Friday, February 28, 2014


Well, I decided to finally bite the bullet and register for the 2014 Portland Marathon today. Figured I would register before the price went up even further. Cost was $130, which I want to bitch about, but the Vancouver BC Marathon was $150. Just the reality of a big city marathon. At some point I'll be fine with the smaller events, but at this moment I feel the need for a big event to do a marathon. I'm not going to run by myself through some country roads for 26 miles.

So, that was a hit on the wallet. Also signed up for the 10k Rum Run for the 3rd straight year. That one was a little easier on the wallet. $35 I think. Oh, and I signed up for the Bald Peak Half Marathon a couple days ago. Great race as long as you're not shooting for a PR I've heard. I still need to sign up for the Foot Traffic Flat Half Marathon on July 4th. Oy.

Good training this week. Recovered from the early week fiasco quite well.

Monday: 7.19 miles at 7:44/mile up the PRC rollercoaster.
Thursday: 5.26 miles at 7:45/mile at Thursday PRC
Friday: 6.35 miles at 7:44/mile fartlek run around my home 10k course.

Thursday, February 27, 2014


This week I am playing catch up due to bad luck, my own stupidity, and the Portland Timbers. Let me explain...

Wednesday there was a Portland Timbers preseason game. Wednesday is one day I usually run, so I knew I'd have to adjust things somewhat.

On Monday I felt GREAT at run group. Did the seven mile hilly course at 7:45/mile. Killed it, fastest pace ever for that course. On Tuesday I was feeling pretty good so I figured I'd just run Tuesday night at home instead of Wednesday. Well, shit hit the fan at work, and by the time I got home it was 7pm, I was burnt out, and I didn't want to run.

So I then devised a plan to run after work on Wednesday before the Timbers game. I would run along the waterfront and it would be a lot of fun, a nice change of pace. So I packed all my running clothes and also an outfit to change into after to go to the Timbers game. I figured I'd take a "bath" at the sink in my office after the run. Well I forgot one very important thing. Shoes. So despite all my planning and intentions there was no way I could run.

Which leads me to today. It is now Thursday and I haven't ran since Monday. Not the best training plan. So I need to run tonight and tomorrow night. Totally doable. Just annoying to have to "catch up" after plans earlier fell through. Thankfully my long run was going to be Sunday this week anyways, so I won't be running three days in a row and cap it all with 18 miles.

Sometimes I wish I was a morning person so I could just knock them out at 7am.

Monday, February 24, 2014


The birthday boy! Also, notice the yummy aid station bottom right (Photos by Steve Walters).
On Friday I went running on my normal 10k course after work and continued the mend from skiing and 18 miles the week before. I averaged 8:43/mile and 8:30/mile over the last four once I had warmed up a little bit. Didn't feel like I was pushing it, effort felt the same as my previous two runs, so it was nice to get back to semi-fresh legs.

Saturday I joined my friend Jon as he ran a 50k for his 50th birthday. I showed up about an hour and a half after they started to find they had run only four miles or so. Turns out a lot of people stopped by and they kept stopping to chat. Our running pal Steve had organized the whole thing including an aid station with tons of different goodies, so it was easy to stand around, eat, and talk.

So my fourteen miles which officially took about two hours was probably more like two and a half hours in real time. I stopped and ate twice, but otherwise I was pretty focused on getting my miles in (mostly because I had Frontier coming to install FiOS and needed to be done by noon). I ended up running with someone about 70% of the time and it was a lot of fun! I ran faster than I planned at 8:53 mile... and as a result felt like I had run 18 instead of 14.

The course was a .93 mile loop around Summerlake Park near my house. I had never ran there (I played tennis and cheered at a race there) and so it was fun to explore the park a little. Pretty nice little loop, although, after a couple times around it did get monotonous. It ended up being almost exactly 14 miles after 15 laps, but I did have to add an extra thirty seconds or so at the end to hit my nice round number.

Later that evening we went out to dinner and then to Two Kilts Brewing in Sherwood to further celebrate. Cool little brewery that I didn't know existed. I had someone driving me so I had a lot of fun. Didn't feel the greatest on Sunday and it just showed what a lightweight I am. I had four pints of beer over four hours. Not wild at all!

