Wednesday, December 30, 2015

CARD CARRYING MEMBER



Well, Planet Fitness finally put out a new deal that I could stomach. $10 to join and then $10/month. Doesn't get much better than that, so I went ahead and pulled the trigger. It will be nice to have that as an option on those dark, cold, and rainy nights where I lack motivation. Katie also joined so it will be nice to have a gym buddy if we end up going at the same time. I made sure to go last night to establish myself as a "pre-January 1ster." That way I can act all annoyed at the people coming in January. "This place used to not be so crowded! Man, I long for the good old days of three days ago."

Anyways, I ended up doing thirty minutes on the elliptical at a pretty decent clip. The program I did wanted to know my target heart rate, so I plugged in 168, not knowing what that really meant. Turns out that is almost 90% of my max HR, so it was a pretty decent clip. The running equivalent of my average speed was 6:50/mile. That just goes to show you how much easier an elliptical is! It was a good workout though, got me sweating and burnt some calories (375), so mission accomplished.

Katie then showed me how to use a number of the weight machines, so that was cool. A lot of them look like torture devices, but I guess once you know how to use them they aren't too bad. I don't want to get ripped, but I guess some upper body tone wouldn't hurt. Also, I need to strengthen my core (whatever the fuck that is) for running. I always hear about that and running. So I'll probably do some weight stuff too. The new plan is to hopefully run three times a week and then elliptical/weights twice a week. I'm not going to be too rigid about my schedule because usually I am pretty good at being flexible but not slacking off. I imagine something like this though:

Mon: PRC Run
Tue: Gym
Wed: PRC Run
Thu: Rest
Fri: Gym
Sat: Long Run
Sun: Rest

Thursday, December 24, 2015

UPDATE: A WHOLE LOT OF NOTHING

This guy.
Just figured I should give you all an update. Basically, nothing has happened since I last checked in except that I saw The Force Awakens and it was AWESOME. So awesome I saw it again yesterday. And I'll see it again at least once more in the theater. I gave Revenge of the Sith a "B," and I'll give The Force Awakens a solid "A." It was really all we could ask for, the return to fun space adventures with characters were care about (and mostly new ones! I cared about Rey and Finn. I didn't give a shit about Anakin or Padme). Not over the top CGI shit wrapped around a boring political drama and painfully forced relationship.

ANYWAYS, go see it if you haven't. Other than that, I haven't done much. I haven't ran since the 5th of December. My legs still felt funny until a few days ago, but I'm back to feeling fresh. I think I might run on Christmas morning because that has been one of my favorite traditions the past few years. A group of us meet at the Tualatin Starbucks and do an easy five miles or so and then have coffee. It's fun. So I'll probably do that very easily and see how it goes. Assuming nothing major happens I'll probably slowly get back to running again. I have the Miami Half Marathon in like four weeks so yeah... need to get on that. 1:58 here I come.

To be honest I haven't missed running, or working out, at all. Like pretty much zero. There have been some times when I feel lazy and like I should do something, but that is just my brain being conditioned and not my body physically yearning for exercise. Left to my own devices I'd be a sloth and 250 pounds. The good thing is I realize that, so even if I don't necessarily want to do it, I'll still get out there and do it... probably. I envision moving forward I'll probably run three days a week and workout twice more. We'll see how it shakes out. For now, I'm enjoying the time off.

Thursday, December 17, 2015

LEARNED ABOUT WEIGHT LOSS, I HAVE



First of all, tonight is the first night of the new Star Wars movie. I'd be lying if I didn't say I was having a mini-geek out. So excited! I have to tickets to see it with Libbie and Jeff so we'll be there opening night. Thankfully, the showing is at 7:30 or something, so I don't have to stay up until midnight like in previous years. Remember when you actually had to be hardcore to show up on opening night? I guess society has become that lazy. Anyways, venture back in time 10.5 years when I wrote a post about opening night for Episode III. Unfortunately all the pictures were hosted at a now defunct server.

Moving on, this post was supposed to be about what I learned during my recent 11 pound loss. Well, mostly I re-learned a lot of things and I am still learning as I transition back to normal eating. The biggest takeaway for me was portion control. The first week or so I was starving while eating 1700-1800 calories a day. By the end of the 5.5 weeks I wasn't starving and satisfied with 1500-1600 calories a day. I'm fairly certain my stomach shrunk a little! Now that I am back to "normal" I have tried to eat "old normal" a couple times and ended up in pain from being so full.

Take last night at Fuddruckers. Normally the 1/2 pound burger and fries left me satisfied but not overly full. Last night I thought I was going to explode and severely regretted my choice to eat it all. Lesson learned. I want to avoid stretching my stomach back out, so I'll have to be very aware about how much I eat. I liked that 500 calories could fill me up for a meal! I'll have to make sure to still eat enough calories, 2100 or so, because I don't want to keep losing weight. I think the re-introduction of beer and alcohol should do the trick.

Another lesson has been that fruit and vegetables are delicious! I was never against fruits and veggies, but I didn't make a conscious effort to constantly include them in my diet. When you are losing weight they are a great source of food for not a lot of calories, so I found myself eating them often. Lately I've been obsessed with apples... I cannot believe these delicious orbs of juicy yum flesh just grow outside in the wild. It's crazy. Long story short, I plan to continue to supplement my meals and snacks with fruits and veggies.

Really, that's about it. I already knew all this stuff, but over time you just kind of forget. The Force was strong with me. Do, or do not, there is no try (when it comes to weight loss). I used to bullseye wamp rats in my T-16 back home, they aren't much bigger than that Fuddruckers burger. That's not true, that's impossible that you can be satisfied with 1600 calories! Search your feelings you know it to be true that apples are delicious. Okay, I'm running out of Star Wars quotes. Off to the Tosche Station to pick up some power converters!

Monday, December 14, 2015

WEIGH IN SUNDAY - IT'S OVER!

Suck it Trebek.
It's over, it's over! Wohoo! By the grace of his noodly appendage I hit 165.0 over the weekend and am officially done losing weight! As I mentioned in my last post, I was already very over this thing, but felt the need to get down to 165 since that was the original goal I put out there. It was getting to the point where I was just going to not drink water and go work out on the elliptical for two hours to hit the number, but thankfully I stepped on the scale Sunday and saw that magic number.

I will replay the experience for you. A few seconds of stunned silence as my eyes grew in size, then a loud "fuck yea!" followed by many primal grunts and celebratory gestures. I stepped back on the scale just in case... fucker flashed 165.2 for a second before settling back on 165.0. I think it knew I would have thrown it out the window if it didn't comply, so good scale. Anyways, I was very excited. I've been having this dream of buffalo wings for a couple weeks and I immediately went out to Safeway to try their new wing hot bar. Unfortunately, there were no wings when I went, so I had to buy the cold ones. They were good, but I still need some real, fresh wings here soon.

Now that it's over, what's next? Well, hopefully maintain around this weight. Like I mentioned last post, I am a little skinnier than I planned and my pants don't fit great anymore. My 32-waist jeans are trying to fall off my body. I really don't feel like repurchasing a bunch of clothes, so a few pounds of gain wouldn't be the worst thing in the world. I'd like to maintain in the high 160s, so maybe set 168 as my target weight. The goal will be maintain that for the foreseeable future. I'll have a  post about what I learned during this whole process soon.

Yes, that's copious amounts of blue cheese. Not pictured: beer.
Also, an update on the gym thing. I went with Katie to join Planet Fitness if they'd waive the "start up fee" but they played the "we can't change it, corporate won't even let us" card, to which we said, "okay, cool, bye." Probably true. I'm sure the mothership pays them dirt and gives little authority over such things. So the plan now is to wait for the gyms to start putting out their "New Years Resolutions" deals and take advantage of one of those. Last year Planet Fitness had "$99 for one year, no start up fee" right before the New Year, so hopefully they'll do something similar again. Their next promotion should start on the 18th, so we'll see then!

Last Week: 166.6 lbs
Yesterday: 165.0 lbs
Weight Lost: -1.6 lbs
Total Loss: -11.0 lbs
Pounds from Goal: 0.0 lbs (!!!)

Wednesday, December 09, 2015

WEIGH IN WEDNESDAY, WEEK FIVE

Let me just start by saying that I am so fucking over this. My pants are falling off my hips and I'm definitely a bit skinnier than when I hit 165 before (this was pre-running, so I've added lower body muscle I'm guessing). Anyways, I should just stop now. There is no point in going to 165... once I get there I'm immediately going to indulge and get myself back up to 168 or so, when I don't have to keep hiking my pants up like an early 2000s teen.

