Monday, December 16, 2013

Dawn to Dusk 2013

I’m going to do it again, regardless of the weather.  Dec 21 is the shortest day of the year, 8 hours and 47 minutes with sunrise being at 7:47 AM and sunset at 4:34.  The goal, as in years past....some successful, some to run 45 miles from sunup to sundown.  Rather than go point to point, this year I'll do 9, 5 mile loops starting and finishing at our house.  The direction of each loop will be decided at the beginning of each one, by coin flip.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Le Grizz in Big Sky Country

Big Sky Country
*I had this blog finished and ready to post on Monday.  I then found out that one of my dearest friends in the world had passed away on Sunday, and my life went a little sideways.  Steve had been very sick for quite a while so it was not completely unexpected, but shocking still.  He was one of the most generous people I have or will ever know.  Jewelia summed it up perfectly, “Damn, I thought the world felt smaller”.*

Le Grizz 50 Miler wasn’t part of my original 2013 plans.  I had purposely not planned anything beyond a Run Across Oregon, that sadly didn’t happen this year.  Once it became obvious that we would need to delay the cross state run I contemplate a fall marathon, but quickly decided that getting back into the Western States lottery was what I really wanted to do, and Le Grizz has been on my “must run” list for years.

There is some cliche that get’s carelessly tossed around about not focusing on the destination but enjoying the journey.  I’m not sure who is responsible for that saying but I’m finding that the older I get the more unsightly the journey becomes.  I’ve really battled through some hip issues this Summer.  It took numerous chiropractic and massage appointments to keep me going.  I even broke down and committed a cardinal sin for myself in getting xrays.  My usual saying is “amputation before xray”, but I just had this nagging feeling that I may be fighting something insurmountable like degenerative joint disease.  Alas, no, my hips are fine, just muscle imbalance which is remarkably unoriginal for distance runners.

I have a pretty good routine for the week before a race.  A little fartlek type speed workout on the Monday.  A 10 to 12 mile, very slow, run on the Tuesday.  Chiro and massage on the Wednesday.  Then light, easy 3 to 4 milers on the Thursday and Friday.  Monday, as I was walking around gathering up running clothes and shoes, my ankle twisted.  It hurt really bad at first, then seemed fine.  As soon as I started running on it, it was not fine.  I walked back to the house, semi freaking out.  I iced it, took some ibuprofen and decided to see how it felt on Tuesday.  I’ve made this mistake before.  There is an adage I’ve heard, better to race a little undertrained than a little injured.  I decided that nothing I would do in this last week was going to help more than running on a dinged up ankle would hurt, so I didn’t run all week.  I watched my weight slowly creep up, despite eating really soundly, and hoped everything would be ok by Saturday.

We left for Montana, Thursday afternoon, with hopes of making it Spokane that night.  We might have made it too, if my Bears weren’t on TV that night in the sports bar where we stopped to have dinner.  We made it as far as Ritzville, WA, which isn’t very ritzy, at all.  Friday morning I went for a three mile test run, my ankle was just fine.
Clark Fork River
I’m not sure I’ve been to a more beautiful place than the Clark Fork River through the Lolo National Forest in the Fall.  Jeanne kept having to tell me to watch the road, as it felt like my head was on a swivel looking all around.  We drove through some pretty desolate stretches of wide open spaces that reminded me of the Harry Chapin song Mail Order Annie.

“You know it's not no easy life you're entering.
The winter wind comes whistling through the cracks there in the sod.
You know you'll never have too many neighbors.
There's you Girl, and there's me, and there's God.

You know I'm just a dirt man from the North Dakota plains.
You're one girl from the city who's been thrown out on her own.
I'm standing here not sure of what to say to you
'Cepting Mail Order Annie, lets you and me go home.”

Friday night would have been fairly uneventful, check in to motel, make sure we knew how to get to the turnoff that leads up to the start and have a truly fantastic dinner at Three Forks Grille in Columbia Falls.  It would have been fairly uneventful were it not for the black bear that suddenly appeared in our headlights while traveling 40 mph on our way back from dinner!  So Friday night ended with a pretty big adrenaline rush.

