Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Vancouver Lake 1/2 Marathon

This past Sunday I ran the always competitive Vancouver Lake 1/2 Marathon in, well, Vancouver, WA. I love racing road 1/2 marathons. They're long enough to take the kick out of 10kers, but short enough to be a great short, fast run for us ultra folks without taking up the whole day. And they're especially fun to run the day after a 50k.

As I was putting my training schedule together for the first 1/2 of the year, I figured January would be my base training month, with the long, slow 50k's each weekend. When those were over, it was time to start training for Boston. So this 1/2 was my first step towards that. Even though I was running it on tired, slow legs, I knew it would give me a baseline level of fitness.

Last year I unexpectedly (in a good way) ran 1:19:41 for 12th place. On Saturday at the MadAss, Rod and Jenn were making fun of me, saying I would be lucky to break 1:40. Regardless, I secretly wanted to break 1:20 again and also finish top-10.

Race morning was cold, damp, and foggy, but no rain or wind. Pretty nice conditions, actually. I warmed up with Sascha and fast Wendy Terris. She likes to refer to me as her pacer, and when she actually does pace with me for the first 1/2 of races, she usually ends up beating me. But when she starts out faster, I usually get her. I told her my plan to go out at a conservative 19ish for the first 3 miles, then go for it. Wanting to run sub-1:20, too, and p.r., this sounded too slow to her, so she decided against my pacing services for the day.

The race started and people flew by me and my 6:20 and 6:27 opening miles. Mile three in 6:13 put me past some of the ambitious starters, and to the 3 mile marker right at 19:00 in about 30th place. I immediately kicked it down to 6:05 for the next mile, passing a few guys. Around 5, I passed a big group of 6 and was probably in 20th. I kept the pace steady between 6:05-6:10 for the next 5 miles. In there, I caught more people, including the 2nd girl around 9 1/2, and finally Wendy around 10. I could tell she was struggling a bit, so slowed for about 10 seconds to get her to stick with me. She wasn't up to it, so I picked it up to sub-6s.
I decided to run a really hard 12th mile (I don't remember the split), ease up for a minute or two, then kick it in the last bit. As this was working, Eugenio was still quite a bit ahead of me, but was quickly coming back. I pushed a bit harder with 1/2 mile to go, but couldn't quite get to him. I finishd in 1:20:27 for 13th; Eugenio was 13 seconds ahead and Wendy 14 seconds behind.

It was a good, honest effort on my part. I was happy with it (although I admit I wish I would have run 28 seconds faster), and even won a mug for 5th in my age group.

Also in attendance were friends and ultrarunners Ronda, Stacey, and Liz. With the 2 out-and-backs on the course, it was fun to see their smiling faces (in addition to the smiling faces of many others!). Ronda and Stacey are gearing up to rock the Orange Curtain 100k (and are also rd's of this cool mud fest), so this was some great flat, road speedwork for them.

With all the snow we have in Sisters now, it's going to be a bit challenging to get in faster paced runs and track workouts. I hate to say it, but "treadmill, here I come." Luckily, I'm going east for the first week and a half of Feb., so I'll be able to get in some non-snow running Hardrock-hopeful Bryon on the weekends in DC (and maybe even a race or two), and some faster pavement pounding and track stuff with Bien during the week in NC.

Monday, January 28, 2008

FATSO, the Final Chapter: MadAss

That's it. The inaugural FatAss Trail Series of Oregon is over. Yay! Just to quickly re-cap, FATSO consists of the 4 fatasses in Oregon: BadAss (Millican), MLK (Eugene), SOFA (Galice), & MadAss (Madras). I think I can speak for pretty much everybody who ran in any of the four events and say that we all had a great time.

This was the 3rd annual MadAss and it had the highest number of entrants and by far the best weather yet. More than 30 runners gathered at the MUT (Madras Ultra Team) headquarters for a little briefing, then we were off. Nine of us ran the new 50k course, while 20+ opted for the 25ish km. Darla, Chris, and I pretty much had to run the 50k, as we were the only 3 competing for the title of Fattest Ass in Oregon (although they did throw a scare in me with there last-minute arrival).

I ran the first 6 miles with my Boston buddy Danny (who qualified at Eugene last April in 3:10:59 - not 1 second to spare!). He took the shorter option back to MUT headquarters while I caught up to Rod and Jenn (well, they stopped and waited for me, which they got pretty good at doing throughout the day). The rolling, open dirt roads were in great shape, so combine those with two fast friends, and the 3 of us were clipping along quite nicely, well, except when they were waiting for me. Unknown to us, Fatboy was less than 5 minutes back for most of the run. For the second week in a row, due to the single-loop nature of the course, Sascha had to sit this one out.

As we eventually wound our way back towards Madras, the wind was kindly pushing us from behind and definitely warmed things up. Bien in his Superman tights was definitely overdressed. Running in to Madras, we even came across the cool Grizzly roundabout. Then before we knew it, we were done with the MadAss. 4:12:00.

And I was done with the FATSO. I was kinda tired. Even though I didn't race any of these fatasses, just running all 4 in 21 days made me tired. Well, I did have my first triple mileage week since September, so that probably helped, too.

Sitting around MUT headquarters, anticipation was building over who would win the FATSO. Would Darla hold her extremely unfat 70 lead, or would Chris hop his way to victory? Soon enough, Chris came inside, sealing his fate in 2nd place. Darla happily finished 2 minutes later to the roaring cheers of her fans! She had won - Darla became the inaugural FATSO Champion, proving that she does, indeed, have the fattest ass in all of Oregon! Congratulations, Darla - we're all very proud of you!

Prizes? Oh yeah, there were some of those. Maura and Kathy graciously each knitted some really cool mittens for the 3 FATSO finishers, plus even a pair for the lone 3 out of 4er, Jenn (she was scared of MLK). Darla also won two well-deserved pints of Chubby Hubby ice cream. Hm, is that to keep her ass fat, or perhaps foreshadowing for her soon-to-be hubby?

FATSO Final Standings:
Darla 5:53 + 6:12:10 + 5:35 + 5:06 = 22:46:10
Chris 5:53 + 6:12:00 + 5:34 + 5:04 = 22:43:00
Me 5:19 + 5:28 + 5:21 + 4:12 = 20:20:00
Number of 50k Finishers / Total Participants for each FatAss:
BadAss 11 / 40ish
MLK 7 / 20ish
SOFA 18 / 31
MadAss 9 / 30ish

This was a really fun series (okay, maybe a bit geeky, too). Thanks to Darla and Chris for agreeing to run the whole series with me so I wouldn't be the only geek. And thank you to everyone who came out and had fun at each of the individual runs. This truly was January ultrarunning in Oregon at its finest.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008


Well, last Saturday was SOFA (Southern Oregon FatAss), the third installment of the FATSO (FatAss Trail Series of Oregon). I was excited to go back down to southern Oregon for this run on the classic Rogue River Trail.

Upon arrival in Ashland on Friday evening, I finally got to check out the Rogue Valley Runners running store. This is Hal's baby and it's a pretty sweet running store. In addition to himself, he's got ultralegend/manager Ian Torrence and ultranewbie Erik Skaggs, amongst others, getting up-close and personal with feet. Ian was kind enough to give me a tour of the shop and show me a bit of how and why they do things. The shoes! Holy cow, they have so many models - it really is incredible. I think the number I heard was 120! And crazy as it sounds, they still have to special order for some customers. They're going to double the size of the store next month, so watch out for some new and exciting stuff at RVR.

Pizza with the gang that night sure tasted good going down. However, walking back to Hal's place, the pizza turned into a brick. I had a huge gut ache all night. betcha!

The morning at the Graves Creek trailhead was a little chilly, but great running temps and even better was seeing 30 friends and 1/2 dozen doggies out there for a day of fun on the trail. I immediately fell into a nice groove with Erik, Ian, Eric, Chris, Jenn, and Abby for the first 45 minutes. It was fun just cruising and chatting, but I could tell Erik was hurting from running so slow. At a small creek crossing, a few of us took the hard way while Ian took the easy and faster way, and was out of there quick. This was Erik's chance to run faster. He and Jenn chased after Ian, while Eric and I continued our relaxed cruise, with Chris catching back up to us shortly.

After an hour on the trail, the pizza started to rear it's ugly self. I fell back from Eric and Chris, almost caught back up, fell back again, and continued this game until the turn around. During this little game my tummy was playing with me, as I was just cruising along not really paying attention, I came across the 10-mile bear. Seriously. I stopped suddenly in my tracks when I saw a big black thing laying across the trail in front of me. Hm, it looks like a bear, but it's not moving. So I pranced around it rather quickly and continued on my way, with a few more stops, to the turn around. I was within a couple minutes of the gang in front, but thoughts of catching up and running back with them quickly faded back into the bushes.

I was hopeful that Mark and Brad would catch up to me on the way back, but they ran some extra credit miles (brown-nosers). So in addition to running back by myself, I had to fend off the bear solo again. Poor guy; it looked as though he tumbled down the steep ravine from above and possibly broke his neck. It was recent, as he wasn't stinking and no kitties had found him yet. This was definitely one of the craziest things I've ever come across on a trail run.

I eventually rolled back into the trailhead 5:21 after starting my journey (due to the out and back nature of this run, Sascha had to sit this one out). As always, I enjoyed running on this trail. It's beautiful, pretty hard to get lost on, and I only got one tiny little spot of poison oak this time. Tim was a gracious host and brought lots of goodies for us to feast on while chatting away the afternoon with friends. Full results here. Lots of cool pictures here, thanks to Ken.

As far as the FATSO standings, apparently Darla tricked Chris into finishing ahead of her at the SOFA by a minute, so she's currently laying claim to Oregon's fattest ass by a mere 1:10.
Current standings:
Darla 5:53 + 6:12:10 + 5:35 = 17:40:10
Chris 5:53 + 6:12:00 + 5:34 = 17:39:00
Me 5:19 + 5:28 + 5:21 = 16:08:00

Will Darla be able to hold the lead? Will Chris walk the last fatass? Or will I crawl my way to victory? Tune in Saturday as this inaugural series finishes at the MadAss.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008


After spending last week with Bien in Dallas and being ridiculed for looking like this guy, I had no choice but to run the MLK FatAss in Eugene on Saturday. This was the second run in the FATSO (FatAss Trail Series of Oregon).

Saturday morning came really early as Chris, Darla, and Mave arrived at my house at 6 a.m. for the 2 1/2 hour drive over the mountains. The roads were kinda bad, but no traffic, so it was pretty much smooth sailing. We found the pretty empty Ridgeline trailhead without incident about 8:45. In true fatass fashion, runners showed up about 5-10 minutes before the 9 a.m. start.

This is a really fun singletrack trail, and fairly difficult considering it's in a city. As usual, the big group stayed together for the first 11 miles. At this point, Sascha was dragging, so I decided she was done for the day. I continued running with Dave and Kellyroy for most of the next 5 miles. Upon getting back to the cars to re-fuel, I saw the 2 front fast guys blazing by (Dan Olmstead and someone else). So I decided to do a little tempo work and took chase for the next 8 miles. Apparently my tempo was their pace, as I never closed the gap.

When I got back to the cars to re-fuel for the final 7 miles, Sascha said she was rested and wanted to join me again. So she did and we had a great time getting wet, muddy, hot, cold and wet again. On a much tougher course than last week's BadAss, I felt much stronger and cruised to a 5:28. Like at the BadAss, Sascha logged 18 for the day.

Chris, Darla, and Mave finished not too far back. Although Darla looked like she was going to finish ahead of Chris, Chris miraculously pulled out a super-late dash and crossed the line first. But in doing so, Chris took himself out of the yellow jersey for the FATSO and put Darla right in it. Actually, I think it was brilliant strategy by Darla. Mave put in a solid 20 for the day.

On Sunday, I decided to test out my new fast-red Pearl Izumi Streak shoes on my hilly, road 10 1/2 miler. It was a beautiful day, mid-40s, blue sky, gorgeous mountain views - perfect for shorts. I felt pretty good considering 50 hilly kilometers the previous day, and the new red shoes were pretty sweet. More reviews to come on those babies. In fact, they may even be in the running for my Boston shoe (for which I am now officially registered).

This Saturday, a whole gaggle of Central Oregonians - Chris, Darla, MUTS Stan and Maura, Jenn, and I - are headed south to the Rogue River for the 3rd of the FATSO runs, SOFA - Southern Oregon FatAss. I imagine those Rogue Valley Runners will be putting the hurt on us all.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Slowly Getting Back...

On Jan. 4th, Hart, Justin, and Piper made the trek down from Seattle for 3 days of fun. We started off on Friday with a 16 mile run on the icy, slushy, snowy Rumble trails. While Sascha was in her element in the snow, Piper was thrown for a bit of a loop. Or so it seemed. Actually, I think she was sandbagging a bit so she could save herself for the BadAss on Saturday.

Saturday morning came early and with lots of snow in Sisters and Bend, but by the time we got to the Badlands for the BadAss 50k, there wasn't much snow left at all. Some sun, a bit of ice, wind, 40ish friends, a few dogs, screwed shoes, soup and hot chocolate kitchen, lots of distances to choose from...a great way to kick off the FATSO! And proving that she really was sandbagging on Friday, Piper made a move just before the finish to pull ahead of Justin and Biener to take the w and course record in 4:36:40. Sascha put in a solid 18 miles for the day, and I was thrashed at the end.
That afternoon was a treat for me. While Krissy, Hart, Justin, Bien, and Bronco all had fancy post-BadAss sandwiches at a local eatery, after waiting way too long for my coke, I easily put down a solid pound of fries with probably an equal amount of cheese and salt. OMG, right then, right there, it was better than...well, you can guess. The evening was capped off with a great house warming party at Krissy's cool new place.

On Sunday, Justin, Hart, Krissy, Piper, Sascha, and I went to Smith Rock for a little cool-down jaunt to finish off the weekend. The Seattle boys really wanted to summit Grey Butte, but Krissy and I wussed out and talked them out of it. After wowing everyone with Rod's Cougar Canyon story, we did, in fact, run through said canyon. But no cougars or even any signs of one. Just lots of ice and a nice fall (or was it 2?) by Hart. This led to the quote of the weekend: "Somedays you just fall," or something like that. Crap, I wish I could remember it exactly because it was funny. It was a great run in a great place with great friends. Then a great breakfast after. Mmm...

A solid 60 for the 3 days - not too bad for the first weekend of the year. I love having little training weekends like this. Life pretty much revolves around running, eating, talking to other geeky runners about geeky running things, and sleeping. Fun stuff.

Friday, January 4, 2008

Out of Shape

So I've been in a bit of a running lull lately. I took 2 weeks completely off from running after Hellgate, ran Pigtail's FlatAss 50k as my first run back, then attempted Christmas Camp the week between Christmas and New Year's. Camp didn't go so well. I struggled miserably on days 1 & 2, then decided I needed more time off. So I immediately took another week off from running.

This was a great decision. I spent lots of quality time with Lucia and Sascha. I snowshoed with Lucia, Sascha, Josh, Ashley, Chris, Darla, Tate, and Mike. I hosted a party (with Lucia's help) and saw many good friends. I ate a lot and got fatter and more out of shape. I cleaned my house (well, Lucia helped with this, too). I had a great New Year's Eve with friends snowshoeing up Hoodoo Ski Resort and watching fireworks. This all was very good.

Then on New Year's Day, Lucia, Sascha, and I joined CORK for a fun 6-miler. This run, along with the time off before it, was just what I needed to get the running spark going again. Sascha and I went for a nice 2 hour run on Thursday and enjoyed just being out together in the beautiful Central Oregon winter wonderland.

Hart and Justin Angle are coming to town this weekend for a little weekend of endurance fun (it will be nothing at all like boot camp). Yeah, I'm fat and slow and probably won't be able to keep up, but they'll have to wait, because they won't know where we're going. Friday's and Sunday's activities are tbd, but might include some snowshoeing, running at Smith Rock State Park, or running on parts of the Rumble course. Saturday, we're headed out to the Badlands for the 2nd Annual BadAss 50k.

I'll be sore on Monday, and I'm looking forward to it.