January Goal Check-In

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Ok, 2016 — ready or not, here you are. Although it feels like we’ve just begun the year, we’re already a month in.

I’ll admit, pregnancy has given me a more leisurely attitude to this year’s goals…well, at least at this point in the game. And purposefully so.

Not only do I want to be kind to my body right now, but I’m also trying to stay present, cut down on unnecessary stress and enjoy the final weeks of Ben and I being responsible for no one but ourselves. All that’s about to change, and I know we’ll get back on track and into our competitive pursuits again eventually…but until then I’m making a concerted effort to keep things casual.

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

Here’s where things stand at the moment:

1. Health & Fitness

Until Baby H’s arrival, I’ve been hoping to be able to stay active. That means continuing regular workouts with a mix of cardio, strength and flexiblity work throughout the week with one day off to allow my body to rest.

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Fortunately, my doctor’s fully in support of this plan. Despite some minor aches, pains and first-time-mom freak-outs (Me: “There’s a bruise around my belly button; what did I do wrong, and should I stop working out?!” My doctor: “Nope, that’s just pregnancy.”), she’s great with the fact that I keep moving so the baby will keep moving…ideally into the correct head-down birth position.

2. Training

As I mentioned in my initial post on 2016’s goals, I’m signed up for the Portland Marathon and am considering a few smaller races leading up to that (recovery permitting, of course). Since then, I’ve further revised this goal so it’s more about completion than competition; meaning, I’m going to train to be able to finish events without any expectations of times, PR’s or age-group placements.

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While that’s the stuff that typically gets my juices flowing when it comes to training, it’s been a relief to let it go and give myself permission to not feel like I have to push so hard to prove something. And in the meantime, I’m working on maintaining a solid foundation on which I can build post-baby with an ultimate goal of remaining injury-free.

3. Community

Earlier this month, we officially announced the new roster for 2016’s Team LUNA Chix Portland Run. It’s a fantastic group of women of all ages, abilities and interests…but the one thing they all have in common is that they’re stoked to be able to once again connect with the community, promote the sport of running among women and raise money for our charity partner, the Breast Cancer Fund.

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Next up is our team leader retreat next month where we’re setting some goals and doing a little bonding before the season officially starts in April. Mark your calendar! We’ll be resuming our FREE Monday night workouts (6:30 – 7:30 pm), and you can find up-to-the-minute details via our Facebook, Instagram and Twitter accounts.

4. Career

Now that the holidays are over, things have been ramping up again work-wise at Pulse Creative. I’ve got several projects in-progress with clients, including website audits, messaging workshops and content creation, along with ghostwriting articles for Forbes and other outlets on behalf of C-level execs — flexing my old journalism muscles has been especially fun!

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But as I attempt to wind things down for my maternity leave, I’m already contemplating the direction I want to take my business when I return. In other words, what really lights my fire, work-wise, and how can I do more of that? 

It’s been something I’ve been thinking about a lot lately — not only in terms of where I can make the most impact for clients, but also how I can continue to create a sustainable career that allows me to find fulfillment yet maintain a healthy work/life balance. I want to continue to do this same type of project work, but I’m also exploring how to package up my favorite services for clients so I can serve them even better in the long run.

5. Life

Despite being proudly Type-A-organized, I will admit to having what I jokingly call a “Monica’s closet.” Look closely and you’ll see a bike helmet hung next to blazers and a hydration pack mingling among my purses. Yep, #fitpeopleprobs + #cityliving = interesting storage solutions.

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While my original goal was to finish  Marie Kondo’s book “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing” by mid-month so I’d have an update on it being in action for two weeks now, I’m behind schedule. I finished the book, but I know that one month isn’t realistic to be able to follow all the instructions laid out in it.

So I’m revising my timeline — this is about year-long goals, after all — and am aiming to tackle step no. 1 (my clothing) by the end of February. So if you don’t see me for the next few weeks, you know where I am…or what I might quite possibly be buried under!

How are your 2016 goals coming along? 

How I Run: Team LUNA Chix PDX’s Kristin Minto

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

As a fellow dog-lover, runner and wine connoisseur, there was no question that Kristin Minto would make a great addition to our core Team LUNA Chix Portland Run group. She and Ben go back to their days as OSU Beavers, but it wasn’t long after we moved to Portland that I was plotting to get her to convert from orange and black to (LUNA’s) yellow and blue.

When Kristin’s not working alongside oral surgeons by day, you can find her getting her cardio fix at Burncycle, working on her conditioning at The Edge, hitting the philanthropy circuit (she’s on the board of the Children’s Cancer Association here in Portland) or cuddling her adorably-gigantic pooch. She’s just one of those incredibly-inspiring people who seem to have found 27 hours in day and make the most of each and every one of ’em.