I had practiced several long runs taking in liquid calories early in the run.  My plan was to keep on a very even intake of liquid calories for as long as I could, but most importantly, make sure I started with the very first hour.  I did really well on nutrition all day.  I never had stomach problems, the only thing I consumed other than my Infinit Nutrition drink was a granola bar around mile 25 and some coke around mile 34.
All that's between US and Canada
The course was more difficult than I had anticipated.  For the first 7 miles it was a mixture of paved roads and really nice smooth dirt roads and very flat.  As we passed by the short road from the start/finish and started heading toward the Canadian border we hit our first hill.  It was a little more than a mile long and runnable, but it was the first time I noticed that I was at a higher elevation than I’m used to.  I ran pretty well out to the turn around (mile 29) at the border.  I had hoped to stay on 10 min per mile pace to the turn around and was about 18 minutes behind that pace when I turned around.  Then the wheels really fell off.  Usually somewhere between mile 30 and 35 in any race, no matter the distance, I go through a really bad patch.  This was one of the worst.  I was sleepy, my hips hurt bad and I didn’t even feel like I could take advantage of the downhills.  The road, which was rocky dirt, was starting to catch my toes a lot and I almost took a header a few times.  I spent a few very slow miles contemplating taking some Ibuprofen for my hips.  Finally around mile 33 I gave in and took some.  A few miles later I drank some coke.  I’m not sure whether to give either or both the credit for my rebound but I did rebound really well.
Things in mirror are faster than they appear.
 My mile 29 to 33 split was around 14 minutes per mile as I suffered.  From that point in, my every 4 ish mile splits were 11:54, 11:45, 10:34 and 10:24 for the last five miles.  And that was it.  Goal time had been 9:30.  I spent about 4 miles trying to make my peace with finishing in over 10 hours, then caught some late magic and ended up finishing in 9:19.  With about 8 miles to go I heard wolves, which was crazy exciting and makes every hair on your body stand on end.  Jeanne and several others crews got to see a huge Grizzly run across a meadow.
My number fell off, but was found at the border.
I tried to eat some of the fried chicken they had provided, but it was being kept warm on a barbecue pit and it smelled and tasted like lighter fluid.  I talked for while with a guy from Spokane that had finished a few minutes in front of me, he had a huge group of people with him.  Once again, I had the greatest crew in the world.  Jeanne is still not recovered from her broken heel, but drove the entire course left footed and I know the road was much rougher on vehicles than it was runners, we could at least pick our way around the rocks.  She was perfectly understated in her encouragement, which is exactly what works for me, and never acknowledged my complaining, which is also exactly what works for me.  I’ll say it, over and over, she is way better at crewing these things than I am at running them.

We took a Pizza back to the room, watched my UCLA Bruins play the Cal Golden Bears, a matchup that seemed very appropriate.  I fell asleep at half time, but UCLA didn’t really need my help.

All that was left was the 13 hour drive home on Sunday, back through some of the most beautiful landscapes we have ever seen in our lifetimes.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Running Arithmetic

Oregon Summer

It’s been 3,880 days since I started “running”, though I ran a lot before that official day.  I’m going to pass 19,000 miles today.  That’s only 4.9 miles per day.  It doesn’t seem very impressive when I look at it like that.  Averages are a strange statistic.  Humans have an uncanny knack for distorting averages.  A prolific serial killer, let’s say one that killed 45 people over the course of 10 years, would have only killed, on average, .002 people per day.  I always loved the idea that, on average, every human being has one testical and one breast.  People routinely ask me “how far do you run each day”, I usually mumble some vague, “oh, it depends on the day”.  I think, for a while, I’ll answer “4.89, even on days off”.

I don’t know if I’ll make it to 20,000 before the end of the year.  I’d only need to average a little over 7 miles per day, which doesn’t seem that tough.  I’ll get a little ahead of that pace building up to Le Grizz in October, but I also know my body will want a little wind down after.  I think I’m getting close enough to start a projection spreadsheet for arriving at 24,901, once around the Earth.  Something says that 24,901st mile needs to finish “somewhere”, but I’m not sure where that would be.  The ocean......well, AN ocean, makes sense.  My birthplace makes sense.  Someplace I’ve never been to before makes sense.  Fortunately, I’ve got a little time to think about it.  1,039 days, actually, unless I pick up the pace.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

50 for 50 Final

I’ve been trying to finish this blog up for several days, but in my advancing years, nothing happens as fast as it used to.  I turned 50 on August 1st and decided to commemorate it with a 50 mile run.  As the run would be without Supercrew Jeanne, I figured a loop route that had a few opportunities to get water.  I read somewhere about a person than did a similar birthday miles run and on each mile, reflected on the corresponding year in their life.  While that is cool, I wasn’t doing that, there’s too much better shit to think about.
It certainly is.
 My plan was for a 5:30 AM start, but I woke up with an unsettled stomach and didn’t want to start out a whole day of running looking for a bathroom.  It was close to 6:00 before I headed out the door and was met by a deer, in the middle of the street, just in front of the house.  Our backyard is on the deer superhighway through the neighborhood but I usually only see the tracks through the garden and notice the leaves missing.  Despite my delayed start I still ended up making a bathroom stop at mile 2.  If my legs gave me as much problems as my stomach does, I would quit running.

The first 10 miles took me from Dallas to Independence.  I really didn’t have much of a goal time, other than giving people some rough estimates of where I might be at a given time.  Still, I like to get the early part of long run done on a schedule, as you never know what can happen later.  I was pretty steady and on pace through Independence but my stomach still wasn’t cooperating.  I really got lucky on the weather, it was overcast and in the 70’s the whole day.  I’m sure if it had been hotter, the nausea I battled would have been much worse.  I made a quick bathroom stop and water refill at the McDonalds in Independence, (they are good for something) and then headed towards the Buena Vista Ferry.

