How A Pretty Pink Skirt with Pockets Changed My Life

I’ve always been a solitary runner. None of my neighbors or friends are runners, so when I picked up running (in the summer of 2000) I went out alone, and I’ve been doing it that way ever since. Mostly this doesn’t bother me, because I appreciate the solitude running solo brings me.

So when I became a Skirt Sports ambassador four years ago, what surprised me was how happy the camaraderie of the group made me. Except for the two retreats I went to, I never physically ran with any of these women; most of them I’ve never even met in real life. But they still made my runs better, in ways I couldn’t always explain. Why would knowing someone else was running in a cute skirt halfway across the country make any difference?

But it did.

Skirt sports 5 1 2020

Partly, it’s about the skirts themselves. Some people have teased me about this, but I don’t care: I think cute running clothes are motivational. Before I discovered Skirt, I was constantly on the lookout for clothes designed for women that were cute and functional. It felt like all of the women’s running clothes I found were designed for “real” runners—the tiny ones with thigh gaps. Who else could wear such short shorts? And why were there never any pockets? Did clothing designers think women don’t need to carry anything? What about keys, chapstick, tampons, nutrition, money, sunscreen, and/or ID? Did they think we were all just running with men by our sides (because men’s clothes always have pockets) to carry our stuff for us? Or we could just tie it all to our shoes?

So when I discovered my first Skirt Sports skirt, on a fortuitous day at Runner’s Corner, the skies opened with angels singing, because here it was: a skirt that was long enough to cover my Mary Lous (no thigh gap here!)! a pink running skirt! a pink running skirt with pockets.

It was so perfectly what I was searching for that I almost didn’t buy it, because what if it chafed anyway? But I took a chance (plus it was on sale), tried the skirt, fell in love.

I own a lot of Skirt Sports skirts now. I own zero shorts—I only run in skirts. I wear some of the longer skirts to work instead of to work out. I hike in Skirt Sports. I wear Skirt Sports capris and running tights under my dresses and paired with boots. Every spring and fall I have waited with anticipation to see the new colors and patterns. I have told friends and family members about Skirt.

Because there really is something about running in functional clothing that also happens to be cute. It lifts your spirits. Sometimes it is the thing that motivates you to take off your pajamas and go running. It’s that feeling when you’re sweating and your face is caked with salt and there’s a smear of dirt across your calf, but your skirt still makes you feel like you don’t look entirely disgusting.

It’s the fact that you can run like a badass and you don’t need black, sloppy men’s shorts to prove it.

But it’s not only the skirts.

When I became a Skirt Sports ambassador, I became a part of a community. And it’s not a community of mean girls. It’s not about who’s the fastest or skinniest or prettiest. It is welcoming and inclusive. It is a group of women who understand: the highs and lows of training, the way an injury is not just about your ankle or knee, the way just the memory of endorphins rushing your brain keeps you hitting the trail. Size doesn’t matter; age and race don’t matter. Your sport doesn’t matter—hike, run, bike, swim, paddleboard, yoga, weight lifting, whatever.

It is a community that embraces movement, that embraces each individual finding and then pursuing her passions and goals.

So today, the day that marks the beginning of the finish line, when Skirt Sports will likely be ending, I want to celebrate what this company and these women have brought me.

I’m still running by myself, but I’m doing it with pink on. (Or aqua or purple or bright floral prints or even, yes, black sometimes.)

I’m still running by myself, but I’m also running with the voices of so many women in my head, encouraging me with their stories, triumphs, defeats, restarts, accomplishments, kindness, generosity. Sisterhood.

My closet is full of running clothes.

My heart is full because I have felt loved and included and because I have been given the opportunity to love and support others as well.

Sure…there will be other cute running clothes. Partly because of Skirt Sports’ impact, the exercise-clothing industry has changed. Other companies have cute patterns and pockets.

But no other company has given me what skirt has.

Support.

Kinship.

Inspiration.

Respect.

Transformation.

I am celebrating.

But I am also grieving.


Reentry to Real Life, or: How to Bring Bits of Vacation into Everyday Existence

We have a bad habit of planning trips SO CLOSE to the beginning of school. Usually this happens because of two things, my habit of procrastination and Kendell’s inability to deal with crowds. This year, we ended up in Florida during the week before school started because of, yes, crowds—that was the first week that the Orlando crowds changed from red to yellow—but also because the flight prices were the cheapest that week.

Florida 2019 reentry shell

We had a lovely, if imperfect, vacation in Florida. I didn't even take a regular bra with a wire, I just wore my sports bra and running skirts for the whole trip. I let my hair go curly in the humidity and didn't care about the frizz. I touched an alligator. I laughed with Jake and Kaleb and we shared memes on our phones and took goofy photos by the tiny hotel pool. It rained at inconvenient times and I was flabbergasted by the summer crowds, but we just went with it anyway.

One of my favorite moments came right after I calmed down after having my usual we’re-at-the-beach-I’m-terrified-someone-will-drown anxiety moment (which dissipated after Kendell went out in the water with Jake and Kaleb). I was sitting on a conveniently placed wooden lounge chair (I’m pretty sure it was only supposed to be used by the residents of the beach house behind me…but no one stopped me so I went for it) that I’d covered with my beach towel (which has flamingos on it) and I had some almond M&Ms in my bag and a book to read. I read, I looked up to check on my three boys, I read some more.

Florida 2019 reentry water

I let the feeling of relaxation steep deep down into my center, because I don’t get enough of that in my life. (I’m sure no one does.) The sun made a brief appearance (it rained the whole time we were in Florida), making the crests of waves and the bits of shell fragments and the tips of my toenails sparkle, and I could see half of my family laughing together in the water, and it was just…calmly blissful.

Florida 2019 reentry calm

Of course, all vacations end, and then you have to go back to real life, which has fewer opportunities for calmly blissful moments. After a few airport shenanigans that included sprinting through the Phoenix airport and leaving a bag on the long-term parking shuttle, we made it home at 2 in the morning.

And Kaleb had to be to school by 7:45.

So for our family, the end of summer vacation was literally the end of summer, almost down to the second.

And we re re-entering real life all at once.

