Monday, September 14, 2009

so this will likely be my last post on this blog for a while. I've recently decided to redirect my efforts to the arts. I've created another blog, you can follow my thoughts and work here:

Monday, May 25, 2009

Forest Park 50k

Jeesh, Has it already been a month since I last posted?
A lot has happened since then. I was doing so good in my training and my blogging. But then I got burnt out. And lets face it, the blog entries were not that interesting anyways.

So what happened? Well, I got bored. After a while, a waterfall is just a waterfall. What's wrong with me? Why can't I stay impressed with things for long? I feel like it's not just me and it's our society as a whole that is slowly becoming dependent on being constantly provided with new stimuli. Shouldn't the wonder that is the Columbia River Gorge impress me longer than a couple months? Maybe it's the way I obsessively jump into things that eventually leads to it's over-saturation. Like playing a new song over and over because it's so fresh and perfect but then wearing it out until it becomes intolerable. I do that. Often. I tend to jump into things feet first and full of passion. I like that about myself. Just wish that passion would stay.

So I got bored, and then it rained, for two weeks straight. So I skipped my weekday runs. I still did my one weekend run because I still like getting out there and taking pictures but overall I stopped my heavy training.

But then Jenn saved me from myself. "Hey baby, I just read in the paper there's a 15k tomorrow." So I entered the race and I came in 7th out of 95 people. And boy was I charged. It was what I needed. Other runners. And a healthy dose of competition and seeing the results of all my efforts. I found out that I was in shape. Better shape than I've been in almost two years. In fact, I think I might nearly be in better shape than I was before I ran my 50 miler. I certainly don't have that endurance yet, but I'm close. I think I am faster and stronger. I just need to build a little more endurance.

So yeah, had a great time in the 15k and then I decided that I'd run a 50k the following week. Sarah Lynch from the SRC had sent out an email a while back asking if anyone wanted to run this. I said that I wouldn't know until closer to the race. Things lined up and I knew that I wouldn't be busy so I told her, let's do it. But wait.

AT the race I meet the two time previous winner of the 15k I did. This guy Stan who's from Carson where Jenn and I are staying. Stan's real friendly to me at the race, congratulates me and says that he's seen me running out on the road and that we should run together. So I get his number, end up calling him and making plans for Tuesday to run. Tuesday we run 9 miles which include some road through the cascade locks, Herman Creek Trail and some PCT. It rains pretty hard on us toward the end and I think I might have run a tough to fast ;-)

Stan then invites me to take part in an impromptu 24 hours run that is to take place at the infamous Dog Mountain. I do go to this but of course I do not run for 24 hours. I do one lap. This one lap scares me. It's steep. I worry that it's going to effect my performance on Sunday during my 50k. But it was worth it. The view at the top was impressive and the wild flowers that grow at the top are every bit as spectacular as people say.

So Sunday comes and it's 50k time. I have to say that I was nervous. I haven't run that much in a few weeks and nothing more than a few long run with my top being about 26 miles. Things could get ugly. I figure I'll finish but no real idea on how much walking will happen. I jokingly tell Jenn, "I'll come somewhere in between winning the race and DNF".

So I meet Sarah and Julie at the beginning and we all start together. I decide quickly that I need to move faster than the pace that we're all going and dig my way through the crowd. I only stayed with them long enough for us to snap off a couple pictures. So now I'm on my own, slowly digging my way through runners. I'm doing my best to remain calm and not get caught up in the action of it all. By about mile 7 I'm now along and will be for nearly the entire race. Reflecting on it now, the race went by fast. I'm not eluding to my time here but rather the feeling that it didn't seem to drag on and wear on me like other long races have. I was comfortable during most of the race, barely walked anything but the most steep hills and stayed positive throughout. My legs felt great all the way up to about 28 miles where the did get very stiff and I feared I was at risk of injury but I was able to push through it and finish feeling strong.

5:24 My new 50k PR. Felt great. Still not an elite time but two years ago I still had not begun my trail running training. I'm so ahead of the game and if I continue my training as I have been, I will be very strong come the end of the summer. The trick will be staying motivated. I think I just need to throw in some races every now and then and I'll be ok.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Pacific Crest Trail 7 miles

Current Mile total: 167 miles

Today was a recovery run. It was really tough to get out there. I decided to to the Northern section of the PCT headed out from the Bridge of the Gods. I chose this trail because it looked relatively flat. And for the most part it was. There was more climbing than I anticipated but nothing to cry about.

Met this little fella in the first few minutes.

I had been told by someone that the trail had sections where it had been clear-cutted by foresters. They were not wrong. I don't want to complain about it because I really don't know all the reasons behind it and I'm sure that people's job and the local economy might depend upon it. But it does bum me out to come around a corner and see no trees on the PCT. Couldn't they leave a quarter mile strip of trees around the trail to retain the integrity of it all? It is a shame that the trail got butchered. I wonder if there had been protests when it was done or if there are other locations along the PCT where this has happened.

On the bright side, it was sunny. First trail here that I've run and been exposed to the sun.
Toward the end I did start to feel loosened up from the prior day's run. Recovery run's hurt but they're when the real training happens.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Eagle Creek 26 miles

Current Mile total: 160 miles

I was a little nervous going into today's run. I had planned on jumping up my mileage considerably by making a loop out of a couple intersecting trails. I planned on running up to Wahtum Lake by mean of the same trail I ran last week, Eagle Creek Trail. This is at about 13 miles out. Then I'd jump on the Pacific Crest Trail and go over the Benson Plataea finishing on the Ruckel Creek Trail. I figured I could do it but I knew I'd be completely wasted toward the end and it might involve a lot of walking. The weather didn't help. I woke up to overcast and cold temperatures. It was 39 when I woke and expected 54 high for the day. But at the altitude I was planning on being at, I knew it would be freezing. I decided on heading out with the plan anyway.

I sometimes think Karma has a way of looking out for me. Some call it Guardian Angels, other might call it luck, but I do sometimes think that I'm being taken care of out there. This is what I was thinking when I faced the decision to turn around, for the third week in a row.

As I neared the lake my elevation was increasing faster and the temperature really dropped. I entered the clouds and what started as mist turned quickly into snow. The path then became covered in old winter snow yet to melt off but I pushed on seeing the obvious trail cut through the trees ahead of me. I really wasn't able to run anymore through this snow as it's angle was to steep to one side causing me to plan every step. It wasn't dangerous at this point, just slow going. I knew in my head that I should turn around but in my heart I was stubborn and did not want to give up so close to my goal. Reason won over in the end when I could no longer tell where the trail went. I believed it continued up along side the river I had been following but could not be sure.

I looked around and assessed the situation. I was poorly clothed if an emergency should happen, with just half a PB & J sandwich and not much water left to drink. The trail as I had planned would be in these conditions, higher and more exposed. It was lightly snowing and I was all alone. I was also beginning to get fatigued with my core temperature pretty low. Sometimes pride makes us make really stupid choices in life. In these conditions it's easy to lose your reason but it didn't take me long to choose the safe route back. I had already gone about a half mile without a clear path but this was surely the end of the line.

So I turned around thinking that it was all for the best. I began justifying my decision because of my pride. It's hard to let go of a goal you just put three and a half hours climbing toward. I thought to myself, "I wasn't ready anyway. Over twenty miles was too much anyways, right?" But even though I was slightly bummed out I knew that I would have been crazy stupid to have continued. The trail I had meant to take followed along the crest of the mountain and would surely be very dangerous to pass without the right equipment.

But as I started down, I though to myself about the mileage and I began thinking that I was actually running more returning the same way I came. The second half of the trip after the lake wasn't a long as the first half. In fact, it was about 3 miles shorter. Had I taken the route I intended I would have run about 23 miles. Going back this way I was about to run a full marathon's distance.

So now I'm thinking, well, so much for Karma protecting me from taking on too much of a task. Instead, I'm being forced to run far more than I was already nervous about running. Today it would seem that logic and reason saved me from a big mistake. Nothing mystical today, although I will fully admit I've had moments where I've been very lucky and would swear someone is looking out for me, today was not one of those moments. Or was it?

When I got back and looked at the map I discovered I was less than a quarter mile from the lake. Had I reached the lake I honestly believe I would have pushed further and tried to go over the plateau. That would have been a huge mistake with potentially dangerous if not deadly consequences. Losing the trail ended up being the best thing that could have happened. Maybe I might have turned around later. I'd like to think that I'd never put myself in a life threatening position but you never know. What if I had made it up there and then added on another couple miles before I was forced to turn around? Then my trip back would have been even more difficult. As it was I still had to run very narrow trails with vertical drops of hundreds of feet all the way back. I read that each year people die on this trail because the fall of the edges. The longer I run, the more fatigued I get and the more I trip, stumble and fall.

These are the things I think about as I turn around. And then I say to myself, someone's looking out for me. Cause sometimes I'm just not that smart to make the right choice.

So in the end I ran for 5 hours and 10 minutes and covered ~26 miles. The weather stuck and I was very cold when I finished. Overall my legs felt really good and was happy with the hour and a half jump in total time run for my weekend long run.

On a side note, the web site Portland Oregon's Hiking Network claims that what I ran today was a 4 day 3 night hike. Now I love saying this and love that I did this in just 5 hours 10 minutes, but really, 4 days? That means you're hiking just 6.5 miles a day. Even if you were crawling at 2 miles an hour, you'd be done you daily requirement in just over 3 hours. What are you doing with the rest of your day?

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Carson City 6 miles

Current Mile total: 134 miles

Workout tonight. Back from my trip to NC where I visited with family. A few fun days away from running but it's back to the training. Tonight's workout was 6 minutes x 2, 4 minutes x 2 and 2 minutes x 2. I tried increasing my pace each time and overall felt good. The weather however conspired to make it miserable. The rain came down really hard for the last 10 minute of the run.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Eagle Creek 18 miles

Current Mile total: 128 miles

"Hardcore. I like it."

That's the greeting I got while passing a hiker while running Eagle Creek.
Let's face it, that's a big reason why we do this. Because it's hardcore. Because it's impressive and we get the bragging rights. No? Come on, admit it ultra runners. We like the idea that we're doing something that most people think is insanely tough. It certainly doesn't make me feel bad about myself when I get a comment like that. No worries. I'll trip and fall a few feet later and my ego will be humbled right back to reality.

And it's only part of why I like ultra running. The big reason I keep coming back is not for the glory of it. It's for days like today. Today's run was Awe....some. I'm talking a Chris Farley and David Spade, a deer just completely destroyed your 1967 fully restored Plymouth GTX convertible, level of awesome. Eagle Creek is a never ending scenic route that continues to raise the ante as the miles add up.

You start out at where the river is flat, right off the highway, then work your way up. Admittedly this is not a tough trail to run. And at first it's heavily trafficked which is understandable. Anybody whose not at Multnomah Falls is going to be here.

The trail is essentially a ledge that clings to the side of a ravine that has been carved out by the creek. The further you get up into it the deeper the ravine seems to get. There are a couple bridges that move you from one side of the ravine to the other but for the magority of the trail you're on the eastern side of the creek.

As I said, the trail is heavily trafficked. There were lots of boy scouts in seperate groups headed up for a night of camping. Those poor kids were lugging large backpacks and it mad me think that although I was srunning, I was the lucky one. There were also people carrying kayaks up the trail so that they could ride the rapids down.

Many times on the trail the ravine rises above you and you get water that drips down over you. Not quite a waterfall but it was a nice effect. There were also places that were so narrow and high up that there needed to be a safety rail to hold onto. It was made out of very thick steel cable that was bolted right into the rock face. Of course running didn't really allow for holding it. As I passed these part I just kept thinking about my tendency to trip all the time. Doing that here would most likely result in death.

Eventually I came upon punchbowl falls and which was beautiful but I passed it up without taking pictures as I wanted to focus on the workout.

The real sight to see was about 6 miles out. What a sight it was. Tunnel Falls. You come around a corner and suddenly you see ahead of you a 175 ft tall falls. It's so pretty but then you realize the best part. The trail you're running is going to go right under it. Not only under it, but you have to go through a cave. I was grinning ear to ear as I ran through this but still I waited to take my pictures.

Next sight was Twister Falls. The name makes sense when you look down the shoot and see how the was twists down the falls. This was the last real good sight to see and the creek slowed down and the trail got more dense. Eventually I came to the intersection of Eagle Creek and Tanner. I made the mistake of trying Tanner and will not be making that again. The trail just got too overgrown. So much so that I was concerned that Hansel may have to leave some breadcrumbs to find his way back. And for the life of me, I almost did.

As I was pushing aside a downed tree it swung back and brushed my head. I heard it hit my hearing aid and my heart stopped. I raised my hand and felt for it. Nothing. My heart dropped out of my chest. I was now thinking, did I just lose it or has it been gone for a while. As calmly as I could, I walked back over to the suspect branch thinking of the $3000 bill I'd have if I didn't find it. I can't imagine what the odds of me finding it were but within 15 secs I spotted it and sighed a breath of relief. I put the baha in my pocket and zipped it up. I think I'll not be running with this is the future. So on I went through the brush, over a couple streams until I came upon a third that seemed too risky to pass. For the second week in a row I was forced to turn around by mother nature. But it was best as the run went just as long as I wanted and I was sufficiently wasted upon the finish.

Overall the run was great. I ran really well, the weather was great and I got another 18 mile sunder my belt.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

City of Carson 8.5 miles

Current Mile total: 110 miles

What was that? Did that just happen?
I can hear Bill Bowerman say "the point of deepest penetration." Since I saw the movie Without Limits and then read the book Bill Bowerman and the Men of Oregon I have technically understood this concept but never really been able to put it into practice. Last Sunday during my recovery run I experienced just a touch of it as I ran swifly downhill and I remember thinking to myself "is this how it works?" And today on my last mile of my 6 x 1 workout I fully grasped the concept.

SO the concept is basically that if you rotate you hips forward you decrease the amount of resistance your legs experience and can lift them forward easier. Bill Bowerman explains this concept to Steve Prefontane by using the example, "you know, like the point of deepest penetration." It sounds easy but to run that way never really made sense. But as I said, while running downhill on Sunday, I recognized something I do just naturally while running downhill. I have always been able to run very fast downhill and now I'm beginning to wonder if my poor skiing habits actually turned out to be good running habits. In skiing you're suppose to lean downhill, but I was always timid and lean backward. Ok, I was scared and leaned backward on my skiis. Well, turns out, that trait while bad for skiing allows me to move faster downhill. As I said, I recognized this on Sunday and thought that I should apply it later on only to forget. Well, today I remembered and shazam. I ran much faster with a lot less effort.

So tonight was a 6 x 1 workout. Six repeats of one mile with just a minute of rest in between each. I warmed up with a mile and a quarter and started at the road's 2 mile marker. Here was my breakdown.

mile 1 7:20 (all flat, went out a little fast, still not really warmed up, finished out of breath)
mile 2 7:30 (mostly flat ending with slight incline, picked more appropriate pace finished feeling ok )
mile 3 8:00 (all up hill, finished out of breath but finished strong)
turned around here
mile 4 7:00 (all downhill, ran easily not pushing but kept good pace, finished feeling ok)
mile 5 7:20 (slightly downhill to start, finished flat, finished feeling good and)
mile 6 6:45 (all flat, figured out new technique, finished feeling great )

It's such a weird way to run actually. It almost feels like you're leaning backward and logically that doesn't sound like it would work. I mean i've always thought that if you lean forward your body would just use gravity and momentum to generate forward speed. Leaning back seems so contrary to that. It kinda like your legs just get out in front of you. Kinda hard to explain, all I know is that this guy just went a heck of a lot faster tonight(admittedly it's not that fast, just faster for me).

SO hat's off to you Mr. Bowerman. I think I figured it out. It was a great workout night and I even saw some more deer.