It’s 10 miles to the Ferry and then another 12 to Salem before I had any reliable places to refill water. I stashed a bottle of Infinit, a bottle of water and a granola bar at the ferry.  At about mile 15 I had my only real moment of doubt and truth.  My stomach was really unsettled and I was already establishing a recognized pattern of not fueling enough.  I didn’t trust eating much more but knew that if I didn’t, the next 17 miles could get pretty ugly.  I thought through the option of heading back, that would put me back in a town in 5 miles, I could rest, have a bathroom available, regroup and if I felt up to it, figure out a different remaining 30 that was closer to towns.  I knew that as I was thinking about this, that the further I continued to run the more difficult the decision would be.  5 back vs 17 forward would soon be 10 back or 12 forward.  I don’t ever remember making a definitive decision to march forward, but I never decided to turn around and go back and gradually the decision was made for me. 
The Willamette as seen from the Buena Vista Ferry
 The last 3 miles to the ferry I actually started feeling much better and ran really well up the hill to Buena Vista.  I found my stash, refilled my empty bottle (I used 2 handhelds for the next 15 miles) and forced myself to eat the granola bar.  Crossing the ferry had a no turning back feel to it, if for no other reason that it was just as far to turn back now.

The five miles from the ferry to Liberty hill also went really well, my stomach was still bothering me but it wasn’t getting any worse and I was figuring out about how much I could feed it without it revolting and was getting myself into a pretty good head space dealing with it.  In this stretch through the Ankeny Wildlife Refuge I saw a mink which was really cool.  I also saw a mother hawk feeding two fledglings out of the nest.  They were sitting on a telephone pole just above me watching mom hunt.  

I had driven Liberty Hill a few weeks ago.  I knew it was about 2.5 miles from the bottom to the top.  I knew there were some pretty steep spots, but when driving it I remember telling myself, “you’ll only be half way at this point, don’t blow yourself up on the hill, walk the steep parts and run the not so steep parts”.  I never really felt like I was on a “not so steep part”, and laughed about how different a hill seems from a car vs running it.
Looking back down Liberty Hill
The downhill into Salem was rough on my legs.  I was closing in on 30 miles and my quads were really sore the whole downhill and continued to hurt once things flattened out.  I had a convience store picked out to refill bottles but still had plenty left for the last 4 miles into downtown.

I was getting pretty ragged, running really slow and hating running on sidewalks and having to stop for traffic lights as I came into town.  I had planned on stopping at Alcyone, where my daughter, Jewelia, works for some coke and a light lunch.  I really didn’t feel like eating when I arrived there at mile 35 so I asked for some turkey and some avocado on a plate.  I wish I had thought to take a picture, the plate was beautiful, looked like a plate of sushi.  I ate as much of it as I dared and probably drank more coke than I should have to compensate and was on my way.
Back across the Willamette
 I walked through downtown to let my food settle a bit and also so I could stop at Gallagher’s Fitness and say hi.  They were really supportive and encouraging, and with a little Coke in my system I made pretty good time up and over the bridge and through West Salem.  Jerry Mullins was going to try and run the last several miles with me and we had a pretty good plan for how to meet up.  I gave him a worst case and best case scenario for where I’d be at 2:30 and then as a back up plan, I’d text him from Holman Park (mile 39 for those not familiar with the infamous Holman Park).  I hit my worst case scenario spot exactly at 2:30, which considering that was based on starting a half hour earlier than I did, felt pretty good, but I didn’t see him there.  I also didn’t see him at the Independence highway turnoff, or at the cemetery.  I was now convinced that I’d see him at the golf course, take my last break, eat my last gel, fill up my water bottles and be ready for the last 8 miles.  He wasn’t there.  I took a quick break, filled my bottle and took off, not knowing what might have happened but resigned to finishing it on my own.

I was trudging down Rickreall Road when out of nowhere, I heard footsteps coming up behind me.  I don’t know how far behind me he started at the golf course but it took 2 miles of fast running for him to catch me!  It was awesome having company for the last six miles.  I was going really slow by this point, and I even messed up some math and had myself convinced that it was going to be close to 5:00 before I finished, which now seems ridiculous that I could have thought that, but we’ve all had that happen after enough miles.  Jerry and I parted a half mile from home.  It was only at that point that I realized I’d been wrong on the time.  I was going to finish very close to the time I had targeted, which was 10 hours.

