Sunday, November 30, 2014


Good video recapping the "race" ... watch for me in red at the start line video around 1:40 hopping up on the sidewalk and looking generally stiff and uninterested. (Video credit: David Green)

I was all set to do a preview of this race early last week, but I ended up getting lazy (theme of the month) and when I went to gather information to make the post I discovered the run was "untimed." Apparently a lot of these turkey trots are just untimed fun runs, which is fine, but it wasn't my goal with this race. The one I did last year was timed, so next year I'll have to pay closer attention to whether or not the race I'm signing up for actually has results.

Ready to start... the rain held off mostly.
Needless to say, I wasn't really looking forward to this race. I had to get up early and go run around on hills and all of it was just for "fun." I woke up around 7am, ate a piece of cake for breakfast, then headed to park at Sunset Transit Center and take the MAX into the Oregon Zoo. Well, I just missed a train and the next one wasn't for 25 minutes because they were on a Sunday schedule. Yikes! I went back to my car to stay warm and wandered back to the platform a few minutes before the train came.

Arriving at the zoo with only minutes before the start of the first wave, I frantically looked for packet pickup. I didn't want to get stuck in the second or third wave, which would have a lot of walkers and very few people my speed. Luckily I was able to find the packet pickup and they didn't start quite on time so I had just filtered down toward the start line when the race started at 8:04.

Generally downhill was the theme of the first mile and I ran it in 7:30. I was running fast but I wasn't killing myself. The turnaround was at mile 1.75, which seemed to come pretty quick. Given that it was mostly downhill and the turnaround was before halfway that makes sense though. The tail end of this mile included some really steep uphill. I ran this mile in 7:49... I was going about the same speed until I had to run up the hill.

During the race... pretty course!
The third mile was pretty much all uphill. The course was on a curvy, tight, two lane road through the forest near the zoo. Being mostly an out and back course, traffic was on both sides of the road but by the time we hit people coming back it was spread out enough it wasn't really an issue. The video above gives a really good feel of the course including the hills we were facing in miles 1.8-3.4 or so. All told it was about 350 feet of elevation gain in just over a mile and a half. Nothing to sneeze at.

That super hilly third mile was ran in 8:19. That goes to show I wasn't slacking off too much. I would say I was going about 90% of my normal race effort. I wanted to stop and walk on those hills but I didn't and I still turned in a pretty good mile time. The fourth and final mile included some uphill at the beginning but it wasn't too steep and we got to finish downhill into the zoo for the final half mile.

My last mile clocked in at 7:01. By this mile I was warmed up and going nearly race speed. The downhill finish made it easy to really gun it and give it my all. Thus a pretty good mile time for a mile that included some uphill. I clocked my time at about 30:45... it was unclear exactly where the finish line was so I let my watch run a little long. That is 7:42/mile, a pretty solid effort for an event I could have cared less about.

Anyways, it ended up being a good way to start the day, had a great Thanksgiving with my family later and got to see my aunt and Grandma.

Friday, November 21, 2014


Fat Thomas extracting the mojo from in-shape marathoner Thomas.
You may have noticed I've been a little quiet lately. Ever since the marathon I haven't quite got my running mojo back. I've kind of mentioned this. With no big race in the near future and the weather (and amount of light) turning to shit I don't feel particularly motivated. The things keeping me going at the moment are seeing my running buddies on Monday and Wednesday and then running other times just so I can continue to eat and not gain weight. Except for last week, where I ran one less day, I've still be hitting my runs though.

I think it's starting to come back a little. Wednesday night I ran the rollercoaster with Alejandro and we finished in 58-something minutes. Anytime you go below an hour on the rollercoaster you've put in a pretty solid effort. Then last night, even though my legs were sore, I got out in the cold and dark and ran my 10k home loop. Slower pace, on purpose, but once I was done I was very glad I did it.

Tomorrow is looking like twelve wet miles with Coach Jim's group in the morning. One problem is I don't have a marathon until Eugene in early May. So I am not really training for anything. I'm in good enough shape where I can race anything from a 5k to a half marathon no problem. I might not be in PR shape for the half at this point, but I'd be close. Anyways, nothing pushing me super hard at the moment, but I'm okay with that. I need a little time off from training hard, so as long as I can just maintain my fitness, I'll be ready to hit it hard come February or March or whenever I find my mojo back in 1969.

