TRL Member Spotlight: Sam Lassen

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1. How long have you been running and why did you start running? I started running as a kid so that I could be as fast as my two older brothers. In high school, I trained as a hurdler and sprinter with a ferociously competitive team until I broke my leg in an accident. I started running again as soon as I could, but drifted to longer distances and winding forest trails. I ran mostly for meditation. Once I moved to Portland, I rekindled my love for racing with the Lizards (though still battled lingering leg injuries). About two months ago I was diagnosed with a heart condition that restricts me from exerting myself and competing. So, now I’m working on finding my new rhythm with short, slow, and joyful runs.

2. How long have you been part of TRL, and what drew you to the club in the first place? I joined TRL the first week I moved to Portland over 2 years ago. I was nervous to train ‘seriously’ again for the first time in many years, but easily found a flow with an encouraging coach (Rick!), fast and friendly teammates, and a welcoming environment. I’ve been so thankful for the opportunities, adventures, and friendships I’ve found since.

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 work as a CNA on OHSU’s same-day surgery unit and am taking prerequisite classes at PCC for nursing school. In my free time, I keep my golden retriever, Gabe, as happy as possible—a job that’s not too challenging.

Last year I joined a bike racing team, which absolutely terrified me to try. Bike racing is tactical, aggressive, and ruthless. I was surprised to find it’s a very different art to master. In general, I think it’s always worth trying something that scares you but you’re maybe secretly curious about…especially when you get a lot of training ride ice-cream stops out of it.

4. What’s your favorite distance/type of run (5K, half-marathon, marathon, ultras, relays, track, trail, etc.)? I loved the intensity of shorter stuff—mainly the mile and the 5k. There’s not much time to think and your body kicks into predator mode, as Rick would say. I also loved Tuesday track training sessions—running with people makes you strong. And get you some friends. I’m also really hoping I can participate in cross country races this year!

5. Where is your favorite place to run in the greater Portland area? The Reed College canyon trails are gorgeous and just lush enough to feel like you’re somewhere sort of remote. There’s a moody ambiance, it’s great for deep contemplation runs.

6. What’s your most memorable running experience (or experiences)? I’ve had so many memorable runs! I seem to thrive in intense weather conditions. It strips away expectations and I find myself truly in the moment. So, maybe the time I ran during a severe thunderstorm and flash flood back home in Chicago. That was idiotic, and I do not recommend endangering yourself like that—normal rainy runs are just as glorious.

7. What’s the best running advice you’ve ever received? My high school track coach told me, “Just RUN!” in response to my word-salad, anxious overthinking race plan—I had pretty bad race anxiety. That was impactful for me but if it’s too much of a truism for you, then I also like what my friend Julia told me before a race: Just see how you feel out there, and see what happens! And have fun, gosh darn it.

8. Tell us one fun fact, hidden talent, or something we don’t know about you, but should? I’m a pretty decent pianist, and a below average accordionist.

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