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. 

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How I Run: Team LUNA Chix PDX’s Madeline Rhoades

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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! 

First up, meet Madeline Rhoades: She’s a self-described “fairly new” runner who joined us last season thinking she wouldn’t even be able to make it a mile…but ended up pleasantly surprising herself at our last workout by running a four-miler. Like a boss.

Not only did Madeline recruit a number of friends to join in on our weekly mayhem workouts, but she also happened to be our top fundraiser for last year’s spin-a-thon (seriously, people simply cannot say no to this woman!), so inviting her to join the team for our 2016 season was a total no-brainer.

Her hope for this year is to be able to be an example to other women who never thought they would grow to love running. Mission accomplished, Madeline — not only have you come into your own as a runner, but you’re inspiring others to do the same every week!

1. What’s your favorite route? I’m a big fan of nature running routes. If I get the chance to get out of the city and onto a (fairly flat) trail, it’s where I find my zen place. I used to frequent Ridge Trail in Forest Park when I first started running. It’s steep but is a great way to work your way up in intervals, (walk the steep parts and run what you can). Not to mention it’s gorgeous.

2. What shoes do you wear? I’m still experimenting. I think I might be too new to running to know what shoes work best for me. I like a lot of arch support but have not found “the ones” yet. I’m currently breaking in some Nike trail running shoes and loving them, they’re super supportive and cute. I can’t go wrong with Nike for style, at the very least!

3. What other run gear can’t you live without? Reflective everything. I usually run after work, and during the winter it’s dark. I want to be as visible as possible.

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4. What’s your best time-saver or “runhack?” I am the best at making excuses, so a great “runhack” I use is bringing socks and shoes with me in my car — always. If it’s beautiful outside and I’m prepared, there are no excuses!

5. What running-related thing are you better at than anyone else? I believe one of my biggest strengths in running is that I’m willing to learn. If a fellow runner gives me any tips or tricks, I’m up to try them. I love learning better ways of running, and when you’re open-minded to what more experienced runners have to say, it helps a lot.

6. What do you listen to while running? I don’t usually listen to anything other than my surroundings on runs. Especially if I’m in nature, I love the sound of what’s going on around me.

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7. What are you currently training for? I recently completed the Bridge to Brews 10k as my first race ever! I figured I would be slightly more motivated if there were craft beers at the finish line.

8. What are your recovery & sleep routines like? I think I’m like every other human on the planet– I try to get eight hours of sleep a night. It’s not always possible, but I always feel so much better and more motivated when I get a full night’s sleep. A lot of the time I use an easy yoga routine to help me recover, to help me stretch all of the muscles that I use in running. I’m working on getting better at both sleeping and stretching!

9. What’s the best running advice you’ve ever received? You’ll never be “good at running” unless you start running. I had always considered myself a non-runner up until this point, and after I received this advice, I wasn’t so hard on myself for not being fast. I felt like it was less about the destination and more about the run. It’s impossible to be good at something unless you jump in!

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10. What’s your favorite running-related memory? Any time I push through something that I didn’t think I would be able to finish, I feel amazing. Whether it’s big or small, it’s great to look back and think, “I ran that extra mile even though I didn’t think I would be able to, I can finish this next mile too!” These memories keep me going through challenges.

11. Fill in the blank: I’d love to go on a run with __________. The Luna Chix! (Does that count?! I don’t really have any running idols.)

12. Anything else you want to add? Don’t let your mind hold your body back! You’re much stronger than you might think.

Thanks, Madeline! We’re so happy to have you as part of the team this year, and I can’t wait to watch you crush more of your running goals this season. 

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 (Swim, Bike &) Run: Ultra(wo)man Ailie Coulter

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Meet Ailie Coulter, an endurance athlete whose self-described likes include running, swimming, surfing, riding, reading, socializing and red wine.

But if we’re being totally honest, that list is a bit misleading — or, rather, it’s correct in that Ailie strives to live a balanced life…but it just doesn’t do justice to her focus, work ethic and the all-out guts she’s got that have allowed her to accomplish great things.

