The Bi-Annual Update

Well, I have been slacking..My last post has been nearly 4 months, but running has continued, albeit at a more mellow mileage for now.

I’ve been busy with a new position at UltraRunning Magazine. Last fall I approached the owner about helping them with their website and social media initiatives. We wrapped up a new site for them and launched in December. It’s been a great project to be involved with and hope it will continue. It’s a position that combines my two passions, running and technology. UltraRunning Magazine has been publishing since 1981 and has a rich history in the sport. It’s exciting to be involved in a passionate and thriving community.

Being more involved in the UltraRunning world has started to shift my own personal running goals towards trail and ultras and away from the road races. After running Mckenzie river and the Portland Marathon in a short time frame allowed me to look at the recovery from both races. Mckenzie river was hard, but the recovery was so much easier compared to Portland.

A few weeks ago I signed up for my second 50K. The Mcdonald Forest 50K. This will be a big change from the McKenzie river. Nearly 7,000 of elevation gain and loss. I see lots of hill training in my future. My hope is to finish under 7 hours.

Aside from Mac Forest, I’ve registered for the Dirty Half in June and have Cascade Lakes Relay in August. I’d like to find another 1 or two 50k’s to do in the fall, but haven’t decided which ones yet.

At the end of June, I am going to try to volunteer at the Western States 100 run. Would be cool to be part of that race. One goal I have this year is to volunteer at as many races (or more) as the number I run in. Volunteers and Race Directors put in countless hours to make events fun and safe, it’s nice to pass that along.

I am just wrapping up my Mac Forest 50k training plan and will post that shortly. It will be fun!

 

Silver Falls Half Marathon Recap

After running in the Silver Falls area last April, I knew I wanted to run the Silver Falls half marathon at some point. The area is absolutely beautiful and the trail is challenging.

On August 1st I was up early and happened to see that registration for the half marathon was opening in a few minutes. I knew it sold out quickly in years past and went ahead and registered both my wife and myself as soon as registration opened. Lucky I did, the half sold out of their 600 spots in 10 minutes!

Friday afternoon we drove over to Silverton where we had a room booked at the Silverton Inns and Suites. We had a little time to kill in Silverton, so we walked a bit downtown. Was a neat town with a clean downtown area.

Saturday morning we awoke around 6:30 to torrential rains! Fun times. We knew rain was going to be forecasted, so had brought the appropriate clothing. After getting dressed, we got some breakfast in the hotel lobby then hit the road for the 30 minute drive to Silver Falls State Park.

We arrived at 8:30, just in time to see the full marathoners take off. Hats off to the guy running in nothing but a pair of speedos! It was a chilly morning around 50 degrees. After getting our bibs we hung out at the start line waiting for our 9AM start.

Lisa and Cory Silver Falls Start

Lisa and Cory Silver Falls Start

Lisa had been sick the week prior with a nasty cold and was nowhere near 100%. Between her sickness, the weather and the difficult trail, I knew this wasn’t going to be a fast run. My goal was to run the race with her, enjoy the views and just enjoy the day, I had no worry about any particular time.

After a few announcements from the RD, we were off. The initial mile was on a paved road. This allowed the crowds to thin a bit, but was still pretty congested when we hit the trails that take you around the campground. The first 3 miles take you away from the falls area and around the main campground. This loops around back to the start where you pickup the Silver Falls Ridge trail.

A few miles on the rolling hills of the ridge trail drop you off at the North Falls trail and the second aid station at mile 6.5. This is where you drop into the falls trail and loop your way back to the South Falls.

This is the  4 mile section of the race that follows the river and passes the majority of the falls. Unfortunately you run with the first back of waterfalls to your back, I guess there is no way around that. We took our time during this section and stopped to take some photos.

Silver Falls Trail

Silver Falls Trail

Silver Falls Trail

Silver Falls Trail

At the end of the canyon, you climb out at South Falls. It’s a 2-300 foot climb  with the final aid station at the end. This is where Lisa started to struggle, just a general lack of energy from being sick. We did a lot of alternating running and walking.

