Friday, May 30, 2014


The red dot is the scene of the crime.
Alright kids, gather 'round. It's story time. And what do kids like more than poop stories? Nothing, that's what. If ye be squeamish, ye might want to skip this blog post.

So, a couple of factors went into making this special day happen for me. One, an outstanding burrito cart outside my office building. Fuego be thy name and delicious be thy game. They have this habanero sauce that is so spicy and so delicious. Anyways, whenever I eat lunch from this cart I have them load that sauce all over the burrito. My lunch then becomes a disgusting ten minute gorge-fest in my office where I am sweating profusely and using multiple paper towels just to keep the sweat at bay. So delicious and so disgusting. My poor co-workers.

Second, our internet at the office went out. We were released for the day shortly after lunch to go work from home since there was no point in hanging around an office with no connectivity since everything we do tends to rely on the internet. So I went home and "worked" which involved me laying on the recliner with my work laptop and slowly falling asleep. I finally rose from the dead just in time for run group. I chugged a Coca-Cola on my way there, trying to perk myself up.

Now, I never drink regular Coke. I never have soda at my house, and if I did, it would be diet. However, I scored a can somehow and it had been sitting in there for a week or so. I was super groggy on my way to run group and thought it might be a good pick me up of energy as I was about to run seven miles. The shot of caffeine and sugar probably wasn't the best for my tummy, which was still a little iffy and growly from the burrito bomb earlier.

I arrive at run group with a stomach that is not so sure about itself. Now, I was under the impression if I had any troubles, it would be tummy troubles, you know, the upper half of me. Anyways, we start off on the run, I'm feeling decent despite my stomach, and we're going along around 8:30/mile. Around mile 2.5 or so my situation takes a turn for the worse. Is my stomach cramping? Is this going to turn into something urgent?

After the turnaround at 3.5 miles there is a slight downhill. The up and down jostling during this period was NOT good. Anyways, it went from "my stomach is kind of iffy, I might have to slow down" to "HOLY SHIT I HAVE TO SHIT" in about two seconds. I announce to my fellow runners I have a burrito disagreeing with me and I'm going to have to walk. They all assume my stomach is just cramping and go on their merry way.

My bowels just over 3.5 miles in.
At first I just try to walk to off. Stay strong Thomas. You've staved off shits before. Nope, nope, not happening. I can't believe this. I have to go shit in the woods. Luckily, I was in a part of the Fanno Creek Trail with decent size wooded area around me. As soon as I make the decision to poop the situation becomes desperate. I have to go like now. I am sprinting into the woods, trying to find a decent place to go. I see a log where I can sit and hang my tooshie over the side so I don't crap all over myself. Perfect.

I'll spare you the details, but it was intense and it wasn't solid. Luckily it all went on the ground and nowhere else. About fifteen seconds into the ordeal I realize anybody walking on the path has a direct view of me. Although I am in the woods, I am not hidden at all. There's really nothing I can do. I just pray nobody else comes down the trail. Luckily the trail remains vacant as I finish up and waddle deeper into the woods to find some nice, soft leaves.

Alright, let's wrap things up. I find some leaves, pray they aren't going to give me a rash, and clean up. I take the walk of shame past my creation back to the trail. Bears shit in the woods and so does Thomas. I get back to the trail, take a deep breath, and start running again. SO MUCH BETTER. The rest of the run went great and I no longer had tummy trouble. I couldn't believe what just happened though. Luckily, when I got back, nobody asked me if I was okay or what happened. So they are none the wiser. Shhhhh.

That's my poop story and a first for me! I'm so lucky I was near the woods and able to go. Many parts of the trail are open park with nowhere to hide. What if it had been the winter route where we just run through the neighborhoods? This was bad, but it could have been a lot worse!

Tuesday, May 27, 2014


Finishing up in record time. Year three of the Rum Run 10.2k is in the books.
Well, another successful race is in the books and I did a lot better than I expected. I wasn't quite sure I'd be able to hit under 45 minutes and I ended up almost cracking 44 minutes. Despite the long course, I really enjoyed this race for the third time. I ended up getting 2nd in my age group so in addition to a shiny new PR I also got a medal to commemorate the run.

Things didn't start out so well race day morning. Nothing in particular went wrong, I was just really, really nervous. It wasn't quite the normal nervous excitement, it was more of a nervous fear and dread. I knew I was going to have to run my ass off and it was going to suck, and even then I might not get what I was ultimately shooting for. I choked down a banana and yogurt but wanted to throw up the entire time.

And they're off! I'm the one with horrible posture.
I felt a little bit better once I got the start line and picked up my race packet. Libbie came to cheer me on (she didn't race this year), so it was nice to hang out with her to distract myself from the race starting. I arrived around 45 minutes before the start of the race and once I picked my packet up time seemed to go by pretty fast. Before I knew it I was in the chute ready to go. This is when the fear and dread started to return.

They actually started the race on time this year, so at 8:30am I was running my little (okay, big) ass off. I hate standing there when they are counting down the time, I was dreading the start so much, but once we were off that all went away. I was now on a mission... these 45 minutes would suck, but they would be temporary.