How? Well, first you’ve gotta familiarize yourself with Ultraman, which is basically an Ironman triathlon (140.6 miles: 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bikes ride and 26.2-mile run) DOUBLED. And then tack on another, oh, 40 miles or so for good measure.

That’s right; we’re talking 320 miles total, including a 6.2-mile swim and a 261.4-mile bike ride followed by a 52.4-mile double-marathon run. Put simply, it’s a race that’s “challenged and defeated the world’s fittest athletes for nearly three decades,” as aptly described by Triathlete magazine.

And second, all you need to know is that Ailie placed second at Ultraman Australia last year (watch the video about it here), which means she’s been invited to compete at Ultraman World Championships in Hawaii this year.

The prospect of undertaking (and crushing!) this kind of endurance feat — one that takes stamina, heart and determination to a whole new level — blows my mind. So, needless to say, it was an honor to take a few minutes with Ailie (a fellow Coeur Sports ambassador) to find out what makes this incredible woman tick!

1. What’s your favorite route or workout? Think that would have to be long-distance trail running. Nothing better than getting out of the city early morning, alone, in nature and experiencing all the different seasons. Normally start in fog and can’t see a meter in front of you and by the end of a 4-5 hour run session you have wolfed down all the food in your pack and replaced it with the layers of clothing you have taken off as the day has heated up!

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2. What shoes do you wear — both on the bike and on the roads? Running: Used to wear Asics but then they changed them and made the toe box really small and I started losing toe nails and getting horrid blisters. Then Pearl Izumi introduced their run collection a few years ago, and they made the toes wider than the heel and it is the best thing to happen to the world of running!!

No more foot problems; I went and bought four pair in case they never made them again. Doesn’t have to be Pearl Izumi (although they are my favorite, support, cushioning, colors, etc.) as long as it has a large toe box, meaning it doesn’t taper off small and pointy and your toes can be free to spread out in the shoe each foot strike.

Bike: I wear Specialized S-Works road shoe, as they look the goods and make me feel pro. Also super comfy and can buy a pair new and feel like I have had them for years. Would happily knock out a 200k ride in a brand new pair with no issues. Before these I used to get hot feet, pins and needles, etc.

3. What other training gear can’t you live without? SOCKS!!! I have a bit of a sock obsession and love to sock dope on the bike. Bright, kit-matching, etc. on the bike, and I’m loving the MAAP range at the moment. Sometimes you gotta look good doing what you do!

4. What’s your best time-saver or “workout-hack?” Hill sprints, running or riding and swim sprints. You can get an awesome work out in half an hour!

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5. What part of each discipline (swim/bike/run) are you better at than anyone else? Swim: Rough water, everybody else complains when the swell picks up and there is white wash, I fist pump the weather gods.

Ride: Um… my socks look the best.

Run: I’m a diesel engine. A lot of people use this as an excuse to go slow; I can just maintain my consistent pace for a really really long time.

Overall, I’m not really better than others at any of these things; I think I just know how to hurt more than others and love it.

6. What do you listen to while training? I often don’t listen to anything. I have a hugely hectic life with lots of responsibility and training is my switch-off time. I like to take in the world around me, it’s almost meditative and leads my mind in so many cool places that I don’t want to take that away with music. For gym sessions, love a bit of Presets or something with a heavy beat that makes me feel like I can dominate the world.

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7. What are you currently training for? Ultraman Wold Champs in Hawaii in November. Will try to save some $$ and probably not enter any events in the lead up but will throw in a few big 3-4 day training camps where I completely punish myself in the hills. That way I can include a bit of time away with the man and friends and training partners, too, as its not all-consuming like racing can be.

8. What are your recovery and sleep routines like? They are more crucial than any training I could do! I ensure I get 8 hours sleep; the moment I cut this, I start to have issues with hormones and cortisol levels, which leads to getting sick, sinus infections, fatigue or injury, which leads to less training. So if I have had to work longer hours or have an important social function, I tell the coach in advance so we can plan around it.

For females, especially, this is absolutely crucial in being able to train consistently. In terms of recovery, in high-volume weeks my coach and I schedule in an afternoon power-nap between work and my arvo session; if my long ride goes for 8 hours, I tack on another two when making social plans so I have time to got home, make real food and have an hour of couch time before doing anything. Nutrition is a big part of all of this.

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So many female athletes can’t figure out why they are constantly sick or injured, and it is all because of hormone imbalances in the body. If you want to train consistently, we need to remember that we have three sources of stress in our lives as athletes: mental (work, relationships, finances, etc.) physical (training or other work-related physical strain) and nutritional (what we put in that our body needs to deal with).

If I have a family issue, I will dial down my training and eat perfectly. If I am eating horrible and for some reason including alcohol, I can’t be stressed at work and high-volume training. Given we can’t often control the mental stress, it is the nutritional and training stress that we need to modify when we can not control the mental.

9. What’s the best athletic advice you’ve ever received? Consistency is key!!

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10. What’s your favorite racing-related memory? Would have to be Ultraman Australia in 2015. I finally did what I went out to achieve. We spend so many years in this sport and put so much pressure on ourselves to perform, but the hard fact is that so many external factors out of our control can impact the result. At this race, I finally got it right and it was the best feeling in the world.

11. Fill in the blank: I’d love to grab a workout with ______. My friends!!!

12. Anything else you’d like to add? Life can sometimes be challenging; find out what makes you happy, and make that your priority. No matter what it is, find it and own it and smile your way through life.

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Thanks, Ailie! Not only do you exemplify #heartandcourage, but you’re a true inspiration for everyone to get up, get out and get moving. We’ll be rooting for you at this year’s Ultraman World Championships!

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: Rattlesnake Run 5k

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When I knew I’d be home in Michigan this month for a childhood friend’s wedding, the first thing I did after booking plane tickets was look up local races. Because why not squeeze in a little of my favorite fall activity — running through the brilliant foliage of the Midwest — as the colors near their peak this season?

Ok, I’ll admit it; part of me was also hoping that my trip would coincide with the Detroit Marathon so I could sign up for the half and run for fun. But I’m nowhere near trained up for that, so it ended up being for the best that the only options were a few nearby 5k’s.

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I settled on the Rattlesnake Run 5k since it supports a cool cause, is located pretty close to home, and the start time was a very friendly 11 a.m. — aka I could sleep in after the wedding festivities and get a leisurely workout done before lunch. Once that was decided, I set about badgering recruiting my favorite running buddy (my sister), who begrudgingly agreed.

The race is put on by the Michigan Nature Association, and its purpose is to promote efforts to preserve habitat for the Eastern Massasauga Rattlesnake, a species of special concern in Michigan. It’s The Mitten’s only venomous snake, in fact, and is a rare sight for most state residents.

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Another upside of this event is that it’s relatively new (in its second year), so it’s not super crowded. And it’s a trail race, so it has a nice, laid-back atmosphere.

The course is a 1.5-mile out-and-back along the Paint Creek Trail, which is an 8.9-mile linear park, located in northeast Oakland County. Fun fact: It was also the first Rail-to-Trail in the state of Michigan, as it was converted to a trail from the former Penn Central Railroad.

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We arrived around 10:40 a.m. to pick up our race numbers and t-shirts, and there was no line so we breezed right through. After a quick pre-race bathroom pit stop (no movement yet, but Baby H loves to make his/her presence known by standing on my bladder), we lined up at the start to listen to final instructions from the race director.

Typically I hang back in the pack, but I was feeling good so I toed the line behind a few folks who looked like they’d be taking the lead pretty quickly. My sister was feeling under the weather, so we decided at the last moment to run separately; I was aiming to run and finish in fewer than 30 minutes, while she decided to deploy a walk-jog strategy.

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The race director counted us down, and we were off — I was the second female out of the gate and remember thinking I’d just try to maintain that position for the whole race, body-permitting. About a quarter of a mile in, the lead female dropped back while I simultaneously got passed by the third place woman, so I figured I’d pace off of her and try to hold on for as long as I could to the end.

The course was flat and gorgeous — there was plenty to look at with the leaves changing colors — but I was more focused on maintaining my breathing and staying hyper-aware of how my body was feeling because of Baby H. Although my legs felt great, it was just shortness of breath that was holding me back, so I tried to walk the fine line between keeping a steady pace and making sure I was getting enough oxygen.

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At the turnaround, I saw a few other ladies coming up behind me, so my goal was to run a steady second half and try to hold them off until the finish, which I managed to do. After grabbing water and a banana, I got back to the finish area just in time to catch a shot of my sister running across looking awesomely strong!

I’ve got to say — it’s been a while since I’ve run (or, well, raced) a 5k, but Lauren Fleshman hit the nail on the head when she called the distance “freaking awesome.” It’s enough of a challenge (especially in my current state), but “you can train and still have a life, race hard and walk normally the next day, and get really fit really fast.”

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Talk about the best of both worlds! It just might be my new distance for as long as running while pregnant still agrees with me (it’s seems to vary by day at the moment; some days I’m itching to run, and others I can’t bring myself to do it).

Final time — 26:15. Not a PR, but good enough for second place female overall and first place in my age group. And first place for the <1 age group, if you’re counting Baby H in tow 🙂

Big thanks to our parents for coming out to cheer us on. It reminded me of my cross country days having their smiling faces to look forward to at the finish line.

And I can’t forget the SNAKES! Yes, there was an aforementioned rattlesnake on hand (caged, of course), but there was also an Eastern Fox snake being passed around for photos ops (can you tell I’m not a snake fan!?).

For more information on the Rattlesnake Run 5k, visit RunSignup.com.

What’s your favorite way to enjoy fall?

August Goal Check-In

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“August is the Sunday of summer.”

I’ve been hearing this sentiment crop up lately as we enter our final stretch of summer. But it’s hard to share in that all-too-familiar melancholy when you feel as though you’ve made the most of the past few months, life-wise.

Admittedly, I haven’t been the most disciplined or the most goal-oriented when it comes to training and racing this season. But you know what? I needed a mental break, plus my body needed a breather. And I’m going to stop feeling guilty and/or apologizing about it. 

This is primarily a health and fitness blog, though, which is why I always put pressure on myself to keep pushing boundaries. I like it that way; not only for accountability, but to keep things fresh and fun and for the support of a community in which we reach for things once never thought possible.

But it’s also real life. And the truth is that the reality of living a healthy lifestyle isn’t always about testing the limits of strength and endurance or earning new PR’s and shiny finisher medals.

Those are wonderful — not gonna lie — but as my “off-season” stretched further than usual this year, I’m less concerned at the moment about living and dying by a strict training plan and more preoccupied with thinking about priorities, motivation, goals and how they’re evolving as I grow older.

As you can probably tell, I’ve had ample time to reflect this month. Maybe too much. But that’s one of the perks of an extended off-season, as well, I suppose.

So, you can see how it’s also hard to believe that this is the last summer edition of my monthly recaps; the next one will be after the official start of fall, and I’ve got something a little different in the works for September… Stay tuned!

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

Here’s the latest on my progress:

1. Seeking Balance

In August we officially wrapped up the summer edition of the Portland Trail Series. There were two final races this month, one of which I paced friends and the other I ran with Ben (or rather, behind him) to finish the series just as we began it: together.

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What I’d really been waiting for, however, was a visit from my parents from Michigan! I can count the number of states my dad hasn’t been to on one hand — and Oregon was one of them, so it was especially thrilling to be able to explore with them and show off the beauty of summer in Portland.

2. Training Smarter

I like to think I’m pretty in tune with my body, but this month I honed my skills on the subtleties of hearing versus really listening. Hearing can be tuned out, but actual listening takes effort to decipher what’s going on — i.e. sometimes a nap with the dogs is warranted instead of a tough workout.

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Along that same theme of body awareness, I’ve taken a deeper dive into yoga, Pilates, barre, cycling and strength training this month. In the absence of playing with my usual running numbers (pace, mileage, etc.), I’ve found it very satisfying to keep my brain engaged with these types of technique-driven classes.

