Monday, May 7, 2018

Post Eugene: Pre The Next One

One more sucky race photo
The euphoria of my Hayward Field finish wore off rather quickly. Having to rush out of an Airbnb and head for Portland to catch a flight home made for a harried day to say the least.

All in all, there were few post race effects. I was a bit sore for two days although nothing monumental, my toe still hurt from that unfortunate encounter with the root on Hollister Trail, and I seemed to have brought the rain home with me. Other than that, piece of cake.

This week's training had a built in back-off. I ran slow and easy Monday and Tuesday just to keep the blood flowing (not just from the race but also because of all the traveling the two weeks prior). Wednesday felt like a halfway decently normal day and the rest of the week fell into place. Plan: run consistent, not a lot, and slow.

All that changed Sunday as I was out on an 8 mile run and I got this idea in my head. "You say you're going to start training now, instead of just running, so how about a little tempo action?" I looked at my watch, saw that I had been going for about a mile and a half, so decided to 5-4-3-2-1 it (with apologies to Mel Robbins - or maybe not). Off I went.

I was not only unsure of the pace I should be running, but I wasn't completely sure of the duration. Also, only a vague idea of the heart rate. SO..... I relied on my past. In the old days, a tempo run was 18-22 minutes at a pace around your 10-13.1 race pace. Simple enough for me: 10:00 - 10:10 probably. 

By the way, nowadays we call so many different kinds of run TEMPO runs that it's become rather confusing. I'll rely on my two experts: Coach Joe Vigil and Jack Daniels (the coach, not the whiskey). 18-22 min at roughly VO2Max pace.

The first mile or so was labored and uncomfortable. Mile two eased up a bit but I could tell that after all this time of simply running, training would be a whole different feeling (you'd think that wouldn't be a surprise after 51 1/2 years). Nonetheless, the uncomfortable mile was around 10:24 (and mostly downhill - yikes, that's slow), the second a 10:04. My heart rate was around 154 during mile two, averaged 146 for the whole thing, and maxed out at 160. The heart rate aspect was okay. I should be tempo-ing around 155-158 for my age and fitness level. Then I got home and discovered, much to my chagrin, my pace should have been 9:50. Maybe next time.

The roughly four mile cooldown brought about two emotions: I was happy to have accomplished the first real workout in a long time, and a bit sad that just 18 years ago, 6:30 was tempo pace. (did he write JUST 18 years ago - Ha!). Of course, if you'd like to go WAY back, 45 years ago, we ran nothing slower than 6 minute pace. I digress.

Looking for a good week of training. Thinking I might jump in the Colfax Half in two weeks as it's a local race I have yet to run, and the Bolder Boulder 10K the week after. Then.... it's the Dexter to Ann Arbor Half on June 3 in Michigan a race I ran during its debut in 1974. THEN...... a summer of TRAINING for the fall racing season.

So, that's it. Have a great week. Run on.

Sunday, April 29, 2018

Eugene Half: Passing Grade with Needs Improvement add-on

After a nice two weeks of training in the lovely State of Idaho, I was ready to face the always challenging prospect of "racing" the Eugene Half Marathon. What  follows is my evaluation of that race...

I rolled in to Portland early Friday morning after a late flight from Boise Thursday night netted me about 4 1/2 hours of sleep. Undaunted, I decided to have a little fun prior to race day. Just outside of Portland is the Nike World Headquarters and I needed to get in a run. Theoretically, the HQ (as we insiders like to call it) is designed to be strictly for the use of Nike athletes and employees. I figured this: I bought my first Nikes in 1975, if that doesn't make me a Nike athlete, I don't know what would.

I parked the car, emerged to grab some things from the trunk, and lo and behold, there is Nike superstudette Amy Cragg. I say, "Hi Amy!" Amy says HI and I notice she looks tired/cranky. I decide our conversation is over. Then it's off to run the Hollister Trail. Across the street from HQ, the Hollister is a 1.5 mile loop crushed rock trail that was (because it
was lunchtime) full of folks enjoying the trail. I get in just under 6 miles and then detour to the Michael Johnson track, surface of the stars. Amazingly, I get in a couple of laps without incident.

I say, without incident, but I guess there was ONE. About 3 miles into the run, I trip on a root and go down like a ton of bricks. A nice lady inquires about my well being, says I should be careful of those "root-snakes" and we move on. The fun doesn't end, however, back at the car it takes 20 minutes to find my wallet and then a usable bathroom for my bleeding knee.
Time to exit HQ.

Next stop is Eugene and a check in at a cozy little Airbnb place. I exchange pleasantries with the owner and get settled in. What next? Maybe a quick stop at the expo to pick up my number and a swing-by at Hayward Field to check it out.

