Moms that Run, Runners that Mom: Meet Mary

We are highlighting #motherrunner journeys over the next 2 weeks. In sharing these beautiful and challenging stories, we are reminded to move forward with compassion. Everyone’s experience with motherhood (and LIFE) is different… compassion for all mothers, mothers to be, mothers who have lost babies, and those trying to conceive. There is far more than meets the eye when it comes to judging another person. We hope reading the stories over the next two weeks moves your heart, inspires you to keep lacing up, motivates you to make time for yourself so you can be the best for others, and help another mother out whenever possible. We are stronger and better together.


My name is Mary and I have three kids (5 months, 3 years old, and 5 years old) and a stepson (18 years old) and a pretty awesome husband. I work in education as my day job and also co-founded and coach Arete Women’s Running Club currently based in Santa Cruz. Running is my passion, my outlet and my connection to the community for the past 20 years. Runners are a special type of person, and I feel so grateful to have such a deep connection to our running community. Running is also is a tool I use to cross-over into other aspects of my life; it reminds me out to set goals, be resilient, be fierce, dream and have fun.

Thank you for sharing your journey with us! Let’s chat: When did you start running?

Mary: I was an active and athletic kid and prided myself in racing and beating the boys in elementary school. I didn’t start running in a structured way until freshman year cross country where I met some of my current best friends and set myself up for a lifelong love of running.


SIB: If you ran before having kids, how has your relationship with running changed since becoming a mother?


Mary: I did pretty well competitively in high school and was fortunate to run in college. However, I wasn’t mature enough to have great perspective and I didn’t know how to balance the expectations of racing for a division one college along with the demands of school, working, and social life. After college, I didn’t run at all for five years until my first daughter was born. I had a very traumatic birth experience, and had a hard time healing from that. I rediscovered running in a healthy way. At that point I wasn’t interested in racing or even running fast. I just needed 30 minutes out the door to clear my mind and remind myself how strong and capable I was.

Today, three kids later, I crave running and I do everything I can to carve out the time. I also am more confident in my racing and goal-setting abilities than ever before. It’s probably because I realize there’s absolutely no pressure and at the end of the day, no one cares whether I make it to the Olympic Trials. I also enjoy the challenge of finding the time when sometimes I feel like there aren’t enough hours in my day to brush my hair, let alone run a mile. At the end of the day, my kids just want to run down the block with me in matching running shoes. If we can do that, I’d say our whole household has a pretty good relationship with running. Chasing goals is something I do for fun and to remind me to pursue my talents.

SIB: What has been or is your biggest challenge with running since having children?

Mary: Time. Like probably all moms, I struggle to find the time to run while balancing the other aspects of my life. I also have a tiny bit of running guilt, although not nearly as strong as I used to. Sometimes I ask myself, “Mary do you really need to go do a workout when it’s pushing the kids bedtime back?” The answer is generally no, I don’t need to do any of the running I do, but I know for certain that I always come home refreshed and feeling capable to balance the demands of a household. I also believe it’s good for kids to see their parents pursue passions and explore personal roles outside of parenthood. I know kids learn a lot from observing their parents, and although my kids might not be runners, hopefully as they get older they appreciate my commitment to self-growth.

SIB: How has having children changed your relationship with your body?

Mary: As a young competitive collegiate runner, I used to think of my body only as a tool to run fast, so I often felt pressure to get really thin. That’s neither healthy nor sustainable. Living and thinking about food constantly–whether it’s diets, restrictive eating, obsessing over pictures of your food or your next meal is just not fun.

Since having children, I honestly don’t think of my body much.  I think of it in terms of needing to keep it strong and well-fed to cross over from work to the track to walking up and down stairs at bedtime. So naturally, I want to fuel it with good healthy food.

But I rarely think of my body composition, and I’m so grateful I don’t have that focus anymore. In our household we eat healthy, balanced foods, but we also eat sugar. My goal is for my kids to know what healthy food is, enjoy it, and also enjoy having treats occasionally without any guilt associated. I’m all about moderation and listening to your body, and hopefully that’s something I can pass on.

SIB: What do you admire most about other moms? Who is your #MOMGOALS?

Mary: I love how much moms can juggle and still keep going. Like when you have a sick kid up all night and a morning conference call, moms can throw their hair back, drink a little extra coffee, wipe up the spit up, and keep rolling. It’s a universal testament to mom strength and just doing what you need to do and not dwelling on it. Motherhood is a labor of love.

