Monday, December 29, 2014


I'll be ending 2014 on a high note and what a year it was. Two marathons within two seconds of each other, a slew of PRs, and the most miles I have ever ran in a year. I'll eclipse the 1600 mile mark tonight at run group and end up running almost 200 miles more than last year. Overall it's nice to look back and see what a good year I really had, especially with the blah attitude I've been having lately.

Last winter I was coming off the high of my first ever marathon, one that went great and left me excited for my second in Vancouver, BC that next May. I think that got me through the winter blahs last year because I don't remember dreading it this much a year ago. Now I've had two tougher marathon experiences (still successful though) so that pending marathon in Eugene spring 2015 isn't quite as "exciting." I'm sure once it gets closer and the days start getting longer and warmer I'll feel better about it though.

As for ending this year on a high note, despite my motivational issues, I've still been around 115 miles a month, which is perfect for maintaining my fitness. I've done some re-arranging due to weather but I've only "skipped" one run this entire time since the week after the Portland Marathon. That's pretty fucking good. Now I could be doing more speedwork and blah blah blah, but getting my ass outside in the cold and dark is victory enough. Killing myself on a track can wait until early spring.

Race highlight of 2014 for me.
I think the highlight of 2014 (other than Ragnar SoCal, which was awesome and the running part really didn't matter) was my PR at the Shamrock 15k in March. I was just hoping to break 1:10 that day and to get 1:06 was absolutely mind blowing. To totally shatter what you believed your abilities were was pretty cool. Everything was just clicking that day. Totally the opposite happened at the Portland Marathon, which was a slog from nearly the beginning; but I am proud to have stuck that one out and PRed by a second.

And the final piece of the puzzle of ending this year on a high note was my run this Saturday with Coach Jim. I didn't think Alejandro or anybody I knew what going to be there. For some odd reason I went to bed early Friday night and woke up Saturday morning at 7am feeling motivated to go run. I thought for sure I'd skip it and go run by myself on Sunday. For whatever reason, I showed up, Ale ended up coming (only for six miles though) and I had a great 14.5 mile run with the group at 9:10/mile. Really great way to kick off the weekend.

To bigger and better things in 2015!

Tuesday, December 23, 2014


Let's be honest, even if the weather was sunny Saturday morning I don't think Coach Jim was going to happen.
This weekend I didn't end up going to that sixteen miler. Like predicted, it POURED all of Saturday and I just didn't think waking up to go slog in that would be good for my mental running health. I have clothes to run in sprinkles/light rain, but when it is pouring I don't have any good clothing options. It would have been miserable.

Good thing too, because the night before I went out with my running buddies for some shenanigans. Alejandro was there and he certainly wasn't about to wake up and go running (we didn't get home until almost 2am) and neither was I. Luckily the weather bailed us out and made me feel okay about skipping it, because even if I had stayed in that night and sipped tea and did a puzzle (that actually sounds kind of fun) I wasn't going to go running in that monsoon.

Flash forward to Sunday. It mostly dried out except for a few sprinkles here and there so Alejandro and I decided to repent by doing a hard ten mile hill run. We met at my house and ran out to Cooper Mountain, went down into the nature park, and then back up and back home. It was a hard run I've done before but looking back I think it has been two years since I last ran Cooper Mountain.

This run is not for the faint of heart. You basically climb 500 feet in the second mile. No joke. And that is after some pretty significant rolling hills in the first mile. I felt like I was going to die. Alejandro charged ahead but that hill is just too freaking steep so I slowed to a snail's pace. My hammies and hips were BURNING at the top and I didn't even know if I could continue. Anyways, I did and eventually you get to the nature park and get some wicked nice downhill.

During that downhill you are feeling pretty good. I can do this! I am the hill master! Well, eventually after losing 300 feet or so you have to climb back up in the course of a mile. Not quite as wicked as that first hill getting there, but still, you start to question your abilities to stay alive and finish. It was really working my hammies and glutes. I am going to have a fantastic ass come Shamrock time. We finally crested the top of the hill and worked our way out of the park.

The rest of the run is generally downhill, but there is still quite a bit of uphill. It's quite rolling and the elevation chart doesn't really show that. This route gives you very little rest. You are either practicing downhill or charging uphill. Honestly though, this makes it a really effective run. Those ten miles were harder than a sixteen mile run on flat ground. I was spent after and still sore today (Tuesday). It was great practice for Shamrock in March. If I were to run that every other week until Shamrock I'd set a course PR for sure. Who knows though, maybe I'll wait another two years before going back.

Thursday, December 18, 2014


Thought I would give a quick update. I'm in "maintain" mode and perfectly comfortable with it. Since I'm not training for anything at the moment it is nice to be a little more relaxed about the whole running thing. I don't have to hit certain runs or else feel like a failure. Just as long as I'm getting a decent amount of mileage in I'm feeling pretty happy. During my "time off" I'm still hitting 25+ miles a week and over 100 a month, so honestly I'm not even throttling down that much.

I think this little "rest" period is good for me though. I need a "break" from running, both mentally and physically. And it's funny to use "rest" and "break" when I am still running as much as I do. However, I need to run in order to keep eating what I like to eat and not gain weight and feel decent, so I keep running. I am much more relaxed about it though, going by how I feel that certain day instead of hitting a certain run. Heck, even if I feel good but I get to running group and my peeps are doing 9:15/mile, I'm going to hang with them (except that one pub night when everyone did 5 miles and I refused to not do 7 since it was pub night so I ran alone).

Anywho, that's where I am at. At some point in January or February I'll kick up the training to get ready for my spring marathon. Until then, I'm just going to maintain. I am very aware I'm not getting any faster, in fact I'm probably slowly getting slower, but it's a trade off I'm going to accept to be able to hit my spring marathon training feeling like I got a proper break from the grind of training.

This weekend there is a sixteen mile Coach Jim run I'm hoping to attend. There is also a 100% chance of rain Saturday morning. If it's pouring down rain and 44 degrees I'm probably not going to go. Physically I can do it, but mentally... fuck that. If I'm marathon training then I go no matter what (I remember many wet Coach Jim runs training for Vancouver last year). In this case though... I'll try to find a period when it's dry and get some miles in, but I'm going to be miserable for three hours for no good reason.

Tuesday, December 09, 2014


I was bad and forgot to take pictures during!
Year three of the HoHo 5k at Cook Park in Tigard. Second year doing it with Brandon who surprisingly agreed to do it again this year (and had off and on buyer's remorse). When we were finished though he said something along the lines of "I like how we do the two races, it's like a tradition" (referring to the Sunday Evenings 5k in the summer and this race in the almost-winter). So overall I'm looking forward to following Santa in his Sleighburu for many years to come!

I picked Brandon up around 9am and we headed to the park. Much warmer this year, 38 degrees this year compared to 18 last year. It was still a little cold though. Picked up our packets and then headed back to the car to stay warm. Brandon seems much less nervous before races now. Before his first race he was really quiet and I could tell he was freaking out a little. Now it's like old hat.

Anyways, after saying hi to some people that I knew at the start line, the race started with Santa leading the way in his Sleighburu. We ran to the bottom of the big hill out of Cook Park again and then walked up it. Seems silly to be walking less than a quarter mile into the race, but if we were to run up that I'm afraid it would take too much out of him. Once we reached the top we started running and got a half mile in before he had to take his first walking break. After that we started running again (about a 10:00/mi pace) and hit the first mile in 10:36.

As soon as I announced that we hit one mile Brandon wanted to walk again. I said something along the lines of "we haven't even gone a quarter mile since we last walked!" which was met with disinterest and a slow down to walk. Haha. The good news is after that break we ran almost another half mile before he needed to rest again. We waved at Santa and went down into the park. This wasn't Brandon's best mile. I just kept encouraging him and he was nice enough to encourage me back. Hit it in 11:52 and were a little bit behind PR pace.

