Monday, December 16, 2013

Frozen Trails(?!) Runfest - 50k at Mt. Pisgah

Tough run.

I hadn't been on a good long run since Silver Falls Marathon well over a month ago.  I think I got out for a couple decent 2-3 hr. hilly efforts a couple weeks back and had been pushing things a bit here and there with the weekday workouts so fitness felt fine despite the past 2 weeks schedule being whacked by holidays.  Like too many "runless" days whacked versus lack of miles or something like that.

That said, I think I was in better 15 mile shape than 50k shape.  After 13-15 miles I experienced an early period of fatigue and hip soreness that I'd never felt before and I don't know if it was was my (lack of) preparation or the tough terrain.  With each step needing to be carefully placed to save my ass from a slip maybe I was overworking some muscles?  It was tough going that just got tougher as the race went on.

The various loops that made up the course involved a network of trails around and up and over a hill on the outskirts of Eugene.  These trails consisted of a section of slick as snot ice, a section of snow encrusted "chunky" ice, a section of clumpy grass (to avoid ice), a section of slimey mud, a nice bog of standing water, a section of water running over mud and rocks, and a very short section of buttery soft forested trail and some gravel that was nice but had that shiny look to it like maybe it would send you to the ground if you got to comfy with it.  The loops also involved 4 steep ups and downs that presented some of the finer running surface, which was welcome given the pitch in which you where climbing or descending.

But enough complaining...  I'll try and keep this a happy post.  I went into this thing knowing it'd be messy and that's what was delivered.  I also went into the race with high hopes of breaking the course record time (a local fast dude's training run time of 4:34).  I even thought I could get down to some place significantly below that (say 4:10ish) given the pace I recently did the trail marathon which I thought boasted similar conditions and the same-ish vert. 

I went out a little too gutsy (fast) with all this on my mind and didn't take into consideration how much the terrain and uniquely steep the profile was until I was reminded by my own body's signals and by getting passed by the winner, new course record holder Joe Uhan.  He passed me about 2/3rds of the way around loop 3 and held the pace all the way through.  I am impressed with his run.  I had no idea who he was while we raced but enjoyed a brief conversation with him after the race.  We discussed the trail conditions (the mud was better than the ice... or was it?) and how we were both were anxious to get on the interwebs and geek out to Desert Solstice happenings ( where our friend Pam Smith went on to take the world record for women's track 100 mile!!!)

Anyway, back to the race... after finishing the 3rd loop I almost bogued out.  I'd never run a loop course and it's mentally kind of tough to keep going when the car's right there not to mention hot soup and BEER.  But Kattie was there to remind me that afterall it was just one more loop...  sheesh, what's one more loop?

Well what seemed like it would never end finally did.  As I was headed up the final 1000'+ climb a dude named Walker caught up with me and we chatted some.  Nice young guy.  I told him to go for it on the descent as I wouldn't put up much of a fight.  He must have been happy in my draft as he stayed there until we crossed the finish line.  He started the race right behind me as well so he actually beat me according to the chip timing system.  So I finished second and got third, which made no difference to me who was happy to have finished within my goal time with a 4:27.

Soup and beer.  Then Kattie and I headed home with a car full of Christmas presents that Kattie was able to shop while I was out running.

I am sore today but look forward to recovering best I can before the final race in my December Trifecta:  the Santa Paws 5k!  Very serious stuff.

Also looking forward to a flat and hopefully fast 50k outside Eugene in the beginning of February as it is more accessible than any marathon I could find.

Kids, if you don't keep moving forward the race will never end...  so keep going. 

Monday, December 9, 2013

Shellburg Falls Race Recap-a-rama

Living in the PNW means living between 30 and 85 degrees with only a handful of exceptional days.  Saturday was an exceptional day as Friday's snows and a clearing overnight left us at about 10-14 degrees and sunshine for the morning of the race up in the hills just east of Salem.  Definitely running cold for us rain-mongers.

I got there early to help with registration which was sooo cold despite layers.  Lots of people were no shows but at least 10 or so pretty fast dudes showed up so there was going to be a race.  Good, it was worth the trip.

Same course as last year's mudfest but very different feeling as running the frozen mountain bike tracks was like running on some very poorly poured concrete.  Had to keep the ankles on high alert as you never knew what angle (or in which rut) the paws were going to hit underneathe the couple inches of snow on the trail.  Logging road sections were fine and dandy.

It was a pretty spectacular morning for a quick run through the woods.  The light snow that covered the forest and blew down from the trees above was highlighted nicely by a low sun that shown right through the canopy especially on the hilsides.  The falls area was covered in giant daggers of ice and really slick in a couple spots.

Took off with last year's winner, speedster Matt (someone told me he did a 1/2 marathon in 1:08 or something-- that's 5:11 pace type shit) and Thomas (who's fast and has a couple wins another local race at Buck Mtn. that is very similar to this one).  I figured I'd hang with them as long as I could--since it wasn't a 5k or a long race I figured I couldn't get into to much trouble.  My quads felt spent right from the start which was weird.  And that's how it went until the last mile and half or so when Matt built his lead into something substantial (a minute) on the logging roads.  I was running close to Thomas until I decided to push for the last 1/2-3/4 of a mile.  The push paid off and I finished the race in 49:09.

Very fun day.  Stuck around for the awards and had some coffee and a beer with Mike Tyler, Eb Engelmann, Thomas and a few others before making my way back down to the valley for the weekend's Christmas shenanagins. 

I also caught up on the 50 mile race in Marin (holy smokes) and the kid's XC race up in PDX.  The next day I spent a little time chasing results for friends running CIM down south.  Lots of great races!

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

wine and races galore... it's December

Dearest Reader,

Running's going fairly well these days.  Naggles all over my legs including a shin (or is it both?), a tight high hammy/low glute on the right side (currently loosened back up), and as of yesterday tight upper glute on the left side (work-related).  Other than that running's all good.  Been joining Mike, Rui and Doug for the Tuesday/Thursday thing which is a touch faster pace and starts/ends earlier meaning there is time for homemade lattes and eggs over medium.

Bringing me to another important point: drinking and eating are also going awesome!  Especially drinking.  It's dark at 4:30 (not that one can't drink in broad daylight but darkness triggers something inside me that says drink some more) and it seems there is always an occasion from the weeks prior to Thanksgiving thru the New Year meaning wine intake is at an all-time high with no cutting back in the foreseeable future.  I'll be responsible about it but I am not going to impose any restraints with these things--Tis the season.

Got a series of little races going on the next few weekends: 

The 7th is the 6.5 mile Shellburg Falls Trail Run.  I am surprisingly excited about this race.  Looking to take some time off last year's decent time which could be done by simply not falling 5 plus times.  Is not falling good enough alone to take 4-5 minutes off?  Nope, but hopefully some improved fitness helps with that a bit.

The 14th is Frozen Trails RunFest 50k down in Tracktown (Mt. Pisgah).  This race is new to me.  It's 4 loops that are each different (well 1 and 3 are the same) each with 800-1000 ft. elevation gain.  Sounds relatively flat but times of familiar names don't indicate that.  I guess it's always a mud fest despite it's Frozen name.  So that will be a not so close alternative to doing the warm, sunny, "chapparally" BBT which fell off the plans awhile back, mostly due to a lack of logistical prep.

The 21st Kattie and I will be in the most important race of our lives.  The Santa Paws 5k in Palm Springs, CA.  The name is so cute, isn't it?  All runners are given and required to wear a 5 piece Santa Claus suit meaning we will be setting Santa suit 5k PRs that day.  A Christmas dream come true.

Reports on how these events altered my life are due out soon so stay tuned...


Monday, November 4, 2013

Silver Falls Marathon: Race Recap


Training went awesome for a couple weeks after the race down in the Applegate.  Just a nice block of pushing things hard.  The speed workouts were fast and the strength stuff was steep and hard.  The long runs were just right.

