Monday, March 28, 2016


I've determined I look terrible in a beanie.
My legs felt pretty good after skiing last week. Sore for sure, but nothing too crazy. There was one muscle or tendon or something in my thigh that was really sore... I don't think I've ever had something that sore before! Luckily, it is not something I felt or use during my every day life, only when I was trying to get up from specific laying positions. Weird! Anyways, that's all better now and my legs feel pretty good for the most part.

Last Tuesday I did three easy miles at the gym to shake the skiing cobwebs out. That went well, especially once I warmed up. The next day I went to PRC and didn't have plans to run very fast. Well, only five people showed up for the group run, and two were running much slower than I would have liked, so I just trailed behind two other dudes. I figured they were going to be running too fast, but they started off slower so I just kind of mindlessly went with them.

If I look cold, it's because I was.
About a half mile in I glance at my watch, thinking we are maybe doing 8:45 or so, and I am averaging 8:15. At that point I'm warmed up and begin wondering if maybe I could turn the run into a tempo run since my legs felt okay. The two dudes ended up shooting off leaving me to set my own pace. I made it my goal to maintain around 7:55/mile, the pace I'll need to pace Runs for Cookies at two weeks. I did that pace for four miles and hit: 8:01, 7:45, 7:55, 7:49. Despite some somewhat tired legs still from skiing, the run went well. Definitely more of a challenging pace that it used to be, but still a bit above what my current 10k race pace would be (probably 7:30ish). I slowed down for a cool down the last mile for a total of five miles, but I could have maintained that pace for 6.22 if I had to.

After that run it was two days of rest until Saturday, when I went to run ten miles with Sunstone again. Katie joined the group for the first time, so it was nice to have her there. Early morning long runs still aren't my favorite thing in the world, but I am always glad I did them once I am finished. This one was no different... I didn't necessarily enjoy myself, but it wasn't terrible. It was nice to have company and start the weekend off with something active. I basically did absolutely nothing the rest of Saturday and Sunday, but after Saturday morning, I didn't feel too guilty about it.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016


The view south from Ridge Run at Mt. Hood Meadows on Saturday. That's Mt. Jefferson 50 miles away.
This weekend was a lot of fun and it didn't involve running. Since it is active, and I really liked it, I'm going to write about it. After the Shamrock Run I didn't run all week because I wanted my legs to heal up and be rested for Saturday, when I was going to go skiing with Katie. She bought two discounted passes at one point a few months ago and we had been waiting for a lull in our running training/races in order to go up to the mountain. Turns out that was this last weekend and it couldn't have been a much better day.

I last went skiing two years ago, so I felt pretty confident in my ability to get back up there. It wasn't the five year gap I had previously. We left at 7am and were at Mt. Hood Meadows by 8:40 or so. I had to rent equipment, so I went and did that while Katie exchanged our voucher for passes. By the time that was complete and we went back to the car to get our gear on it was nearly 9:30. No sweat though, we had an entire day of skiing ahead of us!

Speaking of sweat... it was warm. Definitely spring skiing. The temperature when we started was probably 42 or so and by the end of the day it was something like 48. I was pretty warm in my ski pants and jacket. There were times waiting for a lift in the sun where I nearly overheated. Once I got on a lift or skiing down the mountain though I was just right temperature wise. The snow was pretty good in the morning, but by the afternoon it got a bit sloppy. Still enjoyable to be out there though.

It was a lot of fun! My two favorites runs were the following:
  • From Mt. Hood Express, take Ridge Run to Beaver Tail. I remembered really liking this run last time I was up there and it didn't disappoint. A magical journey through the woods and a couple nice steep hills where you can really get going.
  • From Vista Express, take Vista Ridge. Apparently anything with "ridge" in it is golden. I really like this run, because it is very aptly named. You are skiing right along the ridge of the canyon between Meadows and Timberline. This is also above the timberline, so you feel out in the open, and on a clear day, like the one we had, the views were awesome. Plus, its meanandering nature means you get a lot of bang for your buck in terms of distance.
Like last time I went skiing, I left thinking "that was a lot of fun, I need to do that more often." Now, I'm not going to kid myself into thinking I'll actually do that... but maybe. Before I was pretty concerned about keeping up my running during the winter, but recently, I don't care so much. Winter is pretty dreary on the running front, I've complained about that a lot, so what if I skiied instead? I could still run once or twice a week in the gym so I don't get too out of running shape. I'd need my own equipment ($$$) and a season pass ($$$) to really commit though, so we'll see.

Anyways, to be continued. If I could score some cheap equipment I could potentially see it happening. However, I'd also put the likelihood of me following through well below 50 percent. My legs felt pretty decent up on the mountain and also once I got back. Definitely sore in a few new places on Sunday, but nothing too bad. Katie wore her Garmin during the day so it was fun to see us swish around the mountain on that.

Thursday, March 17, 2016


Me crossing the finish line. Not my greatest time, but an hard effort. I'd be freezing my ass off shortly after.
Well, another Shamrock is in the books. I wasn't particularly looking forward to this one. Not only did it have an unholy alliance with Daylight Saving Time this year, the weather was bad... even for Shamrock. While sprinkles are to be expected, this year's rendition had 44 degree temperatures, pouring rain, and howling wind. I am a committed Oregonian runner though, so I went ahead and did it like a good boy. The race itself went okay, I didn't do fantastic, which I'll get into, but overall I can't complain.

Katie and I made plans to get to the MAX at 6:40am (aka 5:40am to my body) so we'd arrive at the start line around 7:15am, 15 minutes before the start. Unfortunately, Katie forgot her watch, so we went back for that and decided to just drive instead. It didn't really affect the time we got there though as we were able to find parking downtown and walk to the start line. For only getting about 4.5 hours of sleep I was feeling pretty good, so regretfully I can't blame any race deficiencies on that.

Early along Broadway.
My biggest mistake of the day was about to happen as I approached the starting chute. Every year it is a giant pain in the ass to get into the correct corral. For whatever reason they put up the metal fencing and I can never find a hole to actually enter the corral. I always get really frustrated and it ends up being a major stressor. The year I PRed I was able to get there early enough to hop the fence and get with the 7-8 minute corral. Other years I've entered toward the back of the back and "excuse me"ed my way to the 8-9 minute area.

Looking at the swarm of humanity already stuffing the chute ten minutes before the gun, I just entered from the back and decided to work my way forward. After feeling like an ass bumping into people and excusing myself I finally gave up once I was in the 10-11 minute area. Not good. I was just hoping to be able to run on the sidewalk or something. In the interest of not being stressed about stuff, and not really caring all that much to begin with, I just accepted my fate. If I ever really want to run this race seriously again, I'm going to have to get there earlier and figure out just what the fuck they are doing with that chute. Some signs pointing towards entrances or something would help.

Anyways, soon enough the horn went off and the race started. I was so far back it took a good five minutes before I even crossed the starting line. I was in a "meh" mood and just went with the flow. As soon as we crossed and started running though I knew we had a problem. The 10-11 minute pace was no joke. Unfortunately, Shamrock also had fencing for a LONG ways lining the streets, so there was no place to really pop up on a curb and move past people. The prospect of a 10:00 opening mile was very real.

At this point I started to panic a little. This could fuck up my entire race. I was able to desperately bob and weave some, but a lot of time was spent shuffling at an 11:00/mile pace. I don't blame anybody but myself, but damn it was annoying. I started doing math in my head about what this meant for the rest of the race... and it was not good. When my margin of error was likely going to be 60 seconds or so... this was not going to work. It wasn't until 2/3rds of a mile in that I was finally able to pop up onto a sidewalk and have some clear space.

Sometimes, smiles are lies. Up the hills!
Mistake number two. To this point my cadence had been: shuffle, shuffle, shuffle, SPRINT, shuffle, shuffle, shuffle, SPRINT. No rhythm was being established between the 11:00/mile shuffle and 6:00/mile sprints. Well, once I got some clear space, I was going like a bat out of hell at 6:30/mile. Probably not smart. I was frustrated. Anyways, I was able to get my first mile in at 8:00 on the nose... considering at the halfway point I was probably on pace for a 9:30, that was a minor miracle.

Unfortunately, that extremely uneven first mile left me winded and in no rhythm whatsoever. While the race thinned out some, I was still weaving around slower runners for another mile or two, at some points having to slow down completely and wait for an opening. Getting in a rhythm is very important, especially at faster speeds. I followed up with a 7:37 mile (would have been under 7:30 for sure with a clearer path) and a 7:45 mile. Not bad times, but not the greatest either. They were harder than they should have been and my cardio was laboring more than it should have, likely due to the uneven start. If I had a strong climb up the hill though I could still maybe get my goal.

Once the hills started, it was all over. Broadway kicked my ass. I swear that gets steeper every year. The hills were definitely more challenging in years past. I blame 20% of this on my start... I wasn't in a rhythm and the early sprinting was not helpful. The other 80% was just totally being out of hill shape. Every winter proceeding this one I ran at PRC regularly, often on the rollercoaster. Hills weren't no thang. I almost looked forward to hills because I was so much better than most runners on them. Well, this year, with my grand total of two rollercoaster runs all winter, I was not in proper shape.

