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About Your Trainer :: T.J. Ford, B.S., LMT

How I started training for and running marathons

T.J. runningI began running in 1997, out of shape, overweight, depressed over the death of my sister, needing to find myself. I remember the day I began – I saw a jogger and thought, maybe running would relieve some stress, help me lose some weight; and then, as I sat down on the bus, on the seat next to me was a Runner’s World magazine. My destiny seemed clear. However, it wasn’t smooth sailing, trying to train for my first marathon with a schedule ripped out of a magazine, making loads of mistakes along the way, and injuring myself badly during the marathon. As I crossed the finish line, I remember thinking to myself “I’m never doing THIS again." And in fact it was almost a full year until I started running regularly again.

Looking back, it’s clear that if I had had someone to help me, to answer my questions, to give me encouragement, my first marathon might have turned out completely differently. That’s why I have started Sophros Fitness – the source for beginning marathoners.  Marathoning has brought great joy, challenges, and growth in my life, and I am excited to share that with you. I know how hard it is to start, and I know how difficult it can be to keep on going. I’ve struggled, cried, ranted, laughed and rejoiced (sometimes all in the same race) and ultimately I've realized that running pushes us beyond our self-imposed limits and takes us to places we only dreamed about.

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My professional experience

When I’m not running or racing, I have a private health and fitness coaching practice in Portland, Oregon, where I work with clients on nutrition, motivation, and education. I have also been a practicing massage therapist for 11 years, first with a private practice in New York City and now in Portland, focusing on sports massage and rehabilitation. In addition, I am an instructor at East West College, teaching anatomy, kinesiology, and advanced massage techniques. Along with running, I love to hike and camp with my husband, Tom, a runner and triathlete, and hang out with our retired racing greyhound, Spinach (no, he doesn’t run marathons with us!).

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A Brief History of My Races

  • Seattle, 1999: my first marathon; I finished in just under 4 hours and vowed never to do another one.
  • New York City, 2001: two months after 9/11, an emotional race that instilled in me gratitude for being alive. Running felt like a natural way to express that, and the people of New York were gracious and supportive.
  • Avenue of the Giants, California, 2002: a gorgeous run through the oldest and tallest redwoods in the country; I was too busy making my first Boston qualifying time (barely) in 3:43, so I had to drive the course the next day to remember it.
  • Portland, Oregon, 2002: my hometown race, a personal record of 3:38, and a rose for every finisher.
  • Napa Valley, California, 2003: a lovely run through mist-shrouded vineyards. Wine is an excellent way to carbo-load!
  • Boston, 2003: The epitome for so many runners. I was overwhelmed and overheated but the crowd support was phenomenal. And I managed a personal best by 25 seconds.
  • Tucson, Arizona, 2003: Dehydration and altitude plagued me the whole way, and I finished beaten up and frustrated.
  • Napa Valley, California 2004: Despite the beauty of the course, I got my first DNF here (Did Not Finish) – I had to drop out at mile 16 due to a knee problem.
  • Boston, 2004: Another chance to run the ultimate marathon experience – I decided to enjoy it all, and I did, except for the 87-degree heat and blazing sun.
  • Sauvie Island, Oregon, 2004: A training run for my first ultramarathon; the course was flat and fast and I surprised myself with a personal best of 3:30.
  • Pacific Crest Trail 50K ultramarathon, 2004: I decided to up the ante and try for an “ultra” on a trail 3,000 feet in elevation around Mount Hood. And I survived!
  • Portland, Oregon, 2004: Another training run for my next ultra; I had a great time and ate lots of candy from the crowds, finishing in 4 hours.
  • Kevin’s Cup Ultra, 2004: I wanted to celebrate my 39th birthday in style, so I ran a 39-mile ultra. Lots of birthday cake followed that finish!
  • Napa Valley, California, 2005: Reclaimed the course that had beaten me last year. The wine continues to improve!

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sophros fitnessGreek sophron balance and equilibrium in all things; living a balanced life

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