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]

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Well, I failed to post (or even begin to write) about a few running-related things I've had floating around in my brain lately, all of which I planned to do during my lengthy winter break. New Year's resolution: don't do that! Running has been so fantastic the past few months and I wish I could share more about it. School is still a major grind, however (to the person who told me the second year is easier than the first: liar!), and it's a struggle to even find time to run, let alone write about it. Fortunately, I have just enough time to do all the things that I love, plus publish the occasional blog post.

I did want to get at least one post up before the year's end, however, and since I had so much fun putting together my "2013 in Pictures" post last year (copying Jill Outside's post of the same name), I figured I'd do it again for 2014.

Despite all the time I spent studying, 2014 was one of my best years ever, due in no small part to the 2 1/2-month break I had from July - September. Consequently, I had hardly any pictures to choose from the first half of the year and far too many the second half. The winners came exclusively from Alaska and Oregon but there were a few gems from Washington and California as well, most of which I probably shared in other posts.

With that lengthy introduction, here's my 2014 in pictures!

January: Willamette Pass, Oregon


I made it to Willamette Pass, a local ski resort, with some friends just before the quarter started. I've heard the resort is more a labor of love than a huge profit-maker which is good since there wasn't any snow! It was a mega-grunt to get to the top. In my experience, hiking ski resorts isn't much fun because it requires a lot of bushwhacking. Also, steep as shit. It was still a beautiful day!

February: Mount Pisgah, Oregon


Confession: this was taken March 1. I did not take a single picture during the month of February, which tells you what a great time it must have been. I know I was getting out for runs but it was often so rainy I didn't take my phone with me. This is a typical Pisgah scene that time of year (or, really, for like 5 months of the year).

March: Deschutes River, 100 miles east of Portland


This was taken during my so woman, much brave solo camping trip during Spring Break. I was sick of rain and itching to get outside after being cooped up for so long. Of course, I hadn't envisioned myself being a paranoid freak and hightailing it to my car after a half hour in my tent, but these things happen.

April: the coast, Oregon


My friends and I camped at the coast to celebrate another friend's birthday. It was a great time!

May: Bohemia Mountain, Oregon


Another rare weekend day spent outside the office. It was much needed! Bohemia Mountain is a short, relatively easy hike that nonetheless has some pretty nice views.

June: Crater Lake, Oregon


I gave myself one day off between finishing the academic year and studying for my exams in July. Crater Lake was just the place to spend it! It was a ridiculously nice day spent in great company.

July: South Sister, Oregon


FREEDOM! I took my second (and final) exam on July 15, which marked the beginning of a 2 1/2-month vacation. It may well have been the best 2 1/2 months of my life. This was taken at the top of South Sister, Oregon's third highest mountain and a pretty easy (nontechnical) climb. The weather was perfect, yet again, and camping at a horsecamp nearby was a blast.

Here's the unblocked view, in case you're interested:


August: Oregon coast


I took this in some redwood state/national park while caravanning to California on Highway 101 (which, I'll say again, I think is less scenic than I-5. I know no one else agrees with me on this but I stand by it!!). It was a nice way to break up the long drive.

September: Pioneer Peak, Alaska


I had some gorgeous photos from my trip home but in the end, Pioneer Peak was a no-brainer. I do believe this is the hardest hike I've ever done, and also the most spectacular. It was also one of the only times I've failed to summit something I set out to climb. I was super bummed about it but really, the last bit was far too sketchy for my liking. I'll make it up someday, though!

October: Spencer Butte, Oregon


I spent countless mornings with vistas like this one. I got into a great running groove this fall, running or hiking 5 - 6 mornings a week before school and getting out on trails for many of them. Trail running has been so much fun and has made me a much stronger runner. In fact, I liked it so much that I decided to scratch my plans for a spring road marathon in favor of something else (to be shared later because I'm secretive like that).

November: Mount Pisgah, Oregon


Another typical morning view. I love, love, love it when the valley is covered in clouds. I'm not a huge fan of Oregon's mountains and ubiquitous trees (whine, whine, whine) but I do love me some clouds.

November was also the month I ran a trail half marathon, which was a blast! I was shocked to run a 2:04:xx, a near PR, on a course that gained 1,500 feet and at an effort that, frankly, could have been much harder. I was expecting to run a 2:30 - 2:45!

December: near Powerline, Anchorage, Alaska


I like the similarities between my November and December shots. Sloping grassy fields with mountains jutting out. Pretty cool, right?

