February Goal Check-In

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And, just like that, my last month before baby is a distant memory…

Despite the desire to squeeze as much as I possibly could into the past four weeks, my body (thankfully) kept me in check. Waking up at two-hour intervals to pee pretty much every night and getting contractions when you exert yourself with more than a gentle stroll will tend to do that to a person.

So, yet again, we are adjusting goals, resetting expectations and wading into what appears to be the “new normal” — at least for the foreseeable future. And this is all pre-baby, so I can’t imagine what March’s recap will be like!

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

Here’s where things stand currently:

1. Health & Fitness

February was all about listening to my body. And, boy, did it have a lot to say. 

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This extra 30 pounds I’ve gained earned over the past 10 months really started to take their toll (in the form of back pain, hip pain, foot pain…see a theme here?), and I could tell my body was getting prepped for the main event (contractions!). So while workouts remained consistent, I’ve definitely tapered things off in the past two weeks.

I credit regular movement, however, for helping me stave off a host of other pregnancy-related conditions (swelling, and other random maladies, etc.), so I’m thrilled to have been able to be active well into the home stretch. Especially since it’ll be a while before I can resume my usual activity levels…

2. Training

Nada at the moment, but I am making tentative plans for a half-marathon relay with a mama runner friend, Tiffany, later this summer. We may not be the fittest or fastest out there, but we’re determined to put one foot in front of the other and just keep moving.

Getting my 2016 Coeur Sports team kit in the mail was another major highlight this month. It got me super excited for when I can ease back into some kind of training schedule. Eventually.

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In the meantime, I’m so thankful to be working with a company who supports women of all levels, abilities and stages of life! This really is the year of the #coeurbaby, and I love how we can show that healthy mamas = healthy babes.

3. Community

While our Team LUNA Chix Portland Run season hasn’t officially kicked off (stay tuned — April!), our planning sure has. The team’s 10 leaders gathered on February 20 for a retreat, which included some movement and food in addition to the business at hand.

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We’re really excited about going bigger and bolder this year, so keep an eye out for all kinds of great sweat sessions, events and activities. We’ll be resuming our FREE Monday night workouts (6:30 – 7:30 pm) in April, so follow our Facebook, Instagram and Twitter accounts for details.

4. Career

After a bustling January at Pulse Creative, February was all about wrapping up open projects and getting everything set for maternity leave (always a double-edged sword when you work for yourself!). My tentative plan is to step back for two months (March and April), which makes me nervous in the short-term, but I know it’s what’s best for our family in the long run.

As a girlfriend put it, there’s no use in half-assing work, baby, family and self-care during such a tumultuous time. No one will win in the end. And sometimes a step back helps you take a leap forward, so I know a little time off will further inspire me when I resume my work with clients later this spring.

5. Life

My grand plans for Kondo-izing our apartment before baby were a big, fat fail this month. While nesting instincts were in overdrive, I simply didn’t have the energy to tear everything apart and do a big purge.

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So instead of following the guidelines in “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing” to the letter, I settled for a weekend closet clean-out. I ended up with one bag for Goodwill and another for eBay, and I’m happy with that for the time being.

After all, we’ve got the rest of our lives to clean — and our last month as non-parents had to take precedence, right?!

How are your 2016 goals coming along? 
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July Goal Check-In

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Summer is in full swing, and we’ve been soaking up the sun here on the West Coast. From trips to the beach, kayaking around the lake, hiking excursions and dining al fresco, weekends are for taking full advantage of all the outdoorsy goodness that Oregon has to offer.

There may be no fall marathon on the horizon this year, but we’re still staying plenty active, too. I’m taking this unofficial off-season as a time to finally kick some of those chronic running injuries (SI joint, plantar fasciitis), as well as focus on getting stronger in cycling and — yes — swimming!

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

Here’s the latest on my progress:

1. Seeking Balance

Between the heat and a packed summer schedule, Ben and I have been dialing back weekend workouts for a change. And you know what? Now that I’m over the initial anxiety of not being on a strict training schedule, it actually feels good.

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Don’t get me wrong — I’m still researching races as I mull over my next move. But listening to my body and being active when and how I want to (like an afternoon bike ride for ice cream or a lunch run with friends or a leisurely morning coffee walk with the dogs) versus doing only what’s prescribed for training has been really refreshing.

2. Training Smarter

My SI joint pain has all but subsided thanks to quitting kettlebell swings. And while I still run a few times a week to maintain my mileage, I’ve been hitting it hard and cross training with all kinds of barre, yoga, pilates and interval training classes.

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My newest discovery, though? Racing for fun.

Ben and I signed up for a weekly trail run series here in the Portland area and have been enjoying running without worrying about pace. Plus, I’ve paced new trail racers for the past two events, and helping them get across the finish line and accomplish something they weren’t sure they could do has been an incredibly rewarding experience!

3. Facing Fears

Huge news on this front: I took an informal swim lesson last week with a few friends! Mary Anne, who did the swim portion of the Pacific Crest long course triathlon along with Ben, kindly offered to hop in the pool, check out our form (or lackthereof) and share a few pointers.

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As it turns out, I’m not totally hopeless in the water! There were three major takeaways: I need to work on my body position (straighter vs bending at my waist), kick (full leg vs at the knee) and stroke (relax and extend more).

I also learned that I need to CHILL OUT in the water because I’m literally trying so hard and moving so rigidly that I’m actually working against myself. Mary Anne shared some great drills, so we made a pact to get in the pool more often to practice. Exciting!

4. Pushing Myself

As I mentioned last month, in lieu of setting training and racing goals in the immediate future I’ve been pursuing professional ones instead. Pulse Creative is officially up and running, so I’ve been digging into client projects, networking and meeting all kinds of interesting entrepreneurs in the process.

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That’s not to say I’m not thinking about my next challenge. On the contrary, I’ve been eyeing some destination races for fall travel, as well as potential events to add to the calendar for 2016. More on those soon…

5. Giving Back

Boom! It’s time for the official Team LUNA Chix Portland Run update. But first — how awesome are these ladies?!

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In July, we participated in our first sponsored event, the Portland Parks $5 5k Series race at Gabriel Park (note: we’ll be at August’s event at Laurelhurst Park, as well — join us!). We’re also growing in leaps and bounds — we’ve got an amazing group of regulars who are killing it every week.

Check out our Facebook, Twitter and Instagram accounts for more info. Come join us, and bring your friends; we’re all levels (walkers and runners) and love seeing new faces each week!

How are your 2015 goals coming along? 

My 7 Favorite Strategies for Slowing Down

Source: Huffington Post

Source: Huffington Post

Beware the barrenness of a busy life. ~Socrates

Now that I’m taking a short breather from training and racing, you’d think I’d have all this extra downtime with which to play, right?

Wrong. Somehow I quickly filled up all those extra hours — and then some. 

Granted, launching your own business isn’t exactly conducive to oodles of work/life balance, but being “busy” is something I’ve been pondering a lot lately.

Whether it’s with respect to work, relationships or just life, in general, I grow increasingly anxious as my calendar books out weeks in advance. Days fly by, to-do’s add up, appointments are made…and somewhere lost in that shuffle I find myself hoping that time will stop flying.

So I’ve decided that it’s time to take a stand.

Let’s rebel against our hectic schedules, reassess our priorities and take some time to actually enjoy the life we’re living instead of constantly looking ahead for the one we think we should have.

That’s not to say we should delete our social media accounts, pack up, head for the hills and live entirely off the grid; it’s more about eliminating the automatic ‘yes’ from our vocabulary and being mindful about how, where — and with whom — we choose to spend our time. It’s a precious resource, after all.

Wanna join me? I wrote previously about why I’m slowing down, but I wanted to talk a bit about how with some of my favorite strategies. Here are seven of ’em:

1. Do less. 

What sets successful people apart is not that they do a lot, but that they don’t do a lot. I’m making a conscious effort to try to filter out extraneous “stuff,” and deliberately choosing to focus instead on just a few important tasks to make meaningful strides instead of feeling like I’m running in circles.

2. Just breathe. 

Life coach, lifestyle guru and friend Ashley Paquin gifted me with an invaluable tool for bringing myself back into the moment. Her “5-2-5” breathing technique — breathe in for five seconds, hold for two, breathe out for five, hold for two, and repeat — works wonders by quieting the nervous system and taking the body out of fight-or-flight mode.

3. Be mindful. 

I know, I know. It’s become a bit of a buzzword. But paying attention to my thoughts and sensations — and accepting them, without judgment — has helped me tap into a whole new level of awareness that’s been incredibly helpful and empowering.

4. Limit multitasking. 

Sometimes this feels more like an addiction — especially when I’m toggling back and forth between 17 open tabs while on a conference call and absolutely getting nothing accomplished. Going cold-turkey is tough, though, so I’m easing into the art of “single-tasking.”

5. Be present. 

Slowing down doesn’t help much if you’re not mindful of what you’re doing at the moment. Again, I put Ashley’s sage advice into play: When I find myself thinking about something I need to do, or something that’s already happened, or something that might happen…I gently tug my mind back to the present moment, like a playful puppy on a leash.

6. Disconnect. 

Being constantly tethered to computers and phones where you’re either distracted by or at the mercy of others is hardly conducive to being able to focus. Whether it’s weeknight phone-free dinners or weekend traipsing out of cell service range, Ben and I try to unplug every so often.

7. Enjoy nature. 

Warm sun, serene water, salty sea breezes and the damp musk of the forest are all good for the soul. I try to exercise outdoors as much as I can, whether it’s running the trails, hiking the mountains, wading in the river or simply rolling around in the grass with our four-legged family members.

What are your favorite ways to live life in the slow lane? 

On Giving Yourself Permission to Slow Down

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Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it. – Ferris Bueller

After a blur of races in 2014, better judgement prevailed for 2015 and as you’ve heard me say a few times now, my mantra has been “train smarter, not harder” with five forward-looking goals for the year.

But, as they say, the best-laid plans of mice and men oft go astray…

Because somewhere along the way I talked myself into thinking that a century ride and an ultramarathon within a two-week span this summer was also part of this program.

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For the record, I give full credit to my body for finally knocking some sense into me; my SI joint, which previously only felt sore after long marathon-training runs last fall, decided enough was enough and put the kibosh on pretty much all speed and distance work this spring.

Try as I stubbornly might to power through, I’ve gotten to a point where all the strength training, chiropractor appointments, cross-training, and core work in the world aren’t helping.

So I’ve decided to do something different for a change: Nothing.

Novel concept, huh?

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Well, long story short — and two cancelled races later — I’ve realized that taking a break isn’t just about giving your body time to recover. It’s also about keeping the passion for your sport alive…and sustainable for the long run.

I run because I want to, not because I have to. And that desire is something I want to protect; not just for now, but for a long time to come.

That’s not to say I’m completely clearing my race calendar; it’s just that I’m wiping the slate clean and being more mindful about which events I choose and why. Put simply, I’m making a conscious decision to get off the further/faster/harder bandwagon that’s so easy to jump on when you’re working in the fitness industry and constantly meeting people who are all doing incredible things.

So instead of literally and figuratively racing my way through my first Oregon summer, I’m slowing down. Training will continue, but at a more leisurely pace.

And you know what? Those 2016 goals will be right there where I left them if/when the time comes to pick ’em back up.

Or — who knows?! Maybe taking a step back will inspire me or give me the perspective to define entirely new ones, such as tackling my old high school PR in the (highly-underrated; I completely agree with Lauren Fleshman) 5K distance.

But, either way, having a choice in the matter and being mindful about my running is what makes — and has always made — the endeavor such a delight. And I’d like to keep it that way.

To slow down or not to slow down: Is that a question you’ve asked yourself?

Portland fit fix: Rejuvenate, refresh and replenish at YogaPod

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Contrary to the 21-day myth, there’s now scientific evidence that it takes about two months — or 66 days, to be exact — to form a new habit. But thanks to YogaPod, a vibrant and transformational yoga studio in Portland, I’d argue it only takes about a week to fall back into a much-neglected, yet healthy, routine.

Bear with me for a moment: Like those green, cruciferous veggies, we all know how good yoga is for us, but I find (in my experience, at least) that it takes some time to develop my palate enough to be able to thoroughly enjoy and appreciate it, especially during training when the goal is to keep your head above water with workouts. Anyone else?

Well, this is precisely why Carolyn (one of my LUNA teammates) and I decided to get back on track with a recent seven-day #YogaBinge at YogaPod.

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Not only would a week-long yoga immersion aid in off-season recovery, I figured, but it’d also be a great way to see how one of the newer workout facilities in the city stacked up. YogaPod founders, husband and wife team Gerry and Nicole Wienholt, expanded the Boulder-based brand to Portland this past summer after seeing a need for a luxury yoga studio in Portland’s Pearl District, and true to form it’s got a high-end look with a welcoming feel.

If there’s one word that comes to mind upon entering YogaPod, it’s community. From the friendly management and front-desk staff (shout out to Anthony, a fellow ultra runner!) to the inspirational chalk board in the hallway, and from the relaxed vibe in the space to the teachers who take a genuine interest in their students, it’s clear that this place is rooted in creating an experience full of positivity, clarity and compassion for all who enter.

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And as far as the classes go, we took advantage of the convenience of morning, afternoon and evening slots to get a good sampling of what YogaPod has to offer. Throughout the course of the week we toggled back and forth between the two rooms — both clean, light and spacious — for Restorative, PodHot and PodFlow.

Classes are well-balanced (i.e. not all Chaturanga Dandasana-heavy) and the music is right up my alley — a thoughtful blend of traditional instrumentals with some newer songs that gently flow with movements. When Carolyn and I compared notes, we both agreed that our time at YogaPod was the perfect antidote to a hectic week — so much so, in fact, that we both found ourselves feeling like the time passed quickly in each session.

If you’re local and want to jump-start your own yoga journey, YogaPod offers a free week of classes for first-timers. Or if you just want to dip your toe in the yoga waters before jumping in, come check out their free community class on Saturdays at 5 p.m. with Ati, one of my favorite yogis in the city.

She brings such lightness and enjoyment to her practice that you can’t help but want to come back for more. And that habit — for rejuvenating your body, refreshing your mind and replenishing your spirit — is one you won’t want to break!

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Interested in learning more? Check out YogaPod’s website at Portland.YogaPodCommunity.com.

Virginia Visit, In Pictures

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After sharing a peek into our recent trip to Italy (here and here), I’m rounding out the “how I spent my summer vacation” series with some shots from a swing through Virginia to visit family on our way back to the West Coast.

The scenery may have changed, but marathon training continued full-steam ahead — with the addition of a few essential accessories, such as bear spray and my favorite hunting hat, of course.

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Beautiful scenery, and best of all? Fewer hills than Italy!

The flatter routes and quiet stretches were welcome changes from some of our climbs through some of those tiny, crowded, winding roads overseas.

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By this point, we were also going through a bad case of animal withdrawal after not having seen our dogs for a few weeks.

So we were a little over-eager to “rub some fur,” whether it was spoiling the horses next door with carrots or visiting these funny little fellows down the street each morning.

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After our runs, we’d sit out on the deck for what we dubbed as “critters and coffee” to watch all the wildlife in action (birds, groundhogs, deer, chipmunks, squirrels, and more).

But there was one run-in that made me think twice about tromping around the woods after seeing it up close — a timber rattler, the only rattlesnake species in the northeast.

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In between running, wildlife watching and ramping back up at work, we got our hands dirty with a few projects around the house.

My favorite was this anti-erosion wall, which required equal parts brains and brawn to haul the rocks and then piece them together like a huge puzzle.

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Another bonus of being out in the countryside, practically in the middle of nowhere? Getting to shoot stuff!

Hubby’s a crack shot when it comes to blasting clay pigeons with his shotgun, while I prefer to use my 17 caliber rifle for a little target practice.

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We toyed with the idea of extending our stay since I work remotely and Hubby doesn’t start his job until next month…but sometimes it’s better to just rip the Band-Aid and get back to reality.

Plus, I like to look on the bright side — when one vacation ends, it means you can start planning and looking forward to the next one!

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Next up in our travels: KineticFix makes the move north to PDX! Stay tuned for all the details…

Italy Vacay, In Pictures – Part II

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In my last post I gave an overview of our summer travel in Italy — the where, if you will — but what, exactly, did we do while there?

Well, first off, marathon training on vacation — let alone finding running routes in tiny towns with some crazy elevation changes — certainly proved interesting.

But I love checking out new places on foot, and Hubby was game to tackle some hills so we could enjoy the views (the shots above and below are from Taormina in Sicily).

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And as much as we love relaxing during a good pool or beach day (believe me, we had a few of those), we also like to “adventure” around. That’s how we ended up at the crater of Mount Etna, an active volcano.

Hubby’s the figure up top, leaning his full weight into the high winds; I ventured about two-thirds of the way up before turning back around so I wouldn’t get blown off the side of the mountain.

I’m all for getting a good rush, but sometimes you just have to know your limits!

photo 3 (2)Luckily, not all of our days were as adrenaline-filled; one of our favorite parts of the trip was grabbing a cappuccino and either people-watching or scoping out the scenery — or both — like when we stopped at this cafe near a swanky hotel in Ravello.

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And you can’t help but want to take in some of the culture when traveling in Europe. We’d heard rave reviews of the art in Florence, so one of the high points of our day trip there was the Galleria dell’Accademia and its sculptures.

One of the not-so-high points? The wait to get in to see David, which was about three hours for the ticket line, plus another hour and a half for the actual entry from there.

Here’s a helpful hint: Cut that time in half by paying a little more for surplus tickets from tour companies (shhh!).

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Speaking of buying…Italy’s small towns have some of the most wonderful shops.

This linen store had every pattern and color imaginable, and the store owner was all too happy to show us the goods (Hubby also made a friend).

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But the absolute best part of traveling in Italy?

You guessed it — the food.

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With our daily morning cappuccinos, I discovered a new obsession: sfogliatelle. They’re light, flaky, crispy ricotta-filled pastries that look like seashells (see in the background below).

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The pizzas are out-of-this-world with a thin, chewy crust and the most delicately-seasoned sauces. I like to keep it simple with basil, mozzarella and a drizzle of olive oil.

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One thing we weren’t expecting was the stellar seafood; I guess we take it for granted coming from the Bay Area, but this stuff was fresh.

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So fresh, for example, that this little lobster was walking around the seafood display case next to me before he was plucked out and cooked to order in Taormina.

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All the produce was super flavorful, too. In Italy, they don’t serve something unless it’s in peak ripeness, so you’ve got to try pretty hard to get a bad meal there.

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And that whole farm-to-table movement? Well, you can’t get much more local than in Tuscany.

One night, for example, the owners of the villa made us dinner, which began with bread that was baked in a stone oven and seasoned with rosemary growing on the grounds.

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Or this awesome meat-and-cheese spread from 13 Gobbi in Montefollonico where we sampled homemade mozzarella and a duo of prosciuttos, one of which was wild boar from the area.

A tip: If you go there, also order the pecorino pasta. Words don’t do it justice, so just watch this video of the owner working his magic to see what it’s all about.

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And as long as I’m on the subject of cheese, I can’t forget the lovely house-made burrata at La Porta, one of our favorite spots to frequent while in Monticchiello.

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But this dish from our day trip to Pienza featured one of my favorite things in the entire world: TRUFFLES!

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We capped off the trip with an experience that merged art and food at La Pergola, Rome’s only Michelin three-star restaurant.

From the atmosphere of the room to the table settings, from the service to the plating…it was a bucket-list kind of meal.

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And last, but certainly not least, was our gelato mission, which ended in a final tally of 15. It’s a tough job, but someone’s got to do it.

As a result, we’ve got some great memories (and a few extra pounds!) to carry us until the next trip.

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In the meantime, I’m on the hunt for some authentic Italian delicacies in Portland…so if anyone’s got suggestions, I’m all ears!