How I Run: Team LUNA Chix PDX’s Ashly Robinson

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In honor of our second Team LUNA Chix Portland Run season, I’ll be introducing our new team members 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! 

Last, but certainly not least, is Ashly Robinson! As one of our most loyal community members last year, it made perfect sense that she’d be joining the ranks of the team leaders this year.

Although Ashly freely admits she’s “not the fastest or the strongest runner out there” (I’d beg to differ; she’s an avid racer who has since taken to the trails and has also been dropping her pace-per-mile like nobody’s business, thanks to interval training), she said what attracted her to our group what that she never once felt like she didn’t belong. And now she wants to share that same welcoming spirit with our new community members as the team continues to grow.

Ashly’s also particularly passionate about raising money for our charity, Breast Cancer Fund, because it’s a cause that has taken too many lives of those she’s known and loved. In fact, she’s spearheading one of our main events for the season, a fundraiser with Orange Theory Fitness — check out our Facebook page for details!

So, without further ado, we’re rounding out this interview series by finding out what makes this all-around fabulous lady tick…

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1. What’s your favorite route? My favorite route really depends on the season. In the warmer months I’m a sucker for the trails, mostly Forest Park, but I don’t discriminate! In the cooler months, I love making a loop on the waterfront paths and enjoying all the city views.

2. What shoes do you wear? I’m currently wearing Nike’s LunarGlide 7.

3. What other run gear can’t you live without? My FlipBelt! I don’t always wear tights that have a zippered pocket, so this helps me carry my iPod/phone and keys without having to carry everything.

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4. What’s your best time-saver or “runhack?” I would have to say getting things ready the day before. Whether it’s a run after work or an early morning race, getting my gear ready just eliminates the “do I have everything?” stress.

5. What running-related thing are you better at than anyone else? I wouldn’t say I’m really better at anything running-related than anyone else, but I do a pretty good job of keeping a good attitude. I’m not the fastest girl on the block, I’ve even finished dead last in a race before, but I don’t let that stop me from getting out there and doing something I enjoy.

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6. What do you listen to while running? If I’m going out for a long run I like to listen to slower paced music to help me not run too fast too soon. This is usually something like Phantogram or Glass Animals, mixed in with some Eminem for motivation. For shorter runs I’m all about upbeat, “top hits” and some more Eminem.

7. What are you currently training for? Right now? Nothing. But I do have my sights set on a half marathon in December, so I guess I better get planning that!

8. What are your recovery & sleep routines like? Recovery isn’t my strong suit. That usually consists of some calf stretching and water/electrolyte intake. Definitely room for improvement there! Sleep, on the other hand, I’ve got that down. I’m an eight hours per night kinda gal.

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9. What’s the best running advice you’ve ever received? It doesn’t matter how fast or slow you are, it just matters that you’re out there trying.

10. What’s your favorite running-related memory? This has to be from my first half marathon. A good friend of mine talked me into running this with her for her birthday, but I was never a runner. At the last minute, my dad decided to do it with me. Not only did I get to complete my first half with my dad by my side, but I also had great friends at the finish to cheer me on! Not to mention this was in Moab, Utah so the scenery itself was incredible.

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11. Fill in the blank: I’d love to go on a run with __________. There are so many people that I would love to run with. For right now, I’d have to say my husband, Sean. He’s done so much to help me achieve my goals and running with him (at his pace) would mean I’ve improved more than I ever thought possible.

12. Anything else you want to add? My dad always told me “we’re burnin’ daylight” when I would lolly-gag in the mornings. So in his wise words, get out there and quit burnin’ the daylight!

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Thanks, Ashly! Thank you for pitching in as a team leader this year; you continue to inspire those around you, and we’re excited to watch you crush yet another 13.1 come December! 

Friends, if you’re interested in being featured here (all levels & abilities welcome), please drop me a line at info(at)kineticfix(dot)com. 

How I Run: Team LUNA Chix PDX’s Vanessa Peterson

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In honor of our second Team LUNA Chix Portland Run season, I’ll be introducing our new team members 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! 

Next up, meet Vanessa Peterson! During the week you can find her helping to straighten people’s teeth as an orthodontist…but when the weekend rolls around, there’s a good chance you’ll be able to find our team’s resident speed demon heading out on some kind of great adventure.

Case in point: With her 30th birthday approaching soon, Vanessa’s made it a goal to run the length of the Wildwood Trail — all 30 miles of it. So for practice, she and her husband ran up Mt. St. Helens — that’s 19 miles with 4,300 feet of climbing over six hours, folks.

What I love most about Vanessa is that you’ll never met anyone with a softer heart and a stronger mental game. Seriously, this woman is one of the kindest and most genuine people you’ll meet, but when it comes to competing in races, the gloves come off — she’s just puts that much heart and soul into everything she does.

