Sunday, May 22, 2016

And before any of you even realized I was racing, it's over! But man, what a frustrating race that was!

I'll start off by acknowledging that I raced well. Really well. I started off at a reasonable speed, continued at a consistent pace, was the only person I saw running up the large hill mid-race (granted, there were only like twenty people in my view) and didn't get passed by a single person after the first few miles. Crucially, I didn't get a 2:04, a number I worried was basically my limit post-minimalist-shoe-transition!! In fact, I PRed. 2:02:10.

But my god, I really thought I was going to sneak in under two hours. I ran the first 12 miles in 1:50:16 and had both the energy and desire necessary to kick it up a notch for the last mile. It was going to be close but I was fairly certain I had a sub-2:00 locked down. And then...

I ran an 11:09 final mile. Why? Because the race directors decided it would be funny to place the finish line at the top of an enormous hill. It gained over 250 feet in half a mile. What the f-ck?!?! Definitely didn't see that one coming!

Of course, I would have known it was there had I bothered to look more closely at the elevation profile provided to all runners. Really all I saw was a large-ish hill and a total gain of 940 feet, which didn't sound that bad. In fact, I had it in my head that we ended on a downhill. Whoops! 

Anyway, whine, whine, whine (wine, wine wine? This was a vineyard half, after all). I'll get over it. This just wasn't the race for me to go sub-2:00. That wasn't even my goal, really, but when you're running a 9:10 pace it would be kind of incredible if it didn't cross your mind. 

I'm kind of tempted to sign up for this half next month as a sort of redemption race but I'm not sure it's really worth driving the 30-ish miles to nowhere, Oregon. I do love how it (well, the marathon, actually) describes itself, though: "The Dam Marathon is named the most beautiful marathon in the United States by a runner in 2014 (who has run at least one marathon in every state)!!!" I'd be curious to know which Alaskan race that runner ran because the Mayor's Marathon is definitely more scenic than freaking Oakridge.


2:02:10

And before any of you even realized I was racing, it's over! But man, what a frustrating race that was!

I'll start off by acknowledging that I raced well. Really well. I started off at a reasonable speed, continued at a consistent pace, was the only person I saw running up the large hill mid-race (granted, there were only like twenty people in my view) and didn't get passed by a single person after the first few miles. Crucially, I didn't get a 2:04, a number I worried was basically my limit post-minimalist-shoe-transition!! In fact, I PRed. 2:02:10.

But my god, I really thought I was going to sneak in under two hours. I ran the first 12 miles in 1:50:16 and had both the energy and desire necessary to kick it up a notch for the last mile. It was going to be close but I was fairly certain I had a sub-2:00 locked down. And then...

I ran an 11:09 final mile. Why? Because the race directors decided it would be funny to place the finish line at the top of an enormous hill. It gained over 250 feet in half a mile. What the f-ck?!?! Definitely didn't see that one coming!

Of course, I would have known it was there had I bothered to look more closely at the elevation profile provided to all runners. Really all I saw was a large-ish hill and a total gain of 940 feet, which didn't sound that bad. In fact, I had it in my head that we ended on a downhill. Whoops! 

Anyway, whine, whine, whine (wine, wine wine? This was a vineyard half, after all). I'll get over it. This just wasn't the race for me to go sub-2:00. That wasn't even my goal, really, but when you're running a 9:10 pace it would be kind of incredible if it didn't cross your mind. 

I'm kind of tempted to sign up for this half next month as a sort of redemption race but I'm not sure it's really worth driving the 30-ish miles to nowhere, Oregon. I do love how it (well, the marathon, actually) describes itself, though: "The Dam Marathon is named the most beautiful marathon in the United States by a runner in 2014 (who has run at least one marathon in every state)!!!" I'd be curious to know which Alaskan race that runner ran because the Mayor's Marathon is definitely more scenic than freaking Oakridge.


Saturday, May 21, 2016

So I'm running a race tomorrow and am (uncharacteristically) kind of nervous about it. It's not that I don't think I can finish; it's that I'm hoping to actually race it. See, I've never been someone who cares about running fast. I like running far and feeling strong, but speed has definitely never been a priority. In fact, my half PR (2:03:??) came from my very first race seven years ago! I have (impressively, might I suggest?) defied all expectations by staying the exact same speed for the entirety of my running career. Of course, my speed has fluctuated some depending on whether I'm training for something, but the pattern thus far has been pretty consistent: 2:03-2:1?-2:04-2:11-2:04-2:11-2:04-2:07 - slower when the half is a training run and faster when it's my goal race (with the exception of last fall's shitstorm).

A few months ago I decided it was time for a change: I was going to speed up my runs every once in a while! It started with a few quick spurts here and there, which evolved into 400/800-meter intervals, which then became actual tempo runs. My longest was 6 miles (excluding warm-up/cool-down) averaging an 8:50-ish pace. 

[Can I take a moment to add that tempo runs are so awful?!?!?! I know we all know that but can we just acknowledge it again for my sake? I avoid speedwork precisely BECAUSE it feels like shit! Of course, it feels like shit BECAUSE I don't do speedwork. Is that a Catch-22? A legitimate Catch-22? I've recently taken to calling everything a Catch-22 because I think it's funny but I don't think I've ever successfully called one before. But I digress.]

I have no idea whether all this speed stuff will translate into a faster race. It's hard to believe that it won't but I'm still skeptical. My biggest worry is that I'll be overly optimistic and start too fast (said every runner, ever). That never used to be a problem of mine until last fall. In fact, I often start much slower than necessary, believing myself less fit than I am. I guess that expectations can really f-ck up a race, huh? So this time around my goal is to strike a healthy balance between believing I can run fast(er) without deluding myself into thinking I can run, like, a four-minute mile. We'll see how it goes! Did I mention that my department's crazy annual party is tonight? Well it is. I failed to realize that when I paid $75 to register for this race. Stellar move, Jean.

----

I'll leave you with some pictures so this post isn't just words, words words. My boyfriend and I have wanted to go to "the" rhododendron garden for weeks now and finally got around to it this morning. After going I can't understand what all the fuss is about!*



*"You went far too late in the season," you say? "Those flowers are all dead," you say? Yeah, you're right. We got a good laugh out of it, though.

Racing... Fast?

So I'm running a race tomorrow and am (uncharacteristically) kind of nervous about it. It's not that I don't think I can finish; it's that I'm hoping to actually race it. See, I've never been someone who cares about running fast. I like running far and feeling strong, but speed has definitely never been a priority. In fact, my half PR (2:03:??) came from my very first race seven years ago! I have (impressively, might I suggest?) defied all expectations by staying the exact same speed for the entirety of my running career. Of course, my speed has fluctuated some depending on whether I'm training for something, but the pattern thus far has been pretty consistent: 2:03-2:1?-2:04-2:11-2:04-2:11-2:04-2:07 - slower when the half is a training run and faster when it's my goal race (with the exception of last fall's shitstorm).

