Race Report: Race for the Roses 10K

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You know when I said I was going to slow my roll this year when it came to signing up for a bunch of events? Well, when a rockstar social media pal has an entry to spare (thanks, Karen!) and you’ve got willing running buddies (mad props to Nicole and Ben!), it’s hard to resist registering for another race.

Oops.

In my defense, this almost turned into another 13.1 because my usual masochistic tendency inclination is toward the longest distance available (especially since I need miles while training for next month’s events), however this time good sense prevailed. Ben and I raced pretty hard last weekend, and despite post-race massage and chiropractor appointments, I still wasn’t feeling fully recovered.

The solution? Split the difference, and trick ourselves into training. So we signed up for the 10K and decided not only to run it for fun, but also to jog to and from the race for a total of nine casual Sunday morning miles.

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We arrived at the start just as the half marathoners were taking off, so we waited off to the side, stretching, as we watched them disappear into the distance. Then, with 11 minutes to spare, we lined up and waited for the corrals to fill around us.

Except they didn’t. Well, at least not in front of us.

In typical Oregonian fashion (and particularly at more casual races like this), the start was orderly and polite, and the race director had to encourage people to step up to the line. I always appreciate a courteous crowd, but it makes me smile and think back to other races where I’ve see elbows being used as weapons in order to jockey for position, even in small, local events.

The seven- and eight-minute mile areas were still pretty light, so we lined up towards the front but stayed on the side as the crowd slowly filtered in. By the time the gun went off, though, the area around us had filled in pretty well.

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As far as courses go, this was one of my favorites so far in Portland. Not only do you get two bridge crossings (Broadway and Steel), but the race directors have also designed it so you don’t get stuck with a loooong out and back on Front Ave.

If you’re not familiar with the area, it’s a super-flat, super-industrial stretch, which is slowly starting to fill in with residential buildings but can also be a mind-numbing straightaway during races (i.e. when I ran the Portland Marathon half in 2010). Instead, this course curved nicely through the Pearl District and into the Northwest so we only had to do Front Ave. once.

And aside from the final ascent to the Steel Bridge, I don’t remember there being any big hills. In fact, the race even touts the fact that it’s PR-friendly, so take note if you want a good spot to clinch that new record next year!

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Ben, Nicole and I agreed ahead of time that we were going to keep the pace conversational. I’d estimated we’d be in the nine-minute mile range, but aside from Nicole letting us know each time we completed a kilometer, none of us were watching the clock.

We stopped at the aid stations every two miles or so to grab water and electrolytes, but ended up skipping the final aid station because it was less than a mile from the finish. By that point, we also figured it’d be better to keep moving forward rather than get caught up with the crowd of half marathon walkers, 10K’ers and 5K’ers who were converging on the course.

Again, I have to give kudos to the race director, though, for dividing us up into lanes so as to prevent any major traffic jams during this last stretch. We were divided not only by distance, but also by runners/walkers, which alleviated the headache of having to bob and weave through the crowd too much in the final stretch.

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Before we knew it, we were crossing the Steel Bridge and had the finish line area in sight (the spire off to the right in the picture above). A few quick turns later, we rounded the last corner and gave one last push to cross together in 56:38 for an overall average pace of 9:06/mile.

After collecting roses and hand-made wooden finisher’s medals, we made our way into the Oregon Convention Center for the post-race party. And, boy, did we feel well taken care of (thanks to all the wonderful volunteers for their time and energy)!

Between Jamba Juice smoothies and a solid spread of food (bagels, coffee cake, cinnamon rolls, all kinds of fruit, mimosas and coffee), they were also offering free photos, massages, expo shopping and live music. I can’t recommend this race highly enough if you want a fun, low-pressure event to run with friends and family.

Rather than wait in line for the official shot, however, we opted to snap our own impromptu version of a finisher’s photo before jogging back home. It was a fantastic way to spend a Sunday morning, and especially rewarding to be able to share the experience with Nicole, who is one of my Team LUNA Chix Portland Run teammates, and Ben.