I've been in Alaska since mid-December. I was sidelined for nearly a week with a nasty cold, but I've more than made up for lost time since I got better. I've also gotten in plenty of lounge time, which is a rarity (nay, nonexistent!) in Eugene. I am excited to head back to Oregon this weekend, though!

Aaaand one more because I can't help myself: Flattop, Anchorage, Alaska


My favorite hike with my favorite dog.

And with that, I'm off to celebrate. Happy New Year, everyone!

(My) 2014 in Pictures

Well, I failed to post (or even begin to write) about a few running-related things I've had floating around in my brain lately, all of which I planned to do during my lengthy winter break. New Year's resolution: don't do that! Running has been so fantastic the past few months and I wish I could share more about it. School is still a major grind, however (to the person who told me the second year is easier than the first: liar!), and it's a struggle to even find time to run, let alone write about it. Fortunately, I have just enough time to do all the things that I love, plus publish the occasional blog post.

I did want to get at least one post up before the year's end, however, and since I had so much fun putting together my "2013 in Pictures" post last year (copying Jill Outside's post of the same name), I figured I'd do it again for 2014.

Despite all the time I spent studying, 2014 was one of my best years ever, due in no small part to the 2 1/2-month break I had from July - September. Consequently, I had hardly any pictures to choose from the first half of the year and far too many the second half. The winners came exclusively from Alaska and Oregon but there were a few gems from Washington and California as well, most of which I probably shared in other posts.

With that lengthy introduction, here's my 2014 in pictures!

January: Willamette Pass, Oregon


I made it to Willamette Pass, a local ski resort, with some friends just before the quarter started. I've heard the resort is more a labor of love than a huge profit-maker which is good since there wasn't any snow! It was a mega-grunt to get to the top. In my experience, hiking ski resorts isn't much fun because it requires a lot of bushwhacking. Also, steep as shit. It was still a beautiful day!

February: Mount Pisgah, Oregon


Confession: this was taken March 1. I did not take a single picture during the month of February, which tells you what a great time it must have been. I know I was getting out for runs but it was often so rainy I didn't take my phone with me. This is a typical Pisgah scene that time of year (or, really, for like 5 months of the year).

March: Deschutes River, 100 miles east of Portland


This was taken during my so woman, much brave solo camping trip during Spring Break. I was sick of rain and itching to get outside after being cooped up for so long. Of course, I hadn't envisioned myself being a paranoid freak and hightailing it to my car after a half hour in my tent, but these things happen.

April: the coast, Oregon


My friends and I camped at the coast to celebrate another friend's birthday. It was a great time!

May: Bohemia Mountain, Oregon


Another rare weekend day spent outside the office. It was much needed! Bohemia Mountain is a short, relatively easy hike that nonetheless has some pretty nice views.

June: Crater Lake, Oregon


I gave myself one day off between finishing the academic year and studying for my exams in July. Crater Lake was just the place to spend it! It was a ridiculously nice day spent in great company.

July: South Sister, Oregon


FREEDOM! I took my second (and final) exam on July 15, which marked the beginning of a 2 1/2-month vacation. It may well have been the best 2 1/2 months of my life. This was taken at the top of South Sister, Oregon's third highest mountain and a pretty easy (nontechnical) climb. The weather was perfect, yet again, and camping at a horsecamp nearby was a blast.

Here's the unblocked view, in case you're interested:


August: Oregon coast


I took this in some redwood state/national park while caravanning to California on Highway 101 (which, I'll say again, I think is less scenic than I-5. I know no one else agrees with me on this but I stand by it!!). It was a nice way to break up the long drive.

September: Pioneer Peak, Alaska


I had some gorgeous photos from my trip home but in the end, Pioneer Peak was a no-brainer. I do believe this is the hardest hike I've ever done, and also the most spectacular. It was also one of the only times I've failed to summit something I set out to climb. I was super bummed about it but really, the last bit was far too sketchy for my liking. I'll make it up someday, though!

October: Spencer Butte, Oregon


I spent countless mornings with vistas like this one. I got into a great running groove this fall, running or hiking 5 - 6 mornings a week before school and getting out on trails for many of them. Trail running has been so much fun and has made me a much stronger runner. In fact, I liked it so much that I decided to scratch my plans for a spring road marathon in favor of something else (to be shared later because I'm secretive like that).

November: Mount Pisgah, Oregon


Another typical morning view. I love, love, love it when the valley is covered in clouds. I'm not a huge fan of Oregon's mountains and ubiquitous trees (whine, whine, whine) but I do love me some clouds.

November was also the month I ran a trail half marathon, which was a blast! I was shocked to run a 2:04:xx, a near PR, on a course that gained 1,500 feet and at an effort that, frankly, could have been much harder. I was expecting to run a 2:30 - 2:45!

December: near Powerline, Anchorage, Alaska


I like the similarities between my November and December shots. Sloping grassy fields with mountains jutting out. Pretty cool, right?

I've been in Alaska since mid-December. I was sidelined for nearly a week with a nasty cold, but I've more than made up for lost time since I got better. I've also gotten in plenty of lounge time, which is a rarity (nay, nonexistent!) in Eugene. I am excited to head back to Oregon this weekend, though!

Aaaand one more because I can't help myself: Flattop, Anchorage, Alaska


My favorite hike with my favorite dog.

And with that, I'm off to celebrate. Happy New Year, everyone!

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Pretty pictures to make up for my long absence? Sure.

We'll start with a few to sum up the end of summer:

In Rainier National Park. I went hiking there for a weekend with some friends. Washington beats Oregon handily in the mountain department.

We spent the second day of hiking in the Tatoosh Range. It's a very small but very scenic range!

More Tatoosh. Very distinctive-looking.

Rainier, you looker, you.

An adorable kitten I had to throw in even though I don't like cats.

School started at the end of September and since then most activity has been restricted to 6:30 - 8:00 a.m. Yes, it's true, even the most committed afternoon runner can become a morning runner if circumstances require. It's actually been a surprisingly easy transition, even before Daylight Savings when the first hour outside was spent in darkness. Anyway, this is my explanation for why the nearly all of the following photos feature a sunrise.


Foggy morning at Spencer Butte. 


Sunday excursion to the beach, back when I had time for that shit.

Surfers

It was such a nice day.

Mounty Baldy. This hardly qualifies as a hill, let alone a mountain, but it's got some great views.

There is no filter on this photo. The sky was WACK that morning. It was so cool. Also Baldy.

Pisgah. I try to make it there at least one morning a week even though it's a 20-minute drive.

The fall colors have been pretty unbelievable. This does not remotely capture it.

More Pisgah.

Pisgah summit. I love it when the valley's fogged in.




This is from my ten-miler yesterday just before Baldy's "summit." It was SO COOL, all the trees were covered in ice so I spent the entire run with small ice chunks raining down on me. I was so pissed that my phone died just after taking this, it really was breathtaking.

Aaaaand, what you probably care about most given that this is a running blog: pictures from the Silver Falls Half Marathon!

You see me?! Purple shirt. See that guy in the tiny skirt and pink compression socks? I ran just behind him for, like, five miles. It was a sight to behold. I should have known that long-sleeve shirt was coming off in like five minutes.

Yes, this is a screen shot. Yes, I am poor. The leaves were really beautiful.

Race to the finish!

I'm not sure how the clock advanced nine seconds between the last picture and this one. This guy was not nice about our little race. The finish chute was incredibly muddy and I was sliding all over the place but having a great time and figured it was just friendly competition. Well, he beat me to the line by inches, which I was totally fine with, and when I turned to congratulate him he flat out ignored me and walked off. Nice job, bruh. Joke's on him, though, because they put me ahead of him in the results.

This race is my real reason for dragging myself back to this corner of the internet and posting. I talked about it back whenever that was and finally got around to running it on November 2. I was a bit hard on this race because I don't consider it to be a very scenic trail (mountains, please), but it really was so much fun. Trail races are the way to go.

I've been majorly slacking at blogging but not at running. I spent this summer building up a strong base through multiple-hour outings 4 - 5 times a week. Once school started, I obviously didn't have that kind of time anymore but I did commit to doing as much as I could. These days, I wake up at the ungodly hour of 6:15 on weekdays to run. I know, I know, that's sleeping in for a lot of you but for me it's pure madness. I spend as much time as I can on trails, which has been great for so many reasons. I mean, running by yourself on a trail when it's pitch black is kind of terrifying, but you get to see so many beautiful things once the sun rises (fortunately Daylight Savings gave me enough time back that I don't have to run in the dark anymore). And it's a great workout, obviously. It's so empowering to run up things I once thought unrunnable.

