Saturday, October 14, 2017

2017 WARRIOR DASH "RACE" REPORT

Before the race. Unfortunately, no after photos as I understandably did not have my phone with me.
Well, after five years away I finally went back and did the Warrior Dash! I remember after doing the first one back in 2012 Brandon mentioning how much he wanted to do it. At the time, the minimum age was 14, so I told him I would do it with him when he was 14. So true to my word, once he was of age I signed us up! Turns out the minimum age is now 10... don't know when that changed, but oh well! While I enjoyed it the first time, I wasn't really jonesin' to do it again until this year with Brandon.

First obstacle. The pond was probably 55F.
Our start time wasn't until 2:15pm, so we had plenty of time to get ready before the race. I forgot what a winding road it was into Horning's Hideout - gravel too! At one point as we were driving in it started dumping rain. Not a good sign as the weather was supposed to be mostly sunny! Luckily by the time Brandon and I picked up our bibs and the race started it was dry and at times sunny.

We lined up in the corral and tried to get to the front, knowing what a logjam can form at a race like this with people of all paces going onto a small trail. So when the race kicked off we didn't have to weave too much. So that was a good decision. Although in the end it really didn't matter. I'll get to that in a second. Brandon and I ran most of the trail during the whole race, only walking select uphills. I wasn't quite sprinting like in 2012, but I was giving it a legitimate effort.

The course was pretty much the same path as last time. Run around through the woods for about a mile and then encounter the first obstacle, one that requires you to swim to it in a pond. In 2012 at no point in the course did I hit a logjam, I was able to do each obstacle as soon as I hit it. Here, Brandon and I waited a good 15 minutes to enter the lake. Not cool! It was a theme though, lots of waiting. A good 50 minutes at least.

Mud everywhere! Also barbed wire.
Anyways, once we waited our turn we hopped in the lake and HOLY SHIT IT WAS COLD. In 2012 the event took place in early September, this was early OCTOBER. The water was really cold. It took my breath away. I almost started to panic (a number of people did - it was legit dangerous). So I composed myself and then started to walk in the water toward the obstacle. You just basically had to climb out of the water onto a floating dock, run along it, and then jump back in.

Eventually the water was too deep to walk and I just had to swim. Much colder swimming than walking with your arms out of the water. But oh well. I swam as fast as I could and scrambled up the dock. I turned around to check if Brandon was still alive and spotted him, waiting in a long time to get on the obstacle without having to swim (one side you could walk all the way to it, probably four feet deep at most). On the other side of the dock I jumped back in, not realizing I couldn't touch on the other side. So I wasn't ready and got a bunch of muddy water up my nose and choked a little. Gross. I swam as fast as I could and climbed out of the pond. It was so cold. When I got out my whole body was stinging and numb. Crazy.

Sliding down the mud hill in style.
Brandon finished that obstacle a few minutes after me. After getting out he required a few more minutes to recompose himself. This race wasn't fucking around. After some encouragement we started running again. Brandon never quite warmed up, remaining cold the rest of the race. I was pretty much okay a few minutes after getting out of the lake. The adrenaline and running warmed me right back up. Only once while waiting in the shade with some wind did I get chilled.

As for the rest of the race, it was more run of the mill Warrior Dash stuff. Brandon and I did all the obstacles quickly and ran to and from each. So we did really well. We just kept having to wait. Some obstacles had no line, others had 10-15 minute lines. So it was a matter of design and placement. Oh well. They don't even time you at the race anymore so it really didn't matter.

A lot more mud this time. Last time there wasn't real mud until the finish line, this year there were at least three or four dedicated mud hazards. So that was fun. Brandon and I both wore old pairs of my running shoes we scrapped at the end. Memorable obstacles included climbing up a giant net and then sliding down into deep, muddy water, jumping over fire, swinging across water on palettes tied to bungee cords, sliding down a giant muddy hill, and crawling upside down through a rope tunnel.

I got a similar amount of air. *cough*
I will say the obstacles this year were way better than 2012. I thought they half assed a lot of them back then. I swear one was just a bunch of tires they randomly scattered on the ground. So props to the 2017 version for having some really good obstacles. Otherwise, I think 2012 was superior though... no wait times (smaller corrals because it was over two days?), race photos, and chip timing. While there were a few photographers on the course, they were few and far between and seemed to be just snapping some for Facebook. So that was a bummer, but I included a couple to give you a feel for things.

To make a long story short, Brandon and I raced hard and finished in 1:35. Over an hour more than last time, haha. Although, if we didn't have to wait, it would have probably been about 40 or 45 minutes. We were through most obstacles in a minute once we started them. The only one that took longer than that was the first one in the cold pond.

Once we were done we washed off the in another, smaller pond (just like 2012) and then headed back home. I think it was harder than Brandon thought it would be. He had fun though. He really disliked the pond at the beginning but the rest he really enjoyed. I said maybe we'd do it again in a couple years and he agreed. Fun from time to time but every year would probably be a bit much.

Sunday, October 01, 2017

EATING THAT MANGO

For the first time in a very long time I feel like I am truly back. And that's exciting! I've been running regularly since coming back from my broken toes on August 23rd. Eighty three miles later, I still feel fine! My knees haven't been an issue at all. The psoriatic arthritis definitely seems like it is in remission and my body has eased back into running successfully. Now, there is still a lot of caution with that optimism, I've been burned too many times before. We'll see if these results can hold, but I feel confident enough now to sign up for races and get excited about them again.

I would also like to brag about two of my most recent runs. Now, the focus has been to just get back to running, regardless of the times. And I'm still mostly in that mindset. However, on Thursday night I decided I was going to push a little. Just a little. The last time I had run a training run under 10:00/mile was May 2016. So SIXTEEN months before this. And let's be honest, most weren't even close. So what did I average on Thursday? Oh, you know, just 9:24. On my hilly course near my house that includes a 200 foot climb up Sexton Mountain. No big deal. It was a challenge, definitely a tempo run for me at this point, but it felt good. Legs responded great the next day too.

That was very encouraging. It gave me confidence to go for ten miles on Sunday. Remember, before the half marathon two weeks ago my longest run since May 2016 (again) was six miles. The weekend after the half I did eight. Not a big issue, definitely tired, but fine. So on Saturday I set off for ten miles. Not only was I able to do the ten miles without issue (spare getting stung by a bee randomly while running), I did them averaging 9:49/mile. Huh? Two weeks ago I did the half at 10:53 and now I'm doing 10 miles at 9:49? I don't know! I wasn't even trying to go that fast. It just sort of happened. It felt good and I went with it.

Anyways, after both runs my legs and everything felt fine. Like legs should! So that is hugely encouraging! I don't want to suddenly put pressure on myself to go under 10:00 all the time either. I think my "easy" pace is still a tick above that. However, I am getting a little speed back, which is nice.

Friday, September 22, 2017

LOOKING AHEAD

So, here I am five days out from the half marathon. How did my legs do? Great! They were sore for a few days but yesterday I felt good enough to go out and do another run. Katie and I went to Sunstone and did a hilly 4.5 miler with them. Sore from that today, but again, normal sore. Just got to get my body back in shape. Altogether I'm feeling pretty good and I'm ready to set my sights on what's next.

The goal moving forward I think is to run three times a week. Two on the weekdays and one on the weekend. Even when I was training for marathons I only ran four days a week, so I think three is a good number to keep a baseline of fitness. The run on the weekend will ideally be a long run... somewhere between 8-12 miles to hopefully build up and maintain the ability to run a half marathon. I have the Miami Half Marathon again in January and it would be nice to be ready for that this year.

Otherwise, I've been looking to add races to the schedule. Now that I feel "back" I'm excited to get out there again! The race this last weekend reminded me how much I enjoy racing. It felt good to go out there and challenge myself and test my ability. Very satisfying! Plus, the pizza afterward without guilt was pretty cool too!

Anyways, here is the lineup of races I am thinking:

10/21/2017 - Regatta Run 5k - This is a race in my hometown of Tualatin. It honors a former classmate of mine who died in Afghanistan in 2009. I've been meaning to do it before, it just is always conflicting with a football game or is right after the Portland Marathon and I don't want to do a 5k then. But this year - it works pretty well. Haven't signed up yet but seriously considering it!

11/23/2017 - Give n' Gobble 10k - I did this race a few years ago and had a good time. The course is a little hilly but I'm not running any PRs these days, so who cares. It is a large event that is pretty cheap and lets you eat Thanksgiving guilt free. Sign me up!

12/6/2017 - Operation Jack Northwest Run  - I would do the half marathon in this race. A fellow PRCer is the race director of this race and while it isn't a traditional half marathon, it goes toward a good cause and it is always a fun time. I hung around and cheered a few years back. I would consider the Holiday Half as well, but that is very expensive. I like the more basic events these days spare once or twice a year.

1/28/2018 - Miami Half Marathon - Yes, Miami again. Will be my fifth in a row. Really love this tradition! Already signed up, so this one is locked in. The last few years the weather has been really comfortable, unlike my first year when it was unbearably hot.

2/4/2018 - Zena Road Run 15k - This would be my fourth year of running this race after running it in 2013, 2015, and 2016. A definite favorite of mine, a great atmosphere, great course, good support, and none of the worthless frills I don't want to pay extra for. No shirt, no medal... perfect!

3/18/2018 - Shamrock Run 15k - Back to the 15k at Shamrock! Love this race! While the course has changed (boo) it is still the largest run in Portland and the official kickoff into the race season here in the area. This will be my seventh straight year at Shamrock and I've already signed up so I'm locked and loaded!

So that's the tentative schedule. I've only signed up for Miami and Shamrock, so everything else isn't for sure, but I hope to get back to about one event per month. We'll see how the body holds up, but I'm feeling good about it for the first time in a long while!

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

2017 HALF BORING HALF MARATHON RACE REPORT

Start of the marathon at 6:30am.
I've known that I would be running this race for some time. While in Miami this year two of my friends decided to come out and visit me to do a race. The logic was that we'd continue training all year if we had races spaced approximately six months apart, instead of trying to cram for Miami every year (them every year, me this last year due to my unknown at the time condition). Anyways, it was decided that the "Half Boring Half Marathon" in Boring, OR was the winner! And while one friend had to back out, one was still coming, so like it or not, I was doing a race!

I hadn't ran more than six miles consecutively since... May 21st, 2016 at the Rum Run. So SIXTEEN months ago. I did run the Miami Half Marathon earlier this year, but at no point during that race did I run for six miles without stopping. Four at best maybe. So while I was feeling much better and had recently completed a six mile run without stopping, I wasn't expecting to run the whole thing. My goal was to get to the turnaround at 6.55 without walking and then just play it by ear. I figured I could get to nine miles or so before I needed to walk and jog it in.

So it was back to an early wake up call. I don't miss those at all, but this one at 5:15am was surprisingly not too painful. We had some oatmeal and bananas before heading toward Boring. Along the way we stopped at McDonald's and each got a medium sized coffee. More on that to come! We arrived around 6:25am for the 7:00am race. So we had plenty of time to get our packets and get ready before the race started. The whole race would be an out and back along the Springwater Trail. My arch nemesis. To be honest though, I had only ran this part of the trail once so I wasn't dreading it too much!

THE FIRST FIVE (10:49, 10:34, 11:11, 10:55, 10:43)

Only picture I could find of me! At the start.
My goal for this race was to pace myself around 10:45-11:00/mile and just ride that as long as I could. My friend was in agreement with this pace so we ran together with me checking the watch every so often to make sure we were hitting our target. The 11:11 mile was mile three, where I had to stop to pee. I felt the coffee hitting me before the race but the port-a-potties had long line so I decided to just wait until I saw something along the path. Luckily around 2.5 miles in there was a single unoccupied potty. Knowing it would be dumb to try and make up the time, I just let the mile be a little slower with the pee time.

Otherwise, the race was going pretty well. Those first few miles had a surprising amount of people still bunched together, so you never felt lonely. I could tell my friend was laboring a bit more than me but he was still doing awesome. Overall I was feeling pretty great. Legs felt good and cardio wise the pace seemed sustainable. The miles didn't take too long to come at this point of the race. There was an aid station at mile two and another at mile three. I drank a cup of water and a cup of Gatorade at each. The second aid station also had gummy bears. I took a handful of these and man were they delicious! Altogether it was a good start to the race. I knew the end might be a challenge but so far so good!

THE NEXT FIVE (10:25, 10:59, 11:51, 10:55, 11:12)

This race was a bit unique because there weren't a lot of very memorable points. The course didn't change all that much (out and back along a trail) so until "body" events started happening everything just kind of blurred together. I was pleasantly surprised when mile seven rolled by and I still felt really good. I hadn't ran more than six in forever but I was able to break that number without issue. The 11:51 mile was another pee mile. I think there was also an aid station in there too. Like usual, I was walking through the aid stations. Even running my PR times I would always briskly walk the aid stations so I could actually drink and chew. Well worth it and not "walking" in terms of the race in my head.

Anyways, my watch was matching the mile markers almost exactly so I knew whatever my watch was calculating would be very accurate. Unfortunately, my friend had to drop off around mile 8.5, which was much longer than I was expecting him to hang on. So bravo to him! I was determined to try and run the whole thing by that point and he seemed cool with me moving onward, so I slowly pulled away as he started a few walk breaks. Altogether he ran must of it and only finished 7.5 minutes behind me and set a new PR by 9 minutes. So he did awesome!

Typical scene along the course.
Once on my own I just tried to keep up the pace around 11:00/mile. My legs were starting to tire and hurt a bit but nothing that would affect my race too much. I know what mile 24 of a marathon feels like and we were a far ways from that. I could tell my IT band was a little sore but at a low level, I didn't think it would be an issue getting to 13, and it wasn't. Altogether I was feeling pretty good. Tired, but good. When I hit mile 10 it was almost like hitting mile 20 in a marathon. Double digits! Gives you a short little boost knowing you hit a milestone and are getting close. I tried to pep talk myself, even letting a "let's fucking go!" out at one point.

THE FINAL THREE (11:16, 10:33, 10:19)

I was for sure starting to tire at this point. I believed I could make it to the finish without walking, but it was a matter of how much my legs were going to hate me. I had a third (and final!) pee break at some point in there. When I hit mile 11 I knew for sure I could do it. Only twenty more minutes!  It was at this point I decided I was going to finish strong and just go for it. So I kicked up the pace a gear and surprisingly my legs felt great. The slightly faster pace meant I was using some muscles that hadn't be used quite as much. Cardio wise I was still completely fine. I was honestly surprised at how good my cardio felt, likely due to my correct pacing. It felt good for more than 13 miles to be honest!

Apparently the last couple of miles were uphill, and I remember them being downhill on the way out, but I honestly didn't even notice it. I was determined and rolling. They looked downhill to me! Once I was on the mission to finish hard my body responded. So these last couple of miles weren't even that bad. I was passing a few people here and there and it just felt so good to be out there racing like a normal person again. By the final mile I was rolling. 10:19 thirteenth mile, the quickest of the day. It felt like I was flying, funny that used to be my recovery jog pace, but whatever the case, it felt good.

The final tenth of a mile was run at 9:00/mile pace. I breezed through the finish with a little fist pump. 2:22! It was over! I did it! I ran the whole fucking thing and even felt strong at the end! My legs were a little trashed, but that's what happens in a race where you give it your all! I drank a water and waited for my friend to finish. He wasn't too far behind. Once he recovered we got some food and then hung around to watch the kids and goats (no joke) race. Good times. Eventually it was back to the car for a lazy day and a lot of pizza.

REFLECTIONS


My secret goal was sub 2:30 so I was thrilled with the 2:22. I figured I'd need some walking breaks toward the end but it ended up I didn't need any! My legs were definitely trashed afterward, stairs were painful, IT band was slightly angry, but nothing tragic. They held up well during the race and that's the important part. Today, the next day, they are sore but overall feeling good. They are normal sore, like they used to be. Knees themselves feel 100% fine, not even sore, just my muscles. So very positive news there!

The difference between this race and the one in January in Miami couldn't be any more different. That race was a struggle of epic proportions. I am super proud I went out there and did it. 2:39 was honestly just about the best time I could have gotten. At the time I still didn't have a diagnosis and was struggling with inflammation. So to even complete it was a huge victory. However, the final miles of that race were torture. I was done as soon as we hit the Venetian Islands. The last few miles were a desperate slog akin to the 20s of many of my marathons.

Overall, I am very proud of my race! Under 11:00/mile for 13 straight miles... awesome! I hope I can continue running and slowly get better again. I'm pretty sure I'll never get back to my old speed, I don't think I even have the desire to, but it is nice to be able to run and do races and feel like a normal person again. This one gets chalked up as a huge victory!

Official Results: 2:22:45, 10:53/mile. 91/147, 50/65 male, 11/14 M3039.

Friday, September 08, 2017

BACK IN ACTION

All my runs after getting back from the broken toes.
For the first time in a very long time I feel like I am back running without issue. It is exciting! The whole toe situation has dissolved into a non-factor. The swelling in the toes is continuing to go down, and while they aren't quite all the way back, they don't bother me in the least. So that worry is completely over and I'm sure within a month all the swelling will be gone and I'll basically be as good as new.

As for the knees, they feel fantastic too! Almost ready to declare them a non-factor. Now I have to pay attention to whether any "not so fresh" feeling in them is just caused by fatigue or a case of my arthritis flaring up. I went back to running pretty quick and the response so far has been great. After my five mile run they did feel tired... that was my longest run since the Miami Half Marathon in January. For a second I was like "oh no" when my knees started to fatigue but then I realized the sensation wasn't the inflammation I was used to, it was the "tired" feeling I was used to back when I was actually running. The feeling that got better the next day and didn't cause a flare up. And sure enough I bounced back.

So everything is feeling almost back to normal. It's kind of weird. Battling shit and starting and stopping has been the status quo for almost two years. I almost want to swing a hammer into my calf or something just to keep that going. Kidding. Anyways, like I said, it feels good. I've built up enough fitness now I can actually go on enjoyable "easy" runs again. I can sign up for races. I can go to my running groups and see people on the regular. All exciting things!

My next race is the Boring Half Marathon is just over a week. I'm going to run six miles this weekend in preparation for that. I figured if I can get almost halfway there then I can bullshit the other half on race day. And then the next race after that is the Warrior Dash 5k with Brandon in early October. I'm excited for that now that I can actually run, jump, climb, etc! Although it will give me ample opportunities to hurt myself and start the cycle over, so I'll have to watch out for that, hah! First time doing that race since 2012. I really enjoyed it the first time and always wanted to do it again, so here I am five years later.

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

FINAL AT 30

Four weeks later. Assured by doctor this was normal, the
new bone is so light it barely shows up. Healing correctly!
Well tonight I ran for the final time as a thirty year old. Thirty was definitely was worst year running since I started, but it was mostly due to things out of my control. Namely, my psoriatic arthritis diagnosis that took far too long to get. Once I was being treated, it was another couple of months before the treatment really kicked in.

Looking toward 31, I think it will be a much better year. Since giving the methotrexate injections a couple of months to build my arthritis is feeling much better. Almost to the point of being gone. It hasn't been an issue once in the last two months. I can go on four mile runs now and my knees don't feel a thing. Before, during, or after. Earlier on the blog I was giving my knee pain a score out of 10, at worst now it is 1/10. And frankly it almost feels 0/10. So that's super encouraging! That is what I was hoping for! The next step will be to see if it is sustainable. And can I ramp up to a modest amount of activity while keeping those same results?

So that will be the question moving forward. I actually have a half marathon in two and a half weeks. Yikes! It is the Boring Half Marathon. I agreed to do it with a friend a few months back and didn't imagine taking a month off to deal with my broken toes. So I am not quite where I want to be fitness wise. The goal will to be something like Miami earlier this year... run most of the first five or six miles and then try to jog/walk it in. Somewhere around 2:45 time wise. Assuming all goes well with that, my next major race would be Miami in January 2018. Assuming I'm feeling good, maybe I could try to run that entire one slowly. We'll see.

But yes, tonight I did run. It was my fourth run back from my broken toes. Fourth run in eight days. And my body is feeling pretty good! I'm surprised my cardio held up as well as it did... the first run back was definitely a challenge, but I feel much better a few runs in. Was able to run an 11:00 pace for four miles tonight without stopping and it wasn't even much of a challenge. Not a walk in the park but not super easy either. I'm just slowly trying to build up mileage. My runs back have been 3, 3, 4, and 4 miles. Hoping to one six mile run under my belt at least before the half. However, I'm going to be cautious and ramp up slowly.

My toes feel great! Nary a compliant during or after the run. Seems to not really affect them. One toe is still swollen but I think it's slowly going down. So really they are a non-issue, which is great. The IT band thing that was challenging me early in the year is still there. It hasn't really struck yet, but I can feel it lurking. I think it may have to do with my pace. It is so much slower than usual and I remember trying to run this pace when I was in shape would really hurt my knees. So I almost wonder if it is related. If it fades as I get faster, that would be awesome. Best case! If not, maybe I invest in one of those IT band straps. Who knows.

That ended up being quite the ramble. My birthday is tomorrow and I turn 31. I remember an unspoken (I believe) goal of doing a 50k (31 miles) when I was 31. That ain't happening, lol. Maybe I'll do a 5k and just enjoy it 10x as much?