Sunday I took Brandon to the Family Fun Center and then to the Lego Movie (everything is awesome!). Tonight I'll be doing the seven mile rollercoaster at PRC. Pace to be determined.

Friday, February 21, 2014


When I decided to go skiing, I knew it would have some impact of my running. I was just hoping it wasn't in the realm of a blown ACL or anything, so I am grateful that wasn't the case. There were two things that resulted however:

1) Bruised toenail. An ill-fitting rental boot on my right foot caused 75% of my big toenail to bruise. I am sort of afraid it will fall off, but there is a "healthy stripe" on the right hand side of the nail that goes from the base to the top. So I'm thinking it might stay on because it's definitely still "intact" there. We'll see. It hasn't affected my running at all so at this point it's more of a cosmetic thing (and hoping that nobody steps on my foot). I'll spare you the picture.

How I feel at the
2)  Generalized soreness. Skiing is a hell of a leg workout. And while I felt stronger skiing this time due to my running, the result the next few days was I felt like I had run 20 miles and my legs were trying to recover. I ran six miles the night after (Tuesday) and just kind of shuffled along at a 9:30/mile pace. Then the next night at PRC group I did five miles at 9:00/mile, still feeling pretty worn.

I took Thursday off to rest and plan to run another 10k tonight. I am feeling better, but still a little sore and used. My hamstrings are definitely the most tired. It also seemed to irritate my "butt muscle" that was causing issues a few times. I think I'll take it easy again tonight. That muscle can get aggravated by hills or speed workouts, so it is in my best interest to let it heal. I have plenty of time to do tempo stuff before Vancouver.

Luckily, the schedule already had this week as a "down week." Tomorrow for my long run I'll be running either 12 or 14. I'll play it by ear depending on how I feel after tonight's run. Instead of going to Coach Jim, I'll be joining a friend as he runs a 50k for his 50th birthday. He is doing it in loops around Summerlake Park (I think each loop is like .975 miles), so I'll join him midway through for 13-15ish laps.

So, despite being a "lost week," I'll still be getting all my scheduled miles in. I didn't skip a run. They will just be a little easier than planned, but recharging is more important at the moment than hitting it hard. Hopefully I can get back to that next week by being smart this week.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014


Yesterday I went skiing for the first time in nearly five years (previous time was 3/20/2009 according to the lift ticket still on my ski pants). I was scared I had lost all my skill after taking a break that long, but turns out skiing is sort of like riding a bike. After a few runs to get back in the groove I felt pretty confident, like 95% of my skill was still there.

I actually went the whole day without falling. Not that you should judge your skill on that, many people could glide down easy runs all day and do that, but after taking a five year break and actually getting into some challenging terrain, it felt pretty good. The snow was nice, very powdery, which meant you had to work a lot harder. It was a great workout and my running definitely helped, I think I would have been a lot more exhausted at the bottom of the hill without it.

Thinking about possibly getting my own equipment and going up more often next year. The only problem is that with my standard M-F job it would be very hard to train for a spring marathon AND go skiing on the weekends. Would be nice to go on a Wednesday when it is was less crowded than on a Sunday after long run the day before.

Speaking of long runs, I did my longest run since the Portland Marathon on Saturday. Eighteen miles with the Coach Jim group. It was raining the entire run and I was absolutely drenched at the end. To be honest though, the run went really well. It was a challenge but 18 wasn't really a problem. Didn't even feel too sore the next day. Definitely gave me confidence that the upcoming 20 milers for my Vancouver training are very doable and possibly won't be as painful as the first time around.

Since I skipped the PRC group last night to go skiing (I had the day off for President's Day), I'm going to try to run tonight on my own. My legs feel pretty good from skiing, didn't seem to use any muscles I don't normally use at least, so we'll see how tonight goes. I'll probably just take it easy and then try to do something more challenging on Wednesday.

Friday, February 14, 2014


Well, I've pretty much decided on doing Portland again for my fall marathon this year. I had visions of traveling for a fall marathon this year, but vacation days and money wise I just don't think the timing will be right. I already have three vacations that require airfare planned this year and I should not be adding a fouth. So Portland it is! I'm very much okay with that too, it's my hometown race and I really enjoyed it last year.

