Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Gobble Gobble: My First Time Partaking in The Great American Phenomena of the Turkey Trot 5k

Since this blog is basically just a pile of race reports I thought I'd make a quick note about Runacopia 5k that I did on Thankgiving.

I'll just paste in my log notes to keep it brief:

felt like garbage on warm up jog downtown.  questioned racing entirely but not before I could register myself.  did a few strides felt just a bit better. race was pretty non descript just paved paths, streets, bark path, one tiny hill and a bunch of turns all over the place.  few faster guys so I wasn't alone on a time trial but there was little changing of places.  I was able to surge at the end as I was just starting to settle in to the pace with only .75 mile left.  kind of an off day but fun and a PR at a distance that i've never had a solid go at (still room for lots of time shaving!).  cooled down with Mac in the park.  said happy thanksgiving a bunch of times to a bunch of people then jogged home.

16:44.  2nd OA.  http://onlineraceresults.com/race/view_race.php?race_id=44943#racetop

Additional notes:

cool to see all the people out having fun (costumes, kids, runner types, non-runners, strollers, old, young, etc.)

Later that day I ate my heart out.  Not a ton of any one dish but there were so many dishes it all added up.  Thanksgiving is such a cool holiday.  I hope yours was special too!  Thanks for reading and being so damn awesome!

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Hell of NW Trail Run 10k

A friend, Aaron, sent me a message that he and Don G. were carpooling to a local trail half and 10k, Hell of the NW Trail Runs, a couple of weeks ago.  I told him I couldn't as I was working and honestly I didn't even have the urge to race at that point in time.  Then a nasty ice storm moved into the area and wreaked all sort of havoc on the course and all the roads approaching this hamlet in Coast Range delaying it a week.  When I heard the news my legs and brain had kind of switched gears--easing back into training after a short break is boring and it can be tough to get motivated to push things again--so the a little trail 10k suddenly sounded like a fun idea.

Don G. was still game for the half and unfortunately Aaron had to work.  So the two of us shared a ride down to Alsea, which is pretty close to the middle of no where.  We arrived to classic Coast Range fare (hills, huge trees, moss and MUD) amidst thunder showers and light rains.  We both knew very little about the event but there were lots of familiar faces in the crowd.

The half took off and with it slightly more than half of the crowd.  10 minutes later the 10k-ers took off.  There was not a lot of room before the course entered single track so I darted off along the river to secure a spot that was not directly behind someone on the first climb.  The climb was incredibly steep (as promised by the RD) and was quite slick, especially after being torn up by the halfers.  The top of the ridge came and the lead was pretty secure so I focused on gathering myself and not losing it while descending back down the ridge.  The trail flattened out at the base and then took a long gradual ascent up an ancient logging road made of very chunky quarry rock (awkward but at least in wasn't slippery!)  At an Aid Station 3.7 miles in the 10k racers turned around.  I stopped and took a cup of water and chatted with the volunteers.  Nice friendly people who no doubt got soaked!

It was a familiar route back towards the ridge but the course cut left instead of heading back up to the ridge top.  It chased the river through the woods in a meandering way.  One thing about flat trail is water doesn't run off so it was quite slick as were the wooden bridges.  Surefootedness was as much work as building speed but I love that stuff.  Keeps things fun!

I finished in 43:34.  I jogged around a bit and hiked down around the famous Alsea Falls.

Don G. came blazing in with a nice half time and 2nd place overall.  We ate brats from the nice post race spread they had.  It began to really open up and pour again so we packed up and got out of there.

Just the workout I needed and a cool new spot checked out.  Not a bad Saturday!

Monday, November 10, 2014

Recap-o-rama: 2014

The year's not over and I know I'll be doing at least one more little race in December at Shellburg Falls, but the October Trifecta which consisted of Condor 25k (3rd place - 1:49), Wilson River 50k (1st place - 5:23?), and Autumn Leaves 50k (1st place - 3:47) sort of wraps up the "season" for me.

I wanted to reflect on it a bit and get some thoughts down before it all becomes a blur only to be remembered by notes in the log and a stack of race bibs.

Earlier in the year in January I did a lot of  slogging/jogging.  I had completed a different Trifecta in Dec '14 and I was kind of hoping to do a flattish 50k back in Feb sometime and I thought I'd pile in some miles.  I couldn't get really excited about speed workouts or hills just logging pretty high weekday miles 3 days a week, taking other days totally off, and then going on 4-5 20-30 mile runs on consecutive weekends.  I don't know what the hell I was thinking in retrospect but I did enjoy some of those long runs during a slower time of year.

Feb and Mar I got really sick.  I think I had bronchitis or something as I was in raging cough fits on a nightly basis.  I think I slept on the couch for 20-30 days.  I managed to run Buck Mtn 6.5 mile, one of my favorite local trail races, and Monument Peak 10-miler and posted decent results.  But I was quite out of shape for both of them.  They felt incredibly hard and it was the first time I had repeated a race/course and posted a slower time than the previous year (Buck Mtn).

I don't remember anything to spectacular from April other than I had a new excitement for running post sickness.  I signed up for the MacDonald Forest 50k and threw my name in the lottery for MacKenzie River 50k (which was to be my goal A race of the season if I got in--which I didn't).  I started getting after the training in earnest despite a busy Spring shipping workload.  I actually ran only probably only 4-5 days a week but I had a purpose to each workout and was happy to be on the upswing.

Even though I was suffering a serious case of DOMS after a crazy adventure with Don G. up at Elks-Kings and I had the Mac Forest 50k just a week or so out I contacted David Roche after he mentioned coaching in a blog post.  Turns out he's even more awesome than his blog posts and (boom!) I've got a coach with big plans for me just like that.

In the week or 2 prior to Mac Forest Coach Roche has me running shorter workouts that involve all sorts of shit I've never heard of.  I googled "fartlek" and "strides" before I confessed to him that I have no clue what exactly he's talking about.  He set me straight and we got on the same page in running lingo.  I was surprised to be grinding out hard hill repeats just a few days before a hilly 50k but he seemed to know, or I trusted that he knew, something I didn't.

Anyway, the Mac Forest 50k was done on a pretty low training build up.  This race falls at a bad time of year for me (March. April and May are crazy at the nursery!) and I've never had the perfect peak training for it but this year was even lower in terms of time on my feet and all.  I still managed to cut off 12 minutes off an already decent course PR.  I hiked (ok walked, hiking just sounds sexier but let's call it what it is) more than ever, ran the fast sections faster and definitely had a better time out there.  I felt good afterwards too (more on that later).

Next up was Smith Rock Ascent 50k.  Before that I was able to squeeze in an hr. on the track workout (for the Titus Van Rijn challenge) that David thought was completely nutty but it was kind of an eye opener for me .  I was able to somewhat easily run a 5:50 pace for 41+ laps, or 10.25 miles which was kind of cool to know and shaped my future running just having that gauge.  Almost all workouts between Mac and Smith 50ks were short and a lot more speed/strength oriented so I didn't know what to expect at the race.  I was essentially going at it with 10k training, or a lack of long hilly runs.  To my surprise a race that started out way too fast paced (but felt awesome/in control at the time) then faded in the back 3rd ended up pretty awesome overall.  I finished nearly 33 miles with plenty of elevation gain (4-5k') in 4:22, a personal best.  Again, I felt pretty damn good afterwards.

A bit later I did a 4 mile trail run in Miller Woods and won the sweetest prize ever.  A giant magnum of incredible Oregon Pinot that was awesome to share with friends and family later.  I am pretty sure that this was the only race Kattie and I did together this year, so that makes it special too.

The next race, a 10k on July 4th, was probably my proudest moment this year.  It's probably the least celebrated of the bunch (because it's not an ultra--people, even runner-types, always freak out about ultra distances even when they are just a few more miles over the marathon) but it was a big break through for me.  At a small town race with no glitz and glam just Boy Scouts on the corners guiding us around streets with mediocre scenery I finished a 6.0? mile course (came up short of 10k) in 32:49.  I held a 5:26 pace for 6 miles.  That was a good 5k pace for me or even a mile repeat time.  I was stoked!  I know that it's not earth shattering speed but it was new territory for me and a nice mental boost!

More flat training (definitely no long climbs) left me ill prepared at Dog Mtn 20k which I committed to on a whim.  The first lap was a blast and I secretly had a lot of fun in suffering through lap 2--which left me sore for days afterwards.

August was cool because I started to have some more free time and the training plan called for some longer runs.  Even these were rather short, rarely going more than 2-2.5 hrs.  I didn't get too far out of town as I had hoped to but I did explore some rad new trails close to home. 

