Do Yourself a Favor: Get Yourself to Palm Springs for a Race

I spend a lot of time in Palm Springs because my in-laws live there. It took me a little while to discover the joys of running and racing in this iconic desert town, but fortunately, every time I go, I discover another gem.

PSRedCarpet5KSMOne race I can’t say enough good things about is the International Film Festival RED CARPET RUN 5K and 10k. If you happen to be in Palm Springs next Saturday, January 9th, I highly recommend participating in this race. It is a blast from start to finish. The details are phenomenal. To begin with, every runner receives a tiara and tutu or a tuxedo shirt to wear during the race, and every finisher receives an Oscar and a boatload of bling and treats. No matter what your pace, you’ll love this event.

You can read my recap from last year’s race by clicking HERE if you want to get a better feel for this event. I can’t remember the last time I had this much fun during a race.

MollyThorpe

Race Director Molly Thorpe knows how to put on super fun races for runners of all abilities.

Race Director, Molly Thorpe, puts on events like no other. Her enthusiasm, attention to detail, and generous spirit all come together to create memorable races with heart and spunk.

I’m sad I won’t be in Palm Springs this year for the Red Carpet Run, but I feel lucky that I was able to participate in the Wild Turkey Trot 5K over Thanksgiving. What a hoot! Here are a few pictures. And yes, I’m sporting a ridiculous turkey hat like all the other participants who received one in their race bags. Such fun!

WildTurkey5KGobbleSignRunforPumplinPie

WildTurkeyStartTurkeyWildTurkey5KFinish

Molly Thorpe has been extremely kind and has offered all my blog followers a discount for any upcoming race put on by the Palm Springs Marathon Runners. Just go to www.runpalmsprings.com to register. Use the code COACHBECKY and receive $5 off. How cool is that? Here’s a short list of their next few races:

Red Carpet Run-January 9 (DON’T MISS THIS ONE!!!)
Shamrock Run-March 5
Super Heroes 5K-March 12
Run for Ike-April 2

PalmSpringsTramIf you like an extra challenge, while you’re in Palm Springs be sure to hoof it up the tram road while you’re there like I did yesterday when I was visiting.

I think I can…I think I can… I think I can…

Happy New Year everybody! Here’s to an exciting year ahead filled with fun adventures and many exciting races!

xo Becky

 

 

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And the Oscar Goes to…

PSRedCarpet5KSMAs I crossed the finish line of the Palm Springs International Film Festival Red Carpet Run 5K last weekend, all I could hear above the din of Billy Idol rocking in my ears was….”blah blah blah….blah blah…Aaronson…blah blah garble….Santa Barbara!”

Although I wasn’t seeing stars or feeling like I was about to puke from pushing myself way beyond my limits, I was in a happy endorphin daze, having just run a solid race while sporting a tiara and a tutu.

How could I not be happy? It was a fabulously silly way to start the new year.

Walking down the finisher’s Red Carpet, I was handed an Oscar and greeted with huge smiles and multiple, “Congratulations!” I kept thinking, Geez, these people are soooo friendly here. It was then I finally took my earbuds out and asked the guy next to me who was sporting a tuxedo shirt, “Did you happen to hear what the announcer just said when I crossed the finish line?”

“Are you kidding?” he laughed. “She said YOU WON! You were the first female finisher!”

“Seriously?” I croaked while looking around suspiciously, wondering if I was being punked.

“Seriously,” he said as he high-fived me.

What a hoot! It turns out that, yes indeed, I did win! I had no idea, especially since it wasn’t one of my fastest races. I figured there must have been at least a handful, if not a dozen women ahead of me, but apparently I was in my own little happy bubble, oblivious to what was going on around me. All I know is that I ran neck in neck with a lady wearing a tiara and a green and yellow Oregon Ducks getup for nearly the entire race, until finally pulling ahead of her with about three-quarters of a mile to go.

As you might have guessed, this race was purely about fun for me. My only goal was to enjoy my run and see where I was at with my fitness. After two months of letting my body recover from a frustrating litany of overuse nonsense, I came to the starting line with zero expectations. Perhaps that’s why this race was so much fun.

RedCarpetTuxedosOr it could have been the Elvis impersonator…or the most remarkable rendition of the Star Spangled Banner I’ve ever heard, sung by the Palm Springs Gay Mens Choir, or the race director who was wearing a full length gown and fur, or the champagne glasses filled with yummy pink stuff, or a race course that sent us zooming past a dozen or more iconic celebrity homes (think Dino, Marilyn, and Frank). Or it could have been the ridiculous amount of bling, including a tiara, tutu or tuxedo shirt given out in every race bag. Or maybe it was the adorableness of the canine division, or the photo booth opps or the karaoke and costume contests. These people know how to party!

The funny part is that I was in Palm Springs last weekend for just that…a party to celebrate my adorable mother-in-law, Geraldine (Gee Gee), who was turning 90 (how amazing is that?!!).

My plan was to quietly zip out the door in the morning before she woke up, do the race, and return before her celebration breakfast. I hadn’t even told Gee Gee I was doing a race because last weekend was meant to be all about her. The problem is that when you win, they want you to stick around for the special awards ceremony to honor you with all your bling. I waited for a while, and even had my picture taken with Elvis and Marilyn, but finally told the race director I needed to skedaddle.

“Of course you need to go!” she said in between announcing 10K finishers. “I totally understand, but before you go, do me a favor…along with your trophy, please be sure to take a tiara for your mother-in-law, and one for your beautiful daughter. And wish your mother-in-law a big Happy Birthday!”

Did I mention how nice everybody is at this race? If you happen to be in Palm Springs next January during Film Fest, I highly recommend you join the fun! Here are a few pictures from the race…and here’s a link to the Palm Springs Marathon Runner’s website with race info. (click on the link).

RedCarpetRun5KFinishSM
I’m not sure if the guy next to me is sneezing, howling, crying out in pain or singing Hallelujah!

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Fueling Setbacks with Gratitude

NiteMovesJune2514It has been a SERIOUSLY fun year of running for me—pushing myself out my comfort zone, competing, playing, connecting with new people, doing new events.

Each week I’ve gotten stronger, faster and more confident as I’ve worked at getting back into shape.

By late August, I had logged well over a dozen races—many of which I’d run slightly faster than the one before. It was exhilarating.

But then I hit a speed bump.

Ventura Half Marathon MedalAfter running the Ventura Half Marathon in early September and then the She is Beautiful 5K a couple weeks later, with 18 and 20-mile runs in between, along with some tempo runs and track workouts, my body let me know that not only had I taken it too far, I had taken it for granted by ignoring its subtle, yet persistent warning signals.

Becky Aaronson 2014 She is BeautifulThe aches, “which every runner feels,” I told myself, were never “that bad.” But then those aches suddenly turned into ones that were that bad. With just six weeks to go until my target race—the Santa Barbara Veteran’s Day Marathon—I was forced to put on the brakes as I pushed my foot and back beyond their tipping points.

Damn. Damn. Damn. Damn. Damn.

Long story short (because I don’t want to bore you with a litany of injury details), the Santa Barbara Marathon did not happen for me. Disappointment doesn’t even begin to describe my frustration.

YOU IDIOT! I scolded myself, YOU KNOW BETTER! WHEN WILL YOU EVER LEARN?

After beating myself up, then administering several generous doses of chocolate and wine, I finally pulled myself together. I was determined to salvage this marathon, no matter what.

Thus began my 6-week “mega taper,” which involved a whole lot of rest, pool running, cryotherapy and compression sessions, nothing but uber healthy food, extra cushy Hoka shoes, then slowly easing back into short, easy runs on grass with Coach Nash’s guidance.

Cryotherapy at The LabNormaTec Compression PantsRun Be Run Green Smoothie
Hoka Huaka shoes

I tried to convince myself that by not stressing about it and embracing this “mega taper,” I’d at least get myself to the starting line. Eventually though, it became painfully obvious that attempting a full marathon would be stupid in my marginally healed state, and my marginally maintained fitness level. I might have been able to do it (ever so slooowwwly), but I didn’t want to just run another marathon; I wanted to race it.

But here’s the good news (the cup is half full, right?): although I didn’t run the full marathon, I did manage to salvage race day by at least participating in the half marathon. It was not fast (about 8-10 minutes off my goal time) or pretty, but I did get through it, on a very hot day no less, and did cross the finish line with a smile on my face.

Becky Aaronson Santa Barbara Half MarathonBecky Aaronson 2014 SB Half Marathon

That was three weeks ago. I know Continue reading

Celebrating Momentum

It has been an exciting time of momentum around here. You know, when things suddenly start coming together for you and many of those special peeps around you? When you begin to see some of your  “I think I cans” turn into exhilarating moments of, “Holy crap, I did it!”

“Enthusiasm
is the energy and force
that builds literal momentum of
the human soul and mind.”
~Bryant H. McGill

Last weekend was filled with multiple exclamation points as many of my friends and I participated in the Gaucho Gallop, a local 5K put on by the University of California on its beautiful Santa Barbara campus.

We were all looking forward to participating in this race for a variety of reasons, but when we woke up on Saturday morning, we were greeted with less than ideal conditions. Can you say cold, blustery wind? What’s a fair weather Californian to do? And we’re not talking just a little breeze. It was the kind of wind that had sponsors bungee’ing down their tents so they wouldn’t fly away.

Regardless of Mother Nature’s extra little test, it was a GORGEOUS morning filled with fun, friendship and fabulous competition. Most exciting was kicking off the spring season of Kids Corner Coyotes, a youth running club I coach with Nash Jimenez. It’s impossible not to be filled with joy when being surrounded by so many eager young faces falling head over heels for the sport we all love so much.

StartingLine_JohnHudson

Coyote kiddos getting ready to race the Kids 1k

Doubly exciting was seeing so many of our Roosevelt Running Club families participate in the 5K race. They didn’t just participate either, they ROCKED the course. One of my 8-year old runners (#52) finished in a blistering 23:05 (7:26), and each of these other rock star runners pushed themselves way beyond their comfort zones, and ran terrific races too! I was especially excited for my daughter (#245), who took 10 MINUTES off her last 5K finishing time. EPIC! #proudmamamoment. Thank you Stella for being her awesome running partner!

GauchoGallopRRCFinishers

Some of our Roosevelt Running Club members celebrating their hard work after the 5K race.

My race was about redeeming myself. You might remember the last race I ran was less than stellar; I didn’t “race” race and it left a hollow, disappointing feeling in my gut. I didn’t want to let myself down again so this time I woke up with fire in my belly, ready to leave it all on the course.

And that’s exactly what I did. I ran the fastest 5K I’ve ever run, despite the wind, finishing in 23:30 (7:34 pace). I have to try to keep up with #52, after all! Most exciting? This time I didn’t finish 6 minutes behind my closest GP competitor. I finished 6 seconds behind her. I think I can. I think I can. I think I can. I’m slowly building momentum, inching closer to where I believe I can be, knowing I still have A LOT of work to do.

Another highlight was seeing one of my Roosevelt moms beaming after the race. She was riding high on sweet momentum as she knocked off even more time from her finishing goal. Way to go, Debbie!! I’m so happy for you, and proud of you!! Debbie started running again because she was so inspired by what her boys were doing (yep #52 is her speedy son, and her older son is blistering fast too). Now, not only are her boys inspiring us all, she is too (especially me)!

The topper to all this was being surrounded by a gaggle of happy, healthy, motivated people. Runners are nothing but a bundle of positive energy. After all, optimism is the fuel that keeps us going! Momentum is its sweet, electrifying byproduct.

Speaking of sweet momentum, I have one last tidbit to share with you… several weeks ago a writer contacted me wanting to do a story about the running program my husband and I started at my daughter’s elementary school, The Roosevelt Running Club. Needless to say, I was bowled over by his interest in our program, and filled with gratitude for all the people that have, and continue to, make this program what it is. This kind of magic can only happen with the support of parents and athletes who want to pay it forward for the next generation of runners.

Here’s a link to the story if you are interested in seeing what we’re up to: http://presidiosports.com/2014/04/aaronson-establishes-roosevelt-running-club/ (or click on the photo below).

Presidio Sports Sports Figure of the Month

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So tell me, as spring heads quickly toward summer, are you starting to feel momentum with your running? Are your feet being lifted a little higher and faster from the power of your fabulous running community? What’s your story?

 

Turning a So-So “Grape” of a Race into a Fine Chardonnay

ChardonnayFinish2I know, I know, the saying is really “turning lemons into lemonade,” but since I’m referring to the Chardonnay 10-Miler I ran last Saturday, I’m going with the wine analogy. You get the idea.

It wasn’t my most spectacular race, but since a lot of good things came out of it, I’m choosing to dwell in the positive and “make wine out of grapes.”

First, let me backtrack a bit.

About three weeks ago when I was pushing it a little too hard doing 800s at the track, several ribs popped out of place in my back and strained my intercostal muscles (the muscles between the ribs). That probably doesn’t sound like a big deal, but if you’ve ever experienced this, you know the piercing, knife in the back, can’t breathe feeling. No fun. And no sleep for days because every time you move, it’s like being stabbed all over again.

Training came to a halt just when I had planned to do my longest and hardest runs to get ready for this race.

