Friday, November 02, 2018

2018 MARINE CORPS MARATHON RACE RECAP

Spoiler alert, we both finished! My friend Jon and I, 2018 Marine Corps Marathon finishers!
I flew into Washington, DC Thursday on a direct flight that left Portland at 8:20am. The week prior I had adjusted my sleep schedule successfully to wake up at 7am Pacific time. Now, that was 10am on the east coast, but I figured the day of my flight I would wake up at 5am and thus be ready for bed on the east coast around midnight. It worked like a charm! By Friday morning I was into an east coast groove of going to bed at midnight and waking up at 8am. By far the most successful I have been at transitioning time zones for a race.

In the days leading up to the race, my friend Jon and I went and saw some of the sights in DC. He lives in the area, so there wasn't much new to him, but he humored me and let me lead us around to what I felt was at the top of my list. So I saw the Washington Monument, Lincoln Memorial, National Mall, Capitol Building, Holocaust Museum, Air & Space Museums (plural), and Arlington National Cemetery. We tried to limit the time on our feet to mixed success. Maybe a little more than optimal, but not bad. We took the Metro around and didn't walk too terribly much.

Minutes before the race started.
We went to the expo on Saturday to pick up our bibs and hideous shirt. On Friday night we had a giant pasta dinner and Saturday night we had footlong sandwiches. We definitely carbo loaded successfully. We went to bed around 11pm Saturday and thankfully I was able to fall asleep around midnight. I woke up at 3:30am with the violent urge to use the restroom, which wasn't ideal, but at least I didn't have to worry about that during the race. Thankfully, I was able to fall back asleep after that and all told got around 5 to 5.5 hours of sleep. It was enough as I felt wide wake and not tired as we headed toward the start line after a breakfast of bagels with cream cheese and bananas.

The place we were staying was near a Metro station, so we took that to the start line. Holy hell was that thing a zoo. This race is HUGE and it had to be a good mile walk (no joke) from the Metro station at the Pentagon to the start line. Borderline ridiculous. I had to pee but the lines were so long there was no way I was going to be able to do so before the race started. I ended up peeing against a fence/bush with a lot of other guys. Should my "down below" parts been different I would have had an issue. We were able to make it to the start line and get in the right corral with about ten minutes to spare. The size of this race was incredible, like nothing I had experienced before. I was nervous but ready to go!

MILES 1-6: UP AND DOWN FROM THE START (9:04, 8:53, 8:55, 8:11, 8:59, 8:29)

Despite getting in the right corral (3:45 pace group), the people around us weren't necessarily running that pace. There was no checking of the bibs, so my worries about being in the wrong corral weren't an issue. However, this meant that there were thousands of slower runners (and walkers!) in front of us that we had to avoid for the first eight miles of the race or so. Almost immediately it was clear my "A" goal was out the window. I wanted to target about 8:30, but could only hit 9:00 or so due to the crowds. I weaved a little but tried not to do it too much. I just accepted my fate and figured a slower start might help toward the end of the race.

From later on, no early pictures. :(
The first couple miles were uphill about 200 feet but it was never very bad. Certainly used to much worse over here in Oregon and I didn't feel these hills much at all. The fourth mile was the downhill after the uphill, so we were able to hit an 8:11 despite the crowds. However, as the next flat mile hit, we could only do a nine minute pace. The amount of runners was just incredible. Shoulder to shoulder packed on a four lane road. A mass of solid humanity in front of you with no relief in sight. I kept hoping for it to clear up but there was no relief yet. At times I popped up on the sidewalk and was able to go a little faster but other times I just had to accept the speed of the crowd.

Since our goals were pretty much the same Jon and myself ran together. He tended to hang back a step or two and let me set the pace and I was impressed he was able to stick with me through all those people. At this point of the race I'm still feeling spunky, so I was reacting to the crowd and generally having a good old time. The scenery in this part of the race isn't much to write home about, just streets through a city, as the famous part of the course was yet to come. By mile six I was able to assume my goal race pace and seemed to be with runners of the right speed. However, by that point I had given up two minutes and was already aiming my sights toward a sub four goal.

MILES 7-13: OUT AND BACK ALONG THE WATER (8:38, 8:39, 8:43, 8:40, 8:45, 8:39, 8:47)

Eventually we crossed the Potomac River into DC and ran along a canal. This was a giant out and back portion along a road with lots of old growth trees and was very pretty. We were finally able to get some breathing room and hit our pace. Since the sub 3:50 was out of the window, I tried to target 8:40-8:45 instead, which, after the slower start, would get us into the finish in the low to mid 3:50s. I remember at the mile eight marker noticing for the first time there was actually a bit of room and it was no longer a solid mass of humanity. Finally! That first quarter of the race was kind of frustrating due to the amount of people. I suppose this is any large marathon though.

This was like Mile 10ish?
As you can see, we were able to hit very consistent times. I didn't even have to look at my watch all that much, I was able to get into a groove and the pacing was coming very easy to me. Every time I did look at my watch we were hitting the correct speed. The course certainly helped as it was pretty much flat. I mean sure, some minor hills here and there, but nothing you even had to think about. The pace felt appropriate, about what I remembered from previous marathons. Not easy, but not hard. I brought three packs of Shot Bloks along the way and ate entire packs at miles 6, 12, and 18. I barely chewed them, just enough bites to get them into swallowable chunks and then down the hatch. I was able to eat each pack in about a minute this way. In terms of fueling, I think this was a good strategy as it didn't bother my stomach and minimized the amount of time I spent gasping for air and swallowing.

Mile 12 was the Blue Mile, the first part of which is a sea of signs honoring fallen Marines. They were chronological, so some of the earlier signs were WW2 causalities, while toward the end it was much more recent deaths. Very powerful though, seeing all those young faces and knowing their lives were cut short. It was very quiet during this part of the race as people were reflecting. Emotional stuff! The second part of the mile was family of those fallen holding American flags, which lined either side of the route. They were cheering us on, so it kind of snapped you back into the race. I crossed the half marathon mark in 1:55:38 (8:49/mi) still feeling pretty decent. I could do as bad as 2:04:21 on the backside and still get under four hours.

MILES 14-20: THE MALL & THE MONUMENTS (8:49, 8:47, 8:48, 8:46, 8:47, 8:41, 9:08)

Finally we reached the part of the race I was waiting for... running along the National Mall past all the monuments! To be honest, this was less exciting than it should be been given I had just seen them in the days leading up to the race. However, it was still a welcome distraction as the race entered the third hour and my body started to complain a little bit. As you can see, my times held up really well! That 9:08 on mile twenty included an uphill on a bridge back across the river, so honestly I was still on pace until mile twenty two. More on that later.

Near the Capitol.
Jon had to drop off at mile sixteen to use the bathroom. Bummer for him. He started having trouble at mile 18 (non bathroom related) and finished in 4:20. Still better than my worst and not bad for a first marathon... sub ten minutes a mile overall! Meanwhile, I was starting to feel the race here. Not to the point of slowing down, but my gaze went from looking ahead to looking just in front of my feet. The support during this part of the race was amazing though! Crowds lining either side of the road cheering loudly and holding signs. Probably a lot of tourists surprised there was a race and cheering along mixed in there too. Really helped keep the legs churning! I wish I was able to appreciate this a bit more, but I was starting to tire.

