It’s like a yellow Starburst, my favorite candy that I very rarely eat, that’s what races are to me. I love them, I don’t do them often but when I do, I savor the flavor.

In a world that has gone so far into the social media and tech world, there’s something truly beautiful about human connection at events that I hold onto like an old blanket. For me it’s more than just the running element. I love laying my outfit out the night before and sometimes painting my nails a fun color (it’s the little things!).  I love waking up, pinning on a number, and sipping coffee with anticipation of a great morning ahead.

Showing up to the starting line to sometimes find myself among old friends and then other times I don’t know a soul in the area. Both experiences are unique, but it’s pretty special running into old friends and co workers, whether or not you are actually planning to do the race with them.

I love watching the people around me, some cruising with their friends and others pouring out all the strength they have that morning into their legs. Taking in the sights, noticing your own self talk during the race, and embracing the energy around you.

When you see the finish line approach, you feel pride. No matter if it was the first or worst race of your life or the fastest you’ve ever completed a race, that finish line is the best thing you’ve seen all morning.

I could stand at a finish line for hours. Watching the faces of every age, size, and ability inspires me from the winner to the last participant. Courage, strength, faith.All the other stuff going on in their life that they have put on hold to just soak up this moment. THAT sparks my heart.

Inspiration to live more fully and the positive energy from races stays with you…it’s juicy and chewy and gets stuck in your teeth like a yellow Starburst. It’s memories stay with you and creep into your heart to remind you why you keep showing up. Not just for the start lines, but for your life.

See you next Saturday!

 

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Happy is (still) the new hot

Happy because although some days it feels like chaos is all around you but you have found a way to proceed with calmness.

Happy because you have found the positive connection between your mind and your body.

Happy because you have let go of your feelings of shame and understand that we all have struggled in some aspect of our lives.

Happy because after all these years you do not let someone else’s thoughts of  who they think you are, define your self worth.

Happy because you have chosen to walk forward in your life when some days it’s been a challenge just getting out of bed.

Happy because you are grateful to be alive.

Happy because you continue to learn how powerful your thoughts can be.

Happy, truly happy. Not “put a smile on your face happy” but ” this is me, all the mess and all the beauty, happy.”

Happy because you have learned how to balance having standards while also letting go of expectations.

Happy because you are proud of who you are.

Happy because no one else can define your happiness.

Happy is (still) the new hot.

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Because of her and her and him

Yesterday I ran along the ocean, felt the warm sun on my back, and took a huge breath of gratitude for that moment of freedom. The sun glittered on the ocean. I said a silent thank you for my health, one I’ve learned from others to never take for granted.

A little over a year ago, I met with a woman Michelle who had started Mama’s Night Out, a fundraising event to benefit pediatric cancer. Michelle has 3 healthy kids but was inspired to raise awareness towards this underfunded terminal disease and shed light on the real stories and families it affects. Let’s repeat that, these are real people and to be honest, I hope you don’t know any of them but I bet some of you do. I met with Michelle and she fought (I love the fighters) to start a fundraising team through She.is.beautiful.

And just like that, Team Glitter was created. Michelle connected us with Unravel Pediatric Cancer, a new non profit that was created in honor of a beautiful girl Jennifer Lynn. At the time of our meeting, Jennifer had passed away less than a year ago, leaving her parents and 3 siblings at more than a loss…it was a hole of the space she took up in their world. She was six.

Last year they raised over $50,000 through Team Glitter’s fundraising in a few short months leading up to She.is.beautiful. This blew my mind and my heart. Funds raised go directly to Pediatric Cancer research and to support local families going through this unimaginable experience.

As I have learned more about Pediatric Cancer, the life that Jennifer’s family is still living,  other kids and families it’s affecting; it’s sad, horrific, and unimaginable. Seeing photos of kids that have lost their life to this terminal disease, they look just like the kids I see playing on the beach or at the park. They are those kids.

