Tuesday, October 31, 2017


11 miler w/ Sunstone Saturday. Piece of cake!
Happy Halloween everyone! I just got done hoofing it up and down the stairs of my townhome passing out candy and it reminded me of last year. One year ago today I was wearing my two shiny new knee braces. The operating theory at the time was I had irritated meniscus behind my kneecap that was causing the inflammation. So I got a couple fancy knee braces and was told to go hobble around and see if it got better.

I had a big flare up right after Halloween. While I wasn't sure of the source, the only thing it could have been was going up and down the stairs a bunch to pass out candy - and I was wearing my braces! So that was very frustrating at the time. It was pretty clear the braces were not going to be the solution. I started keeping a "knee log" and soon discovered there was no real pattern to anything, the flare ups seemed to be completely random.

Fortunately, I was near the end of the long road to my psoriatic arthritis diagnosis. By early December I self diagnosed myself with it on WebMD. Unfortunately, I couldn't get into a rhuematologist until early February, so I spent the next couple of months trying to stave off any bad flares. I did manage to run a half marathon during that time too, despite practically no training.

Anyways, a year after that Halloween flare up and things are looking up! My symptoms are practically gone. The only time I really feel anything is if I require a lot of power from my knee. Hiking up an incline is a good example. In those cases I can still feel some lingering inflammation and lack of power. But it is SO much better than it was. Running feels 100% like it did before and my knees have yet to react negatively to it. I'm slowly getting back into decent shape. I could run a half marathon right now no problem. Very encouraging!

The only bummer is I'm still having some side effects from the medication. The day after treatment is not fun, I feel fatigued and crummy. Just a day, but it sucks. Because of this, my body has developed a strong reaction to the process of giving myself the medication, it makes me nauseous. I can't stand the smell of the alcohol wipes in particular. Ugh. It's a mental block I have to get over though.

Oh, and why can't ghosts have babies? Because they have hallow weenies.

Monday, October 23, 2017


Reenacting the Iwo Jima flag planting, part of the pre-race festivities.
I signed up for this race just about a week before it took place. Now that I am back running semi-regularly again I felt the need to do a race and get that energy going again. So this run fit the bill. A 5k that honored a fallen classmate of mine that wasn't too expensive. Sign me up! When I signed up it showed it dumping buckets on race day and sure enough, on race day, it was expected to dump buckets. Fortunately, the bulk of the rain held off and it was mostly just showers.

The race started at 9am in Tualatin, so it wasn't a terribly early wake up call. Anything before 11 on a weekend is not preferred, but I can't complain. The alarm went off at 7:45 and I was there in plenty of time to pick up my packet. The race has a definite military theme, so the junior ROTC was there and there were a number of things before the start. Reenactment of Iwo Jima, some Marine reciting, pledge of allegiance, national anthem, etc. Once those were done it was off to the races!

MILE ONE (8:21)

This whole race was going to be kind of weird and a learning experience. I hadn't run a 5k in some time, since before my arthritis really flared. Since then, ironically, I've only done longer stuff that I wasn't trained for. So it was kind of odd to be doing only 5k and something that was totally doable that I was ready for. Because of that, I knew I needed to set some sort of goal. I had two goals... first and foremost, I needed to get below 30 minutes. Secondly, the "stretch goal" was to beat my first 5k time of 28:01. That was 9:07/mile and a good target for my current fitness.

The start line (can't find a picture of myself).
Anyways, I mostly went with feel during the race. I did check my watch from time to time but since I don't really know my paces anymore, I just needed to run on feel. That's what I used to do before I had a GPS watch and just had to wing all the races. So it was back to the basics there. I just needed to listen to my body and push to an appropriate 5k pace. I remembered what that felt like, so I just tried to achieve that old feeling.

The race day adrenaline definitely caught up with me at the beginning of the race. I looked at my watch at one point because it was feeling too hard and I was doing 7:35. So I throttled it back a bit. I was able to do the rest of the mile just fine, I knew my pace was somewhere in the mid 8's, and while I didn't know if that was sustainable, it felt good for the time being. I could always slow it down if I needed.

MILE TWO (8:16)

This course was really flat, so hills were not an issue at all. The biggest hill was just over the pedestrian bridge across the Tualatin River at the beginning of the race. Otherwise we just ran through Durham and Cook Parks, and all the flat parts of those parks. So easy peasy route wise. As you can see, I sped up a little. I was feeling good! I was in a groove and it seemed like an appropriate pace. I was working hard but confident I could keep it up for three miles.

Somewhere along this mile a man in all black passed me. He was going just a tiny bit faster than me and I decided to use him as my bunny. So I started to follow him and match his pace. I kind of feel like he slowed down to my pace as soon as he passed me though. So I'm not sure if I was going any faster, but I could just brainlessly follow him. During this mile I went back and forth with a few others. I'm not sure which of us wasn't maintaining a steady pace!


Getting even faster! Alright! During the race I had no idea I was running negative splits. I missed my watch beeping at miles two and three. I didn't feel like I was speeding up and the increase was small enough that it makes sense I wouldn't really pick up on it. But good none the less! By the last mile we were sharing the path with people going the other way, the course is a big out and back pretty much, so it was fun to see all the other people.

This guy won it (let's pretend it's me!).
I started stepping on the gas with about a half mile to go. I felt good and I knew I could maintain through the finish so off I went. I overtook black and ended up chasing a 10(?) year old to the finish. Never could catch the little fucker, I got close, but he looked back, saw me, and stepped on the gas. Oh well, haha. Anyways, I did manage to catch some people, so it felt good to finish strong. I almost thought I started the push too early but right when I was getting tired I made visual contact with the finish line and that was enough to get me through it.

The final .11 was at 7:30/mile pace, so I definitely had sped up! I flew through the finish and saw my time of 25:21. Awesome! Phew! I took a few seconds to catch my breath and then went in search of water and food. Got some water and a banana and called it good. I cheered people finishing for the next ten minutes or so then got into my car to leave. I was hoping to see some people I knew there but I didn't see anybody.


I came into this race honestly not sure if I could run 28:01, so to smash that was very encouraging. I thought there was no way I could get an average pace of 8:11/mile. I hadn't run a single mile that quickly since Blooms to Brews in April 2016, let alone three in a row. That was was super awesome and encouraging! Hell, I hadn't run a SINGLE mile under 9:00 since July 2016. And I just ran three!

At the end I even felt like I could have gone a little harder too. I don't really have a good gauge of my fitness right now, so maybe I held back a little in fear of blowing up. That's good news though, I smashed what I thought I could do and still felt like maybe I could have done better! Awesome.

All in all it was pretty encouraging. My next race will be the Give N' Gobble 10k on Thanksgiving. That course is definitely hillier than this one, and double the length, so that will be a good challenge.

Official Results: 25:21, 8:11/mile. 57/429, 46/188 male, 5/24 M30-34.

Saturday, October 14, 2017


Before the race. Unfortunately, no after photos as I understandably did not have my phone with me.
Well, after five years away I finally went back and did the Warrior Dash! I remember after doing the first one back in 2012 Brandon mentioning how much he wanted to do it. At the time, the minimum age was 14, so I told him I would do it with him when he was 14. So true to my word, once he was of age I signed us up! Turns out the minimum age is now 10... don't know when that changed, but oh well! While I enjoyed it the first time, I wasn't really jonesin' to do it again until this year with Brandon.

First obstacle. The pond was probably 55F.
Our start time wasn't until 2:15pm, so we had plenty of time to get ready before the race. I forgot what a winding road it was into Horning's Hideout - gravel too! At one point as we were driving in it started dumping rain. Not a good sign as the weather was supposed to be mostly sunny! Luckily by the time Brandon and I picked up our bibs and the race started it was dry and at times sunny.

We lined up in the corral and tried to get to the front, knowing what a logjam can form at a race like this with people of all paces going onto a small trail. So when the race kicked off we didn't have to weave too much. So that was a good decision. Although in the end it really didn't matter. I'll get to that in a second. Brandon and I ran most of the trail during the whole race, only walking select uphills. I wasn't quite sprinting like in 2012, but I was giving it a legitimate effort.

The course was pretty much the same path as last time. Run around through the woods for about a mile and then encounter the first obstacle, one that requires you to swim to it in a pond. In 2012 at no point in the course did I hit a logjam, I was able to do each obstacle as soon as I hit it. Here, Brandon and I waited a good 15 minutes to enter the lake. Not cool! It was a theme though, lots of waiting. A good 50 minutes at least.

Mud everywhere! Also barbed wire.
Anyways, once we waited our turn we hopped in the lake and HOLY SHIT IT WAS COLD. In 2012 the event took place in early September, this was early OCTOBER. The water was really cold. It took my breath away. I almost started to panic (a number of people did - it was legit dangerous). So I composed myself and then started to walk in the water toward the obstacle. You just basically had to climb out of the water onto a floating dock, run along it, and then jump back in.

