The adventures of Jennifer Hughes started out simply, by taking up running as a way to get back in shape.
"For me, (running) ends up being more than a physical journey," she said. "It helps me get recentered emotionally and spiritually."
Hughes treasures her trail runs in the forest near her home in the Issaquah area, which reminds her of her childhood days in Vancouver spent wandering a canyon in her family's backyard.
"I was undergoing this massive transformation," said the Columbia River High School graduate. "A physical transformation is why women usually start running, then the emotions start coming out. It's really powerful.
"But there was a disconnect between the amazingness I was going through and the clothes I was wearing. The story that Nike and Under Armour were trying to tell was very one dimensional. And my story was much more wild and colorful, so I wanted to make some pieces that spoke to that."
Hughes, 34, began her apparel company, Run Pretty Far, just over a year and a half ago, earning national features in running magazines and a base of loyal customers. Although her running clothes are practical, they're colorful and far from boring. Her line includes arm warmers in stylish patterns including purple-pink peacock, orange-purple tie dye and sea whisper. Gaiters designed to protect a runner's legs on trail runs are available in fun patterns. Sparkly headbands in ruby-lavender, peacock and fuchsia prevent hair from getting in a runner's face. A hot-pink tank with the words "You've gotta burn if you wanna shine" adds fun to the running woman's wardrobe."What I'm talking about and selling resonates with the women out there. I wanted to make these clothes that are funky and different but that are extremely high performing."High performance is something that Hughes takes seriously. She transitioned from running marathons to distance and adventure running, and completed a 100-mile race through the Washington Cascades, ran across the Australian Outback in a seven-day self-supported stage race and recently completed a 160-mile race across the desert in Jordan.
"It's so rare to be disconnected from everything," Hughes said. "You strip everything else away, and your only goal is movement. You're pushing yourself and see what happens when you do that."
While Hughes is searching for her next adventure, she's spending her summer showing her running clothing line at events including the North County Wine Run in Battle Ground, the Portland Marathon and the upcoming Girlfriends Half-Marathon on Oct. 14.
"It's a great way to meet the women out there. I get a lot out of seeing their initial joy at running these (marathon) distances for the first time."
To learn more about Hughes, visit her blog and view her apparel line at http://www.runprettyfar.com.
— Ashley Swanson
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