Tuesday, May 29, 2007

10K's and Good Friends

So Gail decided to run the "Up the Lazy River" 10K in West Linn on Sunday so I went along for fun. It was a great ORRC run for mainly Master's runners. Others were welcome but the Ol' Folks got the glory today.

We got to Mary Young Park around 8 am. My dad who is 72 is a big walker so he drove up from Salem to do the 10K judged walk. Our other friends Fenny Roberts, who has done a ka-gillion marathons, ultras, 24 hour runs etc and Jim Scheer who has done over 250 marathons showed up too. Fenny was doing the race walk today and Jim decided to sit it out with me as he did the Cour'de'lane Marathon the day before. We also ran into Maniac Steve Walters again who just did the Forest Park 50K with us the day before, who by the way got 4th place with a time under 5 hours. Go Steve! Also pulled up next to Sean who was with Sascha and decided not to run but was going out for a couple hour easy run on the trails. So saw lots of fun folks.

The walkers started first and then the runners 1/2 hour later. My dad usually wins his age group as there are not many 72 year old men walkers. He finished in 1:28 which he was pretty happy with. Fenny did 1:14 walking. Gail did awesome at :56 minutes in her 10K run. I just stood around and took pictures which hopefully I will post tomorrow.

I enjoy being at the races as a fan almost as much as I like to run. Well.....maybe I shouldn't go that far. But it was a great social event and everyone was pretty happy with how they did. Good job all!

Whats up next? I'm still thinking Green River Marathon next weekend.

Monday, May 28, 2007

Number 20? Now Serving Number 20. Forest Park 50K

As runners we often travel great distances to run in special places. Sometimes taking 3, 4 or more days to get to that special run. Well yesterday we ran in my own backyard, Forest Park here in Portland. What a great place to run! You feel like you are out in the middle of nowhere but you are actual only a mile away from Starbucks.

The Forest Park 50K was held on Sunday and what a great day to run. Temps were in the 50's with a nice overcast and occasional cool breeze. It was a small group that including those running/walking a 10, 20, 30 and 50K. I met Rick and Ruby at the start. Rick was doing the 50K with me and his wife Ruby was walking her first 20K. At the start we saw many of the usual suspects, Sean, Steve and others but this time I got to meet Sarah and Olga for the first time outside of the "Blogosphere". The start was just the way I like it, not crowded and very relaxed.

Rick and I had run the MacDonald Forest 50K the previous weekend and I have never done a marathon or Ultra in back to back weekends. (Yeah, yeah I know....all you big time Ultra folks are making fun of the Newbie! Ha!) I didn't run once the entire week and really missed it, but knowing my body better as I run more I figured it would be best to rest all week. It turned out to be the right decision I think. Training is great but rest is what makes you stronger in the short term.

So the RD gave us course instructions on what color ribbon we were supposed to follow. "The stripped ribbons lead the turn, now it will be on the side of the trail you turn at. Don't go past them. Green is for 20K, pink 30k, orange 50k and Purple 10k and Cyan 20k and Plaid 40k and 70k............" OK I know, I will just follow Rick! I came up with POP for our course, Pink Orange Pink. It actually wasn't too bad and only got turned around 3 or 4 times.

The race starts up hill which doesn't bother me too much if it is not too steep. The amazing thing was that I wasn't in last place at the first mile! A few miles into the course it started to thin out but was definitely more crowded than most ultra's I have been on. I don't really like running behind folks on trail runs as I like to keep my eyes 5 yards or so ahead to miss any rocks, roots etc. And by following other runners I often find I gaze at their legs rather than the trail. Just a little pet peeve I have. We got to the fire lane off Wildwood and ran up it to the first Aid Station at mile 7 or so. I felt very good at this point, and was drinking the right amount I thought. Rick, while behind me says "That water in your bottle is not gonna do you any good at the Aid Station". That really stayed with me the entire race and I tried to drink more than I thought I might need and I think it really helped me out later in the race.

