Thursday, July 21, 2016

In the Land of Unicorns...Part 1

Last month I had the opportunity to participate in the Skirt Sports Ambassador Retreat and 13er Race Weekend in Boulder, Colorado and lemme tell ya...it was AH-MAZ-INGGGGGG!!!! Seriously, it's been over a month and I'm still blown away every time I think about that weekend, the amazing stories, the fantastic people, all the love, all the inspiration and so much more!! So let me tell you all about it!

First, a little back story. This is the second year that Skirt Sports has held their Ambassador Retreat and I was super bummed that I wasn't able to go last year. So when I was welcomed back as an Ambassador this year, I told my husband that I didn't care what we had to do to make it happen, I was going to be there for it. Thankfully for him, he listened, and he also decided he wanted to go with. He knew it was going to be a lot of time for him to hang out solo, but he was okay with that.

We flew out bright and early on a Friday morning and had no problems getting into Denver, picking up our rental car, and driving into Boulder. Right away we were amazed by the views in Colorado - seriously, it was soooooooo beautiful!!! Just green everywhere and Rocky Mountain vistas in the background. We were immediately in love...

The beauty of an early morning flight is watching a sunrise like THIS one!! 
Our first views of Colorado didn't disappoint!

Coming from California, especially right at the tail end of a massive heat wave, where everything is already crisp and brown, seeing green was such a welcome sight! I could not get over how LUSH everything was.

Since the hubby decided to come with me and he knew he was going to be hanging solo for large chunks of time, he insisted on finding a hotel that was central to things to do, was appealing, and had a good view. So we selected The Hotel Boulderado in downtown Boulder. And it was so spectacular!! The Boulderado is an historical landmark with two sections, one that is part of the original hotel and decorated in a Victorian style, and the newer section that is more modern. We went with the Victorian and got one of the suites that had a balcony and I'm so glad we did. That balcony was one of my favorite parts of the hotel, along with the lobby and the grand staircase. I felt like I was in a movie, and thankfully I only felt like the movie was The Shining a couple of times. Ha!!

The Hotel Boulderado Lobby in downtown Boulder, Colorado

The view from the balcony at The Hotel Boulderado
After getting all settled into our room at the Hotel, we headed downstairs to the Corner Bar at the hotel and got some lunch. The food was amazingly good, the waitress was fabulous (she even remembered us when we went back the next day for dinner including what we had to eat and drink!) and the vibe was totally chill.

I mean, you can't go wrong with an awesome moose and bottle chandeliers, right?!?


But what I was most excited about was the reception that was scheduled for that night at the actual Mothership - the Skirt Sports store!!!! And not just getting to see the actual store, but finally getting to meet in real life all these wonderful ladies that I had formed friendships with over the past year. I was a little nervous, but when you throw on an awesome Skirt Sports outfit it is like throwing on a coat of armor - you have a little extra pep in your step! Besides, I had cash in my pocket and I was going shopping for new Skirt! LOL But, I will admit that I was like a high school girl in total geeked out fandom splendor. I felt like every time I turned around at the reception and got to meet another fabulous lady I just couldn't help jumping up and down, squealing in delight, and hugging the ever lovin' heck outta whoever was unlucky enough to be on the receiving end of my excitement. I'm sure you can picture it...heehee

Kim, Me, and Kriss - Just call us the Special K's! ;-) 


Jennifer, Sami, Amy and me! You might recognize those gorgeous gals as some of Skirt's models! They are gorgeous inside and out!

Noelle Wilson, the Ambassador Program Coordinator - AKA a ROCK STAR OF A WOMAN!!

I just can't even begin to describe how amazing it was to meet all these ladies and to give them a hug and talk to them face to face. I know it may seem over the top, but these gals that are part of Skirt Sports - they are absolute UNICORNS!! They just radiate positivity and empowerment and determination and perseverance and LOVE...So. Much. Love. You know that part of the mission of Skirt Sports is to embody that women come in all shapes and sizes and that we all have many roles in life, but I mean it when I say that Skirt Sports isn't just talking the talk - they are walking the walk!! These gals that are part of the Skirt family come from all different backgrounds and life stories, are all shaped different, all have different activities that are "their thing" but one thing is consistent and that is that in being a woman we are strong and that #REALwomenmove. It's true, y'all!! I honestly wish I could have bottled the warm fuzzies and share them with everyone I know.

Oh, and my wallet went home a little lighter, but I picked up some amazing things at the store! A few of the items in the store weren't yet available online and are some faves in my collection including this shirt:

Friends & Coffee & Running & Skirts - this shirt was MADE for me!!! And that's my Melissa in the background eating up some delicious Noosa yogurt - a Colorado based company that was one of the weekend's sponsors...and SOOOOOO good y'all! Seriously, so good. 
Another highlight of the night was getting to hear Nicole De Boom share with us some little anecdotes, her skirt story and how Skirt Sports was born, some behind-the-scenes previews (have you checked out The Sewing Room yet?) and more. You guys, she is AMAZING!!! I just don't have words to even describe her outside of she is like the Mother Unicorn! So warm, engaging, funny, authentic, kind, and inspiring. I implore you to watch this little video of her speaking at a women's event in Colorado, Evoso Live:


The evening ended with a sneak peek at the Fall/Winter line that will be releasing over the next several weeks, but I do have it on good authority that you may want to start stalking the website as early as TOMORROW for the first set of items. I have come to expect a lot from Skirt Sports, and for good reason! What I saw in the preview is definitely exciting and I know I'm pinching my pennies right now in preparation for buying all the things.

There was still a lot of fun to be had over the next several days and no matter what, just know that there's no way possible for me to truly convey how amazing it all was. But if the first night hanging out in the Land of Unicorns was any indication, then hopefully you know it was EPIC! More to come...stay tuned for the Ambassador Hike & Breakout Sessions, and of course, the 13er race (sneak preview is that I earned my personal worst finish time and am so glad I did!).

Here's a few pics from the Skirt Sports store (AKA The Mothership)


Talk about motivation walls!

How the magic all began - that's THE very first running skirt, EVERRRRRR!!

The entire Ambassador weekend was helped along by some amazing sponsors and we are all so thankful for them stepping up and supporting us. Special thanks to:


This CAKE you guys...best I've ever had, yo!





Two Moms in the Raw
SKA Brewing

Thanks again to all the wonderful sponsors! They kept us fed, hydrated, and happy all weekend long!


Tuesday, March 29, 2016

A Good Dose of Happy

Photo by: Melissa Grimes on 3/27/16

What can I say, folks...I've been just living high on life lately!! I'd like to say that's why I haven't updated the little ol' blog lately, but I'm not going to start making excuses for that. Today is a new day and I'm going to start from right here, right now. :-) So here's a good dose of what is making me happy lately!

1. Being Outdoors

The weather in SoCal has been absolutely KILLING it lately and I've been enjoying being outside soaking it all in. We are a little cool and breezy at the moment, but low 80's will be back by the weekend. I've been outside hiking, running, sitting, eating, playing. I can't get enough of the outdoors these days.




2. Running

My running has been going really well lately and I'm having a great time! Okay, maybe not a "great" time in the sense as a great time when you're doing something that isn't a form of exercise...But it's getting me outside on the weekends and is allowing me Netflix time on the weekdays. LOL Kind of joking there - but honestly, the feeling that running gives me, that sense of power and
accomplishment, is priceless! And then hand in hand with running is my ever growing Skirt Sports collection, my ever growing Balega Socks collection and my ambassadorships with Skirt Sports, Balega, Nuun Hydration, 261Fearless, and the latest - Momentum Jewelry!! I have gotten to work with some fabulous companies that are doing such AMAZING and INSPIRING things and I'm super thrilled to represent quality brands that have a larger message than just making some money or selling a product.


3. The Walking Dead

I just started watching - don't tell me ANYTHING!!! I'm digging it so far!
And how cool is it that it is Rick GRIMES...total badass - I'm sure we must be related. LOL

4.  Family

Enough said - I am blessed beyond belief with my family. The grandkids are just amazing, the kids are awesome, the hubsters is fabulous. Life is good and I'm so lucky to have a big crazy family to share it with!

The Little Litigator's first trip to the beach! Photo by: Curt Miyasato (And yes, that's Momma holding that little guy and yes, you would never know she had a baby 5 months ago...she doesn't get it from me. LOL)

5. Friends - New and Old

Not really anything extra I need to say here - I appreciate the friendships I have with some really, really, really awesome people!



So there's a handful of things that are giving me a good dose of happy these days. Your turn - what's something that is keeping you happy? I wanna hear all about it in the comments!


Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Positive Domino Effects


There's a commercial out for, I think, breakfast sandwiches or something like that where it talks about how one good decision can impact other decisions and so on and so forth. Basically it is the Domino Effect in a positive fashion - each one impacts the next and creates a chain reaction. You get me, right? :-)

Well, that's where I'm at right now - I feel like I've been able to put some real momentum into my dominoes and they are a tumbling left and right and creating a massively awesome chain reaction! And it feels AH-MAZ-ING!!! Now granted, I know that sometimes the gap between my dominoes is set too far and it momentarily derails it. But with just a little adjustment, it is back up and running again. So what have I been doing to make this happen? Keeping at my goals that I set at the beginning of the year. Plain and simple...let's do a quick goal check.



Goal #1 - Be Financially Responsible
I've been keeping up on my checkbook each week, setting a budget at the beginning of each month, getting bills paid, and have my tax appointment this weekend. So far, so good and I really, really, really like how it removes an immense amount of stress to have it all settled every week and at the beginning of the month. Removing the stress of wondering where I'm at with my funds allows me to focus on the other important things in life.

Goal #2 - Position Myself for a Work Promotion
I've been super productive at work, especially the past several weeks, and that has allowed me to get to a place that I'm not just marking urgent items off of the to-do list, but I'm actually getting to the things that are always at the bottom of the pile. Because IF I do get that promotion at the end of the year then someone else will also have to come in and do my job and I really want to leave everything in a good place for whoever that person might be. I'm also dressing the part, rocking my leadership class, and putting the pieces in place to continue my educational pursuits. I'm getting great feedback from the big guy so I feel like I'm on the right track here.



Goal #3 - Get to Goal Weight
I'm down about 11 pounds since the first of the year and have (mostly) been eating well and hitting my workouts. I had a terrible flu for a good solid week at the end of February that really took a lot out of me, but I'm pretty much fully recovered at this point and am using full effort in my workouts. Additionally, I had zero appetite while I was sick, so the flu diet paid off for me. I was a little worried about regaining the weight that I lost while sick when I started eating again, but I just had to realize that I was going to most likely bounce up a few pounds because no matter what I needed to eat especially if I wanted to get my workouts going full steam again. I did regain about 2 pounds and I'm okay with that. But the good news is that I'm below 170 for the first time in FOREVERRRRR and my clothes are really starting to fit loose. I would say I'm mostly on track with this goal, but do have minor setbacks like too much fast food as I recovered from being sick and those darn Girl Scout cookies. They are pure evil.


Goal #4 - Develop My Blog
This is the one goal that I really feel I've been failing with. But with that said, I really do feel like I'm getting to a better place to start adding that priority in a little more. I've been so focused on goals 1-3 that something had to give and this was the one. But with getting those things into a habits formed, domino effect mode I feel I can start to work on making this one a habit too. Baby steps...

As far as some of my lesser goals or intentions, I'm four books in on this year so far which is awesome since last year I think I maybe read 4 books total and the hubby and I made some great progress on things that needed maintenance around the house back in late January/early February but have stalled out recently - BUT we do have a list and are working on prioritizing it. Some of the things I'm not necessarily nailing right now are writing in a journal, getting to work on time, etc. But I'm still committed to working towards them and that's the really great thing about goals or intentions - you don't have to quit because you have a setback! You just dust yourself off and keep going and that's what I'm doing.

And you know the best thing? Having some goals in place and continuing to strive for them is helping me make even more good decisions and that makes me happy which makes me try harder and it's one of those awesome circles of positive!


QUESTION: How are your 2016 goals going so far? Have you checked in on them lately?

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Integrity to Self...

I had something else entirely I wanted to write about today - running goals. But sometimes you just gotta go with the flow, right?


I was super excited to find out that I had been chosen to participate in a year-long leadership program where I work that started in January of this year. There are about 20 of us that were chosen by the Administration to be in the very first cohort of this program, and I was one of those selected! It's a huge opportunity and considering that one of my goals for 2016 is to position myself at work for a promotion, this leadership program fits very nicely with that goal. So we meet twice a month for the first 5 months, then get June and July off (I imagine we will have some homework or projects to do during this time), and then spend the final 5 months of the year meeting monthly as we are implementing everything we learned during the first half of the year. It's an exciting time, indeed!! Okay, so now that we have that background out of the way let me dive into what's on my mind: Integrity.



We all know that quote right there, right? Integrity is doing the right thing even when no one is watching...and that's definitely a huge part of integrity for sure!! It's absolutely important that you are doing the right thing regardless of whether anyone sees it or not. Or how about this one:



So another big piece of integrity is doing what you say you'll do, right? But one of the things this class has really gotten me to think about is integrity to MYSELF. Yes, I do pretty well in maintaining my integrity with others. I will usually do what I say I'm going to do, for the most part; but will definitely take ownership when I can't follow through on a promise or commitment of my time. I also live a right life as I don't cheat or steal and all that good stuff. But do I keep my word to myself????

When I say that I'm going to lose weight as one of my goals, am I saying that with integrity behind it because the thing I'm saying is lining up with the things I do? Or when I say I'm going to blog consistently as one of my goals, same principle - is it in alignment between say and do? Hmmmmm...definitely makes me think! And definitely makes me realize that no, I'm absolutely not living with integrity in some aspects of my life. When I set a goal and then do absolutely nothing to realize that goal I am basically removing integrity from the situation. Makes sense, no??


So basically when I say this year that I'm going to lose weight, I am really trying to put some integrity behind that by making choices that truly REFLECT that commitment to myself. Because really, a goal is a commitment, correct? And when you are committed to something you show it through your actions, right? I can't say I'm committed to my goals if I'm not proving it through my actions.


So here I am - re-committing myself to my goals on a daily basis and not just saying - but DOING!! Because talk is cheap and if all I do is say I'm going to accomplish a goal and I don't put action into it, then I'm not living with integrity. And the law of integrity says that if you live outside of integrity you will have consequences. Mainly, my word becomes less than a promise. It becomes something that is only followed through on when it is convenient and that's not the life I want to lead. I want to be someone that says what they are going to do and DOES IT. I want people to know that if I've put my mind to something, I will accomplish it. I want people to know that when I give my word - even if it is just to myself - that it MEANS something.

Question: Are you living with integrity in all areas of your life, including the promises you make to yourself? How are you taking action steps towards the commitments you have made to YOU?

Thursday, January 28, 2016

2016 Goals

Remember when I mentioned that if I get overwhelmed I tend to just stick my head in the ground and quit sharing back when I talked about my One Word for 2016 (Grow)? Yeahhhhh, well, consider that as being the case these days. I had grand plans for being on top of 2016 and those are all still there, they just kind of got pushed to the back burner while I got my head knocked around by reality for a little bit. But here's the thing, especially as I start talking about my 2016 goals - just because you didn't meet a goal, doesn't mean you should throw it out the window. It just means you need to re-evaluate, adjust where needed, and get back to it. So with that, let's talk goals for a moment.



First, I am going to be quick to admit that I'm pretty good about setting goals. Working towards them? That's a whole other issue. hahaha I can set them, I can apply SMART goal setting techniques, I can come up with plans for meeting them but in the end, more often than not, I get off the beaten track and end up tossing them out the window. BUT...I'm determined to not let that happen in 2016. I'm determined to pick myself back up, dust off my britches, and get back to it if I get knocked off of the proverbial horse. Like right now...dusting myself off.


I did a lot of thinking about my goals and coming up with meaningful ones for me to work on this year...and I'm actually really excited about them and the possibilities of where they can take me!

Goal #1 - Be Financially Responsible
Ahhhhh - yes, MONEY!! It's necessary, but it sure is the bane of our existence sometimes. And it can cause so much grief if not handled appropriately. Here is it broken down:

  • Set a budget monthly. My husband and I have a day calendared towards the end/beginning of each month to sit down and do a full review of how we did that month and create the plan for the next month making sure we budget for any extras like vehicle registrations, repairs of any kind, debt payoffs, etc. 
  • Balance the checkbook each week to ensure nothing is getting missed and everything is hitting the account as it should be.
  • Create a spending report for the month and use it as a balanced scorecard to assess if we are being financially responsible
Sure this isn't a glamorous goal and doesn't elicit all kinds of excitement like, perhaps, training for a first marathon or other life event. But this one sets the stage for everything else because if I'm spending all my time stressing about money, I won't have the energy to do the rest of what life requires.



Goal #2 - Position Myself for a Work Promotion
There's a possible opportunity for me to get a promotion this year at work and it's the one I've been waiting for. I've had several other chances to do other things at work that would have brought me increased pay, but for me anyways, work is about so much more than what I take home in my paycheck. So I made the conscious decision to hang back in the intention that down the road the job I want will open up. I think it is very real that this could happen in 2016. So in order to prepare myself for that I have some objectives outlined:
  • Enhance my professional appearance - I always dress nice and professional especially when I consider the campus culture, but my feeling is that I take "casual Friday" and dressing down in summer more seriously than I need to. I would rather up my game in that arena and be dressing nicer rather than dressing with the crowd. I'm not talking super fancy like suits when the work culture is skirts and sweaters; but I'm talking that I can wear a nice pair of jeans with some appropriate boots, sweater or blouse and accessories. I don't need to wear a t-shirt to work pretty much ever. Simply put.
  • I've been given the opportunity to participate in a year-long leadership program at work, and I'm so excited that I was selected. It's about 22 people that were nominated by their division leadership and it's a great group of people that are most likely the future generation of movers and shakers here at the college. So I'm quite humbled to be in such an esteemed group of colleagues. So needless to say, I'm planning on totally rocking the program and getting everything I can out of it.
  • Start my Bachelor's Degree program. It's been too long and I've pushed it back enough. It's time to get it done. My plan is to be in my program by summer (July/August depending on when the cohort starts). To get there I need to secure my financial aid package (this goes with the financial responsibility goal too) and clear some stuff off of the personal plate to ensure my brain is available to get back in the swing of the educational game.
  • And of course, be a stellar employee that is focused on work when I'm there. I need to cut out some of the distractions and be fully present in what I'm working on.


Goal #3 - Get to Goal Weight
No really...get to goal weight and keep it off! I know that I'm one of those people that has set this goal every year for so long, but I'm not going to let that keep me from chasing it this year again. I will meet it. I will. My objectives to accomplish this:
  • I set this goal with my running coach, so we are going to be working on it together...talk about accountability!
  • I will track my calories even though I hate it and I will drink at least 8 cups of water a day. I will pack my lunches more often than not and I will train consistently.
  • I developed a reward plan that goes into effect on February 1 so I will earn some money to help me buy new clothes as I shrink out of what I have...or just to buy fun stuff along the way like kick-ass tunes or new books.
  • I have plans to add back in some lunch time walks too, but I need to move it out of the "plan to" stage and into the "doing" stage. 
  • (FYI - I'm down 6 pounds since the first of the year! Woohoo!!) 



Goal #4 - Develop My Blog
Yeah this little space of mine over here that I like to so often neglect. The reality is that I enjoy blogging, I just don't want to make it my career. So I've done a lot of thinking about what that means and how I should go about blogging without it consuming my every waking moment. (Obviously, I haven't done a very good job getting this one off the ground yet in 2016...but I'm dusting myself off!!)

  • Blog 3x a week minimum on Monday, Tuesday and Thursday
  • Develop a solid editorial calendar and stick to it as much as possible
  • Set an appointment for writing content every night when I get home
  • Study at least one blogging resource a week
  • Attend the 2016 IDEA BlogFest!! (So excited about this one and that I get to attend as a Sweat Pink Ambassador!)
  • Represent the brands that I am an ambassador for through consistent posting on social media and with appropriate blog posts
I have some other lesser goals like read more, journal more, perform maintenance around the house on a somewhat consistent schedule (like baseboard cleaning, light plate covers...things like that), check back in on my goals each month, etc. Those are more intentions of how I want to live though rather than a solid GOAL that I can measure. I also have three running specific goals that I will talk about in the near future. Stay tuned...

So there you have it - my 2016 goals! I think you can probably see that I did put some thought into these and I think they will all help me GROW this year!



QUESTION: Do you have goals set for this year? What are some of them and how are you working on achieving them?


Monday, January 11, 2016

Citrus Heritage Half Marathon - Race Review



This past Saturday, January 9, 2016, I participated in the Sixth Annual Citrus Heritage Run (third annual with the half marathon distance) in Riverside, CA. This is my third year doing this race and it is truly one of my favorites! Need evidence? You can read my race reports from 2015 and 2014 - Part I and Part II. Okay, so a couple notes about the race - there is a 5k and Half Marathon option as well as a kids fun run. It is an out-and-back course next to the Arlington Sports Park in the citrus area of the city of Riverside (Southern California/Inland Empire area). The race is put on by the Riverside Road Runners and benefits their youth scholarship fund. We had gotten a significant amount of rain the week leading up to the race, and in their last email to participants they noted that they had an alternate, all-road, course plotted out for use if needed as the regular course (USATF certified) is partially on dirt roads. Thankfully, we dried out enough that they didn't need to go to Plan B, but I was thrilled to know that they had an alternate course in place so that the race could go on rain or shine. Alright, let's talk details!

We were greeted with an amazing sunrise!

Registration

The day of registration cost for the half marathon was $90, and prior to that was $85. I registered fairly early so I think I got early bird pricing. If I remember right I think it was about $80, but don't quote me as I don't know exactly. They have a great event website that includes all the details and is very well organized. Registration and packet pick-up at the event is very easy as well. You just look up your bib number and then stop at the tent to get the bib, then get your t-shirt at a different tent. Super easy and well staffed. I don't think it took us more than 5 minutes to do the entire process and it was very clearly marked and easy to know where to go.

Expo and Venue

I absolutely love this venue for races! It is held at the same sports park that the Hometown Heroes Honor Run is held at so it offers lots of great parking, real restrooms (they also have plenty of port-a-pots too), and a playground to keep the kiddies entertained while waiting. It's also very easy to get in and out of and offers plenty of room to get a good warm-up in. The expo is very tiny, but I really don't care about that anyways. They have several booths, some food trucks, and a DJ getting the participants pumped up and ready to run. I love it just as it is because it is so easy to navigate and never feels overwhelming.


Swag

Participants get a long-sleeved technical shirt. This year the shirt is gray and has the logo on the front. Last year's shirt was prettier and had more detail, but I still really like it and gray seems to be the "it" color for race shirts right now as my friend Sally just did a race that also had gray/silver shirts. There really isn't anything else outside of the shirt, although there are other race perks that I'll talk about in post-race celebration in just a few moments. :)

Sally and I pre-race...freezing our tushies off! LOL Starting temps in the upper 30's/low 40's. Okay, I almost feel guilty saying that 30/40 is cold when I saw plenty of my friends around the country in negative degrees! HA!
But that's SoCal cold...sorry!


Course

I have made no bones before about how nice this course is! I really do love it as it has the perfect mix of gorgeous views, challenging terrain/hills, downhills, and turns to keep it interesting. Beginning at the Sports Park you immediately get a nice downhill to get you started as you run along orange groves before heading into the Historic Citrus Park. This first section has some fairly decent hills and can really kick your rear if you aren't careful. Racers pass by several real restrooms that are open for use during this section, and the citrus park has at least two aid stations. After the citrus park it is back out into the orange groves after off-roading for a little bit. Several miles wind through the orange groves and this terrain makes runners really focus on footing - which I actually like because it keeps me focusing on that instead of how tired I am! After the orange groves it is up a long gradual hill overlooking a beautiful canyon to the halfway turnaround. From there you get the downhill for a bit which is SO NICE before turning towards residential streets to run the final 5k of the race. There are a few more hills on the final stretch and they still throw me for a loop because I just don't have anything left by then. HA! There are a lot of port-a-pots along the course and they have the streets closed to traffic (THANK YOU!!!!). There are a lot of lot of aid stations well stocked with cold water and gatorade, and at the halfway they had oranges (ohemgee so delicious!!) and plenty of GU in lots of flavors to choose from. The volunteers at the aid stations are amazing and have it down to a science as they let you know if they have water or gatorade as you are coming up. Lots of great signs, cheering, and helpful volunteers out on a chilly morning! Two of my favorite things about this course is that there is a section where you pass the front of the pack runners - that is so motivating to just see them flying by; and then there is another section where you pass the 5k runners as they make their way into the citrus park...so much fun to get to "mingle" with the other runners. Plain and simple, I'll say it again, I love this course. It is my favorite half marathon course to date.


Just after the starting line! There's nothing like seeing runners for days ahead of you!! I <3 it!

Medal

The medal is amazing every single year! High quality, perfect size, pretty to look at, fabulous ribbon. Take a look:

I love their medals each year and they are some of my favorites hanging on the medal rack. They definitely get this right every single year.

Here's a picture of me holding it so you can get some size perspective. It's not huge, but it's definitely not tiny either. I would say it is Goldilocks "just right".




My Gear

I wore the following:
Skirt Sports BBF Beanie in Pink Crush (on sale for $9.99 right now and I LOVE IT!!)
Skirt Sports Don't Sweat It Long Sleeve in Razz (I wore the Ambassador top that isn't available, but they have other awesome prints available!)
Skirt Sports socks (not currently available)
Flip Belt*

Fuel was Island Boost and GU Chomps (I alternated for a total of 4 times fueling during race)

*I'm struggling with a way to carry my new iPhone 6s Plus so I had to break out my FlipBelt. It did fit, with the case on if I really stuffed it in there, but I think I'm probably one of the only people on the planet that doesn't really care for the FlipBelt. I don't know if it's just my body shape, but they say that it won't ride up and will stay where you put it...nope, not for me. I would prefer to wear it around my hips, but it always makes its way up to my waist (usually taking my shirt with it risking flashing people) and that makes it difficult to get anything out of it. That's the other part of my dislike, you have to flip it over to keep items inside, but then you can't get anything out of it without flipping it back over and then you run the risk of items falling out. I lost my body glide during my marathon and a chapstick another run. One final thing I don't like about it is that it doesn't have a waterproof layer so my phone case was all sweaty at the end of the run. Moisture + Phone = Bad Idea. Right? haha The only reason I'm using it right now is because I didn't have anything else that I could use for my phone. If you have any recommendations, please let me know!!

The clothes were all spot on and absolutely perfect. I have zero complaints about anything I was wearing outside of the Flip Belt. Skirt Sports is just the best. I'll have a 2016 discount code available for you very soon!

My Race

You guys - I had a really good race!! Coach Tiffany and I had decided prior to the race that this wouldn't be a PR push and would be an opportunity for me to just get out and run and see where I'm at so we can put together a great plan for my spring races. I knew I wanted to start off nice and slow so I didn't get tight legs/shins like I have in the past, I knew that I wanted to walk through the aid stations and take in some water/gatorade at each as I was not carrying any water on me this time (wanted to see how it went if I didn't carry my own since it wasn't a PR push), and I knew that I wanted to try to tackle the hills stronger than I have in the past. If I needed to walk them I would, but I would definitely try to not let them get into my head. So with those goals in mind, I started off slow, gradually geared up and didn't let the hills scare me. When we got to the first big hill I looked and it and said out loud "I LOVE HILLS!!! I'm going to totally run this thing right now! I eat hills for breakfast!" I don't know what else I said but I pretty much convinced myself up the entire thing and then I got to the top of this hill that I walked the previous two years and wanted to absolutely burst into tears that I DID IT!! I ran it and I didn't even feel like I was going to die. And the kicker? I didn't start walking at the top...I kept running right up the next hill, and right up the next one, and so on and so forth. For 10 miles I ran every single hill and I only stopped to walk through the aid stations. The mental boost from that...I can't even begin to tell you how good it felt.

Sally and I getting our groove on!
I took a brief moment of pause at the halfway point to take off my beanie and throw my hair into a ponytail as I was getting too warm. My gloves came off about 7 miles in. My sleeves rolled up about 8 miles in. haha Okay, so you know I ran strong for 10 miles but I definitely felt the fatigue really settle in at that point and I ended up taking some walk breaks during the remainder of the race. I was really feeling the fatigue in my hips and feet, so I started picking out a spot to run to, then would walk to a spot, and then start again. But I typically get tired much earlier than 10 miles, so I was thrilled. I finally headed to the finish line and kicked it into high gear to sprint to the finish line! I even got another gal to really pick it up because she could see me coming up behind her and she wasn't about to let me pass her! I told her she better get it if she didn't want me to beat her! We high-fives each other at the end of the race. LOL I just love that...the spirit of perseverance. She was a fighter and I salute that! Before I share my finish time for this race, I want to share my previous two finish times first.

2014: 2:53:20
2015: 2:59:01

And this year:
2016: 2:38:55

Guys - that's 20 minutes faster than last year and 15 minutes faster than 2014 on the exact same course!!! A 15-minute course PR!!!!!!!! Am I excited about that? HECK YEAH!!! And what's my overall half PR? 2:42 at the Tinkerbell in 2012. A flat course that I ran before my knee disaster! So not only did I get a 15-minute course PR, I also got a 4-minute half marathon PR. My work with Coach Tiffany is totally paying off. I said in my post on Instagram/Facebook that I don't do it very often as I tend to be very hard on myself, but I'm so proud of my effort on this race. I wasn't going for a PR, but I got one anyways. But more important to me than any numbers was that I ran those hills that beat me every other time. More important is that I felt great. More important is that I fueled and hydrated to plan. More important is that when my watch clicked off the miles I was shocked at how quickly it was going by. I feel like I won a mental battle on this run and that is the absolute most important. I'm gonna ride this runner's high for a while. LOL


Post-Race

The post-race amenities at this one are pretty good. They have bananas, fresh oranges, and Clif bars, full water bottles, and Gatorade along with bowls of chili from Farmer Boys (a local burger joint that is just now expanding to the Los Angeles area). They also had mylar blankets this year and had the beer garden back again. One of the best things about the beer garden? They had belly bars (those are the high tables) and bowls of pretzels on the tables. Nice touch!! (I didn't partake in the beer garden, but a nice gentleman was more than happy to put my ticket to use! hahaha)

Final Thoughts

Did you guys get the idea that I really like this race? *wink* I really do - I love this race. Gorgeous course with just enough challenge, great amenities, wonderful course support, lots of volunteers, great swag in a beautiful location at a perfect time of year. What more can you ask for? Seriously, you won't be sorry if you run this race. Hope that you'll join me in 2017 because I will definitely be back!!

Finally, I will also highlight that this is part of the Run Riverside Challenge series so I got some extra swag this one! Here's all the Run Riverside medals from 2015-16:


And here's all of them from the beginning of this series that began three years ago!

Half Marathon #7 is in the books! Run happy, or dance, or skip, or jump, or whatever, my friends!