Thursday, June 25, 2015


The more you run, the more you have parts of your body hurt you never knew could hurt. I went into Bald Peak thinking my knees were going to be an issue, if anything I'd be walking away from that race with swollen, painful knees. Well, my knees feel great. My theory about them being sore from bowling seems to have stood up. Instead, I walked away from Bald Peak with a sore and inflamed Achilles tendon.

Based on the Achilles' role to stabilize and allow your foot to flex, I guess it kind of makes sense. Bald Peak requires a lot of flexing and I also might have been relying on it more because of my knees. I might have been subconsciously babying them and putting extra pressure on the tendon. Who knows. My knees and Achilles both felt fine the day of the race, nothing out of the ordinary. It was a surprise when I woke up Sunday morning and the lower half of my calf was throbbing.

When I woke up I immediately knew it wasn't my calf muscles themselves, I had dealt with that before, but instead something else. I guessed it was the Achilles based on where it hurt... on the back of my leg from the heel to the mid-calf. I wasn't an Achilles expert, so I looked it up online and sure as shit, that's exactly where the Achilles tendon is. I knew it was near your heel, but wasn't aware it went up so high. Well, now I do.

Long story short, it was a unique pain. I hobbled around for a couple days but it faded away like most other times something is sore. I could tell it was just sore and not injured in any way. There is a pretty distinct difference between those two types of pain. This was my Achilles' saying "Oh hey, wow, you used me more than normal, I'm fine, but I'm going to cry for a couple days, mkay?" Anyways, I ran last night at run group and felt fine. Back to my normal, rickety old self.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015


Me (back center) with some of my peeps before the start of the 2015 Bald Peak Half Marathon.
Saturday morning I woke up at 6:45am for the Bald Peak Half Marathon. I was actually excited for this race, which was a bit odd. I like going to races, but rarely am I really excited to run them. The whole night before I just couldn't wait to get out and run up a giant hill... it's weird. Anyways, I think that tells you something about how unique and enjoyable this race is even if it is the most difficult race I do.

Another one of the big advantages of this race is that it is so close to my house. Just a short 20 minute drive through the country and I was there. Bib pickup was a breeze and I was able to chat with friends and mentally prepare for the race for a good twenty minutes before the race started. I was pretty calm, no freaking out, just ready to try my best. There was no pressure really to get any time or do anything crazy, which I guess is why I was so loose and ready to go. When you aren't laser focused on some goal the race can be a lot more enjoyable!

THE FIRST HILL (9:42, 10:18)

Runners start up the first of many hills.
After a short countdown the race was on! I chatted with Glenn a little bit before that first hill but he was taking it easier than I was so I quickly was on my own. This first hill is not gentle but not steep... it is just relentless. It's really just the perfect amount of incline that kicks your ass but doesn't give you an excuse to walk. I didn't feel like I was running too fast, I knew it was a long race and I shouldn't tucker myself out. I was aware of my mile times from last year and didn't expect to really even come close to those again.

I was pretty shocked when my watch beeped 9:42. Really? I felt like I was working the same as last year. I was very sweaty and hot but I didn't feel like I was blowing myself up for the rest of the race. Just in case I slowed down a little, but it was a nice shot of confidence, something I've been needing lately. Maybe I am closer to last year's fitness than I thought?

The second mile was pretty uneventful. Just continuing to chug up the hill. While the first mile is pretty relentlessly uphill, the second mile does have a few breaks where it almost flattens out. It seemed like an easier mile than the first, but both years I've had a much slower mile time on it so maybe this mile is deceiving. Whatever the case, I greeted the water station and mile two sign with great relief, as I knew the bulk of my climbing was over.

THE MIDDLE ROLLERCOASTER (7:39, 8:38, 7:55, 7:37, 8:27, 8:01, 7:57)

This came black and white, I'm not trying to be fancy. :P
My mile times in this portion of the race were not unlike the course itself... up and down. I was prepared for the hill that comes shortly after a brief respite at mile two. After that long climb to start my legs were feeling pretty good and my lungs recovered as well. I was ready to go. My mile time for mile three was not much different than last year. So far I was ahead of pace compared to last year. Who would have thought?

For a decent chunk of time I was thinking I might actually PR. I didn't quite understand it and I didn't make it my goal, but I knew I ran up the hill faster than last year and despite being over eight minutes in mile four (like last year) I was going sub eight in my miles. What I didn't realize is that after the fairly similar start I just didn't have the top end speed that I had from last year. What was a 7:20 last year was a 7:40 this year. I didn't quite remember that detail so for a while I was feeling pretty dang good about myself. Certainly put a little extra pep in my step.

Eventually I figured out that I wasn't going PR speed. I remember my average mile time on my watch slipping below 8:00/mile last year and as I was getting toward the end of this portion of the course my watch was nowhere close to that. More like an 8:25/mile average. I finally came to the realization that my overall pace was probably going to be 15-20 seconds slower than last year, exactly what I predicted. So when this finally dawned on me I actually wasn't too disappointed. I was still doing very well.

There were quite a few more hills than I remember. The overall gain in this race is something like 1800 feet, and with that first hill being only 800 of that, I guess it makes sense. I began to actually look forward to the uphill though as the downhill on gravel was really challenging. Footing was an issue and I just wasn't able to attack it quite like I wanted. I remember that from last year too, so that was nothing new. The hills were also quite steep in a few places so it wasn't a gentle downhill that would lead to amazing mile times.

CHANNELING MY INNER RACE WALKER (7:31, 7:28, 7:42, 10:57)

Mile time comparison, 2014 vs. 2015.
Miles ten through twelve are pretty nicely downhill, the first chance to really let your legs fly and make up some time. They are also mostly on pavement after the middle portion was mostly gravel. This lead to times in the "low 7s" last year. This year it was the "mid 7s." There just wasn't quite the giddy up in my legs like I had last year. I went to summon some energy and push the pace and they responded with a yawn. Guess I wasn't going to match those low 7s from last year.

Overall I still felt pretty good at this point but my legs did feel a little trashed. The hills had done their work. They didn't have much spring in them, but they weren't in pain. My cardio still was feeling pretty strong, so I just pushed the pace as much as I could with what my legs were giving me. I didn't go quite all out because I knew I still had to climb the final hill and needed something in the tank for that, even if I power walked it.

When I hit the hill I channeled my inner 70-year-old-in-a-track-suit and started up the hill, arms a flyin'. If you need a reminder, the hill is a 300 foot gain in half a mile. I just put my head down and power walked as fast as I could. This felt like the hardest I worked all day, even more so than the first two miles maybe. I was sweating hard and breathing deeply and I'm sure my heart rate was spiking. So this wasn't a casual stroll up that hill, it was an effort to get up it as fast as I could.

My decision to walk instead of try and run it was justified by the woman in front of me. I had been chasing this middle aged gal all race but couldn't quite pass her. She was probably about a minute ahead of me. At the hill, she continued to run. I give her all the credit in the world... she ran that entire fucking thing. Here's the interesting part though... I power walked the whole thing and she didn't gain hardly any distance, if any on me. This made me feel good about my decision to power walk. That, plus, I couldn't have ran it even if I wanted to.


Crossing the finish line!
Last year I remember cresting the top of the hill and sprinting to the finish to beat a guy who was breathing down my neck. I didn't hear anyone behind me this year, and, in fact, there wasn't another finisher for almost three minutes after me. Regardless, I didn't want to look back but I also didn't want to chance it, so I tried to transition to that sprint once more.

Sprinted for a few steps and then went back to walking, except limping this time. Yeah, my legs were like "fuck that." The difference in fitness between this year and last year was pretty apparent right there. There would be no more sprinting. I had some onlookers and was already a little embarrassed at my start/stop, so I quickly shifted from my walk into a jog to shake my legs back into running mode. Once they re-adjusted I was able to roll into the finish at a decent clip.

Luckily I was able to get my "A" goal time by a mere 10 seconds. After my PR visions went out the window I figured I was safe and would get a 1:48 or so. At the top of the hill when I went to sprint my watch had just rolled over to 1:49. The finish line didn't look that far away but I knew it always takes longer than you think, so that's why I did my best to get back into gear and finish strong. I was very pleased to come in with the time I did. Technically a PW, but far from my worst half marathon performance. This was one to be proud of.

I hung around for a good hour and a half after, eating my pancakes and bacon and cheering on the other finishers. It was a fun time and the race just has a great atmosphere of encouragement and camaraderie. Unfortunately I did not place in my age group this year, finishing fifth. Even if I ran my time from last year I would have only finished fourth, so oh well. One more shot next year at 29 before I get into the more competitive age groups.

Overall it was a jolly good time. One of my favorite races!

Official Chip Time: 1:49:49, 8:22/mile. 19/174 overall, 14/80 male. 5/9 M20-29.

Thursday, June 18, 2015


This Saturday is year two of the Bald Peak Half Marathon. You can read my race preview from last year for all the details as nothing has changed this year. Basically it's a challenging course and finishing should be the main goal. I had a really great run last year, 1:46, which was way better than I even thought possible. I don't have any delusions of matching that this year. My main focus is just to run strong and try to enjoy myself as much as possible.

I'm not sure how hard I'll even be able to run. My body has felt a little off the last few days. My right knee was super sore and a little swollen yesterday (and a little bit today). I don't think it is from running though. I felt fine on Monday and Tuesday after my long run last weekend. My theory is I tweaked it bowling. They re-surfaced the lanes and approaches and they were super slippery on Tuesday at bowling league. Everybody was sliding around and mentioning how they felt like they were going to faceplant.

My suspicion is that by adjusting the way I bowled, after nearly face planting myself on my first ball, I was using and tweaking muscles/tendons in my legs I don't normally use. In order to still get power while bowling you kind of had to bowl normally but they apply extra pressure with your ankles and knees to keep yourself from toppling over. So I'm hoping that's why my knee was all screwed up. Both legs were off, but the right much more so than the left. Normally my left knee is the one with any complaints from running. So who knows.

Anyways, last year I ran this on an ankle the size of a grapefruit, so maybe a little injury is just the magic I need. Overall I've been feeling run down and crappy though, so hopefully that will pass before Saturday morning. If not, oh well. I should know a bunch of people there and I'll have a fun time regardless of how well I do. The weather looks great and I'll make a point to enjoy myself. Not going to worry too much about this race!


"A" Goal: Under 1:50. I'm not sure I can get this. This is an 8:23/mile pace or less. Last year with my 1:46 I averaged 10:10 for the opening two miles uphill, I doubt I'll be under 11:00 this year. Going to have to not give up much time after that to hit this.

"B & C" Goal: Finish under two hours. I'd like to get my A goal, but there is just so much up in the air about this race that I can't put too much weight on that. Just try my best and as long as I do that, be proud of the result. Finishing this half marathon is no joke.

Monday, June 15, 2015


Me, in yellow, around mile twelve of Saturday's sixteen mile run with Portland Marathon Clinic.
It's funny, during the week I cannot for the life of me get to work by 9:00am. That's my goal, but we have pretty flexible hours, so despite trying I'm always a tad bit late. I just have the hardest time getting out of bed. Saturday morning I arrived early to the Portland Marathon Clinic training run, getting to Mountain Hard Wear downtown at 7:45am and feeling more awake than I do most mornings at 9:30am. Go figure.

Saturday morning was my first run of the season with PMC. I would have joined up a little bit earlier, but as I've noted, my Saturdays have been tied up recently. I almost skipped out, as I had most all of Saturday to myself, which is exceedingly rare, and I could have done my miles at any time after sleeping in. However, I know how hard that can be because I usually put it off until the late afternoon and then suffer through the heat and boredom. So, despite not knowing anyone going to PMC, I went anyways.

The run went great! The schedule said an option of either 12, 14, or 16 miles and I planned on doing 14 miles. However, you don't want to be that one dude who turns around at mile 7 instead of mile 8 so I ended up doing the whole 16 miles and feeling pretty good the entire time. I ran with the 3:30 group, which normally does a 9:45 pace, but the leader was gone so we "paced" ourselves to a 9:25. That included slower warm up and cool down miles, the bulk of them were in the 9:10 to 9:15 range. It all felt pretty good!

I haven't ran more than a half marathon distance since taking a break for overtraining syndrome back in February. I was a little worried that sixteen miles would be a bit tough on my legs, being three miles more than my recent longest, but surprisingly I felt pretty good. Never really broke down, they got a little sore and tired, but normal sore and tired. It felt like a sixteen miler when I'm in shape for a marathon. All at a faster pace than most sixteen milers I have done. So that was really encouraging.

Now, I know that was probably just a freakishly good run. Sometimes you have them. So I won't let my head get too big. It was nice though to feel like maybe I'm on my way back to decent shape. I have the Bald Peak Half Marathon this weekend and that will be a really good test of my fitness. I don't think there is anyway I beat last year's time, but it will be a fun challenge without much pressure in regards to time.

Friday, June 12, 2015


Nothing much to report. I guess I officially started Portland Marathon training this week. I didn't officially start training last year until about this time, so I'm not behind or anything. I was in much better shape last year, so I'll be interested to see how this training cycle goes. I really trained hard last summer... I almost want to slack off a little and see if I can still get in the same ballpark. What's the point of killing myself when my legs are going to fall out at mile 22 anyways?

We'll see though! I'll be attending my first Portland Marathon Clinic training run tomorrow. Meant to get with them sooner, but lacrosse. Everything lately has been "but lacrosse." It's over though so that frees up my Saturdays. Still undecided on what pace group to join. I was planning on the 3:20 group so I could do the long runs at a 9:20/mile pace, but should I really be stepping up when I'm in worse shape? I have been running my long runs relatively successfully at the faster pace, so we'll see.

Did a tempo run last night. Really dread those! Same route as those two runs in April and similar results. Killed myself on that third mile which lead to the wheels falling off in the final mile. Legs felt great but my cardio was killing me. Pretty painful that last mile. Effective way to spend a half hour though! I also pumped up the tires in my bike and rode it for the first time in forever tonight... felt awesome. Might take that on a ride one of these rest days.

Total (Avg. pace)
30:13 (7:34/mi)
29:48 (7:28/mi)
29:58 (7:30/mi)

Monday, June 08, 2015


Artist interpretation of Delta Park this Saturday and Sunday during the Voodoo Lax Tournament. 
Well, I had a mini-failure this weekend. I didn't get out and run. Brandon has been having lacrosse tournaments I've been driving him to the last month or so and it has been really screwing with my running schedule. I was able to work around it for the most part until this weekend, when another tournament coupled with crippling heat led me to say "fuck it."

Saturday there was no way I was going to run. I had to leave my house around 8:30am to go stand around in the sun for eight hours. The tournament was at Delta Park, which has almost no shade. Couple that with temperatures in the low 90s and you have a grumpy Thomas. The sun really drains your energy and I was also standing or walking for 95% of the day (didn't bring a chair). As soon as that was over, I dropped Brandon off and then went to the Timbers game. That was a lot of fun, they won 2-0, but it was another two and a half hours of standing on my feet in the muggy heat.

Sunday I woke up and it was back to the tournament. Brandon's team was done and I was able to drop him off around 2:00. My mom had a birthday party at 5:00. I had three hours to fit my run in. Just enough time to go run twelve, shower, and then drive to the party. So I took a nap. It was 94 outside and I was exhausted from another half day in the sun. There was no way in hell I was going to run and I'm okay with that. It's all about balance. Consider it a rest week. Running twelve miles in 94 degrees is just a bad idea in general.

Anyways, now lacrosse is over and I should be able to hit my Portland Marathon Clinic training runs. It will be a relief to not have to battle to run on my own during the heat of day. I'm actually pretty sore today, almost as much as if I had completed my long run. I think all the standing around really took its toll. My hammies are pretty sore and achy. Supposed to be 92 at 6pm today with I do my PRC group run. Going to take that one easy!

Monday, June 01, 2015


Afterward with my pace group leader.
As planned, I went to the Discovery Run Thursday night in Tualatin. Due to some traffic I cut my arrival a little closer than I would have liked but I still made it in time. Instead of branching off on my own like last time, I joined a pace group for the run this time. This is an option that I don't remember from doing this run last year. Basically you have a leader that plots out a course to hit as many of the stops as possible and then takes you there at a certain pace.

I was already pretty worn out, so to take the agitation of finding all the stops myself out of the equation was pretty nifty. Just mindlessly follow a group and collect raffle tickets. Sounds good to me. My late arrival meant that by the time I checked in the pace group had just left, so I had to chase them down. They were supposed to be going "8 to 9 minutes per mile, more close to 9" according to the announcer lady, but I call BS on that. I did about a 7:00/mile pace to catch up and then found myself running 7:30ish once caught up.

After the first mile the leader realized he was going too fast and toned it down, but we still ran a solid 8:00/mile. Once I was warmed up I actually kind of liked this pace, it was nice to do a tempo run where I could just follow someone and zone out. Plus, we got to stop every five or ten minutes at a station and collect raffle tickets. So it was more like a speed workout with long intervals. Overall, the run was really fun! I didn't win anything, but did enjoy my two free beers for going. Yum!

This weekend proved difficult to get a long run in. Basically I was tied up all of Saturday with one of Brandon's lacrosse tournaments and had some stuff on Sunday that left me at 4:30pm still not having run a lick all weekend. It was 84 degrees outside and probably the last thing on Earth I wanted to do was go for a run. But I sucked it up buttercup and got my ass out there. Excuses be damned, I was going to get my run in otherwise I'd feel guilty about it all week.

I initially had my portable radio strapped my arm to listen to the Beavers baseball playoff game. They were choking harder than George W. Bush on a pretzel though and it was pissing me off so I ended up switching it to a music station. It was kind of fun to have just random music to run to and helped pass the time. Nothing like a jazzy, upbeat song from the 80s to get you moving. Around mile 10.5 I unplugged though, my body was starting to complain and sound in my ears suddenly was not welcome. Just wanted to do those last fifteen minutes "natural."

Speaking of natural, I'll be doing a naked run this August in Portland. It's called the "Free Ball 5k" and comes complete with a spaghetti and meatball feast afterward in addition to the "truck nuts" medal. Just kidding. But I totally had you there for a second. All told my long run was twelve miles at a 9:28 pace. Still kind of irked that twelve miles wears me out like that did, but I did run that one in the heat so all told I'm fairly content with it.