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!

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 (  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.