Six on Saturday

I hope that you had a nice Thanksgiving! Chad and I had a blast getting away to a little mountain town and creating some memories just the two of us. Did you get a Turkey Trot in? Fun fact: I’ve never done a turkey trot but I almost always run on Thanksgiving! Maybe next year my Turkey Trottin’ dreams will be reality!

We’re pretty busy this weekend, but it’s been a while since we’ve caught up on life – I’m just popping in for a quick Six on Saturday. 🙂

1. THANK YOU!

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Thank you, thank you, thank you to the many of you who purchased a Stay Great My Girl tank and/or sweatshirt! I am so grateful that you trusted me with your pre-orders, Christmas gifts, and running apparel. It is an honor! I’m happy to report that the shirts are in production and will be headed your way early December. I’m in awe of your support and kindness over the last 5 months with the launch of the SGMG shop. You are the real MVPs and I’m excited to grow the business bigger and launch new products in 2018!

2. We Had A Very Non-Traditional, but Super Special, Thanksgiving

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3. #OptOutside

You know all about REI’s #OptOutside movement by now, right? I just love the whole concept! This was my 3rd year skipping the stores (ok, admittedly, I did run to Target for a few toiletries for maybe 5 minutes total — guilty) and hitting the trails. I enjoyed a solo run by the bay in the morning, and a mini-hike by the ocean with my friend and her daughter in the afternoon.

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4. We’re going to San Francisco!

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In Early 2018. Southwest was having one heck of a sale so we made the decision to go on a whim and I am stoked! We have zero plans so far and have no idea where we’re staying or what we’re doing, but that’s half the fun, right? If you live there, or if you’ve been before, would you please send me your SF travel tips + must-sees?!

5. Another marathon around the corner…

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Carlsbad in January! I decided to experiment with 2 marathons in 2-ish months (not a thing I’d normally advise!) and we’ll see where it lands me. 🙂 Praying to stay healthy! I wanted to take advantage of the local race and not have to wait another year! Have you run Carlsbad 1/2 or full before?

6. All things Advent!

This time of year is so special to me. I have fond memories of singing advent songs every monday morning of the season in my elementary school, and lighting the advent candles with my grandmom Barron after church on Sundays. I love those traditions and like to find new ways to connect with God during advent each year. This year, I am planning to follow along with my good friend Abby Ecker’s study and plan to treat myself to a copy of The Greatest Gift by Ann Voskamp. Do you celebrate Advent? What are your favorite guides/resources?

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Have a beautiful weekend, friends!

Hug your people tight.

