Saturday, January 31, 2015


2013... looks fun, huh?
For a detailed preview of this race, check out my 2013 race preview. Everything about the race is pretty much the same, so that's what I'll be facing tomorrow morning.

I'm not going to PR... my 15k PR was just a perfect race last year at Shamrock and there is no way I can replicate that on this tougher course with my current fitness. To even try would be setting myself up for failure. I do want to race this hard though, so I'm not going to take it easy. I just know that I won't be getting a 1:06, so I shouldn't be disappointed with whatever time I end up getting.

That being said, I do have some goals I'll be trying for:

"A" Goal: Sub 1:10. That is 7:30 a mile or less. Over a very hilly 9.3 miles that is nothing to sneeze at. I would be thrilled with this time.

"B" Goal: Under 1:12:23. This was my time at this very race in 2013. I'd like to be able to beat that. I am coming off a half marathon the previous weekend and some lackluster training, so this isn't a given. If I can beat 2013 I won't feel like I'm falling behind.

"C" Goal: Under 1:15. Don't really know how my legs are going to react to another hard race effort after Miami last weekend... this would be a sub eight pace and still nothing to be disappointed about.

I somehow managed to convince a group of people to join me at this race, so Alejandro, Glenn, Matt, and Katie from my running group will be there. Should be a fun time. If I can get to the top of the hills at mile three averaging 8:30/mile I should be in good shape to give my A and B goals a run.

Friday, January 30, 2015


At the start line, ready to go!
I flew into Miami on Thursday this year, a day earlier than last year. Unfortunately flying to Miami takes the vast majority of the day, and couple that with a delayed flight and I didn't get in until almost 11pm. The only thing I don't like about this trip is the travel... flying to Miami and back is quite the journey!

Anyways, my friend and I had a low key Friday and Saturday. I was able to get a shake out run in on Friday (5 miles) to try and adjust a little to the hotter weather. We went to the expo on Saturday and got our packets. Last year I managed to get 90 minutes of sleep before this race, this year I was able to get three hours. Chalk that up to the extra day of adjustment I guess. Still, I was up at 1:30am Pacific Time to catch the shuttle to the start line.

Everything was really similar this year, the only difference was the weather. 75 and humid last year, it was 55 and not so humid this year. It was really perfect running weather. Had I had this weather last year, I would have gotten the PR I was shooting for and then some. This year I wasn't in quite as good of half marathon shape and ended up running the race at about 95% effort.

I talked to my friend and he really wanted me to run the race at my pace. He was already worried about how he was going to do and didn't want to have to feel like he was holding me back or boring me by me hanging back with him. That, coupled with the weather, and I was back to running the race hard by myself. However, like I planned, I just took it easier and tried to enjoy the race rather than kill myself and set a PR. There are other times and places for that.

MILES 1-4: OVER THE WATER INTO MIAMI BEACH (7:58, 7:34, 7:43, 7:38)

Toward the beginning, feeling good!
As you can see from that first mile time, I wasn't killing myself in this race. The crowded start last year had me frantically moving from side to side, darting past people and trying to keep pace. This year I was much more relaxed about it, I didn't try to get stuck behind people, but I wasn't going to kill myself trying to beat the herd. I just went along with it and knew it was a long race. I was glad it ended up below eight though, as one of my goals was to run all the miles below eight.

After that first mile I settled into a comfortable mid 7:30s pace that I was able to hold for quite a long time. It was a challenge but I wasn't killing myself. This year I was able to enjoy the scenery a bit more and didn't have the feeling that I was going to blow up at any moment. The run over the causeway seemed longer this year, but that was probably just due to my mindset. I was so focused last year and hit those first few miles hard. This year I was just trying to take it all in while still running a good time.

MILES 5-8: SOLID IN SOUTH BEACH (7:36, 7:34, 7:33, 7:35)

Still good, even with the sun.
Look at those splits! Once I settled into my pace I was hitting it very consistently. I got to admit it was pretty cool to be locked into a groove like that and feeling fairly comfortable at that speed. Now, it wasn't like I could hold a conversation, but I wasn't also breathing like a rhino in birth either. It was just a solid pace that was perfect for a half marathon where I wasn't trying to kill myself but also achieve a good time.

