Friday, April 27, 2012

The Plan - Valsetz to the Beach 2012

Last Spring, I wanted to run to the beach.  I didn’t want to run Hwy 22/18 to Lincoln City so I started looking at alternatives.  I wanted a long run, something 30+ miles.  I considered the last 30 or so miles of Hood to Coast ending in Seaside.  I even looked into the last 30 or so miles of the old Hood to Coast Route Ending in Pacific City.  As I asked around, someone suggested that they thought there was a route from Valsetz through the coast range.  

The Upper Valsetz River

I had only heard of Valsetz, the ghost town, from stories.  Valsetz was a company owned mill town in the coastal range.  When Boise Cascade decided to close the mill in 1988 the literally erased the town of Valsetz too.  It had once been home to nearly 1,200 people.  In 1988, the mill and the entire town, houses, stores, the 2 lane bowling alley, everything, were bulldozed and burnt to nothing.  There is plenty more to read and learn about Valsetz, but it seemed like an incredible place to start a journey.   
Where We Begin
 Armed with a cache of maps, and fantastic sidekicks, the best route has been discovered.  

Jeanne and Elliott - The Fantastic Sidekicks

...and he works for pancakes.
 On June 23rd, 2012, we will start at the headwaters of the Siletz river just west of where the town of Valsetz used to be and finish in the Pacific Ocean at Taft, where the Siletz enters the sea.  The Siletz is 70 river miles long, our route will be 34.5.  The first 7 miles will follow the upper Siletz through Valsetz and begin down the Siletz Canyon.  

The North Fork of The Siletz
 At mile 7, we turn up Gravel Cree, which is much more scenic than the name implies, and over the next 3 miles cross the creek several times.  Then comes the biggest climb of the day, up and around Suncrest Point.  From there, it’s across the Black Saddle ridge line and then mostly downhill.  The last 8 miles are on paved roads, until we hit the sand in Taft.  The majority of the run will be on timber company roads, which means some combination of dirt and gravel.  Some areas are still heavily forested and beautiful, other areas have been clear cut and feel like you’re on the surface of the moon (well....if the moon had tree stumps everywhere).  I'm hoping to work out some GPS tracking as almost the entire route is out of cell range.  The route is set, now more planning....and training!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Black Shoes and The Weight

11 days to Eugene Marathon.  I’m not ready.  I’m not where I want my fitness to be.  Part of my concern is my weight, most of it is these black shoes.

The Weight.  It’s one of my favorite songs.  It’s also near an obsession.  I know I’m not fat.  In fact, I know it probably pisses most people off to hear me complain about my weight because I’m thinner than most people I know, including runners.  There is, however, no escaping the fact that the more I weigh, the slower I am.  Maybe it’s just turning the cause and effect train around.  The harder I train, the less I weigh AND the harder I train, the faster I get.  I always feel under trained from where I want to be.  I also know that somewhere in the neighborhood of 145-148 pounds is my ideal racing weight.  I’m going to be over 150 for Eugene, probably even 153 ish.  I can’t seem to get below 155 for more than a day or two.  I used to have a “5 pounds in 10 days” trick.  For the 10 days before a big race, I cut out all beer and bread.  In the past, that used to drop me from 152 to 147.  Hopefully this time it will drop me from 156 to 151.  The Weight doesn’t bother me on long runs, it just comes along for the ride.  It’s on tempo runs or speed work that I really notice it.  It feels like I’m pulling a cannonball behind me.

“Get your cannonball, now to take me down the line
My bag is sinking low, and I do believe it's time
To get back to miss Fanny, you know she's the only one
Who sent me here, with her regards for everyone”
The Weight, Band

I’ve worn the same Asics 2000 series shoes for 8 years now.  They change the model number every year, though the shoe itself doesn’t change very much, which is fine with me.  Every January I can usually find a great deal on last year's model and I usually buy a few pairs.  This “great deal” is usually $70 to $80, a new pair cost over $90.  This year when I went looking for last year’s model I couldn’t find any in the usual places.  I finally did find 1 pair, Asics 2160 size 8.5 black.  It might not seem I pay much attention to what I look like, but it doesn’t mean I’m unaware.  These shoes are hideous looking, but they were $49.  Now, I’m convinced they’re slow.  When my Mom used to take me to get a new pair of Keds, I would go outside and run and jump in them before she bought them just to affirm that they would, in fact, make me faster.  I think these new black shoes are only going to be used on slow runs.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Travelling Through Bad

Sometimes you have to travel through bad to get to good.  My very abbreviated journey through a bad running life patch, ends up working out like a bad patch in the middle of a run or race.  It seems to start with a kernel of belief that it you will get through it, even if you don’t know how or when.

