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  • At Least I Didn’t Poop My Pants (or how many times can I write the word “poop” in a single blog post?)

    By Christina Morrow

    I’m not a nervous racer. I know there are a lot of people who get wound up before a race and worry themselves into a nauseous mess so when that gun finally sounds they’re about to pass out before they even take the first step. That’s not me. The biggest concern I have, and I think a lot of you share it, is whether or not I was able to poop in the porta-potty before the race. And if not, I know there are potties at regular intervals that will be there for me, so I still don’t get particularly worked up. If I did poop, then I know it’s going to be, at the very least, a slightly faster finish time.

    A couple weekends ago, I was in Munising, MI for the Grand Island Trail Half Marathon. (They offer a full and ultra if you swing that way, but I learned long ago my body revolts spectacularly if I try to go past 18 miles.) Many of us mainland Michiganders know and love the U.P., especially in summer. It’s the slightly backwards little brother (and I mean that as a term of deepest endearment, so don’t get your panties in a twist) that’s host to some of the most beautiful natural vistas in Michigan. The Grand Island Trail Half is an absolutely stunning 13.1 miles of surprisingly easy terrain (excluding that gorgeous and exhausting mile on the beach and the couple miles in the middle up those hills). It’s the kind of race where your finish time is a bit slower because you stopped to take some photos along the way. If you’re my dad, you try to post them to Facebook as you take them only to realize the cell service on the island is spotty at best.

    IMG_4428My dog, Ford, admiring our camping spot the day before the race.

    Lining up for the start of the race, I was feeling pretty good. I know you’re wondering about this: yes, I was able to poop. And though my stomach had been acting strangely the last few long runs, forcing me to pit stop more often than I normally would, I was fairly confident I was not going to poop myself or have to pull over and squat in the woods while trying to avoid poisonous plants I knew nothing about and contemplating whether or not forest rangers could arrest people for indecent exposure. (The bathrooms are spread thin on this race. If you can, I’d recommend the one around mile 4 on the beach. It’s an absolutely lovely open air wooden outhouse right off the water.)

    DSC_16112016 Post-race plunge into Lake Superior with my honorary aunt, Kim.

    At the gun, I took off at a solid pace, right where I wanted to be for most of the race. Thanks to an extended vacation the month before on which I deliberately left my running shoes home, I was in no way trying to PR for this race. All I really wanted to do was get the miles in to make up for some of the calories I planned to consume in beer and hot dogs later that day. I learned the hard way last year to go for the hot dogs at Johnny Dogs and not the pasties at Muldoons. You might kick me out of the state for this, but I am just not a fan of pasties. Feel free to email me at if it’s just that I’m eating them at the wrong places and you have an awesome pastie joint I need to try.

    Anyway, I was less than a quarter mile into the race, just starting to clear that starting pack and get into a good rhythm, when a shooting pain started in my back and continued to stab every step I took. I kept running, thinking the pain would work itself out and lessen soon. Instead, it increased to the point where it hurt to breathe. I stopped to walk a little, stretching a bit, hoping that would help. It didn’t. I tried running again, thinking there was no way I was bonking a quarter mile away from the start. That was supposed to happen at the finish, where you can force your body to go those maybe 500 steps to the finish line. But there was no way I was going to make it the nearly 26,000 steps it would take me to reach the finish. So I stopped. For the first time in the 10 years I’ve been casually road racing various distances, I did not finish a race.

    I think this happens to everyone at some point, some more often than others. At least that’s what I’ve heard from other people. Granted, normally a person covers some mileage before they bonk or scratch or succumb to the big, fat DNF. But I’ve always been able to pull through. I might slow down a good deal. Maybe walk a 15-minute mile or two. But I’ve always finished. And maybe it’s silly, but it felt like crap to turn around, as other runners passed by me with curious looks on their faces as I went back the way we had come. I felt like a loser. I didn’t even get to a single mile. As I walked back, each of the 500 steps sending a sharp pain up my back, I think I went through each of the five stages of grief and loss:

    Denial - I turned around a couple times thinking... I can push through this. I couldn’t.

    Anger - Boy, was I fuming. There were some NSFW words rolling around my head, for sure.

    Bargaining - If I could just make it to the beach, just four miles, I’d happily turn back.

    Depression - Would you believe it if I said it was just a single, solitary tear that stoically ran down my cheek as I walked back completely dejected?

