Catching Up (and a big announcement)

September 28, 2009

Oh! Hello. It’s been a while. Catching up…

relayTuesday Sweetie and I got all dressed up, rounded up the parents, and headed down to the county courthouse to get married. Which went pretty well. This signaled the start of what would prove to be at least four days of serious overeating and drinking. Our honeymoon was on the coast, and we had a great time.

The Saturday before that, I ran in the Rockin’ Relay, a fun little four-person relay where we each ran three 2.18 mile legs. In theory, anyway. In reality, their course was closer to 2.08 miles, except for the very first of our twelve legs, which was even shorter. So we ran about 25 miles altogether. No matter, it was still tons of fun. I ran all three of my legs at something very close to a 6:38 pace. The picture is from leg two or three. My knee, which had been depressingly painful on the preceding Thursday, came through it in decent shape too.

Between the vacationing and — especially — the desire to let my knee heal as best it can, I haven’t get a lot of running in since the wedding. Just a few miles on the beach Wednesday and a few more Friday. Friday’s run didn’t go that well — I was off the beach on a sidewalk when I didn’t see a curb going down to the street. I fell, hard. Scrapes on both knees, a pretty bad gouge on my left middle finger, some little chunks taken out of both palms, and a seriously overextended right hand. The right index and middle fingers are still a bit tender, but I’m OK.

So, I’ve got just six days until the Portland Marathon, a still-questionable knee, healing wounds, and slovenly eating habits during my taper. I’ve decided to revise my goals down a bit. I’m back to my “original” Portland Marathon 2009 goal: 3:30:00, or an eight-minute-per-mile pace. Boston Qualifying can wait until the next one. It’s also entirely possible my knee will force me out early, but I’m keeping my fingers crossed.


Every Run

September 18, 2009

Here’s a fun graph showing the length of every one of my runs since I started in February 2007.


That big stripe down the bottom are my six-mile Monday and Wednesday runs from the Beaverton store of the Portland Running Company. The eight over 25, in order, are the Portland Marathon, two training runs in Forest Park, Hagg Lake, the Eugene Marathon, The Pier Park 6-hour, Hagg Lake again, and the Eugene Marathon again. You can clearly see the four months when I was nursing my plantar fasciitis with no runs over 10 miles.

It’s interesting at least

September 17, 2009

My planned 22-miler last night turned into a 14-miler as my knee started hurting more and more. I first felt it around mile seven, and the soreness kept increasing, leveling off a little around mile ten but getting to the point of “I’d better stop” by the end. It was a nice evening, sprinkling and cool, and other than the knee I felt great.

So, it looks like the Portland Marathon is going to be something of an experiment for me this time around. There’s not going to be another chance for a long run before the race itself. Then again, I have done four 20+ long runs since late July. Unfortunately my last one was August 22, six full weeks before the race. My half marathon two weeks after that should stand in for a long run to some degree, I imagine.

Running, I have heard, is an experiment of one. This should be an interesting chance to learn something new. Until the marathon, my priorities are to balance the healing of my knee (which is probably back at square one after last night) with the maintaining of conditioning. And to stay positive.


September 14, 2009

I ran 2.6 miles on the track Thursday night before I felt something funny in my knee. Friday morning, I ran six miles and it felt OK, with only a mild gradually increasing soreness. Saturday we were at the coast and I ran 5.5 miles on the beach with no problems. I think my knee’s OK now.

Leaving only the question of when the heck I am going to do my last long run before the October 4th Portland marathon. The plan was originally to do it this last weekend. When I realized that wasn’t going to happen, the new plan was to do it next Saturday. When I remembered I’m committed to three or four two mile legs of the Rock’n Relay on Saturday, the new new plan was to run it this Wednesday, after work. That will be a new trick for me… I’ll do nothing but work and run all day, basically. The good news is that a two and a half week taper might be just right for me.


September 10, 2009

Waiting for my knee to get better has been frustrating. It doesn’t hurt to walk on it, but sometimes I’ll straighten the leg out a certain way or bend it a certain direction, and it’s still not right. I’ve felt it at both the bottom and top of the kneecap, laterally centered. I was going to try a little running last night but decided against it in the end. I may try tonight, depending on how it feels throughout the day.

Overdid it?

September 8, 2009

My plan for this week was to run a lot of miles, all of them slow. This is planned as my peak mileage week before the Oct 4th marathon, with my last long run coming on Friday. So even though I had raced a half marathon the day before, I did three slow miles before my usual six-mile Monday-night group run. And even though I did the group run slowly, too (an 8:49 average pace), something still happened. In the last half mile or so, my left knee started hurting, getting quite painful by the end.

Or maybe it wasn’t that I ran too much, maybe it was that I got new shoes. I switched to the Mizuno Wave Alchemy model last time I purchased running shoes, about three months ago. Much to my tearing-my-hair-out chagrin, since then the running store has stopped selling the model I bought, the Alchemy 8, and now only has the newer Alchemy 9. I hate the shoe companies. Hate them hate them hate them.

In any case, whether it’s from too much running or new shoes or too much running on the new shoes, my knee still isn’t feeling right. The pain feels like a sore or bruised kneecap, generally over the middle bottom of the kneecap but not very specifically localized. I feel it walking around some. It improved overnight and I suspect it will heal up quickly. Fingers crossed.

Race Report: 2009 Run Portland Run Half Marathon

September 6, 2009

Hoo boy, was it raining cats and dogs this morning. Actually it seemed like it wouldn’t be too bad, driving downtown, at twenty after six, when it was mostly just drizzling. But shortly after I got to the race start area, it started to pour. Everybody huddled under the tents. Maybe running in that downpour wouldn’t be so bad, but standing around waiting to start with it coming down like that would be awful.

With 15 minutes left, it started to slack off. I took off to warm up a bit and stash my jacket in my car, parked just a couple blocks away. During my warm-up, it started pouring again. Sigh. I made it back to the starting area. Now it was getting light and the rain was turning into drizzle once more. One of my running-group friends, J, was doing the half marathon too, along with his sister-in law, in from out of town. It was her second half marathon. She asked me how many I had done. She could see me counting on fingers and toes, I guess, and changed the question to how many I’d done this year. Four? Too bad they don’t get easier.

With 30 seconds to go until the scheduled start time, a rumor started to go around that they were going to be nine minutes late. You want my opinion, that’s a pretty specific amount of time to be late by. Why not a nice round ten? Observations like this are why nobody wants my opinion, by the way. Anyway, the nine minutes gave the drizzle plenty of time to pick up into a light rain by the time we started. It would alternate between drizzle and rain for the rest of the run, with one torrential downpour thrown in for good measure.

rpr_routeThe route was an out-and back up over the Broadway Bridge then north on Interstate, Greely and Willamette to the University of Portland. The hills of note were the climb onto and over the bridge and then the long steep hill up Greely.

I took off pretty fast the first mile. If I was going to have a shot at my PR, I needed to average under seven minute miles, and I knew I’d be quite a bit slower uphill. Mile one was a 6:55; J had come off the line a bit slower than me and I wouldn’t spot him again until the turnaround at mile 6.5.

I held it together well up and over the Broadway Bridge. This was a pretty small race and we were well spread out already. The next mile was mostly flat and I returned to a seven-minute pace.

Then came the hill. In some ways, it wasn’t as bad as I feared. It felt nothing like that monster in the Helvetia Half, for instance. That one had me almost ready to throw up by the time I crested it. This one, I did my best to take it easy. I think I should have taken it a little easier than I did. I made it through that mile in 7:28, but I was still paying for it during the next mile, where, working really hard, I managed only 7:07.

Now we were up on the exposed bluff overlooking Swan Island and the North Portland industrial area. The wind became a factor in here. It was a strong wind. A couple times I nearly lost my hat. Running into, or even across, this wind was definitely more work than it would have been on a calm day.

What can one do? Plug ahead. Try to run the best lines. (People are amazingly bad at this. Curb huggers, cure thyselves!) Count steps and breath. At the turnaround, I saw that J was just a little bit behind me. A hundred feet? I said something about him being right there and he said something I can’t remember but with an inflection that made it sound like he wasn’t sure he was going to catch me. Or maybe he wasn’t sure he was going to survive another six and a half miles. I know I wasn’t.

The return trip on the bluff is a not-visible-to-the-naked eye gentle incline that gets the better of you as you wonder why you’re slowing down for no apparent reason. The last mile of it is the worst; I gasped through a 7:09 there. Then comes the tricky part. The run down Greely. Take it too slow, and you’re not grabbing back any of the time you lost on the way up. Too fast and you’re thrashing your legs and missing out on a valuable chance for some recovery. I pounded down at a 6:45 pace or so, which doesn’t sound too bad. The torrential, soaking, stinging, driving rainstorm hit as I was nearing the bottom of the hill. Just carrying that extra water weight around in my shirt had to hurt. And the wind! Oy. So reaching the flat, and then the uphill as Greely hits Interstate, was not so much fun, no. The mile after the hill sucked. At one point early into it I looked down at my Garmin and saw I was averaging about an 8:00 pace thus far into it. “Yikes,” I thought, “that’s slower than my marathon goal pace and here I am in a wee little half marathon, jogging that kind of speed?”  I picked it up after that but still covered the 11th mile in all of 7:22. I was pretty sure I wasn’t going to PR at that point.

Have I ever mentioned that in the two and a half years I’ve been running, every race I’ve entered has been a PR? It’s a stupid stat, but it’s mine. It was mine.

J passed by me right near mile marker 11, as we were heading up onto the Broadway Bridge. It would have been nice to rally and overtake him, but I didn’t have another gear in me. I kept him in sight through the last two miles, but he was steadily pulling away. J got a PR, finishing about 35 seconds ahead of me. My time, unofficially, was 1:32:38, a 7:05/mile pace. That’s less than a minute off my half marathon PR from two months ago on a much easier course in nicer weather. I think I did good today.

Elevations: The elevation chart doesn’t have the bridge elevations at miles 1.5 and 11.5 right — the elevation data that the chart is generated from thinks we were running at river level instead of on the bridge.


Mile splits: 6:55, 7:08, 7:00, 7:28, 7:07, 7:00, 7:01, 7:01, 7:09, 6:51, 7:22, 7:08, 7:00

Official Results: 1:32:37. 23rd/240 finishers, 19th/120 men, 2/22 in my age group.