After a fun run to the Baskett Butte on Thursday and a scouting run over parts of an upcoming local 5k course on Friday, I was ready for a long run on Saturday.  I parked 5 miles from where friends would be starting at 8:00 AM.I left myself 42 minutes to cover the 5, though I know they never start on time.  I ran at a very comfortable pace and came in at 8:02, feeling really good.  I haven’t run with a group in a long time, and the 10 miles with friends went by very fast.  The 5 miles back to my car was into the wind and I was feeling a little fatigued but still felt really good.

Good enough, in fact, to notice evidence of how illiterate we’ve become.
I live near here?

See, you really do have to travel through bad to get to good, some times.  I finished at the old Eola Inn, now a Rockin’ Rogers, still with a lovely view of the dump, unless you aim the camera correctly.
The Willamette, still very high.
This week is back to a schedule, with a slightly improved frame of mind.

Friday, April 6, 2012

How to Get Out of a Running Funk

The Dalles
 I have no idea.  I suppose the best answer is to run out of it.  It’s been a rough year, physically, that’s probably part of.  It’s been a crazy wet winter and early spring, that’s probably part of it too.  Although I really enjoy running alone, I’ve probably spent too much time running in my own head.  I’m probably over the apex of my running performance life.  At 48 years old, I think deep down, I might be realizing that my fastest times are behind me, and none of them are as fast as I hoped they would be before this happened.  Maybe this just happens to everybody at times.  Running has been awesome for me, because it very rarely feels like work.  This is the first time in 8 years and 16,000 miles of running that I’ve started regularly dreading workouts.  I’m fine physically.  In fact after a year filled with a torn shoulder labrum, three sprained ankles, plantar fasciitis and other assorted ailments, I feel as good right now as I have in a long time.  My race calendar is a little lighter this year than past years, but there is still plenty to keep me motivated.

There is the weight issue.  I never really got down to racing weight, ever, last year.  I hovered around 156 pounds all year and only got down to 154 for Western States.  I can usually get under 150 for races.  I ran Autumn Leaves 50 miler in October at 158 pounds and swore I would never race at that weight again, it feels like pulling an anchor around. After taking a few low mileage months through the Winter my weight hovered around 160.  Lately I’ve been between 155 and 157, but with Eugene Marathon 4 weeks away, it looks like I’ll be racing in the 150’s.  Maybe this comes with age too, I don’t know.

2 things have really troubled me, and ultimately forced me to take a few days off and really think about why I am doing any of this.  One, I’ve cheated, and I’ve done it more than once.  I run a weekly 10 mile tempo run, on a track.  It’s just 40 laps, all supposed to be exactly the same time.  Ideally, those laps should be 1:57.....but consistency is the key.....if they were 2:00 but consistent, that would still be a quality workout.  A few times in the last month, I’ve cheated.  Somewhere around mile 6, when it starts to get hard, I’ve stopped my watch and stopped running for a while, enough to allow my heart rate to drop and get some oxygen through my body, then started up again.  Might not seem like a big deal, but it is.  I’ve recorded the times in my log as if I ran them legit.  I’ve even shared my times with others as if they were legit.  The second thing happened on Sunday.  20 mile run planned, and the wind was 20 mph and cold.  I headed out, into the wind, so that I could get a tail wind coming home.  The first 3 to 4 miles, it was just incredibly cold, then the rain started.  40 degrees and a hard wind driving rain, right into my face.  At the 7 mile mark, I could not convince myself to go another 3 miles into the wind.  I started bargaining with myself, “what if I turn around now, take the tail wind for a few miles, then figure out where to add another 5 ish miles to the route after I’ve warmed up etc”.  I turned around at 7.5, but I knew I was lying to myself.  I knew I wasn’t going to add 5 somewhere else.  I knew as I got closer and closer to home the magnet would just get stronger.

So, I’ve taken 3 days off.  I got a fantastic massage on Wednesday.  Deleted this week’s planned workouts in my schedule.  Last night I ran what sounded fun.  I ran to the Baskett Butte and had Jeanne pick me up at the trailhead.  I didn’t wear a watch, the pace felt playfully fast.  I saw a red tailed hawk, some osprey, a white tailed kite and a small herd of deer.  Tonight I’ll run what seems fun too.
More troubling than failed workouts or low mileage or aches and pains has been the fact that for the first time, running has not been an absolute joy in my life.  I’m going to find the joy, miles and times will just have to come along for the ride.