Race Reports

Writhing on the Ground in Pain at the Chuckanut 50k

The above image from the top of the infamous last climb on this course known as Chinscraper around mile 22 pretty much captures my last 10 miles of this race. Along with the titular writhing on the ground in pain that took place about a mile after the picture was taken. I had been feeling some twinges in my legs starting around mile 10 and had a few short cramps. I was frustrated about stopping to walk them out so I decided to attempt to run through them. But the intensity built and when I tried to stop and stretch, my legs just gave out and pain flared through muscles. I fell to the ground in pretty intense pain for about 15 seconds. A few runners came by and asked me if I was OK which was a bit embarrassing. There was really nothing they could do and I didn’t want to slow them down so I urged them on. After that my body just wasn’t the same. I couldn’t really run even on the flats. I think I probably averaged 12 minute miles for the last 7 miles of the race. I was able to pull it together though and still managed to finish in 36th place with a new 50k PR by default (first 50k) of 4:45. Looking at the race results and recognizing the people that passed me during  my muscle seizures I’m pretty sure I could have made the top 25 if I could have held things together a bit more.

Despite the breakdown overall I would mark the day up as a success. The course was great and it was fun to race with some of the members of the SRC Brooks team. We had three members of the team finish in the top 20 with Evan Williams taking 8th overall and first in his age group, Derek Reiff took 13th overall, 2nd in his age group. Olin Berger toughed out a 17th place finish despite hitting a pretty hard wall. The event was incredibly well organized and a pleasure to run. I was able to catch up with a lot of friends and enjoyed the post race amenities a great deal. Definately a race worth putting on the calendar again.

Pre race team photo. L to R Olin Berger, Evan Williams, Matt Hong, Derek Reiff.

Pre race team photo. L to R Olin Berger, Evan Williams, Matt Hong, Derek Reiff.

I think a lot contributed to this being a harder race for me but the key ones are probably:

  1. Not enough time to fully recover my muscles from the PR effort at the Lake Sammamish Half two weeks previous.
  2. Not letting myself fully recover from the Lake Sammamish Half before diving into a high milage elevation focused week immediately after the half thinking it would help me get strong for Chuckanut (52 miles, 9600 ft climb)

As folks keep reminding me – I need to keep my expectations realistic for how many really hard times I can race a year. You have to be willing to accept that if you want to pack races in two weeks apart you can only really focus on one of them and reign it back for the other.

Starting line photo - I'm on the far right checking my watch. Glenn Tachiyama http://www.tachifoto.net

Starting line photo – I’m on the far right checking my watch. Glenn Tachiyama http://www.tachifoto.net

Things went well for the first 7 miles – I stayed pretty much on my target of 7 minute miles for the relatively flat part going out. I was feeling weaker than I expected though and could not keep up with my teammate Derek because I wasn’t feeling great and I knew it was going to be a long race.

Feeling good about a mile in. Photos Courtesy of  Glenn Tachiyama - http://www.tachifoto.net)

Feeling good about a mile in. Glenn Tachiyama – http://www.tachifoto.net

The first climb was rough – I had a hard time getting into climbing mode. I got passed by a few people but the descent was probably my favorite part of the day. I passed a few people and was really just enjoying being on the mountain and the trail. It was fun to go through the Seattle Running Club aid station and get cheered on by the folks in the club.

Another shot on Chinscraper. Glenn Tachiyama - http://www.tachifoto.net

Another shot on Chinscraper. Glenn Tachiyama – http://www.tachifoto.net

There is a long road climb in the middle of the race that I wasn’t a huge fan of but I moved through it well. The Chuckanut ridge trail was technical and fun – although a few of us got a little lost. The last climb was brutal as has already been documented. The most brutal part of the race though was the last seven miles of flat after my body had already failed. I walked for quite a bit of it and I wasn’t in the best head space. This part of the day was not fun. But I put it together and was able to at least jog the last three miles.

Finish line was great. The RD and Seattle Running Club legend Krissy Moehl and her family / team put on a great event and the finish line area was full of huge grins. The weather actually turned sunny at the finish – although it was windy and rainy on most of the course. I probably should have worn a shirt instead of the singlet as I got pretty frigid at times.

Gear Rundown:

  1. Brooks Cascadia 10s – really nice stable shoe for a longer trail run. I do like the Grits better though. Debating which to run in at White River – the additional support of the Cascadia’s or the feel of the Grits.
  2. SRCBrooks Singlet and shorts – as mentioned I may have been better served by a real shirt but I love running in the uniform
  3. Camelback hand bottle – worked well. I don’t think my cramps were due to electrolyte deficiency as I drank plenty of electrolytes during the race
  4. Garmin Fenix 2 – this was the dog of the day as far as gear. It kept losing GPS and resetting on me. I was only able to get a track for the first half of the race.

What’s Next:

Boston Marathon on April 20! I’m shooting for a sub 2:50 time – we’ll see if my body can recover enough for that. I hope to have one good training week next week before a two week taper. I’m also running the BAA 5k on the Saturday before the marathon with Carrie but I need to make sure I run the 5k in 24 minutes as the fastest as this is just a shakedown run. I will be very frustrated with myself if I finish any faster.

Can Matt Sustain a Sub 6:00 Per Mile Pace for 13.1?

2015 Lake Sammamish Half Race Report

Photo Mar 07, 7 22 00 AM

At the start with the wife!

One of my major Run Happy Goals for 2015 was to run a sub 1:20 half marathon. My first attempt was scheduled for the Lake Sammamish Half on March 7. It’s a great race. I ran it two years ago and I really liked it. A fast and scenic course with not a lot of turns. And it is near my house and I regularly run sections of it so there is some element of home court advantage. The timing makes it a great build up race for Boston. It has been very well organized both times I’ve run it and I was excited that my wife was running it as well this year. I set a PR at the race two years ago and I hoped that I would have a similar result this year.

The plan was to hit the midpoint of the race right at 40 minutes and then see how I was feeling. If things were going well I would try to negative split the course and see how fast I could run the back half.

It was a chilly 38 degrees the morning of the race. It was a clear morning though with a lot of fog rolling across the lake. A beautiful morning for running. I was in no hurry to strip down to my singlet and shorty shorts that are part of the Seattle Running Club Brooks team uniform though. Seriously, these are the shortest shorts I’ve ever worn. I don’t have a lot of track history and it took a lot of courage for me to wear those things in public. As the 8:00 am start approached I stripped down to my uniform. As I shed my outer layer I noticed that I had forgot my Garmin watch. What a rookie mistake. I decided to resort to carrying my iphone in my hand for the whole race – something I was not a huge fan of but I really felt I needed something to track my pace with. I took off my now useless heart rate strap and stowed it in my drop bag as well, my nerdy data driven mind regretting that I would not be able to have the data to scrutinize later.