Even though it’s been many decades since I was a kid, and my summer afternoons were spent lying on the back patio of my childhood home, reading by the peach tree (literally: I would read for hours and I could just enjoy it without thinking I should be cleaning the kitchen or wonder if the laundry is done washing or all of the million other things I think about when I’m reading now as an adult), summer still feels like a break, somehow. A months-long escape from reality. I sleep in way too often during the summer, and we eat out more, and, I confess: I haven’t sorted socks since June. It’s a sock free-for-all in my laundry room!

But then school starts and it’s time to reenter real life. Up with an alarm, and the annoying line at the drop-off zone, and making sure Kaleb is on top of his homework again.

I’ve been cooking much more since we got home. The laundry is done and put away and I even sorted the socks. Our mornings are going smoothly and I’ve started working the post-drop-off run into my routine again. Honestly, reentry is much easier when you only have one kid in school, and he doesn’t hate it this year, and he’s functional in the mornings.

But I keep going back to that moment at the beach, that feeling of calmness that filled me on that stolen chair.

Why can’t I have that calmness in my regular life, too?

Is it like the freedom of reading on summer afternoons as a child, something you just can never get back as an adult because how do you really put down the to-do list, how do you silence the voices reminding you of what you should be doing as a responsible grown up instead of relaxing and doing nothing? Is it just that I need to be more organized and work harder when I am being a responsible adult, and then I could justify relaxing like that?

Or is it that I need to figure out how to allow myself to relax anyway, somehow? That I need to learn that while yes, I am an imperfect adult who doesn’t get everything done or everything right, I still get to find and fully appreciate my moments of calm?

And how do I figure that out?

As we dip now, at the end of summer (on the school calendar if not the actual weather) into the start of fall, that is what I want to take with me, from our vacation into real life: permission. Permission from myself to let go more, to relax when I have the chance, to give myself credit instead of criticism.

Florida 2019 reentry


I Am The Ordinary, Medium Woman She Was Looking For

If you know me, you know this: I’m pretty passionate about exercise clothes. That might seem like a weird thing to feel passionate about, but I have a firm belief that comfortable AND functional exercise clothing keeps people exercising. (Cute is also important.) Exercise clothes designed specifically for women are important in the exercise community because really: we aren’t men. Our bodies are different, our curves, our shapes, or musculature, even our height.

And, yes: our weight.

Well-designed exercise clothes don’t chafe. They don’t ride up between your legs. They felt well over breasts and hips; they support and breathe and wick. They flatter a moving body, no matter if that body is running or hiking or biking or swimming or doing yoga or lifting weights. They keep you moving, and if that is weird or silly, if it makes your eyes roll, then you’ve likely never had to work out in clothes that weren’t well designed.

There’s been a little bit of an uproar in the exercise-clothing world this week: Nike had the audacity not only to make plus-size exercise clothes, but put them on a plus-size mannequin. And a writer for The Telegraph definitely did not like it. She saw it as yet another way the clothing industry lies to people in order to sell things. The “fat acceptance movement,” she thinks, is not helpful to women because it gives them freedom to accept who they are right now, instead of working hard to become some better (read: thinner) version of themselves.

I’m not really sure how she fails to see the irony of her argument. She’s say two opposing things: marketing ploys that try to trick you into believing you have to be super-skinny to be attractive are wrong because the ballerina body is unhealthy, but this marketing ploy—the one that says “if you’re overweight, you still get to have comfortable and functional exercise clothing”—is wrong because fat people can’t be attractive.

Which is it?

She ends her article by asking “where is the body shape between the tiny and the immense, which is where true health lives? Where is the ordinary, medium, contented woman?”

As that is where I think I am—a medium-sized woman, neither small nor large—I’d like to let her know.

I’m here, working out. Moving my body in my favorite ways. I’m doing it in clothing that I love. That fits! That has pockets! That is cute and makes me happy and makes me feel pretty. Some of it is ruffly. Some of it is so perfectly compressive I only want to take it off because I sweat so much in it.  Some of it is pink, some is purple, some is even black.

I wear a size medium, usually. And I can’t be the only one because it’s remarkably easy to find exercise clothes in my size.

I want everyone to have the same thing, even women who are bigger than me. Clothes that fit them well and help them get out and move. It shouldn’t even have to be newsworthy, that an exercise-clothing company makes exercise clothes for large women

Because guess what helps people get healthier?

Exercise.

And if we are really concerned about the health of larger women, as this woman’s article seems to suggest, guess what? We should encourage them to exercise. And if they are exercising, they are going to need exercise clothes.

One of my favorite things about running races is that I get to see athletes of all shapes and sizes. Yes, there are some of those tiny, muscled runners. There are a lot of them, in fact. But there are medium-sized women like me. And there are larger women too. And all of them—even, I’d imagine, the elite runners who regularly win races—all of them have something about their bodies that they feel self-conscious about.

One of my running friends has one of those tiny, elegant, muscled bodies. She has a thigh gap and a strong back and willowy arms, and she is fast. And people criticize her for being too skinny.

Another running friend wears a size 16 but she runs five or six marathons every year. And people criticize her for her weight.

I’m that medium-sized runner. Probably on the bigger size of medium these days, but still, yeah: medium. Medium-fast, middle-of-the-pack runner. And people criticize me, too. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been outside running and someone driving past me has shouted something like “keep on running, chunky!” or “hey there, fat ass!”

(And that’s not even mentioning the language I use inside my own head, the way I have to fight to see something other than my chide sunkies (my nickname for my out-of-control-these-days side boobs), my batwing arms, my chubby belly, my thighs that haven’t gapped since I was eleven or twelve. I have to fight not to let those words overwhelm me and to keep reminding myself that what matters is to just keep moving and to draw strength from all of the ways I have already moved.)

I think it’s a rare woman who doesn’t have body issues.

So that woman writer (and I’m not linking or sharing her name, because if you want to read it you can google it), with her critical voice and her surety that no one of that size could run anywhere, that the answer to obesity is to “just stop eating sugar”—that woman is not solving any problems. She is creating more shame. And that is the opposite of what is needed by anyone with a body.

Especially women with bodies.

The point of the fat acceptance movement isn’t to encourage unhealthy weights. It is to help clear away the element of shame that is so wrapped up in weight.

We all feel that shame. (I am 100% certain that clearly, the writer herself feels shame, because otherwise, why bother? Why knock down instead of encouraging overweight women, unless the presence of an overweight woman in her exercise space is threatening to her in some way?)