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If you’re interested in participating or volunteering in next year’s Race for the Roses, visit their website here for details.

And if you’re in the Portland area and want to grab a workout with Team LUNA Chix on Monday nights at 6:30 p.m., check our Facebook page for the latest location updates.

Hope to see you soon!

What’s your race schedule look like this season? 

Recipe: Zest Nutrition’s Gluten-Free Lemon Chia Seed Muffins

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Despite whatever the weather’s doing near you, the calendar says it’s spring. And one of my favorite ways to celebrate is with a sweet treat, preferably something light, bright and lemon-y.

Ever since my friend (Zest Nutrition co-founder & fellow Team LUNA Chix Portland Run memberMegan Fuetterer posted this recipe, I’d been dying to try it. The only problem? Our oven was broken for almost a week.

So as soon as we were up and running again on what happened to be a rainy weekend afternoon, baking these little rays of sunshine was first on my to-do list. They’re everything you love about lemon muffins — and more — because they’re super healthy.

Gluten-Free Lemon Chia Seed Muffins

Adapted from Zest Nutriton

Ingredients: 

  • 4 cups almond meal/flour
  • 4 Tbsp chia seeds
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • Zest of 2 lemons
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 4 eggs
  • 3/4 cup lemon-flavored Greek yogurt
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup agave nectar

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350F.
  2. Mix together dry ingredients. In a separate bowl, whisk together wet ingredients.
  3. Combine wet and dry ingredients, then pour into lined muffin tins.
  4. Bake for 25-30 minutes. Let cool, and enjoy!

Here’s a look at the process:

I just bought a great new grater from GoodCook, which made zesting the two lemons a breeze (and spared my poor knuckles).

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They’re pretty dense, thanks to the almond flour, so be generous when you’re filling the cups; these muffins will rise only slightly.

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Bake until the edges are a nice golden-brown and a toothpick inserted into the center of the muffins comes out clean.

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Since I used agave nectar, which is 1.4 times sweeter than sugar, I halved the amount of honey the original recipe called for.

But if you like them on the sweeter side, you may want to experiment with the type and amount of sweetener used.

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The lemon yogurt, which I added instead of applesauce, also added another layer of flavor and kept the muffins nice and moist.

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Enjoy, and here’s hoping they bring a little ray of sunshine into your spring!

Is your baking influenced by the change of seasons? 

8 Tips for Ditching Runner’s Trots for Good

To quote that infamous childhood book, “All living things eat, so everyone poops.”

True enough, especially if you’re a runner. And if that’s the case, there’s a good chance you know this all too well, having likely discussed it extensively with a handful of close runner friends.

The Diarrhea Dilemma

While we like to think our workouts are accompanied solely by philosophical conversations, some inevitably spiral into war stories about bodily functions. But as prevalent as these intestinal issues (aka “Runner’s Trots) may be, it’s a topic that’s not addressed in all circles.

So what’s a trot-troubled runner to do?

Well, first, realize that you’re not alone — more than half of us have experienced exercise-related GI disturbances. And, second, there’s a lot you can do to prevent (best-case) and handle (worst-case) it. But it also helps to understand exactly what’s happening so you can make an informed plan of attack.

Desperately Seeking…A Restroom

According to the Gatorade Sports Science Institute, “there are three main causes of GI symptoms: physiological (reduced blood flow to the gut), mechanical (bouncing effect of running, for example) or nutritional.”

As you exercise, the body diverts blood flow away from internal organs to support working muscles and cool the surface of your skin. Combine that with intestinal “jostling” and heavy/fatty/fiber-filled/sugary foods, and you’ve quite literally got a ticking time bomb in your gut.

Avoiding The Runs on Your Runs

Don’t want to make “that” emergency call during a long training run or veer off-course for a mid-race porta-potty pit stop? The former used to happen to me frequently, and the latter got me at mile 16 of the 2002 Chicago Marathon…sans TP; ’nuff said. 

