Friday, January 22, 2010

What I Thought About During Today's Run

When I wasn't assessing my condition on today's easy, comfortable seven-miler in the drizzle, I was pondering Jim Cramer. Did Stewart already do something on this? It's too good.

Cramer, last Friday:
"I think investors who are nervous about the dictatorship of the Pelosi proletariat will feel at ease, and we could have a gigantic rally off a Coakley loss and a Brown win (Tuesday night). It will be a signal that a more pro-business, less pro-labor government could be in front of us."

Dow close Tuesday: 10,725
Dow close after Day 1 of the Brown Era: 10,610 (-115)
Dow close after Day 2 of the Brown Era: 10,321 (-289)
Dow close after Day 3 of the Brown Era: 10,172 (-149)

The Brown rally so far? -553 points on the Dow (-5.2%).

Thursday, January 21, 2010


Beautiful afternoon here in Portland. Little rain down there in Cali? Ah, well. You need it. Here, periods of actual sunshine (as opposed to the virtual kind we usually settle for in the winter). Temps well into the 50s. Light breezes. I ran seven miles, that's all. The glorious weather brushed up against me in all the right places and whispered stuff-I-can't-repeat in my ear, but I did not succumb. I set out to run seven, easy (aka, slow), and seven easy I did run. Left runner's knee was a little achy to start but loosened up. Everything else felt great, which surprised me because I was running on the street. Yesterday on the grass my hips were hurting. Today on the street, A-OK. The mysteries. I do wear shoes with more cushion on the road. My current road shoe is halfway between a racing shoe and what most people use as a training shoe: the Asics Gel Speedstar 3. That's it pictured above. Subdued color scheme, no? On the grass I wear a New Balance trail racing shoe that is practically like going barefoot. After that, the Speedstars feel plush, even on the road. I raced in them at Cascade last Sunday and will again at Vancouver this weekend.

I'm getting fired up for Vancouver. The weather forecast is slowly improving. Right now they're saying 40s and only a 50 percent chance of rain. All week they've been too bullish on the rain. Yesterday we had an 80 percent chance of rain and .01 inches fell in Portland. Today the POP was 40 percent and, well, you heard what I said up top: some sun. Anyway, I don't even care that much what the weather gods dish out. I'm not exactly tapering and zeroing in on this race, but I am giving myself a little bit of a chance with nothing but easy running this week: 15 yesterday, seven today, maybe eight tomorrow. Then a full day of rest Saturday. All leading up to my favorite race format: a flat half, with tons of fast people to chase.

UPDATE: Ha, now it's down to 30 percent chance of rain for Sunday.
UPDATE II (Fri., 7:15 a.m): "Sunday: Rain likely, mainly after 10am. Mostly cloudy, with a high near 48. East wind around 10 mph. Chance of precipitation is 60%."

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Miles and Piles

In Berlin, when I visited last September, it was evident that many people did not pick up after their dogs. It wasn't just that you saw the stuff on sidewalks and streets and in parks. This was something the sight-impaired would have winced at. I thought it was a pretty sorry state of affairs, and was even more alarmed when told the situation had improved in recent years.

Here in Portland, dog owners are often seen pulling out there plastic bag after Bartholomew rises from his squat. Unattended, untended poop, while hardly unheard of, is disparate. You walk four or five miles and some days you see none, some days you see one pile, some days maybe two. Maybe. It's not a problem. But today, today at Normandale Park, I stepped in TWO PILES.

True, I ran the .68-mile perimeter 21 times. I took many steps. But I ran a consistent route. In fact, late in the run you could see my path marked in the grass. So if my consistent, narrow path resulted in stepping in TWO PILES, well how many piles lurk in Normandale? I shudder to imagine.

Pretty decent run, nevertheless. Fifteen miles in 2:05, an 8:30 pace. Very slow. Yo, I raced a half-marathon on Sunday and am doing another one this Sunday. I don't think I need to do anything intense right now. Actually, it was a 9:00 pace on the first seven miles and around 8:00 on the last eight. Hip was aching by the end. Both hips. And I smelled.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Harrowing Descent into Slackerdom

No post yesterday (and no run). No run today, making it two days in a row. A harrowing descent into slackerdom! This is not how the Eugene plan is supposed to go!

So what’s going on? Yesterday was a planned day off after going hard at the Cascade Half. No problem there. Today there’s no good explanation. Plenty of reasons, however. I had a hell of a time falling asleep last night and felt all out of sorts this morning. Then I was scurrying around madly to get breakfast for the Lad, and his lunch bagged up, and him to school, and then immediately on up to the Clark County courthouse for my first newspaper reporting gig since before the World Wide Web even existed. Then I rushed home to write up the story. By then I had completely given up on the possibility of running today. I wrote the story and sent it to my editor and was surprised to find that I actually did have a chance to run—a sliver of time before I'd have to go pick up aforementioned Lad from school. But I was hungry and cold and just wanted to have a light lunch, put on a sweater and relax. So I did just that.

