Thursday, July 30, 2015


Monday I ended up running TWELVE miles. I took off work a little early so I could run from my house to PRC. If I ran my usual 6.5 miles Monday at PRC and then ran back home I'd hit 12 miles almost perfectly. While I wasn't eager to do it, I did feel some sort of obligation given that I didn't run at all the previous weekend while I was camping. Also, a lunch at Buffalo Wild Wings that Monday left me feeling fat, so that might have had something to do with it.

It was fairly uneventful until about mile seven or so. I started developing what felt like a shin splint when running. It was most odd because I only really had shin splints when I first started running or once in a blue moon while doing speedwork. Getting one while running 9 minute miles? Unheard of. I was really uncomfortable running because I was burping up my lunch, so I don't quite recall how much my shin was actually hurting. It was certainly noticeable and highly uncomfortable.

The next morning my shin hurts like crazy. Way worse than any shin splint before. I immediately fear a stress fracture. I do some movements to try to determine if perhaps this is the case. They all come back negative, which is a relief. If anything the front of my leg feels a little swollen. Katie, from Runs for Cookies, sends me some really good information on shin splints... from what I can tell I have a muscular related shin splint, which are fairly rare (only 10%, the other 90% are skeletal). So I read up some more on those and I'm pretty sure that's what I have.

Wednesday and my leg still feels bad. No improvement really. Shin splint starts to act up after a few steps. If I walk long enough, it will fade, but usually comes back after a while. I'm still pretty concerned. The pain is pretty bad when it acts up... to the point where I am limping badly and want to stop walking.

Today... Thursday... there is still a little swelling but no noticeable pain. I've been walking a bit and haven't had it flare up. It is so much better today. I'm feeling much better... it derailed this week of training (haven't ran since Monday and I think I want to give it another day at least), but long term it still looks like all my marathon plans are on. It was quite the scare and came out of nowhere. I hope it doesn't resurface!

Monday, July 27, 2015


Discovery Run! One of many waits at a stoplight. Cool kids up in the front.
A week or two back I had a pretty great eighteen mile run with PMC. It was surprising given the distance and the fact it was after the beer mile the night before, but the weather was finally decent and everything clicked. I knew it was just a random good run though and tempered my enthusiasm accordingly. For every good run, there is usually a bad run. That bad run was the weekend before last (yeah, I'm a little behind).

I only got five hours of sleep (I forget why or what I was doing... oh, game night!). That, coupled with warm temperatures (85 when we finished), led to a very bad run. The type of run where I'm tired and starting to get sore only eight miles into the run. It sucked. It didn't help that a lot of it was along my much despised Springwater Corridor as well. Anyways, I made it through. It was 19 miles and it sucked. I was able to do it though, and the next day I wasn't even that sore. So perspective. My first twenty miler is coming up this weekend.

What else happened since last update? The Discovery Run in Tualatin where all these pictures are from. It was a lot of fun. If they had a quicker pace group I was maybe going to turn this into a tempo run, but the fastest was 9:00/mile and I wasn't feeling super spry anyways. Luckily I was able to convince Katie to join me at that pace and the run ended up being a lot of fun. We were out for about 55 minutes and only ran 35 of that. Funny how much time you wait at stoplights and in lines to get tickets. With the right mindset though it is a lot of fun!

He works hard for his tickets, ba dum bah, he works hard for
it honey, ba dum bah, he works hard for his tickets...
And finally, just got back from camping in Roseburg this last weekend. That was a lot of fun. It was our annual family reunion campout deal, so I took Brandon along for the third straight year, and we had a great time just hanging at the river playing and being lazy. Most years I have fit in a run during this time of twelve miles, but my new training method of not giving a fuck meant I got to take the weekend off. It was great! When Brandon asked "Are you going to have to run again?" acting all sad it was fun to say "Nope, not this weekend," and watch him perk up. There is a new sheriff in town and he doesn't give a shit.

Anyways, the break will be short lived. I'll be running twenty the next two weekends. This weekend off isn't going to kill me and might actually be a good thing. Rest my legs up before this increase in miles. I'll be back at the Umpqua at the end of August for my birthday campout... I'll probably make myself run then... too close to the marathon to take a weekend off... but hopefully I can get away with only twelve in a down week.

Monday, July 20, 2015


Brandon, me, his sister, and his dad before the start of the 5k for our third annual running of this race.
Sunday, July 12th marked the 4th annual Outdoor Sunday Evenings 5k put on by the church by my house. It was the third year Brandon, his father, and I would be running it together. It has become somewhat of a tradition and something I look forward to every year. Brandon has been getting faster each year and I expected that would continue this year as well. If you'd like to read about the previous times here is the report from 2013 and here is the one from 2014. Onto this year!

This year was particularly fun because Alejandro and Katie B. showed up to run the race and Libbie was there again to take pictures. So it was a fun crew. Brandon's little sister even came and ran the one mile fun run (more on that later). After a little panic about getting to the race on time we ended up arriving with about 15 minutes to spare. Enough to grab our bibs, hand the camera to Libbie, and chat a little with Ale and Katie. Brandon was a "little nervous" but not too bad. He made it his not so secret goal to beat Katie. I knew she would probably crush him, likely running under thirty minutes, but whatever was going to motivate him.

Feeling good very early in the race.
Right on time the race started and Brandon and I shadowed behind Katie. It was fun watching them interact, Brandon was trying to pass Katie, but she would block him like a racecar driver blocks an opponent trying to pass. We were running much too fast, and I tried to warn Brandon, but he was pretty focused. I was surprised at how far he was running... would the motivation to beat a girl really propel him for the entire race? Well, no. It did get him .88 miles into the race without a walking break though, by far a Brandon record for continuous running.

That first walking break occurred right before the first major hill so it was good timing. Brandon had darted ahead of Katie so our walking at that point included looks back to see where she was. Eventually she caught up to us and we stayed about even for another half mile. The first mile split came in at 8:55. I knew that was trouble. That was an amazing time for Brandon and even included some walking. My only fear was that he blew himself up early and wouldn't be able to finish the race in a strong fashion.

My fears started to come true about a mile and a half in. We hit the aid station and Brandon took a little break to drink some water. It was at this point that Katie pulled away and Brandon realized how much effort he had put into trying to stay ahead of her. The combination of an exhausted body and the sight of Katie fading into the distance was a real mental downer for him. Negative words started coming, including the annual "never sign me up for a race again" and "I'm going to give up, seriously." Nothing I hadn't heard before. I just tried to stay positive and continue to encourage him.

The annual "burn Thomas" tradition started early this year.
It was a little concerning though, he was taking longer to rebound than I expected. Half run half walk at most. While he had always been exhausted at this point in the race (around mile two) he had never ran the first half of the race so hard. I could understand how he was feeling, it was like mile twenty of a marathon where you started out way too fast for him. Eventually he came around. I wasn't sure he would, but the continued encouragement and reminding him to only compete against himself and to forget about other people seemed to work.

The last half mile he actually ran pretty strong! One walking break where I encouraged it up a hill, but otherwise he ran the race in. He took off for the finish way earlier than in previous years and really impressed me with what he had left in the tank for the finish. I sprinted after him and even pulled even with him with about fifty yards to go to pretend race him and hopefully encourage him to run faster. He looked over at me and didn't run faster or even make a face. I think he was that tired. I pulled off the gas and let him beat me by a few seconds.

Brandon did awesome! He crushed last year's time by a good two minutes and continued his downward improvement of his 5k time. After being tired and out of it for five or ten minutes after, again a yearly tradition, he perked right back up and had fun. He's always glad he did it after the race, but during he kind of hates it. Hey, kind of sounds like me! Anyways, perhaps the best part was to come. I was going to take Brandon's sister on the one mile timed run so she got to do a race too. It was free and you could sign up at any time. Katie mentioned she was going to do it, so as soon as Brandon heard that he piped up "I want to do it too" after rejecting that idea earlier.

Getting ready to burn Katie in the one mile run.
So it was off to the one mile fun run! I ran with Brandon's little sister, who is nine, and it went about as expected. We sprinted and walked our way to an 11:30ish mile. No way to pace the little ones. I'm glad we only signed her up for the mile because there was no way she would have enjoyed running two more of those. She had a good time though and it was fun to have her included. Brandon raced Katie and actually ended up beating her. I kind of wish I could have seen the "race" and heard the chatter between them. According to Katie though, Brandon actually beat her, she didn't let him win. Brandon ran an 8:34 mile after finishing the 5k just a half hour prior!

All told Brandon ran four miles in just over forty minutes. Super impressive! I'm sure he was sore for a few days, he was already limping to the parking lot when we went to leave. I was very proud of him though, to do four miles and run that hard is really impressive for a kid that doesn't train. It was hilarious how competitive he got with Katie, they trash talked for fun back and forth, and it was rewarding to see him try his best even if it took everything he had. We ate our free hamburgers, chatted a little, then headed home for the night.

Look at his improvement over the years!

Brandon's official time: 31:55, 10:18/mile.

And, for fun:

Wednesday, July 15, 2015


Coming back along Willamette, I believe this is around mile 11 or 12. At back in yellow.
Okay, maybe that title was a little dramatic but my Saturday morning long run with PMC went pretty well. Considering I did the beer mile the night before I was feely pretty good Saturday morning, no ill effects. It was also my fifth day in a row running, if you count the beer mile, and my legs were feeling surprisingly good. We met at Mountain Hard Wear, the same place where I ran my first run with PMC this year, sixteen miles, and did that same route expect we added an extra two miles to the end.

Alejandro is now running with the 3:15 group, so I'm left back in the 3:30 group to make friends. It's actually been a good thing, as I've talked to more people and now that I've been there a few times the faces are becoming familiar. Pretty much a whole new group this year, not a lot of the same people from last year. There are also times were I can just hang at the back and zone out, which is kind of nice. Lots of chatter the first half of this run that died down towards the end.

Nothing special to note with the route. I actually kind of like it except the first mile or two. Too many stoplights and street crossings. Once we get rolling though it's a pretty nice route. I don't mind Willamette Boulevard too much during the summer, I get sick of it during the winter for some reason (I think because it seems like every other Coach Jim run is there), but lately I've been digging it. On a warm day it has pretty views but also some shade. The weather for this run was perfect. After the sauna-like run from last week it was in the 60s and overcast for the majority of this rum.

My legs felt really good! I remarked around mile 17 how I could easily go twenty miles. A few of my fellow runners agreed. A few probably hated me in their heads. Seriously though, I felt good! My legs were tiring a little and were a tad sore, yes, but everything considered they felt great. If that was a twenty mile run I could have easily done it. That gives me a lot of confidence that I can be ready for this marathon. Not necessarily PR it, but be in decent enough marathon shape where it doesn't turn into a total shit show.

The biggest takeaway from this run was the next day my legs felt fine! The tight calves were nowhere to be seen. That was very refreshing. My legs even felt a little better than they should. Not really sore at all and feeling pretty strong. Which was a good thing, as I had the Sunday Evening 5k with Brandon and his dad that evening. More on that next!

Monday, July 13, 2015


I believe this is beer number three. This is when things started to get uncomfortable. I'm at the far right in gray.
Last Friday night was year two of the Cascadia Beer Mile, an official annual event that gets put on without much notice. It think this year we may have had about nine days of lead time and it was about a month later than last year. No worries though, I am always ready for a beer mile and instantly was "in" when I saw the event. Friday after work I stopped by Safeway to grab some beer and was lucky to find a lager from Ten Barrel that was right at 5% ABV. No Buttwiper swill this year.

After lap one, beer two.
My main goal this year was to be in the same ballpark time-wise as last year when I ran an 11:04. There was no reason to think I would be faster than last year, but I knew I had a chance as the race was no longer an unknown. I might not have been any better at drinking, and measurably slower at running... but experience does count. At most I thought I could trim off 15-20 seconds and most of that would probably have to come from the drinking part with my new gulp big, gulp fast strategy.

The race started shortly after 8:45. I got there at 8:30 and was one of the first dozen people or so... fifteen minutes later there were probably 30 runners and twice that number of spectators. It's amazing how fast we show up (and then leave). No sports going on at the track this year, so we were able to use the actual track and not improvise in the nearby neighborhood. I got a little nervous before the start of the race knowing the discomfort that was to come.

The "gun" went off and we all cracked open our beers. My beer was great for this event, light, but tasty. Not that I was tasting much. Last year I made the mistake of trying to chug the entire beer and having my stomach blow up. This year I just took big sips very quickly. The strategy paid off as I got out of the chute almost five seconds faster. I was near the tail end of people leaving though, so apparently my beer drinking skills could use some work. Shake over the head, throw beer toward garbage can, and off I went.

So, I didn't realize it at the time, but my first lap was 1:35... better than all but one of my intervals at the track from the night before. After chugging a beer. My stomach was burpy and slightly uncomfortable after that first beer, but apparently the race adrenaline caught up with me. I didn't even feel like I was running that fast, just keeping up with those around me. In the end, it was 23 seconds faster than my first lap last year.

Coming in for the final beer (and playing air drums!)
Onto beer number two. This one took ten seconds longer than the first. Most of that time was spent gasping for air. Nothing like chugging beers when you're breathing hard from running. Getting this beer down wasn't too bad though. The stomach was starting to fill up but I still felt alright. Off I went. Lap two was also done at a pretty good speed. 6:47/mile pace. I was intentionally burping as much as I could while running to clear space in my stomach.

Beer three went down about the same as beer two. Big gulps between gasps for air. I was starting to feel it though. While laps one and two weren't comfortable, they weren't pushing me too hard. Running that third lap is when the race started to catch up with me. A burp included a little bit of stomach content. Just swallow that back down, thank you very much. I could have just spat it into the infield and have it pass as spit, but integrity! Overall this lap was pretty fast too at 7:15 pace. I was ready to be done though.

That last beer was a challenge. When I stopped running and cracked it open all I wanted to do was throw up. Nothing like pounding a beer in that situation. Mind over matter. I took my time. I know I was running a decent clip and should be around the same time as last year. I also remembered this beer last year took me close to a minute. So I just beared down and got it done. It was not comfortable and it was not quick, but it was done.

Lap four. Where do I start. This was harder than last year. A real shuffle job. Really wanted to barf. Too much liquid in stomach. I can't believe this was done at a 9:29 mile pace. That is faster than my long run pace and when I'm running those I feel like it's an okay clip. This lap felt like one notch above walking. It was probably over 10:00/mile until the homestretch though now that I think about it. I got encouragement from the female race winner as she passed me with about 300m to go.

Shuffle, shuffle, shuffle. Less burping. Burping might induce vomiting. By the time I rounded the corner for the homestretch I was feeling a bit better. I ended up getting in a sprinting match with two other guys. Brilliant. I beat them both to the line though. Stopped my watch. Holy shit. Under ten minutes! Where did that come from? I bent over to catch my breath. Now that I wasn't running or chugging the need to vomit slowly dissipated. My stomach wasn't happy for a good hour, but all told I was feeling alright.

In the end it was a NEW PR by 1:12! At least I can still PR at something, huh? Felt good to totally smash expectations like that. As you can see, most of the time was made up in the running portion of the event. I think I played it a little more conservatively last year not knowing what to expect. My balls to the wall running strategy this year paid off. It lead to a more difficult and challenging last lap, which was slightly slower, but all the time I banked before that really paid off.

Reflecting back, it was a really fun time. I enjoy the beer mile very much. People ask why I do it. It's a lot like the marathon. The challenge of it really pushes me. Like the marathon, it pretty much sucks during, but when you finish you are glad you did it. Plus, the people who do the beer mile are a really fun subset of runner and the whole event is just fun to be a part of. Until next year!


Friday, July 10, 2015


I don't understand why this isn't more popular.
Before I get into tonight's big race, I'd like to mention that last night I actually went to the track and did intervals. Didn't really plan on that, but I wanted to run (I've been slacking to three days a week and wanted four) and I haven't done any sort of speedwork except races in forever. With my legs finally feeling decent I decided to take advantage of the cooler weather (only 80!) and go run some laps.

It had been almost eleven months since I last stepped onto a track and did intervals. I was kind of excited to mix things up and the workout actually flew by. I just did a basic 8x400m workout with 400m rests. My times were: 1:40, 1:38, 1:38, 1:38, 1:37, 1:38, 1:38, 1:33. Pretty freaking consistent and then I hit the last one hard. 1:38 is a 6:32/mile average pace, which wasn't bad. A little slower than my peak, but not by much. Looking back a 1:35 average over 8 intervals was my best.

So tonight is year two of the beer mile. There is no reason I can think of that I will have a better time this year over last year. Last year I was faster and my drinking hasn't improved at all either. You think with all the slacking off I've done my drinking abilities would have gotten better. Anyways, the only thing in my favor will be experience. I know what to expect this year. I'm not sure if that's an advantage though. You have to drink a beer and run... it's not very complicated!

One strategy I think I'll employ this year is smaller sips. Trying to chug the beer in one go was not a good plan. I got about halfway though the first one and I thought my stomach was about to explode. I think big sips very quickly will get me the best time and be most sustainable over the course of the race. This also allows me to burp during the drinking so I don't have to do it so much while running. I also think I'll try to push the running a bit during my first and second laps... bank a little time, if I can, before my stomach is too iffy to actually run fast.


"A" Goal: Beat last year's time! Under 11 would be awesome, but I only have to get a 11:03 or less to do this. I don't see why I would be much slower than last year, my running hasn't dropped of that much.

"B" Goal: There will be no C goal because this is a freaking beer mile. If I don't PR, then whatever. The whole point is just to have fun. My drinking times should be similar, I'm hoping to shave a few seconds off there, but my running times might be a little slower. We'll see. Not going to worry about it!

I plan to time each split, drinking and running, just like last year... so be prepared for over the top analysis next week!

Wednesday, July 08, 2015


July Fourth Group Torture Run. Look at us all festive. I decided not to look at the camera because I am a rebel.
Saturday morning I woke up at did eighteen miles with the Portland Marathon Clinic. I'm glad I went with them, because there was no way I was doing eighteen miles on my own that Saturday. I believe it got up to 98 or 99 on the day. When we started at 8am it was already in the 70s and was in the mid 80s when we finished around 11am. It was a hot run that seemingly lasted forever, but I got it done.

To be honest, the run wasn't as hard as I thought it would be. Other than two sixteen milers, my longest runs of the last six months have been half marathons. However, these eighteen weren't so bad. My legs hurt a bit toward the end, but it was never excruciating. I remember my first 18 and 20 milers almost being in tears towards the end. Guess my leg cherry has been popped. Now, my muscles were certainly complaining and weren't happy, but it was all pretty manageable.

After the run my legs felt pretty good. I was honestly feeling pretty dang good about my fitness. I was thinking just maybe I can go somewhere in the 3:30s again for a marathon. Went to some Fourth of July celebrations that evening and my legs didn't even cross my mind. However, when I woke up on Sunday, my calves were super tight... AGAIN. Same thing happened after my run with Alejandro on the Banks Vernonia Trail.

This all seems to stem from the Bald Peak Half Marathon. I had what I diagnosed as super tight Achilles tendons after that one. I still think that was the correct diagnosis.  Maybe my calves also were affected or bore the brunt for my Achilles afterward when I ran. Needless, it's really annoying. After my long runs I have tight calves, play it easy during the week, do my long run, then have tight calves again. It's been a vicious cycle.

No better way to see the beautiful city of Tualatin!
I tried to remedy it this week by taking it super easy on Monday. Three miles at 10:45/mile easy. Maybe I should have just taken the day off, I don't know. Here it is Wednesday and my calves are still a little sore. I'll probably run six or seven miles tonight with my run group. I'm hoping if I stretch before and after it won't make things worse. The midweek runs don't seem to make the calf thing any worse but they probably don't help.

Anyways, we'll see how things turn out. I might try taking an entire weekend off from long running if they don't get better. I'm very casual this training cycle, I've totally lost my edge, so the thought of that doesn't send me into a panic attack like it would before. In fact, it sounds kind of nice. If I do end up doing that, it would probably be the weekend of July 25th when I'm camping in Roseburg. That was always a pain in the ass anyways.

Oh oh! Beer mile THIS Friday! More to come!

Wednesday, July 01, 2015


Two weeks ago I had a really great sixteen mile run with the Portland Marathon Clinic. I believe I described it as "freakishly good" and it was kind of hard to believe I was able to do sixteen so easily when I hadn't run over 13.1 in months. Well, I guess I kind of got the opposite end of that feeling this last weekend when I ran sixteen with Alejandro at the Banks Vernonia Trail.

The week prior I ran Balk Peak on Sunday and didn't run again until PRC on Wednesday. I then ran Thursday at the Discovery Run in Tualatin and then again Friday at home. Saturday was a rest day but I didn't get much rest as I was swimming with Brandon and his family all day. That seemed to really tire my legs out, because when I went to run on Sunday I did not feel fresh at all. That was the first sign this run might not be the greatest.

We parked at the Buxton Trailhead and then went four miles south and back to the car. After those first eight miles I was already feeling very tired. If I wasn't with someone else I might have quit or adjusted my miles down to twelve or something. My legs just did not feel good and it was much harder than it should have been. However, after a quick stop at the car in which I downed an entire Gatorade and ate some Oreos I recharged enough to do the final eight miles.

Due to the way the trail is, miles 5-12 were mostly uphill. If you've ever been to the Banks Vernonia Trail it is all subtle uphill... so you can kind of see it but it doesn't look all that bad. It's kind of a mind fuck because you feel way more tired than it looks like you should be. All those gradual uphill miles add up though. By the time I hit the turnaround at mile twelve I was nearly done. I don't think I could have done another mile in that direction.

Luckily, that meant that the final four miles were all downhill. And all of a sudden I felt much better about myself. Alejandro and I picked up that pace too, which made it a little harder than it should have been, but I think we were both eager to just get done. Overall those four miles weren't bad, physically I could do it, I was just getting bored mentally and ready to be done. Oh, and my feet hurt. That probably was the biggest thing. My poor footsies.

Overall: 16.00 miles in 2:31:41. 9:29/mile.