Monday, March 31, 2014


15.5 miler with the Coach Jim group this last weekend.
It was inevitable, the post after I write about how I've been running more than ever is about how I am now very tired and feeling rundown. Most of my problem is my right glute muscle flaring up again. This happened before the Portland Marathon last year and I think once after that during a speed workout. The good news is if I rest it tends to heal up fairly well.

Bad timing with the Vancouver Marathon coming up (five weeks!) and Ragnar this week. At this point I am concerned about it being an issue during Ragnar with the high mileage I will be doing. I'll just be taking it easy this week and then hope I can get through Ragnar okay. I think It'll be okay. If for some reason it persists past Ragnar and is a real issue I might have to take some time off.

On Saturday with Coach Jim we were supposed to run 16 miles but ended up running only 15.5 miles. I wasn't about to add any onto the end either. I just felt super run down and it was monsooning rain almost the entire time. Not the greatest run I've ever had.

Anyways, Ragnar is this week and I am very excited about that. I'll run just once more this week on Wednesday and then I'll have my three Ragnar legs. Can't wait!

Thursday, March 27, 2014

8 OUT OF 9

Lately I've been running a little more frequently. I was surprised when I looked at my RunningAhead log last night that if I run tonight I will have ran 8 out of the last 9 days (and 10 of the last 12). For someone who tends to have below-average recovery ability, that is pretty good. I think my legs are finally adjusting to this running thing. I am by no means a natural runner, but I feel like my body is really finally starting to adjust.

Not that it's all cupcakes and unicorns though. My legs are tired today and they will be tired as I try to hit a 10k marathon pace run. The difference though is they are just tired, not sore. I always used to get sore... now it only happens maybe the day after a race or twenty mile run. Even then my recovery is a lot quicker than it used to me. It's okay to run on tired legs... there is even a whole marathon training system based around that (Hanson's!).

In those nine days I would have run six normally, so I only added two days. And each of those days was just a 5k. So not that big of a deal (I do have a 20 miler in there though). If I could add a fifth day of running each week and just do 5k, I think I could handle that. I ran last Friday because it was so nice outside I just couldn't stand not to even though I had twenty the next day. And then I ran on Tuesday at like 9pm after Buffalo Wild Wings because I felt like a buffalo after eating there.

So, we'll see if that sticks. Easier to get out there now that the weather has turned for the better. Another run in 38 and drizzly probably wouldn't be so appealing. After my 10k today I won't run again until Saturday, when I do 16 with Coach Jim's group. Then off on Sunday as well!

Monday, March 24, 2014


Link to full screen image
Saturday morning I got to sleep in a little later than I'm used to because Alejandro wanted to run the Banks-Vernonia State Trail in preparation for the Vernonia Marathon he'll be doing in a couple of weeks. He wanted to get a feel for the course and I was more than fine with tagging along because I love that trail and I'm always down for extra sleep.

I ran this trail for the first time last spring with Libbie. At the time it was my longest run ever at 16 miles. Now I am planning a "down week" this weekend with "only" 16 on the schedule. How things change! Anyways, woke up and rode with Alejandro to the trailhead. Went to the Buxton Trailhead again since you can skip a lot of the boring flat, straight, unprotected part of the course going into Banks.

The plan was to run 7 miles north on the trail, turn around, and then stop at the car at 14. We'd then run 3 miles south so he could get a flavor of the more boring part of the trail, and then head back to hit 20.

Everything went off without a hitch really. It was a beautiful day (sunny and a high of 65ish) and there was enough sun to keep us warm but enough shade from the trees to keep us refreshed. Only really challenging part of the first seven miles was near the Tophill Trailhead, since you had to run down 100 feet and then run right back up the hill after crossing the road. Not too bad though.

Got back to the car feeling pretty good. After a short break to drink and fuel up we headed out for the final six miles. After a nice mile south through the forest you hit the boring, exposed part of the trail. So that wasn't my favorite, but it did give Alejandro an idea of what to expect the final few miles of the marathon. So it served it's purpose. We turned around at 17 and I was still feeling pretty good. Didn't really start to hurt much until 18. I really wanted to be done then.

The final two miles weren't too bad though. Definitely the best twenty miler to date. It was still a challenge, but I was able to do it fairly easily. My legs hated me and hurt, but probably a little bit less than the time before. It just keeps getting a tad easier each time. It still isn't easy, but I actually kind of enjoy the challenge now. I can't believe I am almost looking forward to the twenty mile runs!

20.02 miles in 3:14:22, 9:43/mile.

Friday, March 21, 2014


One of the really cool things about Shamrock this year was they had free photos for everyone. You know that photo "service" that takes pictures of you and then charges you $30 for one picture? That was free. They had an army of photographers and you could browse and download all your photos in high resolution for free. Awesome. For $35, Shamrock is a flipping awesome deal!

I present to you a selection of these photos in chronological order:

Near the beginning. Annoyed with people slower than me.
Cruising before the hills start.
Grinding up Broadway.
Sweet downhill relief after three miles up uphill.
Okay, most my pictures looked like this, so here is one. Almost finished.
300th something place. Beer me!
Running twenty miles this weekend. Going to the Banks-Vernonia State Trail with Alejandro instead of doing Coach Jim up Mount Tabor. Almost looking forward to the challenge... I need to get my head examined.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014


Shamrock 2012 after the 5k. I was so innocent! Laurel and Amanda did almost five miles. FIVE MILES!
I hesitate to call the 2014 version of the Shamrock Run 15k my most successful race to date, just because completing the Portland Marathon last October meant so much to me and I exceeded my expectations there as well. However, in terms of everything just falling into place and feeling like it was my day, nothing really beats the Shamrock Run last Sunday. It was really the perfect race for me.

On Monday, the day after, I ended up getting talked into running the seven mile "rollercoaster" at PRC (although most everyone else was now running the flat Fanno Creek Trail because it's light outside). Although my legs felt worn, I did that at 9:30/mile without much effort. Felt kind of good actually. Compare that to last year, where running seven miles the next day was super painful and my ankle felt all fucked up. Not only am I much faster, but I can recover much quicker. A solid year of marathon training will do that to you I guess.

It did make me want to do another 5k and 10k to see how much I have improved in those distances as well. I think I can get my 5k below 21:00 and my 10k below 44:00. I'd like to see how much of my Shamrock time was the perfect race and how much of it was repeatable improvement. The problem is I have the Vancouver Marathon in six weeks now and I really don't want to screw up anything in preparation for that. So maybe I should shoot to do those races after Vancouver before I have to start training for Portland again.

Next thing I have to look forward to is Ragnar SoCal with my team Strangers to Sole Mates. Should be lots of fun... can't wait! That is only two weeks away now!

Sunday, March 16, 2014


The post-race celebration at Tom McCall Waterfront Park.
Well, that went well. Apparently I greatly underestimated my own abilities. The only time I remember completely shattering my own expectations like that was for my first ever half marathon. I thought there was no way in HELL I was going to go sub 1:10 today, let alone 1:06:16. I honestly was a little worried that sub 1:11 was too hard of a "A" goal.

Either I have gotten much stronger in the last few months or I just had a ridiculously good race that likely won't be repeated. I tend to lean toward the getting better option, just because I have done a lot of miles and started doing more speedwork. A mere four months ago I was struggling to a 7:14/mile on the easier-than-Shamrock Give'n'Gobble course though. So we'll see. I think it is some of both.

The night before didn't start things off on the best foot. I had a load of laundry take FOREVER to dry and by the time I hit the pillow it was midnight. I was annoyed I was up that late and then also freaking out about the race. Which led me to lay awake for a while. So I probably actually fell asleep at like 1:00, then it was a fitful night of sleep and I even woke up multiple times before my 5:45am alarm. Unheard of for Thomas. I was freaking out a little and got slightly over four hours of sleep. Score!

