June Goal Check-In

comic3

If you’re around a new parent, inevitably, the conversation turns to sleep. As in, how much the baby is doing it or how little the parents are getting of it.

Because, as we’ve found out the hard way these past four months, sleep — or the lack thereof — is quite literally the linchpin of being able to resume any semblance of your former (read: pre-baby) life.

To paraphrase my recent conversation with our pediatrician: “On the spectrum of good sleepers to not-so-great sleepers…Wyatt is…closer to the latter.” At this point I like to think that he just prefers our company to the comfort of his crib.

But being up every two hours for feedings (and sometimes for stretches in between) means that we are still squarely in the survival-mode-holding-pattern of the “fourth trimester.” Which also means that goals are being chipped away at much more slowly that I’d originally anticipated. Such is the luck of the draw when it comes to babies!

So if you happen to bump into a new parent, try to refrain from asking them about their mounting sleep deficit. And maybe just offer to buy them a cup of coffee!

Read more about the five goals toward which I’m working in 2016.

Here’s where things stand currently:

1. Health & Fitness

These days, I’m lucky when I can squeeze in some movement, but I’ve learned that the trick is being able to work out with your baby whenever possible. Thank goodness for Stroller Strides and Body 401K; not only are these great resources for getting strong and breaking a sweat, but they also offer a community aspect that’s much appreciated when you’re feeling apartment-bound.

SS_June2016

Another tip? Sign up for something — anything — whether it’s a gym membership, a package of classes or ClassPass. They’re great for motivation, but more so accountability; if you’re shelling out a few bucks every month for classes, you’re less likely to skip out on scheduling workouts.

2. Training

Tell me, does one run per week technically count as “marathon training?” Hm, I didn’t think so…

Running_June2016

Yes, I’m going against my two decades of running experience (and, let’s face it, my better judgment) by assuming I can swing 26.2 after logging such little mileage. But I’m determined to make it work and am slowly building up my base for that October event despite little sleep, less time, some travel and a move later this summer.

3. Community

One of the nights I most look forward to each week is Mondays with Team LUNA Chix Portland Run. We’re thrilled to see a few new faces each week, along with our regulars who are crushing it this season and never cease to amaze me.

TLCPDX6.27.16

In addition to the weekly workouts, we’ve got some exciting events in the works for the second half of the season — from fundraisers and clinics to scavenger hunts and social hours. Follow us on Facebook for details, and check out our Instagram and Twitter updates for the scoop on what we’re up to.

4. Career

My self-imposed maternity leave from Pulse Creative officially ended this month. Wyatt will always be priority numero uno…but, I’ve gotta say, it feels so good to get back in the game and flex those mental muscles again.

Helping my clients communicate not just what they do but why they do it and connect with their audience continues to be both fulfilling and rewarding. And going back to my journalism roots with a few freelance pieces (be sure to grab the October issue of SELF magazine!) has also been fun.

5. Life

Finally, as I mentioned last month, life hasn’t been without its lessons since Wyatt came along. The latest of which is:

Sometimes all the hard work in the world won’t produce the results you want. 

You see, I was raised under the belief that anything’s possible if you put in enough work. That’s how I developed grittiness (some would call it stubbornness?) when it comes to going after goals.

quote-Daniel-Day-Lewis-i-like-things-that-make-you-grit-148767

I still believe that a certain amount of that is good. But after experiences to the contrary during pregnancy, childbirth and parenting (more on that in another post), I’ve learned the difference between sheer tenacity and blind perseverance.

Another lesson? The really hard — and really amazing — part of parenting is that it’s less about trying to live up to an unattainable standard and more about being open to what works for your family.

After all, to quote another conversation with my pediatrician: “Happy families make happy babies.” And who doesn’t have that as a goal for their offspring?

How are your 2016 goals coming along? 
Advertisements

How I Run: Team LUNA Chix PDX’s Madeline Rhoades

Madeline2

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! 

First up, meet Madeline Rhoades: She’s a self-described “fairly new” runner who joined us last season thinking she wouldn’t even be able to make it a mile…but ended up pleasantly surprising herself at our last workout by running a four-miler. Like a boss.

Not only did Madeline recruit a number of friends to join in on our weekly mayhem workouts, but she also happened to be our top fundraiser for last year’s spin-a-thon (seriously, people simply cannot say no to this woman!), so inviting her to join the team for our 2016 season was a total no-brainer.

