28 October 2007

This Trail's Not Big Enough for the Two (or Four) of Us

Maybe the 19 degrees on Friday was just a fluke. Yesterday and today have been warm (60's) and sunny. I have a feeling that my wish-upon-a-star has come true and we're going to skip winter altogether. Wahoo!

Sadie and I went out for about 21 miles yesterday. We explored some new trails. Ran through a smoldering section of the forest. It looked like a controlled burn, but the trail was ash for about a mile and some of the stumps were still on fire. I was a bit worried that it was too hot for Sadie to run on, but the freezing temps the night before left a layer of frost and ice over much of the trail and I guess cooled the ashes a lot because Sadie was actually have fun running through the soft stuff. It was horrible to breath, though. Just a few acres burnt and I had to eventually turn around and go another direction. I can't image how horrible it is to breath the air down in California with all those fires.

Near the end of the run we turned a corner and Sadie stopped in her tracks to look down below. Momma moose and baby moose. They were on the switchback section of the trail below us. Momma moose was sure to get between us and the youngster. Sadie made sure that she got behind me. What a wimp. Not one bark or growl or "Don't worry, Scott. I'll scare off any wild animals in our path." Nope, she just looked at me like, "Hey, you're the one with more cortex so you should be coming up with the bright idea. Not me." So with all my cortex I decided that the smartest thing would be to pull out my camera phone and click a few quick photos. I figured at this point I had already been 18 miles or so and if momma moose wanted to chase me there was no energy left in the tank to escape. After a few pleasantries we moved along and had to get a little creative with an off-trail detour around momma and kiddo. None of the photos show the calf clearly but in a couple you can see a few extra legs under momma and in the top photo you can see kiddo's rear behind momma's head.

Today I put in another 14 miles. 5.5 this morning and then 8.5 just before the sun went down. The 8.5 felt really good. I wanted to finish my highest mileage week ever on a strong note. I hit some hills and really pushed hard. Sadie even looks a little tired after this week. Well, not really, but I like to think that I've tired her out. It's funny because yesterday around mile 20 she picked up a stick and dropped it in front of my as I was hobbling down the hill. She wanted to play fetch! Didn't you just run 20 miles you crazy dog?!?

Two week taper and then race week. I feel strong and confident - though I'm still have trouble wrapping my mind around the fact that I will be attempting a 50 mile race. Those kind of thought are the ones that start giving me the butterflies even three weeks out.

I know I say this a lot, but I don't care because it's true - This is so much fun, isn't it?

Keep running!


26 October 2007

Need Sleepy

Man I've been tired this week. I don't know if it's a lack of good sleep or if it's an accumulation of my miles adding up. It probably has a lot to do with the super super super busy week at work. My mind is numb. Maybe it's because I've been a vegetarian this week. Maybe more on that in a future post - in the unlikely event that it lasts. I know that now is probably not a good time to start radical dietary changes... Whatever it is, I've been low on energy.

Three weeks until JFK! I have a big weekend planned mileage wise. I'll see how my energy levels are and take it from there. For once I want to go into a race nice and rested.
The taper weeks are going to be a beautiful welcome.

I woke up this morning to a brisk 19 degrees. The season's first scrape the ice off the windshield/motorcycle morning. Only a handful of rides left before ice takes over the streets. Wasn't it just a month or so ago that I was running in 102 degrees?

There have been a couple decent runs so far this week. My main goal at this point is to stay injury free. Easy runs, generous walk breaks - just get the miles in. Shasta joined us yesterday for six miles. That ties her PR for distance. I'll never get tired of the looks I get when people see Shasta running along with me and Sadie. She has so much fun...most of the time.

I've been doing quite a few runs along the side of a rail line lately. It's virtually an unused track and the "path" along side is very rocky. Running on the rocks is my attempt to train for JFK's rocky Appalachian Trail portion of the race. Sadie met some horses and made friends. But she doesn't care about the horses as much as she cares about pouncing into the grass to stir up a rabbit or grouse. She's the best running partner a guy could ask for. She licks my wounds and urges me to keep going. I still haven't told her I'm going on an epic 50 mile race without her...

Jeanie's doing well. Things seem a bit more manageable after having a week to look at things.

A couple big runs this weekend and then taper. I'll try to grab a few photos along the way.

Keep running!