It wasn’t until last Wednesday, four days before the race, that I could finally breathe deeply again and run in an upright position without pain. Thank you Stephanie and Larry for working your magic!

When I showed up to the starting line, along with 376 other runners, I was both happy to be there, and apprehensive, knowing I hadn’t trained like I had wanted, and worried that my back might blow out again. To add to it, of all stupid things, I had a knot in my calf that I could not roll out.

Waa waa waa. Yes, you can hand me some cheese with all of this whine-ing.

That morning before the race, I kept trying to get myself fired up, but wasn’t feeling an ounce of race day adrenaline. Normally I’m wired and ready to go, but I just wasn’t “feeling it.” AT ALL. Not even after a big slug of coffee.

I gave myself the old “Suck it up Buttercup” pep talk several times, but finally decided that my body was trying to tell me something. So instead, I gave myself permission to “just run” instead of “race,” listen to music, enjoy a beautiful 10-mile cruise along our gorgeous coastline and see what happened.

So what did happen?

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Running, Racing and Dream Chasing

HappyFeetWhen 2014 rolled around, I knew it was going to be a great year. I could feel it in my bones.

Something was starting to burn deep inside me again—the desire to compete and make fitness a priority. Let me rephrase that…the desire to make MY fitness a priority.

I’d spent so much time over the last year and a half organizing and coaching all my kids running teams (peek at my coaching page if you’re interested), on top of writing and juggling all the things moms juggle, few hours were left in the day for my own running.

Oh, I’d run here and there, start then sputter, get pulled away, then start again, repeating an endless frustrating cycle of mediocrity as I fought to maintain my baseline fitness. I even joined in races when I wrangled enough time and energy, but I was definitely not operating on all cylinders.

And the thing is, I know without a doubt that if I don’t make health and fitness a priority, I feel off kilter—like a wobbly top spinning full speed ahead, bumping from one thing to the next. I put everybody and everything ahead of myself. I say, “Yes” to too many things. I volunteer more than I should. I don’t get enough sleep and often make bad food choices.

I’m embarrassed to share with you how much chocolate I consumed…not to mention red wine…and coffee (lots of coffee)…all those treats, which temporarily make us feel giddy, decadent and “rewarded,” but also pack on an extra 5-10 pounds if we’re not careful.

When the ball dropped in 2014, I was more than ready to say, “Enough, girlfriend!” and take decisive steps to get back to center and reclaim my own personal fitness goals.

Screen shot 2014-04-05 at 3.22.24 PMThe first thing I did was join the Santa Barbara Athletic Association and entered their Grand Prix race series.

“What’s that?” you ask.

The SBAA is our fabulous local running association, which has created a fun way for its members to compete against each other in races all throughout the year. You simply sign up in your age group and gender and race in designated 5Ks, 10ks, and half marathons throughout the year. Points are awarded for whatever place you come in, and at the end of the year, whoever has the most points in each age group is crowned the winner.

It’s simple enough, but believe me folks, this took a major dollop of courage, considering I wasn’t feeling worthy of signing up for this group yet, let alone racing at my mediocre level of fitness—especially since some of the top female runners in all of Santa Barbara happen to be in my age group. We’re talking 5, 6 and 7-minute milers. Gulp.

But I took a deep breath, swallowed my pride and jumped into the mix.

And guess what? It’s the best thing I’ve done for myself in a long, long time.

It has been nothing but fun, and most of all it has given me some much-needed goals to help me stay focused on making my own workouts as much of a priority as those I create for my kiddos.

I don’t know about you, but without a race goal dangling in front of me I find it easy to bumble aimlessly through my workouts or opt for coffee and a good book instead of a track workout or a tempo run on mornings when I’m feeling less than motivated. Perhaps you can relate?

After joining the SBAA, I also joined the Santa Barbara Cruisers, a running group coached by Super Stud master’s runner, Nash Jimenez. We’re talking a 64-year old speed demon who still runs a 5 minute mile. Not only does he coach the Cruisers, but he also coaches many of the elite runners I previously mentioned.

Nash had generously offered to coach me from the first day I started working with him in 2012 (we coach the Kids Corner Coyotes running team together), but I never took him up on his offer. I was always way squeezed for time, and quite honestly never felt ready…that is until a few months ago.

That tiny step of joining the Cruisers added one more layer of commitment to my fitness goals and launched me even farther into this super supportive running community we have here in Santa Barbara. Not only that, it finally dragged my reluctant butt back to the track for some much-needed speedwork—not something I’ve ever enjoyed on my own.

So how has it gone so far?

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