Site of Adventures/Miles

Site of Adventures/Miles

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Race Report - USATF Oregon State Champs

Saturday morning I found myself in an interesting position - the starting line of a cross country race - an actual cross country race. The race was up in St. John's at Pier Park (, which is an amazing park to run. They also feature a disc golf course, so I was reminded of Highland Road Park in Baton Rouge. The race was a pure cross country race as it featured exactly zero mile markers. Just line up, fire a gun, and run hard to beat the guy next to you.

Because my training hasn't necessarily been geared toward running great cross country performances, I didn't have extraordinarily high expectations coming into the race. I figured 27:30 under good conditions on a fair course would be pretty solid and was willing to live with anything under 28:00. Well, the conditions were decent - drizzly and in the low 50s, but as it had been raining for a few days the course was pretty soggy. During my warm up I devised a strategy to surge where the footing was solid and bide my time where I sank. I got out well and enjoyed myself on the back hills where the footing was the best, before looping around the soccer and baseball fields where I practically sank into the mud. The course featured a shorter loop at the start (around the back hills), then two longer loops (around the perimeter of the park), so we hit the hills 3 times during the race. Fortunately we had good footing for the last mile or so (at least it felt like a mile-ish) of the race, so I was able to finish strong and even caught a couple people in the last quarter mile or so. I ended up running 27:43 and placing 11th overall (results:

Warming up and cooling down added about 5 miles total.

Day/Week: 10/42

Friday, November 12, 2010

Enjoy the Process

Fantastic Friday. Really freaking fantastic Friday. Typical Oregon wintry weather, plus an easy 4 miler, plus a short day of classes, plus a massage this afternoon. I tried to keep it easy, really made an effort to slow down and still averaged 6:30s. Maybe it was the coffee, maybe it was my amazing hair, maybe it was the weather. The reality is that the quality of the run is an equation with many, many variables. Part of the fun of running is figuring out which variable affects which aspect and working on each one. I love solving the puzzle of running. Adjusting pace and distance and effort, knowing when to hammer and when to back off and how much hammering you can get away with, and pushing the envelope. The process of training has taken over as the fun part. In the past I wasn't as enchanted with the training and just wanted to race and compete. I was slightly obsessed with beating people, which still remains quite a bit of fun. But the real allure of beating people iss the process of out-working them. Devising a plan, executing the plan, running the plan - that's what matters. The best part is that this idea is not solely limited to the distance running realm, unlike health insurance, it's portable. Virtually everything follows the same basic idea: Goal-Plan-Process-Perform-Analyze, rinse and repeat. Think about it for a second, you do this daily without thinking. What's to stop you from setting a goal a little higher.......?

USATF Oregon state championships tomorrow! Meet website is here: I'm stoked for it!

Day/Week: 4/32

Thursday, November 11, 2010

The Tale of the Taper

Seeing as how I'm racing this weekend, there is a slight taper and some adjustment of The Master Plan (which was cooked up by The Master Chef aka Cookie, the club coach). Today resulted in a scant 6 miles and stretching, with no strides. Again, it was cool, but not cold, and just incredible running weather. It's the weather I moved to Oregon for.

Lately I've been feeling amazing on my runs and just cruising along. As I've aged (gracefully?) I've come to believe more and more in the elusiveness of "muscle memory". The basic concept of muscle memory is that you do an action so much that it becomes second nature. The idea is that if you're forced into a long layoff, for whatever reason, it'll take a lot less time to learn that activity post-layoff than pre-layoff. Now, you may be wondering; running is a learned activity? Well, yes and no. There isn't a simple answer to this question. As children we all run without thinking about form or speed or distance, just because its fun. The older we get, the more other activities and obligations take our time, but you generally don't have to re-learn how to run. The same holds true for running fast or running far - they are learned skills. To run fast, you have to learn to run fast. To run far, you have to gradually increase distance. At this point in my career, it doesn't take as long to get into good shape as it used to. This is in part to a great base (or foundation) that supports the other aspects of training. With a good foundation you can build just about anything. It's a huge part of the reason why I ran some great times in events from the 1500m all the way up to the marathon in 2010. It's also pretty much THE REASON why it doesn't take long to get back to a point where I can start building again. Yet another aspect of running that keeps me at it - the alternative is worse.

Day/Week: 6/28

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Cross Weather!

Today was fantastic from a running perspective. After nailing my Palpation mid-term I headed out for two Glendoveer loops plus some strides. I really, really enjoyed this run. I got a nice 7 miles in 46:20 plus some great strides. I definitely startled an elderly gentleman walking in the park. He kind of stared me down as I was coming in from a stride. I didn't try to run over him and he didn't have to move quickly to get out of my way, I think he was just curious. Oh well, it's hard to care what people think when you're feeling good and moving well.

One of the great things I enjoy about doing a build up for any distance or race is the gradual feeling of control you gain over the weeks. There were points last spring where running 12 miles really didn't take anything out of me. I'd do a 12-miler, averaging 6:30/mile, then go boulder for a couple of hours afterward. It was such an awesome feeling to be in total control of pace and distance, like you could just run forever. It's days like those that keep me running day after day, week after week, and year after year. After a decade and a half of running I've realized that there more of these awesome days than there are of the bad days and it's always worth it to head out, regardless of how crappy you feel. Always.

Day/Week: 7/22

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Tempo Tuesday

Today's document called for a 4-mile tempo run at 5:32 effort. I say effort because some of the tempo was run off the track, around the berm at Nike, making it nearly impossible to accurately check pace. Now tempo runs are the source of some controversy in the running community. Not that they are an excellent training tool, that much is widely agreed upon, but exactly how far and how fast to do them seems to be the source of the controversy. In my opinion (and remember, I'm 1/24 of a doctor), the point of a tempo run is to callous your mind and body to the rigors of racing extended distances. I mean, if your race is going to require you to run hard for 30 minutes then it might be a good idea to run hard for 30 minutes, every once in a while as a way to acclimatize to the rigors of racing. This concept is the basis for any tempo run. The real challenge is zeroing in on the pace and distance of the run. Like everything in running there is no "secret" that will see you improve by leaps and bounds. For this reason tempos pretty much always vary in pace and distance. To break things down simply (which I am a fan of), I offer some advice that I read on the message board at The topic was workouts that would indicate if you were in 67-minute half marathon shape. The advice was along the lines of, "Running a 67 minute half requires two things; 1) running 5:07 pace and 2) running hard for 67 minutes. So practice running faster than 5:07 pace and practice running hard for 67 minutes." To me, this sums up the point of a tempo run quite nicely.

I met up with Hoss at Nike for this effort. We ran a mile on the track, then a lap of the berm (wood chips), then another mile on the track. Our pace was supposed to be 5:32 on the track, then keep that same effort on the berm. We hit our first mile in 5:31, then departed the friendly, well-marked oval for the unknown of the berm. I felt like the effort was kept pretty even, but it was dark and there were no markers, which I think made it more fun. After a lap, we finished up with another 4 laps around and I timed those in 5:16. In reality the last mile was probably a little slower than that as we didn't start right at the starting line. Though our last 3 laps were slightly under 5:20 pace. I definitely started racing at the end, which is generally frowned up in workouts, but on the up side, it was nice to know there's still some turnover in them there legs.

Overall, we were 23:12 for 4 miles, going 5:31-12:22-5:16 (roughly). The great thing is that we got a good effort and felt like 5:30 pace was manageable on the grass. In cross country times matter little and it's the place that really counts. I'm glad I was a little competitive, hopefully it'll stick around through Saturday.

Day/Week: 8/15

Monday, November 8, 2010

Oregon Rain

Today perhaps marked the first day of official Oregon winter training. It was cold (around 47ish), windy, and rainy. But being that this is Pacific Northwest (PNW), it really wasn't that bad. The conditions were no worse than any I've run in Baton Rouge. Just that in the BR they don't crop up until January-ish and won't stick around until March (or later in some cases). But if you try hard and are flexible you can nearly always find time to run when the weather isn't all that bad. The problem I have is that it's hard to be flexible when you're stuck in a windowless room learning things that are important to your future career. In search of company, I waited until 1:30 to run with Nurse (the same one from yesterday), because running with people is always more fun. We ran from school, two Glendoveer loops, and I added on around John Luby Park. Last time I did some strides down this great wood chip path, that's not quite 100yds, but it's great for prepping for cross country. Today, then end of the path was blocked by some City of Portland (the City That Works!) employees. They didn't seem to be working all that hard. I found a new little path that once housed some BMX jumps to stride down and felt like it was adequate preparation for cross country. Though given the weather it was probably a good day to pull off some barefoot strides down a fairway considering there weren't any golfers out there.

Seeing the BMX jumps (or what remained) made me wax nostalgic over the BMX jumps I helped build when I was just a wee tot and BMX riding was getting kind of big. A group of us neighborhood boys all got together and built some pretty good size jumps on some land behind my neighborhood. I think the land was privately owned (Rumors swirled that it was where Billy Cannon buried his counterfeit money), but the owners never seemed to mind or never made it back that far to see what was going on. Considering it was a bunch of pre-teen and teenage boys and we were performing manual labor, they probably had no idea what was going on. Trying some of the jumps made me realize that while I'll try just about anything once, I wasn't cut out for BMX. Thank goodness or I might have actually hurt myself and not been able to run.

Day/Week: 7/7

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Long but Good

This morning I met up with Ladd and Nurse to help pace Ladd through a half marathon simulation that he was running to prep for a marathon at the end of the month. Since I'm racing the USATF Oregon open state cross country championships Saturday, I felt it prudent to run a good effort Sunday and I'll do another workout Tuesday. The Plan called for 7 miles at marathon pace. Right now MP is supposed to be 5:49, but the day was nice and I was feeling good, so I went a little quicker. After warming up about 3.25 miles (22:30 or so), the three of us got down to business.

Ladd wanted to hit 5:45s through the first half and then try to pick it up from there and I was content to be a metronome of pacing for him, a skill I developed quite well at LSU. Nurse and I both agreed that we'd go out too fast, so we were content to follow Ladd through the first mile, which we ran too fast in 5:32. Of course. After that I settled in and ran the next 6 miles between 5:41-5:44. My total time for the workout ended up being 39:45 for 7 miles, which is just over 5:40/mile. I'd say it was a pretty solid workout overall. Of course the time change really helped out.

My splits were:
5:32-5:41(11:13)-5:44(16:57)-5:42(22:39)-5:42(28:21)-5:41(34:02)-5:43(39:45). I warmed up about 3.25 miles and cooled down about 4.75 miles, making my total for the day 15 miles in 96:35, which is a 6:26 avg.

Speaking of the time change, it was awesome to have some extra sleep and have the sun come up closer to 7 than 8, but when it was dark at 5:15 that kind of sucked. Oh well, at least the short days only get shorter until Dec 21st, at which point I'll be back in Baton Rouge anyway. I think I'll find it easier to get more sleep now that it's darker earlier, which may or may not cut into my studying. It all depends on how much I let it.

Day/Week: 15/46.9