Tag Archives: Hood to Coast

Women and their friendships: another key component of life and hormone balance

Summer is winding down but my Portland to Coast team is gearing up for our second year in “The Mother of Relays”.  For those  of you who have been faithful followers, you may remember some of my posts about our team’s adventures as a walking team.

Hood to Coast has been around for over 35 years: it is a relay race starting at Mt Hood and ends at Seaside, OR. Over 1000 teams of 12 runners make their way over almost 200 miles. In addition, there are over 400 teams of 12 walkers who wind their way from downtown Portland to the Oregon coastal town of Seaside. This is one crazy but fun event! It is hard to imagine how it works but basically a village of runners and walkers travel between 130 and 200 miles in a relay race, complete with vans, headlamps(yes, we travel into the night!) , hundreds of volunteers, vehicle exchange posts, sleeping fields: quite the endeavor. At the end, there is a huge finish line along the Pacific Ocean’s edge, complete with vendors, food booths and a live band: the party goes on for hours, tired participants dancing until they literally drop in the sand and crawl into bed for a well-deserved sleep.

Our WTF* team at the finish line in 2012

Our WTF* team at the finish line in 2012

Two weekends ago , most of our team members as well as some of our friends from afar, joined together for a mini-retreat up on Mt Hood .  This originally started out as a team-building event, spearheaded by Karen(one of our teammates)  who discovered an awesome opportunity for such a gathering at Silcox Hut, built on Mt Hood in 1939. This dwelling rests at about 8000 feet and has hosted many large groups over the years.  It took quite a bit of planning to organize this group and this weekend, but honestly, it was well worth it.


After we all made our introductions in the great room of Timberline Lodge(famously filmed in the movie, The Shining), 18 of us split into various hiking groups and headed off in various directions.  I ended up in a small group of women, five of us in all, who hiked together for over 10 miles up and down through Zig Zag Canyon(aptly named) and on up to Paradise Park. We finally settled down for lunch by an idyllic mountain stream surrounded by carpets of wildflowers and capped by the peak of Mt Hood in the background. It truly felt as though we had landed in Paradise: this particular hike may be the most beautiful one I have ever done.

Halfway point

Halfway point

Lunch with friends at Paradise Park: heavenly

Lunch with friends at Paradise Park: heavenly

By late afternoon, after we enjoyed a quick dip in the hot tub at the lodge, we all wound our way back up to ‘the hut’, either by hiking , taking the skilift or enjoying a very bumpy ride in the host’s Suburban up the rutted road. The host welcomed us with wine, cheese platters, a roaring fire in the stone fireplace(yes , even in summer a fire feels great atop a mountain) and candle votives on the stone steps. This was truly a feast for the eyes and sore, tired legs. We spent the evening talking with old friends, making new ones , while we enjoyed a lovely meal prepared by our host.  After dinner, we sat  at the large banquet table, sipping wine, eating chocolate, playing games….reveling in the experience of 18 women gathered together in a magical place.

When I think of the things that have helped me to maintain balance throughout the years, one that always comes to mind is the importance of my friendships and connections with other women. As women, we often get caught up in the ‘caregiver’ role of many: our families, our work, our communities , etc.  Although these all have their rewards, it is equally important to nurture relationships with other women. My life is so much richer because of the friendships that I have with the many women in my life whom I consider to be friends. Make sure that you carve out time with the women that you love. Your life will be fuller and more balanced if you do.

Wish us luck as we head off for another year of craziness this Friday, as we jump into our vans and walk together as a team. It’s a bit nutty, this whole thing, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.  Happy trails!


Filed under Essentials, Kyle Bell McAvoy, Women's Health & Happiness, Women's Work/Life Balance

Happy new year/happy autumn

September is my favorite month. I love the transition between summer and fall: from bright hot sunny days , lazy schedules, family vacations, experimenting with all foods on the grill(I  even mastered pizza on the grill this summer!) to cool, crisp sunny days, perfect sleeping weather, earlier sunsets, “back to school”  routines and a feeling of new beginnings.

I can’t help but think of September as the start of a new year of sorts. After all,  the start of the new school year has formed the rhythm of my life since 1958(I know, I am definitely dating myself!), for myself and then my children. And I am not alone in thinking of September as the beginning of the new year. Rosh Hashana, which is the Jewish New Year, falls during this month. Just 2 years ago I met my husband in Israel for several days  before heading off to Greece for 2 weeks of vacationing.  The air in Tel Aviv was electric with anticipation of Rosh Hashana and everywhere we went, we were greeted with ‘L’Shana tova’, which means ‘happy new year to you’.  I was elated to be a part of this tradition , as it resonated with me and my feelings about this  special month.

