Running Vacations and Weekend Shenanigans

I’ve only been on a few vacations in adulthood that didn’t center around my current pursuits, so I can’t quit understand the thrill found in sitting on a beach for a week. I want to chase my dreams, not chase a tan. I do enjoy relaxing and certainly value having downtime, but I try to get those during my weekly routine, not when I’m visiting a new place. I’m really more of a homebody anyway, so when it comes to vacations, that’s the time to get out and explore! In light of that, this past weekend checked all the boxes for me.

The Vermont City Marathon served as the backdrop of a fun-filled trip to Burlington, but it wasn’t the only highlight. The weekend started early with my second year of attending the 500 For The Fallen relay on Thursday night. The 500 mile relay supports the Children of Fallen Patriots Foundation which assists with education costs of military children. With running being a mostly selfish pursuit for me, I really value the times I can actually give to others through running and what better way to do that than by also remembering veterans on Memorial Day weekend?

On Saturday morning the weekend started for real with fellow runners at my house bright and early to pick me up for the carpool to VT. We arrived in Burlington by noon and following a quick stop to pick up bibs, we arrived at UVM where I was planning on getting a track workout in. The prescribed workout was 3 x (5×400 with first 4 of each set at 5k and last rep @ 3k) recoveries were supposed to be 1 min, but I forgot and jogged a full lap after each repeat (1:40) full recovery of 4 min between sets. The weather might have been the nicest I’ve ever done a workout in and UVM’s relatively new facility is quite nice too! I was happily able to hit the pace I wanted throughout and feel like it should be sustainable in the 5k on Sat night (well… maybe)
Strava: https://www.strava.com/activities/311782780/embed/65becd6a732f5794854d51531b4db03039335f81

Saturday afternoon we went out touristing in the city. Some other friends were up in VT on vacation so we all met up for lunch, dinner, taking part in street performances and walking around by the lake. The most fun I’ve ever had the night before a “marathon” for sure. We called it a night fairly late for a race night and checked into the hotel around 10. The next morning we filled up on the hotel’s continental breakfast and shuttled ourselves and some others to the race start. VCM does an excellent job with everything and we were able to easily locate our group of friends in the front corral. My buddy Austin and I were both planning on pacing some friends shooting for mid 2:50 times, and were going to try and lead them for at least the first 13. The plan when I signed up was to be pushing up with the front and racing the whole thing, but I’m very happy with the change in plans and I’m certain this will be better in the long term. I had a blast in the 16 miles I did run, laughing and talking the whole way and hamming it up for the cameras. My friend and club-mate Amanda crushed it, finishing as the 5th female overall! Alex and E-J who were also running with us both ran 2:58 or faster and Austin and I got to feel like we actually helped as pacers! After a post marathon team brunch at the Skinny Pancake we went back to the hotel to clean up. Sunday night we sampled some more local cuisine and hung out with other runners before succumbing to fatigue and crashing early.

Monday saw a lazy start to the day and a traffic free cruise back down to Hanover NH to tour some trails around Dartmouth and film some cool scenes running through the woods. Strava: https://www.strava.com/activities/311779843/embed/b5d6da6e3555ca54cbee7331151fb914ba5c8a6a
After refueling at the Dirt Cowboy Cafe we made the drive home and happily closed the book on another super fun, amazing running weekend. Also, one last shout out to Burlington for awesome restaurants and coffee shops, I think I sampled 4 coffee shops and drank more than I care to admit. haha Now it’s time to plan out the details on some summer mountain running trips and a full running vacation in CA this December.

Thanks for reading!
-DJ

Year In Review – 2014 Edition

Today officially kicked off my training for Boston 2015! Ran 7.7 @ easy pace with some teammates this morning with strides after and 8.3 with 5.3 of 400 on/400 off/800 on/400 off fartlek this afternoon at home. Such a beautiful, warm Boxing Day, probably last day of running in the 40’s for awhile, I loved it! Before I get carried away with training, though, it’s time to put a stamp on 2014 and send it on the way.

On Friendship and Training Companions and Teammates
I’ve been so blessed with amazing friends and family my entire life. I truly cannot imagine life without a great support system and people to confide in and challenge me when they see me going astray. From my parents flying up to Boston from Kansas to watch me at Boston, to my new and old teammates alike, to my awesome friends at run group; I truly appreciated the special people in my life this year (And sorry for those times I didn’t show it!) Out of all the great memories Boston and the XC season stand out the most in my mind. At Boston, all three of my sister’s came to watch, from NY, NJ and MA and my parents and many friends lined the course too, at almost every mile. I’ve said it more than a few times, but Boston was a party, seriously one giant celebration from start to finish. I started out the year with the Greater Lowell Road Runners and so many fans and runners from the club lined the route that it sounded like a constant cheer for “Lowell” and “Go Dan”, a truly special experience. Despite that singularity, it was one of the many times this year when I was stunned and humbled by the support and love shown to myself and others running. I got to spend some great time hanging out with friends and family over late Spring and Summer as I was running less. In VT to take my turn at supporting others running, in PA at my cousins wedding and on many a weekend where a long run wasn’t dominating my schedule. In the fall I made the switch from Lowell to the Sisu Project and though smaller in numbers, it was like Boston all over again at every race with the support and cheering. I’m so happy to have gone from one enthusiastic and supportive group of runners to another. Outside of the club and my family I also had many friends to rely on this year both in and outside of running. After a few years of almost every Wednesday together, I highly value the time spent with my run group friends. Quick to put me up for a night or two and ready to have fun at non-running events too, solid friendships for sure. Like I said, I’ve been incredibly blessed with great friends and family and 2014 was a great reminder of that all year long.

The Races
A year of trying new things and getting better at old ones! It’s hard to believe that some of the races I enjoyed so much actually happened this year as March seems so long ago, but Stu’s 30k and New Bedford Half Marathon are certainly in that category. They both changed my perception of my own ability in some way. At Stu’s I learned that my goal pace for Boston Marathon was totally feasible and maybe even conservative. At New Bedford I shot for a big PR and went one better for a minute under my goal time. Stu’s was a solo effort that started as a steady effort and ended up being a solid tempo feeling run. New Bedford was a case of getting soft 1/3 of the way through and having a teammate pull up beside me to push me until the end for a great time for both of us. Boston was, well Boston, I’ll simply link to my recap and leave it at that. A hiking injury a few weeks after Boston closed the book on my plans to run Vermont City Marathon on Memorial Day weekend, and consequently rendered me solidly out of shape for the first few races of the summer. But by Late July I had some good miles underfoot and was able to start checking off new personal bests. After getting a new 5 mile best at the Marathon Sports Weston 5-miler, I jumped right into shorter races and the quest to get faster! There were a couple slight detours, USATF-NE 15k in Vermont being the biggest of them; HOT weather and poor fueling combined for a brutal day. Mayor’s Cup 8K was another less than stellar day, despite feeling okay in the race, I realized afterwards that I did not push nearly as hard as I should have. Other than that, every XC and road race in the fall was just extra validation that a season off of marathoning was just what I needed. The final race highlight of the year was XC Club Nationals just a couple weeks ago, without question. One of the best weekends in awhile and one of my better race efforts this year to boot! I forgot all about running Hood to Coast Relay and just had to come back and add this. Another weekend that’s up there with Boston this April and Club Nats. The trip back to Oregon was everything I hoped for and then some, my awesome relay team were a blast and we killed it at the race. Not only did I have some very fun races this fall, I also ran workouts after many of them to work on speed/endurance with tired legs. The workouts combined with no tapering for any races but XC Club Nats, might have left me tired at times, but I can only imagine it leaves me stronger for marathon training.

The Records
As I mentioned, my goal this fall was to get faster over shorter races, having hit my goal times in the half and full marathon in the spring. Though at times it didn’t feel like I was getting a lot faster, I was very happy to notice the other day that every PR I have was set in 2014. I might not have broken 34 in a 10k as I so wanted to, but a 34:01 will have to be my mark to beat as I try to skip 33 altogether next year and go right to the 32’s. The same story was true in the 5k where I really wanted to get very close to 16 minutes if not break it. I did only race 5k on very hot and humid days and still managed to get into the 16:30’s multiple times, so once again that mark will be there to beat next summer or fall (or maybe next month when I try my first indoor race, hey, who knows!) Apart from personal time records, I also hit quite a few “PRs” in other areas this year. In mileage, I once again hit a new high number for yearly volume, where I will finish somewhere around 3575 miles. I also hit my first 100 mile week and then repeated it a few times, peaking at 102 a few weeks before Club Nats this fall. A fact that gives me great pride when I consider that the first week of 2014 was my first week of 70+ miles. Through early season core work and smart stretching, dynamics and hill sprints I was able to stay healthy for almost the entire year, except for the one big injury that had nothing to do with running when I fell while hiking. At the beginning of the year I printed out a list of goal times for this year and hit every one except the mile, which I never raced anyway, apart from a relay when I had just resumed training again this summer. I have already picked out my goals for the half and full marathon in 2015 and a plan to get there, and I can’t wait to try and one up 2014’s successes.

The Highlights, The Whole Year
Friends, family, teammates, epic races, big personal bests, traveling to races, meeting so many amazing runners. How can I fully recount one of the most thoroughly enjoyable years of my life, I simply can’t. I’m just ready for 2015 where I get to do it all over again, with bigger goals and new races to run and new friends to make and old ones to grow with.

Ready for a Break, but LET’S RACE FIRST!

Current Thoughts on Training
Just a single hard workout and tempo remain before my peak race of this training block. I can’t say I’m totally satisfied at this point, though I have had a few quick races and my consistency has certainly been there. I think I need to change things around and challenge myself in different ways next time, if I really want to get faster at these shorter races. I’ve been putting in my biggest and most consistent mileage yet and my endurance does seem to be stronger all the time, certainly one big positive as I do still refer to myself as a marathoner! I know that having started running with marathon training, I’m going to be challenged in working against a couple years of long endurance workouts and staying controlled at all times; to increase my VO2 max and fully use whatever fast twitch muscle fibers I actually do possess. Fortunately after the 13th, I have almost six months before I will really care how fast I can run for anything shorter than 13 miles. And that leads me to my next topic, what will I be doing for the next two weeks and what have I been up to for the last two+ weeks since my last post.

Training For the Upcoming Week of Dec 1st
I’m planning on running 4x2k @ goal race pace (5:20-25) + 1k @ all out (Sub 3:00?) in my workout on Wednesday as the peak workout for the 10k in two weeks and then taking part in a glorious and much desired taper before the race. I have a sneaking suspicion/hope that one of the major reasons I haven’t been as fast as I’d like is because I’ve been carrying such big mileage. Friday or Saturday will most likely be my last longer workout as I’ll run an 8 mile tempo and shoot for 5:40-50 pace. With the workouts and easy runs, this week will still be over 80 miles I’m sure, but next week I’ll probably keep it closer to 70, or slightly less. I’ve never done well with big tapers, so I’m keeping some miles in, but will cut short the length of most of my runs and keep workouts short and race specific. I want to put my goal out there for XC Club Nats , rather than just elude to my goal pace. I want it set it in (digital) print, to make it real. I want a PR and I want to have my best race of the year! I’ll be looking to definitively break 34 minutes and shoot for 33:30 range. I know the course is 200 meters long, but I don’t care, I’m gonna try and PR on it anyway!

Training Recap Week of Nov 17th
Mon- Easy run + 10×12 sec strides, 9 miles
Tues- 3 mile warmup, 8x1k w/60sec recovery jogs (3:20 avg.) 3 mile cooldown. First really cold workout day at only 18 degrees. Made the workout feel much harder than I wanted, not a good one. 12.3 miles
Weds- Easy run 13.1 miles
Thurs- Easy run 13.1 miles
Fri- AM 3 mile warmup, 6 @ tempo on hilly and windy route, quite cold too. Avg. 5:42 with a couple stops to cross streets, not great pace, given the effort level I was putting in. PM 6.1 easy, 17.1 miles
Sat- AM 4+ miles hiking, PM 8.2 mile easy run, 12.2+ miles
Sun- AM Easy run 13.7 miles, PM Easy run, 11.4 miles, 25.1 miles
Total of 102 miles and 10 runs, happy with my biggest week yet

Training Recap Week of Nov 24th
Mon- Easy run + 10x10sec hill sprints, 9.2 miles
Tues- Medium push tempo, had to scrap hard tempo plans, when hit with a cold. 11 miles at 6:15 after 1 mile warmup
Weds- Easy run, 13.1 miles
Thurs- Turkey Trot XC 5K, couldn’t quite get it going and ran a 17:00, after fading a bit in the middle mile. Ran a second workout shortly after; 2 mile warmup, 4 @ 5:45 avg, 1 @ 6:20, 1 @ 5:22. 12.1 miles
Fri- Easy run, 14 miles
Sat- Easy run, post bus trip, legs felt like lead, 8.5 miles
Sun- Warrior Run, 2.8 mile XC Race, very challenging course of steep up and downhills, 16:00 minutes (5:40 avg.) About what I would expect with how tough the course is. Followed with another workout, running low on fuel and energy in general an hour later. 2 mile warmup, 4 @ 5:49 avg, 3 mile cooldown. Felt sort of fresh again by the end of the cooldown, but today was a tired grind overall. 17 miles
Total of 86 miles and 9 runs, happy with it considering the traveling and lack of sleep.

Total of 376 miles in November, average of almost 13 a day, total of 1445 in the last 4 months, or about 11.85 a day average, as well as my first couple 100 mile weeks, this has definitely been a consistent fall for running.

GMAA Labor Day 15K Recap

Thanks to Thomas Cole for the epic shot! I knew I felt at least one person behind me. Didn't realize it was all aboard the America train!

Thanks to Thomas Cole for the epic shot! I knew I felt at least one person behind me. Didn’t realize it was all aboard the America train!

“Almost what I wanted to do” just about sums up the race. Almost happy with it is better than angry at it, or some other unpleasant adjectives though. As most of the field was heard complaining this after, I know I’m not the first to say it, the first 5k went fairly smooth and then my pace and my mojo dropped significantly. It wasn’t just the hill(s) on mile four, I usually crush hills, it was the hills and suffocating humidity that did me in, a powerful tandem killer for running hard.

Mile 2ish

Mile 2ish

First 5k
Smooth sailing in mile 1, except it felt like slightly more work than it should have to run the pace I was. I counted it up to race nerves and over thinking and settled in to the groove. Mile 2 brought no real reprieve, as it was billed as fast and did not really feel that way, I shifted up and started to work a bit. Mile three actually felt good, I knew some hills were coming up and I focused on running smooth and breathing even and controlled. Had a guy pull beside on a bike and yell some encouraging words, too. “Good job Lowell, great great form!” Really helped out, knowing that there was a guy right on my tail drafting off me and biker guy had no complements on his form! haha

Team shot before the race. No Race pics in the middle.

Team shot before the race. No Race pics in the middle.

Second 5K
Mile 4 as alluded to above, was a total groove buster. Took the second turn on the course and looked up at a hill on the horizon. The hill felt like it never really ended over the mile as it only leveled out for a bit to regroup and rise up again. I normally take a some forced deep belly breaths near the top of a climb to reset my pace clock and continue the charge if the hill was big enough to slow me down, but in this case It took me nearly all of miles 5 and 6 to recover. Upon review of the course, it’s no wonder it took so long to recover, mile 5 ended on a slight uphill and 6 ended on a big uphill.

Near the end, all aboard the pain train.

Near the end, all aboard the pain train.

Final 5k
I rediscovered the beauty of longer races near the end, you can bounce back from some bad miles! Over 7, 8 and 9 I negative split and ran my fastest mile on 9. 7 Was a smooth easy mile, that still felt like ouch due to the humidity and garbage legs. 8 had a significant bump near the end of it, but I was grinding again at that point and stayed right on pace. Over the last full mile there was some significant downhill and I used it to my advantage when chasing down some Central Mass Striders who passed me. I took 6 seconds off the preceding mile split and nearly drew level with one of the guys ahead of me as we charged up the final 3 tenths of a mile. Unfortunately he threw down a legit final sprint and I could only maintain my grind, being out of gears to shift up to at that point and running low on NOS.

All in all, I’m happy with a crappy race; part of which should be a reflection on the excellent job the GMAA did in hosting the Gran Prix race at their second annual Labor Day 15k. The race swag was great, as was the post race food spread. The competition was steep at the front of the pack and adequate the rest of the way back. The course was also well staffed, marked and organized. It was certainly a long day with 7 hours+ of driving, but I could see myself racing it again, with a hotel room the night before!

At the finish line.

At the finish line.

Bonus run thoughts! (Hanover, NH)
I did a second cool down on the way home with my buddy Alex who rode with me. We stopped in Hanover, NH to grab a coffee and stretch the legs, but the Dirt Cowboy Cafe had closed early, we then decided to venture back into the full on swamp of humidity and get the second cool down over with. We ran through Dartmouth from downtown and cut through a golf course to discover some absolutely gorgeous trails in some very old forest near the river. It was a perfect place to break down the race in my head while exploring. Ended the day with almost 20 miles and felt happy and accomplished afterwards.

Hood to Coast Relay 2014

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This group of amazing, lovely people just shared a fantastic experience.

Where do I even begin? Honestly, there is no possible way I can remember every noteworthy quote, event or laugh from this weekend. I simply must write down what I can though, so more of it isn’t forgotten, this was the kind of weekend you never want to forget.

Wednesday, August 20th 2014
Started shenanigans early by crashing at my friends apt after run group the night before flying out, to make carpooling easier. Pre-travel excitement and talking meant a 2AM bedtime and only a couple hours of sleep (precursor of things to come!)

Thursday, August 21st
Another awesome run group friend brought three of us to the airport for 7AM flights out west. My flight was supposed to be a double layover in Salt Lake and LA, but Delta found room on a direct to LA, saving me some hassle. Continental flight passed without note, uncomfortable and long as always. Layover in LA was quick and I found some delicious burrito fuel in the terminal. Had my first LA celebrity spotting on the flight to Portland (Craig T Nelson) and arrived at the Budget rental car outfit with two hours to kill before the rest of the team started arriving. I stowed my luggage in the back due to the kindness of the people working there and went for a nice 9 miler after some good dynamic stretches. It felt so good to be out running in the dry western air after traveling all day and I ended up running at a quicker pace than most easy runs. Once the team arrived I succumbed to a quick bee (or was that wasp… maybe yellowjacket?) sting and we were on our way to Hood River for the night. We made a quick stop at Multnomah Falls before arriving at the cleanest and nicest 2 star hotel I’ve ever seen. The second van with the rest of our team met up with us at the hotel and we set out to find a great dinner spot. Hood River was simply too cool and thus every restaurant was packed, so we took the bridge over to Washington and drove up a bluff to find a perfect little brew pub with great food. Of special note: the best sweet potato fries in the world. Exhaustion quickly set in and we hit the bunk as soon as we got back to the hotel.

Friday, August 22nd (Hood to Coast Day 1)
With a 2PM start time we were given the luxury of sleeping in, a rarity when racing! Up by 8AM anyway a couple of us wandered into town and found some hip breakfast spots. We then rendezvoused with some teammates to stock up on food and supplies at the Safeway across from our hotel. Van number 2 had an interesting collection of snacks as the two self proclaimed selective eaters of the van ended up doing the shopping. Makena and myself came away with some real home runs though as it turned out. I also bought myself some sweet “Ironman” sunglasses to wear having left mine at home. We loaded the vans and departed for Mount Hood around 11AM, only one LED laden sword was left at a gas station on the way and Van 1 reclaimed it in time for check in at the Timberline lodge and van decoration on the mountain (I’ll include some pictures of our epic vans once they are posted) We got groovy to the start line music and explored the mountain a little before the start time was upon us and the real insanity had begun.

Run group besties, Makena and Trish. These girls came all the way to Oregon to race with a bunch of strangers! Love them! haha

Run group besties, Makena and Trish. These girls came all the way to Oregon to race with a bunch of strangers! Love them!

Friday, August 22nd Cont. The Race Has Begun!
Our fabulous team captain, Emily started us off as runner number one. The first legs was a quad busting huge elevation drop over a few miles down the mountain, but the elevation shouldn’t have affected the Denver resident at least! We quickly distanced ourselves from the trials of running down Mt. Hood as we proceeded to the first van exchange point at the end of leg 6. Tim came up with the great idea to start tagging other vans with paint pens after what someone else had done at our last relay together. He and I went around writing R DUB ( for The Road Warriors) on the windows of every decorated van we could hit without getting caught, it was quite good fun! After getting in a good 3 mile shakeout run and walking around we started to prep for actual racing and Tim got warmed up for his first leg as runner number 7, we screamed as Brian wrapped up Van 1’s first leg and passed the baton to Tim. Arriving at the transition, Makena was rearing to get started, Tim came through covered in sweat as the sun was just then starting to descend a bit. We pitied the 80’s van 1 had to run in, but we were ready to bring in the gorgeous Oregon sunset as we looked forward to running into Portland. I was so excited to run again that I didn’t even spot where my leg started from and ended up throwing in a loop through a parking lot when the baton was passed to me. I was planning on running a tempo for the first leg and after a mile on the roadside I started to really move on a nice paved bike trail. I don’t remember how that first leg ended, but for the feeling of euphoria and endorphin high that accompany every hard run and relay run. Ariel and Steve continued down the same path I had been running on, through mostly blase scenery as the night fully set in, but Trish was lucky enough to run on the trail as it wound into Portland, passing animals, strange people and general Portland oddities. Thus concluded leg 1 for The Road Warriors!

Saturday, August 23rd
We drove on ahead to the next van exchange and we starting to feel the affects of it and looking forward to 3 hour naps… Or more accurately, awkward movements and the constant shout of, “Coming or Going?” from the man directing traffic next to our van. Near 3AM we started prepping for leg 2. Some of us shoveled down some hot food at the relay, most of us had some coffee and before we knew it, Tim was standing in the transition zone being hugged by Brian and handed the glowing sword. Tim began the ascent of his leg o’ hills and we drove ahead, hoping to beat him to the transition. Makena was ready with a few minutes to spare and also accepted the sword as she continued up what we believe to be the hardest single leg of the relay ANY RELAY, It was 5 miles up the side of a mountain on the dustiest gravel road. With warm food and coffee in my stomach, I was totally ready to tackle leg two when the sword came into view. The road of dust continued, mercifully flat on my leg, but still just as dusty. The transition zones from here until the end became giant clusters, and runners and vans were rarely at the same place at the same time. I did manage to find Ariel and hop back in the van dazed and covered head to toe in dust. Running with that sword was epic and the dust made it all the more surreal, though I’m convinced I can still feel it lining my throat. Ariel had a rather hilly leg and we were able to find the transition in time for Steve to take over. Steve brought it in strong on leg 2, but little did we know that was the end of smooth roads for the vans as we sat in traffic for the next 4-6 hours. After being passed by Steve, Trish wisely hopped out to walk on ahead and eventually run some extra miles to meet Steve at the transition. We did find Steve again, but poor Trish had to wait forever at the van relay as we spent our first hour+ in traffic to make it the few miles to her. After grabbing Trish we had a van full again and spent the time between van one’s leg three and our’s in a long line of vans, blasting music and having fun. We passed Mike as he was on his leg and were FINALLY able to make it to our relay point before starting the final push to the beach! The sun was back with an intense heat by midday and we decided to leave Tim standing in it as we forged on ahead. We wanted to actually get ahead of the traffic, transition area, organizational disaster that was the second half of the race. Things did not improve too much, but we did beat Tim there. Makena took the baton and stuck it to some guys on her leg, including an epic sprint up a huge hill to hand off to me just ahead of another team. I was pumped to start the final leg, and the first one with scents of salt water, the end was getting close! I really started to feel the heat, but pushed on ahead and soon it was Ariel out there in the thick of it! She held on like a trooper and passed off to Steve, who was more than ready to go on leg three. After swapping out a dry runner for a sweaty one for the last time, we drove into Seaside and awaited the arrival of Trish! Okay, that’s not entirely what happened, we drove on ahead as Trish finished the epic relay by herself while we were stuck in traffic again and team one was on the beach already. We all hugged it out on the sand and tossed medals over our necks and then jumped in the ocean! Well, Tim and Matt jumped in and some of us waded around a bit, it was freezing! The desire for a hot shower and soft bed were just too great and the struggle was so real at that point. We loaded back into the vans and set ourselves towards Vancouver, Washington and a La Quinta. The drive took 72 days approximately, and the hotel had only given us three beds… but we hardly cared, time to sleep! Or rather keep the party going long into the night, after all, “Life is hard” was the quote of the weekend.

Sunday, August 24th
Up just in time for hotel breakfast, than cab to the airport to stow our luggage before wandering into Portland to explore and eat! The group was down to Tim, Brian, Makena, Trish and myself at that point, the others had earlier flights. We had an absolute blast in Portland and I just made my connection to LA before hopping on the flight back to Boston overnight. No sleep on the plane, but new friends were made. What a trip…

Monday August 25th
Is this even a real day? What is a sleep cycle? Where am I? Life is so stinking hard! I hardly remember getting my car and driving home, but I know I owe Brian big time for the ride from the airport. I had great intentions to only take a brief nap, post shower today, but six hours of sleep later and I barely had time to get a run in before sunset. So here I sit as my body now thinks that it doesn’t need sleep before going to work in 7 hours. Most fun race yet, can’t wait for the next one. The Road Warriors were the best, great people and great runners. This was a very condensed version of the weekend in a story format and I left out most of the funny, memorable and quotable bits to protect the parties involved. 😀 I’m sure reading it will prompt me to remember all of the great parts in between that made it so special and that’s what writing it down is for in my mind. I could never tell the full story of such a ridiculous trip, but I will update with more pictures and shenanigans as they come to me.

Level Renner 10k Recap

Race Thoughts:
Sometimes you need time to reflect on how a race went to get a good reading on it, sometimes you finish and are already ticked off at your performance. I’m no seasoned racer, as this was technically my second 10k ever and first on all roads, but I had a plan and I didn’t follow it, that bugs me. I only ended up 4 seconds a mile off my goal pace, but when I look at my last 3 splits and see 5:40 something I can’t shake the annoyance. A positive split marathon doesn’t bug me too much, but a positive split 10k where I hit a 5k PR in the first half is stupid; a conservative start could have saved me in the end. That being said, having miserable indigestion for the majority of the race was out of my control (mostly) and that was what kept me from actually being able to breathe at goal pace. I don’t believe in using excuses like that though. I am happy that I started to feel stronger again near the end (after some good burps… tmi) until the big ol’ hill to the finish nearly induced some puking. I would give my efforts a c+ at best, mostly because I just didn’t stick to my plan, but also because I didn’t buckle down and get back to work once I started to slow, but rather played mind games on myself. A PR is new baseline though, and even though I was hoping to break 34, I only have 36 seconds to go now, rather than two minutes, next attempt will be at the Lone Gull 10k.

Event thoughts:
The Level put on a top quality race, just as expected! The course was closed to traffic, of the automotive variety, plenty of walkers around, most of whom cheered for us. The swag was awesome, 3rd place age group still netted me a sweet mug and athletic bag. The entry price was CHEAP and I didn’t even register early, the post race food and raffle were also top notch. Not only did the Level do the race right, but they attracted some great talent too! I started on the line with Sully (James Sullivan) and we quickly watched 5 or so guys charge up the first hill at a much faster pace than we wanted! I ended up finishing 7th, but the difference in times was immense, then again… I don’t mind being beat by the likes of Amos Sang (63 min. half) and Nate Jenkins. (2:14 marathon) Many congrats also to Sully who set a PR a week after finishing third at the Paavo Nurmi Marathon in Wisconsin. Good to see many familiar faces of the underground keeping it on the level today. 

What’s Next:
Next post will most likely be on the Hood to Coast Relay in Oregon. I’m flying out Thursday to run in the legendary (and original) 200 mile relay from the top of Mount Hood to the Oregonian coast in Seaside. I’m not planning on killing any of my relay legs, but between the sitting in a van and traveling, my legs will probably be shot by the time I get back on Monday. Labor Day weekend I’m planning on racing the GMAA 15k in Burlington, VT, another dead legs from 3 hr+ drive to get there will make that one a challenge too. Now to munch on some Tums or something, seriously, what is going on with my stomach today!?

On Vacation

This post is brought to the internet from somewhere deep in the woods of northwest Montana. I’m currently enjoying my last night in Montana before driving back to Portland, OR for the flight east tomorrow night. Vacation started off with a drive from Portland to Bend and a couple days scouting out my potential future hometown. I absolutely loved Bend, everything about it, from the running trails, to the restaurants, to the houses and shops. The flora and fauna in the central Oregon high desert plains are obviously quite different than the northeast, but down in Bend the trees are plentiful and the river is beautiful. I’m excited to see where my current job goes, as there is a lot up in the air, but I’m going to keep looking for opportunities in Bend in the meantime.

From Bend the trip proceeded to the Yaak River Valley in northwest Montana, where I’ve been staying with friends since last Thursday. This has certainly been the most relaxing part of the trip, enjoying home cooked meals and spending time with a family that exemplifies love and hard work. The mountains in Montana are as big as the sky here and the rivers trees and open spaces are just as vast. I am daily impressed with the amazing scenery, epic vistas in Glacier National Park and the mountains just outside the pop up camper I’ve been sleeping in. My training has been slightly curtailed due to the cold weather and hilly terrain, but I’ve only completely skipped one run. Just one run in the past week+ has been below 3k’ elevation and though they say that you don’t feel the effects of higher altitude until 5k feet, this has certainly been more aggressive on my lungs than most sea level runs. I think the combination of traveling, freezing temps and increased elevation are to blame, more than the individual issues. My speedwork and tempo runs have felt it the most, all have been slightly above the paces I was shooting for. I have only trimmed less than 10 miles out of my plan, so I still have high hopes for the race on Sunday. I’m not quite sure what to expect as I have been told that the course is hilly and did miss that time from injury over the past couple months. I currently feel great and still would like to PR even if don’t come close to my 2:40:xx goal time. Barring some unforeseen extreme weather or injury I will be expecting to finish under 3 hours for the third time this year, something I never thought possible one year ago.

Special shout-out to the 2012 VW Jetta rental we’ve been cruising in, it’s taken us through off-roading in Oregon and over a 6500′ pass in 6″ deep snow with close to 2400 miles of reliable motoring. (fingers crossed for tomorrows trip)