Needless to say, we’re thrilled to have her leading the pack with this year’s team, both literally and figuratively, so here’s a little peek into how she makes it happen…

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1. What’s your favorite route? I love running from the OHSU/Marquam Hill through Wildwood Trail to Pittock Mansion down into Forest Park and back. It’s a 12 mile loop that is perfect for a summer Sunday morning jaunt!

2. What shoes do you wear? I’ve worn Nike Pegasus running shoes for 15 years. I’m superstitious and nervous that if I switch I’ll get injured. However, this year is the first year I don’t have any crazy races that I’ve signed up for, so maybe its finally time to branch out and try something new…stay tuned!

3. What other run gear can’t you live without? I can’t live without my sunglasses and my phone. I love listening to Pandora or putting on a podcast when I run.

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4. What’s your best time-saver or “runhack?” I keep an old pair of running shoes and a run outfit in the trunk of my car. That way, if a running opportunity presents itself or the rainy clouds open up, I’m ready to go and don’t have to fight traffic to go home and change.

5. What running-related thing are you better at than anyone else? I LOVE track workouts –tempo, fartleks, ladders, speed, you name it! I was a NCAA Track & Field Div 1 800-meter runner in college, and I’m also a rule follower. When a track workout says you must hit this time and you have this much rest, it doesn’t matter how tired I am, I’ll do anything to hit that split!

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6. What do you listen to while running? Lately I listen to wellness podcasts. They are so inspiring, and are especially helpful when I’m running the waterfront on my lunch hour during a stressful day at work.

7. What are you currently training for? I am turning 30 this year and I’ve decided that, to celebrate, I want to run all 30 miles of the Wildwood trail in August. It’s not an official race, but I can’t wait! I’m hoping to get a big group of people to join me at least for parts of it!

8. What are your recovery & sleep routines like? I do a ton of yoga — like 4-6 hours a week. I’ve found that flexibility equals speed, and good posture and a strong core leads to a long-term running career. Following a long run with yoga is almost like getting a massage; it feels so good!

I also am a very healthy eater. I eat 95% plant-based, which I think is essential to optimal athletic performance. Finally, I usually get eight hours of sleep and I’m up by 5 am. It was hard to get into a morning routine, but I’ve found the early morning is my favorite part of the day.

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9. What’s the best running advice you’ve ever received? I tend to run like a Tyrannosaurus Rex with my arms clenched up by my armpits and my shoulders super tense. One of my coaches taught me to run with a penny in each hand between my fingers; it reminds you to relax your arms and drop your shoulders!

10. What’s your favorite running-related memory? I got food poisoning the night before my first Ironman Triathlon (2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike, 26.2 mile run). I decided to still do the race, but it was a very long day where I felt sick to my stomach.

During the marathon portion of the event, I was struggling and ended up running three miles with an 82-year-old man before he left me in the dust! It was so inspiring to see what great shape he was in for his age!

11. Fill in the blank: I’d love to go on a run with ______. My Friends! Running is way more fun to me when its a social event! I love that so many people in Portland are active and love the outdoors. It’s great to have friends who inspire and motivate you!

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12. Anything else you want to add? I’ve gone through many phases with running and triathlon. From running competitively in college to being on a sponsored triathlon team, I’ve run six marathons, including the Boston Marathon, and have done more than 30 triathlons, including two Ironman distances. I used to have a much more competitive spirit, but these days training outside is simply my zen.

There is nothing better than being on the trails with a great group of people. I developed such great relationships with so many Luna Chix last year. My goal this year is to have a blast getting healthy and training with an incredible group of women!

Thanks, Vanessa! We love having you as a team leader this season — and enjoy the challenge of trying to keep up with you each week 😉

Friends, if you’re interested in being featured here (all levels & abilities welcome), please drop me a line at info(at)kineticfix(dot)com. 

How I Run: Team LUNA Chix PDX’s Syreeta Abrams

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In honor of our second Team LUNA Chix Portland Run season, I’ll be introducing our new team members 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! 

Next up, meet Syreeta Abrams! If you’ve been thinking about joining our group, here’s why you shouldn’t hesitate to come check us out: there’s more than a good chance that she’ll be the first person to greet you with a warm smile and jog a few ‘get to know you’ laps upon your arrival.

A people person at heart, Syreeta started coming to our workouts last year and quickly became a core member of the team. Whether it’s taking on new running experiences (trail races, Hood to Coast) or tackling some of the Pacific Northwest’s best hikes (hit her up for info), she’s game for anything.

What I love most about Syreeta, though, (aside from her wicked sense of humor) is that she’s a great example to us all for living a truly balanced life; she’s not only a proud mom, wife and successful executive, but she’s also an athlete and an avid world traveler.

The best part? She juggles it all with a positive attitude and level of energy that are genuinely inspiring. So here’s a little peek behind the scenes at how she does it!

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1. What’s your favorite route? I love running around Mountain Park and Tryon Park.

2. What shoes do you wear? Nike Structures

3. What other run gear can’t you live without? I can’t live without my phone, my music and my Garmin watch. I think I’m obsessed with checking to make sure I did a full 3, 4, 5, 6 miles. I hate when it says 2.99 miles!

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4. What’s your best time-saver or “runback?” I don’t think I really have one.

5. What running-related thing are you better at than anyone else? I think I’m better at going the distance. Sometimes I feel like I can run forever — not fast but just far. And don’t let me have a partner that I can talk to; omg I might run to Seattle!

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6. What do you listen to while running? I listen to whatever my college-aged daughter tells me to download — so right now it’s Beyonce, Formation and Fetty Wap.

7. What are you currently training for? I am training for nothing at the moment! Life has happened, and I honestly don’t have the time to train for anything right now.

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8. What are your recovery & sleep routines like? I love to sleep, so lets just say I get my 8+ hours in on the regular, LOL! And I usually like to run every other day, so 3-5 times a week.

9. What’s the best running advice you’ve ever received? Go a 1/2 size up on your running shoes and listen to your body not what a book says. So if you find some good advice try it but don’t force it on yourself because each person’s body has different needs.

For example, I don’t eat before I run (I mean nothing — no water, no food, not even a bite of something!) because if I do I get sick to my stomach while running. Why does this happen? Who knows, but it does, and I’ve met people for years telling me ‘you should eat.’

I tried it a few times and decided it just doesn’t work for me, and when I finally listened to my body, it worked just fine!

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10. What’s your favorite running-related memory? The best memory was when I was running my first half marathon in Williamsburg, Va. — the scenery was breathtaking and I had trained super hard and was ready to run like a maniac.

11. Fill in the blank: I’d love to go on a run with __________. My husband. He won’t run, but boy would that make my day!

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Thanks, Syreeta! We’re pumped to have you as a team leader this year, and I’m looking forward to many more adventures together. 

Friends, if you’re interested in being featured here (all levels & abilities welcome), please drop me a line at info(at)kineticfix(dot)com. 

How I Run: Team LUNA Chix PDX’s Alex Schrimp

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In honor of our second Team LUNA Chix Portland Run season, I’ll be introducing our new team members 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! 

Next up, meet Alex Schrimp! She’s a Senior Research Assistant by day at OHSU Doernbecher Children’s Hospital and has been a runner for a little more than three years now.

But after finding herself losing steam with workouts last summer, Alex needed some help staying motivated and holding herself accountable towards her goals. Enter Team LUNA Chix: One workout, and she was hooked.

Fast forward to this season — Alex is one of our rockstar team leaders, and is excited to help others find their fitness grooves again. Whether you’re looking for an upcoming race or ideas for how to spend your non-running time in Portland (hit her up for ideas on where to find the city’s best food, drinks and hikes…as well as what happened on this weeks’ episode of The Bachelorette), she’s your gal!

1. What’s your favorite route? I love to run from my house down to Tom McCall Waterfront Park, across the Steel Bridge, down Vera Katz Eastbank Esplanade, across Tilikum Crossing and home. It’s about a six-mile loop. It’s great on a clear, sunny day, but I also love it on those cloudy, rainy Portland mornings.

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2. What shoes do you wear? I’m currently running in Brooks Glycerin 13 and Hoka One One Clifton 2.

3. What other run gear can’t you live without? I love my Garmin GPS watch and my hydration belt! I have to have hydration and fuel with me at all times.

4. What’s your best time-saver or “runhack?” One of the best ways I’ve found to get my training in while still seeing my friends is to run into downtown to meet friends for a drink or dinner in the evening. I get my sweat on and still get to see everyone!

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5. What running-related thing are you better at than anyone else? I’m not sure I’m better at anything than anyone else is; that’s not why I run. I just like to get out there, relieve some stress and push myself.

6. What do you listen to while running? I listen to all kinds of music depending on what type of run (easy vs hard) I’m doing and the weather. I’ll usually listen to country music on easy runs and some top hits when I’m really pushing myself.

7. What are you currently training for? My goal for 2016 is to run one race/month and average a 9-min/mile.

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8. What are your recovery & sleep routines like? I usually increase my water/electrolyte intake and try to eat within an hour of finishing a long or intense run. As for sleep, I shoot for eight hours every night!

9. What’s the best running advice you’ve ever received? Listen to your body. I think that’s the golden rule in running. It’ll tell you all that you need to know.

10. What’s your favorite running-related memory? Finishing my first half marathon with my sister!

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Thanks, Alex! We’re thrilled to have you as part of the team this year, and we’re excited to cheer you on as you run down those race and pace goals this season. 

Friends, if you’re interested in being featured here (all levels & abilities welcome), please drop me a line at info(at)kineticfix(dot)com.

How I (Swim, Bike &) Run: Ultra(wo)man Ailie Coulter

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Meet Ailie Coulter, an endurance athlete whose self-described likes include running, swimming, surfing, riding, reading, socializing and red wine.

But if we’re being totally honest, that list is a bit misleading — or, rather, it’s correct in that Ailie strives to live a balanced life…but it just doesn’t do justice to her focus, work ethic and the all-out guts she’s got that have allowed her to accomplish great things.