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Here are my eight tried-and-true tips for taming those tummy troubles for good.

1. Develop a pre-run routine. Develop a system (mine’s coffee) to “get things moving” before you head out the door, and you’ll drastically decrease your chances of a mid-run meltdown.

2. Hydrate before, during and after. Dehydration compounds stress on the GI tract, so be kind to your colon and it may just return the favor.

3. Avoid common triggers. Things like NSAIDs, ibuprofen, sugar and fiber are known to irritate or stimulate your intestines, so refrain from ingesting ’em in advance of workouts.

4. Track your habits. Keeping tabs on what you ate and how it affected you during a run can be quite revealing! I know that quinoa, for example, leaves me doubled over…while I can eat potential triggers like dairy, beans, dried fruits, etc. with no issue.

5. Experiment with fuel type. Again, what works for a runner and his/her digestive system can vary from person to person, so take the time during training to see what agrees with you — and what doesn’t.

6. Play with fuel timing. Some people start jogging while chewing their last bite of breakfast, while I prefer to give myself a few minutes to digest before heading out the door. It may take some trial and error to find your rhythm, but it’s well worth the time.

7. Slowly increase intensity. Going too fast or too far too soon can result in GI backlash. Allow your body to acclimate to the stress of speed workouts and long runs by easing in with a warm-up and building a foundation before going all-out.

8. Whip your gut into shape. I consider probiotics my secret weapon for not just gut balance, but also overall health. After experiencing success with them over the past few years (i.e. long runs that bring joy instead of fear), I’ve been taking Sound Probiotics, which came highly recommended from my Coeur pal, Erin, who’s also an accomplished Iron(wo)man.

A little PSA: Sound’s the first probiotic engineered for the competitive athlete.

Why’s this important?

Well, during training you’re more susceptible to illness and fatigue due to the sheer amount and intensity of exercise. And since as much as 80 percent of your immunity resides in your digestive tract, I consider these little pills my insurance policy for optimizing training and recovery.

After an initial adjustment period (very mild bloating), I’ve been thrilled with the results. Not only have I been able to up my mileage without incident, but I’ve also managed to avoid all the nasty bugs circulating this season — which is especially impressive considering my daily ClassPass studio-hopping habit.

That’s a small investment for exponential results. Need more incentive? Use code KINETICFIX for 10% off if you want to try ’em yourself. 

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If all else fails, though, consider stashing some toilet paper and a few wet wipes in your run belt for peace of mind. Plotting routes with public restrooms also helps, but if you’re concerned it might be something more serious, consult with your doctor to check for underlying health issues.

And whatever you do, don’t underestimate the effect that soothing your gut can have your overall experience, let alone performance, during training and racing. After all, as marathon legend Bill Rogers once famously said, “More marathons are won or lost in the portable toilets than at the dinner table.”

How do you prevent those mid-run stomach rumbles? 

Race Report: Corvallis Half Marathon

One of my favorite things about being an Oregonian now is getting to sample some new (to me) races this season! First up was the Corvallis Half Marathon, chosen because it takes place in Ben’s hometown and because the finish line is on his beloved Beaver’s home turf in Reser Stadium.

If you like the ease and friendly feel of a smaller race, along with some really pretty pastoral scenery, you may want check this one out. And there’s also the 9:30 a.m. start time; not having to wake hours before dawn is always a luxury on race morning!

After completing our usual pre-race prep at home, we moseyed over to the start on Oregon State University’s campus. Another perk? Ample parking at the stadium, which is always much appreciated when those nerves start to kick in.

We warmed up by jogging to the porta-potties and back for one final pit-stop before lining up in the 8:00-minute mile corral. Of course, this is Beaver country, so prepare to see a fair amount of orange and black in the crowd!