I don’t have any real #momgoals because I think there are many ways to be a good mom, but I admire any mom who is doing the best she can and not trying to be perfect or raise perfect kids, because that’s just not reality and not fun to be around.

From a total runner girl crush standpoint, I love the runner moms who have gone on to achieve big goals postpartum such as Kara Goucher, Lauren Fleshman, Sarah “Mac” Robinson, and Steph Rothstein Bruce. They remind me how much strength we carry after having children, and if we wish, we can run faster than ever.

SIB: How has your child/children inspired you (in running or in life)?

Mary: In so many ways. Like I mentioned previously, if it weren’t for the birth of my first daughter and subsequent postpartum anxiety, I’m not sure I would have been inspired to return to running or love it the way I do.

On a daily basis, my kids remind me to dream. Their worlds are so imaginative and pure, and it’s fun to approach life in a childlike way like anything is possible. I’ve tried to do more of that in the last few years which really fueled the start of Arete. They also have inspired me to turn from a perfectionist to a recovering perfectionist; I want my kids to know that it’s actually great to make mistakes, learn and move forward. It’s how some of the greatest breakthroughs happen. They’ve inspired me to see that life is about progress, not perfection.

SIB: What is something you are proud of in your running and something you are proud of as a mom?

Mary: I am proud that after three kids I am running and chasing big goals. I made a goal in 2015 to run my first real marathon and do it under three hours while juggling motherhood and working. Since I was able to do that while staying healthy and having fun, I have refined those goals and look forward to more racing in the next few years and targeting the 2020 Olympic Marathon Trials qualifying time.

I am really proud that my kids are their own people with very distinct interests that they feel supported in pursuing. I’m also really proud that my kids are kind. That to me is huge as they move through life and discover the people they want in their inner circle. I’m also extremely proud that they don’t feel any pressure to be anything other than themselves. If my kids can learn to work hard, be resilient, pursue their interests, and be kind, I will feel like I did my job as a mom. If they run a few miles here and there, that would be a cherry on top 😉

SIB: What is the best advice you have for other runner moms or runner moms-to-be?

Mary: Think of your children as your greatest asset to running rather than a hindrance. True, you cannot run out the door whenever you want like you used to. However, if you change your mindset by reminding yourself that you get to run and that by making the sacrifice and doing something healthy and challenging for yourself, you’ll be even more inspired to rock motherhood.

SIB: Fill in the sentence “I mom so hard I_________________.”

I mom so hard I am not sure if the spot that’s been on my boots for the past couple months is spit-up or yogurt…and I don’t even bother wiping it off!

Follow Mary on Instagram @Train_with_Mary and for those of you  who will be participating in Santa Barbara stayed tuned as you will be receiving her 5k training plan for all levels!





Moms that Run , Runners that Mom: Stacey

We are highlighting #motherrunner journeys over the next 2 weeks. In sharing these beautiful and challenging stories, we are reminded to move forward with compassion. Everyone’s experience with motherhood (and LIFE) is different… compassion for all mothers, mothers to be, mothers who have lost babies, and those trying to conceive. There is far more than meets the eye when it comes to judging another person. We hope reading the stories over the next two weeks moves your heart, inspires you to keep lacing up, motivates you to make time for yourself so you can be the best for others, and help another mother out whenever possible. We are stronger and better together.
Thank you for sharing your journey with us! Let’s get chat…
Hi! I’m Stacey! I’m married to this guy Jeremy, and we have 3 fantastic kids, Kailyn (girl) -13, Aidyn (boy) -8, and Liam (boy) -3. We have been married for about 5 years, I had my two older kids when I met him and he had 3 dogs! Ha! Together, we have 3 kids and 4 dogs, quite the busy house, but I wouldn’t have it any other way! When did you start running and what inspired your entry to this movement?
 Stacey: I started running a little over 2 years ago. I had just stopped nursing my son and put on about 10-15 pounds because I of course continued to eat like I was nursing. I was unhappy with how I felt and how I looked. I would sit in the shower and cry because of how unhappy I was with myself. I actually got started with my weight loss through one of beach body’s programs, and on the days it didn’t have cardio, I found myself wanting to add it in, so I started running.
SIB: If you ran before having kids, how has your relationship with running changed since becoming a mother?
Stacey: I did not run before having kids, I had my daughter when I was 16, so my relationship with running has always been as a mom. Now with 3 kids, 4 dogs and a husband running is my time, I know a lot of moms/people say that, but its more than just alone time, it is my time to prove to myself I can do more than just cook, clean, and the normal day to day activities.
SIB: What has been or is your biggest challenge with running since having children?
I would say our schedules. During the week I am up around 3:45-4AM depending on the run for that day, I have to be at work by 6AM.
My husband and I work opposite shifts and he goes in at 4PM and gets off at 1AM in bed around 2-3, and then usually he’s up by 7AM to get the kids ready for school and dropped off, since I am already at work, that way I can pick up Aidyn from school and go home so he can go to work! On the weekends, my husband keeps the kids while I long run on Saturdays, and on Sundays I usually run with my 3 year old in the stroller and my 8 year old on his bike so my husband can “sleep in” one day!  

