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The Virtual Running Movement: How Jost Running Is Making It Happen (and changing my view)

Disclaimer: For the next three months I will be working with Jost Running as a virtual blogger. I received entries to their virtual events in trade for blogging about what they do and my opinions. No other compensation was received.

Virtual running events have always had me skeptical.

To me it was not truly racing. I did not want to spend my money on something that was not truly racing. With everything going on in my outside running world, I am being stingy with money.

But Jost Running is slowly changing my views of this.

Jost Running is a great small family run outfit that produces virtual running events once a month. Right off the top] one of the things that I love about what they do is each event you not only get to choose the distance you want to accomplish, each race gives back to charity. The races are reasonably priced (between 25-35 dollars) and come with a very nice medal and a bib you can bring yourself.

My 10K Soaring Medal for Jost Running
My 10K Soaring Medal for Jost Running
Septembers races have an airborne theme, and benefit Team For Kids Program via the New York Marathon. This program brings running to kids in NY and helps them learn how to adopt healthy life style.

I decided to take my challenge yesterday as the weather was going to be almost perfect for a 10K. I took off on my normal 10K route through Linnton and back home. I really do adore this route a lot because it does push me because of the hills but its rather scenic as well.

But yesterday I was seriously pushing the pace. I wanted to leave it all out on the road so I felt like I really did earn my medal. It was a little slick with some of the dropped leaves at Linton.

It was one of the fastest times I have set in a long time on the 10K distance which is something I am super proud of. I defiantly felt like I had did everything I could to earn my new amazing medal.

That being said. My racing schedule has defiantly been impacted by everything going on with my dad’s health and the issues related to it. I really like the idea of these virtual challenges to help me stay connected to my running, continue to challenge and motivate myself and continue to force myself to take some me time to accomplish some bigger goals.

My Adventures in @InteractiveFitness and my First Challenge Completion

In December of last year, our gym, West Coast Fitness brought in a lot of amazing new equipment. One of the funnest pieces was Interactive Fitness Expresso Bikes. The best way to describe these bikes is they are video games attached to in our case, spin bikes. For tri-athletes the best way to describe them is a trainer. They have rides of varying lengths, varying elevations and something called the Dragon Chase. (Which I will talk about in a future blog)

For me, who has the attention span of a flea when it comes to bikes, or treadmills. These had been such a refreshing change. These bikes are challenging and leave me in a puddle of sweat each and every time that I am on them.

Each month the company behind the bikes sets up a different challenge for riders. These challenges are meant to motivate riders to spend more time on the bike, motivate them to push themselves hard and commit to a big goal. If you accomplish the challenge you win a badge for your profile and you can purchase the shirt related to the jersey for that challenge.

On top of that each gym has a team captain (at West Coast that is me!) to help motivate and answer any questions that could come up.

I have yet to be able to complete a challenge, they have either been too monstrous or they have been right in the middle of training for something else. This month with my transition into my “running for fun” project and my desire to try some different challenges, this month turned out to be the first month I could try for one and this one was one of the biggest ones they offer.

Vuelta a Expresso, is 106 miles in 21 different workouts. Again, they go from easy to a couple in the more challenging category. This one was a true endurance challenge. But again it was meant to inspire and push and that it did.

Yesterday, I became one of… As of today 320 some riders nationwide to finish. I am really super proud of it because it was a lot of work.

I can’t say it enough. If you have any of the Interactive Fitness products at your gym. I can’t recommend them enough. They are fun ways to take the boring out of your cardio.

Race for the Cure: From the Rear

Today, I took a race from a totally different perspective.

I was one half of the sweeping team for Portland’s Race for the Cure 5K walkers. My job was to help with the police and make sure that slow walkers either made it to the finish line or jumped onto the sidewalk before the roads reopened to traffic.

I normally run every year, but this year I flat out just did not want to spend the money. But so many people in my life have been impacted by cancer, and Komen Oregon has been there to stand for them. I may disagree with corporate Komen, but Komen Oregon will always have a special place in my heart.

I was supposed to check in at 9, but I managed to make it a tad bit early which was perfect because no one quite knew what to do with me and I did not have a partner to walk the banner with me because the other volunteer did a no show. They told me to grab a volunteer doing extra work and find a staff member to figure out what needed to be done. Turns out that extra volunteer was one of my team from First Thursday. After we found the staff, we got our assignment. We needed to trail the 5K walkers to make sure they made it all to the finish or on the sidewalk.

When we got to the start line we realized we had been in the midst of the 1 mile walkers. We decided to head for

Waiting for the 5K to clear the 1 Mile turn off.
Waiting for the 5K to clear the 1 Mile turn off.
the turn off for the 1 milers and wait out the police car that would be the signal that the route was reopening. The thing is, that took awhile. Just when we had a break in 5K walkers going by and we thought we could go forward, another set of walkers would show up.

Once our new best friend the cop car came, we took off. It was interesting to see the “sea of pink” from the tail end. I overheard two ladies encouraging a women who has just finished her treatments, and as I told her “You are a survivor, nothing else matters.” We saw small families tackling the challenge of a 5K for the first time. (It is an amazingly family friendly race.) We saw couples walking to support each other or friends who are battling, and of course there are the pink shirts given to survivors. They are the reminder of why everyone is out there.

Portland’s race is amazingly supported, the water stop was just happy to see us because it meant they had been done. But they had cheered every walker like it was the first walker that came through. The cheer leading squads that had helped out on the course had been the same way. They had been super happy to see us, but they kept cheering for the walkers we had been herding in like it was the first runner of the day.

A few times we had to let our police escort get ahead of us while we stayed to grab walkers. Everyone was walking this race with a purpose and a passion. Our goal was to make sure they did not get left behind. WP_20140921_019

This is the slowest I have ever gone on a 5K but the most fun I ever have. It felt amazing to give back to an organization that means so much to so many people in my life. There is a power in passion in people walking one step at a time for the cure.

#10on10 #SkirtSports Virtual 10K: For the love of the Skirt

When I first started running, Skirt Sports played a huge part in the runner that I have become today. When I gave running a second chance after the entire “I don’t want to run ever again” melt down, it was the Skirt Chaser 5K in

Meeting the CEO of Skirt Sports way back when.
Meeting the CEO of Skirt Sports way back when.
Vancouver. It was actually an amazing event. But in the last mile or so I had the pleasure of running next to Nicole DeBoom, the founder of Skirt Sports and true Ironman hero. She was amazing and talking to her was inspiring.

When we made the last turn, she spotted a couple running ahead of us and challenged me to push hard and see if I could pass them.

Well, I did and at that point I set a new PR. It was the most fun I have ever had while running.

Skirt Sports has always played a huge part in my running. I sport my skirt every chance I can get.

I have also been honored as a 261 Woman with Skirts Sports and have been able to share my story of how running truly helped me find my freedom. Skirt Sports gave me an opportunity to inspire others.

So being able to be a runner in their #10on10 Skirt Sports Virtual Event that celebrates their 10 year anniversary, was a no-brainer and an honor.

If you have not seen the weather in Portland, it is stupidly hot, and today we are having issues with air quality due to the regional wildfires. Knowing that mother nature was going to pose a challenge, I decided to run it on Thursday as it was almost a picture perfect day.

I took to my faviorte trail which heads into St. Johns, crosses the St. Johns bridge and heads for Linnton. I was actually at a really nice pace, and just really enjoying the run, which is my entire goal right now. I have stressed so much about runs as of late, I really want to focus on just running for fun again.

photoGridImageI am alone on the trail most of the time, but on this day a couple people I see on the trail from time to time had been out pushing the pace, so I decided to jog with them for a bit, I made the turn at the water fountain and waited for them because they set a great pace.

This was my second 10K in two days so my legs got tired on the hill back to the St. Johns bridge. But I knew I wanted to finish strong and earn my new Skirt.

I can’t think Skirt Sports enough for being a part of my running family. The products are always amazing, and the amazing supportive culture that the help, is what keeps me running.

All of the colors of the Rainbow- 2014 The Color Run

Portland International Raceway went from fast track to a festival of color when The Color Run made their mark in Portland on September 6th.

The first year that I ran this, I was a skeptic. It was not timed, it was not really a run, it was more of a social event. But when I ran it for the first time last year I was proven wrong, and this year they truly took the experience to the next level.

Now let me be blunt for a second. This is not a race for the serious hardcore racer. It is not timed, it is more of a party then a serious race. But this is what makes it a favorite for people who are accomplishing their first 5K as my friend Dana set out to do.

Packet pick up was at the Sports Authority at Jantzen Beach and it was flawless. I was in an out in less then 5 mins. And this year packets are head and shoulders above the year before including a sling bag for all your stuff, a headband, a rubber bracelet and your white shirt. I was also one of the earliest people to register which got me a very nice pair of knee socks (and we all know I am obsessed with knee socks) .

We left the North Portland area about 45 mins before race time which was perfect. Unlike last year, it looks like parking was considerably smoother then last year. We got to park close to the raceway entrance and walk into the starting line festival.

Right before Yellow
Right before Yellow
The race started promptly at 9:00 and groups had been released on the course in waves. Dana and I hung to the left as she was walking this for her first 5K. Unlike the experience I had last year, that actually worked really well and flowed.

Each color station is a true party. There are funny signs about the colors before each stop. There is always music blasting and the volunteers this year had a really good high energy. We started with pink, went through blue, yellow and ended with purple.

PIR is a pretty flat course though there is a small stretch of off road time because PIR is not a full 5K track itself. This does make it ideal and I know Dana was enjoying the ease of the track. Water was placed at the half way point and those volunteers seemed to have had as much fun as the color throwers.

I was really proud of Dana. She had been told several times that she was not going to finish it and she went out there and pushed herself. She was shocked with the amount of runners. But I think this is what makes this race special, the fact that people who would not normally be seen at a 5K are out there doing it.

Dana and I post Race
Dana and I post Race
The post race mayhem is always fun. You get the color throws every few mins at the stage. Tons of music, and tons of chances to take photos including the Shout 360 camera experience. (I still cant figure it how to get mine off my phone).

The bottom line with this race, is its a fun family friendly party. Its a event that all ages can come to, all abilities can come to and have a really good time and accomplish a 5K. The Color Run is staying true to its original purpose, to encourage families to get out, get active and have a great time.

Behind the Scenes: @FitrightNW First Thursday Urban Adventure Run

For the last two years, I have been a part of the behind the scenes team of volunteers for Fit Right NW’s First Thursday Urban Adventure Run. Until you see it from the perspective of the volunteers you do not realize how crazy and special of a night it truly is.

First Thursday takes place on the first Thursday of every month from March to September. For me the event starts

One of my favorite pictures from First Thursday. I am throwing prizes out to the crowd.
One of my favorite pictures from First Thursday. I am throwing prizes out to the crowd. Photo by Derek Scott
at around 4:15 when I get in to help set up registration and help set up anything that Derk and the crew have not gotten to already. Derek Scott and the crew at Fit Right NW put so much into First Thursday. They are the reason it is the biggest event of it’s type on the west coast. They bring in vendors to talk running, there are so many amazing prizes, they make sure runners and walkers have everything they need to have a fun night out.

At 5 registration opens and the entire hour becomes a tornado of names, raffle tickets, smiles, hugs, questions and doing what we can to make sure the runners have what they need to get started on their crazy adventure. At times registration can turn into total chaos, but its a fun chaos as the runners are pretty patient and friendly no matter how long they have had to wait. Its hard work but its really fun.

At 6:00 PM the map of checkpoints is revealed and the runners have an hour to make as many checkpoints as they can and bring their raffle tickets back for the prize drawing. The checkpoints are shops and parks in the general area that open up their space to the runners. Some are close by, some are for the more adventurous. I always tell people if you can’t figure out how to read the map, find a crowd of people to run with and just keep looking for crowds of runners. Even if you are a walker there are plenty of checkpoints for walkers to make and get chances to win prizes.

After we wrap up registration there is a little piece and quiet where the volunteers get a beer and get a chance to chat with the vendors. I also take the time to arrange the prizes for the raffle.

As people come back it feels like another tornado of questions, names, hugs and just making sure everyone is ready for the raffle.

I play Vanna White during the raffle handing things up to Greg (our MC) and Dave (The founder of Fit Right and in general boss). I also help during the raffle to throw things out into the crowd to people. Its fun to watch people get excited and put so many smiles on faces, especially when it comes to putting on smiles for little kids. The little kids make volunteering so much fun.

Wrap up and clean up goes fast on First Thursday. But we go into this knowing that our goal is to leave it cleaner then we got the area.

Make sure you join us for the last Fit Right First Thursday Urban Adventure Run of the year on September
4th. Registration opens at 5PM at NW 20th and Raleigh. You can pick up the details using this link Fit Right First Thursday Urban Adventure

the post map reveal First Thursday.