As I walked up the driveway I noticed a bag hanging on the front door that said Happy 50.  Just as I was thinking how nice that was, it occurred to me that I hadn’t thought the finish through very well.  I had no house key.  We have a remote keypad for the garage door, but when I lifted the lid for it, I noticed that the red light that is supposed to light didn’t and sure enough.....the battery was dead in it. A walk around the house confirmed that yep, it was locked up tight everywhere.
I sent a text to Jeanne, seeing how close to home she was, but she was still 40 minutes away at least.  So, I tried to make the best of it.  I filled my bottle from the garden hose, sat down on the front porch and took off my shoes.  Took a picture of my feet and posted them on Facebook.  I was starting to get really cold and was really hungry.  To kill a little more time, I decided to investigate the birthday bag.  It was from Julie and Jerry Mullins and it was a big tub of blueberries!  I started eating them like crazy, and then thought, I’ve had an upset stomach all day, this is fruit, and I’m locked out of the house for another half hour.  So I let discretion be the better part of valor and stopped eating.  I was soon rescued and in a warm shower.  We were going to go out for dinner that night, but I just didn’t feel up to it, so Jeanne’s mom brought some dinner over and we had a little birthday party at home.
The obligatory feet photo
 I’ve spent a fair amount of time thinking about birthday miles.  Realizing that at some point it would start requiring the whole day to complete it, and the feeling that with the advance of age and the increase in miles, that time will sneak up pretty quick.  I tried to predict or set a goal for myself on how long I could keep running my age in miles on my birthday, but decided that so much of that is starting to be out of my hands and rests with fate, that it’s best to just be humble and grateful for each healthy year.

I have completely replaced my disappointment with not being able to attempt my Run Across Oregon with anticipation for Le Grizz 50 Miler in Montana October 12th.  I don’t know how much of the “Grizzly Bear Country” warnings are marketing and how much is real, but it does add a level of excitement to the whole idea.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

50 for 50

I've had some melancholy moments, lately, and thought of things like The Love Song of J Alfred Prufrock by T.S Eliot.  Lines that I now realize, having loved them for years, I never really understood:

And would it have been worth it, after all,
After the cups, the marmalade, the tea,
Among the porcelain, among some talk of you and me,
Would it have been worth while,   
To have bitten off the matter with a smile,
To have squeezed the universe into a ball
To roll it toward some overwhelming question,
To say: “I am Lazarus, come from the dead,
Come back to tell you all, I shall tell you all”—      
If one, settling a pillow by her head,
Should say: “That is not what I meant at all;
That is not it, at all.”

I’m going to turn 50 on August 1, 2013.  A few years ago, I read about someone running 70 on their 70th birthday, was obviously blown away, and wondered to my myself, when a good age to start such a thing would be.  50 seemed like as good a place as anywhere to start.  With my superstar road crew unable to drive yet, I’ve had to figure out how to do it unsupported.  My route will go through Independence, out to Buena Vista and over the river on the ferry.  From there, I’ll make my way up the backside of Liberty Hill and then staying on Liberty into Salem.  My only scheduled break will be at Alcyone at mile 35 for some Coke and maybe some turkey and avocado if I think my stomach can handle it.  After that, over the bridge into West Salem and then a very common 15 miles back to Dallas.

I think I have all of the logistics figured out.  The stretch from the ferry to South Salem is probably my biggest concern.  About 12 miles without any obvious opportunities for water.  Some sketchy shoulders and the only significant hill is also in this section.  That 12 mile stretch is also the only part of the entire route I’ve never run on.

I’m not counting on any needing any supplies from anyone, but if you are in the area on the first and want to drive out to check on me, or run any part of it, let me know.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Tough Break

Memorial Day weekend Jeanne injured her ankle.  She stepped in a trench on the side of the house while helping me with the great patio project.  It looked like a sprain and acted like a sprain.  Even her physical therapist boss said it seemed like a bad sprain.  She spent 5 weeks in a boot, granted a pretty active, on her feet, five weeks, but still in a boot, and it wasn’t getting any better.  So, on the Tuesday before Independence Day she had it x-rayed, and on the day after Independence Day, she learned her fate.  Her heel is fractured.  She is on crutches and will see an orthopedist this week and no driving.  So much for her “Independence” Day.

I have decided to postpone the Run Across Oregon.  We pondered and discussed many “what ifs”, but in the end two thoughts confirmed this decision for me:  

The first, it was already a very selfless act on Jeanne’s part to spend her vacation time following me around central Oregon.  She says she loves crewing me on runs like this and I believe her, but I also know there are plenty of other ways she could imagine spending a vacation.  On journey runs we are usually able to sightsee together, go on short hikes, out to dinner etc to make it feel a little more like a vacation, or at least that’s how I justify it my mind. I can’t imagine doing it if she had to suffer through it just to drive my ass to hotels and to start points.  The best part of a crewed journey run is having my best friend with me.

The second reason is pretty selfish, but no less true.  35 miles a day for 8 straight days in very hot conditions is nothing to be taken lightly.  Under perfect conditions, there will be very difficult times, and thoughts of abandoning the run will enter your head.  If I also know that Jeanne is having a difficult time and is suffering, I fear it would just be too easy for me to convince myself to abandon “for her”.