By this point I only had "single digits" left, so I would remind myself of that at every mile marker. However, when I did the math to "amount of time left to run" it was a little less encouraging. Still over an hour? Fuck! Anyways, after making the turn at the Capitol building (mile 18.5) I vowed to fight through and run as much as I could. I wasn't sure if I could go the whole way, but dammit, I was going to try. My legs were hurting a little but not much, my cardio wasn't labored, I was a little tired, but not bad... really, the thing that was screaming were my feet. They hurt SO BAD. I guess at this point of the race if anything is going to hurt, that is what you want though. It didn't actually affect my running at all, cardio and muscles were still decent, so it was just a mental battle to resist walking to give my feet a break from the pounding.

MILES 21-26: THE BRIDGE & CRYSTAL CITY (8:52, 9:12, 9:08, 9:31, 9:33, 9:33)

After the energetic environment that was the National Mall, it was up and over a highway bridge across the Potomac. I had heard horror stories about this 1.5-2 mile stretch. The wind, the lack of crowds, the hill up the bridge, etc. It was certainly a change from the Mall and also the point where I could no longer keep pace. I hit mile 21 more or less on pace, but mile twenty two was 9:12. I knew I had some time to spare, so I didn't try to push my pace back under nine. I knew from experience that wouldn't work anyways. So I was prepared to just keep the same effort going and let the pace fall where it may. By the end of the race I was shuffling along at more of a long run "survival" pace, but at 9:33 it was still quite faster than my normal long run pace this cycle (10:20). So I'm pretty proud of that!

Crowds near the finish; grinding.
It took a lot of mental fortitude not to walk here. People were breaking down all around me and it was like walking through a zombie apocalypse at times. My feet were screaming, there was wind at my face, no crowd support... man did I want to walk! I kept doing the old "keep running until ______" trick, whether it be the next mile sign, water station, end of the bridge, etc. Once you get to that point, you decide "okay, I can do another _______." On and on it goes. I took a moment to reflect... could I run the rest of this? The answer was yes. It might be painful, it might be slow, but I could run it. It was around mile 23 that I decided I wasn't going to walk. I would shuffle slowly if I had to, but I was going to run this bitch in.

Miles 22 through 24 are through Crystal City, which is known for its fabulous crowd support. And boy did it live up to the hype! Seemingly thousands of people lining the streets cheering us on. Definitely put a pep in your step and made you think twice about giving nothing but your best. I even ran to the side to high five some people. Fantastic! Just what you need at this point of the race. During an out and back portion I distracted myself by looking for Jon. Unfortunately, I think he was a little too far behind for me to see him though. It was a good distraction at least. Around mile 24 you exit the city and get back onto the highway where we started. This was lonely, not a lot of support, and the runners were very thinned out by now. It was just you versus yourself for almost two miles. I shuffled along, determined not to walk.

Six time marathon finisher!
HILLY FINISH & POST RACE

Finally the crowds picked up and I could sense the finish line. I was going to do it! I knew about the hill at the finish so it wasn't a surprise, but dammit, it looked like Mount Everest as we approached. You can see the runners wrapping around the hill up to the finish line and it looked so far away. Anyways, I just prayed my calves wouldn't cramp trying to get up that thing. Luckily, within a few steps, I knew I could do it. It would be slow, but I could do it. I'm sure my pace was no quicker than 11:00/mile here. Some people were sprinting up it... how in the? I just kept chugging along. The crowds were thick and loud here, Marines screaming at you not to stop. Very motivating! Eventually you take a right and, while it is still uphill, it is much more gradual and stays that way though the finish line.

Seeing that finish line put a pep in my step, and the feeling at this point is indescribable. Just intense feelings of jubilation, relief, and accomplishment all rolled into one. A feeling I haven't been able to get at any other type of running event. If I was someone who cried often, I would have cried here. It was an emotional feeling! Three years of uncertainty but I was back! I never thought after Detroit in 2015 that I wouldn't run another one for three years. Never take anything for granted! I certainly wasn't going to take this finish for granted and just soaked everything up as much as I could.

Changing my grimace into a smile.
I was really interested to see how my legs would respond... as longtime readers know, I am always a shitshow in the chute. When I stopped running this time, my legs felt alright, not great, but alright. Not immediate crisis mode like many times before. As I walked along the VERY LONG chute to get my medal and food they started to hurt more and more. Not nearly as bad as normal, I was still able to walk decently, but they were definitely not having a good time. I took a break on a curb about halfway through the chute, drank some Gatorade, and texted Jon. After about five minutes I hobbled back up and continued the long walk out. Finally I was able to exit and (seemingly) another mile later I made it to bag check.

Eventually I met up with Jon and we hobbled to the Metro station together and back to the rental. We stayed pretty low key the rest of the day, although we finally did get off our butts and hobble to a Thai restaurant for dinner. I also had some beers. Except for my screaming legs, it was a great rest of the day! I'll have another post about my post-marathon recovery and some reflections, so I'll wrap it here for now.

Overall, it was a wonderful experience! My first marathon in three years after a health fiasco and to be able to run the whole thing and hit my main goal was amazing! While I might have questioned why I was running the damn thing during the race, upon reflection, as usual, it was an amazing experience I'm glad I undertook!

Official Results: 3:55:54, 8:59/mile. 2807/20614 overall, 2008/11009 male, 376/1510 M30-34.

Saturday, October 27, 2018

2018 MARINE CORPS MARATHON RACE PREVIEW

The start of the MCM. The race starts on both sides of the highway at 7:55am sharp.
Hard to believe, but it's here... my first marathon in three years! It's been a long road since the last one, the 2015 Detroit Marathon. If you hold told me after that race that I wouldn't run another one for three years I would have thought you were crazy. I had plans of running another marathon in the fall of 2016. However, this was the beginning of a descent into the psoriatic arthritis this took a couple years to crawl out of. But crawled I have, and finishing the Marine Corps Marathon is going to be my "I'm back!" moment. Hopefully, haha.

In terms of the course, it is not the fastest course, but it is pretty fast. The biggest challenge in terms of elevation is the first two miles, where you go up 200 feet. Now 100 feet a mile isn't too bad, definitely noticeable, but nothing tragic. On fresh legs it is going to feel easier than normal, so I'll have to make sure to reign myself in and not go too crazy. I need to do these at like 25 seconds over my target pace. You should always start a marathon a little slower anyways. I'm then going to take advantage of the downhill, but also make sure not to attack it too hard and trash my legs. Once that is over, the course is pretty flat with some rolling hills.

Course map. You'll want to enlarge this.
I plan to utilize every aid station at my disposal, alternating Gatorade and water. That'll keep the electrolytes up but not also overpower my stomach with too much sweet drink. I also plan to eat three packs of gummies along the way at 200 calories each. In previous marathons I have tried to eat these one or two at a time, but this time I think I'll just eat the whole bag at one time. Probably miles 6, 12, and 18. Just get them in my stomach. Previously I've been annoyed at having to chomp on stuff too often as it breaks my rhythm and is hard to breathe while doing so.

There should be a lot to see at the race! Starting at the Pentagon, going through Arlington National Cemetery, up and down the Mall with sights of the Washington Monument, Capitol Building, Supreme Court, and more. I haven't been to Washington, DC since I was 14 during a school trip, so it will be really cool to see everything again. It will be good distraction for a while at least. Even the parts that don't have famous things to look at should be interesting, whether it be beautiful tree lined streets with fall colors, or intense cheering sections. It will be fun to experience it all! I actually haven't analyzed the course too much because I want it to be new on race day.

One thing I always hear about this race is not only are the sights cool, but the crowds are awesome too. There should be a lot of support on the course to keep me motivated, which is good! I like hoopla in long distance races, so hopefully that will keep me energized and going. The hardest part of the race might be a boring stretch where we climb a highway bridge and cross the river. There is some uphill here on the bridge along with no spectators and a reputation for wind. Once that is over, shortly after mile 21, it is into Crystal City, which is supposed to have really good support. And finally, the finish line is actually up a pretty steep hill. The Marines can't make anything easy. Luckily it is only a quarter mile!

A flavor of the sights during the race!
Once huge factor that will affect my race is my corral. This is the first year of corrals at the MCM, which is surprising, considering the number of racers usually tops 25,000. Anyways, when I signed up I put a finish time of 4:15. Well, I ended up getting faster a lot quicker than I thought, so that is going to put me in the wrong spot. I emailed them hoping to move up but the bibs were already printed with the corral. Luckily, there are only three corrals, and mine appears to be 4-5 hour people. So they suggested I just scoot up to the front of my corral to avoid being pinned in by too many other slower runners.

However, even if I manage that, I'm still going to have an issue trying to get my "A" goal. This race is HUGE, which tens of thousands of runners. I watched a couple clips of it and yeah... there isn't going to be much room. Even if I mange to get with 4:00 paced runners, if I want to go any faster, that is going to be a big problem. I am going to have to weave around and generally be frustrated. Even later on in the race it stay pretty packed as the route moves to smaller streets. There will be some more room after halfway or so, but still, that is going to be a major challenge.

Alright, what you have all been waiting for:

"A" Goal: Under 3:50. This is 8:45 a mile or less. I would be *so* happy with this time. To get a 3:4X marathon in my first one back, after basically doing no speedwork... heck yeah! I will try to start out at a clip that can achieve this. Whether I am actually able to run it (due to the crowds) or finish at it (due to miles 18+) remains to be seen.

"B" Goal: Under 4:00. This is really my main goal. If I can walk away with this one, I'll be as happy as a clam. This is 9:09 a mile or less. Unless I have some major walking issues, I think I can get this one. However, it is going to take a solid effort and the crowds to cooperate to achieve. If my time starts with a three, happy I will be!

"C" Goal: Finish. You (mostly) ran a freaking marathon. Two years ago you were hobbling around with no idea of what was wrong and the thought of never being active again. You've come a long way baby, enjoy it!

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

FOUR DAYS FROM MCM

Quick update! Good news - the weather forecast has improved significantly since last check in. Wohoo! The rain appears to be shifting to hitting earlier, with the area getting close to an inch on Friday on the latest forecast. Saturday actually looks pretty dry, some showers in the morning and then clearing. And then race day Sunday we have partly sunny skies with some showers later in the evening. Right now it looks perfect! 48 at race start and 55 when I should be finishing.

I just completed my last run before the marathon. Three miles at an easy pace. On Monday I did four miles at an easy pace. I can already feel the recovery in my legs from the taper. They feel pretty fresh! I think by race day, with three additional days of no running, they'll be primed and ready for the race. Feel pretty confident about that! The part I don't necessarily feel confident about... finishing strong without much issue going at an aggressive pace. However, that's always the question in a marathon! I *am* confident I can go out there and give it my best shot.

My plane takes off tomorrow morning - direct to DC thankfully! My next post will be the race review complete with my goals. Eek!

Monday, October 22, 2018

RACE WEEK

The weather watching has begun! Just need that storm to hit Friday/Saturday and leave Sunday dry!
Well, I am inside of a week until my first marathon in three years. The nerves have started! Luckily they are just when I start thinking about the race, which includes typing this post. Eek! Otherwise, it is not the 24/7 impending feeling of doom which tends to crop up the last few days leading up to the race. That'll start the moment I land in our nation's capitol.

I can take comfort in the fact that I am ready for the race though. I had a highly successful training cycle; and, while running 26 miles at the pace I am going to try for sounds near impossible, I know from experience it can be done. I've done it before and I can do it again! The only thing left to do is shuffle along at my final two easy runs and get to Washington DC healthy and rested.

In preparation for the marathon, I have woken up early the last two days. Up at 8:00am on Sunday and then 7:30am this morning. I'm going to try to keep waking up a little earlier each day so I can make the adjustment to east coast time more easily. My flight on Thursday is at 8:15am, which means probably like a 5:45am wake up. Maybe I'll wake up even earlier just to make sure I am extra tired Thursday night. Hopefully that one day will get me into the east coast groove, I can get my eight hours Friday night, and then try my damnedest to salvage 5 or 6 hours Saturday night before the race.

Luckily the race doesn't start until nearly 8am, so much more reasonable than going east to do one of those Disney races or something. We're also pretty close to the Metro station, so I'm thinking we'll probably wake up around 6am. Not great, but better than my Miami wake ups and hopefully I'll also be much more acclimated to the time zone. I'm happy I'm actually following through on trying to adjust my schedule. It's always all talk and no game for me in that area. I know I can bullshit a half sleep deprived but a marathon is a whole different matter.

The weather forecast has improved somewhat from the last update. It appears the bulk of the predicted rain is now on Saturday. Now, that can shift right back of course, so not celebrating yet. They are predicting nearly a half inch, so a pretty decent amount. For now, Sunday looks like chance of sprinkles but otherwise just overcast. Overcast weather would be PERFECT. Even in colder temperatures the sun can zap you. So if it could be overcast and dry, that would be ideal. Right now the predicted temperature at race start is 46 with a high for the day of just 54. That would be IDEAL. Fingers crossed!

Friday, October 19, 2018

NINE DAYS OUT

They FINALLY added some photos from the Portlandathon!
I cannot believe it is only nine days until the race. Just thinking about it gets me anxious and my heart all fluttery. This never happens with a half but always happens with a full. Plus, it will be my first full marathon in three years, so I almost feel like a rookie again! However, I am not a newbie when it comes to this, so I should find some comfort in the fact I have done it before and know what to expect. Still, it is a massive undertaking!

My training for the MCM started in the middle of May. It is honestly hard to believe I've been training for five months straight. Back when I created my plan, it was almost comical how far away the race was and how many miles and long runs I had to do. Now, here I am, almost 23 weeks out of 24 done. Only one short long run and two short midweek runs away from lining up at the start of the People's Marathon. It's satisfying to look back at my training schedule at all the hard work I've done. I've put in the effort, now it is time to reap the rewards!

Training cycle to date.
Altogether, I think this might have been my most successful marathon training period. I hit every run I had scheduled. I did have to rearrange a few times, but I always hit my three weekday runs and weekend long run at the distance planned (spare a few weeks where I purposefully planned only two weekday runs to rest up for a race). Now, most of these runs were of the easy variety, but I did sprinkle in some speedwork here and there. I forgot to note it at times on my spreadsheet, so some of those "easy" runs actually weren't easy.

In terms of my legs/knees though, I don't think I've ever felt better during a marathon training cycle. It's amazing! I remember being a lot more sore during my marathon training cycles, to the point where I was basically some level of sore every day. This time around, I was only sore on select occasions, usually after races or the longest of the long runs. I've said this before, but it bears repeating... I think I had psoriatic arthritis at a low level for years before it flared up badly. To be able to attack this training cycle with that in remission has been a revelation. I hope the "good vibes" continue into the race, but to be honest, I don't think it affected me much during the marathon previously... mostly afterward. I'll probably feel decent for the first 20 and then have to fight like hell for the final 10k as always.

Now that we are within 10 days I can also obsessively look at the weather too. Right now it looks like highs in the mid 50s, lows in the high 30s, and potential rain. So temperature wise it should be fine! Hoping for the rain to hold off and just have overcast skies. Anything from the high 30s to mid 50s with overcast skies is just about perfect marathon weather! Regardless of the forecast, I'll come prepared with a variety of outfit choices so I can make sure I'm dressed for success.

Anyways, I am excited for the race and want it to get here already! I am also going to try to adjust my sleep schedule a flew days before flying out... we'll see if I can manage that. Updates to come.

Monday, October 15, 2018

PEAK WEEK & PORTLANDATHON FIVE MILER

My squiggly spaghetti route twenty miler. Contains a 6 mile, 10 mile, and 4 mile loop. 
Recently I had my "peak" week of the training cycle. I ended up running 40 miles, including my final twenty mile run before the race. The day after the twenty I ran the Portlandathon 5 Mile race, although at a very casual pace. All told it was a busy week with five days of running but my legs responded well. It definitely gave me another boost of confidence headed into race day. Overall I am feeling strong and my body has responded really well to the training.

Long run with Sunstone.
In order to "rest up" for the busy weekend, I run 7 miles on Monday and then 4 each on Tuesday and Thursday. That left me feeling pretty spunky for my twenty miler on Saturday. Originally I thought I was going to have to run this alone, but after some thought I decided to incorporate Sunstone's normal ten mile Saturday morning run into my longer run. They were going to be running from the school by my house at 8am, which would mean I just needed to run ten more. The real question is how I wanted to break those ten up. All after the group run? Some before, some after?

I decided, despite how painful it was, to wake up at 6:30 and start running at 7:00am. That meant I could get six miles in before the ten mile group run, leaving me with just four more afterward. So before the sun even rose, I was up and getting dressed. The things running makes me do. I ended up getting to run through the sunrise, which was pretty cool. All told those six miles went pretty quick. I made myself an aid station at my car, so I ate a some snacks before joining Sunstone for their ten.

The ten with Sunstone also went really well. It was a pretty small group because of a bunch of regulars were either doing the Chicago Marathon or Portlandathon the next day. The weather was great though, nice and clear, and the fall colors are starting to hit, so it was really the perfect running day! I took two fruit snacks with me and ate those along the way. I also carried a bottle with me the whole time to stay hydrated. Definitely missing the PMC aid stations, but was able to replicate them pretty nicely on this run with the car stops.

So after the run with Sunstone I was sixteen miles in. At this point another four miles didn't sound too bad. My legs actually felt really good for the distance and I would chalk this up as one of the more successful twenty mile runs. So after another brief stop at the car, it was out to finish off the twenty miles. Went off without a hitch. What a sense of relief it was to finish! No more 20 milers! Nothing but downhill from here! Even though there were a couple weeks left in training I felt like I was basically at the finish line.

Portlandathon with Katie.
All told my legs felt pretty good, which was a positive thing, because the next morning I had to wake up early *again* and head downtown to Portland on the MAX to run the Portlandathon 5 Mile race. Katie and I had signed up for this a while back to support the race, which stepped in last minute to take over for the Portland Marathon, which folded after last year's race due to the owner's mismanagement. The Portlandathon filled the void for that first Sunday in October, offering a full, half, 5 mile, and 4 mile walk. So we signed up for the five miler just to show our support because I had no intentions of doing more the day after my key final twenty miler.

There is actually some history with me running a race the day after a twenty miler. Twice, in 2013 and 2014, I ran the Pints to Pasta 10k the day after the PMC Brunch Run twenty miler. The difference between this time and previously though was I actually raced those 10ks back in the day. This time, with Katie, we just happily jogged along at 10:20 pace without a care in the world. Really, there is not much to report from this race, it was just a giant out and back along Naito/Front, something I have done a bajillion times now, but it was still fun to be out there. The atmosphere of a race is always good to be around; plus, there was a delicious meal of mac'n'cheeese and garlic bread afterward.

I obviously took Monday off, then proceeded to run Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday. Wednesday was even a race pace test at 8:25 that went pretty well. So the legs really held up and responded great. Less than two weeks to go at this point. Eek!

Wednesday, October 03, 2018

HOMESTRETCH TO MCM

Can you spot me? Final PMC run in 2018!
I can't believe the Marine Corp Marathon is almost here and that I'm nearly done with my training. In some ways it feels like I just started training like two months ago, however, in other ways... it feels like I've been training forever. I remember looking at my marathon training plan, seeing those 24 weeks, and thinking about how long and impossible that looked. Yet, here I am, 20.5 weeks in and feeling pretty confident about things. The question of whether or not I could handle the marathon training has definitely been answered.

The half marathon in Boring definitely did a number on my legs though. I ran that thing 100% and I was sore from it for a few days. Even once the soreness passed, my legs were tired and lacked any "spring" for another week or so. I just now feel like I am back to normal. The good news is, I was still able to get all my runs in and keep my mileage up. I just did a lot of easy runs, knowing that the miles were more important than the speed. Eventually my legs caught back up and now I'm ready to attack the final "peak" week in the training cycle with vigor.

The weekend after Boring I had to do 16 miles on my own, as Oregon State had a football "game" at 1:00pm that precluded me from attending the PMC run. So on Sunday I went out from my house and did a 10 mile and 6 mile loop. My legs started feeling it maybe 7 miles in. Like I said, my legs had not recovered from the race by that point. However, I just kept plodding along, and while my legs ached, it wasn't anything hateful. The pit-stop at my house after ten miles was an upper too, as I snarfed down a couple fruit snacks and a tall glass of water. The final six miles wasn't as bad as I imagined.

Apparently PMC thinks I'm motivational?
Last weekend I was able to run with PMC but they were doing only 8 miles. The Portlandathon is this coming weekend, so they were in major taper mode. I still woke up early and went because I had missed the previous two weeks and wanted to say goodbye and good luck to all my pals there. So I ran eight with them and then added six more to hit 14 on the day. I had the misfortune of trying to add six by running around the waterfront in Portland while there was a Pancreatic Cancer awareness walk taking place. The place was PACKED and I had to do quite a bit of weaving (important cause though!). Anyways, I ended up scrapping my out and back plans and did a loop around the Tilikum Crossing to avoid having to go back through it. Worked out nicely and my legs definitely felt better than the week before.

Which brings me to this week. FORTY miles (I know actual marathoners, that's not a lot). Twenty on Saturday and then five at the Portlandathon 5-Miler on Sunday. The peak of the training cycle! My fourth twenty mile run! The long run is going to suck because no more PMC. Twenty isn't too bad when you are running with a group and stopping at an aid station every four miles. Twenty on your own? Ehh. I think my last two by myself was during my first cycle in 2013. It's been a while. Still haven't quite decided what to do, but probably two or three loops from the house with stops for water and snacks. It's going to suck but whatever. Just get it over with and then it's all downhill from there.

I know I'm going to start freaking out when it's closer to race time, but I feel like I'm ready. I've had a really successful training cycle and my knees honestly feel better than they ever felt even before the arthritis flared up. The marathon is still probably going to suck, I'm still going to be questioning everything and praying for death at mile 23, but yeah, let's get this show on the road!

Sunday, September 23, 2018

2018 HALF BORING HALF MARATHON RACE RECAP

Typical scene along the course. Nice long path and runners going both ways. Yellow mile marker sign in the distance.
Last Sunday I left my house at 5:45am and headed east to the town of Boring. Like last year, I made a pit stop at McDonald's; however, this year I only got a small coffee. Last year I got a medium and ended up peeing multiple times during the race. Arriving just after the marathon went off at 6:30, I went to the start line, got my packet, then headed back to the car to pin my bib on and leave my race goodie bag.

I got to the starting line with about 15 minutes to spare and stood in line for the bathroom. Even though I didn't really have to pee, it was more of a preventative measure due to the experience last year. After a couple minutes in that line it was obvious there was no way I was going to make it in time for the start. Since I didn't really have to pee, I decided to just ditch it and go for a light warm up. My warm up led me to a path in the woods which lacked any people and had plenty of cover. So it ended up all working out in that fashion and I didn't have to pee during the race either.

FIRST HALF FLYING (7:36, 7:29, 7:34, 7:39, 7:41, 7:42)

I made my way toward the front of the corral with plenty of time to spare. After some last minute announcements, including a recognition of the dry weather despite a 90% chance of rain, the race was off! With my "A" goal being under 1:45, I knew I had to run under 8:00/mile, so the goal was to pace around 7:50-7:55. However, I also knew the first couple of miles were slightly downhill, so I wanted to take advantage of that on fresh legs. So I ended up running the first few miles averaging low 7:30s. Maybe a little quicker than I wanted, but not tragically fast.

The skies after the rain stopped.
This pace felt so easy. It was crazy! I was almost in a state of disbelief about how easy it felt. I couldn't quite believe my watch. My legs felt great and my breathing wasn't even labored. I've had runs over 9:00/mile where my cardio has been more tested. It was really odd! I could tell I was going fast, it felt like a mid 7s pace based on my gait and everything, but lung and leg wise it felt super easy. It was really weird. Even when the course flattened out, I kept up a quicker pace than initially planned. Miles 4 to 6 were all almost exactly 7:40. Even though I likely couldn't keep this pace up, I was banking some time for the second half of the race.

Remember them commenting at the start line about the lack of rain? Well, almost immediately after the race started, literally within a minute, the skies opened up and it POURED rain. Big drops. Not quite as bad as Corvallis earlier this year, but close. It rained for probably close to an hour, the first half of the race or so. Eventually it piddled out and from then on the weather was absolutely perfect for a race. High 50s and overcast skies. I think this may be one reason why the pace was feeling so easy. I've been used to training in the summer heat, so this weather was like a luxury vacation to my body.

SECOND HALF SLOWDOWN (7:47, 7:57, 8:10, 8:13, 8:10, 8:24, 8:03)

The turnaround was right at mile 6.5, which confused me. Later on I found out why, there was a small out and back section along a street on the way back. It was the same thing last year, I had just forgotten about it. When I made the turn, I looked at my watch and noticed I was averaging 7:36 a mile. This meant I could average 8:16 on the way back and still end up under 8 minutes a mile. This was very encouraging. That felt so slow. I could do this. I tried to keep up my speed but the pace was now starting to wear on me. Mile eight would be my last below the eight minute mark.

All together I still felt pretty good. The legs felt fine, my breathing was still easy, the same effort was just not getting me the same speed now. I took comfort in the fact that I had built up quite the cushion and just pushed to run it in as fast as I could. While 8:16 sounded so slow earlier in the race, it was now a time I was fighting to stay under. Managed to do that except for an ugly mile 12. Although I had slowed way down, I wasn't struggling at all. I was just keeping up the same effort level and not worrying about trying to hit a certain time.

Those last few miles weren't that much of a struggle. I was trying to save a little bit for the uphill portion, but I never really saw it. Second year in a row where coming back I didn't even notice the uphill despite noticing the downhill on the way out. I think because it is so gradual, and the path is just through the woods, it's really hard to see visually. I think the 8:24 mile might tell the story though. By then I was tired and ready to be done but I knew the finish line was near. I had to grind a little bit in that last mile to keep up the pace. The race was really catching up with me now. Eventually I could hear the finish line and finally had a visual as I rounded a corner.

FINISH LINE AND POST RACE


Done!
The final sprint was done at sub 7 pace, so my legs had a little something still left in them. When I crossed the finish line and looked at my watch, I couldn't quite believe it. 1:42:32?! No way! Not only did I beat the 1:45 goal I thought might have been a little too ambitious, I smashed it! Funny enough, that is the exact time, to the second, of my first half marathon. I guess I'm truly back! Feels like July 2012 all over again, haha.

I was absolutely wiped after the race. While my legs and cardio felt great, for the first ten miles or so at least, this was a balls to the wall race performance that took everything out of me. I left it all on that course. I stumbled my way to the food area and scarfed down some bagels and M&Ms. I was still kind of in a state of disbelief on my time. It was way better than I could have imagined.  After coming to my senses, I cheered a few people onto the finish and then headed back to the car. I had an intense day of napping and watching football ahead.

The next couple of days I was quite sore. I still got my three weekday runs in, but my legs were feeling the effects of the race without question. Even my sixteen mile long run today, my legs were still gently screaming because of the half. That was a 100% effort, no doubt. It gave me a really good idea of where I stand with this whole running thing. Turns out, a little better than I thought!

Official Chip Time: 1:42:32, 7:49/mile. 16/165 overall, 13/57 male, 2/2 M30-34.

Friday, September 14, 2018

2018 HALF BORING HALF MARATHON RACE PREVIEW

At the beginning of last years Boring Half.
It is nearly the one year anniversary of the event where I announced "I'm back!" to running. I wasn't expecting it at the time, but this was the race that really lit the fire in my comeback. I didn't have much time to prepare, as I had spent most of August recovering from two broken toes. At the time I broke my toes, I was just starting to get back to running, my knee inflammation had finally been tamped down and I was trying to get back in shape. The toe thing really threw my planning off so when I finally was able to run again I had less than a month to prepare. I was able to manage about ten runs to cram for Boring, starting from a baseline of three miles and peaking at a six mile "long" run the week before.

My goal last year at Boring was to run it as long as I could (I figured something like eight miles or so, as the six miles the weekend before was tough). Then I could walk/jog it in. There was no thought of running the whole thing, that would be a dumb goal to make and was probably nearly impossible. Well, what do you know, I not only made it to mile eight, I ran the whole damn thing, finishing in 2:22. I actually felt stronger toward the end and ran my fastest miles up a slight hill. It blew my expectations out of the water and gave me the sense that yeah, I can do this again. After that race I started running regularly, at least three times a week, and a couple months later ran 1:56 at the Holiday Half. My mojo was back baby!

So this race really sticks out and means something to me. When I was looking for races to sprinkle around the training cycle to keep things interesting, this one was an easy addition! The race organizers are fun and put on a really good event. It's got that small, local, organic feel to it. Not some big production by a for-profit company, but a labor of love by a few people. I don't know if it will become a yearly tradition like Shamrock or Miami, but it does fall at a perfect time to test your abilities after a summer of training.

In terms of the course, like last year, it is run 100% on the Springwater Trail. So basically you run 6.55 miles along the uninterrupted pedestrian trail, turn around, and run back. The first couple miles are slightly downhill, meaning the last couple are slightly uphill. Last year I didn't even really notice the uphill on the way back even though I did notice the downhill on the way out. I think I was running on magical fairy dust at that point. So this year I fully expect to feel that uphill on the way back, although it is pretty gentle. The weather on Sunday at the moment appears to be low 50s and sprinkles. Not my ideal weather, but close to ideal running weather. Hopefully it will stay dry-ish.

Finally, my goals. I am using this as a measuring stick for my progress over the summer and to set realistic expectations for the Marine Corp Marathon. This half is coming in the heat of marathon training, so my legs won't be completely fresh, but I should be able to run near my best time given my fitness. I'm not using it as practice for my marathon pace or anything, I am using it to see what my marathon pace should be...

GOALS:

"A" Goal: Sub 1:45. This is a stretch. This means I have to average 7:59/mile or less. I ran the Independence Day Half at 8:12/mile, so I need to shave 15 seconds a mile from that. That's a tall order... but on a perfect day? Maybe.

"B" Goal: 1:47:32 or less. Honestly, this will be my main focus, beating my Independence Day Half time. 8:11/mile or less. The extra mileage I've done over the last two months for marathon training should result in a faster time. I'll be disappointed if all those miles doesn't translate into some improvement.

"C" Goal: Sub 1:50, 8:23/mile or less. To feel like it hasn't been a complete disaster, I need to get under 1:50. Maybe it just isn't my day and all those miles catch up with me during the uphill finish. Getting this goal wouldn't be the end of the world, it just means I haven't really gotten faster in the last few months, which would be okay. I am marathon training after all and have done minimal speedwork.

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

BRUNCH RUN & RETROSPECTIVE

Mile 8 aid station at George Rogers Park.
After a two year absence it was back to the Portland Marathon Clinic Brunch Run on Saturday. This is the event where they bus you to a mystery location twenty miles away and then you run back to brunch. Usually pretty fun... in theory at least! Read about my experiences in 2013, 2014, and 2015. This is the run that introduced me to PMC and is usually my favorite of the training cycle because it is not the same old route and it always has great aid stations with lots of stuff.

About that same old route part though... yeah. So this year we did the Willamette Park (West Linn) to Willamette Park (Portland) route again. This was the route in my first year, 2013! This was also the route in 2015. This means that out of the four Brunch Runs I have done, THREE have been this same route! Ha! In 2016 and 2017 they did routes I haven't done before (Cook Park in Tigard and Kelly Point Park in Portland) but it's almost like they welcomed me back with this route like a homecoming or something.

I will say that this run went a lot better than back in 2015. I remember that one kind of sucking a lot. Now, that was in the middle of marathon training where my arthritis was starting to be noticeable a little bit (in retrospect). I was able to power through that cycle and a run a great time of 3:39, which was only six minutes off the year before when I was working my ass off to break 3:30. That 2015 cycle was more of a "survival" cycle, kind of like what I'm doing now. Get the miles in, but not worry about speedwork so much. Compared to the way I was feeling that training cycle, this year is going much better.

This was my third twenty miler of the season and I only have one more planned. Yikes! I'm going to have to do that one myself on the day before the Portlandathon. Will probably end up doing various loops from my house. Maybe I'll even buy some candy and shit for when I stop over between the loops. Anyways, crazy to think the dreaded twenty milers are almost out of the way. They've gone so well this year. Again, my legs felt fine during the run. Sure, they were tired toward the end, but nothing like I have felt in the past on some of these twenty milers. It gives me a glimmer of hope that with any inflammation tamped down, maybe, just maybe, the "20s" this coming marathon won't suck as much.

As for the weather on the Brunch Run, it was perfect. That certainly helped with feeling good. Do a twenty miler in 85 degrees and it's an entirely different story! It was actually sprinkling and about 60 degrees when we started. Most of the run was overcast, and then toward the end the clouds broke up a little. Still thought, it was probably 68 degrees when we finished. Very comfortable. I had to scarf down the brunch and jet because the Oregon State football game started at 5:00 and I earned some guilt free tailgating dag nabbit.

Finally, for a little fun, I was curious about how my training was doing compared to 2015, my last marathon training cycle. So far, I've been right on track, doing even more miles than I was doing back then. Awesome! Now, my long runs at the time were with the 3:30 group and averaging like 9:45/mile, so I was actually working harder. So it's not completely apples to apples, but the miles are there. Gives me confidence I can run the marathon. It's going to be a touch slower, sure, but I'm definitely on track and my attempt to "baby" myself a little through this cycle isn't really babying myself much at all!

Friday, August 24, 2018

ALL-STAR BREAK AUGUST

Has it really been over three weeks since I updated this thing? Ugh. No news is good news in this case I guess! The training plan has been going well and every week I'm a little more confident in my abilities to run the marathon. There have been a couple things of note since I last wrote, so I'll just do some bullet points:
  • I just got done with what I am calling my "all-star break." You know how sports leagues shut things down about halfway through the season and have the all-star game? Well, not that I had an all-star game but the last two weeks have been my "break." And by break I mean I didn't do a long run either of those weeks. I did keep up my mileage and even did 32 miles last week on vacation, so I haven't been totally slacking off. However, it is back to reality tomorrow with a 20 miler!
  • Speaking of 20 milers, I did my first one in three years on August 4th along the Fanno Creek Trail with the Portland Marathon Clinic. My long runs to that point had gone pretty well so I honestly wasn't even nervous. The run went great! While my legs did feel a little tired toward the end, it was not bad at all. The best 20 miler I can remember. Even the rest of the day and the next day my legs felt pretty good. Couldn't quite believe it. I think I was definitely struggling with some low grade arthritis for a few years before I was formally diagnosed. My legs have felt so good this training cycle.
  • I've now done two tempo runs of six miles where my average pace was below 8:00/mile. These are my first sub-8 tempo runs in two and a half years. One of them was more steady, 7:55 pace +/- 10 seconds a mile... the other one, last night, was more of an "accidental" tempo. I ran fast to Sunstone since I left my house a little late, so I did a 8:25 mile there. Nothing too crazy. The first mile with Sunstone was 8:50. Again, reasonable. Well, then someone took off and I followed them and I ended up finishing the rest below 8:00 including a 7:18 mile that almost killed me. By the end of the run I was sprinting at 6:30 to get the average pace below 8:00 before finishing (success... 7:58/mi average).
  • I did an 11-mile run at the Umpqua River during the large family campout. Running while camping is never fun since you are sleeping on the ground, but it felt really good and allowed me to enjoy the rest of the weekend guilt free. I love running that route in Roseburg when I am down there, so it felt nice to be able to do that again.
  • One night at Portland Running Company I tested out my potential marathon race pace. I ran seven miles @ 8:45/mile, which would be a 3:49 marathon pace. It felt okay, not great though. It was also 91 degrees so that wasn't fair. I'm doing the Half Boring Half Marathon in a couple of weeks. I will run this my hardest and then extrapolate my marathon pace from there. All signs point to sub 3:50 being my "A" goal and sub 4:00 being my "B" goal.

Here's a blurry pic of me at Sunstone to cap the post.

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

END OF JULY TRAINING RECAP

One of many weekday runs with Sunstone Running Club.
Well, thought I should update everyone on how marathon training has been going. All told, it's been going pretty well! The training schedule really keeps me accountable, I'm going to hit my runs no matter what! If I have a run on Tuesday that I skip for some reason, you bet your ass I'm out there on Wednesday getting it done. No excuses, barring injury or sickness. Same with the long runs. Do I like waking up at 7am on Saturdays to run? Hell no. However, am I always glad I did it? Yes. The rest of the weekend free with no long run looming ahead is awesome!

As planned, I am hitting three runs on the weekdays. The plan is Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday, but sometimes I switch it up to Monday, Wednesday and Thursday depending on how my legs feel after the long run Saturday and Monday night run. With the increased mileage I'm definitely not feeling the need for speed, although I'm still trying to throw in a run here and there to try and keep whatever speed I have up. As, as planned, those have been sporadic as my main focus has been on getting the mileage in. So far, I've been able to build my mileage without issue, so I have to keep going with what's working.

In regards to long runs, those are going well. These were my main concern when I started marathon training... I felt confident my knees could handle 5-6 mile weekday runs at that point, the big question was whether or not they could handle the long distance weekend runs and resulting weekly mileage into the mid to high 30s. And so far so good! Last weekend I did 18 miles and my body held up very well. My legs were definitely tired by the end but nothing major at all. Better than I remembered feeling on most 18 milers. The next challenge will be 20 miles this weekend, but I'm not worried at all to be honest. It has been pretty smooth sailing to this point so another two miles shouldn't be too big of an issue (famous last words?).

One of many long runs with the Portland Marathon Clinic
My knees actually feel really awesome. Since I noticed the psoriatic arthritis at a low level for years in other areas (upper back, jaw) before being treated, it is reasonable to assume it was also in my knees at a lower level for a while. Perhaps some of the discomfort and soreness I felt during these long 16+ mile runs was actually the arthritis acting up a little. Or maybe I am just remembering it as worse than it was because the fact I am running 18 miles again kind of blows my mind. I think the real test will be in the chute after the marathon... I am 5 for 5 for being a complete shitshow as soon as the race finishes. I didn't understand how people could just be walking around and smiling after the race. Maybe, just maybe, when I finish this time, my legs won't immediately turn to jello and cramp up.

Honestly, they probably will revolt as usual because a marathon is a long freaking way. However, training is going well and I am confident I can finish it. That will be a huge accomplishment! I basically had to start from scratch after almost two years on the bench with no clue if I would ever be able to run again. So to be in the heat of marathon training feeling so good is awesome! Fingers crossed the next two months go as well as the previous two! 11 weeks down, 12 to go!

Sunday, July 15, 2018

2018 INDEPENDENCE DAY HALF MARATHON RACE RECAP

Post race celebration. Was I really happy? Find out below!
I woke up around 7:00 on the 4th of July, a Wednesday this year. I had picked up my race packet the day before at Portland Running Company, so I wasn't too stressed about the time. I was able to drive to Champoeg Park and wander to the start line by about 7:40am or so for the 8:00 start. Easy peasy!

The only thing I was worried about was the slight feeling of having "to go #2." I got in the line for a port-a-potty but with the limited number of potties I didn't think I was going to be able to go in time. Someone got some "inside info" about a pod of potties down a hill that didn't have a line. By the time I heard this and wandered down there, the line was just as long! Oh well, after a bit I gave up and just lined up to start. Hopefully it could wait!

THE FIRST LOOP (8:07, 8:17, 8:11, 8:06, 8:53*, 8:22)

After the national anthem and some final instructions, the race went off right at 8 o'clock. It was a little congested at first, as most races are, so there was a bit of weaving and holding back at the beginning, but as you can see, I still ran a pretty fast first mile. With my goal of beating Corvallis, I knew I had to run 8:30 miles or below. I decided I would try to run somewhere between 8:15 and 8:20s and see how far that could take me. All told the first few miles were a little fast, but nothing too tragic. I was feeling pretty good all told despite the lack of a proper taper for this race.

That 8:53 mile is not accurate. So we get to the turnaround for the first loop (which would total 10k) sometime during the 8:06 mile preceding it. On the way back to the start line somewhere in the forest paths my watch lost the GPS signal. I didn't realize it until I looked down at my watch to check my pace and saw it as "--:--." Great! Not. Anyways, I was in a rhythm so keeping up the appropriate pace wasn't too hard. I knew at some point my watch would kick back in and I could use it again, the mileage would just be off. It wasn't too long before the signal was acquired again. My watch, which was hitting the mile markers dead on, was now .25 miles behind at the next marker. Annoying, as my overall pace was now jacked, but whatever, my race was unaffected.

For those of you not familiar with Champoeg Park, the race is along paved trails through lush forest along the river. It's very pretty and great scenery for the race. The paths weren't too wide, but wide enough for two way traffic to proceed without issue for a race this size. There was one foot bridge that was under construction that had room for only one person going either way. Luckily, whenever I hit this bridge I didn't have an issue with oncoming traffic. The course itself was pretty flat, although there were definitely some hills toward the turnaround point.

A flavor of the trails I ran through in Champoeg Park. Screencap of this video, credit YouTube user NatureCyclist.

THE FINAL LOOP (8:10, 8:36, 8:16, 8:40, 8:19, 8:36, 8:24)

The finish line was up a small hill for about a block. Someone was shouting instructions out, if you were running the 10k you were done, if you were running the half, cross the mat and then turn around and go back out for another loop. Honestly, it felt kind of good to not be finishing, I made the turn around with maybe 33% of the other runners around me. Let's get this done! I was still feeling good, so far it was the perfect half marathon pace; my lungs were burning a little, the pace was challenging, but my legs felt good and I was confident I could go the distance without a major breakdown.

This loop was a lot lonelier, mostly it was just me and my thoughts running through the streets and trails of the park. I was in a rhythm and just plodding along. This loop would be slightly longer than the last one, as they added some distance past the first 10k turnaround to make sure we hit our 13.11 miles. Unfortunately, this extra distance was not flat and required a big hill climb on the way back. As a result, you can see the 8:40 mile. I knew I had a lot of extra time to play with at this point so I wasn't worried and just kept plodding along. I was doing the math in my head and now that my watch was off, I knew the pace reflected on there was about 10 seconds a mile too high. Considering my watch pace was still below my goal pace, I was in great shape.

On the way back to the finish I definitely starting to feel the subtle uphills that I didn't feel on the way back on the first loop. My legs were definitely tiring now, about mile 11 they started to complain a bit, but that's normal for a half marathon. I was able to keep going without issue although I was definitely ready to be done. I had also spent the whole race with that slight urge "to go" still there, so I was looking forward to taking care of that. Luckily, it did not require my attention during the race, which was quite the relief! Anyways, I rolled up that final uphill and through the finish.

POST RACE

Photo credit: www.runoregonblog.com
Holy shit! 1:47:33! Not only did I get my goal, I SMASHED it! Awesome! Good to know that my dedicated training was paying off. The marathon training definitely helped in those final miles too. Now that I was doing runs up to 16 miles, those final few felt so much better than Corvallis. I did have a secret goal of sub 1:50 but I never thought I would be in the 1:47s. Awesome! In my head, anything below a 1:45 half marathon is "fast," so hopefully I can get there by the end of the year. That used to be my baseline, as long as I got sub 1:45 I could live with it.

The post race part included a burger and a beer, both delicious. I checked the results and unfortunately I placed 4th in my division (out of 5 - ha!) so no awards ceremony for me. I was 15th out of 125 though, so that was cool. Once I was done eating I didn't really have any reason to stick around, so I drove home and took a warm bath. I then crawled into my bed and took a 3 hour nap. Oops.

Overall, a very successful race! I'm glad I signed up as it was fun to test my progress and come out feeling pretty good about how my training was going. I think I'm going to sign up for the Crawfish Crawl 5k in August - that will be my next official race. Will be good to get a baseline 5k time to work off of, although I won't taper or anything for that so it could be painful. After that, my next race will likely be the Boring Half Marathon followed by the big daddy... the Marine Corp Marathon!

Official Chip Time: 1:47:33, 8:12/mile. 15/125 overall, 13/61 male, 4/5 M30-34.

Tuesday, July 03, 2018

INDEPENDENCE DAY HALF MARATHON RACE PREVIEW

Pretty good reason to miss my only run so far (midweek 6
miler. Beavers 2018 baseball champs!
Has it really been almost a month since my last blog post? Oh my word! A quick update before I get into the race tomorrow... everything is going well with the marathon training! Still sticking to my training schedule and hitting all the long runs. Body feels good, no complaints there. Really an optimal training cycle so far! A long ways to go yet, but I am feeling pretty positive. Long runs have ventured into the "actually long" territory, I've now ran 16 twice and will run 18 next week, but they are going easily enough except for the "holy crap it's been forever are we done yet?" mental challenge. Physically they feel fine!

And with that, let's get into the race tomorrow. I signed up for this one a while back when I was looking to sprinkle in some races throughout the training cycle to keep things interesting and keep me on my toes. Now, a race always sounds better in theory (like a 5:30am plane flight), and then when it's actually race day you're like "why am I doing this?" Well, why I voluntarily chose to wake up at 7am on a holiday I'll never know! At least all the hot dogs and beer afterward will be guilt free. I think I'll enjoy the race as it should have some nice scenery and a good atmosphere. Just not all that excited about running it at race pace!

However, I do want to run it to the best of my abilities just to see how I stack up. I could always just 9:30/mile it and enjoy it, but that wouldn't really tell me anything. Now, I'm not going to enter this race 100% just because I didn't taper properly before it. I ran 16 on Saturday and then 4 miles last night. Not too bad and I did cut back on the Monday miles, but ideally I would give my legs a couple days rest before really attacking a race. So while I might not be able to achieve my best possible time given my current fitness, I think I should be able to get relatively close.

When I was in Omaha last week I did what ended up being a half race pace tempo run for five miles. It was mostly motivated by the traffic whizzing by me on the highway at 55mph and a fear for my life (pedestrian infrastructure over there is garbage), but I was able to hit 8:15-8:20s pretty easily. For being 82 degrees and humid outside the run was surprisingly easy. I just hope it feels that easy come tomorrow morning! On Monday I went out for an easy four miles as part of a mini taper and 9:45s were kicking my ass. So it's hard to predict how I am going to feel on race day!

Course map for tomorrow. Let's get loopy!
The weather looks a bit warm, 68 when the race starts and around 76 when I'll finish. It should be overcast though, so that will help. Not the ideal temperature, but nothing too tragic either. It can be a lot worse in the summer. If the sun does break through I'm also fairly certain a lot of the course has shade, so that shouldn't be an issue. The course itself is two loops, the first loop being a 10k, and then the second loop being that same loop plus an extended out and back to hit our mileage.  It's also pretty dang flat. So overall, while my legs aren't super fresh and the temperature is a bit warm, it should be a pretty quick race for me assuming I can find a groove.

Overall, I'm not going to do the usual A, B, and C goals, as this isn't a "target" race, more of just a "check up." I will tell you that I hope to beat my Corvallis time. Now, that race went amazing... one of those runs where everything clicked and you are certain you performed to the best of your abilities. I'm not sure how this one will go, so we'll see. I'm not going to be disappointed if I don't beat Corvallis as long as I give it my best try. However, it would be pretty sweet to beat that time given how well that race went! I'll need to go sub 8:30 to do that, so I'll probably target 8:20s and hope I can hold on.

Saturday, June 09, 2018

BREAKING THE CENTURY MARK

Coming into the finish line with other volunteers after sweeping the course (and the reason I had to run on a Friday night).
Well, at 108 miles, May was my first month above 100 miles since way back in September of 2015 right before my back to back marathons. It's been a long road back, but it feels good! My training for the Marine Corp Marathon is going well, I've now completed the first four weeks with perfect marks. I've hit every run as scheduled and my body feels great.

I've found the schedule really helpful. I've always done well following a plan... I feel a commitment to it and the excuses my brain likes to generate seem to calm down. I know if I skip a run on a Tuesday I'll have to make it up on a Wednesday, so I just tend to go out and do it on Tuesday. I'm going to get my runs in barring injury or something like that, which wasn't always the case earlier in the year. It was really easy to intend to run four days a week and slip to three. Not anymore though!

Twice now I've ran my long after work on Friday because my Saturday morning was busy and would conflict with my normal long run. That just goes to show you that I am not making any excuses, these runs are going to happen one way or another. Sure, I just got done with a long week of work and it's the last thing I want to do, but dammit, I'll get my 14 miles in. I watched the bright, sunny day turn into dusk and it was actually kind of pleasant to be honest. Now, every week doing this would suck, but as a one off it was completely doable.

Slow and steady build toward marathon competency.
Another fun thing about my long runs recently is that I am back into "new longest run" territory. Since I kind of had to hit the reset button with the whole arthritis thing, I am getting a feeling of accomplishment as I slowly build my mileage back up. Today I ran 15 miles and it was the furthest I had ran in almost three years. So that was cool! While previously it might have just felt like another run in the beginning of a marathon training slog, this time around each of these runs has a little extra meaning to it.

Anyways, just wanted to give an update. Training has been going well, I'm in a groove and hitting my runs. I've even thrown in a few speed workouts and hill runs to keep things interesting. All in all it's very encouraging. Hopefully I can keep the sunny outlook as we enter the critical summer training months. These longest of long runs in the heat are exhausting enough to challenge the mettle of just about anyone, but I've done it before and I can do it again.

Monday, May 21, 2018

TWENTY EIGHT

The first week of Marine Corp Marathon training is in the books! Nothing too exciting about it, I've done similar weeks in the previous two months preparing for training to start, but it feels good to check a successful week of training off the plan. 1 down, 23 to go! Ha!

I plan to run four days a week, like I have done every marathon training cycle. The first three days went as planned; Monday at PRC and Tuesday and Thursday at Sunstone. At PRC I can adjust my runs anywhere from 3-7 miles, and at Sunstone I can go anywhere from 4-7 depending on whether or not I run there from my house. I'll be able to ramp them up and down as needed, so that will be great.

The challenge this week was the weekend long run. The Timbers had a game at noon on Saturday and I wanted to get there when the gates opened (10:30am) to secure good seats. Well, that meant I couldn't run with any of the weekend groups. I was planning to run my first week with the Portland Marathon Clinic, but that will have to wait. I went through all the options in my head, wake up at 7am Saturday and run from home, run after the game, run Sunday morning before going golfing at noon, run after golf, etc. None of these options sounded good.

Most miles in a week since pre-arthritis.
So what did I end up doing? Running 12 miles after work on Friday! It kind of sucked, when I headed out I couldn't quite believe I was doing it, but I just tried not to think about it and stay ignorant. That pretty much worked. Getting the run over with and allowing my weekend to continue without trying to jam in a run somewhere was a big motivator. Once I was done it felt so good to have it out of the way! I could go about my weekend and sleep in without it looming over me.

Another victory was running 4 out of 5 days, including 6 on Thursday and 12 on Friday. I don't remember the last time I ran the day before a long run. Usually I give myself a rest day to make sure my legs are fresh. Despite being a bit concerned about that, I went out for the run on Friday anyways and I'm happy to report my legs felt great! Most of my long runs have been 10 miles, so it was good that 12 felt okay even on legs that had ran 6 the day before. Wasn't limping around or unreasonably sore or anything. Encouraging!

Anyways, I'll stop the boring rambling now.

TL;DR: Week one of marathon training went well.