A couple of years ago, I changed the whole look and feel of my blog and essentially wanted to re-brand. This blog started off strictly about running with the goal of trying to run a race in every state. While I’m still striving toward that goal (slowly), I also wanted it to be a place where I could write more about my whole lifestyle and interests, which includes traveling, the outdoors, and a lifestyle geared towards getting to actually partake in those things.
Traveling was always a big part of why I wanted to run a race in every state. I didn’t branch out of Colorado much growing up, minus a few big trips, or even in college, and when I hit 25 years old, I wanted to change that. I loved running and this goal was a great way to do that.
In my first year of blogging, I ran in seven states, which also meant I traveled to seven states, most of them places I had never been before. Then, of course, life happened, and I’ve been up and down in terms of jobs, finances, and other life struggles. When I re-branded from Racing the States to Racing & Wandering, it was my attempt to focus on making travel a bigger priority in life. And it worked…for a bit. Then life happened again and we haven’t gotten to travel as much as we would like.
The goal of traveling (and running a race in every state) is still there, and always will be there, it’s just a matter of rearranging priorities and making it happen within the parameters that are available to us. Something we are always learning.
Recently, we got the chance to do a quick trip to Moab for a mini family vacation. Moab is one of our favorite places and it close enough for a drive and can be an affordable vacation. So, we loaded up the car with all our camping stuff, hiking accessories, and Layton, then hit the road!
This was our first family camping trip with the little tornado on two feet and it was quite the ride! I wrote about HERE on my other Blog, Creating Mama (shameless plug: subscribe for stories about pregnancy, parenthood, crafting, children’s literature, and more!)
We spent four and a half days camping, hiking and just wandering around Moab. We actually spent a good part of one of the days walking around Downtown Moab, something we’ve never done before since we are usually only in Moab for a quick climbing trip.
We also checked off a new National Park from our list, Canyonlands! Ben had been there as a kid, but Layton and I had not! 😉 Canyonlands was pretty incredible and our day spent there left us wanting more (I’ve added a dozen more things to my Moab bucket list).
We also spend a day hiking in Dead Horse State Park. Honestly, we were aiming for Arches National Park but by the time we got there (9:30 AM!) it was already at capacity (which is currently lower than normal due to COVID). The closed door definitely opened up a HUGE window because Dead Horse State Park was an off-the-beaten-path gem. It was not crowded and had amazing views. We hiked the rim trails, 4+ miles roundtrip from the visitor’s center, to Dead Horse Point, and back. It was a nice flat trail that followed the rim of the canyon wall that offered up beautiful views of the canyons and river below.
Layton seemed to love all the camping, hiking, dirt to throw, sticks to bang with, and swimming in the campground pool. We didn’t want to leave Moab and come back to work. Luckily, it’s always just a 5-6 hour drive away!
Here’s to more WANDERING posts on Racing & Wandering!
(This post was started mid-summer when the pandemic was in full swing and we were just coming out of quarantine. While, in-person events are starting to resume, we’re still not anywhere near “normal.”I have been debating posting this, as I don’t want to downplay the virtual for those that love them and need them!This post is just to show you a little bit of the behind the scenes in an industry many of you participate in.)
COVID threw everyone’s world for a loop, to say the least. No one could have expected anything like this in our lifetime…well, except those at the CDC who were literally warning us about this….
Businesses had to adjust and had to adjust FAST! Back when quarantine started, so many businesses were forced to close doors for a period of time here in Colorado (like the one I own, Golden Mountain Guides) and a lot had to figure out ways to make money in non-traditional ways (like trying to teach online rock climbing skills? Not ethical, in my opinion) and coming up short on ideas.
As for my other job, race directing, most runners are now intimately familiar with the “virtual race.” Even before covid, some runners LOVE virtual races and some HATE them. It seemed like there was no in between…you were either a virtual racer or an in-person racer. Now, I feel that there are a lot of us that have fallen in the “I would rather do an in-person event but I need some motivation” bucket.