This does, however, make me very determined to do a travel race for fall 2015. So I think I'll enter the Chicago Marathon lottery (boo lottery) and if I don't get in, then I'll sign up for the Detroit Marathon where you get to run to Canada and through the tunnel. Eventually I'd like to do both of those, plus NYC and other destination races (although I am okay staying away from hot and humid locations for the moment).

Also thinking I'll scrap the Corvallis Half Marathon from my schedule. While I really loved that race, it will be the week after Ragnar SoCal and I should have my last twenty miler before Vancouver that weekend. That way my last three long runs before Vancouver can be 20, 12, 8 or something to that effect. So the timing just isn't right.

Not sure of my schedule between Vancouver and Portland yet. Probably the Foot Traffic Flat Half Marathon on the 4th of July, but other than that nothing solid at this point.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014


Six laps a mile. Pretty big for an indoor track, which is nice!
There is a silver lining to most everything. So despite Brandon's basketball experience being a disaster, I did take one very important thing away from it... there is an indoor track I can use! I guess I sort of knew there was an indoor track at that facility, but I would have probably never checked it out if Brandon didn't have basketball practice there.

I've used that indoor track twice now in the last week. Last Wednesday as the artic air was pouring into the area in preparation for our snow storm, I decided to run inside instead of with the PRC group. I only had shorts and a long sleeve t-shirt and it was 22 degrees out with wind chill in the low single digits (the wind was howling consistently over 20mph). The few who braved it for the PRC group said it was absolutely terrible and they probably had more appropriate clothing than me. So good call on that one. Ran seven miles at 8:33/mile.

After that run on Wednesday I didn't run again until Saturday, when I did my super fun five mile snow run. Wish the soft powder would have stayed one more day because I would have loved to do another five on Sunday. Instead, I took Sunday off and then ran at the indoor track again last night. While the roads had mostly cleared up, the sidewalks were still a mess and covered in snow. PRC cancelled their runs for obvious reasons, so that left me inside at the track.

Pounded out another seven miles, this time at a 8:07/mile clip. That'll likely be my marathon pace so it was nice to see what it felt like and lock it in. Running inside isn't the most fun thing in the world, but it's a viable alternative when outside is not cooperating. Much better than the treadmill! So I'll continue to utilize that facility from time to time.

The weather can easily put me in running funks. Who wants to come home from a long day at work to run six miles outside in the pitch dark when it is 36 and raining? Nobody. So if I ever feel like not running because of the "weather," I need to truck my ass to the indoor track. If I still don't want to run, that means I am using the weather as an excuse. And I can't have excuses when training for a marathon.

Saturday, February 08, 2014


So we are currently in the middle of the biggest snowstorm in Portland since December 2008. That year I was at home for winter break in college and ended up basically being stuck inside the house with my parents for two full weeks. That was the worst snowstorm I can remember since I was born, although there was something when I was 7-8ish that rivaled it.

Needless to say, the 10 inches or so of snow we've had in the last three days has been kind of a big deal (I think we got around 15 or so in 2008 over a week and then it took forever to warm up). Since snow doesn't happen all that often, we Portlanders get stuck inside as the lack of plows/sanding/salting most other places have plus our hilly terrain means a no go on the driving. At least for me. I've had enough ice incidents to not venture out in that mess!

The storm hit mid-day on Thursday. I left work early and got home just as the road started going from sort of covered to covered in snow. Glad I left when I did, that commute home on Thursday was a disaster. We got about four inches that night. Friday I worked from home as more snow came down. Another four or five inches. Didn't get out and run... by the time I was "off work" it was getting dark and it seemed like a bad idea.

So today I was itching to get outside. I wasn't about to attempt a long run in the snow, but I did a solid five miles while it snowed (another inch or two). It was fun! Definitely a slower pace than normal, but I stuck mostly to the roads where the snow was packed down by the cars. Footing wasn't too bad. Did have to battle through the powder up a sidewalk on Murray (that road is far to busy to run on) but other than that tried to keep it in the neighborhoods. Those five miles plus another three on a walk to the store and back for groceries meant a pretty active day!