Driving through Tel Aviv, September 2010


It makes sense that all that we have ‘planted’ in the spring’ reaches harvest in the  fall and allows us to think about the next things we will ‘sow’. I remember that in January, the ‘other new year’, I wrote a post on my aspirations for 2012, which included doing more yoga. Hmmm: how did I do with that one?  Well, to be honest, like all aspirations/resolutions, I didn’t do as well as I had hoped. I did start out with a bang, attending yoga at least once a week and I loved the way I felt after each class. But the class schedule didn’t work well with my own so I soon found that weeks turned into months and I just couldn’t seem to fit it in: sound familiar????

All too often, we start out with the best on intentions, soon to discover that life sometimes gets in the way. But I was determined to do something different in terms of physical fitness in 2012 so I shifted gears. I turned to tennis and race walking. I started taking tennis classes at my local community tennis center and met a wonderful group of women who also wanted to finally learn how to play, so that’s been an unexpected fun activity for me both socially and as a great form of exercise. Believe me, I have a long way to go before I can call myself a “tennis player” but the physical and mental challenges are definitely paying off.   Studies on exercise have shown the multiple benefits gained from being physical active: not only improved muscle strength, improved balance and agility, which are important in preventing falls as we age, but better cognitive functioning as well and a deterrent to the development of dementia.

I also took several clinics on racewalking as part of our walking team’s preparation for the Hood/Portland to Coast Relay. I set some personal goals for myself(walk a 12 minute pace or less for 5 plus miles) and used a terrific mobile phone app called ENDOMONDO(available as a free download) which helped me to track my progress. Like so many of us baby boomers, at first I resisted some of the newer technology, feeling a bit overwhelmed while trying to keep up.  Luckily I have some tech-savvy friends who prodded me along(thanks Deb and Anne for mentoring me and for being so patient with me) and now I am comfortable using some of these apps and devices to help me reach some of my goals.

So as September ushers in this new year of sorts, think of how you can challenge yourself to be more active physically. One of our instructors at the gym, Willee(who is an accomplished swimmer/runner and Ironman triathelete herself) always reminds us each fall to set a goal that we can reach by late spring/early summer: perhaps a 10K, 1/2 marathon, join a tennis league, learn a new sport/dance/exercise routine…so that as the days get darker and shorter, we have something to work towards and look forward to in order to stave off the doldrums that often settle in as winter arrives.

As always, we invite you to share your thoughts/personal goals/suggestions for your life. And oh, I almost forgot! Our walking team finished the relay almost 2 hours ahead of our estimated time, as well as finishing in the top 40% of all of the walking teams. Our team included some women who had never really walked long distances before so this is a real example of how we can set a goal, join a group and motivate one another towards achieving a higher level of fitness. Keep us posted…lots more to come about maintaining wellness in the weeks to come. Happy new year, L’Shana tova.

Walking my first leg: almost done, hot tired feet but happy!!

Our WTF(we ARE totally fabulous!) team happy in Seaside


Filed under Essentials, Kyle Bell McAvoy, Women's Health & Happiness, Women's Work/Life Balance

On the eve of Hood/Portland to Coast Relay

Hi everyone:

I have long wanted to take part in the “Mother of All Relays”, known as the Hood to Coast Relay for runners and Portland to Coast Relay for walkers. This is a truly amazing event with teams from 33 countries and all 50 states. Runners start up on Mt. Hood at around 5000 feet and walkers start in downtown Portland. Everyone ends up on the beautiful Oregon coast in a town named Seaside(appropriately) where this is huge party to celebrate this fun and challenging endeavor. Since this is a relay, each team has 2 vehicles and there are ‘legs’ and ‘exchanges’ along the way so that in the end runners each have 3 ‘legs’ that they must complete and walkers have 2 ‘legs’ apiece. Some of these are  in the middle of the day, others are in the dark of night in the middle of the Coastal Range, a set of mountains that divide up the western side of Oregon.

Last October I organized a group of friends, 12 of us in all, to enter the relay as a walking team.  During one of our first meetings, we came up with the name of our team: WTF*(we are all about the asterisk!!). Some ‘other’ meanings for WTF are where’s the finish? where’s the fun? where’s the food? women talking fast, we’re totally fabulous(and humble, LOL)….you get the idea! Thus, the asterisk.  The name is really about being creative and fun and energetic, which pretty much describes this group of women.

So here we are on the eve of ‘The Mother of All Relays’ and we are all pretty pumped up! If you would like to follow our progress, here is a link you can use(we are sooo connected these days):


Doing this relay with a group of wonderful women is just another example of a way to stay fit  while having fun, creating longlasting memories and living a fuller, more balanced life.  This kind of energy is contagious and I encourage each of you to find something similar that resonates with you and challenges you to reach new levels of fitness and balance. As always, we encourage you to share YOUR ideas and experiences with us.

Wish us luck!!! See you in Seaside….

A bunch of us WTFers(and friends and family) completed the Bridge to Brew as part of our training this year


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Filed under Kyle Bell McAvoy, Women's Health & Happiness, Women's Work/Life Balance