Monday, February 29, 2016


At the top of the giant hill on our route. Can you spot me?
I'm happy to report this last week has been pretty successful in terms of getting my legs back. I only ran three times, but it was 21 miles, which is the most since the week of the Miami Marathon. The goal is to cautiously get back to decent running shape. I may end up only running three times a week until I start marathon training again this summer (assuming I run the Portland Marathon again). There is no hurry on my part to start running much more than twenty miles a week.

Monday: Monday I ended up running the rollercoaster at PRC with Matt like I planned. This was the first time running this route in a couple of months, so it was good to get back at it. I didn't want to push the pace so we ran 9:25/mile average. Not bad for that hilly route! I did some stretching and massage when I got home and then took a hot bath. My legs felt pretty decent the next day, so that was encouraging.

Thursday: I couldn't make PRC on Wednesday, so Thursday I was determined to get a run in. I knew I was going to be doing a hilly long run on the weekend, so I wanted to make sure this run was of the easier/shorter variety. I modified my winter route from my house to be four miles and just took it easy. Averaged a hair over 10:00/mile. It was a very mild and dry night, which led to an overall pleasant run.

My arch nemesis.
Saturday: This run staring me in the face was kind of freaking me out. Matt and I decided to join a local running group (Stonestone Running Group) for their weekly long run. They often meet near us in Beaverton and are a closer option than Coach Jim. They are a very friendly lot and I'll definitely be back for some long runs. The reason I was freaking out was the route... the powerline parks trail near by house. The last time I ran this was last April, and it kicked my ass (like it does every time).

Thankfully, this run went really well! It was only ten miles, which definitely helped coming back over that giant hill a second time. A lot different summiting that at mile 8 versus mile 14. We also ran a more casual pace, about 9:55/mile, which was nice. I actually had a pretty decent time. I was worried about my legs but they seemed okay not only during the run, but after.

My plans this week are about the same. I'd like to get some speedwork in, maybe Thursday or Friday. Shamrock is now less than two weeks away and I'd like to beat my time at Zena if at all possible!

Monday, February 22, 2016


Intervals from Katie. Walked between intervals and cut out the final 200 sprint, otherwise completed!
Well, I'm happy to report my legs and knees are feeling better. I'm pretty sure it will happen again but for the moment we are full speed ahead. Now that I have my legs back, I need my motivation back. That has been lacking.

My first run back after that 3 miler that crippled me was a five mile run with Matt on Wednesday night. We both weren't going to make PRC in time so we decided to meet up at his house a little later and do the run. We ran a little further than I wanted to go but I decided to just go ahead and do it. I'm happy to report it went really well. We weren't going very fast, about 9:30/mile, but my legs responded nicely. It was raining and dark, so it kind of sucked, but it was nice to have a buddy at least. These days there was no way I would have ran that by myself.

Thursday after the run my legs felt fine, no ill effects from the run the night before. So after giving them the day off, I decided on Friday to do speedwork. It was still wet and cold outside, so I leaned toward doing it inside at the gym. For some reason intervals on the treadmill sounded somewhat fun, so I had Katie at Runs For Cookies give me a workout. She was nice enough to draw one up and tailor it to my speed and distance.

When I first looked at it I thought there was no way I could actually do the speeds on there, but I decided to give it a try anyways. I didn't want to overdo it with my legs still on the mend, so the total workout was just under 3.5 miles with warm up (10:15/mile for a half mile) and warm down (walk until I hit 30 minutes total). I also skipped the final 200 meter sprint because it sounded like a recipe for a pulled hammy. In addition, I also walked between each interval instead of hopping off the treadmill.

Anyways, I did it! Considering whenever I have done 400s before a 6:12 pace was my fastest, the fact I did both of the 400m intervals at that speed was pretty good. The 600m and 800m intervals didn't provide too much relief, done at 6:21 and 6:30 respectively, but did feel easier than the 400m. I'd even say I got into somewhat of a groove on the 800s... after really wondering if I could finish them 30 seconds in, I settled in and by the end was just rolling along. Still very challenging though. Felt good to finish the workout and my legs didn't hate me either.

