Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Penultimate Post of the Year?

Finally back outside running after Winter Storm 2008 swept through Portland on December 14th. I ran three miles on the treadmill once and that was enough for me. Luckily this storm corresponded well with my time off after the marathon so I wasn't too worried about running anyway.

The storm started pretty small but the snow was coming down steady:

Walking to Starbucks on Sunday:

Willamette River:

Walking to work in the first heavy snow:

Busses stuck on 12/22/08:

MLK Jr. Blvd - 12/23/2008:

Side street near the Rose Garden - 12/23/08:

Tuesday December 23 - Usually these three parking lots are full of cars and there are at least some cars driving on the street, today no cars in sight: Max Line shut down due to the ice and snow:
Out for a walk downtown:
Verifying that the Magic is indeed in the Hole:
(it is)

Pig Pink:

I finished off the weekend with a round of Kitty Dentistry - he handled it well:

It helps that the toothpaste is chicken flavor:

Recent workouts:

Sunday - ran four miles @ 8:52AP
Monday - Weights in the morning, ran four miles in 30:48 - first two miles 16:34, second two miles 14:14
Tuesday - rode the trainer for 40 minutes (still need to put my speedometer on the back tire

Getting up early to workout is about as fun as it sounds - the getting up part at least. Once I'm done I feel pretty good, and I really do need to get used to it sometime.

Jen put a complete schedule of this year's races on her blog, the only differences are that I am not doing the half marathon in January, and might run the half marathon instead of the 5k at Race for the Roses, and I'm not quite as crazy as Jen so although I will be at IMAZ it will be in spectator/family coordinator/photographer/coffee drinker role.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

It's Beginning to Look a lot Like Christmas

The winter weather finally hit Portland in full force last night. We woke up to two inches of snow and it just kept on snowing all day and into the night. Tomorrow is supposed to be more of the same along with some freezing rain.

I haven't done much since the marathon - a couple days of strength training and a lot of days of eating cookies and relaxing. I'm planning on getting back into more of a routine this next week with some more strength training and some days on the trainer. I was planning on heading to the pool today but the icy roads put a damper on that idea.

After CIM I started thinking about what I wanted to do for my next marathon. I would like to run one next fall but I don't know how that will work out with my schedule. The only races that would really work out for me would be Las Vegas or CIM, both of which are in the first week of December. Both of them would fit in with a 12 week training plan which would give me around 4 weeks of recovery after Lake Stevens 70.3, but, Vegas isn't all that great from what I hear and Jen isn't keen on going back to Sacramento again, especially since she won't be running (her Iron Man is on November 22nd). However, the biggest thing for me is that running a fall marathon would put me into a similar situation as I was in this year; I didn't have much of a base going into training. Instead of training for a fall marathon I think I will train for a couple of half marathons to build a solid base. Hopefully this strategy will set me up for a solid London race in Spring 2010; and really no matter what, running a marathon in London will be pretty freakin sweet. I'm also excited to train for a half marathon and see just how fast I can get. Although I know it's next to impossible for me, I would really like to try and qualify for the New York Marathon with a half marathon time. For me that would be 1:23:00 which I believe is around a 6:15 AP; and that in my opinion is smokin'.

In the here and now triathlon season is almost upon us. I'm planning on doing two Olympic distance events (Blue Lake in June and Hagg Lake in July) and one 70.3 (Lake Stevens in August). There is an open water swim event at Hagg that I would like to find out more about as well. I believe that is in late May or early June.

Overall I had a great 2008. I ran three half marathons, setting a new PR at each one, completed three sprint triathlons (I placed in my age group in two of them), and ran my first marathon. All of this after having hernia surgery in February. Overall it was a great year and I look forward to another great season in 2009. I am however, very aware of the fact that I will now be competing in one of the toughest age groups for the next ten years so I definitely have my work cut out for me.

Here are a couple additional pictures from today when we were walking around the city enjoying the snow.

Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

California International Marathon

Running a marathon is tough. I had heard that many times from Jen and other marathon runners but I never really knew what they meant. Looking at this statement now it reminds me of another conversation I used to have with a friend of mine; we would be talking about the stock market and then the conversation would inevitably go something like this:

Him: “You’ve never been through a Bear market right”?
Me: “Nope”
Him (smiling): “You will, you will”
Me: “It can’t be all that bad”
Him (still smiling): “You’ll see”

Then I would combine the appropriate facial expression with the appropriate verbal response to try to show that I understood what he was talking about and could relate to it somehow.

Looking back at all of Jen’s marathon stories I now realize that I did a lot of combining a facial expression with a verbal response such as Wow, or Ooohhhhh, or Man, or just a facial expression that said Yikes. I was doing this to try to relay that I knew what she was talking about and could relate to it – turns out I had no clue what she was talking about and would never understand it until now.

Overall this was a great experience from beginning to end. Training with Jen was a lot of fun and running the race with her was even better. If it wasn’t for her I doubt I would have ever even started running longer distances. It all began with me agreeing to run with her on longer runs so she had some company for a while. I would run 10 or 11 miles with her then wait while she ran a few more. This worked out great because I was getting some exercise and also getting out of the list of chores she used to leave me when she would go running and I would stay home. Eventually I started thinking I could run a half marathon and after completing a couple of those I thought there was no way I would ever consider running a marathon. But, you know, you watch your wife and thousands of other people finish a few marathons and you start to think, maybe, just maybe.

