Thursday, February 28, 2008

Hagg Mudless

I had a great weekend! It started off early Friday morning by Rod and I road tripping to Portland to visit both Montrail and Nike headquarters. Hey, we're opening a Fleet Feet...we gotta see the goods!

Shortly after arriving at Montrail (actually Columbia) Headquarters, we were excited that our rep, Bryan Tooley, was able to get us an impromptu meeting with The Woman herself - Gert "Ma" Boyle. This was coolest part of the weekend. She is 83, and the ads don't lie - she's tough! She is definitely into knowing how and where her dollars are spent. She hand signs every check that goes out of Columbia. She wanted to know what I was doing to justify my Montrail sponsorship. She wanted to know how much our opening order was for Fleet Feet. She razzed Rod for wearing his Fleet Feet shirt with a Nike logo; I helped save-face a bit by taking off my sweatshirt and revealing my Montrail shirt. Gert is a very pleasant woman. While chatting, I learned that her daughter is an artist and gallery owner who lives in Sisters, and her granddaughter lives less than 1/2 mile from me in Sisters. Hopefully I'll get the chance to have lunch with her and show her the store the next time she visits. Seriously, this meeting with Gert was the highlight of my weekend.

Oh yeah, Rod and I also got to see the latest and greatest from Montrail. Lots of cool new shoes in different lines: running, hiking, sandals, and some cool new casual stuff. I definitely saw some winners in there, including my racing shoe for this year, the new Streak! We were sent on our way with a big bag of new Montrails so I could put them on display at Hagg (see Gert, that justifies my sponsorship!).

After lunch, we headed to Nike. The Nike campus is incredible. Some cool stats: 175 acres; 6,000 employees; 4 main divisions - running, tennis, soccer, and golf; 2 really cool workout facilites; lots of really cool memorabilia in each building (the Pre stuff was the best); a 5-lane all-weather track with a forest in the infield (so you can't see the other side while running around it); a 2-mile bark chip path around the perimeter; lots of reserved parking spots for Nike's super-elite athletes (we randomly parked near Bendite Priscilla Welch and Sisters' Dan Fouts spots). If you ever have a chance to tour this campus, do it. It's fun.

Our main purpose for going was to see Nike's eyewear and timing lines. Slick. Sleek. Nice. They have some cool stuff going on there. I'm not a tech-geek, but I don't think anyone comes close to touching their Nike+ and iPod Nano stuff.

After Nike, we headed west to Forest Grove's Grand Lodge. If you're running Hagg Lake, this is the place to be. We found Bendite's Dan Harshburger, and Karen and Jon Gnass hanging out in the basement, so we enjoyed a nice dinner chatting with them. My college buddy Jon, his girlfriend Alicia, and Maniac Brandon also joined us a little while later. I finished off the night watching Michael Clayton while enjoying a hard cider. Mmm, hard cider...

Saturday morning was beautiful - sunny, clear, and warm. Rod and I got to Hagg with plenty of time to set out the new Montrails, say hi to many friends (including ultra-virgin Nessski), get in a warm-up, and change in to my skirt. I wore the same pretty, flowery skirt that Kathy Harshburger made for me last year. I figure I have one skirt, and that's enough. There were 6 guys in the skirt competition this year and the moment I saw Tom, I knew he had won. He wore a hideously awesome full-on grandma flower dress. He was the man. The one thing that would have made it better is if he wouldn't have been wearing a year, Tom.

Aside from being pretty sick, not being able to breathe, not having a voice, and constantly blowing snot-rockets the whole run, I felt okay. I ran the first 5 miles close behind Ryan and Neil, at which point Neil decided he needed to run faster to get a course record, which he got! Also with me was Trevor, formerly of Bend. We finally caught Ryan around mile 10 and I really enjoyed running with him for the next few miles. At 1:20 into the run, Ryan had only gu'd once, so I suggested he take another. Since Ryan and Laurie moved to Portland last summer, we haven't run or raced together much. It was fun to be sharing some trail time with my friend in his first ultra.

At the 13 mile a.s., I did a quick bottle re-fill, grabbed a gu, and was gone. Ryan must have stopped to eat a little and I inadvertently dropped him there. We stayed close, though, as I went by the start/finish at mile 17 in 2:13, only a minute ahead of him.

Hearing that I was close to current c.r. holder and fellow Shadle Park High School alumni Stan Holman, I decided to pick it up a bit. After a few miles I saw Stan and when I got within 30 feet of him, I decided to humor both of us by chanting our high school cheer:

Me: Chicka Locka, Chicka Locka, Chow-Chow-Chow
Stan (without hesitation): Booma Locka, Booma Locka, Bow-Wow-Wow
Me: Chicka Locka, Booma Locka, Who are we?
Stan: Shadle Park High School, Yes-sir-ee!

Yes, it was silly, but very fun, and reminded us both that these ultras can be a lot of fun. It's just too bad I hadn't caught him while going through the start/finish area; we agreed that the folks there would have loved it.

At the 22 mile a.s., I was feeling relatively good and didn't break stride while grabbing a cup of water and asking how Rod was doing. He was solidly in 2nd behind Neil, and finished there in a strong 3:56. I continued to cruise at a decent pace for another couple miles. Right about the "1/2 way around the lake" sign, with 7.1 miles to go, I started a pretty good bonk. I was guing every 30 min., but I think my lack of hydrating had caught up. I didn't realize it until the finish, but I only drank 2 1/2 bottles of fluid throughout the race, mostly Kona Kola nuun. Anyway, so I shuffled to the last a.s., put 1/2 water / 1/2 Coke in my bottle and hoped that and a gu would get me to the finish. I continued struggling, but was really enjoying the pretty day and lack of mud. A little more than 1/2 mile from the finish, I heard someone coming up on me. I took a quick look back to see if it was a 25ker or 50ker, but couldn't tell. Oh well, it didn't really matter. I wasn't going to let someone pass me so close to the finish. So I picked it up, hit the last parking lot, threw down a surge, and cruised to the finish. 4:10:34 for 4th place (my customary placing in ultras) in my 5th Hagg Lake finish. The almost-spoiler was 50ker Kurt Eisele, who finished 6 seconds back. This earned me the coveted Hagg Lake Hall of Mud 5-year Buckle. I was tired and I couldn't really breathe so well. My friends Ryan (not the one running) and Scott helped me sit down and both got me food and drinks. It's good to have nice friends.

After a few minutes, I perked up a bit so I walked over to Rod's van to change. Within a few minutes of being at the van, Nessski shows up wrapped in a space blanket and beaming. He had finished his first 50k in 4:24 for 10th place! Stellar performance, my friend! The next few hours were spent socializing and catching-up with friends, eating, cheering finishers, and hanging out in the warm February sun of Hagg Lake (which will never happen again!). In addition to Ryan and Rod, congrats also to Chris, finishing in 4:33, Darla, 5:01 for 4th girl, and Jon, 2:16 in the 25k to earn his 5-year Hall of Mud Buckle. It was a good day. Thanks Party Girls, you put on a great event - even without the mud.

Rod headed back to Bend and his family (including ready-to-pop Katie), while I stayed the night at the Grand Lodge again. Good friends, soaking pool, frisbee golf, hard cider, long island ice tea, a tasty hunk of prime rib with lots of salt, and live music all made for a great ending to a wonderful Hagg day.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Running With The Boys

Last Friday, I had the chance to run with my two good buddies Rod and Jeff, at the same time! It's kinda crazy - we all live in central Oregon, are all ultrarunners, and are good friends, yet we hardly ever run together, whether it's 2 or all 3 of us. Schedules often conflict. So I planned a 3 hour tour at Smith Rock State Park on Friday and invited both guys, hoping at least one would join in the fun. To my pleasant surprise, both said yes.

Now let me step back 5 1/2 years to when I moved to Oregon. Rod and Jeff had both been running ultras for a few years, while I had been for just one year. But I solidly whooped both of 'em, all the time, on pretty much any terrain. I ran with them on my easier runs. I enjoyed their friendship, so had no problem slowing for them. Within 2 years, I had even paced both Rod and Jeff to solid finishes in 100s. Things were good.

Then a few years ago, something happened. These guys started getting faster. And faster. And faster. So now I wasn't waiting for my buddies on training runs. We all would push each other. I pushed them on the ups. Jeff pushed the downs. Rod liked going fast on flats. Things were good.

Then a year later, they both got really fast. Running with them wasn't quite so fun anymore - in fact, it kinda hurt. But I had my Ace in the hole - they still couldn't touch me going up. I was always king of the hill. Always. This was good.

Last year, Rod was running fast all the time. Every run was fast - ups, downs, technical, smooth, road, trail - it didn't matter. If Rod was running it, it was fast. I could still usually at least keep pace with him on the ups. Also last year, Jeff started training with Steve Larsen. Steve is really super fast, and consequently, Jeff's leg speed greatly improved. He was smoking fast (the rat even beat me by 35 seconds at the Dirty 1/2, a distance where I used to always easily whoop him) and, as he told me, in the best shape of his life.

In the midst of these past few fast years, not surprisingly, they've both raced really well, too. Three 100-miler victories and course records, Rumble victory and c.r., 19 hour WS, 33 hour HR, marathon p.r.s (both finally sub-3), 1st male / 2nd overall Waldo, 8:43 4th place Miwok...the list goes on. These guys are both well-known on the national ultra curcuit. And they're my friends.

Anyway, back to last Friday at Smith. It was going to be a good, tough run, 16 miles with 4,200' vertical. The weather was sunny and in the 50s. I was there with Sascha and my two buds for a sweet run. Fun times ahead!

Until we got to the first hill, Burma. Not surprisingly, Rod blasted up ahead...and Jeff followed! Crap, what's that about? I was left licking my wounds as I crawled to the top. Oh well, it always takes me a long time to warm up. In about 25 minutes we'll be at Grey Butte and I'll show 'em. Soon we were at the base of the 2+ mile climb with about 1,500' vertical. And soon enough, those jerks were gone again. We hit snow and I thought I might be able to reel them in a bit. Nope, they kept right on walking away from me. I was so far behind them when they reached the top that they even came down a few minutes to wait for me so they wouldn't get cold on top. On the way down, I was able to stay with them for a little while on the snow, but once the snow stopped and we were running on rocks...uh, bye-bye guys. Wait for me at the bottom.

The next few miles were mellow downhill and the three of us were actually running together, with Sascha right there. Then we got to the base of the backside of Burma, started going up, and, although I felt okay, it sure looked like I was going backwards. The last 2 hills, Monkey Face and the Parking Lot, are both short so I didn't get quite as whooped. The boys...they're tough. And fast.

One of my very favorite ultrarunning things since moving to Oregon has been seeing Jeff and Rod evolve as ultrarunners. When I met them, they were solid mid-packers and loving every minute of it. Now, they're fast. And they're still my friends.

And I still have a faster marathon p.r. than both of them.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Fleet Feet Bend


For more information contact:
Rod Bien
Fleet Feet Bend, Incorporated
(541) 389-1601


(Bend, Oregon, February 18, 2008) Fleet Feet Sports is coming to Bend! Fleet Feet Sports Bend is a locally-owned and operated franchise of Fleet Feet Sports, Inc, a national specialty retailer dedicated to providing quality products, excellent value and expert advice to runners, walkers and fitness enthusiasts of all levels.

Owners Rod and Katie Bien are opening this new and exciting store in April, 2008 at 1320 Galveston, located between Blue and Ariana.

What makes the Fleet Feet Sports experience unique? Fleet Feet's custom shoe-fitting process involves analyzing a customer's foot, natural biomechanics, and stride by using an in-store treadmill and videotaped gait analysis. For the individual who walks, runs or simply needs a good fitting pair of shoes, the experts at Fleet Feet will use the Fleet Feet Fitlosophy process to determine the right shoe for exercise or daily comfort.

Owner, Rod Bien, says "Most people don't realize that lack of proper fit in footwear is linked to many common aches and pains. We truly love sports and running and are excited to help people find the right fit and support in their shoes so that they can reach their fitness goals."

Fleet Feet will also serve as a gathering place for area runners and walkers. They will offer educational seminars, training advice, and race information. Fleet Feet Bend is already a sponsor of Girls on the Run, a running non-profit for preteen girls, the Peterson Ridge Rumble, and many events to come! Fleet Feet Sports will carry a full line of footwear and apparel from vendors such as Asics, Brooks, Moving Comfort, Nike, New Balance, Mizuno, Saucony and more.

Owners, Rod and Katie Bien, are also the owners of Patagonia by Pandora's Backpack in downtown Bend. The Biens have made Bend their home for ten years and are active in the Bend community as runners and proud parents of two young children. The manager of the store, Sean Meissner, is well known in the running community as a volunteer cross country coach, a race director, and as an active member of the Central Oregon Running Klub.

There are currently 80 Fleet Feet Sports stores nationwide. Fleet Feet Sports in Bend will be the first Fleet Feet Sports store in Oregon. Store hours will be Monday through Saturday from 10am to 6pm and Sundays from 11am to 5pm.

For more information, please visit

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Feelin' Fit!

After my Yasso workout last Thursday at the UNC track, I started feeling pretty good about my current fitness level. So I was excited to get back to DC for the weekend and run the Custis Capitol Hospice 12 km road race on Saturday. I met Bryon's at his house on Saturday morning, where he and I started our progressive run (hm, sounds political to me). We had a nice 8.5 mile warm-up, including running most of the course.

Since I was definitely warmed up, I decided to start a bit faster than normal, around 5:50 pace. The miles weren't marked, but I guessed that was about right. Running in the lead pack from the gun, I even briefly took the lead and thought how cool it would be for a dude from little Sisters, OR, to win a race near DC. That thougth quickly left as two guys whipped by and a third joined me. Within 10 minutes from the start, I was solidly in 5th place and stayed there for the rolly, hilly section of the race. I'm not a strength runner, so the short rollers are definitely not my friends, but I tried to power through them the best I could. At the turn around, seeing faces coming back toward me, I felt I definitely had a chance to move up to 2nd.

I made up ground on the rolling hills going back and by the time I hit the flat with a mile to go, 2nd-4th were right there. I surged hard past all of them at once and was able to hold it until the finish. So I got 2nd place in 45:11. I was hoping to go sub-45, but the consensus was that the course was about 7.7 m, giving me a 5:51 pace. I was definitely happy with the effort, and it was so nice to be racing on dry roads in shorts and short sleeves! Bryon and I finished off the run with a 4 mile cool down back to his house, giving us 20 solid paved miles for the day - just what my Boston-bound legs needed.

After the 12k, we headed off to our favorite DC area post-short road race food spot, the Silver Diner. I didn't think I was very hungry, but ordered lots anyway. I devoured a fat breakfast and most of the plate of cheese fries that we shared. Oh baby, good eating. I'm thinking cheese fries might be replacing KFC as my favorite post-race meal. Hey, this could be a new goal of mine - finding the ultimate cheese fries. Can you say road trip?!

A nice nap was in store that afternoon before the big night of bowling and karaoke. I hadn't bowled in a few years, and it showed. Bryon and I did manage to narrowly beat the 5-girl team, however. As usual, karaoke was fun. I didn't feel like drinking, and I definitely do not karaoke without liquid courage. So this time it was fun for me to just watch friends sing and dance.

After sleeping in on Sunday, I went to the start of the C&O Canal Towpath so I could run the first 14 miles of it up to the Billy Goat Trail and Great Falls. After a nice run of crusing in the low-7s, I hiked out to the Great Falls overlook. Not quite what I think of when I think waterfall, but pretty cool. Then I got to try my awesome technical skills on the technical portion of the BG Trail. I was impressed with the trail - pretty cool for so close to DC.

On Monday, my time back east came to and end. I had an awesome trip, learned lots, got in some awesome running in new places, ran everyday except the travel days getting there and leaving, and I wore shorts on every run. While the 108 miles in 9 days of running was less than what I was hoping for, the 6 quality days really made up for the lower mileage. It was good. Sascha and I were very excited to see each other and celebrated with an 11 mile snowy/slushy/icy run together on Tuesday. It was back to the slow slogging, but good to be running with Sascha again, plus the surprise 60 degree weather meant more shorts and short sleeves!

We're looking forward to more sunshine, temps in the 50s, and shorts at least through the weekend.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Go East, Young Man

I left the cold and uber-snow of central Oregon last Friday for the extremely pleasant weather of the east coast for over a week. Saturday was spent being lazy and sleeping in, going for a really cool run through some DC neighborhoods before hitting the Mall. That night, Bryon and Lindsay came over for dinner, jello shots, and an intense game of Ice Creamopoly. Although we didn't play to the real finish, I'll take credit with basically winning off of owning Ice Cream Factories (aka, hotels) on the two super-cheap properties. Well, I also did a sweet ice cream-truck dance, but that just made the victory sweeter.

On Sunday, Bryon took me for a really cool 3 hour tour of a nice trail system in and around Arlington. It was his longest and best run in almost 2 months, and for me, it was so nice to be running in shorts and short sleeves, and in my first non-50k weekend in over a month. Nice trails for basically right outside of DC. The girls and a couple other friends had a fat brunch waiting for us when we finished, complete with mimosas and bacon! Does brunch get any better than that? I mean, really?

Then since the Superbowl was that day, we hosted a Superbowl party that night. It was the first football game I watched in its entirety since last season. We had a great group of friends over, great food, and even a decent game. As a bonus, Bryon and I found a new way to use nuun.

Now the LMBM and I have been in Carrboro, NC, since Monday evening for some Fleet Feet training at the corporate headquarters. Last night was the super-big rival basketball game here - #2 Duke at #3 UNC. Although we weren't lucky enough to get free tickets (like one of the guys in our group did) it was cool to just be here right in the middle of all that excitement. The FF training has been very helpful, I've learned a lot, and we've gotten to know other new franchisees - a great group of folks. And the weather! Holy cow, I've been running in shorts and usually short sleeves every morning, on the dry ground, and even wearing shorts to work. No snow! This morning I even went to the Carolina Blue Track and did a Yasso 800s workout. This was my first track workout of the year (I've done a couple mile interval sessions on the road and treadmill, but snow has kept me off the track at home), and I wanted it to be solid. I was hoping to average about 2:50, and start a new interval every 5 minutes. It went like this: 2:55, 2:52, 2:49, 2:45, 2:44, 2:42, 2:40, 2:39 - average of just under 2:46, with no more than 2 min. rest. I was pleasantly surprised. The long, slow slogs through the snow are at least helping build my strength.

I'm looking forward to our last day of training tomorrow at the Raleigh FF store, then it's back to DC for the weekend! Bryon and I are combining a long run and 12k road race on Saturday morning, then a big group is getting together for some bowling and karaoke fun that night. It's probably gonna take a few LIITs to get me back up on that stage.

Enjoy and the cold and snow back in Oregon. I really miss it here.