Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Smith Running and Bronco BBQing

A week and a half ago, I figured I was too busy and it was only going to get worse in April. So I decided to forego my Boston goal and just run it for fun. Then I got pissed at myself for quitting, so I immediately decided to hammer out some miles last week and this week. Last week included my Sisters-to-Bend 26 miler, Pilot Butte repeats, Yasso 800s, and a tough 22 miler at Smith. It was a great week that resulted in 121 miles. I haven't put up that big of week in a while - I was pleased.

The thing with me is, the more miles I run, the stronger and faster I get. I was reminded of this on Monday when LMBM and I ran his hilly Awbrey Butte road loop. Although I had just run a lot of miles the previous week, I cranked this. And again - I was pleased.

Let's back up a bit first. Last Friday, Yasso 800s, 8 x 800: 2:48, 2:46, 2:44, 2:44, 2:42, 2:42, 2:41, 2:39. Average of 2:43. I was really happy with this. My fastest and slowest times didn't differ as much as they usually do, which means I started out hard and stayed more consistent throughout the workout. My pacing is starting to take shape. Another Friday bonus - my first fill-up in the Honda yielded 35.3 mpg!

Then Saturday was the big play-day at Smith with the gang. Lots of people running lots of different miles, routes, vertical, etc. I started out with a whole gaggle of people, including Bien, Bronco, Kami, Prudence, Stan, and Portlanders Olga, Gail, and Sid (oddly, no dogs in this group). Bronco and Rod took the lead up Gray Butte, while Kami (finally coming back strong from injury), Prudence (new to Central Oregon - super nice and a tough runner), and I shuffled along behind. After summiting, pounding down, and finally following them to the new Cole Trail, Rod and Jeff kept going down Cougar Canyon while I joined the girls on Cole Trail. Last time I ran at Smith, it was with the boys, this time, with the girls.

After a couple of sweet downhill miles, I decided to roll my ankle in a frozen horse-hoof print. Yowzah, that hurt - it's been a while since I've done one that good. I gimped along for a bit, while Kami and Prudence were nice enough to slow with me. Eventually it felt better, and when we got down on flatter ground next to a canal, I decided to open it up for about 10 minutes. It felt awesome to just let the legs go under the nice warm sunshine! After my little tempo, I rejoined the girls as we climbed back towards Smith. Along the way, we ran into Dan and April, and saw them once again a few miles later. Since they were done for the day, Dan graciously re-filled our bottles so we didn't have to make the killer climb to the parking lot!

Bottles refilled, Prudence, Kami, and I set off for Burma. I think I prefer this climb at this point of the run because I'm warmed up, as opposed to the start when I'm still cold. I felt great going up. At the top, we decided to take the traverse back towards Gray Butte; we heard later that the Bien/Bronco group had been joined by Erik Skaggs and Billy, and Erik did what none of us had ever thought possible - he ran the scar! Well, with that not anywhere near our thoughts, the girls and I cruised back to the Gray Butte saddle at a pretty good clip. And that is where they showed how tough they are, and where I showed how weak I am. Kami decided to run up Gray Butte again, and Prudence thought that was a good idea. So up, up, up they went, while I just jogged the final 10 minutes back down to my car. Thanks Prudence and Kami for a great run!

The rest of the afternoon was spent at Bronco's farm, bbqing with friends,, listening to soon-to-be-legend Erik talk about his run up the scar, eating great food, checking out the chickens, and generally just hanging out. It was a great ending to a fun day of running (and I even got sent home with a dozen farm-fresh eggs!).

I woke up on Sunday super-sore from Smith. I hadn't been that sore from a run in a long time - it was nice. And it also reminded me that I am, in fact, focusing on the roads of Boston right now, and not the trails of WS, yet. So that will be my last visit to Smith until after Boston.

After a sluggish and snowy 12 miler with Sascha on part of the Rumble course, I joined about 15 people at the Harshburgers as they generously hosted a great Easter potluck dinner. I love hanging out with Dan and Kathy - I challenge you to find 2 nicer people. Stop right now - it can't be done!

Tonight is my last night of work at Black Butte Ranch. I'm excited to be done so I can focus solely on the Fleet Feet now. This week at Fleet Feet has been filled with buidling racks, receiving and pricing inventory, and we've even started putting a few items on the floor. Rod also challenged both Rob and me to put-down a whole box of gels or a whole bottle of s-caps in 10 minutes. Whew, can you imagine?

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Cool Stuff

Well, although my race at Way Too Cool 50k wasn't anywhere near what I had hoped for, I definitely had a fun trip. I picked up Bronco bright and early from the farm for the long drive south. We eventually made our way to the Auburn Running Company for packet pick-up, then hurried down to the quarry parking area near No Hands Bridge for a little jaunt with Team Eugene up to Robie Point and back. We missed the Eugenies by a few minutes, so just met them on there way back. It was fun to catch up with those fast guys (and gal - Meghan from Corvallis). We all b.s.ed over pizza at the local eatery, then piled into Craig's mom's house for the night. Carol has got to be one of the coolest, and most generous, people around. Every year, she hosts Team Oregon for WTC; I think we had a solid dozen this year.