After three months of training, a PR half marathon, and some really strong training runs, I felt ready. The week before the race I was worrying about my side cramps and sore calf muscle and I started to let those things get in my head. Little did I know, those would turn out to be the least of my problems.

Friday evening I got home from work with my stomach feeling sort of off and my body starting to ache. I laid on the couch for a while then ate some dinner but by the time I finished eating I felt horrible and had to go lay down in bed. My stomach really started hurting and my body was really achy and sore. I was getting hot and cold and by 10ish I knew I was going to throw up. I thought about trying to fight it but eventually gave up and by 11:00 my stomach was empty. I spent the rest of the night feeling like hell and trying to get what little sleep I could. I thought I was going to have to stay home and miss the race.
Saturday I woke up feeling a bit better but still not that good. I was able to eat most of a bagel and have some coffee before we headed out to the airport to catch our plane. Once we arrived in Sacramento I was ready to get back in bed and try to rest some more. My stomach was still very unsettled and I was now starting to get a headache which just made it worse. For lunch I had some room service chicken noodle soup (same for dinner) and Jen went out and got me a juice, some Tylenol, and also picked up my race bag at the expo. Once she got back to the room she spent the rest of the afternoon and evening taking care of me and trying to get me to eat and drink as much as I could. I tried to fight her every step of the way on this but looking back the calories I was able to force down likely saved me from a complete bonk the next day.

I woke up Saturday night around 11:00 and could tell that I was feeling much better and every time I woke up after that I was thankful to still be feeling ok.

Sunday morning I was out of bed at 4:00 and was able to drink my coffee and eat my breakfast without feeling crappy. We got our clothes on, met up with Aron, and headed down to the busses to be taken to the starting line. We were on the second bus which got us to the start at around 5:40. The driver parked the bus and told us we could stay on it to keep warm which was awesome. We got off for a few minutes to hit up the port-o-johns then got back on until 6:20. We hit up the johns a couple more times then threw our sweats bags in the truck and headed to the start line. (Side note: there was this poor kid standing up in the sweats truck yelling “Please pile your bags on the ground” over and over. While he was doing this people were throwing their bags into the truck and they were whizzing by this poor kid’s head while he was yelling. I kept wondering if I was going to see him get hit in the face with a bag, fall backwards, and get buried in the swarm of bags that was flying into the truck.)

The race was, well it was a race. This was the first race I have actually run with someone so in a sense it was much like a training run, only we were running much faster and with a lot more people. We ran the first few miles faster than the next few which were faster than the next few and so on. By mile 16 I knew I was going to have to walk but we were still pretty much on pace and I wanted to keep going with Jen so she could get her goal. I could tell she was going through a bit of a rough patch brought on by the well known Gu+hill ≠ good breathing equation. I stuck it out till mile 19.5 where I told her that I was going to walk at mile 20 but she should keep going and do her best. I gave her a last drink of the water I was carrying then stopped to walk.

At first my plan was to walk for 30 seconds then start running again but before I knew it 45 seconds had gone by. I then decided that two minutes was a much better time frame for walking so I drank some more water and finished my Gu. My stomach had been feeling funny all day so I was forcing the Gu down and wasn’t enjoying it or looking forward to it like I did in training runs. I was able to get down a total of four and I’m sure they helped me out even though I didn’t enjoy them.

I started running again after my two minute break and made it to mile 22 where another walk break was mandated by my brain. I saw people trying to walk fast during their walk breaks but I decided that a nice slow saunter was much more to my liking. I walked for a minute then started picking up forward momentum to get back to a running pace. Every time I started back up I felt like I was pulling a shopping cart full of cinder blocks. After each quarter mile I felt like someone was throwing in an additional cinder block just for good measure.

Next up was mile 23 and I was really looking forward to walking again when who should appear but my cute little wife and her big smile. She said that she started feeling like crap after we split up and had slowly fell off the pace so she decided that finishing with me was more important that trying to grit it out for a BQ. I was sooooooooooo glad to see her. I had been alone in a no man’s land for the last three miles and seeing her gave me a bit more energy to finish out the race. We took a couple more walk breaks and around mile 24 Aron caught up to us. The three of us ran the next mile and a half together and split up when Jen and I took our last walk break in the last mile.

I crossed the finish line, got my space blanket, had my chip removed, and was given my finishers medal. After the race we headed back to our hotel to shower and pack up since we had a noon check out time – the shower was great because not only was I very sweaty but I was really cold. After that we met up with Aron and her family as well as Maritza and her friend Tara for some post-race food and drinks.

Overall it was a great experience and one that I think I will do again. With my triathlon schedule the next reasonable time for me would be Spring 2010 so we’ll see how everything works out.

Here are a few random tidbits that didn’t get into the main body of the report and I really don’t feel like going back to re-write and add them:

I had a toenail cut into a toe in like the first mile, but the end of the race my whole toe-box was saturated in blood.

I saw a guy dressed up as Tigger cheering on the runners.

The crowds were awesome – I’ve never run a race with crowds like this.

I am very thankful that I was even able to run the race after being so sick.

Putting my sweatshirt on the sweats truck was an excellent idea – I was very happy to have it after the race.

Something that made me laugh was when I saw a group of people with a “Dienetics” sign standing in front of a scientology church handing out oranges. I thought it was funny that they were handing out “little slices of Scientology”.

Bumping into other runners in the airport was pretty cool; especially when Jen would tell them it was my first marathon.

I think that instead of having a DJ every mile for the last six miles they should just have a continuous string of speakers so there is never a moment without music.

Shout spray does indeed work on blood stains, even in shoes.

Some pictures:

Checking into hotel on Saturday, feeling awful
A pic Aron's family took during the race. It was cold and foggy (perfect) the whole time.
After the race:At the restaurant:
Bloody shoes:

Monday, December 1, 2008

The Final Countdown

With the marathon less than a week away my training is winding down and I'm trying to eat good and stay really hydrated throughout the week. I did a pretty good job eating over the Thanksgiving break, and by that I mean I ate as much as I could and helped myself to a lot of pumpkin pie with whipped cream on top.

Jen signed us up for a local Turkey Trot in Helena so I took my cool weather running gear (aka tights and a long sleeve tech shirt) thinking that was going to be enough. Chances are it would have been fine if the weather would have been in the 30's like it had been earlier in the week, but it didn't exactly work out that way. It was 16 when we woke up Thursday morning. I borrowed another long sleeve tech shirt from my Step-Dad and my Mom found an old ear-warmer for me to use (she found one for Jen too). Jen had bought some gloves for us earlier in the week so I threw on a pair of those as well. We drove over to Jen's parent's house to park then we ran the five blocks up to the start. There were around 300 people standing around outside many of which were jumping up and down or running up and down the block to keep warm. I did a few warm up blocks to get my legs warmed up and to avoid any side or shin cramping and before I knew it everyone was lining up to start. Since this was a small benefit race there were no numbers and no awards (other than pies given out via drawing at the end) and it was timed with a stop watch so Jen and I lined up near the front to get a jump on the crowd. The first few hundred feet were a jumble of bodies sorting themselves out but after making the first corner Jen caught up to me and we ran together for a little while. She told me to go ahead so I picked up the pace a bit and noticed I was not that far behind the leaders. Over the next mile or so I picked off the runners in the pack ahead of me so by the last mile I was in the string of runners out in front. We were spread out pretty far but I was still able to pick off two more people by the time the finish line was in sight. I picked up the pace a little bit for the last three blocks to make sure no one was going to pass me and I crossed the finish line in 20:34 for 6th place overall. I was shocked to see I had finished sixth overall since that is usually done with a time in the 17:00-18:00 range! I saw my Mom and talked to her while watching for Jen - a couple minutes later she crossed the finish line and we met up with her Dad and my Step-Dad who had been a few blocks down taking pictures. After stretching our sweat started to freeze and we were getting pretty cold so we headed down to Jen's parents to hop in the hot tub.

This week I've got a few easy runs on the schedule but my main focus will be stretching, eating well, and getting mentally prepared for the marathon.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Almost Turkey Time

Another week in the books and one week closer to my first marathon. This week will be a short one with only two days of work before a nice long Thanksgiving weekend. Last week I was able to get in some good runs along with one where I got a bad side cramp and had to slow down for my last two miles. I get these randomly but more often than not they come on when I am running hard.

Monday: 5 miles w/ four half-mile intervals

1 mile warm up: 8:31 -- .5mi 4:02 -- .5mi 3:06 -- .25mi 2:04 -- .5mi 3:19 -- .25mi 2:04 -- .5mi 3:03 -- .25mi 2:34 -- .5mi 3:13 -- .75mi 5:42.

Tuesday: 5 miles @ 8:20 AP

Thursday: 6 miles @ 8:02 AP - after a warm up mile I picked up the pace but after three miles at an average of 7:27 my side cramp started acting up and I had to stop for a couple minutes before running the last two miles at an 8:40ish average.

Friday: I decided to ride the trainer and watch Knight Rider since my legs were hurting a bit and I was still a bit worried about my side starting to act up again. I set up the bike and turned on the tv then spent the next 45 minutes working up a sweat and watching Michael Knight save the day (with the help of Kitt of course). Sometime soon I need to move my speedometer sensor and receiver to the back tire so I will be able to see my average speed on both the trainer and the roads.

Saturday: 16 miles in 2:17:17 - 8:35 AP

This was the longest run I have done by myself so I was really focused on keeping a relaxed pace and not going out too hard and regretting it in the end. I started off nice and easy then eased into a nice rhythm; my pace for the majority of the miles was pretty consistent. Here's a breakdown of the miles:

8:59; 8:38; 8:40; 8:46; 8:35; 8:41; 8:46; 8:44; 8:29; 8:23; 8:35; 8:32; 8:30; 8:20; 8:22; 8:17

My left calf started bothering me around mile 10 but it never got really painful; it sort of hurt but wasn't painful. Once I got home I ran a nice cold ice bath and sat in it and read for a while. After that pleasant experience I took a shower and went out to grab some breakfast.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Two Very Different Long Runs

Last weekend Jen and I ran 17 miles for our long run and it was tough for me. It wasn't the rain or the route, it was my calf muscle. At around mile seven it started feeling a little tight, sort of a mild charlie horse. As we progressed through the miles it steadily got worse. Every time we stopped to cross a street or fill our bottles I tried to stretch it out. By the time we were at mile 15 it was really hurting me; I was very happy when we finally got back to our apartment and I was able to hop in the ice bath, take some aleve, and use the foam roller. The next day we rode our bikes about sixteen miles in North Portland to check out a new route and my calf didn't bother me too much - I think the riding was a good way to get some blood flowing without stressing my muscles too much.