We are all trying to overcome the shame and to embrace what is positive.

Exercise is positive.

Moving your body is positive.

Wearing something you love while you move your body is positive.

Whatever encourages healthier actions is positive.

 


2019 Second Quarter Goals

Tomorrow is April first.

That just blows me away….it seems like it was just Christmas, and here we are, already one-quarter through 2019.

It seems like a good time to check in with my goals and to establish some new ones.

What I accomplished:

Hiking. In January I set the goal to hike 3 times per month. I barely fit it in, as I did my third March hike today, but I’m happy to say I accomplished this goal. One of the hikes was in a national park I’ve never been to, Congaree in South Carolina. One of my favorite hikes was the day we hiked Squaw Peak. This is a hike Kendell and I have done together many times, but it was our first time doing it in the snow and it was fairly amazing. Easier in some ways, harder in others. This was my first winter of hiking consistently and I am so happy to have discovered snow hiking.

Winter hiking

Running. I intended on trying to run three times a week, but I didn’t accomplish this goal.  Partly this is because this part of 2019 was so full of difficult things: my mom’s last illness, death, and funeral, and then the long process of going through her things. Partly it’s because I was lazy. Partly it is because I’m still figuring out my new limitations with my knees. But, I did get in at least one run every week, and several weeks had two, and a couple of weeks had three. And I’ve slowly upped my mileage, by about 3-4 miles per week on average. So, while not perfect, at least I pressed on.

Running on the prt march 2019

Writing. I started the year with a goal of writing more poetry with one of my writer friends. I wanted to write a new poem every three weeks or so, and to polish and perfect what I wrote. I wrote one and a half poems. Which is a little bit dismal, but is more than I wrote in all of 2018, so it’s a start. Again…it was a difficult three months, so I’m not going to berate myself here. Also, I was happy with the talk I wrote for my mom’s funeral. A few blog posts. Not enough writing, but I am glad I managed a little.

Reading. Here’s another ball I dropped. I intended on reading one poem a day from a print source. I went in spurts with this but never got consistent. I'm not sure why, as I read some beautiful, amazing, moving, funny, intelligent poems. I also get several poem-a-day emails, so I did still read a lot of poetry. But the "from a print source" is an important part of the goal. I interact more with a printed book than an email, especially as for this goal I am reading my own copies (rather than library books), so I can underline and write and respond.

Creativity. I made one scrapbook layout and one baby quilt. Hmmmmm...

Baby rag quilt folded

There was one goal that I failed at spectacularly. I wanted to exercise every day that Nathan was at boot camp. Not run every day, but do something. I made it five days...and then I got a cold. Three more days, then my knees were hurting. A few more, then my mom got sick. I REALLY wanted to be brave & strong for him, and out of all my goals, not accomplishing this one is the one I am most annoyed at myself for not completing.

Goals for the upcoming quarter:

Hiking. Continue with three hikes a month. This might have to be on the same trail for awhile, the rockiest one, as the trails are super muddy right now. I’m looking forward to the wildflowers starting to bloom!

Running. I am going to very carefully train for a half marathon. We’ll see how it goes, and if I have to bump down to a 10k, that will have to be OK. But I need a race to train for to keep me motivated. I also think I need to work on some of my emotions about running. I need to accept that I will likely never be able to just run, but will always have to take walking breaks. In theory I know this doesn’t make me weak, or less of a runner, but in my heart I feel like I am less of a runner. For my sanity I need to figure out how to embrace this new reality.

Writing. Two words: WRITE MORE. Also recommit to my poetry-writing friend. And apologize for being such a flake.

Reading. Take up my poem-a-day goal again. And be more devoted to books, by which I mean: leave my phone in another room when I am reading, so I don't get distracted. I only read two books a month during the first part of the year, so my reading goal is to bump it up to three a month.

Creativity. I think this fell by the side because I spent so much time working on my mom’s house. One of the biggest parts of that project was working through all of her fabric. She had so much. I took enough of her fabric to make a quilt or two. Her style was very different from mine, but I think what I will make will be a good blend of her and me. I’m excited to make it. But I also have a quilt to make for Jake and one for Kaleb, and there are FIVE upcoming babies to quilt for. So for a little while, I think scrapbooking might not happen as much. I still want to make more than just ONE layout in three months though! So, the goals: finish Jake’s quilt, Kaleb’s quilt, and the baby quilts. Spend one afternoon a week making scrapbook layouts, including printing the pictures from Christmas and our trip to South Carolina. And take more pictures!

A bonus goal: I have spent way too much money lately. Online shopping has been a sort of comfort to me. Which is dumb, of course. Especially when I think about the excess stuff at my mom’s house we had to get rid of. I don’t need anything. But there is just something about getting a package in the mail. It brightens my heart when I see something waiting for me. Scrapbook supplies, books, workout clothes, fabric. So I am setting myself the goal of NOT SHOPPING. And of using the stuff I’ve bought: make the quilts, use some pretty paper, and keep running and hiking in my beautiful new Skirt Sports skirts. HOWEVER!!! If you want to keep shopping, you should use my discount code at www.skirtsports.com, because a deal AND a package on your porch is pretty awesome. The code is SSA57Amy for 15% off regular prices.

One More bonus goal: next to fall, spring is my favorite. It’s just so beautiful. So my last goal for the next three months is to savor spring. The flowers, the gardening, the return of warm sunshine. This means sitting outside to read, and talking to my trees, and keeping the blinds open and my heart wide. My mom was always happy when winter ended and spring came back, and I’m sad she didn’t get to see yellow daffodils one more time, or sit on the grass next to blooming purple hyacinths just to smell them. So I’m going to do that since she can’t.

Do you have any upcoming goals?


2018: My Year in Skirt Sports

In February of 2018, I got to sign up for another year as a Skirt Sports ambassador. I love these exercise clothes and I love that I have gotten to become a part of this community. Sure…it’s about cute running skirts and comfy tights (with pockets!) but it is also about embracing yourself as you are while you challenge yourself. I’ve made some online friendships I cherish and felt like I had people who understand me.

Plus I got to wear some really cute stuff!