We blasted out of Aid Station number one and headed down the Wildwood Canyon. I like this part and had some nice speed going down. Up the other side is a walk for me. The trail was in great shape with only a few minor muddy spots. We dropped down to Saltzman road and I ran into Sean coming the other way, he yells out "There's my boy", he was in second place at this time which is where he ended up finishing. At AS #2 we stopped and Pete "Hippo" was manning it. We had a great chat and fueled up on PBJ's, M&M's, chips and those boiled potatoes. I was trying to have 1 Gu per hour and 3 E-caps along with some snacks at the aid stations. It must have been just right as I didn't feel very hungry after the finish.

Out of AS #2 at about 13 miles is where the fun began. Big downhills and big up hills. One trail was so small I figured it had to be a mistake. We climbed over a couple of logs and finally saw a small trail. More of a scramble for sure. Later along the oil pipeline we had a huge downhill which if it was muddy would have been impossible to stand up. This area was about half trail half old roads. It was in this area I took the Advil as my legs where getting pretty painful.

We got back to AS #3 which is the same as AS #2 after hour little loop. I ate more and chatted with Hippo some more. Off we went and the course was mostly downhill from here back to the barn. My legs improved about a 1/2 hour later and I didn't have to walk as much. Around mile 20 I heard this "Yelp" behind me and I turned around and Rick is down in the grass. I gave him 5 bonus points for the nice "trail biff!" Plus he got a great looking knot on his arm for it! I was jealous of his "War Wound". We ran with a guy from the Bay area during this time and had some nice chats. Interesting that he had never ran a marathon but went straight into Ultra running.

We rolled into AS #4 which was AS#2 also on Fire Lane #1. This was the most confusing part of the race as you came up the canyon a sign on Wildwood said "Return to race course" and many folks just continued on bypassing the 1/2 mile loop or so to the last aid station. Rick and I had to stop and double check the course directions he had to make sure we did it right. Many runners shortened the course by a half mile or more I am sure. I really chowed down at AS #4 and salt was really tasting good! Rick told the AS folks "You gotta get him outta here. He will eat all the food if you let him!" So Rick drug my butt out of the there and we headed back down the hill. There was a new trail to take us back to Wildwood and we again got confused once we got to Wildwood. A couple of guys turned the wrong way. A woman came running down Wildwood and we told her she took a shortcut and she should go back. She grumbled "Boys, I ain't turning around and going back here". "Ah OK" we said. We actually ran behind here for a few miles and she was running a nice steady pace that was real good for me. I started feeling really good at this time, as we were probably around mile 26 or so. Once we got on the part of Wildwood I am familiar with I started to pick up the pace on the downhill portions. I passed our woman pacer and Rick stayed with her.

I love running downhill. It feels so good on my legs, I like the speed, and on trails the mental aspect of watching very intensely of where every step has to go. It takes away from the monotony of just pounded the dirt at one pace. I went past the Birch trail head which I often begin my runs. I knew I was getting close to the finish. A few miles later I came to a merge of many trails. There were no markings. I was totally confused on which way to go. I stopped and asked a few people, I feared I had gone too far. Panic started to set in. Finally someone said "are you in the race?" "Yes" I said. "Well just head down this way a mile or so and you will find the final trail to the finish" "Thanks" I yelled! I must have stopped for over a minute there. Later Rick said he had to do the same thing. I bet someone vandalized the course marking ribbons.

Now I was flying. Someone had caught up to me at the trail merge but he stayed with me for only a few minutes. The trail becomes very technical but I like it that way and kept the pace up as high as I could. The trail got crowded with many strollers and children and I was screaming out "On your left! Thank you!" as I was trying not to run into anyone. The Thurman street bridge came into view and I knew it was a 1/4 mile to the finish. This was the strongest finish I have had in a long time. As I crossed the finish line the low key nature of this event was quite evident as not one person cheered or clapped. Didn't even see anyone writing down my time. Thats just fine by me as long as I know what I did. Never been a big fan of huge crowds at races.

I finished in 6:17:10 which is a PR for me I guess. Hard to relate PR's in 50K's I think. Often they are more than 50K or less. The course may have a ton of hills or be mostly flat. So to me the PR doesn't really matter. I like feel how I ran the course, how I felt and how strong I was at the finish is what counts. This was the best I have felt on a 50K so I guess it is a PR in that case.

