Marathon Training – Week #3 & #4 – December 2016

Baja, Mexico

I would have to say that running is now part of my daily life. This really means, the 3-mile standard run does not suck anymore. My shins stopped hurting, and the phantom pain in my right hamstring has subsided. This could not have come at a better time then the start of my holiday break.

You see, I had ‘mad’ plans for this holiday season, and wanted to make sure I still got all my runs in to set my 2017 up for success. And thankfully I did with (in the words of Joe Cocker) ‘With a little help from my friends’. So a huge shout out to my friends who ran down the ocean on Santa Monica, the paths of Marina Del Rey & Venice, and the long empty beach of Baja, Mexico. I could not continue this journey of marathon training without the support of friends by my side, or just a high five, or text to keep me going.

My 2016 Holiday Break was a stellar one! So thanks for the memories made and the miles added! Happy New Year. Here’s to an amazing 2017!

Marathon Training – Week #2 – December 2016

Ojai, CA

Week #2 I found myself on the weekend of my long run in Ojai, CA for a friends Bachelorette Party. This was my first time to Ojai and I was very impressed. We stayed at the Ojai Valley Inn & Spa. This weekend was filled with friendship, laughter, lots of good eats, food, bikes, pj’s, music and all around amazing time.

My Saturday ‘long run’ was through the historic downtown of this quaint town. 2 miles out down the main street, and then 2 miles back. It was like running on a movie set. This gave me the opportunity to see all the businesses that fill this scenic town and get my geography down for the rest of the weekend. This is one of my favorite parts of running, getting my bearings and coming back later.

And later that day us gals hopped on bikes, and pursued the paths of Ojai.   This journey led us to 2 distinctly different accommodations I would come back for. The first was the Caravan Outpost. This resort, if you will, is made up of 11 boutique type Airstreams on property that can be rented, in a community camping like atmosphere. The second was the Ojai Rancho Inn. That particular day, this retro motel was hosting a Christmas Market. Each room was turned into a pop up store. It was like being on a commercial shoot of America Eagle, meets Abercrombie and Fitch, meets Urban Outfitters ‘Hiptsers’. If you ever get the chance you must check out this out next year.

Week #2 in the books!

Marathon Training – Week #1 – December 2016

Hermosa Beach, CA

My first week of running was an interesting one. You see, when you live and work in Los Angeles there is an algorithm that you need to figure out in order to commit to running/working out around your work schedule. And the main reason for this is due to the dreaded term all LA dwellers know all to well, TRAFFIC. The other piece of this puzzle for those that hate the treadmill is called DAYLIGHT.

So take the fact that you work and live 20 miles away. Well any Midwesterner wouldn’t wince at this mileage, but anyone who has lived in LA knows 20 miles could be infinity when it comes to time in traffic. So my week of research started with running after work in Marina Del Rey (so I might have had to slip out a little early to make this happen in daylight), followed by running after work near our office in Pacific Palisades (much better in terms of timing), to researching sunrise timing and running before work in Redondo Beach, where I currently reside. All, and all they all have their benefits, AKA, mostly the ocean views.

Therefore I decided my end of week Saturday ‘long run’ #1 would revolve around the Hermosa Beach, CA Pier. 4 miles of long flat Strand was the scenery for a great first ‘long run’ on this insane marathon journey I am embarking on.

Ultimately, the Week #1 conclusion has resulted in having a prepared bag in my car for whatever mood strikes me each day, and being grateful to have the endless options of amazing scenery when starting to run again. The ocean seems to dull the pains in my legs that I hope are not conspiring to becoming shin splints.

My friend ‘Running’ and I meet again

Somewhere between the end of the racing season and now, I decided that it was time to commit once again to running. You see running is my old friend, that ‘friend’ that I visit here and there. We have our issues, sometimes we are dear friends, and sometimes we battle, but in the end ‘running’ is that friend you can always go back to and realize that they are needed. Something inside you needs them more than ever at times in your life, and that time is now.

You see 2016 was quite a year. It had personal and professional challenges, all while getting used to living across the country from what I was used to. You might notice, since this is the first post I have done in this calendar year, that I was presumable busy, or not really focused, or on the road the majority of the year chasing ‘I am not sure what’ and now I am in the ‘off season’, which has always been challenging for me since I began in the sports season business. 120 mph on the gas, to yellow flag, till the next season starts up……so I find myself needing my old friend ‘running’.

And being the Type A person that I am, I need a goal to go along with ‘running’. So here it goes. I am committing to my 2nd marathon, writing about it, chronicling all the places I will end up training for it at, and hopefully along the way inspiring some friends to join me. I also hope to learn about new places to travel to train, take awesome photos, listen to great music and of course, and because there is vanity in us all, loose a few lbs along the way.

So welcome to my journey of marathon training. I am going to thank in advance my trusting editor friends who have committed to helping me improve my writing along the way (thank you Jillian & Betsy). And ask that any of you that want to join me on this journey, whether it be just run here or there, feedback on great running routes, good music, awesome apps to take photos, let me know. Here we go!

1st Marathon in Athens, Greece, 2005

A Racing Family reunites in North Carolina

The Red Bull Global Rallycross season came to an end on November 5th in Las Vegas, but the real season ended for me around 1 a.m. on November 7th, after our series awards celebration. After getting a few zzz’s, I packed up my trusty Honda Pilot and headed out of Vegas en route for my new home in Los Angeles. Once I arrived back to my beachside abode, I had just enough time to change over my wet and muddy luggage, to fall festive wedding attire. Once again, I was off to the airport on a red-eye flight to Charlotte, NC.

I was eagerly excited to continue my fall wedding tour for a former Newman-Haas Racing teammate of mine. Neman-Haas Racing (NHR) was not just a race team, it was, and still is a family. However, these days it’s an extended family, since the company closed it’s doors in 2011. Teammates where scattered all over the country in search of continued work in motorsports, or starting fresh in new industries. This group of fun-loving race enthusiasts leads me to Charlotte, where the Newman-Haas Racing South resurrected.

Upon landing at 6 a.m, on a rainy cold Charlotte, N.C. morning, I was greeted by a long time friend at baggage claim, with one of our mutual friend’s son’s, Harrison. They braved the early morning to pick me up and we headed straight for coffee and my newest vice, Diet Coke. S.J. worked for NHR hospitality during the CART days for four seasons. When she retired from NHR, her role was passed onto myself once I graduated from the University of Illinois. Not only did we share this job, we both were groomed at the famous Siekben’s Resort in Elkhart Lake, WI, and both recruited by the Murphy’s, our former Canadian Bosses. The Murphy’s were household names in the racing business for taking care of anyone and everyone in the paddock for decades.

S.J., Harrison and I arrived the Smitty’s home in Mooresville, N.C. to find ML Murphy and crew at the kitchen table waiting my arrival. After some catching up, I retreated to my six-year-old girl bedroom for the weekend for a post red-eye nap, followed by some freshening up, before we headed to the wedding.

The wedding was held at a picturesque farm in the rolling hills of North Carolina. The ceremony took place in the upper level of the bar and the reception, drinks and dancing were below. All the normal wedding formalities came and went and all along all I could think about was how lucky I was to still be friends with a group of people who taught me about life early-on in my career in racing.

Here we are, years later at ‘Little John’s’ wedding celebrating, laughing, hugging and dancing like not a single day has passed between any of us. I am, and was so lucky to be part of something that was bigger than me. This family that spanned the course of 30 years and had over 200 staff members, thankfully was created by Paul Newman and Carl Haas.

This fraternity of friends ended this great weekend with a late night nacho music jam session in Smitty’s kitchen. Yes, our dancing got better as the night progressed and I will say that I used about every ingredient I found in the pantry and refrigerator to make those the most life changing nachos ever. If you’re reading this, sorry for the early morning surprise Mrs. Smitty !

Kitties take Las Vegas

It’s early November when my co-worker and I jumped in my Pilot, which finally made it to LA (dear god, so excited to not be driving a rented Yaris). We where embarking on our last travel journey for the 2015 RBGRC season. Now that I am becoming Los Angeles qualified this road trip started at 9 PM, because apparently there is a very small window to drive to Las Vegas from LA without traffic.

We did all the normal stops you could imagine, Inn and Out burger at LAX, yes we didn’t get too far, gas at the largest thermometer in Baker, a bit of racing back and forth with a BMW who couldn’t decide if they wanted to lead or not, and the usual head nods at about 1 AM, as we hit the lights of Sin City. Upon check in to the SLS Las Vegas, we got a few hours of zzz’s before starting the longest 10 days of work of the season.

This is the 4th year of working a GRC race in Las Vegas and this year we where back at the Village Lot across the street from the Luxor. Now most people are excited that we race in this lot because of the amazing scenic views of the lights of Vegas, or that we are across from many great casinos, or even because it is close to the airport, but my crazy cat loving co-workers and I love this lot because of the ‘Kitty Motel’.


You ask, what is the ‘Kitty Motel’? Well it is an abandoned motel that is smack dab in the middle of this event lot, that for some reason has not been torn down. Instead the ‘Kitty Motel’ has been fenced off and any event type people have to build around this space, which has become home to hundreds of cats. And this is where my cat loving friends and I take things to a new level.

First the day starts with the song Kitty” by Presidents of the United States of America. How did I never know this song existed? And what type of drugs where being used when it was being created? Do yourself a favor and listen to this amazing anthem for the crazy cat lovers. Next we bring out the kitty ears. To be fair it was actually Halloween when these where purchased, but I don’t doubt these will continue to travel with us in 2016. Lastly, we choreographed a cat dance, which is maybe where I think we crossed a line in kitty crazy, and danced on the stage in the Village lot for a few of the Labor Ready folks putting up catch fence. Yes, they loved it.

So you ask, what does this blog entry tail (ha) trying to tell you readers? The answer is this. Camaraderie on the road comes in many shape and forms and here in Vegas, with my co-workers whom have become family, due to many months on the road together, our camaraderie came in the shape of a kitty love. Meow.

It takes a Village of Type A event planner friends….in the Big Easy


On an early Saturday morning in October I boarded a plane from LA, my barely new home, to New Orleans to attend the wedding for a great friend and former co-worker. This friend was set to marry a current co-worker and another good friend of mine. Scott and Liz met in 2014 on the Red Bull Global Rallycross circuit and just a year later, a bunch of us convened on the streets of the Big Easy to celebrate their union.

As we know most type A event planners, we were not just there as guests, but we are there to be a part the wedding. That ‘we’ I mentioned previous are my amazing friends that I have accumulated over the years from racing and event life. This amazing group of people consisted of the official wedding officiate, the photographer, the florist, the floral assistants and the ones who filled the mimosas while we arranged the flowers.

So how did we manage to do this in a city that none of us live in, when most of us are still traveling for work every other weekend? Well it took hours of research (thanks Logan) , a mom that used to work in a floral shop and still has a wholesale account in Chicago, some shipping, a free rental car on Hertz points and some good advice from the local florist. But most importantly, it takes friendship, laughter, frozen daiquiris, an actual skilled friend and photographer and an incredible lady whose first time officiating drew tears from everyone in the crowd.

Beyond our wedding planning duties, we got in a little NOLA-style fun, which included an amazing neighborhood restaurant called Horns, drinks at the Carousel Bar at the Hotel Monteleone, frequenting our favorite dive bar and jukebox on Bourbon St. at Molly’s, catching a Sunday football game at a local New Orleans Green Bay Packers bar, which I forgot the name of since I don’t really care about the Packers, (sorry cheese head friends) and my favorite part, being part of a second line parade through the historic cobblestone streets.

So there you have it, on a weekend off, my pals and I used our #pipedreamcatcher skills to work for the greatest job of all, celebrating the happy marriage of our two friends. Not going to lie, the fun shenanigans that we got into, in a city far away from where any of us live, wasn’t so bad either. Guess what, we didn’t see a racetrack once the entire weekend. That is a success if you ask me.

Mountain biking in Barbados….well not really

So the biggest question I normally get asked about traveling for a living is ‘do you get to see all the sites of the places you are visiting?’  And the answer is……no…or not usually.. or probably most likely not ever. And normally the answer given after that, at least in my current profession in motorsports, is a racetrack is a racetrack is a racetrack, no matter what city, state or country you are in. But, and there is a but, there is that one-off chance that you are able to make it work, to see some sites, or at least a site, and normally it is a restaurant that someone usually drags you to, when you rather be sleeping on the few hours you get free, but then afterward you are glad you did it.

So when it is more than a restaurant with your co-workers or an After Party that is part of the event that you probably planned, it is something to write about. And so on my last trip to Barbados, for work, I got the chance to see the island in a way that was not expected or planned, but turned out to be amazing.

So the story goes like this. Round 11 of the Red Bull Global Rallycross Series was held at a great permanent track called Bushy Park on the island of Barbados. I was lucky enough to have been here once before in 2014 for the Top Gear Festival with RBGRC, but that year I was sick, it was a new venue, which both equaled to I saw nothing but an airport, a racetrack and the house we rented to stay in. Let me tell you the house is awesome and made the trip great and I appreciated it. So luckily we rented the same house in 2015, I was not sick, RBGRC was the event headliner, and I was lucky enough to be booked on a flight departing 1 day later than normal.

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