It was a little strange when I toed the line because I looked like such a pro runner in my matchy outfit that everyone urged me to go to the front since I must be super fast with such a fancy kit. So I obliged them and went to the front and peacocked a bit for the camera.

As the race started I surged ahead with the leaders and hung on, wondering what kind of pace I was running at since my iPhone was locked and I couldn’t see the screen. I didn’t want to take the time to try to unlock it since I was wearing gloves. I was pretty confident that I was going much faster than the 6:05 pace I had planned for. So I slowed down to the secondary pack of five folks as the top 3 got progressively further ahead.

Around mile two I worked out my audio cues for RunKeeper and found that I was running at about 5:54 pace – not totally outside of plan but faster than I wanted to be going. But I was with a nice pack of seven folks at this point along with the lead woman who was running for Oisille and I was feeling good so I decided to stick with them and see how things worked out.

Pack I ran most of the race with. Did I mention the shorts were a bit short?

Pack I ran most of the race with. Did I mention the shorts were a bit short? Photo courtesy of: woodinvillebicycle.smugmug.com

There was some shuffling in the pack after the midpoint – which I hit about 50 seconds ahead of schedule – the woman and and another guy dropped back as we kept up a pretty consistent 5:55 pace. Around the mile 9 aid station when I stopped to grab a cup of water. I started to drop back from the group of about five other guys that was in the pack. I didn’t immediately catch back up after walking through the aid station and I was struggling to keep from falling further behind. A guy who was obviously running for the negative split blew past me around mile 10. About mile 11 I became aware that another negative splitter was closing on me and I picked it up to try to hold on to my position. At mile 12 he pulled even with me and passed me. I wish I could say that I got fired up and told him that we should both pick it up and catch the pack that was still within sight but instead he surged past me and I just tried to hang on.

Pain face. Who is the dork with the iPhone in his hand?

Pain face. Who is the dork with the iPhone in his hand? Photo courtesy of: woodinvillebicycle.smugmug.com

As we entered the State Park for the last meandering mile I was confident that I would PR – but I also was pretty sure I wasn’t going to catch anyone. I was excited that I had maintained a sub 6:00 per mile pace for the whole race and was super satisfied with my performance. As I rounded a turn I looked back and there was no one in sight so my position was set. The other year I ran this race it curved through a parking lot like four times and this year there were just a couple of turns so it wasn’t so bad.

I kept my pace up and finished with a 1:18:25. I had beat my goal by a minute and a half! A couple of years ago a single mile at a 6:00 pace seemed like an extreme effort – it’s hard for me to believe I could keep it up for a full half marathon. I didn’t end up negative splitting but they were pretty darn even – second half about 30 seconds slower than the first. It was a 3:21 PR. I don’t know how I keep pulling these PRs out of my hat. Although it does look like my improvements are diminishing. Here are my last three PRs for all you data junkies – which happen about annually since I usually run half marathons in the Spring:

  1. 2013 Lake Samm: 1:27:36 – a 5:33 improvement
  2. 2014 Cinco Half: 1:21:46 – a 5:28 improvement
  3. 2015 Lake Samm: 1:18:25 – a 3:21 improvement

We’ll see if I have another one in me next year. Maybe at the 2016 Lake Sammamish Half. I highly recommend this race!

I ended up taking 12th place overall and 5th place in my division. Here’s the track on Strava. I’m kind of addicted to Strava right now. I don’t think I’ll be going back to Runkeeper.

Finish line smile by the lake

Finish line smile by the lake

Gear

I wore my Brooks Racer ST5s  – this was the first time I ran in racing flats and I liked them. They are super light and fast. I my feet did a bit beat up after the race so I’m not sure if I’m going to run in them or something more supportive in Boston.

Other Gear:

  1. Brooks Rev III SRC Team Singlet in lime Green. Worked great really like the style and fit.
  2. Brooks Infiniti 3″ split shorts As mentioned – super short for me but I liked the freedom of movement they provided.
  3. iPhone 6 – seriously? I ran with the phone in my hand the whole time – what a noob. Turned out OK though. I’m sure if I would have had my watch I would have picked up an extra minute. 😉

Seriously loving being part of the team and the Brooks gear. I have to admit that representing the club and knowing my teammates will want to hear about the race gives me just a little extra motivation to show well.

What’s Next?

I’ve jumped into training hard this week in preparation for a return to the trails on March 21 for the Chuckanut 50k! I’m having a hard time setting my expectations for this race. It wasn’t on my calendar until January and isn’t a “A” race for me this year, but a lot of the team is going to be there and I’m hoping for a good showing. I don’t want to over do it and get hurt though with Boston next month. The current plan is to run hard but not try to do too much and enjoy being on the trails – whatever that means. As long as I finish it will be a 50k pr since it’s my first one.

A Couple of January Trail Runs – Tiger Mountain and Bridle Trails

Bridle Trails 10M. I’m not quadzilla but my quad is looking pretty impressive in this pic – just sayin.

January has been a busy running month! One of the side effects of joining the SRC Brooks team has been a greater connection to the Seattle running community and along with that comes more opportunities to run – as well as more opportunities to annoy my wife by talking about running. I’m working hard to develop a filter and remember that she is not as interested about the minutia of the Seattle Running Club as I am right now.

One of the runs I found out about by following the Seattle Mountain Runners Group (SMRG) on Facebook occurs on the first Saturday in January every year. There is no organization that sponsors it – it’s just a group of enthusiasts that show up to run a 50k on Tiger Mountain spontaneously. Some folks bring some donuts. Some folks mark the trail with awesome Christmas ribbons. Some will decorate trees including battery powered lights along the trail. It’s a pretty amazing community endeavor and left me totally blown away by the passion for trail running of the folks in the area. It’s great to be a trail runner in Seattle. Did I mention that the race is totally free? It’s what is called a Fat Ass race which has minimal support, no swag, no numbers or official timing, and no whining.

The race itself was beautiful. Despite forecasts of rain it turned out to be dry and unseasonably warm. The course is a Seattle Classic – actually known as Seattle’s Favorite Loop in guidebooks. Run 1 loop for a 25k and 2 loops for a 50k. I decided to run the 25k since I was still a little tender from the Loop the Lake Marathon and I had a limited amount of time.

It was fun to see a lot of the stalwarts of the Seattle trail running community all together. I ran for a while with another member of the SRC Brooks team Arthur Martineau who was doing the 50k but decided that since I only had 25k I would push it a little harder. The best part of the race was hitting the snow covered peak of Tiger Mountain. The views of the area were amazing – the day was clear enough for some spectacular looks at Mount Rainier which always makes my heart smile. Punched down the mountain with some pretty fast final miles on my way to get a doughnut.