The month of Sept was to be epic and started off right but plans to run insane trails through the Rockies while road trippin' with the family were thwarted when I smashed the shit out of my toe sweeping a portion of the IMTUF course on day 2 of the trip.  I ended up getting a big ol rest period instead of a final push for the October Trifecta.  I am still up in the air about the effects of that time off.  It's hard to say I benefited or lost anything there.  I think some of the longer adventure paced stuff would have been nice to have in the legs and certainly would have been good for the spirit/mind. 

While the Trifecta results were good I suffered a bit through parts of the experience and the times were not were I had hoped.  There is definitely room for improvement in all races should I go back.  All of thedownhills were affected in Condor Race due to residual toe pain.  The Wilson River is a tough one to judge with all that vert, mud and singletrack but I know I could have run faster in a few pockets/sections.  And, Autumn Leaves has a lot of room for improvement but I would definitely not do it within a week (or a month) of another long race: fresh legs needed for that kind of repeated motion on a flatter course.

Enough review, on to conclusive thoughts:

The whole year's training in general involved less running but perhaps increased intensity.  I am not a numbers guy but I am certain that I spent less time running.

The style of intensity was different.  Whereas before I would crank through track workouts once a week and maybe get a little tempo in here and there, I was now doing more interval type stuff on a pretty regular basis, like 2-3 times a week even if it was a short part of the overall workout.  And hill repeats!  Not just going out for a hilly run and checking off the "hills" box but running up (often at a hard pace) and down little hills by my house.  Some of these were "bounds" style workouts but most were time based repeats (often in the range of 60-90 sec).

Running slightly less has had some different effects on my training.  Perspective changes when you know there is nothing huge looming on the weekend (like say a 24, 26, 30 mile run or 3.5 on up to 5 hrs. at "ultra" pace, which I always want to do but rarely have time for anyway) my approach to weekday workouts seems to be push 'em a little harder if it feels good.  Also, with the long runs being in the 2-2.5 hr range they can turn into a mellow tempo paced effort instead of constantly saving energy (or craving the car ride out of there).  Sometimes an hr and half or more into a relaxed trail run a big hill would come up and I would just light the thing up just for fun.  That's what running by feel is all about to me.

I also have a tendency to go at it a bit harder when I run alone which I have done way more than yrs past--and almost all "intense" workout days.  I have been focusing on controlling this a bit the past month or so as I believe a recovery/easy day should be deliberately done at a slower pace and not entirely based on feel.  I've gotten into troublesome, or more injury-prone, territory when all the days seem to be at a similar pace (when easy is too fast and hard is too slow--even though it feels hard!).  This year I learned that where I run and what music I listen to can help with slowing the pace.

I mentioned it a couple of times in the review but something has changed this year with regard to recovery.  I don't know if it has to do with the workout plans (consistency, overall shorter workouts, etc.) or if my body's increased experience as a runner (coming up on 3 yrs of regular running) is finally manifesting in a physical way beyond better race times: but the time it takes to recover from hard efforts and long efforts has shortened immensely.  I used to hurt quite badly after a hard race and I often felt like I was going to pass out for up to an hour.  Soreness would linger for days afterwards.  Now, I can run faster, and I often still feel like I laid most of it out there, but almost immediately I feel great.  Sure I walk slightly robotically for a bit and try to avoid stairs but with a day or 2 it's almost like nothing happened.  I still give myself the necessary time off but it's something I've noticed this year.

The last of my yearly conclusions has to do with attitude.  Increased experience in running has definitely contributed to a boost in racing confidence and improved attitude.  It's more fun than ever to nervously toe the line and take off with the front pack--as long as it seems somewhat reasonable--and just see what happens.  I don't have much (or anything) to lose so if it doesn't go well who the hell cares?  No one, nobody!  My family still loves me and I still love myself because you what?  It's just running!  Maybe there is something wrong with me but I've actually had a lot of fun just sort of rolling with the punches that often come late in the race while employing this "racing" vs. "pacing" strategy (or lack thereof!).  I'm not a really competitive person when it comes down to it but it sure is fun to push the limits of the body and see what the training was for.  Coach Roche has a lot to do with this attitude adjustment.  I wouldn't say that he necessarily endorses the race attitude/philosophy I am talking about here but he doesn't really oppose it either.  He's a genius pep-talker/typer whose always beaming with positivity (like swearing, "YOU'RE F------ AMAZING!" in pride/happiness) and its been awesome to have that kind of encouragement on my side.

So, that's the season wrap-up.  If you are still reading, may the Lawd God have mercy on you!  I wrote it and it's all about me and it still seemed a bit like purgatory must feel.  You're awesome and I really appreciate you caring about my running so much!  I can't wait to hear about your running or whatever it is that turns your adventure crank.  Here's to a good holiday season!  We are coming up on my favorite time of year!  Weeknight partying/drinking beyond 1 to 2 glasses (social alcoholism) is totally acceptable!  Junk food everywhere!  Cornucopias, pilgrims, trees slowly dying inside the house, lights, elves, reindeer, and Baby Jesus!  YES!

Monday, October 27, 2014

Race 3 of October Race Trifecta: Autumn Leaves 50k

Following the Wilson River 50k hike-fest I felt incredibly good.  I had no soreness in my calves, quads, etc.  Not even the dreaded delayed onset kind of soreness ever manifested.  It was weird.  In some ways, I wanted to be in more pain to give myself a good excuse to go out and "Prancercise" the Autumn Leaves 50k the following weekend.  You know, just jog it and have fun with friends on all those loops and out and backs.  But I was left without an excuse...

All signs indicated that the running gods actually thought I could pull off not only my goal of a podium spot on the NW Mountain Trail Series but also check off a sub 3:30 50k (the very next weekend).

I had a very light week of running between the 2 events.  The plan pretty much centered around recovery and one good hammering (hill repeats) tucked in the middle just to keep things primed.  Come Friday I felt ready to rip--as good as any other night before a race.

Saturday morning came (along with the promise of downpours and high winds) and I could also feel just a touch of fatigue in the legs.  "Nothing that couldn't be warmed up and shaken out," I thought to myself.  Dennis and Pam pulled into the parking lot about the same time I did and we divulged our race plans.  Dennis was doing some 12 hr. pace work for as long as he could take it (4 laps).  Pam was doing some 100k pace stuff for as long as she could take it--and as long as no other female (even phantom ones-ha!) tried to take the lead.  As for me...  I just told them I was going to try my best and see what happened.  What I meant was I was going to go out with a 42 minute 10k loop then ratchet down a bit to do 4 more at 40 min. pace.

We set off into the dark blustery morning at 7:00 sharp and I pulled away from the crowd in the tracks of leader Joe Uhan.  The pace was spot on with where I needed to be.  I cruised in his shadow for the first 10k.  It was going smooth and weather was even starting to cooperate, sort of.  Less rain, but perhaps more wind.  Joe seemed to be slowing or wanting to draft a bit so I assumed the lead for most of 10k number 2.  All was going awesome.

Completing another 10k loop.  I think I was still in the game here.  Photo: Cool dude, name?
Then someplace along in lap 3 Joe passed me (which I pretty much wanted to happen as I can get carried away with leading) and minutes later... "wham!"  Just that suddenly, it felt like I had finished last weekend's 50k the day before: or, like I was on mile 30 instead of 15 or so.  It seemed like Joe was speeding away but I quickly realized my pace was falling off big time.  I had been faking awesome that first 25-30k and it was time to get back to reality.  I fought hard with my typical mental battle routine, "come on. focus.  don't you want this?  how bad do you want this?  turn it back on.  let's do it.  today's the day.... etc."  But the legs said no.  No way, Jose.

So I threw down my pride there on the side of the path and consciously decided not to get upset or anything (it's just running!) and just do my best to slog it out.  I tried to be extra positive to passing runners giving them smiles and thumbs up to break up my wincing from running on painful sluggish legs.  It made a big difference having that attitude and just kind of going with the theme of "total meltdown" like it was a big joke or a training run gone awry.

Done!  Photo: Cool dude

And DONE!  Photo: Cool Dude

The miles came slowly (literally and figuratively) but they came and I finished the race in 3:47.  It was a huge relief to have completed the race instead of ducking out early which crossed my mind as I neared the end of lap 4.  It was cool to cheer on friends, eat tons of food, and watch the windstorm pick up even more.  3 trees fell on or near the course.  Yikes!

