The Coaches

Organizer – Mary Chen

I first started running in college because it was good exercise, but I never saw myself as a serious runner. I had no idea in the next 10 years, running would change my life. I found my running family in Portland.  I love running road, trail, relays, and half marathons. I started traveling for races and building community everywhere I went.  I joined Portland Fit last year because I finally decided to run my first marathon.  The coaches had so much experience and support to share, it kept me coming back. I’m inspired and grateful for every runner who has been part of my journey. I look forward to making 2018 the best year yet!

Head Coach: Deb Brown

I joined Portland Fit in 2013 with the goal of training to run my first marathon. I had walked the Portland Marathon twice before, with the help of a friend’s mom who was a marathon walker. I never thought I could run a marathon; I was more of a hiker and walker. But after hiking the Pacific Crest Trail in 2011, I entered Portland a 3rd time, and ended up jogging about 23 miles of the course (with backpacking as my training), because walking on the pavement was hurting my legs. That made me believe and dream I could do it! I started running again January 1st, when my daughter was 4 months old. But I needed a structure to keep me on track, and some support. I was scared. I saw an email about PFit, and loved that it included all paces, walkers and runners. I followed the schedule to a T, doing my long runs alone on vacations, and track work at the local park. I got stronger throughout the season, and improved my marathon time by 47 minutes! Plus I made friends, and had a new healthy hobby. I started assistant coaching in 2015, and stepped up to head coach in 2017. I run road (half & full marathons), and trail (50k & 50-mile ultras). My favorite marathon has been Boston in 2017, despite needing to run slowly due to an injury. My fastest was Eugene in 2016 (3:49:52), when I “BQ’d” (Boston Qualified). I lead Tuesday hill & speed workouts during the PFit season. My goal for 2019 is run some trail 50k races, and work toward a 100-mile race in 2020.

Head Coach: Jeff Bethke

In 2006, a friend of mine told me about this running group called Portland Fit that trains ordinary folks to complete their first marathon. Running a marathon had always been a life goal of mine. So in 2007, I signed up with Portland Fit and completed my first marathon. I loved the discipline of having to do my three weekday runs before the long runs on Saturdays. As I figured it, running the marathon at the end of a training season was always icing on the cake! From 2009 to 2014, I served as an A.C. (Assistant Coach) and really loved talking and connecting with members about their training and how their workouts went each week. In 2015, I became Head Coach of the Reds and have loved every minute of it. One of my favorite things about running is the way it makes me feel throughout the week through the great exercise that running provides. I have more energy to do the things that need to be done and I have great stamina throughout the week. One of my other favorite things about running with PFit on Saturday mornings is finishing a long run (10-14 miles) and having that accomplished usually before many people have even gotten out of bed. My first marathon was the Portland Marathon in 2007 which I finished in 5:42. My favorite marathon was the Portland Marathon in 2009 when I did a run/walk combination and had amazing energy left at the end, passing so many participants with nothing but a grin on my face from ear to ear. (There is nothing like that feeling at the end of a marathon!) This year, my goal is to run a PR (Personal Record) of a 4:15 using a combination of muscle core training and hill/speed work. I can’t wait to hear about your journey and what brought you to Portland Fit. Looking forward to seeing you out there on the trail! – Coach Jeff

Walking Head Coach: Robin Teitzel

I joined Portland fit to get in shape for a walking vacation. I forget exactly which year I started coaching, but sometime in 2005 the coaches at the time decided I was leading the group often enough the put a hat on me. The fun part of this program is to see the city. We cover quite a bit of distance during the year. Also it is very nice to talk to everyone. My first marathon was 2005, I chose the Portland Marathon. My goal is to do several half marathons this year.

Assistant Coach: Maureen Briscoe

I joined Portland Fit because I was terribly unsuccessful at going to the gym. I needed a community, a goal and a bit of peer pressure to keep me honest with my fitness. I’ve been coaching for 3 years. I love having the ability to run and be outside.  It invigorates and inspires me to my core. I love disconnecting from the day to day and connecting with running friends. There are beautiful moments to be experienced and shared. My favorite marathon is the 2001 Portland Marathon. I hope to run the Eugene Full in Spring, then enjoy the PFit community the rest of the season!  I might even be convinced to run another race or two!

Assistant Coach: Tony Carpenter

I joined PFit as a runner in 2004 to train faster. I'd run PDX marathon 3 times prior training on my own. I was trying to get a faster, healthier.  Running with people was fucking awesome compared to "dark ages" of running solo. In 2005 I became a coach of Green group. I didn't feel qualified but my approach in helping others and taking it seriously actually became rewarding in ways I hadn't imagined. I've been coaching since. As a runner I enjoy surprising myself. My first marathon was 2000 Portland marathon.  2018 goals to find balance in life, running, and fatherhood.

