Thirty Thursdays: Red Rocks Concert (and Eric Church)!

When Chap and I went to Colorado for the first time (my first time ever) in 2015, I was completely mesmerized by the landscape.  We hiked Rocky Mountain National Park, White water rafted, ran a half marathon and climbed all over the Red Rocks.  As we were driving back to Tulsa, in between my sobs, I decided I wanted to see a concert at the Red Rocks.  And what a great thing to have on a bucket list.

Eric Church comes into this because he’s long been on my list of concerts to see.  I was supposed to see him in graduate school, had my tickets and everything but it was right as I was gearing up to move and I just couldn’t swing it.

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Light packers?!

When I saw that he was playing at the Red Rocks, it was such an easy decision to jump into.  And lucky for me, Chap is fairly easy to convince to go to Colorado – even for country concerts.  This time around we’d planned to camp (also on my bucket list), hike and end the trip with the concert.  I’ll have to write about the camping and hiking later, maybe next week.  But after a few days of some crazy weather and being one with nature, we crashed at our favorite Air Bnb, the same mountain castle we stayed in last time.  Unfortunately it’s a little out of our price range now so it’s our last time there.

We were so tired.  We’d been driving for a while, after spending the past two days hiking our way to Crater Lake and spending the night in a tent somewhere along that trail.  My sleep was pretty fitful that night because of discomfort, cold and a tiny fear of bears.  So, as soon as we got to our castle, we showered and passed out hard.  I woke up a little bit before Chap, to read about the parking and drinking protocols for the Red Rocks Amphitheater.  And I about leapt off the bed with excitement when I saw that my fave little songwriter Maren Morris was opening for Mr. Church.  I’m not ashamed to say I was legitimately more excited to see her than Eric (sorry, man).

The wait to get into the venue wasn’t too bad.  It rained on us a little but we had drinks and the company of the Church Choir (what Eric calls his fans) and it’s good company y’all.  Funny, good country company.  Seating was pretty open so we picked a seat in the middle and waited for Maren.  The views while we waited were amazing.  Storms performed an intense show as a back ground to the stage and the night air was perfect.

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I loved both shows, the venue and my company!  It ranks high up there with my favorite concerts.  Eric is amazing, and I’ve seen him again in Tulsa since – if you like his music, I highly recommend seeing him live.  Maren is a little powerhouse vocalist and I love that she writes her own music.  I will always try to see her live if she’s close (or hell, I’ll go back to the Red Rocks to see her!)  Her lyrics just speak to my little soul.

This is a little side note for those of you still with us.  Maren and her band were on our flight back to Tulsa the next morning.  I realized it too late and didn’t get to sit in the empty seat next to her, but Chap did!  And he didn’t even get an autographed napkin for me or anything.  I didn’t talk to her while we waited for our bags because I never know what to do with famous people.  This is not the first time I’ve been with some low-key (not high-key like Tom Hanks you know?) celebrity and not known what to do.  What would you have said?

Have you been to the Red Rocks?  Who did you see?

State 20: Garmin Half Marathon, KS

On this journey to run in all the states, sometimes I just pick a race that works with my schedule and budget, and sometimes I have a specific race in mind.  Kansas had a specific race.

The Wizard of Oz has long been a favorite story of mine.  I wanted to be Dorothy so badly when I was young that I dubbed my then-crawling little brother “Toto” and only responded to my parents if they addressed me as “Dorothy”.  My mama, being the superwoman she was, put together a homemade Dorothy costume out of a blue overall dress and patent red shoes from Walmart.  It was perfect, except for the reluctancy of “Toto” to actually follow along.

So of course I wanted to run in a Wizard of Oz themed race.  And of course I would dress up as Dorothy.  Due to conflicts the first two years I lived in Tulsa I couldn’t make the race but last April, I set an intention to get it this year.

I recruited Chap to drive with me through the pouring rain up to Olathe.  I managed to keep him company for the first two hours of our late Friday night drive and then gave in to the ZZZs somewhere in the flatlands of Kansas.   Since we weren’t planning to stay to tour around Olathe, I booked a last minute Priceline hotel pretty close to the start.   Once we arrived, I looked up the closest Starbucks for my morning fuel, plugged in my watch to charge and set an alarm.