To celebrate, here is my year in review, Skirt-Sports style:

01 snowshoeing at big springs

2018 was a SUPER dry year, with almost no snow here in Utah. The day before Kendell's knee surgery in February, though, we finally got some! I insisted on getting to the snowshoeing paths, as I suspected that day would be my only chance, and I was right. It was a perfect few hours to relax and regenerate before facing those post-surgery nursing duties I just really, really love.

Skirt: Happy Girl in Persevere (over tights)

02 gardening

In 2017 I sort of neglected my flowers. So I made a really big effort this year to garden. Between weeding, planting, pruning, mowing the lawn, trimming, raking, I kept my yard looking so much better this year! Most days I would go running and then garden, so I mostly worked in my exercise clothes. 

Skirt: Hover Capri in Holiday, Peek-a-Boo long sleeve in Blue Ice

05 spring hiking

Spring hiking! Kendell and I hit the trails a lot this year. We hiked together 31 times in 2018. That's a record! This is at the top of Brush Mountain (Battle Creek Overlook) in May. The wildflowers were so pretty! Funny story about this hike: when I got to the top of the peak (I usually hike up in front and then Kendell hikes in front on the way down, as I'm faster uphill and he's faster down), there was a guy up there. Youngish—mid twenties probably—dressed entirely in camo and holding his camo-patterned rifle, in front of a fire he'd built.  He scared the crap out of me! So, to show I wasn't scared, I said "hey, did you roast me any marshmallows?" and then made small talk until Kendell caught up. I'm not usually squirrly about being on my own...but that one made me uncomfortable. 

Skirt: Black Go Longer and a vintage Free Me tank (I think the print is called Alta Moda)

04 recuperating

After coming down with two really rough colds in a row, a painful sinus infection, and then a weird stomach thing that lingered for a week, I got something even worse: whooping cough. I learned many things from the 100-Day Cough (as they call it in Asia; mine actually lasted for 4 months), but one of them was to appreciate normal lungs and healthy breathing. This was the first hike I took once I was sort-of feeling better, and it was only barely a hike...two miles at a very slow pace so I didn't star coughing. But I was so happy to be outside again, after lying around for literally TWO WEEKS. Get your DtAP booster peeps! 

Skirt: Gym Girl Ultra in a limited-edition print

06 boulder mountains

Despite the whooping cough, I still went to the Skirt Sports ambassador retreat and half marathon. It was my slowest-ever half marathon, but I didn't care because I only had two goals: 1. Finish and 2. Not cough my head off in front of everyone. I accomplished both! This was from a hike I took the day before the race, in the Flatiron mountains near Boulder. Such pretty cliffs!

Skirt: Happy Girl in one of my very favorite prints, Sidewinder, with a Free Me tank in Amethyst (one of my favorite colors Skirt ever had!) Yay purple!

08 half moon all summer

I set a goal to get as many photos as possible of me in this yoga pose. It's my favorite post-hike stretch (and post-run, too). This is overlooking the north peak of Timp, from the Pine Hollow trailhead, after we hiked a trail that was new to both of us. The National Forest guy was in the parking lot giving tickets and I was SO GLAD I'd remembered our park pass! 

Skirt: The Lotta Breeze skirt in Holiday. This is a new skirt this year and OH MY. It quickly became one of my favorites and I ended up buying it in every pattern they made it in. Peek-a-Book short sleeve shirt in Ice Blue

08a marathon

Finishing the San Francisco marathon. Because of the whooping cough this was also my slowest marathon. My goals for this one: 1. finish and 2. finish before the sweep trucks. I beat them by 14 minutes!

Skirt:  My very favorite purchase this year, the Jaguar in Temper Tantrum (although, you can't really see it because of my long sleeve around my waist!), and the Free Flow tank in Aquamarine.

11a bryce canyon

The week after my marathon, I went to southern Utah with two of my friends, Jamie and Wendy. I convinced them to hike the Fairyland Loop trail with me in Bryce. By the time we were almost finished they really weren't very happy with me (the thing with hiking in Bryce is that all trails end with a steep uphill out of the canyon), but they have since forgiven me. Bryce is one of my favorite places in the world, so experiencing it with two great friends was just magical for me!

Skirt: black Go Longer, and, oh, hello, Amethyst Free Me tank again!  

09 hike with nathan

Hiking with Nathan! I decided on this hike that his trail name is Legolas, because MAN those legs move fast! He is a good conversationalist so we talked the whole way up to this peak (Buffalo Peak). I don't understand hiking in Chacos (I'd come home with a bunch of bloody toes) but they work for him.

Skirt: Lotta Breeze again (told you I love it!) and a Free Me tank in Cosmo pink.

10 first 14er mount evans

Me on top of my first 14er! It felt like cheating as we drove to the top of Mount Evans in Colorado, via the scenic byway that is the highest paved road in the United States. This was one of my favorite experiences this year, even though it did trigger quite a bit of coughing. I'd never really been that high above the tree line and I am grateful I got to experience it. 

Skirt: Lotta Breeze Capri in Ruby and the Wonder Wool jacket

11 glass pond rmnp

Hiking in Rocky Mountain National Park. This is Glass Pond (NOT Sky Pond like we thought, alas) and the last photo of me before the precipitous knee crackle. You can't tell from the photo but it was hailing (despite the sunshine) and so cold. But also so beautiful. "Go back to RMNP" is high on my to-do list!)

Skirt:  Happy Girl in Shimmer and that Amethyst Free Me tank again.

12 knee recovery

Recovering from my knee crackle (which was a tear in my femoral condyle) which required a bunch of physical therapy. I wore skirts to every appointment because I realized I no longer own any running shorts!

Skirt: black Gym Girl Ultra and black Hang Out hoodie

13 fall hiking

Last fall I had an ankle I'd sprained twice. The fall before that Kendell needed open-heart surgery. And the fall before that! So, it's been a few years since we consistently hiked in the fall together. Because of my knee injury I couldn't do anything REALLY steep. Except...I did this hike, to Silver Lake in American Fork canyon, which was pretty steep, steeper than I had planned on. But I made it. This was the first hike I did after whooping cough when I felt like I was really starting to get my lungs back. 

Skirt: Tough Girl in Love Triangle and the Tough Chick jacket in Mulberry. I wore this jacket a bunch this fall.

