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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
I've got my auto-pilot back. Yup. There's that great feeling a runner gets once they've reached a certain level of training where it just seems that you could go on forever without much though or effort. I've finally reached that level. Of course I can't go on forever but tonight was a good run that gave me a lot of confidence in where I'm at. It was just my boring Tuesday road run to add on the miles but it seemed very easy. Especially after a big increase in miles last week.
And look, yay, my first hundred miles recorded. Hopefully that will go up by a hundred every other week or so from here on out.
Tonight's run did have some highlights too. On the way out I saw a field that had nearly twenty deer grazing. It almost looked like someone was raising them in a farm. As I ran by them they seemed to be just as interested in me as I was in them. On the way back I also so in a different spoke two deer on the side of the road quickly jump into the forest.
It looks as though my coming weekend may be a difficult one to get in miles as the mountains around here all got some snow in the upper parts. Hopefully it will warm up and melt that off real quick before the weekend arrives.
Google Earth, you suck. Let me rephrase, cause I love Google Earth. Google Earth, you're wrong. You're terribly wrong and you don't know how to measure trails. At least that's my view and I'm going to stick with it.
I knew I'd forget something when I moved down to the Gorge. Of all things I forgot my garmin forerunner. Now, when I want to know a distance I've run I have to use Google Earth to calculate my runs. I figured it would be somewhat accurate but after today's run I can be sure it's not. Why? Because it claims I ran only 2.3 miles in 24 minutes. That's over a ten minute mile. Now if I was climbing a hill I could believe that but I was returning from an out and back on the PCT and it was all down hill. And I was moving fast. Well, fast for me. And fast for a recovery run. I figure I was doing somewhere between a 6 and a 7 minute mile. EASILY. There's just no way I was running a 10 minute mile downhill. SO... now I have to questimate all my trail runs. I know the road calculations are somewhat accurate so it must be that there's no way for Google Earth to account for all the many twists and turns in the trail as well as the elevation gain's effect on distance.
At any rate, it now makes me question how much I ran yesterday and other days since using this method. But that's good too. In a way, Google Earth is helping me. If I think I'm running less than I am I will eventually get aclimated to running longer distances. If I think I only ran 13.5 miles yesterday but really ran 16-17 miles than when I get up into the 20s I might be closer to 30s. It will be a real psychological edge to my training. I take it back Google Earth. You were just trying to help me. Thanks buddy.
Anyways, today I ran a recovery run. What a lousy day to be out. It was cold and raining really hard. I ran out for 40 minutes and most of it was uphill. Slow going for some really tired legs. But by the time I reached the top it seemed my legs had shaken out most of the stiffness. Unlike yesterday I did not take it easy coming down. As I said, it was cold and raining and I was soaked to the core so I decided to pick up the pace. I didn't go crazy and apply any effort I just let the gravity take me down. There was also a nice headwind(depending on which switchback you were on) and that certainly helped my pace.
The only other notable thing would be the carnage on the trail. There were spots on the trail that were completely impassable and I needed to either climb over large trees or completely find another route.
I didn't think I was going to get this run in today. Yesterday Jenn and I were scheduled to pick up her first sampling of fish. Originally the barge was supposed to get to the Dalles at about 4 pm on Friday but it didn't arrive until 7. After a very stressful race to get there on time due to a closed road and then having to wait for a bridge closure we arrive within minutes of the barge entering the lock. We got our equipment on the barge and the waiting began. The barge traveled at a frightening 8mph pace so the trip back to the Bonneville Dam took about 6 and a half hours. We got off the barge at 1:30, delivered her fish to the research facility and headed home. Because we had been in a rush we hadn't managed to get dinner before we left. We ended up eating at 3 in the morning. I had determined then that I would not be running the next day.
But as this go, we slept in and when I awoke I felt good. We then drove back to the Dalles to retrieve Jenn's car. On the way back I stopped at Shortt Supply, a running store in Hood River, and bought myself some recovery formula and some GU Chomps(I would discover later that these chomps are not good, at least not the strawberry flavor, bleck).
I got back about 1:30 and had a good meal of eggs and harshbrowns, my favorite pre-run meal. I know my stomach can handle this when running so I've not tried other meals as of yet. I hit the trail head at just a few minutes past 2 oclock. It was a little late in the day to be starting but I felt good and hit the trail. The PCT starts on the Oregon side of the Columbia River right at the Bridge of the Gods. Hikers who want to continue north must walk across this bridge with the traffic. Once you enter the trail head at the bridge it takes you underneath the I-84 highway and up a road a hundred meters or so before the real trail begins.
The trail starts out remarkable easy with nothing but rolling hills with a gentle incline. My breathing is easy and I begin to think the this PCT is made for novices. There's nearly no one on the trail as I go up. I only see a father and daughter right in the begining and then a couple ladies a mile further up. Aside from that the trail is mine until I return to the bottom with about a mile to go. As I said, the trail was easy to begin with and it just gradually climbed up. I came upon some rock formations that were pretty interesting and diverged from the trail for a few minutes. Up I continued until I reached a small falls. It would really be the only other interesting thing to photograph for the rest of the way. For a tourist/sutterbug, this trail is LACKING. I mean it's beautiful, but compared to the other scenic trails in the area this trail is a real bore. Which would easily explain why I had the trail to myself.
But for a runner, the trail was perfect. Dispite its lack of comparitive scenery I'm sure I'l return to this trail. In so many waays its a great trail for running. The ease of the beginning allows you to warm up while still making upward progress. The trail is clear of debri and has little rocks which makes for a soft pine/dirt trail. It is not dry and dusty nor is it wet and mudy, but rather the pefect medium that allows for swift running without mess.
Within about 45 minutes I started getting out of the tree line to an exposed area with a great view of the Columbia River.
So far it seemed to me this trail was going to be a cake walk but I knew it had to get harder eventually as I could see above me what I needed to climb. It was right about the time that I passed through these creepy trees that the real climb began. Almost as if the trees were a warning to novice hikers/runners. From here on up the trail never relented. Up and up and up. The grade was really tough and eventually I did break so I had to hike instead of run. From below I had seen lots of snow and had wondered if I would come across any. I did finally come across some but it didn't effect the running. Yet. At this point I was checking my camera's clock (Jenn had taken my watch for research) because I had wanted to turn around at about 2 and fifteen minutes. Right about 2 hours in to the run I finally came to the crest of the mountain. From here on out the trail stays on the crest for many miles. It got a lot colder once I did even though I was still within the trees. It also was the end of the really tough climb although I could see there was still some more climb just up ahead. So I pressed on with the intent of running for just fifteen more minutes. And I got maybe ten. End of the road for me. The snow, which had mad its appearance here and there finally arrived and stopped my progress. I probably could have continued if I was carefull but I would ahve to move very slow and with just minutes before I turned around it didn't seem worth it to risk getting wet, slipping and falling(far) just to make up 5 minutes. So I turned around.
The way back down of course was simple, but instead of running down like a jackass, as I normally do, I decided to go relatively slow. My longest run this season has been about 2:15 and this run would be at least 3 hours. It was a big jump and on a tough trail. I was glad I did take it easy because the run ended up being about 3:20 minutes long and I was completely spent by the time I finished.
I'm hoping that the snow melts soon off the top as this was the perfect trail run. This trail goes until Mexico so can get as many miles as I need with it but until the snow melts I'm left with only 13.5 available to me.
On a side note; I had to run without Penny today because Jenn was working and Cody doesn't do Alone. It was a bummer to run without her but maybe next week.
Tonight was just another boring run trying to put miles under the belt so to speak. I just ran around the city again. Some hills involved this time but nothing too difficult. I was supposed to do 6 miles tonight but I only got 5 in. I still don't know the area well enough and I underestimated my distance. I ran for 45 minutes which means my speed is pretty slow. Regardless, my legs felt OK and I think I'm beginning to get a good foundation going. I'll be headed out on the trails again this weekend with my camera but I haven't decided which trial to take. I kinda want to explore the same trail again but considering there are a limited number a days I'll be able to get out there and more trails than days, I might have to try another one. The ran is now back so it looks like I might be out there getting wet tomorrow.
Nothing crazy tonight. Not even fun really. Just putting miles down on the road. I ran out of the house up the road for forty-five minutes and back. For the most part it was flat as a board. I took it real slow focusing more on the time running instead of the speed and distance. I wanted to run for a hour and a half and was able to get in 10 miles total. I'm exhausted and my legs felt really stiff from Sunday's run. I really should be running Saturday's with a recovery run on Sunday so I'm in better shape for my Tuesday and Thursday runs. It was also relatively hot today with temperatures somewhere in the 70s. It was my first real warm weather run. Considering just last week the same run was done in near freezing weather it's was a tough jump.
Today was my first trail run at the Gorge and it didn't disappoint. Multnomah Falls is a very touristy place to go because its such a beautiful attraction but all you need to do is go a mile in and you're alone. The tourist don't go very far on the trail because it's just too steep and let's face it, they're tourist.
I ran with Penny which will hopefully be one of many times over the next few months. The trails doesn't start off easily. The falls are 620 ft high and you basically climb that distance in the first mile. Up you go. It's a paved trail until you reach the top and then it's all wilderness. It was tough not to stop and take pictures every few feet because I the trail follows the creek all the way.
After about 55 minutes I came to a crossroads and it appeared I was moving away from the creek so I turned back so I could take an alternate route I had passed. This path ran up high and went around to a southern part of the mountain where it was warmer and drier.
Tonight was Andy's pyramid workout. I "warmed-up" with just a mile and then started the workout. I use the quotes because it was cold today. It must have been no more than 35 degrees and raining. It was 200 meters at 10k, 200 jog, 400 at 10k, 400 jog, 600 at 10k, 600 jog, 800 at 10k, 800 jog and then back down 600, 600, 400, 400, 200, 200. Starting off it was only slightly raining but by the end it was so strong it was stinging. I also wasn't on a track and was only guessing at my lengths and I'm sure that I was going too long. I basically decided that instead of lengths I would run times.
Simply put. What a miserable run. But that's ok, the weekend is coming.
Hello Coulumbia River Gorge!! Jenn and I moved down to the river this last weekend and today I got to do my first run down in the gorge. I'm determined to get a balance of road and trails in my training and my first run started me off right.
The first thing I wanted to do was see where the road behind Venka's(our landlady) house goes. I knew it was steep but I was really in for a hard start. It was only 3/4 mile up to the end of the road but by the time I arrived my lungs were burning. I was also greeted by two Australian Shepards who promptly alerted their owner that I had arrived on their property. I turned around and criss-crossed the town in an attempt to accumulate my hour and an half of running. I purposely ran down a long hill and was surprised when upon returning to the top that I had been able to run faster uphill than compared to running against the wind on the flat road after that.
Othwerwise the run was pretty uneverntful. I was just nice to be running more rural roads for a change.
Tonight was my last run with my other running group, the Footzone club. We did the Heidi Hills workout. Finally some good weather here. Ran with Andy, Jill, Kathleen and Tim. It was 3 sets of 4 repeats. I held back for on the first two, running fast but not really sprinting. The last set I began to push myself. In this way and only this way I was able to take the lead for the last couple repeats. I know it foolish but I still can't seem to not be ultra competitive when it comes to sprinting. Immediately after the sprints as we headed back down the hill my right calf knotted up. So much so I thought I might not be able to walk. I was pretty worried but adjusted the way I ran and made it back without any injury. Afterward we headed over to Chipotle for dinner.
Tonight was my last run with SRC before the Gorge trip. I went a little early so I could buy a new pair of running shoes. Those shin splints are not just because I'm building too fast, I'm also running in old shoes. I've been avoiding buying new shoes because I'm broke. Well, not entirely, but I'm trying to save for our wedding and I hate wasting over $100 for a pair of shoes that I'll wear down in just 15 weeks. Oh well. That's how it goes. I ended up buying a pair of Mizuno Alchemy. Maybe it's because my old shoes were so bad but these new shoes are sooo soft. Hopefully my shin splints will go away now. The run was typical. Nothing really stood out. Just took it easy and did the mileage. At this point in my training I think that's all I can do. Just get the mileage in.
I'm starting to get really excited about the Gorge. It's just a few days away before a whole new world of trails opens up to me and with new shoes on my feet I think I'm finally in the right frame of mind to really start piling on the mileage.
This weekend Jenn and I traveled up to Vancouver to visited Mẹ(Vietnamese for mom). It's our last chance before we leave for the Columbia River to get fed so much we hate life. I decided to pack my running gear and remarkably I was able to muster the will power to get up on Saturday and run. I didn't run for long and I ran slowly at that. But I did get out. It was mostly road with just a small portion of trail. The route started out with about 3/4 flat and the took me down a long hill. Once down the hill it was a short run to the trail where I knew then was a very steep set of wooden stairs. I was able to climb to the top without stopping but I definitely got a strong workout. I turned around at the top and looked forward to the long climb back. I hung in there and never stopped up the long return. My second half ended up being about the same time as first which was nice considering all the downhill that was in the first. I did take it very slow going down the first decent to be sure not to aggravate the shin splints. I returned home to breakfast waiting for me.
Tonight we ran a 15 minutes tempo run with a 2 mile warm-up. It was a pretty uneventful run. I decided to take it easy and not push myself too hard. I also ran on the grass as much as I could as I'm still battling slight shin splints. We ran out for 7 minutes 30 seconds and then back. I managed to real the one mile marker right before the turn around so I now know I'm running at least a 7:30 mile. This is actually not that bad but compared to everyone else in the group I feel terribly slow.
I almost didn't go out tonight because I was so tired from being out late the night before but I managed to suck it up and go anyway. I was happy that I made this choice as I think the run went well. Afterward a few of us went out to eat at Chipotle.
Ok, let's begin this season. We'll start counting the miles on Tuesday March 17th. I turned 35 and I have a gut. It's time to take a hard look in the mirror and realize that I'm really not the guy I was just a couple years ago. I've kept a blind eye on my waist and two wide eyes open during every meal. I guess that's how it starts. Well, it's got to stop.
I guess the young guy who took for granted a inherent slimness and inexhaustible metabolism is gone. I'm going to have to start really applying some elbow grease in my workouts. Um, I mean actually start doing a workout. And I don't mean running. I think this guy needs to start doing some push ups and sit ups. Booo. I've always hated exercise of any kind. I really don't consider running exercise. In fact, sports aren't exercise. Exercise is just a by-product. Exercise for the sake of exercise seems so unimaginative. Seems there's got to be something more fun that can target you muscles groups better than lifting weights. NO? But I suppose this is coming from a guy who doesn't have the drive(desire, potential etc.) to try winning a race.
Tuesday was cool. Lots of folks showed up for the Tuesday night run and drink at Barca afterward. Being that it was my birthday it was indeed extra special. The actual run was ok until the low uphill. My legs just were not recovered from Tiger yet and I had to walk through some of it.
Just one more week until the Gorge. I look for to getting a lot of running in and coming back to Seattle a rejuvinated runner.
Hehe, Sometime soon I'll start thinking about my mile total again. Right now it's not much of a concern. The concern is just getting out there. And I have been, to some degree, getting back out there but it's been slow going.
Saturday I met with Jim and Andy and we climbed Tiger Mountain. The conditions were pretty undesirable. Mid 40s and raining. I was grossly unprepared for the day. It wasn't raining on the west side and comparatively speaking it was warmer than it had been in days so I wore shorts. I doubled up on with a long tech shirt and a sleeveless one. I also had gloves but it would turn out to be not nearly enough.
We started at Andy and Malia's after a few minutes of hanging out. I got a tour of the new addition to the Bechtel house. And Penny decided to christen their beautiful wood floor with a pile of Penny poo. Aaaawwwwkward.
SO... They live right at the base of Tiger Mountain and have the luxury of running right out their front door and up to the trails. So up we went. It started out fine, a little cold but running kept me warm. At up we went. And up. And up some more. Jim took an impressive lead up the climb and Andy wasn't too far behind him. The first leg of the climb I never stop which felt good even though I went really slow. If I learned anything from all the trail running a couple years ago it was that walking at any time up the hill will crush your spirit. It's always best to keep running no matter how slow. Well, at least that's what works for me. Andy was walking /running and still managed to be minutes ahead of me on the climb.
Then we hit snow. And it was really tough to climb. With little traction I was forced to hike and my spirit was crushed. For the rest of the climb it was walk/run. But then we finally got to the top and it was gorgeous. It was snowing and a foot of fresh snow covered the ground. Once my heart rate leveled out I was unsatisfied with being in the back. I politely asked Jim if he minded scooting aside so I might pass but Jim humorously decided this was smack talking. Once in front I was in my element. This is the type of running I live for.
I guess I'm just a weirdo but being in extreme conditions with two dogs running at my feet, snow covered branches whipping at my arms and legs turns me into something primal. I start running like I'm being chased. My adrenaline rushes and I run faster and harder than I should be. My feet land instinctively into the snow without the knowledge of what lies below. I keep a fast turnover rate so that I never put too much weight on either leg at any time. My legs take on crazy positions as I pivot into my next line. It is me running and being a good animal. And there's little in this world that makes me feel more alive.
After a while I am soaked from all the snow that I've run through. And now I need to keep running as fast as I can to keep my temperature up. We finally come to the descent and it's very technical. I've only done this route before going up and it's too steep to run. Rocks and roots. With today's conditions it is potentially a dangerous descent. SO what do I do. Throw caution to the wind and run it fast. I was grabbing on to trees as I went down. Once out of the rocky portion we entered a snowy section again and now it was like skiing. There were moments when I was sliding for six or seven feet at a time. I loved it. In a matter of no more than 10 minutes of descent I managed to gain five minutes on my fellow runners. I waited at an intersection for them and beagn to freeze. The dogs had come down with me and I got a little nervous because Maile wasn't sure what to do. She ran off back up the trail as I tried to get her to stay with me. Eventually the caught up and we continued down. Once we got down to the flats again it was back of the line for me. I may be a crazy guy who loves downhills but I'm still not in any shape to be running for more than a couple hours. And with all that crazy primal running I had nothing left for the remainder.
I really enjoyed this run. It probably wasn't a good run in the training sense but who cares. Why does there need to be a goal to running. Can't just enjoying the run itself be the goal? If it is, then I achieved my goal that day.
When I started this blog, a couple years ago it was because I read an article in Runners World about how to stay disciplined and keep running. I really didn't need it at the time because I was in the height of my running craze. I just started one because I thought it might be fun to keep a runner's journal and indeed it was. I love looking back at those posts I made and I'm glad I created a record of such a wonderful summer. It really was one of the best times of my life. So now here I am, more than a year has passed without any posts and I haven't run consistently since.
So now I look to the blog again. But this time I'm taking the advice of runner's world and using this to jump start a sad affair with running. I hope by jumping on here and jotting some notes down I'll be more likely to get out and run.
And what a good time to start. I'll be spending some time down on the Columbia River where a world of new trails awaits. I love the trails on Cougar Mountain and up in the Cascades but I get bored easily and need new trails to explore.
As for this post...
Cougar Mountain. I met Andy and Maile out there at 9 on Saturday with Penny ready to run. It's only my third trail run in over 3 months. I ran for 90 minutes the first weekend, 45 minutes the second and this weekend I did 2 hours 15 minutes. It's a fast climb up in mileage and 'm hurting for it now. Shin Splints. I guess I'll continue to get these as long as I'm young and foolish about my training. They're a painful reminder to slow things down when I first start building.
The conditions were great. 40-50 degrees but clear sky and sunny. I think we did some where around 10 miles.
Ok, so it was a boring first post, but it's a start.
Kevin Gosselin is influenced by sci-fi and fantasy art, comic books, anime, the masters and too many contemporary artist to fully list. Amongst the most influencial are Remington, Frazetta, Darrel K. Sweet, Thomas Eakins, Norman Rockwell and J.W. Waterhouse. Kevin has always been inspired by realism but has grown fond of the low brow illustration style fine art scene. Coming to the realization that most every traditional art (figure sculpture, still life and landscapes) has in some way already been done, Kevin has now leaned his art toward the fantastic. It is only by digging in to his own mind that he can possibly create something that has yet to be seen. For this reason Kevin is exploring the designer toy scene. It mixes his love of sculpture, illustration and fine art and is the perfect output for his passions.
Kevin Gosselin grew up in the tiny New England town of Northwood, New Hampshire. Although heavily influenced by many genres and artists, Kevin owes his career in the arts to two major influences. The art of Iron Maiden cover artist Derrek Riggs and his twin brother Keith who always knew he wanted to be an artist. It was only by following the career choices of his brother that Kevin decided to go to art school to develop his skills. Both brothers attended an Honors Art program at The Boston Museum School of Fine Art their senior year of high school and then moved to Sarasota, Florida to attend Ringling School of Art & Design.
After earning his Bachelors in Fine Art and Illustration Kevin got what he considers his real art education while working for the great Robert Antovel at Art & Frame of Sarasota, the best art supplies store in town. After picking up the framing trade Kevin moved on to what would be his masters program. Kevin was hired as a painter by Hagen-Wallace, a props shop for Feld Entertainment. Here Kevin learned how to paint faux finishes and would eventually find himself in the sculpting department where he would discover his true passion.
Again with the help of his brother Keith, Kevin advanced into another career. After college his brother taught himself web design and he passed along the knowledge to Kevin and they both were hired by Hydrogen Media. At the height of the dot.com era, HMI was a powerhouse collection of talent. But all things must pass and Kevin was part of massive layoffs. After a year of freelancing web design Kevin accepted what would be his last job. For seven years Kevin acted as the production end of a small Marketing Firm in Tampa Bay Florida. It would be here that Kevin would develop his web and graphic design skills but also his strong desire to remove himself as far as possible from the world of corporate advertising. Finally realizing where his passions lay, Kevin decided to redirect his efforts to his true passion for the arts.
Kevin lives with his super cool, beautiful wife, daughter and two dogs in Seattle, WA. Up until his decision to pursue fine art Kevin was, and intends to still be, an avid ultra trail runner. He spent many hours running through the mountains of Washington and completed ten marathons, three 50ks and one 50 mile ultramarathon. Kevin has blogged extensively about his passion for running which can be found here.