Monday, September 29, 2014


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, September 24, 2014


I don't know why I feel so wholly unprepared for the upcoming Portland Marathon. I am in better shape than last year, and I ran the whole thing last year, so what am I worried about? It just seems like since I took my weeklong vacation (and "only" ran 24 miles) I've doubted my ability to be ready. After what felt like a late start to training, coupled with the vacation, coupled with being worn down the last few weeks... I just don't feel super confident.

Like I said though, I am in better shape. My twenty mile runs all went better than last year. I've ran higher weekly mileage this year and done way more speedwork. I am better prepared! So why the self doubt? I just think a marathon is still a huge achievement, something that is not normal. A half marathon at this point is nothing, I run that distance and more all the time. A marathon though... I haven't run 26 miles since Vancouver. Plus, I have to run it fast.

Those last six miles are going to suck. They sucked in Portland last year and they sucked in Vancouver this spring. I am ready for the suck though and think I can power through to get a new PR. A sub 3:30 is the focus and the fact that I have to run sub 8:00/mile for 26 miles I think is what's freaking me out. I ran an 8:08 average in Vancouver though, so I'm close.

Anyways, I just keep having to tell myself I am ready. Hopefully the taper and the excitement of the race will get my mindset in the right place. I pretty sure it will. Maybe one day a marathon won't freak me out so much. Not today though.

Monday, September 22, 2014


Everybody wearing the "color of the day" at PMC. I am in the shade, second from left.
On Wednesday I did a marathon pace run and, as I suspected, once I got going my legs loosened up it wasn't as daunting as I thought. It was actually pretty encouraging how that pace didn't feel TOO fast. I hit 7:51/mile for seven miles and all the miles were within a few seconds of that. Now, that pace doesn't feel easy, but it's not a sprint. It's somewhere in between, which is probably the right speed to get your best time for a marathon.

Thursday I was feeling lazy even though my legs felt better than on Wednesday. My brain was trying to talk myself out of skipping the run, but I knew that wasn't an option, so instead I headed out for an "easy" run. I already did the pace run, so I felt like I was good for the week. Well, once I got out there I was feeling pretty good and the first mile was 8:30 or so. Then I got to thinking about trying to get a sub 3:30 marathon and how being lazy wasn't going to help me achieve that goal. So I turned that first mile into a "warm up" and then proceeded to do a tempo run.

A tour of my old stomping grounds.
The tempo run portion probably ended up at 7:45/mile or so, which isn't very much faster than the marathon pace run. The difference? The course. The seven mile pace run was mostly flat. I have to remember to temper my expectations when running my home loop. It is decently hilly and I can't forget to take that into consideration. I am not going to run 7:20s up a 200 foot hill. So honestly that 7:45 on a hilly course is probably more like 7:25 on a flat course. It was a good workout and nice to get more speedwork in.

Had the day off on Friday and then a sixteen miler Saturday morning with the Portland Marathon Clinic. We are now officially tapering. Sixteen miles this weekend, eight next weekend, and then the race the following weekend. Yikes! It is getting way too close. I feel so unprepared and like I am going to blow up during the race. I don't think I've ever felt super prepared though. Thinking back to last summer, I am definitely in better marathon shape, so that should give me confidence. I can do it again, a marathon is just a daunting thing to undertake!

The long run went well. It was in Tualatin, where I grew up as a kid, so I knew the streets pretty well and enjoyed running by my old elementary school, high school, the hospital where I got my stitches, etc. I really had to poop around mile eleven and thankfully we were in Ibach Park (where I played soccer as a young buck) and I was able to use the facilities there. Not the greatest fun to announce to the group, "I really have to poop" and then have them all wait for you, but it was better than the second option... shitting my pants.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014


Crap, that kid had good form... #jealous
Mid-week update... my legs are tired. They were obviously tired after the twenty mile brunch run and 10k race the day after. I took that whole next week pretty easy and then did another twenty last Saturday. My legs are still tired from all those miles though. On Monday at run group the 9:15/mile pace felt harder than it should have. That should be a stroll. It wasn't.

I did loosen up toward the end of the run, but still, the thought of going 7:55/mile for 26 miles is unthinkable. I know my legs are just tired though. Good tired. They don't hurt during the day or anything, so they aren't injured, they just don't have a lot of juice or pep when I go to run. I've experienced this many times before and it's just kind of something you have to work through when marathon training.

Tonight at run group I'm going to try to hit a marathon pace run for seven miles. I know it's going to suck getting started, but after a couple miles I should warm up and have it not be too terrible. Often times when I am feeling like this an "easy" run just kind of perpetuates the status quo... it's surprising that a harder run can make my legs feel fresher, but it often does. Kind of like I'm Forrest Gump and the fatigue is those legs braces he runs off as a kid. Run Thomas, run!

Anyways, we are getting close to race day now and I have the speed in me, so I don't need to push things unnecessarily. At that same time though, I can't use that as an excuse to slack off the last few weeks. It would be really easy to do that. Come October 5th my success will be largely based on the body of work I did in training... I'm hoping to make that some quality work here the next week or two before tapering.

Monday, September 15, 2014


Springwater again. Yayyyyyyyyyyyy!
Saturday was my last twenty mile training run before the Portland Marathon on October 5th. It was also the first time I have done two twenty mile runs in back to back weeks. Overall, it went really well! I'd venture to say it was the "best" twenty miler I've had so far in terms of how I felt during and after the run. It definitely gave me a boost of confidence about my chances of PRing in a few weeks.

After last weekend's terrible twenty mile brunch run and Pints to Pasta the day after I decided an easier week was in order. I didn't cut back on mileage, but all my runs during the week were of the easy to moderate variety. I started to beat myself up at one point for not doing a speed workout, but I reminded myself I just ran a 44:45 10k and had a twenty mile run coming up again. No need to be stupid!

This run didn't start out on the greatest footing because the route again took us on the Springwater Trail. When we all gathered around at 8am and they told us where we'd be running I let out an unintentionally loud "Oh, for fucks sake!" that garnered a few looks. Haha, oops. Anyways, thankfully only miles 8-12 were the terrible part of the trail that I hate.

So yeah, the run went well! Honestly, nothing much to note. Four aid stations along the way (two that you hit each way on the out and back). I felt pretty dang good for twenty and a race the weekend before followed up with 19 miles during the week. Didn't start to hurt until mile sixteen and even then it wasn't as bad as it usually is. Just annoying muscle aching that was easily ignored. The last mile kind of sucked, but it always sucks, regardless of distance.

Overall though I think it might be the best twenty miler to date. I felt pretty good the rest of the day and my legs didn't really even feel sore after a few hours. Chalk it up as a victory. Thinking back to last summer, my three twentys went like this: terrible, terrible, slightly less terrible. This year they went: decent, terrible, slightly more than decent. So improvement!

Last year my final twenty miler was 5 weeks before the marathon. This year it will be 4 weeks (that was my last twenty). My next three weekends will be like so: 16, 8, RACE. Overall I feel like the 20 miler was in a better spot this year and that overall I am faster and more capable than last summer. Whether it will all come together on race day is still up to the running gods, but I think I have a pretty good shot at a good race.

Final 20-miler: 20.02 miles in 3:15:29, 9:46/mile.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014


The course is a point to point.
For the second straight day I woke up at 6:30am for something running related. The day before it was for my terrible twenty mile brunch run with PMC, today it was for Pints to Pasta, a 10k race I did last year as well. I was originally supposed to do this race with Laurel but her foot is in a boot (get well soon!) so I went solo on this one. I did know people going to this race but I had to take off right after I finished so I didn't even try to find them.

This race was taken over by the Better Series this year, which has managed to mangle a number of former Run with Paula events. They didn't fuck this one up too bad. A little less professional "presentation" but overall it was pretty similar to last year. I got to the Old Spaghetti Factory around 7:00am, walked a long ways to the shuttle bus, then shuttled to the start. Not as great of food selection at the start this year, but there was still food. I waited in line and used the bathroom just in case.

Eventually the race started. Like last year, I didn't try to move my way to the front, I was happy to shuffle across the start line with people I knew would probably run it slower than me. Since I had the twenty mile death march the day before I wasn't sure how my legs were going to respond and I didn't want to put any pressure on myself. I was a little stiff at first but eventually my legs warmed up and felt decent. I had to weave a lot in the first mile or so but I had that coming... plus, it was fun to pass people and motivated me while my legs didn't feel the greatest.

The first two miles are mostly downhill and if I were actually racing this 10k they both would have been below 7:00/mile. Instead, they came in at 7:26 and 7:20. Again, I wasn't really racing this event... I was running it hard, but I wasn't going to injure myself. Unlike last year, there were no pacers with balloons, so I didn't have those to chase down and motivate me. I mostly just focused on running a hard, sustained effort. My third mile came in at 7:21 so I was running a very steady pace. I was good with a 7:20 something average.

Finish line!
After crossing Broadway Bridge you are about halfway done. The rest of the race is through downtown and the south waterfront. My fourth mile came in at 6:59... I don't know why I sped up that much, but I think the downhill from the bridge had something to do with it. I also think my legs were finally loosening up. Took awhile given that I had ran twenty miles the day before, but by this point I was feeling pretty decent and knew I only had a little ways to go.

I remember when my watch beeped at four miles telling myself I only had two more miles and that was only like fifteen minutes. Basically, I had sped up a little and was working hard, but it would be over soon. Nothing much to note those last two miles, the course was altered a little bit but only for a quarter mile or so. Didn't change the complexion of the race at all and I actually liked the change because it kept us on the roads instead of a smaller path shared with non-racers.

The final two miles came in at 7:15 and 7:12, so a little faster than the first few miles and these were flat as opposed to downhill. If I had the downhill terrain of the first half of the race I'm certain they would have been in the 6:50s. Anyways, I definitely picked up the effort towards the end and ran it harder. I still wasn't going nearly 100% race speed, but I was giving it a solid effort.

Double fist like a boss.
The finish line didn't seem to take forever to come like it did last year. I rolled up kind of in my own little pocket without anyone around me, so my name got called. My official time was 44:45, which would have been a record for me before May of this year. Hell, last year on Thanksgiving I raced a 10k and got 45:00. Now, that course was much more challenging, but still, it was nice to not totally kill myself and still get a sub 45 and average 7:12/mile.

Afterwards I hurried to the beer garden and got my two free beers. They were actual 16oz pints, so that was awesome. I think they were 12oz last year. I chugged one and then went to get my free pasta, salad and bread. I ate that and drank the other beer. It was kind of gross how fast I was scarfing it but I needed to get out of there. Brandon and I were doing the flag ceremony at the Timbers game and needed to be at the stadium by noon.

So after gorging on food and beer, I made a quick pit stop at the bathroom and then headed back to my car. All told a very successful race and a good experience again. I look forward to doing it again next year and hopefully won't have a conflict that leaves me fleeing after the race.

Official Chip Time: 44:45, 7:12/mile. 145/1582 overall, 109/574 male, 16/51 M25-29.

Monday, September 08, 2014


3:30 pace group rolling into the finish. That's me a good 10-15 feet behind everyone else.
On Saturday I was really excited for the Portland Marathon Clinic brunch run. I did it last year, my first run with PMC, and had a great time. The run was a lot of fun, hopping a bus to a mystery location and then running back to where we started to eat a meal they had prepared. It was a giant adventure and looking at the map afterwards was amazing... twenty miles when you are not doing an out and back or loop looks way more impressive!

Flash forward to this Saturday. If you had asked me before the run the LAST thing I would want to have happen, I would have said "bus us out twenty miles toward Boring (that's a city) and run the entire way back on the Springwater Corridor Trail." I even joked at the beginning of the bus ride about this, saying wouldn't that be terrible, I would just call a taxi if that were the case, etc. So what do they do? Bus us twenty fucking miles away and have us run the ENTIRE way back on the Springwater Trail. FUCK ME.

About halfway there we realize this is indeed what they are doing. While I'd say most people weren't thrilled, I don't think they despise it quite as much as I do. My first experience with it was last summer, when I ran 21 miles with Alejandro mostly on that trail. It SUCKS. It's straight, it's boring, it's ugly and runs mostly through industrial areas, it's exposed, the list goes on and on. The fact that it is mostly uninterrupted by roads does not even come close to overcoming these negatives. I'm glad I live on the west side with the Fanno Creek Trail... it may not be as big, but it is 50x better than the Springwater Trail.

This route sucks.
Okay, needless to say, running is part mental and part physical. I stayed fairly strong mentally for the most part, at least I had company and PMC provided aid stations. Plus, the first ten miles or so were new territory that I hadn't explored yet. While the scenery SUCKED, it was technically new. Had the weather been cooler I probably could have made it through this run fairly well. However, the high on Saturday was 96 degrees and by the time we started around 8:30am it was already hot. It over 90 when we finished around noon.

The last place you'd want to run on a day like that is on a boring trail that lacks shade. It was soul sucking. I was already kind of worn down from the last two weeks of running higher mileage and that plus the relentless heat lead to me feeling like shit around mile sixteen. Until then I was doing okay, annoyed at the route and not feeling super fresh, but okay. Those last four miles though... those were done with nothing but grit and determination. I hated every second of it and just wanted to be done.

Long story short, I finished. It sucked. The brunch run was so much fun last year, but this year it was terrible. Twenty miles on fucking Springwater? Really guys? Fuck that. I was diagnosed by a PMC coach working the brunch table with being dehydrated and running in too fast of a group because I passed out on the lawn in the shade after finishing. Um, no. I had plenty to drink, have run a 3:33 marathon, and was with the 3:30 pace group. I am lying in the grass because your run fucking sucked.

The food was good though.

Thursday, September 04, 2014


My little slice of paradise along the Umpqua River.
Last weekend I went camping for my birthday along the Umpqua River. I camp here every year with my extended family, but this camping trip was just with my friends. There were eight of us which is exactly the size I wanted... not too big, not too small (okay, #). We all arrived on Saturday, me and Stephen a little later than some because we went to the Oregon State football game first (they won!).

Saturday was a crap day weather wise so I'm glad we only really got there to eat dinner and then sit around the campfire. It had rained earlier but by the time we got there it was just cloudy. The next two days were nice and sunny. That first night I probably had a little too much to drink on my last night as a 27 year-old. I fell over in my chair at one point and bruised my hip... so I woke up on my 28th birthday with a sore hip. Great.

Anyways, I needed to run sixteen miles that weekend for Portland Marathon training, so I dragged Matt and Alejandro along with me. Matt didn't want to do the entire thing, so I plotted a route that would take us back near the campsite around nine miles where he could head back while Alejandro and I did another seven.

It worked out well. I had only ran twelve miles before while at the river, but we used the same basic route, we just went further on each out and back. The first was all the way to the Umpqua Café and back. Matt used the bathroom there so it was good to have that as an option. After he dropped off Ale and I continued south and then did the loop down to the Cleveland Rapids. All told we hit sixteen right as we rolled back into camp so it was the perfect distance. Jumping in the river afterward (and drinking a beer) made it all worthwhile.

Overall the camping trip was TONS of fun. Going with family is fun but going with friends is also really fun. They seemed to really like the river and were busy slyly inviting themselves back next year. All told I am still pretty tired from the weekend though, after my nine days in Pennsylvania I had a crazy week at work and then another three days on the road away from home. I feel the need to just be home now and do nothing.

Unfortunately I won't get rest this weekend because I had to wake up early Saturday to do the twenty mile brunch run with Portland Marathon Clinic. I really like that run though so I'm excited for that. And then on Sunday I have to wake up early again to run Pints to Pasta. Like last year, it will be the day after a twenty mile run, so I have no goals or visions of PRing. I'd just like to run it as fast as I can by feel... I'm not about to push myself too hard and fuck up the marathon though.

So while I'm looking forward to both of those events, I have another action packed weekend ahead with little rest (going to the Timbers game with Brandon right after Pints). Ugh. Another twenty miles next weekend... but maybe I can sleep in on Sunday? I'm sure something will come up.

Tuesday, September 02, 2014


Hit your runs or I'll shoot you in the face.
I'll preface this post by saying I didn't miss any runs and hit all my miles this last week (41 of them). So for that, I am very proud. I was, however, finding motivation hard. After getting back from my weeklong vacation late on Sunday night I went right back to work on Monday. No rest for the weary.

I was still sort of on East Coast time Monday so I actually got to work before 9am. It was a small miracle. The work day was then just a lot of catching up from being gone for a week. I had run group that evening at 6pm but skipped it to do something with Brandon (since I hadn't been there two straight weekends). I originally planned to do an easy three miles after hanging out with him but by the time I dropped him off and got home it was almost 10pm and I was still on East Coast time. So I crashed.

"Skipping" that run, even though it was only three miles, really bugged me. Tuesday was supposed to be my rest day but instead I woke up and ran three miles BEFORE work. I never thought I'd see the day. Still being sort of three hours ahead definitely helped out. So not only did I get three miles in, I also got to work on time. It was crazy. It relieved the guilt of skipping the run the night before though. That evening I had my last week of bowling league so there was no way I was getting in a run.

Wednesday I made it to run group for the first time in two weeks. It was fun to see everyone again. Hit 6.4 miles at an easy pace. The next night, Thursday, I didn't run until 9:30pm because I took Brandon to Wunderland (cheap arcade) since I was going to be gone that coming weekend (three in a row... oops). It would have been so easy to skip the run that night, but I pulled myself out for 6 miles even though it was the last thing I wanted to do. Even did a tempo run below 8:00/mile. It was dark and I wore my reflective gear. Reminded me that will be my life in about six weeks.

So despite being tired and unmotivated I was hitting all my runs. I feel so out of shape from my "easy" week during vacation and I have this sense of fear that I'm not in marathon shape at all. Those motivated me to hit a ten mile run on Friday. We got out of work early at 2pm for the holiday weekend and I took full advantage of that. I wasn't looking forward to ten miles at 7pm, but I could handle it at 3pm when I still had a lot of day left. So I was able to get ten miles in and also shop and pack for my camping trip that weekend.

More on that and my sixteen mile run along the Umpqua next post. I guess I'll also talk about pooping naked in a corn field too. Ask and ye shall receive.