Ben was gunning for a PR (under 1:50, but I predicted sub-1:45) so we said our goodbyes and planned to regroup at the finish. Usually I can pinpoint a goal for myself, but since my off-season was so heavy with cross-training (i.e. light on running and speed work), I felt like I was flying blind this time.

My best guess was somewhere between 1:50-2:00, so I figured I’d take some of the pressure off and simply run by feel. That way, I’d be able to see where I was at without forcing things, especially because I knew a specific time goal might cause me to push too hard with my SI joint (lower back) still acting up.

We crossed the start line to the sounds of the OSU marching band, and I tried my best to settle into a good pace as I watched Ben weave his way to the front of the pack.

Mile 1: 7:50 / Mile 2: 7:59 / Mile 3: 8:18

It took me a full three miles to really get warmed up. I know went out a little faster than I should have, as my shins and ankles were pretty tight for this first stretch.

The next few miles felt great, though, so I settled in and enjoyed the scenery as I hit my stride. My fueling plan was to grab a sip of water at aid stations, and I was experimenting with chunks of Barnana every two miles starting at mile four.

Mile 4: 8:31 / Mile 5: 8:22 / Mile 6: 8:06 / Mile 7: 8:09

The course was gorgeous; we did a giant loop through some agricultural areas and around the county fairground, so even though it was a ‘road’ race, most of it was super mellow. And even though I was starting to feel the effects a lack of long training runs in these miles, I rode a wave of adrenaline after air-high-fiving Ben’s dad at mile nine.

Mile 8: 8:31 / Mile 9: 8:05 / Mile 10: 8:11

My fueling plan was working well up until this point; despite a few low-grade, longer climbs along the course, I was feeling pretty strong and stable, energy-wise. As we neared mile 11, however, some mild nausea set in and I started having trouble with my fuel; it took me a while to talk myself into a final piece of Barnana, but I knew I needed one final hit, so I choked it down by mile 12.

The course was well marked, but there were no timers at the mile markers (a good thing, in my case). I had no clue as to pace or time, but I was guessing I was around the 1:50ish range.

Fortunately they had mile 12.5 marked (so helpful!). I told myself that all I’d need to do was hold it together for just five more minutes to finish strong.

Mile 11: 8:25 / Mile 12: 8:27

I remember running alongside a woman in blue for the last mile or so; she passed me, so I set my sights on her as we rounded the final corner into the parking lot. We ran side-by-side by the 13-mile marker and sprinted together down the ramp, onto the football field and across the finish line.

Mile 13: 8:27 / Final .1 Mile: 7:12

I spotted Ben in the crowd and could hear him cheering me on, yelling for me to to do an end zone dance. But, at that point, I was too pooped to do anything but smile as volunteers clipped off my time chip and handed me a finisher’s medal.

Final times:

  • Ben – 1:43:54
  • Me – 1:48:39

Ben PR’d by about seven minutes (so proud!), and while I was about a minute off mine, I was thrilled to have run a solid race. My back wasn’t feeling great (it had felt tweaky off and on), but it wasn’t horrible. And with a little recovery and some speed work, I’m not far off from my eventual 1:45 goal.

We soaked up some sun and took the opportunity to get a few photos on the field before heading over to the beer tent to celebrate. This one may just become an annual tradition for us!

Have you ever raced ‘by feel’ and been pleasantly surprised by the results?

The Best Laid Plans…

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From the looks of the picture above, you’d probably guess that our very first Team LUNA Chix Portland Run workout was a smashing success and went off without a hitch, right?

Well, you’d be wrong.

In the interest of #keepingitreal, I’ll just say: A picture may be worth a thousand words, but there’s quite often a whole other story behind an image that might surprise you.

Yes, the team was out in full force, and yes, we had a fantastic turnout for our first week (thank you, guys!). But then, comically, pretty much everything that kept me up the night before hoping wouldn’t go wrong…did.

We arrived at the track just as ominous clouds rolled in and the wind began to pick up. By the time we did our paperwork and announcements, we hit the track for our much-needed warm-up because everyone was starting to shiver from the cold.

