Disclosure: Portions of this post were provided by New Hope Network and are from Melaina Juntti’s article, “10 Ways to Say No to Plastic.” I am a member of the New Hope Influencer Co-op, a network of health and wellness bloggers committed to spreading more health to more people. New Hope is NOT related to #PlasticFreeJuly, which is based in Australia. Also yes, I am well aware that July ended more than a month ago–thanks for notice!
While working on the first part of this article, I learned that the most-used “throwaway” plastics are single-use plastic bags, straws, bottles, and coffee cups. Not only do these items last literally forever, they are also items you rarely actually need.
Leave Plastic At The Store
Fewer stores these days let you keep plastic clothes hangers, but plenty will still ask if you’d like them at checkout. Unless you’re in dire need of new hangers at home, say no and encourage the store to reuse them. Personally, I re-did my entire closet in the Bed Bath & Beyond version of Joy’s Huggable Hangers; my closet looks sharp and more clothes fit inside. I took my wire hangers to the drycleaners for re-use, and donated my plastic-tube-type hangers to charities that deal with clothing donations (always phone first–not all charities want your plastic hangers). Are you buying from brands/stores that insist you take the hangers, or tell you that they “can’t” re-use them? WRITE A LETTER–preferably on paper (since no one does that anymore)–and tell them they need to do better. Then vote with your dollars.
Say “Nope” to Single-Use Plastic Bags
Dry cleaning bags. Speaking of clothing, if you have a lot of clothes that need dry cleaning, the plastic waste adds up fast. See if your dry cleaner will let you leave your own garment bag with your items. (Don’t have a garment bag? The thicker plastic hanger bags that stores like Macy’s and Nordstrom use to cover long dresses and suits can be reused almost indefinitely–I have several that are two decades old.) If they say no, consider shopping around for a new dry cleaner that’ll let you skip the single-use plastic bag.
Grocery Bags. Ideally choose cloth reusable grocery bags. I’m partial to Chico Bags, as they take up almost no space and are easy to stash in your car, backpack, or bike pannier. Bonus, they will take back bags that are dead and ready for their next adventure. If you choose paper bags, you must reuse them. Why? Producing paper bags create more pollution during their manufacture, consume four times more energy than plastic bags during manufacturing, are somewhat inefficient to recycle, and more. While plastic lasts longer and has more environmental consequences, you have got to re-use those paper bags to make them “better for the environment” than plastic. Consider the entire lifecycle of the bag!
Produce bags. Do you need them? Probably not. You’re going to wash those apples before you eat them, right? If you really think you must have a produce bag, try using a zippered net lingerie bag (bonus: lets the stuff inside breath and is easily washable). There are mounds of choices at Amazon and other online retailers, and Good Housekeeping wrote an article on their top picks.
Ridwell–for when you’re stuck. I don’t know whether you can get Ridwell, but if you can, by all means SIGN UP! (If they are available in your neighborhood, I might have a single pick-up I can gift you.) Ridwell is an amazing service that takes items your local waste service cannot recycle and keeps them out of landfills. While it includes more categories–and may be enough to help you downsize your garbage service!–the one I use most often is “plastic film.” That includes those annoying air pillows that come with the things you ordered online, the all-plastic mailers Amazon started using, bubble wrap, bread bags, the bag my Sunday newspaper comes in, and more. (Ridwell also takes items that are reused by charities or properly recycled, including batteries and light bulbs. The rotating categories include all sorts of things from sporting goods to bottle caps to wine corks.)
Sweeten Your Sip
Straws. Before I get accused of being able-ist, hear me out: some people genuinely need plastic straws. Did you know that the popular bendy straws were developed for use in hospitals? True story. If you truly need a plastic straw, use one without guilt. Those of use who do NOT actually need them can avoid them. For the rest of us, here’s what to consider:
(1) Do you really NEED any straw at all? Again, save for a small portion of the population, you can drink from a cup without a straw. (Starbucks recognized this and switched to sippy-lids for cold cups, just like they have for hot ones). Could you just say “no thanks” to all straws?
(2) The Straw is NOT your friend. Did you know that people who drink from a straw drink MORE than those who do not? (That’s why so many “how to drink more water” articles list “use a straw” as a tip!) Or that the plastic straw may leach chemicals into your beverage? (I’m not a big scaremonger, but when the Washington Post writes about it I’m at least willing to hear it out.) Straws may also increase tooth decay, and more. Think about that the next time you’re offered a straw for your sugary and/or acidic soda.
(3) Some restaurants and bars offer wax-coated paper straws. These are compostable in some locations, but not all locations–what can be recycled or composted varies from municipality to municipality. If you don’t need a straw, you can still say no.
(4) Instead of a disposable straw, how about a reusable one? If you’re going someplace where you think you’ll need a straw, or driving, take The Final Straw with you. It’s reusable many times, washable, compact for travel, and a straw. Done!
Bottled Water is for Emergencies
Unless you live in an area where the tap water is unsafe, there is no reason to drink bottled water. Train yourself to think of bottled water as a product that is made for emergencies–like Flint, Michigan (water system scandalously ruined by the government and no, in 2021 there is still no safe tap water in Flint) or a post-hurricane location (pumping stations require electricity which may not be available; water tables may be damaged or polluted)–and not for you.
You might be surprised to learn that bottled water is less regulated than your tap water! Tap water is required by law to be tested for a variety of substances, and many local water utilities publish the results online, like the East Bay MUD(California) does. If you are worried about lead (maybe you have an older home) many water utilities will help you get your water tested, just like Multnomah County Oregon does. Further, did you know that some bottled water is literally just bottled tap water? True story.
Think your tap water “tastes funny”? You still don’t need to waste your money (and our collective resources) on bottled water. Invest in a quality filtering pitcher like the Camelbak, a fridge with a filter (do NOT forget to change the filter!), a re-usable filtration bottle, or a tap filtration system. Yes, the filter may be plastic–but you’ll still use LESS plastic than all those bottles.
Use a reusable cup of any kind at home. Carry and use a reusable water bottle when you’re at work or on the go. My office has reusable cups, mugs, and glasses, but I have also taken in my Cat Lady Box tumbler. (It has a screw-on lid and reusable straw, which prevents me from inadvertently dousing my files.) Pro tip: choose an insulated brand like Takeya or HydroFlask so it doesn’t “sweat” on you; you have lots of options.
About those Coffee cups. This one seems like a no-brainer, because it’s a two-fer WIN: (1) no plastic lid goes into the garbage, and (2) the paper that goes into the cup and sleeve can be used for anything else but instant garbage/compost. It can be a little trickier in practice because you have to remember to your own coffee cup with you, and to clean it on a daily basis, but you’ll also save some cash: most cafes offer a small discount if you use your own cup. (Five cents many times a year turns into real money quickly!) While I like my Whirly mugs with their sturdy handle and snap-on lid, a spill-proof coffee vessel is essential when commuting and to avoid adding a mocha scent to everything in your work bag. HydroFlask is my go-to for coffee on the go.
What have you tried doing to cut down on single-use plastic in your life?
The holidays are coming, in case your email inbox isn’t jammed full of pre-Black Friday offers or you otherwise somehow missed it. Wondering what to get the runners in your life to show them you care? Let’s start with essential safety gear. Bonus: all of these suggestions work for cyclists and others who might be outdoors at night. Many of these brands are offering the same or similar deals at your local running and cycling shops, so shop local if you can.
Be Safe, Be Seen
NoxGear. My favorite way to be seen, hands down. Their best-known product is the Tracer360 vest, and personally I think everyone who runs at night should own one. Essentially it is a lightweight, minimal “vest” that you wear over your regular running clothes. (More of a belt that has loops that go over your shoulders–doesn’t add bulk.) The shoulder straps light up, and there are both solid color and flashing pattern options. When it’s dark outside, there’s no way you’ll be missed. Save 35% on all NoxGear with code BRIANARUNS (courtesy of @matmilesmedals). https://www.noxgear.com/tracer360
ProViz. A few years ago I won one of these jackets in an online contest, and I still cannot believe my luck. The fabric seems like a grey/silver until light shines on it and then BOOM! it lights up like someone plugged it into a socket. (sturdy and long-lasting too, so think of this as an investment in your night wardrobe forever.) No photo I take will do it justice, so I highly recommend you go look at their website. ProViz makes sport-specific safety clothing for runners and cyclists, and also has a line of general activewear including fleece lined visibility gear for less sweaty endeavours. The 2020 Black Friday deal is 20% off everything. https://www.provizsports.com/en-us/
Knuckle Lights. Useful for all situations where you might run in the dark, from casual night jogs to ultrarunning events. Knuckle lights strap to your hands, just like the name indicates, and increase your visibility in two ways: (1) your literal visibility to others (traffic, cyclists, other runners, etc.) and (2) your visibility in the sense that you can better see the path in front of you. There’s a money-back satisfaction guarantee, and a five-year warranty, so you’ve pretty much got nothing to lose. I’m proud to share the love, since Knuckle Lights is based in Oregon. https://knucklelights.com/
Brilliant Reflective by 3M. If the runner in your life is picky about gear, or likes maximum options, you can help them make the gear they already own and love reflective. Brilliant Reflective Strips come in both stick on (temporary, pull back off) and iron on (more of a permanent solution) options. This is one of the least expensive ways to up your visibility, and you can add it to your clothing, bike helmet, or even your bike! There are multiple varieties and colors too. https://brilliantreflective.com/
Safety Skin. We all know that one guy who runs in shorts and a tank top, year round, regardless of weather or temperature. If that’s you or the runner in your life, Safety Skin is for you. Safety Skin is basically a deodorant-like stick with a wax base that you put directly onto your skin. This makes it easy to put a reflective strip anywhere on your body, regardless of whether you’ve got clothing there. There’s a sunblock option too. https://www.safetyskinproducts.com/
Other Options. When looking at winter running or cycling gear, keep an eye out for gear with reflective properties. Most major brands have at least one line of tights, pants, shorts, etc. that has a reflective strip or pattern on it. Gear can also have reflective properties, for example on a SPI belt or an Amphipod hand-held bottle. Staying seen is one of the top ways to avoid getting hit!
I’ve looked around, and there is really no substitute at all for a Road ID. It’s superior to carrying just your phone since most phones screen lock, and even better than a drivers license since the Road ID can get crucial medical or allergy information to responders that your state-issued ID cannot. I’m so in love with the Road ID that I personally own three or four (I have one that was specific to the original FitBit, obviously I’m not using that one anymore…). No one likes to think about it, but what happens if you are out on a run, by yourself, and something awful happens–you get hit by a car, you have a heart attack or a stroke? Road ID helps make sure first responders and emergency personnel can help you appropriately. I’m a wrist ID person, though I’ve used the velcro on the bands to connect my Road ID to my running vest. I bought one for my Dad, I bought one for the family dog. If your arm party is already strong, you can get a Road ID to attach to your running watch, your Apple watch, or your shoe. My favorite part of Road ID is the connectivity part: in the event I am unable to assist first responders, there is a code on the ID they can use to access my essential medical details (which I keep updated) and my emergency contact list. The cost for this is minimal, even for the low mileage I run each year. Peace of mind for all of my family, too. Did I mention the engraving is guaranteed for life? Road ID also has an app that allows people YOU select to follow you in real time, which is super useful if you have an accident and can’t tell your family which hospital you are headed to. Current sale is 20% off, and up to 80% off of the clearance items. https://www.roadid.com/
Be Safe, Stay Connected
Wearsafe Tag. If you find yourself in an unsafe situation or suddenly needing help, the Wearsafe Tag is your best friend. When you get the tag, you download an app and set up your contacts list. If you find yourself needing help, you just push the button on the tag. The app alerts your contacts that something is wrong and sends them a live audio feed. Your contacts can use the app’s group chat feature to coordinate a response–which might mean going to you directly, or might mean calling 911. The tag vibrates to let you know someone has seen your alert, and you can press the button again to let them know you’re okay–the app will turn blue to alert them you’re okay. It’s easy to strap or clip the tag to your running gear. If you have a friend who runs alone and you worry, this is the perfect gift. https://wearsafe.com/
Be Safe, Be Aware of Your Surroundings
Aftershokz. Regardless of whether you’re running at night or during the day, the number one thing you can do to promote your own safety is to stay aware of your surroundings. Unfortunately, many runners go out wearing noise-canceling headphones that impede their ability to hear what is going on around them, from other runners to approaching cyclists to cars. (Really, it just takes one bicycle-runner collision to really mess up your body.) I’ve been a huge fan of Aftershokz for a long time. Instead of buds that sit in your ears and block out other sound, Aftershokz sit outside of your ears and use bone-conduction technology. This means you can hear everything going on around you. Fun fact: there are also Aftershokz for swimmers! https://us.aftershokz.com/ BUT WAIT! If you want to save up to $35 off (discount depends on what you order) all bone conduction headphones, use this link from @MatMilesMedals: https://glnk.io/4w4/sharp (On December 6, the link returns to a 15% discount)
Be Helpful: What’s Your Go-to Gift for Runner (and Athlete) Safety?
Drop me your favorites! What’s the best gadget, piece of clothing, or product that helps keep you safe while you’re out? What do you secretly hope to find under the tree, in your stocking, or waiting for you wherever your presents appear?
Disclosure: I was a member of the 2016, 2017, and 2018 Rock ‘n’ Blog teams. As a member of the team, I received complimentary entries to Rock ‘n’ Roll races, including Rock ‘n’ Roll Seattle (and other perks). This post is not sponsored, edited, or written (in any way) by the Rock ‘n’ Roll series or Competitor Group (or its new owner, Ironman, or Ironman’s former owner, Wanda Sports Company, or current owner Advance Publications, Inc.). All opinions are my own.
I started this post in 2018, long long long before COVID-19 decimated the 2020 racing season. No joke. I was unable to bring myself to finish it since I found the race pretty disappointing (based on what was promised v. what was delivered) and I felt guilty posting another not-so-glowing review of a series I was supposed to be representing. I tried to pick it up again after Rock ‘n’ Roll Seattle 2019, but felt like a Negative Nellie. There’s nothing wrong with the race, it’s just…I’m feeling kinda meh about the whole thing. So I poked and prodded this review for quite some time, which is why you’re now reading a fall review of a spring race. Apologies in advance, but you know I’ve gotta keep it real.
Which Year Is It?
I’ve run the Rock ‘n’ Roll Seattle Half Marathon since 2015. (Check out my 2015 review!) That was the year I first met Mat Miles Medals (at Rock ‘n’ Roll Arizona) and I had only recently met (at Rock ‘n’ Roll San Francisco) SmartWatermelon. I stayed at the nearby Hotel Pineapple, rented a car, and had dinner with the Seattle office of the firm I was working for at the time.
In 2016, after two nights of no sleep, I was wide awake and ready to take on Seattle! No, no, I was not. (I already reviewed that race!) Or was that 2017? 2018? This year? Every year. 2017 was the last year I flew from California to Washington for the race; it’s less expensive to take a Bolt Bus (2018) or drive (2019) from Portland (which makes it easier to pack every single thing you might want instead of obsessing about the weather). I was a little groggy and worried about whether I had packed the right clothes for the weather, which is a perpetual concern with spring races in the Pacific Northwest; I actually debated whether to try to use some of my post-race clothing as race clothing. After spending some time cursing races for starting so freakishly early on weekends, I pried myself out of bed and put on some clothes. (I saved the post-race clothes.) In 2018 I bought a last-minute stretchy zip-up hoodie at Ross, which I wore for the entire race and post-race.
Each of these years, per usual, I missed the pre-race groupie photos of various run clubs. Most of my running groups that want to snap pictures meet early, by which I mean EARLY, before the first corral starts, because there are actually fast runners who want to be in the pictures. That’s awesome, but at a race like Rock ‘n’ Roll Seattle where there are a billion runners and I’m in corral 250, it’s already going to be an hour before I get to start. (I didn’t keep track this year, but my first year running Seattle I really did wait an entire hour before my corral started. I literally sat down in the parking lot and stretched and drank coffee. In 2018 I walked from my hotel to the start line, saw how long the line was to the start, and found a gas station where I could acquire coffee and a donut.) Maybe I will start a tradition of the “I slept in” photo…
A Most Mysterious Race
Rock ‘n’ Roll Seattle is a bit of an enigma. I really want to like it, especially since it’s pretty clear Rock ‘n’ Roll isn’t welcome in Portland. (RIP Rock ‘n’ Roll Portland. I will miss the airport carpeting finish line.) And actually maybe running downtown isn’t welcome in Portland, if we’re being honest. It’s a destination event for many runners (some of whom spend the day before the race doing the typical tourist things like the bubblegum wall, aquarium, and Pike Place Market), and just another run weekend for those trying to hit the 15-race-mark for Rock ‘n’ Roll’s “Hall of Fame.” (That has become more elusive as the number of races in the United States has dwindled. No idea what they will do about 2020.) The only thing that seems to stay the same each year is the location of the Expo–and even that has gotten disappointingly smaller.
About That 5k
I haven’t run the 5k for the Remix medal since Rock ‘n’ Roll discontinued the shuttle bus service. The 5k is staged at the Museum of Flight, which is right at the southern end of Seattle, out by the old Boeing Field. It’s waaaaay too far to walk from the central downtown area, which is why there was originally a shuttle bus. (The shuttle cost extra–it wasn’t included in the price of the race, even though entry was already at a premium and priced well above the locally produced 5k events, of which there are many.) While I haven’t personally looked into it, friends tell me that navigating the otherwise excellent Seattle bus system to get down to the Museum of Flight in time for the start is difficult. On the other hand, taking a cab, Uber, or Lyft is expensive. So unless you’re committed or have a car, it’s a little inaccessible. The 5k is a fun shake-out, basically an out-and-back loop around the area, which has some decent shade and some historic planes outside. The Museum was open pre-race, which meant access to snacks, decent coffee, and–perhaps most important–toilets that flush.
The Magical Shrinking Expo
Every year the race’s expo is at Centurylink Field, in the exhibitor area. This is convenient in that it’s easy to get there by transit and has plenty of parking. Each year, the expo appears to be shrinking. In 2015 the expo had a robust representation of local races, including the Blooms to Brews (which the city of Woodland, WA stupidly refused to grant a permit for 2020). There were also numerous smaller businesses exhibiting race-related or theoretically race-applicable items. (I distinctly remember a booth with costume jewelry and hair clips from 2015 or 2016.) In 2019, only a few of the largest Seattle races had a booth, and the expo was less than half the size it was in 2015. I arrived about two hours before the end of the expo on Saturday, and some of the booths were already closed. That’s fine for me, but I feel bad for those who are running their first Big Race since I see a vibrant expo as part of the experience. Registration was still open–the race did not sell out–though I’m not sure who would pay $189 for a marathon given local race prices. In 2019 the Rock ‘n’ Roll/Brooks shop’s credit card machines were down (they were very apologetic and said it was an internet problem with the building, which I thought was ironic in a place bearing the name Centurylink, but then I managed to buy from Pro Compression and Tailwind using a credit card without any problems, so…).
The Ever-Changing Course
Seattle must be a difficult place to stage a race. The past few years have seen massive construction, including replacement and (still only partial!) removal of the viaduct, which the past years’ courses ran atop. I know that Portland is impossibly stingy with what and where they will allow running events, so I can only assume Seattle is the same, and that this explains why Rock ‘n’ Roll has changed the course substantially every year I have run it. The race has started or ended at the University of Washington and beneath the Space Needle; as a point-to-point course it also ended at the Centurylink Field parking lot twice during the years I have participated. While I personally thought it was clever to stage multiple miles of the 2019 race on the HOV freeway lanes (closed during the early Sunday morning hours), other runners I talked to HATED it.
I don’t have many complaints, other than where the eff were all the port potties this year?!? The lines at the first ones I passed had at least 40 people (yes, I counted), and the demand was so great that the individual port-potties set out for the bands to use also had a line of 30+. I get that it’s inconvenient to put porta-potties on the HOV lane of the freeway…but if they can do it for the bands–and set up stages besides–why not for the runners?? I waited until I could wait no longer, by which time I was off the freeway and into a neighborhood, and still ended up in a line of 20+ people and only 4-5 porta-potties. Even more annoying, there was NO SIGN or other indication that there were another 8-10 porta-potties just at the end of the block. Having stood still-ish for quite a long time (you know how sometimes nature calls and you can’t just send her to voice mail?) I was PISSED when I saw that line of porta-potties, with ZERO people waiting in line. I easily could have saved 10 minutes there. COME ON, for the love of all that is holy, surely an organization that puts on races knows better?!?
The 2019 course featured a gigantic climb up Queen Anne Hill towards the end. I did not appreciate this. (The climb was less challenging than the very steep uphill trudge of 2018, but still!) The views were lovely, but I’d much rather have had the super steep downhill at the very end as an uphill at the very beginning. One of the downsides of a constantly changing course is that the neighborhoods don’t develop any traditions. At the old Portland Marathon, for example, neighbors would picnic outside, with kids dressed up and banging drums or waving pompoms; at Rock ‘n’ Roll San Diego, several neighbors have “unofficial aid stations” with adult beverages and puppies. There were two girls with donuts along part of the course this year, but it’s not the same energy as I’ve experienced on courses that have been consistent for long enough for traditions to develop. While there were a few entertaining locals outside of the “Grey’s Anatomy” house, the race course will probably change again next year.
On-Course Amenities Delivered, Mostly
In 2018, Rock ‘n’ Roll promised music every mile, and more aid stations on the course. The “music every mile” never delivered, and even some of the mile-marker speakers (independently streaming music from I don’t know where) malfunctioned, alternating between music, static, and silence. Similarly, I could have used more music in 2019. At least the aid stations were well-stocked and had supplies when I passed them, but since I’ve determined that I prefer fuel other than the series’ sponsor’s gels and hydration (I was packing Tailwind) it didn’t affect my race. Since it IS an improvement over past years–especially for the “back of the packers” that Rock ‘n’ Roll claims to support, I’ll call it a win.
Let’s Talk VIP and Finish Line
The year Kamika made Seattle his 100th Rock ‘n’ Roll race, I had access to VIP. (If you saw a bunch of people with smiley-face pineapples pinned to them, that’s what that was about–Kamika is from Hawai’i.) That year, the course started at UW and ended at CenturyLink. Pre-race VIP was rather miserably cold, with a cold wind blowing off the field and through the entrance to the VIP brunch area (the concourse between the upper and lower decks, inside the stadium). While there were a dozen strategically placed gas tower heaters–the kind you see outdoors at restaurants and bars–NONE of them were in use. Instead, a few measly electric heaters were irregularly spaced around the area, heating only the ankles of those in the immediate (like 2 feet) area. Apparently the good folks at Ironman had not bothered to clear the gas powered heaters with the UW stadium management, who put the kibosh on their use in the stadium. (Perhaps Iroman shouldn’t have axed most of the Competitor Group’s VIP staff? Maybe it’s just me?) I was also very annoyed that the lines for the women’s bathroom at the VIP area pre-race were crazy long, while the men’s line only had 1-2 people in it at any time. At the beginning of the day, women were told they could ONLY use the ONE bathroom, but eventually we mutinied–there’s no logically reason why we were banned from the bathroom that was literally right across the hall, especially when the UW stadium was built in the era where bathrooms were built one-to-one. (In modern architecture for places of mass accommodation, there are more women’s bathrooms–or more stalls within them–than men’s rooms.) Both lines got bad enough that the women eventually took over the men’s room as well.
Post-race, at the same race, VIP at the Centurylink field was just okay. It had a good view of the band, but was (again) cold. I, pale runner who avoids the sun, was jockeying space to get some sunlight. The year I did not have VIP access (and the race ended at Centurylink field) was also really cold, and I remember seeing an ice cream booth and thinking it would be lovely and I’d buy some on any other day. (Turns out they only accepted cash anyway. Seriously.) That year, sponsor Alaska Airlines had a tweet-for-a-treat machine that was really fun–I still have the model plane with my race medals, and one of my friends who really needed it won a free round-trip airfare.
That said, I’m glad the finish line moved back to the Space Needle and surrounding park areas in 2018 and 2019. Overall, it is a much better area for bands, and it’s got much more welcoming room for dogs and families. Also critical, access to indoor potties pre-race! I did take the VIP route my very first year at Rock ‘n’ Roll Seattle–which had a start and end at the Space Needle area–and pre-race it was pretty great: a separate VIP gear truck, and a decent brunch spread in advance. (I have no idea what the post-race food looked like, as it was all gone when I finished that year.)
Sad Swag (whomp whomp)
Like other races in the series, race swag has declined. Last year, Rock ‘n’ Roll Seattle had one of the almost-generic guitar-pick medals. This year the design showed the Seattle skyline and a plane, but it was so generic as to inspire a “isn’t this the same medal as last year?” from a friend of mine for whom Rock ‘n’ Roll Seattle was her first (and now third) half marathon. Literally she’d only done three races, and thought the medal was a clone. Like Rock ‘n’ Roll San Francisco, the shirts are made of a cheap fabric that isn’t breathable; the actual graphic is decent, but the placement on the women’s shirts is awkward, and the graphic large enough to make the shirt stiff. I’m a bit surprised that series sponsor Brooks–a company that makes very nice, breathable athletic wear with quality fabrics–is okay with having their logo on the shirt. Like I said, the design is nice and I might use it in a shirt quilt or something, but there’s a zero chance I will wear it.
Overall, I’d say Rock ‘n’ Roll Seattle is worth your while in a number of discrete circumstances:
You are aiming for Hall of Fame and therefore need to hit every US race. (Buy the TourPass Unlimited.)
You live nearby and won’t pay a ton of travel expenses, and have purchased the race during the pre-sale, the December sale, or the Running Day Sale.
You know a bunch of your friends will be there, and you’re in for social events and shenanigans in addition to the race. (That’s why I run.)
If you’re going to run it don’t pay full price. (If you don’t have a TourPass, buy early, or at one of the sales. This is NOT a $189 race.) If you’re just looking for a race in Washington state, you’ve got plenty of other options–there’s a reason the Marathon Maniacs and Half Fanatics were founded here. If you want a race in Seattle, the Mercer Island Half is nice, and I’ve heard good things about the Seattle Marathon and races in nearby Tacoma.
Since I live in Portland, have a close friend who did Rock ‘n’ Roll Seattle as her first race (and remembers to make massage appointments at The Dream Clinic post-race), and have free crash space, I’ll likely be back in 2020. True confession: I was going to buy at the pre-sale in December…and then I was going to buy a three-pack…and then the virus started to shut down races…and so I still haven’t registered.
Have you ever run Rock ‘n ‘ Roll Seattle? What did you think?
All, there are now several groups in a much better position to do this work than I am. Because of this, I am now promoting their listings instead of mine. (I don’t have help updating this. Both of these organizations do. Plus if I dedicate my time to helping #2, we get more done. #WeBeforeMe) Both are searchable, and both have a way to enter in the specific need/ask for each organization. I strongly suggest you use these resources:
Deaconess, after being inundated with masks following their call for help, has a searchable database. It covers more than the United States.
COVID Mask Crafters is a facebook group where I stumbled into being an admin. It’s now a website: https://covidmaskcrafters.org/ We are US-based and focused.
Healthcare workers and allies created this site to crowdsource both traditional, full-on PPE and homemade masks: https://getusppe.org/
FINAL UPDATE for location-specific info below: 3/23/2020 10:40 am PDT
WARNING! Please DO NOT go sewing a bunch of masks and randomly taking them to a hospital!! No matter how good your intentions are, it is not helpful, and may be very unhelpful, to drop of supplies that are unacceptable or not needed. (Imagine if someone showed up on your door every day and gave you a bag of stale potato chips. They’re just trying to help. But now you have to deal with all the stale chips.) BEFORE you start making things, make sure they are (1) wanted, and (2) made to the requirements of the intended recipient.
ONLY DONATE HOMEMADE MASKS WHERE THEY ARE WANTED!!
I am only listing the facilities that have confirmed they actually WANT masks. PLEASE read carefully, as each has a different need. If there isn’t one near you, try calling a local nursing home, as many nursing homes will want masks for their residents (and a colorful cheery one might be nice).
Universal Suggestions: Pre-wash your fabric in HOT water. This is to ensure against future shrinkage. READ CAREFULLY. Every facility has different rules.
For facilities that do not have any specifics listed, my suggestion–based on the ones that do want something specific–is to use the Turban Project pattern (video on the Deaconess page, under Indiana). Use 100% cotton fabric, pre-washed in hot water (to prevent future shrinkage). Make the inside and outside different colors/patterns (so the user can easily distinguish one side from the other). Package in plastic bags or boxes, clearly labeled with the delivery information.
Got Masks To Send Now?
If they don’t match a specific ask below, please email Janie. She is generously distributing among her personal network (because even when a facility doesn’t solicit them, they may allow their employees to use them). janiehamilton86 at gmail dot com
Sharon Hospital (Sharon). The only details I have right now are that the drop-off point for sewn masks is Cotton Candy Fabrics, 457 Federal Road, Brookfield, CT 06804 https://www.cottoncandyfabrics.com/ I have been told they would like The Turban Project pattern (see Indiana, video on the Deaconess page).
Longwood Health & Rehabilitation Center. They are looking for 500 masks. No specific ask at this time, so please see my suggestions above. Send to: Longwood Health & Rehabilitation Center, 1520 S. Grant Street, Longwood, FL 32750 Attn: Randy Few
Phoebe Putney hospital in Albany, GA. If you want to help, they need volunteers to sew covers for N95 masks, (These are worn over the N95 masks, so that each person can reuse the same mask for aweek.) To participate, call volunteer services 229-312-4336. To give you an example of what’s going on, they burned through a 6-month supply in a record time of like 5 days, and only have a couple days worth left. https://abcnews.go.com/GMA/News/video/volunteers-stitch-masks-health-care-workers-69681106 for a video on their efforts
TannerHealth System. This project is being coordinated by the Southeastern Textile and Quilt Museum. Full details are available on their Facebook page, including the TWO acceptable patterns (USE ONLY THOSE), drop-off location, video how-to and more. Must be 100% cotton fabric..
Illinois Cancer Care. They are asking for the Turban Project pattern (see listing in Indiana for Deaconess there’s a video tutorial too). Full details here. Deliver to the Peoria location 8940 N. Wood Sage Rd, and pre-arrange pickup via email to [email protected]
Deaconess Hospital (Evantston, IN which is nowhere near Chicago, sorry!!). Deaconess is welcoming home-sewn masks. They put together a resource page on how to make and donate masks. This one has an easy-to-follow video using a pattern from The Turban Project. They want 100% cotton masks–this has to do with sterilzation. Please note that this mask is not universally acceptable—you must find out what your facility wants–so call if you are going to make this one for your local facility. https://www.deaconess.com/masks A volunteer coordinator from Deaconess suggested these types of masks are always in demand for other uses too, such as for chemo patients receiving infusions. UPDATE FROM DEACONESS: Update: We have been overwhelmed by the outpouring of support and kindness from our community, the country and the world. We now have plenty of masks coming our way. If you are from outside the Evansville, Indiana area, consider reaching out to a hospital, nursing home, cancer-related organization, etc. near you, as many other health care facilities are also experiencing shortages in masks.
Owensboro Health.See below under Kentucky.
Unity Point Health (Cedar Rapids). The request is for a very specific pattern; the full masks (which will include a filter) get assembled at the hospital. For more details, go here: https://www.unitypoint.org/cedarrapids/sewing-surgical-masks.aspx The specific pattern and instructions on where to deliver masks is on that page.
Statewide. Collecting masks for distribution to hospice patients, families, workers. Accepting both The Turban Project (see Indiana listing for Deaconness) and N-95 covers (see Washington listing for Northwest Kidney Centers). Requestor emphasized these will not be used in place of Proper PPE for healthare providers, or for COVID-19 positive. (These will free up the precious PPE for those who really need it!) Please send to Christii Maquillan, 42 Cedar St., Bangor, ME 04401
Henry Ford/Alliance. They have just made their own prototype, and will be looking for volunteers to make masks and face shields. Their model is quite different from the home-sewn ones. Here’s the video of their prototype: https://www.michiganradio.org/post/its-controlled-chaos-healthcare-workers-mask-supplies-dwindle-0 As of March 20 they had distributed a somewhat complex pattern to use (which I have). This morning I was notified the project is ON HOLD. Henry Ford is NOT accepting ANY masks at this time. I will update as I learn more.
McLaren (Bay City and Macomb). BAY CITY location is currently accepting masks, according to coverage by WNEM. I do not have any further specific information. Drop off at the McLaren marketing building, 503 Mulholland Ave, Bay City, MI. Drop off from 8am to 4:30 pm, Monday through Friday. MACOMB location is accepting masks, 1000 Harrington Street, Mt. Clemens, MI 48043. Please deliver masks to the ER entrance. FLINT location is collecting volunteer contact information, which they will use if they need to ask for masks later. To sign up, call 810-342-3895.
St. Joseph Mercy (Ann Arbor). Accepting 100% cotton masks made using the Turban Project pattern (see Deaconess listing under Indiana). Deliver to the hospital screening staffat St. Joseph Mercy, 5301 McAuley Drive, Ypsilanti, MI 48197 Attn: Lisa Friedman, Please DO NOT call Lisa—she’s slammed with work right now.
St. Joseph Mercy (Oakland). They are accepting masks with pockets for filters (see listing under Washington for Northwest Kidney Center for pattern) or those made with fusible interfacing. Elastic or ties are good. Rectangle style is fine. Take masks to ER entrance 4405 Woodward Avenue, Pontiac, MI 48341 Attn Dana.
Kalamazoo County Government. This is an ask for masks for first responders and community. They are requesting N-95 covers, which are the same pattern used by Phoebe Putnam (see listing for Georgia). The mask pattern is sometimes called “The Phoebe.” For a .pdf with complete details including how to drop off, CLICK HERE.
Bronson Methodist Hospital (Kalamazoo). Bronson is accepting donations of the Phoebe Putnam pattern N95 covers. Please see listing for Kalamazoo County Government for a link to the pattern. Drop off is Monday through Friday from 9 to 4 at the Health and Community Services Department, at 311 East Alcott Street.
Northville. The principals of Northville Public Schools are supporting a mask drive. They want the Phoebe Putney mask design, or the Turban Project mask. You can also make face shields. Drop off at any of the NPS elementary schools (there is a box outside the main entrance at Winchester) and the Old Village School, north entrance where they will be collected and distributed as needed.
Dartmouth-Hitchcock. This medical group sent out a call for N95 masks and gloves. They are now asking for the Turban Project style masks. Full details on their website.
UNCHealth. No specifications as to which masks they want are available at this time. I suggest the Turban Project (Deaconess) or The Phoebe (Phoebe Putney) models. They are accepting homemade masks at four locations:
UNC Health Learning Street, 2001 Carrington Mill Blvd., Morrisville, NC 27560. Drop-off times: March 23; Noon – 4 p.m., March 24-27; 9 a.m. – 4 p.m.
UNC Wellness Center at Meadowmont, 100 Sprunt Street Chapel Hill, N.C. 27517. Drop-off times: March 23 – March 28, 8 a.m. – 5 p.m.
UNC Wellness Center at Northwest Cary, 350 Stonecroft Lane Cary, North Carolina 27519. Drop-off times: March 23 – March 28, 8 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Rex Wellness Center of Raleigh, 4200 Lake Boone Trail Raleigh, NC 27607. Drop-off times:March 23 – Friday, March 27, 9 a.m. – 4 p.m.
WakeMed. They are NOT accepting homemade masks. Please DO NOT give them any!
Stillwater Medical Center. This is the message on their Facdebook page: “THESE MASKS WILL NOT BE USED FOR HEALTHCARE WORKERS OR ANYONE DEALING WITH COVID-19 SITUATIONS. We are looking for seamstresses who can sew cloth masks to help with the nationwide shortage. They must be 4 layers of fabric for filtering. (Edited to add emphasis!) Here are some pictures of ones that have been made. They need to be adjustable. Our preferred pattern is from [link below] Spread the word to all seamstresses. Thanks so much. This is a perfect time to use up your fabric stash. The donated masks will be used in other NON CLINICAL OR WORRIED WELL PATIENTS NOT REALATED TO COVID-19. This will allow us to save our N95 masks & other PPE for Healthcare Workers. Donated masks can be dropped off at our Stillwater Medical Plaza building, located at 1201 S. Adams from 8am to 5pm, Monday through Friday. All donations will be laundered before dispersing to our various areas where they are needed. “The pattern they want: https://buttoncounter.com/2018/01/14/facemask-a-picture-tutorial/
Providence in RENTON, WA.Kits with enough materials to make 100 medical masks will be offered March 26 from 12-4 p.m. at Providence St. Joseph Health, located at 1801 Lind Ave. S.W. in Renton. BUT ACCORDING TO THE PROVIDENCE SITE THE KITS ARE ALL CLAIMED: https://www.providence.org/lp/100m-masks GREAT NEWS!! They got so much media coverage that local businesses stepped up to make ALL the masks! Kit distribution is canceled! I’m on the people-who-sew-and-can-help list and will update when I get more information.
Maryville Nursing Home. Their ask was for people to sew scrubs and masks. There are several ways to help. If you are NOT local, you can make the Deaconess pattern masks and mail them to: Maryville, 14645 SW Farmington Rd,, Beaverton, OR 97007. If you ARE local, they need help with the following projects: (1) people to cut fabric and N95 material to make mask kits for the seamstresses (this can be done at home–you pick up fabric and the patterns there, but work at home); (2) seamstresses to make the masks from the kits; (3) they are about to receive the polyester fabric they need to make their washable gowns and will soon need help assembling those kits and sewing the robes. Please contact mgarcia at maryville dot care if you are local and can help.
