September Goal Check-In

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

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

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

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

Here’s the latest on my progress:

1. Seeking Balance

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

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

2. Training Smarter

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

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

3. Facing Fears

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

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

4. Pushing Myself

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

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

5. Giving Back

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

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

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

How are your 2015 goals coming along? 

Race Review: Pacific Crest Weekend Sports Festival

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Each year, during the last weekend in June, athletes, their family and friends, converge on beautiful Central Oregon to take part in the Pacific Crest Weekend Sports Festival. Pacific Crest is known as the “jewel of multisport events in the Northwest” and it has become a traditional destination race for athletes from across the nation, as well as from across the globe.

Ben and Nick checking out the swim and setting up the bike transition.

The night before: Ben and Nick checking out the swim and setting up the bike transition, respectively.

We’d heard great things about the event, so Ben jumped at the chance to test his mettle at two-thirds of the half-iron distance. He’s toying with the idea of making the jump up from Olympic distance in his next race, so this was the perfect opportunity to do a trial run on the swim (1.2 mi) and run (13.1 mi) portions.

Swimmers (Mary Ann & Ben) and cyclists (Sara & Nick) getting ready on race morning.

Swimmers (Mary Ann & Ben) and cyclists (Sara & Nick) getting ready on race morning.

Our friend, Nick, was covering the bike (58 mi) portion of their relay. And we were joined by a few more friends who formed an all-female relay team: Mary Ann (swimmer), Sara (bike) and Britt (run).

The elites in the water, inching toward the first buoy as they prepare to take off.

The elites in the water, inching toward the first buoy as they prepare to take off.

I was excited to be able to play sherpa for the day; Ben’s supported me at so many races, I’ve got a lot of work to do to return the favor! Plus, it’s also worth mentioning that race-day temps were predicted to be approximately the same as the surface of the sun (100+ degrees)…so needless to say, although I was feeling a little antsy to be not racing, I got over it pretty quickly.

Mary Ann's and Ben's relay heat entering the water.

Mary Ann’s and Ben’s relay heat entering the water.

For as many events and participants in the weekend’s activities, I’ve got to give it to the organizers for keeping everything — and everyone — running safely and smoothly in conditions that were becoming less than ideal over the course of the day. On the swim, for example, their mantra was “for every 10 people who go in, we want to count 11 coming out,” so they did manual counts to double-check the numbers and make sure everyone emerged ok.

Sara headed out on the bike.

Sara headed out on the bike.

Another tough leg to provide much support (beyond intermittent aid stations) is the bike. By this time it was starting to heat up and get muggy, so both our cyclists decided to err on the side of caution and carry extra water in camelbacks in addition to multiple bottles on their bikes.

Nick getting ready to tackle 58 miles.

Nick getting ready to tackle 58 miles.

While they cycled around Sunriver, I took the swimmers back to our rental house to change and refuel. Ben also had to get ready for his second leg — the run — which would likely take place in the hottest part of the day.

Ben and Mary Ann take a breather after their  swim.

Ben and Mary Ann take a breather after their swim.

Showers and snacks done, we made our way to the bike-run transition, which was closer to the Sunriver Village. Sara and Nick finished within a 15-minute span; their runners got tagged in when temps were nearing 90, and we were just hoping that the cloud cover would hold for a few more hours.

Nick, done with the bike, coming in to tag Ben back in for the final leg.

Nick, done with the bike, coming in to tag Ben back in for the final leg.

Ben had a strong start, but the sun began to burn off quickly as the temps crept further up. Later, both he and Britt raved about the course support, however, saying that there were extra aid stations with ample water and people spraying down the athletes in between.

Ben starting the run: 13.1 miles to go!

Ben starting the run: 13.1 miles to go!

Thanks to that support nearly every mile along the course, both Ben and Britt finished strong despite the beating sun. As Ben crossed the finish, he was handed an ice towel and ushered to a shower tent for cooling — again, the organizers did a fantastic job of making sure they took care of the athletes!

