Have I done Enough?

As my miles taper down, and my training hours dwindle I’ve started to look back on what was accomplished this year. I think you have to remind yourself what you have done to reach your goals, it’s easy to forget. Steve, Andrea, Anthony and I started off this training block by heading to Canada together to volunteer in August 2008. Being total triathlon geeks were immediately bitten by the Ironman bug. We had way to much fun volunteering for IM Canada and we came home so jazzed and excited to train for the next years race. Steve got to thinking about how he was going to train us and thus was born the 17 hour training day plans. A website followed, and we had introspective meetings once a month. We started to build or base and along the way came lots and lots of fun.

We ran 41 miles on the Colorado trail and dragged way way way too many people with us.

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We ran up Red rocks stairs a ka-billion times.

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We swam and swam and swam all winter long

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We signed up for our first 50K and ran all over Moab.

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We ran long long runs in tights…with friends.

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We ran even longer runs, through the snow.

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We swam more…and more…and more.

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We ran 46 miles to Boulder in 19 degree weather.

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I tried to run 15 miles two days after running 46 miles and not yet recovered. I hurt myself. My knee kept me out of the running game for about 4 weeks, just had to take it’s time to properly heal. I learned the difference between bad pain, and healing pain. I will try much harder not to make that mistake again. Here is the “I’m happy but I hurt look”.

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We ran up Mt Evans in the snow and I turned back early b/c the knee wasn’t quite back completely. I can’t believe I left these two together.

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We went to Catalina Island and I watched Steve, Andrea, and Anthony run 50 miles. It was a hoot, and I gained perspective on being on the sideline. I had a ton of fun, and drank a few too many pomegranate margaritas.

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We ran up Highgrade…a tough climb for most local cyclists

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I progressed through another great snowshoe season, this time with more depth to my running and made my second National Snowshoe team.

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I got two new bikes which made me way faster

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Michelle and I raced the boys over our entire Shadow loop, and we won (because we’re better).

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We rode everywhere. Shadow, Epic, Shadow, Epic. Climb climb climb

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We went to Las Vegas and slaughtered a half Ironman

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Then turned around 40 hours later and ran across the Grand Canyon….twice

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I ran a mountain marathon in Gateway Colorado

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I raced my first road race

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I went to Connecticut and raced the Rev3 Half Ironman

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And then the next weekend raced the Kansas 70.3 half Ironman

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and then the next weekend raced the Loveland Lake to Lake Oly

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And then we rode our bikes home

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It all involved a lot of this

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and this

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Then we cranked up the mileage and rode out east week after week after week, hundreds of miles. 156 mile rides, 100 mile rides, and lots of 85 mile rides.

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We trained for 17 hours in one day. The “official” 17 hour training day. 7K swimming, 100+ riding, and 30+ running.

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I went to California and competed in Vineman 70.3 Half Ironman

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Then came home, rode a couple hundred miles, and entered my first crit

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Then we rode 225 miles in one day

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And finally we endured a hail storm after 100 miles on the bike and 18 on the run, incurring substantial “hail damage” to our bodies.

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So, all these experiences. What if I completely choke at Ironman? Doesn’t matter. No really, won’t I be so disappointed if it just doesn’t go my way on the actual day? Nope. Because, for one, I know what it feels like when it’s not going my way. I’ve been to that ugly place on runs, on swims and on rides, and you know what, I’ve persevered through it, I’ve figured out how to keep going. So does adversity scare me? Nope. Number two, I’ve enjoyed this training, I’ve enjoyed the Ironman lifestyle. If you haven’t seen much of me lately it’s not because I’m out there painfully toiling away on my bike, it’s because I’m out there living it up doing what makes my soul happy. I have found out that there is something in me that loves to go long. I love the outdoors, and I love the way this training makes me feel in both heart and mind. If all this was for nothing…I would sign up again tomorrow. The adventures and experiences have been priceless.

I don’t know how I can encourage you all out there, but I want to let you know that I don’t consider myself to have any special powers. I don’t see myself as an unusually hard worker. What I do have is a passion to live life to it’s fullest, and the ability to smile. If any of what I have done in the past year sounds fun to you, please find a way to talk to me about it. Do you see all the pictures of all the different people that did just some of the fun stuff I did last year. Well, that could be you. So please don’t sit by and think “Man, I wish I could join them”. I would love to find a way to make that possible for you.

Sport Science

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Have you received any of these crazy Sport Science shirts in your race packet lately? You can tell because they have the little bright yellow tag on the sleeve. Last year our Phidipides shirts were Sport Science and I found myslelf working out in it a lot. At first glance it looked like your run of the mill cotton t-shirt. The first time I put it on I couldn’t believe how well it fit. They make women’s and mens shirts separately. The other track club members were pretty jazzed about it too.

A little about their philosophy:

In 2003, we launched sport science™ smarter performance™ for the fun-having, sport-playing, running, walking, hiking, commuting, climbing, training, traveling, going, doing active people of the world.

Our mission is to create products that do more so you can do more – clothing that can go anywhere and do anything, not just in regards to function, but to comfort and style as well. When true technical performance fuses with incredible comfort and versatility, smarter performance™ is the result.

Then I worked out in it and I knew something was different about it. The fabric that Sport Science uses feels soft and nice like cotton, but it wicks. Normal race shirts are either cotton, or tech. I never feel like I can wear my race t-shirts that are tech shirts around town because they are a little thin and breezy, and somewhat see through. I definitely can’t wear the cotton race tshirts to workout in. Not for any considerable workout at least. But these sport science shirts really bridge the gap. Practical Coaching used this company for their shirts this year…I bought three!

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Cruising through their website it looks like they make all different cuts of shirts. I would love to try out a sleeveless and a long sleeve, I definitely see a tied dyed shirt in my future, and the wool line looks really enticing.

Oh, and this isn’t just a chick thing. Troy has a habit of wearing things he likes over and over again until they die (usually beyond when they die). Despite the fact that our 17 hour training day shirts are pink, he wears it every other day (when he’s not wearing the grey Practical Coaching shirt). I haven’t told him it’s pink (he’s color blind). He hasn’t worn them out yet, and he said that if it was his choice he would wear only this brand of t-shirts. Pretty strong feelings from my mellow-smellow hubby!

If you haven’t raced a race that has Sport Science shirts you’ve got to find one! You wont be disappointed. If you know of a race that is putting Sport Science in their packets, leave the name and link in a comment below. And if you are Sport Science and you are reading this, I really love your product!

Beaver Creek Snowshoe Race #4

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The final snowshoe race of the year was this past weekend. We had recently received a nice dumping of snow in the mountains and it had me worried. Fresh spring pow makes for difficult snowshoe races. Icy courses are awesome!

Sure enough the snow was soft soft soft. Even on the groomed sections, it was hard work. The final installment of the Beaver Creek Snowshoe Series usually gets several hundred participants, but usually the least competitive front runners. I think people are done with snowshoe racing and getting on to their other sports…trail running, triathlons, etc.

I line up for the Dash For Cash and there are three of us. I had been joking that I was due to eat it because I’ve caused several crashes this year, and well, karma never ceases to amaze. So I’m on the line and I watch Steve tell Karen (super speedy pro triathlete) to go race, so at the last minute she runs up to the start line. The announcer says go and I’m not half way through before I hit a bump in the path, loose my balance and totally eat it. I was laughing up a storm. I totally took myself out! Karen scored the $100.

We get on the line and Karen and I noticed that all the usual podium girls are not present. Kinda exciting as the both of us are usually just off the podium. There is one other lady there that looks really familiar, but I just couldn’t place her. I hear her talking to Karen about 100 milers.

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Before the race starts the announcer talks to the racers and tells us that there are two sections where women must run right of the flags and men to the left. This is so that the women will have to break trail through these sections. This is all fair and good except the fact that people have run these sections in the warm up and so the mens route is already broken. I think they expected both men and women to have to break trail, but really it was just us ladies breaking through fresh THIGH DEEP powder.

The race gets started and I am out of the gate in fourth or so for the ladies and top 10 or so amongst the men. Not two minutes into the race we hit the first of the powder sections and the lead lady is breaking track. It is insanely deep and since the mens side is broken we get to watch every single guy pass us while we slog through insane deep snow. There was a lady that was trying to take the mens route and I was yelling at her, “Get in the women’s side”.

So six minutes into the race I’m pissed off because all the men are ahead and the chick ahead of me ran in the mens section. Karen and I team up a little bit and we just start passing people. We work our way all the way back up to Steve and I can see that Karen really wants to go get the leader, so much so that she is running pretty hard which is untypical for her at the start of a race. I finally realize I need to slow up and regroup or I’m going to blow my top.

I make the decision to regroup and Steve and Karen pull away. After about a half mile and I am ready to give it another strong effort and I start working hard again. We were on this like 2 mile up hill section and I just put my nose to the grindstone and started passing guys. Sure enough I worked my way back up to where Steve was just ahead of me, but the last two guys I had to pass to get there was TOUGH. Several minutes later we hit another powder section and Steve takes off. Several minutes after that section is another powder section, this one the girls have to run separate and break powder. I can do nothing while the two guys I worked so hard to pass just float on by in the guys tracks. So demoralizing.

We get out of that and I’m just holding on for dear life. The last mile and a half was a total suffer-fest. But, for the first time since I started running the 10K’s (7 races ago) I made the podium. Third Place. After talking to the first place finisher, I finally placed her, Helen. She is a major contender every year at the Leadville 100. She was a super sweet lady and we both have little girls that are just about 3 weeks apart. I really enjoyed talking to her after the race. Second was Karen, she’s such a studette!

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Steve and Anthony both had really strong races as well. Keith, was really close to me (he’s always trying to beat me in these things), and Sara decided to “race hard”, so it’s always fun to see how well she finishes when she actually tries!

2009 USSSA Snowshoe Nationals

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What a great weekend I had. I flew out late Friday night, and mom and dad picked me up at the Portland airport in the rental car. They had arrived an hour ahead of me. We stopped at great little family owned restaurant on the way up to Timberline Lodge. This lodge is the coolest place EVER. If you ever get a chance to stay there, it’s a MUST SEE. The lodge was built in the 30’s by the WPA. Every ounce of the lodge is hand crafted, and it’s amazing.

The entrance to the Timberline Lodge
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The fireplace, awesome! My dad took is photo, nice huh?

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We had a hot toddy and hit the feathers. And I MEAN feathers, all the beds at the lodge are feather beds. Talk about divine, I wanted to take the bed, and the pillows, and the blankets home, it was the most comfortable nights rest I have ever had.

Hot Toddy?
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The next morning we got up, had a great breakfast and explored around the lodge. In the late morning we got suited up to brave the cold and headed over to the race site. The course had just been marked so I popped in the iPod and ran the course. It’s a two loop course, so I just did the loop once. Dad scouted spots to take pictures, and mom went for a snowshoe hike along the course as well. Everyone got a little exercise, and we were ready to head back to the lodge to relax.

We hung out next to these huge windows in the lodge and took it all in. It was stormy and windy. I was so happy to be relaxing on a warm couch, with some spiked hot cocoa. Several hours went by and we had lofty intentions of attending the Meet and Greet for the racers down in the town. Well, we just couldn’t pry ourselves away. So, we skipped it and had another drink!

Happy to just sit by the window and relax.
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Dinner that night was awesome, gourmet, gourmet! After that I watched Running the Sahara on my iPhone and hit the hay.

Race morning came too soon, and the time change cut into my blissful sleep. Only 10 hours the night before! We headed to the race site after dad DUG out the car, and I watched. He He!

