A few of my favorite things… SPARKLE SKIRTS!

There are many ways to look at running races. They can be serious. They can be intimidating. And they can be fun. As I grow in this sport I have found that I am most attracted to the fun. And I love spreading the sparkle joy to my running friends!!

Last night I was talking to one of my dear MRTT friends at a home jewelry party and as we perused I mentioned that I am not really a “sparkly” person. And I thought she was going to get wine up her nose…

You see, my friends, in real life I tend to be rather simple – jeans, comfy tops and very classic work clothes.  I like small silver jewelry and simple patterns (polka dots, stripes, etc.) The craziest I go is the occasional bright shoe for an event.

IMG_2764

When I started running again in 2012, my running clothes were simple too.  Black, navy, gray – anything to not stand out in the crowd.  Somewhere along the way in my race a month journey in 2013 I thought, wouldn’t it be fun to add some color or a cool hat or a tutu?  So I added some crowns and some fun shirts…

image

And I taught myself how to make tutus.

9009837304_3c4d6a79e3_b

But truth be told… Tutus are not super comfy to run in, particularly when it is 90+ degrees outside.  I was reading my friend Amy’s blog (check it out – she rocks) and she was talking about specialty SPARKLE running skirts. So off I went to Sparkle Athletic for the first time.

Sparkle Athletic was born out of the blood, sweat and sparkle of three friends. Long-time runners and triathletes Carrie, Elise and Kelly stormed the Surf City USA Marathon in Huntington Beach, California clad in sparkle running skirts.

Little did they know it was the beginning of something great… and something very sparkly. 

I started with hot pink for the Diva Half Marathon in 2013….

Done

And after that, I was hooked… I pretty much wear a sparkle skirt for EVERY race now and plan my outfits for races around these crazy skirts!  For 20 of my 22 races in 2014, I added some sparkle fun.

018eac594eda9fde501cb31203b9c494635f590afd

So what do I like so much about these skirts??  I’ll share my top 5 reasons for going sparkly…

1. They are made by runners for runners.  That means they don’t get in the way and they don’t slow you down.

2. They come in TONS of colors for any race theme.  Feeling nervous, start with a holiday – it will help ease you into the sparkle experience.

3. The “girls” of team sparkle do a great job of creating a community online.  I am particularly fond of watching their Facebook and Instagram feeds for members of TEAM SPARKLE!

4. Not only are there skirts, but they have hats, shirts, sleeves, capes, wings… It’s a whole world of fun!

5. There is no better feeling than passing the guys while wearing a sparkle skirt… It’s AWESOME!!!

There are many ways to look at running races.  They can be serious.  They can be intimidating.  And they can be fun.  As I grow in this sport I have found that I am most attracted to the fun.  And I love spreading the sparkle joy to my running friends!!

IMG_2678

Leesburg 20k 2013: I must be one of the Wonders

I am very proud of finishing this race, but I am most proud of the inspiration behind it. Being a part of Team Hole in the Wall gives me the opportunity to help change the lives of very sick children. It gives them a chance to be kids again.

I wrote this post back in August of 2013 just after I finished my first Leesburg 20k.  At the time, I was running a race a month to raise money for the Hole in the Wall Gang Camp, a camp for kids with cancer in Connecticut founded by Paul Newman in 1988.  I was still running alone and using this race as a training run for my upcoming Diva Half Marathon.  It was the longest I had run in about 10 years… 

There is an emotional energy at the starting line of a long race.  I find that at that moment, I do not want to talk or stretch or anticipate the miles to follow – I just want to be part of all the hope that comes with being a runner.

Back in my 9-10 minute mile group I watch the elite runners move their way forward, new racers look around wondering how they arrived here, and friends move off to the sidelines as they wish their marathoners and half marathoners well.

IMG_1477

I was surprised to find myself feeling that same swell of emotion at the Leesburg 20k this weekend.  I was treating it as a training run for my September half marathon.  But there it was… That intense feeling of – WOW.  Not everyone can do this. We committed to a plan and here we are – ready or not, off we go.

And miles 1-5 were MISERABLE. 
I was hating myself for doing this. 
Cursing my friend who invited me to do the half with her. 
Thinking mean and terrible thoughts about my fellow runners.

And then I heard this song and saw this bridge and my whole race changed.

IMG_1478

I remembered WHY I’ve started running again.  It’s about fitness and health and doing something challenging that’s just for me.  But it’s also about the promise I made to the Hole in the Wall Gang Camp to do a race a month to help kids find a different kind of healing from cancer and other illnesses.

It’s amazing what a little inspiration can do for a long, solitary run with 1,000 of my closest running friends.  I not only finished with negative splits, but I smiled for the last mile and raced a guy 10 years younger than me to a photo finish.

9555189508_9228e98ab5_k

IMG_0600

IMG_0595 I am very proud of finishing this race, but I am most proud of the inspiration behind it.  Being a part of Team Hole in the Wall gives me the opportunity to help change the lives of very sick children.  It gives them a chance to be kids again.