So, that’s it.  I’ll save this journey for next Summer.  Instead, I’ll begin an annual tradition of running my years in miles on my birthday.  I’ve always wondered when an appropriate time to start this would be, and 50 on 50, August 1 seems perfect.  I will also run a Western States qualifier this fall, and start working towards getting back there.  Last year, I didn’t feel the pull very hard, but this year the lure of Western States really started to haunt me again.  I’m about 90% committed to Le Grizz 50 in Montana in October.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Run Across Oregon T Minus 5 Weeks

If there is one thing I’ve learned from running failures is that it is unwise to not plan.  If there is another one thing I have learned it’s that things will never go as planned.  The trick seems to be knowing when to abandon “the plan” and when to stick with it.  This is where having a crew that really understands you is invaluable.  I can be really stubborn, well all of the time, but really when I’m running.  Especially if the task in front of me is intimidating.  This manifest itself in really stupid ways sometimes like thinking I don’t need to eat or drink.  In the early days of Jeanne crewing for me, she just trusted my judgement (after some debate of course).  As we have gotten better at this we are learning to blend my “how I feel” with her pragmatic observation of “how I look”.  I am completely in awe of people that do long multi day runs with no crew.  I would really like to try it someday, to experience how it changes decision making.  

So, we have a plan, a notebook, the Run Across Oregon Notebook.  A black, three ring binder with maps in it so far.  Before we leave, it will have hotel addresses and phone numbers and a food and drink log.  Despite how enamored both of us are with electronic gadgets, this is something that a notebook just feels really comforting.

A 32 mile run with temps in the 80’s on Saturday was a nice mental warm up (some pun intended) for what I can expect in just 32 more days!

Friday, June 28, 2013

The Dufur Fun Run

The Balch Hotel, Dufur Oregon
If all goes according to plan, my Run Across Oregon should complete on Sunday, Aug 11, 2013 with a 14 mile Fun Run from Dufur to the Washington border.  At this point, the plan will be to leave the delightful Balch Hotel in Dufur at 9:00 AM arriving at the border sometime before noon, take a few pictures then head back (drive!) to Dufur for lunch.  If you are interested in participating in the Fun Run let me know.  If you need any further enticement, that weekend is also the Dufur Threshing Bee!

Monday, June 17, 2013

Run Across Oregon T Minus 7 Weeks

Crooked River Gorge
 The countdown has officially started in my head.  On August 3rd, 2 days after my 50th birthday, I’ll step across the California/Oregon border just south of Klamath Falls with a goal of running across the State of Oregon in 9 days, finishing at the Washington side of the Columbia River near The Dalles on August 11th.  The plan will be to average 35 miles a day for the first 8 days, leaving a 14 mile fun run from Dufur to the Columbia for the last day.  On other runs like this that I’ve done, I’ve posted a link to the route map, I’m not going to this time.  It’s Hwy 97 and/or 197 the whole way, I won’t get lost.

I got really sick after Newport Marathon, this seems to happen a lot to me.  I blame the water at aid stations, and especially blame the aid station with all cowgirls.  I think that is the only aid station I took water from twice because the cowgirls were awesome!  I’m almost recovered enough to resume everyday running.  All reservations along the way have been made, it’s starting to feel pretty real.  I drove from Redmond to Madras over the weekend.  That will be mile 175 to 202 and I started getting a little jumpy in the car.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Aged Vanilla

I don’t know what getting old is supposed to feel like.  In the beginning does it just feel like failure?
I don’t know how to lower my expectations, nor do I really feel like that time has come, but I can’t escape some seemingly obvious truths.  I ran a pretty good race on Saturday at the Newport Marathon.  My goal, as always, was a PR.  I sat on PR pace for as long as I could.  Then with all of the effort still there, it started slowly slipping away.  I was 2 minutes off pace at the half marathon mark.  From that point forward, all increased efforts accomplished was to slow the rate of decline.  I never melted down, never gave up mentally, I just wasn’t as fast as I thought I’d be.  My training had gone really well.  I know where the flaws were.  I know the skipped long run, the 10 mile tempo runs that ended up being 7, but I trained hard.  Obviously, either not hard enough, or this really is the point over the apex.  Doesn’t really matter, my next big event, Run Across Oregon, will not be measured in PR’s or even really in time.  It will, however, give me a lot of time to think about what’s on the running horizon.

Gorgeous Oregon Coast weather.
In many ways, this was one of my favorite race weekends ever.  I suppose it started with my DNA results from 23andme, which revealed, among other things, that I am 99.9% European.  This removed any lingering suspicions about whether I am part Kenyan, and took an enormous burden of expectations away!  Nope, I am 99.9% aged vanilla.

