Race Report: Rattlesnake Run 5k


When I knew I’d be home in Michigan this month for a childhood friend’s wedding, the first thing I did after booking plane tickets was look up local races. Because why not squeeze in a little of my favorite fall activity — running through the brilliant foliage of the Midwest — as the colors near their peak this season?

Ok, I’ll admit it; part of me was also hoping that my trip would coincide with the Detroit Marathon so I could sign up for the half and run for fun. But I’m nowhere near trained up for that, so it ended up being for the best that the only options were a few nearby 5k’s.


I settled on the Rattlesnake Run 5k since it supports a cool cause, is located pretty close to home, and the start time was a very friendly 11 a.m. — aka I could sleep in after the wedding festivities and get a leisurely workout done before lunch. Once that was decided, I set about badgering recruiting my favorite running buddy (my sister), who begrudgingly agreed.

The race is put on by the Michigan Nature Association, and its purpose is to promote efforts to preserve habitat for the Eastern Massasauga Rattlesnake, a species of special concern in Michigan. It’s The Mitten’s only venomous snake, in fact, and is a rare sight for most state residents.


Another upside of this event is that it’s relatively new (in its second year), so it’s not super crowded. And it’s a trail race, so it has a nice, laid-back atmosphere.

The course is a 1.5-mile out-and-back along the Paint Creek Trail, which is an 8.9-mile linear park, located in northeast Oakland County. Fun fact: It was also the first Rail-to-Trail in the state of Michigan, as it was converted to a trail from the former Penn Central Railroad.

FullSizeRender (1)

We arrived around 10:40 a.m. to pick up our race numbers and t-shirts, and there was no line so we breezed right through. After a quick pre-race bathroom pit stop (no movement yet, but Baby H loves to make his/her presence known by standing on my bladder), we lined up at the start to listen to final instructions from the race director.

Typically I hang back in the pack, but I was feeling good so I toed the line behind a few folks who looked like they’d be taking the lead pretty quickly. My sister was feeling under the weather, so we decided at the last moment to run separately; I was aiming to run and finish in fewer than 30 minutes, while she decided to deploy a walk-jog strategy.

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The race director counted us down, and we were off — I was the second female out of the gate and remember thinking I’d just try to maintain that position for the whole race, body-permitting. About a quarter of a mile in, the lead female dropped back while I simultaneously got passed by the third place woman, so I figured I’d pace off of her and try to hold on for as long as I could to the end.

The course was flat and gorgeous — there was plenty to look at with the leaves changing colors — but I was more focused on maintaining my breathing and staying hyper-aware of how my body was feeling because of Baby H. Although my legs felt great, it was just shortness of breath that was holding me back, so I tried to walk the fine line between keeping a steady pace and making sure I was getting enough oxygen.


At the turnaround, I saw a few other ladies coming up behind me, so my goal was to run a steady second half and try to hold them off until the finish, which I managed to do. After grabbing water and a banana, I got back to the finish area just in time to catch a shot of my sister running across looking awesomely strong!

I’ve got to say — it’s been a while since I’ve run (or, well, raced) a 5k, but Lauren Fleshman hit the nail on the head when she called the distance “freaking awesome.” It’s enough of a challenge (especially in my current state), but “you can train and still have a life, race hard and walk normally the next day, and get really fit really fast.”

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Talk about the best of both worlds! It just might be my new distance for as long as running while pregnant still agrees with me (it’s seems to vary by day at the moment; some days I’m itching to run, and others I can’t bring myself to do it).

Final time — 26:15. Not a PR, but good enough for second place female overall and first place in my age group. And first place for the <1 age group, if you’re counting Baby H in tow :)

Big thanks to our parents for coming out to cheer us on. It reminded me of my cross country days having their smiling faces to look forward to at the finish line.

And I can’t forget the SNAKES! Yes, there was an aforementioned rattlesnake on hand (caged, of course), but there was also an Eastern Fox snake being passed around for photos ops (can you tell I’m not a snake fan!?).

For more information on the Rattlesnake Run 5k, visit RunSignup.com.

What’s your favorite way to enjoy fall?

Football-Inspired Agility Workout

Source: Competitor.com

Source: Competitor.com

It’s fall racing season, and we’ve got one thing on our minds at Team LUNA Chix Portland Run (well, besides pumpkin spiced lattes and cozy sweaters): Getting faster.

Training to increase your foot turnover and develop explosive power can help increase running speed. Which is why we’ve taken a page from the football coach’s handbook and have been focusing on plyometrics and agility drills in practice lately.

Plus, let’s face it, sometimes it’s fun to add a few “toys” into training. But if you don’t want to invest in an agility ladder or speed hurdles, you can just as easily draw squares on asphalt with chalk and blow up a few balloons to use as hurdles that’ll pop if you happen to land on them the wrong way.

footballfield_agility drills workout

If you’re not familiar with the drills above (or a shuttle run), King Sports Training is a great resource for both agility ladder (here) and speed hurdle (here) drills. I use it as a reference when planning workouts — not only becasue they demonstrate the moves with videos, but they also explain the benefits of each.

Do you pull tidbits from other sports into your training? 

September Goal Check-In


If my last few months of check-ins have seemed a little vague (or filled with missed workouts and centered around naps and food), now you know why! It feels good to be out with the baby news, and it’s a relief to be able to be up front in this month’s recap with how it’s been affecting my “training.”

So many plans have been up in the air for the bulk of this year due to all the what-ifs, but now that I’m nearly halfway there (18 weeks…what?!), I’m finally allowing myself to do a little more planning. There are definitely things I’m still able to do that surprise me, and things I thought I’d be able to do that my body wants nothing to do with, so it’s been a learning experience along the way.

And as for goals…well, expectations have had to shift, and I’m trying my best to go with the flow. But that’s often easier said than done in the day and age of social media, which makes fear-of-missing-out and falling prey to the comparison trap new obstacles around which to navigate!

Read more about the five goals toward which I’m working this year.

Here’s the latest on my progress:

1. Seeking Balance

Good news: The energy that was non-existent in my first trimester has pretty much returned. Not-so-good news: If I overextend myself one day, I’ll end up paying for it the next with a headache and mild nausea with lightheadedness.


I found that planning things to look forward to helped me make it through some of the frustrations of trying to find the delicate balance in early pregnancy. Being able to take a trip home earlier this month was good for the soul — even if chasing around after my very active two-and-a-half year-old nephew pushed the limits of my exhaustion!

2. Training Smarter

Fall usually means one thing when it comes to running: lots of it. But, unfortunately, my favorite activity doesn’t always feel so great. From minor aches and pains to feeling like I need to pee the whole time I’m in action, I’ve had to cut back on mileage and am only running once or twice a week at the moment.


Staying active is a priority, however, so I’ve made a loose training plan to stay on track. Walking is the new running, and I do it several times a week so I can get out and enjoy the crisp, fall air. And I’ve been supplementing daily cardio sessions with yoga, strength training, barre and prenatal movement classes to keep my muscles strong, yet supple.

3. Facing Fears

Confession: Another month and I haven’t been in the pool. But let’s be honest — at this point, the bigger fear I’m trying to face may be less about the water and more about putting on a bathing suit in public in the awkward beer-belly stage of pregnancy.


In all seriousness, though, I know there are so many benefits to swimming while pregnant, so I do plan on adding it into my weekly workout mix. But since we only have a finite amount of sunny Portland days left this season, I’ll likely focus more on outdoor workouts to soak up the remaining rays while we still can!

4. Pushing Myself

A major highlight of the month was the Bridge of the Goddess 10K, in which several of us LUNA ladies participated. You can check out my race recap here for all the details, but — spoiler alert — it was a fun one.


So much fun, in fact, that I’m hoping to add a few shorter races into my schedule before the end of the year. It seems like 5k’s and 10k’s are my sweet spot right now, so I’d like to pick a few to do for fun over the next few months in order to motivate myself to run for as long as I am able.

5. Giving Back

Hands-down, the most exciting event this month was our first annual Team LUNA Chix Portland Run charity spin-a-thon. We had a packed room and managed to raise $2,420 for the Breast Cancer Fund — not only meeting, but far exceeding our goal of $1,500 for the season!


Our 2015 season (April-October) will be winding down soon, but we’re already in the early planning stages for 2016 to make it an even bigger, better year. In the meantime, we want to invite all Portland ladies to join us for our Monday night practice sessions in October — we meet at 6:30 pm at the Duniway Park Track.

All levels are welcome (walkers, runners), and be sure to follow along in the fun via our Facebook, Twitter and Instagram accounts.

How are your 2015 goals coming along? 