Race day was nice...really nice. Sunny, low-50s, trail in perfect condition, and LOTS of fast runners. I predicted 25 would break 4; I was proven wrong, as 28 actually did. I was not one of those 28. I had been having good workouts and long training runs (mostly on the roads for my Boston prep), so I set my bar high with an ambitious 3:45.

My warm-up definitely foreshadowed how my race would turn out. In those 20 minutes, I had to use the facilities three times. Feeling good and ready to go, I went out aggressive, but not really hard. I passed the first a.s. at 6.1 miles in 37-something, back in about 25 place. No way did it feel like I was running 6:10s - I swear that first section is short. I felt great and kept cruising. Along the way, I picked up a train of about 5 guys and we cruised in to ALT 1, 14.45 miles, at 1:40. I still felt great, dropped a kona kola nuun in my bottle, and stalked, I mean followed, Ian for the next few miles.

Around 17 miles, my prerace foreshadowing became reality. Poison oak, here I come! Oh well. I made it to Ball Bearing Hill around mile 20, started walking and immediately puked out everything. Hm, didn't feel that one coming. I made it up to ALT 2, dropped another nuun tablet in the bottle, and noticed the first place woman arrive just as I was leaving. A minute later, I heard "Are you Sean?" behind me. "Yes...who are you?" "I'm Susannah and I read your blog." Wow, I was momentarily at a loss for words. I knew immediately that Susannah was the speedy Susannah Beck from Eugene. She's one of those fast marathoners transitioning into the trail ultra scene. I saw her drop her hydration pack at the a.s., so I knew she was going fast now. I stepped aside to let her continue on with her business. She tried to get me to go with her, but I was in no condition for that...the bushes were calling my name. Susannah went on to break Ann's c.r. in 3:55:22. Congratulations, Susannah!

I continued on this way to the finish, alternating visits to the poison oak infested bushes with bouts of puking. I slogged along at 10 minute miles and eventually found the finish line, but not before LB blew by me in the last 100 yards. I finished in 4:11:16 for 43rd place. I definitely wasn't pleased with the outcome, but self-pity quickly left my thoughts when I started hearing how the rest of Team Oregon did. They kicked butt! Todd Braje (Eugene) won, Erik Skaggs (Ashland) 2nd, Dan Olmstead (Eugene) 3rd, defending champ Lewis Taylor (Eugene) 6th, Matt Lonergan (Eugene) 11th, Scott Wolfe (Eugene) 14th, Ian Torrence (Ashland) 18th, Hal Koerner (Ashland) 20th, Susannah Beck (Eugene) 24th / 1st woman. I was very proud to be an Oregonian.

The afternoon was spent hanging out in the warm sunshine, catching up with friends, and just chilling out in Cool. Later, Paul Curran took all of the Montrailians out for some grub, and it was nice catching up with the team.

As is tradition at Cool, Team Oregon invaded the Georgetown Hotel on Saturday night for some eating, drinking,, and most importantly, karaoke! Not everybody sang, but we all had a blast. Some of the more notable performances came from Jurek, AJW, LB, Bronco, Carly and Skaggs, and TG. When running WTC, this is definitely something to not be missed.

Now since I've been back home this week, it's been full-speed ahead for the Fleet Feet! Rod and I have been spending way too much time together doing stuff, lots and lots and lots of stuff, for our anticipated April 3 opening date. The bamboo floors are about done, the sign is out front, the building is turning red, orders are arriving, those same orders are getting received and's getting exciting, folks! And apparently this wasn't enough excitement for Rod and his wife Katie, as baby #3 is set to be born within 3 days!

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Great Week!

Whew, this week really was great! It started off on Monday with still no voice and hacking up a lung every 30 seconds. I had taken Sunday off from running to recover after Hagg, so I wanted to get out for a little run on Monday. I wanted this to be a solid week of training so I could take it easy this coming week with Way Too Cool on the 8th. However, after whispering to Rod (he was hoping it was sweet-nothings, but really it was because I couldn't talk), he convinced me I should take another day off. So I did and I had a great nappy.

Tuesday I was in Bend for some vehicle repairs, so I decided to pound some pavement there. I started off slowly grinding up Pilot Butte and finding the road to be completely clear of snow and ice! Although Tuesday is my normal butte-repeats day, I was feeling pretty pathetic so I decided to forego the repeats. So instead, I ran over to Awbrey Butte and slogged my way up that baby, feeling better with each step (but still hacking up a lung or two). On the way down, I pushed the pace so I could join-up with the FootZone noon run. I got there with 12 miles for the day, and that run added another 6, for a solid 18 for the day. That's really all I wanted - decent mileage without pushing it.

