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.

April Goal Check-In

Source: Fast Company

Source: Fast Company

First things first: Yes, it’s mid-May. And we’re talking about April.

Better late than never!

Plus quite a bit has changed since I last touched base with my goals, so I wanted to be able to address it in this month’s recap.

Wondering what this is all about? Read more on the five goals toward which I’m working this year.

So here’s my update on how things have been going:

1. Seeking Balance

Quality over quantity. Quality over quantity. If I keep repeating that to myself, it will (hopefully) one day become second nature.

Unable to contain my excitement over living in what still feels like a “new” city, I got over-excited and over-committed myself this summer. Whoops.

Between work, travel, training, LUNA coaching, family events and other obligations pretty much every.single.weekend…the pressure’s started to build.

I’ve been feeling it in my gut with each additional ‘yes,’ but only recently did this start to register in my head. So in an attempt to stay true to this goal, I made some hard decisions this past month and had some even harder ‘no’ conversations…both with myself and others.

Like, revealing to Ben that I don’t think I’m up for both the century ride and a 50K within two weeks of each other this month. Or telling my Ragnar Utah team that I won’t be joining them for next month’s event.

And examining my other summer races in the process. Not just the whats, but also the hows and, most importantly, the whys.

I can’t help but feel some sense of failure — like I’m letting others down, as well as myself. But the fact that there’s a small victory to be found in reclaiming ownership of my schedule — and the relief that comes with that — is also not lost on me.

Balance, I’m realizing, requires bigger-picture focus. And as I get clearer on the vision I have for myself — outside of just training and racing — I feel like I’m getting closer to that sweet spot of being able to keep moving forward and challenging myself without throwing the rest of my life out of whack.

2. Training Smarter

Another motivating factor has been my SI joint, which has been extremely vocal as of late about me needing to reassess my activities in the short-term. Although I’m cleared to run, per my doctor, I’m not able to race or do speedwork without pain, so being more deliberate in my approach to workouts and events will no doubt serve me well.

In the meantime, I’ve been religiously going to the chiropractor, getting monthly massages and hitting plenty of yoga classes. And, thanks to ClassPass and this guy, I’m still focused on all that good strength and mobility cross-training to build a strong core and activate those glutes.

3. Facing Fears

Ben and I we so proud when we mustered up the motivation to hit the pool one Saturday for an early morning workout. Everything was awesome — until we got to the gym and realized it wouldn’t open for two more hours.

Needless to say, with everything else that’s been going on, swimming’s been on the back burner. Although I hope that it’ll be different this month; I do think some time following that black line would be a welcome change for both my body and mind.

4. Pushing Myself

The 50K is fast-approaching on May 25, so that’s exciting! I’m half pumped and half nervous to tackle this event with Ben, however, as it’s our first ultra-distance together…and more than double his longest race distance to-date (13.1 miles).

Most of April has been spent pushing myself on the non-physical front, though. Through the HUSH Meditation community, I met a wonderful friend/coach/mentor, and we’ve been helping each other — me, helping support the amazing work she does; her, helping me better define my ‘why,’ as well as my career vision.

I’ve been feeling scattered as of late; don’t get me wrong — there’s no shortage of great stuff going on, but I’m in the process of wrapping my head around how it all ties together. As a result, it’s made for a more contemplative, less hard-charging month, which is pretty much a theme across the board for late April and early May.

5. Giving Back

Finally, we’re a little more than a month in to Team LUNA Chix Portland Run’s 2015 season, and I couldn’t be more proud to be a part of this group of women. We’ve been doing weekly workouts, and we also just hosted our first clinic of the season — a yoga and nutrition workshop to raise money for our charity, the Breast Cancer Fund (more on that in an upcoming post).

The team is gelling, we’re working on getting the word out so we can grow in size and make more of an impact, and we’ve been getting a consistent group of ladies each week who rally through a few miles together. See for yourself via our Facebook, Twitter and Instagram accounts — and come join us Monday nights at 6:30 p.m. at the Duniway Park Track in Portland!

How are your 2015 goals coming along? 

How I Run: Team LUNA Chix PDX’s Tiffany Henness

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In honor of our inaugural Team LUNA Chix Portland Run season, I’ll be introducing my teammates 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 (click here for details)! 

Does stalking on Instagram count as meeting someone nowadays? If so, then that’s how Tiffany Henness and I first got to know one another (or, rather, how I started following her and liking #AllThePuppyPictures).

But as far as our first real-life run-in goes, we crossed paths (literally — while on a shakeout jog) one morning at IDEA World Fitness Blogfest with SweatPink last summer. And when I found out we’d both be in Oregon as I was recruiting for our Team LUNA Chix Portland Run, I started bugging her by phone and email, as well.

Digital lives aside, I’m thrilled to have her on the team and to be able to log more miles together this season — not only because she’s super-positive, a great role model and loads of fun to be around, but also because this RRCA Certified Running Coach, CrossFit Level 1 Trainer and ultra-runner is a wealth of knowledge when it comes to living a healthy, fit lifestyle.

She’s in the process of launching her new blog (Thoroughly Thriving — check it out!) where you’ll be able to follow along on her adventures and pick up some great tips. But in the meantime we sat down to chat about a mutual love: Running.

1. What’s your favorite route? Anything trail or scenic. I get bored running the same streets too often, so I frequently explore new areas or reverse routes to keep it interesting.

2. What shoes do you wear? I’ve been in Saucony Guide 7’s for over a year now and am very pleased.

3. What other run gear can’t you live without? INKnBURN running shorts. Best ever.

4. What’s your best time-saver or “runhack?” Learning to run with as little as possible has been huge for me. I don’t need a watch, music or a water bottle. I can totally manage running by feel, reaching inward for motivation, and last up to an hour before finding a water fountain or something. It’s freeing, mentally and physically, to be more minimal on the run.

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5. What running-related thing are you better at than anyone else? Ha! I’d say running without music or mental distractions, simply because almost everyone I know believes (falsely) that they simply could not run without music.

I certainly enjoy tunes once in a while, but I’m great at running in silence, entertaining myself, focusing my mind on my breathing and effort when I need too, and being more meditative when I run.

6. What do you listen to while running? Normally when I listen to music during a run it is because I’m on the treadmill. Therefore, I listen to anything with a solid, driving rhythm (Knights of Cydonia by Muse) or even just a song that makes me smile/laugh/want to dance (Uptown Funk).

7. For what are you currently training? Autumn Leaves 50k in October (and I’ll hit up the Portland Marathon on my way there). Of course, all of this is only in preparation for a hopeful first 50 miler in 2016. I have some big longer-term goals I’m chasing.

8. What are your recovery & sleep routines like? There is no routine right now, but when my mileage increases and I start hitting 14+ mile long runs, the routine will reveal itself.

Here is a complete description of my usual recovery and sleep routine. It boils to some active recovery exercises and small snacks followed by lots of hydration, a full meal, a quick nap, and then light stretching/mobility. Occasionally beer or ice cream is also involved.

9. What’s the best running advice you’ve ever received? Well, I’m not a fast runner and — believe it or not — I used to be even slower than I am now. I was sure that people who ran fast must not feel as awful and uncomfortable as I did.

I have a good friend who is an incredibly fast amateur runner, however, and when I said I didn’t think I could ever run as “effortlessly,” he kindly explained that simply because he runs faster does not mean he’s in less pain (not the injury kind, just the regular ‘ol pain of running). His lungs still burn, his muscles still cry out for him to slow down, his body still feels heavy some days.

He said if I wanted to run faster, then I just had to RUN FASTER and learn to handle the increased discomfort and effort that brings.

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10. What’s your favorite running-related memory? So many! Probably my husband (then boyfriend) and I finishing our first marathon together. That’s when I started using running unreasonable distances as a way to learn about myself, my strengths and weaknesses, my limits and potential.

11. Fill in the blank: I’d love to go on a run with ______. MOXIE!. I love my dog, but she’s rubbish at running right now — tripping me, stopping to sniff and pee everywhere. My dream someday is that she’ll be a great running pal and we can do a half marathon together!

12. Anything else you want to add? Visit me at ThroughlyThriving.com where I write about nourishing, training and giving in order to get the most out of life!

Thanks, Tiffany! I’m pumped that we now live in the same city and will be hitting the track and trails together more often. 

Runner friends, shoot me a note — info (at) kineticfix.com — so I can feature you, too!

March Goal Check-In

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Time for a reality check: Now that we’ve officially “sprung forward,” we’re one quarter of the way into 2015.

I wrote previously about the five goals toward which I’m working this year, and here’s my update on how things are progressing:

1. Seeking Balance

I’m still slowly building out my race schedule for 2015 with a focus on quality over quantity. Ben and I are currently in the process of building up mileage for the Corvallis Half Marathon mid-month; instead of all-out racing it, though, I’m using it to train into May’s century bike ride (my first 100-miler!) and 50K.

It may seem like we’re peaking early in the season, but we’re doing these events more for the experience (and for a good cause, in the case of the ride) than for time.

2. Training Smarter

Thanks to ClassPass, I’ve been doing all kinds of cross training and am starting to see tangible gains. From completing rope climbs to balancing in side crows, I’m stronger all over — although I’m still working toward that elusive unassisted pull-up.

The one missing piece of the puzzle is mobility, however, so I’ve started seeing a chiropractor to help with my range of motion (my mid-back seems to be stuck…the dreaded desk-job computer hunch!) and am also trying to be more disciplined about stretching, foam rolling and yoga to balance out all the strength training.

3. Facing Fears

Zip. Zilch. Nada. Whoops. 

To be honest, I’ve been in a total mental funk when it comes to the pool, so I haven’t been pushing it. But I’m hoping that this will change in April, especially because I could probably use more non-impact activity in my days.

4. Pushing Myself

I’m officially registered for my second 50K, my first century ride and my first duathlon this summer. For some reason, the pursuit of a PR in what I’d call my “usual” running events (half marathon, marathon) isn’t as motivating to me at the moment; what I’m most excited about is trying some new disciplines. Bonus: If it’s a new event, it’s an automatic PR!

I’ve also been making some headway in another direction with meditation classes. After stumbling upon the wonderful HUSH Meditation community, I ended up adding mental fitness to my weekly workout regimen. It’s a simple act — literally, 45 minutes of stillness one evening per week — yet the process has been transformative (more on that soon in another post).

5. Giving Back

And, finally, we’re officially kicking off our 2015 season with the Team LUNA Chix Portland Run team next Monday, April 6, at 6:30 pm at Lincoln High School’s track here in Portland. I’ll be leading a workout, and it’s open to the public, so everyone is welcome!

Come join us; make some new running friends and fuel up after with free LUNA bars; how can you say no to that?!

How are your 2015 goals coming along? 

February Goal Check-In

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Two months down, 10 to go!

I wrote previously about the five goals toward which I’m working this year, and since this is my little corner of accountability on the Internet, here’s my update on how things are progressing:

1. Seeking Balance. I’m actively restraining myself from signing up for #AllTheRaces this year — which is difficult when you’re in a new state! — so you’ll see that my schedule for 2015 is still very much a work in progress. My strategy is to try to target new events, and I’m trying to mix things up rather than build toward a specific A race this season.

2. Training Smarter. Heart rate training went out the window this month in favor of a metric ton of cross-training. I’ve been barre-ing my butt off at PureBarre in an attempt to build more glute and core strength, riding at Revocycle to make sure I’m road-bike ready come spring, and testing out all kinds of other classes via ClassPass (post with details to come). Variety is the spice of life…and fitness, right?!

Ben and I also completed our own version of Whole30 (more like Whole45 since we had two minor cheat weekends with company in town), so nutrition has also been a major focus this month. As much as I used to pride myself on being able to eat whatever I wanted, I’ve got to admit that I feel so much better eating clean, unprocessed food and cutting down on added sugar.

3. Facing Fears. Ok, you got me — there’s not much progress to report on the swimming front. I haven’t been making regular weekly sessions, and although I’ve got a few standing offers for technique guidance, I haven’t had a chance to drag Ben to the pool to take videos of me in action. Hoping to remedy this in March!

4. Pushing Myself. I’m officially registered for my second ultramarathon — a 50K in May. I’m also eyeing a century ride earlier that month, as well as trying to decide between a sprint triathlon or Olympic duathlon in June. Throw in two overnight relays, and it’s looking to be an active summer!

5. Giving Back. We’re still in our pre-season for the Team LUNA Chix Portland Run team, so fundraising hasn’t started quite yet for the Breast Cancer Fund. However, we’ve been so excited to get going that we’ve gotten a jump on things by holding group runs once a month to touch base.

In the meantime, our potential century ride has fundraising component for the American Lung Association, so if we decide to bite the bullet on that event, Ben and I will be hitting up our friends and family to donate for another great cause.

Other than that, we’re looking forward to March coming in like a rainy lion and out like a damp lamb here in the Pacific Northwest…how about you?!

How are your 2015 goals coming along? 

Link-Up: Best & Worst of Racing

Best (or Worst) of My Racing History

Linking up today with Jessie over at The Right Fits to share some of the best and worst of my racing history! I read about this via my Coeur pal Erin over at SweetSweatLife and enjoyed her post so much that I thought it’d be fun to take a little walk down memory lane.

So without further ado, here are my best and worst…plus a few extra categories I added just for fun!

Best Start Line

Hands-down, the 2014 Detroit Marathon. I mean, c’mon, is there anything better than being in your hometown and hearing Eminem’s “Lose Yourself” blaring over the speakers as they count down to the start?!

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Best Finish Line

There’s nothing like crossing the finish line in your first 26.2, so my personal favorite here is the 2002 Chicago Marathon. But if I can also count a race I haven’t run (yet?) but attended, I’d have to go with Boston — an iconic race in a city full of spirit.

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The shot above is from 2004 while I was living there and going to grad school; we’d start our day at mile 26 to cheer runners along the last stretch. The shot below isn’t from the actual race (it’s from the Pats Superbowl parade), but gives a good idea of the crowd support at the end; I worked at Boston Sports Club Copley at the time, and we’d finish the day standing on that very same rooftop to watch people cross the finish line.

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Best Expo

Nobody puts on a pre-race party quite like Nike, which is why the expotique from the 2013 Nike Women’s Marathon takes the cake for this category. From live DJ, fashion show, social media integration and a host of other activities, it’s something that ever runner should experience at least once.

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Oh, and if your gut can handle it, they have a pretty sweet spread there, too. Care to carb-load with a macaroon, anyone?

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Best Crowd Support

Hm, this one’s a tough call. While 2002’s Chicago Marathon will always hold a special place in my heart for the thousands of people lined up along the route, it’s probably a close tie with this year’s Detroit Marathon.

Why? Well, anytime you can run through the wall (and not hit it) while running 26.2 is a win.

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Hottest Race

No question, I was burning up for most of the 2014 HITS Napa Olympic triathlon. Not only were we battling hot temps while on a course with little shade, but I also found out later that I was racing with a low-grade fever.

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Coldest Race

Hubby and I rang in the start of the holiday season with the 2010 Walnut Creek Turkey Trot…and froze our buns off in the process. At the last minute, I threw on an ill-fitting vest to try to keep warm, but ended up tugging at it for most of the 10K. Outfit fail!

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Most Beautiful Course

I’ll let the picture from the 2014 Lake Chabot Trail Run 30K speak for itself. You can see why it’s so easy to get hooked on the trails!

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Most Coordinated Outfits

Put a hot glue gun in my hand, and I’m not responsible for what’ll happen next. Case in point: I got a little crafty before the 2013 Turkey Trail Trot XI and made Hubby and myself some matching outfits to get into the spirit of this wacky race.

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Funniest Memory

Easily the 2011 Detroit Half Marathon. Here’s the before, with my sister, whom I was going to pace for her second half marathon.

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And the during, in which I proceeded to not only chatter incessantly in an attempt to keep her mind off the pain, but also take a bunch of pictures along the way to document our experience. She was clearly not amused.

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Best New Experience

Running a new distance (especially an ultra) can be scary. But tackling it with a friend, who just so happens to be an accomplished trail runner and fabulous pacer? Awesome, as you can see from this shot from 2014’s Canyon Meadow 50K.

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Best People Watching

Bay to Breakers. Every year. ‘Nuff said.

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Hilliest Course

While it may not rank as my hilliest race in terms of actual elevation, I remember the hills in the 2005 U.S. Half Marathon in San Francisco shocking me the most mid-race. Not only was it my very first 13.1, but I’d never run over the Golden Gate Bridge before, so the steep ascent, steady climb over and switchbacks on the Marin side were a rude awakening to Bay Area running!

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Flattest Course

I’m sure I’ve run on many a pancake-flat course, but the 2011 Oakland Running Festival Half Marathon sticks out as a particularly level one. It also helped me snag my second sub-two-hour time!

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Course That Took the Most Mental Strength

The picture below is from this year’s HITS Napa Olympic triathlon, and it’s also one of my toughest racing moments to-date.

Those other guys in the shot? Yeah, they’re done with their swims and headed out on the bike. Me, not so much — I’ve still got my second lap, and I’m pretty much trying A) to force myself back into the water for round two, and B) not to cry.

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Most Disappointing Start

Making a rookie racing mistake at the 2009 Nike Women’s Half Marathon meant that I had to run it without a time chip (forgot it in the hotel room), effectively meaning I didn’t do it (i.e. there’s no official record of my participation).

Lesson learned: Now I always put my timing chip on my shoe or bib the night before the race, and make sure to double-check it on race morning!

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Most Disappointing Finish

My face says it all in the shot below: Try not to puke.

In 2007, I ran the Big Sur Half Marathon and didn’t respect the distance. Not only was I under-trained and went out too quickly, but I was also coming down with a cold and mistakenly experimented with some Airborne and cold medicine that morning.

Big mistake. My poor friend Marlene was such as saint as I slammed into the wall at mile six, then proceeded to poorly manage gastrointestinal issues and leg cramps for the rest of the race before ending up in the fetal position at the finish line.

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Crappiest Weather

Despite Oregon’s reputation for rain, they say that it’s only been wet once or twice during the city’s very popular fall marathon. So, of course, my 2010 Portland Half Marathon was one of those lucky years where we experienced a downpour.

And, in case you were wondering, that’s not happiness on my face to be running, soaked and chilled to the bone.

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Most Surprising

My very first triathlon — a sprint in the local quarry — was 2010’s Tri for Fun in Pleasanton, Calif. My goggles leaked, the water was warm and full of goose poop, my bike was a poor-fitting Craigslist purchase, and my legs cramped on the run…but I finished with a smile and enjoyed every moment!

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Most Rewarding Race

Helping my sister cross her first 13.1 finish line in the 2009 Rock ‘n’ Roll Chicago Half Marathon holds a special place in my heart. Not only is the city one of our favorites, but to share that experience with her was also something I’ll always remember.

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Coolest Medal

No one will argue with the Nike Women’s Marathon “medal” (below is last year’s version). As far as bling goes, you can’t do much better than that pretty Tiffany necklace!

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Best Worst Experience

A friend joked with me that Hood to Coast was the “best-worst race experience,” and after running this year’s event, I couldn’t agree more. It’s exhausting, intense and overwhelming at times, but so worth it for the 200-mile bonding experience…and getting to cross that sand-filled finish line!

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Got a best (or worst) race memory? I’d love to hear!

