Smith Rock Redo

This last Saturday I went back and ran the Smith Rock Ascent 15 Miler and it was awesome. As you might remember, I ran this race a few years ago and it was well…not good. I really love running out at Smith Rock so I decided to give this one another shot.

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I ran the entire race without my Garmin. It was dead when I turned it on at the start line. I put my entire pack (and my Garmin was in a pocket) in the fridge which I think drained the battery.  Running without knowing your pace and mileage is surprisingly freeing.

When the race started I was in the back of the pack but totally fine with it. I passed a few people as we ran along the river. I wanted to run faster but knew the course so I decided to play it safe. It was a warmer morning even at 8:45am. The forecast said it would be about 80 degrees by noon which was warm for early May in Oregon.

As we started up the hill beginning our climb, I felt the negative thoughts start to circulate within my head. But I focused on how many squats I had done in the last couple of months, how many hours of hiking and high altitude work, and how fast I had run my last mile (9:29). And amazingly enough — I PASSED PEOPLE!

Don’t get me wrong. Sweat was pouring off me but I felt good. As my stomach churned with the effort, I reminded myself that it was no big deal and this is how I felt when I climbed bigger hills. I drank my cold Nuun and chugged up the hill. I cheered on other runners who weren’t having the best day and joked with others.

Many runners stopped to take photos at the top of the hill but I wanted to beat my time. My goal was to run it in 4 hours. My realistic goal was 4:15 and even at the slower time, I would beat my previous time by about 30 minutes.

My favorite part of the course was running along the ridge. I love the flatter single track trail and the breeze that came up the side of the ridge felt great! Before long, we were at the first aid station. I ran through as I had my pack and no need to stop. I saw Willie and he cheered me on.

I ate a Kind bar while we snaked our way up another hill and before long we were at Gray Butte. I remembered this area very well. It was a motivating factor in my desire to train in the altitude room at Evolution. I stopped at the top of the mountain to enjoy the view and snap a few pictures.

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The run/walk down from Gray Butte was slow going due to the steepness of the incline and the size of the rocks of gravel (huge). My legs were a bit tired and shaky but I knew the hard part was over. I stopped off at the aid station for some Sprite which tasted better than unicorn tears. I tried to push the pace a bit as I knew I had a little more than 5 miles to go.

The sun really spotlighted me at that point. I failed to put sunscreen on the back of my neck and back of my arms and started to crisp and burn. Later it would look like I was wearing one small red sleeve on my left arm. Some of the faster 50k runners passed me along the single track trail which was nice as the  15 milers were a bit spread out.

The hikers along the way cheered the runners which always brightens any run. I slipped on the damn slick dusty rock which I tried to hustle down. I hit my ass and then hopped up slightly embarrassed. Running along the river was slow going as the river was full and looked deliciously enticing. I really wanted to jump in.

I hiked slowly up the hill to the finish line and pretended to run across the finish line. I was so excited to see 4:06:01. I beat my time by 40 minutes and 48 seconds. I realize that it sounds incredibly impressive and it is. But when you are slow, you have a great opportunity to make some huge gains. I really want to come back and run this again. My goal will be to run it in 3 hours and 30 minutes. That means I would need to cut 2 minutes off of each mile. But I think it’s doable.

I learned so much from the two races at Smith Rock. You cannot fake hard work. But positive thinking and confidence mean so much. There’s a lot of tall mountains out there. Don’t put one in front of yourself by being your own worst enemy. You have to believe in yourself, do the work, focus, and fully commit yourself to your goal.

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By the way, beer tastes so much better out of an earned glass.

An Adventure in the Works

Andy and I are preparing for a another adventure.

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Vernonia Half Marathon

I love this race for so many reasons. It’s got a great downhill which makes you feel fast. It’s low key without thousands of runners, it’s a gorgeous course and it’s pretty affordable. I ran the marathon in 2011 and PRed there. That PR still stands. The only bad thing is that it falls on the same day as Peterson Ridge Rumble.

I’ve really been working on my speed this year and wanted to do really well at this half marathon. My goal was to run a 2:20 which would be a 3+minute PR over my half marathon PR which I set in 2011. My strategy was to bring all food and hydration so I could run through the aid stations. I also woke up early and stopped drinking an hour and a half before the race to ensure I didn’t have to stop and use a porta potty mid-race.

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Me and Stephanie before the race.

I saw a few people I knew at the half marathon including Stephanie. Both marathon and half marathon are point to point races and you get bused to the start. (Or you can be dropped off). You do end up waiting for a bit of time before the race which was chillier than I expected.

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Overall I am very happy with my performance. I did struggle the last 4 miles and I ran pretty tense throughout my miles. It caught up with me and I had to fight for each mile after the 9 mile mark which you can definitely see:

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The odd thing for me was passing people after the 9 mile mark. A lot of runners started slowing down and I passed them! That doesn’t normally happen for me.

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Oregon Road Runners Club Vernonia Marathon. These photos are free for personal use of the participants as a benefit of the event.

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Almost to the finish!

Surprisingly the finish was actually quite emotional for me. I sprinted around the track passing a woman I had leap frogged with for most of the race. She shouted encouragement as I passed her. Runners although competitive are also amazingly supportive. Once I hit the finish line, I started crying.

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It takes a lot of mental focus to run fast which I knew but didn’t know. Most of my races, my goal was to finish. But this in a way is the first race that I’ve actually RACED. At the end my chest hurt from breathing hard, my legs hurt from running downhill and my shoulders ached from my arms pumping so hard and being tense.

My official chip time was 2:13:46. I PRed by more than 10 minutes.