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Her Running Story: Keirsten

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Happy Thanksgiving Eve, friends! Today I’m sharing with you the story of someone that I’m incredibly grateful for and want to celebrate. Keirsten is my brother-in-law’s girlfriend, but she really is like a sister to me. This past year, she did something amazing. She decided that she wanted to take her health and fitness seriously, and she trained like crazy to complete her first half-marathon! Last week, we ran the Rock N’ Roll Las Vegas Half-Marathon together. It was one of the most special memories ever for me to get to cross the finish line with her.
Keirsten’s story really inspires me because her mental toughness and determination shines through. (Just wait until you see what time she woke up for training runs – this girl is committed!) I know this is just the beginning for her and I hope you will be encouraged by her running story.
Hey, Keir! Thanks for joining us today. Tell the readers who you are.
My name is Keirsten, I’m 34 years old.  I have 3 younger siblings, 2 brothers and 1 sister.  I have 7 nieces and nephews and 3 God-children.  I am a cardiac nurse and I live in Las Vegas, NV.  My boyfriend Adam and I came out to Las Vegas a little over a year ago.  We moved from Wilmington, DE, where we lived our entire lives, after I brought up the idea of travel nursing. We settled here in Vegas but traveling isn’t off the table!  We have a Jack Russell/Cairn Terrier mix named The Dude.  He’s about 3 years old and is just the best little guy.  We enjoy family walks at the local parks and climbing to the top of the mini mountain across the street!  Dude could walk/run for days so he keeps us active!
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What made you want to start running? When did you start?
I started running off and on about 6-7 years ago.  I started with the couch to 5K app and started training for my first 1/2 marathon about 4 years ago, I was half way through the training when I tripped on a curb and broke my foot.  After that, getting back into running was hard.  I was so unmotivated.  I would run a few 5Ks here and there but never stuck with it long enough to start a training plan again.  Once I met Adam, I started getting more motivated to be more active.  He is pretty fit and I wanted to keep up, haha!  Once I met his family, specifically Charlotte, I got inspired to really take my health more seriously.  I wanted to eat better and exercise more.  When we got to Vegas I decided to start all over again with my couch to 5K app.  It was working and I was running more and more. Then I started a new job and I gained about 10lbs working at a Cardiopulmonary clinic because most of my day I was sitting at a computer. So all of my running seemed counterproductive because I was so lazy at work.  I was used to being on my feet as a floor nurse for 12+ hours a day.  I knew I needed to change something.
Adam and I decided to take a road trip to California for the 4th of July weekend, we stopped in Huntington Beach to visit friends then headed to San Diego to see Chad and Charlotte!  It was an amazing weekend! Except for the pictures.. I was so disgusted with the way I looked in the pictures.  SD is so picture perfect and I felt as though I was ruining the scenery.  I knew then that when I got home it was time to make a lifestyle change and I knew running was going to be my new obsession.  After chatting with Char about running I was convinced that her and I were going to run my first 1/2 marathon together! I joined the local Las Vegas Runners running group and got a local run coach.  With the help of Charlotte and Melissa I was able to customize a 1/2 marathon training plan that worked with my new crazy work schedule!  And on November 12th I ran, slowly, my first 1/2 marathon! And I loved every second of it! Even though if you were anywhere near me during those last 3 miles you would beg to differ, haha.
With a tough work schedule, how did you find the time to train? 
Yeah so I started my current job right around the time of the 1/2 marathon training. This meant if I had to train on days that I had to work, I was up at 3 or 4am to get my workout or run in before I needed to be at work at 7am.  Then I’d work a 13 hour day as a nurse on a super busy IMC unit.  It almost seemed insane to be training so early but I was committed.  I never really found the time to train, I just made the time and it was so worth it.
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What was the best part about training for a half-marathon?
Oh gosh! I don’t think I can name just one thing… I loved talking to people about it, hearing their training stories.  I loved all of the support from my family and friends.  I loved running Saturday mornings with my run group then getting coffee with them afterwards.  I love the quiet time of my long runs; it really does something for a person’s peace of mind and sanity haha.
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What was the hardest part about training? 
The hardest part of my training was controlling my breathing and my heart rate.  I am still working on controlling both of these while running.
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Any particular fuel, products, or tech stuff that you found to rely on during training?
I used a  FlipBelt to hold my keys, chap-stick and phone on my shorter runs and my fanny pack (as Adam calls it) made by URPOWER that has 2 water bottle holders on it and a zip pouch for my keys, phone and chap-stick for my longer runs. I would also hydrate before my runs with either a LiquidIV pack or Nuun tablet.  Loooove all of these products! I use the LiquidIV or Nuun before work as well to make sure I stay hydrated during my work days.
On to the race! Why did you choose the Vegas RNR as your first half-marathon?
 I decided on the Vegas RNR because I knew it was going to be a good time! I mean running the strip at night is definitely an experience!  The strip is shut down twice a year, for the marathons and for New Years Eve!  Also Vegas is pretty flat, haha, so I could train locally and know that it would be about the same as the race.
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Was there a particular mantra you used during the race?
The mantra that I used during the race and throughout my training,  was “one more mile”.  I was scrolling through instagram and a runner had a head band on that said “Run the mile you’re in” so i borrowed that saying and turned it into my own version, “One more mile”.  To me this means I can do anything for a mile, maybe not cartwheel as my coach pointed out haha!  It means that I concentrate on the mile that I’m in, I concentrate on my breathing, I look around a little, I pet a dog or 3 (which I did a lot).  This mantra helped me not take the training too seriously.  My goal for the race, other than finishing, was to enjoy it enough that I’d want to do it again, which I soooo do!
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What was your favorite moment during the half?
My favorite moment during the race was at one point you had run ahead of me to get some pictures of the Vegas strong sign that all the runners had signed at the expo, I had slowed down a little to get my heart rate under control, I looked up and you had turned around to look for me and kinda jogged in place until I was at your side again.  You soo could have kept going and run at your pace to finish in a decent time but you didn’t.  You stayed at my side throughout the entire race, even when I wanted to give up!  My favorite memory of this race was doing it with you! I can’t wait to get my finish line photo of us with our medals framed!
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Do you have the running bug now? Do you think you’d like to do more races or happy to just cross this half-marathon off the bucket list? 
I totally have the bug!  I’m doing the Turkey Trot 12K at Lake Mead on Thanksgiving and I plan on doing my next 1/2 Marathon in April at Mt. Charleston!
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What would your advice be to someone who is considering becoming a runner or signing up for a big race?
Do it! Just do it!  You won’t regret it at all!  Training for and finishing this 1/2 marathon has done something for my confidence that I can’t describe.  Running has changed my life.  I am no longer on my anxiety medication and I have never felt better!
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Just for fun — what are 3 non running things you’re loving right now? 

I am currently reading Furiously Happy (a funny book about horrible things) by Jenny Lawson, I am obsessed with my Polaroid SNAP and I am currently binging Cheers, haha yes Cheers!,  on Netflix.

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So proud of you, Keirsten!

Thanks again for sharing your story with us! 🙂

NEW RELEASES in the SGMG Shop!

 

I’m jumping for joy this morning because I’ve restocked the Stay Great My Girl shop with two new items for Winter!

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In May, I started the SGMG shop with two goals in mind: to encourage the fitness community, and to bless orphaned children (10% of profits are donated!). Your incredible support has made my tiny little dream come to life and it’s been such a fun journey.

The two new items below are available for pre-order only and must be ordered by end of day on Friday, November 24. This ensures that I can guarantee your size and won’t sell out of inventory. More details are provided in the shop, but please feel free to message me if you have any questions about the pre-order process.

All orders will be shipped in time for Christmas giving, and all orders of $40+ will receive free shipping!

RUN and don’t ever dare give up. – $25

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I’ve been dreaming up this sweatshirt for a long time and am excited to finally share it with you! Bold, simple, and made for runners – I always feel extra motivated and extra cozy when I put it on.

This super soft crewneck has become my new staple and I love dressing it up with jeans, relaxing in it with yoga pants…or celebrating in it after finishing a race.

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WEAK MADE STRONG – $20

 

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This tank is extra special to me, as it was designed by my sweet and talented running buddy, Ali! Not only that, but it holds a special place in my heart as it comes from one of my favorite verses:

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This verse has encouraged me in many seasons of life. This tank reminds me that even though I am full of shortcomings, imperfections, sin, and weaknesses…God renews and strengthens me with every step. It helps me to run with purpose as I remember that my life (and my running!) is not meant to be perfect, easy, or without hardship…but that it is meant to bring Him glory and to tell of His mighty love and power.

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Ali and I created this tank both for everyone – not just for fitness lovers! It’s a lightweight, flowy, dark gray, super soft racerback that’s perfect for lifting weights at the gym, racing in your next endurance event…or even just layering with a cardigan, jeans, and boots. Dress it up or dress it down, but whichever you choose – it’s sure to bring encouragement to you and to those around you.

Grab the tank + sweatshirt here!

 

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Last but certainly not least…thank you for supporting this shop! Because of you, we are able to donate 10% of profits to help orphans around the world. Our summer tanks’ profits were donated to Heal Ministries in Jinja, Uganda. These two new items specifically help Door of Faith Orphanage in Baja California, Mexico. Chad and I were lucky enough to take a few trips there this summer and we are already looking forward to going again. Your purchase gives back to some super special kiddos that we love!

Thank you so much for your support.

Please message me on Etsy or email me: staygreatmygirl@gmail.com if you have any questions!

 

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Rock N’ Roll Las Vegas Half-Marathon

It’s time for another race recap! This one was extra special – and not just because they shut down the Las Vegas strip for us runners, but because I got to share it with some of my family. Great memories!

Keirsten ran her first half-marathon and it was an honor to get to run every step by her side and pace her to the finish line. And my brother-in-law Jason ran his first full marathon. Huge accomplishments! Both of them set big goals and went from being non-runners to serious athletes this year and I am incredibly proud! The best part of the weekend was getting to experience their big “firsts” with them.

Chad and I hit the road on Saturday morning. It’s about 5 hours from San Diego to Las Vegas. We have made this drive once before to visit Adam and Keir, who moved from Delaware to Vegas shortly after we moved from Delaware to San Diego. I cannot emphasize enough how nice (and what a relief!) it is to have family only a drive away. Though it’s mostly through the middle of nowhere, I enjoy the scenic drive through the desert! It’s a great way for us to unwind, catch up, and listen to some great podcasts and music.

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State signs make me happy!

Lara and Jason flew out from Philly to meet us for the race. After we all had a reunion and grabbed lunch, it was time to head to the expo – held at the Las Vegas Convention Center on the strip.

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The expo had some great vendors! My favorite was definitely Daiya, who was dishing out vegan pizza and cheesecake (yes, please). I also loved the sweatshirts that listed all of the participants names on the back and the Vegas Strong banner.

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Toyota had a “carb-loading” game! So clever!

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Keirsten surprised me at the expo by buying me one of the special “Vegas Strong” t-shirts as a thank you for helping her with training. Are you kidding?! Getting people to love running is my joy! I really wanted this shirt to begin with but a few weeks ago, I talked myself into saving money instead…so the fact that she bought this for me was a huge blessing! Thank you, Keir! I can’t wait to wear it proudly. 🙂

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RNR designed these shirts shortly after the shooting, and 100% of profits go to the Las Vegas Victims’ Fund. Aren’t they so cute?!

Later that night, the Goo Goo Dolls performed a free concert for all of the runners and guests, per RNR tradition. We skipped it and opted for a night in with pasta and Moana. In my opinion, it felt a little too soon and a bit eerie to be going to a concert on the strip! Many runners seemed to feel the same way. :/

Sunday morning came and we went to church and ate a big, carb-filled breakfast! Keirsten and Adam were great hosts and kept the bagels, pancakes, and coffee coming. Racing at night presented an interesting challenge with fueling for the day, and the anticipation was high as we waited around for the time to finally get dressed and head down to the start!

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The race started on the strip outside of New York, New York hotel and casino. We enjoyed hanging out in the starting village area where they had plenty of water, bananas, and more than enough port-a-potties for us! And even though herding 40,000+ runners sounds super chaotic, the folks at RNR kept it organized and efficient. We also loved the pre-race prayer that Team 413 offered – it was great to huddle up with about 20+ other believers and to pray for strength, protection, and joy before the race! He spoke about this verse and how Las Vegas is a light in the middle of the darkness…literally…have you ever flown into Vegas at night before? It’s just miles and miles and miles of vast, pitch black desert and then BAM! a beautiful city of lights in the middle of nowhere. What a perfect analogy. He used this verse to encourage us to be a light of joy, hope, and love to the people of Las Vegas after the very worst tragedy – just as Jesus is a light in our lives.

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And before we knew it…we were off on a 13.1 mile adventure!

 

 

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Final hugs before the start!

Keirsten and I stuck together for the entire 13.1…it was so fun to run with her and to see her have total breakthrough when everything else in her body was screaming “Stop! I want to quit!” …but she proved to herself that her mind is stronger! We ran pretty blissfully up until mile 9.5 and she started to hit the wall…but she persevered and did not quit! I felt really grateful to have watched her work through her pain and fight like hell to reach her goal. She wanted that finish line and she got it. I am so proud!

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    Just seconds after the finish…heck yeah!!! She did it!

 

And if you were wondering about Jason…he also did it! 4:34 for his first marathon which is fantastic!

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Sleepy and sore but SO happy the morning after! Congratulations, you two!

Favorite sights and moments on the course:

  • the first 2.5 miles = total silence in memory of the 1 October victims and running past the Mandalay Bay.
  • We ran right past the Route 91 festival grounds…Jason Aldean’s picture and stage was still there…it was like nothing had been touched (as it is still an active investigation) and it was very sobering to be there.
  • Meeting a 72 year old woman running with her 50 year old sons!
  • Getting high-fives from rowdy strangers along the strip
  • Seeing a spectator in an Eagles hat and sweatshirt — GO BIRDS!
  • Singing Wilson Phillips’ “Hold On” with Keirsten at mile 4
  • Elvis impersonators
  • So many brides and grooms getting married during the race!
  • Running past the old wedding chapels in Downtown Vegas
  • Elton John and KISS cover bands playing on the course
  • Seeing the Backstreet Boys videos/banners on the strip
  • The Vegas Strong glow in the dark banner
  • All of the costumes!
  • Seeing a woman wearing a sign that said “My first half for my 65th birthday!” — proof that it is never too late to run!
  • A runner’s shirt that said “Longest Walk of Shame EVER.”
  • Thanking police officers and feeling incredibly safe along the course with security, helicopters, tractor-trailer barricades, and volunteers everywhere!
  • The sheer joy + spectacle of running down Las Vegas Blvd. in the middle of the night! We felt like a million bucks!

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This was my 8th half-marathon and my 5th Rock N’ Roll event – they do an amazing job, every time and I hope to be back to run Vegas again next year!

Revel Canyon City Marathon: Race Review

I’m not really the New Year resolution type, but at the beginning of this year I decided that I didn’t want to be a one-and-done marathoner. I wrote down this goal on a pink sticky note and stuck it on the wall next to my bed side table. I woke up and saw it every day for the past 11 months, and well — today I finally took it down. 🙂

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I ran my first marathon in May 2015 in San Diego, CA (before we lived here!). I always told myself that it was just a bucket list item, but somewhere between now and then I realized that I wanted to be not just a lifelong runner, but a lifelong marathoner.

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Rock N’ Roll San Diego Marathon 2015

Now it’s my dream to be just like Turbo Granny when I grow up. No, really, that’s what they call her. She’s 90! Go Turbo Granny, go!

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But I digress…so yes, Saturday was my second marathon! When I set the goal earlier this year, I knew the race would have to be Revel Canyon City. I had heard many good things about it from friends and other bloggers. People talked of it’s beautiful views, perks and swag, and fast times that set it apart from other marathoners.

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Still having fun at mile 15!

I don’t think a blog post will ever be able to fully do this marathon justice — as I just had the best, most beautiful, most joyful time out there — but I will try really hard to describe it for you!

THE LOCATION

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YUP. This place is REAL.

Asuza, California — about 20 minutes east of Los Angeles in the San Gabriel Mountains.

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THE MORNING OF

The alarm went off at 3:05 a.m. — just enough time for coffee, stretching, oatmeal, and prayer before we had to leave. Normally, on race mornings, I wake up pretty anxious and am a bundle of nerves…but the peace I felt this morning was indescribable. I was just really excited to run! That peace stayed with me all morning long and it made for a really fun day.

We stayed about 10 minutes from the bus loading zone. Chad drove and dropped me off at 4:30 a.m., and the other runners and I boarded charter buses (thank goodness for bathrooms on board because you know we were all overhydrated). The drive to the start, the top of the mountains, was exactly 26.2 miles…but it took about 65 minutes to get there because it was a long, skinny, winding road in the pitch black night…I was thankful that our bus driver was going slow because some of those cliff drop offs were insane! Thankfully, we all made it in one piece. Everyone was super chatty so making friends on the bus was a welcome distraction from my fear of flying off the mountain. I sat with a man from San Francisco who was trying to BQ (if you’re out there, friend, I hope you did it!!!), and an older woman who was running her 10th marathon with her best friends. I love the way running brings people together! There was a full moon that morning, and because we were way, way out there…we could see the stars so clearly. It was just glorious.

THE START

We finally made it to the start line at the Crystal Lake Cafe. It was adorable! I would love to go back there and hangout in the daylight sometime. The owner was cooking breakfast and brewing coffee for anyone who needed some last minute fuel.

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Taken from Hikespeak.com…because it was so dark and no good pictures were possible! But look how precious this little store is!

We got to the start zone around 6:00 a.m., and the race officially started at 7:00…so we spent some time warming up — it was 27 degrees and there was some snow off in the distance! Crazy. I haven’t seen snow in so long. The Revel race crew had made a fire for us and also provided us with gloves and mylar blankets. Between that and the heat from the store, there was plenty to keep us warm!

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Huddled together to keep warm in the Crystal Lake Cafe

I was also so impressed and appreciative of how many port-a-potties were at the start for us. I never had to wait in a line! Talk about a runner’s paradise!

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Really cold but really elated.

THE COURSE

Approximately 23 miles (I think?) were entirely in the forest. Y’all. ENTIRELY IN THE FOREST. I can’t even explain how beautiful it was. There were some parts where I honestly was on the verge of tears because I was just so happy to be there and just so in awe of the beautiful creation that I got to enjoy. I felt very lucky.

I’ll admit that before the race, I was a tad worried that I would get “bored” from not having my normal city view, spectators, loud music etc. But how wrong I was! Mountains > city streets, any day!

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Peace, solitude, silence…just enjoying nature…it felt like I was finally experiencing distance running the way it was always meant to be.

 

Many people BQ’d on this course. Downhill running is fun! And so were the uphills in the second half! My quads still hurt but my heart is happy. If you’re going to do this race in the future – be sure to train on the uphills, too! There are plenty of them that require you to go to a dark place and dig deep. 🙂

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THE COMPANY

I could not have asked for better companions on the course! Though I didn’t know anyone at first, I jumped in with the 4:25 pace group and started chatting with the lead from Pasadena Pacers. He was so nice and helpful, as he had run this race the past 4 years and coached us through every part. He knew when every uphill was coming, so he would have us recover and take it down a notch about 2 minutes before charging on up. Though I only ran with him for the first 14 miles, I really credit him to my consistent paces. Conservative starts pay off! He, and a really sweet woman in a Boy Scout uniform (she’s a leader and was doing this to inspire her sons and show them what’s possible) also talked me into running a 50k next year. So that may be a thing. They really made the ultra world sound so fun, and we all talked nonstop from miles 7-13…so they flew by in a flash! I was grateful for that because before I knew it, the race was already halfway over!

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THE SUPPORT

No one does aid stations as well as Revel. I repeat – no one does aid stations as well as Revel! Their course support was SO frequent. I was never wanting for water or fuel…they had just the right amounts! I mean, look at this chart! They really took care of us, and the volunteers were so sweet. I always make it my mission to thank as many volunteers and police officers as possible during a race — you can never be too tired to smile!

THE FINISH

I finished strong in 4:25…a 10:08 pace, and a big improvement from my first marathon: 4:46. 4:25 with an injury has me believing that I can start slowly chipping away at sub-4… 🙂 Onward and upward.

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As always, my favorite part of the finish is seeing my sweet husband. I remember yelling to him at this moment, “I love this! This is so much fun!!!”. We had one final turn here and then it was into the chute.

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FINISHED! Kisses from my #1 fan and my short run companion…Chase!

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I ran a smart and consistent race. I finally figured out how to listen to my body and to pace myself. I am really proud of this time – and honestly, I tend to be a pretty self-deprecating person…so it feels GOOD to be proud of something for once! There have been many times when I doubted if I could do this again. Was I strong enough? Tough enough? Committed enough? I have come a long way from being the slowest, most insecure kid on the cross country team and I have big dreams to keep chasing. But I love knowing that with hard work, discipline, and passion — we can become better versions of ourselves – inside and out. Running is a sweet reminder that redemption, change, and progress is always possible. It is just one small piece, a hobby, a sport…that can overflow to the rest of our lives and create lasting change.

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Marathoning is a family adventure. Thank you, Chad, for believing in me!

Friends, just because you struggle with something does not mean you’ll never be good at it. If you are not the best, you are still pretty dang wonderful in your own right for being out there. Keep working. Keep trying. Keep chipping away. You are always stronger than you think you are and what’s ahead for you is far, far better than what’s behind.

You don’t have to be the best. You just have to be better than you were before.

THE PERKS

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  • A gorgeous medal
  • Revel socks!
  • Beautiful tech short-sleeve race shirt
  • Free photos and personalized videos
  • Photo booth
  • Finishing summary card
  • Lagunitas Beer
  • Pumpkin and Apple Pie
  • Pizza

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I’d highly recommend the Revel Canyon City Marathon to anyone – and I hope I’ll see you out on course next year! Thank you, Team Revel, for a fantastic experience and memories that will last a lifetime.

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Revel Canyon City: Pre-Race FUN!

It’s Monday morning, and I’m off to work, but I think I’d like to relive this past weekend a little bit longer. 🙂

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On Saturday, I ran the Revel Canyon City Marathon in the mountains of sunny Los Angeles. That spectacular, wonderful, magical race deserves a post all by itself (stay tuned – that’ll come tomorrow!), so I first want to share with you some of the pre-race fun that we had leading up to the marathon. The weekend was a great experience overall and I highly recommend adding Revel Canyon City to your 2018 goals!

