June 26, 2009

Once a year, like clockwork, I show up at Team Red Lizard’s Goose Run. No, really: the last time I did was exactly a year ago today. I’m telling myself that I’m planning to do it every week this summer, but already those plans are looking a little unglued: Sweetie was going to be taking an evening class on Thursdays but she might be changing her schedule now.

There’s one good thing about doing a particular training run once a year: you really get to see your level of fitness improving! Going up the big hill to Pittock has gone from “I’m going to die, aaaaand ok now I’m walking” (year one) to “I’m going to die, but I’ll die shuffling along in this slow jog” (year two) to this year’s “I’m going to die, but I’m still moving along pretty well here.” I suspect my “hill training” at the Helvetia Half two weeks ago kicked in just in time for this run.

Going up was a workout, but coming down, as always, was so much fun. Long twisty downhills on trail are what got me hooked on running in the first place and I still love it. Lean forward and move your legs as fast as you can. Keep completely focused on the ground ahead of you. Is it dangerous? Would a fall be bad? All part of the fun.


Running while sore

June 24, 2009

Sunday night I played broomball (think hockey, on ice, but in tennis shoes) with Meetin Portland, which left me battered and sore as usual. By Monday evening I had stiffened up even more. It hurt to stand up or sit down. My left shin still ached from being whacked with a stick multiple times. Seemed like a good time to go for a run.

I was surprised that running didn’t hurt. It makes sense: the set of muscles I use while running are very well trained and didn’t get sore from an hour and a half of sliding around on the ice. It was every other muscle in my body that ached. But, by definition, I don’t need those other muscles to run.

I warmed up easy for a mile and a half, running around 8:15/mile. Warmed up, I felt good enough to go ahead and get in the week’s fast workout. The next three miles were at a 7:15/mile pace or so. My running form was a little awkward, but the effort wasn’t too awful. I cooled down for the last mile and a half with eight minute miles or a little slower.

New shoes

June 22, 2009

Most of this week I was still feeling a bit run down from Saturday’s race. Nothing bad, just not-so-fresh legs.

Wednesday I bought new shoes. I haven’t been happy with the Brooks Addictions ever since they changed them up for 2009. I tried on three pairs of motion control shoes: some Nikes,  some Asics, and some Mizunos. As soon as the Asics were laced up I knew they were out: their high, narrow arch squeezed my foot like a vise. The Nikes and the Mizunos both felt much better. The Mizunos had this cut-out area in the sole that gave me a lot of pause, though. I run on trails a lot, and this hole was just going to fill with mud, rocks, and twigs. But when I ran a little in both pairs, there was no doubt: the Mizunos felt natural, while the Nikes felt kind of “squicky” — like they stuck to the ground too long or something. I also felt the Nikes were pushing me too far toward the outside of my feet. I got the Mizunos.

I tested them out with seven miles Wednesday, four Thursday, and sixteen Saturday morning.  So far, I’m very happy with them. I never enjoyed putting on the new-model Brooks; they always felt more like a container than a shoe. These Mizunos feel soft and comfortable, like a glove.

Pics from the Helvetia Half

June 17, 2009


Race Report: 2009 Helvetia half marathon

June 14, 2009

Helvetia half marathon official results are here.

I got out to Hillsboro Stadium early — more than an hour before race time — because I knew traffic could be a bit of a pain. Even at that hour there was a long lineup getting off 26 onto Cornelius Pass Road; I bypassed that and took the next exit, which gave me an almost traffic-free approach right to the stadium. Following the crowd is not always the best way to go (something I myself have a hard time learning, especially on the highway.) This applies to races, too. During the half marathon, the crowd hardly ever took the shortest line through the curves. Usually they would make a beeline for the inside edge and then hug it, instead of cutting a straight line across the course to just hit the inside edge at the actual point of the curve. Trying to pay attention to the line, I found myself running all alone in the middle of the road a number of times… passing people who were taking the longer route.

Helvetia was my first half marathon, two years ago. I remembered two things distinctly. Number one, finishing in the stadium was fun. The stadium floor is bouncy.

The start (lower left) and finish (in the stadium) of the Helvetia Half

The start (lower left) and finish (in the stadium) of the Helvetia Half

Number two, there are ungodly horrible hills in the middle.

Elevation profile of the Helvetia half marathon. Sorry about the software bug cutting off the top.

Elevation profile of the Helvetia half marathon. Sorry about the software bug cutting off the top.

I had been hoping that I was misremembering or exaggerating the severity of the hills. It turns out I wasn’t.

Anyway, back to the start. I got my packet, walked back to the car, walked over to the start area, used the portable restroom (I was the first one in there! The toilet paper rolls hadn’t even been opened!), and walked back to the stadium. It started to rain and everyone ran into the covered stands. The rain would pass before the race started; the weather ended up being perfect: overcast in the mid to high 50s. With twenty minutes left, I walked over to the start area again and lined up for another turn at the restrooms. The line was slow and I ended up with only a minute or two to get into the starting area.

Off we went. My goal was to beat my 1:37:57 PR from this year’s Race For the Roses; that meant I wanted somewhere around a 7:30/mile pace. Miles one, two and three were 7:18, 7:20 and 7:29. The hills start a little after that. Mile four was a 7:37. Mile five has the monster hill. It really sucked the life out of me. I managed an 8:10.

Miles six and seven had some steep ups and downs as we made it through the winding out-and-back section. I felt better knowing the really big hill was behind me. 7:23, 7:32. Mile eight started uphill but soon turned into a long downhill glide. I knew I was done with all the uphill stuff and could just let it go. 7:03.

The last five miles were all relatively flat. Even a little bit of uphill was enough to get my legs complaining, though: they’d had enough of hills for the day.  Still, I was running well and starting to reel more and more people in. I could also see that the pack in front of me was a lot smaller than I was used to seeing it, in a race of this size. Mile nine: 7:12. A lot of mile 10 is on a gravel road, which I don’t mind.

During mile 10. Photo by Kelly Johnson.

During mile 10. Photo by Kelly Johnson.

I was running really hard but starting to feel pretty good about my chances of finishing well. Mile 10: 7:23. In mile 11 we caught up with the tail end of the 10K walkers. Everyone did a pretty good job of sharing the road. 7:21. I was definitely passing  more people than were passing me.

In mile 12, you have to get up over the freeway overpass, which my legs hated. It’s a short hill but I noticed it. Almost done, though. 7:24. Mile 13 is all flat, and you can just smell how close you are getting to the stadium. Somebody re-passed me and I fell into place right behind them for a few hundred yards. I don’t think he liked that. Then we came to one of those curves in the road that I talked about earlier. He followed the crowd, quickly to the inside edge. I took a lonely straight line inching gradually across. I blew by him. I passed two or three more runners as we hit the stadium parking lot and finished mile 13 in 7:05.

Just as we were about to hit the bouncy stadium floor, someone surged past me. I think it was a young woman, but my memory is a little hazy. My legs hit the bounce and I felt a thrill of tingly fight-or-flight adrenaline surge through the left and forward side of my head. I took off in a sprint, left her behind, and finished  huffing and puffing.

I felt pretty good too. A little out of breath, but my legs felt fine. (They are tested quickly at Helvetia: you have to climb a flight of stairs to get out of the stadium.) I got my finisher’s shirt. Helvetia is still the only race I’ve done where you get the shirt after you finish; I like it. I got my free hamburger. Yum. I spent 15 minutes cheering on finishers, then decided I better leave before the traffic stacked up.

Time: 1:37:29. That’s a 7:27 average pace and 2:28 faster than my previous PR. 99th out of 3135 finishers. (99th!) 88th/1064 men; 21/218 in my age group.

Choose your own adventure, Dinosaur Comics style

June 12, 2009

I loved this guest-cartoonist dinosaur comic.

Lesser Park and PCC Sylvania

June 12, 2009

I went on an exploratory run last night and found some fun trails in the woods hugging the back side of the PCC Sylvania campus. Portions of these woods are called “Lesser Park.” I only saw one “official”, maintained, trail, but there was a good network of unofficial paths threading around. Exploring them turned a planned three or four miler into five and a half.


The maintained trail was the segment running south from the track.  The track itself was pretty nicely surfaced and almost eerily isolated. The trail to the southeast got wilder and wilder as it went along, pushing down then up steep slopes, eventually running alongside an interesting creek.