Now I just have to make sure I'm not slacking on distance. I was going to run 8 miles yesterday but just couldn't motivate my ass out of the door. I decided if I ran the 7 mile rollercoaster at PRC tonight that would count, so that's the plan. Next weekend I'll try to run 10 miles just to make sure I keep a decent base going.

Monday, February 15, 2016


After feeling normal post race legs in the days after Zena, I ran an easy three miles at the gym on Thursday after three full days off from running. Normally those runs don't cause issues and if anything make my legs feel better. Not the case this time. The next day my knees felt terrible and like they had been clubbed from behind. They were starting to get better but yesterday I went to the waterpark and, after contorting to lift my fat ass onto intertubes, I think I just narrowly avoided tearing my ACLs. Needless to say, today my knees do not feel good. And that sucks!

My knees haven't felt quite right for a while. It was Valentine's Day 2015 where I went on that terrible Coach Jim run that convinced me to take some time off for over-training syndrome. While I was able to come back (albeit a little slower) and run marathons last fall, my legs never really felt like they were all the way back. I had to baby them along at times and do a less ambitious training schedule. And now, after my recent struggles post double marathon, they are freaking out over a 15k and three mile jog a few days later. Ugh. I was hoping some of the gym work I have been doing would help, but that doesn't appear to be the case.

Oh well. Hopefully I can feel better by Wednesday and go to the PRC run.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016


The start of the 2016 Zena Road Runs 15k. I'm in orange right above the white van. This just the first part of a 600 foot hill.
Sunday morning was one of my favorite races, the Zena Road Runs in Salem. They have three distances, the 15k, a 6 miler, and a 3 miler. Something for everyone! Another perk is the race doesn't start until 11am, so there is plenty of time to sleep in. It also is over in plenty of time for me to get back and shower before the Super Bowl. So really it's perfect. The cherry on top is getting to go with my running friends and just having an overall fun time.

The worst part of the race is the race. Ha. Seriously though, it is a challenge. And for some reason, I really like that challenge. It is kind of like the Bald Peak Half Marathon... you know the course is daunting and you aren't going to get a smoking time but that's the fun part. Like the previous two times I signed up, I was in it for the big one, the 15k. Alejandro and Glenn were also doing that distance. Katie did the 3 mile race and Matt did the 6 mile race. I rolled up with about 30 minutes to go and had my bib a couple minutes later. Luckily the weather was great and I wasn't cold at all waiting for it to start.

THE FIRST THREE (8:38, 8:20, 8:28)

Pre-race selfie!
After a rendition of the national anthem just a touch below Lady Gaga's, the race started. Like Bald Peak, this race doesn't mess around. Right away you are running up a giant hill. It is 400 feet of elevation gain in 2/3rds of a mile. For me to run a 8:38 despite that is pretty impressive. That's right about what I was expecting, even a little faster than I thought. For whatever reason, it wasn't totally killing me. It was a nice surge of confidence to see my watch beep at 8:38. Now, I was exhausted and praying for a downhill, but I definitely survived and didn't completely blow it right there on the first hill.

The rest of that mile flattens out after the 400 feet and there's even a nice little downhill. Pretty soon though you are going back uphill. The next two miles don't have an uphill like that first mile but they still generally meander upwards. Just enough to where you feel it but not enough to visually make yourself okay with your mile times. It feels like you should and could run faster but really you can't. Anyways, my 8:20 and 8:28 were a touch slower than I was hoping for but these miles also had a few more hills than I remembered. I guess 200 feet in 2 miles isn't quite the walk in the park I was hoping for.

The gravel that appeared at mile one is really worn down and was so packed it was almost like running on blacktop. So that didn't pose an issue at all. Around mile 2.5 I thought I was going to have a heat stroke. The hills really hit me all of a sudden and I got really overheated. I had to close my eyes and concentrate on not passing out for a few seconds. Luckily that was right at the top of a hill and after running to the bottom we had a water station. I drank one cup and poured another over my head. I felt much better after that and ready to attack the downhill miles.

THE MIDDLE THREE (7:17, 6:59, 7:23)

Every year this is my favorite part of the race. Three miles of gradual downhill where you can really fly. At this point it also transitions back to pavement and the combination of the two feels amazing. Rarely is it too steep that you have to reign yourself in, for the most part it is just easy downhill running. To be honest, that fourth mile was a little slower than I wanted but the first quarter mile or so is flatter and I was still recovering from a small hill.

Lost all color... I'd say I was leaving it all out there.
That fifth mile is magic every year. It felt great to get one under seven given my relative lack of fitness recently. I was feeling so good at that point. Nothing like running a sub seven mile and having it feel pretty easy. Here I was also able to take in and appreciate the beautiful course. This race is really fantastic and might just be the prettiest race I do. The beautiful weather (sunny, high 50s) also contributed to this great feeling. Everything was just clicking here.

Mile six was pretty good as well. It definitely flattens out and maybe even has a slight gain. However, you have great momentum from the previous two miles and there's no big hills to really break that. I would have liked to do it a little faster, but I was doing the best I could. That's the thing about getting out of shape... everything feels the same and it seems like you are running just as fast but your watch disagrees with you. I was giving it my all though, so no shame.

THE FINAL THREE (8:13, 8:25, 7:36)

Status check at this point... still feeling pretty good but my legs definitely felt a little trashed from the downhills. I drank another cup of water at an aid station. I think my lack of downhill running this winter came into play these final three miles. The up and down of the previous six were starting to take their revenge on my legs. They just didn't quite have the "spring" I would have liked and the rolling hills of the next three miles were harder than they should have been.

To this point I was on my "A" goal pace but in order to maintain that I needed to run these below 8:00/mile. As you can see, I did not manage that. And those 38 seconds in mile 7 and 8 were the difference between my time and my "A" goal. No shame though, just the lack of hill training missing from previous years kicking in. I was giving it all I had on those uphills but could only manage 8:30ish. I'd try to make it back on the downhills but my legs were starting to wear out and I could only manage high 7s instead of low 7s.

That final mile I was on a mission though. While the previous two are definitely "rolling" and maybe even net uphill, that final mile is rolling in a downward fashion. So if you still have some juice it is actually a mile you can attack. Knowing the pain would be over in a matter of minutes, I went balls to the wall. I was hoping to maybe pull out a 1:12 but feel just short. However, there were points of this final mile where I was going under 7:00/mile on the downhill portions.


Everybody with their blue ribbons except me. :'(
Rolling through the finish I was a bit disappointed to see my time of 1:13:12. Given everything, that is an amazing time though. 7:52 over 9.32 miles on this course is great. Would have been nice to finish 13 seconds faster, but oh well! A goal for Shamrock perhaps! Overall I was quite pleased with my time and effort. I really don't think I could have done it any faster. I managed the race really well and got the best time for my current fitness.

Katie and Matt also had really good times at their distances. Go them. Ale finished in 1:04 and was disappointed, but still, that's an amazing time. I think Glenn finished in about 1:20. We all ended up winning age group awards, along with about half the runners, so we snacked on some delicious food they had while we waited for the awards ceremony. Everybody got first place expect for me with third. Man, I suck! Haha. Anyways, after that it was time to head home and watch the Super Bowl. My Doritos and beer were well earned.

Official Time: 1:13:12, 7:52/mi. 28/90 overall, 25/49 male, 3/3 M25-29.

Thursday, February 04, 2016


What a fine looking group of people, I must say!
One of my favorite races is upon us! When Libbie and I signed up for this race back in 2013 I didn't really know what to expect. That year I was doing my first 15k with Shamrock and the hills were scaring me. I decided to do a race in preparation and Zena fit the bill. You never know quite what to expect when the race is only $10 (at the time, $15 now), but I have to say I was pleasantly surprised. This event is just pure running at its finest... no medals, no theme, no loud music blasted over speakers... just an accurate course, an accurate time, free photos (!), and snacks after. Perfect.

The course is the same as always, so I'll link to the 2013 preview I did here if you want to go back and read that. The elevation chart makes it look like miles two and three and hillier than they actually are. Now, don't get me wrong, they definitely "trend upward," but the majority of work is done during that first mile. If I am able to get that first mile done in under 9:00 I'll be happy. Each of the last two times it has been around 8:30, but I was also in better shape in both 2013 and 2015.