My goal was to hit about a 7:00 pace on the nose, knowing I had to get a 7:05 overall average to get my under 45 minute goal time. I tried to not look at my watch the first quarter mile or so, instead just running what felt right and following the people in front of me. When I finally looked down I was running a 6:30 average pace. Yikes! I dialed it back a little. It felt okay at the moment, but I knew that was not sustainable.

New course this year, still long at 6.35 miles.
Hit the first mile in 6:54 (last year was 6:56, so basically the same). It didn't feel too difficult, but it was certainly a challenge. I was having a problem trying to hit 7:00, it seemed like I was either going 7:30 or 6:45. Eventually I was able to settle in at the correct pace.

This year we had about a quarter mile or so through a barkdust trail in the woods at Cook Park (same "off road" section as the HoHo 5k). Wasn't expecting that, so it threw me for a little bit of a loop. Was averaging 6:55 on my mile going into that section and 7:20 when I came out. I suspected my GPS lost me a little bit and I didn't slow THAT much, but still, it was a tad concerning. Was I going to fall off big time after my fast start?

My watch didn't beep until a good 100 yards or so after the mile two marker, so it definitely did lose me a bit. Mile time was 7:01. Still on pace, but getting fairly winded because I picked it up quite a bit after the woods to try and get that mile time down. Next mile was through some paved Cook Park paths, then out into the adjacent neighborhood and uphill to Durham Road. This mile came in at 7:12.

Right before the final lap around the lake.
At this point my average page is getting close to 7:05. I've just ran uphill and I'm sucking air and wanting the whole thing to be over. It's only half done. In my head I am crafting my "I had to slow down and didn't PR" blog post. Luckily, the long, boring, straight run along Durham road actually helped me. It was a mile and a half of just straight road, nothing to think about. I was able to focus on my breathing and regain my senses. Mile four 7:02. Maybe I can do this.

Mile five included the final uphill stretch of the race. I was kind of sad Durham was over, but I knew once I climbed the hill it would be another straight stretch were I could regain my senses. When climbing that final incline I looked around me. Skinny guy in official looking singlet with shaved legs. Two young women who looked like college track athletes. An older gentleman in his 50s with long legs and a body that just screamed "runner." And me. I don't think of myself as a great or natural runner, so the fact I was hanging with these people five miles in was a boost of energy.

That second to last mile came in at 7:10. At this point I'm averaging like 7:02/mile, so pretty close to that 45 minute mark. I'm confident though. I know I have a downhill, and despite my lungs burning and screaming, my legs feel pretty good. I can attack that downhill and the race will be over in less than ten minutes. I'm almost there, a PR is in my sights.

2nd place male aged 25-29.
And attack I did. Felt awesome on that downhill portion and carried that momentum into the flatter final stretch. 6:47 final mile. Average pace of 6:33/mile around the lake. Pocket of people cheering for me at the beginning of the lake loop (Libbie, Megan, Steve, and Michelle). My mom and dad were near the finish line and I was able to high five them seconds before crossing. It was over! I got a new PR!

I was expecting a 44:30 or so, turns out my watch said 44:02. Official results pegged it at 44:01. So almost under 44 on the long course. If the course were actually a 10k, I would have ran a 43:20 or so. Awesome time! Average pace below seven minutes a mile too. On a 10k! Holy crap! Take a look at my progression over the years:

Rum Run 2012 2013 2014
Time 47:31 45:56 44:01
Pace 7:29/mi 7:14/mi 6:56/mi
Age Div 6/27 4/24 2/25

Solid! Honestly thought there was no way I'd be running this thing under seven minutes a mile. Turns out I was second in my age division so I waited around for the awards ceremony, which took FOREVER. Really pissed me off. They did not have their shit together. Looked like the results company, AA Sports, was the culprit for the delay. So after standing around twiddling our thumbs for over an hour they finally got to them. Worth the wait though!

Official Results: 44:01, 6:56/mile. 27/569 overall, 21/208 male, 2/25 M25-29.

Friday, May 23, 2014


I've been enjoying my "time off" from marathon training. Which, honestly, is not that much different than marathon training. The main difference is I won't be running above half marathon distance for my long run and feel a little less pressure to get speed work in. I'm still getting in 25+ miles though, so it's not like I'm slacking off! Marathon training will start again in about a month, so no rest for the weary!

Meanwhile, I'll be bombing two races trying to get new PRs. The Souls2Soles 5k on June 7th, and then the Rum Run this Sunday. This will be year three of the Rum Run (2012 here, 2013 here) and perhaps my last if they don't fix the course distance. It really fucking annoys me, I had another conversation with the race company on their Facebook page, and they basically said "yeah, it's long, we don't care, it works better logistically this way" yada yada yada. Well I'll love that after running my ass off to get 7:05 miles and having my average pace show up 7:14 on the official results.

Deep breath. Okay. There is a new course this year but the territory is certainly not new to me. A lot of the course actually remains unchanged, however they have removed the Durham neighborhood hills and popped us out on Durham Road almost near 99W instead. This is certainly less scenic, but it might be slightly faster. After hitting Durham there is a nice gradual downhill, followed by a quick uphill, followed by more gradual downhill. Might lend to a faster time.

Same downhill finish on Boones Ferry and then around the lake. Course is 6.35 miles long, so I'll be looking to run the best tangents I can. I was hoping the 6.35 number was because they had us running in the middle of the road, etc. No. If you go to their official Map My Run (where my course image is from) they traced the tangents very well. This is a solid 6.35 miles, no fluff to cut off.

First two miles are relatively flat. Might take the first one a tad easier just to ease into the race and then try to attack the second. The third mile is mostly uphill with a total gain of 90 feet, so not bad at all. Mile 3 to about 4.5 is a nice slow downhill, so I'll try to attack that. Then the final uphill in the race, when you turn the corner onto Boones Ferry. I've ran that before, it's not too bad, but 4.5 miles into a race pace 10k will put a new perspective on it.

So after that final 80 foot gain it's mostly downhill to the lake and then a flat finish around the lake. Like last year, I'm hoping to have something in the tank for a quick sprint around the lake. We'll see though, I'm going to be racing this one pretty hard, so if all I can do is maintain a 7:00/mile, then whatever. I have a feeling I might be cutting it close with my "A" goal though, so a sprint could be in the works.

On Monday at run group I did a 10k at near race pace. Averaged 7:21/mile. It was killer! Now, it was 75 and sunny out, so I have to take that into account. I did leave a little out there though, so that gives me hope I can PR this race.


"A" Goal: New 10k PR, which conveniently is under 45:00. If this course was an actual 10k, my main goal would be sub 44, but basically I'll have to run sub 44 to get a sub 45 because of the long course. I'll be thrilled with anything starting with a 44, which is 7:05/mile or less on this course.

"B" Goal: Get a new PR for this race. So 45:56 (last year's time) or less. Will be nice to know I'm still a little bit faster. Last year's course was also long at exactly 6.35 miles, so they will be comparable despite the somewhat different course.

"C" Goal: Run hard and try my best. Have fun. Maybe I blow up at mile 5 after that uphill. Who knows. There is no shame as long as I try my best.

Monday, May 19, 2014


I ended up deciding on my Fourth of July holiday race and also added a local 5k to try and set a new PR. I updated the race schedule post from a week ago, but I'll mention them briefly here:

Soles2Souls on June 7th - Small, local 5k... shooting for a new PR.
Stars and Stripes Half Marathon on July 5th - Chose this over Foot Traffic. Price and convenience won out. Will be shooting for a PR.

I'm excited to finally have those set in stone. That should be pretty much it until Portland. I have enough races and enough distances to keep me busy. When I start training for my fall marathon I'll have to work them into my training schedule, but that shouldn't be an issue.

Running last week:

Monday: 6.5 miles at 8:53/mile. Felt okay. My first run of consequence after the marathon.
Tuesday: Off! Started bowling league on Tuesdays, so definitely a permanent day off through the summer.
Wednesday: 7.0 miles in 90F heat at 8:35/mile. Felt good despite the heat. Felt like I might finally be back after the marathon.
Thursday: 3.1 miles at 10pm whilst highly buzzed/slightly drunk. Not recommended. Felt like I was really seasick and the whole thing was just terrible. Barf.
Friday: 6.2 miles at 9:05/mile. This started as a "recovery jog" but ended up going from a 9:44 first mile to a 8:33 final mile. Trying to save up for Saturday.
Saturday: Decided on ten miles. Funny how much I was dreading it considering it was "only" ten miles. I dragged my feet and while catching up on blogs, noticed Runs for Cookies (Katie) had ran 10 miles the day before in 1:33:12 (9:18/mile). So I made it my goal to beat that. Ended up finishing in 1:32:28 (9:13/mile). Whatever gets my ass out the door.

My future?
Oh! So, during my long run on Saturday a bird tried to land on my fucking head. I was about six miles into the run and minding my own business and all of a sudden a bird comes screaming toward me. I, naturally, expect to it avert me once it gets close, but nope, it fucking flaps right in and LANDS ON MY FUCKING HEAD. Anyways, about a second after landing it realizes it's not where it's supposed to be and kind of freaks out and flies away. I could feel it's claws on my head and it definitely bitch-slapped me with a wing on takeoff.

Proudly, I did not break stride, although profanity was uttered. Anywho, when I got home I showered and then headed straight to Great Clips. I knew my hair was getting a little shaggy, but I didn't quite think it looked like a bird nest. Guess that bird begs to differ.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014


After the Vancouver Marathon I didn't run again for a whole week, until the very next Sunday. I had planned to at least take four or five days off, not necessarily seven, but I decided I should give my body the chance to heal up properly. I was sore Monday and Tuesday but like Portland, felt much better on Wednesday following the race. I could tell there was still some healing going on though, so I decided not to push.

That first run back sucked! Like after Portland, I only did a 5k, and also like after my first marathon, it felt extremely hard and long (okay, #). My watch was fucking up again when I started the run so I stopped and completely rebooted it. I never turn it all the way off and back on again. Well, that snapped it right back to normal and working. Should have done that in Vancouver! I felt super winded and out of shape and did those three miles at 8:58/mile. A very long 28 minutes.

The day after I went to run group at PRC and did 6.5 miles at 8:53/mile. It felt a little easier but it was also a lot flatter. Certainly a little harder than that pace should feel for me. I was able to get them done however and felt good afterward. So slowly working my way back into things. I took Tuesday off, like usual, and will try to do seven tonight at run group, hopefully a little faster. Not sure what I'll do this weekend, if I'll do a "long run" or just do like a 10k and call it good. Probably should try for at least eight miles.

Gotta get my legs back quick, the Rum Run is only eleven days away!

Monday, May 12, 2014


These posts are really for me because I use my brain as my scheduling assistant and am not the best at remembering things sometimes. I should really fire myself. That might be a PR mess though. Anyways, since I am now done with the cycle of races I laid out in my last schedule post, it is time for a new one!

I present to you, my post Vancouver Marathon race schedule:

May 25th, 2014 - Rum Run 10k
Year three of the Rum Run. Unfortunately, this course is actually around 10.2k. I even pinged the race company on Facebook and asked them if they were going to fix it... indeed, they unveiled a new course(!)... that was also identically long. WTF guys, seriously? Oh well, it's a fun event and I might still set a PR in the process, but wish they knew how to measure.

June 7th, 2014 - Soles2Souls 5k
Late addition to the race schedule. During my little "break" before I have to start training for Portland again I wanted to try and set new PRs in the 10k and 5k. This is a small, local, chip timed race that goes to a good cause. It's also on the Fanno Creek Trail, so I'm familiar with the course and it should be flat and fast. Only concern is organization but for $12 it's worth a shot!

June 21st, 2014 - Bald Peak Half Marathon
Not a course to set a PR on, so I'll be taking this run for fun. It was pretty cheap when I signed up, something like $45, and that includes a tech tee and pancake and bacon feast at the end of the race. Yum! In addition to a 1,164 foot climb over the first few miles about half of it is also ran on gravel. Will be kind of nice to run it semi-hard but without PR pressure.

July 5th, 2014 - Stars and Stripes Half Marathon
Finally decided to do the Stars and Stripes again over the Foot Traffic Flat. Foot Traffic lost out because of the larger price tag and notorious traffic fiasco. I just would really rather not wake up at 4am and battle traffic when I could sleep in until 7:30am and drive two miles the next day for half the cost. Technically I will be defending my title but I'm sure local fasties will notice the lack of speed last year and sign up hoping to win, so no repeat is in the cards.

July 13th, 2014 - Outdoor Sunday Evenings 5k Fun Run
I already signed up Brandon and his dad for this race again, so it should be fun times. This is the "only $5 but we are going to jam your race packet with a Jesus DVD" race put on by my local church. Preach away for $5 though! Great deal and a good community event that has a free BBQ dinner afterward. Super good deal. Likely won't be running this one fast as I'll be pacing Brandon to a new PR hopefully!

August 2nd, 2014 - Crawfish Crawl Half Marathon
Excited about this one! Just signed up a few days ago. This is in my hometown of Tualatin. There has been the Crawfish Crawl 5k to go along with the Crawfish Festival for years, but this year they are adding a 10k and half marathon to the mix. I decided to sign up for the half. I don't know the course yet, but it should be a fun race and another chance to hit one hard if Foot Traffic doesn't go great.

September 7th, 2014 - Pints to Pasta 10k
Excited to run this race again. Hopefully it won't be the day after a twenty mile training run like last year, but my marathon training schedule will take priority. I'd like to run this race someday super fresh... the downhill course really lends itself to a 10k PR. It should still be a solid opportunity to set a PR, considering my only other 10k will likely be the long course Rum Run.

September 28th, 2014 - Corvallis Fall Festival 5k
Where it all started. This will be my FOURTH year running this race. Holy cow! It will be the weekend before the Portland Marathon again, so it will be a little tough to juggle my desire to run hard with properly tapering and staying fresh for the marathon. I'm thinking about picking up a cheap, local 5k sometime during the summer (later edit: done, Soles2Souls), but if not, this will be the only 5k I'll race to date in 2014!

Thursday, May 08, 2014


After coming back to my senses.
Overall I had a great time at the Vancouver Marathon. I would like to do this race again at some point in the future... it won't be an every year type deal, it's a little bit of a haul for that, but I'd like to try it again with a functioning watch and some better weather.

I received a lot of sympathy for not getting 3:30 and honestly that didn't bug me at all! I would have really liked that, yes, but considering everything I was thrilled to get 3:33. Sub 3:30 will probably be more of a focus for the Portland Marathon this fall. Until then, I'll enjoy my three and a half minute PR! Coming up that final hill I wasn't even sure I PRed and at that point I couldn't have cared less. To see 3:33 on the clock when I finished was amazing!

So during the race and immediately after I was not in love with the marathon. Lots of four letter words were said. Well, as they say, time heals all wounds. I look back fondly at this race now. Seawall Thomas hates me, but he was in a crabby mood. I'm not about to run a bunch of marathons, I still think one or two a year will be fine, but I do enjoy the challenge and would like to keep trying to work my time down.

This race also gave me an appreciation for the Portland Marathon in that it's in my own backyard. I am not the best tourist and get what they call the ye olde "traveler's bowel." Which means my body doesn't like to poop away from it's home base. It's been on Oprah. ANYWAYS, thankfully I didn't have to go during the race, but my body did finally relent once we got back to the hotel.

In addition to running the race a little "heavier" than I would have liked, another less gross part of me being a bad tourist is I really suck at sleeping in different beds, especially if someone else is in the room. I used to be able to fall asleep anywhere, any time, with any noise. Now I cannot stand the sound of other people breathing and snoring sends me into a rage of a thousand suns. So sleeping noises plus not the most comfortable hotel bed plus race anticipation equals not happy Thomas. I was amazed I was able to sleep as much as I did, but it wasn't the best sleep and I kept waking up.

Long story short, I'll look forward to Portland and sleeping in my own bed, pooping in my own toilet, etc. I feel like with another summer of training and a working watch I'll be able to have another strong race this fall. I do have to get used to being a better traveler though, as I'd like to do Detroit, Chicago, New York, etc. So time to buck up, increase my fiber intake, and hire Michael Jackson's doctor to give me some sleeping "milk."

I look forward to doing some shorter distance races this late spring and summer. I'll have a post here soon about my upcoming races, which should keep me busy until the Portland Marathon. Hopefully I keep getting faster and can keep setting PRs!

Tuesday, May 06, 2014


Hmmm, the weather didn't QUITE look like this, but it was a true Northwesterners' marathon.
*this post may be updated in the future with more/different photos... working with what I have at the moment to get it up (#)*

Marathon #2 is in the books and I have a shiny new PR. It wasn't the perfect race and I didn't quite enjoy this one like I did Portland, but I cut three and a half minutes off my personal best despite all that. Fair warning, this post might be quite lengthy.


Nothing too amazing to report. Got off work Friday and Alejandro met me at the office so we could drive up to his in-law's house in Burlington, Washington. About a four hour drive. Got there in time to watch the fourth quarter of the Blazers game and see Damian Lillard's series clenching three point shot live. Fan-freaking-tastic. They were really nice people and I was able to get around eight hours of sleep Friday night.

Peace Arch at the border of USA and Canada.
We woke up, had breakfast at a really yummy place called the Burlington Café, then headed toward the border. We took the Interstate 5 Peace Arch border crossing into Canada. This was my first time ever crossing the border by car, so that was a unique experience. Took about 45 minutes to get through and after a small grilling by the Canadian border guy we were in the land of kilometers and flashing green stop lights (still trying to figure that one out).

Next we checked into our hotel, the Patricia, which was located in a slightly shady area that the homeless liked to populate. Room was cheap and clean though, so really it wasn't so bad. After walking to Canada Place for the expo, which was well done, we met my parents for dinner. They came up for the weekend to cheer me on and just make a trip out of it. So glad they were there! One safely non-spicy Thai meal later we headed back to the hotel to sleep.


We woke up at 6:00am. I was probably asleep by midnight, which meant I got a solid six hours of sleep before the race. Honestly, not bad. I think I only got four for Portland. We ended up taking Bus #3 which went straight down Main Street toward the park. There were other runners on it as well and the anticipation was building. We hopped off at a stop and ate breakfast at Tim Horton's. I've always wanted to go there, because Canadians seem to love it, and it was good. Had a turkey sausage McMuffin type thing with a hashbrown and coffee.

The start of the 2014 BMO Vancouver Marathon!
Next we hopped back on the bus and to the starting line. I thought it was pretty well organized. Unlike Portland, where you had to head into your corral to use the bathroom and do bag check, all those were in a communal area here. Waited ten minutes at most to go pee and the bag check was a breeze. Well done. The corrals weren't really sectioned off, you were just expected to go to your correct spot and most everyone seemed to be in the right spot as I didn't have to weave around anybody.

Overall I wasn't nearly as nervous this time around. At the Portland Marathon I was a bundle of nerves and really just freaking out. I guess I was more confident this time around... I was still a little nervous, but I knew I could do it and was ready to get rolling. After the usual pre-race announcements and national anthem we were ready to go off! The weather was 50 degrees and very cloudy with off and on showers. By the end of the race I was soaked.

FIRST 10K: FEELING GOOD! (~7:40/mile)

This is from later on along the seawall, but
it gives you an idea of the conditions.
Why don't I have splits? Funny you should ask. My watch had the hardest time getting satellite reception. I really should have synced it to my new location the day before to make sure it worked. It was very cloudy, and they were thick, low clouds, but still, I would expect a $250 watch to be able to adjust. The most frustrating part is when I got home and uploaded the workout it was sort of tracking me successfully. From what I could see race day though, it would flash a not very accurate pace every ten seconds or so and overall it wasn't giving me any useful stats. I think it was catching the satellite here and there but nothing continuous.

Anyways, this basically meant I was flying blind. For planning to run a very specific pace the entire training cycle and then not having the ability to know if you were hitting that... not the greatest. But whatever. I did have my pace band and an overall time though, which was my backup. Unfortunately my pace band was in miles and the mile signs were only every five, so it was a pretty shitty way to be up to date on your current pace.

I ran the first 18k with Alejandro knowing he'd be going my pace or just slightly faster. He was talking about taking it easier in the first half so he could attack the second half better so I figured better sticking with him than running blind. I asked him for updates from time to time and they seemed to be coming back around 7:40-7:45/mile. I was planning to run 7:55/mile or so, but I felt good, so I just went with it. Mistake.

The course at this point was as expected. Nice run through large residential streets including a nice downhill before the main hill up the smaller Camosun Street. Later on Alejandro noticed one of those downhill miles was actually in the 7:20s, so yeah, a little fast. We did do the hill at like 8:05 though. There was good crowd support on the hill and it wasn't TOO bad.


I think I was right behind these guys in Pacific Spirit Park...
After the hill we ran through Pacific Spirit Park and that was very pretty. Was able to get right back on pace after the hill and was still feeling good. My legs felt excellent and it was my lungs that were struggling a little. Perfect way to feel during a marathon though! By the time I crossed the mile 10 mark and checked it against my pace band I realized I had a three minute cushion on a 3:30 marathon pace. This was really the first point I realized I might be going unsustainably fast.

Right before kilometer 13 we had the out and back portion of the race, or as I loudly announced "the OOT and back!" God, Canadians must get so fucking sick of that shit. Sorry guys. Anyways, that was fun as usual. Still with Alejandro at this point. After that we turned right onto 16th Avenue and started running the perimeter of the University of British Columbia.

Pretty campus but it was hard to see much from the road. I lost Alejandro right before the 18th kilometer mark (mile 11) when I pit stopped to use the bathroom. I tried to hold off as long as I could, but I really had to pee. My proper hydration struck again! The stop probably wasn't more than 30 seconds and I could still see Alejandro ahead. I sped up for a second trying to catch him but realized that was stupid as I was already going too fast. I was alone now!

A couple downhill portions on campus that I tried to take advantage off. Once I lost Alejandro I probably slowed a titch, but not much. Maybe averaged 7:45/mile this section but had the thirty second pee break. Legs still felt pretty good and I was eager to hit the half marathon mark and see where I was time wise.


Coming across the Burrard Street Bridge.
Early on in this section I hit the half marathon mark at 1:42:01, which is 7:47/mile. If I were running the pace I planned I should have run a 1:43:45 half marathon. So I was almost two minutes faster than planned. I was on pace for a 3:24 and there was no way in hell I could get a 3:24. Sub 3:30 was going to be hard enough. I tried to slow down a little but I think the damage had been done.

This portion seemed really long. After getting off the campus of UBC we wound around a lot of streets and neighborhoods. Was really looking forward to crossing the bridge because I knew my parents would be at the end of the bridge and I would only have the seawall left to go.

All told I was still feeling pretty good. I was starting to tire a bit though and I knew I might be in for a rough time on the seawall. I just tried not to think about it. Ignorance is bliss. After what seemed like forever we finally hit the bridge. It was a long slog slightly uphill over that bridge. Definitely seemed like a lot more uphill than you got on the backside downhill. It took a little something out of me but I was able to put a pep back in my step because I knew my Mom and Dad would be cheering for me around the corner.

Seeing my parents was a lot of fun. They were stationed around mile 19 and I was still feeling alright when I saw them. Definitely hovering around 8:00/mile in this portion. I was able to run over to the side of the road and give them a high five. Wohoo! Unfortunately, a few blocks later the seawall started and the excitement faded as the race caught up with me. I really started to doubt I could finish without blowing up.

Mile twenty, start of the seawall.

The seawall is a solid six miles of pedestrian trail along the edge of Stanley Park. Basically zero spectators along this portion, nothing but park and bay. Couldn't see very well due to the weather, which had picked up into a steady rain and wind to make things even more miserable. At mile twenty I was still about two minutes ahead of my 3:30 pace band and I made it a good two miles along the seawall before things started to come apart.

First, the 3:30 pace bunnies passed me around mile 22. That was a big mental downer. I think they may have finished like a minute ahead of pace though because I know my own pace hadn't dropped off that much to eat up two minutes in two miles. I kept them in sight for a while but they slowly faded away. I took an extended walking break through the next water station... no more than fifteen seconds, but it happened.

I tried to make it to the next water station without walking but I just couldn't. The too fast first half was catching up with me hard core. I just was zapped of all energy and my legs were starting to hurt as well. Honestly, I am proud of the way I managed this. I maybe walked for twenty seconds then ground it out to the next water station. Took a nice extended walk through there, then starting running again.

Mile 23.
In all I took maybe like five walk breaks. No more than thirty seconds a piece and some solid minutes of running in between. Let's round up and say I walked for three minutes. I could have ran that distance in a minute and a half. So all told my walking cost me 90 seconds on my time. I will fucking take that. I don't think I could have physically ran the entire thing without passing out or hitting the wall or something.

Now, my running had slowed to probably like 9:00/mile or so, but it was steady and grinding. I wanted to finish so badly. That fucking seawall would not end, as I expected. I questioned paying $150 to do this race, the whole marathon thing in general, running in general, the purpose of life, etc. Okay, not that last one, but still. I was SO RELIEVED when that seawall was done.


So part of this was still along the seawall but by this part you could see downtown and the finish line was definitely near. Right around the end of the seawall there was a sign that said "One Kilometre To Go." There was no way I was walking any more at that point.

The course finally darted downtown. The homestretch was many, many blocks uphill. Not the steepest incline, but certainly nothing to sneeze at. You could see the finish line from like five blocks away, a little blue arch way in the distance. It seemed to take forever to get there, but honestly, I kind of liked this part. I was grinding like no other but I was on a mission now and I knew relief was near.

Finish line fist pump.
Crossing that finish line was an amazing feeling. To know it was finally over was the best part. The second best part was knowing I had set a solid PR. I crossed the start line a mere twenty seconds after the gun went off, so I knew the clock at the finish line was close to accurate. It was 3:33 something when I crossed and I couldn't have been happier. Eff yeah. Regardless of outcome, finishing a marathon is an amazing feeling.


Well, the chute was interesting. I was in rough shape. I was limping around slowly and having a miserable time. My legs felt even worse than my first marathon. Again, I blame the too fast start for this fun time. After limping around to get food my parents spotted me from the other side of the fence and I limped over to say hi. I couldn't hide the pain I was in. It was terrible. If I was a crier I would have been crying. I wanted to cry, was open to crying, my body just doesn't cry unless someone dies or I watch My Dog Skip.

Eventually I limped around and got my bag check with my coat and sweats. It took every ounce of energy to get those on me. I then needed to sit or lay down, like pronto. So I ended up laying in the middle of the street on my back (luckily they had given me a sheet of plastic for warmth I could lay on). It felt amazing. I laid there for about ten minutes, my parents watching on from the other side of the fence concerned.

I gathered enough strength to get up and finally limp out of the chute and meet my parents in person. A hug and a kiss from each and then, guess what, I needed to rest again, like now. I found some steps and plopped down. I started shaking a lot and apparently I was pale and my lips were semi-purple. My core temperature was coming down and even though I had sweats and a jacket I was still pretty cold in the 50 and drizzle.

I then suddenly announced I needed to go inside somewhere and get warm, pronto. We were able to find an office building next to the finish that had left their lobby open. Thank you Canada. Inside I was able to sit on the floor and get warm and stop violently shaking, much to my mother's pleasure. My dad went and got me a hot chocolate. By the time I consumed that and sat in the warmth for twenty minutes I was back to normal. Not dying today, thank you very much!

Originally Alejandro and I planned to walk back to the hotel but there was no way in hell that was going to happen, so after saying goodbye to my parents (so glad they were there!) we were able to catch a taxi back to the hotel. Best $8.40 CAD ever. Naps ensued.

Anyways, I'll have another post with more reflections but I'll end this now before it gets even longer. Overall I am super happy with my result. It wasn't quite what I hoped, my watch not working really screwed things up, but despite that I got a three minute PR and left it all out there.

Official Chip Time: 3:33:16, 8:08/mile. 554/4933 overall, 455/2817 male, 83/367 M25-29.

Thursday, May 01, 2014


Vancouver BC! The final seven miles will consist of crossing the uppermost bridge on the left and then running along the
seawall that borders Stanley Park on the Burrard Inlet before wandering downtown.
My second full marathon is nearly here. I'm freaking out a little about it... even though I have already finished one, last October seems like forever ago and all the fears about can I actually do it, how much is it going to suck, etc. have crept back. I can and will do it though! The only way this anticipation and nervousness is going to go away is about mile three of the marathon itself.

The Vancouver Marathon will have 5,000 runners, so it will be a little smaller than Portland which had 7,000 starters last year. The Seattle Marathon only had 2,000 finishers this last year. So surprisingly, Portland is the largest marathon in the Pacific Northwest and I'd venture to guess that Vancouver is the second largest. So I'm excited to do another big race and hope Vancouver goes as well as Portland did!

Course map from 2013. Basically unchanged.

Alejandro and I will start driving north after I get done with work on Friday. We're going to pit stop at his in-laws house about an hour north of Seattle. So it will be a four hour drive or so and then we'll spend the night there. On Saturday we'll sleep in, have breakfast, then drive the final 90 minutes or so across the border into Canada. This will actually be my first time in Canada since 2002 and my first visit to British Columbia.

We'll visit the expo on Saturday and generally stay low key. My parents will actually be in Vancouver, BC so we might meet them for dinner or something. The race doesn't start until 8:30am on Sunday morning (score!) so we'll probably wake up around 6:30 or so and then take the bus to the start line. The course is more of a point to point, which should be unique and fun.


I'm not familiar with Vancouver BC at all so the course itself will be somewhat of a surprise to me. Payback for the mystery run I led everyone on? I've Google Street Viewed a couple parts of the course to try and get familiar with things though so it won't be a total surprise. Here is my basic understanding of the course:

The start of last year's race!
Miles One Through Six

We start in Queen Elizabeth Park on what looks like a two lane road, which might be interesting given the size of the field. Anyways, we aren't in there long, as we then dump onto Cambie Street and head south. Cambie looks like a nice wide avenue with three lanes in each direction and a grassy median in the middle. Should be able to get my legs here. Slight rollers at most. We then turn right onto 49th Avenue, which is a wide two lane road that wanders through what looks like mostly a residential area.

Almost five miles straight on 49th Avenue but a good three or so should be downhill. A chance to bank a little bit of time here. I'll have to make sure not to go too fast as the last thing I need to do is trash my legs this early. We eventually wander toward the University of British Columbia and Pacific Spirit Park by taking Camosun Street, which looks like a cute lightly used residential road... unfortunately this also contains the major hill in the race. All told we gain about 230 feet in two miles or so. Honestly, for me, not that bad at all. Certainly doable.

Part of the run through Pacific Spirit Park.
Miles Seven Through Fifteen

A bigger chunk of miles that will be run through Pacific Spirit Park and the campus of UBC. There is one part where we run on Imperial Drive through the park that looks really pretty, just trees on either side! We then hook onto 16th Avenue, a four lane road with median that looks pretty nice. Will be fun to run the edges of UBC and compare it to other universities. The majority of this part of the race should be pretty flat.

At one point there is a small out and back to get the appropriate mileage. I'm actually looking forward to that. It's a kilometre at the most (look, I'm Canadian!) and it's always fun to briefly see those ahead/behind you and cheer them on. Other than that, nothing much else sticks out from this part of the race. Just a scenic run around the park and campus. There is a nice downhill right before the half marathon mark where we get to ride out all of those 230 feet we gained. I should be feeling good through this section of the race; if not, I'm in a for a long day.

Burrard Street Bridge at dawn.
Miles Sixteen Through Nineteen

After exiting the campus and getting that nice downhill stretch the rest of the course is pretty flat. Looks like some rollers for sure, but nothing major. Once off campus we once again wander around on mostly residential two lane roads. Overall there doesn't appear to be any industrial sections in the race like Portland has, only residential, park, and downtown. So it should be fairly scenic! Although, come mile eighteen, more houses isn't really going to tickle my fancy.

One of the highlights of the race will be in this section, crossing the Burrard Street Bridge. This comes right before mile nineteen of the race. That should be fun and we'll have a great view of the Vancouver skyline. It should put a pep in my step right when I'm starting to feel worn down. My parents will be cheering for me right after we get off the bridge around mile 19.5. It will be fun to see them and I'm sure I'll look forward to it all race like I was during Portland. From there they have a mile walk to the finish line... I'll still have almost seven miles.

Part of the seawall portion. Hopefully the race thins out!
Miles Twenty Through Twenty Six

These are going to take forever. They are also the most scenic. So we'll see how that dynamic plays out. Once I see my parents I'll be looking forward to the finish line, but first I get to run six miles along the seawall. Now, normally, running along the seawall would be super cool. The final 10k of a marathon?  We'll see. I hope I am feeling good enough to at least semi-enjoy it.

It looks fairly flat and while the path isn't as wide as a road, the race should be spread out enough at this point to where it's not too crowded. At every turn I'll probably be hoping that we finally break off the seawall and wander downtown to the finish. I'm sure what feels like 89 million turns later it'll actually happen and we'll come streaming downtown for the slight uphill (ugh) finish. Should be a really energetic and fun finish line and super cool to finish right downtown like in Portland.


I'll hobble around, get food, and then hopefully meet Alejandro and my parents. I think Alejandro and I will go back to the hotel, take showers, and then nap. Our hotel is only about a mile away from the finish line so we will probably end up walking there. That should be fun. I did a fair amount of walking after Portland though, and while not my favorite, overall it probably helped to move around a little.

Hoping this holds. Sunday looks perfect!
After that we'll have all of Sunday and part of Monday to explore. We'll see how good we feel. We're making the drive back to Portland in one swoop, so we'll probably leave Vancouver around 3pm to beat traffic on Monday and get home around 8pm. Probably more like 9pm though considering we'll hit Seattle during rush hour.


"A" Goal: Sub 3:30. I give this about a 50/50 chance. This is the pace I will start out at, it will be a matter of whether I can hold it or not. I would be extremely pleased with this time!

"B" Goal: New PR, so sub 3:36:42 and preferably sub 3:35. This is my main goal for the race. It would be awesome to go under 3:30, but if I run a strong race and set a new PR there is nothing I should feel bad about.

"C" Goal: Try my best and finish. The marathon is still kind of an unknown for me. I don't have a ton of experience in them, so it's hard to get a real gauge on my abilities. I know plenty of people that have run dozens of them and every so often they have a terrible race for whatever reason. So as long as I finish and try my best I have nothing to be ashamed of.

Anyways, this might be my final post until the race, so wish me luck!