The Expo was okay, as Expos go. I loved the Oregon Track Club booth (I AM a member,
you know), was disappointed with the sizing of the mediocre race T Shirt, but okay with the overall days happenings. After a tasty meal at the Agate Alley Bistro, bright and early, I am off to dreamland.

Other than a fabulous 8 mile run on Pre's Trail, Saturday was uneventful. I poked around the Expo a little more, went to the Eugene Running Company, and mostly laid around. But Pre's Trail, made the day. I love that trail and simply couldn't stop running. It is the embodiment of one of America's greatest runners and it's a shame he never saw his vision firsthand (Steve Prefontaine died about four months before the trail opened). It was packed with a nice mix (probably) of out of towners and locals. Then...... it happened.

I was slipping out after sundown to grab some bananas for the morning when I opened the fence and bam! A mosquito flew straight into my mouth. I tried desperately to both swallow and/or hack him out. Neither was easy. Finally, I figured I had beaten the monster. Now, the only thing that remained was careful monitoring to see if 1) he has stung me in the throat, 2) it would swell to the size of a melon, and 3) I wouldn't be able to breathe come morning. And West Nile....... don't get me started.


I awoke bright and early on race morn, drove to the shuttle lot and proceeded to have forgotten my wallet. Thinking it would come in handy post race, I blitzed it back to Casa de Eugene, retrieved it (wallet issues this weekend?), and made it with time to spare. After a mile warm-up, I moved quickly to Corral E for the start.

When it said, Corral E, on my number I didn't think much of it. WRONG!!! Corral E was the last group to leave. Filled with walkers and people who appeared much slower than even me (which is not an easy task), I cursed my stupidity at not checking out the corral when I moved my entry from the Marathon to the half. Live and learn, right?

Then, the race began. It was right as the first Corral departed that I completely reduced my expectations for the day. Fortunately I was wrong. While my first half mile was a testament to lateral movement and supreme coordination (passed in about 6 and a half minutes), I found some room on the side of the road and began moving.

The course was fine, hillier than I thought, and my pace was even. I have no exciting moments to share (although I hear I butt dialed everyone from my phone -21 times to be exact). I kept a good steady pace, never going beyond that semi-comfort/discomfort place of early pacing. I never felt great, but never felt lousy either. 


My goal was to run 2:15. I ran 2:13:30. Heart rate 154, which is indicative of my semi-effort. The best part was finishing on the Hayward Field Track. A decent crowd was in the stands and along the side and it made for an epic finish. I captured the 200 meters via video and will not torture you with the contents.

All in all, it was what I wanted; an honest evaluation of my current fitness. The realization is that my next move needs to go from running to training. My next big test is the Dexter to Ann Arbor Half on June 3. I ran the first Dex to AA run in 1974. We have history. I'd love to get in sub 2:00 shape by then.

Well, after two weeks on the road and a plethora of exciting experiences during the Tour de Teaching Idaho and the Eugene Half, I'm happy to head home. In the meantime, Run with the Run.

Sunday, April 22, 2018

On the Road Again

Even the river has traffic signs
Seven short days until the Eugene Half Marathon. Excited? Well, no, not really and with pretty good reason.....there's no time to be excited.

For just over a week now, I have been on the Tour de Teaching Idaho. It's a twelve day journey in one of my favorite states doing what I love a bunch, teaching me some real estate agents. I figured the Tour, or should I call it Le Tour, would really cramp my training but it hasn't. In fact, I had a good week, this last one, of 63 miles.

There's nothing significant about any of the runs. Well, that's not entirely true, as a couple of them were downright good. But, first and foremost, it has been a week of River Trail runs. I've been on the Boise River trail, the Snake River Canyon trail, and now the Spokane River trail. I'll confess that while there is little overly challenging about the river trail, it makes for good, simple, usually close to the hotel running. And, I like good, simple, and close.
Sunrise on the Snake River Canyon trail

It's also been a week of watching marathons while on the road. Boston was Monday and I will confess to having it live streaming on my iPad in my podium while teaching Pricing Strategies (didn't miss a beat, either - on either). And this morning, London, and the great Eliud Kipchoge. Never ceases to amaze me how easy he makes it look.

As previously insinuated, a couple of the runs felt great. A nine miler Wednesday morning in Twin Falls left me wanting even more. Just felt easy, smooth, and paced. I don't get those kinds of runs that often so I LOVE it when it happens. Then, this morning (Sunday) I must have been channeling my inner Kipchoge as I actually threw in a bit of a 20 minute tempo during 11 miles. SICK (that's good sick, not like, ill sick)!

On the other hand, my knee has had good days and bad. When it's good, I feel like I am getting in better shape and might be able to put together a good 13.1 mile effort in Eugene. When it's bad, I just want to give up on this whole "racing" thing, stop over-spending on entry fees, and be a slow, casual, jogger dude. Oooops, getting the Debbie Downer thing going. Sorry.

So, three more teaching days then back home for a quick night in Denver. Then off to Eugene. We'll see how that goes.....

Run with the run.



Sunday, April 8, 2018

Mostly Boring, But One Cool Thing...

There are a couple of things I've rarely enjoyed: Uphill and into the wind. Today there was too much of both. My 16 mile run was on the usual rolling terrain but had the added attraction of wind. Not just a little wind. 20-25 MPH of headwind for the first 9 miles. By the time I had the tailwind, I felt as though I had been beaten into submission. BUT, it's over and for the most part, I'm over IT!

So with three weeks until the Eugene HALF Marathon, yep committed to the half, I've logged 61 and 63 miles the last two weeks. I'm planning on bumping that a bit (or keeping it right there) this coming week before backing off in the two weeks prior. Am I peaking? Hell, no. I'm not even in shape, what would I peak? The two weeks prior to Eugene, I am on a whirlwind (there's that word WIND again) teaching tour of Idaho. Those kind of trips  automatically reduce my mileage anyway, so it comes at a good time.

That brings us to the cool thing.

I have a nine day teaching trip in Michigan in June. I decided to see if there were any races while I was in town. It turns out that June 3, 2018, is the 45th running of the Dexter to Ann Arbor race. Originally a fifteen mile race, it is now a Half-Marathon. I ran the half in 2000. Interestingly, I ran the fifteen miler on year 1...... 1974!

Yep, that picture at the top is me (#125) standing at the starting line ready to blast it out in
beautiful downtown Dexter. Ended up 14th, running the 15 miles in 1:25:58. Also, interestingly. I ran almost the exact same time for the Half in 2000 at the ripe old age of 48.

I received some type of award (that's the second picture - nice hairband). They must have given medals to the top fifteen or twenty in the race. Who knows? I do however, still have that medal.

So, I'm pretty excited to add the Dex-AA Half to my modest racing schedule, which so far, looks like this:


April 29              Eugene Half Marathon
May 28              Bolder Boulder 10K
June 3               Dexter to Ann Arbor Half Marathon
July 29              San Francisco Marathon (a BIG maybe at this point)
August 11         Georgetown to Idaho Springs Half Marathon
September 3     Fortitude 10K
October 7         Chicago Marathon
December 2     Cal International Marathon

Everything seems to be holding up so far. The knee is pretty okay most days and as long as that remains the trend, I'm good with that.

Hopefully all is well in your world. As Eliud would say, "run with the run."

Sunday, March 25, 2018

Ouch! And where was Jenny?

After an amazingly good running week, I thought I would save the best for the end. I thought, somewhere in my twisted mind, that it would be a good idea to run Magnolia Road today. And to make things worse, I decided to run from the West end. I say worse because West to East means UPhill on the way back. Maybe not my best decision. Nonetheless, the decision was made. (now as an asterisk to this West start, I should add that my son Ryan drove and in order for him to get in his own activity - some fishing on the Boulder Creek and Barker Reservoir - a Western start was deemed most practical - by me).

The first few miles went nice and easy (after the initial break in period) with me mostly calculating each downhill I met knowing full well that the downhill would be an uphill on the way back. My run began at roughly 8:30 am and there was pretty much no one else on the road, except car drivers acting like this high altitude dirt road was the Indy 500 track. As I trudged on, more and more runners emerged and the traffic increased. And the drivers acted no better as the run continued.

The run began with a healthy breeze following me from the west. Noting (again) that I would be returning on this same stretch of road (UPhill) I was dismayed to think that the trip back would be UPhill AND into the wind. Perfect.


"The Hill" is that little stretch of road off in the distance
I got into a decent rhythm during miles 4 to 6+ and then hit "the hill." "The hill" is usually the final mile of the return trip when Mags is run from an East starting point. I have to confess that I took this mile long UP better than usual, mostly because I was running it considerably earlier than usual. Once I hit the pavement at the top I kept going a bit to get in 16, instead of the dirt road's out and back 15 miles.