South Falls Pano

South Falls Pano

At mile 11 I saw two runners make a wrong turn. The course was relatively well marked with baking powder, but some markers were starting to fade with all the rain. I attempted to call the runners back but they had their headphones in and music too loud to hear me. I initially said screw it and continued on; about 100 yards down the trail I thought more about it and figured that it would be a shitty thing to NOT track them down, I still had plenty of energy in my legs. I told Lisa to go ahead and sprinted down to track the two runners down. About a 1/4 mile down a hill I caught up to them and told them. They were both very thankful and made their way back up the hill.

I caught up with Lisa and we continued along various paths and paved bike trails. The last half mile brings you nearly to the finish line, then in a wicked sense of humor takes you on a hard right up a hill called “nutbreaker hill”. This was a 200 foot climb up a muddy nasty hill. All the rain really made this a slippery mess.

Nutbreaker Hill

Nutbreaker Hill

On the downside of the hill it’s a short sprint to the finish line and a warm bowl of chili!

Silver Falls Marathon 2013

We crossed the finish line at the 2:46 mark and had accomplished the goal of just trying to enjoy the day without worrying about a particular time. I look forward to running it again with Lisa; perhaps we will go back this summer and camp again. I think doing an out and back along the river trail is the best way to experience Silver Falls. This allows you to run towards both sets of falls.

The race itself was well organized and the 3 aid stations (and the impromptu beer station at mile 8) were plenty for the temperature and distance.

 

 

 

 

 

There is no way

McKenzie River Trail

McKenzie River Trail

After I ran my first mile, I said to myself “there is no way I can run a  5k”

After I ran my first 5k, I said to myself “there is no way I can run a  10k”

After I ran my first 10k, I said to myself “there is no way I can run a half marathon”

After I ran my first half marathon, I said to myself “there is no way I can run a marathon”

After I ran my first marathon, I said to myself “fuck yeah I just did”

Not sure why this has been rattling in my brain lately. It’s interesting the progression of milestones and self doubt that I have gone through. I vividly remember finishing my first half marathon and thinking that to do a full marathon would require running that whole distance again, I was so mystified that people could do that.

I caught myself doing the same thing the other week when I was looking at the Boston Qualifying times for my age group. I saw what my pace would have to be in order to qualify and immediately thought, there is no way…which is total bullshit.

4 benefits to running without headphones

Up until the Cascade Lakes Relay this year, I ran with headphones nearly 100% of the time. Since the relay, I have ran with headphones once. The 50k, Portland Marathon and all the training for those were ran without music.

running-without-headphones

I always viewed music as a safety blanket, something that could help me get past the hard parts of a run or to zone out so I didn’t have to focus on the pain. It was definitely a struggle the first few times to leave the phone and headphones at home or in the car before taking off for the run. I think most runners are creatures of habit and become very uncomfortable when things change about our routine.

What I have found is that I love running without music. Here are a few of the benefits I’ve noticed since running without headphones.

1. Becoming Disconnected – I have my phone, iPad or computer with me almost all the time. I’m connected  all the time, checking email, facebook, text messages, twitter, news etc etc. Leaving my phone in the car or at home and going out for a 60-120 minute run has made me realize that I’m way to focused on all these devices. That email I just got? It will still be there in a couple hours. I don’t have to respond to every message inside of 15 minutes. Things will still go on if I check out for a couple hours.

2. Running Awareness – Without the distractions of music I am finding myself to be more aware of my body when running. I can easily tell when my breathing has become more jagged on a long run and know I need to slow down. It gives me an opportunity  to always be checking-in on my form and how I’m currently feeling. This allows me to get the most benefit from whatever kind of run i’m currently doing. I’m not checked out in lala land.

3. Social Benefits – I’ve been running with a group of people that do not run with headphones and we have some great conversations while running. Once you drop the headphones, a group run becomes an opportunity to connect with someone else and find out a little about them. I have also noticed that other runners on a path are much friendlier and willing to say hi when you don’t have headphones in.

4. Environmental Awareness – It’s obviously important to be aware of cars that are around  you or other runners that want to pass you. If you are on trials, you need to be able to hear wildlife that you may come across. I’ve also found it’s nice to hear that beautiful river that you are running alongside.

Will I ever run with music again? Probably. It is however been a nice change of pace to leave it all behind and just enjoy the run and the environment that I’m running in.