Monday I had five miles on the schedule but thought it was in my best interest to bag the run and instead ride an hour on the trainer. I was excited to watch an episode of the new Knight Rider but I had forgot that I was already up to date so instead I settled for the last half of Lawnmower Man and some Jeopardy. I had Tuesday off due to Veterans Day so I partook in a few recovery adult beverages; after a couple my calf started feeling a bit better.

Tuesday I got back out on the trail with Jen to do tempo miles with her - we ran seven total with three at tempo - she did great and it was nice to push her along. I always have to remind myself to tone down my inner high school track coach and use positive reinforcement instead of good ole fashion yelling (combined with positive reinforcement).
Wednesday was an off day so I spent the evening stretching and using the foam roller; my calf was starting to feel better but I was a bit worried about how it would hold up on the weekend long run.
Thursday I was back out on the East Bank Esplanade for 6 miles - I think my pace was around 8:14 (yes, I know what it was I just don't feel like getting up and looking at my Garmin). My calf was feeling better but for some odd reason I got one of my painful side cramps. Always on the right side, always in the muscles - it's different than a normal side cramp and it really sucks. I stopped and streched a bit and a little while later it was feeling fine.
Friday my calf was still a bit tight so I cut my run short from the planned five to three easy miles - I felt fine the whole time which was great. One of the factors making this run good was the new shoes that were delivered - check out the comparison between the old and new:
I still need to change out the laces but other than that they are perfect.

This morning Jen and I got up early and headed out for our last 20 mile run. We decided to run up along the Columbia River in North Portland (right across the river from Vancouver). It was cold and foggy to start which was nice because we stayed nice and cool and the fog helped save some of the scenery for later in the run. We kept our pace in the 8:40's for the first 10 miles and just cruised along. My calf was bothering me in that way where something is in the back of your mind but in reality it is just fine.

The fog lifted around mile 11 and a few minutes later we could see Mt. Hood in the distance. It's a huge mountain that seems to loom over the Portland area; even though it is 60 miles away it seems like it's much closer. This picture doesn't do it justice but you can see what a beautiful day it turned out to be (the girl in the foreground is always beautiful no matter what the weather is like):

By the time we got to mile 15 I was feeling great; the leg was fine, no side cramp, and I was about to have my Vanilla Bean Gu which always puts me in a good mood:

We continued on and picked up the pace each mile for the next five miles. Around mile 17 my legs were getting tired but overall I still felt great. I pushed hard on my last mile and it came in at 7:20. By the end the sky was completely clear and we could see Mt. Adams and Mt. Saint Helens in addition to Mt. Hood. This was a great 20 mile run, especially since the run last weekend was so tough on me. I'm getting excited about the marathon which is just three short weeks away.

Friday, November 7, 2008

One Week Closer

This week is the second to last in my training for CIM which means I have one more 17 miler and another 20 next weekend then the taper begins. This week I cut my Monday run short because I was a little sore but then I made up the miles on Wednesday on an interval run with Jen. Here are the stats for this week so far:

Monday - four miles in 33:18, 8:20 AP
Tuesday - nine miles in 1:12:36, 8:04 AP
Wednesday - eight miles w/ Jen (intervals) in 1:09:30, 8:21 AP
Thursday - OFF
Friday - six miles in 49:35, 8:16 AP

Tomorrow we are heading out from our house which means we will be able to ice right after our run and make a nice breakfast of french toast with fresh berries, powdered sugar, and whipped cream - and a nice big cup of coffee.

The forecast calls for rain but I'm already learning that the weather forecast in Portland is really only accurate if they are talking about an exact point in time; as in "it's raining outside" or "it just stopped raining"; other than that they are just offering up a best guess.

It's 10:30 here in Portland - I wonder how many folks in Clearwater are lying awake in bed staring at the ceiling thinking about their race tomorrow. I'm rooting for Potts but he just did Kona so he might have a tough time winning this year.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Holy Darkness it's Cold in the Northwest

Soooooooooooo, it gets dark early in Portland; and it gets cold too..............and it seems to rain quite a bit as well. Looking at this in a more positive light I realized that this means that the days are long in the summer and c+r=s or cold + rain = snow, so it's not all bad.

Monday morning I was standing at the bus stop reading my book (currently reading The Great Gatsby) and I noticed two things: 1) my bus was late; and 2) there were a lot of buses crammed full of people. A little while later I noticed that these buses were Max shuttles which made me realize that something was wrong with Max. I figured that this was somehow delaying my bus and I wondered just who these people thought they were. Did they somehow think that their getting to work was more important than me getting to work? I mean of all the low-down things. A few minutes later I was back in my book glad for the delay since I was able to get in some additional pre-work reading. Around 8:10 another passenger found out that the Steel Bridge was out of commission and that was the cause of the bus delay. He said that another bus should be there in about 15 minutes; since it is only a 20 minute walk I headed out via the Broadway Bridge. The following picture is looking at downtown Portland from the Broadway Bridge:

The training has been coming along well (other than running in the dark and rain after work) - we ran 20 last weekend and so far this week I have done four, nine, and eight. This weekend will be 17 in the rain (according to weather.com) then we have another 20 next weekend before the taper starts.