    Acceptance - I got back to the finish line where my family and friends were planning to wait another couple hours before they’d next see us, and immediately went to the table where they had the cherry juice and organic fig bars for racers. Dammit, no matter what, I was still a racer and I was getting my cherry juice and fig bars. They’re the other half of the reason I run this race: epic natural views and awesome post-race snacks. It’s a toss-up whether I like the Moomers ice cream after Bayshore or the fig bars at Grand Island better, but you can now tell that I’m a food motivated runner. So I drank my juice and ate my bars and planned my comeback for next year.

    Three hours later, after watching a couple hundred other racers actually finish (not the best feeling in the world), we were back at our campsite. I had a cold beer in my hand and I was floating on a giant blow-up lounger after consuming half my weight in chili cheese dogs. My back still hurt, but I was floating on a giant blow-up lounger, beer-in-hand in the middle of a beautiful lake in northern Michigan with plans to take a pontoon boat trolling along Lake Superior to Pictured Rocks later in the day. I guess life really wasn’t so bad after all. At least I didn’t poop my pants.

    IMG_4450Pontooning with my bestie. He's impervious to everything, including waves that had others putting on those orange life preservers. Notice the trucker hat and Patagonia baggies - an absolute must for summers in Michigan.

    For more information about the Grand Island Trail Race visit (it does take them a while to update this for the next year):

    Christina is a part of the marketing team here at Gazelle Sports. When you can't find her at her desk in the creative cube crafting graphics and stories, she's normally off on an adventure with her husband, Nick, and dog, Ford.

    The three of us last year in Munising.

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  • Cross Country


    Champions are not born,

    Champions are made. 

    This was the saying on the back of our summer training T-shirts as we prepared for the cross country season. We had set a goal to be conference, regional, and State champions. We knew we would have to be in excellent shape, therefore it was imperative that we trained all summer long. Through the discipline of long hot summer miles, our bodies, minds, and friendships were strengthened. We were committed to do our best, not for ourselves, but for the team.

    Our team became conference champions, regional champions and third-place team in the state. We had pushed ourselves, And pushed each other, to become champions. Success was a great feeling but it was the deep bonds of friendship that made our cross country team champions forever 

    Cross country is an incredible sport that offers the opportunity to strengthen your body and your mind in ways that you may have thought were impossible. And it creates friendships that will last a lifetime.

    I hope you set your goals high this year to become a champion.   

    Keep Moving

    Chris Lampen-Crowell 

    Loy Norrix 1978

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  • An Ode to the Traveling Gnome

    The Gazelle Sports Activator Blog Series is written by a group of passionate individuals, willing and eager to share their personal stories of trial and triumph. Maintaining a healthy, active lifestyle is filled with ups and downs, lessons learned, successes and failures. Get to know them as they share their journeys—you might learn something new!

    By Eva Reiter

    This post goes out to any of you who have moved to a new city or state at some point in your life, or may have recently done so and are working on building a sense of familiarity with your new environment. Believe it or not, I’ve lived in seven different states in 10 years including Michigan, Ohio, Kentucky, Mississippi, Texas, North Carolina, and South Carolina. In doing so, I have become the master of that super awkward feeling when your exciting plan of moving somewhere new lands you with that “oh darn it, I’m completely and utterly alone” feeling. While my history of homes may be an extreme case, the feeling is generally the same.

    Around late 2015 to early 2016, I made a significant life choice to step away from Netflix and go on the ultimate self-proclaimed “anti-hermit spree” (I seriously called it this publically). I participated in running clubs, women’s beer clubs, young professional events, running tours, etc., all in an effort to be a wee bit less of a hermit and try desperately to meet friends in my new city. And guess what? It worked! Making friends as an adult is challenging at best, but this anti-hermit spree actually did some good.

    The moral of my story is that while finding friends as an adult can be extremely difficult, with some creativity and humility, it’s possible to leave your inner hermit home to watch Netflix with the dog while you go out on adventures in your city.  Also, if you’re flush with friends and really want to be the coolest kid in town, take a moment to introduce yourself to the new person at running club or a young professional night! I promise you that their sad puppy eyes will instantly vanish and they will be delighted by your willingness to help them feel included.

    Screen Shot 2017-07-31 at 3.35.00 PM Sometimes it’s okay to leave your dog at home so you can meet new people!

    So What’s Next?!

    I challenge you to share something you’ve done to reach outside of your comfort zone and meet new people. Did anything super cool happen as a result? Did you find a long-lost friend? I want to know!



    My name is Eva and I will be one of your friendly neighborhood Gazelle Sports Activators for roughly the next year. When I’m not marauding through the streets of Grand Rapids in obnoxiously bright high-vis gear that could melt the retinas of Medusa herself, I’m a just a “normal” young professional and a profoundly proud mom of a goofy dog named Howard. I’m excited to share some of my experiences with you over the next few months and hopefully provide some form of inspiration. If nothing else, I hope to at least leave you with a laugh or two. Because who doesn’t need a laugh?!


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  • Running for the fun of it

    The Gazelle Sports Activator Blog Series is written by a group of passionate individuals, willing and eager to share their personal stories of trial and triumph. Maintaining a healthy, active lifestyle is filled with ups and downs, lessons learned, successes and failures. Get to know them as they share their journeys—you might learn something new!

    By Eva Reiter

    Today’s shout-out goes to all the ladies and gentlemen who may quietly (or openly) disdain running, or fitness in general. I have never been a natural runner, but I am naturally good at three things: (1) being an absolute nerd (math rules), (2) always being down for an adventure, and (3) never giving up; even if I’m the slowest or sweatiest person in a workout. This being the case, after coming to terms with the fact that I was going to like running (or die trying), I had to find a way to make it more tolerable.

    Tapping Into my Nerdy Super Powers

    That being said, one of my favorite parts about Grand Rapids is that there are enough super fun and fit folks here offering a wealth of cool, active things you can do! Whether it’s going on a running tour of the city, participating in a fun race, or finding an inspiring podcast to listen to, I still manage to get my fitness in and also find a way to learn something or enjoy my surroundings instead of focusing on Thunder and Lightning (my aching, yet fabulous thunder thighs who carry me wherever I ask).

    Screen Shot 2017-07-27 at 2.55.20 PM Mom and I at our annual Turkey Trot.

    When it comes to staying active and fit, we’re always going to have to think about too many serious things like meal planning or water intake (because I really wanted to hit the ladies’ room an extra 4 times this afternoon), so why not make your fitness regimen fun?! Throwing a wacky race in every now and then or a podcast or new playlist to shake things up can brighten your day. Plus, when it comes down to it, you’re contributing to the same goal whether you’re sweating along with a Richard Simmons tape or huffing through some squats while watching your DVR from the week; it’s all about bringing intent to your fit life. Every step you take in the right direction is pushing your dial towards more balance, more endorphins and more fun!

    So What’s Next?!

    I challenge you to find a fun or wacky fit activity and tell me about it! I really do want to know! Heck, I might even try it out!



    My name is Eva and I will be one of your friendly neighborhood Gazelle Sports Activators for roughly the next year. When I’m not marauding through the streets of Grand Rapids in obnoxiously bright high-vis gear that could melt the retinas of Medusa herself, I’m a just a “normal” young professional and a profoundly proud mom of a goofy dog named Howard. I’m excited to share some of my experiences with you over the next few months and hopefully provide some form of inspiration. If nothing else, I hope to at least leave you with a laugh or two. Because who doesn’t need a laugh?!


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  • Fake it till you Make it with a Power Pose

    The Gazelle Sports Activator Blog Series is written by a group of passionate individuals, willing and eager to share their personal stories of trial and triumph. Maintaining a healthy, active lifestyle is filled with ups and downs, lessons learned, successes and failures. Get to know them as they share their journeys—you might learn something new!

    By Eva Reiter

    This post is dedicated to anyone and everyone who is new to running or even just starting to work towards hoofing it outside more often. In running, when it comes to being a beginner, the early learning stages of understanding your body and running style can be super daunting. But with some light research and body language adjustments, you can feel more empowered to continue pushing yourself.

    I’m no running expert, but I am the queen of (1) faking it until I look somewhat like I know what I’m doing, (2) asking questions of everyone and anyone who might provide information, and (3) utilizing Google to search for as many helpful resources as possible.

    Let’s talk about the first trick: fake it till you make it. If you’re not familiar with the tactic, I highly recommend watching Amy Cuddy’s TED Talk, Your Body Language Shapes Who You Are. The moral of her story is that by physically assuming a specific posture that imitates strength/power/confidence, your body will follow suit and produce the chemicals that would support that feeling. Bring that strategy to your running to feel more self-assured. Even if you’re absolutely scared out of your mind for a race or a group run, spending a few moments at the beginning of that event in a “power pose” (picture Xena Warrior Princess or Wonder Woman in running gear) could actually help your body produce chemicals that will make you feel more confident.

    Screen Shot 2017-07-12 at 3.02.43 PM

    So what’s my challenge to you? Whether it comes to running or confidence in your non-running life, try utilizing strong postures to elicit those happy chemicals and boost your confidence. It’s 100% okay to be anxious, scared or intimidated when approaching a race start, a new running club, or an especially challenging hill, but tools like power posing can give us the boost we need to tap into our inner champion.


    My name is Eva and I will be one of your friendly neighborhood Gazelle Sports Activators for roughly the next year. When I’m not marauding through the streets of Grand Rapids in obnoxiously bright high-vis gear that could melt the retinas of Medusa herself, I’m a just a “normal” young professional and a profoundly proud mom of a goofy dog named Howard. I’m excited to share some of my experiences with you over the next few months and hopefully provide some form of inspiration. If nothing else, I hope to at least leave you with a laugh or two. Because who doesn’t need a laugh?!


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  • How to Run with your Dog (Plus Canine Race Etiquette)

    By Autumn Lytle, Gazelle Sports Website & Technology Assistant

    Sometimes, the best running partner has four legs instead of two. Dogs are great motivators (they are always, always excited to join you on a run) and great company. Plus, if you have an energetic dog who seems to never slow down, bringing him along on your daily run could be a solution! If you’ve been thinking about taking your dog with you out on the roads (or trails!), there are a few things you’ll need to know:

    Wait until they’re ready

    You wouldn’t take a toddler with you on a six-mile run (right??), so you should avoid running with a puppy who still has a lot of growing to do. If you run with your puppy too early, you could do permanent damage to their developing bodies. You’ll want to wait until your puppy is at least eight months old, possibly even longer if you have a large breed, whose joints and muscles take longer to develop. It’s always a good idea to ask your vet when would be a safe time to start running with your puppy.

    Start off easy

    Dogs will keep running with you even past the point of exhaustion, so it’s up to you to make sure he doesn’t overdo it. Just like when you first started running, you’ll need to start off easy. It’s best to wait until there’s a patch of weather that is neither extremely hot or cold, both temperatures in which your dog should avoid running in general. It’s not a bad idea to begin by taking a light jog around your block or a park to get a feel for how your dog responds to running. Use these training runs are to work on techniques like leash behavior that will come in handy down the road. Running with your dog has a very different feel than walking and it takes some getting used to, which is why a trial run or two will help you both get a feel for what’s to come.

    Start off with an easy mile about twice a week. Depending on how your dog reacts to the run, you can continue to increase his mileage each week. You’ll have to do some research into your dog’s breed to see how far he should be running. Some dogs are built for speed, others for distance, and some really aren’t built for running at all. It is very important to monitor your dog after his first few runs. Does he recover quickly? Was he overly-exhausted? Did he cool down in a normal amount of time? All these factors will determine when and how long your next run with your dog will be.


    Get the right gear


    Although your dog probably doesn’t care about having the latest running shoes or the most flattering spandex, there are a few items to get your pup that will keep runs safe and simple.

    • Harness: Using a harness instead of attaching the leash to your dog’s collar. Collars can have a strangling effect on dogs, especially with the sudden movements that come with running. Using a harness also gives you much more control over your dog’s movements.
    • Stunt Puppy Leash ($38): Running while holding a leash can feel pretty awkward and unforgiving. Every unscheduled sniff, every slight deviation from the path leaves you swinging in all directions. With the Stunt Puppy leash, that can all be avoided. Enjoy hands-free control when you and your dog hit the pavement. Versatile, flexible and comfortable, the Stunt Runner™ was created specifically for—and is loved by—runners. The flexible connector piece that attaches you and your dog stretches from 35" to 51" to easily absorb slight variations in stride, and clips to an adjustable waist belt with a sliding D-Ring to keep your running partner in just the right spot. All in all, a simple, lightweight design that won't slow you down.
    • Dog Reflective Buff ($12): If you want your dog to join you on those early morning/late night runs, it’s important that you and your running buddy wear something to let drivers know your presence. Reflective gear is a perfect choice, and Buff has your pup covered. The Dog Reflective BUFF® is a stylish and multifunctional soft collar for your dog with reflective strips so you (and others) can see your pup on evening or night walks. It can also help to protect your dog from harsh winds and cold weather.


    Pick a path

    Running with your dog is not usually the best time to try out a new route. It’s good to know what to expect and when to expect it. Pick routes with the least amount of distractions. Even if your dog is well behaved, trying to navigate through people and traffic can be frustrating. Choose a route where you can spread out and just focus on the run and your running partner. Quiet suburb sidewalks work well as do less-traveled dirt roads and trails.

    Mind the paws

    Sidewalks can be rough on your pup’s paws, especially during runs. If you can, try to encourage your dog to run on the grass instead of the sidewalk when possible, giving his paws some relief. Running on dirt roads, as long as it’s not too rocky, is even a better option for your dog’s paws. The best option by far for the paws is trail running, but you’ll have to check ahead of time that the trail allows pets. If you start to notice your dog’s paws becoming rough and chapped, paw balm helps as well as paw lotion.