How I Run: Ultra-mama Sarah Evans

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Can’t you just feel the pure joy radiating from that photo above?! Not only is Sarah Evans an amazingly-inspiring social media pal from the Bay Area, but she’s also one of my very favorite runners to interview because her attitude toward life — and running — is positively awesome…and infectious.

We chatted on two previous occasions (about bouncing back after a baby and how she balances a growing baby with mounting mileage), but I wanted to include her in my new “How I Run” interview series to get her take on the questions below.

Read on for details on a few of Sarah’s favorite things, as well as this ultra-mama’s plans to tackle a “mother” of a distance (50 miles!) come December:

1. What’s your favorite route? I love a Mt. Tam summit (2,400 feet over 4.5 miles) or any trail in the Marin Headlands; there’s nothing like the view coming down Diaz Ridge switchbacks with the Pacific Ocean spanning in front of you…then knowing you have one heck of a climb back up and over!

2. What shoes do you wear? Asics Gel Nimbus forever!

3. What other run gear can’t you live without? As a Type A runner, my Garmin Forerunner 620. And my Headsweats visor!

4. What’s your best time-saver or “runhack?” Literally ‘running’ my errands to get in a run. Or if I want to get out for some fresh air instead of going for a walk with my daughter, I’ll run (you get more places, faster that way anyways!). I also always lay out my clothes and program the coffee maker for all my early-morning runs. It’s harder to make excuses with the smell of coffee and a trail of clothes waiting for you at 5am!

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5. What running-related thing are you better at than anyone else? Consistency. I have a strong mental game about not giving in or up. And maintenance. If you don’t do the maintenance work, you won’t stay healthy. Do the work ‘behind the scenes’ (meaning rolling, stretching, hip/glute strengthening, yoga, etc.) and your running will remain and continue to get stronger.

6. What do you listen to while running? A lot of relaxing streaming music (mixed with a few pop/upbeat songs) or my own thoughts and daydreams 🙂

7. What are you currently training for? Chicago Marathon in October (update: she PR’d with a 3:18!), then the NorthFace 50-miler in December.

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8. What are your recovery & sleep routines like? Compression socks, lots of hydration and legs-up-the-wall pose all help with recovery…plus, a burrito the size of my head doesn’t hurt either! I try to get at least eight hours of sleep a night — yes, this takes effort and work in itself to get enough sleep, but it’s just as important for a healthy being as anything else. I try to be in bed by 9:30 with no electronics, and a TV isn’t allowed in the bedroom. I value sleep!

9. What’s the best running advice you’ve ever received? First, if it feels ‘good,’ you’re not maxing out your potential or running hard enough…during a race it should ‘hurt so good!’ Second, run when you can, walk if you have to, crawl if you must, just never stop moving forward (this particularly pertains to Ultra running). Third, fuel and hydrate early and often.

10. What’s your favorite running-related memory? Running during my pregnancy is a time in my life that is full of some of my favorite running memories. And not because I was breaking personal records or climbing the highest peaks, but because I felt strong, happy, relaxed and excited to share my love for running with my little one so early.

I enjoyed every last step of each run because I knew my time would become limited once baby arrived, so I didn’t take the freedom to run for granted. I ran some memorable races while pregnant, including a marathon the day I found out I was pregnant, and crossing the finish line at Boston marathon in 2013 only 10 minutes before the tragic bombing events, which put a lot into perspective.

I realized my full love and potential for running during my pregnancy, so it has to go down as a time of favorite running-related memory!

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11. Fill in the blank: I’d love to go on a run with __________. Kara Goucher and Lauren Fleshman, two amazing women who are moms, Oiselle pros and inspire me to be a strong mom, woman and runner!

12. Anything else you want to add? What running means to you will change in your life as time goes on; embrace that change and go with it. You may fall in and out of love with running, but it is always there for you when you need it. It’s a kind of therapy in itself and is the simplest, least expensive activity you can do anywhere!

Thanks, as always, Sarah! Runner friends, please email me — info (at) kineticfix.com — if you’d like to be featured 🙂