Monday, December 20, 2010

Solstice Eclipse


The last time there was a lunar eclipse on the Winter Solstice was in 1638, 372 years ago. Shortest and Darkest Day of the year and a red Moon. What could be better?

It would be cool if the weather deities would be so kind as to remove the cloud cover from the Puget Sound so we can all enjoy it. Wouldn't it.

So far, so good! :-)

Here are some pictures from my walk.

Uh Oh! Clouds coming in!

Relatively clear skies.

Huge Moon!

And more . . .

And now 9:43 pm PST (US), approximately 50 minutes before the eclipse is to start! Time to get the good camera out.

11:30 pm PST (US) and the clouds parted:

And now I have to go to sleep. WAY Past My Bedtime!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Random Stuff for November and December

Well, here it is, the gorging season has officially arrived and my email inbox is stuffed with exhortations from the most "famous running magazines of all" about "avoiding those holiday pounds" this year. It is kind of funny that most "lifestyle" magazines have the same messages, just different modalities. Damn those holiday pounds. But let me ask you, would anyone actually eat "Cream-cheese filled wraps and mini meatballs"?

The quarter is over, has been for a week, and I took the very first opportunity to come down with a nasty cold right after turning in my grades. That was fun but at least I could relax, enjoy it without having papers hanging over my head, and catch up on my TV watching. On top of my holiday faves ("Christmas Story", "Holiday Inn", and "Miracle on 34th Street") I've been watching "The Pacific", "Community", and "Centurion".

FYI "The Pacific" is quite riveting. Though all war movies have now internalized the conventions, look and feel of "Saving Private Ryan", "The Pacific" presents a rather honest look at the complexity of war and its dehumanizing effects. There is a wrenching scene during the Battle for Okinawa where a moment of re-humanization occurs which renders all the militaristic bombast that passes for war and action film these days pale by comparison. Devastating. "Community" made me cringe when it first came on. I teach at a CC and, well, it just seemed stupid (close to the bone?) but the show has sure developed into a romp through popular culture parody. "Centurion"? Give it a miss. It is standard, unidimensional chase film disguised as a splatter-fest (joyfully attested to by the directors and actors in the DVD extras). Even better, go see "Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory" in Smell-O-Vision (and sing-along, taste-along) if you can.

We've been having some bizarre weather of late. City closing snow storms, warm and wet rain storms, and sun. In honor of this randomness, here are some pictures taken as I walked around the neighborhood over the past month.

Monkey Puzzle Tree after the snow storm that shut Seattle down for about a week.

Couldn't catch that Gingerbread Man.

Pineapple Express came in and blew and washed leaves into interesting patterns.

Same thing with crab apples.

Some Seattleites have odd senses of humor.

Some are even odder . . .

And today? Today it blew 16 mph sustained with gusts from 33 to 50. We went out into the mountains for a run. It snowed on us.

49 days to go for the Orcas Island 50 and 25K. I am entered. Think I can train up in time?

Happy Holidays! Time to decorate our tree, perhaps the Charlie Browniest on the block.

Stay tuned for the obligatory running year assessment . . .

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Seattle Marathon (Cheering Section)

Today was the Seattle Marathon and I decided to go out to cheer on the runners, three of whom I did know and most of whom I didn't. So I decamped to the shaded and frigid corner of 24th Avenue and Interlaken, just before the 22-mile marker. This is such an interesting section of the course. A steep climb from the Arboretum, crossing an arterial, and then a gradual climb into Interlaken Park, in my opinion one of the prettiest places in Seattle.

Cheering people on makes me rather self-conscious but PuddleThumper had thrown down a challenge to make a lot of noise and so I did.

It is amazing how limited one's vocabulary becomes when doing this. So many "Good Job!" , "You Got This Hill!", and "Looking Strong!" or "Looking Good!", "Strong Work XXXX", and (of course) "Keep It Going! You Are Almost Done!" I was struck by the sense that much of this was something of a lie. No, "lie" is too strong, a "noble lie" perhaps.

Occasionally someone would respond with a smile at my comments and show that momentary boost that comes with encouragement. I know how much this means and providing it was a nice experience. Mostly people were kind of glazed over, inward focused, with determined faces (smiles or grimaces, it is hard to tell with people). Is that how I look at Mile 22? Many were limping. One guy stopped for a long time working on a hamstring cramp, so I took a bottle of water over to him. He declined and laughingly said that it wasn't lack of water that was the problem, it was that we was running 26.2 miles. He smiled, I wished him luck, and he hobbled off. And then there were these two guys one of whom said to the other "You know, at this point I wouldn't mind getting hit by a bus!"

And what of my friends?

Realrunning's GVB was first through, looking strong. He stopped, hugged me, and then asked that I keep his sunglasses as they were "really bothering" him. He finished in something like 3:50:XX. Geomatic Guy was next. He popped up right in front of me it took a rapid bit of pattern recognition before I realized who I was looking at. "Ron!" I shouted. He jerked and looked so surprised that I thought I had gotten his heart started. But he kept going for a 3:55 finish. Waited some more and was joined by PuddleThumper's DH and Coach Lesley to wait for her to come. I'll let her talk about her race but I am happy to say that I met my challenge and cheered loudly and that she looked quite good and came in 593rd. Any finish is a good finish in my book.

This was a nice, if a bit chilly, experience. Sitting at home with a steaming cup of tea, it is nice to reflect on the culminating and inspiring efforts of all those people out there.

Good job all!

Friday, November 26, 2010

La Buffa, this one's for you . . .

paul said...

I am desperately interested in "weaning myself off orthotics". In my case the damage has already been done --arch pain, heel pain (PF) and Morton's neuroma, all caused, by (in order) years of carrying big packs up big moutains, shoe salesmen, insole salesmen and podiatrists. Please comment further on your approach/success in bare-footing your way off the orthotic merry-go-round, especially, your observations on Vibram 5-fingers.
La Buffa

La Buffa/Paul,

Better late than never!

How have things been going weaning off orthotics?

Well. I haven't used them in a very long time so I count what I have been doing a success. My shoes are lighter and, baring minor things, I have not been really injured since getting rid of them. This does not mean that all my pronation issues have gone, a fact that every shoe fitter remarks upon when finding shoes for me to try. The smartest one I know looked at me and said "Well, it is obviously working for you so . . ."

Five Fingers?

I bought a pair this summer and spent quite a bit of time walking around in them (couldn't quite bring myself to wear them everywhere, everywhere like the ballet or the opera as I have seen others doing). They are amazingly comfortable and joy to wear, great way to strengthen your feet and ankles as well as slowly rebuilding your arches AND working on form. TheVFF's are a bit chilly though and I need to get a slightly bigger pair so I can wear toe socks in them.

I have not yet used the Five Fingers for significant running for three reasons:

First, there is a potential toe-hooking problem. Catching my feet on random rocks and roots and peeling a toe away at speed, gives me the willies. My solution has been to use more minimalist running shoes (Inov8 295's). This summer I caught a left foot on a piece of rebar stealthily sticking up out of the trail and ripped my trail shoe wide open. Judging what happened to the shoe, this would have been much worse without its protection.

Second, my running mechanics are hampered by my size. I am a larger runner and, though strong, my weight does mean that I am less agile. Proponents of barefooting would argue that running barefoot would be the way to solve this problem and that size ultimately would not matter. I tend to agree with this but am in the middle of the transition process, a process that has its fits and starts.

Third, as you can guess from the narrative on this blog, I take things like this very slowly so as to minimize injury possibility. There was an article in Northwest Runner a few months ago had sports doc writing about increased incidences of barefooting injuries. In her 11/18/10 comment, Sarah makes the same point and that she is mixing shoes, taking it slowly, and "babying" her feet. She is right, there is no sense in trading one set of injuries for another.

What I have had to do is unlearn bad form habits AND strengthen my whole body instead of focusing on fixing the local problem (pronation). This, I guess, is my most important discovery. Yoga and massage has helped me keep things loose.

I have some questions for you:

Have you experimented at all with yoga and massage as a way of releasing some of the tensions in your feet, etc.? Having a conversation with yoga instructors and massage therapists about what can be done would be a good starting place. Finding someone who can carefully work with you on these issues and customize their approach is particularly important. I have found that yoga helped with balance, core strength, and flexibility, all things necessary for good form. It seems to me that nothing you do will matter much without this.

What have you done to work on your form? In Our Own Devices: How Technology Remakes Humanity (2009), Edward Tenner explores the ways that shoe technologies alter the human body. Orthotics, not to mention our shoes, force a fix. Why not change your form in such a way that a "forced fit" is no longer necessary? There are many ways of doing this besides yoga. Feldenkrais helps you become hyper-aware of what you are doing and uses the slightest of adjustments to render change. Chi Running is an interesting approach designed to help you with alignment and that "light and easy" style Sarah mentions. It does so by increasing body awareness and working to change what feels normal. Danny Dryer, founder of Chi Running, makes the point that shoes do not matter if one adopts a "barefoot" style. It strikes me that what Dreyer advocates is very much like what happens in cultures that rely on minimalist footwear. I have found Jim Hansen's post on these techniques and others quite useful.

The bottom line is to find what works for you and to stick with it over time. Align and relax your body and then your feet will eventually follow.

Five Fingers and other minimalist shoes become an afterthought once you've done that.

I hope this helps.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

A Walk

Took a walk this afternoon.

Interesting sky . . .

and my favorite tree . . .

Monday, September 13, 2010

Summer is over

But I am not over summer, yet.

At this moment I am trying without success to do some course prep for the start of classes this coming week. Course prep? Writing syllabi, establishing reading schedules, and setting up Blackboard classrooms . The first two things are not so bad, it's the Bb classrooms that require the heavy lifting and the most time. Simply porting content over from the last time doesn't work as I am one of those profs who insists on revamping for relevance every quarter. I am excited in the abstract at the start of the academic year, perhaps the excitement will be more real once the quarter actually starts. In the meantime I have two days of meetings to get through and lots of things to build.

At least with the arrival of September we are moving out of the political silly season that constitutes much of the summer. It has been like watching a slow motion train wreck in which all of the yahoos on board escape and run around the countryside. Of course we still have to get through just over seven weeks of campaign vitriol, histrionic reporting, and robocalls before we can attempt declaring an end. Something tells me that we won't be able to though.

Summer 2010 in the Pacific North West was a strange one. Not so warm, in fact down right cool and rainy compared to the heat wave of 2009 that had everyone panting and dipping in Green Lake late at night. Only of handful of hot days this year.

The upshot of this is that I don't feel like I have actually had a summer this year and it disturbs me to think of how sensitive I have become to the vagaries of the weather. Sure we can run year round up here and it is green all the time but there is something about the feel of sun on your skin that is so precious that we can't wait for summer to begin after July 4th and (some of us) mourn the end of the 2 months or so of truly glorious sunshine we get before heading back into the grey. The grey has stayed with us.

If the weather has been iffy around here so has my running at least until quite recently. I can feel my strength returning over the past couple of weeks. A combination of things like finally having the time to spend up in the mountains and running with music have helped as have the banishment of the "I can't . . ." thoughts as in "I can't run up this hill . . . " I've just started running up those hills and zooming down them. Been participating in a core class too that is helping quite a bit (no, abs work is not something I do for fun). I've also been inspired by Sj who trained for and completed her very first IronMan (and has a very nice commemorative tattoo).

So what is next for me?

A few weeks ago GW visited on his way back from UltraMan Canada and he and M started working on me to train for something interesting. They convinced me to try the Chuckanut 50K in March 2011. Hard to get in I gather but I'll train and try. Going up to run there during the Fall sounds like a great idea. Any readers like to join me?

Cross training too. I've decided to find a pool, a not too crowded pool, to swim in twice a week before teaching and I'll probably bike commute once a week as well.

Two conferences coming up: the first is in Northfield, Minnesota in October, the second in Durham, North Carolina in November. Both are interesting, on quantitative reasoning and undergraduate research and each has the bonus of being a completely new place to experience. You can bet that I'll be taking my kicks with me and looking for trails. Exciting.

So much possibility.

Hmm. Maybe I am over summer. :-)

Friday, August 20, 2010

Where have America's tolerance and acceptance of Muslims gone? -

This just makes me so sad and tired. Why is it that people claim special license to ignore their capacity to think? For a culture that claims so strongly the cult of the individual the herd is simply too much in evidence.

Where have America's tolerance and acceptance of Muslims gone? -

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Once a Runner? (Or the story of my first DNF)

Well, I had my first DNF today and have been walking around in a funk all day. Am I a runner or am I not? Seriously questioning things and have been since Eugene—even though there have been moments of fun (i.e., Ragnar) nothing has been right since the marathon.

So here is the self-pity which I will get over quickly else I be the recipient of an endless round of dope-slaps administered by my friends.

Today was right in the middle of a heat wave, 90 degree temps forecast and it was, as you can imagine, heating up pretty fast by the time the race started at 8:30. The sun was out, the sky blue, and very pretty.

But my HR at the start, just standing there was approx 108 which means that I was nervous or something basic is not right or both. The "gun" went off and I started running conservatively. There were lots of runners out today and most were running without packs, with bottles or nothing. I decided on my pack. As we circled the field a woman commented to me that it was a good thing it was water sloshing around on my back and not in her stomach otherwise she'd be in trouble. I went out very conservatively because of the heat and the fact that I wanted to save my legs. Walk-ran up Lost Beagle and then some of the hills after the first water stop (gelled there and picked up a new one). It was quiet and pretty on this section of the course and I was just cruising along. Passing and getting passed on occasion. Walked in a train up Wilderness Peak too and actually caught people that had passed me.

In other words, things were going pretty well. It was hot but not too bad. I was trying to keep my HR down as much as possible too. Electrolyte tabs every hour too (I actually remembered them this time).

Two other guys and I were in a train ascending WP and when we got to the top we started going down. There is that false drop and then short climb again and I slipped into third position as I didn't want to thrash my legs too early. The guy I let go saw the next uphill, looked at me, and said "You've got to be kidding!" I grinned and said, "have fun". Descent was gingerly by my standards and this might be why I developed problems. Definitely not one my best floaty descents by any stretch of the imagination. I was just going along, hearing people whooping it up as they dropped the trail and saying hello to hikers and one other trail runner coming upslope (silent as a ghost and I didn't see him until he actually stepped off the trail). I remember thinking "Do I really want to be doing this today?"

Then about 3/4ths of the way down I felt something go in my right quad. Just a little pop not a rip or some sort of massive tear. Just a pop and my leg really didn't want to do what it needed to do. I wouldn't say that my quad shut down all the way but that is what it felt like as I could feel my hamstring kick in to take some of the load, especially on the uphills. It didn't hurt but I realized that I had reached the "'Fuck It!' Point" (FIP). Decision time. Depression time. Self-pity time. Do I go back up, over, and down or do I continue on around Shy Bear, hit the aid station, and then walk back to the start. Decided that doing that climb on my leg was not the right thing and so I pressed on. Walking. Limping. Feeling tired, hot, and like a wimp especially when getting passed. This was the worse part of the run, letting the disappointment sink in.

Got to the aid station, drank a Nuum, asked if they had a radio (they had a phone), asked them to call ahead to let the folks at the start know that "52 was dropping out" and that I would walk back to the start on my own. The two guys asked if I knew the way. I said "yes" but wanted to scream "Of Course I Do!" So on I went. Shy Bear sure looks funny going the "wrong" way. Pretty steep too. Soon I was at Fred's Railroad passing the point where the leaders should have broken the course tape coming off Quarry Trail. It hadn't been broken. On I went, walking and occasionally limping when I started hearing footfalls behind me. There were the leaders. I tried to stay out their way as best I could. Skipped running down Bypass and Old Man's trail because of this. Went to Claypit Road instead.

The closer to the finish I got, and to the cheering, the more awful I felt and the more embarrassed. I had to check in and get some ice on my thigh but really considered sneaking out the back, straight to the car and out. I didn't.

Sat in the field by myself icing. Feeling very sorry for myself and otherwise having very bad thoughts. Stupid! Stupid! Stupid!

Went to the car when the ice was almost melted. Changed and drove home. Felt unbelievably tired on the way. M said that I looked like all hell when I got in the house (Te was just happy to see me). Showered, ate a little, lay down on the couch and slept. Woke up and both my thighs were numb, numb in that good "my body is repairing things" way.

I've been thinking about this all day though and am really disappointed although I am also happy that I was able to get myself out of there under my own power (thankful really) and that I made a smart decision rather than pushing on. The embarrassment is mine alone and, frankly, those few people that I talked with up at the start all had knowing looks on their faces. They've been there too. Still . . . .

Could I have done this to myself by running so conservatively? Is there something I could have done better?

There are two levels of problems here, one that is easy to address, the other not so much.

The leg can be repaired with a little TLC as it does not seem too messed up at this point. More worrisome is the high HR. This could mean fatigue and nervousness or it could be something more systemic. I'll monitor this. Heat? Certainly a factor and we haven't had too much opportunity to train when hot because of the unusually cold summer we've been having. Not much to do there.

The mental problem is a bit more difficult to crack. I seem to have lost my "Mojo" and have had difficulty getting out the door to train. Running has just seemed hard since May and it has been hard to be happy about lacing up my kicks and hitting the pavement. Do I need a break? Is this the nadir of my running for this year? Will things get better? I don't know. First I need to stop feeling sorry for myself. ;-P

OK, there you have it. Sitting here typing and my leg has stiffened up a bit. Moving it helps.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Don't Blame The Opera!

So deep was my disappointment, walking out of McCaw Hall last night, that I never wanted to see Wagner's Tristan und Isolde again or, at the very least, not in a very, very long time. I left the hall angry, a new experience for me and I have been trying to think why? This, despite Wagner's inability to edit, is most definitely NOT his fault.

The orchestra sounded wonderful and I am really glad that Asher Fisch will be back to conduct The Ring. Singing? We were there on an off night actually. Forbis was ill and his understudy came in to sing. He gave it his all but just didn't have it and got weaker and weaker as the evening progressed. Persson was pretty interesting too but by the end I was really tired of her. BUT having some sense of how hard these roles actually are I won't hold that against them. The understudy worked very hard and really gave it his all. You know something is wrong when Melot gets bigger applause at the end.

The problems were with the stage direction really and there were some rather silly elements in the set design. Imagine Grimsley sitting down holding up a toy ship. The expression on his face seemed to say "You are kidding me, right?" Or Tristan wriggling around on the stage (or his sick bed as it were). Shouldn't look like a fish out of water but it did.

Bluntly put, this production sucked all of the passion out of one of the most sublimely passionate pieces of music ever written. Though ably and beautifully conducted the direction was inexplicably dispassionate at best and downright annoying at worst. The first act worked for me and I was excited the rest of the opera only to be bored to tears during the second act and by the third act I was past caring. Isolde's big ending aria was just sort of "Meh". Kind of hard to compete with Eaglen and Heppner don't ya think?

This review gives you some sense of this fiasco.’s-tristan-und-isolde-an-uneven-concoction/

I don't mind experimentation and all that. Hell, I welcome it! They could have painted everything silver and sat on boxes for all I care. But the beautiful passion of this piece was taken away and that is just unforgivable.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Ragnar 2010 Recap

I overheard the following sotto voce exchange as I was walking back to my car yesterday morning:

Man: That guy did Ragnar!
Woman: What's Ragnar?
Man: I've heard about it. You have to be crazy to do it

and so on . . .

I smiled a little, tugged my sweat stained Ragnar technical T away from my chest to cool down a bit, and walked slowly back to the car. I was tired after this simple day-after three-miler with fairly sore quads but otherwise alert and happy.

Was this crazy?