SIB: How has having child/children changed your relationship with your body?
Stacey: HA! Lets just say things are not in the same place they used to be and I definitely have to make sure my bladder is empty before running, whew!
I struggled to learn to love the stretch marks and stretched skin on my stomach, and some days still do struggle with it. I am trying to convince myself to run in a crop top in my next marathon, mainly because I want to teach myself to REALLY love my body and ALL that it has done and does for me.  

SIB: What do you admire most about other moms?
Stacey: I think I always look at other moms and think man they really have it all together, and then I talk to them, and they are REAL, they tell me they don’t have it all together. They too forget to sign a school paper, or struggle to fit it all in some days, and I really admire the honesty. I think in society today we are all so focused on looking perfect for everyone else, when all we really want are other Moms that understand our struggle. So for me, I admire the honesty.
SIB: How have your children inspired you (in running or in life)?
Stacey: I want my kids to believe that they can achieve anything they want with dedication and determination, and I want to be the one to show them that, they inspire me to keep going, to keep working hard for my dreams, so I can show them to work for theirs. I want them to know, no dream is to big, EVER! Last year, I set out to run my first marathon, I told everyone I was going to qualify for Boston, and they kind of laughed, they said it is your first marathon, just run it, try to qualify on your next one. I wasn’t okay with that answer, so I ran that marathon and I got a qualifying time for Boston, however, I missed the actual cut off to get IN by 40 seconds, so I had to try again. I was crushed and I shared all of this with my kids, so for the next year I focused on getting faster, and stronger, my kids watched some of my races, and listened to the good days and the bad. This year, I ran the same marathon, and qualified for Boston with almost a 15 minute buffer! 
SIB: What is something you are proud of in your running and something you are proud of as a mom?
Stacey: I would say teaching my kids to live a healthy lifestyle, not just with exercise but with nutrition. When I started running, I had a very poor diet and so did my kids. Since then we have changed our diet to a clean 80/20 plan. I still let them be kids and they get their share of ice cream or chips, I mean don’t get me wrong, I get my share of ice cream too! I wanted them to have the tools, and the knowledge to keep eating clean and filling their little bodies with good foods even after they are grown and on their own!
As a runner, I would say I am ecstatic about my qualifying time for Boston. It is just one of those dreams, you dream about through every training run or every long ride in the car, ya know, it just seemed so far away and so unrealistic for me.  

SIB: What is the best advice you have for other runner moms or runner moms-to-be?
NEVER GIVE UP, I know you read that everywhere, you see it everywhere and you are probably tired of it. Its one of the most common phrases used, but it’s so powerful. Whether it takes you 6 months, a year, or years to reach your goal, to get where you want to be keep working for it. Keep going, you will never get there if you quit. Take the bad days/runs and learn from them. BE FLEXIBLE, life happens, and there is no mile more important than your family. You may have to push your run back to later that day, or move it up to earlier in the morning, or you may have to save it for the next day, and that is OKAY. Don’t let your workout take control over your happiness.
Fill in the sentence “I mom so hard I_________________!
Stacey: I mom so hard I HAVE TO RUN!
Follow Stacey’s #motherrunner journey on Instagram @leowiferunnermom