On Wednesday, Sascha and I went on a 14 miler to check-out trail conditions for most of the 30k loop of the Rumble. After her typical sandbagging on the pavement, once we hit the dirt, Sascha kicked butt! She set the pace and I definitely ran the last 9 miles faster than the plan. But we were having a blast. I usually like to push the last 2 miles of this loop and Sascha knows that. She accelerated perfectly and we tempoed the last 2 at sub-6 pace. Yeah, she can still bring it! For her efforts, she was rewarded with a tasty pig's ear. Mmmm, pig's ear...

Thursday was track day. Sascha usually joins me on my warm-up and cool-down, then she lays down in the infield and watches, but I could tell she needed a day off after yesterday's run. It was a gorgeous day, so I decided to do a combo track/tempo workout. I ran a modified Yasso workout of 6 x 800, averaging 2:49 - 3 sec. per 800 slower than in NC, but not too worried with the crud still in me. I jogged easy for a couple miles, then tempoed about 6 hilly miles. I was tired and happy when I got home. Thursday was a great day!

Friday I ran an out-and-back 16 miler on the McKenzie Highway. Gradual uphill for 8, then gradual down for 8. I cruised the out portion in 59, then just let the legs open up a bit on the way back in 51. 16 miles, 1:50, at a very comfortable 6:53 pace. Again, I was happy. It was just the kind of Boston training run I needed.

Later that day I met up with Rod, Rob, and our Superfeet rep. for some Superfeet training. This guy was definitely knowledgable about all sorts of biomechanical things. It was actually a really imformative little session. And he hooked us all up with some new Superfeet! As we finished up, new Fleet Feet decals were being put on the new store's doors and windows. Very, very nice! Since I had the night off, I even enjoyed a nice movie at the cool little Sisters Movie House.

My friend Darin Swanson was spending the weekend at Black Butte Ranch with his family and he wanted to get in a long run on Saturday (he is also Boston-bound). This was March 1, and I was slighty bummed to have gotten a little snow overnight, and thus, colder temps. February was such awesome weather everywhere I was that I only wore tights once, and now, on March 1, I was wearing tights. Poor me. Anyway, Darin and I met bright and early (for me) at my house and set off with Sascha for a tour of most of the 2nd 60k loop of the Rumble, again checking snow conditions. After a couple miles, we came across some animal prints in the fresh snow. Three sets of animal prints. One large and 2 smaller. Most likely of the feline variety. Although I've seen their prints before in this area, I've never actually seen a cat. I think Sascha scares them away. That Sascha, she's a good dog. So the rest of the run turned out pretty good, running through the little bit of new snow with the occasional sun break, showing-off the Rumble course to Darin, and getting good Boston tips from the vet. After Darin recovered from his little bonk (those Clif Bloks sure helped), I think he enjoyed the little 15 mile tour of my training grounds. He even talked about Trisha (his wife) running the 60k at the Rumble, while he and the kids might help out at an aid station! Sascha also ran well and was definitely done for the day.

After a nice, fat breakfast at the Ski Inn (mmm, eggs over-easy, hashbrowns, sourdough toast, and, of course, bacon!), I went back home to veg out on the couch with the stove blazing and watch the classic Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb. Well, I remembered the first couple minutes, then woke up 2 hours later, all nice and cozy. Wow, I felt good! Two naps in the same week...does it get much better than that?

So through Saturday, I was at 77 miles for the week with one day off. One day to go, so I thought a nice, round 90 for the week sounded very reasonable. Yesterday's snow was gone, and today was beautiful. I wanted to run a short tempo run today. First Sascha and I did a 6.5 mile warm-up, I dropped her off back home, and decided to run a 4 miler at a cut-down tempo effort; out-and-back, the first 2 miles gradual uphill, the last 2 downhill. The first 2 miles at 6:20 and 6:10 made me think that uphill was more than I had given it credit for. The 3rd mile at 5:47 confirmed this, and the 4 at 5:40 solidified it. Not bad negative splits and I was happy with the effort. And after my cool-down, I was done with my 90 mile week. Even better, my legs felt good, my chest and lungs felt good (after almost 3 weeks, I think the crud is pretty much out), and I was just happy with life.

Oh, on a little side-note of personal records...when Bien and I ran Pilot Butte repeats a couple weeks ago (my favorite workout), I decided to run hard on the last downhill. It loses 480' in a mile with a sharp 160 degree left hand turn thrown in there. Anyway, so I wanted to run around 5:30. Bien was too scared to join in the fun. I went out hard and was immediately in oxygen debt. Hitting the 1/2 in 2:27 and with the big turn still to come, I thought I could be pretty close to 5-flat. I slowed for the turn, accelerated coming out of it, weaved through a few hikers, and sprinted hard to the finish. 4:51. All-time personal record, baby. I had only broken 5 twice before, both were 4:59 and each was only a 1600 - 9 meters short of a mile. So sure, this was a screaming downhill, but I'll take it.

For a really cool race report of the Susitna 100 miler, check out my friend Shawn's blog. She's a stud!