Sunday, September 14, 2014

Race Report: Blue Shoe Run for Prostate Cancer

Friday morning, there was snow on the ground; Saturday morning, we were running a 5K race under beautiful blue skies. Fall is here, and with it, comes mostly perfect running weather! Woody and I ran the Blue Shoe Run for Prostate Cancer – an annual 5K run/walk and 1.5 mile family walk. The fifth annual event, which welcomed over 1,200 participants, is produced by and raises funds for, the TUCC Foundation, dedicated to advancing urologic care in the Rocky Mountain region through advocacy, research, education and support.

I had heard from fellow Oiselle teammate, Laura, that this is a great race. And as the cause has recently become an important one to us, we thought it would be a great 5K to add to our fall racing schedule. After our experience, I can say with certainty that we will make our best efforts to run this race every year!

Blue Shoe_Crowd

The race begins and ends right outside the TUCC office building, which is across a large parking lot from Mile High Stadium, home of the Denver Broncos. While the course itself isn’t the most scenic, the race organizers have done a great job creating a unique course that utilizes a lot of low-traffic roads, incorporating unexpected hills and allows for plenty of free, easily accessible parking for participants.

Blue Shoe_Who

According to the TUCC Foundation, prostate cancer is now the most diagnosed type of cancer in Colorado, and the 2nd most common cancer among men in the U.S.. Current numbers state that 1 in 6 men will be diagnosed within their lifetime. More than 230,000 American men will be diagnosed this year. That’s a lot of guys. While very serious, there is some good news: the rate of survival for men is very high, especially when caught early. Over the past several years, many new treatments have been developed that are proving successful. There is great hope for men, and the ones who love them, who are diagnosed.

Blue Shoe_Survivors

There were a lot of people enjoying the survivors oasis before and after the race. A lot of happy, healthy and strong people.

Woody and I arrived a bit early so we could do a little warm-up – 1.5 miles, or just over 2 laps around Mile High Stadium. It was very chilly but a beautiful morning. With less than 800 participants in the 5K, the start was a breeze. We walked up, found a spot near the front – ahead of the guy wearing jeans – and a few minutes later we were off. I definitely went out too fast, but didn’t realize until a little too late. I had my Garmin on, but chose not to focus on it. Looking back, I probably should have given it a glance during that first mile, which I ran in 8:01, too fast for me.

I had heard there was a serious hill, but I wasn’t expecting all the short, but steep hills that came before it. Spectators were far and few between, but the course was well marked and there were police, volunteers, and two bands in just the right spots along the way. I mentioned the view wasn’t the best, but I enjoyed it, and appreciate that it wasn’t a simple out and back.

The last hill was the serious one. After going past Mile High, we entered onto the highway entrance ramp, going up the on ramp. It was steep. And long. The fact that I went out too fast had caught up with me by this point. I’m pretty good at hills but this one got to me. I couldn’t breath by the time I hit the top, made the turn and saw we kept going up! I will admit it, I walked. Just for 15 seconds, but I simply couldn’t attack this last hill without catching my breath first. I made it to the top, took the turn-around and new it was just a downhill, right turn and straight away sprint to the finish line.

A lovely volunteer reached out with a bottle of cold water, exactly what I needed, as soon as I could breath again.

Blue Shoe_KIND Bars

The post-race festival included several vendors, a massage tent and lots of great food. There were cut bagels with peanut butter and cream cheese, bananas and apples, cups of pretzels, coffee. Jimmy Johns was on hand with sandwiches and cookies. KIND Bars were handing out free bars (I’m addicted, so this was amazing).

Blue Shoe_Alaskan Brewery

With food and beers from Alaskan Brewing Co. in hand, we found a table and enjoyed the live band for a bit before the a few presentations from the Foundation staff and a prostate cancer survivor, who was diagnosed in his 30’s.

