Good end to an iffy week

June 27, 2010

I did a run on Tuesday afternoon where my right calf felt either very tight, or mildly injured. Then, Tuesday afternoon my sinuses suddenly started filling up. By that night I was sure I had a cold; I stayed in bed most of Wednesday. Thursday, I was feeling better and both went to work and managed a five-mile run. My calf felt somewhat better, but my hamstrings felt sore. This was the first time I can ever recall having sore hamstrings. Running downhill as fast as I could for miles on end (during last Saturday’s half marathon) definitely did a number on me.

Saturday, I had a 24-miler planned. This was to be a run-up to next weekend’s 30-mile training run, so I felt it would be best not to miss it. Having taken full rest days both Wednesday and Friday, I thought I might be OK.

I also tried out some new trail shoes on this run, Montrail Sabinos. I’ve been rolling my ankle far too often on the trail in my regular (street) shoes, and I thought it might make a difference. Some extra traction couldn’t hurt, either. The Sabinos are supposed to be on the supportive side for a trail shoe, so I have my fingers crossed that they will work out for someone with over-pronation like myself.

I parked at the Germantown road lot  (Wildwood milepost 24.6) and did a double out-and-back, first to milepost 18, then to milepost 30. I took it quite slowly (11 minute miles, on average), so I was out there for four hours and twenty-four minutes. It went really well!

My legs got a little beat up and achy, and my feet were hurting a bit, but I didn’t run low on energy or have any other problems. The new shoes were… OK. I appreciated the extra traction but felt like my forefoot was sliding around a bit much in there, and also that my little toes were cramped. I feel like they contributed to my feet hurting more than they usually might. That said, I had no blisters or chafing.

I only rolled my left ankle once. It was a mild roll; the problem is that my ankle is still not recovered from all the bad rolls it has had over the last month, so even the mild one hurt quite a bit. I’m not sure how long I can expect it to take to heal, but I imagine every time I roll it even a little I am setting the clock back on that. My calves, quads, and hamstrings were fine. Just to give myself a little extra recovery from last week’s race and this week’s cold, I didn’t run at all on Sunday either. That makes it “just” 40.9 miles for the week. Nothin’.

I’ve got one more month until my first 50-mile run. If I get through next week’s 30-miler in decent shape, I’ll feel pretty good about my prospects.


Race Report: 2010 White Salmon Backyard Half

June 19, 2010

The finish line, on the main street through White Salmon, right in front of Everybody's Brewing.

OK, right up front I’ll say this was a great race, much better organized than many I’ve run that weren’t free. Which this one was. Free, I mean. I don’t know how or why the Columbia Gorge Running Club and race director Allan Dushan do it, but I sure hope they do it again next year.

I left the house at seven for the 90-minute drive out to White Salmon, a little town in Washington perched up on a hill over the Columbia River directly across from Hood River. Taking I-84 on the Oregon side and crossing the Hood River Bridge made for an easy trip. I’d never crossed that bridge before. It has a 75 cent toll (each way) and one of those metal grid driving surfaces which grip your tires and wrestle with you for vehicular control. Fun!

The race started and finished in the center of town, in front of a brewpub called Everybody’s Brewing, which was nice enough to open up their doors early to let runners stay warm or use the restrooms. Registration, such as it were, took place at a tent out front. We had to sign a waiver; that was about it. Most people also offered up a donation to the newly formed Columbia High School cross-country team.

Right before the start, Allan told us there would not only be three aid stations but that they had also measured the course with a wheel (13 miles and 100 feet) and put down mile markers on the trail. Having mile markers is unusual for a trail race. Unusually awesome. He also told us that the course was amply marked with tape and chalk, though he worried the chalk might have run off in the rain. (It hadn’t.)

Yes, the rain. Like pretty much every other day in Oregon for the last two months, it was raining. It started out as a drizzle, turned into something of a soaker 30 or 40 minutes in, and dried up by the end. The rain wasn’t a big deal, since it was warm. It did make some sections of the trail into mud pits, and others — especially some side-to-side tilted sections — into treacherous slip-and-slides. All part of the fun.

The first mile was mostly asphalt and gravel and all downhill. I figured I should take advantage of the chance to go fast while I had it, and ran it in 6:50. Shortly after that, the climbs started. The course was a loop, making its way clockwise up to the top of a 2200-foot hill (or mountain, or whatever you want to call it) then coming rapidly back down.

Elevation Profile, From my GPS

As soon as the real climbing started, people started passing me left and right. There is nothing like climbing to make you feel like a real sissy pansy-ass runner. I think I’m an OK uphiller, but when I’m gasping for air and struggling to keep running, I realize I still have a way to go.

The next four miles were all uphill. Struggle struggle struggle. My slowest mile was a 13:24, followed up by a 12:30 and a 12:40. Eventually, at least, the people who were going to pass me all did. By mile five or six I was starting to overtake a few folks who might have been better at the hills than me, but who may not have had my stamina.

The trail was beautiful, running through forests and fields. The land we were passing through was all privately-owned cattle-grazing area, apparently. The owners are nice enough to let hikers and runners in, as long as they keep the gates closed and don’t bring dogs during certain parts of the year.

After five miles, we finally got some downhill. That was more like it. I bombed down the muddy trail as hard as I could. After a mile or so, we turned steeply back up again. That hurt. There was an aid station at the very top. I was carrying a water bottle, but I took some strawberries. They were really good strawberries. I chased them with a fun-sized Milky Way.