Mighty Salemites!  Dennis, Pam, and yours truly hanging out post race.  Go team!  Photo: Dennis' really cool mom, Allie

The race is sort of a "season" ending finale for me as I take a break for a week or so.  I'd like to put down some thoughts re-capping how things went but I think I'll save it for a later post.  For now, I'll just focus on recovering, home repairs, dog walks, and Barre 3 videos with Kattie.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Race 2 of October Race Trifecta: Wilson River 50k

Around mile 8 came a shrill voice not unlike that of kids screaming from the backseat on the family road trip, "Are we there YET?!"  My mind begged my legs and lungs for an explanation:  where were we and why was this taking so long?

Early on in the dark, crossing another creek.  Photo: Paul Nelson!

My legs/lungs replied, "Chillax mind, it's too early for you to be asking questions.  We're still driving.  Probably will be for a while at this rate."  The mind then reluctantly went back to looking out the window at the soaking wet Coast Range rainforest that was the setting.  While satisfied with the beauty of the views it had a different vision regarding the pace of this whole excursion.

Some hours and miles later (around mile 22? or 24? I don't know where, some damn place high upon a ridgeline) the mind and legs/lungs did a quick Chinese fire drill and the legs/lungs found themselves in the back seat while the mind was now driving. 

The legs and lungs were now furiously asking the mind, "Dude, have you lost your grip?  You said we'd be nearly done by now and we haven't even reached the turn-around yet meaning we still have to come back over all this crap.  You sick sonofabitch."  The mind had no response really just kind of shrugged it off and said "Enough back there.  We aren't going to turn around now.  Besides when we do get to the turn around they'll probably have some Coke there and we'll all be happy for a little bit.  High as a kite with wind on our sails."

When I did get to the AS I noticed that I never passed the guy who was out in front of me.  I asked the friendly volunteers, "Uh, where's the dude who was in front?" 

"What dude?"  They answered, "You're the dude in front."

I hadn't seen him since someplace around mile 16 and we ran past our cars at mile 18.  "Maybe he just got in his car and split..."  I wouldn't blame him.  This was torture and it had been raining pretty damn hard for awhile. 

"Well, at any rate that just made this a whole lot easier," I exclaimed as I drank my second cup of Coke and turned back to the giant climb I had just descended.

It wasn't a quarter mile later and I got a glimpse of a man in his element and hot on my tracks.  I was in running shorts and a soaking tee shirt and this guy had on sleek tights and carried poles.  He had the look of a well-crafted machine designed to kill joggers like me on late race climbs where hiking was certainly faster than running.  "Jesus, help me," I thought.  I put my head forward, leaned into the hill and... walked.  I ran wherever I could but the miles came slowly until I finally descended into mile 30's AS.  I should have just ran through it but I couldn't pass up the chance to have another couple cups of Coke.  "Weeee!"  The mind, legs and lungs were temporarily pleased/teased again.

The finish came at last and I felt surprisingly good.  Just really relieved and really hungry.

Awesome bridge finish.  Photo: Paul Nelson.

As I changed into dry clothes the guy BBQing (the RDs of Go Beyond put on an awesome post-race party as they always do) asks if I want a burger or hot dog.

I replied simply, "Yes, please."
"Chili on the dog?  Bacon on the burger?" he asked.
"YES!"  I replied.  Dearest angel of God, thank you.  Yum.

Just like that, race #2 and 32 more miles of racing (of 79.5 planned for October) had come to a very happy ending nearly 5 and a half hours and 7500'+ uphill movement later.

Sharing the NW Mtn. Trail Series podium with Christof and Jeff.  Couple cool dudes.  Christof (in the middle) is the "jogger killer" referenced in my crappy race recap.  Photo: Paul "this guy's everywhere all at once" Nelson

Monday, October 13, 2014

Condor 25k: Quick Report on A Down Home Little Race


Last Sunday I went down to the Mac Forest on the north side of Corvallis and ran a 25k over the hills and through the woods with some friends.  It was the same course as it was 2 years ago when I finished in a hair over 2 hrs, a time and effort I was ecstatic about back then.  It seemed much warmer out there than in years past with 70ish degree temps by 10:30-11:00 (9:00 start time).

It's a pretty local event (by local I mean mostly Corvallis-ites and half of these folks practically live right there in the forest: they are always there).  Salem had a decent contingent there as well just as it did in 2012 when I first met my winter time running buddies (Pam, Dan, Shawn, Dennis, etc.).

Start line.  Dude front and center wins.  Mike and I are jabbing off to the right.  Sort of felt like they took a break in the family reunion to run 25k then we all got back together for cookies afterwards.  Photo: Taryn Hand

It's a fast(er) yet challenging course.  I haven't ever really studied the elevation profile but it feels like it is always going up at an ever so slightly grade.  Now, I know that is impossible because it ends right back where it starts but that is just the way it feels.  Perhaps the ups are in general long and drawn out and the downs are somewhat quick and steeper.  I don't know, run it and see for yourself.

It cruises the buttery trails that the Mac is locally famous for and there are some longer stretches of gravel logging roads in there as well.  So, it's not too tricky and generally you can really open up and soar.  This makes sense given the race is dedicated to a local runner, David Bateham, who was more of a runner type than some kind of technical hiker type that we see at lots of MUT stuff from my understanding of the guy.

My race went pretty well.  I felt good and relaxed on the climbs (most of the biggins being earlier on in the race) and preceded with caution on the descents because my toe was still healing from an early accident.  I ran most of the race in 3rd place with a couple stints in 2nd.  I really enjoyed running with Mike Rosling.  It always seems like we aren't even racing one another when we get to chatting mid-race (this has happened twice now down in the Mac).  I'd catch him on the climbs and he'd leave me in the dust on the downhills and at the aid stations where I was in "ultra mode" each time.  You know drinking cups of water, checking out different gel flavors, carefully placing trash in the receptacle, and saying my thank yous to each volunteer.

Some folks hate loggin roads.  I dig em.  Photo: Taryn Hand

I finished within my goal time of 1:50, but barely with a 1:49:36.  For that I pushed the last 1/2-3/4 mile of flatter course pretty hard.  I had plenty of energy.  I know I can go back and do better than that someday.  Maybe next year.  It'd be hard to not want to come back to such a down home event on a uniquely quick and challenging course.

I had a weekend off from racing and now I am looking at 2 weekends of consecutive 50ks.  I am feeling pretty ready but boy that is a lot of racing mileage for me.  I like to push races pretty hard but I am going to try and do well at both which means I'll need to be reasonable with my efforts.  The good news is they are very different than one another, one being quite hilly up and over ridges in the woods and the other being flatter loops in a park.

Photo: Taryn Hand

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Rocky Mtn. Recon: Hardly a Running Related Post

We talked about going to Panama then decided on the closest alternative we could think of: the Rockies?  Our accomodations search went from VRBO sites featuring cabanas on stilts with glass coffee tables that looked directly into the ocean below to DIY truck camper sleeping platform ideas.  We went from palm trees to stunted pines of the alpine wonderworld.

It was KT's dad, Rick's, 60th b-day and so we needed to go back to McCall to celebrate.  We did up a nice road tour from there.  It went like this:

Day 1 - Drive from Salem to McCall.  Stopping in Weiser on the way to visit Gramps at the "Concentration Camp".  Our late start meant that we missed Manhattans at Happy Hour, a tradition he has celebrated daily at 5 or 6 for 50+ years.  He's 96 and he learned how to make them from a neighbor that was in her 90s way back when.  He figured she must be on to something with the daily ritual being so old and healthy.  So far I'd say it's served him well.

Day 2-3 - In McCall.  I got a nice run in at Jug Mtn Ranch.  I really don't know where I ended up but it was a little further north than I was hoping to be.  So it turned into a nice out and back with a few little variations/shortcuts as I was running late for a tee time with Rick, Nate and KT.  That night we binged on Mexican food and beer for the b-day party that featured a mellow crowd of old construction dudes.

The next day I mulled about until late morning and drove north of town to Chinook C.G.  I was to sweep a 10 mile loop of the 100 mile IMTUF course.  The way I choose to sweep it it would be a 14ish mile loop as I wanted to get a little distance and get to an important intersection where I could verify that everyone was done with this portion.  It was my first time as a sweeper and it was pretty fun: nice to be out on a run that was in a new place, super clearly marked, stopping a lot to remove markings and gaze around.  The not so fun part was falling 3 times.  I am not a faller typically so this was surely to be blamed on the looking around or lack of focus that came with removing hundreds of markings...  I guess.  Anyway on the 2nd fall I stubbed my toe and it was bad.  On the 3rd I smashed it again.  I could feel blood in my sock and throbbing pain but I tried my best to cruise along a clip that would get me out of the last 7-8 miles.  The scenery was nice but I couldn't enjoy it as much as I should of.  Day 2 of what was to be an epic running spree in epic mountains and I had a problem with my big toe.

The following day I was supposed to run a 5 mile race at Ponderosa.  I tried on different running shoes trying to find one that wouldn't hurt my toe which was split wide open on the end and the nail full of blood and whatever ooze.  No avail.  The race was not happening.  We chilled around town and went to the beach with the dog.

Day 4 - Left McCall heading through Riggins and onto to Grangeville where we followed Clear Creek up Lolo Pass into Missoula.  We stopped there for a walk and some groceries.  I got a campsite rec from a friendly dude at the local outdoor store.  We left town on the freeway and turned on Rock Creek Rd where we meandered down Rock Creek on a gravel road for miles before setting up camp at Dalles C.G.  We were now in bear country so we had to deal with all the precautions that became a nightly routine on this trip.  Our site was beautiful and relaxing.  We passed a million trailheads but I was just here to chill with the toe not showing much in the way of improvement.

Day 5 - Drove the entire length of this gravel road along Rock Creek.  We came out in Phillipsburg which seemed to be an important town historically and for fly-fishers.  From there we highway-ed through Anaconda (where that song actually came on the radio!) and Butte, over Homestead Pass to Bozeman.  In Bozeman we stopped for a late lunch and walked around a bit.  In a similar, and admittedly short, amount of time spent in both places I like Boz better than Miz.  I always pictured it the other way around for some reason.  From Boz we headed south towards Big Sky where we drove around a bit before picking Red Cliffs C.G. as our sleeping grounds.  We did a little hiking up a trail that left the campground and looked like a promising place to run.  My toe hurt and KT said I wasn't going off alone early in the AM with any bear spray.

Day 6 - Running wasn't in the cards again.  We hit the road for Yellowstone's West Entrance and drove down to Old Faithful.  We had to hang way back as dog's aren't allowed anywhere in National Parks much to our dismay.  I get it people and dogs both do stupid shit and the park probably had to put the kabash on the dogs because they don't speak up for themselves or pay taxes.  We saw the old bugga blow and made a dash for the car.  We had a lot of driving to do as the road was closed and we had to do a huge tour of the park to get out of it on the South end.  We made a few stops to see geothermal wonders, wildlife including lots of buffalo and an elk.  We pinicked on the Yellowstone River and Pete the dog got in a nice bandit swim.  From there we headed South and entered Teton National Park.  It was a magical site as we drove by those incredible mtns.  I was in heaven just looking at them.  We needed to keep the pace up so we could get to our rented cabin outside Jackson and enjoy it a bit.  We arrived, showered and went to town to get a good dinner and celebrate 3 years together!

Day 7 - Up from the comfortable bed and back into Teton N. P.  I was determined to run (I even got bear spray at KT's wishes).  The toe hurt as I set off from Jenny Lake towards Lupine Meadows TH where I went up a few thousand feet to Surprise/Ampitheater Lakes area.  It was midday and kind of hot but the toe felt good going up.  Then I decided it was time to turn things around.  The descent killed my toe but I made it back to the boat launch where KT bandited Pete in for a couple hours of swimming and relaxing on the shore.  We pinicked there and packed up for another few nights of car living.  We aimed South again on a hwy that eventually swung East.  We passed a lot of seasonally closed campsites and began to get concerned as we came up on Alpine, WY.  From there followed the 20 along Palisades Res. until we got to an apparently open site called Blowout C.G.  We had a nice sunset from the bluff we perched the truck on high above the lake.  That night KT got out of the truck for a midnight bathroom break and quickly jumped all the way back in.  She was scared by something in the brush but we never caught glimpse of it.

Day 8 - We went East again through some sagebrush country and the lovely town of Idaho Falls, past the Craters of the Moon National Mon. to the 75 where we headed North for the last wing of out of the way (slow road) exploration.  We stopped in Ketchum/Sun Valley for lunch and then continued into the Sawtooth Wilderness (a national Recreation Area).  A quick store stop in Stanley before heading back towards Redfish Lake.  The scenery was awesome there.  The lake is surrounded by Alps/Dolomite-ish peaks and it begs to be explored, climbed, canoed, whatever...  We hiked along the side of the lake with the dog and came back in time for dinner and smores.  We hunkered into our truck bed camper one last night and it began to pour.  There was thunder and lightening too.  Pretty awesome timing as we had so much good luck with the weather the rest of the trip.

Day 9 - We got a hotel room in Boise.  I was ready to push the toe a bit and see where things were at so I went for a jog.  I grabbed the Greenbelt path along the river and noticed the pace felt relatively easy eve though it was faster than planned.  Ended up doing exactly a half marathon and the toe was only slightly painful.  We then walked around town and ate before going to a birthday party with some HS friends of KT.

Day 10 - Back from Boise.  Very blaw drive all the way home.

So there was little running but we both felt like we were sampling places to go back to later.  We saw some amazing country and relaxed a lot.  It was a great time and I can't wait to go back for more exploring.

Monday, August 25, 2014

dull training update

Running is going fairly well these days.

A couple of noteworthy training accomplishments as of late:

1)  Did Bush Park 5k series race 9/14 and it was a bit of a disaster with a bad sideache and unlaced shoe.  Harder evening workouts are always kind of a crapshoot for me as I can never get the eat/poop thing dialed in.  Still managed to cruise in a 17:20something.  Not too bad considering I, like my shoelace, began to unwind early in the 2nd mile--even contemplating jogging the thing in.  Still a bit of a disappointment as I was able to do that kind pace (or better) for a 10k on July Forth.

2)  I've done some good long runs lately.  Finally had the chance to explore some new trails around the valley's hillier spots despite a very busy summer schedule.  Down at McCulloch Peak in the Mac I found some tough climbs, over at Silver Falls I finally linked up Shellburg Falls and Buck Mountain Loop, and had a chance to cruise the Wildwood Trail in my once a year pilgrimage to Portland's Forest Park.  So much fun to get out in the woods for nice long runs.  I am finally feeling stronger on long climbs after feeling pretty sorry at (and after!) the Dog Mtn. race's 2nd lap.  Trails in large doses just have a way of balancing out muscles and making me feel good about running.

3)  A workout last week called for a faster mile.  I went to the track, partially because I was lacking creativity in choosing a route and partially because I wanted to see where I was with mile times.  I did the mile in 4:55.  That's the first sub 5 mile I've clocked.  I may have one or two downhill-ish miles that were at that speed but I am not even specifically aware of them.  Anyway, I was happy to check that off the list.  Best part was it was hard, but not THAT hard.  Legs never seemed like they were cooking and breathing was not too laborious.  I didn't do some monster kick in the last lap or 300 or 200 or whatever.

4)  Coach:  I haven't mentioned it here but I am currently being coached.  Summer is too busy a time of year for me to create and dedicate myself to a training plan.  Last summer I struggled to stay on task and even though I got some very good workouts in here and there it was not ideal.  I've got a big goal this fall and thought maybe I'd benefit from enlisting the help of David Roche.  He's awesome.  He's energizing and fully engaged with a custom plan and near daily comments on the workouts.  I knew he was fast at the shorter end of endurance running and figured he must have some tricks up his sleeve that might help me get faster after a winter of mostly jogging.  I also admired his "Pre-esque" racing strategy and affinity for writing about the digestive movements of humans and dogs.  Right away he announced we were going for 10k fitness and longer runs on the weekends to keep endurance system intact/developing.  So it's fartleks, hill repeats, short intervals, tempos, and strides galore.  I didn't even know what half of those words meant a few months ago.  For the time being I no longer go out for weekday 12 mile recovery slogs and do 10+ miles on the track.  It's working great to have concise short workouts during these busy summer days.  I joke around that I am getting into all the collegiate runner workouts I never did (I wasn't a runner then) and hopefully that will help me close the gap between them (the former collegiate runners) and me in future races.  I can't praise David enough--it's been seriously fun to work with him so far.

Cheers dearest super fan!  I know running stories are boring especially when they don't involve adventure, competition, or, at the very least, tangents into the world outside of running.  I know...  I am sorry, this must have been so hard to get through. 

Monday, July 28, 2014

Double Dog (Mountain) Dare You

Rain Gods had grass seed harvest delayed and there was a small window of opportunity to race in a busy time of year so I went for it.  Gather around, here is the story: 

I made a final decision Friday afternoon to get up early and head for the Columbia Gorge for a couple laps on the infamously steep and scenic Dog Mountain Trail.  Each lap was billed as a 10k though they seemed to be 6.8 miles according to others' GPSs so I'd be doing 20k (or 13+ miles).  Each lap also involved roughly 3000' of up and DOWN.  There were other badasses out there doing 3 laps for a 30k while others opted for the challenge of a single 10k loop.

It's a short ways to the top if you want to rock and roll!  Photo: Paul Nelson

The effort was to be moderate vs. full intensity as training cycles don't need more interruption than they already get from life's daily offerings of uninspiring weather, busy workdays, travel, etc.  Training especially didn't need interruption from last minute race decisions involving courses that I haven't been specifically training for... at all.

Anyway the first 10k was a hoot.  I took it easy on the way up as I knew I'd have to come back and do it once more.  After tagging the top, with the friendly Aid Crew up there I began to mosey back down.  The trail was a bit technical with rocks and roots and even a canopy of dense greenery that hid it entirely in some spots.  It'd been awhile since I had had so much fun cruising through the woods and I think I got a little carried away with the fun and really started opening things up, bounding off of roots and scampering across rockslides.  I knew that the extra speed taken on the descent was going to shine on lap 2 but it was too fun to quit.

Freakin' Gorge, just gorgeous.  Photo: Paul Nelson

Sure enough I was power hiking, that's ultrarunner code-talk for walking, much more on the 2nd trip to the top.  It felt as fast as my attempts to run so I went with it.  The effort was definitely moderate now!  At the top the friendly Aid Crew was eager to serve and ask what I needed.  I jokingly mentioned in my Billy Madison janitor voice, "I'd rather have a beer."  Just like that a can of beer shows up, gets cracked open, and I am too blown away to turn down a cup of this hoppy delight though in my heart I know it's not what I need.  Down it went and down I went after soaking in the view a bit.  My legs were there but not powerful.  I managed to catch up to the dudes in front of me and just sort of rode down in their shadows as a polite pass would have taken a good surge on the narrow single track to make room for everyone to run safely apart from one another.  And surging was not something I felt like doing. 

The finish came soon enough and I realized immediately that I was starving.  I ate my brains out and drank a ton of water.

I unofficially took second in the 10k and officially took 1st in the 20k (the race I had registered for).  For the record however, there were two 30kers in front of me at the 20k mark.  They were climbing like bosses.  I waited around for them to come through but the last lap seemed to take them quite a while as I think their wheels were falling off by then.  Still super impressive performances with gutsy starts.

Weather was awesome and the view impressive.  The Go Beyond Racing machine is well oiled and put on a really good time.  They even backed up the race fun with a tab over at Double Mountain Brewery in nearby Hood River.  I couldn't turn down a free Kolsch on such a beautiful summer day so I dropped in for that on the way home.

Dearest readers: be careful what you ask for when you sign up for a hard hilly course twice or a beer in the middle of a race...  you might just get it!

Post race: I am sorer than shit.  Haven't been this sore since Kings-Elk Traverse run months ago...  definitely looking like a relaxing running week, or at least a few days, just hit my schedule (again).

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Road Racing on America's Birthday

Friday, July 4th, Kattie and I went out to Stayton, about 15 miles east of here, to celebrate America and run our little hearts out before we commenced drinking and eating our way through the long weekend.  It was the annual, old fashioned Stayton Forth of July Run.  Kattie was there for a fun 5k, I wanted to see if I could post a decent 10k time.  I'd never run a road 10k (or even a kind of flat one for that matter) but I had a rough goal in mind based primarily on training runs.  I wanted to run 5:35-40ish miles for a sub 35:00 finish.

We arrived early and walked the dog, stretched a bit then I warmed up with Dan M. and Bill.  The race was very old-timey with just a couple of cones and a clock in the start/finish area.  There were Boy Scouts decked out in uniform all over the course as this was their gig.  It was simple and perfect for getting that old fashioned American pride stoked up on her big day.

The start was fun with 10k-ers, 5k-ers and 3k-ers all blitzing out of the parking lot and onto the roads at the same time.  We began to split up very soon and I could see who all was in the lead pack of 10k-ers.  I cruised through the first mile or so in 3rd as the pace was quicker than I needed to be moving and it was early.  And hot.  By the 9:00 start it was already in the 70s.

Caught up to 2nd place guy and moved right past him as he seemed to be getting a reality check on the 5:15-20ish pace and adjusting a bit too.  First place dude seemed out of reach and moving strong.  By a turnaround on an out and back portion of the course around maybe mile 2.75 he seemed to be faltering a bit.  Should I stick to my plan or go for it?  Guts.  Glory.  'Merica.

I past him just past the 5k mark.  It was short lived as he made a quick move to not let me get away.  He got right in front of me and tucked in for a draft down a hill and starting an uphill (the course had 200-250' of elevation gain according to course description).  He began to slow so I went around him again.  He didn't take well to this and went around me and got right in front of me again.  And slowed a bit.  This happened probably 3-4 times over the first half of mile 4.  This sort of game never really happens in trail races I've done and I began to feel like a move needed to be made.  I passed him and hit things a bit harder after I saw (I had to scroll through the watch as I hadn't felt a buzz, indicating mile laps, the entire race so far) that we were with a mile and a half of the finish.  I thought it was early to make a move but after deliberating mentally I decided I wanted this.

I was able to secure a good lead by mile 5 but he was definitely still a threat so I pushed and pushed through the long, straight, and hot stretch back towards the finish.  Rounding a couple of corners I knew I had it and pushed for the finish in a controlled pace wondering if this course was short or if we were going to have to do a little .2mile loop there in the parking lot.  It was short and I ended up crossing the line in 32:49.  I had pushed hard but felt very good at the finish.  I hadn't out-done myself by any means and I think there is some more potential in there.  Results: https://docs.google.com/file/d/0B2EJ8zFUPiLqMHlYUExuTlp5cG8/edit.

Kattie had done well in her 5k despite being very hot.  The morning run behind us we cooled off and were ready to celebrate the holiday.

Superfans, if you want it--go for it.  It can and will be yours!

Monday, June 30, 2014

Miller Woods 4-mile: How to Make a Saturday Morning More Badass

Dearest dear,

Did a fun little race out near McMinnville this past Saturday.  It was in a place called Miller Woods.  It was awesome.

Kattie was supposed to work Saturday but was notified Friday that she could have the day off.  So she came too after I told her it was short and not too hilly.  One part of that sentence was true the other turned out not to be so true by her standards.

The course was really pretty as it set off on a x-country style grass path down to the woods where we entered dodgey singletrack.  Lots of twists and turns gently winded downhill until it went up at a grade somewhere between "douche" and "steep" (that is "barely noticeable" and "wanting to shrink the stride for a long slow ride").  It came back down real quick and then went up again for quite aways in a drawn out hill for such a short course.  Lots of unnecessary switchbacks were tucked in there  I think for the sole purpose of making sure one could never really open up and cruise without having to slam the brakes, turn and rev it up again (over and over).  Long patches of what appeared to be new trail with soft ground which made for a good workout.  It was pretty wet and slick.  Very exciting stuff for the summer season.

I could have run a long time in there as I was having a lot of fun but just 25:40 later it was over.  I was thinking that Kattie was probably out there in the woods plotting out how she was going to leave me there for telling her it would be a nice little jaunt in the park when she arrived to the finish 3rd woman!  Turned out she kind of liked the challenging course and realizing she was a podium contender she really went for it.  She hasn't run a ton lately so she capitalized most on her downhill prowess which is really fast.  She isn't scared of anything.  She'd probably trample baby kittens if they were in her way on a descent.  No joke.

We hung around for prizes even though I needed to go to work at the nursery.  It was a good thing because we got to pick wine from an incredible assortment of locally made (we were in the heart of OR wine country) bottled awesomeness!  I went with the RD's choice--which happened to match Kattie's opinion--of '09 Shea Vineyard Pinot in a beautiful magnum.  Stoked!

Kattie and I both had a blast.  All in all, it was a badass Saturday morning!

Be sure to check this one out next year! https://www.facebook.com/EnjoyMillerWoods

Monday, June 16, 2014

Smith Rock: Jogging with Cattle

Here we go...  time for another stream-of-conscious run-on race report.


Training overview: less mileage, more speed.  Not much at all in the way of long hilly affairs.  Think more of a classic 10k program.