However, two laps in we politely got asked to leave because, even though there were other members of the public working out, our group was too large with the other events going on (although I’d researched the schedule extensively). Plan B was to break up into small groups by pace and do an out-and-back run, but I quickly realized that wouldn’t be a good idea with all the city traffic.

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So, on the fly, we moved on to Plan C. I scrapped our dynamic stretching segment in favor of a second warm-up, which would get us off the track and over to a more “runnable” area a few blocks away.

There was a hill nearby, so we jogged over and I calculated that we had time for about 20 minutes of “repeats.” This is where the ladies would sprint up, jog or walk down and then repeat until the time was up; not necessarily what I wanted for our first workout of “easing” everyone in, but at that point we had to work with what we had available!

Luckily, these ladies are nothing if not flexible, resilient, and game for anything. They charged up the hill as I ran around snapping pictures, playing music on my iPhone and shouting words of encouragement.

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And then the heavens opened up. And it started pouring.

By this point, all we could do is laugh. Normally, a run in the rain is something most of us will try to avoid, but we were out there — together — making the most of what had become a hilarious situation.

And, suddenly, it hit me — we were right where we needed to be.

I watched as all 14 women powered through the 20 minutes, and we regrouped at the top of the hill…sweaty and rain-soaked, but smiling and joking around. What started off as something precariously close to spinning out of control became a true bonding experience.

We rolled with the punches. We didn’t take ourselves too seriously. We took it all in stride.

We’re already becoming a team.

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Now, I just hope everyone comes back next week!

If you’d like to join us for an upcoming (much more well-organized) workout, check out our Facebook page for details!  

We meet Monday nights are are proud to welcome women of all ages and abilities for workouts in a supportive, non-competitive environment. Come run with us! 

How I Run: Team LUNA Chix PDX’s Megan Fuetterer

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In honor of our inaugural Team LUNA Chix Portland Run season, I’ll be introducing my teammates via this interview series throughout the next few months…get to know these impressive ladies, and come join us for a run Monday nights from 6:30-7:30 pm in Portland (click here for details)! 

Have you ever met someone and immediately just hit it off? That was Megan Fuetterer and me over coffee a few months back.

We were introduced by a mutual friend and quickly bonded over a shared love for food and an active lifestyle. Fast-forward to the present, and I’m not only taking weekly spin classes from her at Revocycle, but we’re also running together Monday nights with other LUNA Chix gals.

What I love about Megan, though, is that her awesomeness is outweighed only by her humbleness. Not only has she recently launched a successful company (Zest Nutrition), but she has also made a professional home at OHSU’s Doernbecher Children’s Hospital where she enjoys working with kiddos and their families as a pediatric dietitian.

Oh, and did I mention she’s also a certified personal trainer through the National Academy of Sports Medicine, a certified spin instructor and an Ironman triathlete whose healthy pumpkin pie recipe was featured on the TODAY Show? There’s nothing this lady can’t do, and I’m excited to learn more about smart fueling as we tackle our first LUNA Chix run team season together.

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1. What’s your favorite route? Forest Park, but when it’s sunny out, there’s nothing quite like running on the PDX waterfront. My morning loop along the waterfront was featured in Runner’s World last year as the Rave Run!

2. What shoes do you wear? I am currently running in Nike Fly Knit Lunar 3s. Prior to these, I wore Newtons for years and loved them! They have lugs under the ball of your foot, which prevents heel striking and ultimately leads to a more efficient stride. They definitely helped improve my form.

3. What other run gear can’t you live without? My iPod shuffle. It clips onto my shorts and is weightless. Good tunes can energize me even on my most unmotivated days.

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4. What’s your best time-saver or “runhack?” In high school I got in the habit of wearing my running clothes to bed for early morning practices. That way I could literally set my alarm three minutes before I needed to leave the house. I still do this on nights I want to squeeze in as many minutes of sleep as possible.