However, I set a goal of 165, and even though at this point it's RIDICULOUS, I'm not going to stop until I am there. Because when I set a goal, I like to achieve it. I don't like excuses or giving up. Even when it doesn't make sense. So with this week's slightly anemic loss and the lack of running, it might be a little bit before I hit my goal. Basically, the first time I weigh in at 165.0 or less, it's over. Doesn't have to be a Wednesday. I'll call it as soon as I see that number. Hopefully it's soon. I'm over it.

Last Week: 167.6 lbs
This Week: 166.6 lbs
Weekly Loss: -1.0 lbs
Total Loss: -9.4 lbs
Pounds from Goal: 1.6 lbs

Tuesday, December 08, 2015

TO GYM OR NOT TO GYM

My knees hurt just looking at this picture. Do I spot some ellipticals in the next row though?
Even before my latest "freshness" issue (okay, that sounds dirty, I'll explain in a bit) I was tossing the idea around of joining a gym. Now that running and I are no longer in the honeyman stage and are having some martial problems, I have been really dreading the winter. The cold, the dark, the rain. It's just very hard to stay motivated and get out there when it is so awful outside. There is a Planet Fitness really close to my house and I thought it might be a good idea to join so I can still stay active and not be outside.

My solution in previous years has been to go to the THPRD indoor track. At $4.50 (I think) a visit it's not cheap but was a good option for those few times a year I just couldn't get myself outside. Now that I am even more picky about when I run, that could start to add up though. Plus, it's only a track, nothing more. So running is the only option. There are other THPRD facilities with workout rooms, but at $4.50 a pop, it could really add up.

There are my people!
So, about that freshness issue lately; I've heard about this thing called Monistat been feeling really run down. I think I'm working my way toward another overtraining syndrome thing. I need to give me body, my knees in particular, a break. The two weeks off after Detroit was not enough and the recent half marathon seems to have introduced even more problems. After that race on Sunday I didn't run again until Wednesday, when I only did 5 miles. Followed that up with 3 Friday and 6 Saturday. That seemed to really kick my ass, I was physically limping yesterday and my knees actually looked swollen.

I really don't know what the fuck is going on other than I can't keep up what I'm doing. It's not only my knees, but my hamstrings were really sore too. That same "bat to the back of the knee" feeling I had last February. So I think taking some time off would be great. An entire month maybe. I don't know. I think the elliptical would be a good way to keep my cardio up in that time, plus it's way easier on my joints. Maybe I'll actually use some of the other machines and work my upper body too. I don't know.

I just know I can't go through this winter like the previous ones. I need to shake something up. My body needs a break. I have the Miami Half Marathon and the Zena Road run in late January/early February, so if I'm going to take some time off from running, now is the time. Will I pull the trigger on this gym thing? Stay tuned!

Wednesday, December 02, 2015

WEIGH IN WEDNESDAY, WEEK FOUR

Good weigh in this morning. I had some "challenges" last week I had to deal with so coming up with a 1.6 pound loss is awesome! I was going to be thrilled with 168, so almost a half pound less was even better. I'm just over 2.5 pounds from goal and so ready to get this whole thing over.

Things that were challenging last week included a night out with friends Tuesday night. I was afraid this was going to jack up my Wednesday weigh in, but that turned out awesome (dehydrated from the alcohol?). Anyways, that was a higher calorie day. I was good on Wednesday but then Thursday was Thanksgiving and my total intake guess of 3,000 might have been a little low. That was probably best case. I then had Brandon on Friday, and while I didn't eat way too many calories, I ate shit.

Anyways, at one point I weighed in at 170.5 or so. I think that was Saturday. However, the half marathon seemed to shed all that Thanksgiving bloat and my weight has been steady and trending slightly downward since then. I guess I was good five out of the seven days, so that's why I still came out pretty well.

With a really good week I could be at goal next week. That would be awesome. However, I know not to expect it. I'm making it my goal to be done in two weeks. I know the nature of weight loss... I could be really good all week and then weigh in with a 1.0 pound loss next week. What I've been doing has been working great, so I'll keep at it and by the 16th I should be done!

Last Week: 169.2 lbs
This Week: 167.6 lbs
Weekly Loss: -1.6 lbs
Total Loss: -8.4 lbs
Pounds from Goal: 2.6 lbs

Tuesday, December 01, 2015

2015 HOT BUTTERED RUN HALF MARATHON RACE RECAP

Number buddies! She was getting over the flu
and couldn't run. Bummer!
In what is a very rare occurrence, I woke up before my alarm went off Sunday morning. I believe I set it for 6:45 and I ended up waking up at 6:35. Just the day before I let myself sleep in and didn't begin to gain consciousness until 11:00. That means one of two things... I was excited or nervous. I'm going to go with #2. It has been a while since I remember not looking forward to a race this much. Just not super peppy about running in general at the moment and the fact that it was going to be 28 degrees... just, no.

However, if I sign up for a race, I'm going to do it, so I used the slightly earlier than normal wake up to have a little bit more of a relaxed morning (by setting the alarm at 6:45, that means actually getting out of bed at 7:30). By the time I picked up Katie I was mostly awake but still very much dreading the race. No getting out of it though. We found parking right next to the start line, grabbed our bibs, stayed in the car to be warm, then left for the start line with about fifteen minutes to spare. I had to use the bathroom so by the time I was done with that there were maybe two minutes before the race started. I jumped into the corral and worked my way toward the front.

The gun went off and away we went. Despite not looking forward to this race at all, once you get running you are sort of committed. The temperature was 28 degrees when it started, making it the coldest race I've done. I did a HoHo 5k with Brandon a couple years back that was 18 degrees, but that was more of a jog for me. Surprisingly, the cold weather didn't really effect me at all. I was slightly cold at the start, but once I started running I warmed up pretty quick. I pulled my beanie off my head about a mile into the race and never felt the need for it again. Even rolled up my long sleeves about halfway through the race.

About to cross the finish line!
When I said the first four miles or so were downtown, that was me speaking as a person who doesn't know Vancouver. The first mile was actually in the city, the second mile was near Fort Vancouver, which was neat, but then after that it was pretty industrially/stark until the very finish. Long story short, the scenery didn't offer much of a distraction. The race is mostly a giant out and back along this rural/industrial section and while it was nearly pancake flat, it was pretty dull.  A trade off I suppose. It was about what I expected and I certainly appreciated the flatter course.

I was surprised at how well I felt most of the race. I locked into my half marathon pace without really thinking about it too much. One of my few skills running is being able to lock into the appropriate paces for various distances. Somehow my body just knows the right speed to go, whether it be a 5k or half marathon. So that was good. The half felt like it should, a challenging pace but one that could be sustained semi comfortably for nearly two hours. The first mile contained a fair bit of uphill running, so my 7:40 was actually a pretty good split. 7:27 second mile on some gentle downhill we got back.

My splits for the first eight miles are as follows: 7:40, 7:27, 7:47, 7:43, 7:51, 7:52, 7:53, 7:55. So around 7:50/mile with a very gradual slowdown. I was feeling pretty good until mile seven, when I apparently took a funny step and then all of a sudden my glute muscle that flared up during Detroit started acting up. For a little bit I was thinking I'd be having a repeat of Detroit on a smaller scale. While it got close to feeling like it was about to really pull and cause an issue a couple times, it never really did. I just ran through it and tried to maintain the same effort level. My times were already heading upward, but you can see an instant 10 second a mile increase at this point likely due to this muscle.

So the final five miles were: 8:05, 8:07, 8:07, 8:24, 8:06. So I was able to "lock in" to my new pace and stick with it. The 8:24 was the uphill portion I mentioned during preview. It would normally be nothing, but mile 12 of the half marathon with a flaring up butt muscle... it was a slight something. Regardless, I scaled it without too much issue and continued on my merry way. The route to the finish line was a slight downhill so I was able to do the final little bit at a sub 8:00/mile pace. Energy wise I felt pretty good, which was nice. My legs were complaining a little, but not too much. The glute toned down for the final few miles and wasn't as much as a worry as miles 8-10ish.

First time on Santa's lap in years!
The last mile or so I was paying close attention to my watch and knew I'd be close on getting my sub 1:45 goal. It wasn't until the final two blocks or so I was assured I'd get it. Rolling through the finish line at 1:44:22, I immediately sucked down a couple cups of water. I had some at the first aid station but that water was so cold and made my stomach hurt that I didn't stop again. On a day like that during a half you don't really need too much liquid anyway. It was nice to have at the finish though. Turns out I placed third in my age group, so after getting our hot buttered rums (yum!) Katie and I found a Starbucks and chilled out for a bit before I collected my medal.

Overall, I'm pretty happy with the race! Not my best time by far, but I still don't think my legs are back fully from my double marathon adventure. That's a post for another time though. I felt really good during the run, except for my glute muscle, and in the end was glad I did the race. That day, and the next day, my legs were very sore, which means I gave it my all. As long as you are hobbling the next day I don't know what more you could do during a race. Good times! While the course wasn't the greatest, I did enjoy this race and would definitely sign up again!

