Wednesday, September 30, 2015


In just about an hour I'll have my last run before the marathon. Yikes! I'll do just short of three miles with PRC at a very leisurely pace. Physically, my body feels really good. The 5k on Sunday didn't seem to affect me that much, I was a little worn on Monday perhaps but at the pace I was running I couldn't really feel it. Today should be a really quick, easy run, then there is nothing to do but recover and make sure my legs are there for the race.

There is a slight concern however. Yesterday I got a sore throat and I still have it today. I think it feels a little better today, but the last thing I want to have happen is to be sick during the marathon. There seems to be a cold and couple other bugs going around and I really hope I don't have something major. The fact that it certainly didn't get worse overnight was encouraging. Just hope it isn't one of those bugs that eventually moves and lodges itself in your lungs/nose for a couple weeks after the sore throat start. Guess we'll see. Fingers crossed for feeling 100% Sunday.

Oh and the weather is going the total wrong direction. High revised upwards 2 degrees since yesterday. Now it is an official repeat of last year.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015


Well, the marathon is almost here. I can't believe we are only five days out. Like every other marathon I've ran, I wish it was another month away, but I am ready. Early on in my marathon training this year I wasn't sure how ready I would end up being, and despite some lapses in my schedule, I think I prepared myself pretty well. Time to go leave it all out there and see what happens.

One concerning thing at this point is the weather. High of 78 on Sunday and it looks like an exact repeat of 2014. Last year the high on race day was 80 and the low was something like 55. Right now it is predicted a few degrees cooler, but not much. Unfortunately, if this holds, it will be a little warm. Not terribly warm, but not ideal conditions. Overcast and 55 would be ideal for a marathon.

Anyways, it looks like the weather will be dry. We are still far enough out that the forecast could change though. I'm hoping those clouds predicted on Friday and Saturday move into the region slower than anticipated and linger into Sunday. The forecast on Saturday looks just about perfect for the marathon, similar to my first Portland Marathon in 2013. We'll see!

Did four miles at 10:00/mile yesterday at run group. I'll probably do three tomorrow and then rest up until the marathon. Love the taper. I just start to freak out every time I think about the marathon. My strategy to remain calm is remind myself it doesn't suck until about mile 20. Then you just have to slog through 50 minutes of feeling terrible. Less than an hour. Totally doable.

Monday, September 28, 2015


Same course as usual! Through the heart of the OSU campus and back.
Another year, another Corvallis Fall Festival 5k in the books. This is the race that started it all and every year Libbie and I pilgrimage here to pay our respects. By now we have the routine down to a science, leaving at 7:20 and arriving with about 25 minutes until the race starting. Since my home lacked food, I stopped and had a coffee and sausage burrito at McDonald's on the way down. Luckily, this did not harm me in any way!

Nothing out of the ordinary before the race. Feels like a routine by now. Did a warm up jog/sprint of a couple blocks and called it good. Just wanted to make sure I wasn't completely cold at the beginning of the race so I didn't pull anything before the marathon Sunday. Those short sprints felt harder than they should have been and it did not leave me feeling super confident. I really didn't have a good feel on what I should expect for the race, but I was hoping for around 7:00/mile or less. If I could manage that, then I haven't slowed down too badly.

Starting off the 5k! Don't I look thrilled?
The was about to start so I got as close to the start line as possible without getting in the way of legitimate fast people in front of me. They started both the 5k and 10k at the same time this year so the start line was a little more crowded than usual. Again, it was chipped time but did not have a starting mat, so any time it took you to reach the start line counted. Luckily I was across the start line in two seconds and off to the races.

Very little weaving this year, I seemed to be a good pocket and the kids who shot out didn't fall apart right in front of me. The pace was hard, but I settled in pretty quickly. Quick glances at my watch showed my pace right about at 7:00/mile, as I expected. The race felt like a 5k should, my legs feeling pretty good but my lungs and cardio screaming. Something about the race really helps though, your body knows it is only 20 minutes and thus rises to the occasion. Intervals at 7:00/mile leave me feeling breathless after one lap, and here I was running 12 straight without stopping.

