Honoring a promise (ignoring the fine print)

If you’ve been following along with me at all over the last few months you know I’ve been sharing a lot about the virtual 5K that the running group I belong to was putting on.  The #SUB30V5K.  The main goal of this event was to raise money for The Wounded Warrior Project.

My buddy Andy from Running My Ass Off and I have both done a virtual 5K in the past.  He was a big help in doing the Hot Buns Run from earlier this year when I was doing Team in Training for the Portland Marathon.  When we started out on this new one we wanted to go bigger than we each had in the past.  Personally I wanted to hit 200 entries.  Andy proceeded to call me “batshit crazy”!  200 doesn’t seem like many entries compared to a normal race, but when you don’t have much of an existing base to work from and no real “name” behind your event, it can be difficult.  I knew 200 would be a tough, but realistic, goal.

Entering the final week of entries we were sitting at around 150 entries.  I knew we could still get there but we needed to create a buzz.  So I reached out to our running group, and for the first time told them about our goal.  I had always just said we wanted to do the best we could, but if we were going to hit this goal, I knew we all needed to be excited about it.  It didn’t take long for everyone to get on board with the excitement of reaching a goal they didn’t know we were trying to get to.  Most were already surprised at how well we had done.

A couple hours after sharing with everyone, my crazy idea wheel started turning.  I knew that 200 entries would put us close to a $2000 donation to WWP…but not quite get us there.  I checked with Andy (the numbers guy) and he said based on our estimates of expenses, we would need to get to 223 entries.  BINGO…our new target.  I told Andy that I had an idea to get everyone buzzing like we were but he had to agree to it before knowing what it was.  Even though he was reluctant, he agreed (silly, silly man…he knows me better!!)  I posted to our group that we were looking to reach $2000 for our donation and that we needed to hit 223 entries.  I told them that if we hit that mark, Andy and I would shave our heads.  Imagine Andy’s surprise when he read that along with everyone else…including my wife (sorry about that, honey!)  Needless to say, everyone was very excited at this.  I’m still not sure if it was about the huge donation or making us go bald.

Entries were coming in on a consistent basis.  160…170…180…190…  A nice consistent flow that started to trickle down as the hours ticked away.  By Friday, the final day of registration, we were just a couple short of 200.  I still had faith we could get to the original goal of 200 but was having serious doubts about 223.  In the evening we finally hit 200.  Then 201.  And finally took in the last entry of 202.  Andy and are were very excited about the final outcome as we knew 200 entries was a huge gain over either of our previous races.

But all was not lost.  A donor, who wished to remain anonymous, reached out to us.  They wanted to know how close we were to the $2000 goal.  We relayed our numbers to them and they came back saying they would make up the difference that we were missing.  This secured our $2000 donation to The Wounded Warrior Project.  I think if Andy and I had been in the same we would have hugged each other.

We hit our goal we had asked for.  Or did we?  We wanted to hit 223 entries so we could secure the $2000 donation.  We hit the monetary amount but not the entry number. So the question remains, what about the head shaving?!  I’ll let the photos below speak for themselves.











Personally, I kind of like it.  Kind of gives me that is he nice or psychotic look.  As for Andy?  I would suggest going over to his blog and asking him about it.

On a side note, I have not mentioned the beauty and most of the brains behind our event.  Allison Vitt has been an indispensable partner in this adventure!  She created both the shirt and bib for the race.  She is talented beyond words.  Andy are I are forever grateful to her for the work she did but also putting up with our Jr. High humor over the last few months.  We are looking forward to our next adventure together!

Happy Running


Now what? A look at 2014

With the completion of the Portland Marathon, my 2013 race season is essentially over.  Even though I didn’t quite hit my time goal in the marathon, this year has been a very successful one overall.  I ran the distances I wanted to run and I hit the times I wanted to hit.  Did I want to run faster?  Absolutely!  And now we get after those times in 2014.

I’m setting up 2014 pretty much the same as 2013.  I will start with what I call my short season (5K), progressing to my long season (half marathon) and then finish up the year with some various events.  I had said I wanted to cut back on the number of races compared to this year.  I felt really beat up going into my marathon.  Between training for that and doing other races I really set myself up to get injured.  Luckily, I never really did.  But I was definitely not 100% going into what was my big race of the year.  But with what I have scheduled the second half of the year, I shouldn’t have any problems with a similar schedule this coming year during the first half of the year.

First, a quick recap of 2013. For the 5K I had set a goal of breaking 23:00.  The first weekend in January, at Resolution Run, I went 21:15.  So much for that goal!  I spent the next few months trying to go as low as possible (I wanted to break 20:00), eventually getting down to 21:05.  For the half marathon I wanted to break 1:45:00 and had targeted Portland RnR in May for that.  I did a tune up half in April and went 1:37:xx and was holding back.  Oops!  In June, I set my PR of 1:36:15.

So what is the plan for 2014?  Probably best to just run through my schedule with some notes about my expectations for each event.

December 1st:  Yes, I know December is still in 2013.  But I’m counting it in my short season events.  I’m running the Hot Buttered Run 5K in conjunction with our virtual 5K that our online running group is hosting.  The #SUB30V5K is doing a virtual race to raise money for the Wounded Warrior Project.  Read all about the event here and please take a moment to sign up!


Since I’ve only just started back into training last week, I have no lofty goal of setting a PR.  My realistic goal for this race is 23:00.  Anything faster than that is just gravy.

January 5th:  I’m returning to Resolution Run 5K again.  This is a great PR friendly loop course.  I’m not necessarily looking to PR at this race, targeting 22:00, but you never know what will happen.

February 1st:  Now we’re getting serious!  The Roaring River 5k is where I set my PR last year.  Except for a few hundred feet towards the end of the course, this is a flat out and back course.  I will be looking to go sub 21:00.

March 16th:  Shamrock Run 5K.  This course has a similar layout to the Roaring River Run, all flat except for a suspiciously nasty couple hundred feet climb towards the end.  I really thought I had a chance to PR this course last year.  But I got greedy chasing my PR and ran a tough race the day before (not recommended), but still only came up a couple seconds short.  I will be looking to finally break 20:00.

April 13th:  Now we move on to half marathons.  The Blooms to Brews Half Marathon was a real eye opener last year.  This is an amazingly flat, PR friendly half course.  Last year I had no idea what I was capable of, or anything about the course.  This year is a completely different story.  This year I’m going to be setting an aggressive pace early and see just how long I can hold it.  I will be looking to break 1:30:00 right out of the gate at my first race for the year.

May 4th:  Flying Pig Three Way Cincinnati/Broadway 10 Miler Philadelphia.  I have friends in both cities that want me to run each event.  I obviously can’t run both.  I’m still on the fence as to which one I’m going to run.

May 18th:  Portland RnR Half Marathon.  I haven’t signed up for this yet but I know me, I will sign up. This is a nice course through many of the neighborhoods in Portland.  This is still the best tactical race I’ve run to date.  Just can’t beat the vibe of a big, lively race.

June 15th:  Vancouver USA Half Marathon.  This is where I set my half PR.  I think it was just because I knew Bart Yasso was at the finish line!  Even though I PR’d, I ran a horrible race.  Went out way too fast and had to really gut out the finish.  If I ran a better race I’m sure I could have broken 1:35, which was my goal.

At this point I am planning to take a short break.  If you recall, I have a little toe issue…or more accurately, a little issue with my big toes.  I’m already scheduled to see a podiatrist to have my toenails removed.  Recovery is a couple weeks.  It should allow me to recharge my batteries, mentally and physically.  This also ends the “competitive” portion of my year.  Everything after this is really more for fun.

August 22nd-24th:  I have the privilege of running Hood to Coast again in 2014.  This is a great event and I am really looking forward to running it again.

September 6th(?):  Gateway to the Gorge Half Marathon.  2013’s event was the first time this was run. They are saying it will be an annual event.  This is the race that runs through my neighborhood, a course I’m very familiar with.  I had some issues during this event so am looking for a little revenge next time.