    Stay hydrated

    If you need to stop for a drink during your run, chance are your dog does too. If it’s hot out or you’re taking your dog on a longer run, have your route include a water stop or two. Make sure your dog has access to water after his run and a cool, shady place to recover.

    Canine Race Etiquette

    If you’re a dog enthusiasts, one of the best parts of a race is seeing all your furry fans lining the course as you run by. There are a few things to keep in mind if you decide to bring your own four-legged cheerleader to race day.

    Know the rules

    Most races do not allow dogs on the course and some don’t even allow them at the event. If nothing about dogs is mentioned in the race info, it’s safe to assume that dogs are allowed at the event, just not in the race itself. If you do want to race with your dog, search for “dog-friendly races” in your area and several options are bound to pop up. It’s important to follow the rules set by the race directors when it comes to pets since pet policy is usually not something they create lightly.

    Know your dog

    Is your dog a good fit for the race atmosphere? Even if the event allows dogs, that doesn’t mean you should bring yours. Some dogs can’t handle all the commotion, which can cause a great deal of strain on you and your pup. People will probably also want to pet your dog, especially children, so will your dog be able to handle that much attention? Also, if the race allows dogs, always assume there will be other dogs there. So if your pup doesn’t play well with others, gets way too excited when he sees another dog, or greets others with loud, scary barks you may want to consider leaving him at home.

    Respect others and their dogs

    Just because you were smart and took the time to consider if your dog would be a good fit for the race atmosphere doesn’t mean others did. Always ask before petting a dog and never assume it is safe to let your pup go up to another dog before asking the owner first. Make sure to read the situation before inserting yourself and your dog into it. Also, race security has increased over the years, including the presence of police dogs. As with service dogs, these dogs deserve a great amount of respect from both you and your pup, so make sure to keep your distance when you can. These dogs are not looking to make new friends or play, they are busy working and keeping others safe.


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  • How to prepare for Lake Michigan RTS

    By Autumn Lytle, Gazelle Sports Website & Technology Assistant

    Have you ever noticed how runners are gluttons for punishment? The harder we run, the more our legs burn and the tougher the journey, the more satisfied we are at the end. We love a good challenge, but that doesn’t mean we don’t like to be prepared.

    It definitely wouldn’t hurt to be prepared for the race people call “the toughest race you’ll ever love.” The Lake Michigan RTS (Road, Trail, and Sand) 10K is not for the weak or the unprepared. This isn’t your typical 10K with smooth, flat roads as far as the eye can see. Despite making you question whether you can finish, it will leave you feeling like you just conquered the world. It’s far from easy, but what’s the fun in racing if it’s not going to kick your butt


    Here’s what you need to know to prepare for the Lake Michigan RTS 10k.

    The road is easy, the trail is tricky, the sand is merciless
    The race starts you off on a smooth, beautiful road and you may start to wonder what everyone was talking about, this race is so easy! Not. So. Fast. Use this time to get in the position you want to be in later on in the race, because once you reach the trail, the path narrows and you’ll have to take care in passing. The technical trail will keep you on your toes with roots, hills, twists and turns. Enjoy the cool of the shade and peaceful woods while you settle into your pace. Once the dirt starts to turn to sand, you’ll know you are close to the lakeshore. When you get to the lakeshore, try to run in the wet sand since it is much easier to run on than the soft beach on your approach.


    The first dune is tough, the second one is TOUGH
    It is important for you to know and accept that at some point, EVERYONE walks going up the dunes. The first dune will leave you winded, but you’ll probably be good to go after a few labored breaths. The second one is another monster entirely (especially if you didn’t know there were two dunes when you started this race…). There will be points when you might feel like crawling and all you can focus on is getting oxygen into your lungs and you may feel like you won’t make it- but when you do, it’s worth it. There will be people cheering you on along the way, and an aid station waiting at the top with  truly stunning views that you can’t get anywhere else. This works out very well, since you can pretend to admire the views while trying desperately to catch your breath.

    Don’t worry about your time
    Just don’t. It’s too stressful. And you're not going to PR. Once you reach the dunes all bets are off, so take the opportunity to soak in the experience! Don’t spend too much time basking in the sun and sand though, because there is a 3-hour time limit.

    Choose your shoes and socks wisely (you will get sandy)
    The most important decision you will make regarding the Lake Michigan RTS is what you will be wearing on your feet. You still have a couple of miles to go after running along the lakeshore, and if you’re wearing the right kicks will help keep you blister-free. You will want to wear light and flexible trail shoes, such as:

    The best sock advice? Don't wear cotton! Cotton + Sand + Dirt + Wet = Unhappy, blistery feet. Get yourselves some lightweight running socks and your feet will thank you.