Ben crossing the finish line in the heat of the afternoon.

Ben crossing the finish line in the heat of the afternoon.

It was definitely a tough race — both in course and in conditions — but the majority of people were coming across the finish line looking far less beat up that I would have thought, so that was impressive. And the volunteers were nothing short of amazing, braving the heat to help keep participants safe.

Team Your Pace or Mine: Sara, Mary Ann and Britt

Team Your Pace or Mine: Sara, Mary Ann and Britt

After our crew all finished, we met up in the Sunriver Village pavilion so they could rehydrate and dive into the post-race smorgasbord of food. There may have even been some talk about signing up again next year, as well as targeting a few more events in the meantime…#triathleteprobs.

Team Tri and Stop Us: Nick and Ben

Team Tri and Stop Us: Nick and Ben

If you’re interested for next year: Pacific Crest events begin Friday morning, with the competition and fun continuing into Sunday afternoon. The full weekend includes Tour de Crest Bike Tours, Long Course and Olympic Triathlons, Endurance and Olympic Duathlons, Marathon, Half-Marathon, 10k, 5k and three kids events — and we all give it our stamp of approval!

So proud of all the racers for completing their portions - safe and strong - despite the conditions!

So proud of all the racers for completing their portions – safe and strong – despite the conditions!

For more information, check out the Pacific Crest Weekend Sports Festival website here.

Are there any can’t-miss events on your calendar this summer?

ClassPass-ing in Portland: Round 3

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After our initial #30ClassesIn30Days ClassPass challenge, Carolyn and I have settled into a nice rhythm with our weekly workouts: We hit up our favorite spots for cycling, strength training and yoga each week, but pepper in some new studios here and there to keep our fingers on the pulse of the Portland’s ever-growing fitness scene.

Not familiar with ClassPass? Check out my previous posts on it here and here.

And just as I’ve said it’s tough to get a bad meal here in Portland, we’ve learned pretty quickly that it’s just as difficult to find a poor workout here, as well.

Whether you’re looking for the precision of Pilates, mobility work for recovery days, an array of options for cardio or strength training, or simply functional workouts with the effectiveness of CrossFit with a tad less intensity — this city’s got it all; just pick your poison.

Although the sustainability (and longevity) of this business model remains to be seen — both for ClassPass and for participating studios — I’ve found it to be a useful discovery tool. We’ve stumbled upon places we may never have otherwise heard of, and it’s helpful for comparing and contrasting different studios before committing to class packages or monthly memberships.

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Here are a few recent highlights:

Pearl Pilates: Offers both individual and small group Pilates and Gyrotonic sessions by highly-trained instructors

Pedal PT: Full-service physical therapy office with a specialty in bicycling and running injuries

Portland Fit Body Bootcamp: Personal-trainer-designed workouts in a fun, safe, high-intensity group environment

Recreate Fitness: Trade mirrors and machines for hopscotch and hurdles in a friendly, supportive environment

YAS: Dedicated to the combination of Yoga and Spinning to combine cardio, strength training, stretching and alignment

Stay tuned as we explore more great Portland fitness spots in the coming months…

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Wanna check out ClassPass? Here’s a list of cities where it’s currently available.

How’d you stumble upon your favorite local studios?

April Goal Check-In

Source: Fast Company

Source: Fast Company

First things first: Yes, it’s mid-May. And we’re talking about April.

Better late than never!

Plus quite a bit has changed since I last touched base with my goals, so I wanted to be able to address it in this month’s recap.

Wondering what this is all about? Read more on the five goals toward which I’m working this year.

So here’s my update on how things have been going:

1. Seeking Balance

Quality over quantity. Quality over quantity. If I keep repeating that to myself, it will (hopefully) one day become second nature.

Unable to contain my excitement over living in what still feels like a “new” city, I got over-excited and over-committed myself this summer. Whoops.