Monday, November 17, 2014


A great twelve miler in my hometown of Tualatin.
Last week wasn't my proudest week ever in terms of running. I ran five miles on Monday (the day after the Rivalry Clash) because I didn't want to put a hilly seven on my legs the day after a race. Took my normal day off on Tuesday and then on Wednesday planned to do seven at run group. Unfortunately I got stuck in traffic and missed run group. It was 38 degrees and very windy and my run group actually ended up scrapping the run and going drinking instead! So needless to say, I didn't run by myself when I did get home.

Thursday was bitterly cold as the "arctic blast" was still rolling in. We were actually supposed to get 4-6" of snow Thursday morning but none of that materialized. It was still very cold, windy, and wet though. I just couldn't get myself out there. I felt like such a failure I finally got my ass outside for three miles Friday night. I would have done more but I had a twelve miler coming up Saturday morning and I didn't want to wear myself out for that. All together I would still hit 20 miles on the week so I figured that was good enough.

That run on Saturday went really well! So did my run on Friday night. I'm beginning to adjust to the change in conditions. Dress appropriately and it's not all that bad! I actually kind of enjoy the cooler weather as long as it's not windy or wet. The run Saturday morning was great. It was 28 degrees when we started, which scared me, but I just dressed up with a beanie and light jacket and felt more than fine. The sun was out and it was actually a glorious run that I really enjoyed with company from Coach Jim's running group.

Every Saturday morning I'm available I'm going to try to run with Coach Jim again this winter. His group tends to kind of be an "off-season" Portland Marathon Clinic. There are a lot of the same people and pacers. A little less frills at his runs, but they are a great option when it is hard to get motivated to run in the winter. I started running with the 3:20 group and I think I'll stick with them. 3:30 was the fastest group last year, so hopefully this small step up will aid me in breaking through the 3:30 barrier. Coach Jim's long run speeds are VERY conservative so I will be fine (we still run above 9:00/mile).

Thursday, November 13, 2014


Four of the top six finishers in the 10k were Beavers! We all were kind of bunched for a lot of the race so we had to take a photo!
The second year of the Rivalry Clash is in the books and once again I set a new PR despite getting edged out by a PRC compatriot. I would venture to say this year's race was even less organized than last year's despite having some new features... so I'm not sure I'd do this race again. Overall, nothing went wrong, it just wasn't exactly the most well put on event I've been to.

Anyways, I woke up around 7am and drove to Portland International Raceway to pick up my packet. After picking that up I basically stayed in the car until five minutes until the race started in an effort to keep warm. It was 48 degrees and I only had on shorts and short sleeve t-shirt. I knew I'd be fine once the race started but I'd be a little cold just standing out there. Eventually I found my way to the start and met Glenn from running group, who was also running the 10k.

Like last year, they lined the Ducks and the Beavers up on separate sides of the chute and then started the race. It was a lot less running "toward" each other though than last year, we just kind of turned immediately and went through the start line. Unfortunately I was in first place for the first quarter mile and hated every second of it. I knew I wasn't going to win, so I just wanted someone to pass me so I didn't have to lead the freaking race and have everyone look at and gun for me. Luckily some fasty passed fairly quickly and I was able to just be another runner.

After that it was just your standard 10k. I had the right pace going, my lungs were screaming but my legs felt pretty good for the most part. I started out a little fast but was hitting the correct pace by mile two. As expected, the course was a mix of pavement, gravel, and grass. Most of it was gravel and the grass portions were minimal, so that was nice. Still, the gravel wasn't ideal and likely cost me a few seconds on my time but for the most part it didn't affect me.

The course was two laps of 5k each and coming through after that first one I was very tired already. Wished I had only done the 5k. I think that is true in any 10k though, if you feel good halfway through you are doing something wrong. Glenn had stuck by my side and would NOT go away. He's more of a natural athlete than me and I had a sneaking suspicion he'd beat me this race. I've beaten him in previous races but all those were a half marathon or longer. I think he's better at the shorter stuff.

So that second lap... Glenn passes me around mile four and slowly gets a lead. I really didn't care because I needed to run my own race. While I was tempted to dart after him that would likely be stupid in the long run. Just concentrated on keeping my pace and breathing steady. A couple spots of gravel are deep and loose and cause me to lose some momentum. Just keep chugging. It had started to rain right as the race started but toward the end it died down to a sprinkle at most.

I notice my watch is shorting the course, which wasn't a surprise given it's weaving nature. So while my pace was reading 7:06/mile, I knew I was in fact running a bit faster. Eventually, once I got near the finish line, I switched to the page with my overall time and saw I was going to finish somewhere near a "mid-43," which was great considering my PR was a touch over 44. I crossed the finish line in 6th place and doubled over to catch my breath after giving Glenn a high give (he finished ahead by 12 seconds).

5k Beavers lining up for the start.
43:27 overall, a new PR by 34 seconds! Now, that previous time was run on a course that was nearly 10.2k and if adjusted would be something like 43:15. However, that course was all pavement and the gravel on this course certainly slowed me down. So I'd say the efforts are about equal... 6:56/mile for that run, 6:59/mile for this one. I feel good that I finally have a time that actually reflects my effort. Running sub 7s and having a PR of 44:01 was just weird.

Overall, a very successful race! Going under 7:00/mile over six miles sucks. Hell, it sucks over one mile! However, I guess I am in barely good enough shape to maintain that. If I am to beat my Dad's time at Shamrock I'll need to maintain that over 15k and a hilly course... so I still have work to do!

Official Time: 43:27, 6:59/mile. 6/91 overall.

Friday, November 07, 2014


Two loops of this sort of off road course will be my challenge Sunday in the Rivalry Clash 10k.
Just a quick preview on this one because I'm not going to worry too much about this race. If you'll remember, I did this race last year and participated in the 5k. I set a new PR at the time and finished in 5th overall. The 10k this year should be much more competitive, so I don't expect to place or anything. I just hope to run a good time and possibly set a new 10k PR.

The issue with this race is going to be the terrain. There is limited pavement, a lot of gravel, and some grass. I don't think it's going to rain much, but it could turn into a muddy slog. I thought this race would be fast because it will be super flat, but they changed the venue to Portland International Raceway and morphed it into almost a "cross country" type race.

I'm not too worried about it. Whatever happens, happens, and if it's not a typical road race then it'll be fun to try something new! The course is a loop and for the 10k you have to do it twice... that's about the only thing I'm not looking forward to. My 10K PR was set on a long course so I don't necessarily even have to run quite the pace I did then to set a new PR, but again, with the terrain, a PR might be out the window. So overall I'm just going to show up, try hard, and not really worry about it.


"A" Goal: New 10k PR. This would be 44:00 or less, which is 7:04/mile. My PR was run at 6:56 but that was over 10.1k, so we'll see. The terrain is really going to determine whether or not this is even feasible.

"B" Goal: Barring a mudfest I'd like to get under 45:00. For some reason I've set that mark in my head as an acceptable 10k time.That's 7:14/mile. That over a cross country type course might be a huge challenge, but if a PR is out the window that would be my next focus.

"C" Goal: Honestly, I could run this thing super hard and still end up above 45 minutes. So I just want to run hard and don't feel like I left anything on the course. If that means I get 48 minutes on this double loop off-road course, then I'll be perfectly fine with that.

Wednesday, November 05, 2014


Hopefully it won't be 18 degrees again?
I had plans to run twelve miles on Saturday but one thing messed with those... me sleeping in again. Two weeks ago I slept twelve hours and had to reduce my run from 12 to 10 miles in order to make a Portland State football game. This weekend I slept 13 hours (!) and reduced the run from 12 to 8 miles in order to make the Oregon State football game.

Whatever though. I ran 14 miles the week in between there and have been hitting all my other runs. I am not currently marathon training, so it's all gravy. I won't have a long run this weekend because I have a race coming up on Sunday and want to stay fresh for that. I'll have a preview of that race on Friday or Saturday. Next weekend I'll get back on track in terms of double digit runs on the weekend.

Some exciting news... Brandon agreed to do the HoHo 5k with me again this year! I didn't expect him to say yes, but after some contemplation he agreed to do it. I assured him it was only 3.1 miles (2.9 actually if they don't change the course) and that seemed to soothe his concerns. He knows I do mostly longer races and is always concerned the race will be longer. That should be fun! Our focus will be to beat last year's time.

Also starting to adjust to the wintery weather. It's honestly not that bad yet, most runs the temperature is still in the mid-50s and I've only been rained on a couple times. Just slowly accepting reality and enjoying the challenge the winter route brings... lots of hills that should get me prepared for Shamrock this spring. They are still kicking my ass a little, I can tell I've lost some hill fitness, but I'm slowly improving. My hamstrings no longer are sore after doing the seven mile route!