So if you’re like me and feel it’s easier to sometimes look away from these painful stories, I understand. I believe the majority of us are good people, but as humans we don’t like sad endings. As humans it’s natural for us to not look and carry on with our day, our schedules, our own families.

But as I get out of bed before the sun comes up to go for a run, these families and stories have slipped into my head. They don’t only remind me to be grateful, they remind me to take action. Maybe for you, taking action means telling more people about this horrible disease. For some, taking action means fundraising on your own or reaching out to these non profits to see what you can do. The more we talk about it and acknowledge that it’s real, the more people know, the more chances are that someone may know have connections to someone with the right resources or be inspired enough to find a cure.

Thank you Michelle, Unravel Pediatric Cancer, and Jennifer. You have taught me that 36 children a day are diagnosed with pediatric cancer. 7 children a day die from pediatric cancer. The American Cancer Society only give 1 cent of every 1 dollar raised to pediatric cancer.

These statistics and stories make me uncomfortable. Because sometimes I feel like it’s so big, where do we start. Team Glitter is giving you a chance to start here: https://unravelpediatriccancer.org/events/teamglitter/

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NEW course, start time, and energy… same ol’ sass

As one of the largest all women’s races in the USA, She.is.beautiful Santa Cruz is constantly working on ways to improve safety of our participants. There are many factors we consider when planning a course. We often propose our dream course, but that doesn’t always get approved by local jurisdictions. For those of you that have ever lived in a place where your road has been closed down for a race, please know that your city officials are looking out for you. Many times courses that we want don’t get approved due to City Officials priority of respecting local residents and traffic. As a race director, sometimes it can be frustrating, but as a human it’s refreshing.

Every year, as the race goes off we say a little prayer for the fun and safety for all the participants. As our field has grown, it now takes about 15 minutes for all participants to cross over the start line. In past years, our start line and finish line have been in the same location so as the last group of people are starting the race, sometimes the fastest woman in the 5k is just about to finish (can you see how that could be a disaster?) Luckily, every year in the past these groups have been like ships in the night, passing at the perfect moment so no collisions have ever happened. But year after year it’s one of our greatest worries.

We are THRILLED (as in I jumped up and down when I got the news!) to announce that this year, She.is.beautiful Santa Cruz will be starting on Beach St. in front of the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk (in front of the Log ride to be exact!) and finishing where the finish line has been in past years. Please check out the NEW course here.

You know what else is new, the race time. We are pushing back the race 30 minutes. The start time of BOTH the 5k and 10k (yes they start together as usual) is 8:30am. Why is this? To be honest, sound compliance for events is 8am. Each year we have broken this rule, and I cringe as I turn our music at 7:30am as I know someone is going to be upset. But you have to have music at a start line (it would be like going to a club with no music- how would you dance?!) So instead of breaking rules, we are going to let you sleep in a little longer AND give you a little extra something to wake up for. You should plan on arriving no later than 7:30am! Besides having the sassy, amazing, happy, and bad ass Jenny Schatzle take our stage for the warm up, we’ve got another great way to make your morning the best, ever. Guess you’ll have to show up to the start line to find out;)

I can’t end this post without saying how RAD our finish festival is going to be either.

This race is currently 87% full and projected to sell out in the beginning of March. If you haven’t registered yet: https://register.racepartner.com/she.is.beautifulsantacruz/

Here are some of the anticipated common questions we’re imagining:

Where do we park?

There’s a lot of options. Parking in the Santa Cruz Boardwalk is probably your best best (we have shuttled people from here to the old starting line in the past). It’s located a few blocks from the NEW starting line and we will be offering shuttles from 9am-noon after the race , from our finish festival location back to this lot. So you would park at the Boardwalk, walk or jog to the starting line, run or walk the race, enjoy the post race festival and then grab the shuttle and get a ride back to your car.

If I want to walk back to my car after the race, how far is the Santa Cruz Boardwalk parking lot from the finish area?

