Race for the Roses 5K 2010

I ate some peanut buttered and jellied toast and a cup of coffee to break my fast. In a moment I will hop into the running clothes I laid out last night. I’ll strap on my iPhone armband and Timex watch (I always have a backup plan) and walk down to the bus stop, which will eventually take me to the Oregon Convention Center, site of the Race for the Roses 5K.

This has always been the fastest course for me; in three previous outings, 2006, 2007 and 2009, I’ve averaged 28m 54s chip time, and logged my fastest-ever 5K, my personal best, in ’07: 27m 12s.

It would be awesome if I could make a personal best today, but if I think like that then the negative voice kicks in and tries to tell me no, I can’t.

Here’s the pushback for that fucking negative voice: I’ve already this year run two 5Ks under 31m, and both of those had more hills than the course today. And I’ve been training hard with a focus on speed for the last month and a half. My friend Shawn will be at todays race, and last time we ran together, we spurred each other to run just a bit faster than we each thought possible.

And I’m dedicating this race to my friend, Kevin, who is in the hospital and hoping to get better and go home soon.

With all those facts behind me, I bet I rock the course today. Watch and see!

Shamrock Run 5K Results

While Shawn, Kevin and I were trying to get in line to get our post-race beers, Kevin asked a blonde woman “Are you in line?” It was confusing, because there were two beer stands on opposite sides of the fenced-off area, and the lines from each blended into each other.

She looked back at us with a look of disdain and surprise. “No!” she said, and sneered, and walked away.

We’ll never know why she was so offended at being asked that. But now I’ll remember her for the rest of my life.

The weather Sunday was nearly perfect for a race; low 40’s, clear, no rain. It could have been less windy, but I have to say I much prefer this year’s weather to last year’s.

I got a definite vibe that the race, long a Portland running institution, has benefited from new organizers, or at least newly-organized organizers. Lots of little details point to them taking control of the event: from the traffic control at Saturday’s packet pickup, to the new tech t-shirts rather than cotton shirts, to the fact that the number of entries were capped, to the staggered start for the 5K event, to the beer garden being in Waterfront Park rather than crammed into a tiny parking lot (I’m glad that they accepted Dale’s fine suggestion from last year), it all just worked, and worked well.

And I benefited, personally, from two things: having my friend Shawn there in the race with me, and the staggered start. I think those, plus my training and mental toughness and determination, led me to finishing the Shamrock Run 5K course faster than I ever have before: in 30 minutes and 44 seconds, for a 9:54 pace.

Yes, I’ve run a faster 5K before, but the size of the crowd at the Shamrock Run, the first major run of the year for Portland, has always hindered me, giving me many people to dodge and weave among as I push myself. So I’ve stopped pushing myself in the past. But not this year!

And having a friend next to me gave me the excuse to a) not stop running, and b) pace myself properly. Shawn did great for it being his first ever race! And he even finished a step ahead of me: as we passed the 3 mile marker, with the finish line in sight, Shawn got a look in his eyes that I can only call “want-this-to-be-over-ism”, and he found his final kick.

And so did I!

Such a fun race. I love the energy of the crowd, the crazy folks who dress up; spotted the guy in the Guinness beer glass costume, someone in a Teletubby full-body costume, lots and lots of kilts (are they still kilts when they’re on a woman? Related: rawr), and of course the Southeast Shamrockers (I can’t find a webpage for them but, surely, they must have one, right?) in their mullet wigs and sleeveless t-shirts and spandex pants and big sunglasses.

I love this race, and I love my town.

Shamrock Run 5K 2010

I’m in running clothes waiting for Kevin to show up.

It’s 36° F according to my weather widget.

I can hear a train outside.

I’ve had a slice of toast with peanut butter and jelly on it, and one and a half cups of coffee.

I went to bed last night around 9:00p – 9:30p, although last night we turned our clocks back an hour, so getting up at 5:30a is almost exactly like getting up at 4:30a. Not to mention the fact that I had very restless sleep.

I’m wearing my running pants, new(-ish, I’ve run in them a few times already) Brooks Adrenalines, long-sleeved (green, for St. Patrick’s Day) tech shirt, and my white Shamrock Run commemorative t-shirt over it. Oh, and a black stocking cap.

I’ve got my timing chip strapped to my left ankle and my iPhone strapped to my left bicep – oh, crap, am I going to be unbalanced?

My worst time in this race was my first year, 2006: 35:07, an 11:19 pace. But that was before they started using timing chips.

My best chip time was last year, 2009: 31:21, a 10:06 pace (my gun time was 34:00). I’d like to do better this year, and it’s within my reach.

I’ll report back later on my time and experiences.


Nine days ago I participated in the Running With The Wolves 5K, and I ran the fastest I’ve run in months: 5K in 0:30:17, for an average pace of 9:44 per mile.

The day was perfect: not too cold, sunny, no rain. There were very few people on the course; only 81 finishers total. But it was fun, and I am glad I did it.

Then I didn’t run until tonight.

I had a mildly-injured foot, a bruise or something on the ball of my left foot. Other than that, I really have no excuse. Maybe I needed the break, and maybe I just failed to motivate.

Mrs. McGinnis, my sophomore high school English teacher, once told me, “If anyone learns how to motivate you, you’ll be an unstoppable force for good!” She meant it kindly, I suppose; generally I liked her. But that fear of motivation has haunted me for over 20 years. To this day, I don’t know what motivates me.

I run because I want to be faster, although realistically I’m too old to ever be considered a fast runner. I run because I want to be thinner, and then I wipe out any gains from exercising with a single donut. I run because I want to meet other runners, and then I just run, solo, through my neighborhood and never join running groups. It’s like I’m working at cross purposes to myself.

The inner workings of my mind are as impenetrable as, well, other people’s minds.

But I ran tonight; I ran 15 minutes at 6 MPH, and then switched to run/walking, with about a minute break every half-mile. I finished 3 miles in 0:31:28 total.

My plan is to run again on Thursday. I’ll be sure to update if it happens.

More self-improvement by running

I pushed myself a little bit last night during my run. I’ve been running on the treadmill at work for, oh, about the last four weeks or so, three times a week, like clockwork. And because running on the treadmill is so boring, about all I can stand is 30-40 minutes at a moderate pace (meaning 5.2 – 5.5 mph or so), which definitely taxes my cardio-vascular system but doesn’t seem to lead to improvement, as far as I can tell.

So starting last week, and continuing this week, I added a speed workout that I call the “ladder”.

Here’s how I worked it: five minutes at the normal pace to warm up, then 5 minutes at a “fast” pace, which meant 6 mph or a 10:00/mile pace. Then four minutes at the slower pace to rest, then four minutes at the faster pace, then three minutes rest and three minutes fast, and so on.

Last night, I actually slowed to a fast walk for most of the rest segments, which felt like cheating, but to make up for it, I increased the fast segments by 0.1-0.2 mph each fast segment, until the last one minute fast segment was at 6.6 mph (or about a 9:06/mile pace).

This morning, my legs feel a bit sore, which hasn’t happened in a while. I’m hopeful that means I will benefit from the speed workout in both stronger legs, and stronger cardio-vascular heart-beatin’ oxygen-breathin’ power.

Time will tell.

In related news, I’m still following the 100 pushups program, and this morning managed a set of 5/6/4/4/9, which is an incremental improvement over Monday’s set. Once this week’s exercises are done, I’m supposed to do another exhaustion test and then use that to re-calibrate. Not sure I’ll be able to do 20 in a row, still, like @mizd did, but I’ll manage more than 4, I’m sure.

Chin-ups are hard

Turns out chin-ups are hard. I can’t even do a single one unassisted, which makes it very hard to even start a program to train myself to do 25 of them in a row.

But I still want to do this. I want to improve my upper body strength to match the strength I’ve built up in my legs from running.

Where to begin if I can’t even get to the starting point?

Here’s where I start:

I began tonight. I’m going to do the simple, use-your-legs and hang-there-as-long-as-you-can exercises every Tuesday and Thursday until I can do at least one unassisted chin-up. I have no idea how long it will take me but I’ll re-evaluate in three weeks.

Three weeks puts me in the middle of my Hundred Pushups plan. I know pushups work a different set of muscles but it’s all upper body to me. And hopefully that will help me a bit with running.

Or at least help me look good in a shirt. Broad shoulders are always a good thing, right?

The white stuff

Fresh, unpacked snow squeaks when I run on it.

Skiers and others more used to winter climes know this already. But since it typically only snows once a year in my hometown, I had forgotten it, and had forgotten the sound. But as my trail shoes came down in the regular (slow) cadence of my 5 mph run, and because there was so little traffic and activity even though it was, technically, rush hour, and because the darkness seemed to enhance the sounds, I was keenly aware of the squeak.

Last year I ran in the snow for the first time, ever. And as I stood in my warm living room, a nice warming shot of Baileys Irish Cream in my hand (and some in my belly), watching the fat white flakes covering everything, I remembered.

The scrunch of the snow underfoot. Spots of snow getting in my eyes (should have bought goggles or clear sunglasses). The tunnel of light from my headlamp, occluded by snowflakes. Exertion and heavy breathing and the occasional slight slip of the foot that required a correction to stay upright.

It’s crazy. But I love running in the snow. I’m slower than I was last year, for sure, and the snow slows me down even more, and last night I had a a boozy warm glow that was probably both a danger and an encouragement, but… I had to go for a run.

I haven’t run outside in months. I think my last one was mid-September; took a break, and have only had the energy for running on the treadmill lately. For some reason, though, when the weather got worse, my motivation went up.

So out into it I went. 2.48 miles, from my house down through Westmoreland Park, and back again.

I’ll always be a runner.

Tales from my first half-marathon

“I would love some coffee!” Dad said before driving me out to the starting line for my very first half-marathon

“Brian? Brian Moon? Is that you?” Mike Russell said to me somewhere between Mile 6 and Mile 7.

“Yay! Go, Brian!” my sister, brother-in-law, niece and girlfriend Lindsey all shouted as I tried to run the last point-one miles inside Hillsboro Stadium.

And 2 hours, 34 minutes and 15 seconds read the clock as I crossed the finish line.

That about covers the important parts. Other, less important parts:

  • Once again, the Run With Paula team organized and executed a great race. Lots of happy volunteers, the race started on time, the course was well-marked, and there were lots of water and outhouses out there.
  • Not that I needed the water. I wore a Camelbak so I could hydrate any time I wanted to. And I did. And it worked well, I think, even carrying “all that extra weight”, as a friend said to me afterward.
  • The weather, which I had been worried about, was perfect: overcast and in the low 60s. It could have been warmer, and it could have been wetter – there was a brief downpour right before the race started. The rain stopped before the starting gun, though, almost as if the weather got it out of its system. But I wouldn’t anthropomorphize a natural phenomenon like that.
  • Lindsey got some pictures of me which are here. I really only expect close friends and family to click that link.
  • If you finished between 2:20 and 2:40, or know someone who did, check out this set. You may recognize someone in there.
  • I celebrated my win with food: the customary Helvetia burger at the finish line, breakfast with dad, my niece and Lindsey at J & M Cafe at SE 6th and Ash (and does not appear to have a website), and later, two Whiffies’ pies. NOM NOM NOM as the LOLcats say.

Yes, I will likely run a marathon this year, too. I mean, at this point, why not?

Running news and upcoming first half-marathon

I got up early this morning (pre-5:00 AM) so that I could go for a run. That may sound crazy to non-runners, but listen; it’s going to be very hot today, and the pre-dawn hours that most people use for things like sleeping are also the coolest part of the day, and so make great hours in which to run.

I did my 5+ mile loop, with the intention of warming up for the first mile, slowly, then attempting 3 consecutive 9:00 miles, a training exercise that runners (and perhaps other endurance athletes) call a “tempo” run. I achieved my goal for only the first mile; the second tempo mile took me 9:38, and I was wrecked after that and ran/walked my way to 11:30-12:00 miles for the rest of the loop. My overall time was 58:22, for about an average 10:47 pace.

This weekend I’m going to attempt another 11 mile run, and then I begin a two-week taper until attempting my very first half marathon, the Helvetia Half Marathon, on Saturday 13 June 2009. I’ve heard it’s hilly, but not as hilly as the 12K Lake Run I did earlier this month.

That’s what I hear, anyway.

Anyone who is going to be attending the half-marathon, feel free to let me know or leave a comment in this thread. And if you want to come drink beer and cheer me on, the race starts and finishes at Hillsboro Stadium, and goes past the Helvetia Tavern (I believe, according to the map .PDF file, around mile 3.8). Should be a good time for people not running their first half-marathon.

Lake Run 12K Un-Official Results

Yesterday I ran the longest race I’ve ever run – 12K, or a little over 7.4 miles.

And today I would post my official timeif I had remembered to wear my timing chip.

So even though I ran it, in official eyes, I do not exist.

Un-officially, my time was about 83 minutes. When people told me that that course was hilly, they were right. So very right; so very hilly.