After dominating the Rock ‘n’ Roll Portland half marathon this spring, Kristin’s also started training for her first 26.2 at the Portland Marathon this fall. I see quite a few long runs in our future, and predict a few good stories in the process, so you’ll have to stay tuned…

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1. What’s your favorite route? We are so fortunate to have Forest Park located right in the heart of our city that I would have to say my favorite route would be a good ‘ol trail run. Aside from it being beautiful, I like to mix up my training so I’m not just road running 100 percent of the time.

2. What shoes do you wear? Brooks

3. What other run gear can’t you live without? My iPod loaded with great music!

4. What’s your best time-saver or “runhack?” If I’m running short on time and can’t get a decent run in, I run stairs. There are a couple sets of stairs in the West Hills and near OHSU that I frequent.

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5. What running-related thing are you better at than anyone else? Ooh boy… Not sure on this one! I would say I’m probably better than most at dodging the photographers during races. I’m not a big fan of having my picture taken mid-race. However, I usually get a good laugh out of the ones that do get snapped. They really know how to capture some doozies!

6. What do you listen to while running? Everything from Pitbull to Guns N’ Roses as long as it has an upbeat tempo. There is nothing like a playlist loaded with upbeat music to put a little kick in my step when I’m feeling a little sluggish or unmotivated for a run.

7. For what are you currently training? The Portland Marathon.

8. What are your recovery & sleep routines like? I will admit that I could be a little better in the sleep department just because it seems there aren’t ever enough hours in the day. I try my hardest to average seven hours a night, though.

Hydration and foam rolling are typically part of my recovery routine, and if it’s a post-race recovery, I can usually be found rewarding myself with a mimosa and brunch!

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9. What’s the best running advice you’ve ever received? “Listen to your body.” It’s so true. Sometimes if I feel like I can’t catch my breath or just feel “off,” I will pull out my earbuds and just asses my breathing and what’s going on while I’m running. I can usually straighten out whatever is going on and get into my normal groove.

10. What’s your favorite running-related memory? Running my first race and crossing that finish line for the first time. It’s so rewarding and such a great feeling of accomplishment!

11. Fill in the blank: I’d love to go on a run with __________. My pup Oscar.  I would love to go on runs with him more often, but he’s a big boy and tuckers out quicker than I do, so I only take him on 3-6 milers.

It gets a little embarrassing when we come to a stop light and he lays down on the sidewalk at an intersection for a break…. Like EVERY intersection!

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Thanks, Kristin! Can’t wait to hit up some trails, long runs and, oh, maybe even tackle a relay together this summer. 

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

Link-Up: Best & Worst of Racing

Best (or Worst) of My Racing History

Linking up today with Jessie over at The Right Fits to share some of the best and worst of my racing history! I read about this via my Coeur pal Erin over at SweetSweatLife and enjoyed her post so much that I thought it’d be fun to take a little walk down memory lane.

So without further ado, here are my best and worst…plus a few extra categories I added just for fun!

Best Start Line

Hands-down, the 2014 Detroit Marathon. I mean, c’mon, is there anything better than being in your hometown and hearing Eminem’s “Lose Yourself” blaring over the speakers as they count down to the start?!

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Best Finish Line

There’s nothing like crossing the finish line in your first 26.2, so my personal favorite here is the 2002 Chicago Marathon. But if I can also count a race I haven’t run (yet?) but attended, I’d have to go with Boston — an iconic race in a city full of spirit.

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The shot above is from 2004 while I was living there and going to grad school; we’d start our day at mile 26 to cheer runners along the last stretch. The shot below isn’t from the actual race (it’s from the Pats Superbowl parade), but gives a good idea of the crowd support at the end; I worked at Boston Sports Club Copley at the time, and we’d finish the day standing on that very same rooftop to watch people cross the finish line.

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Best Expo

Nobody puts on a pre-race party quite like Nike, which is why the expotique from the 2013 Nike Women’s Marathon takes the cake for this category. From live DJ, fashion show, social media integration and a host of other activities, it’s something that ever runner should experience at least once.

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Oh, and if your gut can handle it, they have a pretty sweet spread there, too. Care to carb-load with a macaroon, anyone?

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Best Crowd Support

Hm, this one’s a tough call. While 2002’s Chicago Marathon will always hold a special place in my heart for the thousands of people lined up along the route, it’s probably a close tie with this year’s Detroit Marathon.

Why? Well, anytime you can run through the wall (and not hit it) while running 26.2 is a win.

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Hottest Race

No question, I was burning up for most of the 2014 HITS Napa Olympic triathlon. Not only were we battling hot temps while on a course with little shade, but I also found out later that I was racing with a low-grade fever.

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Coldest Race

Hubby and I rang in the start of the holiday season with the 2010 Walnut Creek Turkey Trot…and froze our buns off in the process. At the last minute, I threw on an ill-fitting vest to try to keep warm, but ended up tugging at it for most of the 10K. Outfit fail!

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Most Beautiful Course

I’ll let the picture from the 2014 Lake Chabot Trail Run 30K speak for itself. You can see why it’s so easy to get hooked on the trails!

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Most Coordinated Outfits

Put a hot glue gun in my hand, and I’m not responsible for what’ll happen next. Case in point: I got a little crafty before the 2013 Turkey Trail Trot XI and made Hubby and myself some matching outfits to get into the spirit of this wacky race.

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Funniest Memory

Easily the 2011 Detroit Half Marathon. Here’s the before, with my sister, whom I was going to pace for her second half marathon.

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And the during, in which I proceeded to not only chatter incessantly in an attempt to keep her mind off the pain, but also take a bunch of pictures along the way to document our experience. She was clearly not amused.

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Best New Experience

Running a new distance (especially an ultra) can be scary. But tackling it with a friend, who just so happens to be an accomplished trail runner and fabulous pacer? Awesome, as you can see from this shot from 2014’s Canyon Meadow 50K.

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Best People Watching

Bay to Breakers. Every year. ‘Nuff said.

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Hilliest Course

While it may not rank as my hilliest race in terms of actual elevation, I remember the hills in the 2005 U.S. Half Marathon in San Francisco shocking me the most mid-race. Not only was it my very first 13.1, but I’d never run over the Golden Gate Bridge before, so the steep ascent, steady climb over and switchbacks on the Marin side were a rude awakening to Bay Area running!

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Flattest Course

I’m sure I’ve run on many a pancake-flat course, but the 2011 Oakland Running Festival Half Marathon sticks out as a particularly level one. It also helped me snag my second sub-two-hour time!

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Course That Took the Most Mental Strength

The picture below is from this year’s HITS Napa Olympic triathlon, and it’s also one of my toughest racing moments to-date.

Those other guys in the shot? Yeah, they’re done with their swims and headed out on the bike. Me, not so much — I’ve still got my second lap, and I’m pretty much trying A) to force myself back into the water for round two, and B) not to cry.

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Most Disappointing Start

Making a rookie racing mistake at the 2009 Nike Women’s Half Marathon meant that I had to run it without a time chip (forgot it in the hotel room), effectively meaning I didn’t do it (i.e. there’s no official record of my participation).

Lesson learned: Now I always put my timing chip on my shoe or bib the night before the race, and make sure to double-check it on race morning!

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Most Disappointing Finish

My face says it all in the shot below: Try not to puke.

In 2007, I ran the Big Sur Half Marathon and didn’t respect the distance. Not only was I under-trained and went out too quickly, but I was also coming down with a cold and mistakenly experimented with some Airborne and cold medicine that morning.

Big mistake. My poor friend Marlene was such as saint as I slammed into the wall at mile six, then proceeded to poorly manage gastrointestinal issues and leg cramps for the rest of the race before ending up in the fetal position at the finish line.

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Crappiest Weather

Despite Oregon’s reputation for rain, they say that it’s only been wet once or twice during the city’s very popular fall marathon. So, of course, my 2010 Portland Half Marathon was one of those lucky years where we experienced a downpour.

And, in case you were wondering, that’s not happiness on my face to be running, soaked and chilled to the bone.

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Most Surprising

My very first triathlon — a sprint in the local quarry — was 2010’s Tri for Fun in Pleasanton, Calif. My goggles leaked, the water was warm and full of goose poop, my bike was a poor-fitting Craigslist purchase, and my legs cramped on the run…but I finished with a smile and enjoyed every moment!

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Most Rewarding Race

Helping my sister cross her first 13.1 finish line in the 2009 Rock ‘n’ Roll Chicago Half Marathon holds a special place in my heart. Not only is the city one of our favorites, but to share that experience with her was also something I’ll always remember.

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Coolest Medal

No one will argue with the Nike Women’s Marathon “medal” (below is last year’s version). As far as bling goes, you can’t do much better than that pretty Tiffany necklace!

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Best Worst Experience

A friend joked with me that Hood to Coast was the “best-worst race experience,” and after running this year’s event, I couldn’t agree more. It’s exhausting, intense and overwhelming at times, but so worth it for the 200-mile bonding experience…and getting to cross that sand-filled finish line!

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Got a best (or worst) race memory? I’d love to hear!

Guest Race Recap: Hubby takes on the Portland Half Marathon

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Since I’m sidelined from racing while I prep for Detroit these next two weeks, I thought I’d hand the reins over to Hubby to let him share his race-day experience from this year’s Portland Marathon Half.

Although his pre-race plans are, ahem, “unconventional” (sorry, hanging out in a bar and drinking beers the day before the race does not count as carb-loading, hon), he did managed to fight for a strong finish and snag a shiny, new PR.

Here’s how it went down, in his own words:

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With Jen getting back into the swing of running, but not wanting to push it too much leading up to her Detroit Marathon, I ended up running the Portland Marathon Half myself yesterday. I thought, why not just run it for fun? But of course, once race morning came, I figured I’d push it a little. Having done the Portland Triathlon two weeks ago, I still had the competitive juices flowing.

The Start

Yesterday morning could not have been more beautiful. I am an Oregon native and always remember Indian summer in October, but it has been an exceptional last week. With a Saturday filled with watching Beaver football and Timbers soccer, however, you might say I didn’t really prime myself with an agreeable “diet,” although I did rest my legs.

I woke up early, put on my gear, decided to run in my new Hoka Conquests, and ran the mile or so to the starting line. I got in the corral and almost immediately the race director announced we would be singing the national anthem — only someone would start us off, and the crowd would finish the song ourselves.

I stood next to a older guy in orange and black, and assumed he was a fellow Beaver fan; he was hoping to get a 1:45, and I thought I’d try to do the same. The gun went off, and away we went.

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Miles 1-5

This was essentially the only uphill portion of this race. Compared to the last half I did in SF (Rock ‘n’ Roll), it was nice to only have a couple small hills and, really, the rest was pretty flat. I took off a little quicker than expected, around a 7:30 pace.

I will say that these are some fun miles with bands playing, high-fiving pirates, signs encouraging “cropdusting” and a picturesque loop up towards OHSU and above south waterfront. The climb was worth it, though, for the early morning views of Mt. Hood off to the right on the way back into town. My favorite parts were the bands playing music on overpasses and forklifts.

Then the route headed down towards the Willamette waterfront, and I could see our apartment building as we started a long straightaway up to mile nine in north Portland.

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Miles 5-9

These were miles where I could definitely feel the dehydration start to set in. It’s a long, pretty flat stretch that seems to never end. I downed Ultima at pretty much every fuel station and had a few gummy bears, which helped a little but seemed to upset my stomach a bit.

I decided at about mile eight to just do water from then on. I think this helped, although I could feel my pace slowing. My friend from the start passed me, and I stayed on his heels until about mile 11.

What I enjoyed most here was being able to run my first half along with full marathoners. It was inspiring to see these people make the turn around mile 10 toward the East side and still have another 16 miles that, thankfully, I didn’t have to run.

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Mile 10-13.1

I would call these the wish-I hadn’t-“dehydrated”-myself-yesterday miles. About mile 10 my legs started to feel really heavy, and I felt really thirsty. Just when I felt I needed a fuel station, there wasn’t one for about a mile and a half.

Around 11 miles in, I walked through the fuel station and drank two glasses of water, gave myself 30 seconds to walk and then started to plod along again. My pace had slowed considerably to about 8:45ish per mile as I got back into town and started the final stretch.

With the announcer congratulating me on a strong finish, I pushed across the finish line. My unofficial time was 1:50:27, which was about five minutes slower than I wanted, but still a PR and a fun morning run in my favorite city.

Final Thoughts

Today was one of those runs where I never felt like I got “in the zone.” I was also a bit frustrated with the last three miles, as this has always been my weak part of each half. A lesson learned today is that I need to prep my body the day before with something other than the fantastic Oregon IPAs and Moscow mules.

I was tasked to take a couple of pictures along the route, which I didn’t do a great job of. But I did get a picture of a girl’s tattoo that I though Jen would love. It’s a Dairy Queen ice cream cone — which, come one, we all love — and the word “Hustle.” Side note: My first job was at the Dairy Queen in Corvallis, Ore., where I unofficially invented the mint Oreo blizzard (Jen doesn’t believe this story, but it was corroborated recently by someone I worked with at DQ).

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All in all, it was a great day, and I wish I could have had Jenny there by my side, but I know she was there in spirit. And I was happy to have earned my Besaw’s Eggs Benedict and an afternoon of watching football and napping in the park.

Next up for me: the Silver Falls Trail Run half marathon on Halloween weekend with some great friends from the Bay Area. Uh oh, I have a feeling I may be “fueling” in the same manner as I did before this one, too. And can’t wait till next year’s PDX half…or maybe full???? I still don’t know how Jenny does it!!

Congratulations to all Portland Marathon participants, as well as anyone else who was racing this past weekend!