Member Spotlight: Tayseer (Tay) Mahdi

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1. How long have you been running and why did you start running? I started running in 2016 just before I moved to Oregon from Canada after finishing up my Ph.D. I wanted to get healthier and make friends. I typically run in the spring/summer season when the relay series start. During the colder season I focus on CrossFit and train for the Open and some local competitions with friends. 

2. How long have you been part of TRL, and what drew you to the club in the first place? I cannot recall how I met the Lizards! Maybe I searched running groups in Portland. But I do remember my first time getting to the track, meeting Coach Rick, and realizing there is a methodology to training. You can do long runs, short runs, recovery runs, speed work, named workouts like Billat’s and fartlek… It’s always been Rick that’s kept me glued to the club. His knowledge is invaluable. 

3. What do you do when you’re not running (job, family, school…whatever it is you’d use to introduce yourself outside of running)? I’m a research chemist at Intel. I make molecules that are used in logic microchips. That’s the brain of your device that does processing and computing. As we go to smaller and faster devices, new molecules need to be used since the current materials will not scale with the industry’s technology roadmap. 

4. What’s your favorite distance/type of run (5K, half-marathon, marathon, ultras, relays, track, trail, etc.)? I love the 5k, both on the road and on the track. It’s uncomfortable from the start, and the last kick when you see the finish line is brutal, but it leaves me feeling accomplished and proud of what my mind and body can do. 

5. Where is your favorite place to run in the greater Portland area? Forest Park is a gem, and my favorite spot for trail running. I don’t have stable ankles so I move slowly, but what better way to cover distance in nature than to trot through it. 

6. What’s your most memorable running experience (or experiences)? My most memorable running moment is my first run, back in Toronto, after I finished my Ph.D. thesis and submitted it to my committee. A group of coworkers invited me to run with them and I didn’t have a sense for pace or distance back then so I just went along with them and tried to keep up. Recently, I mapped that run and learned that I’d covered 16k for a first run. I’m quite impressed I was able to do that.

Another was this past summer. You know that time in training when you don’t think you can hit your paces or keep them up? I was doing hill climbs to prepare for 1,200 feet of elevation gain in a relay race. I had one more set left and was mentally tapped out, but I remembered all the times I couldn’t run due to injury and my pep talk worked and I was able to complete the workout.

7. What’s the best running advice you’ve ever received? Training pace is NOT race pace! I didn’t know you could benefit from a slow run. Since then, I have been injury free. 

8. Tell us one fun fact, hidden talent, or something we don’t know about you, but should? I’m writing this to my future self. During the pandemic, some people chose to make bread, I decided to bring my chemistry skills to my household and make a clean electrolyte powder mix for myself and my husband. I’ve been sharing the mixture with my friends and have a dream of a small laboratory with a few pieces of equipment to share my product, Tay-Lyte Hydration, with a wider community. 

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