Monday, June 30, 2014

TERWILLIGER DETOX

Elevation chart from Saturday's long run. Snickering at general shape of chart encouraged.
Sometimes I'm not very smart. Okay, maybe a lot of the time. Friday night was a shining example of this fact. I'm a Portland Timbers season ticket holder and Friday was their home first game in a couple weeks and only one until a few weeks later. So I decided to really enjoy things and live it up. The night before a sixteen mile run. You can see where this is heading.

Anyways, after work I have a couple beers with my co-workers. I then meet Libbie for dinner downtown and have another beer with dinner. We then get to the stadium and I decided to have just one more beer to ease me through the two hour game. If I had stopped there, things probably would have been fine. However, my company was having a team building event on the private party deck (I didn't want to take a ticket from someone to get on there when I already had a ticket), and my co-workers managed to sneak me out multiple free beers from there. It was fun at the time.

Saturday morning and it wasn't so much fun any more. I felt like absolute shit. I still set my alarm for 7:15am to join Portland Marathon Clinic for their 16 mile run. I really enjoyed PMC last year and have been meaning to join them for runs sooner. Anyways, I feel like I want to throw up, I'm running on five hours sleep, I've got a banging headache, but I start driving to the run before I can think about it too much. Along the way I'm thinking of the physics of barfing out the window at 65mph. What if I couldn't pull over in time?

I finally get to the run and have to park about eight blocks away. How am I going to do this, I feel terrible. I just keep reminding myself I can always turn around during the run if I can't physically do it. One thing I'm really worried about is the bathroom situation. I feel a rumble, and after the night before, the product wasn't going to be pretty. Luckily, the track we met at had bathrooms and I took full advantage of that. Thank goodness they had toilet paper.

After that I'm feeling a bit more confident. I still don't feel good, but I'm probably not going to shit my pants now. We get started around 8:10am and while the first few miles kind of sucked (straight uphill), I actually started to feel better the longer the run went. I didn't really realize it before I started running, but this was my longest run since the Vancouver Marathon by two miles. It wasn't an easy course either, up and down Terwilliger. I'm happy to say it went really well though. I started feeling better once I ran and the sixteen miles wasn't a big deal.

All in all pretty encouraging. It was nice to run through my hangover (except a sensitive tummy still, I was good to go afterwards) and finally do another run with PMC. I love the company and the aid stations they provide. I even got to see Shalane Flanagan charging up Terwilliger in the other direction. Man that blob of blonde hair can move! Last week marked the first week of my training for Portland, so I'll have more on that in a little bit. Excited to rev things back up!

Thursday, June 26, 2014

A RUN FOR THE AGES

The few, the proud, the people at run group Wednesday who braved the monsoon.
Before I get into the picture above, let me update you on my ankle. It's getting better but took a step back last night when I ran too fast on it. Running slow on it Monday didn't seem to make it any more angry and it was feeling much better going into Wednesday after the night off Tuesday, but I got suckered into a tempo run and it wasn't until about an hour after the run I could tell I pissed it off a little. Back to running easy until it feels better!

This week I've felt amazingly good after Bald Peak. I really expected to be sore and run down but honestly I felt great on Monday night but took it easy for my ankle. Anyways, yesterday, we get to group run and it's about 70 degrees and VERY humid outside. Very unusual for here. We keep hearing heavy showers are expected, but they've been expected all day and haven't really materialized.

We start the run and kind of hope the rain stays away for another hour. I remarked it was really dark outside for June at 6pm. Well, that's because there were giant, dark clouds and within minutes of starting the run the sky opens up and it begins to absolutely downpour. It rained TWO INCHES in the course of an hour, that hour just happening to be during our group run. After that hour it sprinkled at the most. So we timed it perfectly... not.

Long story short, we got absolutely drenched. Basically like we jumped into a swimming pool. Light streams of water across the path were small rivers by the time we came back on the out-and-back. It was crazy and 100% fun. It was warm enough where we weren't cold and it was just absolutely ridiculous to be outside in that. Rain like that hasn't happened in a long time and it was actually a lot of fun to run in!

I am ready for summer though. We had a couple good weeks of weather, now we just need to shake this and really get summer going.