21 October 2007

Raining Sideways

This has been a tough week on the home front. Jeanie received some unfortunate news on the road to her PhD. She's pretty bummed to say the least. It's not the end of the world or anything, but it looks like it will delay her progress and keep us around here in Pullman for a bit longer than we expected. :( (Not that I don't absolutely love Pullman....cough cough)

My mom called this evening and asked, rather seriously, if everything was okay. I assumed she was referring to how our week had been but, as usual, I deflected the question with a "What do you mean?" She said, "Your running. Are you still running? You haven't posted a blog in over a week." It made me smile.

Work is at its busy season peak and since I'm on a computer all day I've been less enthusiastic this week about coming home and getting right back on the computer to blog and surf. And that's a big deal, because if I'm not on the computer when I'm in the house then there must seriously be something amiss. Yes, amiss.

The running theme for this week as been rain and wind. And cold. And darkness. Sadie LOVES running in the rain. She does circles in the mud. Bounces in and out of ditches. Catches raindrops with her tongue - inadvertently and "advertently." Jumps up and down on me because I'm just not running fast enough for her. But she HATES the bath she has to get when we're home.

This week I was supposed to hit 50+ miles but there was a bit of discomfort in my left Achilles tendon mid-week that forced me to pull back a little. Which was fine, because I'm too close to the JFK 50 to do anything stupid.

I did hit 20 yesterday and then 11 today to push me over 40 for the fourth consecutive week. The 20 was a flat out and back with at least a 20 mph headwind on the way back. With cold, sideways type rain. A big week this coming week and then a two week taper until race day. I'm getting anxious and excited.

I was hoping to join some crazies on a trail run with a view this weekend, but it just wasn't in the cards to make another 5+ hour (one way) trip again this weekend. When I traded my truck for a motorcycle last year - leaving Jeanie with our only "real" vehicle - I hadn't planned on becoming a traveling runner. My next goal is to get a sidecar that I can put Sadie in for our interstate trail running adventures. That would be awe some.

The photos are from our run today. We didn't get rained on during this run, but the dirt roads were fairly muddy. I'm learning that cold weather running takes some serious planning and some lucky guessing. How much should I wear today? Too much and you're carrying everything for 20 miles and too little you're getting yourself sick for 20 miles. How long until summer?

Hope everyone is running well.


13 October 2007

On Trails

A first marathon high keeps going and going and....

Portland's been on my mind all week. And on my legs, too. This marathon was the goal when I started training at the beginning of the year. I'm just so thrilled at how far I've come. From squeaking out ten or so miles a week to completing an ultra and running a very successful first marathon. I proved myself wrong because I'll be honest that I didn't think I had it in me when my training first began. And I wonder how I would be doing if it wasn't for this blog. Runners are wonderful people and you all have been just as much a part of my training as my shoes have been. Hugs all around. (Check out the professional-but-non-downloadable-until-purchased photos of me at the marathon here.)

More than a few people have asked me how I would compare my ultra with my marathon. The biggest difference is that the Portland Marathon gave an awesome finisher's medal that I've been wearing to work all week. The Cle Elum 50k gave me a water bottle.

As awesome as the Portland Marathon was (and it was) I think it may be hard for me to get back on the pavement for that long of a run anytime soon as long as I have the option of hitting the trails. About the only thing that may entice me would be location (see Comrades Marathon). A big race like Portland has it's advantages: amazingly supportive spectators and very high energy. But a race like Cle Elum has trails. And more trails. I'm a trails guy.

Tomorrow is the Spokane Marathon. Since my JFK 50 training calls for a 20+ mile run this weekend I was entertaining the idea of running this race. But again, it's on pavement. And poor Sadie has been left behind on my weekend runs for three of the last four weeks. :( She become very suspicious of me. "Where have you been?" "Why don't you call" "Are those running shoes you're packing?" "Please tell me you're not cheating on me with another runner." "I licked your hand yesterday, doesn't that mean anything to you anymore?" So today Sadie and I had some bonding time on the trails.

Throw all sorts of goodies in the pack and let's go. Just you and me, Sadie. So I can prove to you what my true intentions are.

We saw a big bull moose as we were pulling into the trail head. Maybe not so big for a moose, but definitely bigger than a squirrel. Snapped a photo but it was too far away for my awesome camera phone to pick up.