No, not especially. On the scale of 1 to 10 of crazy running a 187-mile relay with 11 of your closest friends, or casual acquaintances, or total strangers as the case may be runs maybe a 3. There are crazier things I can think of—Base jumping seems like a good candidate for an 8 or a 9.

Picture this:
  • 222 teams
  • roughly 426 (possibly as much as 444) highly (or snidely) innuendo decorated vans pulling on and off the roads in the 187 miles from Blaine to Langley
  • contents of said vans spilling out in snoozing bunches every once in a while on stretches of grass and the inside of school gymnasiums
  • 426 rolling running frat parties
  • XXX numbers of volunteers monitoring all the runners, ensuring course safety, serving food, and shivering in the cold
  • an alternative universe in which external happenings recede crazily into the background
  • the intensity of forming relationships and bonds in the compressed environment of the task and the van knowing that in the end there would be a little awkward and bittersweet farewell (Facebook to the rescue!)
and you'll have a sense of this Ragnar Northwest thing.

This was my second time running and in the weeks before I was rethinking my participation. Was I trained enough? Could I go faster than my standard shuffle? Did I really want to spend all this time in the close confines of a van with people I barely knew? Would I be able to hold up my end of things and make a positive contribution to the team's effort? Questions, questions, and doubts but as the day came nearer and we got our van and leg assignments I started getting more and more excited (and nervous), so much so that sleeping and working in the days immediately before became a challenge. I went into this relay already with a sleep deficit.

I think one of the most difficult things was meeting all the new people who I would be running with. GVB, our captain and chief organizer, are colleagues at The Learning Factory and I knewCap'n Ron but everyone else? Walked into the living room of GVB's Shack the night before and met SP, poet and GVB's Grad School buddy, chose water over the proffered beer and whiled away an evening in pleasant conversation before sleeping just below the surface of consciousness. Up at 5:00 at the sound of a coffee grinder and grunt of surprise from SP. Gawd that coffee was tasty (what was it GVB?), kind of like rocket fuel. We were on the road just before 6 to pick up the rest of the runners in Van 1. Van 1 is a red VW Eurovan nicknamed "SuperVan" and it easily though messily held K, B, E, and Cap'n Ron.

Picture this, one guy in his 50's another rapidly moving towards 40, and me in my mid-40's packed into a van with three 20-something women. Could have been awkward but it wasn't. B gets the credit for this by setting the scatological and sexual innuendo tone very early on. Hilarity reigned. And why not? In SuperVan's confined spaces filled with sweaty running-related detritus we were going to become intimate strangers over the next two days. It really was nice because we were able to begin getting to know each other a welcome addition to the excitement. Finding a common ground on contextual jokes was particularly amusing (who hasn't heard of "Better Off Dead"?). Everyone was excited.

Quick stop in Marysville for petroleum distillate and more coffee (note: GVB, compared to theHarbucks swill I got there your coffee wins hands down) and up to Blaine we went.

We were going to be following the yellow line on this map.

We all got geared up and while I was walking around looking at stuff the rest of the crew borrowed van decorating supplies. SuperVan was marked up by the time I returned. Our 10:00 start time approaching we accompanied GVB to the starting area and saw the introduction of the teams. There were all kinds of teams including a group of folks dressed as cavemen and women. I just don't get the costumed running thing actually. We were going to be in full sun in temps going into the 80's over the course of the day. Why would you wear fake animal skins, wigs, etc.? I know, I know, it is fun and creates team spirit and identity but still . . .

GVB was lead runner, following by yours truly, K, B, E, and then Cap'n Ron. As runner 2 I had a 6.2-mile leg followed by 3.5 and a 3.2 mile legs to look forward to.

GVB took off on his first run, a rather boring, exposed, and flat run and we jumped intoSuperVan to get to the next exchange. We stopped to cheer him on and get him some water. It was hot! Runners who had started earlier were going by looking toasted. One guy, dressed in all black, asked for water and complained that he had not seen his team all day (the day had just started!!!). He looked awful. "How much further?" croaked another runner. Pretty soon GVBcame by and we gave him water, jumped back into SuperVan and started going towards the exchange.

We had underestimated where we were in the course and saw the exchange as we rounded the corner from where we had parked. D'OH!!! Hurriedly readying myself, water bottle andGarmin, I practically vaulted out of the still moving SuperVan as cries of "86 Your Runner IS IN!" assaulted my ears. Ran down a ditch and into the exchange. I think GVB had not stopped by the time I reached him, at least I hope so, got the slap bracelet that was our baton, and jetted out of the exchange and onto the course. After a quarter mile or so I realized that myGarmin had not acquired its birds and had to restart it but I was running in the 8's, faster than I had been training for except during the track workouts. I pushed into the long, fully exposed three miles of rolling hills towards the water with a rather stiff breeze. Got passed by an Ultra and encouraged by a guy belonging to the "Total Domination" team on several occasions. Rounded the corner for the next 3 miles along Birch Bay to the cheers of Ramblin Wreck (my team). Got passed on this part of the course by someone who knew me from AR but whom, I regret to say, I recognized but did not remember very well. I will call her "Acquaintance". Pleasant though hard running along the Bay. I was feeling strong and taking advantage of whatever shade I could find. Pretty soon I could see and hear the exchange and caught Acquaintance because she seemed to have some difficulty. Handed off the "baton" to K who went off in a blur and began the business of recovering before heading off to the next exchange.

K had a very hard leg, one that I remembered from 2008. 8 miles of rolling exposed hills. We also could not support our runner with water on this leg (there were water stations) because of the traffic. She looked like she was running so well, and fast, that we took off to the next exchange. I took a lot of pictures of other teams and runners while waiting. One guy was wearing different shoes (one black and one white) and I wondered why. One of the cavemen came in, handed off, went behind the bushes, and puked his guts out to the general hilarity of his team mates who duly photographed the moment. Somewhere out there on the Interweb there are pictures of a fur-clad homo sapiens sapiens yakking in the bushes next to the shipping offices for Ocean Kayak. Blech! I mean, Ah, Err, funny!

K came in hot (both speedily and otherwise) but with a smile on her face and a "That was hard!" on her lips passed off to B who went off on her leg.

As ever, we jumped into the van and went off to support our runner. As ever, as ever . . .

Took our first break in Bellingham after we had handed off to Van Halen. A nice nap in a sunny park along the waterfront. Runners were going through and we cheered them on as they went. Saw American Flag Speedo Guy going through too dressed in a speedo, American flag bandana, and (if I remember correctly) a neon-green cape. He scared some kids and some adults too. :-P

Van Halen was full of really fast movers and I do mean fast. Not sure of their timing but it was a good thing we bestirred ourselves to get to the next main exchange because they blasted through their legs. Mistake avoided thanks to the wonder that is text messaging.

Just before 8 PM I was up for my second run, a generally downhill course towards the east. It was incredibly pretty evening. The sky was beginning to dim down and turning a light shade of purple. The moon was incredible. It was still hot though and I was working very hard. My lovely team mates yelled at me to run faster as they went by in SuperVan and I playfully flipped them off while smiling. At least I think I was smiling. GVB reports that I look so very serious when I run.

I picked off a runner almost immediately and then started chasing two more about .5 miles ahead of me. I am a pretty good downhiller and can move on the flats when I want to and was able to close with them and then to pass them. Didn't look back afterwards and concentrated on increasing leg turnover. Pushed very hard. As I got closer to the exchange I heard "86! Your runner is in!" and though "Oh No! Not again!" but K came out of the crowd and into the exchange, I sped up to 7:20 pace, handed off and peeled out of the exchange. I had run faster than my team expected! Cool!

Off to the next exchange to change and to see that Van 2 had put us much further ahead. Didn't recognize any of the teams at this exchange. Team Louisiana (a USN team from the submarine Louisiana) would be around us for the rest of the time. I changed into my next set of running clothes and put on bug repellent to the sound of the Black Eyed Peas "I Gotta Feeling" that someone was playing very loudly on their car stereo. Now I like this song, it is peppy and so on but it is also overplayed and, well, I just hate autotune. So as we excited the exchange I askedGVB to put on some appropriately competing music. His choice? Very cool! The Lonely Island'sNatalie's Rap. Aw Yeah!

At this point I have to say something about the volunteers. They were amazing. Two in particular stood out to me. Vuvuzela Gorilla Guy and Early Morning Barista Woman.

Vuvuzela Gorilla Guy was directing traffic into the exchange area dressed, you guessed it, as a gorilla and blowing a vuvuzela which he had bought for 5 dollars in honor of the World Cup and which he was hoping to get full value from on this evening. How the neighbors at this park felt about this instrument later on in the evening I don't know but it was sure funny at the time.

Early Morning Barista Woman? I'll talk about her later.

After handing off to Van 2 we headed for some sleep at Deception Pass State Park. Though I had been eating constantly I was also hungry and took the time to fuel up some more. Decided NOT to eat my second Subway sandwich because the cooler was now a warmer and smelling a bit funky. So was SuperVan come to think of it.

Deception Pass State Park looked as if it had been invaded by giant multi-colored caterpillars. Sleeping bag clad runners were strewn about the grass everywhere and pretty soon I was likewise. GVB had his phone and was expecting a text on Van Halen's progress about 4 or 5 in the morning. I heard the text come in at about 2:15 AM, Van Halen's runners were half-way through their legs. Time to get up and get ready.

Do you know how hard it is to find your team in the dark when they are all wrapped up in sleeping bags and distributed all around the place? Not easy. As I was walking around someone else shone a light at me and said "Jeremy is that you?" All this stumbling around was pretty funny.

GVB and I went up to the exchange and waited for SP to come in. He did, looking all sweaty and tired. Now the thing to know about SP is that he is a prankster. As he came in he pantsed GVBand GVB had to adjust everything before he could run. Funny stuff.

It was pretty dark out and kind of chilly but the right kind of chilly that is most conducive to running. We were all festooned in the required safety gear (front and rear lights and reflective vests) which made the drive to the next exchange an amusing tour of reflecto-runners. Sleepyreflecto-runners.

Waiting for GVB to come in I realized how far ahead Van Halen had put us. How? The portapotties were basically unused. I was pretty nervous. This was third leg and I wasn't sure what kind of speed I would have in me. Everything felt good though, unlike 2008 when my right hamstring was so messed up that I could not straighten my leg. Spent some time talking with Early Morning Barista Woman. She had been up all night and would be on shift for another two hours before going to work. I asked what she did and she said she was a barista. I made some lame joke about that being the right job to have after a night like this and she laughed as she checked out my lights. That was dedication right there. Thanks!

GVB came up the hill and passed off to me just before 4:00 AM and I went up and up on my last leg. One of the USS Louisiana runners came up behind me and was chatting with his support van. They were talking about how many kills he had and he said "I am about to get number 16." Yep, I was kill number 16. He passed me and disappeared into the distance. There was one other person ahead of him as well but all I could see were the blinking tail lights. Now, I was keeping track of how many people I passed but it sure felt odd to be described as a kill. Civilian sensibilities?

I ran as hard as I could and averaged about 8:30. It was so quiet. The moon was still up and the beginnings of the dawn was manifesting itself. I saw an owl go by but was concentrating too hard to notice much else. Handed off after 26 minutes or so and my relay was done.

Fast forward to the Finish Line.

We went to breakfast at the Freeland Cafe, inhaled an omelette with hash browns and toast, and was still hungry before heading into Langley and the finish line.

They were still getting set up. K and I set up her badminton set to play while were waiting (her birthday present) and then went to exchange t-shirts, shop the Ragnar store, and otherwise wait. A few teams were trickling including and (the team I ran with in 2008). The live band was warming up. The finish line announcer was doing some announcing and playing music so loudly so as to drown out the live band. We waited. It was hot. Text came in that SP was on his last leg, the anchor leg and we should expect him. So we moved out to the road so we could see him and then run in. We saw him, drenched and done in by climbing in the heat. He turned the corner and we ran in with him.


Fifth Team Across the Line (I think).

Our time (according to B) was 25 hours and 5 minutes. Wow!

Before the race I was thinking "Do I want to do this?" and "This will be the last time." but this was such a good experience and I feel invigorated, in love with running again. A feeling that I haven't had since Eugene and I am actually looking forward to the Cougar 13 next month.

I hated to say goodbye to the denizens of SuperVan. Let me just say that it was a special joy to share this experience with them all and let writers more eloquent than I put that feeling into words. Look to GVB's column in this coming month's issue of Northwest Runner for that.

And yes, I am thinking of Ragnar next year too.

Dying to know the official results.

Comeon Ragnar! :-P

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Ragnar 6

Greetings from Coupeville where I am now showered and done.

van #1 IS DONE!

Now we breakfast and head out to the finish.

Coffee would be most welcome now. :-)

Friday, July 23, 2010

Ragnar 6

Cap'n Ron is out running through the dark flats of La Conner, we are refreshing ourselves at La Conner HS, and preparing to hand off to Van 2 who, is just coming off a big pasta feed with wine and someone's mother's house. Color me jealous. I am also pretty wired.

I ran something like a 8:13 pace on my last run and am feel pretty good. Never really thought that a Swiss Miss hot chocolate could taste so good.