Blue Shoe_Post Race

Woody and I were both happy with our results. He finished in 21:53 – 18th overall and 3rd AG; I finished in 25:31 (38 seconds faster than the 5K in Bend last month!) and 4th AG! Sure, this was definitely a smaller field than many races we do, and one that probably flies under the radar for many, but that aside, I’m thrilled with my time! And after following this race with a 7 mile run the next morning that left me with gas in my tank, it seems things are clicking for me right now when it comes to running!

If any guys are reading this – please don’t ignore your health. You may be nervous to get the test results, but it’s better than ignorance. And ladies – let the guys you love know that this is important. Early detection increases the likelihood for long, happy and active lives.

How did you get active this weekend? Did you run a race, run for fun, go hiking or do something else that got your heartbeat up? Let us know!

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

What Happens at Running Camp

Since I returned from Bird Camp, a lot of people have asked me “what did you do at running camp?” It’s a valid question; I wasn’t sure what we were going to do at until I got there! I’ve also been trying to figure out how to recap the experience, and while I’m not convinced that what I’m doing is the best way to do that, here it goes.

Things started off well when I realized I was carpooling with some really great ladies – Beth, Alicia, Julia, & Jenna. No duds here! (fun fact: Beth & Alicia are also Spartans!)

Bird Camp Carpool

A detour to Eugene to visit Hayward Field

Hayward Field

We heard from several running experts over four days including a Q&A session with Lauren Fleshman and Linsey Corbin, a professional triathlete and Ironman Champion who lives in Bend, OR.

Linsey Corbin and Lauren Fleshman

Physical Therapist Jay Dicharry, who works with pro athletes – including Little Wing – is a certified coach, has competed in several sports on a national level and so much more. He took us through exercises to focus on our posture and form and talked about the importance of mobility, stability, strength and power for runners and how we should all work at least one strength and stability session into our week. You can read his blog HERE.

Bird Camp Jay Dicharry

Photo Credit: Thomas and Velo Photography

Steph Howe, winner of Western States who’s working towards a Masters in Nutrition & Exercise Physiology and focuses on bridging nutrition & performance, presented a session on nutrition for female runners. She has a very sensible and realistic view of nutrition, which I found very refreshing, emphasizing the need for female athletes to focus on getting enough calories in order to stay healthy. Check out her blog HERE.

Bird Camp Steph Howe

Photo Credit: Thomas and Velo Photography

Lauren, who lives in Bend and graciously welcomed us to her town, spoke about goal setting. This was a very frank discussion as she talked about having to adjust her goals after injury – the need to be realistic and recalibrate. One of my favorite things she said was: “The best gift you can give yourself is to disregard what other people see ass success and name it for yourself.”

Bird Camp Steph Lauren Jay Lesko

Photo Credit: Thomas and Velo Photography

A Pro Panel with Kate Grace, Steph Howe, Lauren, and (not pictured) Kara Goucher via Skype. They covered everything from what they eat each day, to how they overcome disappointments and their best race experiences.

Bird Camp Pro Panel

Sally took us through the process of developing a line, from inspiration board to developing a color pallet, choosing fabric, finding manufacturers. It was really interesting and enlightening to learn about the various steps that go into creating the clothes we wear on the run!

Oiselle Inspiration Board

Bird Camp line

Photo Credit: Thomas and Velo Photography

About 40 minutes away is Smith Rock, a really incredible state park with tough trails and beautiful views. We spent a morning here with a choice of hiking or trail running. I opted for the hike which took us to the top of the rock. Lauren gave us the low down on our options.

Lauren at Smith Rock

Smith Rock View

Smith Rock

There was also, a lot of great food. I suppose it wouldn’t be very much fun if we were all hungry the whole time, so Oiselle set us up with tons of food for our Condos, snacks in the conference center, great meals and non-stop delicious Nuun. I really wanted to take home the Wild Friends Almond Butter – it was amazing – but was too nervous it would leak all over my bag on the flight. If you see this stuff, try it!

Bird Food

And of course, we did a lot of running – basically as much running as we wanted to do, we could do. One of the great things about the resort where we stayed – beyond the full kitchen in each condo – is that you literally could walk out your door and be on the Deschutes River Trail within a minute. To say this trail was beautiful is an understatement. I was worried about how I’d do with so much running, but my muscles were rarely sore and I was always excited to get out for more miles!

Deschutes River Trail

Bird Camp Run with Leana

Running with Ironman athlete, Leana

Coinciding with our camp was the Twilight 5K put on by Deschutes Brewery right down the road from the resort. While it was pretty awesome to see so many women in Oiselle singlet's, my favorite part of the race was passing Kate Grace just after the 2 mile mark! Okay, so she was jogging, but still, I’ll take it.

Bird Camp 5k

Photo Credit: Thomas and Velo Photography

NY Birds Race

Reunited with two of my favorite NYC birds – Amanda & Jenna

Beyond trail running, we also did activation exercises (below), form drills and #TheDozen (as demonstrated by Lesko two down). All new to me, I’m planning to incorporate these into my training moving forward.

Bird Camp Activation

Photo Credit: Thomas and Velo Photography

Bird Camp The Dozen

Photo Credit: Thomas and Velo Photography

The meditation sessions and yoga with Jasyoga were amazing – legs up the wall and “I am here now” is my new favorite way to relax and let go.

Bird Camp legs up the wall

Photo Credit: Thomas and Velo Photography

I had an absolutely fantastic time meeting incredible and strong women, getting to know myself a bit better and learning new techniques that will make me a stronger person and runner.

Bird Camp Roommates

With my fantastic roommates, Katie and Michelle (We look tired because we were! this was before morning meditation!)

Bird Party

Fearless women of Oiselle – Sally, Kristin, and Lauren

Bird Camp Party

What would Oregon be without dancing to an awesome band outside on a beautiful night?

Bird Camp Cheer

Photo Credit: Thomas and Velo Photography

If you take anything from this really long post (so sorry!), I hope it’s that by taking chances, trying new things, building bonds and exploring new places, there’s no end to what you can learn about yourself and no limits to what you can do!

Also, it turns out, you’re never too old for camp!

Thank you to women at Oiselle HQ and Little Wing for bringing us all together for a great weekend, and to Heidi & Andrea at Thomas and Velo Photography for all the beautiful photos they took and are letting us use!

Monday, August 11, 2014

Venus de Miles Rolled Through Lake Forest

The last few days I’ve been off in Lake Forest, Illinois. I’ve mentioned before that the firm I work for has a sister nonprofit organization – Greenhouse Scholars. Well Saturday officially kicked off two action packed weeks of events with Venus de Miles and The Community Table.

I went out to provide support to the team as there was a lot going on, including a couple great media interviews. I arrived at the Glen Rowan House on Lake Forest College, the location for Venus de Miles, and my home for a few days, along with the ride co-directors and the on-course logistics manager. It was a bit haunted but also a fantastic venue for the ride and the staff at Lake Forest College were amazing!

 Venus_Glen Rowan House

We didn’t get a ton of time to really enjoy Lake Forest, as we were working hard, but it is quite a cute little town with beautiful houses, right on the lake. This little ally market was super cute and had fantastic fruits and veggies. Such a great use of space!

Venus_Lake Forest

Venus is an all-women’s road bike ride that’s truly a celebration of community and sisterhood. As a ride, not a race, it’s meant to be a low-pressure ride all about having a great time, supporting one another and making new connections. The Illinois ride featured three course lengths – 13, 28 and 64 miles – while the one in Boulder County on August 23 has courses that are a bit longer – 33, 51 and 100 miles. With multiple courses, it’s great for all ability levels. Andrea, one of the co-directors, has spent a lot of time, effort and thought working out beautiful courses that are easy to up the enjoyment quota.

Venus_WGN

Friday before the ride, Andra Pool (middle), COO of Greenhouse Scholars, and one of the Scholars from Illinois, Michelle (left), were interviewed on WGN-TV’s midday newscast by Dina Bair, who participated in 2013 and also this year! The ride is produced by Greenhouse Scholars to raise money for the program. Currently there are 88 extraordinary college students in the program from Colorado and Illinois, but nearly 150 students have been served since the organization began in 2005. Students come into the program as they are entering college. They come from low income communities and very challenging circumstances, but they have an unbelievable drive that has inspired them to become leaders in their schools and communities as high school students.

A few facts about the Scholars:

  • All graduated high school in the top 10% of their class
  • 72% of Scholars are the first in their family to attend college
  • 40% of their families live below the poverty line
  • 71% lead an organization on campus
  • 55% have founded an organization, event or club in their community
  • More than 2,000 middle and high school students have been mentored by Scholars to date

Every time I interact with Scholars, I’m in awe. At their young age, they have already done more with their lives and more to make a positive impact in their communities, than I have. They are incredibly impressive, studious, focused, and determined, but also, they are a lot of fun to hang out with!

Venus_Scholars

Saturday was a long day but there was a great turnout of women, and men to provide support! The weather could not have been any better.

Venus_Start

Along the course, there were four rest stops with delicious food donated by Whole Foods and Nuun! Since it’s not a race, many women love to hang out and enjoy the rest stops for a bit! After the first two waves of riders were out on the course, Andra and Jamal, another Scholar from Illinois, were interviewed by ABC7 Chicago.

Venus_ABC7

It was nice to have a little lull of activity, so we could get organized again, when everyone was out on the course but before long they were arriving back for the post-ride festival! We had great food, drinks (Goose Island Brewery & North Shore Distillery), ice cream (Jeni’s), spa services (manis and pedis from Tricoci University), yoga, foam rolling, and vendors like Nuun. It was a great celebration!

Venus_Festival

Venus_Nuun

While many women ride on their own or with a few friends, we did have several women who signed up as teams. While fundraising is not a requirement of the ride, we definitely appreciate all women who do reach out to their friends, families and communities as all of the money raised goes directly to support our programs. Greenhouse Scholars is more than just a tuition scholarship. The program provides the Scholars with mentors who are always their for them to answer questions and provide advice, as well as peer support groups of other Scholars who are going through a similar situation. Both of these programs are essential to help these students navigate college, as most of them don’t have that same type of support back home. Greenhouse Scholars also provides support finding internships, professional networks, flex funding to help fund educational or community impact experiences, an annual Summer Symposium which just began yesterday in Boulder!

The money raised by our riders, like these women from team Girls Just Want to Ride Bikes, is essential for our program to continue to grow and help more students!

Venus_Team

And I can’t write this without mentioning our blogger ambassadors. These awesome women helped us spread the word and get people excited about the ride! I had a fantastic time working with them over the past few months and it was great to meet them in person.

Venus_Ambassadors

Melanie (See Mommy Race), Katie (Live Half Full), Lauren (Lauren Runs), Kristina (TUFF), and Lena (Way 2 Good Life).

Before all the craziness hit high gear, Andrea, the other amazing co-director of the ride, and I hit the road and went for a little run through Lake Forest, which is right along Lake Michigan. I couldn’t spend four days less than a mile away from the lake and never see it. So not only did we run along the lake, but I made one last stop yesterday morning on my way out of town. I don’t get views like this in Colorado.

Venus_Lake Michigan Run

Lake Michigan

If you’re in Colorado, I hope you’ll come out on August 23 and join us for Venus de Miles! If you’re not sure about riding, we have lots of great opportunities to volunteer – and you still get all the great food & drink!

It’s been a long few days and I’m heading to Bend, OR for BirdCamp Wednesday morning, but I’m so thankful I had the opportunity to support the amazing team at Greenhouse Scholars and also support the incredible students.

Find more info on Venus de Miles Colorado here: www.colorado.venusdemiles.com