I've been taking it easy this week. Putting in the miles, but going nice and easy to get all the kinks out from Portland. My legs have been pretty sore, but not so bad where I've wimped out and taken the elevator (are you proud of me Bella?).

Today's plan was to explore parts of Moscow Mt. (Idaho) that until recently I've never been in shape enough to reach in a single run. The Garmin came in handy also. I had no idea about the lengths of these new trails and off trails and crossing trails and up trails and down trails so it was nice to know how far I'd been running.

Everything is turning colors. Many of the trails I ran today were littered with yellow and red leaves. Nice to look at - but they hide the roots and rocks. Barely avoided a few big falls. Sadie was having a blast as usual and it was definitely worth skipping out on the Spokane Marathon to get some nice trail running in.

Stats: 23 miles - 4hr 33min
elevation chart to the right

My legs were tired but felt strong. (Does that make sense?) Sadie is currently asleep underneath my desk with her head on my feet. Today's run was the farthest she's ever been. Her previous PR was 20.5 miles. She's a good, good girl.

The JFK 50 is sneaking up on me and my dad. He's been scouting out the course over the last few weekends. A couple more weeks of putting in some good miles and then it will be taper time.

Hope everyone is having a wonderful weekend. I was slow on blog checks this week but should be back to normal soon.

Keep running!


08 October 2007

More Portland Marathon Photos

Portland Marathon - Race Report

The train station from Beaverton is empty on a Sunday morning before six o'clock. Forecast called for rain but it was still too dark to see the sky.

Saturday night I stayed with some friends I hadn't seen in awhile. They live a few hundred yards away from the light rail stop so we decided to jump on that to head to the race. Start time was 7:00am. So catch the train time was much earlier. And wakie wake time was much, much earlier. I don't like getting up early.

Deserted station when the
little hand is on the five.

SD and GD being great sports and
getting up with me to experience
a marathon from a spectator's point of view

The train was scattered with tired people in running shoes. An automated recording came over the loudspeaker and said the priority seating section is designated for the elderly and those with a disability. I asked the guy next to me if voluntarily wanting to run 26.2 miles would be grounds to claim a disability and he laughed that this was his seventeenth marathon (Portland Marathon eleven times). He asked about me and I told him this was my first marathon. He told me good luck and added that the real crazy ones, the ones with the real disability, are those who do 26 miles as a training run for 50 or 100 mile races. I was embarrassed to tell him that my first marathon actually was part of my 50 mile race training.

I pulled out my course map and Mr. Seventeen pointed to all the places where he's seen "real good runners" pass out and have to be pulled off the road by the medical crew. Was he trying to scare me?

We arrived downtown and I had no sense of direction in the dark. I had hopes of meeting up with a great group of runners near the starting line (Michelle, Rob, Jenny and other Maniacs) but there was just enough time for me to use the little boys room and make my way to the starting line. I did have the wonderful opportunity to meet and chat with Michelle, Rob, and Eric at the expo Saturday afternoon and I was invited to a great spaghetti dinner at Jenny's parent's house. It was just me and a bunch of Marathon Maniacs. You should see their secret handshakes and the funny dances they have to do when they meet up with each other. It was a crazy encounter with a little known slice of the running underworld. Believe me, they don't call them Maniacs just because they love to run marathons.

I did see Jen and her husband Shane before the start. Jen was running her first marathon too and she did great!

Still dark just before seven o'clock. Why are we starting so early?

(Before Photo)
Notice the smile and the overall
control I have over my body

Squeeze squeeze squeeze into the starting area. I hadt been that claustrophobic since I ran Bloomsday in May. The guy in front of me kept bending over to stretch his hamstrings and it created a few uncomfortable situations for me. Everyone was squeezed together pretty tight, so there's really not much room to get out of someone's way if they wanted to bend over and stretch - but this guy was determined to stretch those legs a little more even though he had 26.2 miles to get them nice and loose. I did give him my phone number in case he wanted to meet somewhere properly after the race.

"Let's get this started NOW.
It's too early for any of us to
have taken a shower this morning
and Mr. Boston Here I Come
standing in front of me
smells like, well, Boston."

"The Start"

No watch, no Garmin, no expectations. Right?

I knew my legs were probably still going to be tired from last weekend's run, so I didn't want to have any serious goal set that I would be disappointed not getting. The hope was to run strong without killing myself and to have as much fun as a person can have on a 26.2 mile run. My outside goal was to shoot for a sub-4hr.