Wise Health System (Decatur). The Auxiliary is sewing masks, and they would LOVE for you to help. They require 100% cotton fabric, 2-ply masks with ROUND elastic (not flat). You can use the Turban Project pattern (above, see Indiana, Deaconess for a video) but use ROUND elastic. Once completed, please mail to:
Wise Health System
Attn: Customer and Patient Relations
609 Medical Center
Decatur, TX 76234
Parkland Memorial Hospital (Dallas). Currently accepting homemade masks. Please direct your masks and your questions to: Parkland Memorial Hospital, 5200 Harry Hines Blvd, Dallas, TX 75235 Attn: Karen Watts
Northwest Kidney Centers (Renton). Information obtained from this press piece. They are asking for 100% cotton fabric, pre-washed, and ROUND elastic. They prefer this pattern–scroll down to the section that says “Face Mask With a Pocket for Filter Insert.” The main fabric must be cotton, but the lining can be cotton or flannel. There are two ways to donate. One, via front door drop-off to Renton Kidney Center, 603 Oakesdale Ave SW, Renton, WA 98056 (call 425-251-0647. You can also call for a porch pick-up: Deanne Young, RN 425-203-5208
The Electric Needle. This shop in Madison is a drop-off point for a specific pattern, which can be used over an N95 mask (to prolong the life) or worn alone. For more information and a link to the specific pattern they want: https://www.electric-needle.com/sew-for-a-cause.htm They are located at 4281 West Beltline Hwy, Madison, WI 53711
UW Madison Hospitals. They are currently working on a pattern. You can add yourself to the volunteer list by sending an email to [email protected] I will update as more information become available.
As you’ve probably noticed, the situation with COVID-19, our novel coronavirus, is very fluid. That’s unsettling in and of itself. People generally like stable situations, not constant flux. People generally don’t like change. Some people (like me) don’t like not having control. All of these can leave you feeling a bit lost and adrift, especially in the sea of misinformation that is the internet. (That’s before we even think about turning on a news broadcast!)
Plus it’s not a “fun” flux. We’re not getting happy news or pleasant surprises. Waiting for more shoes to drop is enough to make anyone anxious. On top of that we are supposed to practice social distancing, which largely means “stay home.” For those of us who get our social needs met at work and other activities, this can lead to loneliness or depression on top of anxiety. Even for dyed-in-the-wool introverts.
Please note that I am not a licensed counselor, psychologist, psychiatrist, or any other flavor of qualified mental health practitioner. PLEASE seek professional help immediately if you are in crisis!
These are definitely not the only resources available–a quick Google search may help you locate something more appropriate. (I welcome comments below with the equivalent services in your country or location.)
Stressed, Depressed, Anxious?
Many Americans are feeling stressed, depressed, or anxious due to the current situation with COVID-19. I’m writing this to provide a collection of potential resources to those feeling stressed or anxious. General mental hygiene advice is good, but it is easy to dismiss as out-of-touch with the current reality. Here are some people and organizations to keep an eye on during this time, following by a list of articles you might find helpful.
VirusAnxiety.com is the very first resource I found that attempts to address mental health and well-being specifically related to COVID-19. Because it is easy to remember, I’ve been splattering it everywhere. I find the simple layout of the site soothing.
Grokker(the fitness app/streaming service) has put together a free course on COVID-19 Coronavirus Prpeparedness. It is a sane guide to fact-based knowledge, no hype at all. One of the videos is dedicated to reducing stress and anxiety. It’s free, and you don’t need a grokker account to watch.
Marie Forleo is a force of nature, and a woman I admire greatly. How many people do you know who have been Reebok dance professional and go on to run a business empire?? Her collection of resources is called “Coronavirus Support Guide: How to Stay Strong & Navigate This Time Together.” It has a curated collection for several topics, including stress and anxiety, “feel good” stuff, how to work from home, how to educate and entertain your kids, and how to serve your community. The comments section is also worth a read. Something for everyone.
Brendan Burchard is also a force of nature (and I’m pretty sure I’ve seen him on video talking to Marie!). He recently did a live stream focused on leadership and keeping focus while the COVID-19 situation develops. These are specifically geared towards people who are coaches, or in leadership positions, but I think anyone would find them valuable. “Coronavirus Response: Fear, Focus and Forecasting.” This is more of a tough-love approach.
Ramit Sethi the author and speaker, is hosting “Fireside Chats” every night at 8:30 pm eastern in IG live https://www.instagram.com/ramit He has a list of topics posted on his Instagram, with more to come.
“5 Ways to Manage Your Anxiety During the Coronavirus Outbreak.” https://www.shape.com/syndication/coronavirus-anxiety? Valuable advice includes limiting your media diet and realizing that it is actually okay to be worried. (Everyone is worried a little bit, even if they are not anxious!). A quick read.
“How to Cope with Anxiety—Now, in 60 Minutes, and Long Term.”https://greatist.com/health/how-to-cope-with-anxiety This is more of a how to do it article, with a list of suggestions, but also instructions on how to execute them. It doesn’t just advise you to “breathe deeply” but instead offers a specific step-by-step. There are linked resources for apps, articles, and citations (backing claims with sources).
Anxiety and Depression Association of America has a website with a specific page dedicated to COVID-19. There are links to a bunch of different essays, news articles where members are quoted, and links to resources on PTSD. A number of resources specifically address talking to teens and children.
American Psychological Association has a podcast episode specific to COVID-19. The guest is “Baruch Fischhoff, PhD, is a professor at Carnegie Mellon University and an expert on public perception of risk and human judgment and decision-making. He explains why we worry about new risks more than familiar ones, how to calm our anxiety and what are the psychological effects of being quarantined.”
“49 things to do if you’re staying at home due to Coronavirus.”https://medium.com/@neilpasricha/49-things-to-do-if-youre-staying-home-due-to-coronavirus-19b9e47a3cfe This list includes both adult thinks (like reading a long but worthwhile book) and kid-friendly ones, like making a pillow fort. There are links to online resources (the most popular TED talks of 2019, anyone?). Many of these ideas are about establishing new habits, which seems like a good idea when your entire daily routine has been shot to hell.
“21 Productive Things to Do Today” https://www.urbandaddy.com/articles/43291/21-productive-things-to-do-today The subtitle promises that each one is “social distancing approved.” Some of these are humorous, but all are things you can actually do. Some are short (donate to your favorite charity) others are longer-term projects like learning a foreign language. This is a short, quick read.
“COVID-19: Tips for Working Remotely And Combating Stress.”https://www.lizandmollie.com/blog/2020/3/12/covid-19-tips-for-working-remotely-and-combating-stress Yes, in 2020 it is much more common for people to “telecommute” than it was back when I was growing up in the 1980s. That doesn’t mean all of us know how to do it. Personally, I thought it would be much easier than it has turned out to be. This article has 7 suggestions to help those of us who are new to this way of working. (Heck, I don’t even have an office! I’m working from the sofa and dining table!)
“11 Tips for Staying Calm During the Time of the Coronavirus.” https://gretchenrubin.com/2020/03/10-tips-for-staying-calm-during-coronavirus Gretchen Rubin’s article goes well with a mug of warm tea or a mocha, in my mind. Some of the tips are standard fare (connect with friends and family, reach out to others to help you feel less isolated) but are, of course, sincere. My favorite tip is to tidy up, because even though it makes no actual sense, that has always made me less anxious. (Also since I just moved in November, and have a few projects going on, my house is in a shambles and needs it!)
“4 Tips for Not Touching Your Face, Since It’s So Hard To Stop.”https://www.shape.com/syndication/how-to-stop-touching-your-face? Why do we touch our own faces? I don’t know, but I know I do it too. It’s one of those things they tell you NOT to do as a kid, again again when you’re a tween or teen and your face breaks out. But it sems like we do it all the time without even noticing!
Disclosure: I’m sharing these resources because I want to encourage you to STAY HOME. The links provided below are not affiliate links. I am a paid subscriber of some of these services, but I’m not getting any kick-back or brownie points or whatever for sharing about them. I have not excluded services I haven’t tried.
As of Wednesday last week, I was kinda non-plussed about people fleeing the gym. For one, COVID-19 isn’t transmitted through sweat. For two, at least at a gym I have access to wipes (unlike at the grocery store). Here’s the thing though, if you are going to go to a gym–and really, you shouldn’t–“be under no illusion. These are places where germs and bacteria of all kinds can thrive[.]” That’s true of the gym, that’s true of your CrossFit box, that’s true of every flavor of studio from aerial to zumba.
Initial steps are NOT enough to protect you. My inbox has been aflutter with emails during the past week, promising extra deep-cleaning of the studio, asking people to bring their own yoga mats and props (offering discounts to help people acquire these), limiting class size, spacing the in-use reformers and megaformers further apart, and more. It is really tough for a small business to close, especially when they have staff and teachers they are worried about. But these measures are not enough, and even the ordinarily irrelevant Yoga Alliance has recommended studios close.
Using lots of wipes is NOT enough. As you should know, the COVID-19 virus is primarily spread by “droplets.” Like when a person who has the virus coughs. Here’s what we know:
Asymptomatic people can spread the virus. This means you can give the virus to other people before you know you have it. It takes 2-14 days before you start to show symptoms.
Today I’m focused on streaming fitness. That’s anything online, or available via Roku, Apple TV, Chromecast, Amazon Prime or Amazon Fire. (Initially I said I wasn’t doing apps, but some streaming services are also apps, so…yeah, I started to add them in.)
Support Small Businesses First
Yes, there are some large corporately-structured gyms and studios. Please remember that many of these that you see as “big corporations” are actually franchises–meaning your local location is owned by an individual member of your community (or a small business). I am not personally familiar with what type of financial assistance or relief is available to franchisees, but I do know that many of them will be forced to shut their doors.
Speaking of shutting their doors, yoga and fitness studios are taking a hit. If your local studio is closed, please support them if you can. This means (1) supporting and sharing any online offerings, and (2) keeping your membership active, even if there are no classes to attend. If you’re taking a hit financially and can’t afford to help, no worries. If you’ve got $5 or $20 and appreciated the option, please support your local and other small-businesses.
Free Options on Social
Instagram. Update (April 20): I cannot believe I didn’t include Instagram when I first write this post about a month ago. If you are active on Instagram, go follow the fitness studios, types, and brands that interest you most. Many are using Instagram Live to broadcast workouts from 10 minutes to 60 minutes long. Check out Flex & Flow, ButiYoga, and Modo Yoga, all of which go live on a pretty regular basis. Some studios (like Modo and its affiliates–like Modo Yoga Portland) post the daily schedule in advance. Others seem to just throw up a class here and there–but if you are following them, Instgram will notify you when they go live. If your local studio is doing this, please throw them some dollars if you are able? It helps to keep the lights on and keep their instructors paid.
YouTube. Since anyone can post here, the workout options are definitely a mixed bag; some are clearly trained exercise professionals, others are scary and dangerous. Most of the trainers and channels you’ve heard of (PopSugar fitness, Leslie Sansone, Les MIlls, anyone who has released a DVD series) have a decent offering from 10 to 60 minutes. Yoga with Adriene is a popular channel with good instruction and lots of options. Redefining Strength has shorter videos that focus on technique.
Facebook. If your local gym or studio has a facebook page, they might be using the “facebook live” feature to stream classes. These are generally also available as recordings.
Please Donate to Local Studio Offerings if You Are Able
Below are the free and low-cost options I am aware of as of Monday, March 16, 2020. If you know of others, please leave a comment. Due to my current schedule, I can’t promise to keep this updated. (I’ve been lightly-updating. Seriously, not enough hours in the day.) Currently I’ve identified my faves, and listed everyone else in alphabetical order (or close to it).
Small Studios/Local Fitness
Flex & Flow. This is a locally-owned yoga and HIIT studio in Portland, Oregon. During the closure, they are offering free livestreams via Instagram. Please donate if you can to help keep the teachers paid and the studio open. https://www.fitapproach.com/ffy for details BTW: my friends own this studio, and while I’m not a member, it’s a Top Pick.
The Craft of Teaching Yoga/Yoga with Adrienne. Free online rituals. The first one is Wednesday March 18; follow them on Instagram and Facebook to find out about future options.
Derek Beres yoga. Equinox is closed, and Derek is offering live stream classes on his YouTube channel. Classes are free, donations are appreciated. Please find more details, including a schedule, here: http://www.derekberes.com/yoga/
Get creative. You do not need any gym, studio, or streaming service to get your workout on at home. Running on the Fly has some suggestions for you!
Hot Pot Studios. This is a locally-owned dance studio in Sacramento, CA. They currently have a dance class scheduled for Wednesday March 18 at 7:45 pm PDT. Here is their message: “Hey Y’all believers in Science who are staying home: We are getting our Dance Party on with an anti apocalypse I.T.S. Jam! @sarah_unmata Has set up the Virtual Classroom Join Sarah & April Via Zoom Classroom on Wednesday 3/18 $10 for one hour of Dance 7:45pm pacific time via PayPal Sign up by pm [see facebook link] or email April hollon verbatim at gmail dot com Where’s the money go? To cleaning supplies and the utility bills, helping the studio survive the social distancing. https://www.facebook.com/hotpotstudios/photos/a.150142574997245/3122173151127491/?type=3&theater
Love Hive Yoga. This is a locally-owned studio in Portland, Oregon that has responsibly shut the doors temporarily. Please check their website for updates on streaming classes and how to support them, and enjoy free videos until they can stream: https://www.lovehiveyoga.com/
Now Foods Ambassadors. NOW has compiled a range of workouts from their wellness ambassadors. You can find the collection here. All free. I’m generally a huge fan of Now Foods for making high-quality products at a reasonable price, and for supporting fitness challenges by Sweat Pink.
Soul Yoga. This is one of those small, local yoga studios that is closed. Like many studios, it is trying to jump online as fast as possible. Classes are free, but how about throwing in a donation so they can stay in business through this? https://www.soulyogafenton.com/online-content
The Yoga Space. This is a locally-owned studio in Portland, Oregon. They will be offering livestream classes at theyogaspace.live This is being offered as a free gift to the greater community for the first few weeks, and then will be made available as a benefit for members and for individual class purchase. Confirmed classes so far are Tuesday, 4pm PDT (Vinyasa with Allison Duckworth) and 6pm PDT (Intermediate Vinyasa with Ian LeMasters). The Yoga Space is posting updates on their Instagram account @theyogaspace
Below are a list of general online options to get your sweat on. Not all of these have a special deal going on, but they do have a free trial period. If you are clever, you can work out for free for quite some time before you commit to just one. These are presented in no particular order. If you usually support a local studio please go back when the threat of COVID-19 has passed!! Please note that streaming services sometimes offer coupons, discount codes, or other deals (e.g. subscribe for a year and save). I don’t have all that information for every service 🙂
Athletes for Yoga. In addition to the 14-day free trial, Athletes for Yoga is offering 50% off your first month. Essentially, you get 6 weeks for like $5. Here’s how to do it: go to athletesforyoga.com Use code HOMESTUDIO when you create your account. In addition, there’s a free recovery meditation here: https://video.athletesforyoga.com/videos/recovery-visualizationA Top Pick (I’m a member) for always unwinding my hips when I need it!
BUTI Yoga. This is not your mama’s yoga! Yoga with dance and other movement. Offers a 14-day free trial. Regular price is $39.99/month or $399.99/year. butiyoga.vhx.tv I wasn’t sure whether to put this under yoga or dance….
CorePower. This studio chain has an online service called CorePower On Demand. Regular membership is $19.99, though CorePower studio members have free access. A selection of classes are available for free each week.
Down Dog App. All of their programs are free until MAY 1 (extended from April 1). Programs are free for teachers and students (K-12 and college) until July 1. Programs are also free for healthcare workers until July 1. More information on the website. https://www.downdogapp.com/
Gaia. Offers a 1-week free trial. Regular price is $11.99/month. If you choose an annual membership, you pay $99 each year ($8.25/month). Gaia also offers a “Live Access” option at $299/year (or $24.92/month) with online workshops, live chats, and other benefits. Like Glo, there are lots of big-name teachers here. www.gaia.com
Glo.com. Formerly known as YogaGlo. Offers a 15-day free trial. Regular price sis $18/month when you register through glo.com or $22.99/month if you register through the Glo app (because then iTunes manages the subscription); you get the same content either way. Hosts a number of big-name/famous yoga teachers. www.glo.com
ROMWOD. Not technically yoga, but this seemed like the most appropriate category. ROMWOD means “range of motion workout of the day.” These are videos targeting range of motion, recovery, and strength. Free 7 day trial, regular price $13.95/month. (There is also a slightly more expensive “affiliate” membership option that allows for group streaming.)
Stretch Lab. This isn’t yoga at all, it’s literally stretching. Since it isn’t practical to have one-on-one stretching right now, and group stretches are also off the menu, they’ve moved to the Stretch Lab Go Facebook page. Follow the page for information on virtual events, and get your stretch on–some sessions are just 10-20 minutes. A strap and foam roller will be handy, if you have them.
Strala/Tara Stiles. If you’re not familiar with Strala, it’s like yoga with more emphasis on the movement in your body than the yoga poses. The library of free practices has meditation and movement. In addition, Tara is offering 50% off all classes. class series, and at-home retreats through the end of March. Use code PRACTICENOW at check-out.
Y7. This is a relatively new corporate yoga brand. They have both live and recorded classes available on Y7 Online. There is a 7-day free trial, after which membership is $16/month.
Yoga Download. If you go to the site a pop-up will offer you a free video. Unlike other sites, some of the Yoga Download classes are available to download, not stream. That means you get to keep them even if you cancel your subscription. Regular pricing is $12/month (2 downloads, unlimited streaming); $18/month (unlimited downloads); $120/year. They also offer 3-month and 6-month options. Easy to sort classes by style.
Yoga International. Offers a 14-day free trial. Regular price is approx. $20/month, though you can save up to 50% by paying for a year in advance. www.yogainternational.com
Peleton. I’m told the app is now free for 90 days (thanks, Jennifer!) for everyone, if you sign up by April 30. The app has a variety of classes, not just those for cycling, and not just those using a bike. There are now strength, yoga, outdoor running, etc. Here’s the website.
The Sufferfest. AltRed is sponsoring an additional free month. The Sufferfest is primarily a training tool for distance cyclists, but there are also a bunch of other videos including strength training and yoga for cyclists. To access a full six weeks, first download The Sufferfest. Then create your account to start your 14-day free trial. Next, go to Settings > Manage Subscription and choose the monthly subscription option. Enter promo code ALTREDSUF30 to get a free month (in addition to the 14-day free trial). Wile you do need to enter payment information for the code to activate, you won’t be charged if you cancel before the end of your free month (which is really six weeks).
Ballet Beautiful. One of the more expensive options, but rooted firmly in ballet (not “fitness”). This is the site of the professional ballerina and trainer who worked with Natalie Portman for Black Swan. There is a two week free trial, using code 2WTRIAL. (If you can’t make it work, try Instagram or Facebook, where they are running an ad for a 15 minute download class for free, and the two week free trial.) You you can get a discount on your first month with the code on the website (currently BBMARCH20). Regular price is $39.99/month. balletbeautiful.com
Barre3. I have a soft spot for Barre3 as it was created by a Portlander, who was affiliated with YogaWorks, and (most important!!) is a body-friendly, anatomically sane barre workout. You don’t need a barre to do the home workouts, though some incorporate small hand weights and props. If you’ve never tried it, there is a YouTube channel. The streaming service at barre3.com/trial for a 15-day free trial. Regular price is $29/month.
Blogilates. One of the original online Pilates workouts (and an app), still free. Sign up for Cassie’s email list to get a monthly workout calendar. She’s also made a special 14-day quarantine workout. Most of her videos are on the Blogilates YouTube channel as well.
Physique 57. You may have seen Physique 57 studios, or perhaps you caught the DVD package back in the day. Now they offer a streaming service with new classes added weekly. Offers a 7-day free trial. Regular price $24.99/month or $249/year (essentially 2 months free). ondemand.physique57.com
Pilates Anytime. Currently has 1,582 mat videos, 812 Reformer videos, and 193 Wunda Chair videos, among others (barre, small props, tower, and more). Offers a 15-day free trial. Regular price is $18/month. pilatesanytime.com
Pilates Interactive. This is a project of BASI Pilates. Unlike other sites, this is both written instruction and video. It is aimed at Pilates professionals (teachers and trainers) and includes breakdowns for the exercises. Offers a one month free trial. Regular price is $10/month for BASI Repertoire or Polestra Repertoire, $15/month for both. (Client management software is also an option.) I’m not a Pilates professional, but this looks like a screaming deal to me. pilatesinteractive.com
Pilates on Fifth. Like most Pilates options, this site has both equipment workouts and those that use no equipment. Also includes some barre, cardio, and strength-training. Offers a 14-day free trial. Regular price $12.99/month or $129.99/year (includes some products with annual membership). pilatesonfifthonline,com
Pilatesology. Focused on classic Pilates, this site has both equipment workouts (e.g. Refomer) and non-equipment workouts. Offers a 16-day free trial. Regular price $20/month or $179/year. pilatesology.com
Sleek Ballet Fitness. Sleek is a ballet-based workout. Offers a 7-day free trial. Regular price is $19.99/month or $199.99/year.
Yoopod. Formerly known as “Pilates on Demand.” This service focuses on Pilates, yoga, and mindfulness practices. Offers a 14-day free trial. Regular prices are posted in British Pounds Sterling–you do the math. yoopod.com
Body Groove. Another dance-based workout, this one uses HIIT theory. Offering a 30-day free trial. https://www.startbodygroove.com/hiit.htm Regular price is $9.99/month or $59.99/year (basically half price if you choose the year membership).
Gym-style and mixed variety group exercise
Body FX. JNL Fitness and Figure 8 workouts, among others. I hesitate slightly to recommend this one, only because several years ago they were planning to launch an MLM to compete with BeachBody, and I don’t know if they will try to upsell you a bunch of supplements (they do make a protein powder) and nonsense (there’s a recipe for something called Sueperfood Detox Soup). Offers 30 days free, regular price is $11.99/month or $84/year. https://bodyfx.com/home-workout/
Centr. Who doesn’t want to work out with Chris Hemsworth?? HIIT, boxing, yoga, strength training, MMA. Offering six weeks free. Regular prices is $29.99/month, $59.99/3-months, $119.99/year. https://centr.com/join-us
City Row. The City Row studios (which to my knowledge are all franchises) are closed. They are posting workouts that require no equipment on their Instagram page; follow them at @cityrow for details. The City Row GO app (which is separate from the scheduling app) is free for a month with code 1MONTH_FREE. It has rowing workouts (in case you own a rower) as well as strength, yoga, and mobility. Psst! There is apparently a whole family of “[insert name here] GO” apps.
Daily Burn. A little bit of everything. Actually a LOT of everything. Whatever you like, they have it. Offers a 30-day free trial. Regular price is $19.99/month. dailyburn.com In March, they upgraded all members to premium, and changed the free trial to 60 days (both are temporary).
Get Healthy U TV. Started by Chris Freytag, with powerhouse Amy Dixon and others! Kickboxing, strength training, yoga, and more. A whole year is $9.99 right now (“regular” price is $59.99) https://go.gethealthyutv.com/a21445/
Grokker. Grokker is free through April 30. Classes include yoga, meditation, indoor cycling, pilates, and more. After April 30, regular price is $14.99/ month (and I’m sure there is a yearly subscription discount, I just can’t find it). grokker.com Grokker also added a COVID-19 Coronavirus Preparedness program that is FREE to everyone, and you don’t need a Grokker account to watch it.
Jari Love/Get Ripped. Jari is relasing free workouts via YouTube. You can find the workouts on her channel, starting with this one. The workouts require dumbbells/weights, and you can use a step or the floor. She also released “Slim and Lean” on Vimeo.
Jillian Michaels. Her fitness app offers a 7-day free trial. More information at https://www.jillianmichaels.com/ Note that Jillian offers nutritional advice that is sometimes way off the mark (at least in terms of evidence-based practice). She’s publicly pooh-poohed keto and vegan diets, and promotes misinformation about organic products. If you’re going to use her app for nutrition tracking, just be aware you might want to take her advice with a salt lick.
OpenFit. This one appears to offer specific programming both live and recorded. (If you’re wondering where gixo went, OpenFit bought it.) The programs are Xtend Barre, Xtend Barre Pilates, Rough Around the Edges, Yoga 52, 600 seconds, Tough Mudder T-Minus 30, and Sugar Free 3. I’m only familiar with Xtend Barre, which I personally recommend as one of the top barre programs for attention to form. Offers a 14 day free trial. Regular price is $96/year ($8./month), $60/6 months, or $39/3 months).
Pvolve. This is a streaming service that uses custom equipment, though I think you could hack most of it from other equipment (e.g. using a band instead of the gloves with the band). They offer a variety of packages of equipment and their streaming service. Whatever you do, do NOT pay full price. At any given moment I see at least a dozen different ads or influencer campaigns for 20% off. https://www.pvolve.com/
Redeem. I’m not personally familiar with this one, but the site does have some religious references that hint at Christian religion, and may make non-Christians uncomfortable or annoy them (e.g. a woman’s “God-given” beauty, being “faithful with our bodies”); the Instagram live currently also has a question about incorporating faith into fitness. It might be perfect for you. Use this sign-up form and REDEEM1 to get 30 days for free.
SCW On Demand. SCW produces the fitness Mania events where your teachers go to get their continuing education credits. Offerings include personal training type videos plus active aging, yoga, and aqua. $19.95 month-to-month; $9.95 with an annual commitment (but you pay one month at a time); $99/year (paid all at once). https://scwfit.com/store/on-demand/
Sissfit. Sisters Lauren and Kelly are offering free access to the Sissfit app (which they apologize is only available in iOS right now). Click here for 30 Days Free Access. (Offer is only for new users.)
Suzanne Bowen Fitness. I kinda love that you can click ‘surprise me’ and the site will choose a workout for you! This site also has a workout builder, and a collection of prenatal videos. Offers a 24-hour free trial. Regular price $14.99/month, $129.99/year, or $74.99/6-months. suzannebowenfitness.com
TRX. I haven’t seen any specials on the TRX app (yet). If you own a suspension trainer, sign up for their newsletter to receive free weekly workouts.