It was a lot of fun. Got numerous positive comments from other people out and about and exchanged hellos with quite a few other crazy runners. Even got a cheer from two guys who had set up lawn chairs on the hilly Murray Blvd. to watch the cars slide around. That being said, it is a novelty that probably won't last. I'd love to go for another snow run tomorrow, but it looks like freezing rain tonight could really wreck havoc with the ability for me to get a grip on the roads. At this point I'm ready for it to melt and get back to normal!

Wednesday, February 05, 2014


The starting line minutes before the race went off at 6:15am.
Well, the Miami Half Marathon is in the books and honestly went about as I expected. There was a reason I didn't set any goals for this race, as too many variables were in play. Long story short, I was going at a PR clip halfway through but knew I wouldn't be able to maintain it. Given the choice to flame out spectacularly or readjust my mindset to survive the last six miles, I chose the second option. Heads up, this is a lengthy recap.


While I was excited to go to Miami and see my friend, I wasn't as excited about the short turnaround to race day and the time zone difference. I arrived in Miami Friday night at 11pm and we went straight back to his place, chatted a bit, then went to bed. I went to bed at 1am and woke up at 7am (early, on purpose to prepare for Sunday). I didn't get a whole six hours though, I was woken up numerous times by obnoxious cars tearing down the main boulevard there (JBiebs?).

The view from my friend's condo. Beautiful!
Saturday we stayed very low key. Went to the expo and picked up our t-shirts and packets. You've been to one expo, you've been to them all. Nothing too exciting there. After that we just laid around on the beach. The lazy day ended with us going to bed around 10pm.

Now, that is 10pm Eastern. And even though I woke up at 7am, my body just wasn't really having it. Although I was tired, it was still 7pm to my body, so I ended up not really being able to sleep well. That, plus being nervous for the race, led to a very fitful night of sleep. All told I got maybe 90 minutes of sleep. We woke up at 4am to get over to the shuttle in time.

Despite the lack of sleep, I wasn't feeling too tired. Tired, yes, but to my body it was only 3am at race start. Almost like I was staying up late after taking a nap in the evening. While it didn't help, the sleep issue wasn't the main factor for my struggle in this race. It certainly was annoying though, and would be a problem any time I would fly to the east coast for a race without a few days to really adjust first.


Once I was up I got pretty excited. My friend was very worried about the race so I was staying annoyingly upbeat and positive to try and rub off on him a little. To be honest I really was excited though! We parked at the Expo Center in South Beach and then took a shuttle over to the start. The start line was INSANE. The race has 25,000 registrants, so there was a ton of energy in the air and people EVERYWHERE.

At the start line. 2am my time. Look how innocent I was.
We arrived at the start around 5:15am so we had plenty of time to kill. The start line was in front of American Airlines Arena, where the Miami Heat play. I wanted to make sure I got to use the bathroom and warm up a little before the race, so I split with my friend and found the bathrooms. Lines weren't bad at all, much better than Portland. Waited maybe ten minutes. No hand sanitizer... yuck!

After that I wandered to my corral. There was A, B, C, D, E, F, G, H, and I corrals. I was in "C," which is the first large corral for the general public. So I felt a little special. I'm not that fast people. The majority of people were running the half. Of the 25,000 people, I believe only 6,000 were doing the full marathon (and only something like 3,500 finished), which is actually less than Portland. I am glad Portland is keeping their race more "full centric," but Miami makes a lot of sense catering more towards halfers as well.

Once in the corral I did a little stretching and a warm up jog. My watch had a hard time keeping the GPS signal unless I held it up toward my neck. The swarm of humanity was that big. Before I knew it the race was kicking off! It was still dark, mind you, and the sun wouldn't be up for another hour.

MILES 1-4: OVER THE CAUSEWAY AT PR SPEED (7:33, 7:14, 7:24, 7:29)

I ended up crossing the start line only about two minutes after the elite runners went off, much like the Portland Marathon. 6:17am, or 3:17am Pacific. Fun! Anyways, it was a mass of humanity at the start, but not too bad. I was with other runners going sub 8:00, so I only had to swerve around some people. Definitely wasn't running a straight line though. Guy peeing against a light pole in front of everyone about a mile in. Gross.

