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 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.