Gyms With On-Demand Programming
24-Hour Fitness. The 24GO app has the workouts you are used to seeing at the clubs. According to the website, that includes Les Mills, Zumba, yoga, and active aging programming. There is also a 24GO Live on YouTube. These options are currently free for members; as near as I can tell, they are also free for non-members.
Crunch Live. You know the gym chain called Crunch? This is their streaming service. If you belong to a Crunch gym, you can use this for free (unless you are on the base membership plan). Offers a 10-day free trial. Regular price is $9.99/month o $90/year. www.crunchlive.com
Gold’s Gym. The Gold’s Gym AMP app is currently free through the end of May if you use code FIT60. AMP has a collection of hundreds of video and audio-only workouts.
Lifetime Fitness. Workouts online, on demand, free for members and non-members. According to the site, new workouts are added daily. Choose from cardio, strength, yoga, cycle, family classes, and small group training.
Planet Fitness. A new “work-in” streamed live on the facebook page daily (4pm Pacific, 7pm Eastern). These then go to live on the Planet Fitness YouTube channel, where there’s a decent collection waiting for you.
YMCA. Free workouts on the YMCA: 360 page, including kids’ yoga and some basketball drills. Also has an assortment of pilates, kickboxing, boot camp, and more.
What did I miss? Drop a comment with what you are offering, or how you are supporting your trainers and teachers when their studios and gyms are closed!
Greetings from not-quite Ground Zero, West Coast. When I first started this post (which is now a series of posts) I had no idea how annoying I would find this new block-based WordPress editor. (We hates it.) At that time, OHSU had just announced the first confirmed case of COVID-19 (short for “COronaVIrus Disease 2019,” also known as the novel coronavirus) in Multnomah County, and Oregon had 14 confirmed cases. Oregonians who had a legitimate reason to believe they had been exposed to COVID-19 were just starting to learn about the frustrating inability to get tested–our whole state can currently process 80 tests per day–and reading stories like this one.
Testing capacity is still pretty limited, by the way. This means there are not enough test kits to go around, and not enough lab facilities to process them. Do not expect test-on-demand any time soon. These facts mean we also do not have an accurate count of actual infections. First, people who die who may have had COVID-19 but are unlikely to be tested. Second, people with “milder” cases (those who are not sick enough to need hospitalization) are unlikely to be tested, at least for now. Numbers from Italy and other western European countries indicate we should expect to see exponential spread unless we practice social distancing PRONTO. Please read this article in The Atlantic, and start to be St. Louis.
Law firms and courts started getting nervous last week. Well, more nervous–my firm’s Seattle office is closed. Early in the week, the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington effectively shut down the Seattle and Tacoma courthouses. (Logic: these are relatively high-traffic spaces, people travel to them from all over the place, with many high-touch surfaces, where people are in close-proximity to each other.) Email from the Washington Supreme Court (deferring to the counties) soon followed. As you likely know Seattle’s King County has the largest number of COVID-19 cases. Monday they had a 50% no-show rate for summoned jurors. That means the there were not enough jurors to cover the criminal trials (which have priority due to the Constitutional right to a speedy trial), and the court warned us that no civil trials would go forward until further notice. I don’t blame the jurors, as the seating arrangements don’t allow for even 3′ in between seats. In the Pierce County Superior Court last Friday, I noticed an abundance of boxes of tissues and hand sanitizer everywhere, plus a giant bottle of Clorox wipes on the shelf (though I didn’t check to see if the bottle was empty). Defense counsel greeted each other with fist bumps, not handshakes. I started tracking Washington and Oregon numbers, since we have upcoming trials and therefore need jurors. Various legal news outlets reported office closures and even the death of a Washington paralegal.
The Day-to-Day Impact on Actual People
Some of us can work from home; others cannot. My Seattle friends who work at Nordstrom HQ and at Fred Hutchinson who shared their work restrictions two weeks ago (e.g. no air travel, no meetings of 5 or more people) are on mandatory work-from-home for the remainder of the month. My own Portland office is on a “Level One” plan, which means if you feel you’re at risk you can work from home, and the firm will pay for parking if you usually rely on transit but feel unsafe. Cancellation of large sporting events means that the hourly-employees who work there are out of work and going unpaid (think large basketball arenas). While some team owners (Mark Cuban, for example) and NBA players have stepped up and pledged to cover some of the lost wages, not all have. Baristas, bartenders, and waitstaff cannot do their work at home. Neither can drycleaners, hairdressers, and many others,
Many races and events are cancelled. In my personal universe, the Mercer Island Half Marathon and Portland Shamrock Run were canceled. The Oregon Brewery Running Series postponed all of their March events. My friend Jim Diego has started a spreadsheet of distance races (half marathon and longer, with some inherently famous races of other distances). You can access it too. In the rest of the fitness world, the IHRSA trade show was canceled, and SCW’s California Mania event was canceled. While COVID-19 is not transmitted through sweat, larger gatherings pose an inherent risk.
Independent contractors are taking a hit, especially in California. The spread of the coronoavirus hit my friend “Alex,” an executive business coach, with a double-whammy. First, she’s fighting California’s #AB5, a law that labor unions promised would target gig-economy workers but threatens the livelihood of all small business owners from certified interpreters to entertainers. The Grinch AB5 even took away Santa’s job! Worse, the federal government is trying to replicate it, which would run Alex out of business. Alex has a California LLC. She’s worked a corporate gig, but prefers the challenge and flexibility of project-based work. California companies are afraid to hire her and run afoul of AB5. Out-of-state companies are less excited than usual about bringing in someone from California, a state hit early by COVID-19. With the self-quarantine and social distancing recommendations, Alex isn’t thrilled about getting on an airplane and living in a hotel, either. Yet when she doesn’t work, Alex doesn’t get paid.
Outside of California, contractors also suffer. My friend Jennifer Canale is a professional spokesmodel who works trade shows and promotional events as an independent contractor. While she wasn’t scheduled to work the recently cancelled Natural Products Expo West–a gathering of 85,000+ people in Anaheim–every single one of her March shows has been canceled. This means Jennifer is losing a significant chunk of her income each time a spring show is canceled or postponed indefinitely. Jennifer and her colleagues often book shows six months to a year in advance. As independent contractors, they make and pay for their own hotel and travel reservations, and don’t get reimbursed for until a month or so after the show. In addition to losing income today, some of them are also eating big cancellation fees.
There are things you can do to help everyone affected by the COVID-19 outbreak. I’m assuming you are already on board with social isolation (see The Atlantic), washing your hands like your grandma’s life depends on it, and not hoarding resources. So now what?
STAY HOME. I know not everyone can do this (because we have systems of employment and education that make that impossible, and even in ideal situations we’d still need first responders and medical personnel). The best thing you can do is prevent the spread of the virus, and the best way to do that is to stay away from people. Please take a minute to read the article linked at the top of this post. #CancelEverything #SocialDistancingWorks
Again, DO NOT SHARE FAKE NEWS. I can’t say this often enough, as so much bad information is circulating. (So much that entire cities went out partying for St. Patrick’s Day, putting huge swaths of the population at risk. COVID-19 can stay alive in the air for up to 3 hours, and lasts for days on hard surfaces.) My last post had a brief list of resources generally, but you can also pay attention to your local and state department of health. Your governor may also have a website with the latest recommendations and protective measures locally. Don’t panic, be informed!
Share knowledge: What’s for dinner? Jennifer Canale has been posting photos of her creative (and super cheap!) dinners. A recent Mexican-inspired dish was under $5, and could have been stretched to feed more people inexpensively by adding tortillas and more vegetables (more steak optional). That was a splurge dinner, too–several meals have been $3 or less per serving. Not everyone has mad cooking skills, and what Jennifer is posting are easy-to-cook, non-fussy recipes that don’t require measuring. Check out twitter and the #QuarantineKitchen tag for more ideas.
Share knowledge: Where are the resources? Locally, I’ve seen many people share what is available and where via social media. Even better, I’ve seen people post that they need something specific (e.g. hand sanitizer) and watched people who have extra respond and offer to share. I’m not an expert on how to apply for public assistance programs, but maybe you are, or have time to help a friend or neighbor figure it out. Same with unemployment–which sadly lots of people may be facing.
Look out for your neighbors. Not everyone is financially able to stock up on the supplies you need to stay home for two weeks, especially if they are facing cuts to their income. If you can help, please do. You can cook extra food for people you know (it’s not hard to make two casseroles/lasagnas instead of one). You can help your elderly neighbor sign up for Meals on Wheels. (You can also donate cash to your local food pantry or food bank–they can stretch dollars better than canned goods. I can pretty much guarantee that every non-profit that feeds people needs help.) Depending on what’s going on where you live, your neighbors may need help removing snow from the walkway so it is safe to collect the mail.
PLEASE Support food charities. If you can only give $5 to help others, please give it to a charity that will fill empty tummies. Food insecurity is still a big problem in the US. Many kids rely on federally subsidized school lunches–and for some that is their only meal of the day. Others have school breakfast too. When schools close, those kids go hungry. It’s not just a few kids: 22 million children rely on free or reduced-price school lunches. Some schools and area food banks have a backpack program that provides kids with food so they don’t go hungry over the weekend. Check Feeding America to see if your area has one. In Oregon, please give to the Oregon Food Bank.
Give blood if you can. (Yes, I understand our blood donation rules–set out by the federal government and not the Red Cross–are outdated, and that sucks, and now would be a great time to leave the 1980s behind and learn to science.) If you can give blood, schedule a time and do it. The Red Cross has a website that makes this really easy. In general, very few eligible people donate blood even though blood has a limited shelf life, there is no substitute for it, and the need for blood is constant. The donation network suffers any time there is a major illness (as the need increases, and fewer people give so the supply decreases). I’m terrified of needles, and I signed up. You can do this too.
Call, email, or write to your friends, family, synagogue/church/temple/coven members. This is basically free, and can make a big difference in someone’s day. Introverts are joking about how they’ve been preparing to self-quarantine since birth, but your extrovert friends are probably going nuts. Reaching out to the senior population is something a Girl Scout troop could do remotely–and so can you. People who live alone are at a higher risk of feeling depressed or anxious due to social isolation. Reach out and let them know you care. If they are struggling, please point them to virusanxiety.com (if it is COVID-19 specific), or to other appropriate resources (USE GOOGLE!) including the National Suicide Prevention Hotline 1-800-273-8255 and https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/
Support your local businesses and small businesses. This one is more of a challenge, perhaps, as you’re supposed to be staying home and engaging in voluntary social distancing. Think creatively. Can you shop online? Order dinner for pick-up from that local restaurant? Place an order for pick-up over the phone elsewhere? Big box stores are going to lose revenue too, but for most of them your business is not a matter of life and death–but for your local wine shop, no income means no business. P.S. if you like the stickers I’m holding up, those came from Pixelated Science on Etsy.
Finally, keep your sense of humor (and your wits) about you!
What are your best ideas on how to help during the COVID-19 outbreak?
This started as a single post on the novel coronavirus, COVID-19. When I started on Wednesday, I thought I’d hit “publish” on Friday. We are now living in a different world, and that single post is MUCH too long to be a single post. (Click here for the second one, A Practical Guide to COVID-19.)
Top Five Tips for COVID-19 Sanity
1. Get news and information from reliable and trustworthy sources. Your two best sources are the Center for Disease Control (CDC) and your state or local (county, province, city) health authority. The World Health Organization (WHO) is another reliable resource. Unless your people are citing to similarly fact-checked and reliable sources, skip Facebook. Skip the well-meaning mommy bloggers. Skip the fear-mongering fake news sites. Sadly, skip any source that reports the current president’s public statements about the virus are credible (because, in fact, they are not—we’re well behind the ball on developing and implementing effective testing, a vaccine is only just now starting phase 1 human trials, and you only have to read about the experiences of a few travelers to learn we have not “closed the border” and kept COVID-10 out). Skip anyone who is peddling a cure, too–there is no cure, and megadoses of vitamins and other fake cures promoted on YouTube can make you sick.
When you’re sharing information about COVID-19, whether online or in person, stick to the known facts—what you’re reading on the CDC website, your local health authority website, and MAYBE (sadly, also not a given) MAYBE your local news affiliate. Spreading false information doesn’t help anyone, may incite more panic than is reasonable, and has the potential to hurt others. This includes well-meaning but false statements that imply COVID-19 is just a flu.
2. Save your money. Skip the slick marketing campaigns, and the snake oil. This past week, the FDA and FTC issued warning letters to Vital Silver; Quinessence Aromatherapy Ltd.; Xephyr, LLC doing business as N-Ergetics; GuruNanda, LLC; Vivify Holistic Clinic; Herbal Amy LLC; and The Jim Bakker Show. All of these companies were claiming they have a product that can prevent or cure this virus. Read more here.
There is currently no vaccine (they’re working on it), no reliable (evidence-based) preventive lotion or potion or pill or serum or drug or herb or anything else, and no “miracle cure” for those who are already ill. (This doesn’t mean everyone who gets sick is going to die—far from it. It just means it’s not like an ear infection where you can take an antibiotic and it will go away.) You can’t prevent yourself from getting sick by mega-dosing on vitamins (though megadosing vitamins can make you sick), or diffusing “thieves” essential oil blend, or putting potatoes in your socks, or slathering your body with “flu cream” (thanks for that ad, Instagram), or whatever else people are proposing on Facebook.
Sadly, health and fitness professionals are sending out misinformation (Jorge Cruise just sent an email titled “The superfoods help fight coronavirus”), nutrition companies including Nuun, FNX, Kuli Kuli, and The Feed are holding sales on their “immunity” products (none of which have evidence that the enhance your immunity in any way, and none of which and even some doctors are trying to make a fast buck by claiming their test can diagnose, or their magic powder can cure, COVID-19. Many companies are not saying/writing “this product will protect you from coronavirus” but are implying it by serving up ad campaigns and sales on products for “immunity” (I’m looking at you, nuun: there’s no evidence that adding all the trendy ingredients du jour to your drink will do anything to help your immune system stave off COVID-19!). If the pleasant scent of lavender essential oil calms you, great. If drinking extra vitamins in your water makes you feel better mentally, great. If you’re buying it to “protect yourself,” save your money. You’re better off using it to stock your pantry with essentials in case you need to stay home.
3. Don’t panic—and don’t panic buy anything. It started with face masks, even though the most effective thing to do with a face mask is to put it on a sick person to help them not spread germs. There hasn’t been any credible recommendation that the general public wear them for COVID-19 prevention, and there is little to no evidence that they are effective in the general public for keeping healthy people from catching the virus. Yet try to buy any type of mask—from the hospital face covers to the white 3M masks intended to keep dust out of your mouth—and the stores have none. In some places gloves were similarly popular, and I saw at least one article reporting people buying condoms to put on their fingers so they don’t have to touch elevator buttons.
If you’ve been in Costco lately, you’ve noticed the shelves that usually hold toilet paper, tissues, and hand sanitizer are bare. Why? Did people just suddenly start wiping their noses, butts, and hands? Look, I understand that people associate being sick with running from both ends…but unless your last name is Duggar, you don’t need a truckload of toilet paper to make it through the next two weeks. While we’re at it, why are people panic-buying bottled water? Did I miss the CDC announcement that COVID-19 has the power to turn off the municipal water supply or something? Look, you’re not doing yourself any favors by stockpiling cold and flu medication—and at the moment, people who are actually sick can’t buy those things because the shelves are empty! If you’ve got to spend money to feel like you’re prepared, stock your pantry and fridge, refill your prescriptions early if you can, and set aside money to pay the bills
Remember that hoarding doesn’t help you, and it hurts your community. Personally, I’d like all of my neighbors to have enough toiler paper and soap. Oh, and while we’re at it, please DO NOT support virus profiteering. Yes, there are people hoarding-for-profit.
4. Stick with the basics. The first lesson of kindergarten? Keep your hands to yourself! Unfortunately as the #MeToo movement illustrates, some adults never got the memo. We currently understand the COVID-19 spreads primarily by coughs and sneezes that propel little water droplets into the air or onto other people. It’s also possible to share those droplets by shaking hands or being in similarly close contact. While it isn’t the primary manner of spreading, current best knowledge also says that the virus can live on surfaces for quite some time after contact. (This is why you keep reading about “deep cleaning” or “enhanced sanitation” and seeing pictures of workers wiping down concert venues and shutting down schools and office buildings for cleaning.)
If you are currently healthy, your very best course of action is to get a little germophobic. Wash your hands like you’re Adrian Monk—and if you’re tired of singing “Happy Birthday,” look on Twitter for dozens of other options—using soap and water. Do it often. Wash ‘em after riding public transit, after handling things other people touch (like door handles), after going into a bathroom for any reason, and before eating or touching your face, eyes, nose, or mouth. When you can’t wash, use 60% alcohol hand sanitizer. Use bleach wipes or similar to wipe down your home and office (keyboard, phone, and door knobs among others). Wipe down your cell phone too—what’s the point of washing your hands if you phone is filthy?
Gotta sneeze? Cover your nose and mouth! If no tissue is handy, use your elbow—NOT your hand. (BTW, regular ol’ runny noses are not a known symptom of this virus.) Speaking of hands, did I mention to wash them? Consider a fist bump or elbow bump instead of shaking hands.
5. Be kind to others: if you are sick, stay home! If you are a generally healthy person, be kind to those with weaker immune systems. Chances are good that someone you know has a weakened immune system that makes them more susceptible to viruses. That’s anyone who has had chemotherapy, for example, or who is elderly, but also anyone with an autoimmune disorder like lupus, ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s disease, rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis (MS), type 1 diabetes, psoriasis, Guillian-Barre syndrome, Grave’s disease, Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, and more. Evidence to date shows that “older adults” (which appears to be anyone over 60) and those with chronic health conditions such as heart disease, lung disease, or high blood pressure, are at a higher risk. The best things you can do to help those who have weaker immune systems or are known to be at a higher risk? Stick with the basics (wash your hands, etc.) and if you are not feeling well, stay away from public spaces and gatherings—stay home if you can.
BONUS TIP: Be kind to others: help if you can. (more on this in Part 2) The most common advice in circulation is to prepare in advance by stocking your home with at least two weeks of supplies, and staying home if you feel sick. This is sound advice, I’m following it—maybe you are too—and I’m glad to see it being repeated. If you can join me in following it, you’re facing this virus from a place of privilege. No matter where you stand, I encourage you to remember those who don’t share in that privilege.
Millions of Americans do not have paid sick time or paid vacation. This means they don’t get paid for time they don’t work. Worse, if they are not working because they are sick, there are probably medical bills and other costs stacking up too. Two weeks of lost wages might be the difference between paying the rent and getting evicted.
Even with some paid sick time—let’s be real here, most of us don’t get three weeks of paid sick time—or paid sick time and paid vacation (because some employers are telling workers they need to use vacation if they get sick—that’s right U. Conn, I saw your notices), lots of people don’t have the ability to stock up for two or more weeks at home. Looking just at medication, if you are in the early phases of a methadone treatment program you are required to go pick up (and take) your medicine at a clinic. Some medications are restricted by federal law, and that’s not just limited to opioid painkillers; you might have to go see a doctor in person to get a refill, or wait until you have taken your very last dose before you can get more. Other drugs are limited by insurance coverage that won’t allow you to refill “early” (which is anywhere from 5 to 10 days before the medication runs out) unless you can afford to pay the full cost out-of-pocket. Some drugs, including some injections, have a very narrow window between opening the container and the expiration (loss of effectiveness of the medication).
Please don’t think I’m implying that only the economically disadvantaged are going to need help. Plenty of people are facing reduced hours and cancelled shifts as concerts are postponed, flights get canceled, tourism is down, conventions are nixed, and the economy takes a nose-dive.
Disclosure: I received the gently used Grid and new-in-package MobiPoint Massage Ball as conference swag, directly from TriggerPoint Therapy, one of the sponsors of Sweat Pink’s BlogFest at IDEA World 2019. (I’m only giving them away because I already had my own!) I wasn’t asked to write a blog post, host a giveaway, or anything else for that matter. All opinions and words are my own.
What Have You Heard about Foam Rolling?
If you haven’t heard about “foam rolling,” you’ve probably been living under a rock. There’s WAY more to the world of self-myofacial release (SMFR or MFR) than the foamy logs you see at the Relax the Back store or in your yoga/pilates studio. Essentially, SMFR is a type of self-massage that often involves specialized tools, including various kinds of stick-rollers, log/tube-shaped rollers, balls, and other tools. SMFR techniques manipulate and massage the muscles and surrounding tissues, increasing blood flow and elasticity. In my experience, while there is sometimes a bit of “owww, that’s a tight spot,” the end result is a bit like the end result of a massage: everything feels better.
I first encountered the Grid at an SCW Mania event nearly ten years ago, back when TP Therapy was a small company based in Austin, TX. (It is now owned by Implus, the American parent company of SKLZ, Harbinger, Balega, RockTape, FuelBelt, Sofsole, Spenco, and more.) Their trainers–including Cassidy Phillips, the founder and CEO–taught several practical SMFR sessions. Cassidy taught us a little bit about fascia, the connective tissue that helps form the structure of the human body; it’s like a scaffolding around the bones that helps keep other body tissues and organs in their place. Think of it as a stretchy mesh: if you pull on one corner and wad it up, the rest of the mesh stretches out to accommodate. Fascia does something similar in the body (which is why when your left low back gets tight, you might find your right upper back, or some other seemingly unrelated body part, is also upset). Cassidy also explained that human muscle tissue is just like any other animal muscle tissue; when it is fully hydrated and moving well it is like a tender steak, but when it is partially dehydrated and has knots or spots of uneven tension it is more like beef jerky. (That image has stuck with me, and I’m a more hydrated-human because of it.)
Before I get into why I love The Grid, let’s take a step back. If you’ve tried SMFR you probably agree that it feels good (well, after it stops hurting like hell), and maybe you’ve read some other blogger yammer on about how fantastic it is. That’s all well and good, but fancy tea tastes good and no matter how many bloggers say so it isn’t going to “detox” you (at least not any more than your liver and kidneys already do). So…is foam rolling worthwhile, or is it some woo-woo goop-esque trend?
What Science Says
If you’re a science geek, you probably already know about PubMed. If you are an athlete interested in exercise science, or a person interested in the latest nutrition research, or a blogger who doles out advice on anything related to the human body (including products and ingredients) you really ought to bookmark it. PubMed is a service of the U.S. National Library of Medicine, which is part of the National Institute of Health. PubMed largely includes abstracts of peer-reviewed articles, though a few articles are available for free. The articles include clinical trials, epidemiology reviews, case studies, and more. You can choose to view the results by “best match” or “most recent”
Pro tip: if you don’t want to pay for access to an article, but you really want to read it, you have two free options. One, reach out to the authors of the paper. Many authors are happy that someone wants to read their research, and would be thrilled to send you a copy of the publication. Two, seek out access via a college or university library. If you attended a college or university, start there. Many allow their alumni to use the library resources for free or super cheap. If you didn’t, you can try a nearby college or university. Many have a non-student library card that you can obtain for a fee, and that may include access to electronic resources.
A PubMed search for “foam rolling” returned 83 results! (The more scientific “self myofascial release” returned 100. There is some overlap, of course.) Some of the articles are very general, while others are almost nauseatingly specific, such as Behara B, and Jacobson BH’s “Acute Effects of Deep Tissue Foam Rolling and Dynamic Stretching on Muscular Strength, Power, and Flexibility in Division I Linemen.” J Strength Cond Res. 2017 Apr;31(4):888-892. doi: 10.1519/JSC.0000000000001051. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26121431
A Little of the Bad News
There are several articles that cast doubt on what you’ve likely heard about foam rolling.
At least one review concludes that the term “self-myofascial release” is misleading, because there isn’t enough evidence to support the idea that foam rolling and similar practices actually release myofascial restrictions. Behm, DG and Wilke, J. Do Self-Myofascial Release Devices Release Myofascia? Rolling Mechanisms: A Narrative Review. Sports Med. 2019 Aug;49(8):1173-1181. doi: 10.1007/s40279-019-01149-y. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/31256353It strikes me that this is a fair conclusion, since the research on foam rolling and similar practices is still pretty young, and it’s entirely possible that any results achieved are from something other than myofascial release, maybe improved blood circulation, or something about how your breathing changes while you are doing it–we don’t know. (But we might, soon!)
Another study concluded that adding SMFR to static stretching did not have an effect on hamstring stiffness, as a group that did only static stretching achieved the same results. Mortin, RW et al. Self-Myofascial Release: No Improvement of Functional Outcomes in ‘Tight’ Hamstrings. Int J Sports Physiol Perform. 2016 Jul;11(5):658-63. doi: 10.1123/ijspp.2015-0399. Epub 2015 Nov 9. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26562930
Remember that in order to make sense of any study’s result, you need to take a look at who the participants were (students, professionals, weekend warriors?), what the researchers looked at (how did they measure results? what did they consider or fail to consider?), and the testing protocol (what did the participants actually do? was there a control group?). The results of a small study of college tennis players, for example, may not apply to a Gen Xer who only does Crossfit.
A Little of the Good News
I love the way I feel in my body after a good session with The Grid, so I almost don’t care if there is any science to support it. Since I’m recommending it to you though, I think it would be irresponsible to talk about how great I think it is if in reality it’s a sham like detoxing foot pads or alkaline water. Here are a few studies that found foam rolling or SMFR beneficial–these are the ones I found interesting, but you can go find more on PubMed. The term “key finding” is mine (as some abstracts use “results,” others use “conclusions,” and I like a tidy organization to my references).