3. Facing Fears

Gah! Another month slipped by, and I’ve only made it into the pool once to practice those drills I learned in July. I did give Ben a long-desired birthday gift, however — a waterproof iPod and ear buds — which I’m thinking I will likely be stealing borrowing for upcoming water workouts.

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That’s right; no more excuses! I’m making it a goal to get in the pool at least once per week for September so I’m holding myself accountable — right here, right now.

4. Pushing Myself

Although I opted out of this year’s Hood to Coast in favor of cheering Ben on, I softened the blow by registering for a 5k with my sister in October. I’m also keeping an eye out for fun, holiday-themed events in November and December to round out the year. Because who doesn’t love a turkey trot?!

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And my eyes are already on the prize for 2016. The wheels have been turning, and I’m thinking I’d like to do a fall marathon, as well as some shorter distances (5k’s, 10k’s) in between to focus on speed over distance for a change. More on that soon…

5. Giving Back

Finally, our LUNA crew has really been blossoming over the course of the season, and I love ending Mondays with these beautiful, smiling faces. Our regulars are killin’ it with PR’s and all kinds of race distances, and we’re getting a steady stream of newbies popping by to check us out (if you’re interested, #justshowup — we really are ALL levels, walkers through runners)!

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In addition to sponsoring our second Portland Parks and Recreation $5 5k, we also started promoting our big Spin-a-thon charity event, which is taking place on September 27 from 3-5 pm at Revocycle in the Pearl. Get your sweat on, enjoy entertainment and refreshments, win some amazing raffle prizes and go home with a swag bag packed with goodies — all for a great case: the Breast Cancer Fund.

Join us — space is limited, so reserve your bike here before we sell out. And be sure to follow along in the fun via our Facebook, Twitter and Instagram accounts.

We’re also still actively recruiting, so whether you want to get out and stretch your legs with a vigorous walk or challenge yourself with a tough track workout, we’ve got something for everyone at practice each week. Bring a friend, and start your week off on the right foot!

How are your 2015 goals coming along? 

Race Report: Portland Trail Series Race No. 5

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And with that, our five-week adventure with the Portland Trail Series through the nooks and crannies of lovely Forest Park has come to an end! I’m not gonna lie; it’ll be nice to have our Wednesday nights back — but I’m so appreciative for this having gotten us back into the habit of hitting the trails weekly.

Admittedly, since my go-to route is a pancake-flat waterfront loop through downtown Portland, I need to get my butt back on the trails, so this series was the perfect antidote to city running. Read about our previous week’s race here.

You know what else is cool? Nike came out to several of the races to let runners test drive their new Air Zoom Wildhorse 3 trail shoe. As you can see, we all took them up on the offer, and I was pleasantly surprised — particularly with the rock plate, which provides stability and protection from rough terrain.

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Shoe excitement aside, I made a rookie mistake and forgot to eat a snack after lunch to give me that extra boost for the dinnertime race. We were hanging around the start, chatting, when I noticed those all-too-familiar hunger pangs.

Trail Butter to the rescue! I had enjoyed some samples post-race at several of the other events, but there was no time like the present to see how this stuff worked as pre-race fuel.

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Luckily, they’re incredibly generous, too! I went over to the table to ask for a sample and mentioned that I had forgotten to eat, so before I knew it I had a whole chunk of tortilla spread with the Expedition Espresso flavor in hand. Thanks, guys!

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With comfy feet and a full belly, it was time to focus on the task at hand — our out-and-back course of 4.32 miles. We’d start on Leif Erikson and go up Leif to Dogwood, up Dogwood to Wildwood, then up Wildwood to Birch, and up to the top of Birch. Then we’d turn around and return the same way to the finish.

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Also exciting was the post-race party to cap off the summer series. After completing our run, we were all invited back to Lucky Labrador Brewing Company for celebratory beers, along with the awards ceremony and a raffle.

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But first things first — the race. Ben and I decided to run with each other, just as we did in the first race of the series.

Mostly this consisted of me trying to keep up with Ben, so my view looked like this for the better part of race. We got passed by a few people on the hills as I alternated from jogging and hiking up the inclines, but made up some time on the descent and managed to pass a few people on the second half of the course.

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Final time? 44:03, which I’ll take! Especially since my GPS read that the distance we covered was more like 4.6 miles, so I called it an even 4.5 miles for the evening.

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Final verdict on the Trail Butter, Nike shoes and post-race party? Well, I had a few nut butter burps along the way (which I attribute to eating too close to the start) but otherwise it worked like a dream. Same goes for the shoes; not only did they keep me from rolling my ankles (which usually happens once or twice a run on uneven trails), but they were so comfy I forgot all about ’em.

As for the party, we had the best intentions…but since we had neither dry clothing nor wallets with us, our “quick pit stop” home turned into permanently planting ourselves on the couch with dinner and a movie. We watched Wild, of course, to commemorate our time on the trails!

For more information on the Portland Trail Series or to sign up for next season’s series, click here. The Fall series is already sold out, however they will take day-of-race registrations in place of no shows. So bring $20 and run!

10 Things to Know Before Your First Trail Race

Source: Holimites.com

Source: Holimites.com

Whether you’re stuck in a running rut, sick of the same old routes or simply in between training cycles and not sure quite what to do with yourself, it may be time to trade in that treadmill, take a break from the roads and head for the hills. Trust me: There’s nothing quite like a trail run to challenge your body, calm your mind and recharge your spirit.

As someone who had been running, training (and getting injured) on roads for years before discovering the trails, I know that there’s a period of adjustment before truly feeling comfortable on new terrain. But it’s well worth the time and effort — not only will you reap the benefits of fresh air and fantastic scenery, but you’ll also satisfy a primal need to connect with nature.

So here’s what to know as you venture off the beaten path:

1. Get the right gear. At minimum, invest in a pair of trail shoes. Not only do they have a lower profile to reduce the chance of ankle rolls, but they’ve also got a rugged tread to offer better traction when wet conditions make for slick footing.

2. Figure out fueling. Depending on the distance, most races will have several aid stations. But since you burn an estimated 10 percent more calories on the trails versus the road, I usually play it safe and carry a little food with me, just in case.

3. Stay hydrated. Your performance is impaired when you’re dehydrated by as little as two percent of your body weight. Again, even if there are aid stations on the course, I wear a backpack for longer distances or carry a hand-held water bottle for races lasting less than and hour.

4. On your mark, get set… Forget about waiting for the gun to go off at trail races; these events are much more mellow than your usual road-based affairs. So around start time, be sure to listen up because somebody will usually provide a quick countdown or simply say “go.”

5. Mind your manners. Don’t worry about elbowing, cutting people off or jockeying for position; trail runners are typically a polite, orderly bunch. Just stay on the right side of the path where you can to allow faster runners to pass, particularly if you notice a line forming behind you.

6. It’s all about balance. When you’re running on more technical trails with roots and rocks, it helps to keep your arms a little wider for balance. And prep your body in advance by adding some strength and balance exercises into your weekly workout regimen to develop strength and stability.

7. Focus on form. If you’re used to zoning out on road runs, remember that trails will require you to be more conscious about where you’re stepping. Run relaxed, keep your hips and shoulders in alignment, and scan a few yards ahead of you on the trail to watch for potential obstacles.

8. Forget about time. Sure, you can have a general goal in mind, but don’t try to use your road racing pace as reference because it won’t translate. Between elevation changes and navigating over difficult terrain

9. Leave no trace. Unlike road races where volunteers are positioned at aid stations to sweep up cups, you’ll be running on quiet trails, so be prepared to leave with what you bring in. This is another reason you’ll want that hand-held water bottle or hydration pack to help you tote it out.

10. Remember, it’s only a hill… Get over it! Take short, quick steps when going up, and use your arms. There’s also no shame in walking up bigger inclines; many ultrarunners use this strategy and then run the downhills and flats. As long as you’re moving forward, you’re doing it correctly.

Most importantly, have fun and stay safe — but be prepared to get hooked!

Would you add anything to the list?