I finished in about 2 hours and 25 minutes somewhere near the front of the pack. Here’s the track on Strava.

January 10 I ran the 10M and volunteered at the Bridle Trails Winter Running Festival put on by our club at Bridle Trails State Park in Kirkland. It also turned out to be a nice day to run for a January day in the northwest.

I helped set up for the race and got the excited job of parking attendant. It was not that much fun to try to direct everyone to park sensibly. The race itself was eventful. At the starting line Eric Sach – the race director was looking for predictions on who would win the three offered distances – 5M, 10M and 50k. Everyone was pretty sure our resident speed demon Keith would win the 5M. When he mentioned the 10M one of my friends said my name and another said Joe who is a former member of the SRC team and just finished 10th in the Seattle Half Marathon in under 1:17 so I was pretty sure Joe would beat me – but I wanted to see if I could keep up with him for a bit so I asked where he was and said I would try to stay with him.

I think he took that personally because after about 5 minutes he was out of sight. As with most of the multi distance races its hard to pick out who is running what distance. It’s hard to know if the folks around you are racing the 5M or the 10M folks and you hope you are fast enough to be in front of all the people running at a 50k pace. I settled in to running my own race after the first three miles when everyone had pretty much separated themselves on the trail.

The trails were very fun to run on – not technical and not very much climbing involved – but enough to keep it interesting. Mud also added a fun element although it was not terribly muddy this year. I did have some pretty sweet mud running up and down my legs after the race though.

Nice action shot.

Nice action shot.

I was running sub seven minute miles according to my watch and keeping my heart rate in the 160s for first 5 mile lap. I was running pretty much alone at this point. For the second lap I pushed it up to the 170s as fatigue started to set in and I was looking for a negative split.

Around mile 6 I caught up to one of the other 10M runners and passed him. About mile 8 I was passed by the legendary Uli Steidhl which was kind of cool. I tried to keep up with him for a while but couldn’t sustain his pace. It was fun to watch him work though. I always love to see people who are world class do what they do. Around here I also started to lap some of the slower 50k runners.

About mile 9 I spotted one last 10M runner I could try to catch. I started pushing the pace again and he rose to the challenge but I could tell he was suffering a bit and during the last climb I was able to separate. I bombed it down to complete my fastest mile of the day – 6:26. Although due to tree cover and lots of turns I only got 9.5 miles on the GPS and I’ve been assured the course is a full 10M so I was perhaps a bit faster.

I ended up taking 3rd place which I’m super happy about. My fellow SRCBrooks Joe Creighton and Evan Williams teammates took first and second respectively. I did negative split the course but not by much.

The winner of the 10M Joe is on the left, Evan who took 2nd is just behind me.

The winner of the 10M Joe is on the left, Evan who took 2nd is just behind me.

Overall it was a great day for SRC. Our team captain Trisha who is married to the aforementioned Uli broke their 10 year old record for the pairs 50k. Olin Berger on the team took first place in the solo 50k.

It was pretty much a perfect way to start my year on the SRCBrooks team. I went home and watched the Seahawks game and helped put the kids to bed and then I went back out to the course to “sweep” the course around 10:45pm. Sweeping is the process of running the course to pick up all the markings. This enabled me to get a significant number of the service hours that are required as part of my membership on the team.

Here’s a track from Strava.

What’s Next? The Lake Sammamish Half Marathon on March 7 where I’m hoping for a sub 1:20 half.

I also registered to run the Chuckanut 50k this week which I’m pumped for as I’ve heard great things about the race. It’s already sold out and happens on March 21. I can guarantee a 50k pr there as long as I don’t DNF since it will be my first 50k.

Special thanks to Takeo Suzuki for the photos. You can find more of his stuff at http://www.runners.photos.

2014 Scout Mountain Ultra Trail 100k Race Report

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Me with my sister who got me into this mess…

I have conflicted feelings about my first 100k. It was by far the hardest run I’ve ever done. I only got through the last 30 miles through force of will and an unhealthy inability to call it quits. Most of the time I finish this sort of thing with a sense of euphoria and excitement for whats next. This time I finished physically shattered and I just wanted to go home. Absolutely no desire to hang out after and feel the vibe or cheer on other finishers. No desire to stick around and commiserate with those who had also been through this special form of self inflicted suffering. I just wanted to get the hell out of there.

So I’m interested in how this affects my relationship with running long term – have I met my match? Am I done looking for the next level? Am I ready to tone it down? A lot to think about in the next few weeks. I will admit that it’s only been 8 days later as I write this post and I’ve started to furtively go to the White River 50 home page and made some travel itineraries in my mind – so maybe I’m not ready to hang up my ultra shoes quite yet.

So what made it so hard? This was my “A” race for the summer – the race that I was building up for and had geared a lot of my training schedule for. I went into the race feeling like I was in the best shape of my life. I recently set a new course record in the Hong Family Challenge fitness test – a 1.35 mile loop with 280 feet of gain outside my front door that I often run to test my fitness. I lowered the record from 9:53 to 9:30. I had done a lot of race specific training – really hitting the trails and hills hard leading up to the event. I had a decent taper and had done some good cross training. I felt unbreakable. I felt stronger than I ever have before. This pride was probably the problem. I had put together a plan to aim at a 11:30 pace for the 100k. This would put me in at 11:54. This was 10 seconds slower per mile than what I ran the White River 50. I thought that my superior fitness and experience of running another ultra would make this a realistic goal even though the race was significantly longer. Although I kept finding myself foolishly thinking that 62.5 miles isn’t that much longer than 50 miles – it’s nearly a full half marathon – after you have already run nearly 2 marathons. It made a big difference.

I may have been OK if I went with my pace goal – but once the race started I went out like superman. I saw one of the best female ultra runners in America Darcy Africa and decided to follow her. We were in a pack of about five people – a secondary group behind the lead pack of six people who went out significantly faster than the rest of us. I kept telling myself that following a multiple Hardrock 100 winner is probably not the right thing to do at my level – but I was feeling great. About six miles in the real stupidity set in. Darcy pulled aside for a pit stop and I passed her. That’s right – I brazenly pushed on and picked up the pace with a crowd of four similarly foolish men after we passed the person I already thought I was stupid for even following.

But I was feeling great and my splits show it. The first 25 miles of this race are very runnable and probably the easiest stretch of the course. I used flawed logic like I’m just putting some time in the bank for when it gets hard. I have 9 sub 10 minute miles in the first 12 miles – including a ridiculous 7:17 split. Although it was probably right to run the first part of the course faster when it is easier I took it too far. All this exertion early on caught up to me in a serious way later in the race.

