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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

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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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All Friday Gems

Hello, San Francisco!

As I write this I’m flying southbound toward San Francisco for a weekend in the Marin Headlands for The North Face Endurance Challenge! I’m traveling with three of my closest friends, who all happen to be trail monsters and will be running the series’ 50K tomorrow. That’s 31 miles! I, however, will be cheering them on and will run the half marathon distance on Sunday.

We’re staying in Japantown in San Francisco, so you can bet we’ll be fueling up tonight with some ramen and celebrating later over sushi. I’m looking forward to seeing many familiar faces from the running community near and far this weekend. If you’re going to be out there cheering or racing this weekend, give me a shout.

And without further adieu, some gems from the running world for your weekend:

Listen

I’ve been playing some major catch up on podcasts, including listening to The Runner’s World Show from the very beginning. They’re 30 episodes in and each one is well worth taking the time to listen. I was particularly moved by episode 13, The Legend of Pre. An excerpt from Nike co-founder Phil Knight’s memoir “Shoe Dog” was read. Knight described witnessing history in the making when Steve Prefontaine won the 5000m in the 1972 US Olympic Trials in front of his home crowd at Hayward Field in Eugene, Oregon. Some call it America’s greatest distance race of all time. Later in the episode, Frank Shorter is brought on to talk about his memories of Pre as a friend and competitor. He described the last conversation they had together before Pre lost his life in a car accident that very night. He spoke about Pre’s legacy now and what he has meant to generation after generation of young runners. I’ve heard and read so many stories about Steve Prefontaine, but I never get tired of hearing them.

Later in the same episode, Julia Lucas was interviewed about her devastating 4th place finish in the 2012 Olympic Trials 5,000 in which she missed a spot on the Olympic team by 0.4 seconds. Lucas was such an eloquent speaker and described in great detail of how the roar of the crowd down the final homestretch was so loud she couldn’t hear if any opponents were coming up behind her, then the anticipation of seeing whose names would appear in the top three spots on the scoreboard after the photo finish. It was almost painful to listen to because you could hear the heartbreak in her voice as she recounted the moment she learned she didn’t make the team.

Read

Speaking of the heartbreak, check out this write up by photographer David Bracetty on a project he took on during the 2016 US Olympic Track & Field Trials where he took portraits of 3rd and 4th place finishers. AKA, those who made the Olympic team contrasted by those who did not. You can also see the photos in print in the latest issue of Meter Magazine.

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It is my hope that my story, and yours, will inspire all young women out there to push for greatness and follow their dreams with steadfast resilience. We must continue to dream big, and in doing so, we empower the next generation of women to be just as bold in their pursuits. -Serena Williams in an open letter to women that strive for excellence.

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In case you haven’t heard:

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I’m so excited to see Lauren Fleshman on the USA Track & Field Board of Directors. I believe she will be an excellent advocate for all athletes in the sport.

That’s all for the weekend. Follow me on Twitter and Instagram for updates!

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All Friday Gems

Get Loud

Maybe I’m projecting, but this week the universe has been telling me over, and over, and over again- to be my own advocate, put myself out there, and maybe even be a little loud about it in the process.

In a recent blog post, pro runner Phoebe Wright likened attracting sponsors and media attention to her attempt at crossing a busy street. Every time she went to step forward, drivers were either completely oblivious, or even worse, sped up. Moments later, a group of baby ducks wandered out into the street. They took their time crossing and a traffic jam formed. At first the drivers were angry, but that soon dissipated when they saw the cute little ducks they had to stop for. Then Phoebe said this:

It’s at this point that I realized I am less assertive than a duck. If you want people to stop for you, you have to make them stop for you. That’s how it works when you cross the street. It’s slightly risky, but odds are, most cars will stop.

That’s also how it works in professional running. If you want sponsors to stop for you, or media to listen to you, or for race directors to notice you, you have to put yourself out there. Don’t give them a choice to not notice. Also, I assume it helps if you are as cute as a group of baby ducks.

Being outspoken does not come naturally to me. I love to create and I love to share but I tend to let people sort it out for themselves if they want to listen. That’s the way I prefer to be treated myself considering when everywhere I go, every time I open an app, anytime I do practically anything, someone is trying to sell me on their brand or product. The last thing I want to do is contribute to the noise. I often shy away from sharing something, introducing myself or pitching ideas because of this. On the other hand, I have things to say that I think are worth sharing and I believe in the value of what I do. This week I took a few leaps and reached out to some brands and publications that matter to me, whether it was just to say I admire the work they’re doing or inquiring about a collaboration or partnership. I created a Facebook page to coincide with this blog as a place to post and share my thoughts on all things running, and against every natural instinct I’ve actually been sharing about it and inviting a whole bunch of people to like it (200 and counting so far, thank you!). Self-promotion and simply getting someone to notice you can be mortifying, but if you don’t advocate for yourself, who will?

Below are the rest of my newly coined Friday Gems. Every week I’ll post a wrap-up of quotes, recipes, gear, good reads, anything that’s helped my outlook on running and life or something I simply found interesting. Along the same lines, I added a new link to the menu above called “The Vault”. There you’ll find a treasury of sorts of all my favorite things and resources which I’ll continually add to.


Quote

“Everybody says winning’s easy for me. I’m like, ‘Why would you say that?’ Yes, it looks easy. But it’s not. There’s a lot of work and dedication. It’s rough. I want people to understand that what they see on the track is because I work so hard to get there.” -Usain Bolt in a recent piece by Decca Aitkenhead in The Guardian.

If there’s one thing I’ve learned from following pro runners, or really anyone successful, is that they didn’t get there by accident. They got there with hours, weeks, months, and years of unglamorous work. They’re extremely deliberate about everything they do.  Bolt always seems to be joking around at the start line, which is actually a mental strategy he and his coach incorporated into his race day approach. He says, “No matter how much pressure is on, I never think about it, because it starts creeping in and plays with your mind. That’s why I clown around before a race. I’m relaxed, I enjoy myself. And it works. My coach is very smart.”


Read

Charles Bethea just released a fascinating read in Outside Magazine about the founders of letsrun.com, twin brothers Robert and Weldon Johnson and their two full-time staffers Jon Gault and Steve Soprano. I sift through letsrun several times a day for running news from the far reaches of the world, extensive race previews and recaps, and athlete interviews with knowledgeable, not your run-of-the-mill questions. I love this write up that does a deep dive into their operation.


 Tweet

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That’s all for this week. ‘Til next time! -L

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Friday Picks

I’m starting a weekly wrap up of sorts to share highlights from the week that have been useful to my training, health, and outlook on life. I’ll think of a more creative name eventually, but for now enjoy!

Quote

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“Age is just a number to me. I don’t look it as my age as a disadvantage at all. I kind of look at it as an advantage because I have experience and I have have been here before. I told the guys before the race I was in this race in 2004 and they said, ‘Really?’ and I said ‘Yes!’ They couldn’t’ believe it!” Wise words from American Abdi Abdirahman after his third place finish in the New York City Marathon at the age of 39, via Competitor Magazine.

Read

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Speaking of Competitor, go out and grab the latest November/December issue that just hit the stands because you may see someone familiar in the “Everyday Runner” column! You can also read the related article online here. Huge thank you to Emily Polachek for sharing my story as a runner and musician.

Recipe

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Running On Veggies Winter Miso Sweet Potato Chick Pea Stew – I was able to make this recipe using ingredients I had on hand, which is rare for me. Throw some onions in a pot, cook until translucent, add miso paste (you can find at Whole Foods, one container lasts forever), spices, and potatoes, cook for half an hour, then at the last minute add chickpeas and greens (I used kale) and serve over quinoa. This meal was hearty and flavorful with low cost ingredients and was simple to make. I’m calling that a win.

Tweet

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This has not been my best training week. I’m feeling glum after the election and I’ve found myself glued to my computer screen and unmotivated to work. I’ve been getting my runs in, but have been skipping out on the extra things like hitting the gym and doing my PT drills. This simple tweet from pro runner and poet Alexi Pappas gave me encouragement to keep on keeping on.

Moment

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Screen grab via letsrun

After 20-year-old Ghirmay Ghebreslassie of Eritrea crossed the finish line to victory in last weekend’s New York City Marathon, he ran back onto the homestretch to give a high five to second place finisher Lucas Rotich of Kenya, who had beaten him last year in the Hamburg Marathon. It was a small but heartening gesture of good sportsmanship.

Gear

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Nike Free TR Focus Flyknit

I never thought I’d find myself buying cross trainers, but here we are. As I’ve been heading to the gym more to lift and do my balance and stability exercises, I decided to invest in a pair of shoes specifically for these activities so I wouldn’t have to add wear to my precious running shoes. And I’m so glad I did, because the Nike Free TR Focus Flyknit is awesome. The flyknit upper wraps around my foot like a sock and they’re lightweight and low profile while feeling supportive. The construction of the sole even fills out my higher arches. And I know this shouldn’t matter but they look super fly. They’re around the cost of a typical running shoe at $110.

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