ASICS Challenge Team Recap

ASICS World Series of Beach Volleyball

ASICS challenge team

Now that I got the more “editorial” piece about being an ASICS challenge team member out of the way, I can just give you a straight up recap of the event.

As I think back about it, had I not received the call last minute to replace a challenge team member who couldn’t make it, I would have never known what I was missing, but now that I went through it, I would have been very sad to have missed the experience. Just the people I met that I can further build relationships with is priceless.

Thursday Evening

I drove to the Queen Mary in Long Beach and met the ASICS crew, and some of the other challenge team members (from Volleyball Magazine, Volleywood, POPSUGARFitness, and ESPN, to name a few). The first thing they did was hand me a gigantic swag bag, along with an awesome ASICS backpack stuffed with gear, shoes, and a volleyball. Since we were headed out to dinner, I couldn’t look through everything right then, but I knew later it was going to be like Christmas morning…actually better, since I don’t open any gifts on Christmas anymore (cue the sad violin). :)

We went to dinner at a nice seafood restaurant, and the best part was our sweet ride that would serve as our shuttle the rest of the weekend. It was a HUGE stretch, pimped-out limo. I don’t even think the ASICS team was prepared to see that thing, and everyone got a great laugh about our ride every time it pulled up (since half the time we were a sweaty, sandy mess).

photo 1-3 copy

Dinner was fun, but I couldn’t help feeling a little intimidated by the credentials of some of the people there. Not only were some from pretty big media, but so many had some great fitness and career accomplishments! Intimidating…but inspiring as well. Another fun thing I noticed was how much all of these hardcore fitness people loved to eat as much as I did. I joked with them later that I thought people were only going to be ordering salad and fruit, but I was happy to see that the food and wine was flowing nicely. :)

We got back around 10:30 and tired as I was, I HAD to open all the bags and take pictures of the stuff they gave us, plus I’d be wearing it soon enough and would get it very dirty and sandy. All I can say is, “holy crap!!!” Seriously, I’ll let the pictures do the talking…

Click for a larger view

Click for a larger view

Friday

We headed over to the tournament in our pimp-mobile wearing our ASICS gear. I had on their workout shorts, tank top, and bikini. Of all the gear they gave me, the bikini was the only thing I could not get to fit me right. It looked great on the younger girls, but even the most modest bottoms left me feeling a bit exposed. But I think bikinis are the toughest things to try and fit individuals.

Our first task upon arrival was meeting the PEAR team to go over our devices (I’ll have a full review later), then go through a warmup with strength and conditioning specialist Michelle Lovitt (read my article on people who love what they do to learn more about Michelle).

Following that, we met with Kerri Pottharst (two-time Olympic medalist in beach volleyball for Australia), and retired US beach volleyball pro, Angie Akers. They ran us through some drills, then later after watching some volleyball matches, split us into two teams and jumped in with us to play some six on six volleyball.

group 4

The rest of the day we spent watching more volleyball, trying out the Kerri Cannon, which was pretty scary, doing a little more shopping at the ASICS apparel store, and watching some of the live music that was on a huge stage at one end of the main volleyball court.

group with kerri

With Kerri Pottharst

Klean Los Angeles provided all our lunches, which were amazing, Ritual Wellness gave us some refreshing fresh juices, Core supplied us with water, and Kind gave us plenty of delicious snacks.

At dinner that night we were joined by ASICS President and CEO Kevin Wulff, who is very down to earth, and passionate about the sport of beach volleyball.

Saturday

The first thing we did that morning, was challenge a group of girls from Long Beach (one of which I’d known from my days competing in CBVA tournaments) in a six on six match. It’s pretty tough to beat a solid team of six, even though we had a couple ringers in our group (and I’m not even including myself), so we lost our match. But it was still really fun to play, and especially see the newbies on our team start to develop a love for the sport!

group 1

Between watching some more matches, we took a SUP lesson from Noelle Kozek (read my article on people who love what they do to learn more about Noelle). Although we didn’t get to spend as much time on the water as we would have liked, it was still so much fun, and I can’t wait to do it again.

Note to self: you look terrible in hats. :)

Note to self: I look terrible in hats. :)

After watching the semi-final matches, ASICS set up a cocktail /appetizer and pampering hour on the beach for us. While sipping some Deep Eddie vodka mixes, we got our (disgusting and dirty) feet rubbed and chair massages. Awe yeahhhh!

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Later that evening we cleaned ourselves up and headed over to an upscale steakhouse, where we feasted on some seriously decadent chow. As many of you know who read my blogs, I rarely go out to eat because my budget is tight, so it was a fantastic treat.

We went around the room and everyone spoke about their experience, and it was clear that we had all formed a pretty tight bond from our weekend. I’m not kidding when I say it was like going to beach volleyball camp (except we didn’t have to sleep in smelly cabins)!

big dinner

After I got back I was wired, so I went up the the promenade deck of the Queen Mary and played my ukulele. At one point a couple came by and threw money in my uke case. I thought I was pretty bad-ass that someone was giving me a tip, but then they told me they were paying me to stop playing. :) I’m kidding, but I did practice on the deck.

Sunday

Sunday was all about the medal matches. First up was Germany against the Unites States team of Todd Rogers and Theo Brunner, with team USA taking the Bronze. Our group got to watch that match from court-side seats in the sand, which I loved. It’s more of a visceral experience! But we couldn’t stay there for the mens and women’s Gold medal matches, so Michelle hooked us up with VIP passes (in a shaded area above the rest of the stands), where I watched Kerri Walsh Jennings and April Ross of the US defeat a Brazilian team to win the Gold. Oh, and I got to eat the most delicious shrimp tacos for free since they feed you generously in VIP. Dope!

tonya at court

I left after the women’s match so I could get some stuff done at home before my busy week started, but the US’s Phil Dalhausser and Sean “Rosie” Rosenthal defeated Poland to take home the Gold as well.

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All in all a fantastic weekend! I want to thank ASICS and all of the other sponsors for such an amazing opportunity. See you next year (wink). :)

Cancer is a Jerk

My brother and I in the good ol' 70's.

My brother and I in the good ol’ 70′s.

I remember the day my Mom called me to tell me that my brother had been diagnosed with colon cancer. It was 2006, and I was at work when she told me. I remember feeling numb and in shock. “How can a 36-year-old get colon cancer?” I thought that stuff happened when you were much older. I was told you only start to get screenings for that after the age of 50.

And so began a roller coaster year of good news/bad news/good news. For anyone (and this will be most people I think) who has ever had a close relative with cancer, you know what I mean.

At one point doctors found a tumor, which they deemed inoperable. It’s words like that that make your heart stop. But not giving up hope, a team of doctors got together to review his case, and came up with a plan to try and remove the tumor. It was risky, and there was no guarantee, but they were going to operate anyway.

I’m glad they had that conference, because they did indeed remove the entire tumor, and my brother is alive and well today.

A couple years after my brother was diagnosed my mom called again, except this time she sounded more upset than when she told me about my brother. My childhood friend (and my brother’s classmate) Lorna was also diagnosed with colon cancer, except her diagnosis was much more severe than my brother’s. By the time she had any symptoms, the cancer had already spread to her lymph nodes and liver.

Lorna up until that point was thriving in life. She had a longtime boyfriend, dogs she loved, and was a surgical nurse. She was also one of the kindest people I’ve ever met in my life.

Lorna lost her battle with the disease in 2009. To this day it’s still the toughest loss I’ve ever had in my life. I saw her a week before she passed in the hospital, and I replay that day over in my head all the time. Could I have said something more to comfort her? Did I say all I needed to say to know how much she was loved? I still feel incredible guilt that I couldn’t do more or say more.

Cancer is a jerk!

I think CANCER is that one word that instills the most fear in humans. I mean, how many times have you have symptoms of something and all you think is, “Oh my God could it be cancer?” I see a lot of you raising your hands. Word to the wise: never Google your symptoms. :)

It gives me great comfort then, that on the great schoolyard of life, there is a warrior trying to defend us from that mean bully called cancer.

The Stowers Institute

The Stowers Institute for Medical Research was established in 1994 by the late Jim Stowers Jr., the founder of American Century Investments, and his wife Virginia Stowers. Through the generosity of American Century Investments’ founder, more than 40% of the firm’s profits are distributed to the Stowers Institute for Medical Research in a program called Profits with a Purpose.

American Century Investments also sponsors a celebrity golf tournament, which is happening this week in Lake Tahoe, where part of the proceeds will go to The Stowers Institute.

In a world where cancer is still a terrifying diagnosis, it really makes me happy to know there is a state of the art facility where brilliant minds have come together to try and eradicate this terrible disease.

To see what the Stowers Institute is all about, watch this inspiring video.

 

This post was created in partnership with American Century Investments. I have received compensation for this post. However, all thoughts and opinions are my own.

Stepping Outside of My Comfort Zone…

Jump-into-the-5k-Foam-Fest-with-me

…and into the foam.

#UPDATE! They cancelled this event last minute. :(

One of my 2014 goals that I posted back in January was to do an obstacle course/mud run. I wasn’t super interested in doing ones that were 10k or longer, or ones where they seemed a bit too much…just something challenging, but fun.

What was and is my biggest challenge is finding someone to do it with me. These kinds of races tend to be outside of metro areas (because of the space needed to build the obstacles) so there is usually a drive and/or overnight stay involved, and everyone of my friends seems to have their summers packed to the gills in activities.

The one race I had my eye on the most is the 5k Foam Fest in Temecula (a wine country town about halfway between San Diego and Los Angeles) on July 19th. It seemed like the perfect mix of challenging yet fun.

The organizers of the race were kind enough to give me two free entries to the race, which should entice my friends right? Well, sadly, no one seems to want to go.

It’s not like I’ve never done anything alone before. I’ve dined alone, gone to the movies alone, traveled alone, and have run several 5k races alone. But for some reason an obstacle course race just seems more fun to do with a group of people.

Anyway, I had two choices: one is to have a relaxing Saturday, especially since I’m going to the Dizzy Feet Dance gala in downtown LA later that night, but regret not doing it, or two, step outside of my comfort zone and do the race alone. I chose the latter. Because opportunities like this don’t always happen.

Since my race cost was covered, and Temecula is just over and hour drive from where I live (without major traffic), I decided it would be easiest to stay overnight so I don’t have to wake up at the butt crack of dawn the next morning.

I found a nice Air BnB private room for $84 (about six miles from the race), and I asked the owner if I could come back after the race to clean up, and he said it wasn’t a problem!

I’m also borrowing a GoPro camera so I hope to have an exciting video to share with you soon.

But, if anyone in the LA or San Diego area is interested in doing the race with me for free, I still have one promo code to give away.

I also have a promo code for $5 off if by chance you still wanted to sign up, but I gave the free ticket away. That code is FF6552.

If not, enjoy the video, and see what I’m up against next weekend!

When is the last time you stepped out of your comfort zone?

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