Official Chip Time: 1:44:22, 7:58/mile. 41/380 overall, 30/134 male, 3/12 M25-29.

Saturday, November 28, 2015

HOT BUTTERED RUN HALF MARATHON RACE PREVIEW

This will be short, because like with anything to do with running lately, I'm half assing it. This race sounded like a great idea a month ago, and I suppose it has served its purpose of keeping me in shape in order to run it. However, now that it is hovering in front of me in the morning... not so excited. Supposed to be around freezing tomorrow when the race starts, so that's going to suck. Probably the coldest race I will ever run (will be close with Detroit).

Anyways, the good thing about the race is that it is a really flat course. We start in downtown Vancouver at Esther Short Park and then run out west along Lower River Road toward Vancouver Lake. There is about four miles of farting around downtown first, so those miles should hopefully fly by. Speaking of flying, we'll run by Pearson Airfield, which the race started at when I did it back in 2012. That place was nice because you were able to hang out indoors before the race. I remember it being really cold that year too.

The large out and back starts around mile 4 and we turn around at mile 7.65ish. So it shouldn't be too bad, I'm thinking I'll get to that point without hating life too much yet. Once we flip around, I'll be good for about a half mile, seeing all the people coming toward me I'm ahead of, then that novelty will wear off, and I'll hate life for about 40 minutes. Around mile 11 we split off and take a slightly different route back downtown. It is up Mill Plain Blvd, which I remember from the 12k a couple years ago. Slight hill to deal with there.

Once I conquer that mini hill, it should be smooth sailing into the finish. I've definitely lost my "marathon legs" so I expect the last few miles of this half to be challenging. Hopefully I'll have enough juice in them to finish strong though. Then comes the sweet, sweet relief of not running. Katie, who was going to run the race before getting sick, will be there spectating so I'll be able to hand a sweatshirt or something to her for the finish line. Once I drink my well-earned hot buttered rum, I'll likely head home and collapse on the couch for the rest of the day.

GOALS:

"A" Goal: Sub 1:45. I'm not nearly as fast as I used to be. I'll be very happy with this time given my current speed.

"B" Goal: Sub 1:50... if I can't hit my "A" goal, then I can accept this. Maybe I'm just not feeling it tomorrow. Maybe the cold air fucks with my lungs.

"C" Goal: Sub 2:00. Otherwise, barring injury, I'm quitting running.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

WEIGH IN WEDNESDAY, WEEK THREE

Good weigh in this morning. I was down 3.4 pounds to double my total weight loss to 6.8 pounds. Now, is this my "real" weight or did I happen to hit a valley? I think it's my real weight. It was similar on both Sunday and Monday. And my weigh in last week at 172.6 was a day or two after weighing in at 170.8. So it feels about right.

That being said, this week may not be as good. Yesterday I celebrated with some friends to the tune of 2,500ish calories and Thursday is Thanksgiving. I was glad yesterday's fun did not affect the scale too much this morning. But movement might be hard this week. Good thing I have that half marathon on Sunday to keep me in line. Anyways, If I could lose just over a pound this week and be at 168.0 next Wednesday I'd consider that a huge victory.

Hopefully I can lose these final 4.2 pounds in the next three weeks. 1.4 pounds a week. If I keep doing what I have been doing, I should be able to manage that. That'll release me to freedom on December 16th, a week earlier than I originally hoped. This whole experience has taught (and re-taught) me a lot about my daily eating habits... I'll have a post on that once this is all over.

Last Week: 172.6 lbs
This Week: 169.2 lbs
Weekly Loss: -3.4 lbs
Total Loss: -6.8 lbs
Pounds from Goal: 4.2 lbs

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

SO, ABOUT THAT HALF THIS WEEKEND...

Back when Hot Buttered was a 12k.
Well, slap me sideways, I have a half in five days. I haven't thought too much about it... I have been doing my long runs on the weekend in anticipation for it, but other than that I've done no real preparation for it. I've done a couple "faster" runs in the last two weeks but nothing much that really qualifies as speedwork. So I'm not expecting miracles here. I'll have a preview of the race up likely on Friday or Saturday, but needless to say, I'm not expecting a great time. I'll give it 100% and that's all that you can ask!

The wet and the cold has really sucked recently. Since I just don't care as much anymore, I'm not going to force myself outside to run when I don't have to. Since the marathons I've been running three days a week and that is serving me just fine. I want to see my buddies and feel guilty if I skip the Monday and Wednesday PRC runs, so that takes care of two days a week. That just leaves the long run on the weekend in the light. I can manage that. Hopefully some weeks I'll feel like going for a fourth or fifth run of the week but I'm not going to expect it.

This last weekend I ran eight miles as my long run. Part of the "taper" for the half marathon. Yesterday I wasn't able to get to run group in time after getting stuck in traffic. I was actually pretty glad I didn't make it, it was 39, raining, and cold as balls. That is the sort of thing that is going to make me hate running. Old Thomas would have got home and ran the miles on his own around the neighborhood. New Thomas turned on the fireplace, kicked his legs up, and watched football. I'll run on Wednesday and then again on Thursday to burn off some calories before Thanksgiving. Then on Sunday I'll have the race. So the week will shake out just fine.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

WEIGH IN WEDNESDAY, WEEK TWO

Another week in the positive direction. I am a little disappointed just because I saw about a pound less than this when I stepped on the scale Monday, but I know from last time my weight bounces around and I can't always step on the scale when it happens to be at a valley. This is actually probably much closer to reality... I am eating and exercising to lose an average of a pound a half a week and that's pretty much exactly what I did. My scale only goes in .2 increments so I might have actually lost exactly a pound a half, who knows.

Eating was very good this last week, didn't go over my allotted calories once. I did eat two meals on Sunday and Monday that were large and made me feel kind of sick to my stomach (after going lighter on the other meals in anticipation). Probably not the best strategy there, so I'll try to avoid those. Can't wait until I hit my goal and can just pig out.

Last Week: 174.0 lbs
This Week: 172.6 lbs
Weekly Loss: -1.4 lbs
Total Loss: -3.4 lbs
Pounds from Goal: 7.6 lbs

Monday, November 16, 2015

TWELVE TORTUROUS MILES

How exotic! (not)
It's amazing how quickly your perspective can change. Just a month ago I was in between the Portland and Detroit Marathons and the thought of twelve miles was nothing. What a short little run! During the summer I would have killed to do a twelve miler on the weekends. It would have flown by and felt really short. Well, now that I am out of the marathon mindset (and marathon shape at this point) this run is no longer a gimme!

Luckily Katie wanted to run twelve miles too (we are both getting ready for the Hot Buttered Run Half) so we met up on Saturday morning to get 'er done. Neither of us wanted to do hills, so we settled on Fanno Creek to run the distance. Really, it was an uneventful run. We ran part of the trail the week before on our ten miler, but for the most part it was new (old) territory. It was nice and flat but it was really windy. Parts of the run I wouldn't be surprised if we were running into a headwind of 20mph.

Anyways, long story short, the run felt way longer than it should have and was harder than I would have liked. All told it was 1:50:28 good for 9:12/mile. Not bad when you think of that as a 2:00 half marathon pace. I am a little sore from it and I guess that makes sense... normally my long runs are done a little slower. Still though... I am less than a month removed from a marathon. I guess maybe that's the problem. Maybe two weeks off wasn't enough? Honestly, I'm being dramatic. It wasn't that bad. Just annoying to be outside in the cold and wind for two hours.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

WEIGH IN WEDNESDAY, WEEK ONE

I've got the fat feet of a 300 lb guy.
First of all, I stumbled across this interesting piece about why weighing yourself on Wednesday is actually the best. And here I liked it just because of the alliteration.

Man, a lot of memories this week. Takes me back to 2011. The first few days I was starving and even ate 2,000ish calories because I exercised each day. It's funny though once you are determined to lose weight how you are sort of able to just ignore it. By day three I wasn't hungry all the time but definitely very hungry leading up to each meal. I think my body has adjusted a little, and I'm still hungrier than normal, but it feels just like 2011 so I guess that's a good thing.

Pleased when I stepped on the scale this morning and saw a two pound loss. I'm hoping to average 1.5 pounds a week, so that is a good start. If you look back on my 2011 chart, once I got in the weekly weigh in groove I was averaging just slightly over 1.5 pounds a week. I know it'll fluctuate a little, so even if I have another good week and I only lose 1 pound, I'm still on track.