Impulse Shopping

I’m not a huge impulse shopper but I do have my weaknesses: books. I love books. At any given time I am reading at least 3 usually 5. I always have holds at the library. I just cannot help myself.

Chris Guillebeau announced that his new book “Born For This: How to Find the Work You Were Meant to Do” had launched this morning. I clicked on the link and sure enough Amazon had the Kindle version for only $13.99 which isn’t a lot of money. Without thinking I began the quick steps to order it. Then I stopped. And thought about it.

My local library would definitely have this book. Why was I buying it? Yes, it’s great to support authors and their works but did I need to spend the actual money. Yeah it’s only $13.99 but it’s $13.99.

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The key for me is time. If I can stop myself from buying something and just think about what it is that I’m buying and why, then I usually talk myself out of it. It’s the little things that add for a person like me. A book here and there. An extra beer at Happy Hour. I don’t splurge and buy a new car but my purchases add up over time. And I want that money for other things. Like international travel.

I’ll read Chris’s new book. And later if I decide I NEED to own it, I’ll buy it. But not now.

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My Favorite Mural In Portland

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Daily Burn

Over the years, I’ve tried various cross training activities. So far my favorite is Daily Burn. There’s a lot to love about Daily Burn but the most important thing for me is results. I’ve been using Daily Burn since November and I’ve gotten stronger and faster.

If you don’t know what Daily Burn is then here’s the skinny: online workouts. Your first month is free. So I think everyone should at least give it a shot.When you sign up, Daily Burn asks you a few questions to help point you in the right direction. You sign up for a ‘program’ and each day you log in and have a workout suggested for you:

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This is my view when I log in.

Each program has a set number of days that it runs and it runs the workouts in an order that makes sense. Users are guided through the series building endurance, muscle, etc. I log in and hit play. I can also find out more about the workout by hitting “More Info”. This is where you find out if you need any equipment. Most workouts require little to no equipment which is great. You can also preview the workout.

There are so many programs to choose from for any level! They also have yoga, weight lifting, pilates, core work, kettlebells, and more cardio.

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If you don’t want to stick to a program or go outside of it for variety, you can!

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I really like that I can search using filters of time and difficulty. Daily Burn has a lot of short workouts which are perfect if you don’t have a lot of time or want to work on something specific. And Daily Burn offers a live workout every day at 9am EST (6am PST).

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And Daily Burn is really affordable!

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The more expensive program ($62.95) offers a 1 on 1 personal coach to help you meet your goals. I’m still using my gym membership but not nearly as much. Once it expires, I won’t renew it. I can workout in my own house (or office, hotel, or Amy’s bedroom) when it’s convenient for me with Daily Burn. If you are interested, go here: http://dailyburn.com/invite/Eb6qb. If you sign up and purchase the membership, I do get a credit.

Shamrock 15k

Last Sunday I ran my first Shamrock run. In all of the years I’ve lived in Portland, I’ve never run it! It’s the largest running event in Portland with over 30,000 participants. This year, runners could choose from a half marathon, 15k, 8k, and 5k. There were also a few walking events as well. My company pays for employee entry into the event so I thought why not!

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I’ve been working on my speed this year with great success. To be honest, my speed in recent years was so slow, any gains seem pretty amazing. After several years of non-stop training seasons, I took most of last year off. I ran only a few races and that was due to prior commitments or friends roping me in.

As mentioned, I’ve been running to work a few days a week. And it’s been a fast amazing run. Shamrock 15k course runs up a Terwilliger Blvd. which is a slow steady hill. I’ve run up the hill many times but honestly I don’t enjoy road running as much as trail running. So I went to Forest Park and used various trails including Firelane 1 to train.

I also have been using DailyBurn to do cross training. Honestly I cannot praise DailyBurn enough. But I will leave that to another post. And I’ve been doing a lot of yoga after hard workouts. I’m trying to be a lot smarter about training. But sometimes, I’m just kinda stupid.

The night before Shamrock, I stayed out WAY too late and drank too much.:-) I got about 4-5 hours of sleep and was dehydrated when I woke up. If the run was longer or the weather was warmer, I would have been in trouble.

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Pre-race

 

It was rainy. I mean really rainy. It wasn’t so bad at the beginning of the race but by mile 4 my jacket sleeves were dripping and my hat wasn’t helping to keep me warm. Despite over 30,000 people participating in this race, the race directors did a fantastic job at ensuring there were enough porta potties. My only criticism of the race is that there weren’t enough water stations. My boss Aubrey ran the race and also mentioned the lack of drinking water on the course.

I wanted to see how fast I could run in this race. I think I could have run a bit faster but my legs felt a little shaky coming downhill. I didn’t really train on the downhills which I should of. But my splits were great:

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Just about to finish!

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I put my hands up to say “I’m done! No more.”

I planned on walking over to OMSI to meet Andy who would pick me up. But because I ran the race so much faster than I thought, he hadn’t left the house when I texted him after finishing the race. That turned out to be okay because he was able to grab trashbags to protect the seat and towels to help dry me off.

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My pace (9:47) for the last half mile of the race was pretty amazing. Very proud.

It was so cold and rainy when I finished. I grabbed a chocolate milk and bottle of water and speedwalked across the Hawthorne Bridge. The wind really started blowing pretty hard which made my wet soggy hands so damn cold. Eventually I chucked the water in a bin because it was too cold to carry.

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Cold, wet, tired, and dehydrated but very happy with my performance.

After showering and eating, I spent the rest of the day napping and relaxing. It was  a great day and I cannot wait to run the race next year.