Portland Fit Fix: Getting Back in the Saddle at Starcycle

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If I could give my fellow moms out there one piece of solicited advice, it’d be this:

Forget about the shoulds, and celebrate the dids.

Case in point: I’m ashamed to admit that it’s been more than two years since my last Starcycle class; in fact, the last time I was in the studio, I was newly pregnant with Wyatt.

Since then, my once uber-disciplined (hello, Type A) fitness regimen has been a lot more…well, fluid.

First it was sleep deprivation. Then it was a move out to the ‘burbs. And the icing on the cake has been a hip stress fracture sustained after training for and racing a half marathon this past spring.

Needless to say, running and I are currently on a break. Not permanently, but indefinitely while I figure things out.

So when Starcycle reached out about a special ride to commemorate their latest news, I jumped at the chance to pedal along with some inspiring local ladyboss mamas.

The ride itself was very similar to what I remember in the previous class – a high-energy, heart-pounding workout in a candlelit room where you can clear your head – but what’s evolved is my awareness and appreciation of the studio’s commitment to work(out)/life balance (read: childcare!).

Trust me: Being able to take a few minutes for yourself while knowing your little one is in good hands is practically priceless. Starcycle not only offers solid 45-minute sweat sessions, but the studio makes working out easy and realistic for riders, especially moms.

And now there’s a good chance you’ll get to experience it yourself since the brand’s new leadership hires will support franchise operations and studio expansion as part of the Starcycle’s national growth.

Sure there’s a time and a place for metrics, mantras and mechanics…but when you’re in need of a much-needed mental (and mama) break – to break a sweat – Starcycle is just the ticket.

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How I Run: Portland Women’s Run Club’s Kara Shierly

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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!

Last, but certainly not least, meet Kara Shierly. Kara’s another one of our fabulous new run captains for the 2017 season, and we’re thrilled to have her at the helm of the team.

After completing her first marathon earlier this year – at the happiest place on Earth, no less – she’s admits she’s hooked. So be sure to hit her up for tips, whether you’re looking for tips on training as a newbie or balancing high mileage with a busy career.

We love Kara not just because she rewards us with booze at workouts (Cinco de Juno margaritas, anyone?), but also because she’s into a whole lot of cool stuff – from rock climbing and knitting (not at the same time, of course) to gardening, boating and HGTV-inspired DIY projects.

It’s people like Kara with adventurous spirits and can-do attitudes that get me fired up to get out there and try something new…and I hope you’ll be equally inspired!

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1. What’s your favorite route? Anything next to water. Here in Portland it is the loop next to the river over the bridges.

2. What shoes do you wear? Asics have been my go-to for a while.

3. What other gear can’t you live without? A good pair of head phones. It is the worst when my ear bud falls out every five seconds!

4. What’s your best time-saver or “runhack?” I don’t have one. I hate being rushed; it’s my relaxing time.

5. What running-related thing are you better at than anyone else? I love mapping routes. I will look at dozens of combinations of roads to come up with one loop. And then I need at least one for every distance.

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6. What do you listen to while running? Mostly upbeat music. On really long runs I will listen to ted talks to give me something new to thing about.

7. What are you currently training for? I am looking to do a half in the fall, but right now there is nothing scheduled for me.

8. What are your recovery & sleep routines like? After a really long run is the only time I let myself have chocolate milk. I look forward to it the entire time!

9. What’s the best running advice you’ve ever received? “This is your run.” We run for us, and that is what matters.

10. What’s your favorite running-related memory? I don’t have a specific one, but I love the races and the training with my friends. It always leads to more fun with friends.

11. Fill in the blank: I’d love to go on a run with __________. My sister-in-law. She lives on the East coast, but running together is what we bonded over when we first met. I miss that.

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Thanks, Kara! We’re psyched to have you as part of our team leadership this year and look forward to more seasons of making memories together.

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

How I Run: Portland Women’s Run Club’s Angie Farnand

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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 Angie Farnand, one of our new run captains this year. She rocked workouts last year as a community member, so we were thrilled to welcome her as a leader for the 2017 season.

But PWRC captain is only one of this woman’s many titles! Angie is an example of #momgoals; she holds down a full-time job and is a busy wife and mom to two kiddos (although you’d never know it trying to keep up with her at the track…actually maybe keeping up with them is her secret to staying so fit?).

What I love about Angie is not only how she sets an active example for her little ones (she recently crushed the Portland Marathon), but that her positive attitude is infectious, whether she’s recruiting friends to join us for workouts, making the team look legit in our official gear or wearing a smile as we run in the rain (fun fact: one of her favorite things).

So, without further ado, let’s get to know Angie a bit better…

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1. What’s your favorite route? I love to step out my front door and get my run started! I live in Tualatin and feel grateful for the nice trails and neighborhoods available to me. I frequent the trail along the Tualatin River most often. Most of my runs take place at work so you are likely to find me on Nike’s Hollister Trail or the Tualatin Hills Nature Center trails.

2. What shoes do you wear? Today I wear Nike Fitsole Lite Run 3’s. I am not a “brand loyal” runner; I like to switch it up!

3. What other gear can’t you live without? I always wear my hip pouch…it’s great for my phone, key, chap stick, etc.!

4. What’s your best time-saver or “runhack?” Plan ahead; I always pack my gym bag at night!

5. What running-related thing are you better at than anyone else? I would say that I am very committed to my training schedule….sometimes to a fault 🙂

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6. What do you listen to while running? Pandora; I like the variety!

7. What are you currently training for? Nothing on the books…yet…

8. What are your recovery & sleep routines like? LOTS of rest and TONS of water; can’t get enough of either! Stretching is a big one for me, as well.

9. What’s the best workout/walking/running advice you’ve ever received? “Running is just putting one foot in front of the other”….quite simple, but how true.

10. What’s your favorite walking/workout/running-related memory? Crossing the finish line of the Portland Marathon! Super cool opportunity!

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11. Fill in the blank: I’d love to go on a walk/run with _______. Any of my running buddies! This is when I get to catch up with my friends!

Thanks, Angie! We’re excited to have you on the team, and can’t wait to be along for the ride as you set (and conquer!) more of those running goals. 

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 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.