Sunday, February 24, 2008

Best training run, ever?

Yesterday I may well have had my best training run ever. It was no doubt my best training run of 2008, and it stacks right up there with the best all time. Kiwi and I headed up to Bellingham for some fun on Chuckanut Mountain. The weather combined with how good my legs felt were major factors in the enjoyment of the run. A bigger factor though, was that I have so many fond memories from those Chuckanut Mountain trails. For it was runs to places like Raptor Ridge, Fragrance Lake, and Arroyo Park that I developed a passion for trail running. Going back to those trails is always an invigorating experience.

This weekend capped off my second block of building. I generally stick to a 3 weeks hard 1 week recovery program, but sometimes you have to listen to your body and be willing to modify things on the fly. Usually that means sooner recovery, but on very rare occasions, that can mean adding in another higher volume week. This week was one of those less frequent situations where I opted to postpone my recovery week, because my legs were feeling so good after Orcas. Now I'm coming in to my recovery week with two solid 40+ mile weekends in a row. I know it's not very Anton-esque, but I'm feeling pretty good about where my training volume is right now.

BTRE Stats

Distance: 26 miles
Time: 3:50
Ascent: 4600 ft
Avg. HR: 143
Weather: SUNNY! (a major factor in the quality of the run)

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

I've got a golden ticket...

I've got two actually, two tickets to see my favorite musician. It didn't come easy, but yesterday morning I battled through site crash after site crash and error message upon error message, coming out no worse for the wear with two tickets to see Eddie Vedder in Vancouver. There was a special pre-sale for fan club members, and the tickets were being sold only through the Pearl Jam website. Unfortunately for many, the website was not able to keep up with the demand and crashed repeatedly. At one point, I had two tickets shown in my cart, but as I entered my credit card number an unknown error message popped up and froze the screen. Poof, just like that my tickets disappeared into cyberspace. After nearly an hour of more of the same, and frustrated beyond belief, I nearly gave up. Could it be that my uncanny Pearl Jam luck had dried up? Alas, at 11:03 am, an hour after they'd gone on sale, my luck kicked in and I was able to navigate through the minefield of error messages unscathed, emerging with two tickets and an email confirmation to verify it. Persistence pays off.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Orcas Report

Yesterday I headed up to Orcas Island with UB and the Alabama Hammer for some fun in the San Juans. Fun being a fairly relative term, as there were certainly moments when I questioned my decision to wake at 3am to drive an hour and a half to Anacortes, the departure point of the ferry, to run 31 miles. That's fun, right? Well it was mostly fun, and that's why we were willing to give up a full day when all the running and traveling was said and done. UB decided to stick with the 25k option, while the Alabama Hammer and myself opted for the full 50k. Due to snow on Mt. Constitution, RD James Varner opted to re-route the course. The 50k was set to be two loops of the 25k course, and the pre-race buzz was that it would be a really "runnable" course with substantially less elevation gain than the previous years' route. That sounded pretty good to me since it was my first ultra of the year, and my long run coming in was only about 19 miles. Of course, being a James Varner designed course, "runnable" turned out to mean mostly "shuffleable." I don't think that's a real word, but I'll use it because it so perfectly describes the pace dictated by the terrain. There were lots of straight ups and downs with some very slippery slopes. All said, it was a very pretty and challenging course with only a few expletive inducing sections. Despite the seemingly interminable second loop, myself and AH finished tied for third. In all honesty, we should have been tied for fifth, because two runners ahead of us made a wrong turn and got off course. Neither of us were racing, although we had to remind ourselves of that a couple times, so place really wasn't the goal. We came through the finish in 5:06 . Matt Hart was the winner, but I don't know what his finish time was. We had hoped to catch the 2:55 pm boat to Anacortes, so we didn't have much time to socialize after the run. We quickly changed, packed our gear, and sped off to the ferry. We arrived well before the departure time, but the line was full, so we were told we'd be on the 6:15 pm sailing. After a near emotional meltdown, we all managed to keep our cool and sauntered down to the restaurant for beer and burgers. To keep a long story a little shorter, I'll just say that we didn't get back to Seattle until about 9:30 pm. It was a very long day, but we had more fun than not.