Brandon seemed disinterested in getting a PR at this point in the race. "I don't really care" I believe is a direct quote. It was funny because it reminded myself of me during a race. I could give two craps about PRs once the race starts and I'm tired and I want to quit. However, Brandon, like me, didn't give up. With some encouragement and determination we kept grinding along. I dared him not to let a couple shuffling along pushing a double stroller to beat us. Also, that slightly pudgy kid your age ahead of us. You're not going to let him beat us are you?

After walking right at the mile two mark we only took one more walking break. I kept a 10:00/mile pace up and Brandon would charge ahead, walk until I got close, charge back ahead, walk, etc. As long as we were maintaining that 10:00/mile pace, whatever worked. We did meet up and walk together for a little bit before he took off like a bat out of hell once the stroller people waved to us while ahead during a small out and back (we had a friendly back and forth going).

He started off a little early so eventually I caught back up to him. We had passed his targets though and were getting close to the finish. I was very proud of him, he was exhausted, but kept going because he knew we were close. He tried to stop at one point but I said "you can't stop now!" and he kept going. Into the finish we rolled, Brandon in a full on sprint.

I was so proud! He really gave it his all and after the second mile it wasn't looking so hot for a PR, but he pulled off a quick third mile while exhausted to bring it home. The course was short again, about 2.9 miles, so we never hit mile three. We would have hit it in about 10:15 though which I believe would have been his fastest mile ever. I adjusted his time upward to make it a true 5K time, that way when he runs his next 5k, he is playing on a level field. Way to go Brandon!

Brandon's Official Time: 31:39, 10:57/mi. 145/327 overall (top 45%!), 7/11 M11-14.
Adjusted 5k PR: 33:50

Our pacing during the HoHo 5k this year. Drops in the blue line correspond to walking breaks.

Saturday, December 06, 2014


Coach Jim the last three weeks on one map.
Hello there. I've been continuing to plug along. I've hit 30 miles a week for the last three weeks, so despite feeling like I'm slacking, I'm really not all that much. Looking back at last year I was hitting about 25 miles a week at this time, so I have nothing to be ashamed of. The only thing I could really improve on is my speed work, but I'll get that going more officially in a month or two. I'm still trying to get one "speed" run in a week.

What has really sped up has been my long runs. Part of my strategy to break through the 3:30 barrier in the marathon is to speed up these longer weekend runs. My first three training cycles have seen these runs at about 9:45/mile. When my target marathon pace is almost two minutes faster, come race day I think it might be too much of a leap. So I think speeding these runs up a bit should help me come race day.

Recently every weekend I've been running with Coach Jim and his group. For the most part I have stuck to the 3:20 marathon pace group which has been running at 8:55/mi-9:20/mi. We've been kind of going back and forth between paces, I haven't quite figured if that's on purpose but I'm sure there's some method to it. Anyways, these runs have been good for me. The pickup in speed has certainly been a challenge but one that I have seemed to handle pretty well.

Take today's run. We ran at 8:55/mi and had a very hilly miles 2-4. That killed the legs a little bit but I was able to feel pretty good through about mile 10. The last four were a total slog and the last two pretty uncomfortable, but I got them done. All told, twelve hours later, my legs feel pretty good. I'm sure I'll be sore tomorrow but that is just par for the course. That happened when I went slower too.

My goal is to keep running with this group every weekend and eventually get my legs used to this new long run pace. By starting early, with these 12, 13, and 14 mile runs, I'll hopefully get my legs adjusted enough that when we hit 18 and 20 miles I'll be able to do those at this pace without completely taking myself out of commission for multiple days. Then when I hit the Eugene Marathon in early May I'll hopefully be able to go sub 3:30!

Sunday, November 30, 2014


Good video recapping the "race" ... watch for me in red at the start line video around 1:40 hopping up on the sidewalk and looking generally stiff and uninterested. (Video credit: David Green)

I was all set to do a preview of this race early last week, but I ended up getting lazy (theme of the month) and when I went to gather information to make the post I discovered the run was "untimed." Apparently a lot of these turkey trots are just untimed fun runs, which is fine, but it wasn't my goal with this race. The one I did last year was timed, so next year I'll have to pay closer attention to whether or not the race I'm signing up for actually has results.

Ready to start... the rain held off mostly.
Needless to say, I wasn't really looking forward to this race. I had to get up early and go run around on hills and all of it was just for "fun." I woke up around 7am, ate a piece of cake for breakfast, then headed to park at Sunset Transit Center and take the MAX into the Oregon Zoo. Well, I just missed a train and the next one wasn't for 25 minutes because they were on a Sunday schedule. Yikes! I went back to my car to stay warm and wandered back to the platform a few minutes before the train came.

Arriving at the zoo with only minutes before the start of the first wave, I frantically looked for packet pickup. I didn't want to get stuck in the second or third wave, which would have a lot of walkers and very few people my speed. Luckily I was able to find the packet pickup and they didn't start quite on time so I had just filtered down toward the start line when the race started at 8:04.

Generally downhill was the theme of the first mile and I ran it in 7:30. I was running fast but I wasn't killing myself. The turnaround was at mile 1.75, which seemed to come pretty quick. Given that it was mostly downhill and the turnaround was before halfway that makes sense though. The tail end of this mile included some really steep uphill. I ran this mile in 7:49... I was going about the same speed until I had to run up the hill.

During the race... pretty course!
The third mile was pretty much all uphill. The course was on a curvy, tight, two lane road through the forest near the zoo. Being mostly an out and back course, traffic was on both sides of the road but by the time we hit people coming back it was spread out enough it wasn't really an issue. The video above gives a really good feel of the course including the hills we were facing in miles 1.8-3.4 or so. All told it was about 350 feet of elevation gain in just over a mile and a half. Nothing to sneeze at.

That super hilly third mile was ran in 8:19. That goes to show I wasn't slacking off too much. I would say I was going about 90% of my normal race effort. I wanted to stop and walk on those hills but I didn't and I still turned in a pretty good mile time. The fourth and final mile included some uphill at the beginning but it wasn't too steep and we got to finish downhill into the zoo for the final half mile.

My last mile clocked in at 7:01. By this mile I was warmed up and going nearly race speed. The downhill finish made it easy to really gun it and give it my all. Thus a pretty good mile time for a mile that included some uphill. I clocked my time at about 30:45... it was unclear exactly where the finish line was so I let my watch run a little long. That is 7:42/mile, a pretty solid effort for an event I could have cared less about.

Anyways, it ended up being a good way to start the day, had a great Thanksgiving with my family later and got to see my aunt and Grandma.

Friday, November 21, 2014


Fat Thomas extracting the mojo from in-shape marathoner Thomas.
You may have noticed I've been a little quiet lately. Ever since the marathon I haven't quite got my running mojo back. I've kind of mentioned this. With no big race in the near future and the weather (and amount of light) turning to shit I don't feel particularly motivated. The things keeping me going at the moment are seeing my running buddies on Monday and Wednesday and then running other times just so I can continue to eat and not gain weight. Except for last week, where I ran one less day, I've still be hitting my runs though.

I think it's starting to come back a little. Wednesday night I ran the rollercoaster with Alejandro and we finished in 58-something minutes. Anytime you go below an hour on the rollercoaster you've put in a pretty solid effort. Then last night, even though my legs were sore, I got out in the cold and dark and ran my 10k home loop. Slower pace, on purpose, but once I was done I was very glad I did it.