Then, a couple weeks ago I just got tired and skipped a 30 mile run and opted for 10 ez.  I blazed through a couple more weekday workouts feeling good.  Work got really busy and physically demanding as I placed and planted a 25 acre hazelnut orchard with a small crew.  It was miles of walking and I figure we each planted ~600 trees.  Needless to say I was too beat to run after the day's work so I missed a couple workouts.  Then I skipped a 15-8 mile run and opted for 7 ez on that weekend.  I didn't know what to make of my schedule other than it seemed to be setting up like a mutated form of taper just in time for the marathon I was going to run as a training effort.  A couple days before the event I recognized this and changed to a "race" mindset.  I decided I was going to push to stay towards the front and see where that took me.


Kattie, who was running this time (in the half), and I carpooled with Justin, Amy and Becca.  We got there plenty early and I mosied about and said hi to some folks.

Start time came and I got a spot towards the front.  We set off on a good clip and held onto it while the course allowed us to.  Soon, one dude broke away and created a bit of a lead for himself while Don G., the eventual winner (Mike?), Jeff Browning and myself worked hard but held back.  Mike eventually left us and Don and I seemed to be losing Jeff.  The light sprinkling rain developed into something more substantial.

Around mile 9 or so Don suggested I lead for awhile and I did so thinking I'd pace things for awhile as we seemed to both be running well that morning.  We talked about our pace briefly and he seemed to think we were making good time.  To be honest, I was more concerned about where the 2 guys in front of us were than the pace.  For this event, I was using what my friend Nick and I had talked about as a "racing" strategy (vs. a "pacing" strategy) so long as things felt "generally within my limits or somewhat sustainable."  The course tilted upwards a mile or so later and Don was out of my site not too much later.  He's a much better pacer than I am but he had a firmer time goal in mind.  I had a feeling I'd being seeing him again.

I caught a glimpse of the guy that was in the lead (now in 2nd) at the 14 mile AS.  He took off when he saw me.  I got a refill of my waterbottle from Jeremy H who was awesome as an Aid Station worker.  He was by far the most helpful person I encountered all day.

Now I was chasing someone which was motivating except it was short-lived.  Not much more than a mile up the line the trail got steepish and all the sudden I found myself jogging past my objective saying niceties while he muttered something about "sticking to the roads".  He seemed really beat and like he wanted out of there.  I wanted to tell him he could turn left at the next intersection and be back at the start area/car much quicker than following the course but decided that might be insulting/offensive so I just wished him well and carried on.

I spent the next hour or so running completely alone.  The leader was somewhere out there (though no one at the aid stations ever confirmed this which made me wonder at one point if he'd dropped or gotten lost) and there were some really strong guys on my tracks but I just moved along as if I was on some training run in the woods.  I slipped and fell quite hard on my side once but the burst of adrenaline and explitives sort of revived me and rattled me out of the trance I was in.

The canyon must have been 10 degrees warmer than the hilly Perimeter Trail.  Feeling was coming back in my hands which was nice because I actually worried about how cold and useless they felt.  I pushed best I could but without a competitor in front or behind I sort of felt like I was incapable of going faster though surely I could have.  I even walked up a few steeper sections near the last couple falls convincing myself it was faster than running. 

I did finally see Don G. in the rear view as I looked down from near the top of the South Falls.  This inspired me a bit but I also felt like I had a pretty secure lead given the space and the climb between us.  I picked up the pace a bit and committed to jogging up the last little hill.  I was comfortable and cruising down the hill, trying to respectfully navigate a big crowd of cautious half-marathoners when--within a quarter mile or so of the finish--whoosh!  Somebody goes skiing down the mud right by me!  Jeff Browning is an animal, make no mistake about it.  I have no idea where he came from but that was it--within earshot of the finish I traded the silver for the bronze.  I pushed a bit to catch up but such an abrupt reminder that this was a race was more than I could handle at that point in the game.

I crossed the finish in 3:21, five minutes after the new course record was set by the winner.

It was a fun race and I had a blast navigating the nice parts as well as the parts with 6" of mud and running water.

Kattie beat her 27 yr old self by almost 10 minutes and was feeling much better afterwards than she did that year.  She's definitely more fit and that makes the whole ordeal much more enjoyable.  We've been binge eating since the race ended which is the best part of both of us doing a race on the same day.

Justin, Amy and Becca also had fine performances.  Training pal Dan M. took his age division and the one below his by storm in his training effort for an upcoming road marathon.


Monday, September 30, 2013

A Run Amongst Fairies Down in the Applegate Hills

After finishing the Mt. Ashland Hillclimb back in August Kattie and I headed out to enjoy some of the Applegate wine country we hadn't experienced on a previous trip.  We arrived at Wooldridge Creek and really dug not only the wine but the whole atmosphere.  We traded some wine from Kattie's work, got a tour and found out that there was a race coming up there later in September.

Turns out the race is ultrarunner and RD Tim Olson's Enchanted Forest Wine Run.  It's got a 5k around the vineyard and a half marathon that loops around the vineyard a bit and also climbs around in some nearby hillside trails.  It's got a fairy costume theme too which makes for fun spectating even if I couldn't piece together my own sparkles and wings. 

Well Kattie was hooked on the place's vibe and I liked the looks of the course and the idea of coming back down to SoOr one more time this year so I signed up a few weeks later (via snail mail!  something I've been wanting to do for awhile...  same catagory of weird goals as finding a race with popcicle sticks at the finish?  yep.)

Training (mostly for a longer effort this winter) had been going well and I had a few of pretty big (for me, for this time of year) weeks on my legs.  I took Friday before the race off from running and really felt pretty beat from all the miles and effort.  I still planned to give the race a good effort but focused on enjoying the scenery of the area.

As it turns out there would be more to enjoy than wine and a change in scenery... 
around 11 on Friday my buddy Nick shoots me a text from Seattle where he's been camping out with family.  He needs to get out of town and I half-jokingly tell him to come down and race!  Within about 15 minutes he says they (him and Caroline, his wife) are on their way down.  The weekend plans went from great to awesome with a couple of Kattie and I's favorite travel companions now joining in on the fun!

The following morning we jammed down I-5 as fast as a car full of tiny coffee filled bladders can go and showed up to the race about a half hr. before the start.  We got changed, did a sorry warm up jog, lined up and Nick and I took off together through the upper vineyards of the property.  Soon a gravel road gave way to a fast and awkward cross-country style course amongst the grapes.  Lots of sharp turns and quick little ups and downs.  Also lots of good signage but I still managed to miss a turn...  it's hard to read and run!

From there we left the vineyards and headed up a road section that was kind of hot but a nice change in pace from the dodgy vineyard section.  It wasn't long  and I was entering the woods which was refreshing and AS #1 was close.  I stopped and had a couple cups of water.  As I headed up the switchbacks I heard voices just below and hollared at Nick who I could see was still closeby.

The course was hilly but super runnable and nothing that seemed to go on for too long.  I really enjoyed it.  I had no watch and therefore no clue where I was at in terms of time or distance, kind of unusual for me these days.

I was in 3rd place and figured the two guys (Hal Koerner and another shirtless dude) that were leading were long gone.  Then, to my surprise I caught up with #2 dude as we re-entered a woodsy section from a grassy, exposed slope.  His name was Bob and he was a really nice guy.  We ran together for a bit before I felt like I could do more on a climb section.

I finished loop #1 and I knew that #2 had much of the same trail as #1 but didn't know which parts.  I kind of freaked out at an AS as it seemed/or I had a strange feeling that I was going the wrong way.  It was a really busy intersection with runners all over the place.  I asked the station crew if they had seen Hal and the guy said no...  That's when I got really flustered and sort of resorted to waiting a bit for Bob to come into the station.  He knew the way better than I and so I followed him hoping we were on the right track. 

After a minute I'd calmed back down and realized were I was headed.  I liked the parts of the trail that lie ahead and knew I could get back to the vineyard in one piece even if I pushed the pace a bit more.  Things came pretty easily and I didn't ever really push things too much as I winded around the hillside trail and eventually exited the forest for the road back to Wooldridge.  I caught a glimpse of Hal going through the vineyard and I was surprised, I figured he was done already.  It wasn't long after and I too was winding through the vines one last time before crossing the finish line in 1:41.

Kattie was all jazzed and I was pretty psyched on the performance.  I ate and drank water and waited for Nick who came in shortly after.  We all walked down to the road and cheered Caroline into the finish.  We enjoyed some food, wine and Nick and I even had a flash of cold sweats and gut sickness.  Weird.

We got some sweet prizes including a bunch of Injiji socks, shirts, shorts, and $100 bones at The North Face.  Then we gathered our wine and drove home into the eye of a nasty storm.

Really awesome day.  I wish I could make some comments about mediocrity as has been the theme of this blog lately but this one was above that in many ways.

movin to the finish in the vineyard.  photo: shahid ali.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

dull training post mid-sept

Training's going well!

Got a half-marathon, Enchanted Wine Run down in the Applegate Valley, and a full marathon, Silver Falls just outside of town, on deck but my sights are set on the Backbone Trail run I'll be doing in December. 

We're between seasons workwise and it's still pretty busy but I've managed to ramp things up just as much as time allows.  Still getting quality (speed/hills) work in as I did pretty much all summer.  It's the quantity work that is tough to make time for.  Just a week or two more and I should be able to make the most of weekdays and have more flexibility on the weekends.  Looking forward to that but I hope I can contain myself and not over-do things.

BOORRRIIIINNNG post!  I know.  Sorry.  Go somewhere else!

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Fast Mexi Running - Que Paso?

Dearest fans I am sorry but this isn't another gem of a post regarding some mediocre performance by yours truly.  It's not even about me.  It is about something I am fascinated with:  Mexican Running.  Mexicans have a long tradition of running places and have an entirely different perspective than most of us Northerly neighbors do.  I could go on about it but I'll save that for another post, or the book I someday author on the subject.

Anyway, I came acrossed a couple articles that more than anything else solidified my thoughts that Mexican running has fallen by the wayside.  These hombres used to kick ass on an international level and then just dissappeared.  Not sure about things on the trail/mountain running front but when it comes to the streets and track they aren't even a shadow of the powerhouse they once were.

Here are links to the articles that attempt to explain que paso con los Mexicanos:

Part Uno

Part Dos

Really interesting stuff.  Probably mostly has to do with $$$ as both articles point out.  The comments are worth reading as well.  If Mexico can recreate the training programs that once pushed legendary performances or if the running bug spreads organically as it has in the US (particularly trail stuff) look out--there will be a slew of muchachos pushing the pace from the South.

A brief sidenote from running but Mexico's national soccer performances seem to also be lackluster these days too.  Come on Mexico!  Ponte trucha!  Echale ganas!

Monday, September 9, 2013

Running Free: Mtns again!

Faithful followers:  Just another update to keep your dreams fresh...

Last week was a departure from all the street hustling I've been doing at 4:00 a.m. these days.  I labored the holiday weekend away on the farm and painting the house a bit before busting out of the civilized mundane for several runs in the wild lands of the NW.

Monday I made it up to Whetstone Mtn in the Old Cascades (Bull of the Woods/Opal Creek Wildnerness).  It was a 14 mile jaunt with 3600' ascent/descent.  Perfect temps and good company, William Swint and Mike B of Aumsville, made for a nice outing.  Got some views of a 30+ mile run along a beatiful line that loops out to Battle Axe Mtn.  We've made plans to give this a go in October.

Then I drove out to do some real mtn stuff in McCall, ID.  On Wednesday I was ridin high above 8000' scrunbling across the Idaho skies on the summit of Jughandle Mtn. with KT and Pete the Dog.  Thursday we opted for the flat 20 Mile Trail out of Upper Payette Lake before continuing up the road for a soak in Bergdorf Hot Springs.  Friday I went alone for a 20 mile run that left the lake just outside town and connected to the Crestline Trail which rides several ridges between mtn lakes galore.  The views were awesome!  Nice cool temps, especially up above 7000' (which was all but about 4 miles of the run).  Saturday we ran the farm roads out to the Payette River for a little shake out before we headed home again.

To stoke the fire some more I also drank a shitload of Pabst, tequila and mescal.  It was vacation: excess! excess! excess!

Nice to be out in nature.  I am feeling great and refreshed.  Fired up a track workout this morning and hoping to keep the momentum going with more outings into beautiful new places as we move into Fall (my training-year Spring).  Really going to stress the volume (long runs) and climbing without pushing things too much.  If I can't do it again the next day, I am not going to do it.  That should get me ready for this winter's goal: the 68+ mile Backbone Trail across the Santa Monica Mtns in good time.

Dream mediocre and it's easier to acheive!  Cheers!

Monday, August 19, 2013

Mac's Beautiful and Brutal

Went down to Mac Forest yesterday and dammit that place is really brutal.

Seldom do I go there alone but when I do I always try and link up a bunch of my favorite sections which actually make a pretty asthetically logical line up and down various ridges and hillsides.  Up the Ridge across to Dimple on almost all single track for the view there.  Bomb off the backside of Dimple and down into Oak Creek for some good turnover before jamming up S. Side Slip to McColluch Peak's amazing viewpoint.  Then it's another long speedy descent to Soap Creek TH before making my way back up to the Pass.  Sounds good?  Well it is... and it isn't.

The run is naturally beautiful and it's physically taxing, a combination I've grown to love, but at some point on every solo jaunt in the Mac I get a feeling like I am a bit lost and beat down.  Yesterday was no exception.  I wonder if the pauses to stop and figure out where I am and where I am going create this feeling of weakness.  Or if all my focus on uphill running has left my descending wheels (quads) a bit unprepared for those long descents?

Just a couple observations from my first long (timewise) run with the new fall/winter goals on my sites (post Hillclimb).  I've got some work cut out for me!

Monday, August 12, 2013

From the Land of Shakespeare and Hippies: Mt. Ashland Hillclimb Recap2013

Superfans (wife, mom, and people who should be doing something more productive than web-surfing) I bring to you a tale about a footrace up a hill in the land of Shakespeare and hippies--a land where high-culture-gucci-linens and no-bras-hemp-skirts seemlessly flow in unison up and down Main St.  A sort of Heaven on Earth for those who prefer extremities but odd for fodder for the eye for a farmer from Salem: land of moderation and mediocrity.

Anyway, a year ago I'd never heard of this iconic Southern Oregon race: the Mt. Ashland Hillclimb.  Sometime this Spring I did a little research after stumbling upon it someplace in the interwebs.  I saw that it was a very logical course from the town center to the top of the local ski hill, it had a pretty deep history of 30 yrs or so, it was competitive, it was affordable, and it gained 5600' in 13.3 miles.  It seemed so... European.  So Chamonix, if you will.  I was in...  within minutes of registration's opening up.

I decided that I would try and hold myself together this summer with this race as sort of a focus.  It was tough to do so as summer's are just so damn busy but I'd grade my training at about 80% of what I had hoped for it to be.  That said, the half marathon distance was much better suited to my summer schedule than last year's attempt to train for an August or September 50k.

We made it down to Ashland and eventually camp at Howard Prairie (east of town) in good speed and good fashion (just one headlight out).  Camp was a bit rowdy with thunder roaring in the night sky and a hearty serving of drunk boaters smashing beer cans on their foreheads (well, that's what it sounded like) but I slept right through it all after polishing a bottle of Chardonnay with Kattie.

Alas the race deets:  I don't know if it was something I ate (or drank?) or if I actually got some butterflies about about me but I felt like crappola the next morning.  My stomach was queezy and I was sort of lightheaded as we descended into Ashland.  Folks at the start line looked well-sunned and quite trim: the competition looked fierce even though everyone was just sort of mellowly jogging about and doing a little pre-race chatter.  They said go right on time and we took off up, up, up and away.  The queezys faded soon enough and I was able to stay focused on the shuffle of my feet below me.  The hills were consistently runnable and consistently "there".  Around mile 5 or 6 it seemed a bit steeper (a 10+ min/mile) in grade and mile 9 or so was sort of flattish (a 7 min/mile).  The final half mile from the lodge up to the summit had about 1-200 yards that could be run, the rest was super steep, hands on the knees or rocks in front of you climbing.