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Flat Dorothy

I woke up, but not to my alarm.  Simply from the habit of having to be up around 6am most days of the week.  The clock said 6:07 (start time 6:45).  Shit.  I scrambled into my outfit and my running shoes, grabbed my watch and forced Chap awake.  Thank goodness I packed several Superhero Muffins from the Run Fast, Eat Slow cookbook because my extra sleep threw the chance of oatmeal and coffee out the window.  I chowed down on two of those muffins while carefully dressing up as Dorothy.

Being an out of town race, I hadn’t picked up my packet yet so that was the first order of business but every single route we tried was jam packed with traffic.  When we tried to get onto the interstate, the merging lane and the on ramp were bumper to bumper and not moving.  I thought about getting out right there and warmup running to the start.  Chap suggested we just backup in the shoulder lane off the on-ramp and take a backroad.  I’d blindly trust that man to go anywhere so I let him call the shots.  We found the backroad and he got me as close as he could to the start before the roads were blocked off.  Thanks babe.

As I was running down the road towards packet pickup, I got wind that the start of the race was postponed.  Probably because of all the trouble getting to the start.  So, I relaxed a little, grabbed my bib number and had time to revel in the fact that it was in the low 50s and not raining.

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The skirt is flared from the incredible headwind, not from my blazing speed.

I knew to expect a hilly race and had no plans to PR.  I just wanted to log some miles in pursuit of our marathon race in July, dressed up as Dorothy.  And I got exactly that.  The hills just rolled and rolled.  But I kept a steady pace through most of the race.  A lot of that is due to a fellow states-chaser and new running pal Jon.  We fell into step early on and started chatting about running (duh) and from there just hung together the rest of the race.  We saw other characters from the movie, fell into the 1:50 pace group led by a guy Jon dubbed “Drill Sergeant” who rattled off random facts as we crossed each mile (Did you know that there is a 5 year old boy who has run over 48 marathons?!  And the oldest person to ever complete one was 101 years old!).

When we got into the back miles it leveled off a little bit but the wind really started picking up.  At this point we had passed the Sarge and his group but could still hear his chants.  I heard him yell up to us, “Dorothy, get behind that guy and draft off of him.”  So I did.  For the rest of the race.

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There’s no place like the finish….

The last hill was brutal.  It comes at about 3/4 of a mile to go.  But I told Jon I wouldn’t quit on him and he stayed close enough for me to stick with him.  A few other runners joined conversation about different races and the hills.  This is definitely one of the chattiest runs I’ve done.  Maybe it was my costume 🙂

The course finally leveled off to a strong finish.  Chap found me and I posed for some pictures with some fans of the costume.  This was one of the best post-race parties I’ve ever seen.  They had a beer buffet of craft and less crafty beers, hot dogs, chicken sandwiches and margaritas from Chuy’s.  I had two more miles to log for training so Chap joined me on two loops around Garmin’s campus and then we had our party.

This was a wonderful race.  Aside from the trouble getting to the start, it was very well run, very friendly and a challenging but fun course.  I won’t be doing it again (no repeat states except home until the country is finished) but would definitely recommend it to friends.  And I highly recommend wearing a costume.  The “Go Dorothy” cheers definitely kept me going.  So much that I might become a costumed runner!

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Also, how do people wear these costumes without pants underneath?!

Thirty Thursdays: Snow Ski

Here we go for your first tale of the 30 Before 30 Checklist:

Until this past March, I’d never been snow skiing.  Never with my family.  Never with the high school youth groups.  I blame some of it on our geographical location smack in the midwest (although airplanes these days will take you just about anywhere).  More of it on how my dad’s very last trip snow skiing ended (on a medic sled with a torn ACL).  And most of it on our (rightful) preference for beach vacations or family reunions in the Georgia mountains.

I don’t blame my parents nor do I hold any grudges for the lack of this experience in my youth (certainly not like the swingset and Barbie Jeep grudges) because I’m not a huge fan of the snow myself.  I tolerated it growing up because I had to, and I sure loved a decent sledding hill but as soon as I could fly the coop in college, I headed south. And now have settled just a bit farther south.

