Category Archives: INKnBURN Ambassador

INKnBURN… a family by choice.

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We often hear about amazing friendships that have been sparked through a mutual love of INKnBURN!  So, we recently asked our Ambassadors to share their own stories about how INKnBURN has brought them closer to someone. Michele Williamson wrote back with the story of two amazing friendships born from a passion for INKnBURN:

It all began when I admired someone’s race gear. I found out it was INKnBURN and joined the For the Love of INKnBURN Facebook Fan Page.  I learned about the stunning apparel and was proud to discover that is is all Made in America!

At my next race, I yelled “Way to go, INKnBURN!” at a girl running by. We found each other through the Facebook Fan Page the next day. Her name was Hannah.

Michelle & Hannah

Since then, we’ve trained together and raced together. I’m now an honorary aunt to her newborn daughter, Mia… and blessed to call her my friend.

Michelle, Brother & Hannah

I also became friends with Melinda, who we affectionately call Ginger. She was stationed overseas for a while and fan page members had fun sending her cards and care-packages. Her brother David (pictured above with Hannah and I) hosted us last fall and I raced my first marathon.

Michelle & Melinda in Sunflowers

Recently, I had the honor of flying to San Antonio with my husband to witness Ginger’s retirement from the military after over 20 years.

Michelle & Melinda

This is the only time I have ever seen Ginger and her husband, Robert, not wearing INKnBURN:

Melinda & Robert

When people asked how we became friends, we say “INKnBURN” first… then we smile and say but we are really now family by choice.


Beyond the Diagnosis

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INKnBURN Ambassador Rebecca Wells bravely shares her reflections on a shocking diagnosis at a young age and how running has impacted her healing and growth:

Last June found me at the Rock-n-Roll Seattle Half Marathon with two of my closest girlfriends. It was my last hurrah at running before two upcoming surgeries. The first surgery was to put something in my body: a titanium rod in my lower left leg to allow my left tibia to heal the three really bad stress fractures (Google “dreaded black line fracture” to get an idea of what my stress fractures were like) I had incurred from training for a marathon, triathlons, and playing weekly co-ed soccer. The second surgery was to take something out of my body: a cancerous tumor from my rectum to be exact. In March of 2014, I was diagnosed with Stage III colorectal cancer. I had gone into the doctor’s office thinking I would get a hemorrhoid diagnosis, and a colonoscopy later, was shocked to learn I had cancer. I ate healthy, I lived a healthy lifestyle, and had no family history of colorectal cancer. BIG SHOCK.

In between March and June, I did 28 rounds of radiation and oral chemotherapy. Despite the stress fractures and the fatigue from radiation, I still managed to crank out a PR for a 10K race (sub one-hour was my goal, and I got it!) and run a couple of 5K races.  But, by the end of May, my body was seriously spent from the radiation, and training was out of the question. I thought about deferring the half marathon in Seattle, but the plane ticket was purchased and the hotel room was booked, and my friends would be there. I decided to go ahead and do the race the best I was able, and to make the most of the adventure to a new city with my gal pals.

At the Rock-n-Roll Seattle expo, I stopped in my tracks when I saw a funky shirt that said “Run or Die” on it. With all that I had endured and was going to go through with surgeries and chemotherapy infusions, that motto resonated with me. I had never heard of the INKnBURN brand before, but the sales girls were super helpful and patient as I thumbed through all of the designs they had on hand and made my final selections.  I walked away with the denim capris, the Run or Die tank, and another tank, which I wore for the race the next day. Even though that was my slowest half marathon (at that time…I have since done two much, much slower—one less than two weeks after chemo infusions ended and another just recently where I was undertrained and overexcited!), I was so happy to be running and outside and doing what I loved.

Screen Shot 2015-11-04 at 8.41.05 AM

After that race, my whole life changed. The two surgeries occurred within two weeks of one another, and shortly after my tumor removal, my chemo infusions started. I was hooked up to chemo for three days and to hydration and anti-nausea meds for another day, repeating this about every other week for a total of nine rounds over five-and-a-half months. The treatments took a huge toll on my weakened body, and I resigned from my full time job as the dean of instruction at an inner-city high school. On January 7, 2015, I rang the bell signifying the end of my chemo treatments, wearing none other than my denim InkNBurn capris. They are my go-to clothing item. I’ve worn them with running shoes and high heels, and I have not worn them without compliments and strangers wanting to touch my legs (that sounds creepier than it actually is!).

On Sunday, November 8 2015, almost exactly 10 months after ringing that bell, I  proudly participated in the Get Your Rear in Gear Run-Houston as a Stage III colorectal cancer survivor. While it wasn’t  my first post-treatment race, this one is exciting for me as I was not only on the event committee, but I was also a featured survivor for the Houston edition of the race series wearing—you guessed it—my denim INKnBURN capris.