I started out nice and easy and then slowed down a bit more. There was a little uphill section about a mile in and I walked it. Walking breaks were something I definitely wanted to keep doing. Because I didn't wear a watch I wasn't taking regularly scheduled breaks. Instead I tried to use every other water station (near the beginning) and then every water station (near the end) as a good place to relax and take a little walk while I get a drink.

Going through mile five the timekeeper yelled out 64 minutes - 27 seconds. I did the (not so) quick math and realized I was going way below a 4 hr pace. Then I realized she yelled out 46, not 64. (I don't think I'm lexdysic.)

Notice the musical guests
on the overpass. Entertainment
was popping out of every corner.

Nearing the eight mile mark I caught up with the 4hr pace group. I was feeling pretty good at this point. Tired legs, but I had gotten into a nice rhythm and was holding a nice pace. I thought I could handle easing by this group. If a faster pace was too much then I'd be fine dropping back and hanging with the 4hr group as long as I could. Well, just before mile ten I caught up with the 3hr50min pace group. These groups are led by a pacer carrying a balloon marked with the target time. I ran with this group for a bit then decided I'd stick with them as long as I could. The longer I stayed with them the better chance I had of finishing below 4hr even if I crashed and burned at the end.

I carry my cell phone with me on most of my runs. Primarily to take photos, but also to check stock market updates. My dad knows I carry my phone with me and he knew I was running the Portland Marathon and he knew I would answer the phone if he called. So around mile eleven the phone rings and I know it's my dad so I pick it up and have a little chat with him.

"Where are you?" he says.

"Just passed mile eleven," I say.

"Oh, I thought you'd be to the halfway point by now," he says.

"Nope, not yet," I say.

"How are you feeling?"

"Not bad."

"So, what shoes did you decide to wear today?"

"I went with ol' faithful."

"Yeah, that's what I figured. How's the course? Is it raining?"

"Not a drop. Nice course despite all the pavement."

"Yeah, pavement sucks."

"Well, Dad. I have to get back to my marathon. I'll call you later."

"Okay, talk to you later. Good luck. And don't forget what Bill Rodgers used to always say."

"What did he always say?"

"He said the most important thing you can do during your marathon is --BEEP BEEP-- oops, got another call coming in. I better take this. Good luck and give me a call when you're done. Bye."

I'm sure a runner or two near me was annoyed that I was talking on my phone. But if they knew it was my dad and that it was my dad who got me into a pair of running shoes in the first place and that it is my dad that I'm training to run a 50 mile race with then I think they would understand. Except for that WAY too serious lady with the buzz cut running by me shouting "Gatorade! Gatorade! GATORADE!" to the poor guy running on the sidewalk next to her in a pair of jeans with a small pack full of little Gatorade bottles.

So, I'm sticking with the 3:50 group pretty well. Walk breaks at the water stations and I fall behind a little ways. Go catch up with the pacer then fall back at the next water station.

Then the "hill." On the map it was very insignificant. And I especially wasn't worried about it because it was a measly 100 ft or so climb. But for some reason when I reached the hill it morphed into a near vertical climb. It was around mile seventeen or so and I realized that I had probably been running at a faster pace then I should have been up to that point because the hill just knocked me on my butt. The hill then climbed up to a big bridge (St. John's) that crossed over the river.

On the way up the "hill"
looking south with the sun
poking out through the clouds

Heading over the St. John's Bridge near mile 18

Downtown Portland (the start)
is barely visible on the horizon

Spectators on the bridge

At about mile twenty or so I caught back up with the 3:50 group. I was hurting pretty bad at this point but was trying to focus on something else - like my form or my cool new shirt or what's up with that extra point two at the end of a marathon.

At the water stations they were handing out little packets of some sort of honey concoction in a GU-like packet. I figured it wouldn't hurt to try it, right? Wrong. Let's just say that when I got home I went to my pantry and through out all my Honey Nut Cheerios. No more honey anything for a long time. Wow.

People were dropping like flies after mile twenty. Laying on sidewalks, puking in bushes, convulsing in the streets, taking bathroom breaks on the side of the street that you would normally want to do behind a locked door. Ah, you have to love long distance running.

Around mile twenty-three or so I was lagging behind the 3:50 group and just let them go. I was hurting bad now and just wanted to finish on my own and not in an ambulance. An unofficial aid station was giving out cups of beer instead of water and I thought I'd stop by to make a few new friends. They urged me to keep going because I was so close to the end.