If I lose 1.5 pounds each week I'll be at goal on December 23rd. Perfect timing to pig out on Christmas! ;) There will be a couple challenges in there... one, obviously, is Thanksgiving. I'll just make that a high calorie day and make sure to go on a run in the morning to jump start my metabolism. Shouldn't be too much of an issue. Then comes all the Christmas treats, cookies, popcorn, eggnog, etc. I shouldn't have any in my house, which is good, so I'll just have to worry about those at work. I'm very good about tracking (MyFitnessPal this time instead of a Excel spreadsheet) so if I do have any I'll just have to be honest and work them into my day.

The great thing about losing weight is that it is just a simple math problem. Calories in versus calories out. Really simple. There is no way to cheat or game the system if you are counting calories as long as you are honest about what you eat.

Last Week: 176.0 lbs
This Week: 174.0 lbs
Weekly Loss: -2.0 lbs
Total Loss: -2.0 lbs
Pounds from Goal: 9.0 lbs

Monday, November 09, 2015

FIRST LONG RUN BACK

I might have imagined this while running through that tree with the really bright leaves. If you recognize this, you are a nerd.
Yesterday I did my first long run since September 26th, before the Portland Marathon. I wasn't too worried about the distance, it was only ten miles, and my marathon shape won't fade that quickly. I am a little concerned about whether or not my body is actually recovered from my two marathon experiment though. The first few runs back have been a little more challenging than I would like. However, they are my first cardio in two weeks and have been pretty hilly runs, so maybe that is to blame.

Anyways, yesterday's run went pretty well. I met with Matt, Katie, and Valerie and we ran ten miles from Matt's house. It was really uneventful. The fall colors are out in full force right now and some parts of the run were really pretty. There was this one tree that was dropping nothing but bright red leaves and that was really cool. I also saw the biggest mushroom ever off the path a few feet. I'm surprised a kid hasn't gone over there and gave it a swift kick. Anyways, the weather was perfect, low 50s and dry for the most part.

My legs started to complain a little bit at about mile eight. Nothing too bad though, I could have easily ran farther if I had to. Our overall pace was 9:30/mile, which was perfect and not bad for a route that had lots of rolling hills. I wish I could say the pace felt easy, but it felt harder than it should have. When we first started we were going about 10:00/mile and I thought I was going to die. By the end of the first mile though I had adjusted. I'm going to have to make a conscious effort to do speed work here shortly... if all I run is 9:00/mile+ then it's going to feel hard.

Wednesday, November 04, 2015

ELEVEN POUNDS

Today's weigh in! 11 pounds to lose!
Until a few days ago, I hadn't stepped on the scale in a while. When I was finished losing weight back in 2011 I was 165 and pretty soon this crept upward to around 170 once I started running about a year later. I figured it was mostly muscle gain since my pants were still fitting the same. It probably was, I don't know. Anyways, I'd weigh myself from time to time and I was always in the "high 160s, low 170s" range. That was perfectly fine.

It had probably been a year or so since I really stepped on a scale. Not purposefully or because I was scared of it, but mostly because I was out of the routine and running a bunch so who gave a shit. This year wasn't as prolific running and I have taken an entire month off (two weeks earlier this year and then the two weeks just recently). Then, the two weeks between the Portland and Detroit Marathons I only ran twice but kept eating like normal and carbing back up. So this year I'd bet I've put on about five pounds, which isn't much at all. Not enough for other people to notice, but enough for me to notice. The belt buckle is still using the same hole but it's just a little snugger than it used to be.

So in 4.5 years I gained 11 pounds apparently, as I weighed in at 176 this morning. Again, some of that is muscle, but probably only a couple pounds. So that's not bad at all. However, I would like to get back down to 165 pounds. It will certainly help my running, which needs all the help it can get recently. And mostly it will just prevent me from continuing to creep upwards and before I know it see 180. If I have to buckle down for a month or two every 4-5 years then I think I can handle that. It's not asking too much.

From my 2011 weight loss spreadsheet.
I'm planning to lose weight in the same manner I did back in 2011. Counting calories and hoping for around 1-2 pounds of loss per week. My target goal is about 1700 calories with no exercise. If I run, then I can eat more. Typically I eat back about half of what I burn and that seems to be a good balance of not starving yourself but also not negating all exercise. I need to relearn to eat until I am satisfied and not stuffed. I also need to curb the snacking and needless calories I eat. I'm not a terrible snacker, but enough where I can certainly make a difference.

There are two approaches I could take with this. A gradual, less painful reduction in calories that would result in me hitting my goal in 3-4 months. Or a more aggressive approach that should have me there in 1-2 months. I'm going with the second option and mirroring what worked for me before. The slower option would also be more susceptible to weeks where I don't really see any movement as I'd lose like a 1/2 pound a week. Anyways, I'd rather just buckle down and get it over with as soon as possible.

Anyways, that's that. I'll have "Weigh In Wednesdays" where I post a picture of the scale every week, and today marks Day One. So you, fair reader, can follow along. Hopefully I'll be at goal by Christmas. This already sucks. The last two days I feel like I've been starving (I started counting on Tuesday). Brings back memories.

Monday, November 02, 2015

BACK TO IT

Me during my time off.
Well, I had a great two weeks off. I told myself after the Detroit Marathon I'd let my body fully heal and I think I have done so. Hopefully I didn't lose too much fitness during these two weeks off. It seemed like the two weeks earlier this year really set me back, but then again, I wasn't coming off two marathons at the time. I should be fine. The first run or two back will probably suck but I should be able to get back into it fairly easily.

The Hot Buttered Run Half Marathon coming up Thanksgiving weekend should keep me motivated to keep training for the next month. I'll start to work in long runs again, probably 10 and 12 miles, to keep me ready for the half distance. With my next marathon likely being Portland next fall, I can ratchet down my long runs to the 10 and 12 mile variety. Those are really my favorites... enough to feel like you really accomplished something but not so long you start to hate them.

After the Hot Buttered Run, my next race will likely be the Zena Road Runs 15k in early February. Other races on the schedule include the Corvallis Half Marathon and the Shamrock Run 15k. Probably some other ones in there too. I'll be more than content running these shorter races until the Portland Marathon next year. Seeing a bunch of stuff from the NYC Marathon yesterday made me want to run that... one day!

Monday, October 26, 2015

DETROIT MARATHON REFLECTIONS

The bonfire after the race on Sunday. Many beers, and Jell-O shots, were had. Too many... but I earned them!
Well, it's been a week now and I've had a lot of time to reflect on my experience in Detroit. Overall it was a really fun trip and I actually enjoyed the race quite a bit. I will say it was my favorite marathon that I have done when comparing Portland, Vancouver, and Detroit. They all have their strengths and weaknesses but overall Detroit's course is really great. It kind of makes me sad about the Portland Marathon... there is so much more potential there. The course is still decent and the support and organization are great... but man, how good could it be if they actually tried to feature the city like most other races do?

A lot of people may see my 4:21 and assume I walked quite a bit. The reason I can still hold my head up very high after this race is that I ran the vast majority of it. All that extra time was not walking, most of it was stopping to stretch. So I'd bet I ran at least 25 miles, if not more. I didn't walk much at all, a couple hills and prolonged water stations yes, but most of the time I was at least shuffling along at a jogging pace. So those 12 minute miles consisted of a 10:00/mile pace with 2 minutes of stretching. I think the race would have been a lot more frustrating if I actually had to walk it in, which I was prepared to do.

What's next? Well, I'm done with marathons for a while. Probably until Portland next year. Training during the winter for a spring marathon just sucks. I'd slogged through it for Vancouver, BC that one year but waking up early on a Saturday to run 18 miles in the rain is not the best. Plus, it will be nice to just concentrate on lower mileage and running faster. Give my body somewhat of a break before I do it all over again. I haven't fallen in love with the marathon distance but I do like the challenge. I like running with PMC in the summer. So pretty much nothing has changed!

Apparently we both decided to shoot him in the head.
My next race will be a half marathon Thanksgiving Weekend. The Hot Buttered Run Half Marathon. I did the 12k of this event way back in 2012 and have wanted to run it again. I was hoping to run the 12k, since I could actually still PR that, but they removed it in favor of the half marathon. Oh well. It'll be interesting to run a half marathon now that I actually have the legs for it. Not counting Bald Peak, my last half marathon was Rock n' Roll Portland and I still wasn't quite in half shape at the time. Hopefully after I take two weeks off (currently one week into that) my legs will be healed up and I can get a good time.

Also, a big thanks to Katie, Jerry, and the kids for being excellent hosts!

Thursday, October 22, 2015

2015 DETROIT MARATHON RACE REPORT

Halfway up the ramp to the Ambassador Bridge to run into Canada (stolen from Runs for Cookies... sorry Katie!)

PRE-RACE ACTIVITIES

My plane left at 7am on Thursday morning and I was in Detroit by 5pm local time after a stopover in Salt Lake City. Katie picked me up and we went straight to her cross country practice for the team she is coaching. That was fun to watch and if I were to ever coach again I think cross country would be a fun one to do. Jerry and the kids met us there and after the practice we went out to a place called Anson's to eat pizza. It was very good and they had all sorts of unique varieties. My favorite was the Rueben... yum! The night ended by sucking at Keno at a local bar near their house.

Red Wings game at Joe Lewis Arena! They lost 5-3.
Friday we spent most of the day in Detroit. The three of us had Caesar Salads for lunch at a BBQ place called Redsmoke. The Caesar dressing was interesting but very good... almost a cross between a Caesar and a balsamic vinaigrette. I got pulled chicken on my salad and tried a bunch of their different BBQ sauces. The honey mustard was my favorite. What can I say, I'm a sucker for anything honey mustard. After that yummy lunch we gambled a little bit at Greektown Casino... I played $20 and was up to $40 at one point, but as in true gambling fashion, kept playing and ended up with zero. Oops.

After that it was off to the expo. You've been to one, you've been to them all. The only unique thing about this one was showing your passport to a Department of Homeland Security official before you got your bib. Other than that though, same as usual. Bought some of the same Margarita Shot Blocks I used in Portland. After that we walked the River Walk and went to a bar and had a drink before going to my first NHL game. I had fun even though the Red Wings got housed. It was fun to see Joe Lewis Arena before they tear it down in a couple years.

Saturday was a fairly low-key day. In the morning we went their kids' cross country meet. It was my first meet and it was really interesting to watch even though it was super cold and I was freezing. Both kids ran and did really well and it was cool to see the variety of abilities there and all the different teams. After that we got lunch from a place called Eerie Bread Company and the sandwich I got was very good! Total calorie bomb though!

In the afternoon we played laser tag and went bowling with the kids. Laser tag was a lot of fun and it was cool to go to another arena other than the one here I always go to.  There wasn't a ton of people there so the first game was just Jerry, the kids, me, and two other people. The second game was the four of us versus a six pack of kids. My team won both times but I wasn't the top score, Katie's oldest was. Guess he's pretty good at laser tag! After that it was off to bowling. Did crappy on my first game (90-something) since I didn't have my ball or shoes, but got a 144 and 143 to redeem myself slightly in the final two.

Right after the race started.
RACE DAY MORNING

I actually adjusted to Eastern Time pretty well, probably the best of any trip back East for a race. Saturday night I fell asleep around 11 and woke up at 5. So about six hours of sleep. We left for the race at 5:30 and I had my normal breakfast of a bagel and cream cheese. The bagel was a pretzel bagel from Tim Horton's and it was pretty yummy! We parked at Greektown Casino and then took the People Mover to the start line. I was much less nervous for this race than Portland.

We probably should have studied the start line map because we got there with about 25 minutes until the race started. I needed to bag check the sweats and sweatshirt I was wearing (it was 33 degrees) and I couldn't find it. Maybe some directional signs would have helped. Anyways, it was super crowded due to the 15,000+ runners doing the various events, and getting anywhere was slow. I finally found bag check and checked my clothes with about one minute before the gun. All told, even though it was a close call, it worked out well. I was never cold because after checking my warm clothes I ran right to the start line and started the race.

MILES 1-8: OH CANADA! (8:14, 8:24, 8:40, 8:37, 8:02, 8:17, 8:24, 8:34)

Due to the close call at the start line I was unable to get with the 3:35 pacer. My bib actually had me in a slower corral (I think I put 4:00 or 4:15 as my time expecting to be pacing Katie) but nobody was monitoring it. I ended up slipping in near the 3:55 group and crossing the start line about six minutes after the race started. The start line was a lot like Miami... really busy and chaotic. They are similar sized events due to the large half taking place at the same time.

In the crowds toward the beginning of the race.
That first mile or so I had to weave a bit as I was with a slightly slower group of people but it wasn't too bad. I didn't think I could catch the 3:35 pacer, as they probably started three minutes ahead of me, so I knew I'd probably have to pace myself. That first mile or so felt really easy. My legs felt good and I was thinking just maybe I'd have a good race. Did I mention it was snowing at the start? Yeah. Luckily I was never cold. My shorts, long sleeved t-shirt, hat, and gloves were more than enough to keep me warm, especially once the sun came out.

It was two miles until you start going up the ramp to the Ambassador Bridge. This ramp is a more gradual climb than the St. John's Bridge and thus the "hill" lasted a lot longer. I took it easy up the bridge, averaging about 8:40, knowing there was a lot of race left. This part of the race was really cool... crossing the bridge into Canada as the sun came up. Very awesome! We got some downhill into Canada and I clocked an 8:02. Legs started feeling not as fresh though.

Once we leveled out in Canada I tried to maintain about an 8:15 pace. I was able to do it for one mile but then slowly drifted off pace. More on that later. Canada was very cool. Not a ton to see, you mostly run along the river and it looks a lot like the river from the other side, but it was fun to see the Detroit skyline and the people really come out and cheer over there. The Canadian border people were a lot of fun too, high-fiving participants and getting in on the festivities. After a flat two miles it was time for the tunnel back to the United States.

The tunnel was cool but way hotter than I excepted. It was a good 70F in there and I had to take off my hat and roll up my sleeves. It was pretty neat but I could tell my legs were starting to slow. So while I enjoyed the tunnel, this part of the race was also where I kind of realized I wouldn't be running a 3:40 race. At this point I had to readjust my focus and think about going sub 4:00. The "hill" out of the tunnel was tougher than it should have been but I still managed an 8:34.

MILES 9-14: THE U.S. OF AHHHH CRAP MY LEGS (8:58, 9:09, 8:41, 9:16, 9:04, 9:01)

Looking back at Detroit from Canada (Runs For Cookies)
As you can see with my times, this was an adjustment period. The thought at this point was to finish averaging about 9:00/mile and finish in 3:55 or so. I even followed the 3:55 pace group for a majority of these miles. My legs didn't crap out yet, but they were feeling very "not fresh." I could tell they weren't recovered from the Portland Marathon yet and there was no way I could have a similar time. So the hope now was to hang on at 9:00/mile. It would be a grind, but maybe I could do it. Maybe my legs could hang in there.

This part of the course was the least interesting. The "industrial part" of Portland for Detroit. Even then it was way more interesting than that damn section of Portland. Just around downtown streets that all kind of looked the same. Generally maintaining my 9:00ish pace and hoping that my legs would stay in there. Honestly, nothing much stands out at this point of the race. I was getting agitated by all the half runners around me celebrating each mile and counting down. "Only two more to go!" Not what I wanted to hear as a marathoner. Some of the spectators were also shouting similar things.

Eventually the half marathon people split off and I was expecting it to really thin out but it seemed like maybe 40% of the people around me stuck around and were running the marathon. Maybe the half has a lot of slower folk/walkers and exodus would be much more noticeable at a slower pace. Overall it was a nice surprise and the amount of people felt a lot like Portland. So I wasn't alone at least. Again, these miles weren't very interesting but the scenery would quickly turn around.

MILES 15-20: HOUSTON, WE HAVE A SHIT SHOW (12:59, 11:06, 10:21, 11:02, 10:20, 9:43)

Here's one of Katie and Jerry coming
back into the US. Mile 8ish.
So, yeah... mile 15 was almost thirteen minutes. What happened? My legs finally gave out. They weren't recovered from Portland and eventually they just stopped responding. What finally triggered me to walk was a muscle in my right leg being strained and feeling it pull with every step and causing me to limp. It isn't my hamstring or my quad, it's located more on the side of my leg toward the back. I think it's my glute. It's acted up before but not in a long time and it only acts up when my legs have been overused. So I guess it's not surprising that it flared up!

Thanks to the modern miracle of GPS watch technology I can pinpoint exactly where I crapped out. It was right after my watch beeped for 14 miles, so probably mile 13.9 on the course. At that point I was staring at 12 miles of walking in 36 degrees. Surprisingly, I didn't freak out. I texted Katie to let her and Jerry know I was going to be later than expected and then tried to get back up and running. When I started running again I could feel the muscle pull. I tried to stretch it out a little bit and was able to run for about a block until I had to stop and stretch again.

The thought of quitting never crossed my mind. I've thought about what I would do in a situation like this and it was always to finish, no matter how I did it. After many stops and starts to stretch I was able to run from about 15.3 to 16.6 only stopping twice. If I kept my pace around 10:00/mile the muscle wasn't aggravated very much and I could kind of shuffle along. Even if I could run faster I'm not sure the rest of my legs had it in them. Energy wise I felt good, so it was just a matter of managing my body.

A flavor of Indian Village. Sorry, no pics from the entire
2nd half of the race. Apparently I wasn't a intriguing target?
I had a great period of running from mile 16.6 to 20.0 where I only had to stop once. I actually was near the 4:00 pacer at this point and talked with some people. I was actually having a pretty good time! This was the Indian Village part of the course and it was really cool. Very nice neighborhood with cool old houses and large trees everywhere. Super pretty and it put a little pep in my step. I even had a 9:44 mile. At this point I was feeling much better about my situation. At mile 14 I was staring at walking the rest of the thing, but now I knew I could hopefully run most of it.

MILES 21-26.2: SURVIVING THE SECOND WAVE (11:34, 12:44, 12:22, 10:39, 11:10, 11:49)

After Indian Village I was feeling pretty good. I was actually kind of looking forward to Belle Isle, knowing it contained mile 20 and was the beginning of the final 10k. It was pretty and I was probably able to enjoy it more than if I were running a 3:40 pace, but it also featured the attack of the glute, round two. As you can see by the near 13 minute mile, it flared back up. This time the stop and stretch didn't loosen it up for a while, as soon as I started running it would pull again.

Belle Isle. Despite my legs, I still enjoyed the sights!
So much of the island was a frustrating experience of trying to stretch my legs in different directions to try and loosen them up. Sometimes I would last a couple steps. Sometimes I would last a quarter mile. Most of my running was just spent waiting for it to pull again though. Aside from that, I was still enjoying myself. There's a little more talking back with the 4:00+ folk so I was able to talk with a few people about the race, my Portland Marathon shirt, etc. Unfortunately I had to drop a couple chats to stop and stretch. Most of the two miles on the island were this frustrating start/stop.

Once off the island though I was able to get back into somewhat of a groove. In fact, I was able to run miles 23.2 to 24.6 without stopping. This was along the River Walk, which I had visited earlier, so it was familiar territory. After that I had to stop and stretch, but for the rest of the race I never had another bout like on Belle Island where I was flirting with a 13:00 mile. Most of the time one 30 second stop to stretch was enough to get me back up and running. Mile 25 was a little slower because there was a small hill of about three blocks I walked. Uphill running aggravated my strained muscle and there was no incentive to try and push it there.

Sprinting into the finish! Finally a pic!
After walking that hill around 25.4 I ran the final mile without stopping. My watch tracked me at 26.5, which I'd believe. I wasn't paying attention to tangents and kept having to run to the side of the road to stretch. So I'm pretty proud of running the final mile. The crowds and energy kept my leg from bothering me to much. Great support and energy that final little stretch. When I turned the corner and had about three blocks to go I looked at my watch and decided to try for a 4:20 (cuz Oregon). Unfortunately my full out sprint fell just short. Don't know how I was able to sprint for those three blocks, but it happened. I crossed the finish line with great relief.

POST RACE

While the chute wasn't highly comfortable, it wasn't nearly as bad as my other four marathons. I could have made it through without stopping to sit, but I figure it was a tradition by now so I took a short break. I think I was mostly paying for that final sprint in, otherwise the chute would have been fairly easy. Anyways, After shuffling through there and taking that couple minute break, I went out to find bag check and meet up with Katie and Jerry.

I was able to get my gear and get it on me before I got cold. I wasn't actually cold the entire morning which was surprising given the temperatures in the 30s! I met up with Katie and Jerry who froze a little waiting for me (sorry guys!). We pretty quickly headed back to the People Mover to get back to the car. My legs definitely felt the best they have after a marathon. Not to say they felt good, but the slower pace overall definitely did a little less damage to them even though they were sore and depleted from the Portland Marathon.

Overall I wasn't too bummed about the race at all. In fact, I think it might have been my favorite marathon experience after my first. I wasn't focused on any goals, I was going to try to run a pace similar to Portland but knew something like this could very well happen. When it did, I was mentally prepared for it and just kind of rolled with it. I loved the race itself, the course was awesome, the support was good... I had a good time. It was frustrating to keep having to stop and stretch, but overall I tried to just look past that and soak up the experience. I had a really fun time! The 4:21 didn't feel any longer than my 3:33 marathons.

I'll probably have another post about the race but I'll wrap this one up since it's already a novel. Looking back, I'm proud of my effort. I ran two marathons in 14 days and never gave up in Detroit despite my body kind of crapping out on me. I stayed positive mentally and enjoyed the race more than my other marathons. I don't think I'll be doing two marathons so close together again but it was fun to see what would happen... now I know!

Official Chip Time: 4:21:00, 9:57/mile. 1554/3801 overall, 1073/2149 male, 150/269 M25-29.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

2015 DETROIT MARATHON PREVIEW

Course map, click to enlarge. Most the highlights are in the first half of the race. Belle Isle is going to start the death march.
Can't believe I'll be in Detroit in less than 24 hours. This trip feels kind of weird... I don't know whether to be excited or dread the race. Unfortunately the weather is still looking just as cold. It will be interesting to see how I do in the cold though, all my previous marathons have been in the 50s and 60s. I certainly can't use the "too hot" excuse for this race, but I'll probably be pulling out "too cold." We'll see. At least it should be clear and crisp. Might actually be kind of nice.

I leave tomorrow morning at 7am and get into Detroit around 5pm. I'm excited to see the Foster gang. We'll be keeping things pretty low key in the lead up to the race. See some of the sights around Detroit without screwing up my chances in the marathon. Should be fun. I got to see a little bit of the area back in the spring when we did the Indianapolis Mini Marathon but it will be nice to explore more. Just wish it wasn't going to be so damn cold.


As for the race itself, my main concerns are the weather (too cold) and sleep (too little). I meant to try to adjust my sleeping schedule a little bit before flying out there, but let's be honest. It's me. Not going to happen. Hopefully I can adjust quickly... if I can get 8ish hours on Friday night and 4-5 Saturday then I should be good to go. It starts at 4am my time, so that likely means a 2am wakeup call. I've done it before in Miami, but that was just for the half marathon. We'll see how it works for a full. Honestly, I don't think it will be too big of a deal during the race, but I'll probably crash pretty hard after.

The course itself looks really fun. The main reason I wanted to do this race was the course. If it was just some boring course through average parts of Detroit then I probably wouldn't have been jonesin' to do it. However, getting to run across the Ambassador Bridge into Canada and back through a mile long tunnel is pretty cool. Unfortunately those two highlights are in the first half of the race so there isn't a ton to look forward to on the back half. Normally in Portland I look forward to St. John's and seeing my parents and aunt right before mile 18. So we'll see. I'll look forward to Belle Isle because I know it is the beginning of the end.

The run up to the Ambassador Bridge is actually a lot like the run up to the St. John's Bridge. About 150 feet. So that shouldn't be a problem and it will be nice to have it at mile 2.5 instead of mile 16.5. I'll have to make sure to take it easy there and not let the beginning of the race excitement allow me to charge up it. The tunnel also is a small challenge... looks about like 100 feet down and then up. So that's another sizeable hill. Mile 8 though... shouldn't be a problem. After that, nothing major. I did read up that there is some noticeable uphill right at the end. And while on their elevation map it looks like small speed bump, the videos of the course show a decent hill. So that'll be something I'll need to be prepared for around mile 26.

Overall though it is very flat after coming out of the tunnel. The area in general is pretty flat so it's not surprise the "hills" of the race are mostly man-made. It'll be interesting to do such a flat course... my other marathon, Vancouver BC, was also kind of hilly. The main mental struggle will be once the half marathoners break off. The highlights of the course are over and 4/5th of my fellow runners will disappear. One of the major drawbacks about this race is the marathon is not featured and is almost a side event to the half marathon. I notice this every year in Miami and fell really bad for the full marathoners. That is a post for another time though. I'm just glad Portland caps their half at about 1/4th the size of the full and keeps the focus squarely on the full marathon.

We'll see how it goes. It'll be interesting to see how my legs react to the second marathon in 14 days. Because of the challenges that'll pose, along with sleep and the weather, I'm not setting any specific goals for this race. My plan will be to run with the 3:35 group (assuming I'm in their corral) and try to have a similar race to Portland. Maybe I do, maybe I don't. We'll see. No pressure to beat Portland and get under 3:40 or anything. I'd like to, but I'm not making it a focus or goal with all the unknowns. I would like to get under 4:00 at least, so if I have any goal, it's that.

This may be my last post until after the marathon, so until then!

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

GEARING UP FOR THE MOTOR CITY

Prediction for temperature at the start of the race right now? 34 fucking degrees. That better change!
Can't believe I'm running another marathon in five days. I'm certainly not as nervous for this one as I was for Portland. I already got my "A" goal, I don't have any unfinished business I feel the need to accomplish, and I know I'm in good enough marathon shape to finish it without it being too terrible. I'd say my biggest worries at the moment are going to be the weather on race day and the lack of sleep I'll have to due to the time change and being a night owl.