Tomorrow is looking like twelve wet miles with Coach Jim's group in the morning. One problem is I don't have a marathon until Eugene in early May. So I am not really training for anything. I'm in good enough shape where I can race anything from a 5k to a half marathon no problem. I might not be in PR shape for the half at this point, but I'd be close. Anyways, nothing pushing me super hard at the moment, but I'm okay with that. I need a little time off from training hard, so as long as I can just maintain my fitness, I'll be ready to hit it hard come February or March or whenever I find my mojo back in 1969.

Monday, November 17, 2014


A great twelve miler in my hometown of Tualatin.
Last week wasn't my proudest week ever in terms of running. I ran five miles on Monday (the day after the Rivalry Clash) because I didn't want to put a hilly seven on my legs the day after a race. Took my normal day off on Tuesday and then on Wednesday planned to do seven at run group. Unfortunately I got stuck in traffic and missed run group. It was 38 degrees and very windy and my run group actually ended up scrapping the run and going drinking instead! So needless to say, I didn't run by myself when I did get home.

Thursday was bitterly cold as the "arctic blast" was still rolling in. We were actually supposed to get 4-6" of snow Thursday morning but none of that materialized. It was still very cold, windy, and wet though. I just couldn't get myself out there. I felt like such a failure I finally got my ass outside for three miles Friday night. I would have done more but I had a twelve miler coming up Saturday morning and I didn't want to wear myself out for that. All together I would still hit 20 miles on the week so I figured that was good enough.

That run on Saturday went really well! So did my run on Friday night. I'm beginning to adjust to the change in conditions. Dress appropriately and it's not all that bad! I actually kind of enjoy the cooler weather as long as it's not windy or wet. The run Saturday morning was great. It was 28 degrees when we started, which scared me, but I just dressed up with a beanie and light jacket and felt more than fine. The sun was out and it was actually a glorious run that I really enjoyed with company from Coach Jim's running group.

Every Saturday morning I'm available I'm going to try to run with Coach Jim again this winter. His group tends to kind of be an "off-season" Portland Marathon Clinic. There are a lot of the same people and pacers. A little less frills at his runs, but they are a great option when it is hard to get motivated to run in the winter. I started running with the 3:20 group and I think I'll stick with them. 3:30 was the fastest group last year, so hopefully this small step up will aid me in breaking through the 3:30 barrier. Coach Jim's long run speeds are VERY conservative so I will be fine (we still run above 9:00/mile).

Thursday, November 13, 2014


Four of the top six finishers in the 10k were Beavers! We all were kind of bunched for a lot of the race so we had to take a photo!
The second year of the Rivalry Clash is in the books and once again I set a new PR despite getting edged out by a PRC compatriot. I would venture to say this year's race was even less organized than last year's despite having some new features... so I'm not sure I'd do this race again. Overall, nothing went wrong, it just wasn't exactly the most well put on event I've been to.

Anyways, I woke up around 7am and drove to Portland International Raceway to pick up my packet. After picking that up I basically stayed in the car until five minutes until the race started in an effort to keep warm. It was 48 degrees and I only had on shorts and short sleeve t-shirt. I knew I'd be fine once the race started but I'd be a little cold just standing out there. Eventually I found my way to the start and met Glenn from running group, who was also running the 10k.

Like last year, they lined the Ducks and the Beavers up on separate sides of the chute and then started the race. It was a lot less running "toward" each other though than last year, we just kind of turned immediately and went through the start line. Unfortunately I was in first place for the first quarter mile and hated every second of it. I knew I wasn't going to win, so I just wanted someone to pass me so I didn't have to lead the freaking race and have everyone look at and gun for me. Luckily some fasty passed fairly quickly and I was able to just be another runner.

After that it was just your standard 10k. I had the right pace going, my lungs were screaming but my legs felt pretty good for the most part. I started out a little fast but was hitting the correct pace by mile two. As expected, the course was a mix of pavement, gravel, and grass. Most of it was gravel and the grass portions were minimal, so that was nice. Still, the gravel wasn't ideal and likely cost me a few seconds on my time but for the most part it didn't affect me.

The course was two laps of 5k each and coming through after that first one I was very tired already. Wished I had only done the 5k. I think that is true in any 10k though, if you feel good halfway through you are doing something wrong. Glenn had stuck by my side and would NOT go away. He's more of a natural athlete than me and I had a sneaking suspicion he'd beat me this race. I've beaten him in previous races but all those were a half marathon or longer. I think he's better at the shorter stuff.

So that second lap... Glenn passes me around mile four and slowly gets a lead. I really didn't care because I needed to run my own race. While I was tempted to dart after him that would likely be stupid in the long run. Just concentrated on keeping my pace and breathing steady. A couple spots of gravel are deep and loose and cause me to lose some momentum. Just keep chugging. It had started to rain right as the race started but toward the end it died down to a sprinkle at most.

I notice my watch is shorting the course, which wasn't a surprise given it's weaving nature. So while my pace was reading 7:06/mile, I knew I was in fact running a bit faster. Eventually, once I got near the finish line, I switched to the page with my overall time and saw I was going to finish somewhere near a "mid-43," which was great considering my PR was a touch over 44. I crossed the finish line in 6th place and doubled over to catch my breath after giving Glenn a high give (he finished ahead by 12 seconds).

5k Beavers lining up for the start.
43:27 overall, a new PR by 34 seconds! Now, that previous time was run on a course that was nearly 10.2k and if adjusted would be something like 43:15. However, that course was all pavement and the gravel on this course certainly slowed me down. So I'd say the efforts are about equal... 6:56/mile for that run, 6:59/mile for this one. I feel good that I finally have a time that actually reflects my effort. Running sub 7s and having a PR of 44:01 was just weird.

Overall, a very successful race! Going under 7:00/mile over six miles sucks. Hell, it sucks over one mile! However, I guess I am in barely good enough shape to maintain that. If I am to beat my Dad's time at Shamrock I'll need to maintain that over 15k and a hilly course... so I still have work to do!

Official Time: 43:27, 6:59/mile. 6/91 overall.

Friday, November 07, 2014


Two loops of this sort of off road course will be my challenge Sunday in the Rivalry Clash 10k.
Just a quick preview on this one because I'm not going to worry too much about this race. If you'll remember, I did this race last year and participated in the 5k. I set a new PR at the time and finished in 5th overall. The 10k this year should be much more competitive, so I don't expect to place or anything. I just hope to run a good time and possibly set a new 10k PR.

The issue with this race is going to be the terrain. There is limited pavement, a lot of gravel, and some grass. I don't think it's going to rain much, but it could turn into a muddy slog. I thought this race would be fast because it will be super flat, but they changed the venue to Portland International Raceway and morphed it into almost a "cross country" type race.

I'm not too worried about it. Whatever happens, happens, and if it's not a typical road race then it'll be fun to try something new! The course is a loop and for the 10k you have to do it twice... that's about the only thing I'm not looking forward to. My 10K PR was set on a long course so I don't necessarily even have to run quite the pace I did then to set a new PR, but again, with the terrain, a PR might be out the window. So overall I'm just going to show up, try hard, and not really worry about it.


"A" Goal: New 10k PR. This would be 44:00 or less, which is 7:04/mile. My PR was run at 6:56 but that was over 10.1k, so we'll see. The terrain is really going to determine whether or not this is even feasible.

"B" Goal: Barring a mudfest I'd like to get under 45:00. For some reason I've set that mark in my head as an acceptable 10k time.That's 7:14/mile. That over a cross country type course might be a huge challenge, but if a PR is out the window that would be my next focus.