How? Well, first you’ve gotta familiarize yourself with Ultraman, which is basically an Ironman triathlon (140.6 miles: 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bikes ride and 26.2-mile run) DOUBLED. And then tack on another, oh, 40 miles or so for good measure.

That’s right; we’re talking 320 miles total, including a 6.2-mile swim and a 261.4-mile bike ride followed by a 52.4-mile double-marathon run. Put simply, it’s a race that’s “challenged and defeated the world’s fittest athletes for nearly three decades,” as aptly described by Triathlete magazine.

And second, all you need to know is that Ailie placed second at Ultraman Australia last year (watch the video about it here), which means she’s been invited to compete at Ultraman World Championships in Hawaii this year.

The prospect of undertaking (and crushing!) this kind of endurance feat — one that takes stamina, heart and determination to a whole new level — blows my mind. So, needless to say, it was an honor to take a few minutes with Ailie (a fellow Coeur Sports ambassador) to find out what makes this incredible woman tick!

1. What’s your favorite route or workout? Think that would have to be long-distance trail running. Nothing better than getting out of the city early morning, alone, in nature and experiencing all the different seasons. Normally start in fog and can’t see a meter in front of you and by the end of a 4-5 hour run session you have wolfed down all the food in your pack and replaced it with the layers of clothing you have taken off as the day has heated up!

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2. What shoes do you wear — both on the bike and on the roads? Running: Used to wear Asics but then they changed them and made the toe box really small and I started losing toe nails and getting horrid blisters. Then Pearl Izumi introduced their run collection a few years ago, and they made the toes wider than the heel and it is the best thing to happen to the world of running!!

No more foot problems; I went and bought four pair in case they never made them again. Doesn’t have to be Pearl Izumi (although they are my favorite, support, cushioning, colors, etc.) as long as it has a large toe box, meaning it doesn’t taper off small and pointy and your toes can be free to spread out in the shoe each foot strike.

Bike: I wear Specialized S-Works road shoe, as they look the goods and make me feel pro. Also super comfy and can buy a pair new and feel like I have had them for years. Would happily knock out a 200k ride in a brand new pair with no issues. Before these I used to get hot feet, pins and needles, etc.

3. What other training gear can’t you live without? SOCKS!!! I have a bit of a sock obsession and love to sock dope on the bike. Bright, kit-matching, etc. on the bike, and I’m loving the MAAP range at the moment. Sometimes you gotta look good doing what you do!

4. What’s your best time-saver or “workout-hack?” Hill sprints, running or riding and swim sprints. You can get an awesome work out in half an hour!

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5. What part of each discipline (swim/bike/run) are you better at than anyone else? Swim: Rough water, everybody else complains when the swell picks up and there is white wash, I fist pump the weather gods.

Ride: Um… my socks look the best.

Run: I’m a diesel engine. A lot of people use this as an excuse to go slow; I can just maintain my consistent pace for a really really long time.

Overall, I’m not really better than others at any of these things; I think I just know how to hurt more than others and love it.

6. What do you listen to while training? I often don’t listen to anything. I have a hugely hectic life with lots of responsibility and training is my switch-off time. I like to take in the world around me, it’s almost meditative and leads my mind in so many cool places that I don’t want to take that away with music. For gym sessions, love a bit of Presets or something with a heavy beat that makes me feel like I can dominate the world.

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7. What are you currently training for? Ultraman Wold Champs in Hawaii in November. Will try to save some $$ and probably not enter any events in the lead up but will throw in a few big 3-4 day training camps where I completely punish myself in the hills. That way I can include a bit of time away with the man and friends and training partners, too, as its not all-consuming like racing can be.

8. What are your recovery and sleep routines like? They are more crucial than any training I could do! I ensure I get 8 hours sleep; the moment I cut this, I start to have issues with hormones and cortisol levels, which leads to getting sick, sinus infections, fatigue or injury, which leads to less training. So if I have had to work longer hours or have an important social function, I tell the coach in advance so we can plan around it.

For females, especially, this is absolutely crucial in being able to train consistently. In terms of recovery, in high-volume weeks my coach and I schedule in an afternoon power-nap between work and my arvo session; if my long ride goes for 8 hours, I tack on another two when making social plans so I have time to got home, make real food and have an hour of couch time before doing anything. Nutrition is a big part of all of this.

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So many female athletes can’t figure out why they are constantly sick or injured, and it is all because of hormone imbalances in the body. If you want to train consistently, we need to remember that we have three sources of stress in our lives as athletes: mental (work, relationships, finances, etc.) physical (training or other work-related physical strain) and nutritional (what we put in that our body needs to deal with).

If I have a family issue, I will dial down my training and eat perfectly. If I am eating horrible and for some reason including alcohol, I can’t be stressed at work and high-volume training. Given we can’t often control the mental stress, it is the nutritional and training stress that we need to modify when we can not control the mental.