They finally got the finish line photos up.
Let's back up real quick to my post-Portland Marathon recovery though. I was sore through about Thursday but by Friday I was feeling pretty good and back to normal. I decided to go on a bike ride after work and ended up doing an absolutely hilly, killer route. I would have much rather ran up many of those hills. Anyways, that bike ride was a great workout but probably a little too tough when I was still trying to take it easy. Saturday I felt good though and ended up playing indoor soccer for a good hour and a half. Lots of running, another great workout.

Sunday morning I woke up early and ran "six" miles with Matt and Katie. I put that in quotations because it included some trail running and we got shorted by our GPS watches. It was probably more like 6.5 or 7 miles. I felt pretty good during the run. Legs didn't seem to have any lingering effects from the marathon. Last night I ran with PRC and we did the winter route for the first time. Five hilly miles there and the fourth day in a row of decent activity. Today, I'm a little sore. Not too bad, but more sore than I'd like to be five days before a marathon. So I'm going to have to take it very easy the rest of the week.

Anyways, I'll try to get a Detroit Marathon preview up before I leave for the trip on Thursday. I'm pretty much still in denial that in less than 48 hours I'll be on a plane to run another marathon. Ignorance is bliss.

Friday, October 09, 2015

2015 PORTLAND MARATHON REFLECTIONS

Importance of tangents. Yellow=me, red=most other runners. Saved some time on a couple of these.
This will just be a random hodgepodge of stuff that didn't make its way into the race report or came up after that post.

No Bathroom Break: I didn't go pee this marathon! This ends the steak of two marathons where I had to take a break to go pee. Good thing too, as I only had 26 seconds to spare and that might have been the difference between me getting my "A" goal. I stopped aggressively drinking mid-day on Saturday and that might have been the difference.

Tangent Thomas: Also a good thing that I was running the tangents when I could (and when I was "with" enough to realize it). Again, this made a difference in my 26 second "A" goal achievement. I actually missed the Oregonian photo essay of 3:35-3:40 runners because I was running the tangent. Everyone was on the right side of this road on one turn when the tangent was clearly hugging the left edge. So I went solo over to the other side of the road and ran the shortest distance instead of hugging the right side of the road like everyone was doing. No photo taken, but probably a good five or ten seconds saved. Multiply that by about a half dozen.

Blisters and Chaffing: My feet fared pretty well this marathon, the only problem spot was a sizable blister on my left big toe. I've never gotten one there before and probably won't again for a long time. Also, I had some pretty noticeable chaffing on my right hip where my car key was snuggled against my leg in the little pocket the shorts provide. I also had a "tramp stamp" patch of chaffing right above my buttocks where my cell phone was sitting. All these have pretty much healed.

A slow down, but much more steady than last year.
Patient Pacing: I think my pacing really set up a "less worse" back half compared to the last couple marathons. Now, it still sucked, but when I think back to the other marathons I wasn't in nearly as much pain as before. My body was still yelling at me to stop, I still used the aid stations liberally, but overall I avoided any sort of real break down. I pretty much ran the whole race, which to me means I paced pretty well. I think I'll stick with the 3:35 group in Detroit too.

Lack of Desperation: Kind of going hand in hand with the above, mentally I was in a much better spot this time around than the last two. My last two marathons had me questioning not only running that distance, but running in general. I pretty much swore off both during each race and was super grouchy the last 10k. While this time around I wasn't necessarily enjoying myself, I didn't resolve to stop running and take up competitive eating during mile 24.

Healing Up: My healing pattern has been about the same this year as other years. Pretty sore Sunday after the race, really sore Monday, almost as sore Tuesday, better but still sore Wednesday, and only residually sore Thursday. I'll probably do five or six miles this weekend to shake off whatever crud is left, then only run once or twice more before doing it all over again in Detroit.

Back to Back: Surprisingly, I'm not dreading the Detroit Marathon much. Every year the big dread with the marathon is wondering if I am in shape for what I want to run and the "unknown" of what running a marathon is like, since it has been so long since I've done one. In Detroit I know I'm in shape, I know what the last six miles feels like, and I know I can do it. So really, it's not a big deal. I'll run for two and half hours fairly comfortably enjoying the new sights, struggle for just over an hour feeling like shit, and then it'll be all over. Easy peasy.

The Walking Dead: Starting about mile 20 there were a lot of people walking. It reminded me of my first year when I was in the Pearl District/Old Town and felt like I was in the middle of a Walking Dead episode. Seemed to start much earlier in the race this year, probably due to the weather. Anyways, while it made me want to walk and join them, it also gave me a boost. Feels pretty good to be running past a bunch of people who resorted to walking.

Shit Show in the Chute: While the race itself might have gone better, this race had me in the most pain afterward. Now Vancouver was pretty bad... I was in pain there too and actually started to have some core body heat issues. I didn't have a scare like that this year (much too warm for that!), but I think the actual level of leg pain was higher. I was almost in tears when I got out of the chute. I was barely walking and I'd be lying if I didn't say my eyes were watering a little bit. A fifteen minute sit down on the curb cured all though.

Still passing a good amount of people the last five miles!
I guess that's all for now. I am pretty pleased with my 3:39 and the way I ran the race. I'm not in love with marathon running, but I like the challenge. I'll probably do Portland again next year unless I get talked into some other fall race. I'd like to do Chicago or New York at some point but will need to convince a companion to join me.

Tuesday, October 06, 2015

2015 PORTLAND MARATHON RACE REPORT

Me with my parents at the finish after recovering from my usual post-marathon leg issues.
Year three of the Portland Marathon was finally upon me. The anticipation of taper week is one of my least favorite parts of the marathon training cycle. I love being able to slack off, but the race hanging in front of you is nerve-wracking. I just want to get it over with already. This year, for whatever reason, I felt the most prepared for a marathon to date. Which is kind of odd, considering it was a full year since my last one and my training wasn't as good as before. All week I was confident I could finish and wasn't as nervous as in years past.

That being said, I was still very nervous. It really all hit me after a busy Saturday running around Portland to various sporting events. I finally got home around 10:30pm and realized I had nothing else to do next before the marathon. The next thing was the marathon. So I freaked out a little, calmed myself by rationally thinking, laid out my clothes, and then tried to get some sleep. Sleep was much easier to come by then in marathons past, I probably feel asleep within an hour and a half of going to bed, which was good! I believe I got about 4.5 hours of sleep. Not great, but on par with other marathons.

Early on in the race, sun just rising.
In the morning I was a little sick to my stomach, but again, not as bad as before. I'm never hungry on marathon mornings but I managed to choke down a bagel anyways. Had a Starbucks Iced Coffee thing for some energy and then hopped in my car to drive to Alejandro's to carpool to the race. We picked up Glenn along the way and then headed downtown to park. By now this part of the Portland Marathon seems routine, joining a steady stream of runners in the dark toward the noise of the start line downtown. Definitely not as nervous this year though, the pressure of PRing was off and all I had to do was my best.

The start line was much less formally organized this year compared to before. Nobody was checking bibs or anything, so it was up to you to get to the correct corral. The Portland Marathon has their absurd "no bag check" policy, but I didn't have anything to check. I had my cell phone, car key, and three packs of Shot Bloks in my Flip Belt. Love that thing... was able to carry all of that without really noticing it around my waist. I wandered to the B corral, my home, and stood next to the 3:35 pacer. Glenn was there with me. Pretty soon we were singing the national anthem and then the race was off!

MILES 1-6: STICKING WITH THE PACER (7:59, 8:30, 8:18, 7:40, 7:53, 8:05)

Mile six. Looking better than Bret for sure.
My goal again this year was to stick with the pacer. While last year it felt like trying to hang on with the pace group, this year it was much more comfortable. The adrenaline of race day was definitely in effect though as the 7:59 mile felt pretty easy. If I wasn't committed to sticking with the pacer I certainly would have run faster. I've ran this race enough times that the course is no longer a surprise, which makes this first part of the race feel longer than in years past. I remember that first year getting to mile eight before I even knew it. I was acutely aware of each mile this year, but that doesn't mean I was struggling.

Miles two and three are uphill and this year was the first year I really noticed them. They didn't really bother me at all, I was feeling pretty good, but they were definitely a small challenge early in the race. Sticking with the 3:35 pacers, who were great (at least on the first half), really helped me I think. I wanted to run faster but knew the marathon is a long race and not to shoot off early like last year. We had a couple quicker miles on the downhill two miles, as planned, and then settled into a pace the pacers ran like clockwork. At the end of this section I was still feeling good. Legs and lungs felt great. Whatever cold like symptoms I had earlier in the week were a non-factor.

MILES 7-13: HITTING "ARRR" MARK PERFECTLY (8:04, 8:06, 8:07, 8:06, 8:07, 8:19, 7:59)

This is actually later on the bridge.
This part of the course is the most mind-numbing of the whole race. Basically it is a giant out and back along the ugliest, most industrial part of Portland. One thing it does have going for it is that it is flat. So the silver lining is that you can really settle into your race pace and get comfortable. I can't say enough how great the first-half 3:35 pacers were. There were ticking these miles off like a metronome and staying very consistent. At times I felt good and wanted to dart ahead, other times I started to slack behind and sped up a little to catch up. They were really good keeping me in check and not going with the up and down whims of the moment.

One thing they did not do was slow down during the aid stations, so I always had to catch up a little after those. I was jogging through these until about mile twenty, so it was easy to catch back up pretty quick. Most of the time I was nearly shoulder to shoulder with the pace group leaders. I was very committed and they were pacing me to a great race. I remember feeling kind of hopeless toward the end of this section last year. I was already feeling tired and the race was only half over. This year I was still feeling pretty good and more confident I could finish without too much of an issue.

The pirates were there again this year and it is always the highlight of this section. While this part of the race does suck, they are fun. No cannon shooting off this year, which was a little disappointing. I spotted Alejandro at the turnaround, running with the 3:10 pace group and looking good. He'd eventually speed up and finish in 3:07! He's put in a lot of time to training and it has certainly paid off. I also spotted Glenn about a minute ahead of me. He started with the 3:35 pacers but then darted ahead on the downhill 4th and 5th mile. I wanted to beat him but I wasn't going to chase after him. Had to run my own race! Anyways, the last part of this section has a minor uphill (8:19) and then a little downhill (7:59). Still feeling good. Toward the end our pace group caught up to Glenn, who finished in 3:51, and passed him.

MILES 14-18: SURVIVING IN ST. JOHNS (8:07, 8:07, 8:14, 8:52, 8:11)

High fiving my support squad in St. Johns!
This part of the course isn't quite as ugly but still nothing to write home about. Basically you have to run about three miles along a highway to get to the highlight of the race, the St. John's Bridge. I was still sticking with the pace group but the team switched at the half marathon mark with another group of two pacers. One of those pacers was running much too fast with the sign. The other guy was sticking behind at the correct pace and had to yell at her to cool her jets. I found their pacing a little uneven and eventually dropped off. The final 8:07 mile was ran with them maybe 30 feet in front of me.

Last year I ran up the hill to the bridge in 8:57, this year it was 8:52. In fact, from this point on, I was faster this year than last year. At the top of the hill I wasn't feeling as beat as last year but I still didn't feel great. I was hoping to catch back up to the pacers on the hill but they pulled even more ahead (even though their target pace on this mile was exactly what I had ran). Running over the bridge was cool but nothing compared to the excitement of that first year. I remember feeling like I was floating, it was great. By now I had ran over the bridge multiple times in races and training so the novelty has worn off a little.

That being said, I was SUPER excited to see my parents and my aunt at the bottom of the bridge. The pace group was probably 100 feet ahead of me at this point and while I tried to keep them in contact, any plans of "speeding up" were out the window. While I felt much better this year due to my early race pacing, I was still running a marathon and it was still starting to catch up with me. That was all forgotten briefly though as I high-fived my parents and my aunt, who were making a bunch of noise. Haha, they are great and it is always so fun to see them there.

MILE 19-24: ANNNNND THIS SUCKS NOW (8:16, 8:33, 8:59, 8:42, 8:38, 9:25)

Toward the end... feeling the pain.
Next came the challenge of running along the bluff. This is where the heat got to me last year and it was nearly as hot this year. I think it might have been about two degrees cooler, but there were still no clouds and the sun was right in your face. For a while, when I was feeling pretty good right before the bridge, I thought maybe this was the year when the "twenties" didn't suck. Unfortunately, that dream went out the window pretty quickly. Even before I hit twenty I started to feel the effects of the race. I was still keeping a decent pace, but I could no longer manage the 8:07s of earlier.

I started to walk through the aid stations. Brief five second walks to chug water became twenty second walks to sip water. I didn't walk other than the aid stations though, which was good. I really wanted to, but stopped myself from doing so because even though I was struggling, I was in much better shape at this point than last year. There were even times I was running and I'd feel pretty decent for a second and I'd have a small moment of victory for pain free running during mile 23. Anyways, the good and bad came in waves, with the bad slowly taking over the majority of my time.

Overall, however, I kept a pretty good clip. I knew if I kept all my miles under 9:00/mile that I would get my "A" goal. This hardly qualifies as a marathon blow up, just a slight struggle late in the race. All told it was the second best I've felt at this point of a marathon, behind my first ever, when I was running on magical first marathon fairy dust. This year I was pretty proud of continuing to pull out these sub 9 miles when all I wanted to do was give in and walk. The downhill this year wasn't even painful like the last two years. At one point I looked at my watch and I was running 7:40 down it. I slowed down because I knew what happened at the bottom last year and didn't want a repeat.

Never has a photo captured my
feelings so perfectly.
While it wasn't a repeat, that 9:25 mile (my only above 9, thank you very much) was a struggle. The extra time was three factors. First, the terrain. After the downhill it flattens out and then climbs gradually uphill. The uphill normally wouldn't be an issue, but at mile 24, it's a challenge. Second, the heat. This all takes place in a jungle of on-ramps/off-ramps and a whole lot of concrete. At one point it felt like I was in an oven. It was only 66 degrees, but surrounded by blacktop, with no shade, at mile 24... it was hot. And lastly, I took part in the beer aid station and had a nice forty second stroll though there. Other than liberally enjoying the aid stations, I fought the urge to walk.

MILES 25-26.2: FINISHING STRONG (8:53, 8:37)

The only time I walked other than aid stations was up the hill to the Broadway Bridge. It's only a block and decently steep. I started to run up it but could feel my calves about to explode. Instead of risking it, I switched into a power walk and hoofed it up the hill. As soon as it flattened out I started running again. Up and over the Broadway Bridge. By the end of the bridge on the downhill I was going a sub 8:00/mile pace. My legs hurt some, but for mile 25 of a marathon they felt pretty good. I was pretty confident I could finish without issue.

The last mile always feels long, but it is never too terrible. The finish line is so close and you know in less than ten minutes you will be done. I skipped the last two aid stations because I just wanted it to be over and I knew I could finish without water. Good thing I did too, as I was very close to missing my "A" goal. I looked at my GPS watch at mile 25 and saw I had 11m30s to finish under 3:40. I knew that meant I'd have to keep a solid 9:00/mile pace or quicker to finish below my goal. There was no time to fuck around. I kept very determined and as you can see, my final full mile was 8:37... nothing to sneeze at!

Briefly hiding my pain for a photo.
Again, these last eight miles were done more quickly than last year. Now, I did have a mini-blow up last year, but that is a point of pride for me. I may not be quite as fast, but I held up reasonably well. I was feeling pretty decent in those last few blocks and Libbie, Matt, and Katie came out to cheer so it was fun to see them towards the end. All told it was one of the more triumphant last bits of a marathon. I didn't have a sprint in me this year, but I ran quickly through the finish and stopped my watch, confirming my "A" goal by 26 seconds. Heck yes!

AFTERMATH: AN ABSOLUTE SHIT SHOW IN THE CHUTE

Once I finished I slowed to a walk. During my first three marathons my legs gave out almost instantly after running. This time around they felt okay when I stopped running. I was able to walk around for about thirty seconds feeling worn, but alright. Then, all of a sudden, it hit. The usual feeling. Dammit all. Anyways, I then proceeded the painful limping that I am used to. Had to take a mid-chute break by sitting on the curb, as usual. That thing just goes on and on.

I did see a few people in the chute and that was fun. However, my legs were really starting to hurt. They kept getting worse and worse the longer I was on them. Eventually I found my way out of the chute and met up with my parents and friends. By the time I reached them my legs were in more pain than they had even been before after a marathon. What the hell? It was weird because they felt so much better towards the end of the race than most years (not to say they didn't hurt and weren't screaming at me to walk). Anyways, after a rough couple of minutes I was able to sit down and the pain went away.

With Glenn and Alejandro.
Like usual, after sitting for a little bit, my legs were sore, but fine. The shit show was over. For whatever reason, for about an hour after the marathon, I am pretty much useless. All I want to do is sit down but eventually they come back. I said goodbye to my parents and then went out for burgers and beers with Alejandro, Glenn, Katie, Matt, and Ale's friend (forgot her name). The burger and beer tasted really good. I wasn't necessarily starving, but it was good to get something in my belly anyways. After we were done there we limped back to the car and headed home.

Marathon number four is in the books and number five is less than two weeks away. Ahhh! I'll have some more reflections in another post. Overall though, I am very happy with my race. I paced myself pretty well and avoided some of the rougher late patches I had in my last two marathons. I got my "A" goal by 26 seconds and had some great support along the way.

Official Chip Time: 3:39:33, 8:23/mile. 696/5697 overall, 535/2760 male, 96/365 M25-29.