Friday, I did payroll and fired off an availability update in record time, all while stamping out the usual fires that come with the workday morning.  I had one one goal on my mind:  be outta there by 1:00 and on my way to Smith Rock for the Smith Rock Ascent 50k the following morning.  At 12:59 I rolled off the farm and aimed east.  I made a few stops--one for gas, one for a sandwich, and one for dinner/breakfast fixings--but still made it in good time to the scene of my lonesome one man camp on the edge of the state park.  Kattie was working up at Soter Vineyard's on Saturday and Pete the Dog was at home protecting the house--a job he's hopelessly not suited for (no, tail wagging is not a sign of fierceness) but pretty passionate about no less.

Shortly after I arrived I jogged out to Burma Rd. which was the first mile or 2 of the course.  I did a few hill repeats while out there and then headed back.  I had a couple Banquets and a couple PB&Js (what can I say I didn't feel like cooking) while runner types began to pour in by the Subaru full.  It was a different scene in the Climber's Bivvy with all these runners doing there "runner" things:  you know, eating healthy looking foods and gawking at the calves and quad sizes of one another.  Usually, this dusty lot that I know quite well from my climbing days is just a handful of broke ass climbers eating meager portions of shitty food and drinking really crap beer.  Maybe a couple of semi-well-to-do foreigners pouring over guidebooks and talking about God knows what.  And typically no one's looking at anyone's legs or shoes, just their loads of spendy climbing gear and tattered weather-worn garbs.

I was getting tired and headed to the tent for some sleep.  Rest came easy despite some gigglebots (teenage girls) having a slumber party in a tent 25' away (in the quiet zone!).  Some quality, boring, non-fiction set the mood and I was out with the sunlight.  I awoke well before the alarm thanks to my bowels which were getting extra aggressive.  So, I quickly got up and commenced what would be an interesting, almost frightening, assault on toilets around the park.  Sorry everyone who was there, that was probably me!  This gut biz carried on until right before the race which left me wondering... what I am I going to burn as fuel now that the gas light's back on?

Finally, enough poop stories (can anyone actually get enough of that subject?!) and on to the race:

We were off shortly after 8:00 and dashing through the park.  One gutsy dude (with a gutsy beard!) just bolted the first mile but was drawn back in on the climb up Burma Rd. that led us up to the desert/high prairie that would be the setting of the race.  I was quickly in 3rd place and spent the first 15 or so miles there, sometimes close to 2nd and sometimes a little further back.  I knew the pace was a bit quick for a 50k with some challenges in the last 10 miles but I was having trouble holding it back.  It just felt so easy drifting along those plains with a pretty nice trail and stunning, if not downright distracting, views of surrounding farmland below and snowcapped Cascade peaks on the horizon.

Around mile 15 the once leader (through mile 10) then 2nd place dude let me cruise by.  It wasn't much later and I heard a loud rustle in the sage and juniper to my left.  3 or 4 giant cows came rumbling to life, got on the trail in front of me and began to run at a clip I was unaware that cows could sustain for a 1/2-3/4 mile.  Now in the dust behind this mini stampede I hooted and hollered in my best ranch hand voice for them to get the hell off the trail so I could leave them alone but they must of interpreted this as "stay the trail and head for the barn".  They finally started to get off the trail as we came up on a cow convention of sorts with 10-15 more now startled giants and a few calves.  "Mama Cow is going to kill me... This is it, so long life. sure the vultures would have my bones polished before anyone found me" I thought.  And Mama Cow was pissed when she realized one calf was not by her and I was between them.  I slowed down.  Then I stopped when a large black bull gave me a couple less than comforting stares.  Just like that they sort of moved away and it was back to business as usual only my building lead over 3rd place had diminished significantly and the leader was long gone across the prairie.

Around mile 19-20 the course tipped gently upward and there were lots more rocks and sandy patches.  I started to consciously dial things back, attempting to save a bit for the last bigger and quite drawn out climb.  It, that dreaded climb, came and I re-passed the 2nd place dude who had passed me on a short gravel road section a few miles back.  We agreed that this fun little dash had quickly turned into a sufferfest and I didn't see him again.  Instead, the carnage hunters began to advance.  Only one caught up and I couldn't have been happier that it was Mike Tyler, also of Salem.  He's been killing races this Spring and I was content to let him by with words of encouragement.  We pretty much finished the thing like a x-country team happy to be pulling in some points for Salem's oft overlooked runners.  Eugene, Portland and Bend may be home of the famous and they certainly have better training grounds but we quietly jog the streets of our sleepy town (where people actually have bumper stickers reading: "Keep Salem Lame") to create racing machines of all makes and models.

While a gutsy looking start that fades to a less than powerful finish wasn't ideal I was quite happy when I finished the 32.54 (some had 32.9) mile course in 4:22.  That was still under my moderate (the decided pace for this run) goal time for the actual 31.1 mile distance.  The winner, Jeff Browning, had a solid 4:07 finish time on his training grounds.  Maybe I am kidding myself but I think with more experience and more suited training that's an attainable time for me in the future.

mile 32ish. photo: paul nelson!

I had a lot of fun out there in the open sky and expanse of rocks, sage, grass, wildflowers, sand, and cows.  It was a really nice change in scenery from the wooded muddy affairs I usually run.  I look forward to going back for some more running out there.

Post race:

Feeling really good.  Not banged up or overly tired.  A little tightness but nothing alarming.  Cooled off at Cline Falls on the way home and ate like a horse for the next 24 hrs.  I am full and resting just a couple days before summer's short races and speed sessions.  Yeehaw!

Oh notes:
Shoes/gear: Nike Terra Kiger-held up well.  I could see these getting hot but not a problem in this instance.  I also wore a hat and, for the first time, sunglasses.  I wore some throw-away shades that I got in a swag bag in case I decided that they were annoying or ridiculously un-stylish and I needed to leave them at an AS.  It wasn't overly bright but I'm sure my eyes appreciated my precaution given the lack of shade on the course.
Food: 4 Hammer gels-1 each hr., nursed them somewhat slowly.  4 s-caps (one at each AS except last one).  2 shots of Coca-Cola at AS #5.  Gut was funky all day putting anything in there was dangerous and at times a bit painful.

Monday, June 2, 2014

It's Time for Another Dull Training Update

A couple of semi-noteworthy training updates:

Finished the Mac50k feeling surprisingly good.  I was kind of scared and anticipated some late onset fatigue/soreness but it never really manifested as the days went by following the race.  I still took things generally easy and kept workouts fairly short/low mileage.

Been doing quite a lot of hill repeats and strides--which is new to me--in preparation for the next 50k, or a summer's shorter races that will follow.  In general all of my running has been a bit quicker and a bit more flat.

Regarding that 50k:  I am looking forward to the quality time in Smith Rock but really kind of looking forward to some races that are less than a couple hours long.  It will be a really nice send off to long stuff until we meet again in the Fall.

A couple of recent workouts that stand out include:

Titus van Rijn (http://tvr1hour.wordpress.com/).  This was a one hr. challenge on the track a quarter mile from my house done all alone at 5:30 in the morning.  I was making up for missing this with the gang the Monday before the Mac.  I made a beer bet to all for going over 9.5 miles.  Dan-O did and I paid up.  Pam came up just short but raised the stakes for me and Don G to 10 miles.  Dan posted some quick math and gave me the 1:29 lap split that I tried to consistently hit at or right beneathe (no fast laps).  Anyway, there was a bit of wind here and there and a heavy mist.  The Garmin had me at 10.43 miles but I stopped somewhere right around 10.25 miles.  It was tough mentally to go around and around at a 5:50 pace 41+ times but once I got in a groove I felt like I could have held this through another 3 miles or so.  That'd be a respectable 1/2 marathon time (1:16) for a mediocre dude like me.  Maybe something to shoot for if I ever sign up for something that flat.

Run Around the Lake Course.  This is a 30k loop around Payette Lake in McCall, Idaho that happens to be a race course.  I don't know if I did the exact course but the loop that starts and ends at the top of the stairs at Legacy Park near Hotel McCall was precisely 18.7 on the Garmin which tends to run short on all but the track--so good enough.  I did make one variation that probably added a minute or so when I went to North Beach to pass by Kattie and the dog.  I wasn't gunning it by any means but a few good pushes here and there in the last 8 miles or so made this a good workout.  I finished in 2:12.  This training time would have been good enough for a 3rd or 4th place finish in the race.  While I know I could drop several minutes off that with just a little more effort, a little more acclimation time (it's a mile high) and a gameday mindset.  I am just as sure that I would not have been remotely close to 1st place who went around in 1:42.  This workout was a nice gauge to see where things are right now and see how fast that flattish 50k this fall will have to be run.

Got a couple nice trail outings in while in ID but in general they were lackluster affairs compared to those of last September.  While the last week of May is a beautiful time to visit the higher country it was honestly too early to fully reap the benefits of the best trails.

Dream on, dream on, dream on.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Tina and Ike: Back at it (Again) at the Mac 50k

On the Saturday before Mother's Day I should just kick back at a favorite local winery and celebrate the general winding down of another long hard shipping season at work.  You know contemplate the lows (pest problems, pissed off picky customers, tense moments in the office, labor squabbles) and revel in the highs (happy customers, additional orders, picture perfect crops, etc.) over a nice glass of wine (or 3, maybe 4) and a view.

But, just like Tina T. after another long hard tour, I don't necessarily make the right decision.  Addictions get in the way and I find myself ritually going back year after year to my Ike--the MacDonald Forest 50k--for a good dose of thrill and a serious beating.

Oh Tina, just a baby girl in a cruel cruel world.


Training started off like last year.  Only worse.  I thought my training was highly inconsistent in Spring '13 but it didn't compare to this year.  I've been griping, or crying on the interwebs virtual shoulder, about that all over this bloggity-blog as of late so I am not going to elaborate much on it again.

Work has been extra-stressful this season.  A combination of a prolonged winter, the consequent condensed Spring shipping window, increased responsibilities and new pests coming in from God knows where have brought me to brink of mental exhaustion on more than a handful of days lately.  It's all part of the gig in the family biz but it really takes it toll on one and sometimes sacrifice in joggin time is too easy to do.

Race day:

I slept awesome.  I was so relaxed.  I think it was just knowing that the worst that could happen that Saturday was a shitty race.  That's no big deal and probably the best example of a #firstworldproblem I can think of.

I had a little breakfast and hit the road arriving to the Forest pretty early.  The weather seemed like it was going to be favorable for race day even though indicators around the start area showed hints of serious sogginess.  With a bunch of free time I moseyed around chatting and pounding cups of coffee with running friends.  As usual, a bunch of fast looking dudes started piling up and I got to thinking the now classic thought of "so much for an impressive finish placement--what should my time goal be?"

We took off at a pace that I knew was a little fast but I felt fine and at ease.  The course did include more fast/flatter trail in the first 5 miles than years past but more than compensated for this early-easiness with more mileage in the "maze" and late race climbs.  Perfect for a person who knows how to run a controlled early race and eat carnage for lunch later on...  that person's not me, unfortunately.  I know better in my head but not in my legs and lungs.  They sense a bib on the torso and set into some sort of frenzy no matter what the brain signals their direction.

Anyway, we rolled through the Saddle A.S. at 8ish miles and I was with Neil Olsen, a strong Southern Oregon master's runner with a long list of hot finish times.  I figured he knew what a good pace was so I vowed to hang with him as long as felt good.  I led us down Horse Trails and up Dan's at what I considered a moderate pace.  After Dimple A.S. he just sort of faded away behind me.  I held this "really nice feeling pace" until well into the Maze mileage.  I ran/mud-skied/slip-slided with Mike Rosling for a long time through there.  We were having a blast in what felt like a nice mid-winter training run.

I passed a guy named Jeremy in the Maze as the slicker'n'shit mud seemed to be eating him alive.  I was now in 6th place about 17-20 miles into things.  It was the closest to the front I would get all day.  He's a good runner so I knew once we got out of there and back on some steepish logging roads he'd be passing me.  That's exactly what happened after we got down Extendo together.  I took a digger and got passed by another dude and then and there 8th place became and remained mine despite a lot of sluggish power hiking on moderately steep stuff for the last 2 major climbs (Alpha and Vineyard Mtn.).

A couple of noteworthy things happened after the marathon mark.  I got to the last aid station and tried something new (a gamble)--2 little cups of Coca-Cola.  I, and my non-soda accustomed stomach, questioned the decision a minute later but when I could see a couple dudes hot on my tracks on the final climb I suddenly felt that sweet, innocent little thrill of a sugar high.  I was wasted tired and on the verge of getting crampy but I was able to pretty easily clip away some 6-something miles on the logging road rollers back to the single-track where I really got after it.  I put a minute and a half on some guys that were running really well and within 20 seconds or so behind me at one point.  I even got a glimpse of the guy in front of me with about a half mile to go but it was a lot of ground to cover to catch a freshly motivated/running scared him.

My finish time was 4:28:38.  Results here: http://www.subrew.com/macresults/search.s?yearSearch=2014.

Feeling a bit like a post-domestic-dispute-Tina.  Managed to get the cap off for the paparazzi.
I was tired but honestly I've never finished the Mac feeling any better than I did this year.  Instead of curling up in a ball on the ground I got right after drinking water and replenishing myself with some soup.  I avoided the chairs by walking about and I had a great time cheering on other finishers.  It was fun chatting about the race which everyone agreed was tough as ever and very muddy.  Lot's of tales of late race crampage.  Went up to the lake and washed up in the cold water which felt awesome on the legs.  I really missed having Kattie there (she was at work) to celebrate with.

I kept thinking, "I guess fitness is kind of a funny thing.  Sometimes you think you're on top of it and things don't pan out.  And, sometimes you think you're far from fit and you get lucky."  The problem with both scenarios is you know you left something on the table and you are capable of much much more.  While thrilled with the improved times in tough conditions I can't help but wonder how would it have gone if I had pulled off a decent training block this Spring and had the endurance to nail those last 2 big climbs.  I guess there's only one way to find out...  go back and do it again. 

Like Tina and Ike, it's a vicious cycle.

Thanks to you dearest superfan if you're still reading all this garb.  So much senseless babble it must be like being tied to the back of an El Camino and slowly dragged down a gravel road for miles and miles.  May God have mercy on your soul.

Additional Notes (for reference, because I have a hard enough time remembering my finish times from races yet alone additional deets):

Consumed: 3 Hammer Gels (nursed them slowly throughout run), ~30 oz. water, 3 Dixie cups of Coke.  May have absorbed (osmosis) a GU through my left buttock as it exploded in my pocket when I fell.
Shoes: Montrail FluidFeels.  One left and one right.  Lotsa miles already, in fact they are pretty much spent--but trusty they are as well.

Monday, April 28, 2014

no Mac River 50k

Despite my promises of daily sacrificial leg beatings to the lotto gods--and 60/40 odds--the MacKenzie River 50k and I are not going to be getting together this year.  I've generally opposed entering lotteries for races as my train of thought has been "why?  when there are so many other races out there..."  And, I am not an especially lucky person when it comes to drawings.

Too bad, I think the course and I could have made a great pair.  It would have helped me to run a slightly more gentle and speedy 50k as I prepare for my potential goal of 3:30 at Autumn Leaves 50k.  I'll just find something else to do that month, perhaps Bunker to Bonneville 50k on Aug. 30.  That's the race I took my first and only DNS on due to a bad knee injury.

Mac training is pretty mediocre but I feel like I am progressing well with respect to mid-June's 50k race.  The daily ritual runs remain and it's been wonderful having Mike Studer along for the early departure (I leave around 4:15 most weekdays and he's the only one out there that would consider at start that early).  Track was tough and hills are something I can almost always use more of in my diet though I certainly got my share of hills on yesterday's adventure along the Elk/King Mtn. Traverse with Don G.  We were floored after all the steep climbing (~6000') and quick descents even though it was only about 13 miles traveled.  I spent the afternoon eating, avoiding stairs and applying a heavy doses of wine to numb the pain. 

Despite the fact that the Mac is only one week out I think I will try and pull off a decently long run this coming weekend.  Probably just do the Zena route to home thing with a few faster miles towards the end unless something better comes up.

End boring Monday training post! 

Monday, April 14, 2014

wah wah wah

rearrangin' the mix a bit so I thought I'd update all my imaginary fanbase.

running regularly for lots of reasons has been tough for me lately.  I felt crappy after all the time off in February.  Things just hurt and my lungs where all beat up after dying nightly of TB like cough fits (no blood from the mouth, just the nose).  I know, I am still complaining about a cold in February... lame.  but it seriously left a little trauma mark on me.

then things started to come around a little about the same time that it stopped snowing and being shitty/winter back east.  what's the weather back east got to do with my running in Oregon?  the relationship is indirect but nice weather means Spring and Spring means harvest at the nursery.  we run around like chickens with our heads cut off for 13hrs a day, 6 days a week and load plants into semis and send them to a garden center near you.  it's a harvest, if you're over 50 or 60 maybe you've been a part of one, there's no way to describe it's intensity.

this harvest just wipes me out.  I leave early and get home late.  I barely have time to eat.  running gets lackluster and seems like a forced drill rather than a hobby.  so I skip it.

anyway harvest seems to be in a bit of a lull and work's still crazy but I am feeling a resurgence of energy coming on.  I am ready to put together a solid block of training like I did last fall.

the Mac looms large being only 4 weeks out.  I was digging and digging for an excuse to just go "have fun".  you know classify it under "b-race" or "training run" status.  I was desperate for a reason to not have to race the thing but I didn't have any newbie friends to run it with or that uncle with cancer whose dying goal was finish a 50k that I could heroically walk the thing with.

until today.

I found a late June 50k and now the Mac is a long run.  whew.  can you feel the stress lifted from these quads and lungs?  I am excited about the 50k as it's in Smith Rock, one of my favorite parts of God's country, and it's got vert but not overkill.  awesome.  I am going to work hard for that gig, relax a week or so, and then wage a training block like non other (no ridiculous mileage-just a bunch of hard work) before the MacKenzie River 50k (did you hear that lottery gods?  the promise of sacrifice?!)

yeehaw super-fans.  summer's gonna be hot.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014


February Recap:

I suffered through 2 and 1/2 weeks of Black Lung Death Cough and never ran a step (missing Zena Road Race).  I started to feel better and ran a few days (mostly in Denver) and decided to race Buck Mtn 6.5 mile up at Silver Falls State Park since I love that little loop so much.  Within 200 yards I could taste those pennies that usually come with an extreme track workout...  raw lungs already?  no bueno.  I took things easy on the climbs because breathing was difficult.  I charged the downhills as fast as a person who hadn't run much lately could.  I ended up in 4th place overall.  I got a little plaque to add to my meager collection of mediocre accomplishments.  I also got the cough back.  It stuck around for another week and 1/2 to 2 weeks and by then I was feeling the fitness fade.


You see when I take time off I do it to the max.  I sleep less.  I eat poorly.  I drink more.  It doesn't help with the sickness but these are the things that people do when they are bored and don't have to get up early to jog.  The results are bad but I am slowly getting back to things.  You know 3 days a week, 4 days a week, 5 days a week...  and so on.

While I was sick I took up yoga and home improvement.  Re-did the front yard, the side yard and working on the back.  Yoga was primarily an exercise in resisting coughing fits for an hour with some pathetic stretching on the side.

I raced Monument Peak 10 mile this past weekend.  Total mudfest.  Fun and challenging.  Felt weak on climbs but hung in there for a 5th overall finish.  3 or 4 faster guys showed up to the race and that gave me some incentive to start working a little harder at getting back on the training train. 5th was the perfect place for me to come in as I know I've still got some drive but a lot of work to put in to get better results.

The future:

Signed up for the Mac 50k.  Race is going to kill me again (3rd time).  I'll try and be conservative out the shoot as I am feeling a little less strength this year.  I've got to get some long hilly runs in soon if that's going to be fun at all this year.


Thursday, January 30, 2014

kind of whiny training update

i haven't run in 4 days now.  figured i'd just resort to writing about it instead of doing it.

most frightening thing of it all: i am sort of getting used to sleeping in already.

i am sick as a dog.  the pandemic and terrible cold that has struck so many loved ones around me has finally flipped over the rock i was apparently hiding under and sunk it's icy talons into my chest, throat and face.  youch.

so anywayz...  it's been a weird month this here January.  i did a lot of long and slow shit-jogging and really kind of sandbagged most of the track and tempo workouts.  i couldn't tell you why but i skipped nearly every hill/strength gig too.  i was really only faithful to jogging workouts. 

and while i am happy that i took advantage of the bounty of free time i had [mostly] on Saturday mornings (with 20, 26, 31, and 25 mile runs) i don't feel like this generally sluggish base-build-o-rama program has done much for me.

once i kick this bug i'ma get me my kick back. 

the local classic Zena Road Run 15k is this weekend and at this rate i'll be jogging the thing with a whitney/tina mixed tape in vs. attempting to chase Oregon Track Club and Bowerman AC's masters extraordinaires.

end rant.

hope you chase a wild dream this year kiddos!  if you don't you won't.

Friday, January 3, 2014

"Goalsies" 2014

Because "goals" sounds so harsh and intimidating i am calling them "goalsies".  so fun, light and refreshing.

Because it seems virtually everyone else is putting them out there this time of year... here's my pocket full of run-related "goalsies" for the new year:

1. 4:5_ mile (road/track).  Not solid on this one yet.  Part of me wants to put 4:50, the other part says 4:54 (looks trivial but from where I stand today this looks like a BIG difference).

2. 16:30 5k (road/x-country).  On the right course with good temps and good competition this seems "totes" do-able.

3. 3:30 50k (trail-flat).  Same thoughts/feelings as 5k goal above, with a nutrition component added in.  Gotta nail that too.

4. Finish Mac50k for the 3rd Time and beat last year's time, so 4:30s.  This course is nasty and it's a bad time of year for me, but it's become tradition of a sort.  I'd be happy to just keep doing a little better each year from here on out (next 5-10 years).

5. Nutrition/diet: I hate "diets" because they seem so cultish/religious with their fanatic Believers all claiming to know the Truth.  But it seems there's some solid "science" and personal testimony out there that suggest I could benefit from less carbs in my day-to-day eating.  I am not going all Paleo-caveman but I aim to apply a little more discretion when it comes to eating.  That said, I will just think of the Kenyan dudes that own the marathon and probably subsist on carbs (cooked grains) when I smell some tasty polenta or homemade tortillas in the kitchen.  Yum.

6. Adventure.  I want to join friends in running adventures this year.  I seldom get in adventurous outings and when I do I can never seem to pull them off with friends.  I got into trail running from a climbing/hiking background.  I simply loved exploring wild lands and had a desire to cover more ground more quickly.  I've crossed over a bit into running's "darkside" and find myself running for running sake--or what I'd consider "training"--all the time.  It's still really fun at this point but I need to mix some more adventure in there if it's going to be fun forever.

7. Organize a running event and donate some money to charity.  I don't care if it's $10 I just want to put something together for a cause and have a blast doing it.

Hey 2014, bring it.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Santa Paws 5k Recap (and New Year's Hangover Run)

If you're ever down in Palm Springs visiting Grandma around Christmas run the Santa Paws 5k.  Lots of fun. 

It's a charity event for Guide Dogs with 5-600 people, each in 5-piece Santa suits, running around some city blocks and a couple weird out-n-backs until they reach the milk and cookies at the finish.  I am not a big themed 5k person (bubbles, mud, paint, glow-in-the-dark, all that crappola) but I am a sucker for all things Christmas (you know Amy Grant's Christmas album, plastic baby-Jesus in the manger scenes, lights, etc.) so wearing the Santa suits and having my wife Kattie there made this race extra fun.

Here's some pics from the trip which also included some great runs in the surrounding mountains (Painted Canyon in the Mecca Hills Wilderness Area, Art Smith Trail off Hwy 74, and a bit of Magnesia Canyon).

Mr. and Mrs. Claus, down from the North ready to race.

Victory!  A 17:26 was good enough to be 1st overall in the greatest athletic accomplishment of my life!

Ladder in Painted Canyon, Mecca Hills Wilderness.  Very fun to run/hike.

KT and me in the barren desert hills above Painted Canyon.

I am a sucker for all things Christmas.  This tree at La Quinta--and the mescal I drank at dinner there--made me really stoked.

Yesterday I started 2014 with the New Year's Hangover Run (a 3k) out on a farm here in town.  It started at noon so I was able to sleep in a bit and finish digesting all the food, champagne, and beer from the night's festivities before heading over to the race.  It was really laid back and fun to see a lot of the local runner scene there for the short x-country style race.  Some mud and a handful of dodgey twists and turns made for a fun little dash.  I made a push just a 1/4 mile into things and Mark Robins came with me but never caught up like I thought he would.  A 10:44 was good for 1st place and a good little Wednesday speed workout to start the year.

The Beer Mile was an hour or so later and I am glad I stuck around to witness the course record get smashed by Eric Jeffers with a 6:05!  Cups were used but I am sure that advantage was probably negated by a tricky cross country loop vs. a track.  Dude can pound beers and run!  Fun (in a weird/sick way) to watch the people puking too.  I love beer and running!

Cheers to a bad-ass 2014!  Keep it real folks.