Elevation chart from the race. I find this much more accurate than the one
I posted in the preview.

Anyways, pretty uneventful early morning. Shoved a banana and granola bar in my face and hit the road. Took the MAX over from Lloyd Center and met Alejandro, Libbie, Kayla, and some other people. The weather wasn't too bad, 48 and overcast. Was able to take my sweatshirt off and still be fine. Got into the right corral area this year, although I just ended up hopping the fence. Don't know where the fuck you are even supposed to get into that thing.

Pretty soon the gun sounded and we were off. Less weaving this year in the 7-8 minute corral than the 8-9 minute corral last year, but still more than I would have liked. First half mile or so was annoyingly busy. It eventually loosed up though and by the time we hit Broadway I could pretty much pick my own line. Hit the first mile in 7:05. Right on schedule!

Not the greatest picture, but me after setting a new PR!
One thing about this race was my legs felt AMAZING. As in, I didn't feel them at all. It was awesome. The only thing causing an issue was my labored breathing. Wish my legs felt that awesome all the time. Seriously felt like you could take a hatchet to my calf I would be fine! Second mile 6:53. Okay, maybe a little fast but I'll bank some time for the hill.

Up the hill on Broadway we went. This was a little steeper than I remember. Maybe I shouldn't have downplayed it so much in my preview. Just keep charging. By now it was sprinkling rain and that felt awesome. Never got beyond a sprinkle and it helped me from overheating. That mile up Broadway came in at 7:00 on the nose (planned for 7:20). This is going well.

Then came Terwilliger. Honestly, I can't believe how well I was able to climb those 450 feet. The elevation chart in the preview is bullshit, there were not any downhills during the uphill really. I thought there were, but it was just "flat" breaks. And I'm pretty sure they were still slightly uphill. Anyways, I charged up the hill and felt pretty good. For the way I was feeling I couldn't believe my watch telling me I was running 7:40ish still. Never once did I want to start walking like I did for the entire last mile a year ago.

Those miles came in at 7:31, 7:43, 7:40. I was shooting for about 8:15 on each. By this time I realize things are going crazy good. Can't believe how spry I feel. At the top of the hill at the bagpipers (sweet, sweet bagpipe music) I was definitely tired but knew I could run downhill for the final three. Maybe I could break 1:10?

Down the finish we go! This is the first time I could feel my legs as they were not happy with the downhill pounding. I suck at downhill running. I pass a ton of people going up and then have a ton of people passing me going down. Oh well. I hit those final three downhill miles in 6:41, 6:51, and 6:43. Still pretty fast! Felt pretty comfortable on the way down and couldn't believe the race was almost over.

No cops trying to stop me for traffic this year. Through the finish line I went. This is the first time I looked at the overall time on my watch. I spent the entire race with just three screens showing: Lap Pace, Lap Distance, and Current Pace. So when I stopped my watch and it read 1:06:16 I nearly shat myself. Really? Only 90 seconds off my Dad's time that seemed years and years off a year ago? Awesome!

In all, a super successful race! Blew away my own expectations and felt great doing it. Almost the exact opposite of the Miami Half Marathon 6 weeks ago! I can tell my legs will be sore for a few days, but that is a small price to pay for a SIX MINUTE PR. And to think how excited I was to PR by one second last year!

Official Results: 1:06:16, 7:07/mile. 364/8748 overall, 323/4256 male. 64/606 M25-29.

Friday, March 14, 2014


I am super excited for the Shamrock Run this Sunday! I think it will be a very good test of my fitness and the progress I have made in the last year. Last year's preview is more about the race in general and the history and craziness that is Shamrock. So if you are interested in that, click right here. The short version of the story is, the 15k route of Shamrock used to be called the Cascade Runoff and it was quite the big deal and attracted top tier running talent. Now it has morphed into the Shamrock Run, a crazy event with 35,000 registrants over three race distances.

One of the things I am most looking forward to this year is running with my watch. This is a course that you have to "manage" and vary your mile times if you hope to hit your best time. Last year I just ran based on feel and I think I ran the first part a little slow and the hills a little fast, which pooped me out for the downhill finish. So this year I'll be checking my pace more often. I'll also shoot to arrive earlier than 5 minutes before the gun so I can get into the correct corral, unlike last year, when I was lucky to make my way up to the 8-9 minute corral before the gun went off.

The course can be broken into three parts:

Part I: Downtown Three: This is the first 3.5 miles or so. You can see where these end based on the elevation chart... see the spike around 3.75 miles? That's the start of the second part. This first part though is ready for attacking. The first two miles are pretty dang flat. The challenge here is getting out of the crowd and finding a good line. Mile three is uphill on Broadway but this hill isn't too bad. A gradual incline that can be managed. My target paces for these first three miles are 7:05, 7:05, 7:20.

Part II: Terwilliger Terror: The good news is this part lasts only about 2.5 miles. Those 2.5 miles are hell though. After a steady incline mile on Broadway, Terwilliger hits and hits hard. That first hill is the worst and really takes it out of you. Then a series of "slightly downhills" followed by "even more uphills." That is the one saving grace of this climb... there are "breaks" that allow you to somewhat catch your breath (okay, not really). I remember that half mile stretch of straight uphill (ending at about 5.6 miles) almost killing me last year.

Mile time goals for this section are varied. Mile four, which includes the tail end of Broadway and the first terrible hill should be about 8:20. I think mile five should be easier with its rollers, so 8:10. Mile six 8:15.

Part III: Flying Down Barbur: Right almost smack dab at the mile six marker you are rewarded with downhill for pretty much the final 3.33 miles. Aside from a slight uphill around mile 7 (if I remember correctly, this is running onto a onramp "flyover" type deal) the course is pretty much downhill. When it first goes downhill it's almost too steep to take advantage of, but after that it is a more gradual decline that begs to be attacked. And attack I will. I hope my legs have gotten stronger over the last year and I can better attack these final miles. Last year I was a little wiped at this point to really take advantage. Mile times for these final three are hopefully 7:05, 7:05, 7:05. Anything below that is gravy.


"A" Goal: Sub 1:11:00. The mile times listed above are basically goal times if I am trying to his this goal. Kind of a best case scenario thing and pretty ambitious. If you add up all that time, assuming a final stretch pace of 7:00/mile, and a course ran of 9.50 miles, it's 1:11 on the nose.

"B" Goal: New 15k PR at 1:12:20. I can live with a new PR, although if I don't get my sub 1:11, I'll be very focused on a sub 1:12. So even if I PR at 1:12:05, I'll be a little disappointed.

"C" Goal: My "A" goal at my first 15k last year, which was sub 1:15. For whatever reason, if I'm just not feeling it, I'd still like to come in under 1:15. I'll be disappointed, sure, but this is still sub 8:00/mile and the course is notoriously hard. Live to race another day.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014


Hopefully I like the model 13s and much as the 12s.
Apparently I need to set a reminder for March next year because Brooks appears to clear out their old model Adrenalines at this time. Last year I bought two pairs in March of the model 12 being cleared out and this year I was able to snag a pair of 13s. Same price, $72 each with free shipping. A great deal. Same blue/white color scheme from last time.

I'm super pumped, because I love my Adrenaline shoes but I can't stomach retail price. I bought my last pair of Adrenaline 12's on eBay last summer after the Brooks clearance was over because I wanted a fresh pair for the marathon. Those still only have 100 miles on them because they are were my last pair and I was trying to make them last. I almost want to buy more than two pairs but $144 on the wallet is a big enough hit.