Finally we were headed down the mountain. The first few bits of this were on very difficult, narrow, slippery switchback trail, so it was hard to get much speed going. Eventually we hit some trails that were more like unpaved access roads, though, and I could really let it go. Running downhill as fast as I could for miles on end, it felt kind of like a crazy roller-coaster ride. All my concentration was on moving my legs and staring at the ever-changing terrain right in front of my feet.  My abs and back were hurting, as they often do on extended hard downhills. I heard someone catching up behind me and concentrated to go even faster. My fastest mile was toward the end of the descent, a 6:35 by my GPS.

The last mile of downhill got a bit technical again, with narrow, tricky trails. Then — bam! — a mile left, all uphill. I looked at my watch. I might break two hours. I might not. I pushed it. I looked again. Still couldn’t tell. Then I was on the streets — still uphill — and trying to remember how far it was to go. That intersection? No. The next one? No. How big is White Salmon anyway? My watch showed 2:00 now; I had missed it. I came across the finish in 2:00:24.

I gave them my little name tag that they had had us fill out pre-race, and collected my finishers’ hat. That’s right, this free race had swag! Come on! A brand-new running hat with “Backyard Half” embroidered on. Awesome.

Everybody’s Brewing had a lot of post-race business, and a sign in the window that said to leave your muddy shoes outside and use the hose over there to wash off your feet. Barefoot, I enjoyed a Cuban pork sandwich (which was enormous, and good), fries, and a beer. I might be ready to abandon the big-city life and move to White Salmon.


June 18, 2010

I’m ending a thirteen-day running streak today. I’ve run at least a mile every day since the marathon on the fifth, and at least six miles on eleven of those thirteen days. I’m taking today off to get a little recovery before tomorrow’s White Salmon Backyard Half.

I think this steady stream of daily running has left me a bit tired out; yesterday’s run in particular seemed unduly hard — why was I huffing and puffing so much? At the same time, I feel like the steady running has been better for my feet, ankles, calves, knees and hips than my former more sporadic schedules. All the typical aches, pains, tweaks and soreness just haven’t been there. It feels like my body stays more “warmed up” for running when I don’t skip days.

Oh, Canada.

June 15, 2010


Friday, after I had a six-mile early-morning run, we hit the road for the six-hour drive to Vancouver, BC. We were going there to visit Sweetie’s aunt. She lives about 15 or 20 miles outside of Vancouver, so we stayed in a hotel out that way too. We drove around in the city a little on Friday and did a couple of fun things, but mostly the trip was about visiting, not being a tourist.

I had run a lot all during the week and so only needed to run 13 miles between Saturday and Sunday to make it to 50 for the week. Saturday morning I woke up feeling like I hadn’t slept very well. I also felt pretty dehydrated. And like I’d eaten far, far too much the night before. So, rather than heading out to dodge traffic on totally unfamiliar roads, I used the treadmill in the hotel fitness room. I ran 6.7 miles on it, which felt like it took three hours.

Sunday morning I fell into a pattern and hit the treadmill again. This time, to increase the boredom, I watched soccer as I ran. I believe it was the Ghana vs. Serbia game. It was 0-0, of course. There had been one shot-on-goal the entire first half, before I started watching. For a while it looked like I was going to be lucky enough to see a 0-0 game with no shots on goal at all in the second half, but then Ghana scored on a (bogus) penalty kick, spoiling the boring magic.

Monday morning we drove home, our car full of all the wondrous bounty a Canadian supermarket can offer: Maltesers, Wine Gums, Digestive Biscuits, and — of course — All-dressed potato chips. In Canada, pretty much every brand of chips offers “All-dressed” and “Catsup” flavors. We are missing out.

Mid-week 12

June 10, 2010

We’re travelling this weekend, so I tried to pack in the miles early. After Saturday’s marathon, I did 1.6 miles Sunday, 8.4 Monday, 6 Tuesday, and 12, count’em 12 on Wednesday. Well, 11.7 anyway. Instead of driving to the running store for my usual run, I ran down there and ran back.

Now, I’m not sure if it’s because of all the miles I’ve run — 60 (eek!) over the last seven days — or if I didn’t have enough to eat that day, or if I just psyched myself out, but by mile seven or so of the twelve miler I was feeling just plain dead. My legs didn’t hurt but they had been getting gradually more dead feeling as the run went by. I was tired and ravenously hungry. After I got home I decided shoving as much food down my throat as fast as possible was the best way to go. Much to my delight, someone had left a dense, buttery, chocolate pastry with almonds in a take-out box in the fridge. I didn’t know if I was allowed to eat it but I had at it anyway. Better to beg  forgiveness than wait around, starving, for permission. (It later turned out I was the intended target all along for that heavenly fatty cholesterol bomb.)

Today I did six more miles at lunch, and felt fine. So I’m still not sure what was up with yesterday.

Free Half Marathon in the gorge: White Salmon Backyard Half

June 7, 2010

This year I’m going to make it to the White Salmon Backyard Half.

The 3rd Annual White Salmon Backyard Half trail run is happening again Saturday, June 19th at 9 am. And once again, it is FREE to enter!
White Salmon Columbia High School is putting together a cross country team this year! They are in need of donations, so if you have any spare change (or dollars) you can bring to donate, they would be ecstatic!

It’s just a fluke

June 7, 2010

I like this photo from Timberline:

See here for all the other photos from the event, most of which are awful.