Now that I’m in Oklahoma, I’ve never met so many people who travel to Colorado to ski in the winter or to escape the heat in the summer.  It’s a serious hobby here.  Even that wasn’t enough to get me interested.  But then, I started dating this guy around Christmas time.  He is one of those snow skiing hobbyists.  He went at least three times that first season we were together.  His love for the mountains isn’t just limited to the winter either.  Our very first big trip together was a drive from Tulsa to Colorado for one of those summer escapes everyone here seems to do.

That’s when the snow ski pressure started.  While we were hiking there was lots of imagining this place covered in snow, and tales of horrible traffic going out of Denver into the mountains on the weekends.  After a long weekend of hiking, rafting and running a race, I was smitten with the Rockies.

That initial infatuation with Colorado coupled with Chap’s incessant snow ski talk, led to a 2015 snow gear-themed Christmas.  I got ski pants and a ski coat which was just what I wanted that year to get ready for a spring trip.  New Year’s eve we spontaneously booked flights to Denver in March, and that was that.

First rule of ski travel, as I was told by Chap, was to take the earliest flight out.  We had to check bags (I hate it) to fit all of the bulky snow gear in.  And of course barely made it to our gate.  Then there was the trek with all our stuff to the rental car place and then the drive into the mountains.  It had been snowing (still was really) so the drive took us a couple of hours.  5 of us crammed into a Jeep Cherokee.

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We finally made it to Breckenridge.  The boys were so anxious to get on the slopes for the afternoon but Maaike and I hadn’t ever skied before.  First we stopped at the house to drop things off and for the skiers to get layered up.  Next, we had to go get our rental skis and boots (this hobby is not for the faint of heart, or the shallow pockets.  I saved for most of 2015 to afford these four days).  Finally, we dropped the guys off at the lift and then opted for pizza and some grocery shopping for the weekend while we let the guys play.  Our plan was to check into ski school the next day.

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Sending the fellas off!

Y’all just getting dressed for this activity is a workout in itself.  Base layer of skin tight warm clothes comes first.  Then a comfortable cotton shirt on top.  Then the puffy layer of ski coat and pants.  Gloves then mittens.  Face warmer and neck guard.  Helmet with goggles attached.  Skis and  boots.  These boots are an exercise machine in themselves.  Heavy and awkward to walk in.  Even requiring help snapping them shut.

Ski school was such a good decision and investment for me.  I think I certainly could have gotten the hang of it on my own, but I’m glad I opted for the full day of drills and practice.  First lesson was just maneuvering over to our instructor on a flat spot in our skis.  That’s still the hardest part to me (followed right up by walking around in the boots).  Then we got to practice keeping our skis apart on a downhill by railroad tracking down a snake hose.  After that skill was mastered, we moved on to the bunny slope.  This is not even a hill y’all.  But it was exhilarating for the first time and great practice just staying up on the skis.  We practiced that hill over and over, working more towards french fries (fast stance), and away from pizza (brake stance).

After a lunch break and catching up with the boys who’d already been on several longer runs, we went back to our instructor.  This time we graduated to a real ski lift and got to practice going down some real hills.  I feel like we both mastered enough of the technique pretty fast.  Maaike and I spent an hour or two together on those slopes and then decided it was time for a green run.  The guys helped us down by leading the way, turning at appropriate times and shouting encouragement.  Before long I was ready to head off with Chap for some longer runs.

I was confident but in no way a master.  I’d start down a hill and then feel completely out of control which led to one of three scenarios:

  1. Me staying on my feet but screaming the whole way down for people to get out of my way “I’m out of control!  Can’t stop!” (hey, at least I give fair warning.  and really, I’m surprised there aren’t more collisions out there)
  2. Me falling into the snow on purpose in what I dubbed a “controlled wipeout” in order to stop the next option from happening.  Sort of picture a gentle fall to either side, or just completely sitting down.
  3. A complete wipeout.  These are terrifying and should be avoided.  I had two big ones where skis came off (that is a workout too, getting those suckers back on and trying not to slide across the slopes) and it ended my run for the day.

The end of the day was always fun because the five of us would come together over drinks in the base camp bar and watch NCAA March Madness.  Showers, naps and snacks by the fire at our condo came next and then we’d head out somewhere into the darling town of Breckenridge for dinner.

The tale of the Single Blac

On the last day, Chap talked me into looking down a black slope.  It was on the way to one of the blue runs I liked so he said, “let’s just go look at it, and we can skip if you want to”.  We got there and peering over the edge was like looking off a cliff.  One of our other guys was there too, and he was just a little more experienced than me.  We decided to go for it, but even after that decision I just stood there staring at the run for at least five minutes.  Finally, I devised a strategy to take it as wide across the pass as I could, and then employ step number 2, before whipping my skis around to face the other direction.  Repeat.  I did this about five times before I felt far enough down the hill to not have too much momentum gather behind me if I lost control.  And then we were on a blue again, and soon enough I was done with my first ski trip!

It was so fun!  I completely buy into the hype, save year round for my ski lift fund and plan to go at least once a year for as long as I can!

An Evening Ritual

I ran today!  It’s amazing because we’ve been in a constant state of icy/freezing/cold drizzle since mid-week last week.  And Michelle and I still got some of that on our run (wrapped in my robe under a blanket and my feet are still cold!) today but the key was it wasn’t raining when we started.  We went for a good 6 miler on the river and then warmed up on the R Bar patio talking training plans.  We may have wagered a deal that ropes me into another full…..maybe.  Don’t mix a shivering me with a mimosa.

6 miles, 50:03, 8:21 average.  Splits: 8:43, 8:18, 8:14, 8:09, 8:13, 8:27

Confession time.  Last week was a major struggle for me.  We were coming back east from a ski trip in Lake Tahoe and I’m not sure if it was the time change, the couple of days of skiing, lack of sleep on the first few nights back or all the germs of travel but I got knocked down again.   Zero energy.  Not just too-tired-for -workouts low energy, but the so tired I had a headache and nausea tired.  Or maybe the cause was vice versa.  Whatever it was, I was an unproductive sleepy and sick gal for the latter half of the week – making appointments when I could and sleeping all the rest of the time.

I’m feeling much better now after taking it easy Thursday and Friday, and sleeping over 14 hours each of those days.  Things are about to get extremely busy both for my personal running training with upcoming races, my coaching at the studio and some other growing client bases.  It’s all so good, and I want to be alert, focused and energized for all of it.

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Bedtime helpers

I’d really like to get back to the days when I would wake up an hour before 6am classes to have some time with myself before my days got crazy.  I miss the quiet morning time, reading, practicing yoga for myself and having a clear mind to think about the flow of the day.  But simply setting the alarm for 5 am hasn’t been working for me.  I just snooze until the very last possible minute.  So, the next logical place to go is the front end of the sleep cycle.

I’m creating an evening ritual, and once I’ve mastered this for two weeks, I’ll start working on the morning ritual.  Every night beginning at 9:30pm I will:

  • Turn off electronics – email, blog, scrolling, texts
  • Drink a big glass of water
  • Brush/floss my teeth
  • White strips
  • Face washing routine – wash, toner, lotions, eye cremes
  • Lotion – legs and hands, this winter dryness is killing my skin!
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Ritual essentials close by.

This should put me in bed at 10pm, where I’m allowed to read until I get tired.  I think it sounds like a pretty good plan.  I think the 9:30pm time could be a challenge since most nights I get home from my last appointment after 8 and I like to cook dinner and do some work on the computer.  I’ll have to be more strategic about what I get done on the screen during the daytime.

Do you have an evening ritual, or you just get in bed when you’re ready?  How  do you fight overwhelming fatigue?

Week 3 in Review

Tuesdays are track days, Thursdays are tempo runs and Sundays are long runs on my current running plan.  Save a few miles on the tempo run, I managed to get the first two runs in before my trip this week.  I almost always bring running shoes on vacations with me because I think it’s a fun way to tour a new city, and spend some time with my favorite people.  I realized while I was packing in a frenzy with 30 minutes until we needed to leave for the airport that my running shoes were at the studio where Teresa was in the middle of a class.