From what I recall, it was all jeep roads except one short spot leaving Bull Gap AS on trail.  After the first mile or so where everyone sort of settled into their general positions I was passed by one guy and I passed 3-4.

I finished the ordeal in 2hrs and 5min.  Good enough for 7th overall and 3rd in my ever competitive age group.  Almost everyone else in the top ten was from Ashland or some other hilly locale.  I was definitely the only flatland farmer in the mix.  As usual.

Kattie and Pete were at the top cheering and we stuck around a bit to witness others suffering before heading down the roads to the lodge 1000' below.  There we savored a beer got in the car and drove back to Ashland trying to figure out which ridge I'd run.  Lunch at Standing Stone was good and 10 bucks off thanks to their generosity and the race director's genius collaboration with them and all other awesome local biz.

The following day we went out to do a little recovery run around part of Howard Prairie Lake.  What was supposed to be 90 minutes (Kattie's schedule) turned into a 3 hr. 15+ mile epic that I don't want to talk about...  let's just say we should have turned around instead of getting the idea that we could just keep going around the lake (the lake that would never end!).

Following a brief disaster episode with 25cent 5 second showers we made our way out of boaters paradise and over to the hills of Jacksonville and the Applegate Valley for some wine country shenanigans.  Kattie brought bottles of fine Pinot from her work and we traded for 4 great bottles of awesomeness!  Mix in some tasting and cool people and it was fun as a day in this remote wine area can get!  Alas, a day that started off a bit rough finished a success.

Rodger out Superfans!  Hasta la vista bebes!

Saturday, August 3, 2013

senseless run chatter...

just checking in...  superfans I know it's been too long.  so many sleepless nights...

i don't think i mentioned it here on the world's sorriest running blog but a running buddy of mine (moreso in the fall/winter) Pam Smith won the Western States Endurance Run.  i knew she'd been training hard and performing well (PRs and wins all over the place!) since last Fall when i first met her.  i had a good feeling about how she'd do this year.  she didn't boast much but one can tell, even in the darkness of 5 am, she had that cool confidence in her eyes.  she knew she was up for the performance of a lifetime (so far).  she wrote a really good piece on irunfar about her preparation for the race (  she was up to way more than i was aware of!  very insightful article that i wanted to post here so i wouldn't loose it.

as for me...  been getting out there a bit.  went back to Buck Mtn. where all singletrack was widened to doubletrack.  at times i felt like it was a superhighway right through the woods but it is still a nice workout (with year around water for Pete the dog).  made it back to the mac for some mellow miles with mac and gabi last weekend.  refreshing to get out of town a bit.  other than that it's been the usual summertime mix consisting of a lowish mileage volume on the track, roads, and that dreaded mill.

racing:  did another 5k on Thursday night as cloudcover kept the combines quiet for a day and i actually made it home before 9 pm.  it was the Bush Park XC Series-Race #1 and it boasted some good competition which is probably what lead me to a 17:12 (13,14,15? still no results up yet) despite getting off-track twice on the mildly hilly course.  I think I took 4th (after some jockeying around in the last mile).  The best part about the whole thing:  I finally got the old-fashioned popcicle stick placeholder at the finish.  i'd been looking for a race that still utilized this technique and after 2 failed attempts i finally found a race that doles out the sticks!

1 week until mt. ashland.   Forest fires in the area are generating a lot of smoke and there is a small chance it will be a no go...  we shall see!  Feeling like I need some mellow recovery runs all week and with rested legs it could be a decent race.

future plans:  signed up for silver falls full trail marathon.  kattie's in the half.  that should be fun!  also working on a longer distance goal for Dec.  i'll be working on a plan to build mileage throughout fall as i work towards running a 68 mile mini-mountainous trail through my old stomping grounds in Malibu, CA. more to come on that!

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

a nod from mr honest himself

Postscript: I hate these kind of posts. Actually it's just the second paragraph that I hate. This is like the 3rd time I've ever done such a thing. Sorry. But seriously, why would anyone waste time writing this so some poor soul wastes his/her time reading it?  

Got a nod of approval from the track this morning: some progress is being made. It feels especially good to feel solid out there on the oval because as everyone who has ever set foot on one knows: the track don't lie.

Long workdays everyday, poor diet, beer, beef, parties, sitting on my ass for hours on end (in a combine)...  it's summertime!  Seriously though it's been pretty nice to run in the sun just wish I had more time to get out in the mountains for some outings worth talking about.

Note: read this when things wind down in the fall and take advantage of free time before weather goes to complete crappola in the hills...

There it is--more mediocre running and writing served lukewarm by your esteemed champion of mediocrity.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

America's Last Great Mtn. Race

Superb article from Senor Gates on Mt. Marathon Race.

I am not one to bucketlist but this race is something I'd like to do someday, hopefully before I am too old to destroy my knees...

Training is going well-ish.  Avoiding injury and doing quite a bit of significant quality stuff.  Long runs are a bit short though I've managed to hit 15+ miles on Sat. and 8 or so on Sun. which adds up to the typical 20-25ish on Sat with Sun off.  Afterall, the upcoming event, Mt. Ashland Hill Climb, is a half marathon not a 50k.

I've crossed over to running's darkside.  I sold some rock climbing gear to pay for shoes/races.  I even started running on the mill (hamster wheel) to get the sustained uphill workouts I can't get to at 4am on the weekdays.  Miles and miles at 8-9% grade, and quite a few minutes/hrs. creeping at 15%.  I hate the confines of the gym still but I am sick and can't help myself with this uphill running disease.

Not much to report, especially after the report in the link.  On the eve of my 31st birthday some friends and I made it out to Sprague HS Triple Crown track meet for a 1 mile event.  I jogged over there from my house to warm up.  Effort felt mellow for laps 1-3 which was intentional as I wanted to burn the last 400 with the last 200 being my best attempt at wildfire speed.  Not sure how well this panned out as the last 200 was fairly solid but a real live short distance dude slipped by me in the last 10-15 feet and Don G held much of the gap he had the whole race.  I finished in 5:07.  Next time I am setting my watch and doing a little more effort in laps 1-3.  I also plan to eat less cookies and cake on race day.  Additionally, new kicks feel faster than Fluidflex squishfest (which are comfy but kind of suck the life out of speed workouts).  All that said, I think sub 5 is within reach.

Over and out, Superfans of Mediocrity.  May all of your most mediocre dreams come true.

Friday, June 28, 2013


Yes.  Yes he does.
 Little motivation on this Friday afternoon.  It's gonna get hot and I am feeling a bit fatigued.  But, I gotta keep moving.

Training notes:
Done with the race a week thing and not going for another 24 mile road run anytime soon (I hope).  It's hill time.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Summer Solstice - 5k Recap

Got home from work at about 6:00 and Kattie gives me some options for the first summer evening of the year (trying to keep things within the 30 bones budget we had):

1. We run the local Salem Summer Solstice 5k at Minto Brown Park (what!?  we're going to race?! tonight?!  I'll put this wine back in the fridge...)
2. We go have drinks downtown with friends (not a bad idea given how Friday and the week in general went)
3. I race she doesn't and we drink less (worst option, by far)
4. We just go for a workout together and stay home ($0, most fiscally responsible option)

We agreed to option 1.  Within a few minutes we are in running clothes and frantically making the 5 minute drive over to the park.  I sign us up and we warm-up a bit.  10k-ers take off 5-10 minutes later than 7pm start time and 5 minutes later we're off.

I take a spot behind the lead pack of youths and one slightly older dude vowing to keep them in sight for awhile.  After a mile, I hear a yell from behind.  Shit, I missed the turn!  I turn back and ask where the course goes and a guy looks at me dumbfounded as I realize the chalk on the path indicates I was on the right path.  I take off again and the yeller (a good friend!) apologizes profusely.  Another 400 yrds. or so and the kid in front of me is lying in the grass so I hit the brakes a bit to investigate.  Other people (spectators) are there so I take off again.  I thought all those long trail events were complicated this 5k in the park business is whacky!