Rick finished a couple of minutes behind me just about the same amount I finished behind him last weekend. I got some soup and a pop. Talked with Sean about the course and how he did (he got second). Then went over and talked to Ruby about her farthest walk yet. She says she will stick to pavement next time. Good for her though for getting out here and doing 12 plus miles in the hills. Sean came over and the 4 of us chatted for a while then headed off for home. Was so nice to get in the car and be home in 15 minutes, not 15 hours!

I really enjoyed this course and will hopefully run it again next year. Great time meeting my new found ultra / marathon friends. So what is next? Only plan is the Sauvie Island marathon on July 4th. I may, yes may go up to Seattle and run the Green River Marathon next weekend for fun. I love that route and its free! (Pictures to follow later.)

Oh btw, this was my 20th marathon/Ultra. Thats why the Title.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Lazy or smart?

I guess I am not a true Ultra runner yet as I am going to whine (would you like some cheese to go with that?) about how sore I was after the Mac 50K last Saturday. I think nearly every major muscle in my legs hurt this week after that race. I can not remember the last time my legs were so wiped out! Usually it's only the quads and a little soreness everywhere else but this time my legs were toast. Maybe it was the major up hills? Maybe it was I blasted down that last mile or so at a speed that was crazy for my fatigue level? Could have been my lack of mid week training the last 3 weeks or so? This is by far the most long races I have done in a period of 3 or 4 months. I know! It's that I'm getting old! Yeah that's it!!

So I also didn't run once this week. I thought I might do the Forest Park 50K so I didn't want to hurt those legs anymore than they already were. Well, its official. Unless something world stopping happens at home during the next 24 hours I will be running the 50K tomorrow. I signed up yesterday worrying that it might sell out. I figured it's so nice to race in your own town that I went ahead and paid the entry fee. I love being able to drive an hour or so before the race to the start line, then drive home after. As you all know these out of town races take 2 days or sometimes more. That puts a bit of a strain on the family and other duties that we do on our days off. So off I go tomorrow.

My goal this year is to run 12 marathons or ultra's. So far I have done 6 since January 1st and am on track. I actually like 1/2 marathons the best as I like the speed part of the distance. 10k's hurt too much as I always feel out of breath on those. Marathons are OK too but I think I like Ultras second best over them. I usually run 5 or 6 1/2 marathons a year but with my longer distance goal this year they are being put on hold. Next year I want to PR in my marathon times so I will do more 1/2's to build my speed. This year its all about quantity, next year it will be about quality.

So with absolutely no running this week I am off to do another Ultra. I hope my legs don't die early in the race or this could be a very long day. Forest Park is a great place to run and this race goes some places I have yet to see. The bad part of no weekly runs is I really miss just getting outside and cruising around. I live in such a great place to run with so many different choices, trails, roads, hills, bike paths etc. I really respect those that live somewhere like Florida where the freeway overpass is your only variety. I am not sure I would train much in a location like that. Also being a pilot really helps in the variety. Running in Southern California in January is very refreshing from our constant winter rains.

Well I guess I will see all you fellow Maniac's and Ultra folks tomorrow. Good luck and say Hi as you pass me on the trails. Yes, I will be very slow.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

"I Hate You!"

Well Rick and I ran the Mac Forest 50K yesterday. The title of this post comes from seeing Rick behind me at mile 22 or so. I turned around and that is what he said. Was pretty funny as we were both hurtin pretty good.

Rick and I drove to Corvallis to the race, getting there around 7am. All was well organized and we picked up our packets and got ready to run. I love the low key starts of Ultras, its like someone yells go and off we run. They had probably 150 runners at the start. As usual by the 1/2 mile mark I was in last place. Takes a while for this big train to get moving and it sure doesn't do much for your self confidence to be way behind everyone. But I know how I run and slowly I would move up. The course runs through the hills of the east side of the Oregon Coast Range. We started off on gravel road but soon hit trails. The entire run was on double, single track and gravel roads. By mile 1.5 we hit the first hill. Oh yeah did I mention this course has hills? I wrote some notes on how high the climbs were, how many and the mile location. I kept this in my pocket for reference. I think there were 7 climbs or so. The highest being 850 feet and the smallest about 400 feet. Some were extremely steep and some just gradual that seem like mountains towards the end. I walked nearly every climb. In fact I bet I walked close to half the course.