As the pandemic keeps going, the virtual race has become a staple; it’s gained whole new respect by some. Others still hate them. Before covid, the company I work for would occasionally do a virtual “event” but it was always in conjunction with an in-person event and it was typically not that popular. We chose races that were our more signature events that usually had unique swag. And we didn’t do much with them…we pretty much mailed their shirt and medal and sent an email! Occasionally we would do an Instagram contest that one person would participate in.
While the virtual race is more and more widespread, and the race company has to do a bit more than just mailing a shirt, in reality, the race director has basically become a glorified merchandiser.
In the months leading up to the race…. normally: I would have been applying for or confirming our permit, starting to design the swag, making sure the website is accurate and working properly and looking at the course, making modifications if necessary. -> Virtual race directing: We do start the swag process, but mostly I’m on a computer, looking at the website and changing all the language to reflect a “virtual” race, adding FAQ pages (that no one will read), and answering emails.
The month before….normally: We would be notifying the neighborhood affected by the race, confirming staff, and making sure our maps are good. -> With virtual race directing: we are just monitoring our websites, registration, and answering emails (so many emails).
A few weeks before…normally: We would start our communication with volunteers and sponsors, checking with the venue site, checking the course again, make sure we have all the supplies we need on hand, and ordering awards. -> Now: We are checking our supply of mailing bags, stamps, and labels and starting to email people that we need a bit more info on.
The week of race day….normally: we are having packet pick up, making sure swag is indeed in hands, talking to our volunteers and charity partner, and starting to prepare the bibs and timing systems. -> Now: We might have an in-person packet pick up for locals if allowed (and to save money on shipping) but the week before race day I am starting the tedious process of bagging up medals and shirts, printing postage, and bringing boxes and boxes (and boxes) of packages to the post office.
The day before a race… normally: I would be loading the truck, packing the water station boxes, buying a grocery cart full of bananas, and making sure all is in order. –>Instead: I’m sending emails and finishing up mailing packets.
Race day… normally: I’d be up before the sun, unloading the truck and setting up the expo while someone is setting the course. I’m normally organizing the volunteers and making sure racers are doing what they need to be. I’d be giving a count down, cheering you on, and announcing the winners. Then loading the truck back up and unloading it once again to put all the equipment away. And finally, in the evening, I’m would be uploading pictures and answering any emails. -> Now: Well, at least I get to sleep in. The “virtual race date” usually falls on a weekend and one bright thing covid has brought is that my schedule has become a more Monday through Friday gig. Sorta.
Days and weeks following…normally: there’s not much to do after an in-person race other than making notes on what you can improve on and apply for next year’s permits. -> Now, it’s an endless stream of emails and customer service. Figuring out why someone didn’t receive their packet or how to get them a different size. People emailing in because they didn’t see our previous seven emails and absolutely do not want to be virtual racers, because heaven forbid! Or replying to someone who asked a question, that the answer to the said question can be found in the email they replied to… So. Many. Emails.
Only to repeat it all again in a week. Different race, different shirt; same tedious process. The most tedious process being the individuals that we need to follow up with (i.e. waiting on a shirt, their address is missing or a packet gets returned. Things like that). I’ve done batches of racers from 40 in an event to 1300. My kitchen has been in a constant state of staging swag items for the next race.
From March until now, we have had to convert a lot of our in-person events into virtual events. We also created brand new virtual events that weren’t tied to any other events we’ve done. As we’ve started returning to some in-person events again, we have added virtual options for those that are not ready to join a live race. Since March, it’s been an endless cycle of virtual races I’ve been handling, each with slightly different obligations, but still signing the emails as “race director.”
As a race director, I’m glad to still have some sort of job during this uncertain time, but I also wanted to show you, the avid runner, the flip side of the virtual running world. Going virtual is not the race director’s favorite thing, I can tell you that. Maybe there’s a few out there that love this, but I am not one of them. There are a couple pros to going virtual (mainly the whole not warking up at 3:00 AM thing), but overall, I like being a race director. I’ve made a career out of it, race directing 24+ events a year. Being the coordinator of a physical race that you reach your goals at is amazing, even if those goals are just hanging out with your running friends and enjoying some exercise. As a race director, virtual racing just isn’t the same.
But I do see you, the person that loves the virtual race! It gives you strength and motivation to keep lacing up the sneakers and putting in the miles, especially in these stressful, chaotic, unknowing times! It’s you I look up to! I really do. When I see your posts that you got out on that snowy evening to run 26.2 miles in memory of your Father….
Or you, the one that keeps running every day, training and training to stay healthy and fit, to earn that medal on the weekend….
Or you, the one that doesn’t have very many running buddies, but needs the motivation to get out the door…
Or you, the one that needs the adrenaline to calm the nerves when you have no idea what tomorrow will bring in this crazy world…
I see you. I feel you and you inspire me to keep “race directing.”
So as the pandemic rages on, please know that the next time you see your favorite race having to switch to virtual, I can promise you that it’s probably not the race director’s favorite choice. It just may be the right thing to do at the moment and necessary due to your local state, city, and county’s regulations, but before you send that “but that other race last weekend happened, how come you aren’t doing your event” email, just know they made the best decision for themselves, their company and you.
Since the Hot Chocolate race series started, I’ve had my eye on that jacket and medal! If you’re a runner, you know exactly what I’m talking about. However, literally, every year since the beginning (in Colorado), I have had to work on race day.
This year was finally my year… albeit it would have to be virtually!
It’s nobody’s first choice to choose a virtual race over an in-person event, not the race directors nor the runners. Ironically, it’s because of the current state of affairs that I did not have to work (timing) a 5k and I got to do the (virtual) Hot Chocolate.
It’s also ironic that literally as soon as I signed up for the race, my body started breaking down. Since having Layton, my running has been up and down, up and down, over and over. I’ve had really good periods of running and then really bad. I’ve had times where I’ve been able to resume a regular training program and other times where I haven’t even been able to squeeze in one day a week for a run.
When COVID first started and the quarantine hit, I was doing really well with training. As the pandemic went on and on and my home/work-life balance became wonky (it is still all wonky), my training plummeted again. Then, as cross country season was approved to resume, I started running with the kiddos again. I don’t know if I started too much, too fast (or maybe not enough stretching and recovery) but before I knew it everything was hurting. Between my hips, low back, knees, and plantar fasciitis, something is usually in pain during or after my run.
I digress… I still wanted to do the Virtual Hot Chocolate race – this was my chance. I wanted to earn that swag, so I came up with a plan. I was going to split my 15K into sections. I decided to do three 5ks, three days in a row.
Pre-Race I really appreciated the communication from Hot Chocolate. We got a couple of emails about what to expect and “how-to” participate.
My packet arrived a few days before “race day” and I was so excited to unwrap the infamous jacket. I’ll wear that with pride now!
On the day of the race, they posted a video of the national anthem at an iconic location in Colorado, Red Rocks Amphitheater. Nice touch.
Race Day(s) Part 1 – Friday I took my favorite running buddy, Layton, out in the stoller for an afternoon 5k. I walked for the first mile, ran for a mile and a half and walked the rest of the way home. This worked very well for me and I kept my pace slow as to not aggrevate any of my “injuries.” Even though there was a ton of smoke in the air and my stroller was broken, it actually turned out to be a good run. Afterwards, Layton and I stretched, as you can see, in the living room.
Part 2 – Saturday Since we had a morning cross country practice, and I had a babysitter, I thought the trails would be a good place for part 2 of my virtual race. We’re getting closer and closer to the end of season, which means all the remaining athletes are super fast! That leaves me alone during the run. I walked for the first quarter of a mile and walked/jogged the rest! I actually ended up running 3.8 miles on the trails and felt pretty good.
Part 3 – Sunday, Done! For my last section, Layton joined me again and we got the stroller fixed. The air quality was much better and we had a nice leisurely run around my town. There was actually more running than I expected and this was my fastest 5k out of the three! We celebrated in my driveway where we split our finisher’s medal chocolate!
Post Race I uploaded my time, uploaded my photos and the joined the “after party!” On the Denver Hot Chocolate 15k Facebook event page, they hosted an after party with fun chocolate trivia, city of Denver highlights, music and giveaways! I thought it was a nice touch for a virtual event.
Overall I think Hot Chocolate did the virtual race thing well. Like I said, no body that does in-person events wants to do a virtual event instead – believe me, I know first hand. But the crew at Hot Chocolate did all they could to make your virtual experience fun. From the national anthem, email communication, results, photos, and post race “party,” they made you feel like you were part of a real event, rather than just running on any regular day of the week.
Didn’t get into the Denver race? The beauty of the virtual series is that you can sign up for ANY hot chocolate and be a part of the action! Click here to pick a city! The next one is Chicago and it is a Virtual event as well!
I don’t remember it being this hot last year! Here in Colorado, we have been blasted with a few close-to-100 days this summer already and we’re just now getting into the traditionally hottest time of the year.
Maybe I wasn’t outside as much last year, but I definitely wasn’t running this time last year. This time last year I was 8-9 months pregnant at the beginning of summer and home with a newborn at the end of the summer.
This year, I have been very aware of the summer heat, especially while running. We have been allowed to start practicing with our Cross Country team again (with regulations/restrictions in place due to COVID) and I had to get acclimated to the heat quickly. Right now we’re running in the morning, which is bearable, but soon, we’ll have to shift practices to the afternoon and I’ll need to be even more cognizant of my hydration.
When it comes to hydration for me, I try to be pretty good with drinking water all day long, especially on days BEFORE we have practice. When going out for a run, the water you drink right before is not what hydrates you during the run; it’s more about the day before’s water intake; ironically something we’re constantly trying to teach our cross country kiddos and has come up pretty recently!
My go-to summer bag…sunscreen, water, sandals and now SiS Hydro Tablets
When it gets extra hot, my normal water intake is just not quick enough and I need a little extra oomph in the nutrient replenishment department. In the past, I’ve tried all sorts of hydration/electrolyte replacement beverages. I had not actually heard of Science In Sport (SiS) until now and I was very excited to try something new.
When it comes to hydration or electrolyte replacement drinks, there are two things the product for sure has to meet:
Has to taste good!
Does what it’s supposed to (re-hydrate me or keep my hydrated during a workout)
Yeah, I’m not high maintenance.
Sis Hydro tablets definitely meet my two qualifications.
I received a four-pack that included Pineapple/Mango, Lemon, and Cola flavors. The Cola tabs also have caffeine. The first one I tried was the pineapple/mango and I was pleasantly surprised! They were really good! I used them after a run on a specifically hot day and felt pretty refreshed! I then started making some and drinking half my water bottle per-run and saving the rest for after.
The Lemon is my favorite flavor. I don’t particularly like the taste of the Cola one but like that it contains caffeine which makes it perfect for before a long run. A lot of the other BibRace pros liked that they weren’t fizzy. When you first drop the tablets in, they fizz until they dissolve. I personally can go either way. I bet having fizz with the Cola one might make that one better!
If you’re looking for a new hydration/electrolyte sources, these are definitely worth a try! The taste good, do what they’re supposed to, and they are reasonably priced (a little bit cheaper compared to similar products).
I mean, they must be good, because Ben has used most of mine! 😉
Get Some For Yourself!
A pack of four (80 tablets) is $39.00 (or $11 for one tube of 20 tablets). Use coupon code BIBRAVE20 for 20% off the hydro tablets.