September 14th(?):  Pints to Pasta 10K.  This event has been taken over by another management group so not a lot of information about it at this point.  I skipped this even in 2013.  It’s a very PR friendly 10K course and I am looking forward to running it again.  Given the closeness to the Gateway to the Gorge Half I may have to decide which event I want to run/race.

September 21st:  Steve Prefontaine Memorial 10K.  Yeah, just realized that’s races in three consecutive weekends.  I’m definitely doing this one as it’s in my hometown and a really great, small town event.

October 18th-20th: Runner’s World Half Festival.  This is a big event for me in 2014.  Not so much for the running as it more about the Sub 30 group meeting up in person.  This weekend is going to be a lot of fun!

This pretty much sums up 2014.  I would really like to find a 10K race the last few months of the year that I can push for a true PR.  Pints to Pasta is a great event, but sandwiched between two other events.  Might be asking for trouble.  I’ve run Run Like Hell 10k before and really liked it but will most likely be the same weekend as Runner’s World.  I’m sure I will find something.

In a nutshell, I want to break 20:00 in the 5K and 1:30:00 in the half marathon.  I don’t really have a target for the 10K as it’s been a while since I’ve run one on a non-hilly course so nothing to base it on.

Here’s to a healthy, fast and successful 2014!

Happy Running

Going Under the Knife

Ooh…it sounds so ominous!  OK, it really isn’t a knife.  More like a big pair of scissors and a pair of pliers.

Ever since I was a senior in high school I’ve been dealing with ingrown toenails.  It’s just become one of those things I’ve learned to deal with on my own.

After completing the Portland marathon I took a week off.  Went out for what I call a rust knocker of a run the following Saturday and felt good.  Hit the road again on Tuesday and still felt good.  But I had started noticing that one of my toes was starting to get a little uncomfortable.  I grabbed my usual tools and went to work.  Without going into too man gory details, let’s just say it didn’t go as well as planned.  Not only did I create quite a mess, I didn’t get all of the nail out.

I found myself hobbling around for the next 5 days before I got so pissed that I grabbed some bigger tools and went back in for a second crack.  Got that little bastard this time!  Immediate relief from the pain.  So much relief that I was back out running the next day.  Got in runs three of the next four days.

Before I “fixed” it the second time, at the urging of my wife and my trainer, I made an appointment to see my doctor and finally have the nails removed.  As good as I have been feeling the last week I gave serious thought to cancelling the appointment.  But I’m going to go through with it and just get it done.  Then I won’t have to worry about it anymore.

So, tomorrow at 2:30 I will be putting my life…ok, my toes, in the hopefully capable hands of a doctor who will finally put an end to my ingrown toenail problems.  I’m expecting a pretty quick recovery, guessing 3-5 days.  My plan is to finally start my winter training next Monday.  It’s only two weeks later than planned but feels like a lifetime.  If you don’t hear from me by Thursday, please send flowers.

Happy Running


Portland Marathon Review

I wanted to give myself a week before trying to write this review.  I wanted to let the emotion of the event fully leave my system.  There was laughter.  There was pain.  There were tears.  And there were several “WTF am I doing” moments.  As I said shortly after I finished, the Portland Marathon was the most painful and humbling experiences I have ever put myself through.  And now that a week has past, when I’m asked whether I would do it again, I can honestly say yes, without a second of hesitation.

The event itself is fantastic.   I’ve done a lot of small events where the focus is on making sure runners have the basic needs of the event.  I’ve also done a few bigger events where it was more about the glitz and glam rather than substance.  The Portland Marathon impressed me with what seemed to be the right combination of both.  I think the community deserves a big chunk of that recognition.  Aside from a few sections of the race where spectators were not allowed for safety reasons, there was not a stretch of the course where there wasn’t a good cheering section.  At some points people were lined up 3-4 deep along the road.  The neighborhoods really seem to embrace the chaos of race day, something I’m sure all the other runners appreciated as much as I did.  There was one house that really stood out to me.  They probably had 20-30 people outside of their house in what can only be described as a huge tailgate party.  The finish line was as close to my fantasy finish line as I could imagine it could be in reality.  Thousands of people lined the streets of the final stretch, all of them screaming their lungs out, willing you on to the finish. I made those last two turns and all the pain just went away. I got a huge adrenaline rush from the crowd.  It was just amazing to experience.

As for the race itself, I did not hit the time goal(s) I had for myself.  Sure, I’m bummed about that.  But something I’ve worked on the last few months is learning how to adapt my race during the race based on the conditions that I’m presented with.  Whether those are weather or course issues, or if it is something wrong with me.  I started out the race nice and easy, at least for me.  I still have the bad habit of going out too fast, but luckily the start was EXTREMELY crowded and I didn’t have a choice.  I thought for sure we were running about a 10:00 mile but when I checked my pace at mile one we were sub 8:30, which is right where I needed to be.  It took a good 4-5 miles for the pack to really thin out before I could really think about making any kind of move.  After that I settled into a good pace and felt like things were going well.

Through mile 10 I was right no pace.  Mile 11 things started going a little sideways.  I felt much more tired than I should have for what my perceived effort was. Pace check at mile 11 showed that I had slowed down.  By mile 14 I knew something wasn’t right.  Was really started to drag ass even though mentally I knew I shouldn’t be. I did a quick assessment of my fuel and fluids and did note that I was a little behind on my plan but still within my normal consumption for runs.  I just figured it was going to be one of those days.

Mile 17 is when you come to the only real hill on the course. You climb up and cross over the St. John’s Bridge.  I made it less than 1/3 of the way up and realized that at the pace I’m “running” I could walk up the hill just as fast and save some energy.  So I took the opportunity to catch my wind, hydrate and fuel up.  Ran into one of my TnT coaches at this point and he said I made the right call, so didn’t get too down on myself.  Once I got up the hill I picked the pace back up and felt much better.  I got a solid couple of miles in getting me close to the infamous mile 20.  It was about this time where I noticed a major problem. I had essentially stopped sweating. I’m not a doctor, but even I know this is not good. I had already picked up my hydrating pace before this but after noticing the sweating issue I knew that I needed to be drinking every chance I get. My goal times went out the window at this point and the main goal was to finish the race standing up. From there on out I walked each aid station, grabbing two full cups of water. And these weren’t your itsy bitsy 2oz cups of water that most races give out. These were full 8oz cups. So each stating I was drinking almost 16oz of water while taking a decent walk break. I ran as much as I could between stations but still had to walk from time to time as my body just was not happy with me.

My trainer, Charles, met me about mile 22 at the aid station.  Gave me some encouraging words, “Suck it up and push, I will fix whatever is broken later!”  Gave me a nice little boost.  Found out later that day he had sent a text to my wife say “He doesn’t look so good”.  Good thing he didn’t me that!

Once you get to about mile 24.5 it becomes really hard to walk even if you want to. You know you are getting so close and the crowds are urging you on. It’s almost like you are running for them at this point.  About mile 25.5 I got a nice surprise when my wife met me on the course and gave me a high five. I’ll be honest; I pretty much lost it at that moment.   It’s really hard to run and cry at the same time!

As I mentioned above, the finish is just amazing. You start feeding off the energy of the crowd. All the pain just disappears and you feel like you could run another 10 miles.  The finish line was the most amazing sight.  My time was 4:07:18.  Not what I had planned but given the problems I ran into during the race I am quite pleased with that.

What does one look like when they are coming to the finish of their first marathon and they aren’t feeling so good?  This picture pretty much sums it up!


Happy running


A Difference a Year Makes

How far has my running come in the last year?

This time last year I had just finished my first half marathon. I had turned my attention to the Run Like Hell 10K in an attempt to knock off my last goal for the year of running a sub 50:00 (I did).

Today I ran my final long run of 20 miles in preparation for the Portland Marathon. And I just realized that this training run was at a faster pace (and 7 miles longer) than my half marathon a year ago.

Next weekend I’m running the Steve Prefontaine Memorial 10K. I’m scheduled to run 12 miles that day. So I will go run 4-6 miles prior to racing. Then I will tackle this hilly course while still expecting to PR.

Who’d a thunk!

Happy Running

Gateway to the Gorge Review

Recap from the inaugural running of Gateway to the Gorge Half Marathon.


First off, as a first time event, it had its usual bumps. The biggest of which were unclear routes (they sent out two different maps) and a t-shirt I will never wear…a white, cotton t-shirt plastered with sponsors front and back. Yeah, um, no!

As I mentioned when I signed up for this event, this is essentially my long running route in my neighborhood, just in reverse. There are two big hills on this route. Given where the starting/finish was located it moved one the hills to the start of the course and made the other one a downhill. My goal was to run that first mile, which included the hill, at 9:00 pace…I did it in 8:12. Felt good so just kept going.

Here I am about mile 2.5 where my wife surprised me on the course!

Gateway to the Gorge











I was really looking forward to about mile 5. The tough part of the course would be done and I could start picking up the pace. But about this time I started getting some stomach cramping. This is definitely not something I normally experience during races. It wasn’t GI issues, felt more like I’d done way too many sit ups. Hurt so much I was having trouble getting a deep breath. So over the 3-4 mile span of the course where I was looking to make some really good time (including a mile long downhill) I had to back off my pace. I figure this cost me a good 3-5 minutes off my time. After I passed the 8 mile marker I started figuring out what was wrong with me. Let out a couple small burps and got some instant relief. Over the next mile my body rewarded me with some additional relief in a couple different forms. Amazing how much better I felt.

Good thing I was feeling better because I was coming to a part of the course that I was not familiar with. We had to run about 1-1.5 miles within a park along the river. I was thinking by looking at the map that we would just be running around the parking lot for the most part. I was sadly mistaken. Narrow, uneven, dramatically up and down path through the woods. Let me put it this way, at one point I said a very bad word that starts with “F”, very loudly, as I tried to climb one of the short hills.

When I came out of the park I actually felt pretty good. Using completely different muscles for a couple of miles can bring you some relief and help re-energize you a little. At this point I had about 3.5 miles left. Time to put the pedal down. Think I ran that last part in sub 27:00. Given how the first part of the race went I was very pleased with this.

Official time was 1:44:45. I was targeting 1:42:30. With the issues that I encountered during the race I was very pleased with this number.

We are within 4 weeks of the Portland Marathon.  Major things on the calendar are my last 20 miler this Saturday on the actual course and then the Steve Prefontaine 10K Memorial Run in my home town on the 21st.   Then it’s show time!

Happy Running


Go screw something up!

Yin and yang. Light and dark. Good and bad. Miley Cyrus and Taylor Swift. You can’t have one state without the existence of the other.

How can you appreciate your good runs if you don’t ever experience a bad one? Hell, how do you even know you are having a good run if you’ve never had a bad one.

Yesterday was my next to last long run before the Portland Marathon. 18 miles. I joined up with my Team in Training teammates in downtown Portland. They were scheduled to do 18 miles and I wanted to make sure I hit that number. Figured at the very least they could pull me through it.

I actually did pretty good…for the first 14 miles. I was having a good time; telling jokes, interacting with people in town and trying to keep a positive attitude. In fact I was joking around so much I forgot something…fueling!

I fueled at about 4 miles, which is normal. But I did it only because I saw someone else do it. I don’t think I took my next Gu until mile 12…OOPS!  I took another about mile 14 but the damage had been done by then. Once you deplete your energy so far it is very hard to play catch up. By mile 16 my body pretty much started shutting down. I continued to put one foot in front of the other as I still had to get back to my car but it was a brutally slow pace.

So even though I bonked a little, this was a win/win run. I got my 18 in (at an overall awesome pace of 8:30) and I learned a great lesson. It’s ok to have fun and enjoy yourself but it’s equally important to stay within yourself and stick to your game plan. For me that means fueling about every 4 miles.

Bad run…Good outcome!

So don’t be afraid to go out there and screw up! Hell, go out there and screw up on purpose to try to learn something new. Just do it on a training run and in a safe environment. You don’t want to do it on race day and you don’t want to get hurt.

Happy Running
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