13a hiking with jake

Hiking with Jake! (Next year it is my goal to hike with Kaleb, and maybe with Haley if I can make it happen!) We actually went on three hikes together this year, which resulted in some good, honest conversations and some companionable silence. This one was in Rock Canyon and it was the first time any of us had ever hiked in snow. It was love at first step! 

Skirt: Tough Girl in Temper Tantrum and Watch Me Go in Grape. I've worn the Watch Me Go shirt about 1 million times since I got it, and not always for hiking. Sometimes I just wear it for a regular shirt.

14 winter hiking

See....we really fell in love with hiking in the snow! After that first time, we got a little bit obsessed with it, and started getting some snow gear. Actually, I didn't need much, but Kendell needed tights and long sleeves and gloves and a hat. This hike was a short one we did in Battlecreek Canyon; a few steps after this photo, it got WAY too steep on the slippery, icy trail for us to keep going. The next week we bought the spikes I'd been trying to convince Kendell we also needed.

Skirt: Tough Girl in Enchanted (a vintage print) and black Wonder Wool long sleeve.

As I put this list together I realized...I have a lot of Skirt Sports clothes! They make me happy, they keep me getting out onto the roads and the trails, and they give me a sense of confidence. It's taken me years to accumulate it, but I love my collection. I'm glad for that happy day I found my first Skirt Sports skirt on the clearance rack at my running store, way back in 2010. It has taken me to many places and hopefully 2019 will include many more adventures.

If you want any, the website is HERE. And you can use my discount code for 15% off: 842Sore


Hike to Sky Pond (sort of) or, The Story of My Knee Crackle

The story of how I messed up my knees in Colorado begins in the redwood forests near San Francisco.

I prefer every trip I take to include a hike of some sort, if possible. (I haven’t managed this yet when we’ve got to New York, but I think if we go again I will make it happen.) So when we went to San Francisco for my marathon, I found a trail for us to hike. I made sure that we hiked a couple of days before the race, to give my body a little time to rest between hiking all day and then running all morning. The trail I chose was Berry Falls in Big Basin State Park. I chose this ten-mile loop hike instead of going to Muir Woods because I wanted a little bit of solitude, and we found it there. We saw only about six or seven other people during our hike, and it was beautiful: not too steep, the perfect distance, three waterfalls, and glades of redwood trees lit by filtered sunlight.

It was perfect.

Big basin hike

Except, once we got back to our hotel in San Francisco, I got out of the car and discovered that something was weird with my knees. They didn’t hurt, really. They just felt…strange. Wobbly and irritated, as if the spaces inside the joint were full of the wrong level of tension. I iced them that night and the next morning, and did some extra quad, hamstring, and popliteus stretches throughout the next day. I also slathered them in Deep Blue. And tried not to be frightened: could I run my race if my knees were weird?

When I woke up the morning of the marathon, they seemed fine. A little stiff, but the strangeness was gone. I ran my race and only thought about my knees a couple of times; it probably didn’t hurt that there were several aid stations with Biofreeze, and I had the volunteers spray both the front and back of my knees.

I didn’t really think about the knee weirdness again. Over the next month, I gave myself some good rest days, and then I started running again. I planned a little weekend get-away for Kendell and me, to dovetail with a trip he had to take to Denver for his job. I walked with friends and I did a few hikes and I started eyeing the possibilities for a late-fall half marathon.

For our trip to Denver, I decided to have some mountain adventures. I went running the first morning we were there, a beautiful little run around Broomfield. Then we hit the road. There was quite a bit of driving on the first two days—we went on the Mount Evans scenic byway (my first 14er!) and drove the whole length of Ridge Road in Rocky Mountain National Park, stopping here and there for the small hikes that are near the road (the Tundra Communities trail was my favorite). And every time I got out of the car to take pictures or to hike, I discovered that my knees had that same feeling I’d had in California: wobbly but stiff, not really painful but just…wrong, somehow.

Our last full day in Colorado was our long hike day. I choose the trail to Sky Pond for several reasons, but mostly because it was the one that the most people recommended. I was especially intrigued after reading this blog post by Kate, one of my fellow Skirt Sports ambassadors. I took a bunch of Advil the morning before we hiked, and had Kendell rub my legs, and then we took the shuttle bus to the trail head.

Trail to sky pond

I love hiking on trails in national parks. They are always beautifully maintained, with steps and bridges and cairns. This trail follows that idea and is absolutely beautiful. It includes a waterfall, the stunning Alberta Falls. One thing I noticed hiking this trail is just how different these mountains feel from mine in Utah. Even though technically the Wasatch Front is a part of the Rocky Mountains (the very furthest western part, in fact), there is a different spirit in each mountain range. I don’t exactly have a word for how it is different; the light, and the air, and the smells. More it is just that each mountain has its own personality, and I confess: I fell pretty hard for those mountains, too. A creek runs beside part of the trail, and there are mansion-sized stones scattered around. Despite the knee worries, we were doing just fine; in fact, if it doesn’t sound too strange, I felt like the mountains were glad I was there and lending me some of their strength.

Alberta falls

The trail is consistently steep but not excruciatingly so. It leads first to Loch Lake, and, wow. If we’d just hiked that far, I would’ve been OK. It was so beautiful. The mountains I usually hike don’t have lakes and ponds like this, and it makes the experience feel entirely different. I wanted to find a spot to dip my feet in (as I did when we hiked Half Dome) but I we wanted to get to our destination first, and then be a little bit more leisurely on the way back.

Past Lock Lake, the trail gets much steeper. There is a long stretch of steps carved into the mountain, and then you get to the spot I had been both dreading and anticipating. To get to the next lake, there is a scramble, a spot where you have to climb rocks. Climb rocks next to a waterfall—not exactly ON the waterfall itself, but close enough that there is still some water coming down the stones.

I’m not afraid of heights. I can stand on the edge of a cliff and feel nothing but exhilaration. But I was a little bit nervous to tackle that scramble. It’s not something I’ve done very often, and I feel like all of this year’s illness has negatively affected my body’s strength. But I wanted to get to Sky Pond, so I put on my Big Girl Pants and started scrambling.

20180826_122201 scramble to sky pond 4x6

Going up was actually really fun. There was one little spot where I felt like my legs weren’t long enough to manage, but Kendell was behind me and he helped heave me up. When we were about halfway up the scramble, though, the weather changed abruptly. It had been a little bit cool but sunny, but then all of a sudden some clouds rushed in and it started to hail. (Look how blue the sky is in that picture...and just after Kendell took it, the clouds came out of nowhere.) I just kept going, though, and finally made it to the top.