I motored along and closed in on #2.  I thought he'd do something about my presence but evidentally this youngster was already gassed out... it was an easy pass with a few words of encouragement to the lad.

#1 guy started looking back now and I was considerably far behind him.  As we got down to the the last mile along the river he began looking over his shoulder once every 30 seconds or so.  I closed in on him just a bit but I don't know what he was so worried about, he was safe the whole time.  I got a kick out of all the head turning though, made me wish I was closer to him when it started.

I held on to the pace through the finish and got a 17:41.  I had a old-timey sundae in my hand and mouth by minute 19:00 and it was awesome.

Kattie did well too with a 24:25.  Good enough for 2nd in her age group.  She was excited about going sub-8 pace.  I am proud of her!

We had a blast, it seems option 1 was the best decision we could have made!  A wonderful Friday night in the park, racing, with friends, ice cream and ribbons!  It's going to be a great summer!

Monday, June 17, 2013

White Salmon Backyard Half Recap-a-Rama

To all my imaginary fans from yours truly I give you another delightful race re-cap.  2 in one month?!  Yeah, just for you super fans, I did race twice and promptly write a dull tale about both of them in a timely manner.  This report comes from the hills opposite I-84, high above the mighty Columbia River in what we locals simply refer to as "the gorge".

I sort of half-heartedly signed up for the race immediately following the 10 mile race in the mountains of Southern Oregon.  Racing is kind of like drinking in that way, sometimes after a good pour you just get thirsty for more--forgetting how much trouble too much can do to you.  Anyway, I wasn't really sure it would work with my schedule to make it up there but after a customer, Tony at Gator Creek Gardens, in nearby Carson said he'd take a pickup load of plants if I'd drop them off on the way I was pretty well committed to showing up for the party.

It sounded like a good challenge and a "down-home, no frills" style event.  Just the kind I've grown to love.  I was excited to give it a good shot.  So I did some hill repeats a couple mornings, got in a solid puke pace track workout and generally conditioned myself to a state of feeling like shit on the Thursday before the race.  I took advantage of Friday by staying up late, eating a burger and you guessed it, drinking way too much wine.  It was some very fine wine though...

On to the race now:  As the 10am start time neared and the day was heating up I wrapped up a conversation with one of my heros, fellow Salem-ite, Eb Engelmann (what that guy's been up to as a 71 year old is truly and inspiration--incredible dude for sure).  I approached the start line and I was in my now usual state of "how the f am I going to place where I was hoping (top 20) with all these apparent hot shots (dudes bearing singlets with shoe stores on them, team uniforms, gianormous quads and pencil thin wrists) in the horserace?"  I don't put a lot of pressure on myself but these anxious thoughts always seem to have a calming effect anyway as I usually conclude with "shit, screw it, I'll just run 'my' race."

Well the RD yelled "go!" and we took off briskly through the town streets for a bit before entering a little goat trail that quickly began to tilt upward.  Up and up we went.  Some super runnable ups and some brief steep ups.  I ran them all.  I figured there were at least 10 guys in front of me and a bunch of really smart pacers right behind (that would soon be in front of me).  Well, I was wrong.  I passed one or two, maybe three guys and no one ever passed me in the climbfest that was the 1st 8 miles.  I worked hard but really focused on being steady and enjoying the trail which went through dense woods, oak scrub, clear cuts, meadows and had view after view of the gorge and Mt. Hood's gnar North side. 

Things began to tip downward here and there around mile 9 and I took advantage of that by rolling my ankle pretty badly.  It cracked and sent some tingles up my leg but I just kept going telling myself out loud: "Just keep going!  Keep...  go..."  The pain didn't worsen (or improve for that matter) so I just went with it best I could:  my somewhat smooth strides now a little more choppy as I moved more cautiously.  I had another runner in sight now and he was moving even more cautiously.  Clearly, he was a roadie or buttery grass x-country runner as he seemed quick but uncomfortable on the rocky decent trail.  I overtook him with a few miles to go.  Not long after a dude that I'd passed after running together back in miles 7-9ish went whizzing by me.  I didn't bother trying to hang with him as I was just trying to hang on to my wheels as it was.

The last mile had a steepish little incline that spit runners out on the roads and the roads were a raging inferno of black asphalt for parched little me.  I hopelessly rounded a couple corners until the finish rolled into view and I crossed the line to a screaming crowd of 10-20 people.  Just like that it was over, 1 hr and 43 minutes after it all started on this very same street corner.

I looked around and thought "where are all the other finishers?"  There were just 4 sweaty dudes shaking hands and doing the post race congrats stuff.  I'd arrived 5th?!  No way.  It was confirmed when I started chatting with the guy who got in just front of me.  I then met Yassine (1st place finisher) for the first time in person after all the emails and calls we'd exchanged when he coached me for a while last year.  Awesome guy, it was nice to catch up with him and meet his family.

I stuffed my face with fruit and drank more water before eventually making the trek back down to the valley where I weeded in the onions for a bit and then drank beers with a work crew undoubtedly boring them with this very tale about a foot race in the Gorge.

I can't wait to go back to the gorge and explore some more!

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

relentlessly boring training commentary post

Over time, or more precisely, over the last year and a half, a seemingly obvious statement has become more obvious:  racing's fun and training is the slightly less fun (albeit enjoyable, most of the time) means to getting desireable results.

Decent overall fitness and a lot of willpower can get decent results but as one approaches those in the front of the pack it becomes more and more apparent:  the people ahead of you trained harder and smarter than you did.  Maybe they put in more time, maybe it was more miles, maybe they pushed it harder at just the right times, maybe they recovered better, maybe they ate better, maybe they went further out of their way to train in race-like conditions and terrain.  Look, the list of ways to train harder and smarter goes on but seldom is it raw talent alone that places one over another: at least in the front.

I've found myself finishing in the top 10-15 at a few local, but fairly competitive races I've joined in this year.  I've trained a bit more than I did when I first started running and found a formula that combines quality and some quantity that really seems to work.  It's been really encouraging to see the improvement. 

What's slightly discouraging about all of this is where I've arrived as a result of this improvement.  Now, as I look at finishers ahead of me, I see hardened training machines and I am both inspired and nervous when toeing up to compete.  Will I, or do I, have the commitment it takes to take the next step?

While I stated that I've indeed found a training formula that works I have only one problem:  life.  I work in the family biz 6 days a week and a 12 hour day is not unusual.  I've got commitments at to my family and home like any other happily married person and father of a dog and two cats (don't laugh, I make sure they are fed and know that they are loved).  I want to train more but when I make the extra effort (take the time) I feel selfish and can literally see things begin to unravel at work and at home (tensions/comparisons to co-workers and weeds in the yard).

It's tough to find balance.  Right now I just feel lucky to get out at all.  As a result, every run now has a purpose: strength, turnover, recovery and even a few that are just for fun/social.  I'm trying to add a bit more racing to my schedule at the moment to see how well I can race, recover, push it just a bit, recover a bit and race, then repeat.  July will be tougher than June but with my "A" race in August I am going to have to work hard to carve out the time (read: get up at 4 am) to put the hay in the barn.

I hate reading these types of whining posts from other dork run bloggers but I felt like writing these thoughts would help me realize where I am at and where I need to go.  It did that.  Sort of...

On another note, my wine drinking habit has risen to new levels of achievement.  Kattie is now gainfully employed (on the only 2 days of the week she didn't work before--what was formerly known as the weekend) by a top grade vineyard and winery called Domaine Serene.  As an added benefit of her expressing her awesomeness to customers there she gets quite a load of spendy wine on top of her pay.  Needless to say we have been stashing some like classy people do and pouring the rest into our souls like bosses do.

Monday, June 3, 2013

smooth as fine wine, tuff as granite

Kattie and I made an unusual move and told the workweek "that's-it" a few hours early on Friday.  We packed up the wagon with a bunch of shit we didn't need and none of the stuff that would have been most handy (i.e. playing cards!) for a weekend in a yurt at the Valley of the Rogue way down in Gold Hill, OR.  That's right southern Oregon... folks, it's a-whole-nother country!

