April 1, 2007

Portland Fit (NW 21st and Raleigh)

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Three years in a row I have joined Portland Fit, the Portland Marathon training program. The first year, I made it to the 7 mile mark. The second and third years, I made it to the Helvetia Half-Marathon and walked 13.1 miles. This year, I'm going to try to make it to 15 miles. Portland Fit costs roughly $100 for six months of training, seminars, free massages after the long walks and a free entree at The Old Spaghetti Factory, which frankly they should pay me to eat. It's a pretty good deal, all in all. The best part of the first three years was that on the first week, everyone walked or ran 3 miles and there were assistant coaches all along the route, cheering, clapping and encouraging me all along the way. Just having people cheer you on is well worth the $100.

This year, there were no assistant coaches cheering us on during the first week walk until the very end. That left me a little wanting. But there were really interesting conversations as I walked. A woman talking about getting the gene test for breast cancer and trying to decide if she should get a radical mastectomy and hysterectomy. Someone else discussing their problems at work. Relationship problems. I don't really like to talk to anyone that early on a Saturday morning, but I do like to listen. I keep my iPod loud enough to sing along, but soft enough to still hear people talking. That's the real entertainment.

Portland Fit is for all fitness levels, walkers and runners. There is no looking down on anyone. The coaches are encouraging and enthusiastic. The seminars are helpful and informative. Plus there's just something cool about taking a walk with a few hundred people early on a Saturday morning, across the bridges, on the waterfront, in the rain or sun - It's almost like you have your own real network, just like on those Verizon commercials. "We're almost there!" "Keep up the good work!" "How you feeling?" "Getting enough water?" Participants encourage each other. The runners don't care that there are walkers on the route. Walkers don't care that there are runners on the route. We're all part of the same team.

I am looking forward to the half marathon again this year. It's a super hilly route and everyone is super impressed when I tell them that I walked Helvetia. I don't tell the super-impressed people how many cuss words go through my head as I am forcing my feet to move during the last 2 miles. I'm always near the very end of all the runners and walkers and by the time I cross the finish line, most of the runners and walkers have been resting in the beer garden for a couple of hours and are really enthusiastic about pretty much anything, so I get the loudest cheer of all. Totally worth it.

The motto of Portland Fit is "Change Your Life". I love that. Five years ago, I never would have considered joining or walking a half marathon. But now I love it and want to tackle it each year. The first year, I needed oxygen right after I finished. The second year, I was a little slower but felt much better and didn't need oxygen. This year, I'm going to finish at least one minute faster and train on all the days that I'm supposed to. That's how I'm changing my life this time.


Sara McOllie said...

Fantastic!! Congratulations on doing the half marathon. I used their training regime when my friend and I walked the Seattle marathon. When you are training like that, just having the camaradie is great.

Hey, It's Ansley said...

Yay! Way to go Lizzy! I'm always so proud of you for doing this. It's fun to think of ways to change yourself and keep promises you make to yourself.