Because the race took place on a Saturday (which was a welcomed change…I loved having the extra day to recover!), we worked a half day on Friday and then hit the road for the 2 hour trip from San Diego. We listened to this podcast episode on the way. Chad does CrossFit, and I enjoy following the greats of the sport with him…and Cole Sager is one of our favorites. His drive and passion was definitely motivating for the task ahead!

We stopped for lunch halfway in San Juan Capistrano. Not being native to SoCal, we had no idea this sweet little town existed before a pit-stop on our last LA road trip a month prior. We loved it so much, we came back to see it again!

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Chase enjoyed walking (and smelling) somewhere new. 🙂

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It was time to start carbo-loading. We had lunch at Selma’s Chicago Pizzeria. I had a veggie sandwich, pasta salad, and salad. It was so good that I forgot to take a picture. I love pre-marathon eating!

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After lunch we hit Starbucks, because what’s a road trip without it? And then it was time to get back on the road. 🙂 Christmas cups are back – yes!

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We went straight to the expo, which was held in a warehouse in an industrial park in Asuza, CA. It was small, yes, but I honestly loved it! The intimate feel of this race and expo was perfect. It meant more time for making friends and less time for spending unnecessary money on too many pre-race goodies that are at some of the super large races. It also meant less walking around — keeping my legs nice and fresh! I have been guilty of walking too much at expos in the past. 🙂

I really enjoyed the volunteer who gave me my bib and gear bag. He was a nice seasoned marathoner and gave great advice for the mountain/canyon course, as it’s pretty different from that of other races! I was glad we had the opportunity to talk with him.

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Revel puts on races in California, Utah, Nevada, Arizona, and Colorado – I would love to do them all and am already dreaming about Mount Charleston next Spring!

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The race had great sponsors – but Rapid Reboot was hands-down my favorite booth! I had heard great things about this system but never had the chance to try it before…and we were lucky enough to get to use them before and after the race. 10 minutes of heaven! Painful, but the good kind of pain — getting out alllll that lactic acid. Have you ever used Rapid Reboot? What a great recovery tool!

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I also loved the photo stations they had set up! (Fun fact: this super soft “RUN and don’t ever dare give up.” sweatshirt is coming to the SGMG shop soon!)

Not pictured (because it would’ve been awkward to take a picture of this), but I was also so grateful for the KT Tape booth at the expo. They taped my shin and knee (fo’ free!) and it made a big difference with easing some of the pain I knew I would experience the next day.

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Expo goodies, minus the t-shirt – and yes, free socks!!! What a fun touch. And I also really appreciated the throw-away gloves and mylar blanket that kept us warm before the start the next morning. I ran the first five miles of the race with those gloves on – they really came in handy! No pun intended. Ok, maybe a little pun intended.

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We stayed at the Fairfield Inn & Suites in West Covina and it was a wonderful experience – writing a great Yelp review will definitely be on my to-do list this week! They surprised us with offering a pre-race breakfast bag and extended checkout with no extra charge. The facilities were really nice and they always kept their lobby coffee bar and fruit-infused water station well-stocked around the clock. I’d definitely recommend this hotel if you do this race! It was perfect, affordable, and only a 10 minute drive from the loading zone before the start. There were also plenty of shops and restaurants within walking distance.

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Coffee in the room – always a necessity! Brewing was a must at 3 a.m.

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Really nice bathroom accessories! Am I weird for getting excited about these every time I travel? It’s the little things.

We went out for a pre-race dinner at Vincenzo’s Terrazza in West Covina. Delicious meal and romantic environment – I love italian food! It was packed and seemed to be full of “regulars”, so we knew it had to be good. We enjoyed the pizetti appetizer, lots of bread (of course), and I got the spaghetti with lentils and marinara. Again, I’d highly recommend Vincenzo’s for your pre-race meal next year! They took care of us and even wished me luck for the big race. 🙂

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Then it was time for snuggles, a Shark Tank marathon in bed, and I was lucky enough to fall asleep by 10 p.m…that never happens!

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Thanks for reading – and have a great monday! Stay tuned for tomorrow’s race recap!

Happy Trails,

Charlotte