The first mile came in at 6:52. I was pretty pleased with that time... not the 6:30-whatever of last year, but still not bad. I wasn't dying at this pace despite this being my first 5k in 365 days (the Fall Festival last year!). The course was very familiar to me by now, so no new surprises. I knew where the little uphills and downhills were and could prepare myself appropriately. The second mile beeped in at 7:00. Perfect. Another 7:00 mile and I'd finish under that overall.

The third mile is the most challenging as it contains the biggest uphill of the course. A decent little hill that lasts one city block. Normally that's nothing, but at mile 2.1 of a 5k, it can knock you off your game. At the top you are breathing heavy and have to regain your original pace. This year I was able to fly up the hill and pass a man who obviously wasn't as prepared for it as me. I focused on regaining my breathing at the top and pretty quickly I was right back in the groove. I knew the race was only another seven minutes or so, which is pretty motivating when your body is starting to feel the effects of your pace.

Coming in for the finish!
It must have been "get out and about" day on the Oregon State campus because there were a ton of students out during the race. They did a pretty good job of getting out of our way on the shared paths. Something we haven't had to deal with in the past. I think school is normally in session by this race, however this year, with the late Labor Day, it doesn't start until Monday. So I think a lot of students were moving in. The beautiful weather also might have had something to do with it. High 50s and sunny. Perfect weather really. 7:00 final mile.

Unlike most years, nobody was really on my ass and kicking to the finish. So while I certainly picked up my pace a little, it wasn't a desperate sprint like some years. I think my pace over the last .11 miles was probably something like 6:20/mile. I was very pleased with my time, 21:11. A far cry from my 20:28 last year, but also faster than my 21:50 the year before my first marathon. It was honestly a little better than I thought I would do. I figured I would be in the high 21s, not the low 21s.

Anyways, I ended up third in my age group. My watch shorted me a little, so my mile times were a little quicker than it said. Overall I averaged 6:49/mile which is pretty dang good. Libbie and I wandered around the OSU campus to waste time before the awards ceremony, which was listed at 11am. When we got there at 10:55am they were just wrapping it up. D'oh! Anyways, they were able to give me my medal without a fuss. My second time placing 2nd in my age group here!

After that, we went to eat at Block 15. I don't think I had been there since I was a senior in college playing shuffleboard. I had a really delicious buffalo chicken salad and Libbie had some nachos that were good but needed more cheese. It was good to be back and fun to see the place hadn't really changed at all. Corvallis still feels almost like home when I go there.

Onto freaking out about the marathon in 3... 2... 1... AHHHHHHHHH!

Overall Results: 21:11, 6:49/mile. 17/246 overall, 13/93 male, 2/14 M20-29.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015


As expected, this last weekend's sixteen miler was harder than it should have been. That seems to happen every marathon cycle. You run your last twenty, feel pretty good about it, do the douchey double finger point to anyone who asks how it went, then shit the bed the next week. My legs were tired from the speedwork and twenties the previous two weeks, so I know not to worry. My legs recovered quickly and I'm feeling pretty good eleven days out.

Since we are still too far out to obsess over the weather forecast, I decided to obsess over my pace today. I'm having a really difficult time figuring out what a good goal for this race will be. I do know that a PR is out the window... I was in much better shape last summer and trying to PR this race would be a fool's errand that would leave me broken. However, I also don't want to use that as an excuse to slack off. I want to do the best I can for the shape I am in now. What is that? I'm not sure.

One reason I'm a little confused is I haven't raced since June, and that was the Bald Peak Half Marathon which you can't really use as a measuring stick. In fact, if you look at my race history you'll notice I've raced a lot less this year than normal. I had the overtraining syndrome issue in the spring and then this summer I was so focused on trying to be motivated for marathon training that I didn't sign up for any races. The last time I feel I really ran my best was the Rock n' Roll Half Marathon in mid-May! Am I in better shape since then? Yes, I can run farther for sure! Am I faster? Not sure.

I am doing a race this weekend however! The Corvallis Fall Festival 5k Run, year five. This is where it all began in 2011. Unfortunately, it is always the week right before the Portland Marathon, but it has never been an issue and is over in just over twenty minutes anyways. A good chance to get some last minute speedwork in. I'm shooting to do eight miles on Saturday, so my legs won't be super fresh, but it'll be a good measuring stick on my fitness. I'll run it at 95% effort, like I have the last couple years, which normally puts me within 20 seconds of a "best effort" finish anyways.

While typing this post and looking back at previous races, what I think I could do in shorter races now, plugging those into calculators, comparing my times against myself in previous years... I think I'm starting to get an idea of what my goal should be in Portland. I'll officially announce that with my preview post, but this post has actually helped me a lot! Now that I have a goal (I think), I can relax, focus on my taper next week, and do my best October 4th!

Friday, September 18, 2015


My training since late March. A couple "oops" weeks during marathon training and not quite the miles I wanted, but not bad.
The yo-yoing nature of my marathon training has continued. After struggling a bit and having some bad weeks, I'd venture to say this last week has been my best in terms of running this marathon cycle. Hopefully I'll be able to run the 16 miler strong tomorrow and coast into the marathon feeling a bit more prepared than I thought I would.

So after the pretty good twenty miler last weekend I did:

Monday: 6.5 miles at 8:39/mile. Faster than most group runs have been. Group runs in the 8s that I don't designate as "fast days" have become an endangered species, so it felt nice to just run a little quicker for the hell of it and still have it be an "easier" run for the week. 8:21 final mile.

Wednesday: Convinced a few people to run fast with me. Ended up running 6.8 miles at 7:50/mile. Felt like a nice quick run and the distance of almost seven miles was nice. Normally on these "tempo" runs I cut it short, but I did the entire length of the trail this day. Felt great afterwards. Legs responded very nicely.

Thursday: Did "street intervals" at home. 8 x 400s. Averaged 7:47/mile over 4.00 miles, including the rest periods. Went pretty well, especially considering the run the night before. Last couple intervals were slower because they happened to come up during some steep uphills. All told the slowest interval was done at 7:42/mile pace up the hill and most were in the 6s.

Resting today (Friday), and then the final double digit distance run of the marathon cycle tomorrow with PMC. The Portland Marathon is coming up really quick. It felt very good to get some positive speedwork in and have my legs feel pretty good the whole time.

Monday, September 14, 2015


See if you can spot me and my bed head. Not going to look pretty when I'm about to run. #dontGAF
This last Saturday was the final twenty mile training run of this marathon cycle. Wohoo! Seems like just yesterday I was running my first. It feels great to have that out of the way and be on the "downside" of the training mountain. Sixteen next weekend, followed by eight, then the race. I managed to do four twenty mile runs this cycle, same as last year. Frankly, from a long run perspective, my work this year has been just as good as last.

As mentioned in my previous blog post, last week's brunch run was a real bear. My legs felt pretty sore all week and I was starting to doubt my ability to do the race if the run was affecting me that much. Well, toward the end of the week my legs felt a little better and I was able to trick myself into running five miles Friday night by allowing myself to finish at the grocery store so I could buy pizza. True story. Carried my credit card and then did a half mile cool down walk with my frozen pizza. Whatever works, right?

Saturday morning I was a little concerned because I had done three on Thursday and five on Friday. That isn't much at all, but with the way my legs were still kind of feeling the brunch run I figured Saturday's twenty miler might be a real death march. Instead, I was pleasantly surprised. My legs actually felt pretty good the entire run. The last mile was a big of a slog, but otherwise they felt much better than last week and didn't feel like they were being overworked.

The challenge this run was my energy level. I felt completely zapped of energy from about mile twelve onward. Towards the end it was all I could do to stare at the ground and just shuffle forward. Completely different than last week where my legs were screaming but my energy level was okay. Usually in a marathon you are fighting both so I guess it was good to have practice at the other one this week! I am not sure of the culprit, but I did not fuel at all until the second half of the run because I was having indigestion from my pizza run the night before. #runnerlife

Friday, September 11, 2015


This week hasn't been the best in terms of training. Probably not a good time for it to be happening, as we are really in the crunch time for marathon training right now. Monday was alright, five and a half miles in my old neck of the woods. It wasn't particularly fast though, 9:30/mile overall, as my body was still pretty wrecked from that brunch run.