    Dress to impress (and to avoid overheating)
    When choosing your RTS race outfit, there is one word you need to remember: Breathability. Although Michigan weather is unpredictable, chances are it’s going to be hot out there. You’ll want to wear something light and comfortable. Here are some suggestions:


    • Capilene® Lightweight Tank Top by Patagonia ($29): For hot weather and fast-paced pursuits, our Capilene® Lightweight is our lightest-weight, fastest-drying and best-wicking baselayer. The fabric’s subtle grid pattern sits lightly and comfortably on the skin; the smooth outer face glides easily in any layering system. Highly breathable for high-exertion and warm conditions, the fabric is 100% recycled polyester is treated with Polygiene® permanent odor control.
    • Breathe Running Tank Cool by Nike ($35): keeps you dry, cool and comfortable with super lightweight fabric. A T-back design and drop-tail hem help you hit your stride with flattering coverage.
    • Aeroswift Shorts by Nike ($80): Delivers lightweight, breathable comfort in a quick-drying design. Its Flyvent waistband has large perforations to help keep you cool when things start to heat up.


    • Breathe Running Tank by Nike ($45): Delivers sweat-wicking management with Nike Breathe fabric and mesh panels for additional ventilation to help keep you cool and comfortable throughout your workout.
    • Endorphin Split Short by Saucony ($46): Your go-to short on race day is lightweight and breathable in an allover stretch fabric that wicks away the sweat. Includes waterproof back zippered storage pocket to safely store your essentials

    Be ready for an epic cool down
    After possibly the hardest yet most rewarding six miles of your life, the approaching finish line comes with a fantastic surprise: a fire hydrant cooldown. Now, this isn’t your typical backyard sprinkler that leaves you a bit refreshed for a minute or two. This is a straight-up downpour from an actual fire hydrant. It will leave you more soaked than the front seat of Disney’s Splash Mountain. It’s important to know what you’re getting into here, because it can be a little shocking if you’re not prepared for it!

    Bring a change of clothes
    If you ran the race right, you’re going to be wet and sandy afterwards. Although it’ll make you feel really intense, you probably don’t want to drive back in wet, sandy clothes (especially if you want to stop in downtown Holland to check out the farmer’s market for post-race treats or do some shopping at Gazelle Sports). If you don’t feel like bringing a whole change of clothes, at least bring something dry and comfy for your feet. Here are a few outfits that would be perfect for post-race activities

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  • 10 Reasons Why YOU should run Lake Michigan RTS 10k

    By Cara Zerbel, Gazelle Sports Community Outreach Manager

    It’s summer in West Michigan, so you know what that means? A 5k or 10k every weekend. I love that we get to live within such a vibrant and active running community with so many opportunities to engage with fellow runners. So, with all these choices, why should you forego all others on July 8 and run the Lake Michigan RTS 10k in Holland, MI? Well, let me count down with a reason for every “k” of this fantastic event:

    10) Forget your typical post-race food - you get FROYO!!!
    Thanks to Peachwave and D&W Fresh Market, every finisher gets a cup of frozen yogurt and fresh watermelon to cool down after the toughest 6.2 miles you might ever run.

    thin tree start

    9) Relive your childhood dream of playing in a fire hydrant
    Graafschap Fire Department volunteers their time to not only keep runners safe, but to also unleash the fire hydrant in a refreshing fountain for you as you approach the finish line. Who doesn’t like feeling like a kid again?

    8) You don’t have to worry about parking close enough to the start
    We will have a shuttle service that will take you from downtown Holland at the Gazelle Sports store right to the start line and back after the race: Stress. Free. Transportation.

    thin hydrant


    7) The shirts are so cool!
    Red with blue right around the 4th of July? That’s almost as American as apple pie and hot dog eating contests!

    6) No one is going to PR
    I know this doesn’t sound like a positive just yet, but hear me out. It’s a tough course. It just is. People run it (and they run it over and over again) because they love it, and they’re just as happy to help you to the top of the dune as they are to get themselves there. Camaraderie beats competition here, friends.


    5) There is a cap- it will sell out!
    There is just something satisfying about having the opportunity to do a race that everyone wants to do, but not everyone gets into. That being said, sign up now, because once it’s full you’re out of luck until next year.

    4) You get the best of all running worlds
    It’s a road race. Wait, it’s a trail race. Hold on... it’s a sand race. No. It’s all three! What better excuse to test out new trail shoes, or lightweight road shoes?

    3) The Prep Rally
    It’s not just a packet pick-up- it’s a Prep Rally! Complete with snacks, beverages, giveaways and the opportunity to talk to Gazelle Sports staff about what you need to get through the race.


    2) That view though
    There is nothing like it. The course runs through private property (with permission) so you will literally, under no other circumstances, have the opportunity to see this view...and it will take your breath away.

    1) The kids
    All proceeds benefit the Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital Foundation, and if that isn’t the absolute BEST reason to do this race, then I don’t know what is.

    If I haven’t convinced you to sign up yet, then I don’t know what will. If I have convinced you to sign up, then hurry because you won’t want to miss out on the toughest 10k you’ll ever love!

    Sign up today >>

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  • How to train while traveling


    The Gazelle Sports Activator Blog Series is written by a group of passionate individuals, willing and eager to share their personal stories of trial and triumph. Maintaining a healthy, active lifestyle is filled with ups and downs, lessons learned, successes and failures. Get to know them as they share their journeys—you might learn something new!

    By Phil Dirkse

    When I signed up to run my first marathon earlier this year, I expected a few long training runs on the weekends, but I didn’t realize just how many miles I would be logging each week. My job requires frequent travel, and it’s a rare week that I’m not driving across the state or flying across the country. How was I going to balance my work and sleep schedules while steadily increasing my weekly mileage totals?

    Here are five practical tips that I’ve learned while training for my first marathon from airports and hotel rooms:

    Find a New Route: When traveling to a new city, I love to use the MapMyRun “Routes” feature to find a new route. Strava’s “HeatMap” is also a great way to find popular paths and roads that are safe for pedestrians. On a recent trip to Paris with my wife, I used Meetup to connect with a local running group and learned about a 10k race that was taking place during our trip. Although we already had plans during the race, I ran the official route earlier that morning and enjoyed a beautiful run from the Louvre to the Eiffel Tower along the River Seine.

    Leverage the Time Change: When I fly for work, I often travel west into earlier time zones. I take advantage of this by waking up at the same time that I would at home and using the extra time in the morning to run. Similarly, my friend from California who regularly travels to the east coast enjoys a “happy hour” run after work and before eating a late dinner. Wherever you travel, make it easy on yourself.

    Switch Up Your Routine: If the weather turns sour while you’re traveling, head to the hotel gym for some treadmill time or cross training.  If you prefer a better equipped facility, check if your hometown gym has a reciprocal use agreement at other locations. For example, Planet Fitness allows Black Card members to use any facility across the country, and YMCA members can check out a new location for a minimal daily fee. Many yoga studios and CrossFit gyms have similar drop-in policies.

    Eat Good Food: At home, I try to limit how often I eat out, but when I’m traveling, I don’t have much choice. Instead of grabbing a greasy sandwich or burger at lunch, seek out a restaurant with fresh, healthier options. If you can expense your meals, don’t worry about splurging on a protein-loaded, organic fruit smoothie. For road trips or family vacations, bring healthy snacks or hit up the grocery store when you arrive to avoid being tempted to eat out for every single meal.

    Get Some Rest: Instead of catching up on television shows in the evening, catch up on sleep! Use this time away from your typical weeknight responsibilities at home to give your body what it needs most: rest. This works particularly well if you made use of tip #2 and kept your regular sleep schedule. After a long day, it is important to listen to your body and be realistic with your training goals.

    Safe travels, and keep running!

    Phil works in West Michigan as a Product Designer & Mechanical Engineer.  When he’s not running, Phil can be found building furniture in his wood shop or sailing on Lake Michigan with his wife, Kelsi, and four-legged child, Bo.



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  • Gazelle Girl goes green with zero-waste event

    Gazelle Girl Half Marathon organizers continue to maintain a zero-waste event by keeping trash away from landfills, this year achieving a 98 percent diversion rate. Every year, the Gazelle Girl Green Team invests in sustainability efforts and strives to be an example to other races by hosting an environmentally responsible event.

    “Gazelle Girl values our community, and our team works hard to protect it by putting on a green event," said Chelsea Brehm, Gazelle Girl Green Team Lead. “We’re grateful to our local partners that assist us in this important effort, and we’re proud of the hard work that contributed to the success of this year’s sustainability initiatives.”

    The official weight slips from the City of Grand Rapids showed that a total of 980 pounds of recyclable items such as plastic jugs and water bottles were collected at the event. An additional 940 pounds of compostable items such as food waste, course cups, and Vivant cups were collected; and 15 pounds of GU packets and wrappers are being donated to Terracyle, which converts difficult-to-recycle materials into new products. This left only one, 37-pound bag of non-recyclable items such as Styrofoam cups, diapers, tablecloths, and heatsheets for the landfill.

    This remarkable achievement was a fitting conclusion to the 2017 Gazelle Girl Half Marathon, which took place the day after Earth Day.

    For more information, please visit:

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  • Becoming a Gazelle Girl

    By Eva Reiter

    For all of us, Gazelle may elicit various associations or images. For some, Gazelle means a custom-fit shoe experience or stylish running gear (with all the fun hidden pockets), or if you’re like me, you associate Gazelle with their presence in the community through races like Gazelle Girl. In 2015 and 2016, the Gazelle Girl Half Marathon marked a very significant transition in my life. I first heard about Gazelle Girl from a friend while I was living in Charleston, SC. I was seeking a fun race to do in Michigan while visiting family and interviewing for a new job. Around that time I was working through a pretty gnarly breakup and was actively using running as a coping method to process my thoughts and feelings while systematically trying to burn up the bearings on a very special treadmill at my gym. My 2015 race hurt, emotionally and physically, but it was a beautiful day and I was lucky enough to run the race in the vicinity of the wonderful gal who would decide the next day that she needed to hire me.

    Fast forward to 2016, I was now a Grand Rapids local, had lost over 20 pounds, and had finally filled a lot of the gaps in my life that really challenged me during that 2015 race. In 2016, I had awesome running partners, including a co-worker who was running her first half marathon (!!!), and I was finally working towards happiness. After a year of continuing to put one foot in front of the other, I managed to shave 13 minutes off my time overall. So while you may see Gazelle and think, “It’s shoe time, y’all!”, I think of mile 12 of the Gazelle Girl race where, in 2015, I cried in desperation and in pain; but in 2016, I cried with joy and love for the choices I had made that brought me there that day.

    I challenge all of you to think about what Gazelle means to you or to find a way to allow them to positively contribute to your goals of finding balance, health, or happiness.

    And don't forget - there's still time to sign up for the 2017 Gazelle Girl Half Marathon and 5k (10k is sold out!). Learn more here. 

    My name is Eva and I will be one of your friendly neighborhood Gazelle Sports Activators for roughly the next year. When I’m not marauding through the streets of Grand Rapids in obnoxiously bright high-vis gear that could melt the retinas of Medusa herself, I’m a just a “normal” young professional and a profoundly proud mom of a goofy dog named Howard. I’m excited to share some of my experiences with you over the next few months and hopefully provide some form of inspiration. If nothing else, I hope to at least leave you with a laugh or two. Because who doesn’t need a laugh?!


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  • Giving Back: Supporting Big Brothers Big Sisters in Kalamazoo

    Ten-year-old T’Sean has experienced a lot of loss in his short life, starting with the murder of his father in a gang-related shooting when he was just 3. T’Sean is doing well but as his teen years get closer, his mother wants to do everything she can to make sure her son doesn’t experience the violence that ended his father’s life.

    It seems that the odds are stacked against T’Sean, and he isn’t alone. While their stories and backgrounds may differ, there are hundreds of local children who all have one thing in common: because of factors out of their control, they will have a more difficult time succeeding in life than their peers. These children would benefit from having a mentor – an additional caring, consistent adult in their lives.

    In response to the large number of local children who need a mentor, Big Brothers Big Sisters, A Community of Caring has set an ambitious goal of serving an additional 250 Kalamazoo County children in 2017. Funds raised at the St. Patty’s Day Pub Run will assist the agency in recruiting new Big Brothers, Big Sisters, Big Families, and Big Couples.

    Research shows that a mentor improves a child’s chances of succeeding in life. The most recent data available from surveys of children served by our agency show that after having a Big for just one year:

    • 96.6 percent have improved self-confidence;
    • 91 percent are less likely to engage in risky activities that could limit their future success;
    • 90 percent perform better in school.

    Increasing a child’s odds of staying in school to prepare them for further education or entry into the workforce is key to breaking the cycle that limits their future possibilities.

    Here’s how you can help make this happen:

    1. Can you spare as little as four hours a month? Can you commit to this for at least a year? Then we need you! Bigs spend time with their Littles two or more times a month, usually for a couple of hours at a time. Don’t want to take away time from your own family? Then volunteer together as a Big Family or Big Couple!
    2. If you can’t volunteer as a Big, skill-based volunteers are always needed to assist us in and around the office.
    3. Donations (such as those received from the Pub Run) are essential and always needed!
    4. You can advocate for us by encouraging friends and family members to become Bigs.

    Regardless of how you get involved with Big Brothers Big Sisters, you will be helping local children change their lives for the better, forever.

    For more information:

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