There was no way to get them so I just decided I would try to buy them somewhere in Tahoe or Reno.  I tried, I really did, calling around to local running stores asking if they had my favorite Saucony Kinvaras in size 10.  No one in South Lake Tahoe did.  By the time we got to today, my long run day, we were all headed out of town earlier than anticipated to avoid the flooding that was coming through.  Chap and I headed back to Reno since it was pouring and there wasn’t much to do in Tahoe.  I made hime stop at a Dick’s Sporting Goods for me so I could try one more time to get the shoes to stay on track (lol, running pun).  Well they only had a size 9.5 or 11.

Frustrated but not deterred, I made my way down to our hotel gym in my Adidas trainers and decided I would do a warmup mile and then some sprints.  I didn’t want to do the entire 5 on the treadmill (for boredom’s sake, for one) since these shoes aren’t what my delicate feet are used to for runs.  Instead I did a one mile warmup and 15 rounds of 30 seconds on, 30 seconds off sprinting.  And since I was in a little bit of a mood from leaving family and the upcoming end to a vacation, I practiced some handstands.  Can’t stay upset when you’re playing upside down.

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I’m particularly proud this week of my cold weather run on Thursday, my living room workout with Shelby in Tahoe and the treadmill run today.  There will be weeks where everything goes exactly as I plan, and there will be weeks like this where life, weather, forgetfulness get in the way and I make due with the best I can.  Bring it on week 4!

Holiday Roadtrip

This post goes way back to Thursday.  Thursdays are scheduled to be my tempo run days and I like to do them in the morning after my first two teaching classes are finished.  But on this particular day, I realized I left my wallet in Chap’s car from date night the night before and had to make an impromptu 2 hour trip to Muskogee to get it.  Luckily, my schedule allows for that!  As soon as I got home, I buckled Miley up to go on my warmup mile with me, cranked out two more and then took her on the cooldown too.

I struggle with tempo runs.  I didn’t hit my target paces but it felt good to be running outside, and at a decently fast pace for me.  Just not the pace I need for 2017’s goals.  Guess I’ll just have to watch it get faster over the weeks 😉

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Friday I stretched out some sore leg muscles at gentle yoga with Teresa at StudiOne.  The more I get into this racing stuff, the more I’ll keep yoga in my routine forever.

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Most of Friday was spent in the car with my little co-pilot, heading from OK to IN for Christmas weekend.  I left right on time which was a Christmas miracle and arrived about 9.5 hours later.  I recently got into podcasts and listened to a variety of them on the drive.   Here are some of the ones I’m subscribed to:

  1. Organize 365 – 40 weeks of 15 minute tips on how to organize particular areas of your home.  This week it was the laundry room.  I try to listen to these on Sundays and work on that particular spot all week.
  2. Modern Love – fun stories of dating, marriage, love and loss in current times.
  3. Dear Sugar – with Cheryl Strayed.  I’ve read her books Wild and tiny, beautiful things.  I enjoy the perspective she and her c0-host provide on a variety of topics.  This episode focused on holiday dramas.
  4. Stuff You Should Know – this is like trivia tidbits in a podcast.  I always feel a little bit smarter after listening to this one, and find myself dropping facts into conversations following the episodes.
  5. This American Life – everyone recommended this one to me when I was asking what podcasts I should listen to.
  6. Being Boss- 2 creative entrepreneurs talk about their road to success.  I relate a little to some of what they discuss even though I’m not explicitly a creative.
  7. Aziz Ansari – not a podcast, but I listened to some of his tour on Spotify and laughed my way across Missouri.

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She’s a great car rider.  Which doesn’t translate to great company.  It rained the whole way from Tulsa to Indy, but thankfully the roads were no slick since it was in the high 30s.  I’m so glad to be sitting writing this by a roaring fire in my parents’ living room.  Dad and I did our Christmas Eve run this morning with Miley – a nice recovery four miles and the sibs and I will do some circuits later.  Shaping up to be a great holiday!

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Do you listen to podcasts?  What are your favorites?

State 18:Go! St. Louis Half Marathon

The road to all the states continues and for number 18 I took some friends with me.  I’m still working on getting all the states that my new home touches: MO, KS and NM remained.   St. Louis quickly won out among the group vote and so we began to plan for the April 9 race.

I had the privilege of coaching a group of friends through the first of 2016 leading up to the run – 2 who had one half under their belts and 2 who had none.  We had a great spring season and I was so confident in each of the runners.

Nicole and I drove up a day early to have some time in St. Louis to hang out.  We explored the city, picked up our packets and of course took some time for yoga under the arch!

Due to some shitty life circumstances, our 3-D friend Alexis couldn’t make the trip.  We took a flat version along all our adventures with us.  She went to the expo, the arch and enjoyed coffee at all of our stops around town.  I hate it when one of my kiddos trains for a race and for one reason or another can’t make it.  But that’s how racing goes, and life.

Katie and Justin joined us later in the day for some fun around town.  We walked around way too much for the day before a race but it was a beautiful spring day and we just couldn’t help ourselves.

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Dinner was of course, pizza.  We ate at a place recommended by local friends called Pizzeola.  They’re a wood fired thin crust place in a neighborhood east of the city.  Pretty tasty but be warned, there are no meat options!  It was fun watching the boys try vegan sausage and pepperoni though.

I was lucky enough to find an amazing downtown Air BnB to stay in for the weekend.  We were just a few blocks from the start line so we all met there on Sunday morning for bananas, low-quality coffee and a bathroom.  The plan was for me to pace Katie and Justin to keep them from that early stage energy that can sweep runners away and Nicole would enjoy her first half at her own pace.  Flat Alexis would tag along in Justin’s pocket!

We were worried about rain but otherwise it was a perfect morning weather wise.  The first 5k took us across into Illinois.  That bridge really sucked because there were construction cones adding to the already crowded and narrow exit ramps.  Katie had to stop to pull glass out of her shoe and we weaved in and out of the cones, dodging runners and watching our step the whole way.  The streets widened for a bit once we were across the river but then it seemed to get pretty crowded again.  It was great to not feel alone but a little too tight for my preference.

Even with my pace assistance, we went out a little too fast.  But managed to fall into a right-on-target pace for the rest of the race.  Justin pulled ahead and I stayed with Katie, enjoying a Sunday morning long run.  All was going great until we came up to the Brewery. We were chugging along, Katie had Taylor Swift on and I was listening to Sam Hunt.  Then out of nowhere this horrible smell of literal shit hung in the air.  We both looked at each other in horror “WHAT IS THAT?”  We had two ideas: the clydesdale horses or someone had pooped their pants.  Based on several pieces of evidence we found 1. Neither Justin (in front of us) nor Nicole (behind us) smelled it and 2. The horses don’t live at the brewery, we came to our own conclusions.  I’ll let you be your own detective.

Katie and I turned it on at the end to push for that sub-2.  We knew Justin made it since we never saw him again and we were cutting it close.  It was one of those finishes where you could hear the screaming and announcing but the line seemed to never appear.  We turned corner after corner until finally it was in sight.  Katie nailed a PR and they both made it under 2!  We hung around for a bit in the finish area and then I went in search of Nicole.

By this point the temperature was dropping and I was a little chilly even in my space blanket.  I ran upstream of the runners cheering them on and scanning the crowd for our smallest runner.  I spotted her and ran with her as long as I could hang.  She kept a steady pace to the end and finished her first half!

After cleaning up and packing up, we went out to a little coffeeshop and grabbed a brunch. Nicole and I hit the road again while Katie and Justin stayed behind.  This was not in the top half of my favorite races but I loved St. Louis and definitely want to go back when there is more time to enjoy the park, the City Museum, the baseball field and nightlife.

NEXT UP FOR THE STUDIONE RUNNERS!:  We will have our fall training groups starting in August.  We will target locally the Tulsa Run and Route 66.  I am taking into consideration our spring race options for next year but KS is in a strong first place!  Leave a comment if you’re interested in coaching – either electronically or locally in Tulsa :D.