Race Stats:
Distance (w/footpod): 31.73 miles
Time: 5:06
Ascent: 6400ft
Avg. HR: 143

*On a non-running related note, I'm very excited for a special pre-sale today. I'm a long time member of the Pearl Jam fanclub, and today at 10 am, fan club members have a crack at a limited number of tickets for Eddie Vedder's solo tour. For any of you reading this, please cross your fingers and send me positive thoughts at 10 am.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Fitness Marker

Tomorrow I'm headed up to the San Juan Islands for the Orcas Island 50k. It'll be my first 50k of the season, and I'm really just treating it as a long training run. It'll provide a good marker of where my current fitness level is. Last year, by this time, I had raced a 1/2 marathon, 25k, and a 50k all during January. I had a decent run at Orcas, but I was already feeling a little worn out. This year I've taken, what I hope is, a much smarter training approach. I've got 7 weeks of solid base training under my belt,with no racing, and I'm feeling like I'm getting stronger each week. Obviously it feels great to see marked improvement each week, as opposed to this time last year, when I was already feeling a little run down. So I'm excited to see how things shake out tomorrow. The weather's looking good, and I really love the trails at Moran State Park. It should be a great day out there. I'll get a report up here when I return to Seattle.

Here's a quick recap of my 2008 training log
wk 1: 64 miles
wk 2: 74 miles
wk 3: 80 miles
wk 4: 53 miles (recovery)

wk 5: 76 miles
wk 6: 80 miles
wk 7: 92 miles
wk 8: recovery

Wednesday, February 13, 2008


No, I won't be discussing corporate downsizing here. I'm talking about taking a sort of less is more approach to running shoes, particularly to trail shoes. I remember my very first pair of trail shoes. They were, of course, the tried and true Montrail Vitesse. Wasn't that everyone's first trail shoe? At the time, I thought a trail running shoe had to have a rugged feel to make the cut. Even when I began working at Seattle Running Company, I would scoff at the various road shoe brands attempting to make trail shoes. I'd tell customers, "Those are just beefed up road shoes." They weren't "true" trail shoes. In the past two years though, I've made a complete 180 degree turn on this issue. No longer do I feel like a trail shoe has to feel like a light hiking boot, and it's hard for me to understand why I ever did. Admittedly, I've now gone to the extreme opposite end of the spectrum, running now in the Brooks Racer ST flat. I really have come to realize the benefits of a lighter, more flexible shoe, even on the trail. A good shoe for the trail doesn't have to feel like a brick. Shocking, right? It's amazing to me though how many people feel like that inability to move your foot naturally is what you need in a trail shoe. Granted, I don't recommend everyone rush out to buy a road flat for the trails, I think that comes with time spent working on form and efficiency, but we can all get by on a lot less shoe. Thankfully the trend seems to be moving toward the development of lighter weight and more flexible trail specific shoes.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Sunday Runs

Every Sunday morning, rain or shine, I meet at Seattle Running Company at 7am to lead a hearty group of individuals out to our local trails. Lately it's been much more rain and snow than shine. The Cascades, and even our smaller local foothills, have been hammered with an abundance of snow this year. Last Sunday I thought it would be fun to head out to Tiger Mountain and run the 16 mile fat ass loop. I knew that there would be some snow, but I had no idea that we'd be breaking trail through two feet of snow. We cut the loop short, but it still took us over 3 hours to cover 11 miles. I was bonking so badly breaking through the fresh snow that I started seeing stars and thinking that I may pass out. The two other runners with me were real troopers. Even as I started to lose my cool, they pressed on and kept a really great attitude. Today, we opted to stay a little closer to home by running a Cougar-Squak out and back. We covered 19 miles with about 5000 feet of ascent. Along the way we encountered just about every winter weather condition that exists in the Pacific Northwest. We got a lot of rain, a little snow, and enough warmth that one guy even shed his shirt. It was just another crazy day in this wild Washington winter. I guess running in these conditions builds character, right?

Friday, February 8, 2008


I have some fabulous training partners that really inspire me and make training fun. They're very motivated and dedicated athletes. But, like all of us, they're real people with real commitments. Life can get pretty crazy and sometimes running has to take a back seat to more pressing issues. I know that's sometimes the case for me. Basically what I'm getting at is that people have complicated lives and running can't always be the primary focus. However, my dog Kiwi has no such outside distractions. She is always ready to go at the drop of a hat. I was thinking about this very thing today as I was chasing Kiwi up the side of Squak Mountain. She, ever the playful one, would dash up the trail 50 yards or so, spin 180 degrees, and then rocket back toward me, repeating again and again. Kiwi, clearly in her element, had no idea that I was cursing my decision to get a little later start on my run. The plan was to run one and half times up the 3.5 mile trail to the top of Squak Central. As I parked and pulled out my gear, the skies opened up and beginning dumping rain. This on top of the already strong winds that had been gusting all morning. Basically the rain/snow mix was blasting me horizontally as I left the car, and gazing up at Squak, I thought twice about scrapping the whole thing. However, there was Kiwi, with boundless energy, ready to get things going. How could I say no? So we did it just as planned. Had I been running with another person, it would have been easy to scrap the run and grab a cup of coffee. To Kiwi a run's a run. Nothing else matters. Sometimes I think I'd like the simplicity of a dog's life.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Time Management

Anyone out there speak Portuguese? Well I don't either, really. As you may or may not know the title of this blog is Portuguese for always running. I'm finally, after nearly 6 years of half-assed attempts, learning to speak Portuguese. Why Portuguese? My wife and her family are Portuguese. I've been to Portugal three times, but I've never really been able to communicate fully with her extended family. I just purchased Rosetta Stone Portuguese 1-3, and I have to say it's really great. I've even managed to fit it into my busy schedule of work and training. Getting up just a little earlier in the morning, I've managed to spend at least a half hour every day learning Portuguese, and it's not even cutting into my training. Nothing starts the day off right like a cup of coffee and some Rosetta Stone.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Training with purpose

There's nothing more rewarding as a runner than seeing and feeling the results of training. As any competitive runner knows, there's a huge difference between just running and training. Through much of my summer and fall I was running a lot, but I was training very little. After taking a break in December, I committed to a smarter training program starting in 2008. The first couple weeks after taking a break felt tough. But now after a month or so of solid base mileage, I'm feeling really great and ready to go. I've been slower to introduce my typical January threshold runs around Green Lake. Instead, based on an article by Greg McMillan in Running Times, I've opted to do once or twice weekly sub-threshold runs. These runs are described as those which are 15-20 seconds slower than lactate threshold pace. The argument of the article was, and I've experienced this myself, that true tempo/threshold runs can cause a runner to peak too early in the season. Considering my peak race (Western States) isn't until late June, I have pushed back my true threshold workouts until later this month and have opted to incorporate 6-8 weeks of sub-threshold workouts instead. So far so good, but it'll be interesting to start racing in March without 2 months of threshold workouts in the bag.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

And so it begins...

I've never considered myself the blogging type, and maybe I'm not, but I'm compelled to give this a whirl. Over the course of the last month or so, I've become quite the avid blog reader. It's become part of my daily routine to stay abreast of my favorite ultra running blogs. I've come to enjoy reading other's musings so much that I figured perhaps someone may also enjoy whatever I may be able to contribute to the blogging world. So it is here that I'll write, mostly about running, and hopefully someone can find some enjoyment in what I have to share.