I'm looking forward to taking some time off in December and January before starting to base build for the upcoming tri season - my training officially starts in March. I'm also looking forward to eating a ton of food for Thanksgiving - we will be having Thanksgiving in MT for the first time in seven years.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

First Time at Twenty

This weekend Jen and I ran our 20 miler on a nice flat route. It was still a tough run once we got to about 16 miles. It was raining lightly the whole time which actually wasn't too bad. Sure we were wet, but our feet never really got soaked through and we both had our hats which kept the rain out of our faces. Here I am at the turn around:

Our average pace for the run ended up being 8:54, the first half was 9:13 and the second half was 8:34.

Today we took our mountain bikes out for a ride down the west side of the river. Like Saturday, the weather was overcast but it did not rain nearly as much. After our ride we spent some time in the hot tub then watched the new Indiana Jones - meh. It was pretty good but I didn't think it was nearly as good as the old ones. Following are a couple of pictures I took today when we were out riding.

Looking up the river to the South Waterfront:

Fallen leaves in a park on the ride today:

This week I ran five times; three miles on Monday at a 9:15 pace, seven on Tuesday at a 7:41 pace, seven on Thursday w/ Jen at a 7:49 pace, three on Friday at a 7:45 pace, and 20 on Saturday. Overall I am getting a little muscle sore but nothing is bothering me that bad; I hope I can say that in a couple weeks. After this weekend we have one more 20 miler then we start our taper for the race on December 7th.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Tagged by Marathon Maritza

10 years ago:

1. I was smoking a pack a day (ah Camel Lights, you will always have a special place in my heart).
2. Running was something I did to get to my car when it was cold outside.
3. I was given my first fake ID and learned that people went out and got wasted on weeknights.
4. I learned just how horrible a hang over can be (I didn't drink that much in high school).
5. I said mean things about road cyclists wearing spandex.

5 Things on tomorrow's to-do list (today is almost over):

1. Dig into some reading I have been putting off at work.
2. Play cards with some co-workers at lunch.
3. Run five miles.
4. See David Sedaris at The Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall.
5. Get my long run stuff ready for Saturday's 20 miler.

5 Things I would do if I was a billionaire:

1. Buy a large piece of land and establish a sanctuary for Big Cats that have been held in captivity and outgrown their space. Not large Tom-cats but Leopards, Mountain Lions, etc.
2. Buy a house in Jackson Hole.
3. Fund athletic and music programs for the local school districts.
4. Travel.
5. Build an adult sized pool of plastic balls like they used to have at McDonalds.

5 Places I have lived:

1. Helena, MT
2. Missoula, MT
3. San Francisco, CA
4. Dublin, CA
5. Portland, OR

5 Jobs I have had:

1. Assistant Manager at Fuddruckers
2. General Ledger Accountant
3. Client Service Associate
4. Investor Relations Analyst
5. Portfolio Finance Analyst

The training is going great - my hamstring isn't bothering me much lately, I think the foam roller and extra stretching is helping out. This weekend will be my first 20 miler of two in this training plan - should be interesting. Hopefully it isn't raining, or if it is hopefully it's not raining too hard.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Picture Post

Training has been going great - legs are getting a bit sore but it's not so much pain as just soreness. My hamstring has been bothering me a bit but I'm hoping that stretching and foam rolling will help it. This weekend Jen and I ran our 18 miler, my longest run yet. We ran along the Old Columbia River Highway which is now closed to cars in some sections. It was a fairly hilly run which led to the usual recipe of me feeling great for the first 10 miles and Jen getting in her groove around mile 11 when I stop talking and start focusing on keeping up. Tomorrow I have a nice short 4 mile recovery run then 7 on Tuesday, 7 on Thursday, 4 on Friday, and 20 on Saturday.

Now that Fall is officially hitting the Portland area I took some pictures from my office and also on our recent runs.
Dirt hill we ran up on our recent long run - we gained approx 600 feet in elevation over 1.25 miles:

Jen and I running along the Old Columbia River Highway:
Hike in Forest Park:

Mount Saint Helens from my office:

Red leaves in Portland:

In other news I've decided, well 85% decided, to aim for the HulaMan Half Ironman as my A race for this coming season. Really nothing is holding me back from saying that I'm 100%, it's just a little strange for me to think about training for a HIM. The plan I picked out is pretty intense but not overwhelming. One thing that will be different from my sprint training is that this plan does not have any bricks - well, it does have some bricks but they are short. I've read quite a bit about bricks and like pretty much everything else in tri it's split 50/50 as to how beneficial they are. The plan has a lot of running, just not any long bricks. I guess all I can do is give it my best and see how I do (and maybe see how many times I can use the word bricks in all my sentences).

Monday, October 20, 2008

Run Like Hell Half Marathon

This weekend Jen and I ran the Run Like Hell Half Marathon in Portland. Last week after looking at the map we drove the course to check out the hills and get an idea of when they would raise their ugly heads in the race. We had been on a portion of the course during one of our training runs and we knew that section would most likely be the toughest part. The first few miles were flat then at about mile 6 the course starts slowly climbing until about mile 9.5. At this point we were to turn onto Terwilliger Blvd for a steep climb of about a mile then the course would turn into rolling downhill to the finish.

A little over a week ago there was a small landslide in Portland and a house slid off of the hillside and onto a residential road. It turns out this road was Terwilliger and the house was essentially blocking the course. When we picked up our packets on Saturday there was a note posted stating that the course had been changed due to the slide and we would now be turning around at the point where we would normally turn onto Terwilliger and heading back to the finish from there. Needless to say this was huge.

Sunday morning the alarm went off at 6am which was very very early. I haven't been up at 6 for two, two and a half months so I didn't realize that it would be so freaking dark and cold. Luckily we had stopped by the Salvation Station earlier that day and picked up a couple of throw-away sweatshirts (which we ended up giving to my parents at the start so they will be making the pilgrimage to CIM in December (the sweatshirts, not the parents)) so we were able to stay fairly warm while waiting for the race to start. We ran about a half mile to warm up then got into the starting chute with everyone else and got ready to run. It was still pretty dark when we started but I decided to wear my sunglasses because I knew if I didn't I would have dry contacts in a matter of minutes.

My strategy was to break the race into two five mile segments followed by a 5k to finish. I wasn't sure if a PR was in the cards due to the hills but I also knew that on my last HM I really didn't train for a running race at all since it was right in the middle of tri season. I wanted to run 7:40's for the first five miles, assess how I felt at the first five mile mark, run the next five miles at the same pace or a bit faster if possible, then push it hard for the last 5k if I had it in me. I knew that it would be in my best interest to run miles 6 to 9.5 at a steady pace but not push too hard due to the incline.

The race started out with a block of uphill followed by a quarter mile of downhill - I kept my pace nice and steady for the downhill and thought I would settle into a stride once we turned the first corner and hit the flat roads. The first mile is always a strange one for me, I don't know if I'm going to fast or too slow so I just tried to get into a comfortable stride and see what my pace was. Mile 1 = 7:35

Ok, not too bad on the first mile. My legs were feeling good and my shin muscle was not bothering me at all. I was starting to settle into a groove and figured the second mile would come in about the same as the first. Mile 2 = 7:16

I told myself to slow it down a bit. 11 miles to go, no need to push it too hard in the beginning of the race and suffer on the incline which was now only four miles away. I came up on a group of four and slowed down a bit to hang with them and relax. It felt like they were going a bit slow but I figured they weren't going that slow and it would do me good to take it down a notch at this point anyway. Mile 3 = 7:47

At this point one of the members of our group started pulling away so I followed suit and fell into step behind him. My shin was starting to feel tight in the most minuscule way, fortunately, my foot was also a bit sore so I just focused on that pain which took my mind off my shin and allowed me to relax. I could tell we had picked up the pace a bit but I was feeling good so I just kept with it. Mile 4 = 7:24

I was in a good groove and was feeling good so I decided to go with it and not try to slow down. At this point I passed the guy that had pulled away from the group but I didn't feel like I had increased my speed at all so I figured he was slowing down. Turns out I was right. Mile 5 = 7:25

Mile five - check. I was feeling good but knew the incline was coming. I figured I might as well keep this pace going for now and see what happens at mile six. I knew I was going to slow a bit but since I was feeling ok I wasn't too worried about it taking too much out of me. The following picture is at around mile 5.5 - at this point I could see the start of the incline but I wasn't going to let it get in my head. Mile 6 = 7:25

Ugh - climbing - slowing. I didn't think of much during this mile other than "get it done and see what your pace is". Mile 7 = 7:49.

Ok, so I had slowed a bit but that was to be expected. I didn't think I was going to speed up on the hills and I was still feeling pretty good. A little way into this mile we passed through a tunnel that was maybe a little over 100 yards long. It was very quite in there, I thought it would be cool to yell out to hear the echo but I wasn't sure if that was appropriate. My next thought was along the lines of "that's stupid, you know everyone is thinking it, just do it", so I did. "Whoo"! I yelled loud and it echoed through the tunnel startling those in front of me. After their initial shock they laughed and we all kept on running back into the daylight. Although the road was still climbing at this point it didn't seem as steep and I felt like I was maybe picking the pace back up a bit. Mile 8 = 7:43.

I knew we would be getting near the turn soon so I decided to have my gel. Mmmmmmmmmmm - Vanilla Bean - tastes just like frosting. A little way into mile nine I saw the sign for mile ten and knew it was out of order. After cursing the sign placers I realized that the sign was most likely in the right place, it was just facing the wrong way which meant the turn around was going to be approaching soon. A few minutes later I saw the sign for mile nine and knew that in a few minutes I would be heading back down the incline towards the finish. Mile 9 = 7:41.

Sure enough, the turn was just around the next corner. I made the turn and sped up a bit; I was feeling relaxed and very glad to be heading downhill. I settled into a groove and waited for the next mile marker before making the final assessment for the last 5k. Mile 10 = 7:20.