Between work, travel, training, LUNA coaching, family events and other obligations pretty much every.single.weekend…the pressure’s started to build.

I’ve been feeling it in my gut with each additional ‘yes,’ but only recently did this start to register in my head. So in an attempt to stay true to this goal, I made some hard decisions this past month and had some even harder ‘no’ conversations…both with myself and others.

Like, revealing to Ben that I don’t think I’m up for both the century ride and a 50K within two weeks of each other this month. Or telling my Ragnar Utah team that I won’t be joining them for next month’s event.

And examining my other summer races in the process. Not just the whats, but also the hows and, most importantly, the whys.

I can’t help but feel some sense of failure — like I’m letting others down, as well as myself. But the fact that there’s a small victory to be found in reclaiming ownership of my schedule — and the relief that comes with that — is also not lost on me.

Balance, I’m realizing, requires bigger-picture focus. And as I get clearer on the vision I have for myself — outside of just training and racing — I feel like I’m getting closer to that sweet spot of being able to keep moving forward and challenging myself without throwing the rest of my life out of whack.

2. Training Smarter

Another motivating factor has been my SI joint, which has been extremely vocal as of late about me needing to reassess my activities in the short-term. Although I’m cleared to run, per my doctor, I’m not able to race or do speedwork without pain, so being more deliberate in my approach to workouts and events will no doubt serve me well.

In the meantime, I’ve been religiously going to the chiropractor, getting monthly massages and hitting plenty of yoga classes. And, thanks to ClassPass and this guy, I’m still focused on all that good strength and mobility cross-training to build a strong core and activate those glutes.

3. Facing Fears

Ben and I we so proud when we mustered up the motivation to hit the pool one Saturday for an early morning workout. Everything was awesome — until we got to the gym and realized it wouldn’t open for two more hours.

Needless to say, with everything else that’s been going on, swimming’s been on the back burner. Although I hope that it’ll be different this month; I do think some time following that black line would be a welcome change for both my body and mind.

4. Pushing Myself

The 50K is fast-approaching on May 25, so that’s exciting! I’m half pumped and half nervous to tackle this event with Ben, however, as it’s our first ultra-distance together…and more than double his longest race distance to-date (13.1 miles).

Most of April has been spent pushing myself on the non-physical front, though. Through the HUSH Meditation community, I met a wonderful friend/coach/mentor, and we’ve been helping each other — me, helping support the amazing work she does; her, helping me better define my ‘why,’ as well as my career vision.

I’ve been feeling scattered as of late; don’t get me wrong — there’s no shortage of great stuff going on, but I’m in the process of wrapping my head around how it all ties together. As a result, it’s made for a more contemplative, less hard-charging month, which is pretty much a theme across the board for late April and early May.

5. Giving Back

Finally, we’re a little more than a month in to Team LUNA Chix Portland Run’s 2015 season, and I couldn’t be more proud to be a part of this group of women. We’ve been doing weekly workouts, and we also just hosted our first clinic of the season — a yoga and nutrition workshop to raise money for our charity, the Breast Cancer Fund (more on that in an upcoming post).

The team is gelling, we’re working on getting the word out so we can grow in size and make more of an impact, and we’ve been getting a consistent group of ladies each week who rally through a few miles together. See for yourself via our Facebook, Twitter and Instagram accounts — and come join us Monday nights at 6:30 p.m. at the Duniway Park Track in Portland!

How are your 2015 goals coming along? 

March Goal Check-In

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Time for a reality check: Now that we’ve officially “sprung forward,” we’re one quarter of the way into 2015.

I wrote previously about the five goals toward which I’m working this year, and here’s my update on how things are progressing:

1. Seeking Balance

I’m still slowly building out my race schedule for 2015 with a focus on quality over quantity. Ben and I are currently in the process of building up mileage for the Corvallis Half Marathon mid-month; instead of all-out racing it, though, I’m using it to train into May’s century bike ride (my first 100-miler!) and 50K.