Assistant Coach: Angela Fox

I joined Portland Fit back in 2006 because I had committed to the goal of running a Half Marathon with a friend of mine, but I was completely new to the sport of running.  At the time, the thought of running even 3 miles seemed like a daunting challenge.  Luckily, I heard about Portland Fit's program which happened to coincide with the Half Marathon timeframe that my friend & I wanted to participate in.  Portland Fit not only helped me accomplish my goal of finishing my 1st Half Marathon that year, but the program also helped me accomplish finishing the Portland Marathon as well.  Never in my life would I have thought I could complete a Half Marathon, much less a Full Marathon, but with the Portland Fit program and all of the support & encouragement of its members I was able to do it!  I enjoyed the Portland Fit community & program so much that I've returned each year for most of the years since then, and now since 2016 I've given back to the community by assisting as an Assistant Coach.  I really enjoy encouraging & inspiring new runners to reach their goals & to see their astonishment at how far they can push themselves with the right training - it's priceless to see!  Plus I really enjoy the whole atmosphere around running events & the running community.  There is such a positive energy & commradary associated with the sport.  I hope you come to love the sport as much as I have!

Assistant Coach: Carla Zweigart

I joined Portland Fit because I love running and I wanted to help others achieve their goal of completing their first marathon. I believe in the program and the non-threatening way we gently encourage and lead our groups. It is not competitive with anyone but yourself.  I’ve been coaching 13 years.  Running gives me peace. I like to run in the morning. It just sets my day for me. It is my therapy and something I do for me. I started running after my mom passed away. I love how my mind can just roam and I can sort out all the issues of my day/life. I feel it makes me a better mother, wife, employee and friend. Portland Marathon 2014 was my first marathon and I loved it. I've run 11 more since then. Numerous halfs and 10k, 5K. My goal is to pick a marathon and run it well. Also to run a 10K and win in my age group :).  

Assistant Coach: Jean Shepherd

I joined Portland Fit in 2012 to see what it would be like to walk a marathon.  I'd just started changing my eating habits on a long-term basis and was looking for an activity that required ongoing, long-term commitment toward a specific goal - something I didn't get from gym classes and workouts. I walked the Portland Marathon that year, 10 days before my 59th birthday, ran it the next and as of January 2018 have completed 11 marathons, including two 50K ultras. I started coaching in 2014 to be there for members the way others had been there for me in the beginning - and are still today. 2018 marks my fifth year as a "red cap". My favorite thing about distance running and walking is the sense of freedom, space and simultaneous exhilaration and peace I experience, whether I'm running by myself on a cold, rainy day, or on a gorgeous early summer morning with friends. In 2018, I'm planning to run the Eugene Marathon and from there, I'll play it by ear. We're privileged to live in running heaven, with road and trail runs of all sizes and distances available year long. It all started with Portland Fit:  A one-and-done quickly morphed into a passion and membership in a community of amazing, supportive, energetic, positive friends.

Assistant Coach: Brian Walker

I joined Portland Fit in 2014 and race-walked the Portland Marathon. Assistant coach for 2 seasons. My favorite thing about race walking is that technique matters more than raw strength. Good technique is the difference between going fast and being exhausted. When I focus on technique, it keeps me moving so that I can finish strong and celebrate my accomplishment. My goal is to race walk the Beaverton Half Marathon faster than last year and participate in two relay races including Portland to Coast. Anything else will be just for fun.

Assistant Coach: Patty Baird

I joined Portland Fit when in 2012, the year of my 60th birthday.  I joined to train for the Portland Marathon, a goal I set to celebrate my 60th year. I researched other training programs but Portland Fit appeared to be the best and I've never regretted that decision. I’ve been a coach for 3 years.  Portland Fit is not just a running program.  It is also for walkers and that is what sets it apart from many other programs.  So what do I like about walking?  I like walking because it is a good low-impact way to stay fit.  As we age, our bodies sometimes change and we have to modify the activities we do to stay fit.  I have always been active - played women's soccer for 18 years, ran and cycled.  However, now I have to stay with low-impact activities and walking is one of those activities that I can do.  I like walking because I like the outdoors. My first and only marathon was the Portland Marathon in 2012. This year I would like to sign up for at least one other half marathon.

New Assistant Coach: Alyssa Elgort

I have been running since March of 2013. I originally started with the Shamrock 5K in Portland, OR and I immediately fell in love with the adrenaline rush of the finish line. Sine 2013 I have completed one ultra, 6 marathons and a plethora of shorter distances along the way. I have always had a passion for helping others achieve their goals and seeing the end reward for them. In the past I have been a participant of Portland Fit and I saw the excitement and teamwork that all the coaches had which I found inspiring and something I wanted to be a part of again! In 2019 my goal is to decrease my marathon time to under 4 hours. Each year I have strived to shave down my time and eventually qualify for Boston!

New Assistant Coach: Nikki Mueller

I’ve been running since about 2005 I feel like I’ve learned a thing or two in the years I’ve been a runner and I’d love to be able to inspire others the way I was inspired when I was starting out. I trained for my very first marathon in 2006 with Portland Fit and I’m excited to be on the other side. I got certified to be a running coach by the RRCA this year and started my own company. I’m doing my own 8 week run training programs each season, so I’d like to continue to improve those and pass on the knowledge I continue to learn from all my experiences. I’m also very interested in race directing (I might be taking over a race in a year or so) and also working with kids who are inspired to run, as my 6 year old son has shown interest in running and I plan to offer a parent/child run training possibly in the summer. Overall, I just want to be the best running coach I can be and I really want to help others with their running goals.

New Assistant Coach: Carrie Peeples

I've been running off and on for 20 years.
I did Portland Fit a couple years ago for 2 summers and loved the accountability, training, routes mapped out for us, it was awesome! After taking a break to have my 4th and 5th babies, I was thinking of coming back and love being part of something and helping others so being an Assistant Coach seemed like a good fit!
My 2019 goals are to run a half marathon in April, and I would love to plan a marathon for the fall and am running with a team of my family, for Hood to Coast.

New Assistant Coach: Lynette Hawkins

I started running in 1998 and I kept having injuries so I started walking. I have been racing walking for about 8 years now. I am on a racewalk team that competes in a few relays a year. I think coaching will be fun, love to help others get motivated and help me stay motivated as well! My 2019 goals are to stay injury free by conditioning more!

New Assistant Coach: Lisa Domencio

I have been a runner my whole life. I played competitive soccer through college and after I hung up my cleats, I started running half marathons. I felt a great achievement in running 13.1 miles but my competitive self wanted to try a marathon. I joined a running program like Portland Fit and ran my first one in 2012. There is no question in my mind that my success was a result of the training program -- not just the schedule but the friendships. Who wants to run 18 miles alone?! I have since completed 4 marathons. I trained with Portland Fit for the 5th in 2017 but an injury stopped me from entering that race. I am looking forward to helping others achieve their goals and meeting new friends. See you in March!

New Assistant Coach: Greg Piper

I ran my first marathon (San Francisco) 20 years ago.... and I've been casually running for about 25 years. I want to be a coach this year because I love the USA/PortlandFit program.... love the social nature, and the leadership and coaches have always been amazing! Wanted to be part of the team. My 2019 goals are to keep fit and also train-up for the Portland Marathon or the Amsterdam Marathon which is around the same time.

New Assistant Coach: Emily Arruda

I've been running casually since college but for the last 10 years, I've been running half and full marathons.  After having a great experience with USA Fit Portland last year, I thought it was time to give back as a running coach. For my 10 year anniversary of running marathons, I decided to run two in 2019!

New Assistant Coach: Mike Gentry

I started to train and take running seriously back in 2013. Since then I have completed 3 marathons (all Portland) and numerous half marathons and shorter distances.  I enjoy sharing my running experiences with others. Talking about tips, equipment, etc... I really believe that Portland Fit and running with a group helped me keep motivated. I also made a couple of new good friends in the process! My goal for 2019 is to continue to regain fitness after an injury and hopefully complete my 4th marathon.

New Assistant Coach: Randy Heidebrecht

I started running in early 2009 at 50 yrs old.  I worked hard to get in shape and found running was my go to exercise.  I have paced for FitRight running group for several years and paced numerous races (Portland Marathon twice).  I enjoy helping others achieve their goals! Next year I turn 60.  I completed my goal of 10 marathons in my 50's.  My current goal for 2019 is the Elijah Bristow 24 hour run in June.  I hope to run 60 miles there.  I also have captained Ragnar races for 3 years, and now plan to captain a trail Ragnar at Mt Rainier.  I love encouraging and inspiring others to go beyond your comfort zone and surprise yourself!  Love a challenge!

New Assistant Coach: Maya White

I've been running since 2010 (that was my first race- Shamrock Run 5K) I've been participating in Portland Fit for about 3 years now and thought it would be nice to be more involved in the program as a whole since I've gotten so much out of it myself. My 2019 goals are to hit a half marathon PR and I might like to do a destination marathon.

New Assistant Coach: Desiree McKinney

I have been running since 2011. I had never run a day in my life and a friend said " we should run the Hippy Chick Half" I started training on my own with a plan I found online. It was horrible and awesome all at the same time. I continued to run with other local groups over the years never considering a full marathon. I remember thinking " I could never do that" Something changed for me in 2016. I needed to challenge myself somehow, do something hard! I joined Portland Fit for the first time. I ran with the group and completed the Portland marathon. I then went on to run the Newport Marathon the following June. If it had not been for coach Jeff and all the other amazing people in Portland Fit I dont know that I could have done it. The encouragement, comradery, organization and attention to detail that Portland Fit showed me, made me want to be a coach. Portland Fit is by far the best training program I have found. Completing a marathon gave me this new found confidence in all aspects of my life. My goals for 2019 are to pass on what I have learned over the years, what works for me, and what has not. I would like to complete the Las Vegas Rock and Roll full in November.

New Assistant Coach: Ryan McDonough

I started running in 2009 by joining Portland Fit. The three mile run on the first Saturday was the longest distance I had ever run and 6 months later I finished my first marathon. I truly went from couch to marathon through this program which is a big part of why I enjoy being an assistant coach. It has been a few years since my last marathon, so my goal, like so many others in this program, is simply to train for and complete the Portland marathon.