Friday, June 26, 2015

Sisterhood of the Traveling Skirt

Sisterhood of the Traveling Skirt
Skirt Sports 13’er
Louisville, CO
June 14, 2015

      Skirt Sports put out a post on Facebook a few months ago that they were having a contest to name the “Big Hill” on their race course.  The race is called the 13’er. It took place in Louisville, Co.   It is a half marathon, 13.1 miles.  But they chose to call it the 13’er because 13.1 miles is not half of anything.  13.1 miles is a big achievement.  Especially when it is at 5,500 feet of elevation and then you hit the big hill.  
I submitted my idea for naming the big hill.  I saw their course map and realized it was similar to  something I run on a regular basis.  It looks like a giant letter “U” if you see it on an elevation chart.  I call my hill the “Bad Relationship.”  I call it that because when you’re in it you can’t really see how bad it is, but anyone else looking at it from the outside can clearly tell it is really, really bad.
The Bad Relationship

Skirt Sports received tons of entries but I was fortunate enough to have mine chosen!  Everyone now refers to the hill as “The Bad Relationship.” They even printed it on a tee shirt and gave me one.  I was pretty excited about this, but then they decided to have a retreat for the ambassadors during their event.  I couldn’t pass up this opportunity.  So I took my first solo trip in almost 20 years and spent the weekend with dozens of people I knew only through Facebook.  One of the other Skirt Sports ambassadors (Marilou) said she would room with me.  I have known her for almost two years through Facebook.  We both hoped the other one wouldn’t be a creep or annoying.  Turns out we got along great, we both run ultras an have a love of dogs and as it turns out, we both enjoy to put back a good local microbrew.

So I left my Border Collie babies and hubby and flew to Colorado.  I spent the weekend in Boulder and Louisville with my Skirt Sisters.  We started with a meet and greet, dinner, and tour of the Skirt Sports Headquarters.  I met Noelle Wilson and Nicole DeBoom.  These two are the beauty, brains, voice and heart of Skirt Sports.  They took us all in like we were their family.  They invited us to their home, introduced us to their husbands and children and did everything in their power to make this weekend about us, even though they had a big race to organize.  They took us hiking in the mountains and had a BBQ by the lake.  We had cake (and quiche) for breakfast while we brainstormed with them about the future of Skirt Sports.  They asked us what we liked, what we would change, what direction we would take.  I’ve never known a company that was this interested in feedback.   I am so thankful I was chosen to be a part of this amazing group.
Race morning was fast upon us and we arrived at the event early for photos and to meet up with the rest of the ambassadors.  Noelle and Nicole had provided us with new tank tops sporting the ambassador logo.  Real Women, Real Bodies, Real Inspiration!  We met with lots of the ambassadors before the race and took photos.  It didn’t matter if you were had not met someone before, that ambassador shirt let us all know who was part of this group.  It let us know who our sisters were.  
      The course was amazing.  A few of the spectators were livestock and I felt they were mocking me for my heavy breathing at mile 2 of the race.  I live at about 600 feet of elevation and this course started at 5,500 feet.  My time was pretty good until I got to my namesake.  The Bad Relationship.  Well, it wasn’t kind to me.  I decided to make the best of it and take some photos so I could show people my hill.  After I “got over it”, we were treated to a beautiful trail run that had mountain vistas like I have never seen before.  After leaving the trail it was a few miles of slight downhill and then the finish.  Then the cake.  Not just any cake.  Kim and Jake’s Cake, a local gluten-free bakery.  This was the best cake I have ever eaten.  At the finish of the race they had a red velvet with a cream cheese icing and a chocolate cake with chocolate frosting.  I enjoyed my chocolate cake while I watched and cheered in the final finishers.  I had heard some of their stories and knew the obstacles they had overcome to get to this finish line.  But funny when you think about it.  That finish line to them was really the start line for other things, bigger things, greater things.  That finish line was only the start of their next chapter and next goal.
What the weekend boiled down to is that I named a hill, I stepped far outside my comfort zone and traveled half way across the country solo to meet a bunch of people that I barely knew.  When I left, I left with a feeling of sisterhood.  I felt that I had made a bunch of new friends, people that I will likely be bonded to for a very long time.  
This whole weekend happened because of a clothing company.  Really?  A clothing company has changed my life.  I don’t know any other clothing company that has a sisterhood, a camaraderie, a common bond that makes you a part of it just because you wear their products.  Skirt Sports is an amazing company.  I would scream their name from the highest mountain (The Bad Relationship) even if I wasn’t an ambassador.  I did before they chose me (or as they stay, before I stalked them.)  
I traveled home on the plane, back to the real world.  Knowing that the weekend had changed me.  Made me a better person.  I felt like I belonged and that I was with my people.  I always joke that I was not the cool kid in high school.  But in my running life,  I sure feel like the cool kid.  

***Disclaimer: I am a brand ambassador for Skirt Sports.  They provide me with discounts on their products.  Regardless of this, I would wear their products and sing their praises.  It's a company I believe in and am I'm proud to be a part of their family.  

If At First You Don't Succeed...

If At First You Don’t Succeed...
Kettle Moraine 100 Mile Endurance Run
June 6, 2015

Shortly after seeing a cougar cross the trail in front of me I had decided my race was done.  I made it to mile 93 of the Kettle Moraine 100 Mile Endurance Run in 2013.  This year, I only made it to mile 47.  I had high hopes that this would be my year but nothing went right and nothing felt right from the beginning.  My breath felt more labored than it should on the climbs and my tendonitis was flaring up in my right calf way earlier than expected.  I didn’t have the day I wanted.  
My pace was slower than it was in 2012, I was chasing cutoff times early on.  I had felt pretty confident about this race until I was actually running it.  I wish it was easy to explain why things happen the way they do at an event.  But sometimes, simply put - you have a bad day.  Somewhere after the 50K mark I saw a group of hikers that were standing off to the side of the trail with their kids, dogs, and day packs.  I smiled and said hello as I ran past them.  Almost a mile further down the trail I came to an intersection that did not have any markings.  I knew there should be yellow flags to tell me which direction to go.  I found a nearby trail map and realized I had made a huge mistake and missed a turn.  After yelling some choice words to the nearby squirrels and birds I headed back to retrace my steps. When I found the turn I had originally missed, I realized that the day hikers had been standing right in front of the sign that was supposed to tell me to turn.  I tried to run faster to make up time but managed to trip on a rock, fall onto a downed tree limb and land with my face only inches away from a patch of poison ivy.  
I made it to the next aid station and my crew was not there.  I guess my pacing was so far off where it should be that they didn’t even know when to expect me.  I moved onward but each step I could feel myself losing my motivation.  I also felt the tendonitis pain and some pretty good blisters growing.  The cougar crossed my path and I didn’t even flinch.  I just looked up and said, “Huh, you don’t see that every day.”   When I got to the Emma Carlin aid station and saw my husband, I just fell apart.  I cried and told him that this day was not working out.  I knew that with the pain that I was in, I would not be able to keep going and finish within the cutoff.  Typically he tells me that quitting is not an option, but I guess even he knew that this day was done.  We packed up my gear and went home.  
Do I feel like a failure?  Yes and no.  Yes, because I did not finish.  But I did the best I could on that day.  No, I don’t regret my decision to quit.  I did the best could with what the day delivered to me.  In the words of Henry Ford, “No one really fails, who does his best.”  
I am going to find out if the third time is the charm in 2016.