How I Walk: Portland Women’s Run Club’s Margaret Hill

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In honor of our inaugural Portland Women’s Run Club 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 FREE workouts Monday nights from 6:30-7:30 pm in Portland!

Next up is Margaret Hill, one of our most active former community members — literally; I dare you to keep up with this woman! — who is now leading the charge as a walk captain for our 2017 team.

Not only does Margaret put us all to shame when it comes to consistency with workouts (seriously; she’s been known to show up in full business attire – including pearls! – in order to make it to practice), but she also raises the bar when it comes to supporting others and giving back to the community.

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On any given day, you can find Margaret volunteering with a number of local organizations, participating in regular half marathons, cheering on athletes at races, getting out on the town for fundraising events or immersing herself in the Portland music scene.

She truly embodies the motto of our fellow workout group, November Project PDX (of which she’s also a member), and not only “just shows up” but also brings her A game every time!

1. What’s your favorite route? Anywhere with trees and water.

2. What shoes do you wear? Currently, Brooks Ghost 9

3. What other gear can’t you live without? My phone and RoadID bracelet.

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4. What’s your best time-saver or “walkhack?” For early mornings, I sleep in what I intend to wear; for post-work, I try to incorporate what I intend to wear with my work attire. It leads to some creative wardrobe choices.

5. What walking-related thing are you better at than anyone else? I have mad cowbell skills.

6. What do you listen to while walking? My brain and what’s going on in the world around me.

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7. What are you currently training for? Portland to Coast Relay

8. What are your recovery & sleep routines like? I love post-race massages and stretching, and tend to take a nap after races.

9. What’s the best workout advice you’ve ever received? Just show up!

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10. What’s your favorite walking-related memory? Tough to choose, but I’m going with van adventures during Portland to Coast 2015 with Team Eye Rock.

11. Fill in the blank: I’d love to go on a walk/run with __________. My friend Melanie with whom I did my first half marathon.

12. Anything else you want to add? I love doing good and free outdoor group fitness.

Thanks, Margaret! You show us all every single day what it means to really lead by example, and we’re so thankful to have you as part of the team. 

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

How I Run: Portland Women’s Run Club’s Debbie Koski

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In honor of our inaugural Portland Women’s Run Club 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 FREE workouts Monday nights from 6:30-7:30 pm in Portland!

First up is Debbie Koski, one of our former community members who has stepped into her captain’s role seamlessly this season.

As a new mom (you may remember her sporting a baby bump last season), Debbie’s one of those women who juggles a busy schedule with ease. She balances work with family life and motherhood and still has time to train for a half marathon each year – talk about #goals!

We chat about her running habits below, but feel free to hit Debbie up for postpartum workout advice or ask to see some pics of her adorable son if you’re in need of a baby fix at an upcoming workout.

1. What’s your favorite route? My favorite route is along the Portland waterfront — mainly over the Tillicum crossing because I love the view!

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2. What shoes do you wear? I love my Asics; I’ve always been a fan of the Nimbus.

3. What other run gear can’t you live without? My Flipbelt! It’s the only running belt I have ever owned that doesn’t bounce AT ALL! Worth every penny.

4. What’s your best time-saver or “runhack?” If I want to run early in the morning I will sleep in my running clothes. Then I have no excuses!

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5. What running-related thing are you better at than anyone else? Not sure on this one; I might have to get back to you guys!

6. What do you listen to while running? I love my Walk off the Moon Pandora station.

7. What are you currently training for? Hood to Coast!!

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Celebrating a previous Hood to Coast finish

8. What are your recovery & sleep routines like? I always try to go to bed as early as possible the night before a run, and I love to eat bananas after a run. It’s just enough food to hold me over especially if I have an uneasy stomach after a long run.

9. What’s the best running advice you’ve ever received? Just get the distance in even if you have to walk some! I was told that when I trained for my half marathon and didn’t think I could go far enough. And I always that to people when they tell me they can’t run with me because they aren’t in good enough shape. There is NO SHAME in walking some if you need to. Just get the miles in.

10. What’s your favorite running-related memory? Hood to Coast was the best run I’ve ever done. I got put in a van where nobody knew each other, and we had the best time ever. When you’re that exhausted, sweaty and gross together you somehow become instant friends.

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11. Fill in the blank: I’d love to go on a run with __________. I would love to go for a run with Sarah Brown. Even though she didn’t make it to the Olympics, she trained all through her pregnancy and is a huge inspiration. Anyone who has been pregnant knows that this is not something easily done. She is a great athlete who probably has some amazing mom advice.

Thanks, Debbie! Not only do you inspire us as an active mama, but we also look forward to hearing about your Hood to Coast adventures again this year.

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

Race Report: Vernonia Half Marathon

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After a year and a half hiatus from racing, it feels SO good to be back in the saddle!

When my plans to race 26.2 last fall got put on hold (because sleep > running), I set my sights on what felt like a more manageable challenge: the half marathon (my 15th!).

My PR was 1:47 and change from a few years ago, so when I signed on with a coach to help me with my postpartum comeback and restrain keep me from over-training, I told him I was eyeing not only a PR, but also an even bolder post-baby goal of 1:45.

We started working together in early January with a mission to get me safely to the start line of the Vernonia Half Marathon on April 9. Training went smoothly; after figuring out my paces, we exchanged emails each week as I eagerly tackled my nap-time workouts on the treadmill.

It felt good to be on a schedule. It felt great to be running regularly. And it felt awesome to finally start pushing myself again.

Although I was nailing workouts, my coach was frank about setting expectations when it came to race day: Based on my tempo runs, overall paces and our conservative build-up of mileage (I started at square one, so my long runs maxed out at 10 miles by the time we got to race day), he warned me that a PR may not be in the cards this training cycle.

By that point, however, I was just happy to be toeing the start line well-trained and healthy, so I figured it’d be a good opportunity to set a baseline from which I could work for my next race. It also meant that I’d leave my watch at home and just run by feel.

Fast forward to race day, and I was battling a serious case of self-doubt. Would treadmill mileage translate to the roads? How would I handle the last few miles (which I’d likely be running on fumes)? Could I even get in the head-space to go hard? Hell, I wasn’t even sure if my race kit from 2016 would fit.

We arrived about an hour and a half before the 9 a.m. start because the course was point-to-point and there was a 20-minute bus ride to the start. Luckily, it’s a super low-key event (~150 marathoners & fewer than 400 half marathoners), so everything went smoothly and we soon found ourselves inside Stub Stewart State Park at Hilltop with a little more than an hour until the gun went off.

To say it was cold for Oregon in April would be putting it mildly; there were more than a few “penguin” jokes circulating as several hundred of us huddled in a shelter, hopping from foot to foot, in an attempt to share body warmth.

Several cups of water and trips to the HoneyBuckets later, Ben, Matt and I lined up at the start barely able to feel our feet. The race started without much pomp and circumstance; no National Anthem or so much as a countdown or warning before we were off.

The course took us uphill for the first mile or so before joining the Banks-Vernonia State Trail at mile two, so my plan was to A) warm up for the first mile, B) go out conservatively so I didn’t expend too much energy, and C) try to run separately from Ben and Matt because they were anticipating slightly slower and faster finish times, respectively.

When we hit the first mile marker and I was still next to Matt, I figured he was having an “off” day because I just assumed my first mile would be around a 9:00 pace due to the hill. But when he said we were at 8:20, I decided to double-down and go for it.

The next six miles or so took us along a paved trail, through scenic woods on an abandoned railroad bed. And since we had a gradual downhill until mile seven, everyone was taking full advantage of it.

Things were going well until somewhere after mile eight when we hit an open section of the course and the wind picked up; even though the final stretch was flat, the previous downhill had taken a toll on my quads. That, combined with a lack of mile markers at this point made for a total mental battle as I fought fatigue and wondered where I was on the course.

Not wanting to tempt the GI gods, I had also avoided any kind of fuel for the first hour or so. But after mile seven I paused at each water station to take a few sips of Gatorade. Somewhere around mile nine, I felt the first gut flutter and around what I think was mile 12, I pulled over to take a quick nip of Gu to help get me to the finish.

For those final few miles my brain was squarely at the intersection of “I-just-wanna-walk,” “the-faster-I-run-the-faster-I-am-done” and “uh-oh-my-gut.” But words of encouragement from my coach and fellow mama runner friends kept me pushing along.

When we turned off the trail and into town I knew we had to be close to the finish. In a matter of minutes, we turned in to the Banks High School parking lot and made our way to the track where we had one lap to complete the race.

Per usual, that last lap felt like the longest portion of the race. I didn’t allow myself to look at the finish line until we rounded the first curve, then silently cursed because it was, indeed, a full lap.

As I rounded the last curve, I saw the clock read 1:46:XX. With one final kick, I crossed the finish line, found Matt, then headed straight to the bathroom; thank goodness for ample facilities at this race!

Matt had finished in 1:42, an impressive PR. Ben ran a 1:49, which was fantastic for the amount of training he didn’t do did for this race. And my official time was 1:46:06, which was good enough for a new PR, a 4th place finish in my age group and a top 20 finish among women.

Immediately my mind went to what I did well (in order to replicate it) and what I can improve upon (i.e. remove a negative variable) next training cycle: Having a coach was beneficial in so many ways, as was the consistency of my training and speed-work. But I definitely need to focus on improving my nutrition going forward — not only fueling during the race, but also the days/weeks leading up to it.

And although I’m still in shock about the outcome, the wheels have started turning about what’s next. My coach assured me that 1:45 is doable with more mileage under my belt, which is tempting. But I’m also mulling over going shorter and faster; I’d love to finally beat my 5K PR from my high school track days.

But just as life evolves, so does a runner’s relationship with the sport. And as good as it feels to nail a new PR and chase after the next one, I’m also realizing that there’s much more to it now than just the numbers.

I run because it makes me feel alive. Running makes me feel like I’m unstoppable. It makes me feel as though I’m capable of anything.

But now I also run because I’ve got an example to set for Wyatt. I want him to see his mom setting goals and working hard to achieve them. I want him to learn that it takes dedication to reach our goals and that we can do hard things.

And my ultimate goal is that he’ll be inspired to chase after his own dreams, running or otherwise.

Portland Fit Fix: Feeling the MegaBurn in the ‘Burbs

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Moving to the ‘burbs has certainly had its perks: Baby’s own room. A good night’s sleep. A yard.

But it’s also got its drawbacks: Chain restaurants. Urban sprawl. Fewer/farther fitness options.

Until now, that is.

Just as I was mourning the loss of my studio-hopping days in the city, one of my favorite Portland instructors, Ellie, and her business partner, Carolynn, brought the heat to Beaverton in the form of MegaBurn Fitness.

The industrial-chic studio’s high-intensity, low-impact Megaformer M3S workouts are known for utilizing slow and controlled movements instead of momentum, which makes this a full-body burn that’s also friendly for joints.

Haven’t been properly introduced to the Megaformer yet? Think of it as Pilates on steroids at the hands of a medieval torture device (er, spring-loaded “carriage”). No matter how good of shape I think I’m in, the Megaformer always brings me back to reality.

So, yes, if you can’t already tell, I have a bit of a love/hate relationship with this machine. Sure, working out with it will sculpt your core, tone your legs, increase flexibility and chisel your arms like no other. But there’s also a good chance you’ll be shaking with muscle failure and mentally swearing up a storm in the process (trust me, it helps).

Luckily, though, Ellie and Carolynn are as motivational as they are knowledgeable, which translates to constant movement and quick transitions during class — including counting into and out of exercises — so none of those panicked moments where you’re left wondering, “How much longer?!”

In fact, both ladies specialize in choreographing seamless transitions between moves in an effort to keep your heart rate up throughout class. No fumbling around here; it’s a fast-paced and, dare I say, fun way to improve endurance while testing your mental mettle.

Just don’t let Ellie and Carolynn’s kind faces fool you; they’ll have you begging for mercy in a matter of minutes…yet coming back for more when you realize just how efficient and effective this workout can be.

For more info, visit MegaBurnFitness.com.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

July Goal Check-In

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Ever look back and marvel at how far you’ve come — yet realize how much you’ve veered off course?

That’s pretty much how I feel about this year’s goals at this point, but that’s the name of the game now: learning how to roll with the punches and adjust (and re-adjust) expectations. Chalk that up to another lesson of parenthood.

Regardless, one day at a time and one foot in front of the other, the important part is that we’re making progress, right?

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

Here’s where things stand currently:

1. Health & Fitness

We’re still working on getting a daily routine down (naps, anyone?), but I have gotten good at making little workouts happen in the nooks and crannies of our days. Even if it’s just a walk with the stroller, a stroll with the baby carrier or some at-home body weight exercises designed by one of my favorite trainers, I try to get at least 30 minutes of activity on the regular.

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In the absence of a regular fitness schedule, however, I’ve realized it’s also come high time to revamp my eating habits. Up until now, I’ve been using breastfeeding as an excuse reason to be more lax than usual…

But now that Wyatt’s getting more mobile, energy is the focus so I’ve been supplementing with Forelle, a new meal delivery service here in Portland that specializes in raw, plant-based meals  using whole, organic and seasonal ingredients that are sourced from local suppliers. Clean eating feels good again, even if it’s only for a few meals a week!

2. Training

Now that we’re creeping up on six months where I have yet to get a full night’s sleep, I’m starting to re-think the plan for this fall’s marathon. Although mileage is now up to double-digits on weekend runs, operating in a state of chronic sleep deprivation is hardly conducive to smart training — i.e. the last thing I want to do is get injured in the process.

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The good news is that my average pace per mile has been dropping steadily as I’ve been increasing distance each week. The bad news is that I’m nowhere near the kind of mileage that’s considered preparation for 26.2.

Walk/jogging is an option, for sure, but there’s something to be said for training properly for a race so you can enjoy the whole experience. Needless to say, I’ve been mulling over my options, so stay tuned.

3. Community

This month we switched things up at one  of our weekly Team LUNA Chix Portland Run practices and held a scavenger hunt with some of our favorite fitness stores and studios in the area (shout out to Bar Method, Barre3, Burncycle, Lucy, MUV, Revocycle, Title Nine, YAS, YoYoYogi and Zest Nutrition). Between bags of bars, coupons for free classes and all kinds of raffle prizes, everyone walked away a winner!

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But what I really want to address this month in terms of community is the fitness scene here in Portland. What I love about it is that there’s much more camaraderie than competition — to each his own with workouts, so there can (and should) be room for everyone to play.

However, this past month I witnessed something happen to one of my favorite studio owners that made my blood boil. Rather than go into a rant here, though, I’d just like to take the opportunity to commend the people and places who pitched in and redeemed our faith in the Portland fitness community — namely Industrial Barre and PureBarre Bend — as well as those who stepped forward and asked how they could lend a hand to a fellow small business owner in need.

That’s how it should be, folks!

4. Career

My consulting work with Pulse Creative continues to be a juggling act, schedule-wise, but is so worth it. Aside from working out, it’s the other small piece of my day where I can feel like the old ‘me.’

And what’s nice, I’ve learned, from having less time is that you get to prioritize projects — i.e. partner with great people and do only work that you love. Which makes the time spent doubly enjoyable!

5. Life

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

It’s no longer about you. 

Well, duh, you’re probably saying. Anyone over the age of five knows this. 

But after years of being able to do what you want, when you want and how you want — from things as simple as setting sleep hours and eating regular meals to more complicated things such as work/life balance, training for events or, heck, even a date night with my husband — it can be a hard pill to swallow in the adjustment as a first-time parent.

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And what initially felt like a tug-of-war to not forget about what makes me ‘me’ or what makes Ben and me ‘us’ has become, well, a more comfortable shade of normal. It may have taken a handful of months and some newfound perspective — or maybe it’s just that there’s a flicker of light ahead at the end of the newborn tunnel — but I see now that it’s less about losing something and more about adding pieces to the puzzle.

What that bigger picture is, we don’t know yet; we’re still very much in the thick of it. But the prospect of creating it together, all three of us, is pretty exciting.

How are your 2016 goals coming along? 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

2. What shoes do you wear? Nike Structures

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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