Monday, April 29, 2019


The start along Naito!
My first 10k in 18 months! Exciting I guess? Anyways, my prep for this race wasn't the greatest. I had basically done no speedwork since the Shamrock Run, and my friend was coming into town to do the race as well. Needless to say, the days leading up to the race weren't the best in terms of eating or drinking choices, but I kept it within reason as to not totally crash and burn during the race.

Honestly, if anything held me back, it was my legs. Thursday we went on a 6 mile run AND a 5.5 mile hike and then Friday we went on another hike through Ape Cave. About four miles there, but a lot of bouldering. My legs felt pretty worn Saturday, a day on which we did nothing, and they were still a little tired by the time the race rolled around Sunday. Not terribly so, but I may have been able to do teeny tiny bit quicker on fresh legs.

Again, this race would be a good benchmark for my current fitness level. I keep thinking I'm about to turn it up but then never do. I need to get some more races on the schedule. The weather appears to have finally turned in my favor (70 and sunny any day of the week over 45 and cloudy), so hopefully I can actually start doing some speedwork or something. I don't have any ambitious goals or anything, I think I'll just want to beat my MCM time this fall, but I need to actually, you know, do something, in order to make that happen.


Thankfully this race wasn't ridiculously early, kicking off at 8:45am. We left the house shortly before 8am, so I was able to sleep into about 7:30am before throwing on some clothes and chugging a mug of coffee. I drove us downtown and parked in my standard Smart Park garage. That thing is like 8 blocks or less from everything! We approached Waterfront Park and marveled at the amount of people bustling about. This was a major production!

In usual Thomas fashion, I didn't want to be there too early, so we got there with about 25 minutes until the gun went off. We walked toward the bag check and there was the LONGEST LINE. Dammit! Did I mess up? Were we going to be stuck behind a bunch of walkers? Luckily, that line went amazingly fast. We checked our bag and still had about 15 minutes to go. With that, we wandered toward the start line and settled into the appropriate pace group of under eight minutes per mile.


It was fun starting on Naito Parkway and not doing a giant out and back or a run up Barbur. Instead, we quickly turned west into the city and run through "scenic" Old Town/Chinatown. The people around me seemed to be going the right pace so I didn't have to weave very much despite there being a decent amount of people. A couple slowdowns, but nothing tragic. My goal was under 8:00/mile and I knew there was that giant bridge climb, so I was trying to target my miles around 7:50. If I could do that for the other five miles, then I could go 8:45 on the hill and still be at 7:59/mile.

My first mile hit in 7:53. Just about perfect. Despite not having done a 10k in a while, I felt like I paced myself correctly. For whatever reason, I can judge my 5k/10k/15k/half paces pretty well. Instinctual for me. Long story short, I settled into the correct pace and it felt like a 10k should. Challenging, not really comfortable, but sustainable for six miles.

Certified finishers.
The "hill" in this race, the bridge climb, was from miles 1.5 to 2. Only a half mile and after that, only rollers are worst. So I just did my normal hill strategy of trying to keep the same energy "output" as if I were running on flat ground. This meant I was doing the hill at about 9:20 or so for this level of effort. Not the fastest, but the hill ended pretty quickly and my mile time was 8:39, so I was a tiny bit ahead of schedule. This was the part over the Fremont Bridge. Unfortunately, we were not on the top deck, so while the view was good, it wasn't as good as it could have been. Plus, we were socked in with clouds so you couldn't even see the mountains.

After the climb, we got the downhill portion, and I knew I would want to take advantage of this and get a cushion of time for later on in the race. My pace on the third mile was 7:28 and honestly I was a little disappointed. I was hoping to go a little faster, but hey, I was still ahead of schedule. After we exited the bridge, we did a bunch of random streets in the industrial area around the Widmer plant and Interstate Avenue. Not very scenic, a couple tiny hills and downhills, not much to write home about. 7:38 fourth mile.

Eventually we wound our way out of that area and onto Interstate Avenue heading south. Major Portland Marathon flashbacks. That is about mile 23 and the site of many painful memories for me. Luckily, feeling much better this time around! 7:55 mile five. Crap. Can't quite make up the uphill on the downhill on these rollers. Still ahead of schedule but getting close. Need to finish strong. Over the Steel Bridge. I can see the finish line. That was all the visual I needed after an 8:05 mile six (oops!). 7:10/mile on that last .22 coming home.


The after party beer festival.
I crossed the finish line with a great sense of relief! My watch had me at 7:55/mile, beating my goal. However, I also had it clocked at 6.27 miles, so I knew with the adjustment down to 6.22 it might be close. Luckily, when all was said and done, I averaged 7:59/mile. PHEW! Literally a couple seconds away from not meeting my goal.

Part of the draw for this race was the beer festival afterwards; hence, the "to Brews" part of the name. Everybody got 10 "tasting tickets" and then there were about a dozen breweries set up showing off their product. 1 ticket got you a 4oz taste, while 4 tickets got your whole cup filled up. The lines were already off the wall for these places, so I was set on full beers. The first we tasted as a dunkelweizen, usually one of my favorites, but this rendition from West Coast Grocery was just so-so. We then were able to taste whiskeys from Westward Whiskey for two tickets. These were delicious and very interesting to try! Our final four tickets went to another beer, this one an IPA from Laurelwood. Yummy!

With that, we headed home for a day of doing nothing and gluttony. Well earned!

Official Results: 49:35, 7:59/mile. 163/1831 overall, 119/726 male, 25/138 M30-34.

Wednesday, April 10, 2019


Hi all - as you know I've been very bad about updating my blog! As mentioned, I was struggling with motivation this winter but still made myself get out there. Most weeks I managed three runs, sometimes I only did two, but I ran enough to stay in somewhat decent shape as evidenced by my Shamrock performance. Since Shamrock, I have been doing the same thing, trying to get out there three times each week. Most of the time I am able to do so. The weather changing definitely is a big help.

What I need to do is get some races on my schedule. It is much more motivating when you are working toward something. So I need to get a half or two planned. However, I think I want to do some shorter races before I get back into "half mode." Most of my races these days are halves... and while that is my favorite distance, one goal this year is to get a little faster for the marathon so I can beat my time from last year. I want to get back into some speedwork this year, and having a couple 5Ks or 10Ks in the schedule will help motivate me to get those done. Then, come mid-June or whatever, I can then start focusing on the fall marathon with a half or two along the way.

On the topic of 10Ks, I have one this weekend! A friend is coming in from out of town and we are running the Bridge to Brews 10k. This is the final year they are running it over the Fremont Bridge, so that will be cool to experience while it is still a thing. Now, this race won't be ideal for testing my current fitness. Neither of us are going to take it super serious because we want to have fun in the days leading up to it. So that will include hikes and booze. Which won't be ideal come Sunday morning. However, we'll try not to screw ourselves over too much and then just run it hard and see what happens.

I do have a goal for this race... average under 8:00/mile. Earlier this year I did a few tempo runs where I managed to do four miles under 8... just barely. So that might be a stretch, but I think it would be possible with a hard effort. I did 8:10 at Shamrock, and that is three miles longer and generally hillier (this race isn't necessarily flat either). So I'm hoping I can get 7:50-something. We'll see. My preparation for this race won't be ideal, I've done no speed work since Shamrock, but maybe I'll be able to gut it out.