It may seem like we’re peaking early in the season, but we’re doing these events more for the experience (and for a good cause, in the case of the ride) than for time.

2. Training Smarter

Thanks to ClassPass, I’ve been doing all kinds of cross training and am starting to see tangible gains. From completing rope climbs to balancing in side crows, I’m stronger all over — although I’m still working toward that elusive unassisted pull-up.

The one missing piece of the puzzle is mobility, however, so I’ve started seeing a chiropractor to help with my range of motion (my mid-back seems to be stuck…the dreaded desk-job computer hunch!) and am also trying to be more disciplined about stretching, foam rolling and yoga to balance out all the strength training.

3. Facing Fears

Zip. Zilch. Nada. Whoops. 

To be honest, I’ve been in a total mental funk when it comes to the pool, so I haven’t been pushing it. But I’m hoping that this will change in April, especially because I could probably use more non-impact activity in my days.

4. Pushing Myself

I’m officially registered for my second 50K, my first century ride and my first duathlon this summer. For some reason, the pursuit of a PR in what I’d call my “usual” running events (half marathon, marathon) isn’t as motivating to me at the moment; what I’m most excited about is trying some new disciplines. Bonus: If it’s a new event, it’s an automatic PR!

I’ve also been making some headway in another direction with meditation classes. After stumbling upon the wonderful HUSH Meditation community, I ended up adding mental fitness to my weekly workout regimen. It’s a simple act — literally, 45 minutes of stillness one evening per week — yet the process has been transformative (more on that soon in another post).

5. Giving Back

And, finally, we’re officially kicking off our 2015 season with the Team LUNA Chix Portland Run team next Monday, April 6, at 6:30 pm at Lincoln High School’s track here in Portland. I’ll be leading a workout, and it’s open to the public, so everyone is welcome!

Come join us; make some new running friends and fuel up after with free LUNA bars; how can you say no to that?!

How are your 2015 goals coming along? 

February Goal Check-In

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Two months down, 10 to go!

I wrote previously about the five goals toward which I’m working this year, and since this is my little corner of accountability on the Internet, here’s my update on how things are progressing:

1. Seeking Balance. I’m actively restraining myself from signing up for #AllTheRaces this year — which is difficult when you’re in a new state! — so you’ll see that my schedule for 2015 is still very much a work in progress. My strategy is to try to target new events, and I’m trying to mix things up rather than build toward a specific A race this season.

2. Training Smarter. Heart rate training went out the window this month in favor of a metric ton of cross-training. I’ve been barre-ing my butt off at PureBarre in an attempt to build more glute and core strength, riding at Revocycle to make sure I’m road-bike ready come spring, and testing out all kinds of other classes via ClassPass (post with details to come). Variety is the spice of life…and fitness, right?!

Ben and I also completed our own version of Whole30 (more like Whole45 since we had two minor cheat weekends with company in town), so nutrition has also been a major focus this month. As much as I used to pride myself on being able to eat whatever I wanted, I’ve got to admit that I feel so much better eating clean, unprocessed food and cutting down on added sugar.

3. Facing Fears. Ok, you got me — there’s not much progress to report on the swimming front. I haven’t been making regular weekly sessions, and although I’ve got a few standing offers for technique guidance, I haven’t had a chance to drag Ben to the pool to take videos of me in action. Hoping to remedy this in March!

4. Pushing Myself. I’m officially registered for my second ultramarathon — a 50K in May. I’m also eyeing a century ride earlier that month, as well as trying to decide between a sprint triathlon or Olympic duathlon in June. Throw in two overnight relays, and it’s looking to be an active summer!

5. Giving Back. We’re still in our pre-season for the Team LUNA Chix Portland Run team, so fundraising hasn’t started quite yet for the Breast Cancer Fund. However, we’ve been so excited to get going that we’ve gotten a jump on things by holding group runs once a month to touch base.