Eventually the water was too deep to walk and I just had to swim. Much colder swimming than walking with your arms out of the water. But oh well. I swam as fast as I could and scrambled up the dock. I turned around to check if Brandon was still alive and spotted him, waiting in a long time to get on the obstacle without having to swim (one side you could walk all the way to it, probably four feet deep at most). On the other side of the dock I jumped back in, not realizing I couldn't touch on the other side. So I wasn't ready and got a bunch of muddy water up my nose and choked a little. Gross. I swam as fast as I could and climbed out of the pond. It was so cold. When I got out my whole body was stinging and numb. Crazy.

Sliding down the mud hill in style.
Brandon finished that obstacle a few minutes after me. After getting out he required a few more minutes to recompose himself. This race wasn't fucking around. After some encouragement we started running again. Brandon never quite warmed up, remaining cold the rest of the race. I was pretty much okay a few minutes after getting out of the lake. The adrenaline and running warmed me right back up. Only once while waiting in the shade with some wind did I get chilled.

As for the rest of the race, it was more run of the mill Warrior Dash stuff. Brandon and I did all the obstacles quickly and ran to and from each. So we did really well. We just kept having to wait. Some obstacles had no line, others had 10-15 minute lines. So it was a matter of design and placement. Oh well. They don't even time you at the race anymore so it really didn't matter.

A lot more mud this time. Last time there wasn't real mud until the finish line, this year there were at least three or four dedicated mud hazards. So that was fun. Brandon and I both wore old pairs of my running shoes we scrapped at the end. Memorable obstacles included climbing up a giant net and then sliding down into deep, muddy water, jumping over fire, swinging across water on palettes tied to bungee cords, sliding down a giant muddy hill, and crawling upside down through a rope tunnel.

I got a similar amount of air. *cough*
I will say the obstacles this year were way better than 2012. I thought they half assed a lot of them back then. I swear one was just a bunch of tires they randomly scattered on the ground. So props to the 2017 version for having some really good obstacles. Otherwise, I think 2012 was superior though... no wait times (smaller corrals because it was over two days?), race photos, and chip timing. While there were a few photographers on the course, they were few and far between and seemed to be just snapping some for Facebook. So that was a bummer, but I included a couple to give you a feel for things.

To make a long story short, Brandon and I raced hard and finished in 1:35. Over an hour more than last time, haha. Although, if we didn't have to wait, it would have probably been about 40 or 45 minutes. We were through most obstacles in a minute once we started them. The only one that took longer than that was the first one in the cold pond.

Once we were done we washed off the in another, smaller pond (just like 2012) and then headed back home. I think it was harder than Brandon thought it would be. He had fun though. He really disliked the pond at the beginning but the rest he really enjoyed. I said maybe we'd do it again in a couple years and he agreed. Fun from time to time but every year would probably be a bit much.

Sunday, October 01, 2017


For the first time in a very long time I feel like I am truly back. And that's exciting! I've been running regularly since coming back from my broken toes on August 23rd. Eighty three miles later, I still feel fine! My knees haven't been an issue at all. The psoriatic arthritis definitely seems like it is in remission and my body has eased back into running successfully. Now, there is still a lot of caution with that optimism, I've been burned too many times before. We'll see if these results can hold, but I feel confident enough now to sign up for races and get excited about them again.

I would also like to brag about two of my most recent runs. Now, the focus has been to just get back to running, regardless of the times. And I'm still mostly in that mindset. However, on Thursday night I decided I was going to push a little. Just a little. The last time I had run a training run under 10:00/mile was May 2016. So SIXTEEN months before this. And let's be honest, most weren't even close. So what did I average on Thursday? Oh, you know, just 9:24. On my hilly course near my house that includes a 200 foot climb up Sexton Mountain. No big deal. It was a challenge, definitely a tempo run for me at this point, but it felt good. Legs responded great the next day too.

That was very encouraging. It gave me confidence to go for ten miles on Sunday. Remember, before the half marathon two weeks ago my longest run since May 2016 (again) was six miles. The weekend after the half I did eight. Not a big issue, definitely tired, but fine. So on Saturday I set off for ten miles. Not only was I able to do the ten miles without issue (spare getting stung by a bee randomly while running), I did them averaging 9:49/mile. Huh? Two weeks ago I did the half at 10:53 and now I'm doing 10 miles at 9:49? I don't know! I wasn't even trying to go that fast. It just sort of happened. It felt good and I went with it.

Anyways, after both runs my legs and everything felt fine. Like legs should! So that is hugely encouraging! I don't want to suddenly put pressure on myself to go under 10:00 all the time either. I think my "easy" pace is still a tick above that. However, I am getting a little speed back, which is nice.