It’s about 1.5 miles along the coast! If you are planning to get some breakfast at Ideal Bar and Grill afterwards, this walk or jog could be split up by an omelet 🙂

Will there be a lot of port-a-potties at the start line, like there normally is?

Heck yes.

Where should my family and friends go to watch?

We recommend they watch somewhere near the Dream Inn, by the Surfer Statue (located at the corner of  West Cliff Drive and Pelton Ave), or go directly to the finish line.

Any other questions please send to SassSquad@runsheisbeautiful.com so we can add them to our list. If you have a questions, chances are someone else probably does too!15793030_race_0.15403005708417172.display

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Running before dawn

I love sleep. I rarely sleep in, but everyday I look forward to getting into my pj’s and going to sleep (I’m pretty sure this is normal, right?) So as I kick my feet up to watch the new “Chelsea Does” documentary on Netflix with a big cozy cup of tea and baggy sweatpants,  I ask myself why I get out of bed before the suns, up so often. As I list the reasons, they roll through my mind quickly; which I’m glad about because I’m pretty sure these little buggers are the little voices in my head saying “don’t you dare hit snooze again” at 5am (that was the PG version, these voices are normally lovingly swearing at me).

Because once you’re up and sitting with your coffee you aren’t normally as tired as you feel laying in your bed.

Because once you put on your shoes and you’re out the door, you pat yourself on the back as you pass all the houses that have smart sleeping people still in them.

Because there’s something really beautiful about quite streets lit by street lights (extra bonus if you get a chance to go by the crashing waves of the sleeping ocean).

Because no matter what happened yesterday or last night, you are reminded of this fresh start. The cold morning air is literally hitting you in the face; cleansing your face.

Because when you finish, every single time, when you finish you are so glad you went.

Because every time I finish I am reminded that I am in control of my life, not how it always goes but how I go.

Because you enter the rest of your day already feeling accomplished yet ready to take on the world.

Because at 3pm when you get a little tired, you remember “oh yea I already ran today.”

Because for many people this is the only time then can fit in there day to sweat.

Because it makes me feel awesome. Why would I not want to do that more?!

If you’ve never been a morning runner, try it once and I dare you not to like it.

Goodnight!

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Like a deep cleaning for your soul

For me a new year feels the same way as waking up to a clean kitchen- an amazing clean slate! I’ve never been one to obsess over the idea of new years resolutions but as a personal growth pusher (yep, I’m claiming that term), I have always been keen on fresh starts, big dreams, and creating changes towards something that feels better. When I called Dana Damara back in December to set up a yoga class here in Santa Cruz I was really set on about making it close-ish to the new year, yet far enough away from all the confetti and cliches` so that real life can settle back in and we can get a luminous picture of what we want from 2016. In getting back to the clean kitchen concept, our lives are like kitchens. They are used everyday, they get dirty, they get loved, they get visitors, they need to be cleaned often…and once in awhile they need a deep cleaning.

I am excited to have Dana in town to help cultivate a morning of release and inspiration and a deep cleaning for your soul. I really enjoy helping create spaces where people can feel capable and safe celebrating where they are and how they’ve grown. A place where they feel both worthy and empowered over the control they have over there life and where they want it to go. That is truly the motivation of our upcoming 2016 Best Intentions Yoga Class with Dana Damara on Saturday January 16th.

As a runner my hips are pretty much always tight, I do not know all the correct yoga terms, and I can’t do an unassisted handstand. What I do know for a fact is if you let it, the power of flow yoga is much more than the motions and correct terms of poses. It’s about breathing into spaces of restriction, creating more openness, creating deeper connection between yourself and your subconscious; both in the poses and in life.

While sitting in a quite space and breathing consciously, it’s amazing the feelings that arise. Feeling connected to ourselves and the world around us is incredibly empowering. Often times this allows us to feel a deeper appreciation for who we are (flaws and all!), feel worthy of our dreams, and in more control over how we move through life. Amongst the responsibility of careers, finances, education, or family life, the older I get the more aware I am that this connection to our self can get lost in our priorities. Bills, making meals, cleaning, work projects, life plans, all these items get piled on top of us and we build a hard shell around our deepest most vulnerable self for protection, so we can handle the daily stresses on our plates. While building our shell and taking care of our responsibilities, we suddenly feel like we are on a hamster wheel that we don’t know how to stop. But we all need time to catch our breath. In finding a space to do so, we can take a few moments to unpack all our responsibilities, protectors and walls, to let our deepest self stretch and breathe and fall. Falling out of poses is part of what makes it beautiful. Falling and getting back up and flowing. In this space we can remind ourselves that we do have control over how we move forward in life and into 2016.

So as our arms stretch open from wall to wall, may our hearts continue to crack open and see the love around us. As we twist and breathe into tight spaces in our body, may we see how the power of our breath can influence our reactions and release tensions. As our arms windmill around and the flow of the movement continues may we feel like wind towers creating energy and momentum for our beautiful lives. Keep in mind 3 theme words you hope to inspire your year and we will have a card for you in class to write these down and bring them to life.

We look forward to seeing you next Saturday! Details below:

When: Saturday January 16th 2016, 8am-9:15am

What: She.is.beautiful present 2016 Best of Intentions Yoga Flow with the incredible Dana Damara

Where: Divini Tree West, 2805 Mission Street Santa Cruz, CA 96060

Cost/Reserving space: 100% donation based class benefitting Girls Elevate. Reserve your spot by making a donation here: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/best-intentions-yoga-event-with-run-she-is-beautiful-and-girls-elevate-tickets-19666321497

Her Journey Matters: Bri Rudolph

Name: Bri Rudolph
Occupation: High School Teacher
When did running first become a regular part of your life? 
I’ve been running since childhood, but it was always in preparation for soccer. I didn’t begin running just for running’s sake until after my collegiate soccer career ended. Running has been my main source of exercise since I was 22.
What was/is the biggest challenge in working out consistently?
Time is my biggest challenge. I work as a teacher full time, and though I prefer to exercise before work while my two kids are still sleeping, my husband leaves the house by 6:15 and I have to be at work by 7:15. Running between 5 and 6 am is hard. I do it when I can, but it’s hard. After work I just want to be with my family. I find it very difficult to leave my kids for a run when I just spent most the day away from them at work.
What keeps you going?
Health and happiness. Running makes me feel healthy and happy. As hard as it is to leave my kids to go run, I’m a better mom after getting a run in. I feel more energized, clear headed, and present.
Road or the trail?
I definitely prefer the trail.
What does healthy look like to you?
Strong and happy
Along your own life journey, what’s one thing that you know for sure?
I know for sure that I never regret going for a run. Whether it’s hard to fit it into my day, or it’s raining out, or I have to settle for running on the crowded streets because I don’t have time to make it to the forest, I’m still always happy that I just got out there and ran.
Thanks Bri, rock on.
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Thanksgiving is a slippery slope to gingerbread and latkes…

The morning chill is in the air and it’s starting to actually feel like fall and winter in California. Thanksgiving is a week away and once this takes off it’s a slippery slope into gingerbread, brie, egg nog, latkes, and peppermint mochas. I personally love seasonal treats, but I’m also not looking to fill myself to the brim to leave 2015 feeling sluggish and run down.

There’s this interesting build up and focus around food for the winter holidays. It’s cold so that comfort food sounds cozy as well as childhood memories of particular foods give us emotional attachment of “having to have it.”And then new years comes around and we can start fresh again and launch our health goals. But here’s the thing, no one said you have to leave every holiday party with a stomach ache. No one says you have to feel exhausted and heavier after the holidays. You don’t have to have a bag of holiday colored M&M’s, or seconds and thirds of each meal. I’ve never been a believer in “you have to finish your plate before you leave the dinner table.” That’s a lot of pressure, what if I don’t want to.