Moms that Run, Runners that Mom: Monica Jo

We are highlighting #motherrunner journeys over the next 2 weeks. In sharing these beautiful and challenging stories, we are reminded to move forward with compassion. Everyone’s experience with motherhood (and LIFE) is different… compassion for all mothers, mothers to be, mothers who have lost babies, and those trying to conceive. There is far more than meets the eye when it comes to judging another person. We hope reading the stories over the next two weeks moves your heart, inspires you to keep lacing up, motivates you to make time for yourself so you can be the best for others, and help another mother out whenever possible. We are stronger and better together.
Alright, let’s chat, tell us a little bit about yourself:
Hi, my name is Monica Jo Gilmore! I’m 35 years old, and am the mother to a beautiful eight year old daughter who is in the second grade. I have been running competitively for almost nineteen years and have been a running coach for sixteen years. I am a teacher and have also been a personal trainer for nine years. I was a four year, two sport (Cross Country and Track) collegiate athlete, and have competed at the Elite level ever since graduating back in 2003. Running has been a huge passion of mine ever since I discovered it, and I have said it more than once over the years that running has saved my life! I wouldn’t be the person I am today without the beautiful sport of running. When did you start running and what inspired your entry to this movement?
Monica Jo: I grew up in a small town and was always outside playing and doing something active. When I was around eleven, I remember I started to run the backroads of my small town because it was something to do! I would run or ride my bike everywhere. As I went through my teenage years, people would sometimes ask if I was training for something. My response was always, “No..I just like to run and ride my bike.” It wasn’t until my SENIOR year of high school that I discovered the sport of Cross Country! It was an instant love connection! I went on to run Track in the Spring of my Senior year and the rest is history..I was hooked!
SIB: If you ran before having kids, how has your relationship with running changed since becoming a mother? 
MJ: When I was a young girl, running was always a way for me to “escape.” And to this day, I have always been able to clear my mind, work out my emotions, run off my stress, and just “get away” from everything and sometimes everyone when I run. Also, before becoming a mommy, I could just get up and go run whenever I wanted to without having to consider anyone else’s schedule or needs. To this day running remains one of my number one stress relievers, and is always my first choice for exercise. But since becoming a mother, I now have to consider so many other factors and ensure that my little person is taken care of first and foremost. 
SIB: What has been or is your biggest challenge with running since having children?
I was a single mother for the first five years of Bella’s life, and before she started school, finding time to run was very difficult for me to manage. 99% of the time, if I wanted to run then that meant I was taking her with me and pushing her in the running stroller.  I started running with Bella when she turned four months old, and believe me, I battled with the stroller. I hated it at first! I would motivate myself to get out and run, but it was so hard because I basically had to relearn how to run and push a child in a stroller. I cried, I screamed, I threw lots of fits, and told myself I should just quit running because I wasn’t enjoying it at all!!! But, thankfully I got through my tantrums and kept at it (even if it meant that some runs I was crying the whole time), and for five years it actually became a very intimate and special time for me and my daughter to share together. She went everywhere with me and I pushed that stroller through every kind of terrain! I got a lot stronger because of that. 😉  However, now that Bella is in class all morning, I am able to do my running in the mornings and that has been very good for my soul! I need my alone time on my runs, but I know that when I have more babies, I am sure to return back to this struggle..but hopefully it won’t be as bad this time since I now have my husband who can support me with the “time-outs” to go run that I will surely need. ☺
SIB: How has having child/children changed your relationship with your body?
MJ: Before having my daughter, I was in the best shape of my life, and I had finally come to enjoy my body and what it was physically capable of doing. I was strong and fast, and had worked so hard to accomplish my running and weight lifting goals. When I was in middle school and high school, I struggled with low self-esteem and a negative body image, but when I discovered running, it really helped me change the way I viewed myself and my body.  I grew to love my body, and I had been living such an active and athletic lifestyle that when I got pregnant, I thought fitness during pregnancy would be a piece of cake! I was so wrong! When I was pregnant with Bella, I had to stop running at five months and was basically limited to walking and light hiking. I also dealt with nausea throughout the entire pregnancy, and this was all very hard for me, because I was uncomfortable almost all the time, and didn’t have running as an outlet for relief. I only ended up gaining nineteen pounds throughout the entire pregnancy, and when Bella was born, I lost the weight fairly quickly because I was breast feeding. (I had) the feeling that my body was no longer my own, at least in the beginning [of coming back postpartum], was something I had to keep reminding myself was only temporary!  It was hard though because I breast fed Bella for almost two and a half years..yes, I know that’s a long time, but remember, I was a single mom, and she was practically glued to my hip, so weaning was very hard. Plus it was also another way for her and I to bond in those first precious years of her life. Since growing a baby in my belly, giving birth, breast feeding, getting back into shape, and successfully getting my child through the first eight years of her life so far, I am impressed with the female body, and more personally my own!