Monday, June 23, 2014

2014 BALD PEAK HALF MARATHON RACE REPORT

A bunch of PRCers at the finish line. I don't think I've ever known so many people at a race!
The Bald Peak Half Marathon certainly lived up to the hype. It was a very unique race and one I'm glad I decided to do. I also did a lot better than I thought I would and enjoyed the challenging course. Despite technically being my worst half marathon time, I would have to say this was probably my best effort at the half marathon distance and I'm extremely thrilled with my performance.

An early wakeup call was in order as the race started at 7:30am. Thankfully I live only 25 minutes from the start line at Hagg's Tree Farm so I was able to sleep in until 6:30 and depart at 6:45am. I had a doughnut and iced coffee on the way there. Probably not the best breakfast, but I didn't have to "deal" with it until after the race, so it worked out. Packet pickup was a breeze, Libbie was volunteering and had my stuff ready before I even reached the table.

My big, fat, bruised ankle I ran a half on.
I had rolled my ankle really bad playing basketball the day before and that was a big concern going into this race. It hurt somewhat and when I'd walk I was limping, but I seemed to be able to run still (based on little ten step jogs I did at home to see if it would scream in pain). I hoped that once the race started my ankle would "warm up" and allow me to run on it... if not, I was prepared to walk back to the start after a mile or two. I basically just tried to pretend nothing was wrong.

After putting on my bib I met up with some people I knew and just chatted until the race started. I thought the race was the perfect size, around 200, and it only contained a half marathon so we were all in it together. Since I only had twenty minutes or so after arriving before the race started the start came very quick. Before I knew it I was off to tackle the beast that is the Bald Peak Half.

THE FIRST TWO MILES (10:03, 10:20)

Up the hill during the first two miles of the race.
It was no joke about those first two miles being all uphill. After about fifty feet of flat after crossing the line the course started upward and it did not stop until right about the mile two sign. While it sucked having to run up the hill for two miles to start, it was also kind of a nice way to get into the race. There was no pressure to really bomb up it, everyone knew there was so much more to go after this hill, so it was just a steady grind up the hill. My breathing was labored but I felt like I could maintain my pace until the top of the hill.

My pace was slightly above 10:00/mile, so nothing very fast. I was climbing 400 feet a mile though, which is twice as steep as anything I had run before. Shamrock and Zena had nothing on Bald Peak. I was able to pass some people I knew on the hills and generally seemed to be handling them pretty well. I don't think I could have done another mile though. By the time the mile two marker came and the hill finally relented my legs and lungs were burning bad.

THE MIDDLE SEVEN (7:35, 8:21, 7:37, 7:07, 8:11, 7:39, 7:31)

So after those first two uphill miles gaining 800 feet I was ready for some downhill. I remember hitting the first downhill and enjoying the break on my legs... I then turned a corner and had a forty foot hill to climb. Thus is the story of the Bald Peak Half. While the trend was generally downhill after those first two miles, there was no shortage of uphill. We gained 800 feet on that first hill and 300 feet during the last mile (more on that later). So that's 1100 feet. However, the total elevation gain my watch tracked was 1691 feet, meaning there was an additional 591 feet of "rolling uphill."

This is actually right before I finished but let's play pretend.
That 8:21 fourth mile was because there was literally a 180 foot hill from mile 3.5 to 4.0. Same with that 8:11 mile, big hill during that mile as well. Basically the whole thing was just up and down. There was hardly anywhere where the course was flat. That is no exaggeration either, you were going up or down for 95% of the race and most the time it was fairly significantly up or down. Not many gentle hills either way. It really kept you on your toes.

Overall these miles were downhill though, so I was able to hit some of them in pretty good time. Anything in the 7:00s was fine by me. I was watching my overall pace trickle downward from the original 10:10/mile to somewhere in the low 8:00s. The race was going better than I expected... I was handling the hills pretty well and my legs (and ankle) felt good. The scenery was gorgeous and the gravel, while not ideal, was small and light enough that you really didn't roll around or have to expend too much extra energy.

THE FINAL FOUR (7:15, 7:00, 7:13, 10:13)

Ruining my finish line photos by stopping
my watch.
So more on that gravel as it really came into play on these final miles. Overall, like I said, it wasn't too big of an issue. However, a lot of the downhill was pretty steep, and coupling that with gravel means that I was simply putting the brakes on during a lot of my downhill running. I wish I could have gone faster, but if I were to just run I would speed up out of control and fall down. So I had to shuffle down and go as fast as I could without crashing. It was kind of annoying.

My legs surprisingly felt great during these last few miles. If I had Shamrock-type gentle downhill there is no doubt I would be been hitting 6:45s. As it was, I was pretty happy to be hitting low 7s given the steepness and gravelly-ness of those final miles. I saw my overall pace drop below 8:00/mile. I knew with the hill at the end that wouldn't last, but it was awesome to know that I was doing so much better than I imagined I could.

So that last mile. The first half of the last mile was actually pretty flat. On pavement. It was nice and I was hitting a good pace. A sense of dread came over me though because I know there was a 300 foot hill in the final half mile. Around every turn I expected to see it. Legend had it that this hill was gravel... it wasn't, but it still was super tough.

I, along with everyone I could see, walked the majority of the hill. There was just no way to run it after racing 12.5 hard miles. Even on fresh legs I don't think I could run the whole thing, it is that steep. Anyways, I was prepared for this so I didn't feel bad about it. I just morphed into my best power walk and charged up that hill, arms-a-flying. Overall I did the mile a touch over ten minutes, so I'm assuming I did about 7:00 on the first half mile and 13:00 on the power walk up the stupid hill.

THE FINAL SPRINT AND AFTERMATH

There was someone closing in on me coming up that hill and he got close enough where I could hear his breathing pretty well. About halfway up the hill I thought for sure he'd pass me, and while he inched closer, I still stayed in front of him. Eventually I made it my mission to beat him. As soon as the course leveled off a little I basically went into a full sprint. By that point you could basically see the finish line, you still had a tenth of a mile to go and kind of had to circle around to it, but you knew there were no more hills.

Definitely my favorite age group award!
I was surprised my legs had it in them for that sprint. It felt good though and I left that guy behind me in the dust. I rolled through the finish line and couldn't believe my time. Just a touch over 1:46 on such a tough course. Honestly, I couldn't be prouder of my race. I really left it all out there and killed it on a bum ankle. After drinking about five cups of water I went and got my pancakes and bacon they were handing out. They tasted so good after that race!

After I finished I spent another hour or so cheering on finishers and chatting with people I knew. I ended up winning second in my age group so I accepted my award during the ceremony for that. All in all it was a great time and one of my favorite races I have done to date. I actually loved the challenge of the course and the whole thing was just well done. I think I'll definitely sign up again next year, it is one of my new favorites.

The main thing I will take away from the event is how awesome it feels to be able to run a half marathon and not even think twice about it. Honestly, the race went really fast. I remember my first half marathon and the miles just dragging on and on. The miles seemed to be flying by at Bald Peak and the course was a lot tougher. I haven't done any specific training or anything for the half marathon, so it is cool that just my standard "maintenance" running allows me to run that hard at a half marathon and enjoy it at the same time.

Official Results: 1:46:07, 8:06/mile. 20/214 overall, 17/97 male, 2/10 M20-29.

Friday, June 20, 2014

BALD PEAK HALF MARATHON PREVIEW

Oh wow, I have a half marathon tomorrow. Imagine that. Why haven't I been freaking out about the race and contemplating a new PR? Because there is no way in hell that is going to happen. Bald Peak is a notoriously hard half marathon and you get bragging rights for just completing it. Nobody PRs there unless it's their first ever half marathon!

It is kind of nice to be able to go into a race and not feel any pressure to hit a certain time. While I can look at the course on MapMyRun and try to visualize it all I want, I don't really know what it's going to be like until I am running it. Many times I am able to Google Street View a large portion of my races... not the case here. I'm running blind other than the knowledge I'm going to have to climb a mountain and almost half the race is on gravel.

A ton of people I know will be there so it will be fun to see them and hang out with them afterward. When you finish there is a large pancake and bacon feast, which will be an awesome and much needed reward after such a grueling race. One of my goals will be to beat my friend Glenn from running group... I think we'll have a friendly rivalry and may even run a lot of it together, but I'd like to cross the finish line before him. He's actually been practicing hills in anticipation and I have not...so we'll see how that goes, he might end up smoking me.

The race takes place in rural Washington County but thankfully is only a 25 minute drive from my house. It starts at 7:30am, which seems a little early, but I guess that makes sense given that we are almost in summer now. Almost immediately after crossing the start line you start climbing 800 feet in two miles. What an introduction. Morning mother fuckers!

Course map with elevation for funsies.
I've never done anything this hilly before. Not in a race, not in training. The closest I have come is probably the Zena Road Runs race back in January of 2013. That was a 600 foot gain over three miles. This is 800 feet over two miles. Which, if you do the maths, is twice as steep as Zena. So I am woefully unprepared for this climb. I'm usually good with hills, but this is more than a hill, this is more like a mountain. The strategy will be to take it VERY easy, 9:30-10:00/mile or so, and just slog up that hill. Twenty minutes of torture.

Once you are up the hill it looks like it stays relatively flat for three miles. I'm told not many parts are actually flat, it's a lot of gentle rolling in places, so hopefully those rollers aren't too bad. Some of this might be gravel, I'm not really sure. That will slow me down even more and I have no idea where it is. The website says six miles are gravel though. Ugh. We do get a nice downhill during mile six. I'll try to bank some time there.

After that downhill there is two miles of relatively flat, then a mile of gentle downhill, then a half mile of gentle uphill, then a mile and a half of downhill, putting us three hundred feet below where we started. After a flat mile we have to climb that final 300 feet in half a mile. In gravel. A 300 foot gain in a half mile. On gravel. Got it? It's legendary. Most everyone ends up walking.

This looks fun.
Finally it flattens out for the final twenty feet or so and you finish. Some great finish line shots are taken here (NOT!). After you catch your breath, there is plenty of pancakes and bacon for all. A pretty good deal including tech-tee for $45!

GOALS:

"A" Goal: Finish under two hours.

"B" Goal: Finish.

"C" Goal: Survive.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

2014 CASCADIA BEER MILE RECAP

After being relocated from the track (background) to a nearby neighborhood.
No preview on this one because 1) it's a beer mile, and 2) I wasn't sure I was running it until about two hours before it went off.

What is the beer mile? Basically, you chug a beer, run a lap, chug a beer, run a lap, etc. until you have chugged four beers and ran four laps. Recently the world record was set at 4:57... super impressive! This was my first ever beer mile... I have heard about them and been aware, but the 2014 Cascadia Beer Mile would be the first time I ever attended or tried a beer mile.

I was hemming and hawing all day about whether or not I would do it. I really wanted to try it, but I also knew I might regret it. I resolved to at least spectate it, and after some thought, I realized if I was there just watching I'd be regretting not doing it. So I was in. After work I picked up a six pack of Budweiser (bleh, but the beer has to be at least 5.0% and Bud is right on). I was in!

So I show up at the secret location (they keep it on the down low to avoid cop trouble) at 8pm. It's a local high school track but there is city league football going on in the infield and it's not really an environment conducive to putting this event on. The organizer of the whole thing, missed his name, didn't miss a beat and set up a course around an adjoining street. Turns out one lap around that street was nearly a perfect quarter mile. Awesome.

The race went off around 8:17pm, which was pretty impressive given the entire relocation of the race. There must have been at least fifty racers and at least as many spectators. It was an event and we basically shut that street down on our own. The local residents must have been wondering what the hell was going on.

After a brief pep talk and explanation the race was on. The announcer said "Beer!" and instantly there was the sound of fifty beer cans being popped. It was strangely soothing. I opened my Budweiser and chugged about half before stopping to take a breath.

Pain. That six ounces of beer blew up in my stomach. Holy shit. There was no way I could do this. BELCH. Now I feel better. Smaller sips. Okay, maybe I can. Burp. One more gulp. There we go. Shake the can over my head to make it official, and I'm off!

The running wasn't hard. The first lap my stomach felt fine after about fifteen burps (I was literally burping the entire first half of my first lap).  Finished the lap in pretty good time. Beer number two. Smaller gulps. Man beer is filling. Burp. Drink. Burp. Finally get it down. Next lap isn't so bad either. Stomach is feeling decent, not great, but decent.

That third beer was a challenge. I was starting to feel it. I don't want beer anymore. Just keep burping. Seems to be the key. Clear some room. Get the beer down. Whew. Do the lap. I'm feeling a bit iffy but I think I can do this. Threw up a little in my mouth. No big deal. Just swallow it. You're drinking Bud, it tastes better than that. Alright, TG, once more.

And the final beer and lap. The beer sucked but it wasn't too big of a problem. Just took a little more time. Small gulps and forcing myself to burp as much as possible. The fourth lap was a shuffle. Anything more might have resulted in puking. My stomach was not happy but I could maintain. Just glide into the finish. No walking, but I'm not breaking any land speed records here.

Across the line I go! Just over eleven minutes. I thought about doing less than ten, but that was before I realized just how long the beers would take. If I do it next year I'll have to get better at getting those beers down. Oh well, for now, successful beer mile complete. 11:04 and no major vomiting!

As an Oregonian, this felt wrong.
Lap 1 Beer Time: 0:26.3
Lap 1 Run Time: 1:58.7 (7:55/mile)
Lap 1 Total Time: 2:25.0

Lap 2 Beer Time: 0:41.7
Lap 2 Run Time: 2:05.2 (8:21/mile)
Lap 2 Total Time: 2:46.9

Lap 3 Beer Time: 0:35.7
Lap 3 Run Time: 2:07.9 (8:32/mile)
Lap 3 Total Time: 2:43.6

Lap 4 Beer Time: 0:53.1
Lap 4 Run Time: 2:15.4 (9:02/mile)
Lap 4 Total Time:  3:08.5

OVERALL TIME: 11:04 Beer Mile!

Friday, June 13, 2014

DEALING WITH THE PRESS

Part of the waterfront loop I ran on Monday.
After my 5k win last weekend I have been hounded by local radio, TV, and newspapers for interviews. Just kidding. Nobody gives a shit about me winning a tiny local 5k and they shouldn't. I did get my name mentioned in the Run Oregon blog though, which is cool. That is kind of the go to place for local runners to find out the haps with upcoming races and events. I forgot to mention the 10 year old girl running the 23:09 5k and being the top female... crazy. I overheard her talking to her mom before the race and saying she was shooting for under 27. Way to crush it kid.

This week has been a unique week in terms of running. My bowling league was moved to Monday night (just this week) which meant I had to skip my PRC run. I always hate doing that because it means I have to do it on my own at sometime else. I ended up running Monday night anyways, just earlier and from my office. It was actually a pretty fun run, I ran from my building down to the Portland waterfront and did two loops on the Steel to Hawthorne Bridge loop. Ended up being a 10k and then I "bathed" in the sink and went to bowling league.

Tuesday is usually my day off, but not this week. I was going to have to take Wednesday off to go to the Timbers game, so I had to run on Tuesday to make sure I got at least three weekday runs in. I wasn't feeling my normal 10k route, so instead I ventured to Hyland Forest Park and did four loops there. Between those loops and the run there and back it was six total miles. Very peaceful run in the forest... I love that it is so close. I have to learned not to care about my pace in there though as the trees obscure the GPS and it can't really pick up my finer movements.

After taking Wednesday off for the Timbers game I ran on Thursday after work. I really felt like I needed a speed session since, you know, it had been five whole days since I last hauled ass. I couldn't face an "entire" tempo run though, so instead I did "street intervals," running my usual 10k route but alternating between around 9:00/mile and 6:30/mile every quarter mile. I ended up running 12 fast 400 meter sections. Went well. Seemed like all the fast sections were uphill in the 2nd part of the run though. Overall it was a good run and I felt awesome afterward.

This weekend I'll run somewhere between 12 and 14 miles for my long run. Still haven't quite decided where, when, or with whom I'll be doing that. Play it by ear. Then the Bald Peak Half Marathon next weekend and then officially starting Portland Marathon training after that.

Monday, June 09, 2014

SOLES2SOULS 5K RACE REPORT

There was a CRUSH of children lined up at the start line. This also makes it look like I signed up and won a kid's race. While the field wasn't great, 99 runners were 18 or older, okay? :P
Very successful race for me Saturday at the Soles2Souls 5k at Greenway Park in Beaverton. It was a great local race and very well put on. Any concerns about the organization were calmed pretty quickly as the whole thing was well done from beginning to end. As for the race itself, I got my "A" goal, set a new PR, and happened to come in first place overall.

Now, the first place. I don't know quite how to feel about this. I've now "won" two races, including the half marathon last summer, but the only way Thomas is ever going to win a race is if the field kind of sucks. And the field kind of sucked. So I don't want to strut around or pretend this is some giant accomplishment. I personally ran a great race, set a big new PR, but winning a 5k with a time over twenty minutes isn't something I'll plaster everywhere. Was it still kind of cool? Yeah.

Walking back to the start after my
warm up.
Let's start at the beginning. The race went off at 9am, thirty minutes after the 10k at 8:30am. I arrived around 8:15am to pick up my bib. That went fairly quick so I headed back to my car to put the race freebies away and put my bib on. I had planned to run a warm up mile in the park before the race to loosen up. By the time I started my warm up the 10k had already gone off though and they were in the park and I didn't want to confuse anybody who would think I was a lost 10k racer, so instead I did the warm up in an adjoining neighborhood.

I ran the first six tenths of a mile or so at an easy 9:00/mile pace before kicking it into "race speed" at somewhere near 6:50/mile. Maintained that for a third of a mile and then slowed to a jog for the final tenth of a mile. My legs felt good and I think that brief stretch before the race really helped. The race pace seemed like a challenge but that third of a mile was comfortable enough, so maybe I could maintain it.

By the time I walked back to the start line it was less than ten minutes until the 5k went off. I had a concerned volunteer think I was a 10k runner limping back to the start line and ask if I was okay. Yes, I'm fine, I'm actually a 5k runner. Pretty soon we lined up but a bunch of kids beat me to the start line. There must have been fifty kids all packed in the front of the chute. I knew that would be an issue to get around them but I wasn't going to elbow out a bunch of kids to toe the line.

Pretty soon they shouted "GO!" and the race started. Getting around those kids was no joke. They bolted out of the start line of course, so I wasn't going to sprint to get past them, but within fifty yards they were slowing and getting in my way. I ended up weaving into the grass to get past them and almost tripped or rolled an ankle three of four times. I'm really lucky my race didn't end there honestly.

I was able to get through the pack though and pretty soon settled toward the front. Within a half mile I was in the top two, behind a kid I would have guessed was 14 (turns out he was an older 12). After some 6:20 pace to get past the kids and toward the front I settled into 6:40/mile or so. When I first broke from the pack the kid was a good 60 feet ahead of me but I slowly was reeling him in. I was very concerned with running my race and not getting sucked into chasing him though. I kept looking at my watch and making sure I was maintaining the pace I wanted.

This kid was a champ.
Eventually the kid got closer and closer. He kept looking me and checking where I was. I knew if he was this concerned about me not even a mile into the race I was probably going to be okay. I had a feeling he might have started too fast and would burn out. Once I got within about ten feet he picked up the pace and increased the lead to twenty or so. I just kept up my pace and eventually he came back to me though. At mile 1.1 as we rounded a corner off a bridge I passed him. He give me a high five and told me good job. Total class.

After that it was just me and the lead bike. I've never had a lead bike before. It was kind of weird but kind of cool. The boy behind me was keeping up a really good effort and I could hear him breathing for almost the entire next mile, but it slowly faded away. I was passing some 10k people going the other way and they were telling me good job, keep it up, etc.

I was feeling good and able to maintain my speed. The Rivalry Clash 5k, the last 5k I raced, I was in pain the entire second mile onward. This race wasn't comfortable, but I wasn't in pain wanting to die. It was manageable. It was cool to be running 6:40/mile and feel like I could maintain that for three miles. I think I did a really good job of setting the right pace for my abilities and then working to maintain that pace during the race.

Eventually I hit the turnaround for the 5k at about 2.1 miles. I turned around and was eager to see if anybody else in the 5k was close to me. Turns out the kid was still in second place but I had put a good thirty seconds of distance between us. We exchanged high fives and encouragement. He had a couple of older guys on his tail that also encouraged me (and likewise back). Less than a mile to go. I was really focused now. I could actually win and was on pace to set a PR.

That last mile was fairly unremarkable. The pace was starting to catch up with me a little but I knew it was almost done. The park seemed bigger than I remember but it didn't feel anything like the eons between miles at the Rivalry Clash. At mile 2.8 or so, when we turned up the path back to the school, I did glance back. The kid wasn't in sight but I did see a guy about forty yards behind me. This gave me some motivation to pick it up for the final sprint. I was not going to get beat at the line. It was only a quarter mile... I could do this.

My friend Karen from PRC and I, who finished third overall
female in the 10k. Free cake pops to podium finishers!
Turns out that guy was a 10k runner and not in competition with me, but whatever worked. I charged hard and crossed the finish line, stopping my watch at 20:39. Official time ended up being 20:38. After catching my breath I grabbed a water bottle, which were in giant shrink wrapped cases near the finish line. Trying to jimmy one out of there with race brain was not fun, but twenty seconds later I had my water.

The kid crossed a minute and twenty seconds after I did, and by then I had collected myself enough to think of extracting a water bottle for him and handing it to him along with a high five as he finished. Awesome job by him, holding off the third place finisher by three seconds. Other finishers rolled in, including an 8 year old boy who ran a 24:12. As the announcer hilariously said, "doesn't that just make you feel terrible about yourself?" Haha.

Anyways, I stuck around for awards and collected my first place medal. Wohoo. Met some people there I knew and also hung around and chatted with them. The race had a good spread of food and free coffee so I definitely took advantage of that as well. Eventually I put my bib and medal in the car and then headed out for six more miles so I could hit ten on the day and convince myself that I did a long run this weekend. Those six miles actually felt pretty good and were a good cap to the day.

In the end, I set a new PR by thirty seconds and also happened to finish in first place. Pretty successful morning!

Official Results: 20:38, 6:38/mile. 1/171 overall, 1/72 male.
Mile Splits: 6:31, 6:41, 6:49.

Thursday, June 05, 2014

SOLES2SOULS 5K PREVIEW

This Saturday I have a local 5k I signed up for called Soles2Souls. It's a race put on as a fundraiser for a local school and is only $12 and chip timed. Great deal! I am still a little concerned about the organization, I know they are still looking for volunteers and they switched the location of the race this year, but for only $12 it's worth a shot!

It takes place on the Fanno Creek Trail, which I know very well. It starts at the Greenway School, which I am pretty familiar with as it contained the out and back lollipop loop where I could scope the competition during my half marathon win last summer. Still have nightmares about that lady getting closer each lap until the last one when she ran out of steam. Anyways, getting off track.

Thankfully, I figured out the 5k route from their 10k map. They didn't post the actual 5k route, they just said "it is the same until here, then you turn around and head back to the finish," which, if you plug it into MapMyRun, actually makes sense and puts the run at 3.1 miles. So that was reassuring. Now hopefully everything is marked well and there are enough volunteers on race day to make it happen.

The course takes place on the trail, so it is pretty dang flat and a good place to go for a PR. The only elevation change is in the trail to/from Greenway School to the main park. The school is maybe 30 or 40 feet above the park and that path is a nice gradual incline. So I'll have a downhill starting off the race and an uphill coming back.

Which, honestly, I think will work out best. The downhill will allow me to push it at the beginning and make the 6:45/mile not feel so awful because I have the downhill working for me. When I hit the flat I'll just need to maintain it. On the way back, I'm going to be frickin' tired and gasping for air anyways, so who cares about a little hill. I'll be a quarter mile from the finish when it starts so I'll just have to nut up and finish strong.

I'd like to run more than 3 miles though, so after race I'll hang out to see if I got any awards and then maybe just go run another 6 or 7 on the trail (ten total for the day maybe?).

GOALS:

"A" Goal: Sub 21:00. This is 6:45/mile on a perfectly ran course. Would be SUPER thrilled with this time.

"B" Goal: My main focus is a new PR. Which is 21:08. So really the only difference between this and my "A" goal is 8 seconds. However, that's nearly 3 seconds/mile and I think it might be really close!

"C" Goal: I've done very little speed training recently. I did very well at the Rum Run, but in the two weeks since then I've done nothing to prepare for a 5k. I'm just basically running a 5k without specific training for it. So I'd like to go sub 22 and just run hard. Maybe it's not my day.

Monday, June 02, 2014

TWELVE BRIDGES ONE DAY RELAY RECAP

Fear the Turtle at the start line thirty seconds before the start. Yes, that is 5:29am. (Photo credit: Michael Allen)
On Saturday I did the inaugural Twelve Bridges Relay with my team "Fear the Turtle." The relay is basically a shorter version of Hood to Coast or Ragnar. Teams of six complete a 67 mile relay course, with each team member having two legs averaging around 5 or 6 miles a piece. Everything is done in one day, around ten hours or so. So you get the relay experience but get to skip the sleep deprivation and other more unsavory parts of a full length relay. However, you also miss the craziness, goofiness, and intense team bonding of an all night relay, so it's a trade off.

Our team was unique in that we have two teams, Turtle One and Turtle Too. The husband wife team that organized it is all about fun so they wanted two teams so everybody would have a "running buddy" on each leg. So our two teams stuck together the entire race and it was really like one big twelve person team. Our vans had a CB radio and there was lots of inappropriate inter-van talk and it was just a fun group of people.

A downside of the whole thing is that we started at 5:30am. Yikes! I had to wake up at 3:45am because of this and got maybe about four hours of sleep. So much for not having the sleep deprivation come into play! Actually, once I was up and had a coffee I felt alright! We started at 5:30am and finished around 3:15pm or so, just under ten hours. Most of the relay was run along the Banks-Vernonia Trail, which I have run before and is absolutely beautiful.

My first leg was leg six (of twelve overall) so I had to wait a while. I ran 6.1 miles with Katie (not the famous one), who had ran leg one. So she was done after our run while I was just getting started. It was a lot of fun and she was really nice, it was good to get to know her. Our leg was pretty flat and very scenic. It is called the Twelve Bridges Relay because you get to cross twelve bridges along the way and we had about five on our leg. We also got to run around Vernonia Lake to end our run so overall it was an awesome leg. We ran at 9:05/mile.

Katie and I on my first leg, leg six. (Michael Allen)
After that I pounded half a BMT sandwich from Subway and sucked down a bunch of Doritos the van had bought. My next leg was leg nine, so a quick turnaround. So I was back running again about ninety minutes after being done with my first leg (which was the final leg of the first half, after we went around the lake we basically retraced our path to the finish line). This leg was longer at 8.4 miles, but mostly downhill. After a tough, steep climb in the first half mile it was about 500 feet downhill in the next six miles.

My partner on this leg was Jeremy, who was a pretty athletic guy but dealing with some injuries from running. He was just getting back into running and his longest run to this point had been five miles. So he was a little cautious but I could tell he was quite the athlete when healthy. We embraced the downhill and slowly had our 8:00 miles creep toward 7:30. Really comfortable run, slightly downhill in the shade... you couldn't ask for more. The last mile was flat and exposed but we were both almost done with our relay and determined to finish strong. Overall we averaged 7:55/mile.

Finishing up the 8.4 miles of my 2nd leg. (Michael Allen)
Once my leg was done only three more sets of people had to run. So the finish came pretty quick (#). I really liked this format... it was a lot of fun to do the relay but so much easier than an overnight 200 mile relay. While similar, they are two different beasts... this was more like a 10k and the Hood to Coast type relay is more of a marathon. Both have their advantages and disadvantages.

This was the first year of this particular race so they limited the field to 40 teams. It worked out really well because some of the exchanges had limited parking and it was far less chaotic. Traffic or parking were never an issue though, which was nice. We also were the first team to cross the finish line (a product of an earlier start and faster than expected legs) so we likely missed any congestion if there was any. Overall for such a small event I thought it was really well put on!

There was a BBQ afterwards at the finish line complete with beer garden. The medal we got was really cool, one of my favorites so far. Our team hung out at the finish and cheered for about two hours before heading back. I got home around 7pm and was pretty exhausted. 14.5 miles of running and a 3:45am wakeup call will tend to do that. I slept like the dead Saturday night.

Power tunnels were definitely a theme! (Michael Allen)
To recap, I had a blast with my team and really enjoyed the event. If you have a chance to do one of these shorter relays I'd highly recommend it!