The trails were in great shape, only a few spots of minor mud. We had some creeks to jump and just a few logs to jump over. The course was well marked and I never felt like I had made a wrong turn. We had great views of downtown Corvallis, Philomath and the Coast mountains. You ran through a great diversity of old growth timber, new, clear cuts, meadows and others. You could really see the vegetation change depending on elevation and location. But as I have found on most these trail runs you gotta watch your feet all the time or thy tree root shall reach up and smack thee down! Which neither Rick or I did the entire day. Ultra running really teaches you to pick up your feet. No more marathon shuffling for me!

By mile 18 I was pretty much done for the day. The early hills put me away early. Also the fact that I had only ran twice in the last two weeks due to my mysterious foot pain, I was not at my best fitness level for sure. Around mile 20 my stomach started doing the "I am going to return to you what you gave me" routine. One of the few times I actually thought I might toss my cookies on a run. I had been drinking poweraid then water. Taking Gels every hour and grabbing handfuls of snacks at every aid station. Everything from taters to M&M's.

Rick caught just after mile 22 or so. We walked and ran for 10 minutes or so then he wanted to run some more so off he went. We went up hill for another mile or so then had a great downhill run on some gravel road to the last aid station. I was running 8:30 pace or faster and still never saw Rick till I got to the aid station and he was just heading out. I refueled, filled my bottle and off I went. We then had the last major climb of the course, probably 2 miles up hill. I walked it all and never saw Rick again till the finish. I figured we were about 2.6 miles from the finish and we had a great downhill. I felt real good now and gave it all I had, running 8:20's or less passing a couple of runners along the way. Then we turned off the road back onto trails, and it was uphill as I thought we may have been done with the hills by now, but nooooooo! It only went up for a 1/2 mile or so then big downhills. I really poured it on thinking the finish was only 1.5 miles or so. This was the best part of the race for me. I was feeling good now, nice single track trail (some double) and I was flying! I didn't care if I fell or not I was going to press this part with all I had. I was running sub 7:00 in most parts and somewhat out of control but boy was it fun! Then I saw the finish area from the woods. I crossed a small bridge and ran across the line. They handed me a nice Montrail water bottle with water in it! Rick said he had just finished about two minutes earlier.

The post race was nice with plenty to eat and drink and a Bluegrass band playing some music. Plus they gave us a big bottle of custom made beer just for this race. I didn't feel too bad so we hung around for 45 minutes or so. The drive home was great and Rick and I stopped in Monmouth for our favorite recovery food-COFFEE!! It sure works.

I ended up finishing in 7:00:50, Rick was a minute or two ahead of me. That was about a 13:30 pace for me. Seems slow but with all the walking and messing around at the aid stations I am very happy with this time. Again to me, Ultras seem more like a war. I just have to survive them. I will never be competitive with others only myself. Half way through this race I again said I was never going to do another Ultra again, it just is not fun to do. One minute after I crossed the finish I was thinking, "yeah I might do the Forest Park 50K next weekend?" Would someone please have me committed!
(Stay tuned, pictures posted later this week.)

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

OK, OK! I will go ....but next week.

Foot is still hurting as I limp around most the day. I ran the Des Moines Creek Park trails again yesterday and did 7.5 miles or so and the foot felt fine running I really enjoy running in there and feel like I just want to keep going. It was the first warm day of the year here in Seattle so I ran when it was over 80 degrees. I don't do well in the heat and with these summer ultra's coming up I figure I better start training in warm weather. I am beginning to think this is some strange form of Nazi Peanut Foot. (Plantar fasciitis). Nazi=pain, plantar= planters peanuts, foot=where it hurts, thats where NPF comes from. It hurts when I don't move much but seems to get somewhat better as it warms up. Who knows??? I just hope I get through 50K this weekend.

The title of this entry means I will go to the doctor next week, after the Mac 50K this Saturday. My orthopedic doc is a great guy. If anyone in the Portland are wants his name just drop me an email and I will pass it on.

Took my required six month FAA flight physical on Monday. Nurse took my BP and said "120 over 72, perfect". That is such a relief. I have been a runner for 15 years now but have always had borderline high BP (125/88 or so) until a few years ago when it final dropped to under 80 most of the time. I don't live the healthiest of lives so I have always been concerned about it. Running is about the only good thing I do for my body. With my job requiring good health I always get worried every six months. But for now it looks like I will live for another six!

Sunday, May 13, 2007

OK, just a tad nervous

I am getting just a bit worried about the foot and my lack of training. It has been another 3 days or so since I have ran. My foot still hurts, so I am not sure what is up with it. I am still going to do Mac 50K this weekend. Then I have no major runs scheduled till July 4th so maybe...yes maybe..might...well see...if the stars are aligned...just might go see a da...da....doc....doctor to see if he / she can determine if this is something minor or major. Now when it comes to fitness that's what worries me most. I know in my head it really doesn't matter for a Slug like me to miss quite a few days or even a week or running. Rest is amazing, I often run much faster after a week off or so. But being the runner with an addiction I know I don't have the confidence that I would have if I had been doing a good training program. (Boy there is allot of eyes in that last sentence! Bad...bad Bret.) So I guess we shall see about 3 hours into Saturdays big hills.

Off to Seattle again this week so those great Des Moines trails may call me for a few miles.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Am I blind or what?

So I had posted a question on the Maniac's bulletin board about trails to run near SeaTac where I say at least 7 nights a month. My job has taken me to that area for the last 15 years or so. I have ran numerous areas including the Green River Path and the Des Moines Creek paved path. So the great folks on the Maniac BB post about the paths in the Des Moines Creek area. I think its just a few dirt paths all torn up by mountain bikers. Well yesterday I went out to explore. What a shock! It was a great place to run. Tons of trails all over the place. Well marked in places due to the mountain bike races. I ended up running 7 miles and had a smile the whole time. Never saw one other person. I am such a dork for never exploring this area just a 1/2 mile from my hotel.

Well onto the other news. My foot which I seem to have injured in Forest Park last Sunday was still hurting but had improved. I had taken 3 days off and was going crazy. So I thought I would try it out, if it hurt I would just quit. Well running actually felt better than walking. I found the trails in the park and really enjoyed myself. My foot started hurting about mile 4 but I pressed on. It got a bit worse but was never to the point that I was in big time pain. Afterwards it started hurting pretty good. As I went to work I had a bit of a limp again, but not as bad as Sunday and Monday. Today it feels a bit swollen and hurts almost like Plantar Fasciitis but on the outside of the foot. Hurts worse when I first start walking on it. Pain never goes away but gets better after walking a bit.

I am off to St. Paul, MN to watch my step daughter graduate from college tomorrow, then back home Sunday. I was hoping to run long this weekend in the midwest but with the foot I better rest up for next weekends Mac 50K in Corn-Valley.

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

Sunday in the Trees

Rick and I ran the Wildwood Trail in Forrest Park on Sunday. Was a great day with temps in the mid 60's. The trail was in good shape with only occasional mud here and there. We did 11 miles at a nice slow pace. Also got some hills in as we went further than we usually do. Saw very few runners but more hikers. We did run into fellow Maniac Steve Walters and had a nice chat on the trail with him. (Steve is too fast for us Slug's though but a great guy) Took me about 4 miles to get into the run. I sure am getting better at trail running as I didn't trip even once! It is teaching me to pick up my feet for sure.

On the way back my the outside of my right foot started to hurt just a bit. Sort of like a bruise. Well when we got done I sat on the back of Rick's truck and I could hardly walk. The rest of the day was ugly and I am still limping around 2 days later. Don't know what I did to it but it is sure not good. I need to run long again this week but I know rest is better.