Tuesday I could have ran but choose not to. I knew I had conflicts coming up but my body felt just terrible. I was afraid of a return to the "overtraining" type symptoms I had earlier this year and didn't want to press it. I know it's ridiculous to be worried about that sort of stuff with the amount I run, but that's my reality right now. I could probably fix it with foam rolling, ice baths, yoga, blah blah blah, but I just don't care enough I guess?

Wednesday I would normally have PRC run group but I went to the Timbers game instead. And yesterday I would have normally ran but I had dinner with my parents for my birthday. Here's the thing though.... I ended up running at 9:30pm with about 2 pounds of Lebanese food in my belly. It was a super uncomfortable run and I only ran three miles. I think I averaged about 10:45/mile and that was the absolute fastest I could go without throwing up. It was kind of ridiculous but I couldn't stand the thought of not running for another day.

Anyways, that was probably a bit dramatic. Tonight I'll run five or six around my house before dinner. I'd like to do a marathon pace run, but the high today is 96 so I don't know how realistic that will be. Then on Saturday I have 20 again with PMC. Hopefully my legs won't be shot for that. There is an option for only 16, but I really want to do the full 20 again. My weekday runs this time around haven't been great, but my weekend long runs have been just as good as last year and I'd like to keep that up.

Monday, September 07, 2015


At the 20 mile finish, see me back left in orange. The enthusiasm is a lie. I proceeded to stuff my face. Food was good.
On Wednesday I actually ended up doing a tempo run. I've semi-declared Wednesday as "Old Thomas Day," meaning the Thomas that cared about running. That means if New Thomas is in a good enough mood on Wednesday he might run fast. And with the marathon approaching and the weather cooperating, I figured I might as well book it. I ended up running the almost seven miles at a 7:42/mile pace. Not the most fun run during, but afterwards I felt great and it was good to get some speedwork in.

That's easy, just reuse this from 2013.
I didn't run again until Saturday (my legs were kind of trashed after twelve Monday and then the tempo run Wednesday). On the schedule? The Portland Marathon Clinic Brunch Run. I was really looking forward to it this year. I knew they wouldn't do the Springwater Trail again since they did it last year, which was good enough for me. They did surprise me by taking us back to West Linn to run that same route we ran in 2013 for my first ever run with PMC. I figured they wouldn't take us back there so soon, but I was okay with it, having good memories of that run two years ago.

Well, I'm not sure what was different this year, but I did NOT enjoy myself this time around. Mostly I think I forgot how hilly this course was. Maybe I was still in "running is fun and magical and this is a new experience" mode two years ago, but holy crap this thing had some climbs. I was sort of expecting it while re-going over the course in my mind, but once we started running I was reminded just how hilly it was. When I got home I looked it up and the run ended up having 1150 feet of elevation gain. Bee tee dubs, that's a lot!

Another reason I think I struggled a bit was we were going a little faster than we should have been, registering some 9:20s on those uphill miles. Whatever it was, this was the most difficult training run since that first marathon cycle when I was breaking in my legs to the idea of twenty mile runs. Looking back though, I remember the last few miles of the 2013 run really sucking, me lagging behind the group a teeny bit, my legs screaming at me to stop. Same thing this year. My legs probably recovered faster though, as I was able to do some light physical activity later in the day.

Sunday was a rest day for sure. Today, Monday, I took the opportunity on my day off to try something old and make it new again. I was hemming and hawing about doing my run, knowing I should do it, but not wanting to do it. Normally I'd do PMC, but it was Labor Day, so I wanted to just run during the day and get it over with. Finally the idea popped into my head to drive to my old apartment complex and do a route from there I used to do when I first started running. For some reason this sounded really fun in my head so I jumped on that and drove there before I could talk myself out of it.

Good to see you again old friend.
I plotted my old 5.5 mile route I ran back in the day and put my watch to the time of day. This was going to be an easy run I was going to try to enjoy. Funny how I haven't ran there in years but pretty much remembered exactly where to go and what everything looked like. Part of the run is through a 55+ community and just about everyone was out today. They were super friendly and I even got a "go get 'em tiger!" shout as I ran past one man. Overall the run was fun and a good trip down memory lane, as I used to run there from December 2011-June 2012. Not a super long time, but it was the start of my running journey.