9. What’s the best athletic advice you’ve ever received? Consistency is key!!

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10. What’s your favorite racing-related memory? Would have to be Ultraman Australia in 2015. I finally did what I went out to achieve. We spend so many years in this sport and put so much pressure on ourselves to perform, but the hard fact is that so many external factors out of our control can impact the result. At this race, I finally got it right and it was the best feeling in the world.

11. Fill in the blank: I’d love to grab a workout with ______. My friends!!!

12. Anything else you’d like to add? Life can sometimes be challenging; find out what makes you happy, and make that your priority. No matter what it is, find it and own it and smile your way through life.

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Thanks, Ailie! Not only do you exemplify #heartandcourage, but you’re a true inspiration for everyone to get up, get out and get moving. We’ll be rooting for you at this year’s Ultraman World Championships!

Friends, if you’re interested in being featured here (all levels & abilities welcome), please drop me a line at info(at)kineticfix(dot)com.

How I (Swim, Bike &) Run: Fit, Fierce Feminist Caitlin Constantine

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Meet Caitlin Constantine, digital media producer for a TV news station in the Tampa Bay area, voracious reader, wife, lover of the outdoors, experimenter in the kitchen, and mom to a greyhound and three cats. Oh, and in her “spare time,” she’s also a competitive endurance athlete (who most recently qualified for the Boston Marathon).

But that wasn’t always the case, which is why Caitlin’s achievements are all the more impressive.

You see, after playing on varsity teams in high school, she gave up on sports and most physical activity upon entering the “real world.” She likes to joke that by the time she was in her mid-20s, the most exercise she got was walking to the corner store to buy cigarettes or around the block to get a beer at the local bar.

That all changed, however, when Caitlin turned 27 and met her husband, a former smoker and drinker who reinvented himself as a marathon runner and salad-eater. After watching him finish a marathon, she decided to take up running herself, which eventually led to her completion of two ultramarathons, five marathons, a few dozen half-marathons and too many shorter distance road races to count.

A few years ago, she broadened her athletic horizons to triathlon and has since completed two half-Ironmans, along with several sprint triathlons. And since she’s got big plans for 2016 with the Boston Marathon, her first full Ironman race and a bunch of smaller races in between, I thought it’d be fun to pick her brain about some of her favorite things, as well as where her athletic endeavors will take her next.

1. What’s your favorite route or workout? Right now my favorite workouts are tempo runs, which I usually do on a multi-use trail through a park near my house. The trail runs through a wooded area around a small lake, and it’s so beautiful, especially in the mornings. I also see lots of wildlife — alligators, tortoises, roseate spoonbills — which keeps things interesting. One of the reasons my husband and I bought our house where we did was so we could be close to this park, and I’ve yet to regret that decision.
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As for the run itself, I always love doing tempo runs. I like running hard, but not puke-my-guts-out-hard like you get with a speed workout, and so I find tempo runs really scratch that itch without leaving me utterly depleted.

2. What shoes do you wear — both on the bike and on the roads? When I’m on the bike I wear Specialized Trivents, which I like because they keep my feet cool and well-ventilated (extra important when cycling in Florida heat!). They were recommended to me as a great bike shoe for triathletes, and so far I’ve found they live up to the hype.

I switch between two kinds of shoes when I run. When I do anything that’s half-marathon or shorter, I wear Brooks Pureflow. I had been wearing Newtons Distances for a couple of years and really liked them, but then something changed in the recent model and suddenly I couldn’t wear them without feeling like I’d shredded my calves. A friend recommended the Pureflow to me and my life has never been the same since. Usually with running shoes it takes me a bit to get used to them, but I was running beautifully the very first time I put the Pureflows on. Sorry, Newtons. It was great while it lasted, but my heart belongs to Brooks now.

All my long-distance runs are done in Hoka Conquests. I started wearing them in 2014, when I trained for the Keys 50 (an ultramarathon run entirely on roads and sidewalks) and I found they really minimized the impact of lots and lots of running on my joints. That’s particularly important for me as a tall, solidly-built woman, as there’s more of me to create that downward force on my feet with each footfall. I can still run pretty fast in them, too. I qualified for Boston while wearing them.

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3. What other training gear can’t you live without? My Garmin 920XT. I mean, I suppose I could live without it, but why would I want to? It’s so fun!

4. What’s your best time-saver or “workout-hack?” I love to do my binge TV-watching while riding on the indoor trainer. I’m sure some triathlete purists would scoff, saying that a real athlete would do her trainer rides while in a garage without air conditioning while doing nothing but staring at a poster of Kona, but whatever.

I still do workouts and ride fairly hard; I just have something else to think about aside from how much I hate riding on the trainer. And this is how I see it: if watching TV helps me be consistent about riding on the indoor trainer, then so be it. Anyway, this has helped me go from having a weak bike leg to being decent on the bike. I posted my best bike splits at the end of last year, so it seems like it’s working!

5. What part of each discipline (swim/bike/run) are you better at than anyone else? This is a relatively new development for me, dating back to about the summer of 2014, when I did the Keys 50. During the whole training cycle leading up to the race and then the race itself, I learned a lot about how to be mentally tough. Before that I was a total wuss who would quit whenever things got even the tiniest bit painful or scary, but that race was like a baptism by fire and I came out of it much, much tougher than I was before.

And as any endurance athlete knows, mental toughness is literally like 90 percent of success at these sports. Obviously you have to train your body to be able to withstand the stresses, but all the training in the world is worthless if your mind folds like a cheap card table when faced with adversity.

Now, I don’t know if I’d say I’m mentally tougher than anyone else, but I do think it’s a quality I have that has allowed me to have a lot of success with racing and training in the past 18 months or so, and it’s a quality I recognize not everyone has. The good thing, though, is that if I can develop mental toughness, ANYONE can.

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6. What do you listen to while training? Just about everything, as long as it has a good beat. I actually just wrote a post on my blog about this with some of the songs I’ve been listening to lately.  It includes everything from 80’s pop like “Maniac” to classic rock like Van Halen to Janelle Monae and Britney Spears.

7. What are you currently training for? Right now I’m about two months out from the Boston Marathon, which marks the first time I’ll be running the race. I worked pretty hard and consistently for a few years to get myself to this point, and so while I have a time goal for Boston, I’m mostly just looking at the opportunity to run that race as my present to myself for all the hard work I put in over the past few years.

By the way, I’m also using the Boston Marathon as a way to raise money for Free to Run, which is a non-profit organization that uses running and outdoor sports to empower women and girls in Afghanistan.  If you’re interested in learning more and possibly contributing, you can do so by clicking this link.

After that I’m training for the Hurricane Man Roughwater 2.4-mile swim, Ironman 70.3 Chattanooga, and then Ironman Louisville, which will be my very first full iron-distance triathlon. I’ll also do a bunch of smaller local races in between, but my eyes are on those big goals right now.

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8. What are your recovery and sleep routines like? If I’m being honest – they could be better. I’m old enough that I really feel the effects of a lack of sleep or inadequate recovery, plus I demand so much more of my body than I ever did before. I’m getting better, though. I try to get at least seven hours of sleep a night, and if my job (which, as I work for a 24/7 TV news station, often has wonky hours) means I don’t get enough sleep, then I skip training and prioritize sleep. I just don’t see the point in training when I am also exhausted.

I do make an effort to eat shortly after a workout, because I’ve noticed if I go for a run and then don’t eat anything for a while afterwards, I’ll end up headache-y and tired all day and then my legs will hurt the next day. It makes sense that this would happen, though, as doing so is basically like asking a construction crew to build a house without any tools or materials. Except worse, because then the construction crew riots inside my head and I’m miserable all day long. So I definitely make sure to eat plenty of good food.

I also like Epsom salt baths and having my husband use The Stick on my legs. I try to foam roll regularly and to strength train to keep my muscles strong and healthy. And lately I have been SUPER into yoga. I practice at home and I also go to a hot yoga studio once a week. I like it not only for the restorative aspects, but also for the way it helps me be more chill and centered.  It’s good for my mind as well as my body.

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9. What’s the best athletic advice you’ve ever received? To enjoy the process and not be so focused on outcomes! My super-wise husband gave me that advice, and I’ve really taken it to heart. A friend was talking with me the other day about the path I took from being a middle-of-the-pack runner to a Boston qualifier, and he said he really appreciated seeing someone put in hard work to become faster and stronger.

I was like, “But I don’t think I’ve been working that hard?” But then I thought about it for a while afterwards, and I realized that I actually have been working quite hard. Because I’ve coupled workouts with a mindset that appreciates each run/swim/bike/race/yoga session/strength session (well, if I’m being honest, about 80 percent of them) as I’m doing it, it hasn’t really seemed like hard work because I’ve just been so immersed in the process.  Achieving my athletic goals has just been a side bonus to the overall experience of living this lifestyle.

10. What’s your favorite racing-related memory? Goodness, that’s a hard one to choose.  Part of me wants to say the very first finish line I ever crossed  — a 5K way back in 2007 — or the first marathon I finished, where I sobbed as I ran the last 0.2 miles or the first triathlon I finished, where I realized I could survive swimming in open water.

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But really it’s a tie between crossing the finish line of the Keys 50, where I was just totally blown away by the enormous difficulty of what I had just accomplished, and crossing the finish line of the Albany Marathon, where I BQed, and getting to savor the experience of realizing I was on my way to accomplishing a long-held goal that I had worked so hard to achieve.

The one thing all of these things have in common, though, is that I was forced to change the way I thought about myself afterwards. Like, I had no real choice but to accept that certain things I thought I knew about myself were no longer true, and that I had to come up with new ways to think of myself.

And the awesome thing is that all of those new qualities I’ve now assigned myself — based on real proof in the forms of things I had *actually done* — are all qualities that I believe have made me a better human being.