Feeling good, time to pick up the pace. I knew I had to keep it under control and not push too hard because even though I was going down I could still push too hard and burn myself out for the last mile. I saw Jen coming up the hill and we ran towards each other for a high-five. I started running a bit faster because I realized that a PR was in the cards but I still knew that I had to run up that quarter mile decline from the start of the race so I wanted to keep something in the tank. Mile 11 = 6:59

Two miles to go, time to pick up the pace again. Back through the tunnel - "Whoo"! I came out of the tunnel and could see the city and I knew I was getting close. I could tell I was running faster than I had been all day but I was feeling good so I stuck with it. Mile 12 = 6:41

That mile was faster than expected but I was still feeling good and only had a little over a mile to go. I knew that barring any catastrophic event I could make a PR. We turned onto the climb to the finish and I pushed hard to the end. My hamstring started hurting and for a moment I thought I might have to stop and stretch it out - fortunately I was able to grit it out and push on. Mile 13 = 6:38

I pushed up the last part of the hill and made the turn to run down the last block to the finish. I crossed the line and stopped my Garmin. Total watch time = 1:36:14; Total Chip Time = 1:36:11; 7:20 AP. I walked over to the chip takers and got my finishers medal; I had beat my old PR by 4:31. I was 10/54 in my AG and 78/1009 OA.

I walked back up the block and found my parents and we all cheered for Jen as she passed. We met up with some friends who came to cheer us on then we grabbed a cup of coffee and walked back over to our neighborhood for breakfast. When we got home we kicked back and relaxed for a while.

Although this guy didn't run he is demonstrating how I spent part of the afternoon.

Overall it was a great race - the weather was nice and cool and it was nice to have my parents and some friends there to cheer us on. It will be interesting to possibly run it next year when the course is back to the original layout with the big hills.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

X is no Y

As I started writing this I thought of the statement "Oregon is no California" to describe the triathlon scene. After typing it I realized how simple statements can be construed in several ways. Depending on who said it and in what context it could be a positive or negative statement. For example, if you were discussing a training ride with someone for the upcoming weekend and they mentioned keeping an eye on the weather due to possible rain you might say "Oregon is no California", meaning that in California it's more than likely that the weather is going to be good and you don't even have to worry about it. However, if you were talking about driving 30 miles to meet up for a training ride and someone mentioned that it takes less than 30minutes to get there because there will be no traffic you might say "Oregon is no California" meaning that in California it's likely that traffic will be an issue. When I wrote "Oregon is no California" referring the the triathlon scene it instantly stood out to me as being "something a Californian would say". I didn't necessarily mean it in any particular way, I was just stating the facts - there are many more races offered throughout the year in California than there are in Oregon.

After looking over the posted races on trifind.com and Slowtwitch I found a few options that are the distance I am looking for and are within a reasonable driving distance. Based on what I said above it would seem like there would only be one or two races on this list but there are actually quite a few. I was hoping to find a May race but the first one I could find was in the middle of June. Actually, I did find a couple in May but they have pool swims and I just can't get on board with those. Once I read through the races and checked their locations on the map I came up with a list that has one event in June (Sprint or Oly), two in July (Sprint or Oly), three in August (HIM and two Sprint/Oly options), and four in September (HIM, and four Sprint/Oly options). The spacing of these events really only allows for one in June, one in July, two in August, and two in September.

Now that I had my races picked out I started to think about what I wanted to do with this basket of options. Do I focus on sprints? Should I do a couple of sprints and an olympic or two? How about a sprint in June, an olympic in July, and the HIM in August? What if I focused on shorter races in the first part of the year and ended the season with the HIM in September? Last but not least; isn't it a bit early in the year to be thinking about this? I discussed the options with Jen since she is planning on another summer of triathlon and I wanted to get her opinion since she did a HIM last year and is most likely going to do another one this year. She echoed my statement about it being a bit early in the year to really make a decision but she did make a very valid point when she said I should see what I think after running the marathon and then decide. See, up until now I have always been a fan of short events. I like to go hard and be done as quickly as possible. Of course this begs the question "why not apply that same principle to a longer event"? It's not like people that are racing long events are out there taking their sweet time. They train hard to race hard, it's just that they train a lot more and race a lot further than I have in the past.

For now I'm just going to focus on the marathon and after that I'll focus on skiing for a while, which is something I am very excited about. It used to be a three hour drive to ski if there was no traffic, now it should take just over an hour - of course, that's because "Oregon is no California".

Monday, October 13, 2008

Still Running Strong

Since my last post I've done two long runs - 16 miles and 17 miles - average pace on the 16er was 8:38 and 8:37 for the 17er.

So That's What She Was Talking About

So in the past Jen would talk about how you hit a point in your marathon training when you will feel tired at the strangest time during a run. Lately I have been feeling a bit tired when starting runs but after a mile or so I get in a groove and feel ok. This weekend I hit a point on mile 11 of the 17 mile run where I just felt tired and wished I could stop and be done. I pulled it together and a couple miles later I felt a bit better but it was the strangest thing. The run wasn't really all that hilly or hard but for some reason I was just burned out. Of course Jen was hitting her stride at that point and was bouncing along like "la dee dah" - if she hadn't been there to pull me along in that stretch it would have been much more challenging for me. It really is nice having someone to push and pull me along on these longer runs; and it really helps that she has done this before and can really relate to the things I notice on these longer runs.

The Foot/Heel is Better - Now it's the Ankle and Front Calf Muscle

My right heel really isn't bothering me much anymore but on the last couple of runs my front calf muscle has been tightening up like it used to. Finally today it got to the point where I had to stop and stretch it out for a moment before starting up again. It's a bit frustrating with the HM coming up this weekend - I had hoped to go for a fast time but I might just settle for running it at marathon race pace and making sure I don't injure myself. It is the strangest thing - I have two bumps on the muscle on the outside front of my leg next to the shin bone - right leg - pretty much right here:

Hopefully some ice-bucketing and foam rolling will help solve the problem. Tomorrow I was supposed to run again but I think I will ride my bike on the trainer instead.

First Portland Guests
My parents are coming over from Montana this weekend to stay with us and watch us run the HM. We're looking forward to seeing them and showing them around town. My Mom lived here for a while (I was born in Portland) so I am looking forward to seeing what she thinks of our neighborhood. When she lived here it was just vacant lots and warehouses.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Longest Run

The Training

My total mileage last week was 31 which was comprised of a four mile run on Monday, eight miles on Wednesday, another four on Friday, and a 15 mile long run on Saturday which was one hilly mother. For the most part it was a nice asphalt trail which followed the road and for a good six miles we were in a forested area away from traffic. Of course there were about four miles that cut through a fairly busy section of, ummmmmm, we'll call it outer Portland, which was on sidewalk and had a few street crossings. This was my longest run ever but that record will be short lived since we have 16 on the schedule for this weekend. It's supposed to rain that afternoon so we're going to try to get the run done in the morning.

The Sore Foot

My foot has been feeling quite a bit better thanks to these guys:

Happy Bouncy Ball is perfect for self foot massage while sitting at my desk:

I haven't had a sore heel in the morning for a few days and during runs it has not been bothering me much at all. I'm going to keep up the rolling and icing to stay on top of any potential return but I'm hopeful that it's not going to get any worse.

The Biking

On Sunday of last week Jen and I drove out to Hood River for a MTB ride on a trail she read about. It was a fairly flat dirt road with a bit of single track mixed with a couple of short semi-technical sections. We both had a great time and ended the day with a drink in Hood River before heading back to Portland for some Godfathers pizza.
This week I have nine miles on Wednesday and five on Friday (as well as the 16 miler this weekend). So far the marathon training has been great - it's really nice to have someone to run with on the long runs and Jen has also been riding her bike along with me on my shorter runs.

I really want to start swimming a couple of times a week but it has been hard to find a pool that is close, not too expensive, and nice/clean. It's probably not too important until next tri season but I know that if I don't go at least five or six times a month to keep up my "form" then I will be back at square one when I start up again in March/April. Cycling is going to be tough to keep up on in the winter but I'm sure I can get in some trainer rides along with some longer MTB rides to keep my legs in shape.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

New Bike and the New View

First the runs from this week:

Monday - 4 miles tempo with Jen - 7:49 AP
Tuesday - short bike ride after work
Wednesday - 8 miles solo (Jen rode her bike along with me) - 7:47 AP

My heel is feeling a bit better - I've been rolling a frozen water bottle under my foot in the evenings and have been rolling a bouncy ball under my foot at work to massage my arch. So far I think it is helping. Today on the run I had a pain in my left hamstring for the whole run; I stretched out really well after the run and am planning on rolling it out on the foam roller in a bit.

Last week we bought new mountain bikes and have been riding them around. On Sunday we rode up in Forest Park and got caught out in a big rainstorm. We were soaked by the time we got home but had a GREAT time riding in the mud and rain. Unfortunately my phone was completely drenched and it is now resting in the phone booth in the sky.

Here I am on my new bike:

My new job has been great so far. This week I have just been reading and getting up to speed on the industry and trying to help out where I can. Here are a couple of pictures of my view from where I sit:

Downtown Portland:

The Pearl District w/ the Rose Garden in the foreground. The Red Bridge is the Broadway Bridge:

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Catch Up Time

With all the packing, moving, unpacking, getting to know the new area, etc., etc. I haven't been keeping up on my blogging; fortunately I have been keeping up on my running. I can't really say the same for my swimming and biking but that's not a big deal since I'm starting my marathon training and running should be my primary focus.

Let me try to catch up on the last month with some pictures and a few words (this should keep the post short in terms of words but will make it a bit long in terms of pictures):

Last day of work in CA:

Loading up the moving truck in CA - this was one of the hottest days of the summer - I think it was around 108:

My buddy Chris stopped by to help carry a couple of really heavy things down the stairs:

The truck is pretty much full at this point - it went smooth at first while we loaded up boxes. Once we started loading furniture and random crap the going got rough, but we managed to get pretty much everything but the plants in the truck:

Driving North - I was in the Uhaul, Jen drove the car with the cat:

We arrived in Portland around 5pm and unloaded the truck with a little help from a local friend:

After acquiring the basic unpacking essentials we started digging into the boxes and putting our new place together:

Finally after a couple of days of hard work everything was in place and we had a home:

We headed over to the ocean for the day on Jen's Birthday:

Checked out the downtown area around our place:

And spent plenty of time in the rooftop spa:

We've also taken the time to do some hiking - here we are at Angles Rest in the Columbia River Gorge:

We saw a snake (Rubber Boa) on the way down to the car:

So I picked it up:

We also headed down to Silver Falls State Park to check out some waterfalls and do some camping:

So far it has been great living in Portland. We really like the area and have already found some great running routes. I've been out on my bike twice and swimming once but for now the focus will stay on running. We are running a HM on Oct 19 and the marathon is in December. Now that I'm caught up on the last month I'll start posting about running and my marathon training. I start work on Monday after having a month off. It will be nice to get back into a routine and I'm really excited about the new job; however, getting up at 6:30 is going to be a big change from 9:30.