I shuffled. I walked. I shuffled. I walked. I saw a 300+ pound guy pass me and so I found some extra energy to run.

Mile 25 is on the other side of the bridge

Over the bridge and back into downtown I was surprised and overwhelmed at the support from all the spectators. People were lining the streets and cheering everyone on. This was a great feeling and gave me enough of a boost to run in the rest of the way.

Can you hear her singing?

Make a quick right then a quick left and there's the finish line. My name came over the loudspeaker and I finished. A Portland Marathon finisher.

3hr 51 min 57 sec
1409/7724 overall
1027/3529 male
194/512 age group

(After photo)
Where's that smile from the start?

I was very happy with the entire weekend. Great friends, great food, great city, great weather, great event, great day to run. The only bad thing about the whole weekend was that after the race I had to drive six hours home. Wow that was a long, long ride.

I'm still tired and a little sleep deprived. This week I'll surely post some reflections on the race once I get some time to think about it.

Congratulations to all the Portland finishers! And my heart goes out to all the Chicago marathoners - those that finished and especially all those who weren't able to. What a horrible experience that must have been.

I'll leave you with a photo of the train ride back to Beaverton yesterday after the race.

Keep running!


05 October 2007

A Date With Scarlett? (Part II)

When I started my "official" training for the Portland Marathon a few months ago I posted a list of goals for the race. Since then, my overall goals have changed a bit and the Portland Marathon has now become a step toward the JFK 50 Mile run next month.

So I am posting my original goals for Sunday's Portland Marathon, with current revisions in red:

1. My main goal is to simply finish. How embarrassing would it be to have the fancy blog with all these cool people watching me and not even be able to finish?...

It might be embarrassing no matter what. I just hope I have enough in my legs to not kill myself.

2. My secondary goal is to finish under 5 hrs. This is the time that will officially qualify me for the Comrades Marathon in June '08 (my ultimate ultimate running goal).

I think this is my realistic goal for the race. 5 hrs...I can do that, right? I don't know. We'll see.

3. My I think it may be doable goal is to finish under 4 hrs. 4 hrs looks so studly, doesn't it?

Running on tired legs this week. Don't know if this will be realistic or not. I'll probably start at this pace and keep it until I can't. 2 miles? 10 miles? We'll see. It will be fun no matter what.

4. My out-of-body experience goal is to finish under 3 hrs and 11 min. This will qualify me for the Boston Marathon.

Depends on what I eat for breakfast.

5. My I've been smoking crack today goal is to finish under 2 hrs and 46 min. There's no significance to that number at all, but it looks like a good, round crack number.

No comment.

6. My Scarlett Johansson will go on a date with me (and pay the tab) goal is to finish under 2 hrs 4 min and 55 seconds. This will qualify me as the fastest marathon runner - EVER.

Great, this one just got a little harder. The marathon record was broken last weekend and now I'll have to beat 2 hrs 4 min 26 seconds. What a cruel, cruel world.

03 October 2007


What do Anne Brontë, Astrid of Belgium, Ferdinand Eisenstein, Claudia Jennings, Christopher Marlowe, Percy Bysshe Shelley, Ronnie Van Zant, Hank Williams, and Don Wilson have in common?

They all died at the age of 29.

How does this relate to me? Well, I have recently crossed over into a new (super duper scary) stage in my life where I can officially say that I have lived longer than any of them.

So now that I’m old, I was hoping to get advice from other old people out there about how to deal with life as it is now in a state of uncontrollable decline. I’ve realized that there are a lot of things that I didn’t prepare myself to deal with at this age.

What kind of stuff do old people do?
Can I only go to movie matinees?
Is it now illegal for me to wear a ball cap backwards?
What kind of clothes do I have to wear?
Can I only go to buffets to eat, or are there days when I can go to regular restaurants?
Do I have to sell my motorcycle and then wait until I’m 50 to re-buy it?
Is there toothpaste to prevent or delay the growth of dentures?
Do I have to enjoy eating mashed potatoes? Tomato soup?

You get the idea. Any advice would be helpful so I don’t make a total fool of myself out there in a world of young people.

Michelle (cont'd)

I finally got hold of some more photos of Michelle.

The last photo was about three weeks before she passed away.