Simply because we could, we stopped in Cottage Grove for a snack and the ice tea Kattie craved.  It was cooler than I thought it was with it's old, somewhat lively downtown.  Just a few meth tweakers lurking about but not too bad.  We stopped off again at Canyonville which has the nicest rest stop on I-5.  It's appears to be owned and operated by Natives who run a giant casino there.  My advice: skip the casino but be sure to relieve yourself there!

Next it was into and through Grants Pass for groceries.  The hills along the freeway were a raging inferno of fire but gave us no trouble while on the scenic route in town.  We grabbed more necessities (food) and made our way down to the yurt that would be home for the weekend.  Chatty senior neighbors quickly made us feel very welcome to what we dubbed the "senior circuit" as the age of our neighbors averaged around 108.  Needless to say, around 7:30 p.m. it was very quiet which is nice because Kattie and I can't manage to stay up much past that hour anyway.  Especially when drinking.  Which is often.  Let's be honest and transparent.

The next day I got up for a run in the brisk morning weather.  I took Pete, the dog, as he usually keeps the pace very mellow but that morning he insisted on 7-7:20 min/miles which isn't too bad but a bit faster than I had planned.  I dropped him off back at the yurt after 4 miles and ran the rest of the River's Edge and Greenway Trail for a total of 8 or so I-pod measured miles which was consistent enough with my plan to run for about an hour of flat stuff.

We had a delicious breakfast and hit the road with only one plan: drink wine from Southern Oregon.  After some time lost in Deliverance-ville's gravel roads we finally got on track and arrived at Cowhorn where we had some very nice wines in a spectacular setting.  From there we went to eat in Jacksonville which may well be one of the best places on this part of Earth.  It's a very cool historical place with not too much kitchy-shit and lots of neat ol' stuff (homes and such).  There was a wait at C-St. Bistro so we went around the corner and passed the time drinking more at Quady North which serves up some great variety and really great wine.  Probably my favorite stop of the day.  After lunch we went to Krissel which is indeed in bum-f-Egypt (they call it White City) as we were told.  It's a modern place with a nice view and more good wine.

After all the tasting--which is code for drinking as I am no spitter, I enjoy every last sip of every "tasting" served--I was wine-zonked and couldn't wait to eat dinner (sausage we picked up in Methville... I mean Gold Hill).  It took everything we had to stay up for a smore while the senior circuit's lights went out but we did it before hitting the sack.  While dozing off I wondered how well this race prep routine would pay off...  Seriously?  At least of bottle of wine in me and I just topped it off with sausage and a smore?!  Oh well...  "it is was it is".  Whatever that stupid saying is all about.  Well, honestly this isn't the first time I've "prepped" like this... click off:  sleep.

Race day (finally, Jesus, I was beginning to convince myself that this was a travel-blog written by a lowly alcoholic senior citizen with a drinking and driving habit):  we were up early for the hour or so drive down to Applegate Lake.  We arrived to the beautiful Hart-Tish park 45 minutes or so before the start and did usual pre-start routine of: bathroom, changing shoes, registration, bathroom, walk Pete, bathroom, etc.  During each step of this routine I couldn't help but notice who all was there:  it seemed several of the legendary mountain running gazelles of Ashland had made it out for the showdown.  Fast women and a slew of fast dudes who run laps on Mt. Ashland until they are hardened off enough to waste competition in national level races.  Surprisingly, (but only because I had no idea he was going) Don G. was there too so the Mid-Willamette even had at least one fast horse in the race.  Honestly, I didn't get nervous about how it was going to go, my brain just sort of shifted gears: forget placing top 10 or whatever and run my race--PR mode I call it.

After a slight delay we were off and running on a rolling little jaunt in the woods that tilted mostly upwards.  I ran through some of the poison oak, which was everywhere, to pass a dude that looked like a classic case of dash and burn (if I could judge a book by the cover, which--as much as I hate to do it--I am getting better at with a few more races under my belt).  Mile 1 passed and I knew it was relentlessly up from here to mile 3ish.  I passed a fast looking shirtless local dude, then a very fast girl (who wasted me at the Mac 50k), and came up on Jenn Shelton who I knew was super fast.  I kind of parked it behind her thinking she knows a lot more about this sport than me.  But eventually she sounded labored and I was ready to move on.  Ran with Don G. next before he pulled over and insisted on me going by.  Eventually, within the last couple hundred feet of this big climb, I kept running and reciting the mantra "not gonna walk a step, you don't do that in 10 mile RUNs, that's an ultrarunning-thing, and besides it might feel too good anyway."  Moving right along I caught up with another LSFD (local shirtless fast dude).  He too was laboring hard and I eventually slipped by him before the course tilted down to a truly runnable angle of uphill.

I could end the report there at about mile 3 as nothing changed from a racing standpoint from then on.  I could not see anyone in front of me and fairly quickly I lost site of anyone behind me.  I might as well of been out there alone.  It was rolly and pretty damn techical with rocks, roots and sharp turns for miles before giving away to a nice descent back down to the lake.  It was thrilling single track that required a lot of attention to avoid falling off into what often was a very steep hillside (not the kind you could stop on without hitting a tree or rock).  The plant geek side of my brain did a nice job distracting the rest as it was dazzled by new and unique flora including groves of manzanitas, madrones and fragrant-blooming california lilcas among other smaller gems including several silvery colored perennials.  The Siskyous are a botanical wonderland because of their East-West orientation that bridges the wet and temperate Coast Range with the drier peaks of the Cascades.  Anyway, enough plant chatter, after completing the descent I pushed fairly hard in the last 3 miles along the lakeshore and frequently looked over my shoulder as I felt my pace was something that was decent at best.  As it turned out the next person was 2 minutes back so my worries were only motivational.  The guy in front of me was 2 minutes ahead so not a lot pull motivationally from that direction either.

The finish was on the beach and it was beautiful and fun.  I was done after 1:21 which was good enough for 8th OA and 3rd in my always competitive age group.  This really great day was made better by the fact that Kattie ran her own race (5 mile Poker Run) well enough to be 1st in her age group and 7th OA (correction 8th OA, Zielinski's sweep 8th!).  She was not so lucky with the hand she was dealt however.  We said we'd stop at the casino and quickly double our winnings if either of us came home with prize money but without any winnings we just stopped and relieved ourselves there again.

Whew, long write up for the weekend's events.  I just don't get out much anymore...
another running shot from early on in the race.  same clothes as last time so it looks the same except for the bib#.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Forcing it in the Forest: The Mac 50k Report

Since my post about committing to the Mac over a month ago my training slid downhill a bit.  It lacked intelligent structure, had no critical peak (mental and/or physical), and really appeared that I just plain didn't give a damn.  Springtime at the nursery just gets to be way too much and those 4am runs were moved to evenings which means they turned from 12 to 8 to 6 milers as I felt pressed to just get something in while trying to maintain a somewhat helpful presence around the house.  Pete, the dog, makes it clear that he needs both parents.

Even my weekend outings got withered down to shorter jaunts.  One weekend I barely got 13-14 hilly miles in at Silver Falls before having to be back to the nursery (on a Sunday) for a sales meeting.  Another slightly better day 2 weeks ago I got in 7 hilly miles out at Zena Forest before running the sustained road climb up Orchard Heights and dropping into downtown (another 13+ miles).  Lacking distance and having skipped several more speed oriented workouts left me feeling ill-prepared for what I wanted to be a really good race down in Corvallis.  I got to the weekend prior and wondered if I should go sort of long or just push something kind of hard.  Ultimately, I decided a good 10k effort with a mile warm-up and another mile cool-down would have to do the trick.  In a less than focused run did the 10k in the form of loops at Bush Park in well under 40:00 minutes.  It felt good but it wasn't the extreme confidence booster I'd hoped for...