This is from 2013, but same view this year. Over the
causeway at dusk under the moonlight.
Temperature at race start was 74 degrees with 90% humidity. It was definitely warm when I was waiting to start and as soon as I started running I knew it was going to be a problem. Here in Oregon, when it is hot, you sweat, but that sweat evaporates and that process cools you down. In Florida, you sweat, and it's humid, and you just became a wet, slimy mess. The evaporation thing doesn't really seem to happen quite the same since you stay so super wet. Needless to say, I was not cooling down.

So despite feeling like I was running in a sauna, my times were actually good. My body was feeling pretty decent and that 7:14 mile actually included about 10 seconds to tie my shoe. Honestly, that mile was too fast. But overall I was thinking I could do 7:25-7:30ish, so I was hitting good times, especially knowing the sun would come up later.

This part of the course was over the MacArthur Causeway by all the docked cruise ships and into Miami Beach. Beautiful part of the course and the "hilliest" part. As I ran down the "hill" into Miami Beach I had a feeling I wouldn't be PRing though. I kept waiting for my body to adjust to the heat, but after training in 40 degrees for four months, it just wasn't happening.


By the time I started running on the famous Ocean Drive I knew I was probably going to have to readjust my expectations. It was hot and muggy and the breeze was non-existent. I kept up my PR speed though, hoping I would adjust and find my groove. It just wasn't happening. That kind of pace was getting harder and harder.

Ocean Drive. Beautiful, but you can't really see the water.
Once the 7:53 mile hit, I knew the PR was all over. And honestly, I was okay with that. To PR in Miami with all the factors going against me was going to be hard. My legs felt fine but my body was just really struggling with the heat. I was working extra hard as a result and my lungs were screaming. I felt like I was going to pass out if I kept running at that speed. If I tried to keep that clip up I would have most certainly flamed out in spectacular fashion and had to have walked it in.

So after crossing mile seven I re-adjusted my mentality. I gave up the hope of a PR. Who cares. Now, my goal was to finish running it as hard as I could without passing out or resorting to walking. Making some quick calculations in my head, I set a new goal of sub 1:45 and sub 8:00/mile average. I knew those two lined up about perfectly. My average time to this point was 7:30ish so I had some wiggle room.

The part of the course was my least favorite because you couldn't really see the beach in many places and it was 7am, so it's not like Ocean Drive was hopping. Not that I was in much condition to view the scenery anyways. So it was really just a hot run through some buildings. I was hoping the Venetian Island portion would provide a breeze.

MILES 8-10: HOLY CRAP IS THIS THING OVER YET (8:05, 8:10, 8:09)

Enjoying myself on the Venetian Islands.
Suddenly I realized I was running on the road over the Venetian Islands. It kind of snuck up on me and I attribute that to just struggling to not pass out and the fact Belle Island is so close to Miami Beach (it seemed like a small jump over a canal). Anyways, while running over the islands was beautiful, the breeze I was hoping for didn't materialize. The sun was coming up, and while at my back, I could feel its warmth.

At this point I had settled into my "survival speed" and was just grinding it out. I was able to recover enough that I didn't feel like I was going to pass out, but my body was very drained. I tried my best to enjoy the run and soak it in. The course is really cool and I wish I could have enjoyed it more, but honestly, with this heat, I would have had to walk the thing for that to happen.

We ran over parts of bridges where the only thing beneath your feet was a metal grating and you could see down to the water. I remember a woman on the bus who had a tremendous fear of heights and planned to run in the middle of the road on all bridges because of this fear (she felt like if she was at the edge she would trip over the side). She had to have HATED this part of the run. Eventually we exited the Venetian Islands and rounded into downtown Miami.

MILES 11-13: DOWNTOWN DESPERATION (8:31, 8:41, 8:34)

What a relief to be downtown again! I knew the race was coming to a close and I "only" had 5k left. Once you hit the mainland there was a large cheering section that was really fun to run through. They were very loud and it put a pep in my step for a moment. It only lasted a few blocks however, then it was back to mostly by ourselves. The race definitely didn't have the support along the course like Portland.