SIB: What do you admire most about other moms?
MJ: Like I said above, I am impressed with the female psyche and body! To be physically capable of growing a baby in our bellies, and to go through such dramatic physical, mental, and spiritual changes during birth and beyond-  I really do think moms are real life super heros! We are so incredibly strong, courageous, resilient, and tenacious!  I know my journey is similar to other moms…and I admire the heart of a mother who is able and willing to learn how to balance life and adjust to looking past “self” and caring for in a very mighty way, our little people!
SIB: How have your children inspired you (in running or in life)?
MJ: Isabella Grace changed my world for the best in every way possible. The moment I found out I was pregnant, my life shifted, and the little person growing inside of me became my priority.  I sacrificed and endured a lot as a single mother, but I do not regret anything because I am proud of the mother she has inspired me to be.  Isabella has truly motivated me to be better in every aspect of my life. She is my greatest gift and has been worth every sacrifice and every struggle that she and I endured together.  Isabella is my only living child, but my husband and I have endured the painful losses of two babies in the last two years. When I went into premature labor on May 20th, 2015, and gave birth to my still born son, Sydney, on May 21st, I thought I would never recover from such a devastating loss.  This was definitely the lowest point in my life, but with God, my family, friends, community, and especially my husband and daughter, I was able to pick up the broken pieces of my life and keep pressing forward.  Isabella truly inspired me to keep striving towards healing because I believed she deserved the best of me, and the only way I could give her the best was if I was healthy! It’s incredible how having children to care for and love can inspire us to rise above the most tumultuous of times. I also believe that my son and my second Angel baby (that I lost early on) are in Heaven and want me to keep living a life that I love…no matter what!
SIB: What is something you are proud of in your running and something you are proud of as a mom?
MJ: In my running, I am proud that I have continued to improve and have not given up on pursuing my goals! Running is still one of my biggest passions, and I am proud that I have made it a lasting part of my life! I have accomplished a lot through my running. It has opened up many incredible doors of opportunity over the years and so I am very grateful for the amazing adventure I have enjoyed because of my relationship with running! I am also proud that I have been blessed to coach, teach, and inspire others to run, and live passionately, and have been able to make it into a successful and satisfying career. I am also proud that I do not take running for granted. I know what it’s like to be injured, too sick to run, and pregnant and on bed rest, and so having an able body is a blessing that I cherish because I know how fast it can all be taken away. I will definitely remain active and RUN for as long as my body allows me to…and I pray that is for at least another 35 years and beyond! 😉
As a mother, I am proud of myself for making my daughter my number one priority.  My biological mother died when I was three years old from a drug overdose, and for many years I held a lot of anger and hurt in my heart. I thought for a long time that she was selfish to choose drugs or ANYTHING over me, and it affected my perspective on life for many years. Thankfully, by the Grace of God, I am healed from that pain, but a long time ago, I made a resolution that when it became my turn to be a mother, that I would make sure my child would always be my priority.  And so, when I learned I was expecting Bella, my dreams, priorities, and goals shifted, and everything I have done since has been with her best interest in heart.  I love my daughter above anything else and I am proud to be her mommy..and I am certain that she knows just how much she is loved! 
SIB: What is the best advice you have for other runner moms or runner moms-to-be?
MJ: My advice would be to not give up…on life or on running! If running is important to you, then keep trying to implement it into your routine and life. It’s ok to “strongly dislike” the process at times (like I did!), but work it out, and persevere through the hard times. You will be so much stronger and wiser because of the amazing lessons you will learn! Learning how to run as a new mom, especially as a single mom, was not easy for me, but it was worth the battle, and it has helped me to set a healthy example for my daughter.  I have taught her everything she knows about health and fitness, and have role modeled for her the importance of good nutrition, daily exercise, and courageous living. Let your child(ren) inspire you to continue to grow into the best version of YOU , and know that in return, YOU will truly be their biggest inspiration in life as well! It’s a beautiful trade-off! ☺
SIB: Fill in the sentence “I mom so hard, I __________________
MJ: “I mom so hard … I cry sometimes!” 
Monica Jo: Thank you for letting me share a small snippet of my crazy yet beautiful adventure and journey! ☺❤🙏🏻 Instagram @bodybymojo
Photo of Monica and her daughter Bella below. She got it from her mama!

Moms that Run, Runners that Mom

#MotherRunner; you’ve seen them or maybe you are one. They are the ones picking up their kids from school in their running clothes, getting in miles on their lunch break,  pushing strollers filled with more snacks then seem necessary, the ones attempting to run with both their dog AND stroller and it’s a tangled mess, weekend warriors because their kids/work week is too much,  or rocking headlamps crushing solo miles before the sun (and their household) is up. #MotherRunner in reality is typically more messy (and beautiful) than the photos that accompany this hashtag on Instagram.  We are aware that having the choice to do both, to mother and to run, is a privilege and neither should be taken for granted.

Over the next two weeks we look forward to sharing the journey of eight moms who run or is it runners who mom? The runner or the mother, which description came first? For some, they ran before having children and are adapting to the challenges of balancing another persons needs to their previous run-out-the-door-whenever-you’d-like concept, which can be a major adjustment. For others, they have found running after having children as a quick source of fitness, alone time, and/or lifeline to sanity. For all, running has been not only an outlet but an inspiration to help balance all the diapers, struggles and tears that are par for the course of motherhood.

We hope you’ll join us in celebrating the journeys of not only the mothers stories we share, but the women in your own life who have mothered the world whether with their own children, their friends children, their students, or community.momwhorun

Runner Spotlight: Allyson Syntad

Runner Spotlight features every day women runners who are passionate about running and manage to make time for it in between the demands of their work, home, and/or family life. Meet Allyson Syntad. Allyson , 29, has been the Marketing Manager at Dignity Health Dominican Hospital for 2 years now. She relocated to the Bay Area from Virgina and as a runner and health enthusiast she loves working for a company that believes in health prevention. Currently her team has been working on the upcoming Women’s Health Expo in Santa Cruz on May 18th. We are honored to work with partners that we connect with both personally and professionally. Learn more about Allyson’s journey below.


When did you first start running and what was your inspiration to start? I grew up playing sports and running was always a component of my training. It wasn’t until my sophomore year of college, when I no longer played team sports, that I really began to focus on – and find joy in – running. My initial motivation was getting rid of the freshman, or in my case sophomore, 15, but then I discovered how much I loved running for running’s sake.


Where is your favorite place to run and why? Around downtown Los Gatos. I am familiar with the location and have different routes mapped throughout the neighborhoods. This gives me the freedom to extend or shorten my runs depending on my time and mood. I even have a route that makes for a good warm up on the way to the gym :).


When running…Capri’s or Shorts? Capris, they are just more comfortable in my opinion.


When running…headphones or unplugged? It depends. When running longer distances or in a race, I always start with headphones and usually remove them for the last half mile to mile so I can give all my focus to crossing the finish line as fast as possible. Track days are usually shorter sprints where time and speed are the focus, and therefore no headphones needed.


Why do you run? Aside from the health benefits and endorphins, I like the personal competition it provides. I track all of my distances and times, and usually try to set a goal to beat my previous time – even if it’s only by a second. By no means do I set records compared to my peers, but I consistently beat my own personal race times, which is a huge win for me.


How does your career in health care impact your own personal health? A career in health care has provided me with an education on the importance of prevention. How I take care of my body now will affect my future profoundly. The more proactive I can be now in establishing healthy habits, the more likely they are to stick and hopefully be passed down to my children.


What are the challenges you face as a busy working woman wanting to live a healthy life? Time – it never seems like there is enough of it.


How do you work through these challenges? If I don’t have time to get in a regular workout, I try and take a quick walk during lunch or walk the dog a little bit longer in the morning or night. Every little bit helps.


We know you have been helping put together the Women’s Health event in May, tell us about some of the people or business you are most excited to visit with? Oh my, there are so many that I don’t think I can pick! We have a great line up of speakers who will present on various topics such as heart health, pregnancy, sexual health, and nutrition. We also have over 50 local health and wellness vendors – massage therapists, fitness demos, health screenings, and so much more! PSA: Registration is still open for the Women’s Health and Lifestyle Expo on May 18. Visit for more information!


What’s one proactive health tip that has changed your life? More fruits and veggies, and less processed foods. My husband and I have made an effort to cook at home more often and with raw ingredients. This gives us a better understanding and more control of what is going into our bodies. Don’t get me wrong, I still occasionally indulge – especially since becoming pregnant!



How my 2 year old’s race experience is just like yours…and life

Yesterday I watched my almost 2 and a half-year old “run” a race and it reminded me that the human experience of races and life lessons are pretty similar whether your 2 or 72.

Race Morning Fuel and Race Outfit

First we woke up, had a good breakfast, and got psyched. We picked out an outfit that he felt confident in. He put on pants with lightning bolts all over them and a hat that said “Rad”. He has been a little intimated at the 2 previous races he has done, so I think he was going for the “fake it till you make it” approach with the wardrobe selection that screamed “fast and bold.” Good choice little dude. Then we headed to the race.

Pre Race Pep Talk

As we approached the venue, some serious pep talk was going on as he asked where the start line was and “what was next” about a million times. As we went to get his bib number he had a bit of a meltdown at the sight of a person dressed up as a gorilla. Have you ever been there race morning? Maybe you can’t sleep the night before or you couldn’t find coffee the morning of the race, or your outfit doesn’t fit right. You’re all set to go the day before and then BAM a curve ball is thrown your way and you have to choose how you’re going to react to it. If you are like my son, you start shaking and crying. Hopefully you have some more practice with these kinds of things, so your moment isn’t as scary as his. We talked it out and my husband calmed him down talking about all the other dressed up costumed people we’ve seen. Skittish, he made his way to the start line.


He started out nervous wondering where the finish line was ( it was a 1k race). In the middle of the race he needed a break and asked for my husband to carry him. But as he approached the finish line and I could see him racing towards it with a huge smile of pride.

Post Race Glory

He barely talked about how scary the pre race gorilla was. He was so proud of finishing the race (and loved the post race snacks of course). The rest of the day he talked about how fun it was and told everyone we saw all about “his race”. We watched a video of him charging towards the finish line about 50 times before he went to sleep. He smiled as he pressed play again and again.

As I laid in bed last night I smiled thinking about how similar his emotional experience was to people of all ages. It got me thinking about how we always talk about how similar running is to life. How running is a great practice of how to move through life. Life is full of “pre race gorillas” that throw off our plan, even when you think you’ve completely set yourself up for success. Even when you are wearing your lightning bolt pants.

The more we run, the more we get to practice, the more we learn. Perseverance, determination, how to adjust to obstacles, how to power through them. Let the road and trails be your teachers. Carry on running warriors… will we see you in Santa Barbara?!


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New season, new beginnings, new goals

Is it just me or does spring make you want to put on your favorite running tank top and go run through fields of wildflowers or lush green hills with an epic playlist? Ok these surroundings aren’t always available so we’ll settle for old pot holed streets or busy avenues or really, whatever is available… but the excitement of new beginnings is still HERE!

As we launch Santa Barbara 5k and 10k registration on Monday April 24th (yes, next Monday!), we invite you to join us on September 23rd 2017 in one of our favorite places. We’ve got a major run-crush on Santa Barbara that we cannot kick! It’s natural beauty fills our soul and we look forward to sharing the magic with you.

We are really excited about the addition of an optional 5k training plan this year, complimentary to our participants. If you are signing up for your first race and finishing it is your goal- own that, that is a totally beautiful goal! We know many runners start off participating in 5k’s and then often feel like 5k is not long enough. We are here to tell you, HOLD UP SISTER!! Instead of your goal being to finish a 5k let’s allow proper time and train for it to run your fastest.  Stay tuned to future weeks where we introduce one of our favorite coaches and running inspiration gal pal who will be leading us virtually through an epic training plan (if you choose to opt in)! She’ll start off by sharing why training for a 5k is absolutely RAD and can get you in some of the best shape of your life. We’re IN, are you?

Tentative Dates of Community Meet Ups in Santa Barbara:

Saturday May 27th at 8:00am meeting at Santa Barbara Running Company (111 Anacapa Street)

July date and location TBD

Thursday August 10th 5:30pm meeting at Santa Barbara Running Company (111 Anacapa Street) **optional post run beer at Lama Dog Brewery





Self doubt lives in my head, not in my heart.

    Today I was reminded that you don’t have to be in your best shape or even consider yourself “a runner” for running to love you. It’s like this unconditional love that sits and waits for you when you are ready. It’s never pushy. It’s ready to greet you and love you as soon as you embrace it. It can be hard to feel like a beginner. It can be discouraging to feel as though your body is failing you, when your mind and heart want it so badly to be moving at a faster rate. Sometimes moving through the self doubt and frustration is part of the process. In running and in life. It’s all part of the journey…

“We are going to be ok, we are going to be ok, we are going to be ok.”

Four months ago, I repeated these words while tapping the middle of my forehead to calm myself through intense moments of my child’s birth. I did not remember this scene until my doctor recalled it at my six week follow up appointment and it made me smile. I’m not sure where I came up with this mantra in the moment of desperation, but I am certain it came straight from my heart.

This morning’s run welcomed me with gratitude and left me with forgiveness. The crisp spring morning air chilled my nose and filled my lungs along the wildflower lined trails. I felt alert and alive as if someone had dumped cold water on my head. I felt as though the fog of the last four months is beginning to lift. I felt grateful just to start.

I’ve never hated running. In fact I have always felt indebt to the movement. It has given me so much over the years that I yearn to move in this motion to pay my respects. Running gives me a connection to myself and my surroundings that I haven’t felt through anything else.

Throughout today’s six miles, I thanked running (as if it were a human) for being a part of all of the chapters of my life. The celebrations, the sadness, the beginnings and endings. It’s a relationship I’ve leaned on so greatly over the years for both challenge and comfort. For many of us who have taken a break from it’s movement  because of choice, an injury, pregnancy, postpartum healing, etc., the comeback is often slow and awkward. There are days you wonder if it will ever feel easy again.

Today I felt as though I had weights around my ankles and my biceps burned as they held a ninety degree swinging motion. Today the self doubt that lies deep inside each of us started to speak, so I gave her the stage. In the past I have squashed negative voices by replacing them with positive messages. I’ve proudly bullied self doubt with positivity. But today, I felt like my insecurities needed the floor, she needed to get something off her chest. I don’t know about you, but my self doubt is ornery and full of sass, so I let her speak. I let her release her frustrations and fears. I let her rise up and listened to her like a friend, being aware not to internalized the self criticism. Self doubt lives in my head, not in my heart. My head spoke and my heart listened. When she was done I set the words free. The poor thing has been bottled up with exhaustion, fear, and the crazy hormones of postpartum, she needed so badly to be set free.

Without judgement I hear my heart whisper, “Patience my dear.”

And just like that as my body continued to stride ahead, I feel lighter.

As I finished my run and got into my car, I sat for a moment in gratitude.

“We are going to be ok, we are going to be ok, we are going to be ok,” I repeated these words while tapping the middle of my forehead.

When your heart speaks, listen. This is where your conscious and intuition live. Listen to your heart. She’s always got your back and knows the truth.


Melissa McConville, Founder and Director of


Running is like tequila shots… and I’m here for the party

I wish I could bottle it up and give it away to everyone. I want to give it away like Oprah handed out cars. “You get to feel awesome, and you get to feel awesome, and YOU get to feel awesooommmme!” (Hands in the air, head shaking, the whole Oprah bit.)

If you are new to running and are still in the “everything hurts, why is this fun” phase, I feel you. I am currently 8 weeks postpartum and coming back to running after taking a few months off is painful. Start slow, keep it fun, don’t over force it…but also, don’t stop just because it’s hard. Life is hard and you are tough. Let running be your reminder of how strong you truly are. Don’t listen to the little voice inside that says you are anything but absolutely fabulous. If the negative voice keeps popping into your head, yell back at her “I AM FABULOUS!” You are louder and more powerful than that negative inner voice.

If you are already on board with “Running is RAD!!” then let’s just high-five about how amazing it is.

My run last night was slow and painful. I felt heavy and bouncier than normal. But my heart, I swear I could feel it swell with pride and joy. I wanted to shout to each runner I passed, “isn’t this just the best?!” but I decided a big smile would convey the message without scaring them.

I spent the entire 45 device free minutes trying to put my finger on it. Still 15+ years later, I marvel at why myself and others love this movement of running so much.  Within minutes, I went from feeling anxious from being inside and sitting down most of the day, deadlines, to do’s being a human, to flying through the air. It was not a graceful movement, but the sound of nature around me, my breath, and my feet on the asphalt, it cleared my mind with each step. I came home ready to make dinner and crush the stack of dishes that piled up throughout the day. I went to sleep ready to take on the challenges of the workday to follow.

It’s my glass of wine ( but I do really enjoy a good glass of chardonnay as well), it’s my therapist, it’s my lending ear, it’s my inspiration, it’s my lifeline. It brings me joy, peace, and energy for everything else in my life. I love the way running makes me feel and I know it makes many others feel the same. I could go on forever about this, but you get the idea.

I wish I could bottle it up and give it away…the feeling that running gives me. I wish I could pour it into shot glasses and line them up for each person I come across. Creating the event is the best way I know to how share that feeling with others.

We are so excited to come together with you all on March 19th in Santa Cruz, Ca. For the love of our bodies, our spirits, for the love of sweating, and for the love of the amazing people that surround us. We want you to feel good in your life, in your body. Why do we care? Because the better you feel, the better you are to everyone else and the world around you. Our world needs more of that. Bottoms up, more love for everyone.

Like running, our starting line has no boundaries and welcomes everyone. All levels, all backgrounds, all ages.

(If running is yet to feel like a margarita on the rocks, keep going it’s probably around the bend.)

See you there!

signature Founder/Director, running and ice cream enthusiast, mom of 2, wife of 1.

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