Focused? Near the top.
Now, I could still run up the hills and not feel like dying, it was just that my pace wasn't near where I was hoping it would be. I thought 8:45s would be reasonable but the three hilliest miles came in as such: 9:05, 9:14, 8:36. That final mile was the easiest of the three uphills miles and surprisingly it was were I first felt like I "settled" into the race and established a rhythm. Too little too late but it was still nice to find a groove. By the time I hit the top of the hill and heard the bagpipers, I was feeling pretty good and ready to attack the downhill miles.

Usually I am pretty good at math, but not during running apparently. Based on what I had in my head, I thought anything below 8:00/mile on the final three miles would lead me to below 8:00/mile for the entire race. I forgot those hilly miles were 9:15, not 8:15. I realized that when I glanced at my watch and saw my overall pace was 8:21/mile. To work it under 8:00/mile I was going to have to finish with sub 7:20 miles. I went ahead and gave it my best and came up with 7:25, 7:34, 7:33. Just a bit short. Despite realizing I was probably going to end up north of 1:15 I never gave up.

I sped up somewhat in the final .32, 7:15/mile pace, but nothing crazy. Unfortunately, even my best sprint would have still put me across the line over 1:15. Once I was through the finisher's chute I went straight to the beer garden to chug my beer and eat my chowder as I waited for Katie. It was windy and rainy... I was afraid once my body cooled from the running I was going to freeze my ass off. I drank and ate in record time and then stood under a bridge for about ten minutes to be out of the rain. The wind was whipping though and I was soaked. My body started to get pretty cold and at some points I was violently shuddering.

About to finish. Thank the maker!
Thankfully, I knew Katie would finish only about twenty minutes after myself, so I knew I didn't have to wait too long. After a bit I started to wander toward the starting line... little did I know Katie started in front of me in the chute, so as I approached the finish to watch for her she was already done and walking toward me. Thankfully she found me because neither of us had our cell phones. I more or less told her we had to leave right then and there otherwise I was going to die. So off to the car we went. That's a whole other story... basically our parking garage was in a terrible spot with the race and we ended up being stuck for over and hour and half before we could finally get out of downtown. At least we were in the warm car!

Overall, I am happy with the race. If I had been in the proper starting spot in the chute there is no doubt I would have gotten 1:14 and under 8:00/mile overall. The first couple of miles are really important to set the tone and tempo of the race. So that's my fault for not trying harder to improve my starting position. However, I gave it a solid effort and run a race that normally would have hit my goal, so I'm not worried about it. Perhaps the most encouraging thing was the way my legs reacted. They feel like they normally would after a race, nothing funky. So definitely a positive there!

Official Chip Time: 1:15:27, 8:06/mile, 621/4598 overall. 467/2070 male, 79/248 M25-29.

Friday, March 11, 2016


My first Shamrock (5k) and second ever race!. Amanda and Laurel did the 8k (that's five miles... are they CRAZY?!?)
I can't believe the Shamrock Run is here again! The unofficial official kickoff of the Portland racing season begins on Sunday with the various events in the Shamrock Run. I'll do the traditional 15k, which has a lot of history as the previous Cascade Run Off. I wrote about that in a previous post, which I'll link here. If you'd like a more detailed review of the course itself, you can find that linked here. I'll go over it real briefly in this preview, but it hasn't changed at all for quite some time. And finally, educate yourself on the bullshit cash grab that is the Shamrock Half here.

On Monday I ran five miles at PRC. I was still a little worn from the ten miler on Saturday and although I felt okay during the run, afterwards my legs starting responding negatively like they have been recently. I think a big key is to stretch afterward. On Monday I just went home and curled up and I could almost feel my muscles tightening. When my muscles tighten (mostly it seems to be my hamstrings) the result seems to be achy and swollen knees. Anyways, it wasn't too bad this time. I gave myself two days of rest and then ran on Thursday. That run went well and I stretched and lifted weights afterward. I feel great today, back to a "healthy" feeling, so that is encouraging.

Next run will be Shamrock on Sunday! I'm as ready as I'll ever be. My dad's 1:04 will be safe for another year for sure. My goal will be to match or beat what I did at Zena five weeks ago. I *think* I might be a little faster than Zena, but who knows. If I am, it's not much, so the margins will be thin. My main goal will just be to enjoy the race. The early start (magnified by Daylight Saving Time starting Sunday) will be a challenge, along with the forecasted rainy weather. However, regardless of those factors, I always enjoy Shamrock. The energy and size of the event is just contagious. It's a good time if you just relax and go with the flow!

As for my specific race strategy, I've ran this race enough times now I can kind of plot out what I can expect myself to do. The first three miles are relatively flat, so I think I'll target something like 7:30/mile there. My 7:50/mile runs on the treadmill have been challenging but not agonizing, so with race day adrenaline I expect a 7:30/mile pace to feel about the same. Mile four is uphill along Broadway, not too bad yet, but certainly noticeable. I'm going to say 8:00 on that. Then two miles of pretty relentlessly uphill on Terwillager. 8:45s there wouldn't be too bad. The final three miles are generally downhill, especially miles seven and eight. 7:20s might be a good target there.

If you add that all up, you get a time of 1:12:30. So, actually perfect. That's funny. I didn't even know what that would add up to until I laid out that strategy, but that's about where I need to be. I got a 1:13:12 at Zena this year, so that's a cushion of only 42 seconds. I'm a long way off my PR of 1:06 in 2014, but I'm still running pretty decent times. I've ran it three times... 1:12, 1:06, and 1:12. So if I could add another 1:12 to that pile, then aside from one year when I was in my best shape, I'm holding pretty steady.


"A" Goal: 1:12:54 or less. This would beat last year. Not that I was in great shape last year, but that would be pretty cool to do better. This is 7:49/mile average. Decided to up the goal from the 1:13:12 of Zena to beat last year, but let's call beating Zena plan A2.

"B" Goal: 1:14:24 or less. This is 7:59/mile. At minimum I'd like to run this thing under 8:00/mile. I could be happy with this time.

"C" Goal: Under 1:20? I don't know. I'm going to honest... barring injury, if I don't get my B goal I'm going to be disappointed in myself.

Monday, March 07, 2016


A scene from the run with Sunstone on Saturday. I'm ahead just past the bridge in the blob of folks.
Another positive week of running. After that hilly ten mile run with Sunstone my legs felt pretty good, which was encouraging. I believe I didn't go to PRC on Monday because it was raining (man, I am getting weak) and decided to go run at the gym instead. Thankfully, Katie wanted to run too and met me at the gym. It was good to have company, because five miles on the treadmill is torture. That is probably the farthest I have ever gone on a treadmill. Not a fan. Anyways, I did a leisurely pace, just a tick under 10:00/mile overall, but still the run seemed to drag on.

Power tunnel!
Recently I started a new job, which is a lot like my old job, except for more money. Anyways, I had training this week up in Seattle which meant I would have to do my mid week run on my own. I packed my stuff but half expected myself to just skip it knowing training would probably wear me out. Unfortunately, I got into a conversation with the training leader about running (she also runs), and pretty much committed myself to running after the training because I said I was "thinking about it" and she was all like "oh, you'll do it, you're a runner." And I'm like "ugh."

Long story short, I'm glad she said that, because I ended up running. Would have totally skipped it otherwise. I had visions of running outside in a new place, which is always fun, however by the time the training was over it was pouring outside and I couldn't find a great route that I didn't have to drive in Seattle rush hour to. I ended up running at the hotel fitness room, which had super nice treadmills. TVs right in the treadmill with full DirecTV and they felt spongy and soft or something. Fancy.

I figured I needed a tempo run, plus I wanted to be done as soon as humanly possible, so I did 7:54/mile for three miles. That's the pace I need to pace Katie from Runs for Cookies at in a month and I'm happy to report the run went really well. It was a challenging run but totally doable. As long as I stay injury free, there will be no problem pacing her for 6.22 miles. That is an encouraging feeling, because not long ago I was seriously questioning whether or not I could get there. Luckily my years of running have paid off and I've been able to get some of my speed back.

Also on my trip I was able to see Laurel! So that was super fun! I met her both nights after training for dinner and we ate at two very yummy places. I also briefly got to see where she worked. It was fun to catch up. I really wish we lived closer! The first night we went to a place called Joey and I had a chicken sandwich and shared some calamari. It was good! The next night was even better, as we went to a burger bar called The Tipsy Cow where her friend worked. So delicious! My burger was covered in blue cheese and was heavenly.

Saturday I ran with Sunstone again. Another fun run. Another almost ten miles (if I have one complaint, the routes have been short a tenth or two both weeks). This route wasn't as hilly as the week before, but it still had some hills. My legs didn't feel as good as last week and for a second it was slightly concerning. That ten miles felt harder than it should have been. After the run though, my legs came back pretty well and I only had slight residual soreness. So a positive there. Next weekend is 15k of hills at Shamrock... ready or not, here I come.