The Patio Project
Jeanne and I have been diligently working on the “Patio Project”.  There are some drainage trenches dug on the side yard and as we have carted and wheelbarrowed supplies we have warned each other to be careful of the trenches many times.  Last Saturday, while moving some top soil around to the back, Jeanne stepped in one of the trenches and severely sprained her right ankle.  She was on crutches for a few days and then into a walking boot.  The original plan had been for her to drive out on the marathon course, but we didn’t know how quickly the ankle would start to heal.  She drove for the first time Thursday night, a little test drive of a few miles, and it didn’t go very well.  We made the decision that she would not drive out on the course and that we would wait until we got to Newport to decide whether she could try and drive to finish area. The finish was only a mile and a half from our hotel, and she figured out that if she went in between the slowest people clearing the area and the winner coming back she would have a decent chance of parking near the finish.  Friday night we went out to dinner with some amazing new friends Jerry and Julie (more on them later), at The Chowder Bowl.  The food was pretty unremarkable, and I broke a cardinal, no fried food the night before, rule.  It was calamari!  After dinner, on the drive back to the hotel, the low tire indicator came up on the dash.  I pulled over and walked around the car.  The right rear tire did look a little low, so we found a service station and filled the tire up, problem seemingly solved.  A few hours later, I ran down to the parking garage to check on the tire and it looked fine.  Saturday morning, I was scurrying around, getting ready, my normal pre race jitters going on, and Jeanne asked me to check the tire again.  I was glad to have the distraction and headed back down to the parking garage and, the tire was completely flat.  I can’t begin to express how incredible it feels to have a partner like this.  I walked into the room and said to someone that can barely walk, “I’m really sorry, but the tire is completely flat, and I have to go right now, I know you can figure this out in the best way possible, if I don’t see you at the finish by 11:00 I’ll run back to the hotel”, and took off.  She was awesome, everything taken care of and basking in the sun at the finish when I was done.
Jeanne hobbled her way to the beach!
Newport Finish

A few months ago I started running with a husband and wife team in Dallas, Julie and Jerry Mullins.  I was getting a little lonely running almost everything all by myself, and driving in to Salem to run with friends was feeling like more of a production than “a run” should be.  They have both been such a wonderful shot in the arm of enthusiasm and positive energy.  Jerry ran his first ever marathon at Newport and Julie, well, wanted to PR (which would have been 4:20 something I think).  I don’t really remember her original goal time because it was pretty obvious, from the beginning, that she was capable of running much faster than that.  I remembered when Lynn Harmon saw a lot more potential in me than I saw in myself and how amazing it felt to have his encouragement and support and help.  So, I took the opportunity to pay the universe back, a little, and tried to help her gain the confidence to reach for something a little more.  As her confidence grew, she found the courage to say, out loud, that she wanted to break 4 hours.  I really never had any doubt she’d break 4.  I told Jeanne, “Julie is gonna go well under 4”.  She did, 3:53, which was pretty cool considering the first time I broke 4 hours, I also ran 3:53.  It’s such a mental barrier, than once you believe you can get under it, you really can get way under it.
Julie and Jerry Newport Sub 4 Finishers
I’m starting to really allow myself to start thinking about the actual running of Run Across Oregon. The actual logistics of running 300 miles require preparation that can’t, or shouldn’t be, ignored or minimized, but I’ve really tried to not think about the running part it until after Newport.  My mind is on it now!  It’s a big thing, I know, all the way across a state.  I know what it will take, every day, and it isn’t trivial.  35 miles every day for 8 days, I know the passes I’ll have to climb and I know it will be HOT, and I’m really looking forward to the challenge.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Goal Setting

I set goals for almost everything.  The less consequential to my life, the more likely I am to have a goal.  I have zero goals for where I want or need to be financially when I retire.  But I will quickly calculate that I’ll have to empty the grass catcher on the lawn mower 5 times before I’m done and then try and only have to do it 4 times as a challenge.

I’m not sure when the goal of a PR in a race will fade away with the acceptance of advancing age, but it hasn’t happened yet.  I know my PR times by heart for every distance from 5k to 50 miles and it still feels like I can run faster than all of them.  Well, maybe not my 15k PR, that one is pretty good.  I’ve had a few races that I decided to run at a slower pace as a tune up race for something else.  I’ve also had races where I knew I wasn’t in good enough shape to PR.  Most of the time, though, I won’t race unless I think I can do something I’ve never done before.

3:33:26.  That’s it.  Portland Marathon 2008.  I’m not sure how many failed attempts to go faster than that there have been in the last 5 years, but there have been quite a few.  Newport is a good course to run a fast time on, though I’ve never run very fast there in my 3 previous attempts.  8 days away and the weather forecast looks almost perfect, mid 50’s, partly cloudy, no rain.  It’s the Oregon Coast, that will change 8 times between now and then, but right now it looks awesome.  My training has gone really well, I’m in the best shape I’ve been in the last few years.  Now I just need to be smart for 20 miles, tough for 6 and look good for the last .2!

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Today, I Am NOT a Runner

Somebody placed 2 bombs in trash cans near the finish of the Boston Marathon.  When they find the depravity responsible, we will learn many things.  They will have a reason, and that reason will make no sense.  They will not have a vendetta against runners.  They will not have been attacking runners or the running community.  They will have selected a very public gathering with high media coverage, that coincidentally was the Boston Marathon.  We will also learn that they sympathize with some groups and hate other groups, and none of that will really make any sense.  It should also make us reflect on this very human need to belong and the also very human need to stop people from belonging.  Why it is that, so frequently, belonging to one group means not belonging to another.  There are victims of this isolation every minute of every day.  We don’t need to learn to be tolerant of others, we need to learn to appreciate all so that the concept of “others” becomes what is foreign.  So, at least for today, I choose to not be white, or male, or american, or atheist, or liberal and I also choose to NOT be a runner.

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Run For My Supper

For the last few years, when I was really training seriously, I would run home from work, once a week.  It’s 18 miles door to door and when Jeanne worked in Salem, this was a great plan.  I’d run home from work and she would drive me in to work the next morning.  Ever since she stopped working in Salem, I’ve struggled with a mid week long run, especially in the Winter.  By the time I'd get home from work and change, that 10 to 18 mile loop or out and back would end up with a short cut too many times for me to feel good about.

So, I’ve come up with a new plan, Run for my Supper.  I’ve always had good success motivating myself for long runs by running toward food.  My Mom and Sister both live in Monmouth and Jeanne’s daughter Hailey lives in next door Independence.  From the near side of Monmouth to the far side of Independence can be anywhere from as short as 10 miles to as long as 18 depending on the final destination.

So far, I’ve run 10 miles to Yeasty Beasty in Monmouth.  They make their own dough from wild yeast that they captured in their own handy dandy yeast trap, ok, that kinda sounded gross, but as someone who has done this, it’s pretty cool.  Good pizza, impressive beer selection on tap, and really cool people.
Koyote Cafe Tamales
Last week it was 10 miles to Koyote Cafe in Monmouth.  I over ate, a little, because their special was chicken tamales, which I had to get, and a small carne asada taco just wouldn’t leave me alone.
Pastrami Sammich at Pink House Cafe
Yesterday it was 12 miles the Pink House Cafe in Independence.  This is one of the Willamette Valley’s best kept secrets.  The owner, Paul, had a little teriyaki place in Salem years ago that was very good, but I think he’s really found his food niche now.  It’s right across the street from the Independence Cinema, and the food is absolutely wonderful.  I shouldn't have had the Rum Cake because all I can think about is going back for more dessert.

This will be my Wednesday run for a while, patiently waiting for Funky Bun to open.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Stalking 100 Miles in One Day

I know I can run 100 miles in one day.  It seems so easy in my head.  I’ve done all of the possible split scenarios a thousand times.  There have been 20 miles runs where I’ve thought of little else except how I “should” be able to run 100 miles in one day.  And yet, the truth is, I’ve failed in 2 attempts so far.  The 2011 Western States DNF bothers me, like any DNF should, but I understand it.  I wasn’t really prepared for the running on ice and snow, fell way too many times, and just let myself get beaten up.  I can take those lumps as they come.  The 2010 Lean Horse DNF still haunts me.  I was in fantastic shape that Summer.  Physically, that may have been the best shape I’ve ever been in.  A wiser person than I, always admonishes me on long journeys, “it all comes down to how well you take care of yourself”, and I took horrible care of myself that day.  I made so many mistakes that it drives me crazy thinking back on it.  I don’t count 2011 Pacrim 24 hour as an attempt at 100, I decided ahead of time that I was going at least to 100k but no further than 80 miles and stopped at 70.
Crossing the bridge, Pacrim 2011
Which brings me to the 2013 Pacrim 24 hour, March 16 in Longview, Washington.  My stated goal is 100 miles in one day.  I can say with certainty, that I will not be in as good a shape as I was for Lean Horse, but I am in pretty good shape.  Hopefully, I’m a little wiser now.  A one mile loop course removes many mistakes that could be made regarding hydration and food, but brings with it new issues to resolve.  I have to treat that “every mile” aid station and crew as essentially non existent at least 5 times in a row, every hour.  I’m constantly perplexed by the “how slow early” riddle.  9 minutes per mile is the most comfortable pace I can possibly find.  8 minutes per mile is marathon pace, and that starts to feel like work after about mile 15.  10 minute per mile pace does feel a little easier than 9 but not by much.  Anything slower than that feels like wasting time.  I think I will run in the low 9’s to start and take at least a half mile walk break every hour, which will also, hopefully, allow me to eat a little each hour.  And do this until I can’t do it anymore.  Then, I suppose, I’ll make it up as I go along.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