Stomach has calmed down and I am going to give the rest of my Subway Sandwiches a miss as our cooled is no longer cool. No sense in tempting fate. Switching over to fig newtons, popcorn, almonds, and trail mix (if I can find it). Just ate a banana too.

Our next stop is going to be the camp ground at Deception Pass. if we guestimate what Van 2 does we'll have to start running again st about 3:30 am. Figure an hour for GVB's last run and i'll be going at 4:30 or 5:00.

Feeling so much better this year compared to two years ago. Running a bit slower I suppose but the big difference is that we started earlier and I am real still within my waking day.

Ok, time time to head out and see what is happening.

Ragnar 5?

3.5 in 19:13 or so. Don't know if I have another one of these in me.

Roadkill? 3 for 4 total but whose counting. :-P

Now this all gets tough. It is 9:00 and I am getting closer to bed
time. Next run is going to be way dark.

Pretty moon out this evening. Soft sky. Mossies out in force.

SuperVan is getting a might funky but spirits are high.

Soundtrack? Neezie Pleaze


Ragnar ?

Greetings from somewhere outside of Conway. We are at a school, an elementary school with boys and girls rooms, been a while.

Sleeping and resting. Van 2 is hauling ass and we should be back on in an hour or so. Sunny and breezy. Lots of sleepy people out here.

I'll be the first runner who has to wear reflective gear for the evening.

Had my first smore in I don't know how long, since i was a kid maybe. Hasn't really improved since then actually.

Had a nice nap and seem to have gotten ahead of my hunger but, in truth, my stomach is not feeling so well. Seems to have settled though. Hope it does not give me trouble on thenrun.

It is interesting to look at the other vans and their running crews.

Here in van 1 there is a discussion of beer, premium beer. This following a discussion of food.

Ran an 8:56 for my first leg. We'll see how the second one goes. :-)

Ragnar 3

Runner five is about to start. We are at exchange 4, Ferdale HS. Nice breeze. The heat is taking it's toll on runners though. Lots of people walking. I need to do some adductor stretching.

Ragnar 2

Currnetly driving through leg three. I finished my leg in something like 58 minutes. I don't really know because, well, we were a little late getting to the exchange because we were waiting along the side of the road cheering on other runners, including GVB. Hot! Very hot! And some of the runners were really suffering.

We pulled up just as they were calling out #86. hopped out of the van and sprinted out through the exchange. Garmin would not acquire so I couldn't tell how fast i was going. Steady breeze out of the west and then south west as we turned south along Birch Bay.

I think I ran nines although I ranged between 8 and 9:30.

Two road kills for me and I was road kill for two other people.

Currently parked on Grandview waiting for C. She is flying along.

Pleasant. Legs and lungs feel good. :-)

Ragnar 1

8:37 AM

At the Ragnar start up in Blaine.

Nice drive up, everyone is awake (for now).

We've a 10:00 start, safety check in and briefing is done.

Very sunny and warm. Going to be hot.

We are team # 86, Ramblin Wreck and our official team color is ORANGE.

SuperVan is being decorated. Pictures to follow.

Me? Slept pretty well, good coffee to wake up. Second coffee from Starbux. Good? Not-so-much.

Getting excited about being runner # 2.

Running order is:


Getting hungry too.

OK, time to get serious.

More later.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

7.5 or maybe 8 miles (who knows)


Better late than never, right? For a race report I mean.

Cougar Mountain 7.5 (although it could be 8 but opinion is divided on the subject).

I forgot my Garmin!

The weather of late has been simply dreadful (ask anyone). A couple of days of sun followed by grey, wind, and rain. Though technically still Spring people in the Puget Sound are deeply ready for summer to begin. Me too.

But this day, this day was a wonderful day for a race. Warm and dry after a week of drenching and chilling rain.

I got out there early enough to have a nice warm up and as I was kitting up in the parking lot I struck up a conversation with a woman about to run her first trail race. She had been running the course in the rain two days before and told me how mucky it was. She was nervous and peppered me with questions about what to expect and how everything would work. Listen to the RD's talk and have fun I said.

After my warm up I went to stretch a bit and was greeted by BM who had been out marking the course, was going to man the water station, and sweep the course. I know him from Seattle Running Company (now Fleet Feet Seattle). We chatted a bit, he wished me luck, and I went to stretch.

The RD gave his talk and noted that there were lots of puddles. How to handle them? Run straight through them as that is where they are the least muddy and slippery. Of course your feet do get wet.

And then we were off. Around the very mucky meadow to thin the pack out, up the road, and onto Klondike. All the way through the mucky meadow people were complaining about the muck and the fact that their feet were getting wet.

I was feeling pretty good. Just trotting along and enjoying myself when I ran into a knot of runners slowed down by a puddle. I cut right and went through while everyone else tried to not get wet going to the left. As I passed I heard "You know, all you need to do is say 'On your left!'" but just kept going and was soon running basically alone going up Lost Beagle.

This was a good run for me, the longest in a while and the first, since Eugene, where I ran the entire time (not a step of walking). It was important for me to do this, mentally important.

Water and gel at the three with a "Good Job Robin!" from BM and off I went, up the hill, for the next 4.5-5 miles. Kept on getting passed by some folks who would slow way down on the hills and I would then pass them. One, a 13 year old wearing a Germany soccer jersey, kept on flying past and then . . .

This went on the rest of the time but by the time I got back to Fred's Railroad for the final .9 miles I was completely alone and I stayed that way until the finish. Sprinted to the finish and crossed feeling good and with a smile on my face.

Ran into MW, a colleague at TLF, who also raced. She was icing a hamstring that she torqued badly at mile 4 and had to run the rest of the course to get out. Ouch!

How long was the course? The chatter at the finish line had it more like 8. Last year my Garmin measured 7.96 so I'll go with that.

How did I do?

Slower than last year but that is not surprising given the difficulties I've been having recovering coupled with increased weight and work-stress. Still, I finished and did so happily looking forward to the next race and to refocusing my running to the next goal.

I drove home feeling revitalized . . . singing all the way.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Do Over, Please

I'd like to forget last month. 

Actually I know that I should remember it well and pay attention to the lessons of it.

As I sat on the train on May 3rd I thought I would take a week or so "off" and then be able to capitalize on all the strength and stamina that results from 18 to 20 weeks of training. Such fantasies smacked right into the reality of what I did to my body on the day before. 

I won't say that running 26.2 miles is nuts but it turns out that it truly messed up my body something fierce. This past month has been a wash of frustration and, not pain, but soreness coupled with very low levels of motivation. So great the frustration and so low the motivation that even working through Higdon's post-marathon recovery plan was beyond my capability. In the month since Eugene I've run 85 miles. There are some lessons here and I've only just begun to pay attention instead of maundering about how hard this month has been. 

  1. Get a massage ASAP after the event (My mistake was to wait a bit too long trusting on my own ability to stretch, yoga, and self-massage)
  2. Eat better (OK, OK, this one should be a given and, for the most part I've done OK but there is always room for improvement as I do love pizza and bagels a bit too much.)
  3. Wait to race (What was I thinking trying to race the Cougar 5-miler in May? Everyone has permission to dope-slap me when they see me next. It was an OK race but the first real indication that my legs were still played out.)
  4. Stop comparing myself to all the "real runners" out there in the Th8tas, my running forum team (I am not an ultra (yet) and may never be so why waste mental energy and angst trying to contribute to the weekly mileage. Every mile run is a mile run, a fact that I should not get to complaisant about.)
  5. Remember fondly how good it felt to put in a 20-miler on one day and then race a half-marathon the next as a way of boosting mood (Careful though as this could be depressing too.)
  6. Remember that running is supposed to be good processing time and therapy of sorts (at least it has been), a good way of working out work angst (and boy has work been angsty lately). Use that when things get rough.
  7. Don't push it. (I am getting old and things are not bouncing back as well as they did in the past. Be patient, it'll happen.)

Took me a while to think of all this and, though much of it is obvious, it is freeing to both realize it and to articulate it. Much of this misery has been mental so the "naming of it" has been remarkably freeing. 

Time to lace up my kicks and head out there again, this time with a smile on my face . . . 

Summer awaits! :-)

Monday, May 17, 2010

Seattle Opera's "Amelia"

One of my great pleasures is to see new operas. Some of these might just be destined to become "classics" in their own right. It is exciting to think that this could be the case and that I was among the first people to actually see the work performed. What's on my list? Doctor Atomic, An American Tragedy, and, through the wonders of HD-Casts in the theater, The First Emperor. This weekend I added another, Seattle Opera's "Amelia".

I really enjoyed the first act very much. It was raw and visceral and not too over-the-top. Very strong singing and, well, that third scene was just rough. I felt like I could really connect with the story, etc..

The second act lost me, especially the scenes in the hospital which were so (and I know this is opera) unbelievable. Really lost me when Amelia awakes from the coma and demands natural child birth. The doctor mewling about C Sections was especially weak although I know that this was a big issue in the, what, 80's and 90's. The final scene during the birth just annoyed me. Here we have something that is supposed to represent the continuity of life, the end of doubt, etc. and it devolved into a Marx Brother's comedy accompanied by so much noise. Clichéd representation of women giving birth. Perhaps the ghosts of Dodge and Amelia's mother would have been better set in their clothes rather than scrubs?

Loved the sets and the singing (it was all so very, very strong and exciting really) but the music was pretty unforgettable (it is movie music designed to drive the drama—it did—but nothing more, excepting the Navy Hymn. We ran into one of the people from our opera group who hated the music. 

There were some other things that I just didn't think were as well integrated as they could have been.

Fear and risk is worth the payoff as a theme is pretty good. The Flier and Dodge and having a baby. But the scenes with The Flier, though intriguing dramatizations and contemplation just didn't seem to fit in so well. Neither did the Icarus scene. I understand in my head their relation but they didn't really gel together as well as they could have.

Going in to this we had talked to friends who were deeply affected by the story and the performance (mentioned this in the car yesterday). I wonder also if part of my reaction has also to do with the fact that I have not had a child? I know it to be a powerful event but, again, that is a mental thing rather than something I feel in my heart.

When it was finished I leaned over and said to M that the second act needed revision. We'll see if it does. The audience around us was pretty lukewarm and it took a while for them to get on their feet. Quite a few people, including Stattler and Waldorf, bailed on the second act which, frankly, is a shame because there were some very neat things in this that I hope they are able to refine. It is nice to see such operas coming out of the American context and using contemporaneous themes and characters.

Eaglen? Very pretty singing. Actually, it must have been neat to compose the vocal parts for the specific singers chosen.

Would I see this again? Sure would. 

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Musical Shoes

And they are my favorites too . . . !

(thanks for the tip-off PuddleThumper!)

Monday, May 3, 2010


Traveling by train is such an interesting experience.

I am sitting in business class which, oddly enough, actually has less leg room than the reserved coach class seat I had on the trip down to Eugene last week. I do have power for my laptop and can go into the Bistro car to use the wireless network there if needed. I might just do that in a bit.

I've been taking photos out of my window at each stop as a sort of running record of the trip. There have been prettier scenes on the opposite side of the train but I've eschewed them. Interesting. You sure see the a** end of a lot of towns this way. Sometimes you don't see anything at all.

So here goes:

Eugene, Oregon

Albany, Oregon

Salem, Orgeon

Oregon City, Oregon


Vancouver, WA

Red Light Hold (just outside of Vancouver)

Kelso/Longview, WA

Centralia, WA

Olympia, WA

Tacoma, WA

Tukwilla, WA

Hold at Boeing Field

Seattle, WA


Sunday, May 2, 2010

Eugene, Eugene

Eugene Marathon 2010

The Bottom Line:

Garmin Connect:

The Director's Cut:

This has been an amazing trip, my very first to Eugene, and I've been soaking up the sun as well as the University Atmos. A really pleasant campus and I gather that I am seeing it in its finest spring sun and bloom. Almost makes me want to trade in my Seattle gray but that might be premature given how little of the town I know. Well, I know it a bit better after today.

Just got back from Espresso Roma on 13th Avenue. I wrote my dissertation at the Espresso Roma in Isla Vista so the place brings back some good memories except that the coffee is not so great compared to what I am now used to and, well, walking in it just smelled funky (closed and humid). I tried to read but was having too hard a time concentrating so I walked home. My legs are tight and tired but I can still manage a standard walk and a rather sprightly clip. It is a very sunny 66 degrees out there and the coffee has given me some focus so here goes!

I was up at 5:00 this morning but that really just meant that I got out of bed having been just below the surface of consciousness all night. Rattled around the room trying to get things going as it were and ate (a banana and scone with OJ) before headed out the door at about 6:30 to get to the start. It was chilly but not too bad and the sun was coming out. It was going to be beautiful day.

Two start corrals to chose from, sub-10 and plus-10, and I got in line at the front of the plus-10. My plan was to go out easy for a warm-up and then come up to cruising speed (9:30's) over time.

Uh Oh!

Standing there I started to get really woozy. I mean like pass out woozy and a bit nauseous. Not sure why this was going on. My HR was really in the mid-90's, this is low for me when I am waiting for a race to start, so perhaps it was just nerves. Kinda scary and I was worrying what this might mean for the run. Even considered bagging it right there but decided to start and see how things went. I think Mac and Cheese was not the best night before dinner for me.

Bump and Go

Didn't hear a starter's gun or anything but pretty soon the lead runners were away and we started moving forward. I didn't start running until I hit the start mats and off we went. Boy can people chatter up a storm during the first moments of a race, before the reality of the effort hits.

By mile two I was doing alright, feeling solid, mouth-breathing away, and trying like mad NOT to go out too fast with all the talking Half-Marathoners.


The course is hillier than I expected it to be but not overwhelmingly so. This is one of the times that I am thankful for living in Seattle. Nevertheless, people around me were actually grousing about it though which became a little annoying after a while.

I was, for the most part, on my own. Water stations every two miles with Gatorade and water and I hit every one, alternating between Gatorade and water (the taste of which was another thing people were grousing about). This went on at least until someone shoved a small bottle of Gatorade into my hands as I went by. I carried that the rest of the way, drinking out of it as needed, while getting water exclusively from then on. By mile 24 I wanted to get rid of that bottle but crossed the finish with it as if it were an old friend. Perhaps by this point it was.

It was nice to see something of Eugene beyond walking around near the campus and also the train station. It reminds me of a Midwestern city like the one that I grew up in. Lots of people out cheering us on which was pretty cool. For the first time in a race I managed a lot of smiling. Perfect running conditions too. Sunny and cool with indirect sun.


At about 9.29 I had to go to the toilet. Actually it was before that and I had just skipped a bunch of Porta-Potties (even thought of turning around). We came back through the start area and so I got to use the facilities there. No waiting and lots of choice. Not sure why this happened but I did lose some time attending to the issue and spent the rest of the race reeling back in all the people whom I had passed.


The interesting thing is that at the 9-ish marker the volunteers were giving out bananas and, well, I am not so sure that is such a good idea. There was mashed banana everywhere along with the peels. All I could think of was that last scene of "It's a Mad, Mad, Mad World" in which Ethel Merman slips on a banana peel. Yet another smile on my face combined with care in my step.

Far from the Madding Crowd

We split off from the Half Marathoners just about at the 10-mile mark and things got really quiet and very sparse. Eerily so even though we were running along a main road. Running through Springfield (I think) was very neat. The main street was pretty quiet but had lots of interesting shops (not boutiques or anything but real shops and storefronts of a rather human scale). People were out all over the place cheering us on from porches and front yards.

LiquidGold at the half. Man! That is intense! Like molasses. I have to say that I liked it and it did give me energy but the flavor is very strong. I had been gelling every 5 miles as planned and was feeling pretty strong but by mile 10 my stomach was growling and I was getting hungry so this honey and molasses concoction was quite welcome.

Some climbing and then around Autzen Stadium and Allen Baker Park where we went right past a dog off-leash area. It was fun to watch and to be cheered on by clots of people. Being "out" of the city and surrounded by green grass and trees was just refreshing and in the distance I could hear more cheering and muffled drums. Drums!


The closer I got to the 17 mile mark the louder became the unmistakable sound of a pipe band's drums. Disappointingly no pipes just drums but just before I reached them they started up with a nice march, Scotland the Brave. I whooped and waved as I went by. At that moment I would have paid them to run along side me or would have slowed down to march with them the rest of the way. I heard them again across the river on the way back and it gave me a thrill. There's not a Scottish bone in my body but there is something about the pipes that makes my heart soar and the hair on the back of my neck stand to . . .

On the subject of music. Eugene and Springfield sure put on a well-meaning show but it wasn't all that motivating. With the exception of the pipers, a Beatle's cover band (I think), and a middle school dance team everything else was this kind of whiny downbeat rock or acoustic guitar. Don't get me wrong, it was nice to see the people out there playing and I wouldn't trade it but the lack of a beat was a bit hard to take at times.

Bad Garmin! Bad!

After the pipers I noticed that my Garmin had stopped and that my mileage and time was off by about a mile. Bummer.

We were, again, on a bike path next to the river and I was running strongly and feeling alright. It was here that I started catching all the people who I had passed earlier but whom I had fallen behind because of my pit stop. It was also here that people's wheels started coming off. We were a rather thin crowd now and I went across the 30K mats alone. Stomach was growling again so I gelled just after the 30K mark and then when I got to the 20. No wall.

And then it got serious

Of course 20 miles is when the race really starts. 6 more miles. By this time the sun was full out and beating directly down. At least it was flat and even a bit downhill. I just ticked the miles off, trying to maintain a even pace and steady stride. Walked the water stops, etc.. More wreckage. Just before making the final southward turn towards the Stadium I passed a guy who was obviously done in and running with a upper body move that I cannot even describe. Lots of other people limping along too. Then I passed a couple walking along. He was supporting her and she was complaining of being very cold. She looked very pale. I offered them what remained of my Gatorade but they declined. Honestly, I felt like pulling over and vomiting too and I am not sure why.

Then it was onto Franklin and onto the campus. So many people still waiting and cheering which gave me a boost and kicked into a higher gear for the finish. Got passed entering the stadium by a woman wearing a tie-die shirt and running skirt. She zoomed around three other guys running three abreast. I said "good on ya" as she went past.

Turning into the stadium was kind of intense. Not only was I almost done but but I kicked it into sub-eight mode and then felt a searing stitch on my right side that almost made me double over. That would have made for an interesting finish wouldn't it? I held it, looked up at myself on the Jumbotron, heard my name called by the announcer, hit the mats, and was congratulated and high-fived by the volunteers. One guy put a blanket around me and I just walked on down the track smiling I think. I hope.

At the finish area I got a couple of pancakes and hunkered down by a fence to eat them. I had one bite and felt like I couldn't have any more so I ditched them in a compost bin and walked back (slowly) to the hotel. Dropped my stuff into the room and hit the pool for an ice bath that felt so good.


GI issues today which is pretty unusual for me and my face was caked with salt the likes of which I have not yet seen. PuddleThumper suggested that my body just could not take the water and gel combination and that is why things were going off the rails a bit. I think she is right about that. I'll bet my electrolyte tabs are right on the counter where I put them when packing for this trip—a forgetfulness I'll be sure not to repeat in future.


My goal was to beat my (unofficial) Portland time of 4:24:xx and I came close at 4:26 and I'll confess that alongside relief at being finished I was also a bit disappointed that my time was not faster. But looking at the data and considering the fact that I do not feel as beaten up as I did after Seattle Rock N Roll last year I am patting myself on the back for a job well-done. Basically even pacing for the first and second half of the run, a real first for me.

This was such a nice run that I think I would do it again.


See the Register-Guard website: