Friday, August 22, 2014

I came, I saw, I got lost and I made it home!

 
My day at the OR Show!

Nope, it’s not in Oregon. OR stands for “Outdoor Retailer”.  I had heard about it because a friend of ours was attending and he was staying at our house as the show was in Salt Lake City. He had flown in from Boulder and was spending all day meeting potential clients and collecting cards.  I had heard of the OR show but I had no idea how big it was….and that curiosity is what fueled my fire.  “I should write a blog about it. For Deer Valley. I could show all the new ski and snow stuff!” Great idea, right?  Hmmm, maybe not.

I arrived at registration and found it was extremely difficult to get in without some REAL clout…or previous registration (aka advanced planning).  I brought with me a piece of paper with my Deer Valley blogging bio and handed them my ID. That wasn’t going to cut it. I tried to pull my blog up on my computer. That didn’t work. This was tougher than I thought. Now my curiosity was off the charts…what was behind those convention center walls? I had to find out. Thank goodness, my blog popped up just in time and I was cleared. I had my badge and was ready to depart.  But, I paused and asked them where the ski and snow toys were….(rookie mistake) “No, this is the Summer OR show…the winter OR show is in Feb.” I couldn’t play it off…the cat was out of the bag.



All of registration knew I had NO CLUE what I was doing. And away I went, with a smile.




 


First stop, the comfiest neck pillows in the world. Well, in the moment, that is what I felt their name should be.  But, Cocoon makes sense. They are furry and compact and if I hadn’t felt the need to regain some sort of pride, I would have walked around the rest of the day with this sucker cuddling my neck region.  See that little pouch I am holding? That’s how small they are when deflated! http://www.amazon.com/Cocoon-Air-2dCore-Ultralight-U-2dShaped-Pillow/dp/B007T4O0UG














 I turned around from Cocoon and found myself  looking straight at my husband’s pants. Well, more specifically, his favorite pant company. Kuhl. Erik, in true ski racer form, has a little extra muscle in the trunk and these pants make it okay for him to move with some freedom! He loves them. While writing this, I needed to confirm my story so I shouted down, "Honey, why do you love Kuhl pants?" And he said, "Cause I have a big ass!" There you go! http://www.kuhl.com/













All this OR’ing was making me quite hungry so I stopped by Clif Bar for some Before, During, After and On-The-Go fueling. http://www.clifbar.com/











This could be my favorite gadget.  It caught my eye right away because, I LOVE coffee. But I REALLY LOVE coffee when I am camping. I don’t know why it tastes better.  Maybe it’s all the extra effort it takes to get a perfect cup at camp that makes me appreciate it more.  Bottom line is, this gadget is sweet and cute and looks like it could pull off a mean cup ‘o joe! Mama Like! http://www.gsioutdoors.com/












Remember Croakies? I don’t have to think back that far as I was in search of them for our white water rafting trip last summer.  I found them and I was flooded with memories from my youth. Who didn’t have croakies attached to their fake Vuarnet’s? Ok, maybe it was just a Nor Cal thing. But, these belts caught my eye. So cool. The colors they are coming up with for men’s socks and belts is blowing my mind. I love it. And guess who makes these babies? That’s right…Croakies! http://www.croakies.com/






Nothing is truly complete without Zombies. Check. Honestly, I had no clue what company they were representing or what they were selling, but I love me some Zombies. Plus, it's a great opportunity for me to make THAT face. Excellent.







Naturally, I was feeling tense from hanging out with Zombies, therefore, I felt I needed/deserved a 10 minute loosen up. No wonder it was so difficult to get into this place! Lot’s of hidden treasures.










They basically featured a blow-up version of almost every water vessel except for a speedboat. Now, you are not limited by the size of your car! You can fit a large tandem kayak in your mini-cooper! This absolutely amazed me. These are from Innova.














I had to show you SUP boards as they make me happy and they were everywhere. I love everything about these boards and now, I am loving these beautiful colors. When’s the last time you SUP’d?  If you never have, here is a great link to get you started!










I voted LIFE IS GOOD as best booth. So homey and cute. And, frankly, I strongly believe you cannot spread their positive messages enough. Life IS good! www.lifeisgood.com






















Ok, WAIT…my favorite, for biased and obvious reasons, was……SPEEDO.
And, ahem, we just happened to win “Gear of the Show” with these awesomely elegant flippers. I put my “flippers” into the awarding winning flippers and it was quite a scene. And then I wore them for the rest of the day.........just kidding.








And speaking of flippers, thank you FEETURES for upping the sock game! My feet are thrilled with your vibrant and exciting take on the under-footwear. http://www.feeturesrunning.com/



 




I stopped by this booth and asked the obvious question. Are you guys based in Chico, CA? Instant family. They ARE based in Chico which is very close to where I was born and raised. We had a moment and then I took a moment to understand their message. See all those plastic bags, people? The average person uses that many in a year….that’s 500! GULP. Let’s change our ways! http://www.chicobag.com









Cutest dog at the show. (wonder how he got thru registration? just saying.)








This product stopped me in my tracks. Yup, those are iPad’s in a fish tank. Loksak’s are the coolest zip-lock bags for your smart stuff. Phones, tablets, etc. They have got you covered up to 100 feet deep. And, it still senses your fingertips thru the plastic. There is some seriously cool technology behind these baggies that makes them incredibly different than the zip-locks you have in your kitchen. http://www.loksak.com/civilian/index.html









Kayak’s were King at this show. They came in every size and every color. My kids are obsessed with kayaking and I understand why. They are just small enough to handle and just big enough to be great. The perfect vessel.






From what I saw at the show, I am sensing a serious shift in wheel size for everyday outdoor gear. People want to pull and lug their stuff onto and thru any terrain! Anything from off-road to deep sand, it looks like this guy has you covered. http://www.wheeleez.com/









This was, by far, my favorite activity at the show. This fella and his machine were on the back wall. And, by this point, I was so lost that I had no idea where the back wall, itself, was located. But it was AWESOME. I hit so many floating/levitating balls that I created a gallery. I finally caught myself having too much fun and gave up the bat. This ball is hanging out at the end of and strong stream of air. It's a bit expensive at $350, but it sure was FUN! http://hitzonesports.com/








Cutest backpacks. These are from Hook & Tackle. I wanted to scoop up a ton of these packs for the little dudes in my world but I must wait. They come out next year!









Parting gifts were endless magazines from Shape to Outside. And I took a moment to say HI to Meb. Well, not the actual mega-star marathoner but his picture and that amazingly awesome moment when he won the Boston Marathon 1 ½ hours before I crossed that same finish line. This photo never gets old. Thanks Meb!








I survived and I loved it. My husband scored some new shoes out of the day and his feet have never been happier. Thanks Cushe! http://www.cushe.com/US/en









And, thank you, OR, for letting me in. See you in Feb for the cold stuff.






















Wednesday, July 23, 2014

11 Races I Want To Try Before I am Done


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Here they are, in no specific order.

Why do I do it? Always an easy answer for me, I love training for something and with someone. I love pushing myself and I LOVE crossing that finish line.  I knew it would be hard to top April’s Boston Marathon but there is plenty more to do and plenty of years to accomplish it. It’s a race “bucket list”.  They range from swims and triathlons to destination running races and 24-hour relay races.  And, the best part, I have 10 right now on my list but with all these amazing new races popping up every year, the list is really endless.

1.   Waikiki Rough Water Swim
    I was ready to swim this race when I was 9 years and 11 months old. I would have been the youngest at that time. My mom had done it many times and I was a bit apprehensive but proud of the number on my shoulder. Until, we went in for a warm up and swam over some scary kelp that looked exactly like snakes. That was it. My mom swam it anyway and I cheered from the sidelines. I need to face my fears, get back in there and bring my mom with me! I would actually love to do this with my kids someday but I don’t know if that will happen. It is a 2.348 mile swim and from what my mom tells me, you can see the bottom the entire way. Just as long as I don’t see much else! I am the “Jaws generation”…thanks Mr. Spielberg. http://www.waikikiroughwaterswim.com/


2.   The Other Half
I have heard so much about this half marathon set in the crazy, beautiful landscape that is Moab, UT. My friends ask me to do it almost every year but for the past few years I have been running marathons and it hasn’t fit into my life schedule. Now there is time! I think I need to make it happen. www.theotherhalf.com

3.   Malibu Triathlon
I need to get back into the triathlon phase of my life and this one seems friendly. Everyone thinks that since I run and swim, a tri would be a no brainer. Problem is, I like to enjoy my bike rides. I really do let the air blow my in face and whip up my hair.  I coast when I can and almost stop to smell the roses….which is not the triathlon attitude when 60% of your race is on two wheels. So, if you see me cruising along on my bike, remind me that there is, in fact, a finish line that I need to get reach!   www.malibunauticatri.com

4.   Cycle the Sierras
This is the way I want to ride, through the Sierras, which I consider my home.  I grew up in Northern California (Roseville, CA to be exact) and with a love of the Sierra Nevada mountains.  Fresh air at it’s finest. But the best part about this “race” is the camping, food, drink and my teammate, my husband. He loves to bike and I would love to experience this with him. http://www.cyclethesierra.com/

5.   RAGNAR
“Ragnar is an overnight relay race that makes testing your limits a team sport.” Which is just scary enough for me to love it! I was supposed to race my first one last month but, unfortunately got sick and missed out. This race in not just about the mileage, it is about team spirit, team toughness and a whole lotta mess. The Wasatch back is a 200 mile course that traverses across the back of Utah’s Wasatch Mountains…hence the name “Wasatch Back”. https://www.ragnarrelay.com/race/wasatchback
The entire experience from the van decoration party to the midnight running will be in my mental photo album forever and I cannot wait. www.ragnar.com

6.   The Paris Marathon and London Marathon

These 2 marathons just seem fabulous in every way.  Many of my non-running friends call me crazy and wonder why in the world I would go to such gorgeous and historical cities to run a marathon.  I do pause for a second and wonder myself but, there is just something about the connection you have to a city after pounding its streets. I have other friends who are in my camp and want to do it, which would make it absolutely perfect. The key would be to start the trip out with a marathon and then eat and drink our way through the sight-seeing! Sign me up! www.parismarathon.com www.londonmarathon.com

7.   The Zombie Run
There is just something awesome about being chased and, yet a little bit scary.  My husband and I scare each other all the time. It has always been a part of our relationship. Serious scaring…where we either end up on the floor crying with laughter or in fear! Ok, I'm the only one ever crying in fear. But, back to the race.  It’s a 5K with locations all around the country and mostly set in the woods. I would definitely need some friends (I am not that brave) and would probably need a quick heart check-up before hand.  Then, I am off to the races, in the creepy forest with a bunch of bloody zombies! www.runforyourlives.com www.zombierun.com


8.   The West Highland Way
My husband and I discovered this race after walking a bit on the actual “way” in Scotland.  First of all, if you have never been to Scotland, do everything you can to get there.  It is as gorgeous and amazing as it looks in “Braveheart”! (One of our favorite movies and thus, we were annoying with quotes during our trip there in 2012) We stayed in Edinburgh for a few days and then rented a camper van and drove up towards the Isle of Skye.  We camped along the route and that is where we found the 95 mile race route which runs from Milngavie to Fort William. You can either race it or make it a race-cation. (One race is 95 miles while the other is 53) My husband has this grand plan of finding a few couples to do it with us and I am ALL IN. “This is my island!”(seemed like an appropriate time to throw in that line from Braveheart!) http://westhighlandwayrace.org/   or http://www.west-highland-way.co.uk/eventsarticle.asp?id=1223



9.   Napa to Sonoma Wine Country Half-Marathon
Now this is the half I could get my non-running friends to do with me! After all the wine-to-mile ratios is 20-13.1…mama like! I grew up in Roseville, CA which is just outside of Sacramento on your way to Tahoe off of I-80.  Napa wine country is a short 1.45 hours from my dad’s front door. This would be sort of like a hometown race for me, plus, with all the post race activities, it could earn the title Best Weekend Ever! Let's not forget the best part, your finisher award is…..A Wine Glass. Hello!

10.                 Ironman
I might be that 80 year-old woman completing her first Ironman. But I have a hunch that at some point in my life I will conquer this race and I am actually quite freaked out by it. Here are my feelings: I don’t know if I can do it or really want to do it but because of it’s magnificent finish line, it has made its way onto my bucket list.  The strength for this race, for me, would have to come from somewhere besides within, in order for me to survive the 2.5 mile ocean swim, 124 mile bike ride and the marathon at the end.  I would need to do this for a reason beyond me soley crossing the finish line.  And, frankly, I believe that is why most people do it. At some point in my life, someone or some cause will move me to go through the pain of an Ironman for them. I just feel it in my bones. www.ironman.com

11.                 Escape From Alcatraz Triathlon
Pretty much the scariest thing I could ever think of doing has made my bucket list. Even though open water swimming, particularly the SF Bay, runs in my blood, I have a HUGE fear of what lurks below the surface. My mom used to belong to The Dolphin Club and was one of those crazy ladies swimming in 50 degree water without a wetsuit. What I LOVE about this race is that there are 2 finish lines, one when you finish the swim and one when you finish the race. It is a 1.5 mile swim from Alcatraz to shore, an 18 mile bike through the streets of SF and an 8 mile run some of which is through sand and up a gnarly sand/log hill. What an adventure! http://www.escapefromalcatraztriathlon.com/



Thursday, July 3, 2014

Don't Let Summer Fun Pass You By. 5 Simple Ways to Enjoy My Favorite Season Right Now!

5 Simple Ways to Start Enjoying the Summer Right Now

Don’t let the summer slip away before you’ve gotten a chance to enjoy it! No one needs more stress in their lives, especially in the summer time. Summer should be about BBQ’s and block parties. It’s about hearing the joy of children laughing throughout the neighborhood way past their bedtime. And it’s about friendship, friends finally coming together after declaring all winter long that, “We have to have you over for dinner.” It is time to make it happen. Don’t wait. As my dad always says, “Life’s a party, only most damn fools don’t know they’re invited.”
So here are 5 simple ways to enjoy the summer before it’s gone:

Host a Spontaneous Get-Together.

If the idea of having a big party is too daunting, stress no more. This is simply a spontaneous get-together. That means, ask people to stop by after dinner for a drink. The kids are fed so no need to worry about corralling them for food. Serve them popsicles and after that, let them run. For the adults, encourage a BYOB and have extras on-hand and on ice. Set out a few appetizers or maybe casually mention, “bring whatever’s in your fridge or nothing at all.” Grab some cheese and crackers, chips and salsa and let the party begin.
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Go on a Picnic.

My kids LIVE for this. They think it is such a special night when we eat out on a blanket. And it’s easy! In our town, we have SO many outdoor concerts … so check out yours. It doesn’t have to be fancy at all. If there isn’t an outdoor music option, find a park or just your own backyard. I usually pack a roasted chicken, some potato salad/pasta salad, cheese and crackers and a roller cooler with beverages. When the meal is done and you have a chance to lay back on the blanket and see the first star of the night, you know that your summer has officially arrived.
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Take a Bike Ride into Town.

Nothing says summertime like hopping on your bike.  We do this, but not often enough. You could cruise into town for dinner or just for some dessert. And if “town” is too far, make it an evening adventure around the neighborhood. With the streets lit up by the setting sun until 9pm, don’t waste the daylight at your computer or in front of the TV, now is the time. The wind on your face actually makes you feel like a kid again, it is the fountain of youth!

Take the Party to the Park.

If the thought of hosting a party at your house gives you the hives, take the party elsewhere. Nobody needs to break the bank and rent out a restaurant. Go to a park or a lake … use the resources at your fingertips. My friends do this often. Meet us at the “Leech Lake” (that’s our nickname for it). It is a full BYO everything situation. And, you would be surprised how many people want to get out, drink a cold one, grill up something yummy, and enjoy the summer together. The kids run around and the adults get to catch up on life. But be prepared to play. This is the time to bust out the baseball bats and gloves, frisbees, footballs, cornholes and anything else that has been collecting dust in your garage! You will leave that party feeling like the entire summer was a success. So, choose a spot, send the email, and enjoy.
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Spend a Day at the Pool

Nothing says “summertime,” to this California girl, like the swimming pool! We used to have many a party around the awesome chlorinated body of water. I remember my parents grabbing the family meal at KFC and literally pulling me out of the water to come eat. It was summer perfection. Sadly these days we don’t have a ton of pools in Park City, Utah but we have enough — and unfortunately a lot of pools don’t allow food on the pool deck anymore. But you can still have fun by bringing whatever toys you have or buying some cheap ones at the Dollar Store! The only other items you need are sunblock, a swim suit, towel and your best ever cannonball!
We have all been there.  August rolls around and you wake up one morning wondering where the summer went. It flew by with SO much left to do. Now is the time. Enjoy your family, your time and the extra sunlight now. I am writing this as much for me as for everyone else. My philosophy? Once you write it down you are more likely to do it. So, here’s hoping!

Let's Get Running! Here are 8 of My Favorite US Races

8 of My Favorite Races to Run Around the U.S.

I’ve been running for 22 years. I truly love it. The entire experience … the scenery, the community, the sweat … brings me back for more. And although nothing can compare to competing in the Olympic Games, many of my dry-land finish-line moments have come pretty damn close. Here are my top 8 running races I LOVE the most.

1. The NYC Marathon

The city, the crowd, the neighborhoods, and the finish! I lived in NYC for eight years, and I love going back. There is an electricity that you feel every day in the city but on marathon day, it is AWESOME. And it certainly fuels you while you are running. When it comes to the finish, nothing will force you to dig deeper than a true New Yorker yelling for you to RUNNNNN!
NYC Marathon '99 pic

2. The Boston Marathon

Because it’s Boston and you qualified. It is a bucket list race for sure. To experience the love and support from everyone along the 26.2 course from Hopkinton to Boyston St. is truly remarkable and one of the kind. You are literally running just outside their front door, and they love and support you for it. Many open up their homes at the start for bathroom breaks, sunscreen, water, snacks, or just a needed good luck hug.
Boston Marathon '13 pic

3. The Runner’s World Festival (the hat trick)

I must admit, I had my doubts I could finish all three races last year but I did, and I loved it. In two days, you will run a 5K, a 10K, and a half marathon. (The first two happening on the first day). It is a true celebration of running and the running community all in the perfectly hilly town of Bethlehem, PA. Kids have races, dogs have races, there is celebrating and dancing and yoga … basically everything you could want in a wonderfully competitive yet relaxed environment. And now, there is another Festival in Boston at “Heartbreak Hill” in June.

4. The Color Run

Because it’s beautiful. Beautiful in color and spirit. My kids are still talking about the “paint run” as they call it. And, their shoes continue to remind them of that awesome day with the never ending tie-dye that imprints their socks. This un-timed, non-competitive 5K is tagged “The Happiest 5K on the Planet” and, so far, I agree. The goal is to fill you blank canvas, you body, with splashes and splashes of powdered color until the big finish when every 15 minutes they have a giant color release by the packed crowds near the stage. It’s a 5K event. Tips though, if you have color treated hair (especially blond) wear a hat as a precaution. Plan to throw away most of your clothes … washing does work but only for another color run. Find one of the many blowers they have at the finish to blow the paint off of you before getting in your car. Close your mouth through the color shoots and let your inner child shine bright! Kids are in love with this race so make it for the whole family.
color_run

5. Bay to Breakers

Bay to Breakers is the oldest consecutively run foot race in the world.” Everyone should experience this 102-year-old race at least once. I used to do this with my dad and his friends for his gym, Kangaroo Courts. We would dress up and run the 12 kilometers with a guy in a Kangaroo outift. I have seen runners dressed up as almost everything from babies and super heroes to Presidents and streakers. Yes, when you are in San Francisco, you must embrace the awesome variety of the city … and that is what makes me LOVE this race. It also brings me back home. My heart really does love all the Bay Area and SF in particular.
bay-to-breakers.jpg

6. Running with Ed

This race is near and dear to my heart, because it is our local relay race and public school education fundraiser. The race was started by a Park City fella who loves running, has kids in public school, and runs a business in town. Running With Ed is now in it’s 5th year. Last year, we raised over $220,000 for the Park City Education Foundation, which helps with the cost of physical fitness, science, and art programs in public schools. (Learn more here.) This race is a mini-Ragnar that cruises 38 miles through Park City’s streets and trails linking all the public schools. The longest leg is 6.8 miles and toughest takes you from the base all the way to the top of Olympic Park!

7. Disney Kids!

The options are endless when it comes to the RunDisney family of events. My son and I did the Disney Epcot 5K, and then the next day I ran the Disney Princess Half. All the park to yourself and your fellow runners?! I think that is almost everyone’s childhood dream! There are a couple great things that stand out with these races. First, they always start early to help beat the heat and to finish before the park opens. Secondly, you truly get to see the parks differently. Imagine, no crowds, no lines, just the awesome sound of pounding feet and some cheering as you run by. Plus, there is so much to look at during the run that your attention is easily diverted from the pain, distance, heat, or whatever ailment could be overtaking your mind. I even got a picture with a few characters just before the finish of my half! And because my race started so early, I finished and was back at the hotel before my son woke up. We then enjoyed a day at the park! Fun for everyone.

8. Nike Women’s Half-Marathon in San Francisco

October in San Francisco people … that should be enough to sell you on this race. But just in case you are still on the fence, how bout a Tiffany’s necklace as your finishers medal awarded to you by a firefighter dressed in a tuxedo. I am not making this up, ladies! This is your reality if you are one of the 25,000 women and 1,000 men to make it into this fabulous race! I ran this in 2012 one day after my 40th birthday. And according to 1984 Olympic gold medalist Joan Benoit-Samuelson, I need to get my butt back! You shouldn’t mess with your heroes!

Which one of these races would you want to race? Tell me in the comments!

Wanna Be a Futbol Pro? Here are 6 Tips from Brandi Chastain!

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The 2014 World Cup is upon us. Soccer has been a love of mine for a long time. When I was younger, I wanted to play but just never did. I would watch my brother, cheer him on, and then go jump in the pool. Gradually, my brother moved on from soccer, and both our lives were surrounded by chlorine. And that was it for my soccer fandom until the 1999 World Cup happened. When Brandi Chastain ripped off her jersey and skidded to her knees producing the “sports bra” moment, all I could think was “YES!” It’s still one of my favorite moments in sports, and I’m not the only one. Never before had I seen the country rally for a World Cup, and that kind of restarted my fandom. But beyond my knowledge of my brother’s 8-year-old soccer team, I don’t really know how to be a “futbol fan.” So I figured this World Cup, which begins today, June 12th, is the perfect time to change that, so I went straight to the expert. Here’s how you can be a futbol fan from a woman who knows World Cup first hand, two-time World Cup and Olympic Champion Brandi Chastain.

World Cup 101 from Brandi Chastain: 6 Tips To Make You a Futbol Pro

1. Know your lingo.

It’s not mandatory to refer to soccer as “futbol,” but you need to know when to throw in different jargon. Brandi says, “When I am talking to my international friends I use futbol, match and pitch, but if I am with Americans, I still call it soccer, field and game. You have to know whom you are with and that can help bridge any gap immediately.”

2. Don’t keep your eye on the ball.

Although it is what most people focus on, it’s not always about watching the ball. “I realize the field is really big so I get that it is difficult,” says Chastain. “If you are going to watch the ball, try to watch their feet and focus on their balance and agility as it is amazing. If you can broaden your scope, watch the other players because you will then get a better sense of the flow and rhythm of the game.  You can tell the style of a team right away when you are watching all the other players. Sometimes you are limited because of the angle of the TV shot, but when the camera gives you a wide angle, widen your perspective.”

3. Watch for Dynamic Duos.

It’s not just about one player in soccer, but about the team and playmaking is key. “Look for players who connect together, like D-Wade and Lebron or Pippen and MJ,” said Chastain. “These duos have an unspoken chemistry that you can actually see. The game then becomes more exciting and electric, as well as easier to follow and understand. For example, don’t miss the USA’s Michael Bradley (center mid) and Clint Dempsey (goal scorer).”

4. Understand the format.

Unlike the best of seven series format of the NBA Finals or the single elimination format of the NCAA Basketball tournament, the World Cup format is completely different. Chastain explains, “This is just like when you were a kid, a round robin, and then you get seeded from there. You play everyone in your first group of 4, and then depending on how many points you scored, the top 2 move on to the next round.” Don’t worry, even Brandi had to double-check how the next round works. After the first round, all you really need to know is that it’s single elimination. In Brandi’s terms: “You win, you move on. You lose, you play golf.”

5. Cheer like it’s a profession.

“It’s hard to explain to my American friends what it’s like to be overseas in a stadium during a World Cup game,” said Chastain. “They (the fans) have an incredible spirit for their team. Singing songs. Historical rivalry. A city is connected to a team, and a country is connected to their National Team.” When asked about her favorite cheers, I assumed Brandi would talk about another country but she said, “The U.S. has been using a cheer that a die-hard group of USA soccer fans called, “The Outlaws” use. It’s basically a chant with these words, “I believe that we will win!” When it comes to general cheering during the game, the most well known one is “Goal” but with an overly extended “OALLLLL” and applauding overall good play. “You will feel it coming. It’s like a big tsunami wave of a cheer. Get swept up in it and show your emotion on either side of the outcome. It is part of what makes soccer so great!”  

6. Realize the roster makeup is different.

“You play for your home country during World Cup and Olympic competition, but you can play club for another country’s club league,” describes Chastain. “The majority of the players (minus Spain and Germany) don’t play regularly for club teams in the country where they were born! So there are two sets of fans, some cheering for players ten months a year and others cheering for them just during the World Cup or other international tournaments.” Lets use Cristiano Ronaldo for an example: he is from Portugal, but he is a star player for Real Madrid in Spain, where he is beloved like no other. But in the World Cup, he could play against his adoring Spanish fans. He could win the Cup for Portugal and then go back to Spain for his pro season.”

** Bonus Tip: Learn these names.

A couple of players are so awesome they only need one name. Neymar, the big player from his home country of Brazil; Ronaldo, loved by Spain during the pro-schedule, by Portugal during World Cup, and by most women all year long; Bernard, the Brazilian winger; and Koke, midfielder from Spain.
The LOVE and passion that soccer fans around the world have for their sport is off the charts.  Brandi tried to describe it, saying “Their lives are directly affected by the futbol play on the field, and the outcome can be either devastating or incredibly uplifting! Take a team like Sunderland (from Britain). It’s a working class, blue-collar city, and when they won several games in the Premiere league, it was like everyone won the lottery because they didn’t move down to the first division. Survival at the top level for the smaller named clubs is an every week battle, one that their cities cheer for from the depths of their soul. The difference between safety and relegation is quite literally tens of millions if not hundreds of millions of dollars. So each game matters.”
When I asked Brandi how she feels when people remark about that amazing moment back in 1999 when the weight of the championship was on her shoulders, she said, “ I love talking about our team and our run through the World Cup, but it was so much more because it was a life-long journey to get there.” I can only imagine that the magnitude of that moment must have been incredible. There really is no other true international professional competition like the World Cup. The Olympic Games are obviously my favorite, but the passion behind this one single sport for one single trophy is truly remarkable. One month. One planet. One team. One trophy.
Hop onto the World Cup train my friends, it’s going to be a spectacular ride!
Click here for a schedule of World Cup Matches
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*For the 2014 World Cup, Brandi will be working with Johnson & Johnson, which is the first healthcare sponsor of the World Cup.

7 Tips for Successfully Surviving a Weekend Swim Meet

7 Tips for Successfully Surviving a Weekend Swim Meet

Mom and I big trophy age 11I have spent my fair share of weekends at swim meets, perched poolside from 7 a.m. until 9 p.m. in the sun or huddled under a tree to keep from getting heat stroke. But that really isn’t impressive, as I was a kid and it was what I wanted to do. What is impressive is that my parents did the exact same thing, except they weren’t competing or cooling off in the water. They just spent countless weekends sitting on harder than hard benches or timing countless heats all summer long to support me. With summer upon us, lots of parents (including me) will be attending their kids swim meets, so I thought I’d share some advice for the newbie swim parent on how to successfully survive a weekend swim meet. Welcome to my guide to surviving adventures in chlorine-land!

1. Pack multiple towels.

I suggest you pack at least four towels — a towel for each race and one fresh one for the end. There’s nothing worse than taking a shower only to have a chlorine-soaked towel dry you off. I actually forgot this tip until my daughter had her first swim meet last year. I only packed one towel, and after three races, it was drenched. Which is a big problem in Utah in the middle of winter. I turned into her portable heater … and together we were a soggy snuggle bunch.

2. Bring a tent or canopy if outdoors.

It is a good way to get your kid to relax, to keep track of them, and to provide much needed relief from the sun. Swim meets are FUN, and they should always be about camaraderie. The sun (not even counting the swimming) can drain the energy tank of even a 6-year-old. Shade can make all the difference.

3. Pack CARDS!

The kids are off their feet, and their brains are at work! Cards are such an easy, fabulous art form. I played cards at every meet. I would play hearts or spades at the end of the meet or in between sessions, and we would play speed or spit to get us going before the finals.

4. Remember, “You don’t have enough time.”

When you are trying to decide when to go to the bathroom, run out to your car, take a “quick” call, or anything else right before you child is about to swim, just don’t. Remember I said this and you’ll thank me. There is a ton of waiting around at swim meets, so don’t wait until it’s close to your kids’ race to do something. Races are short. I’ve seen this happen WAY too many times — a parent waits and waits only to take two minutes to do something else, and they miss the race. That was my dad. He would go outside the pool area to smoke a cigarette, and inevitably he would come back in just as we were touching the wall. All that waiting to miss the race?! NO WAY, I won’t let that happen to you.☺

5. Have a COOLER.

A stocked cooler is a MUST! Pack your lunches and snacks. (When I say lunches, I really mean around four for each kid.) Swimming is some calorie burning business, and although the hamburgers they whip up at 10:30 a.m. smell delicious, it isn’t always the best thing for a kid about ready to swim the 100 butterfly. Pack your cooler full of fruit, string cheese, PB&J’s, chocolate milk, reusable water bottles, yogurt pops, nuts, dried fruit, etc. Your kids will snack their way through the meet, and then after the prelims will want their lunch. Snacks at a meet need to get into their systems quickly and sustain them for a period of time, so pack accordingly. You, swim parent, are in charge of their energy.

6. Wear a LARGE hat.

Kids don’t run around worrying about the sun, but parents do and should. Get yourself that awesome safari-style full coverage hat. When you are at a swim meet, you generally arrive around 7 a.m. for warm ups, and at that time of morning, you aren’t thinking about sun exposure. But before you know it, you’ll have been roped into timing heats or something else, and it will be noon and you’ll realize you never had time to put on sunblock. Getting yourself the hat will keep at least your face, head, and maybe part of your shoulders protected. **And as an extra tip, when you do use sunblock … DON’T forget the tops of your feet!**

7. Double-check your kids’ bags.

Swimsuits are way too important, necessary, and expensive to NOT double-check that they made it into your kiddos swim bag. So before you leave any session of the meet, do a quick whip through to make sure you have their cap, goggles, and suit. The C.G.S. check! Believe me, I have shown up for finals without my suit, and it isn’t pretty. The panic, I mean.☺
There are 1,000 more things to remember as a newbie swim parent, but these seven will get you started. Watch your kids, cheer for them loudly, and love them unconditionally. As my mom always said, “You can’t be hard on your kids when you can’t even do a 200 butterfly yourself.” Enjoy, my fellow swim parents!

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Giving Back


Giving back is an act close to my heart. Sometimes it’s taught but often times it’s learned. I was fortunate to grow up in a giving family, although I'm not sure the idea of “fundraisers” was very big back in the 70s. As I matured, I realized just how blessed I was and knew I needed to return the favor. It's a value I hope to pass along to my children. While I'm not always able to give time and/or money, when I can, it is so rewarding. I don't attend church regularly, but I am spiritual and I fully believe in karma. And I had way too much good in my life not to give back with all my heart.

Following the ‘92 Olympic Games, I was approached by many charities and asked to attend their functions – golf tournaments, dinners and swim events all made the list. I was honored to take part in as many as I could while still being a student at Stanford University.  But as my time at school was drawing to a close, I felt this pull to give back in a real way. Not to just show up one time here and there, but to dedicate myself to something and being a true part of it. That’s when my phone rang and Johann Koss was on the other end. The organization at the time was Olympic Aid, and they wanted me to take a trip to Rwanda just months after the genocide. I didn't hesitate for a second. I said YES and never looked back. That trip and those kids – their resiliency, strength, and spirit – with their looks of pure joy playing sport stuck with me!

Over the next 18 years, I’ve stayed a part of the organization as it’s changed and grown. We became Right To Play, and we now have a presence in 23 countries, touching the lives of over 1 million children every week. The idea of using sport for development has became a powerful tool, largely in part due to the tremendous work of Johann. He’s won gold medals, broken world records, and met world leader, but those accolades pale in comparison to his efforts to bringing a smile to a child in a war-torn country and watching that child learn and grow with confidence through sport in our programs. 

I was fortunate enough to be back to NYC with my mom and daughter recently for the Big Red Ball, Right To Play’s largest fundraising event. The red ball is our symbol and the words written on it are the motto we hope to instill in every child that participated in our program: “Look after yourself, Look after one another.” Isn't that really what giving back is all about. So I was thrilled to finally bring my bright-eyed, positive and caring 8-year-old daughter with me to the event. She was so excited to dress up and meet everyone, and she was finally big enough to see and understand why I give up time with our family to be a part of the Right To Play family. 


I often tell this story about the kids in our programs. During that first trip to Rwanda, we spent time at an orphanage and I saw the purest form of selflessness and love. Many of the kids taking part in our games were disabled from the genocide. One girl in particular had lost both her legs from a landmine explosion, and they were amputated just above her knees. Her prosthetics were two pieces of wood with a peg end. She was balancing on two pegs for a relay race. It was an amazing site. What I quickly noticed and then became mesmerized by were her eyes. Huge, round and gorgeous brown eyes beneath closely shorn hair. She was strong and beautiful. The children were all incredibly tough; my emotions weren’t. Once I composed myself, I knew I couldn't shed any more tears. If these children were happy, I was happy and the day was for smiling. 

The relay race began with Johann and I looking on as cheering fans. The little girl was standing there in line waiting for her turn to race. She was focused and ready. The baton was passed to her, and I don't think I have ever seen a child happier than in that moment. She was hauling butt to the turn-around post and back. And I was just in awe. While not yet a mother, I understood what it meant to feel a child’s joy and want to be a part of giving them that feeling. Her face, that smile, and those eyes have stuck with me. It’s the joy of the heart I now see in my own children.

Pure happiness was what I witnessed that day, something those kids hadn't felt often. And there’s not a day that goes by that I don't feel honored to be a part of Right To Play, building a foundation of health, confidence, courage and knowledge through sport so that children can go on to be a positive influence in their communities. Yes, I have given time, energy and money, but what I continue to take away from each experience is so much more. And the lessons I get to teach my kids first hand are priceless.

Everyone has their own passion, their own calling, so find yours if you can. Choose your path and give back however you can to something that’s close to your heart in whatever way you’re comfortable participating. If you get the opportunity, teach the next generation the power they have for positive change. And please tell me all about it. I truly want to know.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

10 Tips to Training for a Marathon

Training for a marathon is almost always an imperfect process. This time around, I expect Boston to be an interesting 26.2 for me with my emotions, my love for the sport, and my appreciation for the supporters along the route running high. So being prepared mentally and physically is even more important.
I trained for the 2013 Boston Marathon without a true schedule, simply creating a training outline for myself from a page I ripped out of “Runner’s World” magazine. It was great and I loved my Yasso 800’s (created by the running guru himself Bart Yasso), but I didn't have a set schedule, group, or coach. For the 2013 NYC marathon, I chose the NYRR Virtual Training program. It was easy to sign up for, making a $45 commitment that allowed me to choose what day I wanted my long run, what day I wanted “off”, my goal race time, and how intensely I wanted to train. Plus, I GOT A COACH!! Yes, even though it is a virtual program, I have a live coach I can email back and forth with! And that is such a thrill because until last fall, I hadn't had a coach since 1996.
So here, from my experiences both running with and without a coach, are my 10 tips to successfully train for a marathon.
 10 Tips to Training for a Marathon
  1. Set a Goal and Commit. Make your goal to run the race public and it will help you commit to keeping it. To make it even more attainable, set smaller goals along the way to reinforce your commitment and give yourself some progress markers. For example, sign up for shorter races such as a 10k and a half marathon, and use them to practice pacing and running the second half faster than the first. 
  2. goals
    Set goals! It will help to get you to the start and across the finish
  3. Use a Training Plan. No matter how many races you have or haven't run, there’s a training plan out there that will help you run smarter and faster. Do some research and pick one to help you train. As I said, I love the NYRR Virtual Training Program. I was introduced to it when I decided to run the 2013 NYC Marathon, and it made a huge difference knowing what I should be focusing on and when. Mentally figuring out what to do to train is exhausting, so when you use a program and it tells you what to, it alleviates that stress and allows you to train smarter and with confidence. For me, it takes the thought out of it. I wake up, and I already know what I’m supposed to be doing that day. It’s like a mental sherpa.
To get the other eight tips and read the rest of this post, check out my Babble blog Semi-Chlorinated Life.