Her hope for this year is to be able to be an example to other women who never thought they would grow to love running. Mission accomplished, Madeline — not only have you come into your own as a runner, but you’re inspiring others to do the same every week!

1. What’s your favorite route? I’m a big fan of nature running routes. If I get the chance to get out of the city and onto a (fairly flat) trail, it’s where I find my zen place. I used to frequent Ridge Trail in Forest Park when I first started running. It’s steep but is a great way to work your way up in intervals, (walk the steep parts and run what you can). Not to mention it’s gorgeous.

2. What shoes do you wear? I’m still experimenting. I think I might be too new to running to know what shoes work best for me. I like a lot of arch support but have not found “the ones” yet. I’m currently breaking in some Nike trail running shoes and loving them, they’re super supportive and cute. I can’t go wrong with Nike for style, at the very least!

3. What other run gear can’t you live without? Reflective everything. I usually run after work, and during the winter it’s dark. I want to be as visible as possible.

Madeline3

4. What’s your best time-saver or “runhack?” I am the best at making excuses, so a great “runhack” I use is bringing socks and shoes with me in my car — always. If it’s beautiful outside and I’m prepared, there are no excuses!

5. What running-related thing are you better at than anyone else? I believe one of my biggest strengths in running is that I’m willing to learn. If a fellow runner gives me any tips or tricks, I’m up to try them. I love learning better ways of running, and when you’re open-minded to what more experienced runners have to say, it helps a lot.

6. What do you listen to while running? I don’t usually listen to anything other than my surroundings on runs. Especially if I’m in nature, I love the sound of what’s going on around me.

Madeline4

7. What are you currently training for? I recently completed the Bridge to Brews 10k as my first race ever! I figured I would be slightly more motivated if there were craft beers at the finish line.

8. What are your recovery & sleep routines like? I think I’m like every other human on the planet– I try to get eight hours of sleep a night. It’s not always possible, but I always feel so much better and more motivated when I get a full night’s sleep. A lot of the time I use an easy yoga routine to help me recover, to help me stretch all of the muscles that I use in running. I’m working on getting better at both sleeping and stretching!

9. What’s the best running advice you’ve ever received? You’ll never be “good at running” unless you start running. I had always considered myself a non-runner up until this point, and after I received this advice, I wasn’t so hard on myself for not being fast. I felt like it was less about the destination and more about the run. It’s impossible to be good at something unless you jump in!

Madeline1

10. What’s your favorite running-related memory? Any time I push through something that I didn’t think I would be able to finish, I feel amazing. Whether it’s big or small, it’s great to look back and think, “I ran that extra mile even though I didn’t think I would be able to, I can finish this next mile too!” These memories keep me going through challenges.

11. Fill in the blank: I’d love to go on a run with __________. The Luna Chix! (Does that count?! I don’t really have any running idols.)

12. Anything else you want to add? Don’t let your mind hold your body back! You’re much stronger than you might think.

Thanks, Madeline! We’re so happy to have you as part of the team this year, and I can’t wait to watch you crush more of your running 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.

May Goal Check-In

 

TLCYASCW

You know how when you start running, it can be pretty uncomfortable, discouraging and fill you with self-doubt? Well, that’s also how the initial few months with your first baby can feel.

Am I doing this correctly? I have no clue. Is this normal? Who knows. Is he happy? I sure hope so. 

But then you push through, eventually hit your stride, and that’s when things finally start to click. That’s exactly how this past month felt.

Not that we’ve got everything figured out — far from it! But we’ve started to get into a good rhythm as a family and find some semblance of a life outside of diapers, naps, bottles and mountains of laundry.

Read more about the five goals toward which I’m working in 2016.

Here’s where things stand currently:

1. Health & Fitness

After last month’s initial excitement of being cleared to work out again, my goal for May was to address any weaknesses from the last year of bodily changes, as well as help protect myself against future issues — i.e. “mommy slump” from feedings or back pain from picking up a rapidly-growing kiddo.

StrollerStrides

Enter the wonderful Angi McClure, who runs a program here in Portland call Body401k. She’s not about quick fixes; her work focuses on in vesting in body longevity because, let’s face it, we’re in ’em for the long haul, so the least we can do is take good care of ’em.

