The Final Countdown – Nike Women’s Half Marathon Weekend

 

Tomorrow I depart the Mile High city for our Nation’s capital to participate in the Nike Women’s Half Marathon. More importantly, however, I get to see some of my favorite ladies in the world! YAY! This is also the race that provides Tiffany necklaces upon completion, which is obviously an added bonus. And I get to top the weekend off with seeing my family at the finish line and post-race. They’ve never actually seen me run, so this will be a big moment!

Part of what makes me so excited is the chance to run through such a phenomenal part of D.C. Not having been part of the running community there, I wasn’t really able to experience this newfound love in one of the most important and iconic cities in the U.S. I often see my friend Samantha’s photos and sigh, thinking how great it would be to have these sights as a daily reminder of the amazing country in which we live. Being able to so casually pass them whilst jogging along is almost surreal, and simultaneously empowering. This is one element of the weekend that truly has me pumped up and incredibly excited. I foresee a ridiculous amount of photos in my future this weekend. Instagram may give me the boot after overloading their system with selfies and monuments.

The course meanders through some of the best parts of the city!
The course meanders through some of the best parts of the city!

This week was the perfect transition week to get me psyched for Nike. I was able to go on two amazing runs this weekend, 6 miles through my neighborhood on Saturday and another 9 on the Highline Canal trail on Sunday. The weekend had ideal weather, yet again, with just the right amount of sunshine and light breezes. I feel confident with my rhythm, breathing, and pacing, so I really have no worries for Sunday’s race. Besides, with my gal pals by my side, it’ll be a fantastically enjoyable day.

The views were stunning during my run on Sunday.
The views were stunning during my run on Sunday.

The hubs did surprise me with my second annual grown-up Easter egg hunt. Rather than eggs filled with candy, toys or money, he hid mini champagne bottles all around the house. After getting back from my run on the Highline Canal trail, he handed me an Easter basket, set a searching radius, and Rocco and I headed off in search of my bubbly loot. I must give the hubs credit – this year was much more challenging, and with only one clue I found all five bottles! He’s such a sweetie!

Best Easter tradition ever.  Rocco thought so too.
Best Easter tradition ever. Rocco thought so too.

During the week I was able to fit in some great stretching sessions, my weekly Tuesday Zumba class (if you haven’t tried it yet, do it! SO MUCH FUN!), and tonight I will have a short 5K run to round me out for the weekend. But it wouldn’t be a pre-race post from Amy without a wardrobe review! The hubby and I got together with our dear friends in Boulder, Peter and Ade. Peter’s folks live up in Vail and are some truly wonderful people, and Peter’s mom, the kind soul she is, reads this here blog from yours truly. She mentioned to Peter, as he relayed to me, that I am very interested in my running gear and dressing for the occasion. So without further ado, the running ensemble!

Given that this is a race primarily for women (but plenty of men run it too!), the ladies and I thought the outfits needed a bit of… sparkle! In sorority world, this is a given. In my quest to find the perfect group attire, I turned to my all-time favorite clothier of running pizazz, Race Junkie. You may have noticed my stunning Belle tutu for the Disney Princess Half Marathon (How could you not? It was freakishly adorable!). Well Race Junkie also makes awesome T-shirts and tanks! Although I won’t give it all away (there needs to be some suspense people!), her tops just scream fabulous. After ordering tanks for the group, our next decision was color.

Each lady chose a vibrant color because we don’t mind being those obnoxious bright girls. Samantha will be donning purple, Justine is in green, Christine picked blue, and I will be wearing what I like to think of as my lucky yellow race capris. I have worn these Under Armour capris for the Disney Princess Half as well as the Lucky Laces 10K, so let’s round it out with third time’s the charm. Afterwards I may need to retire them for the race scene as that is all people will think I own, but they are possibly my favorite pair of running capris – they’re heavenly soft, don’t chaff, and stay put. Really those are my main considerations when finding the ideal running bottoms.

We topped off our outfits with Sparkly Soul headbands, again in an assortment of colors. With this being our very first race all together (and hopefully not our last), it deserves to be an occasion worth dressing for. I simply cannot wait to share in this amazing adventure, and cross that finish line together. To be sure, no matter the distance, best friends are worth holding on to – and running with, for that matter! See you all on the other side of the finish line!

We are always classy and colorful - whether running or schmoozing.
We are always classy and colorful – whether running or schmoozing.

Are you a race ensemble planner (they do say never to try anything new race day!) or do you just throw something together day of?  Do you run with friends or family, or enjoy the open road solo?  What inspires you when you run?  Anything fun planned for the weekend?

Shoe Therapy and Wednesday Giveaway

I hate feet.  I hate my feet and I hate other people’s feet.  I have felt this way nearly all of my life.  It wasn’t until the past few years that I realized pedicures aren’t terrifying.  It could explain why I am so devoted to shoes.  I won’t even attempt to count how many shoes I own… it would be astonishing even to me.  Growing up, however, I tormented my feet with inappropriate shoes.  It wasn’t until I moved to Colorado, quickly followed by my dear friend Tessa from back east, that I realized I needed shoe intervention.

Tessa was working part-time for Clarks in Colorado Springs.  Every time I went to visit her I met her at the shop, and always managed to leave with something in hand.  I would get home and think, “Self, why were you wearing such horrendously ill-supported and ill-fitting shoes before?  Time to purge!”  From then on, Clarks and a few other select brands are my go-to’s.  I rarely consider other shoes because I know how incredible my feet feel in Clarks.

I know what you’re thinking… “Isn’t Clarks a ‘comfort shoe’ brand?  Aren’t they… dare I say it, unattractive?”  Well the answer is no.  Granted I am selective in the styles I purchase (I always steer clear of the comfort walking sandals of our older generations), but there are so many cute options!  My favorite oxfords (both heeled and men’s style) have come from Clarks.  I adore their wedges all summer long.  I am not sure if I could have survived this winter without their meticulously crafted boots and wedge booties.  Even better, everything is so incredibly comfortable, with ample arch support and cushioning, and lasts.

Um, hello snake print wood heel wedges! LOVE them and so versatile!
Um, hello snake print wood heel wedges! LOVE them and so versatile!

The icing on top of this very large cake is their sock policy.  Sounds strange, I know, but it’s what keeps me and the hubs coming back (oh yeah, I have converted him too, as well as some of my coworkers…).  Buy a pair of socks from Clarks, and you can return them when they’re worn out and get a new pair, wait for it, for FREE, and even better, for LIFE!!  Incredible, isn’t it?

So on that note, now that I have converted everyone to happy footwear heaven, you’ll definitely want to check out the Clarks Soho Chic Sweepstakes styled by Lucky Magazine!  You could win a trip to NYC to shop and strut your stylish stuff.  You can get a customized shopping trip tailored to your personal style courtesy of a Lucky style expert, along with airfare, hotel accommodations, and $2,000 to shop ‘til you drop!  And Lucky magazine will also magically appear in your mailbox for a year, so style and read on!  All I know is that if this shopping trip includes shoes, I so want to win.  Cinderella, after all, is proof that a pair of shoes can change your life.  Words to live by, ladies, words to live by.

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Parisian Getaway Giveaway

Bonjour!  C’est Mercredi!  Some have described me as fancy.  This is a word that I try to embody in all aspects of my life.  It’s not that I don’t love the occasional Saturday spent in yoga pants, but on a whole, I live life to its most fabulous potential.  With this attitude, I often stick out in casual Colorado.  Shortly after starting my new job at the University of Colorado Denver, one of my coworkers hit the nail on the head.  I am a verified Francophile.  This was one of the greatest compliments I could have received.  I hadn’t even told him about my collection of berets yet!

Enjoying a beautiful day outside the Louvre Museum.
Enjoying a beautiful day outside the Louvre Museum.

After my freshman year of college, before transferring to the University of Maryland, my family went on a trip to France and Germany.  We spent the majority of our trip in Paris, and I could have remained there forever if given the choice.  The charm and romance of Paris is present in every aspect of the city.  There’s an air of elegance, a deep enjoyment of life, and serves as a daydreamer’s paradise.  It’s a place to which I long to return, even though I don’t speak the language.  Needless to say, I admire the French culture, fashion, food, and lifestyle.  Julia Child’s experience as portrayed through Julie and Julia, and my current book of the moment The Sharper Your Knife, The Less You Cry both depict the delicacies and intricacies of the art of French cooking.  My favorite movie growing up, French Kiss, showcased a comical storyline of a woman’s long awaited dream of going to Paris interrupted by a fight to regain who she thought was the love of her life.  All of these stories and experiences have built up this French philosophy in my mind, and I will ever more be entranced.

My absolute favorite shot of the Eiffel Tower.
My absolute favorite shot of the Eiffel Tower.

White House Black Market has always been one of those stores I wander past in malls and shopping centers, and occasionally enter.  I typically find items I like, and their pieces can be easily interwoven into my wardrobe.  When I learned of their Passport to Paris giveaway, I definitely started paying more attention.  I emulate a French flair for living, and a free trip would simply be icing on top of my Parisian style cake.  So I wish you good luck, and happy travels.  Maybe we’ll meet in Paris one day!

Year of Sperrys Sweepstakes

It wouldn’t be a Wednesday without a giveaway, now would it?  Although I am a Colorado convert, I have not lost my preppy ways altogether.  I am currently donning a set of pearls, and never shy away from a chance to combine red and blue in honor of all things nautical.  My favorite prepster items and absolutely staple in my wardrobe, however, is a perfect pair of preppy Sperry Top Sider boat shoes.  Would any East Coast prep be complete without at least one pair?  Absolutely not.  It’s a right of preppy passage.

My dear friend Melissa and I sport our colorful Sperrys!  Tres cute, no?
My dear friend Melissa and I sport our colorful Sperrys! Tres cute, no?

Having lived a mere 30 minutes from Annapolis, Maryland (aka mecca of preppy), boat shoes were the natural footwear selection.  Excellent in rain and sunny weather alike, made for the deck of a speed or sail boat, and simultaneously sturdy and lightweight, it is the all-around go-to shoe.  So when I heard Sperry Top Sider has a Year of Sperrys sweepstakes, I nearly swooned.  I may or may not already own a dozen pairs already… including flats and sandals people, I am not that crazy!  Regardless, a year’s worth of my all-time favorite shoe brand is too hard to pass up.  The sweepstakes ends on Friday, February 14th, so time’s a tickin’.  All I ask is that if you win, can I have one pair?  Just one?  A baker’s dozen would be ideal for my shoe collection…

2014 could be your year of Sperrys!
2014 could be your year of Sperrys!

Headbands and Hiking Boots

To all of my close friends and acquaintances, this may come as quite a shock.  I almost never wear headbands.  I know, I know, you are all asking the same meaningful question: What is a true prep without her coordinating, potentially bow adorned, very likely bling bedazzled, signature headband?  That is a very good question.

Should I blame it on the altitude?  The lack of oxygen and tightness of the head accessory caused a sudden loss of pressure to my brain?  Could it be the dryness in the air?  Maybe my headbands were increasing breakage, and let’s be honest, who in their right mind actually wants split ends?  Alas, no.  I have ceased my playful hair décor for one very simple reason: It looks absolutely ridiculous to be the only person in Colorado sporting a headband, unless of course its an athletic head band you wear while trail running.

I have succumbed to some of these mountainy ways.  Including hiking.  Who knew, right?  My oldest friend, Tessa, and I were headed to conquer the infamous Incline of Manitou Springs three weeks ago.  The day before our victorious climb, Tessa called her mom and told her of our impending adventure.  Her mother proceeded to exclaim, “Amy?  Like high school Amy?  Like the Amy I know?”  I get that reaction a lot.  Even my sister has had friends ask, “Were those pictures of Amy hiking?  Since when?”

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Hiking up Mount Sanitas in Boulder, CO.

How could anyone resist the call of the mountain when you live a matter of blocks away?  I mean, seriously, Boulder is the Mecca of the outdoorsy.  Eleven thirty on a Tuesday morning?  People are hiking.  Four twenty on a Sunday evening?  People are hiking.  Why do you think all of the worlds specialty organic grocery stores started in Boulder?  Health nuts and athleticism run rampant.  It is that sense of accomplishement, that absolute rush of adrenaline, when you reach the top and see all of creation below, and the mountains beyond.  There’s nothing quite like being on top of the world.  Or at least at 8,000 feet.

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The view from the top of the Incline in Manitou Springs. One mile up, 2,000 foot incline.

(And yes, this is what a 2,100 foot ascent, reaching 8,700 feet in one mile looks like.  In case you were wondering…)

This coming from your least coordinated, reasonably healthy, but not athletic average preppy twenty something.  Don’t get me wrong, pregnant women still pass me on the climb up.  But there’s something about the lack of humidity and absence of an incessant mosquito population, combined with the constant sunshine and breathtaking vistas that forces you outside.  I mean seriously, look at this place!

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Views of the mountains from the Gregory Canyon/Ampithater trail in Chautauqua.

Okay, it’s not a total transformation.  It’s just a girl realizing that the outdoors and meaningful exercise can be fun!  I must mention, hiking boots are significantly cuter than they used to be.  Mine are rather darling, and my trail running shoes are even more precious!  But I have perfected the cute messy hair knot with a headband to class it up… they do have to make the occasional appearance afterall!