In the meantime, our potential century ride has fundraising component for the American Lung Association, so if we decide to bite the bullet on that event, Ben and I will be hitting up our friends and family to donate for another great cause.

Other than that, we’re looking forward to March coming in like a rainy lion and out like a damp lamb here in the Pacific Northwest…how about you?!

How are your 2015 goals coming along? 

Portland Fit Fix: Calling All ‘Cardio Gangstas’ to Burncycle

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A perennial favorite on the list of best bike cities, Portland reigns supreme when it comes to two wheels. So it should come as no surprise that there’s no shortage of cycling studios for us fair-weather riders in search of a good workout during the winter months.

Enter Burncycle, which opened in fall of 2013 and offers full-body spinning, integrating hand weights, push-ups and core work on the bike. Jessi Duley, owner/instructor, pint-sized powerhouse of positivity and self-professed spin-class fanatic, opened its doors just three short weeks after giving birth to her first child– how’s that for dedication?!

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Apparently she also made Santa’s “nice” list last year because Burncycle just got more bikes in time for the flood of New Year’s resolution riders (yay for no more wait-lists!).

Duley wants riders to feel empowered and ready to seize the day, and her goal for the studio is to “do everything with intention so you can lock in the zone, be present and earn your sweat,” as embodied in the mural that greets you when you walk in the door.

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But what can you expect when you come to class?

Well, for starters, smiles at the front desk from the ladies who will get you set up with rental shoes, fitted on your bike and teach you how to clip in.

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Next, there’s the matter of Burn etiquette. If you want to join this pack, you’ve gotta bring a good attitude, give it your all, focus on the 45-minute task at hand and bring enough energy to help rock the room.

Or if you’re a little low on the energy part, you can always rely on your pack-mates; just don’t pop a squat in the front row if you want to do your own thing that day.

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As far as the ride itself, there are three things that set Burncycle apart (and may feel Soulcycle-esque for those of you who are familiar):

First, the room is dark so you can get in the zone. Second, you’ll use some small dumbbells in the second-to-last segment of each ride to give your upper body some lovin’. And, last but not least, there’s the pack mentality where you’ll feed off one another’s energy as the ride progresses.

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Our firecracker of an instructor, Kira, led us through a series of energetic jumps, tap backs, runs and sprints interspersed with all kinds of push-ups, dips, presses and crunches for a heart-pounding, ear-thumping dance-party of a workout.

Between affirmations she worked the lights to set the mood during different songs and encouraged us to pedal away our worries for the week. And before I knew it, we were onto our weight segment and swinging towels around our heads to rally for the final few minutes of class.

Final verdict? Party with this pack, and you’ll leave sweaty and smiling.

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What to know before you go:

  • New riders get their first class free in January (resolution, anyone?!)
  • Otherwise you pay a $18 drop-in fee for one class or can buy a package for multiple classes
  • You’ll also need a pair of cycling shoes; bring your own or rent a pair for $2
  • Expect to have a blast; the room’s dark, the music’s loud and the energy’s through the roof
  • Refrain from wearing loose clothing that could get caught in the bike; I like capris and tanks
  • Hydrate before, during and after — and fuel up with a light snack 30 minutes before class
  • Bring a positive attitude, an open mind and prepare to feel the burn!

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Want to hit up a class and experience the feel-good vibes yourself? Visit BurncyclePDX.com for more information.

My 5 Goals for 2015

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Aside from freezing my butt off (#packingfail) while running around Michigan over the holidays, I had some time to think about goals for 2015.

2014 was pretty epic. It would be hard to top, and to try would likely be setting myself up for trouble. So, in light of my evaluation of last season and my “train smarter, not harder” mantra for 2015, I’m on a mission to build a solid foundation for a further (50M?), faster (sub-4 marathon?) 2016.