Where is the frickin' finish line?
My times slipped even further. Once I hit the final stretch the sun was now definitely up and my body was getting really tried. I was surprised at how drained I was. Almost felt like miles 20-24 of the marathon, but probably not quite as bad. Definitely not as bad as the last two miles in Portland. I would rank this as the second most difficult race I've ever done though. I was spent.

I just kept chugging along through the tall downtown buildings. At one point I looked far ahead and saw the stream of humanity just running straight down the road as far as the eye could see. I knew we turned to the left at some point to work our way to the finish line, so it was kind of depressing to see that nowhere in sight especially only 1.5 miles out! I just re-adjusted my focus to the fifty feet in front of me. One foot after the other. You'll get there.

At this point I start doing some mental math to see if I can walk and still hit a sub 1:45. The answer... maybe.  Depends on how "long" of course I would run. Based on where my watch was beeping in relation to the mile markers I would be running an extra .15 miles or so. Better not risk it.

Eventually the course cut to the left and to the finish line. I could hear the cheers ahead. This definitely put a pep in my step. I probably went sub 8:00 that last quarter mile or so. The finish line was lined with bleachers and they were packed full of screaming people. Really satisfying finish line. I had to sprint a little to make sure I hit my sub 1:45... I timed it at 1:44:49 on my watch. I did it! Hallelujah!


Crossing that finish line was an AMAZING feeling. I just PWed in the half but I was very proud of myself. I ground out a really tough race and didn't resort to walking. I just ran 13.1 miles at 7:59/mile in really insufferable conditions to me. That is nothing to be ashamed of.

Apparently, I smiled. Don't remember that,
but I was SO happy to be done!
I stumbled through the finishers chute. My tummy wasn't feeling (didn't the whole race) but I still grabbed some food knowing I needed it. Got my medal, which was really cool and definitely the nicest one in my collection. Before I knew it I was out of the chute and looking for a place to sit down... like now.

Wandering around I was able to plop down in the grass under a tree. I stayed there for about thirty minutes recovering, eating, and surfing on my phone. Eventually I decided I wanted to lay down somewhere away from all the commotion so I headed back north toward the start line at American Airlines Arena. I was able to lay down on the steps there and take a mini-nap. Felt great. I was stalking my friend on Endomondo and once I saw he only had about 1.5 miles to go I wandered back to the start line.

I was able to get a seat in the stands and watch my friend finish. He did it! I was so proud of him. I was able to find him as he exited the chute and we celebrated with a beer. After that he was ready to go home and crash and I didn't complain at all. So after what seemed like an eternity to get the shuttle, wait for it, ride it over, and then drive to his place, we were back! We instantly crashed and I took a three hour nap.


Honestly, I had a great time. Next year my friend would like to run the entire thing and finish in 2:30 or so (he did 3:15ish this year). It would be fun to come back down and run it with him at an easy pace where I could enjoy the course/event a little more. That's what I envisioned this time, but since he didn't train and would walk a whole bunch, I decided to run it hard. Not looking forward to doing that again unless I somehow train for the heat and humidity.

After recovering my senses in the chute.
100% wet everywhere.
While I enjoyed the trip, I once again am very glad I live where I live! You can run outside comfortably all year in Oregon. We don't have oppressive humidity or bitter cold icy winters. While it might make us shitty race tourists, there is a reason why running is so huge here. We really live in a perfect place for it! Miami was tons of fun but it also made me appreciate our 42 and overcast winters!

Official Chip Time: 1:44:47, 7:59/mile. 785/15477 overall. 637/7567 male, 70/684 M25-29.

And some quotes from the Miami Herald:

Women’s defending champion Mariska Kramer Postma, 39, of the Netherlands:
“When we started the race, I felt there was no energy in my body. On top of that it was pretty warm, so after 5 kilometers I already knew this was going to be a long day. I had to let go of my plans and the pace I wanted and just make it a nice, long run in Miami."

Men’s runner-up Choge said he began to tire after 20 miles. “It was very, very hot and I was dehydrating," he said.

Read more here: