"The moment my legs began to move, my thoughts began to flow" - H.D. Thoreau

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Peterson Ridge Rumble 20 Miler Reflections

I went into this race not sure if I'd even be able to finish. For the past week or so (really ever since hiking/climbing/scrambling around Smith Rock with a heavy climbing pack for 12 hours) I'd been getting these tinges in the right, outside of my knee. I definitely downplayed my concern, and tried to go in feeling hopeful. My first thought was that it must be a tight IT band, but then frequent massage and foam roller action didn't seem to be addressing the issue or alleviating the weird swelling or feeling that my stabilizing ligaments/tendons weren't doing their job to help my right leg track right during a running stride. I know IT band syndrome really well, and usually it just sort of shuts you down at a certain point (usually quickly) into a run. Weirdly, this knee tightness/irritation seemed to alleviate once I was running and the right leg would always loosen up. I kept my fingers crossed that this would hold true for Peterson Ridge.

Before the race, I made it my goal to run the first 10-15 miles at about 8 min. mile pace, and then pick it up through to the finish, hopefully going under 2:40 which (based on last year's results) could put me in the top 30 or 25 of the 250+ person field, depending on who else showed up and what I could throw down the last 5 or so miles. Having never negative split any race (I always get caught up in the start and go out way too hard!), I figured I'd use this relatively short race as a chance to practice running smartly.

A couple of days earlier I'd gone out for a run on smooth, flat, wide trail at 8 minute pace and it felt very comfortable, despite the fact that I normally run around 10 minute pace on much steeper and more technical terrain. I dedicated myself to running this pace at least until the half-way point. I figured the slight uphill for the first 10 miles (and slight down for the last 10) would help me keep it in check, and make it even more likely I might negative split and finish fast.

Standing at the starting line, I looked around and realized there were A LOT of fast people in this race. I'd seen Yassine Diboun, Rob "Runs Epic", Ryan Bak (who would win, and almost break 2 hours), and Ian Dobson (an Olympian who'd go on to run 2:08 at this race...with his dog "Chap"). AND there were plenty of other guys who looked like they were serious road marathoners (not your typical starting line to the ultra distance events I've become used to). There was an absence of beards, bottles, and strong shuffling legs, and many more bird chests, strides, very short shorts, and gazelle stems. I told myself to just run my own race.

As luck would have it, I ran into a trail running friend, Taryn, from Corvallis who was back from injury. We met by way of The Queen, and she ran around Waldo Lake with a group of us last year. We chatted, discussed our plan to approach this race as more of a training run, and caught up for about the first 5 miles or so of the race. I think this helped to keep me right on 8 minute pace at the start. Once we hit mile 5, however, we started to go uphill a bit more and our pace slowed some. Determined not to get too far behind 8 min mile pace (we hit mile 5 around 40:15) I went on ahead and relished how easy the uphill felt compared to my normal climbs at Pisgah and the Butte.

The next 5 miles were all about moving quickly through the only technical, somewhat steep, sections on the course, and making sure I stayed between 8 and 9 minute mile pace all-the-while. I remember feeling HOT. The start of the race the temperature was only about 40, but I was quickly regretting gloves, arm warmers, and tights as it got up to what felt closer to a dry 70. Despite the arid climate, I just couldn't make myself drink water (I have a hard time with this, something I'll need to practice before the heat and dryness of R2R2R in a couple of weeks). Anyway, I stayed feeling pretty good, although the knee still felt a bit off, and I hit the 10 mile half-way mark in just over 1:21. I wasn't too disturbed by this, as I figured that was due to the steeper climby section and I was still hopeful that the downhill of the second half would easily give me the opportunity to gain back the one minute I was behind my projected pace.

Miles 10-15 were really awesome. It felt like I was running down the singletrack very quickly (for me) and I'm fairly sure I made up any lost time and more from the first 10 miles. I think I was also feeling the affects of taking my first gel around the 1:15 mark. I managed to pass some people and we started to link up with some runners from the 40 mile. Somewhere in this section, I had the realization that I have very little practice running singletrack this quickly. I do run up-tempo at times, but it always seems to be on the track or road. I made a note-to-self to practice picking up the pace on the trails more often.

I hit the 16 mile aid station at 2:02 just before popping out on the fire road, and someone there said we were only 4 miles to the finish. I remember thinking (ok, that means I just have to run these last four miles in under 38 minutes--no PROBLEM--to get in under 2:40). I must have been MOVING through the last 5 miles! This made me relax, but also made me slow my pace, spend more time at this last aid station, and lessen any sense of urgency for a short while.

Well, turns out the guy at the aid station was wrong!  I realized this I'd gone 4 miles from the aid and still had a ways to go to the finish!).

The last 4 or 5 miles are mostly on fire road and slightly downhill. This is where I tried to lock-in to 7:30 pace, which felt like a sprint. For some reason, my Suunto did not update the mile splits to Movescount, so unfortunately I don't have the mile by mile, but I looked down and hit a couple of miles at under 7:30 pace, which felt great this late in the trail race. I was completing my goal of a fast finish and negative split. I also picked up some carnage of people who had gone out too hard. I was never passed the last five miles and picked up 4 or 5 spots. I never cramped or even had a tinge of a cramp (another good sign), despite taking no salt and drinking very little (maybe 10 oz of water and 6 oz of coke the whole race). Surprising.

Despite my quickening pace, I knew I was still a ways away from the track and 2:40 was getting scarily close. I just kept pushing the pace faster and faster. I hit the track at 2:38:30, with the epiphany that I'd have to run a sub-90 second 400m to break 2:40, which is under 6 minute mile pace. Turns out all I had was a 97, but I was happy to finish that fast, although just over 2:40 for the over-all race time:

Turning onto the track, after realizing I need to drop a sub-6min pace 400 to break 2:40...not gonna happen at mile 20

2:40:07 (97 was all I had)

The race was a success. Even though I didn't break 2:40 (my original goal), I was able to negative split and finish running really hard, rather than just holding on (my normal race pattern). I also reaffirmed that I can run fast on trails, if need be. And man, it HURTS to run fast. I'm not gonna lie, the race got me thinking about a sub 3:05 road marathon too. If I could run a strong 20 miles on singletrack at 8 minute pace, 7 minute pace on a flat road is not that far off. We shall see.

I think most of the pain that has ensued in my knee since the race has been due to getting right into the car afterwards and staying seated for the next 2 hours while we drove home, so Blaine could make her afternoon yoga class. A BIG thanks to Blaine who drove all the way with me to support. It was a lot of driving and getting up early for someone who has to do this almost everyday for work. Anyway, the knee got REALLY tight during the drive home, and was not happy when I got out of the car. This helped though : ).

A surprise gas-station present from m wonderful wife!

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Ben came to visit and we went climbing at Smith Rock v.2.0!

My good friend and climbing partner Ben just visited from Chicago, and after we wined, dined, and ran him Eugene style (complete with Hayward Field track workout), we headed to Smith Rock for some climbing and camping. Here's a photo recap of what was to be another incredible adventure:

Ben posing up on Asterik Pass

Smith Rock selfie

Balancing rock at the pass

Ben hides in a hole: can you spot him?

After a good afternoon of climbing sport

Hiking out for day 2



Ben atop "mini half-dome"

From the top of mini half-dome

Cue lots of jokes about how easy it is to climb half-dome

The base of the cave route

Back at the saddle position on Brogan Spire, with the weather cooperating a bit more

Ben finally catches his top-out on Brogan

In glee

Atop the spire

spire panorama

Getting ready to send the camera down the line--me atop the spire

Sport-climbing mecca

Burma road and Smith from above, after a couple of pitches on "The Wombat," the highest outcropping in the park

A belay ledge mid-way up The Wombat

The trad pitch

Hands taking a beating

runner hands trying to climb

Getting even higher

Scramble to the summit of Wombat after a scary "bouldering sequence"

Summit of Wombat 6 pitches later

a blurry pic of the Wombat at dusk, after we sketchily descended this scree field that doesn't look half as steep as it felt

After a 12 hr day of climbing: Marsupials at night. We climbed the three spires to the right (The Possum, The Tail, and Brogan) and then on the far left you can see the base of the Wombat rising above

Friday, April 4, 2014

"March"-ing uphill (see what I did there?!?): Monthly Recap

While February was a bit down, I was able to pick it back up again with a solid training block in March that started with 30 miles for my 30th! Hard to go wrong when you tally a 30 miler on the first day. Here's how the rest of the month stacked up:

225 miles

36,154' gained

1 day, 22 hours, and 42 minutes running

4 Speed Sessions

3 Bouldering sessions (the hurt hand affected that activity)

0 yoga classes (again with the hand)

On the daily from MY TREADHUB

Next weekend I run the Peterson Ridge Rumble 20 miler. I ran the 40 mile version of this race last year and got lost, although I felt really good for the whole run. I'm looking forward to getting back out there for the 20 this year, and I have a few friends who will be running in one or the other race too. Should be a good time and solid prep for Rim2Rim2Rim at the Grand Canyon in early May.

Ben is out visiting and we're headed to climb at Smith Rock for a few days. You may remember our awesome trip out there last year. We're looking to get in a couple of days climbing this year too, and maybe a longish run out at McKenzie River on the way back. He got out on Hayward Field for a track workout last night that was a real butt-kicker.

Amidst all of this exploring and doing awesome things, I need to write a 50 page paper and start working on my final client presentation for my therapy program. Oh yeah, and find a job and place to live in NC! April is gonna be busy busy busy.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Brice Creek: Umpqua National Forest

Back-to-back long runs this weekend. Did 16 miles with 2,500' of gain yesterday afternoon at a good clip and then a slower 16 miles with 4000' of gain this morning at Brice Creek in the Umpqua National Forest. I've always been a big fan of back-to-back hard efforts, and this is really the first one I've done since last year. All told, that's about 50k's worth of distance and 6,500' of climbing in one 24 hour block, which feels like a solid way to end my spring break. Here are some pics from our Brice Creek outing today:

The crew before heading out: Eric, Dan, Paul, Emily 

Brice Creek Trail


Dr. Paul Choi

To Trestle Creek Falls

Along the way

Me, under Trestle Creek Falls

The Hammer under the falls

Dano admires the view

Rainforest Bowl

Climbing again

Stopped by snow

Best Trail names ever
And a delicious beer to end the day:

Which pairs nicely with this book, which just won the 2014 Tournament of Books:

Here's a link to a cool video Eric made from our run: