Sunday, April 17, 2011

Two, Two, Two PR's in One (blog entry that is)

So, it has been a bit of an eventful 30 days or so. March 13 was the Shamrock Run in Portland.  Last year was fun, going out for a little run with 21,000 other people.  This year, they bumped it up to 30,000 people running.  It was my first 15K, so no stress on beating a time for a PR, it was an automatic.  Then just a bit under a month later, I ran a lovely little marathon.  It was an inaugural event that drew a bit under 200 people to run it, including some guy who flies all over America to run in small local races to win them.  Granted the guy has run 3 marathons in sub-3 hours three weeks running, but really, get a life guy, go pony for the big races and learn some humility.  So.....on to the reports.

This is REALLY long...pack a lunch.
First up, Shamrock Run.  This was originally going to be a big family fun run, my brother-in-law was going to do the 5K, the Mrs. and her friend were going to do the 8K, and my sister-in-law and I were going to do the 15K.  Well, as the race got closer, my wife determined that lack of any training at all (she blames a cold and the holidays etc) that she should drop to the 5K.  So, with a couple of e-mails to and from the fine folks at the Shamrock Run, the final field was set.  SIL and I would be doing the 15K, and the Mrs., her friend and her brother (you know the one who had that little problem in November) were doing the 5K.

The day before the race we had a little pasta feed and party for all the runners.  During the festivities I was asked if I was ready for the 15K.  I chuckled and said that I could run 9.3 miles in my sleep.  The person asking was the Mrs.' friend who thought I was being a little cocky or flippant.  Truth is, I was less than 30 days from running a marathon, 9 miles is a normal days run at that point.  I was regularly knocking off 10's.  9 was going to be easy.  I was not going to push too hard and hurt myself, so I knew I had this one.

Race morning, and everyone got to the house at a reasonable time.  I knew we had to get to Portland earlier than everyone thought was prudent, and when we hit the off-ramp, everyone knew why.  We ended up having to cross the Willamette River twice in order to get to the parking garage that was just a few blocks from the start.  We got parked and headed down, as we neared the start nature was calling for my SIL and the Mrs. so I left them at a line and wandered over to look for the pace queue for 9-10 minute miles.  I tucked in and waited.

After a little bit, I still hadn't seen SIL join the line, and the race was getting close to starting.  That's fine, she and I run a different races anyway so that was one less distraction at the start.  The horn sounds and off we shuffle...turns out that 5000 people make for a very slow start to the pads.  Once there it didn't really change a whole lot.  The course was a little different this year and it was actually a little easier in that the number of random turns were reduced.  We ran up onto a drawbridge then back down and into town.

Now Portland is built on hills, and you don't really get a feel for it until you have had to walk the length of it (I have for work many times) but when you are running up a long slow climb it starts to wear on you.  By the time we reached "the big hill" I had expected things to have thinned out.  Nope.  And to make matters worse, the first aide station was on the inside of the turn to go up the main climb of the race.  So not only were there about 150 people trying to make the corner there were about 40 trying to get water or the other 15 waiting to use the porta-potty.  That particular scene was repeated at every aide station, and since the main climb is in a park setting many of the male runners were tucking behind trees rather than wait.

I found a nice pace and settled int to the run.  My ankle was feeling good and even though the Mrs. was giving me grief about my compression socks, my legs were happily warmer than they would have been without them.  It was just a little too warm for tights.  Right at the start of the hill a power walker went by me, I was not happy with that, but I was going to stick to my plan and run exactly the way I wanted and not be influenced by others.  I was feeling good at the 6 mile mark and at the 3-mile to go mark, I called out, "Who is up for a quick 5K?"  The last part of the race was all downhill.  Fortunately, not a steep downhill but a nice easy one that if there hadn't been so many people around me I might have made better time.  As it was, I was in a constant state of having to adjust for people and trying not to body check anyone.

I hit the finish gate at and gathered out of the box my finisher's medal.  That was right as my wife was sending me a text asking where I was.  Timing is important in life.  And yes, you read that right, I had to get my own medal.  We went and retrieved our free beers and then headed to my favorite café for bloody Marys and breakfast.  Our final times are:  SIL--1:28:01/9:27; Me--1:29:43/9:38; Mrs.--44:16/14:15; BIL--37:46/12:10.  I think we all had fun, and that is the important part to me.


A short 28 days later...SIL and I were up at 5:00 am and eating something for breakfast.  I had two eggs and some cheese, I have no idea what she had.  We wanted to hit the road about 6:00 or so, and we were right on time.  I needed petrol (gas), so that was a quick stop.  I then stopped for a large Double Torture.  Now for those of you not familiar with an Oregon coffee company called Dutch Bros. they have a great attitude towards coffee drinks, they should contain coffee.  The Double Torture is 6 shots of coffee in a 20 oz cup then topped off with heated chocolate milk with a shot of vanilla syrup.  TASTY, and about 1000 calories.  We got to the finish about 6:50, parked and went into get our shirts and find out when the first bus to the start was.  Turns out the first bus was leaving in 10, so we put the stuff we didn't want to take with us into the car and climbed on.

This race is a point to point and it is on an abandoned rail line that the state has turned into a "Linear State Park".  No I'm not kidding about that.  I was laughing every 1/2 mile at the markers that proclaimed this, well, until mile 19 anyway...  The course was paved the whole way and very clearly marked.  We started out in the town of Vernonia, at a Retreat Center, that looked like it might be a cool place to visit in the summer.  A short hike up to the road, and we waited for the official "early" start.  This meant that we would have to add one hour to any time we saw on the clocks, but that bought us an extra hour to walk if the wheels fell off.  When the guy yelled 10-9-8-7-6-etc-1-GO!  This guy in all black took off like he had just snatched a purse.  The rest of us wondered what he was thinking, but continued on our way.

At the first mile mark, I walked for a minute.  I was right at the 10 minute mark so I figured I would run until the nano announced the mile, then walk to the actual mile maker.  After a short 90 second walk I took off again and headed into Vernonia proper.  As we turned onto a different street, I had to stop and take a picture of a house for rent.  Does anyone else see a problem with this?
Hey, it has satellite TV!!

At the two mile mark we entered the city park and the fantastic volunteers directed us onto the only "out-and-back" section, so that we could run around the lake that was oddly at a higher elevation than the river that runs around it.  As we started in towards the lake the front runners were coming out.  The guy in black was not there.  I made a mental note of it, and pressed on.  By the time I got to the far side of the lake, I was warm enough to take my pullover off and tie it around my waist.  This was right at about mile 3.

I noticed a a couple of runners that I was keeping pace with even with my stops to walk, and ended up chatting with one of them for a little bit.  Our paces finally diverged enough that we were separated and I then caught up to one of the runners that we had talked with before the race.  I knew she was running the half, and at mile 9 we were keeping the same pace.  She even decided to walk when I was.  I looked at my watch and figured that the "regular start" people should start to catch us before too long.  I was betting that we had a couple of 6 minute runners that might show up and we were approaching that window.  A couple of minutes later, the guy in black went by us.  Hmmm, not sure where he spent the last 35-40 minutes, but it couldn't have been good.  At mile 10+ a bit, the eventual winner went by like a shot.

I ran with the half runner until the end of her race. Congratulated her on her finish and headed into the woods for the last half of my little run.  I passed mile 14 and drank some of my water and a PowerBar gel, and plugged along.  I started to calculate my fuel supply and timing.  I had taken a PowerBar Gel at 6, and at 10, and at 14, then I counted back from the end.  I wanted to take one at 23, so that I would have 3 miles to go on "fresh fuel".  I had three more gels, so I should be more than covered at that point.

But I noticed that at mile 15 I was getting cold, and my legs were starting to hurt.  I untied the pull-over and put it back on.  That helped a bit, but now I was questioning my fuel supply.  Me being cold often equals low blood-sugar, and I revamped my every 4 to every three.  This would still work.  One at 17, 20 and 23, and if push comes to shove, I can get one of whatever they have on the tables if I really start to hurt.  In hind sight, I should have snaked more than alternating water and electrolyte from the aide stations.  But that is why this was a training run.

At mile 6, I shot a text out to a friend and let her know that I was an hour in and felt good.  She replied with, "Txt me at mile 19 and see," then followed that with "And before and after that :-D".  My response was very much the proper English drawn out verbose reply that I know everyone expects from me, "Duh."  At Mile 17 I sent, "Mile 17 and my legs are starting to hurt."  From that point on I got texts about every mile encouraging me to run.  At mile 18 I sent this:

Proof I was there!
The next mile included a couple of stops to stretch some very irritated hammys, but I kept plugging along.  I could no longer calculate times in my head, so I was on auto pilot as to when I was going to finish.  At Mile 19 I sent this:

My legs f*****g hurt!
 Hey, they did.  I'm not ashamed of that.  The response was a little cryptic, "Go go im. We all know you dont need to feel your legs to run. Shut the brain off, its being mean giving you pain."  I think I got the meaning.  A minute later I got, "BEER!" I replied, "I'm spent."  And got "Naw. Youve got tenacity."   I tried to reply, "Is that a fancy word for STUPID?" but got cut off by, "Your not spent til the hooker walks out."  My friend has such a marvelous command of the English language.  It did make me laugh though.  I won't bore you with the rest, but suffice it to say that it went along like this for the rest of the run.

Shortly after I had passed the 20 mile mark I sent to my friend and to my wife, "20 miles done, now for the longest 10K evver!"  I also took a couple of picts for fun.
Off to the left of the trail.
The road ahead...

All was going more or less according to my plan, such as it was.  Then at mile 21, "Hello Wall, how are you today? Splendid. Do you mind if I curl up and die?"  OK, so I didn't die, but DAMN did my pace go to hell.  I was asked by a volunteer if I was OK and if I thought I could make it 4 times as I walked into that aide station.  I did manage to run into a couple of chuckle-heads that I knew.  The Mrs. and Number 1 showed up to cheer us on, and had guessed based on my estimations as to where we would be and managed to see both of us.  I got some more water and plugged on ahead.

It was all I could do to get moving again.  I was having a hard time getting the legs to want to make any movements that resembled a run.  I walked a bit more than I wanted at that point, but I kept moving forward.  At around mile 22, I was getting passed by one of the many Marathon Maniacs that were running this one, and I looked back over my shoulder and saw another runner that I had passed who was more gassed at mile 16 or so than I was, and another older guy who was also gassed gaining on me.  WELL, that was motivating.  I didn't want to finish with these guys, let alone behind them.  So I kicked the motor back on, and focused on breathing.  I got in to a two stride in, two stride out, rhythm that I could both feel and hear.  I churned out about 4 minutes of running and had to walk for a bit, but I was moving a good bit faster.

I chugged and puffed and walked my way along the Banks-Vernonia trail being passed by people ready to run that far, and keeping in front of the other guys.  As I got to mile 25 I could see the town of Banks.  I was close!  I started to chug my way into town, and got the directions to the main road as the trail ends at the edge of town.  I rounded the propane tank at the gas station and started to walk.  I knew that I was in that one mile left range and I wanted to finish running.  I walked for a couple-few blocks and when I saw some of the volunteers separate to man their corners to block traffic as I went past I started to shuffle up to running.  Also, I could see in the distance a "School Crossing" sign, and since all of Banks' schools are on the same block, that was my target.  As I passed the first young lady, she says, "Good job, only a mile to go."  I nod.  At the end of the block, the next young lady says, "Good job, only a mile to go."  I say, "Wait, one of you is lying to me." I don't stop, I am getting closer to the end.

As I get so close as to be able to read the board telling of the next weeks agenda for the school, a couple are walking out of the grounds and heading to their car.  I plead for them to tell me that I am close.  They assure me that I am, and congratulate me on getting there.  I get to the parking lot, and am told to "Follow the cones."  I make a left and the lovely lass who just 6.5 hours earlier was telling us what to look for at the start, was taking snapshots with a small camera and telling me that I only had to make ONE LAP around the track.  Let me just say right now, I apologize for the mean nasty ugly things I said to her in my head.

The end in sight, and there is the Mrs., SIL, and Number 1 cheering me into the stadium.  What do they see?
Almost FREAKIN' there!!
Down onto the track, and around in Lane 3.  I will admit that I had my eyes closed at a couple of points around that loop.
Backstretch, hat off.
As I hit the last turn, only about 60 yards to go, I hear a voice behind me, "GO! I don't want to pass you at the end!  Run!  It's only 40 yards!"  I turn, look back, face front again, and yell, "Hell, I can do that!"  And, some how I do.  I find another gear that I wouldn't have thought I had and kicked it out.
Just a few more feet!

I wanted to fall to the ground and pass out.  I walked around a bit, ate a banana and a bite of orange and then we headed home.  I almost puked on the drive home but managed to keep it together.  Once the Mrs. got home from the grocery store, it was off to the only part that makes the run seem like the best part of the day.
From a text: "Why more torture! You did great btw"
I hurt for the next three days, but in the end, I know what to expect come October, and I can now work on training through the wall.

Here is SIL getting to the track and finishing.

Sister-in-law ahead of me by about 10 min.
Nice strong finish.

We managed to come in almost dead on where we thought we would.  That was pretty good estimating on my part based on what I know I might be capable of, and guessing where she was at.  I do know that I should have had one more adult come out to the finish so that we didn't have to drive.  Or more accurately, she didn't have to drive.  She has proclaimed that she is done with running...heh, we shall see.

 My time was 5:09:58.  SIL's was 4:58:56

And the reason we do these crazy things?  Well, some do it for the fame, some for the fortune.  Others still will tell you they did it all for the nookie.  I do it for the bling!
Yeah Baby!!!
Thank you for your patience and for reading my little piece of the world's blogosphere.  May all your runs be great ones.  And to my friend that is running in Boston tomorrow morning a heart felt Good Luck! And may you have a light breeze at your back and may the Wellesleyan girls give you hive fives the whole of the tunnel.


  1. Okay - I'm doing multiple comments. One per race. I'm super impressed with your awesomeness at the Shamrock. If you didn't see my race report - and I can't remember if you did or not - mine was a success in that I finished, but not a success in that I was feeling pretty nauseated and dizzy through the whole thing. Those hills didn't help. So, basically, I ran without too much of a crowd. The fact that you were in a busy pack the whole time tells me you were awesome!

    And I almost had to grab my own medal, too. I kind of just stared at a dude implying to him that he better hand it to me. I took it out of its plastic wrap.

    AND I got stink eye from a guy when I was nearly dry heaving after the finish line.

    But I'm glad I did it!

  2. I did see your post. I can't remember if I commented on it or not....

  3. What an epic marathon you had! Nice job on your finish. I just can't even imagine 26.2. Major tip of the cap to you! Congratulations!

  4. Aww shucks Ma'am, tweren't nuthin'

  5. Great report. The pictures tell a story as well. Another adult driver would have helped a lot.

    "Your not spent til the hooker walks out." classic

  6. hey C2Iowa -- another classic comment from Cat :-)

  7. Truly inspired recaps! I read every word :) really! That hooker line was a gut-buster! You did it! Awesome :) I love that bottle opener bling! Think I may need to run in that Shamrock race 'cuz I really want one. Really. Glad to see you sharing on here again :)

  8. First: A late CONGRATS!!!!

    IMHO making someone run a lap on a track at the end of a marathon is torture!

    I like the awards =D The shamrock one would almost be worth getting out of my small-town comfort zone for...

    Ice bath- is the way to go!!!! I missed out on that. I should have gotten in the pond nearby, but the duck poo nixed that.

    Watch out- next it'll be an ultra. So, what is in October that you are planning on? Oh yeah...I seem to remember you registering yourself and another for portland early. That will be a certain PR.