Profile: Asst Coach Christine

Christine Olson is an AC for the Green group in PortlandFit-South.  She ran her first marathon as a member of Portland Fit last year and this is her first year coaching.

Favorite Marathon:
I’ve only done one marathon (Portland), so for now that would be my favorite. 

Biggest obstacle you face in training:
Age.  It’s fairly well understood that it can be challenging for the older runner to train in the same manner as those “young” kids.  My own running history is not very extensive.  I only ran a few years in my early thirties and was never considered “fast”.  But when I was 30 I could at least run five or six times a week without fear of injury.

Last year I took control of my health but I was reminded that I’m not a youngster anymore.  Now at 55, I listen to my body.  Running three times a week, sometimes four, is about all I can do safely.  So I supplement my training schedule with a couple days of cross-training.  This usually consists of a spin class or two; sometimes I throw in a yoga or a pilates class.  I no longer feel guilty about taking two rest days per week, even three if my arthritic hip demands it.  Thanks to being respectful of what my older body needs, I am almost as fast on the longer distances as I was when I stopped running years ago and training is something I can now enjoy!    

Favorite race day musician/song:
I don’t really have one.  In fact, I rarely listen to music when I run, preferring to listen to my own breathing or National Public Radio on those really long runs.

3:59 on my first and only marathon so far.  I am scheduled to run three marathons this year, so I am hoping for some improvement in the future.

What motivates you to keep going when the going gets tough?
My two children (ages 18 and 20).  I have tried to teach them that success usually comes after much failure and every failure offers a valuable lesson that can later lead to success.  So if I have a bad run I try to find the lesson in it and apply what I’ve learned for future training runs.  A bad run may be a momentary failure but if you stick to it you will see improvement.  “Improvement” may be in a different area than anticipated but over time you’ll realize those tough days can have great payoffs in unexpected ways. 

Best advice you’ve ever received:
Don’t let adrenaline get the best of you.  Run your own race.  Plan well, run well.  A marathon distance gives you plenty of time to make adjustments. In the end it’s all about your training and sensible pacing come race day.  Trust it; then RELAX.

Favorite running gear:
That’s a tough question.  I LOVE running shoes.  The brand and model that I have found to be the perfect match for me just so happens to have many different colorways.  So far I haven’t found a color I didn’t like.  But on the other hand, I also have an addiction to watches.  Currently my favorite watch is a Garmin Forerunner model.  Being somewhat obsessive-compulsive about logging all the details of my training, this watch makes it easy to track my progress, provide GPS maps of routes, and gives more information than probably is necessary.  Definitely not a necessity, but a great luxury item.

The intangible benefits of Portland Fit:
The value of the moral support provided by the members of PortlandFit is hard to describe.  Training for a marathon is not only physically demanding but also mentally challenging.  At times, it can be very lonely.  Even though my family greatly supports my running endeavors, there is nothing like commiserating with fellow runners who truly understand what it means to put in the hours and miles needed to finish this long journey. 

I doubt I could’ve qualified for Boston on my first marathon if it had not been for our head coach, Peggy Faber.  She jumped out in front of me on the course and cheered me onward at a point in the marathon where I was seriously having some major self-doubts about finishing, much less qualifying for anything other than an icy mug of beer!  I credit her and the other coaches for making me believe in my training and myself. This group will show you it is not about the finish but the journey. Now I look forward to helping others make their journey and cheering on every one of those Portland Fit members who is lapping the couch potato!