I had so much more fun this year. Last year in South Beach I was slowly breaking down and watching my PR goal fly out the window. The weather this year as so much better, I cannot state that enough. I was still in the shade this year in South Beach and the weather was absolutely zero issue. I wish that could be guaranteed every year! I highly doubt they will get weather like this for the race in the next ten years though, it was just unseasonably cool and perfect.

Because I was having such a better run I was able to enjoy the sights more this year and really just take the whole atmosphere in. It seemed like there were more people out cheering and supporting the race, but that could just be my mindset. By the time we headed to the Venenian Islands I was still feeling pretty good. I was starting to tire a little bit but I knew I was more than halfway there now.

MILES 9-11: THE SUN AND THE WIND (7:36, 7:38, 7:44)

Airplaning toward the finish line.
By this time last year I was already running mile times in the 8s. To still be holding my pace this year meant I had a pretty good chance of beating last year's time. To be fair, had the weather been the same last year, I probably would have ran sub 1:40 and beat this year's time. However, that was last year and this was this year, and this year was still going well. I made a note on my watch when I first was exposed to the sun at mile 8.5. Not bad, only 4.5 miles to go and it wasn't even hot.

Last year I complained about the lack of wind on this portion of the run. This year I would like to complain about the amount of wind. Holy Bob Howdy was it windy! There was a nice breeze the whole race, which, coupled with the 55 degrees, meant I was not going to overheat. But going over the Venetians back into Miami was basically running straight into a headwind. At times it would pick up and be quite ridiculous. Luckily these strong gusts didn't typically last very long and for the most part it was just a light breeze.

At mile 10.5 I noted that I "could be done now." It was at this point that fatigue started to hit and I started having to play games with my head. Luckily, I knew I had less than a 5k to go and that really helped with the mental part. I could convince myself to keep running because I was almost there. The weather was fine and I only had like 20 more minutes. I could do it!

MILES 12-13.1: DOWNTOWN TRIUMPH (7:50, 7:48)

As you can see, I fell off pace a little, but not bad at all. I knew what to expect this year, so once I passed that really enthusiastic cheering section at mile eleven and had to face the sight of that swarm of people ahead of me as far as the eye I could see... I was ready. Just keep on truckin'. Tell myself I had less than two miles. Pretty soon it was less than one mile. My body was exhausted but I could go eight more minutes.

And done. Beer me!
Eventually I wove my way through downtown, past the half/full split, and towards the finish line. Last year I got stuck in a group of people at the finish, so this year I tried to find a "hole" where I could get some good photos taken. Managed to succeed and re-enact my "airplane" from my first marathon finish. Felt so good to cross that finish line! And a pretty good time to boot!


After going through the chute I collapsed against the same palm tree as last year. I knew my friend was going to be quicker this year, so after a quick recharge under that tree I headed to watch him finish. He came through just about an hour after me and did so well. He finished in 2:41 after 3:18 last year. After only running two miles at a time during training he ran the entire first eight miles and the final two miles of this race. Totally shattered his expectations and mine as well!

Once he was done we had a couple beers and then headed back to his place to crash. After taking a nap we watched the Pro Bowl and then went out to a really delicious pizza restaurant for dinner. We certainly earned every slice! Another successful Miami Half Marathon in the books for both of us! For me it was a three minute course PR and a perfectly executed race plan.

Official Chip Time: 1:41:32, 7:45/mile. 700/13152 overall, 586/6393 male. 78/603 M25-29.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015


Last year.
Hard to believe I'm flying out to Miami tomorrow for the half marathon again. I don't know if this will become a yearly tradition, but tropical warmth in late January is never a bad thing. I'm actually going to be there one day more this year (going on Thursday instead of Friday) and hopefully that'll both extend my vacation and allow me to adjust to the timezone change a little better. I don't expect a full night's sleep before the race, but if I could get more than 90 minutes that would be ideal.

I'm determined to make this whole trip very low key. That includes the race. Last year I was shooting for a PR and ended up having a really difficult race. Trying to gun it in hot, humid Miami after months of training in the cool Pacific Northwest just isn't going to cut it. So my "goal" this year is to just enjoy the race instead of having it be a deathmarch.

One thing I am still not sure of is running the race with my friend or running it by myself. I kind of want to run it with my friend. He's trained better this year but still won't be able to run the whole thing. He's hoping to do intervals and run about 2/3rds of it, which would be eight miles. According to my calculations, his goal should be 2:45 or less. If I were to run it by myself I'd be shooting for something like 1:50-1:55. So less than an hour difference, but a big difference between steady 8:45s and 12:30s achieved with intervals.

Same course... hopefully more enjoyment this year!
However, I think I'm leaning toward running it with my friend. He doesn't want to slow me down and is encouraging me to run it faster if I want to, but I have the Zena Road Run the following weekend and I plan to hit that one hard. Even a 1:55 half here would probably still be felt at that race the following weekend. I have no delusions that the 2:45 will be easy, my body isn't used to that pace and my feet are going to hurt for sure, but I think I can recover more quickly from that and would also enjoy it a bit more. Plus, I think my friend will like to have me as company as he gives it his all.

We'll see though. I'm honestly not married to any one strategy. I'm just looking forward to the trip and having a good time! I think I might try to get out for an easy five mile run on Friday to try and adjust to the heat and humidity just a little. The weather for Sunday is supposed to be cooler than last year (mid 60s in the morning this time instead of mid 70s) so that should help things out. I get back on Monday night at 12:30am and I'm going to work on Tuesday... so that's going to suck.

Friday, January 16, 2015


Not looking to recreate this...
I've been pretty quiet because nothing special is going on! Just plodding along. Hitting my weekly mileage despite not really feeling super motivated. Probably need to start working some more structured speekwork into my routine but that can wait. I think my body could just a week off. I really should just do that. Maybe run Monday and Wednesday easy at run group but other than that just take it off. Feel like I need to recharge a little bit.

Anyways, it's crazy to think, but this time next week I'll be in Miami for the half marathon. Yikes! Hopefully the weather is a little cooler than last year (74 at race start, normal temp at that time is 64). I think I'll probably jog it with my friend. I have no desire to run that race hard again. With his current level of fitness I bet we can shoot for like a 2:50 half. Kind of a half run/half walk type deal. To be honest that will probably be tougher on my body than a 1:45 half, but I'd rather just accompany him and try to enjoy it a little more this year.

I'll have a post with more about that race early next week. The other race coming up is the Zena Road Run. I just signed up today for the 15k. That will be good prep for Shamrock. I'll just be looking to beat my 2013 time of 1:12 there, but scary to think that is a mere 16 days away considering my lack of real hard training in recent weeks. Actually, now that I am typing this, that would be a good week to run easy on Monday and Wednesday and then race hard on Sunday. And actually I'll be in Miami on Monday. So whatever. I haven't thought much through. Which is fitting. Just kinda taking it as it comes.

O-H! I-O! O-H! I-O! O-H! I-O!

Monday, January 05, 2015


Last week was pretty good in terms of running. Two "easy" runs that ended up being around 9:00/mile. My easy runs have been in the 9:30 range, so to have them creep down to 9:00 was nice. On Friday I was trying to run easy and just kind of zoning out... I noticed I was breathing heavily and glanced at my watch... 8:00/mile. Oops! Kind of nice when you accidentally run too fast, usually it seems like I am constantly checking my watch and speeding up trying to keep pace.

The capper for the week was the 16 mile run with Coach Jim's group up Terwilliger on Saturday. For those of you who don't know, Terwilliger is a famous road in Portland for runners... it is known as a hilly challenge and a beast to climb. While there are certainly tougher hills around town, Terwilliger holds a special place in running lore because it's relentless uphill nature for multiple miles and inclusion in a number of famous Portland races (notably the Cascade Run-Off, now Shamrock).

Anyways, I still haven't quite figured out the pacing for the 3:20 group of Coach Jim. It seems like it's kind of up in the air each week, and this week it was decided, apparently, to do 8:45s up and down the hills. A week after 9:10s on a flat course. Whatever. It was a great challenge and one I embraced as part of becoming a stronger runner. I did it! It was hard, but it was doable. # Felt like a really good workout and while the last couple of miles sucked, it was great training for distance running events.

The only other time I've ran 16 miles that fast were during my three marathons. Otherwise, anytime I ran over 16 it's been above (mostly well above) 9:00/mile. I look forward to see if this whole faster long run pace will translate into a stronger marathon this spring. Based on how my legs feel two days later, I'd say it was a quality workout. Looking at the stats after the run I ran a 1:54 half marathon during this run.... not bad!

I just realized the Miami Half Marathon is in less than three weeks. Eek! Still don't know if I'll be running that one my speed or with my friend...