The next two miles are rolling uphill but I hope to do them somewhere in the low 8s. 8:15ish maybe. If I can get through the first three miles averaging around 8:30/mile I'll set myself up for a decent time because the next three miles are gently downhill. Mile six starts to flatten out and even has a small hill at the end but overall these three miles are fast. Last year I ran them all under 7:00/mile! Holy crap! Not happening this year. If I hit sub 7:30 on all of them I will be happy. I do need to take advantage of these three miles though, they are fast and I should still be fresh enough to attack them.

From Zena last year... looking good!
And finally we have the final three mile stretch. The theme? Rolling hills. I remember last year almost looking forward to the hills though after the pounding my legs took during the downhill section. Anything to use a slightly different group of muscles. My goal this year will be to run these around 7:45ish. Hopefully I will still have some spring in my step. I do like that you can see the finish from sort of far away in this race... normally that would be a tease, but I have found that to be motivating over the years. It's okay to kill yourself over the last little bit because you know it'll be over soon.

Should be a fun time. I'll be going down with Matt, Katie, and Glenn so it will be a PRC party. I'm eager to give it a run for its money and see where I fall fitness wise. It will most likely be a PW at the distance, but that's alright as long as I try my best (man, I've been saying that a lot lately, ha).

"A" Goal: 1:12:54 or less. This is 7:49/mile and avoids a PW. I gotta be honest with you... I don't think I have quite the fitness to do this. If I have a good race it might be close. This is definitely a best case scenario and a time I would be thrilled with.

"B" Goal: 1:14:25 or less. This is 7:59/mile. I think sub 8:00/mile is a good goal for this race given that I just ran a flat half marathon at 8:15/mile. This is doable, but it's going to take a good, hard race. If I hit this time, I'll be more than satisfied.

"C" Goal: 1:19:59 or less. This is 8:35/mile. This winter I've barely run any hills. Normally I'm running hills all winter but this winter I have been injured or in the gym. I think I ran the rollercoaster at PRC once this entire winter. I really fear these hills are going to kick my ass. The fact that the tiny hill back over the causeway in Miami hurt my calves... not a good sign. Ignorance is bliss.

Monday, February 01, 2016


Pretty quiet week after the Miami Half Marathon. I didn't run again until Thursday night at the gym. That gym run on the treadmill was a slight wake-up call for me. While my legs did feel the aftermath of a decent half marathon effort, by Thursday night they were ready to go. And my pace wasn't the issue, it was the fact I chickened out and ran three miles inside when I should have been doing at least that, if not more, outside.

I have long complained about the "the cold, the wet, and the dark." For a long time my rallying cry was that I could handle two out of three, but once all three were in effect I didn't have to feel guilty about throwing in the towel. Normally during the winter this means rain. Rain running can but fun and refreshing but it is very hard to get yourself out there. Regardless, it was not raining Thursday. It was actually very pleasant outside, a very mild 52 degrees and dry as a Mormon wedding. However, for some reason, I balked at the dark and started running on the treadmill.

Tonight's tempo run at PRC.
Almost as soon as I started running on the treadmill I felt silly. I should have been outside and not bored out of my skull on the treadmill. I even plotted a four mile route from the gym so I could do a loop and do weights after. It was stupid. Luckily Katie showed up to provide some company. Anyways, I felt motivated on Saturday to make up for this "slacking" by either doing more miles than I wanted (ten) or do them faster than I wanted (eight miles at 8:45/mile). I met with Katie and Matt and we ended up doing the ten miles. The company was nice, but the run still kind of sucked. However, it was good to get it done and feel like I didn't slack off.

Transition that into tonight. I was thinking of running fast to get some speedwork in before Zena this weekend. Fate have it, I was late to run group due to traffic and could see the group leaving as I waited at a light. I started a good two minutes after them and ended up running a tempo run to catch up. Once I caught up the group quickly broke apart to do different distances, so Matt and I decided to do five but keep it under 8:00/mile. All told it was five miles at 7:50/mile on hilly terrain and it felt good. My legs almost have a spring in their step. We'll see if this new found motivation lasts, but hopefully it will result in good effort at Zena. It will almost certainly be a PW at the distance, but as long as I give it my all there is nothing to be ashamed about.