Monday, December 29, 2014


I'll be ending 2014 on a high note and what a year it was. Two marathons within two seconds of each other, a slew of PRs, and the most miles I have ever ran in a year. I'll eclipse the 1600 mile mark tonight at run group and end up running almost 200 miles more than last year. Overall it's nice to look back and see what a good year I really had, especially with the blah attitude I've been having lately.

Last winter I was coming off the high of my first ever marathon, one that went great and left me excited for my second in Vancouver, BC that next May. I think that got me through the winter blahs last year because I don't remember dreading it this much a year ago. Now I've had two tougher marathon experiences (still successful though) so that pending marathon in Eugene spring 2015 isn't quite as "exciting." I'm sure once it gets closer and the days start getting longer and warmer I'll feel better about it though.

As for ending this year on a high note, despite my motivational issues, I've still been around 115 miles a month, which is perfect for maintaining my fitness. I've done some re-arranging due to weather but I've only "skipped" one run this entire time since the week after the Portland Marathon. That's pretty fucking good. Now I could be doing more speedwork and blah blah blah, but getting my ass outside in the cold and dark is victory enough. Killing myself on a track can wait until early spring.

Race highlight of 2014 for me.
I think the highlight of 2014 (other than Ragnar SoCal, which was awesome and the running part really didn't matter) was my PR at the Shamrock 15k in March. I was just hoping to break 1:10 that day and to get 1:06 was absolutely mind blowing. To totally shatter what you believed your abilities were was pretty cool. Everything was just clicking that day. Totally the opposite happened at the Portland Marathon, which was a slog from nearly the beginning; but I am proud to have stuck that one out and PRed by a second.

And the final piece of the puzzle of ending this year on a high note was my run this Saturday with Coach Jim. I didn't think Alejandro or anybody I knew what going to be there. For some odd reason I went to bed early Friday night and woke up Saturday morning at 7am feeling motivated to go run. I thought for sure I'd skip it and go run by myself on Sunday. For whatever reason, I showed up, Ale ended up coming (only for six miles though) and I had a great 14.5 mile run with the group at 9:10/mile. Really great way to kick off the weekend.

To bigger and better things in 2015!

Tuesday, December 23, 2014


Let's be honest, even if the weather was sunny Saturday morning I don't think Coach Jim was going to happen.
This weekend I didn't end up going to that sixteen miler. Like predicted, it POURED all of Saturday and I just didn't think waking up to go slog in that would be good for my mental running health. I have clothes to run in sprinkles/light rain, but when it is pouring I don't have any good clothing options. It would have been miserable.

Good thing too, because the night before I went out with my running buddies for some shenanigans. Alejandro was there and he certainly wasn't about to wake up and go running (we didn't get home until almost 2am) and neither was I. Luckily the weather bailed us out and made me feel okay about skipping it, because even if I had stayed in that night and sipped tea and did a puzzle (that actually sounds kind of fun) I wasn't going to go running in that monsoon.

Flash forward to Sunday. It mostly dried out except for a few sprinkles here and there so Alejandro and I decided to repent by doing a hard ten mile hill run. We met at my house and ran out to Cooper Mountain, went down into the nature park, and then back up and back home. It was a hard run I've done before but looking back I think it has been two years since I last ran Cooper Mountain.

This run is not for the faint of heart. You basically climb 500 feet in the second mile. No joke. And that is after some pretty significant rolling hills in the first mile. I felt like I was going to die. Alejandro charged ahead but that hill is just too freaking steep so I slowed to a snail's pace. My hammies and hips were BURNING at the top and I didn't even know if I could continue. Anyways, I did and eventually you get to the nature park and get some wicked nice downhill.

During that downhill you are feeling pretty good. I can do this! I am the hill master! Well, eventually after losing 300 feet or so you have to climb back up in the course of a mile. Not quite as wicked as that first hill getting there, but still, you start to question your abilities to stay alive and finish. It was really working my hammies and glutes. I am going to have a fantastic ass come Shamrock time. We finally crested the top of the hill and worked our way out of the park.

The rest of the run is generally downhill, but there is still quite a bit of uphill. It's quite rolling and the elevation chart doesn't really show that. This route gives you very little rest. You are either practicing downhill or charging uphill. Honestly though, this makes it a really effective run. Those ten miles were harder than a sixteen mile run on flat ground. I was spent after and still sore today (Tuesday). It was great practice for Shamrock in March. If I were to run that every other week until Shamrock I'd set a course PR for sure. Who knows though, maybe I'll wait another two years before going back.

Thursday, December 18, 2014


Thought I would give a quick update. I'm in "maintain" mode and perfectly comfortable with it. Since I'm not training for anything at the moment it is nice to be a little more relaxed about the whole running thing. I don't have to hit certain runs or else feel like a failure. Just as long as I'm getting a decent amount of mileage in I'm feeling pretty happy. During my "time off" I'm still hitting 25+ miles a week and over 100 a month, so honestly I'm not even throttling down that much.

I think this little "rest" period is good for me though. I need a "break" from running, both mentally and physically. And it's funny to use "rest" and "break" when I am still running as much as I do. However, I need to run in order to keep eating what I like to eat and not gain weight and feel decent, so I keep running. I am much more relaxed about it though, going by how I feel that certain day instead of hitting a certain run. Heck, even if I feel good but I get to running group and my peeps are doing 9:15/mile, I'm going to hang with them (except that one pub night when everyone did 5 miles and I refused to not do 7 since it was pub night so I ran alone).

Anywho, that's where I am at. At some point in January or February I'll kick up the training to get ready for my spring marathon. Until then, I'm just going to maintain. I am very aware I'm not getting any faster, in fact I'm probably slowly getting slower, but it's a trade off I'm going to accept to be able to hit my spring marathon training feeling like I got a proper break from the grind of training.

This weekend there is a sixteen mile Coach Jim run I'm hoping to attend. There is also a 100% chance of rain Saturday morning. If it's pouring down rain and 44 degrees I'm probably not going to go. Physically I can do it, but mentally... fuck that. If I'm marathon training then I go no matter what (I remember many wet Coach Jim runs training for Vancouver last year). In this case though... I'll try to find a period when it's dry and get some miles in, but I'm going to be miserable for three hours for no good reason.

Tuesday, December 09, 2014


I was bad and forgot to take pictures during!
Year three of the HoHo 5k at Cook Park in Tigard. Second year doing it with Brandon who surprisingly agreed to do it again this year (and had off and on buyer's remorse). When we were finished though he said something along the lines of "I like how we do the two races, it's like a tradition" (referring to the Sunday Evenings 5k in the summer and this race in the almost-winter). So overall I'm looking forward to following Santa in his Sleighburu for many years to come!

I picked Brandon up around 9am and we headed to the park. Much warmer this year, 38 degrees this year compared to 18 last year. It was still a little cold though. Picked up our packets and then headed back to the car to stay warm. Brandon seems much less nervous before races now. Before his first race he was really quiet and I could tell he was freaking out a little. Now it's like old hat.

Anyways, after saying hi to some people that I knew at the start line, the race started with Santa leading the way in his Sleighburu. We ran to the bottom of the big hill out of Cook Park again and then walked up it. Seems silly to be walking less than a quarter mile into the race, but if we were to run up that I'm afraid it would take too much out of him. Once we reached the top we started running and got a half mile in before he had to take his first walking break. After that we started running again (about a 10:00/mi pace) and hit the first mile in 10:36.

As soon as I announced that we hit one mile Brandon wanted to walk again. I said something along the lines of "we haven't even gone a quarter mile since we last walked!" which was met with disinterest and a slow down to walk. Haha. The good news is after that break we ran almost another half mile before he needed to rest again. We waved at Santa and went down into the park. This wasn't Brandon's best mile. I just kept encouraging him and he was nice enough to encourage me back. Hit it in 11:52 and were a little bit behind PR pace.

Brandon seemed disinterested in getting a PR at this point in the race. "I don't really care" I believe is a direct quote. It was funny because it reminded myself of me during a race. I could give two craps about PRs once the race starts and I'm tired and I want to quit. However, Brandon, like me, didn't give up. With some encouragement and determination we kept grinding along. I dared him not to let a couple shuffling along pushing a double stroller to beat us. Also, that slightly pudgy kid your age ahead of us. You're not going to let him beat us are you?

After walking right at the mile two mark we only took one more walking break. I kept a 10:00/mile pace up and Brandon would charge ahead, walk until I got close, charge back ahead, walk, etc. As long as we were maintaining that 10:00/mile pace, whatever worked. We did meet up and walk together for a little bit before he took off like a bat out of hell once the stroller people waved to us while ahead during a small out and back (we had a friendly back and forth going).

He started off a little early so eventually I caught back up to him. We had passed his targets though and were getting close to the finish. I was very proud of him, he was exhausted, but kept going because he knew we were close. He tried to stop at one point but I said "you can't stop now!" and he kept going. Into the finish we rolled, Brandon in a full on sprint.

I was so proud! He really gave it his all and after the second mile it wasn't looking so hot for a PR, but he pulled off a quick third mile while exhausted to bring it home. The course was short again, about 2.9 miles, so we never hit mile three. We would have hit it in about 10:15 though which I believe would have been his fastest mile ever. I adjusted his time upward to make it a true 5K time, that way when he runs his next 5k, he is playing on a level field. Way to go Brandon!

Brandon's Official Time: 31:39, 10:57/mi. 145/327 overall (top 45%!), 7/11 M11-14.
Adjusted 5k PR: 33:50

Our pacing during the HoHo 5k this year. Drops in the blue line correspond to walking breaks.

Saturday, December 06, 2014


Coach Jim the last three weeks on one map.
Hello there. I've been continuing to plug along. I've hit 30 miles a week for the last three weeks, so despite feeling like I'm slacking, I'm really not all that much. Looking back at last year I was hitting about 25 miles a week at this time, so I have nothing to be ashamed of. The only thing I could really improve on is my speed work, but I'll get that going more officially in a month or two. I'm still trying to get one "speed" run in a week.

What has really sped up has been my long runs. Part of my strategy to break through the 3:30 barrier in the marathon is to speed up these longer weekend runs. My first three training cycles have seen these runs at about 9:45/mile. When my target marathon pace is almost two minutes faster, come race day I think it might be too much of a leap. So I think speeding these runs up a bit should help me come race day.

Recently every weekend I've been running with Coach Jim and his group. For the most part I have stuck to the 3:20 marathon pace group which has been running at 8:55/mi-9:20/mi. We've been kind of going back and forth between paces, I haven't quite figured if that's on purpose but I'm sure there's some method to it. Anyways, these runs have been good for me. The pickup in speed has certainly been a challenge but one that I have seemed to handle pretty well.

Take today's run. We ran at 8:55/mi and had a very hilly miles 2-4. That killed the legs a little bit but I was able to feel pretty good through about mile 10. The last four were a total slog and the last two pretty uncomfortable, but I got them done. All told, twelve hours later, my legs feel pretty good. I'm sure I'll be sore tomorrow but that is just par for the course. That happened when I went slower too.

My goal is to keep running with this group every weekend and eventually get my legs used to this new long run pace. By starting early, with these 12, 13, and 14 mile runs, I'll hopefully get my legs adjusted enough that when we hit 18 and 20 miles I'll be able to do those at this pace without completely taking myself out of commission for multiple days. Then when I hit the Eugene Marathon in early May I'll hopefully be able to go sub 3:30!