Roots and Blossoms

Last weekend I had the pleasure of shooting with photographer, runner, and fellow Portlander Bobby Rivera. We met while working at Portland Running Company and he recently landed a gig at Columbia Sportswear! This is one of my favorite shoots I’ve ever done. We began at the waterfront where the cherry blossoms had just begun to bloom.

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Next, I took Bobby to a section of my every day running route on NW Cornell Road, bright green moss galore.

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Finally, we landed in a gravel path behind the Washington Park Amphitheater, my very favorite spot in Portland. This photo to me, with all the lush green trees, is emblematic of my roots in Oregon (I was born in Salem) and its rich history of running, fittingly complete with Nike trainers. Huge thank you to Bobby for capturing that so beautifully.

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Running-wise, things have been looking up. I’m feeling healthy and all the nagging little pings and tweaks have been subsiding. I’ve been getting a lot stronger thanks to Tracey Katona, who I met through Kara Goucher’s Podium Retreats. Tracey owns Katona Pilates in Beaverton and she’s been whipping me into shape this winter. She’s intent on helping me align my wonky hips and posture—and it’s working!

Next on my radar is the Corvallis Half Marathon which is already coming up next weekend (you might notice a familiar face on their homepage)! On the one hand, I feel nowhere near prepared to race a half marathon. I haven’t gone beyond 40 miles in one week since January and my longest run this year was 14 miles last weekend. Zilch speed work. On the other hand, I’m feeling optimistic after running a solid 15K at Shamrock earlier this month. Part of me wonders if I can match that pace in the half. Just another 3.8 miles. NBD, right?


Friday Gems are coming at you early this week- here’s what I’ve got!

I have to give it to David Willey, Editor-in-Chief of Runner’s World, for putting his goal of qualifying for the Boston Marathon out into the world and chronicling his journey via the Runner’s World Show. He’s working with the same team conducting Nike’s “Breaking2” project, in which three runners will be attempting to finish a marathon in under two hours. Not only does he have a team of technical professionals behind him to get him physically prepared for the attempt, but he has also received help on the psychological side from Dr. Robert Swoap. He recorded their session for the podcast (episode 46), which struck me as a deeply vulnerable thing to do. I really took to heart the advice and coping strategies Dr. Swoap offered, including visualizing how you’re going to react when things don’t go as planned.

Speaking of the psychological side of running, you’ll see the full scope of the mental ups and downs of completing a 100 mile race in Billy Yang’s documentary Life in a Day, where he follows the journey of four women vying for the win at the Western States. I was particularly moved by Devon Yanko‘s back story, from her origins in how she came to running, monstrosities she overcame at a young age, and how it has all shaped her into who she is today.

“It has been 9 years since I first ran the Boston Marathon. I still have never watched any race footage, it is still difficult to talk about. In fact, I am teary eyed as I type this out. But I have forgiven myself for not winning. Not only have I forgiven myself, but I have learned to appreciate Boston 2009. Over the years people have told me that it was the most inspiring race they saw, me going for it, fighting for the win. That has helped heal me and value what I did that day. I didn’t cross the line first, but I gave it all I had. I let everyone in, and they weren’t disappointed in me. They knew I did the best I could and that was enough.” -Kara Goucher on her first experience running the Boston Marathon. I’ve written it before, but I am among those who consider that run the most inspiring they’ve seen. Kara made it no secret that she wanted to win that year and she fought for it tooth and nail. She’s known for wearing her heart on her sleeve, but there’s no doubt she’s one of the fiercest competitors out there, evidenced by that race among many more. If you haven’t read it yet, here’s a great interview on where she’s at now.

And some fun news, I’m now a contributing writer at Minneapolis Running! In my first contribution, I wrote about how despite popular belief, there are shortcuts in running.

‘Til next time! -L

Cold, Hard Facts are a Runner’s Best Friend

The good: my hamstring that sidelined me last month is totally better! I rehabbed and cross-trained like a pro and followed my doctor’s orders to a T as I gradually introduced running back into my routine over several weeks. I missed out on indoor track, but still have my sights set on some later spring races including the Corvallis Half Marathon and Bloomsday Run.

The bad: my opposite leg is now giving me trouble in a weird way, and I have no idea what’s wrong. It’s a completely foreign feeling. I’m getting it checked out this week. I’m hesitant to write about this at all, because then my imperfect leg is no longer my little secret. If I don’t talk about it it isn’t real! Yeah…

The ugly: my feelings surrounding this new, unknown thing going on with my leg include but are not limited to extreme anxiety (How long will this put me out before it gets better? Will I be able to race this spring or even this year?), hopelessness (How will I ever reach my long term goals if I can’t even reach my short term goals?), a sense of failure (I did this to myself!), and envy of healthy runners (They’re meant to run and you’re not!). It’s a dark and terrible downward spiral.

My first instinct is to stick my head in the sand and pretend nothing is wrong and continue with my training. I ran ten miles of trails earlier today under a glorious, sunny sky with a teammate and all was fine. Actually, all of my runs have been “fine”. I’m not in pain and I’m not hobbling around, but I know my body well enough to know that something isn’t right. My inclination after initial denial is to assume the absolute worst; that I’ve done irreparable damage and I’ll never run again without something going wrong. When facing uncertainty it’s easy to project the most extreme scenarios and believe they’ll come true. Hopefully in a couple days I’ll get some answers, face the facts whatever they may be, and come up with a solid plan for what to do next. Until then, rest and breathe!

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Don’t Panic

Last Friday I met some friends at the local high school track in the wee hours of the morning for a speed workout. It was dark, 40ºF, and midway through it started to rain. The whole ordeal seemed very Oregonian. I haven’t actually looked back on my splits until now, so here’s how it went (you may recognize this as a modified version of the Michigan):

1600m @ 10K – 6:18 / lap rest

1 road mile steady – 6:54 / 100m rest

1200m @ 10K – 4:41 / lap rest

1 road mile steady – 6:42 / 100m rest

800m @ 10K – 3:06 / lap rest

1 road mile steady – 6:43 / 100m rest

400m @ FAO – 76 / DONE

It was a monster workout! There wasn’t pressure to hit a certain pace other than going by a 10K effort for the track portions and an even effort for the road miles. The constant switching gears from “steady” to “race pace” was what made it really tough. Toward the end I could feel my stomach starting to churn, something that often happens in a race situation, but hard to mimic otherwise. So, well done, coach! Continue reading “Don’t Panic”

January Blues

January is typically the toughest month of the year for me. Daylight hours are few which affects my mood and productivity. I feel out of sorts from the aftermath of the holiday sugar overload and I feel out of shape because I’m not in any sort of peak training. Every year I know it’s coming and every year it happens, though this year has been one of the better so far. Part of that has not been overwhelming myself with new resolutions then feeling terrible for not accomplishing them. Rather, I’ve been taking everything one day at a time and simply doing my best.

While I haven’t made any specific resolutions for this year, I’m continuing with some themes that resonated with me last year: consistency and grace. Committing to being consistent and outlining specific daily and weekly goals really helped my accountability with training in 2016. I reached my goal of running 2600 miles in the year, an average of 50 miles per week. Leading up to the Chicago Marathon last October, I had this realization that I had been being really hard on myself through my training and had been putting too many expectations on myself and that one day. I felt that instead I needed to be gentle with myself and give myself grace. That became super relevant because I got to a point in the marathon where I wanted to quit because I was hurting badly and falling behind around mile 17. I gave myself permission to stop, collect myself, and run it in to the finish at a sustainable pace rather than bail. I’m more proud of earning that Chicago Marathon medal than any other.

I still want to pick a new theme going into the new year. There’s one thing I’m always afraid of going into a race, and that is to let it hurt! I’m not talking about pushing through an injury, but running through typical race pain. I always try to do the best I can while remaining as comfortable as possible. My reasoning is that I want to save something for the end and avoid burning out. This strategy is okay to an extent, but by not taking any risks I’ve rarely reached a point where I’ve truly found my edge. I can think back to an instance last year when I was in a later stage of a local race and nearly caught up to someone that had always finished leagues ahead of me. I was having a great day and she was likely having a rough day. I began to close the gap between us, but something held me back. I was scared to pass her because I didn’t know if I could do that and maintain my pace to the finish. I also somehow felt I shouldn’t pass her out of respect, like it would be a low blow on someone already having a bad day. I didn’t attempt to pass her, and it’s very likely she would have rallied and beat me anyway, but I’ll never know what would have happened had I tried. I wish I had just gone for it. All that being said, this year my goal is to take bigger risks and let it hurt a little! Perhaps that is a bit counter-intuitive with my grace theme… but I believe it’s possible to have both.

I updated my race schedule with an outline of my first half of the year. I’m kicking off the season next week with some indoor track, repeating some of my favorite races from last year including the Corvallis Half Marathon and Bloomsday 12K, and capping it all off with the historic Grandma’s Marathon in June!

In another news, I recently got to chat with Lindsey Hein on her podcast I’ll Have Another. Lindsey is a marathon runner, running coach, and mom. I remember first learning about her and her incredibly moving story when she graced the cover of Women’s Running Magazine. She was so sweet to chat with and we covered all kinds of topics from my life growing up with music, my first sub-3 marathon, and how running and music intersect in my life. We also talked my experience at the Grammys last year and talents and woes of Mariah Carey, Taylor Swift, and Adele. You can listen to the episode here as well as on iTunes.

Enough typing for now- it’s time to bust out the spikes and hit the (snow covered) track!

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Stone Soup for the Soul

It’s Friday and I have so many goodies to share, the most meaningful of which to me was this blog post on career choices called The Flyway – What Am I Doing? by Dr. Sarah Lesko. She wrote about how she was drawn to a medical profession. She embraced the challenge of becoming a doctor and loved the complexity of care and emotional intelligence required for family medicine. However, even after 17 years off running competitively due to injury, she felt her heart pulled toward running and little by little she became more involved with the growing women’s apparel company Oiselle. Here’s how she put it, shortened into excerpts:

“One of my favorite profs in med school had a great definition for parenchyma. Parenchyma: the essential, distinctive, functional part of an organ, the bulk of a substance. She would tell us, ‘Parenchyma is the there, there.’ I was looking for my existential parenchyma. 

And then I started running again, after 17 years off. And I felt more alive. Like being plugged in to a power socket…I started helping out with various little Oiselle projects. Shenanigans. Because I loved it, because I couldn’t stay away…I started working out again. On the track even. I could still scamper! I got super into running, got injured, rehabbed correctly and got back out there. 

I was still practicing medicine, teaching residents, doing some research writing, consulting, but my heart was pulled to running. To Oiselle. My there, there.”

I felt as if Dr. Lesko could have written this for me- just replace medical profession with a musical one. I love writing and performing music, and that’s something I’ll do forever. It’s what I grew up with, it’s what I studied most of my life, it’s an innate part of me. But when I look at the way I spend my everyday and the things I do for the sake in itself, it’s almost entirely running related. From training, to writing, to keeping up with running news, to creating schedules and communicating with the runners I coach, to a crazy ambitious new project I have in the works. I can’t fight it or deny it. It’s been like this for over ten years now. Like Dr. Lesko, I imagine that my “running house” and my “music house” will magically grow together. The two paths have crossed countless time and I imagine they’ll continue to. But instead of stressing myself out over the things I think I ought to be doing, I’m embracing the things that give me joy and purpose, however unconventional.


I highly recommend reading Marathon Man, a write up by Kathryn Miles on a man named Gary Allen that put on a marathon free to participants in his hometown Millinocket, a small mill town Maine. His rationality for free entry was that simply bringing visitors to the town would boost its economy. And the plan worked! The coolest part was how local businesses embraced the marathon and rallied behind it by contributing what they could toward making it an even better event. The local snowmobile club hosted both a pre-race spaghetti dinner and a pancake breakfast. The high school booster club ran a family funfair during the marathon. Residents began offering rooms for runners to sleep when local motels got booked out. It’s kind of like the stone soup of marathons.


I recently got to see a pre-screening of TRI, a new fictional indie film about two friends training for their first triathlon. While the inspirational vibe of the trailer had me rolling my eyes a little bit, I gave the movie a chance and I’m glad I did. It truly captured the process and emotions anyone goes through when training for a race, no matter if you’re in the front of the pack or DFL (dead f-cking last, as I learned). I’ve never trained for a triathlon but I found myself relating to the struggles and doubts of the main characters all the same. It’s not the most groundbreaking story line ever, but the particular subject of the triathlon, lovable characters, and stunning visuals more than make up for it. If you’re already feeling the winter blues and need some motivation and inspiration, watch this movie. It was just released this week and streaming on Amazon for $6.


I enjoyed listening to Lindsey Hein interview Amanda Brooks, creator of the FASTZach app, on her podcast I’ll Have Another. I had the pleasure of meeting Amanda at Kara Goucher’s Podium Retreat. The podcast is a great listen as Lindsey and Amanda talk about all things marriage, motherhood, and running. It was very cool to learn more about Amanda’s experience growing up as a diver on a national team. We’ve been in touch even more recently I’ve been beta testing FASTZach before its launch in January 2017. FASTZach is an answer to my prayers as someone who runs and travels often. The app will develop a running route for you based on how far you go, how much traffic you want to avoid, and which sites you want to see. So for instance, say you’re staying in Montmartre while visiting Paris and want to see the Eiffel Tower on a 6 mile run. FASTZach will create a 6 mile loop for you from Montmartre that takes you right by the Eiffel Tower. How cool is that?

That’s all I’ve got for this week! -L

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