After a nutrition class I took in college, I began to really understand and embrace the idea of eating to feel full and good, versus mindless eating (but let’s be honest- I still love chips!) Here’s some tips to feel better through the holidays

  1. At holiday parties, fill your plate with a little bit of everything. Load up on the salads or vegetable heavy dishes but leave room for a little bit of stuffing or other savory dishes you love. There’s no need to deprive yourself but you also don’t need a full plate of stuffing (I know, it’s SO good!)
  2. Say no when you’re full. I mean in all actuality, do you really feel good after 5 cookies? If someone offers you cake and your full from the amazing meal you just ate, it’s ok to say “I’m full but that looks delicious.” When the say “just have a little”, it’s ok to say I can’t fit any more in my stomach. People have a weird thing with food and forcing it on others. If you don’t feel like it, don’t buy into it because you feel bad.
  3. Instead of looking at the “low fat” or “sugar free” options, instead go for the whole food ingredient approach (aka real ingredients).
  4. Making healthy options can be fun and still super delicious. Roasted brussel sprouts and squashes, sweat potatoes (without copious amounts of butter), amazing salads (think pomegranate, spinach, walnut!), grilled meats, just to name a few. Bring a healthy delicious dish to the party you attend and people will thank you!
  5. Continue activity through the holidays. When things get busy, fitness or time for ourselves seems to be the first to go. If you have to get up earlier to get in a walk, run, or other form of workout, do it. Your body and mind will thank you.
  6. More isn’t better: in food and in gifts. The holiday abundance is so focused on these two subjects that it makes me dread this time of year. Instead of gifts with friends maybe plan a hike or group yoga class. Plan to get pedicures or meet for coffee. Good conversation and sweat are some of the best gifts. Don’t forget that!
  7. Taking the focus off food and back on the people you love is a great way to look at the holidays.

What will my Thanksgiving day and plate look like?

Wake up, coffee, and run!

Breakfast: green smoothie, eggs, and pumpkin muffin

Late morning latte with cinnamon ( I love this while cooking)

Light lunch since we each Thanksgiving at 3pm: apple and almond butter, vegetables and hummus.

Thanksgiving meal: Roasted brussel sprouts, sweet potatoes, spinach pomegranate salad, stuffing with cranberry sauce, pumpkin pie and a glass of wine! I can’t wait! ( we’ll have turkey but I’m a vegetarian so I pass on the bird!)

Happy holidays.

Recipe ideas:

Roasted squash(such as butternut, buttercup, kabocha or hubbard)

Pomegranate Spinach Salad

Raw Gingerbread Cookies

Turkey and Bean Chili

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Her Journey Matters: Jessica Hassani

Name: Jessica Hassani
Occupation: Momtreprenuer – Owner of FIT4MOM Santa Cruz
When did running first become a regular part of your life?: I’ve run off and on my whole life, but it became a consistent part of my routine when my daughter was born. Running, and working out with other moms, allowed me a chance to get out of the house, exercise, and for both of us to socialize!
What was/is the biggest challenge in working out consistently? Having a baby, toddler, and now independent pre-schooler has challenged my plans and patience many times. But I’ve found that setting a consistent schedule, involving my daughter in the routine, and working out with other moms who understand, keep us on track most days!
 
What keeps you going? Running and working out make me feel good! And, when I feel good, I am a better wife, mother, friend, business owner and person!
 
Road or the trail? That’s a tough one; on a Sunny afternoon I’d choose a nice shady trail in Nicene Marks; but if its cool and overcast you’ll find me on West Cliff.
What does healthy look like to you? “Healthy” has so many meanings; but to me it LOOKS like an active family. One where everyone has fun getting in some type of physical activity everyday, and then sets aside time at the end of the day to eat a wholesome meal together.
 
Along your own life journey, what’s one thing that you know for sure? One thing I am certain of is the age old saying: It takes a Village. We are all capable of so much, but life (and especially parenthood) can be hard at times – finding your Village to offer help, support, and unconditional love is a must! Jessica Hassani.jpg
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