11. Fill in the blank: I’d love to grab a workout with _________. Another hard question!  If I were to think of professional athletes, probably Chrissie Wellington, because she is not only an amazing athlete but also a smart, funny person, or Hillary Biscay, just so I could experience one of her infamous smashfests.

But the truth is, there are a lot of women I’ve met over the internet — both as a blogger and a member of the Coeur Sports team — with whom I’d love to go for a run or a bike ride or hit the weights alongside, and I would likely choose them before anyone famous. I couldn’t even start to name them because I’d forget some and feel like a jackwagon.

This has been one of the greatest things about blogging, by the way — meeting so many incredible people. It’s the best!

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Thanks, Caitlin! Can’t wait to cheer you along this year as you check some pretty awesome items off of your running and triathlon Bucket Lists. 

Friends, if you’re interested in being featured here (all levels & abilities welcome!), please drop me a line at info(at)kineticfix(dot)com.

How I (Swim, Bike &) Run: Living the Sweet Life with Ruth Rickey

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When I initially set out to do this interview series, I thought it’d be interesting to see what kind of gear people prefer, what their training routines were like and that it’d be fun to hear about racing from all different kinds of perspectives. What I didn’t expect was to get absolutely blown away by the incredible back stories in these athletes’ lives.

Case in point: Ruth Rickey, a former attorney and administrative law judge who, put simply, fell in love with cakes. Ruth worked her way up as Bakery Manager for IGA’s 3200 stores in 31 countries before opening her own shop, Ruth’s Sweete Justice Bakery, and operating it for more than a decade.

Since then, she’s been teaching all over the world as a ICES Certified Master Sugar Artist. Ruth has also been seen on WE TV’s Wedding Cake Wars (her team won), twice on TLC’s Ultimate Cake Off (assistant to Pat Jacoby on two wins) and on three specials on The Food Network about The Oklahoma State Sugar Art Show.

In the midst of all this success, however, Ruth was diagnosed with Chronic Myeloid Leukemia, which was incurable and untreatable at the time, and she was given 2-5 years to live. Miraculously, six weeks after her diagnosis the FDA approved Gleevec, a drug that revolutionized cancer treatment and saved Ruth’s life.

After switching medicines a few times, Ruth is happy to report that she’s now back in genetic remission. And to pay her miracle forward, she spends her free time doing marathons, half marathons, century rides, triathlons and various charity events to raise money for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society and the Go Mitch Go Foundation.

I can’t even imagine what it’s been like for Ruth as she wages a fight for her life all while balancing a successful career, endurance events and philanthropy. But I can imagine that every one of her victories — whether in the kitchen, at her doctor’s office or out on the race course — probably tastes pretty sweet.

1. What’s your favorite route or workout? I love riding our new River Trails route. It starts in downtown Oklahoma City in our Boathouse District. It is a cool new area where the Olympic rowers train. The route winds past the boathouses on both sides of the river. There are some gentle inclines/descents and turns to keep the ride interesting. It then connects into the West River Trails, which take me by two different lakes. The route doesn’t have a lot of pedestrian traffic and is closed to vehicles. It is newly paved and simply makes me happy to ride! Besides the normal geese, ducks and other birds, I can even see a buffalo on this route. Only in Oklahoma!

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2. What shoes do you wear — both on the bike and on the roads? I run in Brooks Ravenna and I cycle in Pearl Izumi tri shoes.

3. What other training gear can’t you live without? I love my Garmin 920! I like being able to use the bluetooth to get the data onto my phone immediately. I love the live tracking part of it for my hubby…due to my medical issues, he worries if I’m out training without him. Now he can see where I am whether I’m training or racing!

My Coeur tri shorts turned out to be a game changer! After my 70.3 in September, I was in so much pain from chafing. I never realized how much the seams could rub. Since changing to Coeur, I’ve been so much more comfortable! I’m not sure why all chamois aren’t done this way. My hubby wants guys’ shorts to be made like them.

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I also love my Bontrager Windshell Pants. Oklahoma has crazy wind. It is normal to ride in 15-25 mph winds with 40 mph gusts. These shell pants keep me warm through everything and because they don’t have the chamois in them, I wear them when I run in the cold, too. They were pricey, but I think they were worth every penny!

I know it isn’t really gear, but I cannot live without Base Salt. I’ve always needed salt, but once I started using Base, I found that my active recovery during races and training improved dramatically. It seems like such a minor thing, but a hit of Base salt every hour or so keeps me going.

My other recent find is Infinit Nutrition. When I did Redman 70.3, I struggled on the bike, which was supposed to be my strongest area. I had no energy and could not make myself eat enough while riding in the heat. I knew I needed to make a change. Once of my coaches highly recommended Infinit, so I went to their site and created my own custom formula. So far, I’ve used it on several three-hour rides and have maintained my energy the entire time and have not been hungry at all. I know that the nutrition issue is going to be big for my upcoming races, so I’m truly happy that it looks like I have a workable solution now!