I also had a few falls at the start that didn’t hurt when I was feeling good but probably contributed to the cumulative damage later on in the race. In one I got distracted by the sunrise views and stumbled right off the trail into the bushes and cut my legs up pretty good. The other was just a dumb fall when I caught a rock on the trail. The views were spectacular on the first 25 miles. Some really wide open big sky views with great sunrise colors.

The crux of the race was at mile 31, which has 1000 feet of gain. This comes after five more miles of significant climbing. That single mile took me nearly a half hour and I was never the same after it. I just lost my climbing gear – it was very painful to run anything with a incline after that. I did make it down from that climb into the next aid station though – and as I fueled up Darcy Africa passed me looking like she was out for an afternoon stroll. She ended up beating me by 45 minutes. I only had 5 sub 10 minute miles in the 31 miles after mile 31.

The sun was a big factor in the race for me. I was not used to racing in such an exposed environment. We actually have trees in the cascades. It really sucked the energy out of me. I should have worn more sun screen. I put some on at an aid station but with that much exposure I needed more. It’s harder to quantify but I also think that the elevation was a problem I did feel a bit light headed when we got over 6000 ft.

The last half of the race is a bit of a blur. I didn’t really enjoy the course that much as I worked to manage my pain – even though I’m sure I covered some amazing views as we went up the mountain. A guy I had passed earlier, Mike caught up to me after the West Fork aid station and I started rubber banding off him – working to not let him get too far ahead of me and using him as an anchor to keep me moving. I knew that if he got too far ahead of me I would lose motivation. At first we were somewhat competitive about it. He was pushing ahead and I kept working to pull him back in. After a while though we started talking each other through it and it was more cooperative. We helped each other up the Scout Mountain climb. I’m not sure if we would have pushed harder if we didn’t decide to be friends but it made the journey much more pleasant to have someone to work with up the mountain.

On the decent down the mountain Mike was not doing so well. Whereas I was struggling finding my climbing gear he had significant pain going down hill. So we separated on the decent as I was in a state where I could either shuffle slowly downhill with great  pain or shuffle quickly downhill with great pain. I decided that going quickly would get this whole ordeal over faster and left Mike behind. I finished about seven minutes ahead of him and thanked him for pushing me up the mountain.

The last 6.2 miles were pretty rough. There were some significant climbs and I just power walked up them. I gutted it out to the finish line and was excited to see several of my family members there to cheer me on – my Mom, my Sister Mindy, her kids Kaya and Lander, and my super aunt Jenny. It almost made it worth it to have such a great crew. I finished in 12:35 – 11th place overall. Results Course Map My Garmin Data

Gear Used: SRC Brooks Singlet last 52 miles. SRC long sleeve first 10 miles. Nike Shorts. Solomon Wings 2 first 40 miles. Solomon Crossmax 2 last 22 miles. I actually wish I had not changed shoes it was a crampy chore to do it and it didn’t help – not even psychologically. Pearl Izumi vizor and shades were very important due to the sun.

Nutrition: They provided EFS electrolyte drink and gel. The gel came in this little 5 oz bottle. I went through about 10 oz of the gel. I used two hand bottles – 1 for electrolyte drink and 1 for water. There were 8 aid stations and I had 80% drained both bottles for 7 of them. Both bottles were 22 oz so I probably went through 260 oz of fluid over the course of the race. I also feasted at the aid stations – mostly fruit, potato chips, otter pops, pb&j, and Coke. Even with all the hydration I was dehydrated at the end. I didn’t realize how dehydrated until I tried to sleep. I was up all night getting drinks until my body got some sort of equilibrium.

Recovery Status: It’s eight days later and I’m feeling better but still significantly hobbled. I ran about five miles yesterday as part of my effort to have an active recovery and I still have pain that prevents me from going much more than 10 min a mile. I was able to keep up with 8 year old Danny who was running his first 5k – luckily it turned out to only be 2.1 miles since the course was much shorter than advertised. I did ride my bike in and get a swim in last week. I think I should be back to 100% after 1 more week. I will also post some more photos when I get them.

Here’s some race photos:

Finish  416 Course  1457 Course  815 Course  668 Course  69 Course  668 Course  815 Course  1457 Finish  416

 

 

 

A few random bullets from my notes:

  • Had a tough night of sleep at the camp ground
  • Rushed early start – took longer to get ready than I thought – woke up at 4:30 for the 5:00 AM start
  • Amazing views at sunrise. Beautiful colors and big Idaho skies.
  • Crappy headlamp with broken loop didn’t use it and left it in Idaho. Good riddance.
  • Good first drop bag – shades and singlet
  • Starting next to Darcy Africa. Foolishly passing her. Her passing me at mile 36
  • Couple of spills. One nasty fall into the bushes when I got distracted by the views.
  • Starting out way too fast.
  • The pain of the climb out of city creek
  • Running the downhills and just trying to manage the pain.
  • Hitting the west fork aid station in rough shape wondering how to go 20+ more miles.
  • When I got really loopy and started singing children’s songs and repeating mantras in my head after mile 31
    • Willaby Wallaby Woo
    • James Taylor
    • Just praying
  • The brutal last 10k
  • Could not even jog the hills
  • Running with partners that help.
  • My buddy Mike rubber banding me up scout mountain
  • Nutrition
  • All that gel and chomps and Gu
  • Aid station food
  • Getting the aid station folks to sing happy birthday to me
  • Foolishness of shoe change + exploding calf
  • Dehydration later that night despite 250 or so oz of fluid
  • Tiny gnomes attacking all the joints in my lower extremities with ball peen hammers for 25 miles.
  • Did I look at the garmin too much? Watched pot does not boil. I liked knowing how far we had to go and the mile count. It probably contributed to some negative head space.
  • Overall the 910xt worked really well. Tracked the whole 12:37 without a hitch.
  • Loopy after the race. Just wanted to get away from there. Didn’t feel like hanging out and cheering for people.
  • I was crying heading into the finish – just happy to have it over. It was not very joyous.
  • I think if I would have run the first 30 miles 30 minutes slower I would have finished 30 minutes faster. And felt better overall
  • I should have let that secondary pack go – I would have caught them later.
  • I met the winner walking around the night before 18 year old Andrew Miller from Corvallas, OR. That’s a super tough kid.

 

2014 Cougar Mountain 10 Race Report

If the trail is called Wilderness Cliffs and the conditions are sloppy it may be ill advised to run down it with reckless abandon…

SRCFolks

In my running calendar trail season really kicks off at the first tace of the Cougar Mountain Trail Running Series. Due to Boston and the Cinco Half in Snoqualmie I typically focus on the road during the Spring and I’m not hard core enough to consistently run on the trails during the short, dark days of Winter.

But then Spring comes in Seattle and the trails come calling and I remember why I love them so much.

I ran the Cougar Mountain 10 miler (there was also a 5 mile option) on Saturday and it was a blast! I want to put together a whole blog post of why I love both trail and road running – and how each has distinctive character that makes me love them for different reasons. One of the key differences that I was reminded about on Saturday was how much more actively you interact with the world around you when on the trail vs the road. Trail running is a conversation with nature whereas a road race is a focused monologue.

This was one of my favorite races I’ve ever run on Cougar because it wasn’t raining but it was just wet enough to make the conversation with the trail super interesting. After the PR on the road half marathon the previous week I wasn’t sure how strong I’d be able to run the course. I had some good training runs during the week but tried to recover from all the road work.

I felt good during the morning and was grateful to my wife as always for her willingness to indulge my addiction and let me race two weekends in a row. I arrived in the nick of time – as I typically do to these races since it’s only a 10 minute drive from my house. I’ve also learned that if you show up late you sometimes get to park close.

Upon arrival I had very little time to get my number and get settled. I downed a pack of fruit snacks and got some swag from some of the sponsors. After taking off my warmup pants I determined that it was chilly but warm enough for my SRC singlet rather than a long sleeve shirt. I also was running without my phone during a race for the first time in a long time. Instead I was using my brand spankin new early birthday present from my wonderful wife – a Garmin Fenix 2 GPS watch (review forthcoming). I was excited to try it out on the trails and glad to be able to ditch the phone but still feed my need for data. The trails are better without the headphones – especially during a race. It really helps the conversation along to not tune anything out.

The race started with a sloppy loop around the field where everyone got there feet soaked. I felt sluggish at the start and didn’t want to push the pace too much – but I also didn’t want to end up stuck behind a huge pack on the single track. I hit the first mile at 6:49 so I was probably faster than I wanted to be – but this was also one of the fastest parts of the course. Pace is always interesting in these races since you’re never sure if you are running with the 5 mile crowd of the 10 mile crowd until the turn when the two distances split. I wanted to be with the pretty fast 5 mile folks but not the fast 5 mile folks.

At the turn most of my crowd did turn to the 5 mile course so I figured I was about where I wanted to be. For the 10 Mile course this is also where things get interesting since you are getting close to the best part of any run on Cougar Mountain – the Wilderness Cliffs and Creek trails. It’s a pretty significant ascent and decline but it’s a ton of fun – especially the descent. I always have to let loose a few whoops and hollers and I pound down the switchbacks – it’s just awesome – like downhill skiing but better.

After the 5m folks got out of the way I picked it up a bit and passed a couple folks up wilderness peak. Then I really pressed it down wilderness cliffs. Some of the folks with less trail experience were definitely slowed by the sloppy conditions and less grippy shoes on the descent – as well as a more sensible approach to descending switchbacks over cliffs on slick terrain. I passed three people on the way down and got close to a fourth right as we began the ascent back up on the wilderness creek trail. He would be my goal for the rest of the race.

In the second half of trail races I always feel there are basically two kinds of folks left – predators and prey. Sometimes I call the prey roadkill if they are folks that have just completely exhausted themselves and are begging to be passed. As we started up the climb this guy was definitely not prey – he was still ready to play. Once he saw me he quickened his pace and rose to the challenge.

Having expended a lot of energy on my thrill ride down I was having a hard time maintaining my pursuit on the way up – perhaps this was my day to be the road kill. I dug deep though and caught occasional glipses of the guy in front of me but couldn’t make up much ground on him.

Around mile 8 I made another push and as I rounded a curve spotted and my target about 15 yards ahead of me. This was when things got interesting – in my scramble to catch up I decided to cut a tangent on a curve on this little wooden bridge over a small pond at high speed. When my foot hit the bridge I got no traction due to the wet conditions and I slid right off the bridge – banged my leg on it and splashed into the shallow pond. Invigorated by the incident my adrenaline pumped in and I ran right through it – although my soggy shoes now felt like they weighed 5 lbs each and I have to admit slowed me down a bit.

I never did catch up to that guy – despite running quite hard the last two miles. I did see him after the race and he thanked me for pushing him but he also looked relaxed enough that I wasn’t a serious threat.

I ended up in sixth place with a 1:25:20. On the same course last year I ran a 1:34:34 for ninth place. That’s a huge 9 minute improvement – especially considering the sloppy conditions. This year’s field was a lot faster – my time this year would have earned me third place last year. It was great to have the super fast guys in the runners club there for the event though. Even though my family / work / church schedule doesn’t let me get out to many of the weekly runs I really value my membership in the Seattle Running Club just for the sense of community and mutual experiences. It’s also fun because I’m starting to recognize the familiar faces race to race now. Plus they let me hang out in their group picture with all of the race winners featured at the top of the post. I also scored a pretty sweet wound from my fall:

Cougar10Damage

One fun fact is that I got bib #1 for the race. The social media guy for the club posted it on facebook and said he would give it to a random person who commented on it and I got picked. I like to believe that hey gave it to me because they like me the best.

Overall this was a tremendously fun race for me and I continue to hit some strong PRs. I feel like I’m a stronger runner now than I’ve ever been before. I would say that I’m probably in the best shape I’ll be in my entire life but I think I said that last year and I still dug up some more speed / fitness over the last six months. I’m excited for the next big challenge – the Scout Mountain Ultra Trail 100k on my birthday – June 7. What better way to celebrate your birthday than running 63 miles.

Gear Used: Garmin Fenix 2, SRC Brooks Singlet, Nike Running Shorts, Solomon Crossmax 2 trail shoes.

I liked the Solomons. I currently have two pairs of trail shoes I’m considering for the Scout Mountain Ultra Trail. My Solomon Crossmax 2’s and my waterproof Montrail Mountain Masochists. I’ve been thinking I’ll start in the Solomon’s and swap into the Montrails for the last 20 miles since that is supposed to typically have some snowfield to deal with.

 

2014 Cinco de Mayo Half Marathon Race Report

Rather than post a lengthy narrative I’m just doing bullet points for this one. It was an awesome day to race cool and overcast but the rain held out until after I finished.

  • PR 1:21:46 in the Half. Beat my time from last year by 5.5 minutes. 6:15 pace.
  • 15th Overall. 2nd in my age group
  • Complaint about Sean the Race Director – he ended up in 2nd overall which pushed me down to 2nd in my age group rather than first in my age group since 1st in my age group got pushed out of the top 3 overall due to him jumping in the race.
  • Ran with Mindy which is always fun since we talked about the race a lot and pumped each other up.
  • All Brooks Gear – SRC Singlet, Pure Cadence, Brooks Shorts
  • Arrived in the nick of time – Carrie helped out
  • Felt good. Training had been going well. Went to an online race time predictor and put in my 5k time from Boston and it said I should be able to run a 1:19:56 – what the heck? Could I really do that?
  • Plan – 6:10 to halfway point and see how much more I had – perhaps drop down to 6:00 – just in case that wacky website was right.
  • Went out very fast – 5:45 first mile followed by two 6:05 miles. In a pack with the old guys
  • Had unfortunate road rage with the car that came up behind me on the course
  • Forced myself to slow down when I as running with the older guys at 6:00 pace. Mike Mazzotta caught up to me and introduced himself and wanted me to run with him and I hung for a while but he was going to fast for me on the fist half of the course.
  • A younger pack caught up with me but they were still too fast. Mike followed them.
  • Caught back up to Mike around mile 8
  • Lana Lacey 1st woman passed me about mile 10. It was funny when she was behind me and I didn’t see her – I think she shadowed me for a while – because everyone was cheering for her since she was the top woman and I pretended they were cheering for me.
  • Ran for the pride of the SRC in a sea of Orange club Northwest folks. Seriously – Sean must have given them all free entry.
  • Nice fast 13th mile – 6:05
  • Mindy finished a strong 2:02
  • Can I keep up the PRs? I’m surprised I’m still seeing these big PRs. My training will likely start to show diminishing returns and I’m getting older – but I’ll enjoy it while it lasts. Maybe someday I’ll hit that sub 1:20 half.
  • What’s next? Get intense for hills and long distances as I prepare for the Scout Mountain Ultra Trail 100k in 1 month.

2014 BAA 5k Race Report

I came to Boston to run and to remember. I didn’t make it into the Marathon so I signed up for the 5k. I decided that if I was going to travel all the way to Boston for a 5k I was going to go Boston Strong.

I stayed up to late the night before the race at the Red Sox game. I kept thinking I would go home but then I kept thinking of a lame reason to stay longer – I thought they sang Sweet Caroline at the 7th inning stretch but it turns out it doesn’t happen until the middle of the eighth inning. Anyway, I didn’t get to my hostel until 11:30 and the sleeping experience in the shared 6 person room also was less than ideal. I swear that one of the guys had swallowed a subwoofer. It was rattling the room.

The positive side of the poor sleeping conditions was that it was easy to wake up on time and get going. I left the hostel at 6:30 and jogged the mile to the T stop. The ride to Boston Common was uneventful. Pinned on my number – didn’t really talk to anyone. I did start to get worried about checking my backpack since I forgot that there was extra bag security this year. This turned out to be a valid concern since they made me unpack my pack and put all my contents into a clear plastic bag. Then I couldn’t fit everything into a clear plastic bag and they wanted me to roll up my backpack but it isn’t the kind of pack that rolls up. The BAA guy was very good about helping me out though and he let me stash my pack under a volunteer table. However in all the confusion I didn’t remember to eat the second half of my energy chews and I probably wasted some energy / mental focus on the whole bag check ordeal.

I had debated over what to wear since it had been cold in Boston. But it warmed up so I went with my Brooks Seattle Running Club singlet and Saucony running shorts. I wore my Brooks Pure Connects as they had worked well for the last 5k I ran.

I did drink about 10 ounces of some kind of flavored water before the race that had a few carbs but I definitely would have liked to have downed the last half of my cliff shots before the race.

So I had a few things working against me. But I had some huge things working for me. I had trained well leading into this and had a huge emotional chip on my shoulder to run like a mad man. I had been getting 1 to 2 strong hill workouts and a track workout each week for the past 6 weeks or so and my milage was in a good range so I felt strong.

I felt so strong that I had a crazy ambition to run a sub 17 minute 5k. Crazy because in early March I ran a 5k hard and PR’d at 18:08. Taking a full minute off my PR in the 5k in six weeks sounds impossible – but this was Boston  – surely it would give me super human strength. And the last course I ran was a tricky course. So my official goal was to go under 18 minutes but my secret goal was to go under 17.

The feeling at the starting line was pretty cool – everyone was a bit emotional to be back and to run in Boston again. I had worked my way to near the front and could see the elites warming up. Folks were talking about their races and who was running the Marathon on Monday. They announced that their were 10,000 entries in the race – by far the biggest 5k I’ve ever been in. I looked behind me and there was a sea of people.

When the gun went off the crowd I was in surged forward – I think I found about the right folks to be around as I wasn’t getting passed too much or passing too much at the start. Despite the huge number of people I was able to run pretty free.

I had decided to just wear a watch rather than use my phone GPS since I wanted to soak things in and to save a bit of weight. My strategy was to run 5:30 miles for the first two and then run all out with everything I have left for the last 1.1. This was a bit of a silly strategy since I don’t know that I’ve ever run a 5;30 mile before – sure I was confident that i could run at least 1 5:30 mile since I run 5:45 miles in training sometimes.

I found some people I thought were in about the right pace group to chase. I focused on a woman that was wearing a running kit from the Seattle company Oisille. We hit the first mile pretty much on target. When I clicked my watch I was at 5:32. I felt like I was running fast but I wasn’t blowing up.

The course had more hills than I expected. There were a could significant rises and falls – it was still faster than the course in March but it wasn’t completely flat. It also had quite a few turns in it.

The mile 2 marker was right around the Marathon finish line, so it was an emotional experience for me. As I ran through I noted the two locations where the bombs had exploded last year.

Oisille had pulled a bit ahead of me so I suspected my pace had fallen a bit and when I checked the watch it confirmed my suspicions – 5:41. My secret goal was starting to feel out of reach. I was starting to have a hard time maintaining my effort and I was breathing pretty hard. However, now it was time to put the hammer down. As I crossed the Marathon finish line I dug deep and tried to find some more speed.

The next half mile was pretty good. I wasn’t passing anyone but I also was holding my own. Maybe with the right kick I could pull of the sub 17. But then my body started to rebel a bit. I have not gotten a cramp or side ache in a race before but I was getting one now. I was in pain with each stride. I tried to run through it but it was hurting my pace. A few folks that I passed earlier in the race pulled by me on the final straight away. Oisille finished 10 seconds ahead of me. I kept running and gave it my all – I didn’t get a mile 3 split on my watch – just a final split for the last 1.1 in 6:14 – at the end the watch read 17:27. I didn’t hit my secret goal but I was overjoyed at PRing by 40 seconds.

As I walked through the finishers chute and got my medal I was overcome by emotion. I looked up into the beautiful blue sky and just started crying. I sat down by a tree for a few minutes and said a little prayer of thanks. I’m not sure exactly what I came back to Boston to find. I am sure that I found it.

Can’t wait to race the main event in 2015.

A special thanks to Carrie who really made this trip possible. I know I’m being a bit selfish to come out here alone for four days while she watches the kids. She is an amazing wife and I’m so grateful that she is patient with my crazy.

Official Time: 17:25 Overall: 80/8640 Gender: 60 / 3531 Division 8 / 478

I connected with Oiselle on twitter it turns out she and her husband have a blog about balancing ruuning and family: http://www.azparentsontherun.com/

Here’s a link to the official race recap.

Didn’t get any photos – but here is one from my friend Bob who also ran the race – and is running the Marathon on Monday.

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2013 Boston Marathon Race Report

I wanted to post my race report from the 2013 Boston Marathon on this blog – originally had it posted on a family blog. When I posted this I was hopeful that I would get to run Boston 2014 as I had a 3:09:40 qualifying time. Unfortunately due to the overwhelming interest this year I missed the cut by about 60 seconds. So I’m running the BAA 5k instead and will be cheering on the other runners. I’m hoping I can find some ways to volunteer. I just want to be part of it this year.


My wife wrote about our Boston Marathon experience in a post on our family blog. I will not mention the attack again because that is not what I want to remember about the day. I feel like my memories and celebration of an unique and life changing experience were stolen from me by an act of madness and hatred. I want to capture how I felt about the race before my positive memories are overshadowed.

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The starting line was buzzing with potential energy in a way I’ve never experienced before. Some people were kicking their legs and a few were stretching out, but most were looking forward with a steely gaze toward the starting line. I had a set of headphones on, listening to some music to get pumped up for the race but I didn’t really need it – and unlike all of the other Marathons I had run I planned on not wearing the headphones for the actual race. The racers lined up in the corrals were like a giant spring compressed as tightly as possible. Thousands of elite athletes who had trained for this moment and who were so full of power bars, cliff shots, gu, and honey stingers they were nearly ready to burst. When the race began it was a tidal wave of speed. I’m used to jostling for position at races but this was more like getting caught up in a surge then fighting to get ahead. The course starts downhill and everyone is so amped up that it is easy to go out too fast.

My right leg had been really bothering me for the past two weeks ever since I started tapering off my training. I did a speed work session at the jr. high track and felt like I pulled something. I had low expectations for this race since I could hardly walk around Boston without a hitch in my step on Sunday. I seriously thought I was injured and wouldn’t be able to run well. I’m sure my friends and coworkers were tired of me trying to lower my expectations. I was just going to enjoy the experience. The time is not important I kept telling myself. The course is too difficult to set a Personal Record (PR). I told my coach (Carrie) that I would try to go out at 7:20 pace and see what happened.

That plan lasted about a mile. With the wave of adrenaline and the help of some ibuprofen my leg felt pretty good – and with the spirit of the event I just wanted to run. I found a group of people that were going at a pace that I thought felt good and decided to try to shadow them. There was a beefy blond guy in a yellow singlet that I nicknamed Wolverine for some reason. A black woman with an easy to spot long braid that had a “Run with us, it’s better than therapy” shirt on and a red headed girl that I stereotypically labeled Ginger. So I fell into step with Wolverine, my therapist, and a member of the crew of the S.S. Minnow for the next 8 -10 miles. Since I was not wearing headphones I was having a hard time hearing the audio pace cues from my iphone GPS app. I thought I heard them clocking in at about 7:05 minute per mile pace. That was much too fast – but I was feeling good and I wasn’t sure of my pace because the crowd was so loud!

In regards to the crowds – I have never felt more like a rockstar than I did on the course of the Boston Marathon. My wife had made me a sticker with my name on it and I wore it on the front of my shirt. I must have had at least 1,000 people yell “Go Matt”, “You got this Matt”, or my favorite “Way to be Matty boy!” during the course of the event. My face seriously started to hurt from smiling so much. The people of Massachusetts were unbelievably supportive. I gave hi fives to hundreds of kids. There was a guy with a sign that said “Go Go Idaho” on a ladder that I literally jumped up to for a high five. That was probably not the best move for my pace but the endorphins were firing like crazy. I was so full of dopamine I was just being silly.

Around mile 10 I ran into some LDS missionaries and gave them a shout out – and noticed a guy running next to me did as well. I asked if he was Mormon and he said he was. We chatted a bit – something that I never do when racing – a peril of not wearing my headphones. It was fun to have someone to talk to. Maybe I’ll try to be a more social runner in the future. We lost each other at the next water station though. I had also lost track of the other folks I had been using as pace bunnies so I settled into my own pace.

I really enjoyed running through the smaller towns like Ashland and Framingham. Being a small town boy myself it was fun to run through them. The crouds reminded me of the Eastern Idaho State fair parade.

I ran near a guy dressed as a hamburger for a while but pressed forward since I didn’t want to get beat by the burger guy. I was able to turn up my volume on my phone and confirmed around mile 11 that I was on 7:05 pace. This was much faster than planned and I needed to make a decision. There were still the dreaded Newton hills ahead. I was starting to feel a tiny bit of a hitch in my stride. It was probably best if I backed off the pace for a bit – after all I wanted to be able to walk tomorrow. But, instead I decided to go all in and just try to maintain the 7:05 pace as long as I could and see what happened. It was time to go big! This was the Boston marathon. I started to make small goals. I would see how I was doing at the halfway mark in Wellesley – plus I wanted to be in good form for the legendary Wellesley College screamers.

A note about my nutrition plan. I felt I didn’t eat enough for the Victoria Marathon and that perhaps that had contributed to me flagging at the end. To remedy it I ate a lot more during Boston. I had a plain Bagel (72 cal) in the morning on the train ride in and a banana (105 cal) and powerbar at the staging area (230 cal), a package of honey stingers as I walked to the starting line (180 cal), two cliff shot block packages spread out from mile 5 to 18 (caffeinated 400 cal total), and a power bar vanilla energy shot (100 cal). I also probably drank at least 20 oz of Gatorade (517 cal). So, in total about 1600 calories consumed between waking up and finishing the race.

Back to the Wellesley screamers – they were great and very supportive – although I didn’t feel their volume lived up to the hype. They were loud but not deafening. There signs were very clever and it was one of the rock star moments of the race. Favorite signs “Kiss me I’m from WA” and “Kiss me I won’t tel your Wife / GF” and “Kiss me I’m an Engineer”. I gave a high five to the WA girl but did not partake of the kisses. I did see some men accepting the invitations though and it seemed like we all got a boost of energy from the attention.

I made it through Wellesley maintaining my pace. My next milestone was when I expected to see Carrie and our friends around mile 16. Surely I could keep it up until then. I wanted to make sure to be in trouble with coach for being four minutes ahead of schedule. I was starting to feel the affects of the fast pace at this point. I could feel myself breathing harder. My feet were starting to hurt and I wanted to relax my running posture. I felt like the people cheering for me were saying “looking good” less and less and “you can do this” more and more.

Mile 16 came and went and I didn’t see Carrie. I thought I would see our friend Mark first since he was on a bike and was planning on shadowing me through part of the race. I started to worry that they had troubles getting to the course and only took solace in the fact that perhaps they missed me because I was so fast.

Happily, around mile 17 I spotted Carrie before she saw me and swooped in and gave her a big hug and kiss – pace be damned! It was great to see her and it gave me a much needed shot of energy as the dreaded Newton hills began.

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This is when my hubris started. I was actually looking forward to the hills. I run on mountains in Washington and I was excited to see what all the heartbreak was about. I started taunting the hills a bit in my mind.

“Is that all you got?”
“My hill is five times your size!”
“I’m from Bellevue and this is nothing!”

I felt good through the hills and passed a lot of people. When I crested heartbreak I didn’t believe it. I was worried someone was playing a joke on me and that there had to be at least one more hill. I had reached mile 21 and knew it was all down hill from here. My pace had slowed to 7:08 through the hills but I was still well below PR pace and feeling like superman. On the downhill after heartbreak I just took off. I ran one of my fastest miles of the race and the crowd was screaming my name! I knew that the hardest part of the race was still to come but I didn’t care in that moment. I wanted to fly.

At around mile 23 I started to pay for my hubris. In my sprint down heartbreak I let my form deteriorate and it was catching up with me. I locked on to a guy in an NRA singlet that had a good pace going and just tried to let my desire to keep up drag me through the last 5k. It doesn’t seem like 3.1 miles should seem like a long way to a marathoner – but at that point it felt like an eternity. I could start to see my dreams of a new PR fading away.

As we got closer into the city the crowds were getting bigger and bigger. Unfortunately it was harder to connect with them as I wrestled with myself in my head. The body definitely wanted to shut down. But I thought of all the thousands of people that had given me this gift – the people in Hopkington, Framingham, Ashland, Wellesley, Newton, Boston College. They gave me this one perfect day to run their race. I thought of my wife and my kids and how the race had inspired me to not only run with more heart than I had before but to live my life better than I have before. I wanted to finish strong for all of them.

I also didn’t want to pass out – which I was definitely was in serious risk of at this point. I could see the Citgo sign which marks the 1 mile to go point but it seemed really far away. NRA guy pulled up because he had something in his shoe and I passed him which actually felt disheartening rather than encouraging. My arms started to feel numb and tingly and I could feel myself drifting into a bit of a trance. I had to keep talking to myself to make sure I was there. I really wanted to stop running. I focused on putting one foot in front of the other. I passed the Citgo sign and the NRA guy passed me. It was good to have my friend back. One mile to go.

At this point people saying my name was really helpful because it helped pull me hold on to consciousness. I slapped myself in the face every few hundred feet to keep myself alert. I waved my arms to the crowd to try to get them to cheer for me. Carrie saw me do this and later reported I looked like a wounded bird trying to take flight. I turned the corner onto Boyleston street and was daunted by how far way the finish line was. I wasn’t positive about it but I had a feeling I was close to my PR. I gutted it out and just kept my feet moving. After what seemed like an eternity I crossed the line and could finally stop. I finished in 3:10:10. Just 30 seconds slower than my PR – but on a much more challenging course and not in as good of shape. I was so happy. This was much better than expected – even though I was a little disappointed about missing the PR and about not hitting the qualifying time for my age group by a mere 10 seconds.

I was laughing with joy and stumbled around the finish area trying not to pass out and trying to soak it all in. I had finished the 117th Boston Marathon and it had been the greatest run of my life. I was so happy. I jumped on my phone and was overwhelmed by all the texts and Facebook messages and emails from the people I love that were cheering for me – it’s pretty awesome how technology can magnify this type of experience.

I will always cherish this trip to Boston and the love I felt from all the people in this area. I’ve never run at any of the other major marathons but it’s hard to believe that they could match the spirit of the people here! Despite other events that occurred I’m already scheming about how to come back – good thing my time in Victoria can count toward next year too.

Here’s the route: RunKeeper

Photo Jun 08, 10 21 12 PM

2014 Finaghty’s St. Patty’s Day 5k Race Report

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I felt pretty good going into the Finaghty’s 5k this year. I have been mixing up my training routine this winter. I’ve included more cycling and swimming but I’ve also been pushing it hard on the treadmill. I’ve also been doing more hill work. The previous week I had a good track workout that made me confident that I could rattle off six minute miles.

I was worried about the weather. The puget sound in mid March is typically very wet.

I wasn’t supposed to run the race but I snuck in by persuading our adopted Grandparents in the area to join us and take care of the kids during the adult race. My wife Carrie and Aunt Becky were also running the race.

The kids participated in the 1k fun run and that was exciting. Kaylee and Danny ran hard. It was cute because the morning of the race Danny woke up early and was excited to do some warm up running at about 6:30 am. It made me excited to see him have enthusiasm for something I am passionate about.

Danny and Kaylee ran hard and it inspired me to see the effort that Danny put in to run right to the end.

My actual race went well. I tried to position myself at the front but there were a bunch of kids up there. I did get out front pretty quick after the gun though. After the first hundred yards I was in sixth place and we moved through the first mile in 5:37. That was a pretty fast pace for me but I was feeling good. I was running pretty closely with a guy from Eastside Runners and about a mile in we picked off a guy that was in all neon green. The ER guy passed him first and stretched out a 20 yard lead on me before I passed the neon green guy.

Mile 2 passed by in right at 6 minutes. I was now in fifth and I was closing in on the ER guy for fourth. The first three were well out of sight. In the last mile I pushed the pace because I felt I had something left. I passed the ER guy early in the last mile and hoped if have enough to make it stick and not get passed back. I almost got run over by a SUV that wandered on the course but it didn’t slow me down much. I tried to chase it down and smack it but it pulled away before I could reach it. It gave me a nice shot of adrenaline.

The last bit has a short uphill close to the end and I kept drawing on my hill work to attack it.  My shoe came untied with about a half mile to go but I ran through it knowing I was almost to the end. Luckily I didn’t trip over my laces. The last mile went by in 5:44. I’m pretty happy with stringing these splits together. I was able to hold on to the pace I was looking for. It’s a nearly 1 minute PR and as I usually only run one 5k per year. I anticipate that a few more weeks of training and a faster course at Boston should help me go under 18 minutes. I’m excited for it.

The course is somewhat challenging for a 5k. It has a few significant hills and is very twisty. The weather was great considering the time of year. The rain held off until after the race. My official time as 18:08. I took Fourth place overall and First in my age group.

Gear: Solomon Running Tights. Sugoi Seattle Running Club shirt, Brooks Pure Connect 2 shoes.

I liked the Pure Connects for a 5k. I’m not a huge racing flats guy but it was nice to race with a little lighter shoe.

Here’s the route: Runkeeper

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