The trip DOWN "the hill" was awesome. I might have even gone a bit too fast. In theory this quick pace should have been the boost needed to catapult me up the steep first hill back. While theory is awesome, reality is different. This began what we runners like to call a "bad patch" that lasted until about the 10 mile mark. Once at 10, I unexpectedly fell into a "good patch" (gotta love those). My good patch lasted until about 13 1/2. BY the way, another upside was that after about two miles of the return trip, the wind shifted. The rest of the way it varied between cross wind and tail wind (awesome climatic break).

At about 13 1/2, every little UPhill became a pain. And some of them were some steep little (big) pains. To say that the wheels came off my little wagon might be an understatement. You see, the thing about Magnolia Road is that there is no flat. At any given time, you're either running UP or down. As the elevation map at the beginning of this offering shows, it's mostly UP going back. So I pressed on, enjoying the occasional down and being reduced to a whining, slogging, jog on the UPhills. Then it happened.

In the distance after cresting yet another hill, I saw a familiar figure walking along the road. Turns out that Ryan had been hiking around some trails awaiting my return. He said, "you have less than a mile to go." (I knew that) I said, "and there's only one hill left, RIGHT?" "Yep." YAY! BONUS: company till the end. So we moved on.

I confess to having walked at the steepest part of that final UP, but was happy to crest it and enjoy the final quarter mile or so of downhill to the finish. All in all, I had lived through a 16 mile run on Magnolia Road.

Unfortunately, I never saw Jenny Simpson. I was hoping for a Jenny encounter to match my last solo Mags run (http://runspittle.blogspot.com/2016/03/magnolia-road-lives-up-to-its.html). And to make matters worse, upon arriving home, I discovered that World Steeplechase Champion Emma Coburn went long and hilly today, but did it on Gold Hill Road. Damn!

So with Magnolia Road in the bank, I logged 65 miles this week, many of which were awesome. I've cleaned up my diet a bunch and actually lost 5 pounds this week. That's a mere blip on the radar screen of what needs to be lost, but we have to start somewhere.

Five weeks to the Eugene Marathon which will most probably be a Half Marathon (most probably means 99% sure). After today, that sounds SO much more appealing.

So, thanks for reading, feel free to converse below and run on. Or as Eliud would say, "Run with the run."

Sunday, March 18, 2018

Holding Back?

It's been two weeks since I last wrote about this running thing. All in all, I won't complain (notice I said won't, not can't). After 50 miles two weeks in a row, I logged 55 this week. That was equal to my best week in all of 2017 and it was pretty much uneventful. My knee sits consistently at a 2 on the 10 scale of pain. That would come under the heading of slightly annoying.

I suppose the semi-highlight of the week was the 16 mile long run yesterday. After two weeks at 14, bonking big time on both of them, I was very happy to cruise through the run. Even better was today's 7 mile recovery run during which I had to constantly hold myself back to recovery pace. Not sure I'm used to feeling TOO good, right?

Slowly I'm coming out of slogging pace and starting to actually feel as if I am, at least, kind of running. There is a long way to go, but I like these little jumps in fitness. They're a great motivator.

The Eugene Marathon is six weeks away. I suppose, I'm going to have to quit referring to it as that and call it the Eugene Half. 90% sure I'll be dropping down. Interestingly, this comes at a time when I am actually beginning to believe that I could run the whole thing. While feeling that renewed little confidence to go 26.2, I know that I am much better off in the long run (pun intended) by holding back and just doing the Half. I'm enjoying training right now and don't need the disruption of pre-marathon stuff dimming my attitude.

SO, Eugene HALF, probably Bolder Boulder, maybe Georgetown to Idaho Springs, and whatever.... leading up to October and the Chicago Marathon. Chicago is followed eight weeks later by the Cal International Marathon to close what I hope to be a fun year.

Until next time, as Eliud would say: run with the run.

Monday, March 5, 2018

Turning the Corner?

So maybe, just maybe, we turned the corner last week. First off, it was a 50 mile week. I haven't had one of those since October of last year and actually only had 6 weeks in all of last year at 50+. Next, a 13 mile run on Saturday. 13 isn't 18 or 20 or more, but it's a long run for now and since the word "long" is relative anyway, I'm happy with it.

The real upside is that I'm actually on runs right now, as opposed to the jogs I've been on the last couple of months. The 13 mile run was at 1:30 per mile faster than I have been doing my regular runs and I wasn't really pushing at all. That's a good thing. Probably also means I run my regular runs too slow.

So with a hair less than eight weeks until the Eugene Half or Full marathon, I'm making zero decisions for another month. Just going to run.

Busy week coming with four days of all day teaching and three days on the road. The goal is to keep the mileage up as that is always the business traveling challenge. I have hopes of the 55 mile week. We'll see.

So that's it. As Eliud says, "run with the run." Run on.