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4. What’s your best time-saver or “workout-hack?” I used to lose so much time every day packing the bag for the next workout. I finally went and bought three Nike bags in three colors: Red for run; Black for bike; and Blue for swim. The bags are ready for me to grab at a moment’s notice and have everything I need in each one of them.

5. What part of each discipline (swim/bike/run) are you better at than anyone else? Actually, I came into triathlon without excelling in any of the disciplines. I had done more than 20 endurance events with Team in Training for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, but I was a walker, a slow biker and a non-swimmer.

I actually think my strength is my mental game and my heart. I figure that if I’m out there training or racing while taking chemo twice a day, there isn’t much I’m going to encounter that will stop me. I’m not athletically gifted, but I enjoy doing what I can and seeing my body get stronger. I am the girl who can finish a race 10 hours later and still be smiling.

6. What do you listen to while training? My water iPod has classic rock on it. I’ve changed the music I use while swimming. Originally, I had very relaxing music as I was getting past my panic attacks. Now, it is time to work on speed, so I need my 70’s rock to get me going! On my bike trainer or while running, I have a playlist of all of the “Now That’s What I Call Music” cds. They are generally high-cadence, fun pop hits that keep me going.

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7. What are you currently training for? I may have overshot this year, but I’m registered to do Galveston 70.3 in April, the Legends 100 Tri in June, The World Championship Long Course Triathlon at Redman in September (97 miles) and Arizona 70.3 in October. I really want to do a full Ironman, but know that I’m not physically ready for it. I figure if I can do Legends and World’s, it will show me if I’m ready for IMAZ 2017. If so, I will be volunteering at IMAZ this November to grab an early spot.

8. What are your recovery and sleep routines like? On top of my leukemia issues, I also have Addison’s disease. My adrenal glands don’t function properly, so I can end up nearly bed ridden when my levels get low. I hurt to the bone when this happens. I have to take steroids twice a day to make my body function like normal.

I’ve learned a lot over the last year or so to look for the signs of when I need to increase my dose. My coach schedules a day off weekly for me, and I try to honor it and respect his plan. I used to be an insomniac, but I sleep really well these days! I think all the activity is good for me in that respect.

9. What’s the best athletic advice you’ve ever received? Stop saying “I can’t.” I at least make myself try everything. Even if I know that I don’t have the physical capability, I have to try. Because most of the time, I discover that I CAN.

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10. What’s your favorite racing-related memory? I attempted New Orleans 70.3 and ended up with an asthma attack in the water and a DNF. It haunted me…I was so disappointed. So a few weeks later, I stepped up for a local sprint tri. It was the first time my husband wasn’t racing at my side as my “protector.”

The day before the race, I did a practice swim at the site and felt like I was ready…the water was calm and the weather was perfect. But that is never how races go! On race day, a front blew in. Temperatures plummeted, and the winds picked up. The race director later said it was the roughest he had seen it at that lake and that he nearly called the swim.

I was a nervous wreck, but got into the water and started in the last wave. I was still mostly using side stroke to swim. I got to the first buoy and was about to call for a kayak to go in, but I looked around and saw numerous people hanging onto all the kayaks. I realized I was actually ahead of all those people. It kicked something into gear for me, and I was determined to finish that swim.

I did the entire 750-meter swim using side kick drills…I didn’t even use my arms. I got out of the water and was actually not the last person. I headed out on the bike, almost in disbelief that I had survived that cold, choppy swim. And my bike time actually matched my normal speed when I was just doing a bike training.

I started the run just happy to be out on the course. I set a 5k PR that day. It wouldn’t be fast to anyone else, but it was EVERYTHING to me! When I ran across the finish line and they put that medal around my neck, I knew that it would only be a matter of time until I became an Ironman. I found a strength that day that I never realized I had. I found a joy in the experience.

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11. Fill in the blank: I’d love to grab a workout with _________. I’m sure everyone picks someone famous for this, but I just want to work out with my husband and my brothers, Verne and Robb. The four of us have started racing together and it makes my heart smile. How lucky am I to get to share the love of this sport with my family?!!

12. Anything else you’d like to add? A lot of my friends think you have to be super fit to do triathlons. They think only elite folks attempt this. I think I’m proof that there is a place for the person at the “back of the pack.”

Since I started on this journey, so many of my cake decorator friends have become more active. My industry is full of overweight people…it can be really hard not to taste the amazing things we create. I love that so many of them have messaged me that they are starting to move, to walk, to run, to do ANYTHING because of my posts.

I share the ups and downs of my training. I share my fears. I share my victories. If you’ve ever thought about trying triathlons, I can genuinely say that this is the best group of people. They have never made me feel bad for being slow. They celebrate the “final finisher” with as much joy as the winner. What a great group to be a part of!

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Thanks, Ruth! I’m honored to be able to share your story, and I’m excited to watch you crush your goals this year as you prepare for all the adventures ahead. 

Friends, if you’re interested in being featured here (all levels & abilities welcome!), please drop me a line at info(at)kineticfix(dot)com.