"C" Goal: Honestly, I could run this thing super hard and still end up above 45 minutes. So I just want to run hard and don't feel like I left anything on the course. If that means I get 48 minutes on this double loop off-road course, then I'll be perfectly fine with that.

Wednesday, November 05, 2014


Hopefully it won't be 18 degrees again?
I had plans to run twelve miles on Saturday but one thing messed with those... me sleeping in again. Two weeks ago I slept twelve hours and had to reduce my run from 12 to 10 miles in order to make a Portland State football game. This weekend I slept 13 hours (!) and reduced the run from 12 to 8 miles in order to make the Oregon State football game.

Whatever though. I ran 14 miles the week in between there and have been hitting all my other runs. I am not currently marathon training, so it's all gravy. I won't have a long run this weekend because I have a race coming up on Sunday and want to stay fresh for that. I'll have a preview of that race on Friday or Saturday. Next weekend I'll get back on track in terms of double digit runs on the weekend.

Some exciting news... Brandon agreed to do the HoHo 5k with me again this year! I didn't expect him to say yes, but after some contemplation he agreed to do it. I assured him it was only 3.1 miles (2.9 actually if they don't change the course) and that seemed to soothe his concerns. He knows I do mostly longer races and is always concerned the race will be longer. That should be fun! Our focus will be to beat last year's time.

Also starting to adjust to the wintery weather. It's honestly not that bad yet, most runs the temperature is still in the mid-50s and I've only been rained on a couple times. Just slowly accepting reality and enjoying the challenge the winter route brings... lots of hills that should get me prepared for Shamrock this spring. They are still kicking my ass a little, I can tell I've lost some hill fitness, but I'm slowly improving. My hamstrings no longer are sore after doing the seven mile route!

Friday, October 31, 2014


Recently I've been in somewhat of a funk due to the weather. It seems to went straight from summer to winter. Really, the weather isn't too cold yet, still mostly in the high 50s, it has been the rain and darkness that has bothered me most.

Run group really helps keep me accountable. It's the runs by myself that I really dread. Like last week, when I chickened out and ran inside for no good reason (although, it did result in a good tempo run). I was struggling again this week with my Thursday run. At different times I put off the entire thing to Friday, would just do three Thursday and then three Friday, run during work Friday instead, not run at all, etc.

Eventually I decided that was all stupid and I would just run Thursday after work like I was supposed to. Friday was Halloween and I didn't watch to dodge children and get smart ass "are you dressed like a runner?" jokes I got last year after taking off for a run after I ran out of candy to pass out at my house. So I ended up getting out there like I should have. Don't know what it always has to be such a battle in my mind.

Anyways, long story short, I was just going to run easy the day after the rollercoaster, but right before I left work I talked to an client on the phone who was just a giant asshole. That rarely happens, I can't even remember the last time something at work left me fired up, I'm normally a mellow guy and my job just doesn't usually have that quality to it. But that motherfucker really pissed me off! Gah! What a jackass!

Ended up using that as fuel to pound out a tempo run on my hilly "home course." It was sprinkling rain and 58 and the run was actually really therapeutic. I basically swore at him for fifty minutes as I ran around the dark and wet. When I was done I felt really good and I got a quality run in. I was over the work thing and the tough run actually left me feeling energized and motivated.

Fuck that guy, but maybe he should call more often?

Monday, October 27, 2014


With this, I never have a legitimate excuse.
Seems like just yesterday it was sunny outside and I was worried about hydration and overheating. Honestly, the weather in Portland stays really warm through September, so all the way to the Portland Marathon I was enjoying, for the most part, the nice weather and it was even a little too hot on marathon day. I took about a week off after the marathon to recharge and all of a sudden it's like winter outside!

Really hard to be motivated to get back into it when you are now facing down cold, wet, and dark compared to sunny, warm, and bright when you last left off. I'm going to have to get used to it though... I suppose I almost made it to November, so now I'll only be suffering until Daylight Saving Time starts again on March 9th. Just a touch over four months away. I can do that!

Last Wednesday was a good example. I ended up having a work event that caused me to miss my group run. It was raining buckets all day and pretty windy to boot. By the time I was ready to run the rain had died down and I was facing a run by myself in the windy dark with a chance of sprinkles. I was being a baby about it, so I ended up paying $4.50 to go run laps at the indoor track for the first time this season. Apparently 42 laps around the gym was more appealing!

I got it done though. And that will be the important part. I always have the indoor track, so I honestly have no excuse. At some times it'll just be a cost/benefit analysis of running outside or shelling out $4.50 to run circles inside. I know I hate running at night, but are the darkened streets really less appetizing than the inside of the gym? I think I'll mostly just save the gym for nights with bad weather and no run group (mostly Thursdays).

Saturday I arranged a group run with Alejandro and Matt. After last weekend's 10 miler seemed to take forever, I didn't want to have to run alone again (man, I am turning into a total baby) so I wrangled those two to run with me. We did the Sellwood Bridge to Steel Bridge loop around the Portland waterfront and then added an out and back along the Springwater Trail to hit 14 miles total. Matt only wanted to run 10.5 so we set him free once we hit the cars before heading off for the final out and back.

Overall it was a great run at 9:12/mile. I want to start running my long runs around that pace (as opposed to 9:40) in an effort to get faster in marathons. Saturday's run felt pretty good at that speed, the last mile I was a little worn down, but that might have been mental more than physical. The last mile is always the toughest for me. Anyways, off to run group tonight in the dark... probably will do the rollercoaster, but as long as I have company, I actually kind of like it!

Splits from Saturday's 14 mile run. Slower first three miles and a faster final three miles. Steady 9:12ish pace in between.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014


The so called rollercoaster.
After taking most of the week off after the marathon I'm back on the running bandwagon. Last Saturday was my first long run since the Portland Marathon and I originally planned to do twelve miles. Long story short, I ended up sleeping in until 1pm (solid 12 hours of sleep) and needed to abbreviate the run a little in order to get to the Portland State football game with my dad in time.

Originally I plotted a course on gmap-pedometer that was 12 miles and all on city streets since I was concerned that Fanno Creek may have flooded with recent rains. When I woke up my computer had restarted itself to install updates (just left the route open in a tab) so that coupled with the time crunch led me to my normal home to Fanno Creek route for ten miles. Luckily Fanno wasn't too bad and my feet were able to stay dry. Those ten miles seemed so long, but I managed to get them done at about 9:15/mile.

One reason why the long run seemed harder than it should have was my legs, hamstrings in particular, were still tired from running what we affectionately call the "rollercoaster" at my run group. Last week was the first week switching to the winter route, and thus, the rollercoaster (only if you go seven miles... the five mile route is hilly but nothing like the seven). Anyways, I don't want to slack off so I opted for the seven mile route both times and even gunned it a little bit on one of the runs.

It is one of those routes that seems hilly just for the sake of being hilly. And we call it the rollercoaster because, while it has definite "up" and "down" portions, it is going up and down all the time. Even after reaching the "top of the hill" halfway through you still have multiple uphills on the way back. Needless to say, I did it again last night and my hamstrings have been sore all day today. If I do it again tomorrow I'll have to take it really easy... I might just switch to the five mile route instead.

All told, I am happy to do the rollercoaster though. Running hills makes you a stronger and faster runner and it is great prep for the Zena Road Runs and Shamrock 15k I'll be doing in February/March.

Saturday, October 18, 2014


So, literally hours after I posted about the Eugene Marathon they announced the date. It will take place on May 10th next year. Meaning it will be the week after the trip to Indianapolis for the Mini Marathon. I also signed up for the Rock'n'Roll Portland Half Marathon way back in the day that takes place on May 24th. Meaning in three weekends I'll have a half, a full, then a half again.