Struggle with Running? 6 Tips to Make Training Easier


There’s no shortage of advice out there when it comes to running further or faster, but what if getting to the start line is enough of a challenge in and of itself?

How do you make training less daunting when running is a total struggle?

I get asked this question a lot from people who are interested in training for a specific event but either A) are new to the game and don’t know how to get started, B) have a history of injury and/or medical conditions that prevent them from following a typical training plan or C) have crashed and burned in the past and realize that a more realistic approach is needed.

Believe it or not, at one point or another in my 20+ years of running experience, I’ve been in each of those places!

Disclaimer: Although I’m a former ACE-certified personal trainer, I’m not a running coach or a medical professional, so seek their guidance before following any advice you read here or elsewhere; this is just some insight I’ve gleaned from years of trial and error. 

First, have you cleared it with your doctor that you’re cool to run? If not, that’s priority numero uno. Second, get your expectations in order because there’s no quick fix here; the best approach is to follow the tortoise’s lead: slow and steady.

Also, keep in mind that one of the biggest reasons people “hate” running and/or end up abandoning it is because they get impatient, rush the process and it ends up being a miserable experience all around.

So instead, let’s talk tips for making training less about competition and more about completion so you step up to that start line confident, healthy and ready to run.

1. Take a typical training plan, and double the time it takes to prepare. For example, if your goal is a half marathon and the plan you want to use is four months in duration, give yourself eight to properly gear up for race day. Of course, we’re not talking twice the amount of hardcore training; we’re talking about giving yourself a longer runway to ease into running — without feeling the pressure of time — before actual training begins.

2. Start slow, stay slow and keep it comfortable. There’s a misconception that running has to suck in order for it to be working. Not so. If it’s uncomfortable, slow down. If it’s painful, stop. One tip here, which a lot of my triathlete friends swear by, is to calculate your heart rate ranges and use a heart rate monitor to quantitatively force yourself to slow down. Most of us are pushing too hard, so it’s often surprising to see how slow you really need to go in order to stay within range and build a true aerobic base!

3. Never underestimate the power of NOT running. I experimented with this concept as I was training for my first marathon back after a major injury (stress fracture in hip…followed by years of thinking I would never run 26.2 again). Knowing that when I run every day I can pretty much count on an injury, I found a plan where I was running only three times week and cross training and/or resting the other days. It worked like a charm! Not only did I get a personal record on race day, but I crossed the finish line injury-free.

4. Don’t get fixated on “running” the entire event. Put bluntly, you’ve got to know the constraints of your body, and sometimes running for hours on end in a longer event is just too much. That doesn’t necessarily mean you can’t do it, it just means you may need to adjust your definition of what “running” the race means. If your goal truly is just to finish, make it your mission to figure out the equation that’ll get you there in one piece.

For example, in my last marathon, I had a pre-stress fracture in my tibia and had to take five weeks off during peak training for it to heal. I ramped up as best I could toward race day, but there was no way I’d make up the mileage and be able to run 26.2 without potentially re-injuring myself. So I consulted a coach, and we made a game plan for me to set my watch for 10-min jog/1-min walk increments. It was still was painful, yes, but I made it…and was only 10 minutes off my personal best time.

5. Get up close and personal with all kinds of cross-training. If running beats you up (like it does me), rely on other forms of cross training to develop cardiovascular fitness and muscle strength. I cycled like crazy during those five weeks off from running during that last marathon training phase, and I credit it for helping me maintain my fitness despite having an injury. Of course, some running is important to get your body used to the movement, but otherwise swimming, biking, hiking, etc. are all awesome ways to condition yourself silly.

6. Put your faith in preventative care practices. One of the most important keys to success in running is what you’re doing when you’re not running. Think of it as banking good karma with the running gods every time you hit up a yoga class, break out the foam roller or take time for a stretch session. Supple muscles are strong, yet loose, and less prone to injury; take care of your body, and it will do the same for you. Plus, another bonus is that it’s a good brain break from all the other training you’re doing!

How do you make training suck less?

Recipe: Farmer’s Market Salad


Although I was off salads for most of the summer (ah, food aversions), I credit one special dish to getting me back on the fresh veggie bandwagon in time for fall: the Daily Cafe’s Sauvie Island Farm Salad. It’s a heavenly combination of chopped heirloom tomatoes, avocado, corn, cucumbers, sweet onions and arugula tossed with an apple cider vinaigrette.