I worked out with Angi while I was pregnant, and I know a lot of the work we did helped me stay strong while carrying Wyatt and recover quickly after. So now that I’m getting back into my fitness routine, I’ve resumed sessions because it’s one thing to be cleared to work out and it’s quite another to proceed properly while learning how to navigate the ‘new normal’ of your body.

Another awesome component of postnatal fitness? Stroller Strides.

If all goes to hell, at least I can count on this workout each week. Not only do I get to bring Wyatt along to a butt-kicker of a workout, but it’s also a fantastic way to commiserate connect with other moms in the area.

2. Training

My first official post-baby race (Wanderlust 108‘s 5k) is under my belt, and what can I say? It was rainy, it was cold, the course was hilly and I was huffing and puffing the whole time.

27021505806_eb7d6cb81e_k

But thanks to the encouragement of several of my Team LUNA Chix Portland Run teammates, I got it done. No PR’s, no course records — just the satisfaction of knowing I finished, I have a baseline from which to work, and things can only get better from here.

That said, my grand plans to start building mileage this month in an effort to work into training for this fall’s Portland Marathon was an epic fail. I did manage to get a few miles in each week, but I’m currently thinking I’ll have to re-set expectations when it comes to that race.

3. Community

We had a busy but successful month with Team LUNA Chix Portland Run, thanks to our inaugural “Community Week” in which we teamed up with other local businesses and groups to highlight all the great things going on here in PDX.

TLCPDX_May

We ran, we yoga’d, we bootcamped, we shopped and we volunteered, all in the name of helping to get the word out about what we do, as well as show some love for a few of the great stores, studios and charities in the area.

Up next? In addition to our weekly workouts (Mondays, 6:30 pm at Duniway track), we’re working on organizing a scavenger hunt, as well as more events with our favorite people and places in the fitness community.

Check out our Facebook page for details, and follow us on Instagram and Twitter for updates on what we’ve got going on each week.

4. Career

As I mentioned last month, I ended up extending my maternity leave from my company, Pulse Creative, through May. Mama intuition told me that Wyatt needed a full three months of being my sole focus, and I’m fortunate enough to have clients who are very understanding when it comes to balancing family with work.

26799700830_1475428905_k

Having my Wanderlust gig, however, did allow me to ease back into things by leading the warm-up at the event’s 5K. And I even squeezed in a few client calls and informal proposals to get a few things in the queue for when I start to ramp back up in June.

5. Life

I’m pretty sure having a child is going to teach me many life lessons, the first of which are:

  1. You cannot control everything.
  2. You cannot do it all.

The way in which Wyatt was born did a pretty good job teaching me no. 1, and life with a baby is schooling me no. 2…every. single. day.

I’ve learned that there are two keys to surviving the first few months with an infant: delegation and outsourcing. Family and friends have been literal lifesavers for me and Ben, whether they’ve dropped off food, stopped by for a visit, shared war stories, helped with a feeding or stayed up practically all night to help us get a few hours of sleep (thanks, MOP!).

BenWyattSleeping

But it’s other little luxuries like having someone come in to tidy up your looks-like-a-bomb-went-off apartment every few weeks or a few precious hours here and there with an extra pair of hands, thanks to this awesome flexible childcare service, that help make a job that’s 24/7 — with no breaks, sick days or vacation — a little more sustainable.

Which leads me to the third, and perhaps the most important, life lesson I’ve learned so far from Wyatt’s past few months on this planet:

Happy moms make happy babies. 

My pediatrician told me this early on, but it wasn’t until recently that I fully understood what he meant — i.e. it’s important to be able to take a step back once in a while and make a little time for myself to regroup.

Not only does this give me better perspective as a mom, but also does wonders for me as a person when I have those oh-my-God-what-did-I-get-myself-into moments where I feel totally overwhelmed and impossibly unprepared.

Because, as I’m learning from my more seasoned parent friends, that feeling never quite goes away!

How are your 2016 goals coming along? 

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

AC1

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!

AC3

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!

AC4

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.

AC2

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.

AC6

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!!

AC5

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.

AC8

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.

April Goal Check-In

IMG_2718

April showers may bring May flowers, but apparently they also brought an early summer to Portland this year. We’ve enjoyed more than one day in the 80’s this month, which made for some lovely outings to combat my nonstop-couch-sitting-cabin-fever from the past eight weeks.

The good news is that I’ve managed to make a bit more progress toward my goals this month…although the downside is that we’re still in “newborn mode” so the zealousness which which I usually like to attack projects has been somewhat tempered. Sleep deprivation will tend to do that to you.

Although I’m not complaining, having our cute little bundle to love on all day 🙂

Read more about the five goals toward which I’m working in 2016.

Here’s where things stand currently:

1. Health & Fitness

At my six-week follow-up appointment, my OB officially cleared me to resume regular activity. Well, within reason, that is.

Aside from a few leisurely walks, my first official workout was a 30-minute kickboxing session which kicked my butt. My brain was ready to get back in the game, but there was a huge disconnect with my body.

IMG_2601

It’s not so much that pregnancy set me back — I worked out pretty regularly throughout, up to the day of delivery, in fact — it was the six straight weeks of doing nothing except trying to keep the baby alive after you give birth that really takes a toll.

So after prying myself out from between the couch cushions, I’ve been dabbling with barre and strength training to try to build back a base of fitness. Specifically, I’m working on reconnecting with my long-lost ab muscles, regaining my balance now that I have my old center of gravity back, challenging myself cardiovascularly and working to develop muscles that have since atrophied.

2. Training

My first official post-baby race is on the calendar! Wanderlust 108 asked me to help lead the 5k at their “Mindful Triathlon” (running/yoga/meditation) on May 15, and I’m thrilled not only to be a part of this great event but also to have something to aim for as I ease back into running. Sign up and join us!

Speaking of — I haven’t run since about week 26 of pregnancy, which (when coupled with postpartum recovery) is the longest non-running stretch since I started the sport more than two decades ago. Quite frankly, I had no idea what to expect during my first few forays, but it wasn’t as horrible as I had anticipated.

IMG_2626

Sure, I’m slow as heck, out of shape and super sore…but over the course of the past few weeks I’ve already seen some progress with my pace and am feeling stronger. But it’s going to be a long road back to racing shape, people.

I’m eyeing a few summer events on the calendar but nothing’s set in stone except for the Portland Marathon this fall. More details on the game plan for that very soon!

3. Community

Our second season of Team LUNA Chix Portland Run is underway, and it started off with a bang! We’ve had fantastic turnout for practice each week; it’s clear that this crew is pumped for another year of bonding while we sweat it out on the track.

IMG_2669

In addition to our FREE Monday night workouts (6:30 – 7:30 pm) at Duniway Track, we’re also planning a community week in May to help spread word about what we do, as well as highlight some of our favorite local businesses, so if you’re in the Portland area and want to join in on the fun, like our Facebook page for details.

You can also follow along on the fun via our Instagram and Twitter accounts, as well. We’re all over social media trying to recruit women to get involved; not only do we sweat together, but we do a lot of good, too, by raising money for the Breast Cancer Fund.

4. Career

Learning that juggling work with a baby is simply not possible at this point, so I’m likely staying on maternity leave through May unless Wyatt magically starts sleeping through the night or taking longer naps during the day…

IMG_2611

I’m stealing in a few moments where I can, though, to keep Pulse Creative moving forward. It’s the double-edged sword of working for yourself, although I’m grateful to be able to take the extra time for Wyatt as he needs it.

5. Life

Remember my big goal of utilizing “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing” to overhaul our apartment?

Pffft!

IMG_2713

At this point, I’m getting used to our new state of total disarray. When there’s a newborn in the house, it’s almost impossible to take on organization projects let alone keep things tidy.

I do, however, try to get a few minutes of cleaning done here and there while I wear Wyatt. He sleeps pretty soundly in his wrap at this stage, which buys me precious time to wash bottles, do a load of laundry and get ready for his next round of feeding!

How are your 2016 goals coming along? 

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

CC4

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.
CC2

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.

CC6

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.

CC5

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.

CC7

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.

CC8

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.

CC1

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!

CC3

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

IMG_2434

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!

IMG_2185

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.

IMG_1818

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!

IMG_1816

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.

IMG_2141

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.

IMG_1815

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.

IMG_1809

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!

IMG_2447

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.