Anyway, I've been consistently running 30 - 35 miles per week on reasonably rugged terrain and it's definitely paying off. Going into the Silver Falls Half, my goal was to finish under 2:45. I wasn't even sure whether that was a reasonable goal since the route advertised a 1,500 - foot elevation gain, which seemed like a lot to me. I thought 2:30 might be attainable but didn't want to put any pressure on myself to run harder than I was capable. I've said before that I don't really like racing, largely because I don't like the pain that comes with it. I'm fine with some fatigue, but when you're nauseated and everything's burning, that's just not my idea of a good time. Which is probably-slash-definitely why I don't do any speed work (and in fact haven't done any since my marathon a year and a half ago - yikes!).

Most of my trail runs are around 12:00 minute/mile pace, so imagine my surprise when I finished this race with a 9:29 average! I seriously couldn't believe it. My Garmin flipped out when I was in the canyons so I couldn't figure out what my pace was. A 10:40 average would pop up every once in a while so as I neared the finish I thought I might even be able to snag a 2:20 if I pushed it. Shortly after I crossed the finish line I remembered to turn around and check my time, which appeared to be 2:20:xx. Just short of 2:20 but still an amazing result. And then...

... I realized I was looking at the first wave time. See, when we signed up we had the option of running with those who planned to finish under 2:15 and those who planned to finish over 2:15. I obviously belonged to the latter group, right? My road half PR is 2:03:xx (I think? I need to look that up again) so I was surely going to be much, much slower. But no! I somehow managed to run a full 15 minutes faster than a time I didn't even think was attainable.

It really pisses me off when people claim they're training to race at a certain pace and then "accidentally" pull a much faster time out of their asses as if by magic when in fact that's been their goal all along. This is not that. I really, truly had no idea what to expect since I hadn't done a trail race before or bothered to run faster than an 10:30 pace in ages. But I have been running on much harder trails than what we ran on that day. In fact, I was amazed to find that much of the course was flat. There were three or four steep climbs but other than that it was very reasonable.

So yeah, that was a shock. I was actually kicking myself for not starting faster, though, which would have almost surely netted me a new PR. I'm a little too good at starting off slowly, which means I often finish with a lot of gas in the tank. This race was no exception. A few hours after the race ended, it was almost as though I hadn't run at all. I didn't experience any soreness and any fatigue was completely gone two days later. I suppose it's for the best because I'm more into training than racing (said only me, ever) and was happy to get right back to running. Nonetheless, I should probably start off a bit faster next time.

Anyway, grad school calls so I'll end this here. It may shock you to hear that I have been keeping up with all of your blogs (super big shoutout to Meagan for a great performance at the Marine Corps Marathon a few weeks ago!) but haven't commented on anything in ages. Sorry dudes. I can either spend all my time reading or comment; I choose the former.

Pretty Pictures To Make Up For A Long Absence

Pretty pictures to make up for my long absence? Sure.

We'll start with a few to sum up the end of summer:

In Rainier National Park. I went hiking there for a weekend with some friends. Washington beats Oregon handily in the mountain department.

We spent the second day of hiking in the Tatoosh Range. It's a very small but very scenic range!

More Tatoosh. Very distinctive-looking.

Rainier, you looker, you.

An adorable kitten I had to throw in even though I don't like cats.

School started at the end of September and since then most activity has been restricted to 6:30 - 8:00 a.m. Yes, it's true, even the most committed afternoon runner can become a morning runner if circumstances require. It's actually been a surprisingly easy transition, even before Daylight Savings when the first hour outside was spent in darkness. Anyway, this is my explanation for why the nearly all of the following photos feature a sunrise.


Foggy morning at Spencer Butte. 


Sunday excursion to the beach, back when I had time for that shit.

Surfers

It was such a nice day.

Mounty Baldy. This hardly qualifies as a hill, let alone a mountain, but it's got some great views.

There is no filter on this photo. The sky was WACK that morning. It was so cool. Also Baldy.

Pisgah. I try to make it there at least one morning a week even though it's a 20-minute drive.

The fall colors have been pretty unbelievable. This does not remotely capture it.

More Pisgah.

Pisgah summit. I love it when the valley's fogged in.




This is from my ten-miler yesterday just before Baldy's "summit." It was SO COOL, all the trees were covered in ice so I spent the entire run with small ice chunks raining down on me. I was so pissed that my phone died just after taking this, it really was breathtaking.

Aaaaand, what you probably care about most given that this is a running blog: pictures from the Silver Falls Half Marathon!

You see me?! Purple shirt. See that guy in the tiny skirt and pink compression socks? I ran just behind him for, like, five miles. It was a sight to behold. I should have known that long-sleeve shirt was coming off in like five minutes.

Yes, this is a screen shot. Yes, I am poor. The leaves were really beautiful.

Race to the finish!

I'm not sure how the clock advanced nine seconds between the last picture and this one. This guy was not nice about our little race. The finish chute was incredibly muddy and I was sliding all over the place but having a great time and figured it was just friendly competition. Well, he beat me to the line by inches, which I was totally fine with, and when I turned to congratulate him he flat out ignored me and walked off. Nice job, bruh. Joke's on him, though, because they put me ahead of him in the results.

This race is my real reason for dragging myself back to this corner of the internet and posting. I talked about it back whenever that was and finally got around to running it on November 2. I was a bit hard on this race because I don't consider it to be a very scenic trail (mountains, please), but it really was so much fun. Trail races are the way to go.

I've been majorly slacking at blogging but not at running. I spent this summer building up a strong base through multiple-hour outings 4 - 5 times a week. Once school started, I obviously didn't have that kind of time anymore but I did commit to doing as much as I could. These days, I wake up at the ungodly hour of 6:15 on weekdays to run. I know, I know, that's sleeping in for a lot of you but for me it's pure madness. I spend as much time as I can on trails, which has been great for so many reasons. I mean, running by yourself on a trail when it's pitch black is kind of terrifying, but you get to see so many beautiful things once the sun rises (fortunately Daylight Savings gave me enough time back that I don't have to run in the dark anymore). And it's a great workout, obviously. It's so empowering to run up things I once thought unrunnable.

Anyway, I've been consistently running 30 - 35 miles per week on reasonably rugged terrain and it's definitely paying off. Going into the Silver Falls Half, my goal was to finish under 2:45. I wasn't even sure whether that was a reasonable goal since the route advertised a 1,500 - foot elevation gain, which seemed like a lot to me. I thought 2:30 might be attainable but didn't want to put any pressure on myself to run harder than I was capable. I've said before that I don't really like racing, largely because I don't like the pain that comes with it. I'm fine with some fatigue, but when you're nauseated and everything's burning, that's just not my idea of a good time. Which is probably-slash-definitely why I don't do any speed work (and in fact haven't done any since my marathon a year and a half ago - yikes!).

Most of my trail runs are around 12:00 minute/mile pace, so imagine my surprise when I finished this race with a 9:29 average! I seriously couldn't believe it. My Garmin flipped out when I was in the canyons so I couldn't figure out what my pace was. A 10:40 average would pop up every once in a while so as I neared the finish I thought I might even be able to snag a 2:20 if I pushed it. Shortly after I crossed the finish line I remembered to turn around and check my time, which appeared to be 2:20:xx. Just short of 2:20 but still an amazing result. And then...

... I realized I was looking at the first wave time. See, when we signed up we had the option of running with those who planned to finish under 2:15 and those who planned to finish over 2:15. I obviously belonged to the latter group, right? My road half PR is 2:03:xx (I think? I need to look that up again) so I was surely going to be much, much slower. But no! I somehow managed to run a full 15 minutes faster than a time I didn't even think was attainable.

It really pisses me off when people claim they're training to race at a certain pace and then "accidentally" pull a much faster time out of their asses as if by magic when in fact that's been their goal all along. This is not that. I really, truly had no idea what to expect since I hadn't done a trail race before or bothered to run faster than an 10:30 pace in ages. But I have been running on much harder trails than what we ran on that day. In fact, I was amazed to find that much of the course was flat. There were three or four steep climbs but other than that it was very reasonable.

So yeah, that was a shock. I was actually kicking myself for not starting faster, though, which would have almost surely netted me a new PR. I'm a little too good at starting off slowly, which means I often finish with a lot of gas in the tank. This race was no exception. A few hours after the race ended, it was almost as though I hadn't run at all. I didn't experience any soreness and any fatigue was completely gone two days later. I suppose it's for the best because I'm more into training than racing (said only me, ever) and was happy to get right back to running. Nonetheless, I should probably start off a bit faster next time.

Anyway, grad school calls so I'll end this here. It may shock you to hear that I have been keeping up with all of your blogs (super big shoutout to Meagan for a great performance at the Marine Corps Marathon a few weeks ago!) but haven't commented on anything in ages. Sorry dudes. I can either spend all my time reading or comment; I choose the former.