That means I'll need to run the two half marathons easier than normal. I'd love to pace one of my Solemates during the Mini Marathon, so that'll work out perfectly the weekend before Eugene. Then the weekend after Eugene I'll just have to take Rock'n'Roll easier. I'll just have to shoot for PRs at another time, as I originally thought I'd shoot for that at RnR, but obviously that won't be happening.

November 9th, 2014 - Rivalry Clash Portland 10k
I did this race last year as a 5k and will be doing it as a 10k this year. I had been waiting for it to hit the discount sites like last year, and sure enough, it was on Groupon for nearly half price. $29 for a 10k isn't that bad, so I signed up. Should be a flat course at the Portland International Raceway (different than last year) so maybe a PR chance.

November 27th, 2014 - ORRC Turkey Trot at the Zoo 4M
Was thinking about doing the Give N' Gobble again this year but I also like to try out new races and I already have a 10k a few weeks before with the Rivalry Clash. So, onto another popular Thanksgiving Day race in the area, the ORRC Turkey Trot at the Oregon Zoo. It's a 4 miler, which I haven't done yet, so that will be fun. It's a very hilly course so I'll just try to enjoy myself as much as possible and burn off a piece of pie for later.

December 7th, 2014 - HoHo 5k
Haven't officially signed up yet, but it looks like it will be year three of this event. There aren't a ton of events in December, the only other one I'd consider is the Holiday Half Marathon, but it is pricey and the weather can be absolutely miserable. For only $15, this race is a steal and it's local, fun, and low-key. Probably won't have Brandon again this year, although we had fun, I don't know if he'd be too keen on it again... but I'm going to run it by him before I sign up.

January 25th, 2015 - Miami Half Marathon
Year two of the Miami Marathon. Got in for $50 by signing up the week after the race last year and my friend seems a little more serious about his training this year. So I'm actually kind of excited about the possibility to pacing him this race... he won't be much faster than 2:45 or so, but I don't want to run this race "hard" again, so a leisurely stroll would be nice!

February 2nd, 2015 - Zena Road Runs 15k
This conflicted with Miami last year, but Miami seemingly bumped up a week so I think I'll do Zena again. I did it in 2012 and it was a great warmup for the Shamrock Run. A hilly course and a nicely done local event. I think I'll recruit some of my buddies from PRC to run this with me... burn off some calories before the Super Bowl parties later.

March 15th, 2015 - Shamrock Run 15k
Year four of the Shamrock Run. Can't wait to run this again. I'll hopefully be shooting to set a PR and possibly beat my Dad's time from back in the day (if not this year, then in 2016 for sure!). Katie from Runs for Cookies is coming into town for this one, so I'll be hosting her. If don't happen to have a good race it'll be because we stayed up drinking or something and will be totally worth it.

April 12th, 2015 - Corvallis Half Marathon
I think I may target this race as my spring half marathon where I shoot for a PR. Since Indy and RnR will be affected by my spring marathon, this seems to be the perfect weekend to hit a half marathon hard. I did this race back in 2013 and really liked it. If I don't end up doing this race, I'll likely do the Vernonia Half Marathon on the same day.

May 2nd, 2015 - Indianapolis 500 Festival Mini Marathon
Traveling to Indianapolis to meet my Ragnar SoCal teammates for a reunion and to run this half marathon. Initially I planned to run this race for a PR, but with the Eugene Marathon looming the next weekend I'll have to take it easy. Instead, I look to pace one of my teammates and just soak in all the largest half marathon in the United State has to offer!

May 10th, 2015 - Eugene Marathon
My target marathon for the spring training cycle. Will I be able to get the elusive sub 3:30 marathon? Looks like Alejandro will be running this marathon too so I should have company. While I have a ton of stuff to look forward to, this race will be motivating me all throughout those crappy, wet winter months.

May 17th, 2015 - Rock'n'Roll Portland Half Marathon
I signed up for this race way back the week before the RnR in 2014. They were running some special to sign up for 2015 for $50, which for an RnR event is ridiculous, so I signed up. Since then the weekends surrounding this date have filled up, so it looks like I'll just have to take this one easier and it enjoy all the bands and atmosphere.

Monday, October 13, 2014


The state of the Eugene Marathon in one image.
Now that I've reflected back on the Portland Marathon it is time to look forward. I'd like to do another spring marathon and I think I may just have the race picked out. What race, you say? The Eugene Marathon down in Eugene, Oregon. Despite being the hometown of a very shitty college, they are also a big running town and have a reputation for putting on a good marathon. Plus, it is only two hours away, so my desire to stay somewhat local will hold.

I had always had Eugene as a target and was initially planning to do it in spring 2014 (this was back before I even ran my first marathon). Unfortunately, they changed the date in 2014 from the traditional last week of April to the last week of July. The dead heat of summer. They moved it to coincide with the U.S. Track and Field Nationals, making the weekend one big "celebration of running."

Needless to say, the move was not popular at all and participation dropped in half. For a race that had steadily built a great reputation and had 7,300 participants across all events in 2013 a drop in 2014 to 3,700 total was devastating. They really pissed off a lot of people and broke a lot of trust (despite continual rosy predictions, "it's gonna be great," "you'll love it even more this weekend," blah blah blah). Nobody wanted to run a late July marathon in Oregon!

Anyways, all that is background to the fact they have been "set to announce" the 2015 date for about two months now. Their Facebook page is almost laughable at this point, any post about any topic just results in dozens of "2015 date?" comments and things like "You should really stop posting until you announce the date." Rumor is pretty strong on a return to a spring date and a date close to the old "end of April" slot. So we'll see.

Assuming they move it back to spring that will be my marathon. The only potential conflict is with the Indianapolis Mini Marathon (half) that I'll be doing with my From Strangers to Solemates team from Ragnar SoCal. That is on May 2nd, which traditionally would be the week after Eugene. So the only way I wouldn't do Eugene is if they happen to settle on this weekend as a new date. My Solemates win in that case.

Should the marathon take place the week before/after Indianapolis I'll just take it easier and not go PR speed. Maybe run with one of my teammates. I originally planned to shoot for a PR in Indy, but they'll be plenty of other chances for a half marathon PR next year. I'll have a post soon with my upcoming races through that Mini Marathon. I don't think I have many, but whenever I start to list them I tend to be surprised.

Wednesday, October 08, 2014


Another Portland Marathon is in the books. While I wish I would have ran it differently, mostly not following that "3:25" pace group, what's done is done, and what's done is something to be proud of! A 3:33 marathon is pretty dang good and in the top 10% of finishers. I finished in 821st place last year and 520th place this year. So up 300 places in overall finish! All that despite being only 3.5 minutes quicker, telling me it was a much rougher year for most everyone due to the warmer weather.

I was really nervous before this race and was almost kind of dreading it. I want to write to future Thomas so he can look back and calm himself before future marathons... it's not that bad and nothing to be afraid of. Yes, it is a long ways and takes a while, but you can totally do it and even if the shit hits the fan, you will persevere and finish and it will all be worth it. Honestly, marathons are nothing to fear. The pain yesterday during the race wasn't much worse, if any, than the tail end of most twenty mile runs.

Haha, oops.
Given some time to ponder the race, I didn't fall apart as much as I thought on race day. Aside from an extended stroll through a mile 21 aid station (right after my first cramp) I didn't walk at all until the bottom of the hill at mile 23. I walked twice during that mile, but by mile 24 I was running and didn't stop again. So all told I think I walked maybe 90 seconds. That's pretty fucking good. Now, toward the end I wasn't running very fast, but in marathon breakdown terms, that was very minor.

Most my time was given back on those final three miles. They were each almost two minutes slower than they needed to be, meaning I gave back six minutes at the end. Had I held it together at 8:10s like I was during the "early 20s" I would have finished around 3:28, 3:29. I think with the right race and my current fitness that is probably about the best I could achieve, maybe a minute or two less on the perfect course on the perfect day.

It's over! At last!
Overall, I am pretty proud of the race I ran. The only thing that sucks is that I trained pretty well this summer and all that got me was a 2 second PR. However, you have to take the long view... I became a much better runner in that period. I just set a new 5k PR and I am a faster runner than last year. Had I ran the Vancouver course with the same weather as in May last Sunday I think I would have achieved a sub 3:30. So just gotta keep on chugging along to the next one.

If there were another local marathon happening in the next few weeks I think I would sign up. I even checked today, but the only marathon is the Columbia Gorge Marathon and that has some sizable hills... not something I am going to PR on. Anything else would require a long car ride and hotel, and I'm not that eager to go run another one. While I wasn't sure during/right after Portland that I wanted to do another spring marathon, I think I will for sure now. It'll keep me motivated during the winter and I'll take another crack at that sub 3:30 sooner rather than later.

Monday, October 06, 2014


Glenn and I minutes before the start of the 2014 Portland Marathon.
Third time is the charm? Well, for marathons, it looks like the first time was the charm for me. While I was three and a half minutes faster than last year and one second faster* than in Vancouver (yes, one second) I didn't run a great race and left some time out on the course. Had I have ran a better race I could have possibly ran a sub 3:30... however, I am not entirely sure of that due to the weather.

Year two of Portland started at 5:10am with a really unwelcome alarm clock. I had some trouble getting to sleep the night before and probably ended up getting 4.5 hours of sleep. Same as last year, and honestly not an issue because I got 9 the night before. After eating a bagel with cream cheese (same as last year) I met Alejandro, Glenn, and Jon to carpool into Portland.

The nerves were out in full force and I kind of felt like throwing up or just not racing. Normal pre-marathon feelings I guess! Anyways, I was in the B corral again, so I settled right behind the 3:25 pacer and waited for the race to start. Glenn was by my side but Alejandro moved up as he was shooting for a sub 3:20. Soon enough the anthem was sung and the race started shortly after 7am. The weather was a pleasant 58F at the time.

MILES 1-6: JUST HOW FAST ARE WE GOING? (7:33, 7:52, 7:52, 7:17, 7:26, 7:42)

This is about mile six. Lookin' good!
Once the race started I settled down and was calm pretty quickly. I hit what I thought my pace should be but the 3:25 group was starting to get lost in the distance, so I sped up to match. Some people say the marathon can be won/lost in those first few miles and if I had a chance to redo them I would certainly do things different.

The 3:25 pace group was absolutely, ridiculously fast. I don't know what the fuck they were doing. Normally the Red Lizards, the local group who paces, does a great job. The 3:25 group this year was way too fast. My friend Alejandro finished in 3:22 and they passed him during the final few miles. Seriously? I don't expect perfection, but I expect better than that. The pace groups also have different leaders for the first and second half of the race, so I think that first half group must have been at least five minutes ahead and maybe the second half group actually hit the correct pace.

Needless to say, my race plan was to follow that pace group, it's what my whole plan revolved around. They were supposed to average 7:49/mile. My plan was to follow them though, so I followed. Look at my mile times. Those two 7:52 miles are miles that each have 100 feet of elevation gain. I'm sure their target mile time on those was over eight minutes.

They were fast and I had a suspicion they were fast. The problem was the mile markers were jacked up. Apparently this happened last year too, the Portland Marathon slightly tweaked the course for 2013 but still used the same placement for the mile marker signs in previous years. So my watch said .91 at their "1" marker and pretty soon was consistently two tenths of a mile off.

Between the mile marker confusion and odd pace I thought maybe, just maybe, the pace group knew something I didn't. Anyways, at this point the miles were still coming easy so it wasn't a big deal. Had I a chance to do this again I would pace the entire race by my watch as the 3:25ers were worthless, but you live you learn. The sun was barely up at this point and the weather was still very comfortable.

MILES 7-13: ARE WE THERE YET? (7:34, 7:39, 7:36, 7:44, 7:47, 7:59, 7:46)

Random photo from mile 12. Notice the sun?
This is the boring part of the Portland Marathon course. I was still sticking with the 3:25 pace group at the front end of this section. This area of the course is completely flat, and considering their target pace is 7:49 on flat terrain, the 7:35/mile average was a bit fast. Enough bitching about them though. It was my stupid ass that followed them.

Running was still pretty comfortable though, although it did suck when we hit the turnaround and then had to run two miles back directly into the sunlight. Basically you just had to put your head down and grind along. I think the slipping times here were a result of that sun right in my face. Even though it was probably only 60 degrees, with the sun right in your face it was hot!

By the time I escaped the industrial sun hell portion of the course I had fallen back of the 3:25 pace group by about 30 seconds. I finally made the call that they didn't know what the fuck they were doing and I was going to burn out trying to follow them. That 7:59 mile was a re-adjustment phase in my race that also included some minor uphills in Northwest. If I could hit 7:50-7:55 from here on out I would definitely get my sub 3:30.

MILES 14-18: GRINDING ALONG, UP THE HILL (7:55, 7:52, 8:00, 8:57, 8:12)

Crossing the St. John's Bridge.
I hit the half marathon mark at about 1:40:30. According to their split I hit it in 1:39:06, which would be my 2nd fastest half marathon time ever. I believe my watch, because again, the mile signs were about two tenths of a mile off. Bravo, Portland Marathon. Anyways, this means the 3:25 pace group hit that same mark at probably 1:39:45 or so, which is a 7:36/mile. Want to know the marathon time of someone running 7:36/mile? 3:19:26. Yeah.

Anyways, by then I had finally dropped them and watched them fade into the distance. I was hitting the mark I needed now and just hoped I didn't burn myself out trying to follow their ill-advised pace for 11 miles. Honestly, in this section I was still feeling pretty good. I didn't know if I would be able to maintain it as it was starting to get warm, but I figured if I could make it up the hill to the St. John's Bridge and still have my legs I'd have a good shot.

I took the hill a lot slower this year because I was very conscious of my too-fast first half and the need not to kill myself up the hill. I ran it in 8:57 (8:34 last year). I remember last year still feeling pretty spry at the top of the hill (didn't last long) but this year I didn't feel that way. I just felt kind of worn down. I still had juice in the legs, but I could feel the race wearing on me. My parents, sister, and aunt were all waiting for me at the end of the bridge. It was awesome to see them and put a pep in my step for a little bit.

MILES 19-24: CRAMPING MY STYLE (8:02, 8:12, 8:24, 8:10, 8:43, 10:01)

It's a little sunny.
After the bridge I couldn't quite regain my 7:55/mile target pace, but I managed to settle into about 8:10/mile for a few miles. It felt just as hard as a 7:50 mile so I knew I was tiring. I couldn't believe my watch that I was going that slow when I felt like I was pushing it. Anyways, I knew I had a cushion so if I could maintain this pace, I would still hit my goal.

Well, needless to say, when you keep slipping into a new "target pace" every few miles that is getting progressively slower, that is not a good sign. I took a slightly extended walking break through one water station (the 8:24 mile) but otherwise I kept the wheels on the bus going around. Around mile 21 or so I had my first cramp in my left calf. I let out some choice words and slowed down for a bit to make sure it wasn't going to continue.

Another factor in all of this was the heat. This part of the course is very exposed and by this point in the day the sun was up and it was getting hot. By the time I finished it was 70F and at this point it was probably 68F, in my face, and when you are running a marathon that is not comfortable. I would have taken the 55 and drizzly of Vancouver earlier this year because the heat was certainly not helping with my energy level or the cramping.

More exposure evidence.
From that point on my calves were threatening to cramp the entire rest of the marathon. They began to a couple times, but I was able to slow down and adjust my gait to avoid them completely stopping me. I am pretty proud of myself for running through those and not walking. My body was screaming at me to walk but I fought it as long as I could. I just wanted to hit the downhill portion, let gravity take me down that, then assess the situation.

Once I hit the bottom of the downhill my legs were basically done. It was amazing how heavy they felt... as soon as the downhill stopped I felt like I weighed 300 pounds! So I was a bit of a shit show for about a mile or so. That 10:01 mile included two different walking breaks and a lot of ugly facial expressions. At one water station I stopped and stretched for a few seconds. Honestly, the fact that mile was only ten minutes is pretty good considering the shape I was in! By the time I hit the mile 24 marker I was running again and wouldn't stop until I crossed the finish.

MILES 25-26.2: SPRINT TO THE FINISH! (9:36, 9:24)

Mile 25!
I didn't say I was running fast though. Once I started running again I basically switched into my usual long run shuffle pace. I honestly don't think I could go much faster if I tried. Energy wise I felt okay, I didn't have the overwhelming sense of fatigue I had last year, but this year my legs were just not there. I was frankly lucky to be running at all given the shit-show the proceeded these miles.

Anyways, I was content with my pace and basically told myself that I was going to run this MFer in. By then I had conceded my sub 3:30 was out the window but knew I could still PR. It would be close, but I could PR. If no PR, then a course PR was all but certain. Shuffle along. This part didn't seem as long as it did last year, don't know why, but once I crossed the bridge that last section wasn't too bad. Not that I was enjoying myself, but I think I was content to just shuffle in and finish and knew my body could hold up.

When I got to the "chute" for the final quarter mile or so I was fairly content to just continue to shuffle it in. However, when I turned the final corner and looked at my watch, I noticed it read 3:33:02. I knew my current PR was 3:33:16. I didn't know I had it in me, but I sprinted the final thirty yards or so. I stopped my watch at 3:33:17. Fuck, really? I am pretty conservative with the start/stop so I was hoping for some "official time" relief.


Finish! A chin for each hour I was running.
Once again, I was kind of a mess in the chute. Limping around, just stopping and bending over to stretch, making noises, etc. That finisher's chute was so frickin' long! Eventually I had to stop and just plopped down on the pavement next to others. After a five minute rest there, I limped through the rest of the chute and met my family on the other side.

It was great to see them and I also met up with Alejandro, Jon, and Glenn. Alejandro and Jon both slipped off pace during the second half and missed their goals. So while I want to blame my failure on the early 3:25 group pacers, even had I paced myself who knows what would have happened. Here are two very in shape marathoners who both slipped off as well. Glenn, meanwhile, had an awesome race. He slowed a bit toward the end but had a pretty strong race. 3:34 this year after 4:15 last year.

I went out for lunch with my parents and sister. Strangely enough, I wasn't super hungry and really wouldn't be all day. It was nice just to be with them though and I appreciated them all coming out so much. Eventually we limped back to the parking garage and I went home and did absolutely nothing the rest of the day.

I'll have a post with more reflections next. But for now, I'll take the "official time rellief" and the ONE SECOND PR* thank you very much!

Official Chip Time: 3:33:14, 8:08/mile. 520/6258 overall, 402/3050 male, 77/357 M25-29.
* (edit) official time was revised downward one second, meaning it was a 2 second PR.

Saturday, October 04, 2014


Course is the same as last year.
This preview will be a little less extensive than the one I wrote last year. If you're looking for a more detailed breakdown of the course and whatnot, take a look at my preview last year. The course this year hasn't changed at all and every assumption I made about the course in that basically proved itself to be true on race day.

Instead, I'll focus more on my strategy. Last year I started with the 3:40 pace group, got antsy a few miles in, then ran past the 3:35 pace group and almost caught up to the 3:30 group. I ended up fading a bit toward the end, not too bad, but I had the 3:35 group re-pass me and finished in 3:36.

The strategy this year will be to stick near the 3:25 pacer. I don't expect or even want to try to get a sub 3:25, so honestly that is not even a secret goal. I just want to bank a few minutes over the course of 22 miles or so for the last few miles. I don't trust myself to maintain a steady pace for the entire 26.2 miles so the plan is to keep the 3:25 pace group close as long as I can. I think I'll let them be 20 feet ahead of me or so, that way I can pace appropriately. If I get in front of them I might speed up without realizing it.

If I can get to the downhill on Greeley around mile 22 with them still within reach, then my main goal of sub 3:30 is very possible. At that point I just have to survive the downhill until mile 24 and then buck up for 2.2 more miles. Assuming my legs and body feel the same as last year, that is doable. I just have to avoid the Vancouver-like mile 22 crash. During that race I was pretty much doing a 3:25 marathon until I fell apart... I am in better shape now, so hopefully I can keep it together.

Nutrition and hydration plan remains the same. Two packs of Shot Bloks will be consumed over the course of the race. I think I'll eat two at miles 3, 6, 9, 12, 15, and 18. I'll briskly walk through every aid station and alternate electrolyte drink and water. They also pass out gummy bears and pretzels at some stations, so I'll eat those too. Basically just keep eating and drinking even if I don't want to... I'll need it. Hopefully the pace groups will slow down for the aid stations... I don't remember what the protocol was with that last year.

So yeah, that's pretty much it! I'll grab a pace band at the expo for a 3:30 marathon and obviously I'll have my watch on me as well. I'd like to just zone out and follow a pace group, but if I need to start pacing myself I'll be able to do so. My parents and aunt will be in the same place as last year around mile 17.5, so that will be fun to see them again. A co-worker also wants to show up and cheer around mile 23, so we'll see if that happens and if he is able to spot me.

Kind of just want the race to be here already so I don't have to have it looming in the background anymore. It will be nice to get to a point one day where they aren't this big of a deal. That day is not here yet.


"A" Goal: Sub 3:30. That is the focus for this marathon. I'm not going to get caught up in sub 3:30 or bust, but I feel like my training and current level of fitness make this an attainable, yet challenging, goal.

"B" Goal: New PR. That would mean I am still getting faster. Current PR is 3:33:16. Would be a little disappointed to miss my A goal by only a few minutes, but hey, a PR in a marathon is nothing to sneeze at. You never know how race day is going to go.

"C" Goal: Sub 4:00 finish. Honestly, finishing a marathon in under 4 hours is pretty good. So even if the wheels fall off and it's just not my day, I can be proud of this. Hell, I could be proud of a sub 5 hour marathon. As long as I move my ass 26.2 miles I have nothing to be ashamed of.

Friday, October 03, 2014


I'll keep this post brief as I'll have a large post previewing the race tomorrow. The weather is trending in the wrong direction, the forecast ticked up another degree today. The good news is we are now within the 48 hours range for hourly projections (yikes!) and the temperature at race start is predicted to be 58, which will be great. No need for warm up gear or anything, it was a bit colder last year and I was fine in my shorts and singlet.

The temperature at 10am is expected to be 65 and at 11am 69. So it will only be in the high 60s when I finish. Now, that will still feel hot, especially towards the end along Willamette, but that I can manage. I feel bad for those who are going to be out there 5, 6 hours with the temperatures creeping into the mid 70s.

Starting to focus on proper hydration today. It will likely result in me needing to pee during the race again, but that is 30 seconds I can afford. With the weather being what it will, better safe than sorry. Anyways, off to drink another glass of water!

Thursday, October 02, 2014


Well, the forecast got a little hotter for Saturday... only one degree, but certainly seeing marathon day start with an "8" isn't the most reassuring. At least the predicted low also went down 1 degree as well? Honestly I've been training all summer in much hotter temperatures, so I'm hoping it won't get too hot by 10:30am and I'll be able to ride through it.

My training this cycle went really well. The feeling that I am out of shape or not ready for the marathon are completely without merit. This training cycle included more miles than my previous two marathon cycles. The twenty mile runs were easier, although still not easy. I did a shit-ton more speedwork this time around, even if it tapered off a little toward the end. I just ran a 20:28 5k... 11 months ago my 5k PR was 21:08.

The last thirteen weeks of training I ran 465 miles (35.8 per week). That compares to 428 miles for Vancouver and 422 miles last year for Portland. In the last six weeks I averaged 36.5 miles per week... that is over three more miles than for Vancouver (33.3) and more than five per week than Portland last year (31.2)!

I really think I'm ready to go! I did my last taper run last night and I was very serious about making it easy. 3.11 miles at 10:15/mile. Total shuffle but that is exactly what I wanted. Really funny because at 3.10 miles I tried to roll my left ankle. No harm done, but I was honestly kind of close to screwing something up 0.01 miles from the marathon start line! Anyways, my legs already feel kind of refreshed and I still have a few days before the race. I should be good to go!

Wednesday, October 01, 2014


The Portland Marathon is in FOUR DAYS. Yikes! I am feeling a little better about it than I was a few days ago, but it still freaks me out. Depends on the mood you catch me in whether I am excited or really nervous and dreading it. I think race morning once I am awake and feel the energy of the event... I'll be excited.

One thing that is a little unnerving is the weather forecast. Predicted high of 79 and sunny on marathon day.  I think it was about 70 and sunny last year, so this will be a little warmer. There were a couple of times last year towards the end of the race when I was in the sun where it was a little too hot, so I would expect that again, especially since it'll likely be 6-8 degrees warmer at that point than last year (plus, I'll be running faster).

Beats the rain though! Should be around 58 at race start and hopefully won't crack 70 when I am actually running. We'll see. I don't see it being a major problem, but I will definitely feel it when I am 20 something miles in and on the exposed areas along the bluff on Willamette.

Did 5.5 easy miles with run group on Monday. Will try to get one more run in, likely three super easy miles, maybe tonight, maybe tomorrow. That'll be it until race day. I love tapering... I just hate the anticipation. Just writing out this post is giving me sweaty palms.

Monday, September 29, 2014


Year four! I could practically run this course in my sleep at this point.
I meant to do a preview for this race but kept putting it off because I didn't quite know how much of a "race" this was going to be. Being the weekend before Portland, I didn't want to gun for PR and kill my chances next week for some freak reason, but at the same time I didn't want to just dolly about and not give a good effort. So I basically left it up to how I felt race morning.

Saturday I ran eight miles with Portland Marathon Clinic. It is the last weekend run of this training cycle (obviously). Kind of silly to wake up early to just run 8 miles, but I kind of wanted to see everyone off and it was a good excuse not to sleep away half the day. Anyways, I had done six miles on Friday night around 8:45/mile, then eight with PMC at 9:20/mile, so on Sunday morning I had done 14 miles in the previous two days. So my legs weren't fresh but they weren't too worn out.

Libbie and I met in Tualatin at 7:00am and headed town to Corvallis. This is the race where it all started, my first 5k now three years ago. This would be my fourth time racing it and it has become a yearly tradition with the two of us. Last year we were in the middle of a rain and wind storm but this year the weather was PERFECT. Sunny and blue skies, high of 78 or so later in the day.

We arrived with about forty minutes until race time. So after getting our bibs and going back to the car to drop some stuff off, we had a little time to kill before the race. According to the website the 5k would go off at 9:05 and the 10k at 9:10. So I did a warm up run for a few minutes including some speedwork and finished shortly after 8:50. Turns out they were going to have the 10k start first this year, they got that off a little late around 9:11, so we didn't leave until 9:16. Needless to say I got a little cold after my warm up.

By the time the race started I decided to race it hard but not kill myself for a PR. I'd say I was going 95%, maybe a little harder. While running it was hard and sucked but it wasn't terrible. When I was really pressing myself for a PR last year at the Rivalry Clash, I was in the 100% effort "this is terrible" range. So, I was running hard but I didn't expect to necessarily set a PR... I figured I might get close, but I wasn't going to completely kill myself.

I know this course by heart so definitely no surprises during the run. Hit the first mile in 6:37, so I was running right at PR speed. For the effort I was giving, pretty hard but not killer, that was encouraging. Especially since that first mile is slightly uphill. At this point I was telling myself "only two more miles." I could last fifteen more minutes.

Me with my "finisher's receipt."
Mile two was pretty uneventful. I just kept chugging ahead and was able to pass a few people. Was funny when you'd pass most people, they'd try to speed up and say "no you don't" but would fade after about fifteen seconds. I've learned in my years to never react to anyone else and run my own race. Trying to keep up with someone that passed you pretty much never works out! Mile two was hit in 6:35.

I was running a pretty even pace. Mile three was done in 6:43. This mile includes some uphill though and to be honest I did start to tire. Before a downhill portion toward the end my mile time was looking more toward the 6:50 range. The effort seemed even but the hills and the wear of the race were starting to slow me a bit naturally. I attacked the downhill and was able to bring this mile time down close to the others. Overall I'd say my "self pacing" of this run was pretty good and led to a very good time.

After many years running this race I am pretty familiar with the finish. There is a downhill where people often start to kick but then you have to run a decent amount through a flat park before actually hitting the finish. Anyways, I've seen people kick too early and one kid about 15 or so definitely kicked too early. I passed him around mile two and he flew by me on the downhill and went into his kick. I saved mine until I was almost through the park and only had a few city blocks to the finish.

I finished the last .11 miles at just over 5:00/mile. It was definitely a sprint but my legs felt good enough to hit it after a pretty well paced 5k. I blew past that kid and another person on my way to the finish. Felt really good to finish strong like that. Lead to me being totally wiped and barely able to stand in the finishers chute as they cut off my tag, but hey, that's the price for racing hard. I got a bottle of water and then collapsed in the grassy shade.

Cheers to a new 5k PR!
Overall I clocked myself at 20:25 on my Garmin. There was a mat at the start line and I assumed the race would have net times. However, they only published gun times, so my official time is 20:28. Had I known that, I would have lined up closer as my true time was probably more like 20:23-20:24 (held off stopping my watch until I had cleared all three timing mats after the finish line). Honestly, whatever, it's just a few seconds, but seconds are precious in a 5k. I'll take the 20:28 though, a new PR by 10 seconds.

Pretty cool to get a PR without totally going balls to the wall. If I did that, I think I could get around 20:10 or so. I don't think I have sub 20 speed in me yet, but I'm getting close. Hopefully sometime next year I can crack that barrier. Chopping 10 seconds a mile though will take some effort. That's 6:25/mile! However, with some focused speed work, and an 100% all-out effort, I think it could be done next year. Whether or not I want to make that a focus... we'll see.

Libbie slipped in under 40 minutes (she was super worn down so that was pretty cool) and then we went to Flat Tail Brewing for lunch. Gorged myself on Fish and Chips that were pretty dang good. Unfortunately I placed 5th (!) in my age division despite being 10th overall so I didn't get an award like last year. If they had taken the overall winners out of the age group winners I would have been third, but oh well. One of the few times being in my 30s would have resulted in better age placement.

Official Chip Time: 20:28, 6:35/mile. 10/209 overall, 9/78 male, 5/8 M2029.