Since the Portland Marathon I've mostly been training in a pair of Nike Structure shoes that I won at PRC. They are the Nike equivalent of the Adrenaline and they are alright. Not as comfortable as the Brooks shoe but I've been able to run in them pain and injury free. They get the job done. I've been planning to buy a couple more pairs since I can get a pass to the employee store and they would only be $60 there, but I'd rather spend $12 more and get the Brooks.

So I think that will be the "shoe plan" going forward. Buy a couple pairs of Brooks when they clear out the old model and then supplement with Nike Structures until the next clearance. I'll give the Nike's credit... I have 435 miles on them and feel like they still have another 100 or so. They seem to be holding up pretty well.

Ran an easy 7 on Monday (9:28/mile). Plan to run again tonight, probably five miles. Then maybe only a 5k tomorrow because I want to rest up for the Shamrock Run on Sunday.

Monday, March 10, 2014


Twenty mile loop and out-and-back from Grand Central Bakery in North Portland.
Saturday was my first twenty mile run of the Vancouver Marathon cycle. I did three in preparation for Portland last fall and I have another three planned for my Vancouver Marathon training (two now). Despite being my first twenty mile run in six months, I wasn't too nervous about it. I had done a couple of 18 mile runs in the weeks prior and knew it wouldn't be too big of an issue.

I went back and read my entries for all three of my twenty mile runs last summer. That first one I was really nervous about! The other two were also what I would call "large events," in that I felt like each one was a significant accomplishment. I guess this time around they feel like "old-hat" ... probably because I've done a marathon and I no longer fear them quite like I used to. I know I can do them, they might suck, but they are totally doable.

I woke up Saturday around 7:15am and got to Grand Central Bakery in North Portland just in time. As usual, I went with the 3:30 group, which runs around 9:45/mile. This run consisted of two parts, an eight mile loop for the first half, then a twelve mile out and back to finish it off. The eight mile loop was not an issue. I left my water bottle in my car and eight miles at 9:45/mile with good company flies by. Felt great.

Once the first loop was done we took a short break at the store. I went to the car to fetch my Gu and water. I ate one Gu and put another in my pocket for the mile 14 turnaround. The break was nice but again once I started up my legs didn't feel as fresh as they did before we stopped. Those five minute breaks tend to be a little hard on me it seems! Took a couple of miles before my legs accepted the fact we were going to be running quite a bit longer.

My "Jerry" face once I was done.
Nothing special to note. Conversation went down as the miles crept upward. Nice to experience the twenty miles with a group of other people... somehow it's not as bad as long as other people are suffering like you. Was looking forward to a brief rest at mile 14 but we ended up not stopping. Looking back, it was good training to just keep moving and eat my Gu on the run, much like I would do during a race.

Didn't feel as fresh this weekend as last during my 18 miler. By mile 14 my legs were complaining and by mile 16 I wanted to chop them off. Had to just grind on. The route along the bluff is nice in that there are very few points you have to stop until you are almost back to the store. So that twelve mile second half was almost "break-less" except in the final mile and a half or so. The stops there for traffic lights were ANNOYING because I just wanted to get done and stopping was just a tease.

Distance was spot on, hit the store with my watch reading 20.05 miles. Legs hurt but I think overall they hurt the least of all my twenty milers. I was able to walk fine the rest of the day. My legs are still worn today (Monday) but they are not sore. Just tired. I'll take it easy at group and then hopefully feel like doing some speedwork on Wednesday.

This weekend's lesson: twenty mile runs are no longer something I need to fear. They are still a challenge and a good accomplishment, but they are not quite the monumental events of the past!

Coming up... preview of Shamrock 15k this weekend. New 15k record here I come!

Friday, March 07, 2014


Okay, that title is a really bad pun, sorry. Last night was the first run where I really tried to dial in my marathon pace. I had been doing marathon pace runs, but I was shooting for +/- 15 seconds, you know, in the general area. Last night I decided I was going to hit as close to 7:55/mile as possible. That is the pace necessary to hit a 3:30 marathon (assuming your Garmin says 26.5 at the end). I don't know if sub 3:30 will be my goal, but for now I am training for that pace.

So this was the first run where I was really checking my watch... a lot. After the first few miles I pretty much learned to ignore it until at least a quarter mile into a lap, where there is enough data to actually have a reasonable lap prediction. My normal 10k course isn't the greatest for this exercise, as trying to hit even miles on uneven terrain means I had to vary my effort more than I would have liked. You can see that in my pace on the graph below.

Anyways, I was able to do it and hit pretty even miles. Now, in a race you'd want to allow variation for the course, but for this exercise, it worked. I was trying to hit certain numbers and was able to do so.

Let's see, my runs earlier in the week... Monday, super slow seven miles. It was the "All Comers Rollercoaster Night" so I was in a pack with people who don't usually do the seven mile route. Ended up at 9:59/mile, so it was a good "recovery jog" after 18 miles the day before. 25 miles in two days! I then rested up well enough to hit a 7:36/mile tempo run at group on Wednesday.

Pretty even splits on my marathon pace run Thursday.

Monday, March 03, 2014


This weekend's eighteen miles around my house in two loops, the first being 8 miles, the second 10.
This weekend my training schedule called for another eighteen miles. I last did eighteen two weeks ago with the Coach Jim group. Unlike that run, I ran this one by myself. Like that run, I got drenched as it was raining the whole time. It was a little more "drizzly" than "rainy" on this weekend's run, but the end result of being out there for three hours was the same... soaked to the bone.

Had to run this one on Sunday because Saturday I went snow tubing up on Mount Hood with Brandon. We won a raffle to go up there through BBBS and it included the free tubing for both of us and also a free lunch. So a really cool deal! Definitely can count that as "cross training" because although there was a "magic carpet" to get to the top of the normal tubing hill, Brandon and I spent most of the day hiking up to the "extreme hill" (and me carrying his tube half the time).

Cross training.
I didn't feel like venturing too far from home Sunday. I figured Fanno Creek would be flooded and didn't really feel like doing some giant loop on the main roads. The main roads already annoy me with the noise and pollution, but when they are wet the noise increases like 3x. So I decided to do my normal 10k loop but extend it to eight miles like I have done in the past. If I did that twice, I'd be at 16 miles, then I would just freestyle another 2.

The first loop went pretty well. Funny how your perspective changes based on the distance you have to do. Normally my 10k loop seems to take forever, but those eight miles went by pretty fast. Seeing my 10k route in the daylight was a novelty so that helped somewhat I'm sure. Plus, the more leisurely long run pace make the whole experience (at least at the beginning) much more enjoyable.

After that first loop I stopped in my house for a quick gulp of water and to apply some Body Glide on my nipples. Really need to start remembering to do that better. Didn't linger for more than a few minutes after experiencing issues with taking a longer break earlier in the year. Back out I went. I was feeling pretty good but decided I better add the extra two miles somewhere along the way and not hit my house at 16 and then have to go and do two more. That would just be cruel.

I ended up adding part of the seven mile "rollercoaster" I run at PRC as that course went right by my course on Murray. I figured quickly in my head that the part I wanted to do was about 2.5 miles and it turned out to be just right. Luckily this part of the rollercoaster isn't really the hilliest part... rolling hills for sure, but I hooked in right after the major pain in the ass hills.

Felt pretty good the whole run. Definitely started to feel it in my legs around mile 16, but for running 18 miles I felt pretty good. Pretty cool I can run that far and still function the rest of the day. The 18 with Coach Jim two weeks ago was also relatively easy. I think I'm ready for my first twenty miler of Vancouver training this weekend. Yikes, I just remembered that I'm running twenty this weekend. I'm ready for it though!

18.05 miles in 2:55:00, 9:42/mile.