To Sky Pond! (Actually, this isn’t even Sky Pond. Because I was overwhelmed with adrenaline or just because I’m an idiot, I didn’t realize that this is Glass Pond. I didn’t realize until we finished hiking and I could look at the map on Strava that we didn’t even go all the way to the pond we set out to see. %#&*(&@^^@*+=_@! This makes me annoyed at myself! But it also is a reason to go back to RMNP.)

View of glass lake

OK, Glass Pond! It was SO COLD. The clouds kept moving across the sun and then pulling back, but the hail didn't stop. We sat on a rock that sheltered us a little bit from the pelting hail, but eventually decided to go back down. When I stood up to go, my knee wobbled…and then I FELL. I fell face-first into the piney bushes I had been sitting by. I caught myself and didn’t bang anything, just scratched my hands and my face, but somehow, somehow…that fall made me freak out. Maybe because I was thinking about that spot on the scramble where my legs had been too short. How would I get down that spot? And the wind kept blowing and the hail was biting my skin and I just said “OK! LET’S GO NOW!” so we headed back toward the cliffs.

I was really in full-blown panic when I started scrambling down. My breaths were raspy and my heart was pounding, my hands shaking. There were probably 15 people also going down, so I waited in the line (and this, of course, is the drawback of hiking in a national park: it’s beautiful, but don’t expect any solitude as everyone else wants to see the beauty too) until it was my turn. Kendell went first, just in case, and then I started down.

I scrambled down backwards, with my chest and arms towards the rocks, and despite the hail and the panic, the wind and the slick rocks (they were considerably more wet than when we had scrambled up), I was doing OK—until I got to that spot, the one made for people with lovely long legs. Kendell made it down just fine, and he was standing on the cliffs below me, his hand trying to guide my foot to the next spot. My right leg was bent literally as far as it could bend, and then my left leg was reaching down, and my legs were just not long enough.

Kendell wanted me to just drop, but I couldn’t. The panic rose up in me again and I said “I can’t, I can’t!” in a really panicked voice. Then the guy who was above me said, in a very calm, deep, manly voice, “Excuse me, ma’am, can you use a hand?”

He reached his hand out for me and I totally trusted that this stranger, who I could only identify by his boots and his red jacket, would be strong enough to haul my fat self back up. But: he was! I thanked him and hugged him (which I’m sure embarrassed him), and the woman hiking with him said “it’s OK, sweetie, you just take your time” like I wasn’t old enough to be her mother.

I still had to get down that cliff though.

So this time, I attempted it going forward, with my back towards the rocks, and that was easier. I could sort of see where to put my feet, and I could see Kendell right there to catch me if I fell, and I made it.

I made it off the cliff.

The crowd above me and the one below me started cheering and I totally burst into tears, those post-panic tears that are cathartic and get rid of all the rush of chemicals your panic caused.

Then I had a snack and we started back down.

We still had one other lake we wanted to hike to, Mill Pond, and despite the rain (the hail had blessedly stopped), wind, and panic, I was feeling happy. I took about three steps down the trail, and then—something crackled.

It didn’t really hurt.

It was just utterly wrong. Something deep in my right knee, something horribly crackly. I froze mid-step. Carefully shifted my weight. Thought about that impossible way I’d just bent my knee on the cliff. Was afraid to take the next step.

But it was fine.

Nothing else crackled, so I just kept going. I mean…what choice do you have other than helicopter extraction?

We finished the hike. We stopped at Lock Lake for a while, and then took the spur trail to Mill Pond, and they were beautiful. I’m not even sure I could say which one I loved more. On the way back to the parking lot, we saw a female elk, right next to the trail, and I stood and watched her for a good five minutes before she very peacefully walked across the trail right in front of me, so close I could’ve touched her (I didn’t try to touch her).

It was a challenging, beautiful, magical hike and I’m so glad we decided to do it (even if we’ll have to go back again to get to Sky Pond).

We had to wait for about twenty minutes before the shuttle bus came, and it was another twenty minutes before we got back to our car. When I stood up at the parking lot, I realized: that crackle? Well, I’m not sure why I wasn’t hobbling the whole way down, because now, after sitting for so long, my knees were useless. The left one was stiff and swollen, and the right one—the one that crackled—wouldn’t bend at all.

And that, dear reader, is how I injured my knee. No dramatic fall or twist, just a gradual building-up of tension and stiffness and then the mysterious crackle. I’m not yet sure where my story goes from here…only time will tell.

Loch lake


Summary Summary: 14 Adventures

As the autumn equinox is today, I want to squeeze in some summer details before I forget. . It was a strange summer…I was busy recuperating from whooping cough, so I didn’t feel awesome, but I still took several trips, did a bunch of running, went hiking almost every Sunday morning with Kendell, tried and failed to plan a trip to California with my boys. Ate a lot of watermelon, grilled quite a few burgers, totally ignored my yard. So here is my list of my 14 favorite action and adventure (ish) experiences this summer:

  1. My first trip to Colorado.
    Flatirons 3x2
    One of the fun things about the retreat was being surrounded by other women who also get my Skirt Sports obsession. I wore this purple tank and the Sidewinder skirt because it is one of my favorite combos and because I knew I'd feel a bit intimidated and the purple would help me cope. (Silly but true!)
    It’s crazy that I only live one state to the west but have never been to Colorado. I fell in love a little bit, especially with Boulder. This trip was for the Skirt Sports ambassador retreat. I met and traveled with a new friend, had some pretty cool experiences on the retreat day, hiked in the Flatirons, and ran a half marathon. (My very, very slowest half I’ve ever done, because I was still really just recuperating from that damn whooping cough!)
  2. Marathon training. When my doctor told me I had whooping cough and would be sick for at least three months, I said “but I’m training for a marathon” and he said, very gently, “I’m sorry, but you won’t be able to run a marathon.” But, you know how runners are, yes? Tell us we can’t do it and we’ll do it just to prove you wrong. My training was absolutely nowhere near enough miles; I didn’t do many of the mid-distance runs, and several of my long runs ended in me feeling awful, and my longest run was 18 miles, not 20. But that 18 miler? It was my favorite long run. I did it in a 1/3+2/3 division; I parked my car and ran 6 miles, stopped at the car for water, and then ran 12 more miles. The last miles were slower than the first ones, but I never felt awful. In fact, I felt that happy running feeling for all 18 miles. That one positive training run helped me conquer my marathon jitters; every time I started feeling a bit anxious during the race, I’d think about it and know I’d be OK.
    18 miles 3x4
    I realized as I put this blog post together that I wore my Holiday print Lotta Breeze skirt a LOTTA times this summer. I love it because it doesn't move at all. And pockets!
  3. Chacos. On Memorial Day I stopped by a sale at one of our local sporting goods stores (Al’s), and they had both Chacos and Keen sandals on sale. I’d been looking for a summer shoe that would be supportive for my toe issues. I really, really wanted the Keen sandals, but they just didn’t work with my bunions. So I reluctantly bought the Chacos. I didn’t think I’d love them or wear them very often. Boy was I wrong! I have worn them literally ALL SUMMER. Which means I’ve only worn my inserts for running and hiking, and my toes have been OK. I have a beautiful Chaco tan line on my feet now. I love them!
  4. Girls’ weekend in southern Utah. My friend Jamie’s parents have a cabin in southern Utah, and she proposed that she and I and our friend Wendy have a weekend away. It ended up not being as long as I wanted (life makes everything complicated, doesn’t it?), but it was so lovely. The cabin is tucked into the woods, and the first night we got there it rained, so I fell asleep with the loft window open, listening to rain on a tin roof. We hiked in Bryce Canyon, on my favorite trail (the Fairyland Loop) and then…the next day we went to some rock shops! I fell in love with rock shops when I was in seventh grade and I got to be in an advanced geology class. We took tons of field trips, and we’d almost always stop at a rock shop on the way home. Our teacher would teach us some more random rock stuff and then we’d just look for awhile. But, alas, my husband is not so enamored of rock shops, so it’s been years since I’ve stopped at one. So I was delighted to discover that my friends also love rock shops. It was blissful! (I might’ve bought some stone jewelry…)
    20180803_150400 amy wendy jamie bryce canyon 4x6
    Purple tank again! This is the Free Me tank and I wear it almost every time I hike, because it's a tank top but the back is covered so my pack can't chafe. The stranger who took this photo for us talked to us for about 15 minutes about his adventures around the world and how much he loves Bryce despite seeing so many other cool places. My thoughts exactly!
  5. The drive to San Francisco. The drive home from San Fran was a nightmare about which I do not like to speak. But the drive there was so much fun. Even though it took most of a day, it didn’t ever feel long, and the desert was greener than I expected, and we stopped at several interesting rest stops and scenic views along the way. We laughed and talked and listened to music. It was just…a perfect road-trip kind of day.
    20180724_145535 emigrant gap scenic view 4x6
    I bought these capris at the Ambassador retreat. I'd admired them for awhile but wasn't sure if they would work with my thighs. But they do, and I love them, and I wore them ALL SUMMER. (Kendell, on the other hand, thinks they're obnoxious.) Purple+aqua is my current obsession so I couldn't love these any more than I do.
  6. Pine Hollow Overlook hike. This was one of our Sunday morning hikes. Kendell and I hiked a ton this summer (to make up for last summer, when he was still recovering from heart surgery and was starting to have some pretty intense knee pain and so we didn’t hike much), but this one was my favorite. (I already wrote about it here.) When I am stressed I find myself thinking about that hike, the wild beauty of the meadows overlooking the craggy mountains, the wildflowers, the hawk that circled high overhead when we were at the peak. Last week, Kendell and Nathan went to hike it, and I literally cried when they left, because I want to see it in its autumn colors, too. And isn’t it crazy that I’ve lived here my whole life and there are still so many trails I haven’t hiked?
    Pine hollow overlook 4x6
    Holiday Lotta Breeze again! Becky pointed out that I post a lot of pics like this one in Instagram...me from the back, looking at a mountain. Perhaps it is my signature style?
  7. Buffalo Peak Hike with Nathan. Nathan decided he wanted to join Kendell and me, so one August Sunday morning, we hiked Buffalo Peak together. Kendell and I had hiked this trail earlier in the summer, when the wildflowers were perfect. This time with Nathan, the flowers were mostly gone, but it was so much fun to hike with him. I decided his trail name is definitely Legolas, because those long legs make him move so quickly and gracefully! This gave us a chance to talk together about some of his recent experiences. And to laugh. And to admire the mountains. It was a beautiful experience, one I am even more grateful to have now, since I’m injured and can’t hike at all.
    20180819_123943 hiking with nathan
    And...Holiday AGAIN! Plus a different color of Free Flow tank. The mountains behind us are clearly showing how hazy and smoky the air has been here all summer.
  8. The San Francisco Marathon. Despite my doctor’s dire warning, I did run the marathon. I even accomplished the two goals I set for myself: finish, and finish before the sweep trucks. (I finished in 5 hours 47 minutes, which is 13 minutes in front of the sweeps!) I learned so much about myself from this race, both during the training and the race itself. I think one thing that will stick with me is how doing difficult things helps prepare you for other difficult things. And how being patient and kind with your body when it is experiencing weakness requires a sort of strength of character I need to continue to develop. Also how delicious a Frappuccino can taste after 26.2 miles!
    Sf marathon finish line
    I wore my FAVORITE new skirt for my race, the Jaguar skirt (which is a little bit longer and has ruffles on the side and perfectly compressive shorties) in the Temper Tantrum print. But, alas, I have NO GOOD RACE PHOTOS. If there's not a photo of it, did I really wear it? (Well...yes. I didn't run naked.)
  9. A second trip to Colorado. Isn’t that strange…I haven’t been to Colorado ever in my life, and then I went twice in a summer? The second trip was because Kendell had to go to some work training, so I decided to come out at the end of the week. I brought Kaleb with me, and he stayed with Haley. Which means I got to see Haley! We visited her at her work and when I saw her in a hospital setting, in her scrubs and her booties, I totally lost it. Like, ugly cry when I hugged her, because really…she’s grown up. Anyway. Another trip to Colorado meant another chance to run in Colorado! It was a little bit smoky, but not bad enough to stop me. This run confirmed what I had sort-of guessed during my first trip: Colorado seems designed to make it easy to be a runner. There are paved paths and flower-lined sidewalks everywhere!
  10. A weekend in Rocky Mountain National Park. During our weekend in Colorado, Kendell and I drove to the top of Mount Evans and hiked to the St. Mary glacier.
     mount evans chicago lakes
    This is a spot on the Mount Evans highway. There's a lake behind us and one in front of us, too. And a trail! I soooo wanted to go on the trail, but we only came prepared for a drive. This was my first experience of being above the treeline. I was glad I had my Wonder Wool jacket because it was chilly up there!

    But we spent most of the time in Rocky Mountain National Park. This was our first time there and we loved it. We drove the entire length (and back) of Trail Ridge Road, stopping here and there for short hikes along the way. The next day, we hiked to Sky Pond and Miller Pond. This is the day my knee injury happened, but I feel like it was worth it. The mountains are both similar and entirely different to my little bit of the Rockies (the Wasatch front is the most western edge of the Rockies). I haven’t ever been to that high of elevation nor really understood how striking the alpine tundra is. I am still having dreams about these mountains and I want to go back.
    20180826_123515 (1) sky pond 4x6
    Literally two seconds after Kendell took this photo, the sky was BLACK and it was hailing. I couldn't believe how fast the weather changed. The last photo of me before I messed up my knee! And yeah, I DID wear my purple tank again. I told you...it makes me happy!
  11. My favorite run this summer: down South Fork canyon. This spring I joined the local chapter of Moms Run This Town on Facebook. I was hoping to perhaps find a few running buddies, but I immediately felt like I didn’t really fit in. Most of them are from the Lehi/Highland/Cedar Hills/Alpine areas, so they seem both younger than me and wealthier. (This triggers my insecurities, deeply.) Plus, all the runs they scheduled were on the north side of the valley. So I hadn’t really tried running with them, until someone posted about wanting to run down South Fork canyon and then to the bottom of Provo Canyon. I didn’t need that many miles that day, and I needed to work on both uphill and downhill, so I went knowing I would just run down South Fork with them, and then turn around. But I was excited to at least try to make some new running friends.

It didn’t really work out that way. At the start of the run, I stood still for a bit to start my watch and my Strava app, and when I looked up from this I realized they’d already started running. They were faster than me (whooping cough makes you so slow) so I never caught up. This really bugged me, as on the group messages they are ALWAYS writing about how Provo Canyon seems like a scary place to run and they would never run there alone…but they left me to run alone without a second backward glance.

Which is a weird way to start writing about my favorite run. But the point is that the group got me out and running early in the morning, in a spot I haven’t run in for awhile. In fact, as I was running down the canyon I remembered that my very first long race started in this canyon, a ten-mile run in 2003, and I think that’s the last time I’ve run there. It was so beautiful that morning! Right in the middle of July but the elevation was high enough that it was literally chilly when I started—goosebump-raising chilliness. The flowers were blooming and the light was perfect. I loved the downhill and I loved the uphill as well, and I finished with just enough energy left to push myself at the end. Starting the way I did reminded me that I will likely always be a solitary runner, because really: I was so happy that morning on my own in the canyon.

South fork stretch 4x6
I took a whole series of photos this summer like this...half moon yoga pose. I think I will put them all on a scrapbook layout. I'm still sad I forgot to do one in RMNP!

 

  1. Hike to Bells Canyon waterfall with my friend Lucy. Lucy and I became friends because of blogging, but she was also Becky’s friend through other people. So maybe I would’ve been friends with her even without blogging. She and I have very different opinions about the church and our life philosophies, but we get along so well and have the best discussions. When she was visiting this June, we went on a hike together and it was fantastic. I had never hiked to this waterfall, and I was still pretty iffy with my lungs; it was a steep hike, and while I didn’t tell her this, I struggled to hike the steepness and to talk at the same time. But we made it to the fall and back again, talking the whole time. Amy and lucy 4x4We stopped in a meadow on the way down for a selfie and disturbed a rattlesnake; it rattled its rattle at us and we jumped up on a rock to get away from it! Unlike running, hiking is something I usually do with someone else, and it was great to be with an old friend on a beautiful trail. (She thought I was insane to be excited about the rattlesnake, but as it’s supposed to be there, I was, yes, really excited to see a rattlesnake.)
  2. Hiking in Big Basin State Park. I had so many people tell me that when we were in San Francisco we should go to Muir Woods. But every time I read about it, I just didn’t want to. A “nature” experience with that many people just isn’t my thing. (I’m sure if I could have Muir Woods mostly to myself I’d love it.) But you can’t go to northern California without seeing redwoods, right? So instead we hiked the Berry Falls loop in Big Basin. The drive there was beautiful. The hike was beautiful. The parking lot was beautiful! I loved it, Kendell loved it, and while yes, we’d still like to see Muir Woods one day…this hike was perfect for us. I think we saw about 10 other people on the trail (and it was a 10+ mile loop, including me taking a wrong turn), so the solitude and the trees and the running water? Amazing.
    Big basin hike
    Kind of blurry...but the blur makes me smile because it reminds me we were moving! Pink Jaguar skirt and one of my first hikes with my new Camelback
  3. Miscellaneous summer 2018 memories: Running with Becky on the Jordan River trail before we took the boys to the trampoline park. Those wildfires everywhere and how unbearably smoky it was, and how sad it made me to see our mountains burning. A family party in July that almost everyone came to, even the family that lives in Texas now. Jake moved back home. Haley moved to Fort Collins. Nathan got back together with his girlfriend and then they broke up again (while we were in San Francisco). Kaleb fell in love with fish (fish as pets, not food) over the summer. A totally unremarkable 4th of July (like, really, I don’t even know what we did) that made me realize I need to actively create some new traditions for our family. Several Saturdays spent looking at different model homes before we decided that nowhere right now is the right place for us to move. Suzette got to meet Elliott and I got to have breakfast with him while he was visiting Utah.

I confess: I've been feeling pretty sorry for myself with my current injury. I want to be OUT THERE experiencing the world! But writing this blog post helped me to remember that I did a lot of cool stuff this summer, and one day I'll be out there again. In cute clothes!

If you want something cute to wear on your fall and winter adventures, the new lines are starting to come out at skirtsports.com. Use my discount code, 842Sore, for 15% off!