A few months ago I decided it was time for a change: I was going to speed up my runs every once in a while! It started with a few quick spurts here and there, which evolved into 400/800-meter intervals, which then became actual tempo runs. My longest was 6 miles (excluding warm-up/cool-down) averaging an 8:50-ish pace. 

[Can I take a moment to add that tempo runs are so awful?!?!?! I know we all know that but can we just acknowledge it again for my sake? I avoid speedwork precisely BECAUSE it feels like shit! Of course, it feels like shit BECAUSE I don't do speedwork. Is that a Catch-22? A legitimate Catch-22? I've recently taken to calling everything a Catch-22 because I think it's funny but I don't think I've ever successfully called one before. But I digress.]

I have no idea whether all this speed stuff will translate into a faster race. It's hard to believe that it won't but I'm still skeptical. My biggest worry is that I'll be overly optimistic and start too fast (said every runner, ever). That never used to be a problem of mine until last fall. In fact, I often start much slower than necessary, believing myself less fit than I am. I guess that expectations can really f-ck up a race, huh? So this time around my goal is to strike a healthy balance between believing I can run fast(er) without deluding myself into thinking I can run, like, a four-minute mile. We'll see how it goes! Did I mention that my department's crazy annual party is tonight? Well it is. I failed to realize that when I paid $75 to register for this race. Stellar move, Jean.

----

I'll leave you with some pictures so this post isn't just words, words words. My boyfriend and I have wanted to go to "the" rhododendron garden for weeks now and finally got around to it this morning. After going I can't understand what all the fuss is about!*



*"You went far too late in the season," you say? "Those flowers are all dead," you say? Yeah, you're right. We got a good laugh out of it, though.

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Just time for a quick recap of... my long run!

Two things brought me back to the ol' blog:

1) I finally connected two routes I often run as out-and-backs and turned them into a loop. I knew it would be about twelve miles but until recently twelve miles was "too long" (although given that ten or eleven miles have been "totally manageable" for some time, that idea makes zero sense). With a half marathon on the horizon, though, I figured it was time!

2) For a while now I've thought about taking a picture during every mile of some run to share with you guys and give you an idea of what Eugene running (sometimes) looks like. There are plenty of boring, repetitive miles in this town but there are also some pretty cool places nearby. Looking through these photos also reminded me that a lot really can happen over the course of one run!

Unsurprisingly, it was a real pain in the ass to pull out my camera each mile, not to mention the fact that moseying about snapping photos may not be the best training strategy. Consequently this may be my first and last run tour but who knows! It was kind of a fun addition to my long run.

Mile 1: Amazon Park


Everything's so lush in Eugene right now! The volume of trees and flowers in the park seems to have ballooned almost overnight. Amazon Park is a pretty popular place for runners although there's only, like, a mile of trail so it's best used the way you'd use a track.

Mile 2: Rexius Trail


The Rexius Trail connects Amazon Park to the trails over by Spencer Butte but my god, it's boring. Nothing to see here.

Mile 3: TURKEYS!


Turkeys are badass. I see them occasionally in this part of town but it's infrequent enough that I flip out whenever it happens. They were not pleased by my presence (odor?). They puffed up once I got too close and ran off. Sorry dudes.

Mile 4: free water!


I don't know who these people are but I love them. This cooler contains free water and plastic cups for anyone in need and as far as I can tell, it's there every weekend. Today was the first day I actually took advantage of it (my handheld water bottle's only good for about 10 miles so I wanted to top it off).

Mile 5: trail!


Is this the Ridgeline Trail? I run here all the time and I still can't figure out which thing is actually Ridgeline. Whatever the case, this somewhat brutal hill takes you up, up, up to the trails around Spencer Butte. Again, it's all so lush right now!

Bonus mile 5: snail!


I couldn't help myself, this guy was too cute.

Mile 6: more trail


This was just before Dillard Road, which you have to run on for half a mile or so to access Mt. Baldy.

Mile 7: Mt. Baldy


It makes me laugh that this place somehow qualifies as a mountain when it's far smaller than the Butte and doesn't really have a summit. The views are pretty nice, though. That's a McMansion down there. This area is full of them. I was pretty excited once I made it here since it meant I was nearly done climbing!

Mile 8: more McMansions


To get from Baldy to Hendricks Park, you have to run through an insanely expensive-looking neighborhood. Seriously, this place is ridiculous. The massive hedge shrouding this mansion as well as the totally unnecessary gate made me laugh. Seriously, Eugene is so safe. Also, homeless people aren't going to shlep all the way out here to steal your shit.

Mile 9: 30th Ave.


Just a quick trip over the highway before getting back to trails at Hendricks Park.

Mile 10: Hendricks Park


This is next to the rhododendron garden, which was super popular today. This is also where my throat started freaking out and made me worry I was having an allergic reaction to... rhododendrons? Unclear. I'm nearly back to normal two hours later so I'll take that as a good sign.

Mile 11: Hayward "who gives a shit" Field


I altered my route slightly to take this gorgeous shot. YOU'RE WELCOME. But seriously, the excitement this thing incites confounds me.

Mile 12: Spencer Butte


Twelve miles in the books! 

This ended up being a really enjoyable run, and not as hard as I thought it would be, given the elevation (total gain 1,500 feet).

You want to see the elevation chart, you say? But of course!

And that's all I've got time for! Let's do this again sometime, huh?

Running Tour of Eugene

Just time for a quick recap of... my long run!

Two things brought me back to the ol' blog:

1) I finally connected two routes I often run as out-and-backs and turned them into a loop. I knew it would be about twelve miles but until recently twelve miles was "too long" (although given that ten or eleven miles have been "totally manageable" for some time, that idea makes zero sense). With a half marathon on the horizon, though, I figured it was time!

2) For a while now I've thought about taking a picture during every mile of some run to share with you guys and give you an idea of what Eugene running (sometimes) looks like. There are plenty of boring, repetitive miles in this town but there are also some pretty cool places nearby. Looking through these photos also reminded me that a lot really can happen over the course of one run!

Unsurprisingly, it was a real pain in the ass to pull out my camera each mile, not to mention the fact that moseying about snapping photos may not be the best training strategy. Consequently this may be my first and last run tour but who knows! It was kind of a fun addition to my long run.

Mile 1: Amazon Park


Everything's so lush in Eugene right now! The volume of trees and flowers in the park seems to have ballooned almost overnight. Amazon Park is a pretty popular place for runners although there's only, like, a mile of trail so it's best used the way you'd use a track.

Mile 2: Rexius Trail


The Rexius Trail connects Amazon Park to the trails over by Spencer Butte but my god, it's boring. Nothing to see here.

Mile 3: TURKEYS!


Turkeys are badass. I see them occasionally in this part of town but it's infrequent enough that I flip out whenever it happens. They were not pleased by my presence (odor?). They puffed up once I got too close and ran off. Sorry dudes.

Mile 4: free water!


I don't know who these people are but I love them. This cooler contains free water and plastic cups for anyone in need and as far as I can tell, it's there every weekend. Today was the first day I actually took advantage of it (my handheld water bottle's only good for about 10 miles so I wanted to top it off).

Mile 5: trail!


Is this the Ridgeline Trail? I run here all the time and I still can't figure out which thing is actually Ridgeline. Whatever the case, this somewhat brutal hill takes you up, up, up to the trails around Spencer Butte. Again, it's all so lush right now!

Bonus mile 5: snail!


I couldn't help myself, this guy was too cute.

Mile 6: more trail


This was just before Dillard Road, which you have to run on for half a mile or so to access Mt. Baldy.

Mile 7: Mt. Baldy


It makes me laugh that this place somehow qualifies as a mountain when it's far smaller than the Butte and doesn't really have a summit. The views are pretty nice, though. That's a McMansion down there. This area is full of them. I was pretty excited once I made it here since it meant I was nearly done climbing!

Mile 8: more McMansions


To get from Baldy to Hendricks Park, you have to run through an insanely expensive-looking neighborhood. Seriously, this place is ridiculous. The massive hedge shrouding this mansion as well as the totally unnecessary gate made me laugh. Seriously, Eugene is so safe. Also, homeless people aren't going to shlep all the way out here to steal your shit.

Mile 9: 30th Ave.


Just a quick trip over the highway before getting back to trails at Hendricks Park.

Mile 10: Hendricks Park


This is next to the rhododendron garden, which was super popular today. This is also where my throat started freaking out and made me worry I was having an allergic reaction to... rhododendrons? Unclear. I'm nearly back to normal two hours later so I'll take that as a good sign.

Mile 11: Hayward "who gives a shit" Field


I altered my route slightly to take this gorgeous shot. YOU'RE WELCOME. But seriously, the excitement this thing incites confounds me.

Mile 12: Spencer Butte


Twelve miles in the books! 

This ended up being a really enjoyable run, and not as hard as I thought it would be, given the elevation (total gain 1,500 feet).

You want to see the elevation chart, you say? But of course!

And that's all I've got time for! Let's do this again sometime, huh?

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Let's summarize my life since I last checked in: 50k training didn't pan out (there are many reasons for this - my training plan was likely overly ambitious, I was sick for a few important training weeks, was feeling close to injury, got a boyfriend, had way too much going on at school, was planning to spend a week in Wyoming during what was supposed to be my peak training week, etc.) so I had to abort mission about ten weeks in. It was a hard decision to make because I despise setting goals and failing to meet them, but it really was the wisest thing to do.

Time limitations really put a damper on all things running in 2015 but I wasn't as torn up about it as I thought I would be. With the exception of a rather long stretch this summer (see below), I've continued to run/hike four or five days a week, albeit much shorter distances. The past few months I've consistently run between 20 - 25 miles per week (mileage excludes a weekly/biweekly hike), usually with a long run of about 10 miles and plenty of trails. I also ran a half marathon in October (again, see below). I don't have any exciting races on the horizon but I'm okay with that. Life is good!

-----------------------------

I dragged myself to this corner of the internet to check in while I have time, and to share my favorite pictures of the past year with you all. I stole the idea from Jill in 2013 and am quite fond of it. The rules are simple: choose your favorite photo from each month and say something about it, if you want.

It was interesting to see my schedule reflected in the photos I had to choose from. Unsurprisingly, I had fewer/worse options for months when I was swamped at school. February, April, May, and June seem to have been particularly bleak (each with only one photo worth keeping on my phone!). Conversely, choosing photos for months in which I had time off was difficult, to say the least. In fact, it was so difficult that I've altered the sacred rules of this photo review thing to allow for "alternates" at the end of the post. Hey, it's been a while! We've got a lot to catch up on.

Check out 2014 and 2013 for previous incarnations!

January: Spencer Butte - Eugene, Oregon


This sunrise was ridiculous. In fact, I blogged about it before my annual 11-month blogging hiatus. I took this at Spencer Butte, a place I aim to go once or twice a week. It took me a while to fully appreciate this place, but now I enjoy it immensely. It doesn't hurt that it takes me less than ten minutes to drive to the trailhead!

February: Spencer Butte - Eugene, Oregon


Ugggggghhhh, another Spencer Butte sun picture, you say? See above - February was bleak. Also, this is sunset, not sunrise, so you will accept it.

March: Grand Teton National Park - near Jackson, Wyoming


I spent Spring Break at a friend's cabin in Jackson, which was super fun and super beautiful. I drove through different parts of Wyoming on two separate occasions in 2015 and I have to say, Wyoming's scenery gives Alaska a run for its money. And before you yell at me about shitty Wyoming, I've heard about shitty Wyoming. I just haven't seen it. I hear it's near Utah. My friend here decided it was a good idea to walk on the lake and throw an ice chunk at it.

April: Spencer Butte - Eugene, Oregon


Are you sensing a pattern? When I have a lot of work, Spencer Butte and Mount Pisgah (see May, below) are the only pretty places I go. I almost crushed this little critter coming down Spencer. I happened to see its moss hut quivering just in time to avoid it. Adorable, right? Let me know if you can tell what it is - a vole, maybe?

May: Mount Pisgah - Eugene, Oregon


There are lots of beautiful colors in May, although you can't really tell from this photo. Spring in Oregon really is wonderful.

June: Alton Baker Park - Eugene, Oregon


This was the month I taught my first solo class, one of the most stressful (and rewarding!) things I've ever done. I was at school 10 - 14 hours per day, including weekends, and didn't run more than 3 miles at a time. It was rough. I did make it to Alton Baker for a nice sunset, though.

July: Shoshone National Forest - outside Yellowstone National Park


Shoshone was such a pleasant surprise. My boyfriend and I went on a three-week road trip through Oregon, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, South Dakota, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Iowa, Nebraska, Colorado, and Utah, some because they're beautiful, others to see friends, and yet others because they couldn't be avoided. We ran into some issues in Yellowstone (apparently showing up at 8:00 p.m. on a Saturday night in July without a place to stay is a "bad idea"), which made the park less enjoyable than it otherwise would have been. It was still beautiful, of course, but frenzied. We were on our way to the Black Hills in South Dakota when we came upon the Shoshone National Forest just east of Yellowstone. It was amazing. As soon as we saw it, we knew we were staying the night. It didn't matter that we had only been driving for a few hours and were expected shortly in Madison (that's in Wisconsin, which is definitely not next to Wyoming). If you ever find yourself in Shoshone, stay! Our campsite was $6, a steal compared to the $65 we had paid for a KOA "campsite" the previous night. This was the view from our tent, just before a (brief) rainstorm.

August: Bird Ridge - Bird Creek, Alaska


I was torn between this photo and the August alternate (see below). There are fewer mountains in this photo (a negative) but it's got a nice view of the mud flats (a positive). Bailey's also a welcome addition.

This was taken during my trip home to Alaska. I was really happy to finally make it up Bird Ridge. I had wanted to do this hike for years but something always seemed to prevent me from doing it. I'd recommend it to anyone! Anyone who's ready for a real grind, that is. This is not an easy hike.

September: the Pacific Ocean - near Florence, Oregon


My boyfriend and I chanced a trip to the coast one day when Eugene was particularly gross. We were pretty pessimistic about the weather until a couple of miles from the coast when it suddenly cleared up. Oregon weather is weird. This is a very small but very idyllic beach.

October: Spencer Butte - Eugene, Oregon


Another Spencer Butte photo, because school. Winter in Oregon!

I also ran a half marathon this month. It didn't go that well - 2:07, I think? That time (relative to my previous half times) doesn't properly convey what a shitty race it was - I started out too fast, positive split, and ended feeling completely drained and defeated. I've never been a particularly fast runner but I pride myself on having a really strong mental game. I'm used to feeling strong and passing people at the end of races, which definitely didn't happen during this one. Basically, I raced like I was Fall 2014 Jean instead of Fall 2015 Jean. I lost a lot of fitness this summer (teaching and my road trip meant I was largely inactive for about seven weeks) so I had no business running like I did. Lesson learned!

November: someplace near Reedsport, Oregon


November photos were slim pickins. It was either this or another Spencer Butte photo. I took this on the way to my friend's cabin when the fall colors were doing their thing. This part of Oregon is full of short, steep mounds covered with pine trees, something I haven't seen anywhere else. They make me laugh.

December: looking back towards Williwaw Lakes - near Anchorage, Alaska


Home for the holidays! I've been here for two weeks and it hasn't snowed at all. The snow that's on the ground fell weeks ago. I really am bummed that I'm not going to see any snowfall this year but it's still been a beautiful trip.

Alternates:

July: somewhere in Yellowstone. I didn't think I'd be that into hot springs/geysers but I totally am. Old Faithful was so cool! This is not Old Faithful.

August: Brothers, Oregon. This was the last day of the road trip. I love this picture even though there's not much going on. I think it's the openness, colors, and clouds.

August: Bird Ridge - Bird Creek, Alaska. The sun was bright that day, which really washed out my pictures. The view was unbeatable, though!

September: Diamond Peak - Oregon. Some friends and I hiked Diamond as a last hurrah before the school year started. It was an awesome hike on a bluebird day.

-----------------------------

So there you have it! I had a great year and saw a lot of great things. I wish I had more time to run and hike but I'm content with my decision to focus more on other parts of my life. I'm just happy to be able to get outside for a bit four or five days a week.

Happy new year!

(My) 2015 In Pictures

Let's summarize my life since I last checked in: 50k training didn't pan out (there are many reasons for this - my training plan was likely overly ambitious, I was sick for a few important training weeks, was feeling close to injury, got a boyfriend, had way too much going on at school, was planning to spend a week in Wyoming during what was supposed to be my peak training week, etc.) so I had to abort mission about ten weeks in. It was a hard decision to make because I despise setting goals and failing to meet them, but it really was the wisest thing to do.

Time limitations really put a damper on all things running in 2015 but I wasn't as torn up about it as I thought I would be. With the exception of a rather long stretch this summer (see below), I've continued to run/hike four or five days a week, albeit much shorter distances. The past few months I've consistently run between 20 - 25 miles per week (mileage excludes a weekly/biweekly hike), usually with a long run of about 10 miles and plenty of trails. I also ran a half marathon in October (again, see below). I don't have any exciting races on the horizon but I'm okay with that. Life is good!

-----------------------------

I dragged myself to this corner of the internet to check in while I have time, and to share my favorite pictures of the past year with you all. I stole the idea from Jill in 2013 and am quite fond of it. The rules are simple: choose your favorite photo from each month and say something about it, if you want.

It was interesting to see my schedule reflected in the photos I had to choose from. Unsurprisingly, I had fewer/worse options for months when I was swamped at school. February, April, May, and June seem to have been particularly bleak (each with only one photo worth keeping on my phone!). Conversely, choosing photos for months in which I had time off was difficult, to say the least. In fact, it was so difficult that I've altered the sacred rules of this photo review thing to allow for "alternates" at the end of the post. Hey, it's been a while! We've got a lot to catch up on.

Check out 2014 and 2013 for previous incarnations!

January: Spencer Butte - Eugene, Oregon


This sunrise was ridiculous. In fact, I blogged about it before my annual 11-month blogging hiatus. I took this at Spencer Butte, a place I aim to go once or twice a week. It took me a while to fully appreciate this place, but now I enjoy it immensely. It doesn't hurt that it takes me less than ten minutes to drive to the trailhead!

February: Spencer Butte - Eugene, Oregon


Ugggggghhhh, another Spencer Butte sun picture, you say? See above - February was bleak. Also, this is sunset, not sunrise, so you will accept it.

March: Grand Teton National Park - near Jackson, Wyoming


I spent Spring Break at a friend's cabin in Jackson, which was super fun and super beautiful. I drove through different parts of Wyoming on two separate occasions in 2015 and I have to say, Wyoming's scenery gives Alaska a run for its money. And before you yell at me about shitty Wyoming, I've heard about shitty Wyoming. I just haven't seen it. I hear it's near Utah. My friend here decided it was a good idea to walk on the lake and throw an ice chunk at it.

April: Spencer Butte - Eugene, Oregon


Are you sensing a pattern? When I have a lot of work, Spencer Butte and Mount Pisgah (see May, below) are the only pretty places I go. I almost crushed this little critter coming down Spencer. I happened to see its moss hut quivering just in time to avoid it. Adorable, right? Let me know if you can tell what it is - a vole, maybe?

May: Mount Pisgah - Eugene, Oregon


There are lots of beautiful colors in May, although you can't really tell from this photo. Spring in Oregon really is wonderful.

June: Alton Baker Park - Eugene, Oregon


This was the month I taught my first solo class, one of the most stressful (and rewarding!) things I've ever done. I was at school 10 - 14 hours per day, including weekends, and didn't run more than 3 miles at a time. It was rough. I did make it to Alton Baker for a nice sunset, though.

July: Shoshone National Forest - outside Yellowstone National Park


Shoshone was such a pleasant surprise. My boyfriend and I went on a three-week road trip through Oregon, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, South Dakota, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Iowa, Nebraska, Colorado, and Utah, some because they're beautiful, others to see friends, and yet others because they couldn't be avoided. We ran into some issues in Yellowstone (apparently showing up at 8:00 p.m. on a Saturday night in July without a place to stay is a "bad idea"), which made the park less enjoyable than it otherwise would have been. It was still beautiful, of course, but frenzied. We were on our way to the Black Hills in South Dakota when we came upon the Shoshone National Forest just east of Yellowstone. It was amazing. As soon as we saw it, we knew we were staying the night. It didn't matter that we had only been driving for a few hours and were expected shortly in Madison (that's in Wisconsin, which is definitely not next to Wyoming). If you ever find yourself in Shoshone, stay! Our campsite was $6, a steal compared to the $65 we had paid for a KOA "campsite" the previous night. This was the view from our tent, just before a (brief) rainstorm.

August: Bird Ridge - Bird Creek, Alaska


I was torn between this photo and the August alternate (see below). There are fewer mountains in this photo (a negative) but it's got a nice view of the mud flats (a positive). Bailey's also a welcome addition.

This was taken during my trip home to Alaska. I was really happy to finally make it up Bird Ridge. I had wanted to do this hike for years but something always seemed to prevent me from doing it. I'd recommend it to anyone! Anyone who's ready for a real grind, that is. This is not an easy hike.

September: the Pacific Ocean - near Florence, Oregon


My boyfriend and I chanced a trip to the coast one day when Eugene was particularly gross. We were pretty pessimistic about the weather until a couple of miles from the coast when it suddenly cleared up. Oregon weather is weird. This is a very small but very idyllic beach.

October: Spencer Butte - Eugene, Oregon


Another Spencer Butte photo, because school. Winter in Oregon!

I also ran a half marathon this month. It didn't go that well - 2:07, I think? That time (relative to my previous half times) doesn't properly convey what a shitty race it was - I started out too fast, positive split, and ended feeling completely drained and defeated. I've never been a particularly fast runner but I pride myself on having a really strong mental game. I'm used to feeling strong and passing people at the end of races, which definitely didn't happen during this one. Basically, I raced like I was Fall 2014 Jean instead of Fall 2015 Jean. I lost a lot of fitness this summer (teaching and my road trip meant I was largely inactive for about seven weeks) so I had no business running like I did. Lesson learned!

November: someplace near Reedsport, Oregon


November photos were slim pickins. It was either this or another Spencer Butte photo. I took this on the way to my friend's cabin when the fall colors were doing their thing. This part of Oregon is full of short, steep mounds covered with pine trees, something I haven't seen anywhere else. They make me laugh.

December: looking back towards Williwaw Lakes - near Anchorage, Alaska


Home for the holidays! I've been here for two weeks and it hasn't snowed at all. The snow that's on the ground fell weeks ago. I really am bummed that I'm not going to see any snowfall this year but it's still been a beautiful trip.

Alternates:

July: somewhere in Yellowstone. I didn't think I'd be that into hot springs/geysers but I totally am. Old Faithful was so cool! This is not Old Faithful.

August: Brothers, Oregon. This was the last day of the road trip. I love this picture even though there's not much going on. I think it's the openness, colors, and clouds.

August: Bird Ridge - Bird Creek, Alaska. The sun was bright that day, which really washed out my pictures. The view was unbeatable, though!

September: Diamond Peak - Oregon. Some friends and I hiked Diamond as a last hurrah before the school year started. It was an awesome hike on a bluebird day.

-----------------------------

So there you have it! I had a great year and saw a lot of great things. I wish I had more time to run and hike but I'm content with my decision to focus more on other parts of my life. I'm just happy to be able to get outside for a bit four or five days a week.

Happy new year!

Sunday, February 22, 2015

50k training was going great! Until it wasn't.

I was rolling right along, completing every workout as prescribed, and gearing up for a big week when an illness knocked me flat on my ass. What started as a sore throat turned into a coal miner's hack and intense fatigue, the likes of which I hadn't experienced since I had low iron levels a couple of years ago. I even missed my first grad school class! Then again, I hadn't been sick in over a year and a half so my stellar attendance is more a comment on my super luck/habits/genes/whatever than mental fortitude but still, missed class!

Anyway, it wasn't a huge deal but it did make me miss nearly a week of running. And missing runs, in case you were wondering, is something I really hate to do. I don't think I can stress that enough so let me say it again: I hate missing runs. Especially long runs. So when I had to scrap a 13-miler last weekend, I was pissed.

It's easy for me to fall into that "if I can't do it perfectly, I don't want to do it at all" trap (which is strange since I'm very much not like that in other aspects of my life). So I went through a mini crisis this past week wondering whether I had lost too much ground (especially since I got sick just after a stepback week so hadn't run more than 8 miles in 3 weeks) and whether I should just give up on this 50k idea. But then again, it was just 1 week and I'm only 5 weeks into training. 

After some thought, I decided to give this weekend's mileage (14 and 6) a shot to see how my body held up. Because, you know, running the farthest you've run in two years on much harder terrain when you can hardly ascend stairs without a cough attack is a great idea.

Saturday was rough but I did it.

The weather definitely helped.

I was pretty exhausted just two miles in but fortunately I don't mind slowing to a walk on steeper stuff. I usually have pretty high standards for what should be run versus hiked but that bar was very generously low yesterday. I guess that's why 14 miles took 3 hours! Although to be fair, I probably only walked a total of 15 - 20 minutes.


I have no idea what that extra line is doing there. I'm glad to see the first half was uphill because it definitely felt like it. Plus, I ended up at the summit so I must have gone up once or twice.

I also experimented with real food, one of the things about longer races that excites me most (in addition to, you know, scenery and challenging myself and all that nonsense. But really it's about the food). I didn't actually require that many calories but forced myself to eat Cheez-its and Oreos at miles 5 and 10, respectively. There were also some gummy bears thrown in for good measure. It all stayed down and I didn't bonk in any noticeable sense (although one could argue that the entire run was one long bonk) so I guess it worked!

I realized afterwards that this run was likely one of the longest and hardest of my life, which makes me feel better about it. My longest runs during marathon training were somewhere around 2 hours and 40 minutes (Hanson method, yo!) and on much flatter ground. Which is what I told myself when I was hobbling around my friend's apartment a few hours later. I was surprised by how beat-up I felt and for a while was pretty concerned about it. I did feel much better today, though, and my 6 (flat) miles felt pretty good. I have tomorrow off and will reassess on Tuesday whether the weekend was a big ol' mistake. For now, though, I'm calling it a win.

Total mileage weeks 2 - 5 (I run Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Saturday, and Sunday):

5-8-5-10-6 = 34
5-8-5-8-6 = 32
4.5-3.5-4-6-0 (cough cough cough cough cough) = 18
2 (cough)-0 (cough)-2 (cough)-14-6 = 24

----

I had a second half to this post but it's already far too long so you'll have to wait. Next time: peeing homeless men and running in the dark! I'm also planning to do a more thorough post on my training plan (which Meagan asked about) but that'll have to wait. Here are some pictures from the past few weeks to tide you over:

Pisgah.

More Pisgah.

Such Pisgah. 

Pisgah can be muddy.

Spencer Butte.

It's bloom season! 

Bloom, baby, bloom!

Happy running!

One Long Bonk (Plus 50k Training, Weeks 2 - 5)

50k training was going great! Until it wasn't.

I was rolling right along, completing every workout as prescribed, and gearing up for a big week when an illness knocked me flat on my ass. What started as a sore throat turned into a coal miner's hack and intense fatigue, the likes of which I hadn't experienced since I had low iron levels a couple of years ago. I even missed my first grad school class! Then again, I hadn't been sick in over a year and a half so my stellar attendance is more a comment on my super luck/habits/genes/whatever than mental fortitude but still, missed class!

Anyway, it wasn't a huge deal but it did make me miss nearly a week of running. And missing runs, in case you were wondering, is something I really hate to do. I don't think I can stress that enough so let me say it again: I hate missing runs. Especially long runs. So when I had to scrap a 13-miler last weekend, I was pissed.

It's easy for me to fall into that "if I can't do it perfectly, I don't want to do it at all" trap (which is strange since I'm very much not like that in other aspects of my life). So I went through a mini crisis this past week wondering whether I had lost too much ground (especially since I got sick just after a stepback week so hadn't run more than 8 miles in 3 weeks) and whether I should just give up on this 50k idea. But then again, it was just 1 week and I'm only 5 weeks into training. 

After some thought, I decided to give this weekend's mileage (14 and 6) a shot to see how my body held up. Because, you know, running the farthest you've run in two years on much harder terrain when you can hardly ascend stairs without a cough attack is a great idea.

Saturday was rough but I did it.

The weather definitely helped.

I was pretty exhausted just two miles in but fortunately I don't mind slowing to a walk on steeper stuff. I usually have pretty high standards for what should be run versus hiked but that bar was very generously low yesterday. I guess that's why 14 miles took 3 hours! Although to be fair, I probably only walked a total of 15 - 20 minutes.


I have no idea what that extra line is doing there. I'm glad to see the first half was uphill because it definitely felt like it. Plus, I ended up at the summit so I must have gone up once or twice.

I also experimented with real food, one of the things about longer races that excites me most (in addition to, you know, scenery and challenging myself and all that nonsense. But really it's about the food). I didn't actually require that many calories but forced myself to eat Cheez-its and Oreos at miles 5 and 10, respectively. There were also some gummy bears thrown in for good measure. It all stayed down and I didn't bonk in any noticeable sense (although one could argue that the entire run was one long bonk) so I guess it worked!

I realized afterwards that this run was likely one of the longest and hardest of my life, which makes me feel better about it. My longest runs during marathon training were somewhere around 2 hours and 40 minutes (Hanson method, yo!) and on much flatter ground. Which is what I told myself when I was hobbling around my friend's apartment a few hours later. I was surprised by how beat-up I felt and for a while was pretty concerned about it. I did feel much better today, though, and my 6 (flat) miles felt pretty good. I have tomorrow off and will reassess on Tuesday whether the weekend was a big ol' mistake. For now, though, I'm calling it a win.

Total mileage weeks 2 - 5 (I run Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Saturday, and Sunday):

5-8-5-10-6 = 34
5-8-5-8-6 = 32
4.5-3.5-4-6-0 (cough cough cough cough cough) = 18
2 (cough)-0 (cough)-2 (cough)-14-6 = 24

----

I had a second half to this post but it's already far too long so you'll have to wait. Next time: peeing homeless men and running in the dark! I'm also planning to do a more thorough post on my training plan (which Meagan asked about) but that'll have to wait. Here are some pictures from the past few weeks to tide you over:

Pisgah.

More Pisgah.

Such Pisgah. 

Pisgah can be muddy.

Spencer Butte.

It's bloom season! 

Bloom, baby, bloom!

Happy running!

Sunday, January 25, 2015

This is unrelated to this post (and taken over a week ago) but it was one of the best sunrises I've ever seen so it's going here.

COME ON.

So I started 50k training this past week! I plan to eventually write a post about the training plan I'm using (which I stole from this girl) but for now you'll have to be content with a training summary because grad school.

Monday: rest

I actually planned to run but then the weekend (which was spent at a cabin and frantically trying to catch up on work after said cabin trip) got to me and I just couldn't. I was pissed at myself ("seriously? You're bailing on the very first day of training?!") until I looked at my schedule and realized Mondays are rest days. I originally planned  to do my longer runs on Thursdays and Fridays until I remembered I have a job I'm paid to actually perform, and occasionally during normal work hours. Consequently I shifted my weekly schedule to a more normal one which gives me Mondays and Fridays off. Training cycle saved!

Tuesday: 5 miles, easy

I did my go-to morning run up Skinner Butte, a super short but super sweet .75-mile ascent with a halfway decent view of Eugene. It was dark nearly the entire time (thanks, fog!) but fortunately I didn't run into any trouble (like almost getting peed on by a homeless person, which did actually happen under similar circumstances last December - but that's a story for another day). Overall, it wasn't a very memorable run.

Fogged-in sunrise.

Wednesday: 6 miles, less easy-ish

I really needed to get to school so I stuck to relatively flat pavement and pushed the pace. These runs are so much easier than trail runs, but way less enjoyable.

Thursday: 5 miles, trail

I really didn't have time to go to Spencer Butte but dammit, I wanted to! I was too early to see the sun rise, which sucked, but I've become quite fond of the Spencer area trails, which I thought were pretty lame when I first discovered them (trees, trees, trees). I was ten minutes late for office hours but hey, teacher's training for a 50k, kids! But really, no one shows up to office hours at 9:00 a.m. on a Thursday morning anyway so it was fine.

Friday: rest

I was thinking of running this day since I was planning to spend Saturday at a nearby hot springs but decided four days in a row, especially following a strenuous trail run, was not advisable.

Saturday: 2 miles

Better than no run, I guess? I wouldn't have run at all but I had to get my car after leaving it at a friend's house the previous night. I was running, like, 14-minute miles. Real speedster over here.

The hot spring (is hot springs always plural? There was only one) was awesome, by the way. Although the "warm springs trail" sign should have tipped us off - this was a very lukewarm spring. A great time was had nonetheless.

Sunday: 10 miles, long run

My plan had me doing 8 miles on Saturday and 4 miles on Sunday so even though my schedule was a bit wack I wanted to make sure I got the mileage in. I don't think I've done 10 miles since my trail half back in November.

I ran the first five miles with a couple of friends on a flat trail before driving to some steeper trails for the last five. The sun was out in full force and I was down to a t-shirt by the end, which was awesome. The run felt reassuringly easy. I wasn't breaking any speed records but I was moving along at a pretty decent clip.

Total: 28 miles

A couple of things:

  • I need to be careful about doing my runs too fast. I often feel rushed in the morning which, given that I now have specific mileage targets, forces me to run faster than I should. I'm a pretty firm believer in slow, slow miles so I need to suck it up and wake up earlier.
  • I'm going to have to be more flexible about training than I was when I trained for my marathon a couple of years ago. I tend to be pretty OCD about training but with my current professional/personal obligations that's not going to fly. I'll be happy as long as I can get the miles in, in whatever combination.
Have a wonderful start to your week!

One more sunrise picture. Seriously, this morning was ridiculous. I could have sat there for hours.

50k Training: Week 1

This is unrelated to this post (and taken over a week ago) but it was one of the best sunrises I've ever seen so it's going here.

COME ON.

So I started 50k training this past week! I plan to eventually write a post about the training plan I'm using (which I stole from this girl) but for now you'll have to be content with a training summary because grad school.

Monday: rest

I actually planned to run but then the weekend (which was spent at a cabin and frantically trying to catch up on work after said cabin trip) got to me and I just couldn't. I was pissed at myself ("seriously? You're bailing on the very first day of training?!") until I looked at my schedule and realized Mondays are rest days. I originally planned  to do my longer runs on Thursdays and Fridays until I remembered I have a job I'm paid to actually perform, and occasionally during normal work hours. Consequently I shifted my weekly schedule to a more normal one which gives me Mondays and Fridays off. Training cycle saved!

Tuesday: 5 miles, easy

I did my go-to morning run up Skinner Butte, a super short but super sweet .75-mile ascent with a halfway decent view of Eugene. It was dark nearly the entire time (thanks, fog!) but fortunately I didn't run into any trouble (like almost getting peed on by a homeless person, which did actually happen under similar circumstances last December - but that's a story for another day). Overall, it wasn't a very memorable run.

Fogged-in sunrise.

Wednesday: 6 miles, less easy-ish

I really needed to get to school so I stuck to relatively flat pavement and pushed the pace. These runs are so much easier than trail runs, but way less enjoyable.

Thursday: 5 miles, trail

I really didn't have time to go to Spencer Butte but dammit, I wanted to! I was too early to see the sun rise, which sucked, but I've become quite fond of the Spencer area trails, which I thought were pretty lame when I first discovered them (trees, trees, trees). I was ten minutes late for office hours but hey, teacher's training for a 50k, kids! But really, no one shows up to office hours at 9:00 a.m. on a Thursday morning anyway so it was fine.

Friday: rest

I was thinking of running this day since I was planning to spend Saturday at a nearby hot springs but decided four days in a row, especially following a strenuous trail run, was not advisable.

Saturday: 2 miles

Better than no run, I guess? I wouldn't have run at all but I had to get my car after leaving it at a friend's house the previous night. I was running, like, 14-minute miles. Real speedster over here.

The hot spring (is hot springs always plural? There was only one) was awesome, by the way. Although the "warm springs trail" sign should have tipped us off - this was a very lukewarm spring. A great time was had nonetheless.

Sunday: 10 miles, long run

My plan had me doing 8 miles on Saturday and 4 miles on Sunday so even though my schedule was a bit wack I wanted to make sure I got the mileage in. I don't think I've done 10 miles since my trail half back in November.

I ran the first five miles with a couple of friends on a flat trail before driving to some steeper trails for the last five. The sun was out in full force and I was down to a t-shirt by the end, which was awesome. The run felt reassuringly easy. I wasn't breaking any speed records but I was moving along at a pretty decent clip.

Total: 28 miles

A couple of things:

  • I need to be careful about doing my runs too fast. I often feel rushed in the morning which, given that I now have specific mileage targets, forces me to run faster than I should. I'm a pretty firm believer in slow, slow miles so I need to suck it up and wake up earlier.
  • I'm going to have to be more flexible about training than I was when I trained for my marathon a couple of years ago. I tend to be pretty OCD about training but with my current professional/personal obligations that's not going to fly. I'll be happy as long as I can get the miles in, in whatever combination.
Have a wonderful start to your week!

One more sunrise picture. Seriously, this morning was ridiculous. I could have sat there for hours.

Monday, January 5, 2015

So that race I alluded to the other day? It's the McDonald Forest 50k! Yup, I'm jumping on the mini-ultra train. Or attempting to, at least. Here's why:

I wanted to do a longer race

I don't like running fast because of all the pukiness it entails, but I do enjoy the "pain" that comes from running longer distances. I've run enough half marathons at this point that there isn't much excitement in racing them. I know I can finish one without much training and since I'm not very speed-focused I don't feel like there's much to work towards. Training for a marathon was "thrilling" in the sense that I really had no idea whether I'd be able to do it. Consequently, I wanted to aim for something longer than 13 miles.

A road marathon didn't sound all that exciting

There are marathons in Eugene three weekends in a row in May (why???). Running one of them seemed the obvious choice because I wouldn't have to go anywhere and I have a better chance of convincing friends to come watch me plod along. Unfortunately, I've logged what feels like a billion miles on Eugene's main running paths (which are nice and all but not super interesting) and the thought of racing on them is really unappealing. My lowest point of the Mayor's Marathon (which offers a much better/more varied course, in my opinion) came when I hit the paths I did the majority of my training on. I wanted to avoid that this time around. So the first two races were out! Sorry Eugene Marathon, I don't understand why people think you're so great.

The Vineyards Marathon (which takes place on the outskirts of Eugene) seemed more promising but the more I thought about it, the more I realized I was almost dreading doing a road marathon despite the fact that I really wanted to do a marathon (don't worry, it didn't make any sense in my head either). I've loved all the trail running I've been doing recently, though, and the idea of a trail race was exciting!

Ultras, yo!

I was taken in by the hype the second I found out they exist (summer 2009, in a magazine I found lying around at work. I could. not. believe. there are people out there who can run farther than 26.2 miles. Mind. Blown.). I couldn't help but want to try one. Will I like it? Who knows. Will I want to go farther? I haven't a clue. But I'd like to give it a shot.

Corvallis isn't that far from Eugene

I can sleep in my bed the night before. I miiiight even be able to drag a friend or two along.

It's a forest (waaaah), but there are some views along the course

A few race reports lead me to believe there are views (at times). The only other nearby race with views (that I could find) was the Mary's Peak 50k, but that seems to be a much smaller race (I think there were 40 runners last year?). This is in the same area but attracts more people.

The timing seemed right

The race is about a month into UO's third quarter so my workload shouldn't be too ridiculous. It also means I'll have plenty of time to run during Spring Break, which should be one of my highest-mileage weeks. Or, at least, I'll have plenty of time to run if I don't decide to go backpacking instead which I kind of really want to do. We'll see how/whether that sorts itself out.

I also wanted to race earlier in the year because Oregon is unbearably hot in the summer.

