Friday, January 22, 2016

Come-back Half

Last Sunday I ran the local Cascade Half Marathon. In terms of performance, I had nothing riding on a set time and I didn't take the lead up to the race very seriously, yet, the day before the race I found myself really worried. I realized I was using this race as a test, a test to see if I really could control my asthma and get back to racing again. Because I had a lot riding on this emotionally, I kind of went into panic mode before the race, taking extra reflux meds, revisiting the steroid inhaler and taking the regular inhaler twice before the race started - I was going to make sure I was well medicated for this thing! (To keep the lynch mobs at bay, I will point out that everything is WADA legal. And contrary to what many people think, asthma drugs do not require a TUE).

I thought a 6:40 pace would be doable even in the pouring rain (you can count on miserable weather for the Cascade Half) and made sure my pace didn't dip below 6:30 on the way out to the turn around. On the way back, I just tried to keep a steady effort and ended up with a ten second negative split for a 1:26:44 finish, which is now the median for my 7 life time half marathons. Despite being a middle of the road time, I was ecstatic: I felt completely in control, I had no breathing issues, and my legs felt like they were working exactly like they were supposed to work, and the race left me exhilarated, not completely exhausted! In summary: I passed my test! If I never got any faster, I'd still be happy and able to enjoy running and that is a very nice thing to be able to say (finally!). Plus, I did actually win the race (the farm town of Turner, OR is not exactly a mecca for speedy runners in the middle of January), which was a nice little cherry on top. I parked eight miles from the finish line and caught a ride with a friend which forced me to do an extra long cool down, which made for a pretty good day in the log book!

One funny little story: a generous doctor in the area donated $100 for both the men's and women's master runners, but there was only a plaque for the overall winner, who is typically removed from the age group awards. I politely asked the race director (and friend) to give the overall win to second place and make me the masters winner -  I prefer a hundred dollars to a plaque! The RD thought that would be awkward so he ended up paying me $100 from the race coffers and the second place 40+ lady got the donated prize money. Everybody wins! (well, except maybe Cascade High School, which is now getting $100 less from this fundraiser. I volunteered to help for a couple hours the day before the race, so let's call it even!). I guess I'll use it to cover all the co-pays for my asthma meds, cause they seem to be working!

In the few days after the race, I couldn't believe how sore my hamstrings were! Geez, don't my legs remember how to run 13 measly miles?? But a friend reminded me that I took ten weeks off and I have to think like I am starting all over again. I am optimistic that this means there is still lots of improvement to be had. I will test myself at the half again in three weeks at the Roaring Run, which will be 13 weeks since I started back running. Last year I ran 1:26:01 while suffering and feeling terrible (and experiencing several bad workouts ahead of time), so I will definitely be hoping for something better. Now that my hamstrings have recovered, it's time to get training!

Sunday, January 10, 2016


Happy New Year! Sure we are ten days in, but I am still celebrating turning over a new leaf. Heck, I've even read two novels already, something that has been supplanted by running books and magazines the past couple of years. (Of course, I still plan to read all of those, too!).

Anyway, nothing better to kick off new training then a Fatass run! So yesterday, my training partner Dennis and I made the trip down to Yachats for the Cape Perpetua Fatass. We agreed that we'd be doing the run more "adventure style" than race style, which meant running in a group, hiking even the low grade stuff, and taking plenty of pictures - even a few selfies! We finished near the back, and I loved every minute of it! (And with no official results there will be no ramifications for my ultra signup score - phew! ;). The trails out there were like carpet - all pine needles and moss. There were a couple of miles that may have been the best suited to me than any other trail I have run: a thin ribbon of dirt running down an old dirt road over grown with grass, fast downhill with out a rock to be seen, just a few down saplings, most of which I hurdled with a  big smile on my face. I am taking three meds routinely with an additional inhaler for long runs, and while I don't like that I have to take them, the fact that they have made me feel so much better and have brought the joy back in to running makes it worth it. Now, hopefully with some concentrated training, I can bring the speed back in to my running, too.
Rays of sun through the tall trees

The beautiful Oregon coast

Stopping for selfies on the coast!
Big ferns and mossy trails: Oregon trails at their finest!
And since I have made it through a full seven days of training and a Fatass,  I have registered for a half dozen races! Here are my plans for 2016 so far:

1/17: Cascade Half Marathon - this is just a hard effort, long tempo day- a so-called "training race."

2/6: Roaring Run Half Marathon - This is the race I set my half marathon PR (1:21:15) back in 2013 when I was running at my best. I also ran a 1:26:01 there last year when I was having such a hard time and struggling to even do 4 mile tempo runs. So I have a very nice scale on which to measure myself and to get an idea of where I am at and what kind of expectations I should have for the year.

2/13 - Hagg Mud 50k - If you mention Hagg Lake you are likely to get an eye roll from anyone who has run it. On paper (or in the summer) it should be a super fast course, but it is endless thick, thick mud in February, which slows it considerably. I got my 4th finish several years ago and I figured this would be a good time to get my 5th and get my name in the  (very prestigious!) "Hall of Mud." But I am not paying $25 for a 5 year finisher's buckle! (really?? sheesh!)

4/2: Gorge Waterfalls 100k - No, I am NOT going for a Golden Ticket (no, really!) but this is a beautiful race with good competition and minimal travel. And I do love mossy trails.

5/13: Dawn to Dusk to Dawn 24 hour - Yes, another track race. Yes, I am crazy, but Yes, I still really like the idea of track races, too. I am undecided if I want to try for another fast 100 mile time or if I want to do the full 24 hours and try to get a 24 hour World Championship qualifier.

6/17: Bighorn 100 - Western States is awesome, but I need a break from focusing completely on that one race (not to mention, I don't have a spot!). I am very excited to get the chance to try another classic mountain 100 and the women's field is looking pretty stout!

8/20: Waldo 100k - (if I can make it through the lottery or convince the RD's that I am still "elite") - This is the race where I was first diagnosed with asthma in 2009 after breathing difficulties ruined my run. It seems fitting to go back as I am trying to rebound from such problems with asthma. Plus, it is another great race with minimal travel.

Fall racing schedule will be determined based on how all the above goes. 

So who else is running any of these races?