Some adventures in road and trail running.
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Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Running around Smith Rocks

For the May long weekend we were happy to sign up for a cool ultra running camping trip with Ronda and family and Micheal and family and Steve.

The trip was centered around (and over) Smith Rock and as such we stayed at Crooked River RV Park.
As I mentioned in the previous post the campground is great for exploring the area with trails that were challenging, scenic and fun!

Ronda, Micheal and Steve did a hard day of hill repeats on Gray Butte along with some other great Oregon runners: Sean, Rod and Jeff. At 5100 ft, this hill has some steep climbs that these guys pounded away on.

Trisha and my main running event was Sunday: 4-5 hours out on some serious trails!
Jeff was kind enough to set us up with an amazing map and text instructions that ensured that even our crew could not get lost :-) . In this picture you can see Gray Butte on the left and the start of Smith Rock on the right...we covered it all!

We all started together around 7:30 am at the Skull Hollow campground. Ronda, Micheal and Steve were heading out for longer (7-8 hrs) and faster (Ronda's report is here) so after about 45 minutes they were out of sight. This was right about the time the serious climbing started. They were amazing with marking the trail so as to make doubly sure we did not get lost.

The nasty double track up Gray Butte was tough and a slog in the mist and wind...but we made it.

The views at the summit of Gray Butte...were um, less than stunning with the mist and fog. So we schnarfed down our PB & J sandwiches in the lee of the radio tower buildings and headed down the south side access road.
This connected us up to Cole's trail...a nice single track named the same as our son :-)

We cruised along well until we started to hit the clay/ash mud that stuck to our shoes until it was about 3 inches thick. Weight training while running...interesting!

We wove our way down into Cougar Canyon, part of Sherwood Canyon, from the recent cow kill that occurred. Straight out of a Wild West movie. Once out of the cougar's liar we marched on up to Burma Ridge via a BLM road. More great trail arrows to keep us from getting lost and some great scenery even in the fog. The run continued as we wound our way down to the Crooked River and our first real view of the backside of Smith Rock, Monkey Face and Misery Ridge. Yep, we need to get up and over that beast to get to the car...ouch! (the picture at the top of the post).

Some power hiking mixed with running and soon we were at the 3900 ft summit of Smith Rock and starting to hit tourists. Sore quads did not like the descent to the bridge over the river and then back up to the car but all the pain was worth it when we hit stop on the old watch.

All told Trisha and I did about 20 miles with about 5000 ft of climbing...nice! Helps me on my way to the PCT 50 miler and Trisha for the SOB 50km.

On Monday morning I met up with Jeff B and Krissy M for a nice ~13 mile, 1600 ft climbing, cruiser run around Smith Rock. With this run I got to see the Monkey Face, the infamous Scar (phew glad I dodged running that!), hear lots of great central Oregon running stories, hang with more strong, experienced trail runners and learn not to get Jeff thinkin' about breakfast as you near the end of the run. That boy can giddy up when he starts smelling the omelets :-) Thanks for taking me out and sharing your trails.

The rest of Monday was spent hiking in the canyon around the campground, swimming in the pool, eating a great large breakfast at the Black Bear Diner in Madras, and checking out the Museum at Warm Springs and driving home to do the smelly running laundry.

We all agreed this is a trip we need to repeat to hit these trails again...and possibly see the great central Oregon views.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Sandy Developmental Track Meet

On Saturday, May 26th, we took part in the Team Oregon track meet in Sandy, Oregon.

The weather cooperated once again as it was partly cloudy and temperature around 50 F.
We arrived later than usual to the track as we were trying to get out the door and ready for both the track meet and camping up at Smith Rock / Crooked River Oregon.

I was taking my time (the meets sometimes do not start right on time) talking up the other coaches and athletes and slowly warming up for the 3000 meter which is always the first event of the day.
As I did my first lap around the track to warmup we noticed that there were a group lining up at the 3000 start....about to start. I sprint down to the line, ask to join, strip off my sweats pretty much just in time for the gun. Not a good warmup!

The rest of the day went much better with lots of fun and great performances by the athletes. Cole set PRs in all his events: long jump, 400 and 100 meters.
Leah set a new PR in the long jump. I set a PR for the 15oo. Results page

Lots of the athletes I work with at the club set PRs or continued their progression towards a PR in the next couple of weeks. Peaking for State is the goal!

After the last event for us for the day, we hopped back in the car and drove the 2.5 hours to our camping spot at Crooked River Ranch RV park. We got there around 3pm and setup the tent trailer like old pros we have come a long way from our first trip last July :-)
Time to hit the pool ahead of the thunderstorms...which never quite materialized.
The RV park is really not much more than a parking lot with some grass but it is in amazing country with great views and hikes with a nice pool. And for this weekend, it was perfect to be close to our running trails in and around Smith Rock.

We arrived too late for me to really hit the trails on Saturday, so I did a little 7 mile loop out from the campground to stretch the legs. I was treated with some great views of the Crooked River canyon and lots of deer. Sunday we were going to hit the real stuff with the group!

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Tigard Youth Track Club Developmental Meet

On Saturday, May 20th, Tigard Youth Track club held its inaugural developmental track Meet. It was one of the hottest days so far in 2008. The track was smokin' with much more than just the ambient temperature :-)

Unfortunately, Trisha and I had planned for a year to do Reach the Beach on the same day so we were out of town.

Grandpa was nice enough to be in town and the kids had lots of fun and a great showing at the meet.

Cole set a new 400 meter PR moving his best down to 1:39:50 (from 1:44!!) and taking third.
Leah took part in a 4 by 100 relay that finished first.
I will be updating the results page as I get them.

As well, the long distance athletes I have been helping to coach put on a strong showing with many setting PRs.

Great to see everyones hard work paying off while still having a ton of fun.

Congratulations all around on a fine event. Special thanks to the Tigard parent volunteers who played a large role in running the event and to the Greenes for having the vision :-)

All of the meet pictures can be found here.
Next week we are in Sandy, Oregon to set some more PRs!

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Reach the Beach 2008: Team Tandem

For the third year in a row, Trisha and I tackled the 100 mile Reach the Beach bike ride on a tandem. It has become an annual tradition to ride with Mary and James and be our inaugural ride of the season.

Normally we do at least some training but it was literally our first real ride of the year. None of us had done the bike training we had hoped for but besides some issues with the heat everyone did really well. Trisha's line: "The hard parts were still there and tough but they seemed shorter than previous years." Yep, my girl just keeps getting stronger!

This year was by far the warmest with Oregon experiencing a heat wave. James' bike computer was reading 100 degrees on some parts of the ride including the heat coming off the road. We drove out the night before to drop off the cars and let the kids have some fun beach time with Grandpa and experience a rare time on the Oregon coast when it is warm and not windy.

The flat sections this year were devoid of the normal head wind which I think really helped us to have more strength in our legs for the last stretch of flat before hitting the beach to finish. The food at the aid stations was good with the watermelon at the Amity station my favorite. They do need to work on having better cookies :-) Supplemented with some great cold Cokes at mile 35 we were good to go.
We did have some nasty wind heading into the coastal pass but once we were in the forest it was much cooler and almost no wind and our traditional "discussions" about speed on some of the harder uphills

We did stop at all the aid stations ensuring to fuel and hydrate with an average bike speed of close to 16 miles per hour and around 6.5 hours of riding time. No flats as well...wahoo! Some sunburn in weird places but you live and learn :-) Speaking of weird...I saw Leif, an ultra runner, out on the course on a unicycle...ouch and crazy!
I am really happy with how my quads held up after a relatively hard week of 50 miles of running. Kickin' that training in for the PCT 50 miler!

We once again stayed at the Craftsman Bed and Breakfast in Pacific City with Mike and Laura as our excellent hosts. If you are in Pacific City, stay at their place.

An evening soaking in the hot tub with dinner at the Bistro catching up with new and old friends was how we ended a great day. Sunday morning was lazy with a light run and then a great Banana Foster French toast breakfast at the B&B and then the drive back to Portland. Some year maybe bike back?

I would highly recommend this ride for people wanting to try out a longer organized ride. There are several different distance options (110, 100, 80, 55, 26) and all have the glorious downhill at the coastal range through the Suislaw National Forest to be spit out on the coastal flats. No better biking than burning down a hill at almost 40 miles an hour through coastal rain forest following a beautiful river as it races down to the ocean :-)

Come join us next year! We have our hotel booked already :-)

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Too Fast, Too Soon...It Was Soooo Obvious

*The following post is a contribution to the Runner's Lounge Take It and Run Thursday.

A couple of years ago, I ran the Victoria Marathon. Great race in my old college town. I trained hard and planned to attempt a PR.
From reading the race material, I knew the course would be marked in kilometers and every 5 miles (I can't remember if every mile was marked).
I grew up in Canada. I know what a kilometer is. So I made my racing plan based on a pace per kilometer.
42 little checkpoints instead of only 26.
Check and correct more quickly. At least that was the plan.

I started out feeling awesome. Running in past old restaurants and through the streets that have great memories of where I met my best friend and convinced her to marry me :-)

I checked my watch every kilometer. Each one was 10-20 seconds faster than my plan.
Ok...I thought. I should probably slow down. But I was feeling great and 10-20 seconds is not that big of a deal. Maybe...if it was 10-20 seconds PER MILE.
1 kilometer = 0.621371192 mile
1 km is less than a mile...about 40 % less. I should not have been running 10-20 seconds faster.

I was thinking I was running about 2-4% faster than pace, when I was really running almost 10% faster than my goal pace. Well I was not actually thinking in percentages (I cannot do math while running!) but that pace already set me for a great PR.

I was making deposits into the time bank and we all know what that means: nothing close to a negative split and a second half of the race that was 15 minutes slower than the first half.
And then, when my body did start attempting to make withdrawals from the time bank, which soon overdrawn, I had no backup plan.
My only prep had been for the PR.
I should have had a plan for paces etc for a second level goal. Possibly even a third level. Likely I could have regrouped and hit a time that would have looked much better in the log book. :-)

It was sooo obvious..don't go out too fast, know what too fast means and always have a backup plan.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Learning to Fly

So close to counting...that pesky yellow scratch line!
Running in the air just like these guys :-)
Thank to Coach Ralph Greene for the action shots. For the entire meet shots please see here.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Robin Hood Track Club Developmental Track & Field Meet

The third track meet of the year for Tigard Youth Track. We were in nearby Sherwood, OR for the Robin Hood Track club event.

I again ran the first event of the day, the 3000 meters. Slowly getting down to my goal time. Today I posted 11:03:32.
I then ran the 1500 meters. It was tons of fun as most of the guys I was running against were from Tigard Track who I am helping coach. I told them they should try to ensure that they all beat me...about half of them pulled it off! Great job all around, making me and the other coaches proud!
I am learning new respect for doing multiple events at a is not easy staying loose and ready to pound for the second or third event. Good to know to keep the athletes stretching, striding and jogging inbetween events that can be separated by several hours.
My 1500 meters was at basically the same pace per mile as my 3000...need to keep working on that endurance and stamina.

Leah and Cole both did the long jump. Leah scratched on all three of her jumps...good learning lesson for next time. Cole posted a PR of 6ft 3 inches on his final jump. Better by over a foot...awesome!

Both Cole and Leah did the 400 meters posting personal bests.

To finish up, Leah did the 100 and Cole the 200 meters. Both were a bit tired by this point and we need to learn about timing our bio breaks a little better...hard to run fast with a full bladder :-)

Then I switched into full coaching mode guiding the Tigard 800 meter runners to limber up for their heats. We had many great performances today including PRs. I am excited to keep being a part of working the group up for the next 2 meets leading to state.

Our results page has been updated.

While we were at track, Trisha was out doing her yearly Mother's day race: the Hippie Chick Half. We were bummed not to be there to crew her like last year but such is life with a full calendar. Trisha posted a strong result as she reboots her training to take on the SOB (Siskiyou Out and Back) 50 km in mid July. She met us to watch the second half of the events.

We came home with Leah immediately wanting to head out and practice her long jump after her small siesta in the car to refresh. She did not like not getting any recorded results :-)

I finished up the exercise for the day doing a 5 mile loop from the house that includes 550 ft of climbing. Wahoo...the legs are working! It was fun and I was able to hold 7 min miles. Being a coach and athlete is helping me improve my fitness while helping our Tigard team. Nice.

On to Mother's Day!

Monday, May 5, 2008

Finally a Gorge Run

Now it is official: I am in training for the PCT 50 miler.
I have been signed up for the race since January but on the weekend I started my training.
Early Sunday morning I met up with a group of ultra marathoners who are all much more experienced and extreme than I am: Gail, Ronda, Michael, Mike and Steve. All are training for 100 mile races so my little 50 miler hardly counts :-) We had a beautiful sunny morning with not a spec of wind.

Ronda had planned a great route for their 6 hour workout. I planned to tag along for the first 3 hour loop.
What an amazingly fun run with outstanding trails and scenery....even with getting lost in the 3-4 ft of snow up around 3000 ft :-)
We all need to get out in the Columbia River Gorge more often!

This map and this map show the trails that I did.
We started going up the Wahkeena trail, then over and down the Multnomah Falls trail. Then cut over on the Gorge 400 trail to the Oneonta Trail to take us up to Franklin Ridge. The last bit of the Oneonta trail is where we hit 3-4 ft of snow. It was incredible: one moment no snow and then BOOM: 3-4 ft covering everything. I followed some old tracks for a while and then when those petered out, I back tracked to meet up with the group. They knew the area much better than I and had already decided to head up overland and off trail to hit the Franklin Ridge trail which they were pretty sure would be snow free. It was easier for me to follow them as Gail had cut her leg and was leaving a blood trail...thanks...and OUCH :-)
We regrouped back on trail and all enjoyed the cruise down Franklin Ridge.
With all hopes of me making church on time out the window I still did not feel the need to do the full 6 hour workout so I bowed out after 3 hours. I really enjoyed pushing/flying/rock dancing down the Larch Mountain trail and hitting the paved section as you approach Multnomah Falls. By this time there was many many tourists on the trail but I was really having too much fun to mind any of the weird looks I was getting :-) My quads are baked from this workout which ended up being 3:45 for me. Just what I need to be able to pound the PCT in July!

After the run and a very late arrival to church, we dropped the kids off for the afternoon and Trisha and I did a shake down ride on the tandem in preparation for Reach the Beach on May 17th. We did about a 10-12 mile loop including the Fanno Creek trail and adjusted the bike in hopes that we will survive the 100 miler.

The day finished with a great BBQ feast with our church small group.
What a great way to (kinda) start summer and my summer training.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Canby Relays Track Meet

For our second track meet of the year we participated in the Canby High School 4th annual Relay meet. This event is a fund raiser for the travel of the kids to the national junior Olympic competition. Whatever the cause, we had lots of fun and the rain mostly held off until we were loaded up and driving off.

Every event was a relay whether sprints, distance or field events. You gathered at the start of the staging for the event with your relay team or your went to the staging area and quickly tried to put a team together. This kept things interesting as I was always scrambling to find one more athlete to round out a relay team to have 4 people.

Leah participated in the 4x100, 4x200 and the long jump (3 people, cumulative distance). Leah's team did very well in the long jump
Cole did the 4x100, 4x200 and the 4x400 and the Crazy relay to end the day. He is really taking a liking to the sprint events. He did his 200 leg with both 100s faster than the single 1oo he ran last week. Nice.
I was part of 2 teams: 4x200 and the distance medley: 400, 800, 1200, 1600 where I ran the 1600. I remember now why I like longer races...more time to find your rhythm and that extra oxygen you need!

Many of the athletes I help coach were there today and found out just how hard they can push themselves and how far 800 meters is! :-) It was great and inspiring to watch. This week I even managed to not get lapped!

Our updated results are here.
Next week we are back to individual events at the Sherwood track meet. I know we will have more fun and many more PRs (personal records).

To complete the day we ended at Sammy's birthday at the Secret Society Ballroom. It was a rockin' event with about 5 local bands, good food and friends. Leah really like the lighting and the harder, louder music. She moved up front and center to end the night with a classic from AC/DC "Those about to rock...We salute you" with the birthday boy and his son on the drums. I feel there are going to be many, many conversations about appropriate music choices with my little girl in the future :-)