Sometime during the week I got an email about bib #'s.  I almost didn't click the link at all as I've never been one to pay much attention to bib #'s but out of boredom I clicked it.  Initially I zoomed right to the bottom of the list where the Z in my last name usually lands me and I wasn't there.  What happened?!  I'd paid, my entry was confirmed, has there been a mistake?!  I then scrolled back up to the top.  The anticipated top 10 women where up there with #'s 1-10 and then the top 20 men with #'s 11-30.  My name was listed 28th.  Normally, I would have found this exhilarating and an honor but given my apprehension about my recent training I just got really nervous--almost stressed out.

Then Saturday rolled around.  This year it was just Kattie, Pete and I headed down there.  We got there 45-50 minutes before the start and time went by quickly as we walked around up by the lake.  I filled my water bottle said hi and good luck to a few people (while hiding my bib # so no one would have any expectations).  Then with a DONG! of the gong we were out of there.  I settled in with Pam for a few miles just catching up on things and comfortably clipping away on the logging roads and moderate trails.  Soon I pulled ahead and she said good luck, have a great race.  I responded "I'm sure I'll see you later."  It wasn't for awhile but sure enough I did see her later.

I then ran a bit with Mike Rosling and eventually pulled away from him too.  "What the hell is wrong with me?" I began to think.  "I really ought to know better than to push the pace like this.  These people, Pam, Mike, and about 20 others behind me, are smart runners.  I need to be holding back if I am going to execute a decent race all the way to the finish."  I did cool the pace just a bit after bombing down Extendo (that section is too good to turn down a zippy descent).  But still no one came up from behind. 

Then I got into the Maze and struggled the ups in there while trying to keep my focus which first began to get fuzzy at this point.  I got out of the woods and on the road to Dimple Hill which I really liked as I finally felt like I was running and making some progress again even though a guy passed me there.  On top of Dimple (at mile 18ish), I sort of spaced out at the aid station for a minute or so just kind of staring at the cornucopia of food on display.  I must of looked like a stoned high schooler in a 7-11 candy aisle because I was getting strange looks back from the folks running the table.  One guy was asking what I wanted and mentioned a cold beer.  I thought for just a second, "Sure.  Hell, make it 2 and how about a helicopter ride out of here before I really bomb this race."  But it was a fleeting thought, I finally grabbed 2 gels and a piece of PB&J and got out of there.  I felt better on the decent to Chip Ross than I had felt last year but realized I hadn't been paying any attention to my nutrition just salting and geling on a whim here and there with no rhyme or reason.

Kattie had been supporting me at AS 1 and 2 and I expected to see her at AS 4 but she was no where to be found.  I pulled off another awkward zombie-zonk moment at the food table and looked around down in the parking lot but she was no where to be found.  Oh well back to the race.  Now for the dreaded climb out of there... 

I hit a really low point where the climbing is somewhat exposed and steep on Lower Horse Trail.  I was thinking, this is like some kind of addiction/sickness, the lows are lower than ever and the highs are higher than ever...  this low was lingering a bit too long.

I walked a bit and felt like I was going backwards a couple times.  I felt like I was never going to feel the swoosh of energy I just shot into my mouth (in the form of a gross strawberry/banana GU) when all of the sudden I started running up some hills steeper than those I'd just walked.  I passed a guy who had just passed me (again--we went back and forth) on the road or someplace on the Ridge Trail.  The final AS was full of energy but I was beat.  I filled my bottle and the guy running the station informed me that I was in 10th place and 11th was right behind me.  My thoughts at this point were "I might as well be 93rd and him 94th.  Let them all come and pass me... I am so tired."

I regained some focus and made good time for less than a mile before getting on the newest addition to the course.  Another f-ing climb!  This brings the total elevation gain into the vicinity of 7000' for this jaunt through the woods.  Towards the top I heard people coming up from behind.  These were new faces/voices.  2 dudes looking strong and Pam just out killing it.  She yelled for me to "come on, let's go!" as she whizzed past.  All I could do was mutter a pathetic groan in response.  We then got back on the road and I started feeling a little more zing in my step.  I passed one superfit looking dude and then saw the 1.64 mile sign for the trail to the finish.  I passed  the other guy just as we got on the single track and slowly chiseled up the hill.  It tipped slightly downward and I bolted.  I even caught some glimpses of another guy but he was really dropping the hammer as well.  I just pegged the heart rate and leg turn over to something manageable and held out for the sounds of cheering crowds.  It wasn't long and I was there, high-fiving and collapsing/laying in the grass trying to settle my guts without passing out.  Just trying to talk to Kattie and listening to the bluegrass band gave me a reason to stay conscious and I eventually came out of my near death state.  A soda and soup and we hit the road to Rogue Brewery for some celebration on the way home.

All in all it was a great day for a race.  The organization at Mac is second to none and the trails were in outstanding shape.  The crowds were awesome and Kattie and Pete make the best cheering squad I could ask for.  I know it was a race and they never come easy (at least not when you are trying to explore what you are honestly capable of) but this one felt very "forced" if I had to choose one adjective to describe it.  My lack of training left some noticeable gaps in strength and overall endurance, not just in my legs but in my mental attentiveness.  I had to force myself to stay focused and force some motions that I'd hoped would come more naturally.  I am content with the 4:42 time (25 minutes off last yrs. time) but still left wondering, "what could I do if I nailed it?  If it just fell into place more naturally without all the forcing, what am I capable of?"

2nd Mac 50k finish!

Saturday, April 6, 2013

mac 50k: part deux

With the R2R2R trip with Nick and Dan off the books for this Spring I was left without a longer distance running objective this Spring.  So, last week I finally pulled the plug and grabbed one of the last 20-30 spots in the MacDonald Forest 50k.  I am excited to be headed back to such a challenging course and a great race.

coincidentally, for last weekend's long run i did the course with RD Dennis G.  We started at the saddle so it was done in a mixed up way but we covered the entire route in the proper direction no less.  it was a great effort with some good running mixed in with some more mellow efforts (power hiking) on the steeper climbs.  the course is in great shape at the moment after a moderate winter with very little rainfall after December's deluge.  It's eeking it's way towards 7,000' of vert with a new bump thrown in the mix at mile 27ish.  it's a tough run but i felt pretty good despite running seriously low on food, salt and water in the last 6-7 miles (a refill at the cabin was planned but water was not on yet).

training is going fairly well.  summer hours at work mean i have to get out the door around 4ish in the morning which is really only tough because i've lost the accountability factor that comes with running with a group (they still start around 5).  fortunately, KT's been really busy with work so getting out in the evenings has been an option lately.

today i am headed out to some new trails on private land just 5-10 minutes from home.  could this be the phantom 15 miles of hilly forested trail (in Salem!) i've been yearning for?!  i don't have time to drive out to other trails in the summer months so i certainly hope so!

the new montrail fluid flex's are pretty nice.  they have that buttery "cadillac feel" to them vs. the "porsche feel" of many of my other shoes which takes a little getting used to.  i had a great track workout in them but I prefer the "feel" of a more racing flat type shoe when really digging in.  Pretty happy with the purchase overall as they really round out the quiver and serve perfectly for the long road runs.

Monday, March 25, 2013

New Kicks

Hoping these are on my porch when I get home today...  ordered them last week after getting a "friends and family" code from Montrail for the shoe testing I did last summer.  50% off is a good deal, well worth the time it took to write a shoe review.

They'll be my road shoes.  I'll admit they look a little "hoka-hokey" but I think I could use the extra cush on all those paved miles.  My feet never give me much trouble but both the Rogue Racers and Rogue Flys seemed to lack foam in the forefoot.  After long efforts I occasionally felt soreness in the balls of my feet but I love the light and fast feeling they give me on paved or well groomed trails.

Also a race update:

Did Buck Mtn. Run (6.5 miles) and had a great race.  The day was perfect, nice and cool, and the trail was in outstanding shape with only a little bit of mud and running water on it--no snow this year!  It's still quite technical with lots of rocks and roots and hills.  After directing traffic for an hour (great warm up!) I headed off to the start line and got in a position towards the front of the crowd.  I got off to a quick start as I knew making my goal of <50 minutes would require a hard effort throughout the course, even the 1st mile.  I passed a couple guys then a couple more until we moved to the first short, steepish climb.  There I passed one more and locked into 4th place.  Near the top of the climb I moved into 3rd place with 1 and 2 a good distance ahead.  3rd place was short lived as Don G. came up on me as I relaxed a bit on the downhill, conserving just a bit on the rollers before the long climb ahead.  I stayed close to him and came close to overtaking him a couple times throughout the next 3-4 miles but never availed in my efforts.  In the last quarter mile he really pushed hard and knowing I didn't have anyone over my shoulder I accepted my position and pushed it in comfortably.  I finished 4 overall with a 45:27.  As with any Run Wild Event a good post race brew (or 3) ensued and I was stoked to see Evan O. and Justin C. come in with some hugely improved times.  Later we enjoyed 1/2 off at 7 Brides with our race bibs!  Epic winning all day!

On the 17th Kattie did the Shamrock Run with my Mom.  It was a circus out there with 30,000 people running!  She finished the 8k in 40 minutes and was elated to know she could hold ~8 min/mile pace for so long!  I think it might have been a breakthrough run for her.  Now, she's taking running just a little more seriously...  look out!  My Mom did well too with a 29:16 in the 5k.  That got her 6th in her age group!  BOOM.

Monday, March 4, 2013

an offering to the god of guts

For a long time now I've wanted to go down to Track Town (Eugene) and do a little running on the trails there and stop by Pre's Rock to make an offering to one of the sport's greatest legends.  Yesterday I was going to pick up KT at the airport there so I finally had my chance to make the pilgrimage to the site of the world of running's own folk saint's fatal crash.  It was moving and inspiring.

I was shorter on time than I'd hoped to be so the run was not going to happen.  But I had the perfect window of time to make it out the bluffs above the Willamette River just outside Hendricks Park.  I looped around a bit in search and finally found the Rock.  I pulled over and the dog and I walked to the shrine.  I'd brought a shoe (one of the blown out Montrails) that I'd been training and racing in lately and my 2nd place ribbon from Zena Road Runs 15k.  I placed it in front of the memorial stone amist a few other recent offerings: a NCAA medal, a couple folded up notes, fresh flowers (yellow and green of course).  I then read the plaque and sat there "taking it all in" for a few minutes.  Thinking about Pre's feats as an athlete and as a person.  I dwelled a bit longer on his gutsy style which I admire a bit more than most folks in the long distance/trail running crowd seem to.

A passing car broke the silence and with that I left.  It may sound corny but the place has a spiritual vibe to it.  I was glad I got to be a part of it.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

a couple quick recaps/notes for 2013 so far

haven't been here in some time.  time to recap with some more boring running tales:

Beginning of Dec. I did Shellburg Falls Run.  It was classic Run Wild fare with a 6.8 mile course in the Dept. of Forestry lands just east of Salem (in Lyons).  The course was a mixture of logging roads and single track, with lots of elevation gain and tight turns on the descents.  I had a blast sailing through the heavily wooded course which was covered in fallen leaves with slimey, slick mud underneath.  I am not sure if I'd lost my trail touch with all the road miles I'd been putting in or if my traction just sucked (on the the NB MT1010) but I fell more in this race than ever.  My hands touched the ground on at least 3-4 occasions.  My chest even hit the ground once.  I wanted to fly down the final descent but all the tight corners had me hitting the brakes quite a bit to avoid more falls.  In the end I couldn't catch the guy in front of me despite my efforts to "drop the hammer" in the last mile.  I was surprised when I placed 7th overall for I thought more hot shots were in front of me.  Finish time was 50:33.  Results.

Did a Fat Ass called Mac Ass 50k up in McMinville, OR in January.  It seemed a full on race was actually taking place with a check in, tents, fires and all but once out there I realized it was a classic fat ass experience.  Me and a few others in the front of the pack (which included some hot local runners) quickly took a wrong turn about 5 miles in and added another 5 miles or so to the already long 25k loop #1.  With around 4000' of gain and 21 miles in the first loop me and a few others bailed when we got back to the beer and all the hot food.  I would have liked to challenge myself with another loop but I had a huge blister on my left heel (new kicks, La Sportiva X-country) and put simply I had other things to do that day (wine tasting!).

In the beginning of Feb. I did my first road race, Zena Road Runs.  Of the various distances I opted for the 15k which went from the Spring Valley Community Center out in NW Salem up Bethel Heights for a steepish (by road runners' standards) climb up to the ridge were we ran (quickly!) past some great Eola Hills scenery.  The vineyards and Christmas trees went whizzing by as we flew down the hill back to Spring Valley Road.  I clipped away a couple 5:30ish min/miles (fastest was 5:24) before heading over the giant rollers back to the start.  I was surprised to take one place in the last mile and nearly take another in the last few hundred yards as the field seemed pretty spread out in front of me.  Mile 8-9 was not entirely downhill by any means and I was able to eek a 5:48 in there.  Guess there was still some gas in the tank which is a good sign.  My 57:38 was good enough for 11th place in a fast crowd.  Results.

I've been diligent about the track workouts (Mondays, though hardly with the group in the morning) and easy stuff (with them on Tues. and Thurs.).  I've been doing hills at effort on Wednes. evenings.  They are generally loops at Bushie ascents on the Derby Hill and descents down "Rollercoaster".  The hill is not very significant so it's more of a 25 minute tempo effort than a real climb trainer. 

Not too much long stuff.  I joined some Corvallis folks (and Dennis G) for a nice run in the Mac back in December. No new trails but great conversation and a good longer effort at 23 miles with some of the bigger climbs the area offers.  I did sneak in a marathon distance run a few Sunday's ago.  It was on roads and gravel through the hills out south.  The hilly run felt good but I did suffer some pain in my bottom left forefoot for a week of two following.  Those Montrail Rogue Flys are shot, I can feel it.  Time to retire them to the garden.  Probably pick up another pair for the roads stuff as the uppers held up really well and they did last well over 700-800 miles.  Plus they are half price, always a factor to consider when picking shoes!  Just this past weekend I got out for another 20 miler on Mac's West Side with some cool dudes that basically wrote the Mac story.  They knew every blade of grass out there as they made almost all the trails way back when.  I forget how tough that side of the course is.  Unfortunately, they are looking to add another big bump in the elevation profile this year at mile 27ish by routing it up the antenna hill.  Just cruel...

Next up is Buck Mountain Mudslinger on 3/9.  Ran the course with Kattie the weekend before last and it was in good shape (by Buck Mountain standards).  It's since snowed and blowed a bunch so I am sure it will be treachorous again come race weekend.  Hoping to do really well there this year.  I was a newbie to running last year (I am still "new" but I've definitely got more training now) and finished in under an hour, this year I'd like to go around 50 minutes.

I feel like the Cinco de Mayo R2R2R with Nick and Dan trip is not going to pan out so I am looking for other options to fill out the Spring race calender.  I am okay with this as the budget is a little tight right now and fall has always appealed to me more for this run.  I'd like to do the Peterson Ridge Rumble 40 mile (or 20, that was fun last year).  And the Mac 50k would be fun to do every year.  Maybe I'll just come up with an adventure run somplace closeby and call it good with no races for awhile.  We'll see. 

I am currently signed up for Granite Man 10 Mile Run at Applegate Lake, Oregon on June 2nd.  Don't know much about this one but I've been wanting to get down to Southern Oregon for an event for awhile now. 

Whew, I've got to do recaps more often, this is really long winded...

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

a new yr.

For 2013:

To accomplish improved health and financial soundness by:

1) set simple goals that don't involve grand changes.  i.e. eat a salad as a meal everyday.  tranformation in life comes easiest with small changes that create routine.
2) save more through reducing expenditures and waste and increasing resourcefulness.
3) run smart.  always recover and stretch.  it's as important as the workout itself (lesson learned in 2012)
4) race more often.  thrive off of the motivation and challenge that comes with community.
5) write more letters.
6) love more.
7) continue to collect experiences not stuff.
8) listen to and make time to be with the elderly.
9) inspire others.