Several studies concluded that the protocol they studied led to an improved range of motion:
Su H, et al. Acute Effects of Foam Rolling, Static Stretching, and Dynamic Stretching During Warm-ups on Muscular Flexibility and Strength in Young Adults. J Sport Rehabil. 2017 Nov;26(6):469-477. doi: 10.1123/jsr.2016-0102. Epub 2016 Oct 13. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27736289 Key finding: flexibility test scores improved significantly more after foam rolling a compared with static and dynamic stretching.
Mohr AR, et al. Effect of foam rolling and static stretching on passive hip-flexion range of motion. J Sport Rehabil. 2014 Nov;23(4):296-9. doi: 10.1123/jsr.2013-0025. Epub 2014 Jan 21. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24458506Key finding: Regardless of the treatment, all subjects had increased range of motion (regardless of treatment: static stretching, foam rolling and static stretching, or only foam rolling). Use of a foam roller followed by static-stretching increased range of motion more than static stretching alone.
Bushell JE, et al. Clinical Relevance of Foam Rolling on Hip Extension Angle in a Functional Lunge Position. J Strength Cond Res. 2015 Sep;29(9):2397-403. doi: 10.1519/JSC.0000000000000888. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25734777
Key finding: repeated foam rolling is beneficial, both objectively and subjectively, for increasing range of motion immediately preceding a dynamic activity.
Several studies concluded that the protocol they studied led to improvement in recovery, including delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS, or the soreness you get a day or two after your workout):
Pearcey GE, et al. Foam rolling for delayed-onset muscle soreness and recovery of dynamic performance measures. J Athl Train. 2015 Jan;50(1):5-13. doi: 10.4085/1062-6050-50.1.01. Epub 2014 Nov 21. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25415413
Key finding: Foam rolling effectively reduced DOMS and associated decrements in most dynamic performance measures.
Rey E, et al. Effects of Foam Rolling as a Recovery Tool in Professional Soccer Players. J Strength Cond Res. 2019 Aug;33(8):2194-2201. doi: 10.1519/JSC.0000000000002277. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29016479Key finding: soccer coaches and trainers working with high-level players should use a structured recovery session of 15-20 minutes using foam rolling at the end of a training session to enhance recovery.
Some studies looked at specific health conditions or effects, rather than muscular performance. A few of the ones I found nifty:
Improvement of Fibromyalgia. Ceca, D et al. Benefits of a self-myofascial release program on health-related quality of life in people with fibromyalgia: a randomized controlled trial. J Sports Med Phys Fitness. 2017 Jul-Aug;57(7-8):993-1002. doi: 10.23736/S0022-4707.17.07025-6. Epub 2017 Jan 31. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28139112
Key finding: regular, structured practice of SMFR can improve health-related quality of life for people with fibromyalgia.
Reduction of Arterial Stiffness. Okamoto T, et al. Acute effects of self-myofascial release using a foam roller on arterial function. J Strength Cond Res. 2014 Jan;28(1):69-73. doi: 10.1519/JSC.0b013e31829480f5. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23575360 Key finding: SMFR with a foam roller reduces arterial stiffness and improves vascular endothelial function.
In short, while the jury is still out on some claims about foam rolling, there is also some evidence–at least regarding the population and specific protocols studied–that foam rolling provides a benefit. I mean beyond feeling good when you’re done.
Back To The Grid
Unlike the long foam rollers I’d known before, the Grid has a hollow hard-plastic core. (While there is a smaller travel Grid available–think as if you took a slice of the roller–the original Grid is great for travel, as you can stuff a lot of clothing in there inside your suitcase.) On the outside, the Grid is textured in an un-even grid-like pattern: small squares are high and firm, like fingertips or a thumb tip; long and narrow rectangles are more like fingers; and larger rectangular flat areas are like palms. Positioning the Grid so that a particular surface hits the targeted area changes how it feels on your body. Rolling through all of the different zones feels delicious to me! In my first class, we learned techniques to roll out the peroneals, IT band, quads, anterior tibialis, and more.
Also unlike the long foam rollers I’d known before, the Grid is very sturdy. (I’ve had my personal Grid since that first SCW Mania, I’ve toted it around the country, and you’d be hard pressed to tell.) The fact that it is hollow means you can also incorporate it into exercises apart from SMFR. For example, you can hold the sides (palms on top, fingers tucked inside the hollow center) and plank. This adds an extra dose of instability to your plank, as any shift of your body weight forward or back will cause the Grid to roll. Another example exercise is the lunge. Standing with your front foot on the Grid and your back leg in an extended lunge, keep your torso upright and your front leg steady while you drop you back knee to a right angle. Another example is the plank-to-pike exercise: start in a plank with your toes on the Grid, transition to a pike with the soles of your feet on the Grid. Quite possibly my favorite is the wall squat using the Grid between your back and the wall.
One of the things that impressed me was that the staff at the TriggerPoint booth were more interested in showing you how to use their tools than selling you the tools. SMFR isn’t something you just do here and there to make a workout smoother, or to recover from a workout. In order to create and maintain results, any SMFR program requires repetition–just like exercise. The TriggerPoint website includes a library of videos on how to use their products (which back in the day we bought on DVD). After using it in a workshop targeted towards runners, I purchased a tools kit (similar to what is now called the TP Performance Collection) that came with a booklet outlining a total body program (including a dry-erase calendar to plan your program); I also bought The Ultimate 6 for Runners–a similar booklet that targets the soleus, qaudcriceps, psoas, piriformis, pectorales, and thoracic spine. I particularly like the booklets. They are spiral bound to lay flat, and have plenty of photographs in addition to the text description.
Today, the TP Therapy products in my SMFR tool kit also include the Grid Vibe (thinner than the Grid, but OMG the vibration is brilliant!), MB5 large foam massage ball, MobiPoint massage ball, and the Nano X foot roller (the extra-dense version of the Nano foot roller). Recently TP Therapy released a new tool, the MB Vibe, which is similar to the MB5 but also has vibration to it. (I cannot wait to get my hands on one!)
Win Your Own!
I have ONE prize pack to give away. It includes The Grid, the original TP Therapy product, in orange; and the MobiPoint Massage Ball (a sweet treat for runner feet!). Apologies to my friends elsewhere, but postage is spendy these days and so I have to limit this giveaway to U.S. residents only. Void where prohibited.
Start by leaving a comment and tell me about your experiencce: Have you tried foam rolling or another form of self myofacial release? Which tools do you use? What’s your favorite exercise? How often do you roll?
Then work your way through the steps in the Rafflecopter widget below. Good luck!
The Roses on the River event was originally slated to start on the west side of the river. For those unfamiliar with Portland, the Willamette River runs through town, separating the west side from the east side. (Not to be confused with the Columbia River, which runs east-west and separates the north-most part of Portland, Oregon form the south-most part of Vancouver, Washington.) Downtown Portland is immediately adjacent to the river, and there is a paved promenade/walkway next to the water in addition to Tom McCall Waterfront Park. Part of the draw of the Roses on the River run is that the race is sponsored in part by the Portland Thorns, our winning women’s soccer team (which played short several team members at the beginning of the season as they were busy kicking butt as part of the U.S.A. women’s national soccer team…you know, the national soccer team that actually wins World Cups). This is a BIG draw to the event; instead of yet another race shirt, participants receive Thorns scarves (that’s what soccer fans wear) and a ticket to the Thorns game.
This year, the racist groups Proud Boys and Patriot Prayer decided to come to Portland from out-of-state and hold a “rally” on the same day as Roses on the River, a decision they announced what seems like just a few days before the race. For those of you not playing along at home, Portland fancies itself to be a liberal and inclusive town. In a state with a significantly racist history, modern Portland is at least trying. This makes white supremacists angry enough to don matching polo shirts and/or riot gear, board rented school buses, and head to Portland to…find people to beat up? I’m not sure what they actually plan to do, because they just seem to end up brawling in front of local businesses and breaking windows downtown. Maybe they want their closeted-white-supremacist-brethren to “come out” as modern Klansmen? Maybe they just wanted to mess with Roses on the River? At any rate, they aren’t local, and they seem to show up to antagonize protesters who identify as anti-fascist (some of whom are also not-from-Portland violent thugs, so at least they have that in common).
Race organizers for Roses on the River reacted by moving the entire event out of downtown, and over to the east side of the river (which does not have a gigantic stretch of park like the west side, but which does have a paved multi-use trail for running, biking, etc.) to what is apparently called the “Eastbank Festival Plaza.” This was entirely sensible, leaving the Portland police less to worry about downtown and providing runners with a ton of free parking. It also put the starting line within walking distance from my apartment.
The Thorns? They pulled their sponsorship of the race. That’s right, no Thorns at Roses on the River. While runners still got a ticket to the Thorns game, they did NOT get the limited-edition Thorns scarf—one of my big reasons for signing up for the race. The Thorns officially cited “liability,” which is a bogus excuse given that (1) all participants sign a liability waiver, and (2) the race moved across an entire river, away from the “rally” area, and police shut down the bridges. I suspect the REAL reason the Thorns pulled out is that they were afraid people would lose or abandon their scarves, which the white supremacists might grab on their way to the brawl, and therefore might end up in pictures of rioters and thus become “bad optics” for the Thorns. Nevermind that they could have avoided this by only handing scarves out at pre-event packet pickup (and changed the rules to DQ anyone wearing one), or mailed or otherwise made them available only a day or more after the event. Nope. They just pulled out. Race organizers didn’t even have time to change the website to show that runners wouldn’t get a Thorns scarf—I found out AT the race!! (I later found out the Thorns also forbid the race organizers from handing out any leftover scarves from 2018. Seriously.)
Due to the change in location and change in space, I suspect several companies that had planned to be at the start/finish area also pulled out of this year’s Roses on the River. Like I didn’t see Jersey Mike’s, which was supposed to give finishers a half sandwich (not that I cried over this too much, since races often don’t provide vegetarian sandwiches). It almost makes no sense, since there was MORE parking, and plenty of space under the bridge. I was very pleased to see my favorite race supporter, the Franz bakery grilled cheese truck! After the race I grabbed a grilled cheese bite and a loaf of delicious glutenous goodness to take home.
I arrived about ten minutes before the starting time. (I want to say the race had self-sorting heats, with the walkers starting first, but I wouldn’t stake my life on that.) There was no line to pick up my bib and attached timing chip, and no worries about where to put my scarf because I didn’t get one.
The race was a 5k only this year (some past years did have a 10k option) starting from the Eastbank Festival Plaza, just north of the Hawthorne Bridge. The course was an out-and-back, south past OMSI, past the Ross Island Bridge, and a bit further south before the turnaround and return north to the start. The path was not closed to other uses, but the few other runners and cyclists out there were pretty reasonable.
In the spirit of “I am supposed to be training for the Chicago Marathon–and you should definitely donate to my fundraiser for Team Imerman Angels–I had intended to run/walk intervals. Unfortunately, I was still learning how to make the intervals on my watch work, and so the entire event was timed as a warm-up. Oops. After I realized my mistake I did some self-timed intervals. The plan was to run 3, walk 2, but my lungs were not game to play, so I did more run 2 or 1, walk 1 or 2. Near the end I got inspired to kick my own butt and turn on the speed, and ran right past some folks mustering for the riots under the Hawthorne Bridge before I crossed the finish line. (I later went back to look at them, and took a photo—super obviously, not even trying to hide it a little—to post to facebook so my friends would avoid the area. It was hard to tell who they were as a few had on MAGA hats, but there was also a riot medic—something I associate with the left—and some punch-out Donald Trump masks that were a very unflattering parody, along with lots of black commando-style gear and bandanas over faces and a big show of going to shake hands with the police officers babysitting them.)
I did appreciate that the walkers got to go in the first heat, and not just because I got to sleep in a little. Many had finished by the time I started, and the ones left on the course had spread out. There were also plenty of walkers, as Terrapin Events (the race company) is serious about making walkers welcome. While out on the run I saw plenty of families, and also parent-kid combos, and high school track runners.
Then I collected my cider—2 Towns Ciderhouse and Widmer Brothers Brewing provided post-race adult beverages—and my grilled cheese bite. There was music and some people were dancing as I picked up samples of vitamins disguised as a fun-sized candy bar, after which I sauntered down to a nearby restaurant to eat brunch with some of my peeps.
Would I run it again? Maybe, if (1) I’m actually going to get the Thorns scarf I was promised, and (2) there is no sissy-boy “I’m exerting my First Amendment rights” nonsense going on. (Yes, I’m still a bit sore that the Thorns didn’t make any effort to get the promised scarves to runners, especially since I bet they were ordered well-enough in advance that they exist somewhere.) It would also have to be on a weekend when there are no competing events, as I run up and down the sides of the river on a fairly regular basis. The race organizers and the runners and vendors were great, and created a festive atmosphere. If you are looking for a low-key 5k that is also timed, Roses on the River might be your Portland race.