Interstate Training

March 31, 2008

I had a pretty good 16-mile training run Saturday morning. The weather sucked (a little sleet and some ferocious winds on the Columbia), my legs hurt, and I had some problems with the fanny pack I was using (I somehow got it turned with the wrong side facing me for a number of miles, believe it or not… my lower back still looks rug-burned from it), but other that that it was a good run. It was my first interstate run, starting in Vancouver, Washington, then going across the I-205 bridge into Portland, then back.


There’s a bike path in the center of the 205 bridge, which of course is loud, windy, and isolated. Kind of a unique experience though. As you can see, the bridge is about two miles long. The bulk of it runs uphill to the north; I’d say there’s about a one mile section with a moderately steep, perfectly consistent grade. A little like running on a treadmill :-( Better scenery :-) Even noisier, though :-( During the forty minutes I was on the bridge, I didn’t see another runner or any bikers.

For once I wasn’t staring at my GPS every minute to see how fast I was going. I still managed to hit the kind of training pace I was looking for though, which was nice. I averaged 9:20/mile, with faster miles toward the end.


Thursday hill reps

March 28, 2008

My highly scientific training plan (“making it up as I go” is what it is technically termed) called for a hill workout last night, to build strength, cardio, and strong moral fiber. So I ran three of those little 1.5 mile loops near my house that include The Hill (180 foot climb in 0.25 miles). It definitely felt easier than the last time I did 3x up that beast. Still not a walk in the park though. Totals 4.97 miles, about 50 minutes, 9:59 minutes/mile average.

Not something I want to do, stop giving me those worried looks

March 27, 2008

A fellow name of Ben Saunders has just started on a speed record attempt for reaching the north pole on foot (skis), unsupported. (That means dragging everything along with him the whole way. In a big sled.) From his start at Canada’s Ward Hunt Island, it’s 478 miles as the crow flies. He’s aiming for 30 days. Normally this would all be completely abstract to me. But his blog is well-done and looks like it will be frequently updated, and makes it seem all quite real. In a short day one, he made about three nautical miles in 2.5 hours. Check out the movie on this page for a little more (highly-produced documentary-style) background.

My First Stress Echocardiogram

March 25, 2008

The stress test is done, but I won’t have the results until the doctor looks at the data and his nurse calls me, I guess. It was not as grueling as I feared and/or hoped it would be… it seems that for a stress echo, they only need you with an elevated heart-rate, above 85% of an estimated maximum, not at your maximum effort. They must have just used the old 220-age formula (bogus!) to guess my max rate (183 bpm), so they wanted to get me somewhere over 85% of that (155 bpm) on the treadmill, then stop and have me lie down on the table real quick to get my heart imaged. (I’ll note that 220-age doesn’t seem all that far off for me, but I’m surprised they use it — as far as I know it is generally discredited, and I know one person at least who differs quite a bit from the formula.)

Before hopping on the treadmill, they attached a full belt-mounted set of EKG electrodes to my chest, and before that, they had to shave a few spots… I look a little like Steve Carell after a half-complete chest waxing now. They took my blood pressure twice at rest: first it was 128 over something, then a little later, 142 over something. After they started the treadmill on a very slow setting and I had been walking for a couple of minutes, it was back down to 120 over something. Are they sure these blood pressure readings are useful? It might just be a random number generator.

They used the Bruce Protocol for stepping up the treadmill speed and incline. Here’s how it went.

Stage Speed (mph) Pace (minutes/mile) Incline Comments
1: 0-3 minutes 1.7 35 10% zzzzz
2: 3-6 minutes 2.5 24 12% Stretch, yawn
3: 6-9 minutes 3.4 18 14% Brisk walk
4: 9-12 minutes 4.2 14 14% This would be a very slow jog if not for the hill
5: 12-14.5 minutes 5 12 16% Sweating profusely now

It’s the slope that gets you, not the speed. I would have liked to give stage 6 a try, but after my heartbeat got up to 159 or 169 and stayed there for a while, the nurse who was doing the treadmill part (and taking the blood pressure readings every three minutes) told me I could quit when I wanted. A minute or two later, I guess she decided that waiting for *me* to want to quit wasn’t the way to go :-) We stopped two and a half minutes into stage 5, I think. That initiated what the echo tech had described as the “hard part”: quickly getting over and onto the examination table. It wasn’t bad. Except for all the sweat. It was warm in there.

So there you go. Hopefully that will be my last time on a treadmill for a few years.

Recovery from the long run; new shoes; stress echo cardiogram today

March 25, 2008

I’m definitely still recovering from Friday’s long run — it feels more like a race recovery than the usual training recovery. I ran five miles last night, averaging 8:45/mile. My right ankle had been hurting a little the previous few days, but last night during the run it was my left shin complaining. Not a big deal though.

Oh! New shoes! I bought yet another pair of Brooks Addiction 7 men’s size 10 EE last night before the run. This time I’m going to do a better job of tracking how many miles I put on them. Let’s see… my total running mileage before last night’s 5.1 was 1248.3.

I have a stress echo cardiogram today at 1:00. That means I’ll be violating one of my rules: I’ll be running on a treadmill! Special case, right? It also means that I’m supposed to skip lunch; I guess they get too many people puking on the treadmill otherwise.

Restaurant: Sel Gris

March 22, 2008

Sel Gris
1852 SE Hawthorne, Portland, OR 97214
(503) 517-7770

Thursday afternoon I found out that we were getting Friday off at work, and that seemed like a good excuse for going out to dinner, so I made a reservation at Sel Gris and told Sweetie that we were going on a “surprise date”. The restaurant called back a little later and said they had a cancellation at the “chef’s counter” and would I like it? I wasn’t sure; they talked me into it.

The chef’s counter is a small bar overlooking the large open kitchen. It’s a pretty small restaurant, and the kitchen takes up a lot of the floor-plan. It seemed a bit form-over-function. It was entertaining watching them cook, it was interesting watching them plate the various dishes (and guessing what they were). It was impressive how quick the dishes made it out onto tables once they were ready. It was a little unnerving watching the chef stare out at the diners during the slow moments. The counter seating also made for much more difficulty people watching. And the counter was illuminated from beneath, shining though an open-weave tablecloth, all to somewhat annoying effect.

The bread and butter was a brioche and some slices of some bread or another. The brioche looked beautiful and was a nice touch, but it was on the dry side and (deliberately, I’m sure) heavily surface salted. The bread was nothing interesting at all. On the plus side, once we finished it all (yes, we’re pigs), another plate of the same was immediately set down.

We started with the “bacon and eggs” or ris de veau appetizer (sweetbreads served with ball of batter surrounding an egg yolk), since I’d heard good things about it. Neither of us had ever had sweetbreads (calf thymus or pancreas) before. It didn’t blow me away. The tiny little sweetbreads themselves were unremarkable (“tastes like chicken,” sweetie said, and she wasn’t wrong — it was actually McNuggetty) and the egg yolk thing was interesting, but kind of disjoint — it didn’t meld with the rest in a meaningful way to me, it just tasted like yolk.

Next we shared the crab salad: “Oregon Dungeness crab, avocado, grapefruit supremes, radish, cranberry vinaigrette, grapefruit granita”. The granita was on the side, served over thin slices of a large and unusually colored radish, while the rest of the ingredients were formed up into a big spiky-looking round tower, all served on a interestingly shaped plate, with dots of sauces off to one side, along with one stray ball of avocado. Ball? Oh, yeah, all the avocado in the salad was in ball form. So… ring mold, tall food, careful dots and drizzles of sauce, avant-garde plates, and carefully melon-scooped vegetables. Yep, it’s haute cuisine. Isn’t that, like, so ’90s? Well, it’s OK by me so long as the flavors live up to the presentation. Did they here? That night, for me, not usually. Again, form over function. I thought the crab salad tasted fine, and I enjoyed the granita, but there was nothing compelling about it. Watching the various stacked and ring-molded dishes get plated up for other tables, I got a little disgruntled that I couldn’t tell what any of them were. The haute artistry has a way of reducing it all to the same abstract entity.

For the main course, I got the escolar (“grilled, with a lemongrass-coconut broth, Mediterranean mussels, clams, cabbage wrapped rice cake, aioli & Meyer lemon”) and sweetie the lamb shank (“braised Cattail Creek Farm shank, chestnut honey glazed baby carrots, curried cauliflower, lentils du puy, lavender sel gris”). Things picked up here. My fish was served atop the cabbage roll, swimming in a broth and sauce swirled with colors; the clams and mussels were out of their shells and in the broth. It was really good. Sweetie’s lamb was also fine. It had these little round red-purple berry-shaped things, that were too firm to be a berry. She asked the waitress. Those were the carrots. They were purple carrots, scooped out with a tiny melon baller into half-rounds. Well of course. Still, it was good.

Dessert: a chocolate raspberry marquis (two mousses layered on one another), served with a cocoa nib praline, and an apricot bread pudding, with a few sauces and a little ice cream. The marquis was a little gelatinous, the bread pudding had some sauces fighting each other (the basil oil, in particular, wasn’t being a good neighbor), but they were OK.

Toward the end of our meal two women took newly-vacated seats next to us at the counter. I didn’t think much of it until Sweetie looked over and erupted “Oh My God!” easily loud enough for them to hear. I looked over and found myself exchanging a smile with local-plus celebrity Storm Large, two seats over. We’d seen her in Cabaret not that long ago. She ordered the oysters and the lamb, and seemed to have a great time at the chef’s counter… watching the food was like porn, I believe were her words to her friend.

Celebrity encounters aside, Sel Gris didn’t live up to my expectations. That’s a shame, I really wanted to love it.

Long Run

March 21, 2008


(Full map)

Wow, 22 miles was a long way today. Well, 21.3; I walked most of the way in after that. I’m not surprised it was a challenge. My cold made me miss my last planned long run, two weeks ago, so I was jumping right to 22 “cold turkey”, as it were. Plus, I’d already run 21-some miles in the last six days, including a 15K race and a hard six-mile run the day after. So I was neither properly trained up nor in any way rested.

(mi )
M Spd
1 10:01 1.00 6.9 123
2 9:37 1.00 7.2 127
3 9:42 1.00 6.7 127
4 9:39 1.00 7.2 124
5 9:32 1.00 6.9 125
6 9:27 1.00 7.4 127
7 9:44 1.00 7.2 127
8 9:40 1.00 6.7 125
9 9:40 1.00 6.7 124
10 9:38 1.00 7.2 127
11 9:42 1.00 6.7 127
12 9:57 1.00 7.4 127
13 10:11 1.00 7.4 123
14 9:50 1.00 6.9 126
15 10:02 1.00 6.9 128
16 10:01 1.00 7.4 126
17 11:01 1.00 6.7 125
18 10:20 1.00 9.2 126
19 11:04 1.00 11.6 128
20 9:58 1.00 6.9 128
21 12:04 1.00 6.3 125
22 16:20 1.00 5.6 102
23 4:28 0.31 5.8 32

I parked near the east end of the Sellwood Bridge, at Umatilla and Seventh. The plan was to run six miles east on the Springwater trail, then back, then after a pit stop at my car, do the ten mile Sellwood-to-Steel-Bridge loop along the river.

I’d never been on the Springwater east of Sellwood before, but I knew there was a gap in the path through the Sellwood neighborhood. It looked like you could just make your way to SE Linn Street and follow it east until it ended to pick up the trail. That’s what I did, and it worked. Then there’s a nice trail segment over these three new bridges they built… one over a creek, one over 99E, and one over a railroad. For a while the path is well off-road and through a park, but eventually it becomes a bit more urban, following Johnson Creek Boulevard and crossing several larger streets. The trail was pretty quiet on a Friday. Once out of the park area, I don’t remember seeing a single other runner. A few bikers, a few walkers, and a few drunks… that was it. It was a little sad.

Returning the way I came, I got back to the car with 12 miles down and 10 to go. My legs weren’t feeling great, and I was somewhat fatigued overall, but I wasn’t feeling so bad that I didn’t want to keep going. I had some pretzels and filled up my water bottle and I was off, across the bridge then north. The miles were getting harder and harder and I was slowing down a bit. I just kept running. I tried to focus on listening to to radio (NPR, Science Friday and Day To Day by then) and on just moving forward.

The last five miles weren’t much fun. It hailed a bit, just to set the mood. I started with some short walk breaks in there too, to try to recover some energy. They started getting longer and longer, and shortly after mile 21, I called it a day, and walked (somewhat painfully) the rest of the way in. Except when I would get impatient and jog a bit, just to get back to the car quicker. Even my quitting isn’t quite right!

Looking back on it, it went about as expected. Like I said, I wasn’t ready or rested for this run. But I still felt like I needed to do it to jump-start my schedule of long runs and get it back on track for the Eugene marathon, May 4. We’ll see how that works out.