Thank you and lots of love…
xo

The Good. The Bad. And the Ugly.

I have been thinking a lot about what separates a good race from a bad race.  A great running day from a terrible one.  Sometimes there are answers and sometimes I have to dig really deep to figure out what differentiates THOSE days.

My WORST race ever was the Potomac River Half Marathon last November.  The course was not what I anticipated (description said flat and fast – reality was gravel), I was burnt out, and I did not fuel properly for the race.  Thankfully I went to the race with some AWESOME friends, which made it A-OK, but if it weren’t for my wonderful friend Dora, aka Run Dominican, I think I might have walked the last three miles.  I finished with a half marathon PR, but it was a tough battle to get there and one I would rather not go through again.

10173565_10152778471318592_388011753580309801_n

You see, 2014 was full of PRs and amazing times (for me) and a TON of races (22 to be exact), but by the end of the year I was burned out and felt terrible.  So… I decided at the end of last year that I was not going to race in 2015.

My BEST race ever was just last weekend – the Potomac River Running for the Love of it 10k.  It was not my fastest or the most beautiful day.  The course was kind of hard and it was VERY cold.  But, as my friend Deb Runs shared on her blog, it was just one of those races that was SO MUCH FUN.  20+ women came out in sparkle and birthday decals to celebrate running.  I had a wonderful time and was so grateful to be out there, running and smiling!

image

When I first started running, and when I picked it back up, my only concern was finishing the allotted miles or race or whatever I had set out to do.  That remained true when I came back to running in 2012 and lasted for about a year.  But as I got stronger and started running with my MRTT group, I found that there were definite patterns to my good days and bad days.  This is what makes my running stronger…

1. Dress for the weather.  Know what works for you and make sure you have the right gear.  This starts with our “foundation” garments and goes all the way to our accessories – hats, sunglasses, etc.

2. CROSS TRAIN!!!  My running is so much stronger when I am also doing yoga, another cardio set, weight training, and stretching.  It sometimes feels like a waste, but for me — it’s critical.

3. Eat and Hydrate.  This matters before, during and after a run.  I am not a perfect eater and have not yet given up processed food.  I will admit to the occasional fast food purchase and am not 100% opposed to food that comes in a box. I get better every day, but I am not as clean of an eater as some of my friends.  I KNOW it makes a difference and try to pay attention to what I’m putting into my body.

4. Run with friends.  For me — it’s been a game changer to find like minded people to run with.  Everyone is different and it’s 100% ok.  My MRTT friends keep me accountable and give me a group to look forward to meeting.  They are “my people” and I am so grateful for them.

5. Get enough rest.  I get up most days between 4:30 and 5 to exercise or work.  I’ve found that a 9pm bedtime is critical – so much so that I am often in bed before my 4 1/2 year old. It works for me, so I keep doing it!

image

The trick is finding what works for you to be a happy, healthy, forever runner!

5 Non Fitness Facts about Me

One of my Instagram friends challenged me to share 5 non-fitness related facts…

  1. I am a complete neat freak and when I am having a terrible day, you will find me organizing a closet.
  1. I am an extroverted introvert. I enjoy people, but I need alone time to recharge.
  1. I ADORE anything Harry Potter and stayed up all night with my sister reading the last book.
  1. I have always been relatively girly, so when I found out I was having a boy I panicked! (We are fine now and I LOVE being a #boymom!)
  1. From ages 18 to 28, I moved 14 times

Why I Run

I run because it makes me a sane person.  A good mom.  A thoughtful spouse.  A present friend.  A thoughtful, hardworking employee.  Running clears the cobwebs in my head and helps the best version of me shine through.  It is not an EASY sport for me.  I do not get that runners high on my runs and rarely do miles pass without my feeling the pounding of the pavement and the hard work of my muscles.  But I am out there and without fail, I come back from every run feeling better than the moment I left.

image

Once upon a time, I wasn’t an athlete.  I got out of gym class my entire junior year of high school and had to write a paper about the power of exercise.  It wasn’t until I graduated from college, having spent four years drinking and eating late night pizza that I first entered the inside of a gym.  And it was 100% for vanity reasons.  Running came later for me.

I had just moved to DC and was fairly miserable. I hated my job.  My boyfriend was not a nice person and the relationship as ending. One particularly low day, I came home to a Team in Training flyer in my mailbox and went to an information session.  On my way out, I called my mom and told her that I was going to run-walk a half marathon. 5 months later, I ran a full marathon in San Diego.

231119_9904268591_3776_n

For the next several years, I floated in and out of love with running.  After my son was born in 2010, and I battled severe postpartum depression, I found my way back to running and this time it has stuck.  Running has saved me in so many ways and I hope we are now in a life long rhythm.

Today — I run because I get to.