I realized my new “habit” had become a full-blown obsession, however, as I was packing up to head home to Michigan a few weeks back and found myself wondering what I’d do without my usual lunchtime rendezvous. So I figured I’d take matters into my own hands with a little recipe redux for my family…plus a few small tweaks, of course (because I’m still off avocados…dammit).

Use it as a side dish to compliment your protein, as we did with some glazed salmon one evening. Or pile on some shredded chicken breast, and call it a meal unto its own. Either way, it’s a fantastic way to enjoy the final fruits of summer!

Farmer’s Market Salad


  • 4 heirloom tomatoes
  • 1 ear of fresh corn
  • Few handfuls of arugula lettuce
  • One ball of fresh mozzarella cheese
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1 cup shredded chicken, optional


  1. Wash and chop tomatoes into 1/2-inch sized cubes. Place in a large bowl.
  2. Peel corn, and cut kernels off the cob directly into the bowl with tomatoes. Toss in a few handfuls of arugula (more, if you’d like).
  3. Cut mozzarella ball into small pieces, and add to bowl. Drizzle with olive oil and balsamic vinegar, and season with salt and pepper.
  4. Add shredded chicken (optional), and toss entire mixture to coat evenly with dressing. Serve and devour immediately.

Two quick tips: First, think out of the box and try using different kinds and colors of tomatoes. Red, green, yellow, brown, large, small — they’re all gorgeous and add more visual appeal to your meal. Remember, feeling satisfied and well-nourished means engaging all of your senses!


Second, if you’re leery of soft cheeses (like me at the moment), I’ve got a super simple fix: Instead of fresh moz, buy some mozzarella string cheese to chop up. Sure, it’s got a slightly tougher texture, but it’s still delicious and a terrific source of calcium.


Which recipes have you been craving this season?

Baby H: 16-Week Update


As much as I’ve been excited about entering this new phase of life, I’ve been hesitant about doing pregnancy updates here on the blog.

Why? Well, for one thing, I want to keep the focus here on health and fitness topics with which a wide audience can relate. But the fact is that living an active lifestyle is important to me, pregnant or not, so I do want to document that part of the journey here for better or for worse.

Second, frankly, I didn’t want to jinx myself. These past four months have been filled with highs and lows, joys and challenges, surprises and scares (ah, the fun of being “advanced maternal age”), and I guess there’s part of me that’s still processing all of that and another part of me that’s skeptical that what’s happening is really happening. Sure, I feel different, but I haven’t felt the baby move yet, and the look I’m currently sporting is much less “pregnant” and a lot more “Freshman 15.”

Third, if there’s one thing I’ve learned so far it’s that pregnancy is a complete and total crap-shoot. There’s no one-size-fits-all experience, advice or explanation. Everyone’s path starts, exists and ends at very different places; I’ve got friends who have had experiences across the entire spectrum: exceedingly delightful to downright scary. Every pregnancy is as unique as the person going through it, so this is just my version, plain and simple.

Finally, and along those same lines of everyone having vastly different experiences, I want to be especially sensitive to that piece. For every fairy-tale pregnancy story with a bouncing bundle of joy in the pot at the end of the rainbow, there’s countless more stories of challenges, complications, heartache and loss going on behind the scenes. It happens more than you think, and these silent struggles are often not discussed. I just want to take a moment to acknowledge that this is an emotionally-charged topic, and for good reason.

So with that said, I’m a little over four months in, so I figured I’d do a quick update…

Month Four: Baby is the size of an avocado! Oddly enough, my usual avocado-a-day habit has ceased for the past few months, although I’m slowly sneaking some back in here and there.

Weight Gained: I don’t regularly weigh myself, so I’m not exactly sure where I was at pre-baby. But I’d guess I’m up somewhere between 4-6 pounds based on my last weigh-in at the doctor’s office.

Workouts: After months of feeling utterly wiped out, I finally turned a corner in week 15 and seem to have gotten some energy back. I don’t have quite the same stamina as I did before — I get short of breath quickly and seem to have a lower tolerance for pushing through discomfort when working out — but I’m grateful to be doing things like shorter runs, cycling, barre, swimming, strength training, hiking, etc.

Symptoms: Maybe the old wives’ tales are true about morning sickness being hereditary; my mom and sister escaped unscathed, as did I. My major symptom for the first few months was an overwhelming fatigue, though. And one of my guy friends asked me early on, “So what does it feel like being pregnant?” Again, everyone’s different, but I described it as part I ate-too-much-at-dinner-and-can’t-suck-my-stomach-in and part I-think-I-may-have-pulled-something-in-my-lower-abdomen. I can definitely feel everything shifting around, and although my belly hasn’t quite gotten the message yet, my boobs and hips have been more than happy to oblige.

Food Aversions: For the first six weeks or so, I was eating very normally (i.e. all the veggies!). But for the next month or month and a half in there, things got a bit dicey. It was less about outright aversions and more about only one thing sounding good at a time. One night it was pad thai, another it was pizza. And I do remember one week filled with Doritos, Golden Grahams and ramen, which started to make my husband a little nervous for what was to come. But once that passed, I’ve been able to add healthy items back in and dial back (somewhat) on the junk.

Food Cravings: I haven’t had any cravings for odd combinations, but I have noticed a pattern for certain food types. For example, around nine weeks, all I wanted was sour and I was on a mission for pickles, sauerkraut and the like. Then a few weeks later, the dairy cravings kicked in; I’d been drinking mostly almond milk after doing Whole 30 a while back, but now it just won’t do. I’ve got to have my 2%, and I’ve lost count of how many cartons of cottage cheese, bowls of cereal and sticks of string cheese I’ve plowed through since. There was also a week in there where I was pretty obsessed with tomatoes, and I have been indulging my sweet tooth more often than usual, but I figure it all balances out since I’m staying active and need some extra calories (and sugar?) anyway.

Sleep: For the first three months, I slept like a log. My husband was thrilled because he could make all the noise in the world getting ready for work, and I was dead to the world. But for the past 4-5 weeks, I’ve been waking up once or twice a night, either to pee or thinking about work, baby stuff, etc. and having trouble falling back to sleep. I’m really hoping this changes before the third trimester insomnia kicks in, although Ben likes to joke that I shouldn’t hold my breath — I likely won’t get a truly good night’s sleep for the next 18 years now that we’ve got this little boy or girl about to rock our worlds!

Looking Forward To: Our next big appointment at 18 weeks where we get the anatomy ultrasound. This is exciting for several reasons: First, the doctor said we’d be shocked by how much the baby has changed since our last one. Second, it’s a big checkpoint in terms of making sure things are progressing normally and everything’s developing ok. Third, it’s also when you can find out the sex of the baby…which we are actually NOT going to do!

Boy/Girl Suspicions: Ben thinks boy, and I’m guessing girl, but I really don’t have a strong feeling either way yet. We each have a 50-50 shot at being correct, though, right?

Any Fun Stories? It sounds cliche, but hearing the heartbeat early on was pretty cool; it gave me some hope when I was trying to process how crappy I was feeling at the time. The funniest part so far, however, was at the first trimester screening (12 weeks) where they have to get a shot of the baby’s profile from a certain angle in order to check some measurements. Our little guy/girl was pretty comfortable hanging out head-down, fast asleep. No amount of poking, prodding, peeing or likewise worked to get it to shift, so I finally ate some candy, walked around, then hung out on my side for a bit to persuade it to switch positions. The tech said we already have a little stinker on our hands due to the utter lack of cooperation, and I jokingly asked her to zoom in…because I was pretty sure the baby might be giving us all the middle finger for rousing him/her from a nap!

Stay tuned for the month five update in a few weeks…

Terrible 20’s Conditioning Workout

Source: Will Dickey/The Times-Union

Source: Will Dickey/The Times-Union

Ever have a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day?

Well, my friends, it’s about to get worse before it gets better.

Allow me to introduce you to the workout that will go down in Team LUNA Chix Portland Run infamy: the Terrible 20’s. It’s a football-drill-inspired conditioning workout that’s designed to get you in great shape for game time — or, in our case, race day.

I stumbled across it and decided to try it in lieu of our usual track workout one week. That night I got a record number of dirty looks during practice, and the next day I got countless texts from people telling me their whole body was feeling the aftereffects.

I’d call that a workout win-win, if there ever was one!

Here’s how it works:


And you’re not off the hook if you’re working out alone because the Terrible 20’s also works well with just one person. Simply start with your 20 push-ups, then sprint 100 yards, do your 20 sit-ups and count down from there — sprint another 100 years, do 19 push-ups, sprint 100 years, do 19 sit-ups and so on and so forth.

Sounds easy enough, right? Just give it a few rounds, and you’ll be begging for a time out!

Got a tale of torture from a terrible workout of your own to share?