite sure will be the most physically challenging.

I’ve been talking about participating in a Ragnar since Cam first told me about it back in 2011. She’s blogged about Ragnar many times on Scoot a Doot and each time I sighed longingly because I wanted to run long distances and hang out with smelly people in a van, too!

When Ragnar announced that their Pennsylvania race would be returning in 2017, I knew this was it: the Ragnar that was meant for me! June 2nd-3rd I’ll be running with 11 teammates past horse-drawn buggies and into the Poconos (those are mountains for those who aren’t familiar with the regional).

That’s what on tap for me for the next six months, race wise! Everything from a 2 mile race to a relay with three legs of varying degrees of distances/difficulty. It will be fun, right?

What do you have on your agenda for the first half of 2017? Will I see you at any of these events?

2016 Was Tough… But So Are We

We’ve all had some beef (understatement) with the year known as 2016, but some really great things happened as well. So for this post, rather than focusing on the sad, we are doing our best to count our collective blessings and looking forward to what 2017 has in store (and maybe give 2016 a few parting shots, because how can we not?).

This year. Man. I thought it was bad when Alan Rickman died, and then again when Gene Wilder left, and even again when the election happened, but this week? Woof. I feel as though 2016 has just taken my heart and stomped it into tiny little pieces. Carrie Fisher was my first spirit animal and the only princess I ever cared about wanting to be.

But, I digress. This post is supposed to be happy. And in the shit year that shall forever be remember as 2016, the one truly great thing that I can cling to was… getting engaged. And not just for the obvious reasons. Yes, it means that I get to marry the guy that makes my heart the happiest. But, it also resulted in such an outpouring of love and support from our friends and families. Knowing that we have so many people in our corner and on our side as we take the next steps in our lives is so comforting. In all of the (low-grade) stress that wedding planning can bring, at the end of the day, it’s wonderful to be reminded that so many people want to share our special day with us and to wish us well. The whole experience is a constant stream of reminders to be grateful for all of the incredible humans I have in my life.

So, 2016, as shit as you were, thanks a bunch for reminding me that even in the midst of loss and sadness, life goes on and it’s actually pretty great. Suck it, 2016. We’re better than you.

This year has been like an epic space battle in my head: The Optimistic Rebel versus The Tyrannical Cynic. I’ve been floating somewhere between join the rebellion and hide like the old hermit, just trying to emotionally survive until we can find a way to bring balance to the force that connects us all, that bind the galaxy together. Yes, I know my nerd is showing. I don’t even care.

All nerdy musings aside, so many voices were silenced this year; voices of progress and empathy and laughter and hope. We all feel the void. I’m so pissed about a lot of things that are happening in our world right now, and I feel helpless. But like the dandelion that sprouts from a crack in the sidewalk, there is a gift that this shit year has given to those who will receive it.

Thank you, 2016 for some perspective. As a liberal progressive living in California and working in public education, I’ve always recognized that there was more work to be done. I just didn’t realize how much more. 2016 was a year of privilege burdened by the inevitable aftershock of disbelief. Now it’s time to fight. Also, it’s time to unplug and spend more quality time getting to know my kids and my partner again. We go through these daily motions of waking, working, eating, sleeping, and in between, our faces glow from a screen. If 2016 taught me anything, it’s that social media are the donuts of the internet. It’s so good when I take my first bite, but afterward I just to throw up. Lastly, it’s more important than ever for me to do my part to protect our planet. It’s literally the one thing we have that we can’t live without.

So yeah, 2016, you need to GTFO. And fair warning 2017, you’d better watch yourself. I’m in the mood to kick a little ass.

2016 was a great year for me personally, which is weird to say. I kind of feel guilty that I had so much good happen to me in 2016. I went to Disney for the first time, turned 40, bought my dream car, got the best present in the world from my husband; a trip to Space Camp, and ran three half marathons. Some parts of 2016 were fabulous, and I wish I could do them a second time. Although, I do get to love my car and my husband every day. I’m blessed for sure.

I was also heartbroken by the loss of so many of my childhood idols and important voices we lost too young. I honestly can’t start thinking about it or I’ll cry. (The force is one with you, Carrie.) It just hurts way too much. I’m choosing to believe this is what’s happening:

And it’s a little known fact to my fellow Chicks that I’ve always been something of a political junkie. There wasn’t really a need to get riled up during the Obama years because, well, as a progressive liberal from one of the bluest counties in one of the states least affected by the Great Recession, I was in my bubble. And things looked fine in my bubble.  Buuuut, I’m also a fan of (or maybe ‘student of’ would be a better term) George Orwell. So for me, 2016 was full of head shaking and fist shaking and local activism. Like Cam, I will be channeling my inner Ellen Ripley and Princess Leia to fight for all that is good in this world under the name 1976_Patriotess. BRING IT, 2017.

You can likely guess what I loved most about 2016… Yep. Baby Joe.

My maternity leave ends in a few days and I’ve cherished my time bonding with my son, born 16 weeks ago. I can hardly believe how fast this time has flown and at times am beyond exhausted. But one gummy grin from my guy and all the challenges melt away.

I’ve been wanting to write about his birth (an unexpected c-section after 19 hours of labor), early days of motherhood, the challenges of breast-feeding and other life changes for this first time mom, but it just never happened.

I look forward to an incredible 2017, which will begin with a whirlwind 2 weeks solo parenting, pumping in the office and beginning of daycare. Any back to work advice you can offer me as I leave Joe in the hands of our beloved caregiver, would be greatly appreciated!

Here’s to a happy, healthy 2017!

From a personal standpoint, 2016 has been an incredible year for me. I’ve remained injury free, hit personal bests in many of my race distances (5 mile, 10k, 10 mile, and half marathon – WHOA), traveled with my husband, and more. But what really stands out to me as the highlight of my year is that we were finally able to purchase a home that we’ve worked extremely hard for the past 13 years.

It’s always a bit daunting to make such a big life change and my family and I are very much creatures of habit. While moving to the next town over might not seem like a big deal to some, it was huge for us. I’m happy that my children have settled into their new school district and that I’ve been able to make connections with new friends (and some old ones that live here, too!). Additionally, since we’re not far from our old stomping ground, we haven’t left anyone behind!

The 2017 calendar is already filling up with social engagements like parties, weddings, races, and more and I’m looking forward to being with friends and family. I hope it is gentle and kind with all of us, because we could really use a healing year. You’ve gotta have faith. 

What has brought you joy in 2016? What are you looking forward to in 2017?