If you were like me, I urge you to give a few runs without music a try, you won’t die..I promise.

2013 Portland Marathon Recap

The weather gods gave us their blessing yesterday for the Portland Marathon. Up to a few days prior, the forecast was calling for 55 with a mixture of cloud and rain. In actual it was mid 60′s and sunny. Was a perfect day to run a marathon.

The day before the marathon, my wife and our friend Amy (who was also running) drove up to Portland. Packet pickup was easy and the marathon exp0 was packed (seems like it may be outgrowing the current location). It would have been nice to check out more of the booths, but there were just too many bodies for me.

The three of us were staying at some friends in Portland (fellow Cascade Lakes Relay teammates). After a visit with them in the afternoon, Amy and I did a quick run to loosen everything up then had a light pasta dinner.

I feel like I sabotaged my first two marathons by not eating properly the days leading up to the event. Just eating way too much of everything. I was determined to not make that mistake this time. It’s silly to tank months of training a few days before you run.

The night was typical tossing and turning (which apparently a poor night sleeping does not impact your raceday performance). Wake up at 5 AM, eat some cheerios, have some coffee and wait until it’s time to head out.

Back in May I had outlined the training plan I was going to use based off the Advanced Marathon Training book. The plan wasn’t super aggressive, but was definitely a more thorough and thought out plan from the Hal Higdon plans I had used prior. Unfortunately, because of my foot, vacations and lack of motivation, the plan quickly went out the window and I did the no-plan plan.

With that in mind, I set a time goal of 3:50, but more importantly I wanted to try and pace myself better and just have a good even run.

Cory and Amy before

Cory and Amy before

After hitting our corral, they did the moment of silence for Boston, National Anthem and then we were off.

I had a 3:45 pace band that I was going to use as a guide for my splits. The band was adjusted to allow for even effort instead of event splits. This helps ensure that you don’t over exert yourself on the hills and take advantage of any downhills. I didn’t plan on running with the 3:45 pace group, but I wanted to run and keep them in sight.

The first 13 miles seemed to run by pretty quickly, everything was feeling great, I was hitting the splits and still running with an easy effort. Alternating between ultima and water at the aid stations and a few shot blocks every 30 minutes or so kept me feeling pretty good.

At mile 15 I saw my wife and friends cheering us on with the sign my wife made (I’m a Judge Judy fan BTW).

Run for Judge Judy

Run for Judge Judy

Mile 16 was the St. Johns bridge, the one big climb on the course. I slowed, but kept up the even effort and chugged up to the bridge. The view from the bridge was great. Straight ahead you could see Mt. Hood and to the south was the rest of Portland.

St-johns-bridge-crossing

St. Johns Bridge Crossing

After crossing the bridge you begin to make your way back to downtown portland and the finish. Mentally it can be tricky because you feel like you are a short distance from the finish, but still have a long way to go. I’ve heard it said that a marathon is a 10K with a 20 mile warmup. I had to keep reminding myself of this and held back even though my legs and body still felt great.

Still smiling at mile 20

Still smiling at mile 20

I kept the 3:45 pace group in sight but they had slowly began extending their lead. At mile 21 was a long gradual downhill. I figured this was my one and only chance to try and catch them and put as much out as I could. It was a noble effort but just didn’t have enough in the tank to catch up to them. At the bottom of the hill a light headwind began to start up and that sealed the deal.

At mile 23 I decided to slow it up a bit with the goal of just finishing under 3:50 and crossing the finishing line without walking once. The last few miles were a struggle and I dealt with some nausea but I didn’t walk and crossed the finish line at 3:49:23.

Overall I was extremely please with the performance, I paced it perfectly, didn’t bonk and crossed the finish line with nothing left in my tank. I couldn’t physically have done any better.

Happy Finishers

Happy Finishers

This was also my first  without carrying any of my own water or listening to music. I wanted to try and run more ‘minimal’. I limited the amount of times I allowed myself to check my pace and aimed to run more by feel. Overall I really liked this experience and allowed me focus more on the run and my body than just zone out and run.

Perfect day and Perfect run. I’m looking forward to a few half marathons this fall, a little time off, then focusing on possibly the Newport Marathon in the spring of 2014.