Most recently, in March of this year, I reclaimed my title as Overall Survivor Female at the SCOPE 5K Run for colorectal cancer awareness. I am slowly but surely getting stronger in my runs…and in life. Upcoming races include the Rock-n-Roll Half Marathon in Las Vegas followed by a half marathon in Belize at the end of the year.

Screen Shot 2016-04-05 at 1.26.00 PM


Because of residual side effects from treatment, working full time outside of the home is not an option for me at this point. So, I work part time from home, and I am now a certified running coach, which allows me to wear whatever I want. So, I have definitely added to my INKnBURN collection in the last year. For example, the robot capris are a nod to my titanium tibia. The clothes travel well, and are perfect for my once-again active lifestyle. And, the Run or Die series still echoes my mantra. I choose to RUN!

Screen Shot 2015-11-04 at 9.05.21 AM    Screen Shot 2015-11-04 at 8.41.27 AM

To connect with Rebecca and learn more about her journey and efforts to spread awareness about Colorectal Cancer, please visit her page:



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What is said to boost energy? Shield your skin?  Reduce risk of colon cancer? Help heart health? Prevent diabetes? Reduce cholesterol?


It is #NationalOatmealDay 2015 and our INKnBURN Ambassadors are sharing some of their favorite things to do with oats!

Chef Henry’s Apple Pie Smoothie:

 Screen Shot 2015-10-29 at 9.37.14 AM2 cups apple cider
1 graham cracker
1 TBS cinnamon
1 tsp nutmeg
1 scoop protein powder, vanilla

1 rolled oats
Put all ingredients in blender, and blend!

Kimberlee’s Oatmeal Peanut Butter Chocolate Cookies:

2/3 cup peanut butter, room temperature Screen Shot 2015-10-29 at 9.55.31 AM
1/4 cup coconut oil, melted
3 egg whites 
1 cup almond flour
1/2 cup oat flour (ground oats)
1/3 cup coconut sugar
1 tsp vanilla
3/4 tsp baking powder
Pinch of salt 
1/2 cup rolled oats
1/2 cup dark chocolate chips

Mix peanut butter, coconut oil and eggs and vanilla in one bowl and stir until smooth. Mix almond flour, oat flour, coconut sugar, baking powder, and salt in another bowl and mix well. Pour peanut butter mixture into flour mixture and mix well. Add rolled oats and chocolate chips. Place on cookie sheet lined in parchment paper or sprayed with cooking spray. Before baking, flatten the cookies down with a fork. Bake at 375° for 8 to 10 minutes.

Melinda’s  Don’t Tell Anyone, But I Use Chocolate  Cookies:

6 tbsp canned pure pumpkin Screen Shot 2015-10-29 at 9.47.31 AM

¼ cup pure maple syrup
½ cup raw sugar
½ whole banana, mashed
2 tbsp nondairy milk
1½ cups rolled oats
½ cup whole wheat pastry flour
¼ tbsp pumpkin pie spice
¼ tsp baking soda
¼ cup raisins

Preheat oven to 350F. Grease a cookie sheet or line with parchment paper and set aside. In a large bowl, combine pumpkin, maple, sugar, banana and non-dairy milk together. In a medium bowl, combine oats, flour, baking soda and pumpkin pie spice together and then transfer it into the wet mixture. Stir a few times then add raisins. Continue to mix until combined. It may look too dry initially, but keep stroking, it will incorporate perfectly. Drop spoonfuls on a greased cookie sheet and bake 10 to 15 minutes, or until firm to the touch and springy.

Andrea’s Orange & Vanilla Overnight Oats:

Serves 4
1 3/4 cup / 400 ml rolled oats (preferable gluten free) Screen Shot 2015-10-29 at 10.00.20 AM
1 tsp vanilla extract or dried vanilla powder
1 3/4 cup /400 ml (about 4 oranges) orange juice
1/2 cup sunflower and pumpkin seeds
1 cup water for soaking
4 tbsp shredded coconut, lightly toasted
fresh fruit for serving 

In the evening: Mix oats and vanilla in a bowl, add freshly squeezed orange juice and stir to combine. Place seeds in a bowl and cover with water. Place both bowls in the fridge overnight.
In the morning: Scoop a couple of spoonfuls of soaked seeds in 4 jars or glasses. Scoop the soaked oats porridge on top of the seeds and cover with fresh fruit and lightly toasted coconut.
Keeps for 3-5 days in the fridge.

Overnight Steel-Cut Oats with Salt and Butter:
Perfect if you’d rather start your day with something salty instead of something sweet!
Screen Shot 2015-10-29 at 10.07.34 AMServes 2-3
3 cups water
1 cup steel-cut oats
(optional: 1/4 c tart dried cherries)
(optional: 1/4 c sliced almonds)
Grass-fed butter
Sea salt

Measure the water into a medium sized pan and bring it to a boil. Add the oats and fruit and nuts if you’re using them. Cover and let sit at room temperature overnight.

In the morning, bring the mixture to a boil and simmer for 1-2 minutes.Serve with a pat of butter and a generous sprinkle of salt. Have some Greek yogurt or an over-easy egg on the side for protein!


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In Celebration of #KaleDay2015, INKnBURN Ambassadors are sharing their favorite recipes that include this nutrient dense superfood!

Robyn KaleRobyn’s Kale Salad:                                                      1 bunch kale (preferably lacinato), sliced into very fine ribbons
juice of 1 lemon, freshly squeezed

1/4 c grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 c raisins & 
1/4 c sliced almonds
In a large bowl, massage lemon juice into the sliced kale until it begins to wilt. Add other ingredients and toss. Try not to eat the whole thing before dinnertime.

Terry’s Favorite Kale Chips:Screen Shot 2015-10-07 at 9.24.25 AM                            Just tear the kale up (removing the ribs) massage in olive oil, and as a bonus you can
even add some grated Parmesan cheese.  Lay out on a pan, sprinkle with sea salt and bake at 275 until crisp, around 25 minutes. 

Melinda KaleMelinda says, “Kale is…High protein. High nutrients. Very flexible and tasty! Massaged Kale is good for the brains!”

One of her favorites is finely sliced kale salad with dried cranberries, almonds, lemon juice and a tiny bit of virgin olive oil!

Leanne’s Truffle Kale Chips:Screen Shot 2015-10-07 at 9.47.22 AM                        Tear the kale into pieces.  Toss in 1 tblsp olive oil, 2 tsp truffle salt and 1 tsp Italian herbs. Add pepper to taste. Bake at 400F until crisp (about 10mins) and enjoy!


Screen Shot 2015-10-07 at 9.40.50 AMHeather’s Kale Salad… with Bacon:
Brussel sprouts (cut in half)
Butternut squash (cubed)
Baby bok choy (one)
Two pieces of lean bacon
Salt, Pepper, Olive Oil

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Toss the brussel sprouts and butternut squash in a bit of olive oil, salt, and pepper.  Spread on a nonstick baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes. Flip over and cook for another 15 minutes or until brussel sprouts are browning and the squash is soft.  While those are cooking, cook the bacon.  Do not drain the grease.  When the bacon is finished remove it from the pan and add the bok choy and a couple of handfuls of kale.  Saute until bok choy gets slightly soft.  Once the sprouts and squash are finished throw into the pan with the bok choy and kale for just a minute to mix the flavors.  Crumble the bacon on top, throw it all on a plate – and voila! Dinner!

INKnBURN Ambassador Joanna Williams

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Tell someone you’ve signed up for a virtual race and you might get a baffled response: What? How? Why?


INKnBURN Ambassador Joanna Williams, 40, from California, MD, will be more than happy to fill you in. Her company, Race for Awareness, runs virtual races to raise money for non-profit charities. “A virtual race is a self-motivated competition that is organized online where you complete a specific distance by running, walking or cycling on a date and time of your choosing, anywhere in the world,” explains Joanna. A virtual race can be completed on a treadmill, around your neighborhood, with a group of friends, solo–or in any other combination.

Says Joanna, “Virtual races give you the power to own your race experience and make it personal.”


Started in September of 2013, Race for Awareness (RFA) is a women-owned, family-owned and veteran-owned company that strives to give back as much as possible to the charities they work with.

“We display charity response letters on our website,” says Joanna, “because we believe transparency and open disclosure information is essential for maintaing the trust participants place in us. For each virtual race, at least 80% of net proceeds are donated to the featured charity.”

Participating in RFA’s Virtual Races is surprisingly simple: scroll through a list of virtual races, from Human Trafficking Awareness to Organic Farming Awareness, choose from the 5K, 10K, half-marathon or marathon options, complete the race at your preferred date, time and location, and receive your earned medal.

“The virtual race can be completed it many ways. I have mapped out my routes and dedicated the run to a cause. Others have organized small groups to meet up and run a distance together. Participants that travel complete their miles in a hotel treadmill or find new places to run where they are visiting.” Says Joanna, “That’s the beauty of virtual races–you are helping a charity by entering our races and rewarding yourself with a medal for the miles you completed.”

Joanna even runs her own races; every time she orders new medals for a race, she makes sure she tries out the race herself. Since 2009, she has run nearly 40 races, some of which include the Navy Air Force 5K, Navy Air Force Half-Marathon and the Marine Corps Marathon–which makes sense. Joanna was in the United States Air Force for four years, during which running was, of course, required.

Joanna sporting INKnBURN and posing with her medal collection.
Joanna sporting INKnBURN and posing with her medal collection.

“My introduction into running,” she explains, “was to pass the military fitness test.”  But it wasn’t until years later that she developed a love for the sport. “A friend of mine invited me to join her on a 5k race. I was nervous because I thought races were for “real runners.” Joanna finished, realized she had loved the race and finally saw herself as a runner. Soon, she was signing up for another, and another after that.

Since her first 5K, Joanna has run 17 more 5Ks, several 10Ks, and one dozen half-marathons. Along with a bevy of shorter distances planned for this year, Joanna will be running her first ultramarathon, a 50K, early next year.

Earlier this year, Joanna, in addition to her role at Race for Awareness (Programmer/Graphic Artist/IT Instructor), became an INKnBURN Ambassador.


“I was first introduced to the brand when I saw the Steam Punk Tech Shirt online in 2013,” she says. “ I love the artistic designs of INKnBURN and how anyone can distance themselves from the norm and stand out in a crowd while being comfortable.”

Some of Joanna’s favorite designs include the Women’s Dragonfly and Wildflower designs. “I love the meaning of “Bravely growing wild and free in a world plagued by conformity.” I get the most complements from complete strangers when I wear these designs.”

Interested in trying a virtual race? Check out Race for Awareness here:

If you like the INKnBURN apparel in this story, check out our website:
All of our designs are limited edition pieces, and we frequently add new pieces. Be sure to subscribe to our newsletter in the lower right corner of our website–that way you’ll be informed as soon as new designs launch!

INKnBURN Ambassadors: Upcoming Races!

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Spring is well on its way here at the INKnBURN Headquarters in Southern Calfornia, but for much of the United States, it’s still nowhere to be seen. That said, our ambassadors are shedding their winter blues and drying off their snow-soaked running shoes for spring training. Here are just a few of the races our ambassadors are training for this spring!

Katie Preston: Cherry Blossom 10-Miler, Washington, D.C.

May Pig: Los Angeles Marathon, Los Angeles, CA

10342479_10103370558046476_2296587437656587486_nSays May, “LA is my hometown and I just LOVE the course. Lots of great vibes from different neighborhoods keeps me coming back. I’ve been running with Pasadena Pacers for long miles and also cross-training with Lagree Fitness Pilates, swimming, and cycling.”

Terry Toffelmire: Calgary Police Half Marathon, Calgary, AB









Kara Clark: Way Too Cool 50K, Auburn, CA


“The race I am doing is supposed to be fun, and scenic- which is all the motivation I need to keep me moving on Saturday!” Says Kara. “Like I say-all that is important to me is smiles for miles.”



Nikki Reeves: London Marathon, London, UK







Kathryn Richardson Schjei: Pacific Coast Trail 50-Mile, Cleveland National Forest, CA


Says Kathryn, “I chose the PCT50 because I’m a member of SURF and its a local race so I’m excited to see a lot of friends running and volunteering.”




Sarah Olvera Speer: Toledo Ohio Marathon, Toledo, Ohio

Janice Levine Sitzes: Tobacco Road Marathon, Cary, North Carolina

Jeff Gallup: Greenland Trail 50K,  Larkspur, Colorado









Gemma Ann Selby: London Marathon, London, UK


INKnBURN Ambassador: Colby Wentlandt

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Colby Wentlandt, our youngest INKnBURN Ambassador, made a goal for himself when he was 12: by the end of that year, he wanted to run a marathon, by the age of 13, a 50-miler, and by 14, a 100-miler. So far, he’s completed all three goals and is constantly checking off more.


Wentlandt, now 14, from Warner, California, may, in fact, be the youngest person to run 100-miles–ever. The vivacious and determined boy has been enamored with the sport for a few years, but began to take the sport more seriously at the age of 12. “When I saw my dad run his first 100, I knew in my heart that one day I was going to run them, too,” says Wentlandt.

His mother and father, Shawn and Brady Wentlandt, are avid ultrarunners themselves. Shawna, 39, started running shorter distances in 2008, working her way up to her first 100-mile race in 2012. “I had no idea that people ran further than a marathon,” says Shawna. “Then we met Ed Ettinghausen, [known more commonly as The Jester], and a whole new crazy world opened up to us.” Shawna has now run 12 100-milers, while Brady, a US Marine, has finished 6. “My flexible schedule [as an online college professor] allows me to race more than he does,” she says.


Shawna ran Colby’s first official race, a half marathon, with him. “I made him stay with me every step of the way,” she says, but explains that it can be difficult balancing her role as a runner along with a mother. “I’ve found it a lot easier to focus on one thing at a time,” she says. “It’s emotionally draining to think about him when I’m exhausted myself.” That said, Shawna is insistent that she wants Colby to follow his dreams–not hers or anyone else’s.

When asked if she has difficulty supporting him in his ambitions and keeping him safe and secure as a mother, she explains that she lets Colby dictate how he feels. “He is really, really good about telling me if something is wrong if it’s just normal ‘ultra stuff’ he is dealing with.”

Colby Wentlandt considers his first race the Turkey Trot, when he was in grade three. “I didn’t train and I went into it wanting to win,” he says. “I was wearing my speedy crocs so how could I not win?” He jokes. Several years later, Wentlandt had the urge to begin pursuing his passion, and aimed for his first ultramarathon,  Across the Years, in Phoenix, Arizona. With a few months of 30-mile training weeks under his feet, he completed more than 55 miles in the 24-hour period–at the age of 12.


This week, I had the chance to ask INKnBURN Ambassador Colby some questions about his favorite running fuel, his favorite training runs and where he plans to go in the future.

Who do you like to run with?  I usually run with my dog Emily, however when I can I like to run with my mom and/or Dad.

What is your favorite place to run? I don’t really have a favorite place to run when I’m training, I just run where I feel like going.

Do you have any mentors in the ultra running world? Killian Jornet, Nickademus Hollon, Ed Ettinghausen, Joe Fejes and my parents, of course. My non-running idols are my Uncle Trevor and Judge Greg Mathis.

How are you training at the moment? I just recently started to run again after being sick for a while so I am currently only doing around 40 miles a week. When I first started training for races I only ran around 30 miles a week. I probably trained the most last summer when I ran around 50-70 miles a week.

What races are you looking forward to this year? I am currently looking forward to the Run Around Palmer Lake 24 Hour and the Nanny Goat 100.

Do you have any dream races? My main “one-day” races would have to be the Arrowhead 135, Hard Rock 100, The Barkley Marathons and HURT 100. The difficulty and prestigousness of these races attract me to them.

What’s your favorite post-run food? Buffalo wings and steak. I crave them when I’m around mile 90.

What’s your favorite thing to eat/drink during an ultramarathon? My favorite drink during a 100-mile is Mountain Dew and my favorite food would have to be pumpkin pie.


Check out Colby’s favorite training and racing gear here! 






Written by Jade Belzberg

INKnBURN Ambassador: Where in the World is Kristy Woodward!?

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INKnBURN Ambassador Kristy Woodward, 36 years old from Burbank, California, has been running for more than 10 years but it’s the traveling she does that sets her apart! An INKnBURN Ambassador for one year, Woodward travels for both pleasure and work, although it’s the work travel that is tedious and tiresome to many–but not to Woodward.

As the executive director and business development for, Woodward visits more than 13 cities in the US–including places like Anchorage, Alaska, Honolulu, Hawaii and Lacrosse, WI– to conduct Sales Training.

“To work out on the road really takes discipline,” she says. “Business travel means long hours spent in airports, sitting on planes and going between different time zones.” However, not one to make excuses, Woodward takes advantage of long waits at airport terminals by walking with a heavy backpack.

While the amount of travel can sometimes be tiring, Woodward loves it. “When traveling for work I think it’s easy and comfortable to just want to stay in your hotel room, but I really make an effort to get out and explore the city I am in.  I try to eat at local, non-chain restaurants.  And I have found walking or running is the best way to explore new places.”

When not working, Woodward’s choice of travel apparel is INKnBURN due to its lightweight and functionality. “It’s durable for outdoor activities, looks good for trips into town and cleans easily in a sink and dries fast,” she says.

Woodward has worn her INKnBURN gear for a variety of training runs and races, but it’s the places she’s taken her InB that’s the most inspiring. Check out some of Woodward’s great photos below.

Woodward wearing her Sugar Skull tee with Mt. Fitz Roy in the background. Argentina.
Woodward wearing her Sugar Skull tee with Mt. Fitz Roy in the background. Argentina.

“My favorite trip thus far was my recent trip to Patagonia (the Southern tip of Argentina & Chile).  It’s absolutely beautiful there.  The scenery often looked like something out of a painting.  Too beautiful to be real.  And the W-Trek in Torres Del Paine National Park in Chile was a top bucket list item that I’d been dying to do since I first learned about it.  It definitely lived up to my expectations.”

Woodward on a reverse canyoning expedition outside of Quito, Ecuador.
Woodward on a reverse canyoning expedition outside of Quito, Ecuador.

“The benefits of travel are infinite and cannot be fully described in words, but I do know it has made me: more independent, more tolerant, more appreciative, more joyful, less fearful, and a better problem solver.”

Woodward and her boyfriend at Phantom Ranch, Grand Canyon, Arizona.
Woodward and her boyfriend at Phantom Ranch, Grand Canyon, Arizona.

” My philosophy for personal travel/vacations is that I do not want to go sit on a beach during my time off.  Right now, while I’m young, I value extremely active vacations.  I want to save those beach vacations for later in life when I have just exhausted myself with climbing mountains (or even better…hopefully I’m still climbing mountains)!”

On the W-Trek in Torres Del Paine National Park, Chile.
On the W-Trek in Torres Del Paine National Park, Chile.

“I travel A LOT (within the US, including Alaska and Hawaii) for work.  To many work travel becomes tedious and tiring, but I love it.  I get bored if I am forced to sit at a desk in the same place for too long.  When traveling for work I think it’s easy and comfortable to just want to stay in your hotel room, but I really make an effort to get out and explore the city I am in.  I try to eat at local, non-chain restaurants.  And I have found walking/running is the best way to explore new places.”

Woodward enjoying all that Argentina has to offer.
Woodward enjoying all that Argentina has to offer.

“Each time I travel to a new place, my bucket list only gets longer.  I meet new people with amazing stories of places I have never heard of.  These places slowly turn to obsessions until I can see them for myself. Next on my bucket list, the South Island of New Zealand and Nepal.”

Looking for a great travel company?  Check out:  Kristy has gone on several amazing trips with this group and highly recommends them!

You can check out more of Woodward wearing INKnBURN in cool places on her instagram, @thisoneshortlife  

Written by Jade Belzberg

NEW INKnBURN Elite: Angela Shartel

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I meet Angela Shartel for the first time outside of a coffee shop that borders the sprawling Mission Trails Regional Park in San Diego, California, where she often trains. She’s smiling and happy and her lean, muscular arms suggest she lifts more than she does–“10 lbs is my limit” she says. “Really. My trainer had me use 17 lbs and I thought that was heavy!”

When not racing, Shartel maintains a 70-mile base in her off season and anywhere from 70-90 miles when training for a particular race. “My peak week is usually between 110-120 miles, and this is all on technical, rocky, hilly terrain,” she says. Mt. Laguna, Cuyamaca Peak and Mission Trails–all local areas–are her favorite haunts, but she’ll sub in anything she finds fun. “I ride my Elliptigo to the gym and mountain bike recreationally, too,” she says.

Shartel (on right) cross-training with a friend.
Shartel (on right) cross-training with a friend.

Shartel, 40, has made a name for herself, both in the local San Diego community and the ultra-running world but has only been running since 2004. A look at her Ultrasignup results and you might think she’s  spent years training, honing in on her skills on technical terrain and perfecting an optimistic attitude during races. You might even think that she’s been an incredibly strong athlete her entire life.

But that hasn’t always been the case. In fact, says Shartel, “the first race I was supposed to run I backed out.” It was a 5K through her high school cross country team in Japan, where she lived for the first 18 years of her life (with a four year stint in Guam when she was very young). “Sports became a way of leaving Japan, of traveling,” she says. The meet would be held in Korea, and though she disliked running and training, she signed up to have the chance to travel somewhere new. However, by the time the race arrived, she was terrified and backed out, telling her teammates she was sick.

 1979094_10202002572401299_2589044385756418638_oThe next time Shartel would run was more than ten years later. Shartel, now a mom of three, was 200 lbs overweight, borderline diabetic, and on high blood pressure, anxiety and depression medications. “Life happened,” she says, adding that her daughter’s heart condition and a troubled marriage led to overeating through coping. At her annual doctor’s appointment, Shartel was weighed, then told that her medications would have to be increased because of her corresponding weight increase. “I had been gaining 10 lbs every year for the past few years,” she says. “And I didn’t want to increase my medication any more, so I said, what can I do to get off of it completely?”

Shartel took no drastic measurements–no extreme diets, no trainers, and didn’t completely remove all of her favorite foods, which include bread and dessert. She counted calories instead and made it her goal to hit roughly 130 lbs.

“I gave myself a year,” she says, “and resolved to make my changes something manageable.”

Shartel with good friend and mentor, Scotty Mills
Shartel with good friend and mentor, Scott Mills

At first, these changes meant eating mindfully and going to group exercise classes at her local gym three times a week. As the weight came off–and it certainly did–Shartel started to hit the weights and work on her core, remembering the pushups, pull-ups and sit-ups she had done at her Kung Fu practices as a child.

At the end of that year, Shartel stepped on the scale to measure how much weight she had lost during that past year.


“60 lbs.I was angry,” she says. “I didn’t hit my target of 65 lbs.” As angry as she was, Shartel had done something incredible; she had lost a significant amount of weight, was no longer obese and was completely off all of her medications.

One day, while talking to a friend about the last 5 lbs, Shartel was invited to walk and jog the 21-mile Big Sur International Marathon Walk-Run. Although unsure about whether she could make the distance, Shartel signed up and began following a walk-a-marathon training plan.

“I started walking, but my hips and ankles and joints hurt,” she says. “So I tried jogging.” For some reason, jogging didn’t hurt Shartel so she began running on the treadmill at her gym.


“I told myself that when I worked up to three miles at the gym, I would try out a loop-course around my neighborhood. “The day arrived, and Shartel kept the promise to herself, running the entire loop.

“It was the hardest thing I had ever done,” she says. “But I timed myself–I averaged 14 minutes per mile–and at least I had a starting point.”

As the day of her walk-run race approached, Shartel learned that the course was better known as a marathon course: the Big Sur International Marathon.

“I couldn’t go and not do the full thing,” she says. So, she signed up for the full 26.2-mile course and decided upon a rough goal of sub-4:00, with just four months of running experience under her belt.

“I finished in something like 3:56, and my now-ex-husband mentioned that I missed the Boston Qualifying time by minutes at the time,” she explains. Shartel hadn’t heard about the Boston Marathon, and so her next goal was, not surprisingly, to qualify for Boston. She ran the Rock n’ Roll Marathon and the Nike Women’s Marathon, qualifying for Boston, then ran Boston–“which,” she says, “was a disaster because I was sick.”


The Boston Marathon experience didn’t turn her off running, though. And if you ask her where her true passion for the sport lies, you won’t get through a sentence without trail running showing up somewhere. Shartel now boasts wins from races like PCT 50, Noble Canyon 50K and Angeles Crest 100-Mile but it took a trail-loving friend to drag her off the pavement and onto the dirt.


“I complained the whole time about the rocks and hills, but my friend  said, “just give me two weeks”, she says. “I gave it two weeks and immediately started looking for a trail marathon.”

The Catalina Eco-Marathon, one of the toughest trail marathons around, was Shartel’s choice. With nearly 4,500 feet of gain, it’s certainly not an easy first trail race. Still, Shartel placed second female. The biggest reward for Shartel, however, was meeting people who had ran 50Ks and 50-milers, something that Shartel had never heard of prior to that race.


“I kept asking my friend, “How far is 50 kilometers!? Can I do that!?””

Upon returning from Catalina, Shartel began training on trails, trying to mimic the terrain at her next planned race, the Over the Hills Track Club High Desert 50K. She completed it, but when she found out it was a relatively “easy” 50K race thanks to it’s low elevation profile, she resolved to find a tougher one.

“The next race was Baz’s San Juan 50K,” she says. “I signed up immediately.” When the race arrived, Shartel had just left her husband and was finalizing the divorce. “The race had a lot of meaning for me,” she says, “because finishing it meant I was going to be okay alone.”

Shartel left early for the race, but got lost and didn’t arrive until after the race began. With tears streaming down her face, she approached Race Director Baz and told him that no matter, she had to do this race.

She finished and continued progressing, moving from the 50K to the 50-mile to 100-miles. “You find out stuff about you, what you’re made of, how much you can endurance during these races,” she says. “I always say, you find your strong.”


I asked Shartel whether she always planned to go from one race to the next, continually progressing towards harder and harder races and race distances.

No,” she says. “I just like racing different things–races that suit my strengths, but I also love point-to-point races.”

Shartel plans to run the Black Canyon 100K early next year and is in the lottery for the Hardrock 100-Mile. If that doesn’t pan out, she’ll be running the hilly Cruel Jewel 100 in Georgia.


Shartel wearing the matching INKnBURN Women’s Dragonfly Sports Skirt and Camisole, with 4Arms.

Shartel joined INKnBURN’s Elite Team this past week and we couldn’t be more excited! When asked if she has any tips for people just getting into trail running, she says comparison is the enemy.  “Assess where you are and focus on improving from that point,” she says. “If you’ve been on the couch, get outside. If you’ve been walking, try hiking or running. Explore the world around you. Drop your expectations and make a decision to do your best and continually challenge yourself.  That’s when growth happens! All too often it seems we strive to meet the goals we think others have of us instead of requiring the most out of ourselves.”

For Shartel’s Facebook Athlete page, click here. 











INKnBURN Ambassador Profile: Carolyn Cabanban

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Carolyn Cabanban is an INKnBURN Ambassador for a number of reasons:

  1. She rocks the INKnBURN Women’s Performance Denim Shorts and Lust Capris–“Everytime I wear them,” she says, “people ask if they can touch my pants and whether or not I’m really running in jeans!”
  2. She’s a 44-year-old single mother of two teenage daughters and started running again four years ago. “It became a refuge, a place to sort my thoughts, and a permanent part of my life,” she says.
  3. Cabanban is a part of the “Star Runners,” a local running group that raises funds for various organizations. After signing up with “whoirun4,” Cabanban was paired with a one-year-old girl named Ava, who she dedicates many of her miles to.


The above information might be familiar to friends, families and ambassadors of INKnBURN. But how many know the following 10 facts about Carolyn Cabanban?


1. Favorite race distance: I am really liking the half marathon distance. Long enough to really push myself without feeling like it’s too much. (ie: I can still walk later in the day)

2. Favorite place to run: I was lucky enough to get a run in on Manhattan Beach in CA when I was there for this past Rose Bowl game. There is something about running alongside the ocean with the waves providing a beautiful backdrop and sound that I don’t get to experience here in the midwest. It was so peaceful and serene.

3. Dream day: I’d like to wake up to a perfectly clean house, step outside to a beautiful sunrise along a beach, go for a long effortless run in perfect cool temps, come back home to grateful kids who say “Wow, Mom, this is so awesome that the pantry keeps filling itself with food so you don’t have to listen to us complain that we are starving all.the.time…”, and that’s just the morning…

The rest of my dream day would involve spending time with special people doing whatever we feel like doing, and going to sleep feeling completely fulfilled knowing I lived to see another beautiful day.

4. Favorite running shoes: Mizunos! The Wave Elixir (now discontinued) is my favorite shoe ever.

5. Favorite INKnBURN gear: The Bloom Pullover is one of my very favorite pieces. Running in the midwest brings cooler temperatures much of the year, and the pullover is perfect on its own or as a layer.  It’s also so versatile I can wear it to work. The Lust capris are another of my favorites, perfect for kickboxing and always a conversation starter! They are so comfortable, and I can go right from the gym to the grocery store in them.

6. Music or no music: I used to run with music all the time and never thought I would be able to run without. Because I often run very early in the morning, I had to adapt to running without it so that I could be completely aware of my surroundings. Surprisingly, I often prefer running without music now, connecting with my breathing and my thoughts. I do prefer music on my longer runs, and my running playlist includes everything from The Ramones to Michael Jackson to Zac Brown Band. My staple, however, is Eminem…something about his music always gets me through the really tough workouts.

7. Best run or race ever: The Wisconsin Half Marathon in May of this year. It was my first time running a half marathon without a friend beside me to push me. I trained for it through the worst winter I can remember. The weather on race day was perfect, the course was beautiful right along the Lake Michigan lakefront, and my pace stayed consistent and strong throughout my entire race. I was pleased with my effort, and I got to see my daughters at 3 different mile markers on the course to push me to the finish. Knowing that I trained through some really tough conditions over the winter and spring gave me a great deal of satisfaction finishing that run, and knowing I did it all on my own was really pretty awesome.

8. Worst run or race ever: The changing of seasons from spring to summer here brings warmer temperatures and extremely humid weather. The transition every year is really tough for the first several runs, and not something I look forward to because my pace slows and my legs feel like I’m running through Jello. But man, once you get acclimated to it, there is nothing like that feeling that you conquered that beast. I suffer through the tough runs to get to the really great ones. I have to smile when I finish a really crappy run, because I know that it took everything in me just to keep going and I still finished.

9. Favorite running buddy: My friend Heather is the person who introduced me to INKnBURN. She is the one who ran my first and second half marathons with me (First was Chicago Half in Sept 2013 and the second at Disney for the Wine and Dine 2013), and she is the best person to run with because she pushes me but never makes me feel like I’m holding her back. She helps me get through the tough miles just by saying “Hey, it’s ok, man, we are just gonna rolll with this” and is just an incredible person and friend. If not for her, I don’t know that I would have been inspired to run anything beyond a 5K. Honestly. She is one of the most inspiring people I know (and just happens to be a brand new INB Ambassador!)

10. Dream race or run: Česke Budějovice Half Marathon in the Czech Republic, if we are dreaming big here. I’d love to be able to run in the land where my family is originally from, as I have heard the scenery there is breathtaking, and that the course is flat and fast. That would be incredible.

Check out Carolyn’s favorite INKnBURN clothing picks here:


Women’s Bandit Camisole


Women’s Lust Capri Pants

Written by Jade Belzberg