Steve and I had talked about me going out in the #1 or #2 spot in the race. It’s a very difficult course to pass on, and we wanted to make sure that I controlled the race from the front. I actually executed the exact race plan we talked about. I went out in second. The girl in first took off and was never to be seen again. She was killing it. I slowed to a pace that was comfortable for me, and I thought that someone behind me might yell “track” and want to pass, but nope. I went my own pace and I felt the other racers right on my tail, but I just stuck to my plan. When the downhill started on the first loop I let it go. I gapped the third place girl and went into loop two with a 10 second gap on her. But, she caught right back up to me on the uphill. I just settled into my own rhythm and I continued to wonder when she would want to pass. I assumed at the top of the hill she would pass but nope. We went into the downhill and I opened up the gap again.

The start!
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Then the drama started. I fell down. Boom, face plant. Doh. Well, that happens all the time to me, especially when I am running fast. I get back up, and 30 seconds later I eat it again. This time my shirt is around my neck and I get up fast, start running, and start pulling down my shirt, but not before I eat it again. This time with an exposed belly. I get up from that one, pull my shirt down and continue on. Another minute goes by and boom, I go down again. I was flustered and had to tell myself to “calm down”, “pull in your core”, “lift your knees”, “don’t do that again”. I regain my balance and slow down a little and as I’m going up this little hill I see TWO ladies on my tail. Uh Oh, these falls have allowed them to close the gap. I’m not ready for a showdown, but I know its going to happen.

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I round the last turn and I see my dad, he’s yelling at me “She’s hot on your tail” and he sees that I don’t really respond. She is making her move and in a quite delayed fashion I pick it up, put on my move and pull away. We are three seconds apart in the results, and the fourth place lady is just a few seconds after that.

Hot on my tail!
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So, I was able to hold onto second, and I was ecstatic. I really enjoyed being on the National Snowshoe Team last year, and I am really excited to continue to remain on the team. Executing my race goals felt wonderful, I felt strong, and steady and oddly (I guess due to the time of year and high mileage) I felt I could have done several more laps of the course at a similar pace. My base feels deep right now. The speed will start coming soon.

Three of the 5 members of the 2009 National Snowshoe Team (#4: Christy Runde, #2: me, #5: Cheryl Paulson)
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The rest of the day was a great awards ceremony and raffle where I won a sweet pair of Kahtoola MICROSpikes. I have been eying these for some time since I have completely worn out my YakTraks.

Myra And Patty and I. It was great to see them again!
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Great Race, Great Day. A big thanks to Mom and Dad!!! And to Troy!! And To Steve-O!!

Here’s the video I took. If you can’t view it, you can try this link, or you can go to YouTube and search for “swieck”. You’ll find it under there called Snowshoe Nationals. Happy Viewing!

Core Concepts Sale

It just so happens that the same day I received my most recent Core Concepts order, they issued a fancy email with a 40% off sale on base layers. the coupon code for their online store is: BASE0209

I ordered the Firefly Long Sleeve in blue and it’s super cute.
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I have been drooling over the Full Tilt Zip Neck for some time, so I ordered myself up one in Plum. I love love love the off center zippered neck. It’s cute zipped up or down. The fit is really similar to the Cadence Hoodie.
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Lastly, I thought their Bamboo shirts were super adorable, so I grabbed the one with the fancy little bike on it.
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Interested in some Core layers for yourself? 40% off is pretty sweet, the online store is here, the coupon code is: BASE0209

The Training Front

It’s been a little while since I actually posted about the status of my training. I always get some great comments and advise when I post training updates that I thought it was time for one. Things have been progressing! The 17 hour group has been making quite the progress and although I didn’t run the 50 miler this weekend I have actually been keeping up with my training pretty well (despite the knee). Knee pain seems to be just the triathlon gods way of telling me to work on my swim, and I have been listening. I’ve been killing myself every chance I can at Masters and it’s actually been a lot of fun. Noell is my lane mate and we have been having a lot of fun annoying the heck out of our other two lane mates. But, we are getting faster, or we at least feel faster.

I have yet to go a week without biking despite it being winter and tomorrow I’m getting out for an outdoor ride since we are having great weather. I have found that I have a love/hate relationship with the trainer, and since every time I try to get on Steve’s computrainer it’s taken, my trainer and I have been getting to know each other better. I have a sweet little set up in the spare room and I have even rigged my iPod to play movies on a little speaker system. So, that’s been progress.

The last change I have made is that Troy and I started an abdominal routine. We do it every day. We started on January 5th and we did the little 8 minute routine for 14 days straight and it was hilarious. I just kept getting worse and worse at it. I was so sore. The next day I was double sore, and then triple sore. But the two of us kept plugging along. Troy on the other hand kept getting better and better at them, darn men! Some days I really didn’t want to do them and Troy would bribe me, that’s been fun! Yesterday Troy spent the morning hours puking up his guts from some phantom sickness so we skipped a day b/c his abs were sore (from hurling). It was the first day we missed!! Today, when we did them I KILLED it. I was so proud and my abs actually felt like they weren’t going to fall out of me at the end. So I think I have turned a corner. One day of rest every 15 is okay. But I’m gonna keep it up. I can feel it in my running, a stronger core, a more upright position, and I know that speed comes from the core. Power to the ABS!

That’s about all that’s new with me. I hope that you all are having success with your winter training schedules. I hope you are finding the time to try something new (like snowshoeing), or you are using any new found down time to reconnect with family members (maybe to start a new athletic routine with them?). If you are struggling this winter don’t hesitate to contact me, I’ve always got a few hundred suggestions of ways to beat the winter blues.

Happy Training!!

Oh, and if you are interested in the nitty gritty. Here’s the training blog.

USSSA Box

I got a BIG box in the mail! Oh, what could it be?

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Annie was excited too.

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I opened it up. Such a nice letter from the US Snowshoe Association.

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The US National Snowshoe Team has been generously supported this year by Columbia, Hot Chillys, Aruba Sport Eyeware, and NEOS.

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Annie immediately took a liking to the Aruba Sport Sunglasses.

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Base layers. Travel Bag, Team Coat, Team Jersey, NEOS Overboots, Gloves, Hat. You name it, and these sponsors made sure that the US Snowshoe team will be warm, and cute this season.

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NEOS chipped in fantastically to make sure that we all had team racing jerseys this year. So kind!

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Man will I be toasty warm this year after snowshoe races. This parka is stout!

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I want to extend a very big thank you to Mark at the US Snowshoe Association for running such a great ship. If you run a company that has interest in a large winter use market and you are looking for an affordable marketing opportunity, contact me and I put you in touch with the appropriate parties.

Again, many thanks to Mark!

Sonja’s Christmas Picks

It’s December 2nd, the year has flown by, and Christmas is upon us. Wondering what to get the rock star athlete in your family? Here are my top picks for this holiday season…with a few perks along the way.

yhst-40534594257474_2031_81234.gifCore Concepts Clothing: Cadence Hoodie, Midtown, Carve, you name it and I love it. If fashion+function is a must have, these clothes hit the mark. AND, if some of your friends, or family members are a little TOO outdoorsy and a little LESS fashionista, then this is the perfect “hint hint”. Friends of my blog receive 20% off!!! Use coupon code at the online store: FF20OFF (that’s “20” as in the number, and “OFF” as in how much your saving)

beyond.jpgBeyond Technical Shells: Not everyone fits in normal sizes, especially lean and long (and hot) climber dudes (uhhh, and dudettes??). If you have an odd sized duck in your family, or need superb 100% guaranteed perfect fit, travel over to Beyond Clothing and design something for that odd duck…or duckette.

sigg.jpgSIGG Bottles: Now-a-days you gotta be using reusable water bottles and SIGG’s are the way to go. Especially for those kiddo hikers in your family, SIGG makes great children’s sippies. Right now they have free shipping on orders over $30, and they make the perfect stocking stuffer.

moons.jpgLuna Moons: These are really what every kick butt outdoor diva wants to train with. But, sometimes we just can’t rationalize blowing through 6 bags of them in a workout. So what do we do? We settle. We settle for other products, wishing all along that we had moons in our pocket. If you have a dirt diva on your shopping list, grab some moons for her stocking. She will smile, and you will see a little glint in her eye as she envisions her next trail run. Beware: do not stick Luna moons in your favorite dudes stocking unless you are the practical joking type, or your trying to hit on his girlfriend.

bpep.jpgZingermans Fantastic Bread: Mmmm. Bread! I was given a loaf of this YEARS ago as a Christmas gift and to this day it’s the most memorable gift I have ever received. They will actually ship a loaf of the most awesome bread to anywhere you need it to go. The Parmesan Pepper Bread is my favorite! Can anyone say “Carb-loading”?

Tufo Tubular Clincher Tires: They fit your normal clincher rims, you can stop dealing with the whole tire tube thing, and they are so stinkin’ resilient. I rode twenty miles on a MTB fire road on my road bike in these things. Say goodbye to flats, and build some muscle while you stretch these onto your rim for the first time. These tires are Ggrrreat!

pink.jpgZensah Pink Compression Legs: The recovery benefits of compression attire are proven. BUT, has it ever been this cute? These pink compression socks will make the endurance athlete that you snuggle up at night squeal with delight. Because seriously folks, the white medical ones you get from Rite Aid, well, they just don’t cut it.

left_bottles.jpgMix1 Drinks: These have saved my life. Okay, maybe I am stretching things a little bit, but (true statement) they have saved my workout. Some of those saved workouts have been quite extreme. 41 miles running on the Colorado Trail, 34 miles running in the Moab desert, 32 miles running on an Ultra Relay Team, these are “stay strong or suffer severely” events. I am a firm believer of incorporating protein into endurance events and Mix1’s are palatable and shelf stable. Besides, a case of them comes in a box and is easy to wrap.

Take care of your loved ones this season. Remember, when you have the right tools to train, you can chase your dreams. Give someone a gift this season that will encourage them to get outside. Cool Breeze, Fresh Air, that’s a happy life!

A Little Shout Out

So I have to give Tyler a little shout out. He’s caught the blogging bug and I’m lovin’ it. My friend Tyler is one of the most fun guys I know to hang around. He’s got a great head on his shoulders and knows how to work hard when he needs to. He’s the one coming up with the Alphabet Game to play on long bike rides (you’ll have to join us to know about that one), but when it comes time to climb, the boy drops the hammer.

His triathlon blog is great and I strongly urge you all to meander on over and check it out. Leave a little comment love and let him know what he’s doing is inspiring. He’s a dad of three and with the support of his wife Anne he fits it ALL in.

He’s always willing to throw in a little Booo-Yaa to the mix. Enthusiasm, exuberance, yet kindness and inclusiveness are constants with Tyler. He’s just a class act dude.

He ends every post with “I love you Anne” which just makes my heart melt. Check out his blog here.

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Core Concepts Wins the Apex Award!

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Let me be the first of many to extend a HUGE congratulations to Core Concepts! Every year Polartec awards several high tech garments their prestigious Apex Award. This year Core Concepts Carve Full Zip jacket is sharing the podium with other stellar companies including Patagonia, Marmot, and Merrell.

As an avid wearer of the Carve Full Zip jacket let me just say this coat is top notch and extremely deserving of the Apex award. I have been product testing it for the last few months and have yet to uncover a flaw. It fabric is divine for us women, and the stylish details will leave your friends drooling…like my friends are! Right friends? Don’t worry, the Carve Full Zip goes on sale in September.

Congratulations to the Core Concepts crew and especially to owners Noah and Erin! You have been such a joy to work with and I know that as the years go by Core Concepts will become a household name in outdoor apparel. Keep up the great work and I can’t wait to see the Carve Full Zip walking around the streets of Boulder, or on the slopes in Vail. Because, when it comes to ‘Active. Life. Style’ you guys nailed it!