5. What running-related thing are you better at than anyone else? Listening to my body. If I’m pushing and my body is pushing back, I ease up and honor that. Our body gives us signs for a reason. I think yoga has been the biggest help in teaching me self-awareness.

6. What do you listen to while running? Anything with a good beat and an uplifting message. The key for me is constantly finding new music to keep it fresh.

7. What are you currently training for? For the first time in eight years I can happily say I am not training for anything! Wow! I am getting married in September, and I want to fully embrace the months leading up to the wedding. My fiancé and I still run for fun together in the mornings before work. It actually is a great time to talk about wedding plans.

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8. What are your recovery & sleep routines like? Sleep, sleep, sleep! I aim for eight hours per night. If waking up early to run means less than seven hours of sleep, I skip the early workout and get the Z’s instead. Recovery, for me, comes in the form of food. I always eat an adequate meal of carbs, protein and fat within 30 minutes of a run, then continue to stay properly fueled and hydrated throughout the day.

9. What’s the best running advice you’ve ever received? Smile. Even if it hurts, smiling tricks your brain into having a good time. If you aren’t having fun, what’s the point?

10. What’s your favorite running-related memory? My senior year of high school Track & Field, my 4×4 team made it to the finals at the state meet. Right before the starting gun went off, someone started shooting fireworks off nearby. My last ever lap around the track in an organized meet was with fireworks lighting up the night sky overhead. I ran my fastest split time and my team took 3rd in state. It was unforgettable.

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11. Fill in the blank: I’d love to go on a run with ________.  Chrissie Wellington.

12. Anything else you want to add? For tips on fueling for fitness and everyday life, visit ZestfulNutrition.com :)

Thanks, Megan! I’m hungry (see what I did there?!) for making more memories during our adventures together this season. 

Runner friends, shoot me a note — info (at) kineticfix.com — so I can feature you, too!

5 Secrets to Banishing Post-Workout Breakouts

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Rigorous sweat sessions can often be a double-edged sword: While workouts do wonders for our bodies, they can wreak havoc on our skin.

We’re more susceptible to breakouts after hitting the gym due to the clogging of pores that occurs after sweating. Not exactly that “healthy glow” you were going for, huh?

Well, the good news is that there are some easy ways to stay “skin-sational” this spring. Dr. Ronald Moy, a board-certified dermatologist and one of the leading cosmetic and facial plastic surgeons in Los Angeles, has five tips for keeping both your complexion and your body in peak condition.

1. Keep it simple

Ladies, it’s a treadmill not a runway, so leave the heavy artillery at home. Slathering on a thick layer of makeup will only mix with sweat and get stuck in pores, increasing your chances of blackheads and cystic bumps.

2. Refrain from touching

You pick up a veritable smorgasbord of bacteria every time you grab dumbbells, grasp treadmill handrails or manhandle that elliptical control panel. Keep hands away from your face, and you’ll not only help prevent potential breakouts, but also avoid that nasty virus making its way around town.

3. Remember to cleanse

Even if you’re in a hurry, don’t skip this step. “Cleansing can help prevent some clogging of pores,” says Dr. Moy, who recommends products that contain a mild glycolic acid coupled with naturally-derived, sulfate-free cleansing agents to remove dead skin cells and de-gunk pores, respectively.

4. Brush it off

Exfoliating ensures there’s no dead skin lingering around to clog up pores. Try a gentle scrub, or invest in a face brush, which utilizes a sonic frequency to clean skin and remove more makeup, dirt and oil than manual cleansing alone.

5. Hydrate, inside and out

The body loses water through sweat, so it’s important to replace lost fluids throughout the day to keep skin soft and supple. And don’t forget to moisturize every morning and evening — not only can it soothe irritation and help keep wrinkles at bay, but it also wards off excessive dryness, which keeps your oil glands from going into overdrive.

What’s your post-workout skincare routine?