The Hunt For PRs

I’m almost 50. I’ve been running for 10 years. The realization that most of my best times forvarious distances has been set for life is slowly creeping in. I have a PR list in a spreadsheet. Iknow which ones I feel I still have a shot at breaking. There are some odd distances that I eitheronly ran once, early, or haven’t ran at all. Those don’t really count. Of the more regulardistances, my half marathon time has always seemed one of the “softer” PRs. On one hand,that’s surprising to me since it’s a distance I absolutely love. It’s long enough, for training to playa slightly larger role than talent, but short enough that you can “go for it” without the glamorousflame out that the marathon can bring. But, maybe that’s why I see my PR in that distance assoft, because it always feels like I can run a solid half.
It was cold!
I feel like I have this year’s big races set up really well for myself. Better than in any other year inquite a while. A 24 hour race in March, Pac Rim One Day. Then a marathon in June, NewportMarathon. Then my Run Across Oregon in August. High mileage training for the 24 hour race,then put some speed training in for the marathon, then back to high mileage training for the crossstate run. The only part of it that didn’t really make sense was the half marathon I signed up forin January, Cascade Half Marathon.
25 Seconds
I had a really good second half of 2012. No injuries, since giving up the trails. A good 50k inOctober, but no speed training to speak of. Out of respect for truly fast runners, I shouldprobably rephrase that, no track work. So, I went in to the Cascade Half not really sure what toexpect. It was cold! Around 23 degrees at the start. I didn’t warm up nearly as much as Inormally would for a half marathon. I ran the length of the indoor hallway at Cascade HighSchool several times, but that was it. I missed the first 2 mile markers but noticed at mile 3 that Iwas very close to my PR pace and feeling pretty comfortable. The road was icy in patches. Notenough to make you alter your stride, but enough to make you pay attention. At the turnaround Iwas 15 seconds off PR pace and still feeling really good. I told myself to just keep it undercontrol for another few miles and then I’d let myself start picking up the pace. Then around mile9, I started feeling some tightening in my hamstrings. It’s usually one leg or the other whensomething starts to go wrong, so it was strange to feel it equally in both legs. By mile 10 theywere both knotted up pretty good. Every other part of my body wanted to go faster, even myeyelashes were saying “let’s go”, but every time I tried to pick it up, they felt like they were on theverge of tearing. I missed my PR by 25 seconds. But I feel very confident that with some speedtraining, a little better weather and a more appropriate warm up, my half marathon PR is one thatwill still get lower. Next attempt, Corvallis Half Marathon, April 14

Monday, January 7, 2013

NOT the End of the World

Dawn to Dusk, 2012 edition, ended in failure, I don’t even have pictures.  There wasn’t even a lot of drama to it.  I ran the first three miles with about a 10 mph tail wind in a light mixture of rain and snow. My legs felt good but it was really cold right from the start.  I met Jane, Denice and Kristen at the Park and Ride lot at the intersection of Kings Valley Highway and Highway 22, only to find out that every car previously parked there had been broken into.  It was at least 6 cars with their windows broken.  Denice and Kristen did decide to leave their cars anyway and we headed off toward Perrydale, picking up Tracy along the way.  By the time we reached Perrydale, about mile 10, the temperature was dropping and the wind was increasing.  We now had Jeanne for crew support, but as a group we were moving much slower than I had anticipated the first part going.  I was starting to hear and observe some of my early companions making alternate plans to get in a warm damn car!  I had only planned to have company until mile 16 so, when at mile 12, turning straight into the 20 to 30 mph freezing wind I still had one, Denice, I considered myself fortunate.  The rain and snow mix was coming down very heavy now and being blown straight into us by the wind.  There was almost no talking those last 4 miles as neither of us could make discernible words come out of our frozen mouths, but the pace was pretty admirable considering the circumstances.  I remember thinking, “oh, sure, you’re running this fast, you just want to get in the car sooner”.  At mile 16, and now alone on the road, I asked Jeanne to go ahead to Rickreall and wait for me there.  I was completely drenched, and even in wool, very cold.  I was having trouble squeezing my water bottle because my hands were so frozen and was starting to “not feel the road” with my frozen feet.  Getting close to Rickreall my thoughts were, there’s a convenience store there.  If I could get some warm chicken noodle soup in me and sit in the car for a little while to warm back up I wouldn’t be too far behind schedule.  I was also thinking about the fact that I hadn’t made it to any of the hills yet, where I knew the snow would be worse.  As I approached the car in Rickreall, Jeanne jumped out to get supplies ready for me and I quit with the symbolic thumb slit to the throat.  Just like that.  No hemming or hawing about whether I should or shouldn’t.  In the next few minutes after the decision was made, it seemed my body temperature dropped another 10 degrees.  It took almost the rest of the afternoon before I felt warm again, and my fingertips were still sore the next morning.  So, no Dawn to Dusk for 2012.

I did still have the daunting task of getting to 2,000 miles for the year.  In July, it seemed my 4 year streak of consecutive 2,000 mile years was going to come to an end.  But an injury free 5 months put me within range, a very patient Jeanne gave me the time and a 107 mile last week got the job done.

Goals and plans for 2013.  Attempt 100 miles in one day at the Pac Rim 24 race in Longview WA in March.  Attempt to qualify for Boston at Newport OR Marathon in June.  Run Across Oregon in July/August while turning (gulp) 50 and pass the 20,000 miles run mark before the end of the year (I need 2,296).

5 years in a row over 2,000 miles
Happy New Year!!!