My 2015 goals are as follows:

1. Seek Balance. One of my goals for 2014 was to race roughly once per month, and while I enjoy motivating and challenging myself this way, I want 2015’s racing schedule (still TBD) to be based on quality, not quantity.

2. Train Smarter. I sound like a broken record with this one, but I want to take 2014’s lessons and apply them in 2015 — namely, building an aerobic base using heart rate, continuing strength training and pre-hab to activate glutes, along with regular cross-training for flexibility and functional fitness.

3. Face Fears. 2014 was the year of #bikelove — I went from never having clipped in to competing in an Olympic triathlon to completing a 50-mile solo ride and loving.it. — so I want to make the same strides as far as swimming goes. Gulp.

4. Push Myself. Nothing’s set in stone yet, but I’m tossing around a few ideas for challenges to keep me stoked and give me something for which to strive in the New Year, including a duathlon, another 50K and a century ride.

5. Give Back. It’s easy to get lost in your own little training world each season, so in 2015 I’m leading the Team LUNA Chix Portland Run crew in order to help inspire and encourage women to get outside and play, all while raising money and awareness for the Breast Cancer Fund.

Have you set your goals yet for 2015? What are they?

Race Report: LifeTime Fitness 2015 Indoor Triathlon

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Although I said I’d hold off on registering for another triathlon until I work on my swim, I couldn’t help myself when I found out that the Indoor Triathlon Hour powered by Life Time Tri and IRONMAN would be happening while I was in Michigan.

In an effort to inspire the community to consider and commit to racing triathlon in 2015, LifeTime Fitness created the event as a way to offer an inspirationally-charged, safe and indoor environment for athletes of all fitness levels to experience the nation’s fastest growing sport of triathlon.

I did a similar event last year at a different location, and while my distances were slightly shorter this time for the same time-frames (damn!) — 10-minute swim/30-minute bike/20-minute run — I can’t complain too much because my training has been consistent but not particularly focused lately.

My wave — the first of the day — started promptly at 8 a.m., so I arrived about 20 minutes early to check in, get my cap and number and get organized in the locker room transition area. And then it was go time!

Swim: 10 minutes = 17 lengths

Clean, clear water and only two people to a lane? Now, that’s how I start to get my swim mojo back.

And apparently my lane buddy, Eric, had the same idea. He’d done outdoor triathlons before but had a bad swim experience recently, as well, so both of us joked about just wanting to just get through that part of every race.

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Since the lap pool there has five lanes, they limited each heat to 10 people. By the time I had arrived, people were already starting to warm up, so I hopped in and swam one length to try to get the pre-race jitters out.

This is about when I also noticed that my wave-mates were a pretty athletic looking bunch. I was one of three ladies, and I could tell quickly that this wasn’t a group who was trying triathlon for the first time; these people were here to kick off their seasons, so I figured I’d just try to keep up.

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My adrenaline didn’t work in my favor because I went out way too quickly. And the combination of being against the wall (aka swallowing back-splash) and getting bumped a few times took me right back to my Olympic triathlon back in April, and I could feel myself start to panic.

This is where the giant countdown clock came in handy, though, because I’d raise my head at the end of the lane and think, You can do anything for five more minutes. Gradually, I got my rhythm back and, thankfully, the whistle blew for us to stop after I’d gotten 17 lengths under my belt.

Bike: 30 minutes = 7.7 miles

Although they gave us a generous 10 minutes to transition from the swim to the bike, the time flew by. I tugged off my suit in the locker room, threw on my Coeur kit and headed upstairs to the bike area that they had sectioned off by the cardio equipment.

For some added motivation, we could watch Ironman videos on the projection screen, so I snagged a front-row seat for the action. I didn’t have my bike shoes to be able to clip in, so I secured my running shoes in the pedals and prepped my nutrition: a bottle of water and a trusty Chocolate Peppermint Stick LUNA bar.

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And we were off again! The music pumping nice and loud, so I tried to ride to the beat and turned down my resistance as much as possible to gain some of the ground I lost in the pool.

I got the feeling that a few of my heat-mates train together because they rode in a group and were encouraging each other throughout the ride, which was inspiring to hear. We pedaled furiously as a small crowd gathered to watch us push onward, still dripping a bit from the pool, but smiling from ear to ear.

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I think the bikes may have been calibrated differently from last year’s race because my just-under-eight-miles seemed like a conservative estimate for how strongly I felt like I was riding (especially after getting a comment form one of my heat-mates to the same effect). But, regardless, I stayed pretty steady throughout, ate and drank consistently, and was proud of my overall effort.

The second wave came up to join us with about 10 minutes to spare in our ride, so we pedaled as a large group for the final portion. Their energy was a breath of fresh air after hammering away on the stationary bike, and just a few minutes after they got settled the whistle blew for our final transition.

Run: 20 minutes = 2.69 miles

We had five minutes to get from the bikes to the treadmills, but they were just a few yards away, so I grabbed a towel and got situated quickly because I already had my Hoka Conquests on.

My heat-mate next to me had a treadmill malfunction at the very last second, so he scooted over to another machine just as they started a countdown to the third and final portion of the event.

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Because I’ve been managing what I’ve self-diagnosed as some SI joint pain (note to self: must continue to work on my lack of ankle mobility, which is likely the culprit!) since my marathon, my plan was to run a conservative first 10 minutes and then gradually increase my speed over the next 10 minutes to warm up properly.

I started off at 6.8 mph and increased to around 7.5 when one of the volunteers came by, daring me, “I think can go faster than that.” Yep, she was right; I wasn’t really out of breath, so I pumped it up a few tenths of a mile every minute or two until I was up to 8.5 mph 15 minutes in.

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I was hoping to inch up the speed to 9.0 mph like last year, but I started feeling a little lightheaded with three minutes to go, so I gritted my teeth and ran on. Maybe increasing the speed wasn’t an option, but I sure as hell wasn’t backing down at that point!

When the final whistle blew, I ended at 2.69 miles. Not PR territory, but a solid performance with an average pace of 7:26/mile, so I’ll take it…especially considering I’ve eaten my weight in Christmas cookies over the past few weeks.

It was also a wake-up call: Fitness-wise, I’m close to what I was last March, so I’m happy to have been able to maintain. Training-wise, however, I’ve got to dial things in better if I want to progress. And, nutritionally, I think I did ok, but probably could have used some extra oomph for the run in the form of Osmo or Tailwind in addition to the LUNA bar.

All in all, it was an event I’d highly recommend, especially if you’re looking to kick off your training with a low-pressure race and get a baseline in place.

Congrats to everyone who participated, and cheers to a successful 2015 racing season!

Year in Review: 2014’s Highs & Lows

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October’s Best & Worst of Racing Link-Up post was so much fun that I figured I’d revisit each of this year’s races in the same manner.

So on the eve of 2015, I’m taking a little walk down memory lane…starting way back in January with our chocolate-fueled 15K and ending with December’s holiday-themed run.

I was going to add up all the mileage, but instead of boring you with stats, I’ll just get to the good stuff 🙂

Best Post-Race Bellyache

We soared away with mega sugar highs after January’s Hot Chocolate 15K. Not only did Kelly, Ben and I have a blast running the scenic route, which looped around Golden Gate Park and down Highway 1, but we also (over)indulged in the most decadent post-race spread of fondue, hot chocolate, marshmallows, cookies and all kinds of other goodies.

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Best Mid-Race Meetup

You know it’s going to be a good race when you become fast friends with someone you meet two miles in (hey, Molly!) and get to hang out afterwards with the one and only Catra “Dirt Diva” Corbett and her running companion, a dachshund named TruMan. Just some of the many amazing running memories that Vivi and I — college friends reunited as running buddies — made at the Chabot Trail Run 30K in February!

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Least-Intimidating Triathlon

At home and on a whim, I signed up for the LifeTime Fitness Indoor Sprint Triathlon with my friend Colleen in March. Not only was the 10-minute swim, 30-minute bike and 20-minute run a nice way to ease into triathlon for the year, but it was also a great workaround for being able to “race” while there was still snow on the ground outside.

Best of all, though? The 10-minute locker-room transitions, which may have permanently ruined us for “real” ones.

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Friendliest Faces Race

Our entire SF community came out in full force for the Rock ‘n’ Roll San Francisco Half Marathon back in April. The weather cooperated, I helped pace Barry’s Bootcamp owner Adam Shane for the start of his first 13.1 finish, and friends and family came out of the woodwork to run and spectate along a course that was much tougher and hillier than anticipated.

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Worst Race Ever

Lest you think this rundown of races is all rainbows and puppy dogs, I present to you my darkest moment from the 2014 season: the HITS Napa Valley Olympic Triathlon.

Struggling with sickness and self-doubt, I battled for more than four hours through a panic attack on the swim, not being able to catch my breath on the bike and a miserably hot run that day. But as far as my performance was from perfect, I’m proud that I didn’t quit — and, hey, it can only go up from here, right?!

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Most Revealing Race

If you’ve never run Bay to Breakers in May in San Francisco, you’ve got to add it to your runner’s bucket list. Not only is it the oldest consecutively run annual footrace in the world, but it’s also some of the best people-watching and partying you’ll ever witness in the city. And no, don’t count on a PR, but do plan on getting an eyeful while covering the 12K course.

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Ultra-Freakin’-Awesome Race

Each time you run farther than you’ve ever run before, it’s an exhilarating experience. Jamie, my pacer extraordinaire for my first Canyon Meadow Trail 50K Ultramarathon, fortunately understood this and dealt with my exclamations every mile on the mile after 26.2: “Guess what? This is officially the longest I’ve ever run!”

And it may have been the first, but it won’t be the last…

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Biggest Post-Race Double-Take

As in, I had to check the race results twice to make sure I read them correctly. Hubby paced me to a shiny, new 10K PR in the Beaverton Sun Run, and I credit the Hanson’s marathon plan for the speedy finish. Sure, I got injured soon thereafter from the sheer volume and high threshold of training (plus lack of pre-hab), but it was fun while it lasted!

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Best-Worst Race Experience

Was it real or was it a dream? You may never know…because after more than 24 hours of being awake, driving and running for almost 200 miles the hallucinations start to set in. I can’t even really do justice to the insanity and hilarity of an overnight relay, particularly the “Mother of ’em all,” but I can say that this year’s Hood to Coast Relay was something I’ll always remember!

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Favorite Street Cred Race

Yes, I’m referencing the location, but I’m also alluding to the fact that, after five weeks off during peak mileage building, I had something to prove with this race — and, per usual, it was to myself. Both being able to run and highlight my hometown, plus be able to finish the Detroit Marathon was an incredible way to cap off a fall full of physical frustrations.

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Most Instagrammable Race

No joke, the first thing I did when I found out we were moving to Oregon was to put the lottery date for the Silver Falls Trail Half Marathon on my calendar because I heard it had some fantastic scenery. And the price we paid — in crazy elevation changes, rough footing and cold, crappy weather — was totally worth it!

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Most Spirited Race

From the looks of some of the creative costumes involved in this event, I have a feeling several of the participants may have taken the holiday “spirit” part of the race literally. Not only did Carolyn, a fellow LUNA Chix teammate, finish her first-ever race with flying colors, but the Jingle Bell Run 5K for Arthritis also ended up being an ideal way to round out the year just the way we started: with friends.

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Looking back, I’m feeling really thankful for a year chock-full of memories made, laughs shared and miles covered with friends and family.

Cheers to an even more eventful 2015!

Which moments are you most thankful for from 2014? I’d love to hear!