I've finally figured out how to fit running into my somewhat demanding school/life schedule

The key? Running in the morning! The transition was pure misery but after weeks (or maybe months?) of incredibly shitty runs, it finally clicked. These days I'm up by 6:15 and exercised, showered, fed, and on campus by 9:00 or 9:30. I'll have to run higher-mileage weeks to train for this thing but the jump from 30(ish) to 50 or whatever should be doable.

---

I'm a bit hesitant to throw this goal out into the interblogs since I really hate the feeling of not following through on a stated goal. I also don't like half-assing training. School is my priority right now so if I think training for a 50k is taking away from my studies I'll have to dial down my mileage, which would likely result in a DNS. However, my excitement about the race outweighs the expected disappointment of a possible DNS.

So there you have it! May 7 (9? Too lazy to check) I'll be at the McDonald Forest 50k, barring injury/school/whatever.

---

For your viewing pleasure, some pictures from the rest of my stay in Alaska:


The two photos above were taken in the same spot, one when it was warmer and there wasn't much snow and the other when it was cooler and there was fresh snow on the ground. I'm not sure why the second is so dark as it was a very bright day!

I did this hike my last day in Alaska. It was amazing.


I'm okay with these trees. 


Flying from Seattle to Eugene. I can't remember which mountain this is but it's a big 'un!

Oh hey, how did this get here?! I added two pairs of Pace Gloves to my collection because I think Merrell stopped making them entirely (you may remember the buying frenzy that ensued when Merrell came out with the Pace Glove 2.0, which I thought didn't look nearly as comfortable as the original. Well, it looks as though Merrell's largely ditched its minimalist collection, which blows). A week ago I panicked, went on Ebay and bought the only two pairs of size 8s I could find. They're the same color. Too bad I'll have to find another shoe for the 50k (because mud); I haven't found anything remotely as comfortable as these for running [insert "MINIMALISM ISN'T FOR EVERYONE, YOU PROBABLY SHOULDN'T TRY IT BECAUSE I DON'T WANT YOU TO HOLD ME RESPONSIBLE" disclaimer here]

A (Hopeful) Return To Longer Distances

So that race I alluded to the other day? It's the McDonald Forest 50k! Yup, I'm jumping on the mini-ultra train. Or attempting to, at least. Here's why:

I wanted to do a longer race

I don't like running fast because of all the pukiness it entails, but I do enjoy the "pain" that comes from running longer distances. I've run enough half marathons at this point that there isn't much excitement in racing them. I know I can finish one without much training and since I'm not very speed-focused I don't feel like there's much to work towards. Training for a marathon was "thrilling" in the sense that I really had no idea whether I'd be able to do it. Consequently, I wanted to aim for something longer than 13 miles.

A road marathon didn't sound all that exciting

There are marathons in Eugene three weekends in a row in May (why???). Running one of them seemed the obvious choice because I wouldn't have to go anywhere and I have a better chance of convincing friends to come watch me plod along. Unfortunately, I've logged what feels like a billion miles on Eugene's main running paths (which are nice and all but not super interesting) and the thought of racing on them is really unappealing. My lowest point of the Mayor's Marathon (which offers a much better/more varied course, in my opinion) came when I hit the paths I did the majority of my training on. I wanted to avoid that this time around. So the first two races were out! Sorry Eugene Marathon, I don't understand why people think you're so great.

The Vineyards Marathon (which takes place on the outskirts of Eugene) seemed more promising but the more I thought about it, the more I realized I was almost dreading doing a road marathon despite the fact that I really wanted to do a marathon (don't worry, it didn't make any sense in my head either). I've loved all the trail running I've been doing recently, though, and the idea of a trail race was exciting!

Ultras, yo!

I was taken in by the hype the second I found out they exist (summer 2009, in a magazine I found lying around at work. I could. not. believe. there are people out there who can run farther than 26.2 miles. Mind. Blown.). I couldn't help but want to try one. Will I like it? Who knows. Will I want to go farther? I haven't a clue. But I'd like to give it a shot.

Corvallis isn't that far from Eugene

I can sleep in my bed the night before. I miiiight even be able to drag a friend or two along.

It's a forest (waaaah), but there are some views along the course

A few race reports lead me to believe there are views (at times). The only other nearby race with views (that I could find) was the Mary's Peak 50k, but that seems to be a much smaller race (I think there were 40 runners last year?). This is in the same area but attracts more people.

The timing seemed right

The race is about a month into UO's third quarter so my workload shouldn't be too ridiculous. It also means I'll have plenty of time to run during Spring Break, which should be one of my highest-mileage weeks. Or, at least, I'll have plenty of time to run if I don't decide to go backpacking instead which I kind of really want to do. We'll see how/whether that sorts itself out.

I also wanted to race earlier in the year because Oregon is unbearably hot in the summer.

I've finally figured out how to fit running into my somewhat demanding school/life schedule

The key? Running in the morning! The transition was pure misery but after weeks (or maybe months?) of incredibly shitty runs, it finally clicked. These days I'm up by 6:15 and exercised, showered, fed, and on campus by 9:00 or 9:30. I'll have to run higher-mileage weeks to train for this thing but the jump from 30(ish) to 50 or whatever should be doable.

---

I'm a bit hesitant to throw this goal out into the interblogs since I really hate the feeling of not following through on a stated goal. I also don't like half-assing training. School is my priority right now so if I think training for a 50k is taking away from my studies I'll have to dial down my mileage, which would likely result in a DNS. However, my excitement about the race outweighs the expected disappointment of a possible DNS.

So there you have it! May 7 (9? Too lazy to check) I'll be at the McDonald Forest 50k, barring injury/school/whatever.

---

For your viewing pleasure, some pictures from the rest of my stay in Alaska:


The two photos above were taken in the same spot, one when it was warmer and there wasn't much snow and the other when it was cooler and there was fresh snow on the ground. I'm not sure why the second is so dark as it was a very bright day!

I did this hike my last day in Alaska. It was amazing.


I'm okay with these trees. 


Flying from Seattle to Eugene. I can't remember which mountain this is but it's a big 'un!

Oh hey, how did this get here?! I added two pairs of Pace Gloves to my collection because I think Merrell stopped making them entirely (you may remember the buying frenzy that ensued when Merrell came out with the Pace Glove 2.0, which I thought didn't look nearly as comfortable as the original. Well, it looks as though Merrell's largely ditched its minimalist collection, which blows). A week ago I panicked, went on Ebay and bought the only two pairs of size 8s I could find. They're the same color. Too bad I'll have to find another shoe for the 50k (because mud); I haven't found anything remotely as comfortable as these for running [insert "MINIMALISM ISN'T FOR EVERYONE, YOU PROBABLY SHOULDN'T TRY IT BECAUSE I DON'T WANT YOU TO HOLD ME RESPONSIBLE" disclaimer here]