Race Report: Portland Trail Series Race No. 2

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Two down, three to go!

This week marked the second installment of the Portland Trail Series, a low-key series of five trail races over the course of five weeks held in Forest Park in Portland. Read about last week’s event here.

The best part? Syreeta, one of our Team LUNA Chix Portland Run members, had mentioned during our Monday night practice that she was thinking of joining us for what would be her first-ever trail race. So, needless to say, I couldn’t be more excited when we saw her at the start line!

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We lined up to get the scoop on the evening’s course, which measured 5.20 miles.

We’d start on Leif Erikson and go up Leif to Wild Cherry, up Wild Cherry to Wildwood, then down Wildwood to Holman, up Holman to 53rd, up 53rd to Birch, down Birch to Wildwood, up Wildwood to Wild Cherry, down Wild Cherry to Leif and Leif to the finish.

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The good news, they said? The course was net zero elevation.

The not-so-good news? It was far from flat, so we could expect a lot of ups, and a lot of downs in return.

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Syreeta’s already a pro on the trails, since she and her husband are avid weekend hikers. Seriously, if you want the lowdown on the most challenging jaunts and most scenic vistas in the area, she’s your go-to gal. 

But since it was her first trail race, we decided to run together and let her set the pace. My goal, I said, was to get her across the finish line A) in once piece, and B) smiling. Her goal was to run as much of the course as possible.

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Wild Cherry, again, did not disappoint. #WhatTheHill

But Syreeta powered right up without stopping, so we chugged along and caught our breaths while enjoying a beautiful downhill section on the back side.

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We kept a solid pace through a number of rolling hills before hitting a pretty long uphill, which I think it was the Holman and 53rd section. After taking the first part at a jog, we rounded a corner and saw it keep going up, up, and away…so Syreeta made what I thought was a great judgment call and started hiking up.

Not only would this allow us to keep moving along at a good clip (a purposeful walk over a long, steep hill can be just as quick and effective as a slow jog), but it’d also allow us to conserve some energy for later.

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I was beyond impressed with Syreeta’s positive attitude and willingness to lay it all out there — her second wind hit with about a mile and a half to go, so we picked up the pace again and headed for home.

Luckily it was all downhill from here…

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Syreeta led the charge to a strong finish; we wound our way back down Wild Cherry and crossed the line with a final time of 58:10.

This even included a quick backroom break about a half-mile from the finish!

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We met up with Ben and got sidetracked as soon as we spotted a booth for Bogg’s Trail Butter, which was nothing short of delicious. It reminded me of my beloved PocketFuel, but instead of a gritty texture from sugar (which can start to trouble my tummy during longer races) this had more of a chunkier/crunchier texture from all the nuts.

My favorite flavor was the Ozark Original, which combines many of the ingredients found in a classic trail mix. Nuts, seeds, raisins, cranberries and a hint of semi-sweet chocolate hit the spot.

Plus, we learned a great new way for prepping food for the trails — spread the nut butter on a flour tortilla, roll it up, then chop into bite-sized pieces. Brilliant!

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Can’t wait to do it again next week! Same place, same time, different route — so stay tuned for my report from race no. 3.

And for more information on the Portland Trail Series in the meantime, click here.

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Race Report: Portland Trail Series Race No. 1

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I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: There aren’t many places I’d rather be than summer in Oregon. And this week only reinforced that belief, thanks to the Portland Trail Series!

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The Portland Trail Series is a low-key series of trail races held in Forest Park in Portland. Three five-race Series (Spring, Summer and Fall) are held Wednesday evenings from May-October, and each race covers a different, challenging course, ranging from four to six miles.

Here’s the summer schedule:

  • Race 1 – July 15, 2015
  • Race 2 – July 22, 2015
  • Race 3 – July 29, 2015
  • Race 4 – August 5, 2015
  • Race 5 – August 12, 2015

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First up was a 5.98-miler for the kickoff race this past Wednesday. And, as you can see, they stay true to the “low-key” description with a super mellow start — just two tents at the trailhead, plus a few self-serve jugs of water and electrolytes.

Although they capped registration at 150 runners, only 101 people showed up to run (so feel free to come with $20 cash if you want to drop into the next one).

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Ben and I grabbed our bibs and promptly bumped into one of my running buddies (and badass triathleteAnabel Capalbo who was there to cheer on her college roommate. Gotta love the small-town feel of Portland, especially the endurance scene!

Around 6:15 the race director gave us a quick run-down of the route, complete with a warning to watch out for owl attacks on one of the trails. My strategy for the evening? A) Run it for fun and enjoy the experience. B) Stick close to someone taller, in the event of an angry owl (thanks, Ben! #takingonefortheteam).

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Each race in the series starts and finishes at the gate at the Leif Erikson trailhead. For this first race, we started on Leif Erikson and went up Leif to Wild Cherry, up Wild Cherry to Dogwood, then down Dogwood to Leif Erikson, then out Leif to Alder, up Alder to Wildwood, Wildwood to Wild Cherry, Down Wild Cherry to Leif and Leif to the finish.

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Although I find it tougher to get pysched up for an evening race because I’m used to working out (and racing) first thing in the morning, we really couldn’t have had a more beautiful night for trail running. And after a casual countdown from 10, we were off!

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After about a quarter mile down the main trail, we made our first turn and immediately started climbing up Wild Cherry. As far as trails go, this one turned out to be quite a zinger.

This is also when I felt my recent lack of trail running kick in. We were spoiled in SF with hill training built into nearly every run, and it’s clear that Portland’s flatness has softened me!

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Because of the unrelenting ascent (and, let’s face it, my lack of recent trail training), I had trouble getting my heart rate down and breathing under control for the first mile and a half or so, so we alternated hiking the hills and jogging when it leveled off. After the initial climb, however, we were treated to a lovely downhill on Dogwood and had a blast bombing down the hill to try to make up some time.

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After a series of rollers, there was another climb up Alder (read: more walk breaks!) before the final descent to the finish. Our final time was 1:01:36 — not a record-breaker by any means, but we were satisfied with the roughly 10-minute-per-mile average pace after a rocky start.

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The best part? We get to do it all over again next week! Same place, same time, different route — so stay tuned for my report from race no. 2.

And for more information on the Portland Trail Series in the meantime, click here.

Race Report: Race for the Roses 10K

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You know when I said I was going to slow my roll this year when it came to signing up for a bunch of events? Well, when a rockstar social media pal has an entry to spare (thanks, Karen!) and you’ve got willing running buddies (mad props to Nicole and Ben!), it’s hard to resist registering for another race.

Oops.

In my defense, this almost turned into another 13.1 because my usual masochistic tendency inclination is toward the longest distance available (especially since I need miles while training for next month’s events), however this time good sense prevailed. Ben and I raced pretty hard last weekend, and despite post-race massage and chiropractor appointments, I still wasn’t feeling fully recovered.

The solution? Split the difference, and trick ourselves into training. So we signed up for the 10K and decided not only to run it for fun, but also to jog to and from the race for a total of nine casual Sunday morning miles.

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We arrived at the start just as the half marathoners were taking off, so we waited off to the side, stretching, as we watched them disappear into the distance. Then, with 11 minutes to spare, we lined up and waited for the corrals to fill around us.

Except they didn’t. Well, at least not in front of us.

In typical Oregonian fashion (and particularly at more casual races like this), the start was orderly and polite, and the race director had to encourage people to step up to the line. I always appreciate a courteous crowd, but it makes me smile and think back to other races where I’ve see elbows being used as weapons in order to jockey for position, even in small, local events.

The seven- and eight-minute mile areas were still pretty light, so we lined up towards the front but stayed on the side as the crowd slowly filtered in. By the time the gun went off, though, the area around us had filled in pretty well.

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As far as courses go, this was one of my favorites so far in Portland. Not only do you get two bridge crossings (Broadway and Steel), but the race directors have also designed it so you don’t get stuck with a loooong out and back on Front Ave.

If you’re not familiar with the area, it’s a super-flat, super-industrial stretch, which is slowly starting to fill in with residential buildings but can also be a mind-numbing straightaway during races (i.e. when I ran the Portland Marathon half in 2010). Instead, this course curved nicely through the Pearl District and into the Northwest so we only had to do Front Ave. once.

And aside from the final ascent to the Steel Bridge, I don’t remember there being any big hills. In fact, the race even touts the fact that it’s PR-friendly, so take note if you want a good spot to clinch that new record next year!

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Ben, Nicole and I agreed ahead of time that we were going to keep the pace conversational. I’d estimated we’d be in the nine-minute mile range, but aside from Nicole letting us know each time we completed a kilometer, none of us were watching the clock.

We stopped at the aid stations every two miles or so to grab water and electrolytes, but ended up skipping the final aid station because it was less than a mile from the finish. By that point, we also figured it’d be better to keep moving forward rather than get caught up with the crowd of half marathon walkers, 10K’ers and 5K’ers who were converging on the course.

Again, I have to give kudos to the race director, though, for dividing us up into lanes so as to prevent any major traffic jams during this last stretch. We were divided not only by distance, but also by runners/walkers, which alleviated the headache of having to bob and weave through the crowd too much in the final stretch.

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Before we knew it, we were crossing the Steel Bridge and had the finish line area in sight (the spire off to the right in the picture above). A few quick turns later, we rounded the last corner and gave one last push to cross together in 56:38 for an overall average pace of 9:06/mile.

After collecting roses and hand-made wooden finisher’s medals, we made our way into the Oregon Convention Center for the post-race party. And, boy, did we feel well taken care of (thanks to all the wonderful volunteers for their time and energy)!

Between Jamba Juice smoothies and a solid spread of food (bagels, coffee cake, cinnamon rolls, all kinds of fruit, mimosas and coffee), they were also offering free photos, massages, expo shopping and live music. I can’t recommend this race highly enough if you want a fun, low-pressure event to run with friends and family.

Rather than wait in line for the official shot, however, we opted to snap our own impromptu version of a finisher’s photo before jogging back home. It was a fantastic way to spend a Sunday morning, and especially rewarding to be able to share the experience with Nicole, who is one of my Team LUNA Chix Portland Run teammates, and Ben.

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If you’re interested in participating or volunteering in next year’s Race for the Roses, visit their website here for details.

And if you’re in the Portland area and want to grab a workout with Team LUNA Chix on Monday nights at 6:30 p.m., check our Facebook page for the latest location updates.

Hope to see you soon!

What’s your race schedule look like this season? 

Race Report: Corvallis Half Marathon

One of my favorite things about being an Oregonian now is getting to sample some new (to me) races this season! First up was the Corvallis Half Marathon, chosen because it takes place in Ben’s hometown and because the finish line is on his beloved Beaver’s home turf in Reser Stadium.

If you like the ease and friendly feel of a smaller race, along with some really pretty pastoral scenery, you may want check this one out. And there’s also the 9:30 a.m. start time; not having to wake hours before dawn is always a luxury on race morning!

After completing our usual pre-race prep at home, we moseyed over to the start on Oregon State University’s campus. Another perk? Ample parking at the stadium, which is always much appreciated when those nerves start to kick in.

We warmed up by jogging to the porta-potties and back for one final pit-stop before lining up in the 8:00-minute mile corral. Of course, this is Beaver country, so prepare to see a fair amount of orange and black in the crowd!

Ben was gunning for a PR (under 1:50, but I predicted sub-1:45) so we said our goodbyes and planned to regroup at the finish. Usually I can pinpoint a goal for myself, but since my off-season was so heavy with cross-training (i.e. light on running and speed work), I felt like I was flying blind this time.

My best guess was somewhere between 1:50-2:00, so I figured I’d take some of the pressure off and simply run by feel. That way, I’d be able to see where I was at without forcing things, especially because I knew a specific time goal might cause me to push too hard with my SI joint (lower back) still acting up.

We crossed the start line to the sounds of the OSU marching band, and I tried my best to settle into a good pace as I watched Ben weave his way to the front of the pack.

Mile 1: 7:50 / Mile 2: 7:59 / Mile 3: 8:18

It took me a full three miles to really get warmed up. I know went out a little faster than I should have, as my shins and ankles were pretty tight for this first stretch.

The next few miles felt great, though, so I settled in and enjoyed the scenery as I hit my stride. My fueling plan was to grab a sip of water at aid stations, and I was experimenting with chunks of Barnana every two miles starting at mile four.

Mile 4: 8:31 / Mile 5: 8:22 / Mile 6: 8:06 / Mile 7: 8:09

The course was gorgeous; we did a giant loop through some agricultural areas and around the county fairground, so even though it was a ‘road’ race, most of it was super mellow. And even though I was starting to feel the effects a lack of long training runs in these miles, I rode a wave of adrenaline after air-high-fiving Ben’s dad at mile nine.

Mile 8: 8:31 / Mile 9: 8:05 / Mile 10: 8:11

My fueling plan was working well up until this point; despite a few low-grade, longer climbs along the course, I was feeling pretty strong and stable, energy-wise. As we neared mile 11, however, some mild nausea set in and I started having trouble with my fuel; it took me a while to talk myself into a final piece of Barnana, but I knew I needed one final hit, so I choked it down by mile 12.

The course was well marked, but there were no timers at the mile markers (a good thing, in my case). I had no clue as to pace or time, but I was guessing I was around the 1:50ish range.

Fortunately they had mile 12.5 marked (so helpful!). I told myself that all I’d need to do was hold it together for just five more minutes to finish strong.

Mile 11: 8:25 / Mile 12: 8:27

I remember running alongside a woman in blue for the last mile or so; she passed me, so I set my sights on her as we rounded the final corner into the parking lot. We ran side-by-side by the 13-mile marker and sprinted together down the ramp, onto the football field and across the finish line.

Mile 13: 8:27 / Final .1 Mile: 7:12

I spotted Ben in the crowd and could hear him cheering me on, yelling for me to to do an end zone dance. But, at that point, I was too pooped to do anything but smile as volunteers clipped off my time chip and handed me a finisher’s medal.

Final times:

  • Ben – 1:43:54
  • Me – 1:48:39

Ben PR’d by about seven minutes (so proud!), and while I was about a minute off mine, I was thrilled to have run a solid race. My back wasn’t feeling great (it had felt tweaky off and on), but it wasn’t horrible. And with a little recovery and some speed work, I’m not far off from my eventual 1:45 goal.

We soaked up some sun and took the opportunity to get a few photos on the field before heading over to the beer tent to celebrate. This one may just become an annual tradition for us!

Have you ever raced ‘by feel’ and been pleasantly surprised by the results?

Race Report: Hagg Lake Mud Run 25k

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The alternate title for this race write-up? There Will Be Mud. 

Our friends Matt and Christian came in from San Francisco to spend Valentine’s Day weekend in Portland, and we’ve got a little tradition every time they visit the Pacific Northwest: Trail runs of escalating distances, which are usually sprung on them at the 11th hour (I’m lucky they’re such good sports — and strong athletes).

Last time it was a half marathon, so this time it was only fitting to bump it up a few miles to a 25K. And since the Hagg Lake Mud Run has been dubbed by Runner’s World Trail Edition as one of the top trail races in Oregon, we figured it’d be a great way to round out their trip.

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If you’re interested in all the details, keep reading. But if you want the short version, I can illustrate the run in just three pictures:

First, here’s the “before” from when we made our way over to the start.

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Next is the “during,” which I took at the first aid station, a little more than six miles into the race. That right shoe had just been submerged (and was nearly lost) in a huge pile of muck.

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And, finally, the “after,” which pretty much speaks for itself, doesn’t it? This shows Ben’s and my feet about half a second before we hopped into the lake — shoes and all.

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If you want all the gory details from in-between, I’ll start over at the beginning…

After a few dreary weeks of fog and intermittent rain, we got lucky with some unseasonably spring-like weather the week before the race. And since our last event was a cold, rainy one, we were thrilled to have ideal conditions for this one: 40’s at the 9 a.m. start and up to mid-50’s by noon.

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Hagg Lake is about 45 minutes outside of Portland, so we left around 7:30 a.m. to allow time for packet pick-up and a port-a-potty stop. The parking lot is about a quarter mile from the start, so we had ample time once we got there to get organized.

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The start area itself was clean, quiet and super mellow — a.k.a. another reason why I love trail races!

We casually lined up, took a quick group selfie and waited for the round of pre-race announcements from the race director.

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After the gun went off, we shuffled over the start line chip-time mats and made our way down the road for the first portion of the race, which is a quick out and back on a gravel road.

They tack this portion on for two reasons: First, to make up the difference in distance (the path around the lake is just a little less than 25k); second, to help runners space themselves out a bit before they hit the single-track trails.

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Also interesting about this section? It’s the largest elevation change in the race, so we ended up climbing most of the first mile.

But the good news is that ‘what goes up must come down,’ so we also got to descend the same distance before hitting the lake trail.

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Talk about some great scenery — and terrific running conditions! We eased in with some lovely damp, spongy footing as we started out on the trail headed counter-clockwise around the lake.

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The temperature was perfect, the sun was shining, we were all warmed up, getting into our respective grooves and in high spirits. How much better does it get than this?!

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Well, it was right about then that the mud hit. And shit started getting real…real muddy, that is.

Any hopes I had for keeping my shoes clean(ish) and dry were dashed as we slogged through the slop.

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Try as we might to avoid the worst of it, we eventually gave in and just ran straight through. Between navigating the rolling hills, managing the slick footing and avoiding roots and rocks, it just simply wasn’t worth the extra mental and physical energy to go out of our way around it.

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In between the rolling stretches of single-track trail, however, we enjoyed a few breaks on pavement and through open fields. Both were a welcome respite — not only were they flatter so we could catch our breaths, but the surer footing also allowed for a mental reset for what would come next.

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And what might that be, you ask? Well, more mud, of course.

In my estimation, we got to experience pretty much every kind and consistency of the brown, wet, sticky stuff…from quicksand-like mud that grabs hold of your shoes to murky puddles that are deceptively deep with squishy bottoms…

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…and from fluffy brownie-batter mud with footprints that disguise dangerous tree roots to thick clay mud so slippery and sticky that they have to throw hay in it to keep you from going off the rails around corners.

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And then there’s a combination of ALL of these kinds of mud in one place dubbed the “Pig Pen.”

In fact, this segment even came marked with a warning that if you somehow managed to keep your shoes clean up to that point, you should abandon all hope of keeping them that way.

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It was around this point, as Ben and I slipped, slided and skidded through the nastiness, that I wondered if Matt and Christian might be cursing me and cancelling any future travel plans.

Last race it was “Nutcracker Hill” that was the final insult, yet this race may have had that beat with a muddy mess of a stretch that was both physically and mentally demanding.

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Even though the mounting mileage was starting to wear on us, Ben and I both managed to keep our shoes. Whew.

A small, but much-needed, victory to get us to the finish!

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After we emerged from the Pig Pen, we had about a half of a mile to go, so Ben and I picked up the pace to bring it home.

Because we were both admittedly under-trained going into the race, my loose goal for the day was to complete the course in fewer than three hours. We crossed the finish line together in 2:51:54.

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Matt and Christian, who are both training for the Big Sur Marathon this spring, finished together in an impressive 2:28.

The best part of the race, though? You cross the finish just steps away from “Hagg Lake Spa,” which is also known as wading into the water, shoes and all.

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Waterlogged and jello-legged, we then made our way up to the (heated!) pavilion for a delicious feast of chili, hot dogs, grilled cheese, beer, cookies, candy and all the other usual ultra fare.

After chowing down, we hobbled to the car and began the process of stripping off filthy clothing, scraping off caked-on mud and getting ourselves just clean enough to get in the car for the ride to our next destination…brunch!

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And, of course, my wheels are already turning when it comes to planning the excursion for Matt and Christian’s next trip up north…

I’m thinking we continue the trend and shoot for 26.2. What do you say, guys??

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!

Race Report: Portland Jingle Bell Run/Walk for Arthritis

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‘Tis the season for a themed holiday run! Throw some friends, costumes and a charitable organization into the mix, and you’ve got yourself a pretty great way to spend a Sunday morning.

We rounded up a fun crew for the event, too, including Kristin and Carolyn, two of my LUNA Chix PDX Run Team teammates. This was Carolyn’s first-ever race, so I planned on pacing her to a strong finish so she could set the bar for our upcoming 2015 season.

But first, Ben and Kevin demonstrated proper pre-race stretching technique, much to the horror of surrounding parents will small children 😉

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The course was a quick out and back near the waterfront toward the Pearl District. It’s been a while since I’ve done a 5K, plus I’m still in the process of easing back into running after my marathon injuries, so the shorter distance was a welcome one.

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About 10 minutes after we arrived, they released the first wave of runners and we were off! The boys led the way, and we ran to the sound of jingle bells attached to everyone’s shoes.

Carolyn and I had discussed using coach Jenny Hadfield’s yellow-orange-red plan in which we’d tackle the race a mile at a time and run by effort rather than a strict pace per mile. After all, any time would be a PR since it was her first race, and I wanted this initial experience to be a pleasant one.

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We stuck to the plan, and the first mile was smooth sailing. During mile two, we settled into a good pace, and Carolyn dug deep to push through the third and final mile to the finish. I was so proud! Not only did she run the entire race, but she also met her goal of finishing in under 30 minutes.

After the run, we dug into the post-race spread. Unfortunately, though, we were a little late to the doughnut table. As you can see, runners take their carbs very seriously!

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Injury-wise, I felt pretty good on the run. Cross-training for the past five weeks has been helpful for maintaining overall fitness, but I’m definitely waaaay out of running shape.

My left hamstring is also still giving me some trouble — literally, it’s a “pain in the butt” — and I’m thinking it’s something having to do with the attachments or tendon. So my plan is to slow my roll on my return to running and keep cross-training in the meantime.

As difficult as it is to restrain myself from 2015 race-planning, I want to make sure I start the year as healthy as possible. Forget visions of sugarplums; the only things dancing in my head for the next few weeks will be massages, foam rollers and lacrosse balls…happy holidays, friends!