I'm not worried. In fact, I think this gift day off was precisely the right thing to do. Remember: The first thing you need to do in your training is survive it.

I'll run 15 slow-to-moderate tomorrow, do my track workout on Friday, spin on the trainer on Saturday, then go hard at the Vancouver Lake Half Marathon on Sunday. In the 15th-to-last week before Eugene, it'll be just fine.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Race Report: Cascade Half Marathon

I didn't exactly leap out of bed this morning ready and eager to run the Cascade Half Marathon. The forecast was for rain and wind. Plus, I wasn't really prepared to run my best race. With my focus on the Eugene Marathon in 15 weeks (yeah, I'm counting!), I hadn't tapered or even adjusted my training to get ready for this one. I was feeling a little down about that. My vanity gets the better of me when it comes to racing: I always want to be in a position to get a PR, and knew that today that was not likely to be in the cards.

But I needed to run 13-15 miles and I really liked the Cascade Half when I did it a couple of years ago, and, truth be told, I just love to race. So I was out the door in the quiet dark of Sunday morning 7 a.m. for the 63-mile drive south from Portland.

And I'm sure glad I did it.

Turner is in the middle of the Willamette Valley, in the sticks about 10 miles southeast of Salem. The race has a great small-town feel, with number pickup and day-of-race reg taking place in a small, wood-paneled school gymnasium, where white-haired ladies smile, ask you your name, find the number that corresponds to it, write it down on a piece of paper and hand that to a white-haired fellow who retrieves a bag with your race bib and shirt (nice one, too). Watching that, my attitude improved.

And the weather wasn't bad at all. The roads were wet but hardly any rain was falling and the temperature was a comfortable 50 degrees. I wore a single layer—a long-sleeved technical shirt—and no hat, and felt great.

We got going right around 9 a.m. and I resisted the urge to chase the speedy dudes too intently in the opening miles, but still went out a little fast (6:27 and 6:36 splits). My half-marathon PR coming into the race was 1:28:53 but all I was really thinking about was sneaking under the 1:30 mark, a 6:52 pace. Those first few miles put some seconds in the bank, sure, but they also put a little hurt on me. I really felt this when the course turned into the wind for much of the next four miles, and I struggled with splits of 6:52, 6:55, 7:04 and 7:09.

Mostly I was running alone here, but after the turnaround—which I hit in 44:43—I at least had someone to chase: a tall guy in a blue shirt who was about 10 yards in front of me. His pace was just a little faster than what I had been running, so it was really helpful for me to try to maintain contact with him. This helped, too: The wind was now at our backs. I luvz me a tailwind, and miles 7-10 came in at 6:49, 6:53, 6:42 and 6:45. I was feeling pretty good, too, like I could run around 6:40 pace the rest of the way.

I passed Blue-Shirt Guy in the 11th mile, which I ran in 6:37. Not surprisingly, without him pulling me along, I immediately slipped to a 6:46 for mile 12. Luckily, a different dude eased passed me on the final mile and I gave chase. I knew if I ran fairly strongly over the 1.1 miles to the finish I might squeak out a PR. Down the final stretch I felt a little churlish racing past a group of three women who appeared to be wrapping up a fun 10K, but we all get to run our own race, right? It was hard to tell exactly where the finish line was, but I pressed stop on my Garmin at 1:28:49 (6:47/mile). I guess I was a little quick on the trigger, because the official results had me at 1:28:51*.

That's a PR, sure, but by two seconds. That strikes me as a little ridiculous, a two-second half-marathon PR. What's the point? But I'm happy about it for several reasons: It's still a PR; it reduces the embarrassingly high number of California-race PRs on my list (bad form for an Oregonian to be revealed as so California-oriented); it tells me that if I did point to and taper for a half marathon I might be able to run something in the 1:27s, which is the sort of fitness I definitely need if I want to make a serious go at three hours for the marathon; and, lastly, it was accomplished with a strong second half, a negative split of 44:43/44:09.

Some soup and excellent bread in the school cafeteria afterward got me in good shape for the drive home. It was raining steadily now, which was OK with me. My work was done.

Official result:
35/482 overall
3/24 M45-49

*Organizers apparently revised the times and I became a second faster than I had posted earlier. So it's a PR by two seconds, not one.