Saturday, November 3, 2012

Silver Falls Trail Half Marathon Race Report

...alternate title: 'there will be walking'

I walk YOUR uphills!

TL;DR version: Undertrained, underfueled, underhydrated, but gutted out a 2:31 for my first half (on hilly trails no less!)

The preparation: My training dropped off a cliff the last 3 or so weeks leading up to this race. First I hurt myself, bruising the sole of my foot in a really painful way. It hurt to walk on it, much less run, for
a full week. I had to keep miles super low coming back from that to play it safe, so there was another week. Add in being a first-year teacher and parent-teacher conference week destroying my schedule and there you have it. Not. Enough. Miles.

Oh well.

Equipment: Tech-T, Brooks shorts (the best!), and Altra Zero Drop trail shoes (Lone Peaks, for that '70's running shoe vibe. Since I can't let go of my barefoot/minimal shoe proclivities, but require some protection the Altras fit the bill nicely. Smartwool socks.Everything worked. No chafing, a couple hot spot toes (it was WET), but no blisters. Worked a charm.
obligatory post-race muddy shoe shot

The course: I don't carry crap with me when i run, so I don't have any pretty pictures from the race. Scroll down for stock shots of the Silver Falls trails. Words nor pictures can do it justice. It is simply beautiful. I love the Pacific Northwest, and the mix of evergreens with blasts of color from the hardwoods as they enter fall is a big part of that love.
yeah. I ran behind that fall.
not me. But, it coulda been me. 'Cause I ran behind that one too.
Oh yeah. There were hills. Lots of hills. 2000+ feet of gain/loss. Again, I'm a stupid who chose the hardest race I could find for a first half. I love trails, though, so whatever. It was worth it.


The race: I didn't train enough, I didn't eat well this week, and I was underhydrated. Plus, I was so nervous with this being my first half and all. All this baked into a big cookie of stomach cramps in the first 3 miles. I have never had this happen before and it totally freaked me out. I took some electrolyte drinky stuff at the first aid stop and it seemed to help a lot. So, I kept running. 'Cause, you know, races. mile four is my mortal enemy in any run; if I haven't already, I may dedicate a full post to the topic of how mile four of any run wants to kill me and eat my soul. At least I know this, though, and know if I push through I feel much better and run well after. Mile four of this race was a big fat hill, the first of many. I ran a lot of it, walked some of it, exchanged witty banter with many fellow competitors all through it.

 miles 5-7 were uneventful, just rolling hills with amazing scenery. Pick 'em up, put 'em down, keep steppin'. 

mile 8-9. Ehr. Mah. Gawd. STAIRS. Really. Who puts stairs in the last third of a half-marathon? Sadists, that's who. My quads were roasted at this point from all the up, no recovery, down, rolling terrain. This was the icing. It was not easy. I may have conspired with another runner to trip and choke anyone who ran past us up the stairs. Fortunately this pact was not tested (there was a judgment call situation, though. He was allowed to live; stupid fast people). After the stairs it leveled out quite a bit, with some small rollers through the waterfall. Nothing beats running behind a waterfall. It is rad. no discussion will be had of this point. 

10-13 (point one, suckaz. It's a half marathon. Represent.). Feeling surprisingly good, then, ohdeargodwhatisthis??? Who puts a big arsed hill in the last. Freaking. Mile of an already tough race. I walked up it, mostly. Whatever. I'm s confident male and can admit it. funny, though, I was only passed by one or two runners.  They were all female runners. Female runners are awesome and way stronger than me. Props. 

The finish: About a month or so ago I projected a 2:37 finish for myself. I ran it in 2:31. This means two things. One, I am good at projecting my finish times. And two, I beat my projection. Suck it Father Time! All in all I really enjoyed the race. The people were superfriendly, and the volunteers were awesome. I will definitely run this one again.

Oh, and speaking of awesome female runners, my running pal Amanda clocked in an awesome 1:49. She's the business! Way to go!

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Almost... there....

Any excuse for a Star Wars reference

one week from today I will be running my first half marathon (I'd say a week from now I will have completed my first half marathon, but the jury's out on how truthful that statement is). As mentioned on every other occasion I have mentioned this race it is a decidedly tough race for a first effort. Whatever; I always tend to do things the hard way and this will be no exception. What makes this one a tough sled is the fact that I have not run nearly enough training miles to expect more than a goal of 'just finishing.'  I have an idea of how long the race will take me (about 2-1/2 hours, or twice as long as the guy who will win the race...) but all bets are off until the finish line is crossed.

I ran a solid six miler today, focused on maintaining a set pace for the whole run, which closes out my work and preparation. I'll run a couple short and speedy runs this week to keep my legs fresh and moving, but otherwise I've done all the preparing I can do. It's all down to race day now. I'll let you know how it goes (or doesn't go, as the case may be).

In other news, the school year is going well. I just finished a whirlwind week of parent conferences and feel like I'm starting to hit my stride instructionally. I still have a lot of developing and progressing to do as a teacher, but I think I'm on a good track so far. We also had a friend take some beautiful pics of the girls; here's a sample:

Sure there were more "sweet" pictures, but this was a far more accurate depiction of where they are as sisters right now!

Monday, October 1, 2012

the final countdown

I'm 4 weeks out from my first half marathon and the nerves are ratcheting up, for sure. I did 10 miles yesterday, but that only put my weekly miles to 20 and change. Not. Enough. Miles. I'm back to business this week with a full, normal running week that looks a little like this:

M rest
T 4mi
W 3mi+crosstraining
TH 3mi hills
 F 4mi*
Sa rest
Su 11mi
total 25 miles

It still isn't enough miles, but if I factor total time on my feet, I'm working my legs overtime for sure. Out of my 8 hour day I sit maybe 1 to 1.5 hours. I am constantly walking around, squatting to talk to students, then back up again. Plus, my classroom is on the second floor, so I am up and down the stairs multiple times a day.
No; none of that replaces running miles. But, it's what I've got. I don't have the willpower to get up at 5 am to get doubles in and increase my mileage (yet. I'm a total slacker about getting up early, but I am trying to change my outlook. Day one was a superfail, though), so I have to accept the reality of where I am. I built a decent base during my summer relaypalooza training, and had a decent showing in Sunday's 10-mile trail run (meaning I didn't keel over halfway through). We'll see.
You rang?
About Sunday's run; I did 10 miles with (according to my shifty Garmin) 1800+ feet of elevation change. This closely mimicked my half marathon course and I averaged a mere 12 minute mile pace. I know my trail pace is slower than my road pace, but dang, man! I was hoping for 11's or better. But, this puts my projection for the half at  2:37.  I was hoping for better, and may just kill myself trying to beat that, but we'll see what November 2 holds.

*optional day. May cut if I'm a total wuss and add second day of crosstraining instead.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

So much to cover, so little to say

Yeah, I've been a little busy lately. molding minds is pretty time consuming, as you might imagine. In truth, I've been racing to just keep head above water. Every spare moment is either planning lessons or re-adjusting one based on what did or didn't work in the last lesson. I am starting to feel like I'm standing on solid earth, and on my own two feet as a teacher. I'm fortunate to be surrounded by an amazing support network, both at school and at home. The learning curve as a first year teacher is steep, and I feel an obligation to beat that curve at every step for the benefit of my students.
Funny; this is EXACTLY what my classroom looks like

OK, enough seriousness; on to the running silliness. After Hood to Coast, I immediately interviewed for, then got hired, for my job. This sent me into a dead sprint to get my room ready, get acquainted with my team and understand the students. Needless to say running has been a lower priority over the past 3 weeks and I have run very few miles. Not a big deal, right? Right. Except that I have my first half-marathon in just over a month, and miles are a good way to be ready for it (so I'm told). Not only is this my first half, it's reputed to be a really REALLY tough one. I have a knack for taking a tough task and making it even harder.
I am a complete and utter moron
Things are back on track though. I got in a 7.5 mile run in today and was able to sustain a pace faster than any prior run of this distance (9:09 minute miles the whole darn way. Woohoo!). It's tough working full time and being a family guy and fitting in a consistent training schedule. I know there are plenty out there that do it and do it well at a far higher level than me (like this guy for instance. Wow). I have to find a way to prioritize running and a training schedule in the mix of all the other stuff I have going on. I feel myself improving as a runner and want to set some goals (I do have my sights on a race yet to be spoken of publicly. it's that crazy of an idea and will require SERIOUS work to be even marginally successful at it).

Oh, yeah. I'm less fat, too. I've lost about 15 or so pounds this year. Feeling pretty proud of that (but doughboy could stand to lose another 10 at least).

I'll be trying to get my post frequency back up as well!

Wednesday, August 29, 2012


We will now interrupt the typical running related drivel with a very special announcement:

I got a JOB!!!!!!!

A real, honest-to-goodness teaching position. It's all been a whirlwind. I interviewed Monday morning (of this week) and was working to get my classroom set up yesterday. I think it really didn't set in fully until today when we began inservice planning meetings. Then I got a little overwhelmed by all of it, then I was OK again when my team got together for some planning time. I definitely have a lot of work ahead of me, but I'm looking forward to it.

It's no exaggeration when I say it feels like I've won the lottery. This is for a couple reasons. One, in the area where I live there are literally hundreds of applicants for each teaching position. Being a newly minted certificate holder, I was as shocked as if I hit the powerball combo when I got that phone call. Second, I feel blessed to have the opportunity to do what I love and what I believe I am meant to be doing. Having the chance to help these third see their potential and thrive as learners is a gift; I cannot wait to meet them and get started!

Thanks to all my friends and family for supporting me on this odyssey over the past two years. I know at times it seemed a fool's errand, but the investment is already paying dividends. I couldn't have gotten here without your help, and can never truly repay any of it. I'll do my dead-level best to make you proud!

Parting shot of my new classroom, which I haven't gotten around to decorating or setting up yet:

Monday, August 27, 2012

Hood to Coast!

This past weekend saw the concluding event of Relay Month with my first running of the Hood to Coast Relay (HTC from now on, K?). It's weird to think of this as my first run of it; I was a team driver for a great women's team a couple years back, so I had the full experience minus the running bit. This year fixed all that...On to the recap:

How HTC works: It works just like Cascade Lakes Relay I wrote about a few weeks ago. 12 runners, two vans, 36 running segments ('legs"), little to no sleep or real food.

I ran legs 3, 15, and 27. Or as I liked to call them Good, bad and worst.

Leg 3 AKA holy crap! I ran 4 miles down the flanks of Mt. Hood, losing 850 or so feet of elevation along the way. I averaged 8 minute miles. Yeah, no one was as surprised about that as me. My first thought? expectations are a little high...Fortunately I was on a team full o' awesome and they knew I was a tubby slow mess and gravity pulled my belly and me down the mountain against my best efforts to be a slowfoot.
Yeah, Baby!

Leg 15 AKA the Reality Check. They say the best runs are the ones where you notice nothing. Yeah. On this run I noticed everything. E-V-E-R-Y-T-H-I-N-G. My feet hurt. My quads were seized into knots  any boy scout or sailor would have been proud to have created. I couldn't get into a groove and I kept thinking "Man, it'd be really nice to just sit down on that guardrail for a couple minutes..." Spoiler alert: I didn't sit down. You know this is true, because if I did I'd probably still be there, unable to move. I gutted it out and finished my 7.25 miles in a 10:30 pace. Not bad considering I really would have been happy to lie down on the road and die at the 3.5 mile mark when I got completely dusted by a 10 year old kid. No lie. it was like I was standing still and he was flying. It really broke my spirit (until later in the relay when I saw him again. He's a junior Olympian. There was a whole team of them. Superfast kiddos that bunch!).
That's about right

Leg 27 AKA OhdearGodmakeitstop! Pace=11:03 minute miles over 5.8 miles. This was the first time I have ever had to stop and tie my shoes on a run. This is no exaggeration. I hate having to futz with my shoelaces and take great pains to ensure we're all set before I head out the door. The shoes I wore on this relay are a mess of a different color and a big part of the reason I feel like I was struggling so much.The longer the race went, the more jacked up my feet were. Needless to say, they're gone now, and won't be worn by me again. I had to walk a ton, my hip was killing me, and to top it off the road was cambered at something like 78 degrees or so. it was like I was running on a wall at times. OK, maybe that was an overstatement, but the camber was enough that It was like trail running on a sidehill. Not fun on 2 hours of sleep and sore legs.

Pretty well says it all

OK, enough of the recap. Relays like this are not really about the running. It's about the people. I had an awesome team to run with. It was all teachers that I know through my wife (and through my student teaching at their school) and their spouses. A guy could not ask for better teammates. It's rare that I can say I was stuck in a vehicle with the same 5 people for 36 hours and never once got annoyed with any of them. I got to say that twice this summer. And mean it.

The big question you always get after a race like this is "are you going to run next year?" Honestly, probably not. HTC is too big. 1000 teams of 12 is a lot of traffic. There are other great relay events out there that I'm interested in so I think I'll explore those. If, by some chance, the same team got together and wanted me to run with them again, then I'd reconsider (but hopefully we'll run together on a different race next year...I hear RAGNAR is pretty cool...).

What a team!

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

I'm Ready (Am I really?)!

This weekend is relay number 2 in my Summer Relay Double Slam!

Or as the locals like to call it, The Mother of all Relays (Clearly those people never ran Cascade Lakes. Mother is only half the word to describe that thing. But I love you Cascade Lakes, and I will be back next year). 

Yes; the great white whale that is Hood to Coast is upon us. I have mixed feelings about my readiness for this run; I feel generally fit(ter) and strong(er) as the summer has progressed, which is a great thing. But, my training runs since Cascade Lakes have been less than stellar. My paces have been slower than I wanted and I didn't get in the long runs I was hoping to. I think my longest run in the last 3 weeks was 6.5 miles. My paces were all over as well. i could knock out a 4 miler in the high 8's to very low 9's, but anything longer and I suffered, hanging in the 9:30 to 10+ mpm range. NOT what I was hoping for. 

Of course, I'm feeling pressure (self-induced pressure) because i'm in a van full of fasties. Aside from the guy who had pneumonia for most of the summer (which is a pretty legitimate excuse for running slower) I am the slowest guy in the van. Slower than all the ladies, too, since we're keeping things straight. I know they don't care. We're all friends and they're super supportive; but, it's all in my head that if I hit a rough patch on my longer leg I can shake up the whole team pace, letting a whole bunch of people down. Yes, I am totally neurotic like that.

Here's the good news. I did my last "real" run before the relay this morning, and it was pretty awesome. My favorite structured workout is a progression run, where I try to get faster with each mile split. I have troubles with pacing myself effectively, and it's gotten worse as I've gotten fitter. I have no feel for my pace and have to rely on my watch to give me an idea of how I'm doing (I am getting a little better with attention to it, though). I have had several runs that I started out at what felt like a really (RRREEEEAAALLYY) easy pace, only to look down at mile one to see mid 8's showing in my current pace window. Yeah. That's way too fast of a first mile for this guy and I subsequently flame out in epic fashion. Today, though, I made a plan before I left on my run and, more importantly, I stuck with it. Miles one and two had to be closer to 10 minutes than 9; miles 3 and four needed to be 9:20-9:30's; then, 5 and 6 were to see what I had left in the tank. It wasn't a TRUE progression, and my splits showed it. I was a second or two slower on 2 than 1 and 4 than 3. 5 and 6 were stellar, though and i finished out strong. Plan good. Following plan better (say that in a caveman voice, so you'll know how my brain is processing the thought).
If I can learn to stick to a plan I might actually begin to improve as a runner and, dare I say it, get fast(er). This could bode well for my fall half marathon (or lead to delusional failures of spectacular proportions. You'll have to keep following to see!)...

So how about you? Do you run with a plan or just wing it? what works for you?

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Running. And Waiting to Run (Or, Tim's Cascade Lakes Relay Recap)

I could also title this post Best weekend that hurt EVER!!! 

This last weekend was the fifth annual running of the Cascade lakes Relay, and the first running for my team of friends, family, and random dudes we found online so we wouldn't have to run extra legs.

For the uninitiated, these relays are run by teams of 12 runners split into two vans who run in rotation until you get to the finish (216.6 miles in this case). It took our team (Get out of the Van) just shy of 35 hours to complete the race, at an average 9:40 per mile pace. Not bad for running up the mountains of Central Oregon. In the heat. With no sleep for 36 hours. In other words: 216 miles of awesomeness.

I won't go into details about my legs (the relay legs, not my chicken legs), because it was a team experience and  not a solo race for glory. short version: I suffered. It was hot, I didn't sleep, and it showed the most in my last leg. I ran the final leg of the race and next year that leg and I will have a rematch to be sure.

Here's a summary of what at least the runners in my van would say about the race: Everybody ran hard. Everyone suffered at least a little at some point. Everybody (i think) wants to go back and do it again next year. Here are some pictures and my usual snarky commentary:

Bunch of hooligans. We were itchy to get going after a long morning of waiting

This is how I roll

We ran through some beautiful country. Really, who gets to experience this kind of country so intimately?

Running through the woods, under a full moon? Every ounce as awesome as it sounds (also the best leg I ran of the weekend)

My first leg. Check out the heel strike on the 'barefoot runner!' No wonder my hip hurts like a grandma in a thunderstorm. Note: I was not barefoot in this, or any other leg of the race.

Crossing the finish line! 

It was a blast, and I'll probably have more thoughts on it later. It was such a rush and a blur that things just come back to me in pieces.

 Leg 36....I'm comin' for ya. Get ready.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Breaking Through

I've been running as much as I can lately. A. it's summertime, so the weather here in the Pacific NorthWet is actually agreeable and B. I've turned into one of those running addicts I've always mocked heard about.

I really have discovered a pure joy in running and it was totally unexpected. Even 'bad' runs have some silver lining, and even those don't come around as often as they used to. I think the biggest thing is I am finally out of the newbie/beginner phase; I'm consistently running longer distances and making improvements. I'm still at the slower end of the spectrum, but I'm much more concerned with building an endurance base right now. Speed work is the next phase (post- relay month). I have no intention of trying to be "fast" during either relay (Cascade Lakes or Hood to Coast). I am honestly just thrilled that I feel confident enough to say i'll be able to finish out both of them running. 

Speed work comes in for the fall half-marathon I've decided to do. See?! I told you I've become addicted. The half is a trail race in one of my favorite places on Earth and looks to be tough (read: hilly). I've got my own super secret proving ground on which to replicate race conditions. And by super secret I obviously mean the public park four miles from my house.

To that end, I ran my longest run to date today: 8.2 miles! What?! I know. a year ago I would never have thought I'd be running this sort of distance as a 'regular run.' I am honestly as surprised as anyone that I've hit this mark and will have my second 20+ mile week this week. Crazy, right? 

Alright, off to bed  make a milkshake. I figure, if chocolate milk is good for recovery, milkshakes must be awesome! AmIright?, AmIright?

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Catching up: Summer Vacation and 20 miles

Hello blogfriends! I've once again gone MIA (no I did not need Chuck Norris to rescue me, but thanks). I was busy graduating with my Master's (shameless plug for me), going on vacation, and running. Here's the recap:

1. graduation. I now have my Master's in Teaching. Won't you please find me a teaching job? My wife would be most appreciative if I began earning a paycheck once again...

2. Summer Vacay. Took the fam on the quintessential American Road trip, meeting up with my folks in Wyoming to do Yellowstone National Park and the Grand Tetons. I took a ton of pictures, but the trip can really be summed up in just a few:

Jenny at Jenny Lake


It was great, but a little too much seat time in the car. I think we calculated about 1800miles total trip mileage (may have been more).

3.Running (you didn't seriously think I'd post without running talk, do you?). I only ran one real run at Yellowstone, just shy of a 4 miler. The 7000 foot elevation made it feel like 15miles. I didn't take a camera on my run, but it was gorgeous. I ran a trail along the rim of Flagg Canyon overlooking the Snake River. Amazing. Mrs. M. and I also did an 8 and change mile hike around Jenny Lake in Grand Teton National Park. We hiked it at a decent clip and I would definitely call it a workout, given the heat.

So, I got home and felt pretty rested, I guess, because I knocked out a 20 mile week this week! I know that's not long by 'hardcore runner standards,' bit for me it was a huge improvement in overall mileage. Here's the breakdown:

Monday: Off/driving from Boise to home
Tuesday: 6.2 miles
Wednesday: 2.3 miles, recovery
Thursday: Off/rest
Friday: 5.3 (hard) miles
Saturday; 4.1 miles. Hills
Sunday: 2.2 miles, recovery

I don't even feel broken! I feel ready to tackle next week's mileage. Which, as it turns out, is a good thing; not only am I running the Cascade Lakes Relay in three weeks, but it looks like i've been called up to a Hood to Coast team 3 weeks after that. I need to get miles on these legs and be ready to go!

'Til next time! Happy running

Sunday, June 17, 2012

A Trail Run in Pictures (and a few snarky comments)

Today was father's day, so after having a nice breakfast with my wife and kiddos (crepes...a fave!) i went to the local park for some trail running (almost 5 miles..W00T!!). It was a recovery run. Or at least it was supposed to be; I was sore from the last two nights' workouts, so naturally I sought out the steepest, toughest run ups (and may have taken a wrong turn or two...) Here are pictures of the trail (they're better than words).

narrow, steep and uphill. sums up the day.

dance floor. Steep going up AND down. You just can't see it in this pic.

running along the creekside

Oops. heading back down from wrong-turnville

But...I just ran UP this hill!

the actual turn around (a mile-ish later)

OK, this stretch went on forever. Up and forever. I kinda wanted to quit here

Lacamas Creek

How come the pictures don't show how steep this stuff really was.

A rare flat and smooth section
So each brief flat stretch was followed by either A. a long grinding uphill, or B. tight singletrack trail with STEEP run-ups. It was a good run, if muggy and warm; just a hair under 5 miles today.

I run a lot on the roads, just because it's the most convenient way to go. I feel the most connected, though, on the trails. It was a great way to spend part of my day.