Bunchgrasser’s World

My unique filter on life

Archive for June, 2009

Metal detecting – first trip of season yields a ring

Posted by bunchgrasser on June 26, 2009

I was cleaning out my closet this past weekend when I spied my trusty White’s MXT metal detector propped up in the corner. Normally I would have been out detecting much earlier in the spring, but a plethora of soccer tournaments have prevented me from doing it this year. With both kids playing club soccer for THUSC, and my daughter also playing on the Oregon State ODP team – it leaves little time for anything else.

Anyway, after finishing my household jobs I decided to “take my detector for a walk” across the street to the middle school field. Although I had previously spent a small amount of time detecting one of the small fields, the larger soccer field had never been detected that I know of.

I spent about 20-30 minutes warming up in an area next to the baseball field, then switched over to the soccer field. I spent about 40 minutes gridding back & forth from side to side near the midline. I managed to recover quite a few coins, a few pulltabs & various pieces of trash. I saved my favorite area for last – the sideline area where parents & siblings usually watch the game from. I’ve consistently done well in these areas on soccer fields so I was hoping for a nice score.

Within a few minutes I had dug several more coins and then got a VDI signal that bounced around in the low 20’s. I thought it might be a nickel – but when I lifted the small flap of turf I found a small ring with a nice tourqoise stone in the center. After some cleaning it appears the ring is not valuable as the metal shows some discoloration and some peeling of the silvery plating. Oh well, I’ll add it to my growing collection of rings, and I always say…any ring is a good ring!


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8 Mile Trail Run in Forest Park

Posted by bunchgrasser on June 23, 2009

You know, 8 miles goes by much quicker when running through a serene forest on a trail. Yeah, should be obvious I know. Yet day after day I slip on my Kayanos and run the paved streets, forgoing that wonderful zen-like experience. Why is that? Bad habit I suppose…

Well, this past Saturday I got in my car and drove 10 minutes to the Springville Road Trail Head and proceeded to change that bad habit with a nice 8 miler through Forest Park on Leif Erikson Drive. It had recently rained, so there were some muddy spots, but not so bad that I couldn’t jump over or avoid those spots. In general Leif Erikson Drive (LED) is rocky enough that there aren’t many true mudholes.

I started with a 10 minute downhill fast-walk on the Springville trail from the trailhead to where it joins LED. It drops about 450 feet in elevation over 3/4 mile so it makes for a great downhill warmup. It’s also a killer workout when you are walking (or Mt Biking) back up that hill.

I started my run on LED heading East/Southeast toward NW Portland where LED terminates roughly 10 miles away on NW Thurman Street. In its entirety, LED is about 11 miles long and makes for a wonderful bike ride as well as a long run. Incidently, one of my favorite brewpubs is located in NW Portland, not far from where the trail ends – but I digress…

One of the nice things about running LED is that every 1/4 mile there are labeled white concrete posts sunk into the ground, allowing you to track your mileage. No GPS watch or pedometer needed – just find your pace and enjoy the sounds of the forest. The sounds of birds chirping certainly beats  the sounds of cars any day of the week.

Around mile 3, I was passed by a group of young runners. I asked one of them and was told they were part of the Westview High School cross country team. Apparently they do their long run each weekend and today chose to run LED. I made my turn at mile 4 and headed back to Springville trail. It went quickly, but my legs were kind of sore by the time I finished mile 8. I still had the uphill walk to the trailhead, but it was a nice cool-down.

All in all a very enjoyable run and I’m planning to do another shorter run there tonight with my wife. Since I’m always training for the next big race – I may try running the full length (11 miles) and have someone pick me up on the other end (after a pint of beer of course).


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My 2009 Helvetia Half Marathon Race report

Posted by bunchgrasser on June 15, 2009

My second running of the Helvetia Half Marathon happened on Saturday. I wasn’t holding high hopes for a decent time because my training has been lagging over the past month or so. I normally do my long runs on the weekends, but I’ve been tied up at my kids’ soccer tournaments the past 5 weekends in a row. I don’t think I’ve completed a run longer than 6 miles for some time now.

I got up at 6:00am on Saturday morning. Had a small mug of coffee, a banana and toast with peanut butter. Not my usual pre-race food – but it was close enough. I grabbed my gear and headed for Hillsboro Stadium. I parked off-site this year, remembering the fiasco from last year’s Helvetia Half where I sat in the parking lot for almost an hour waiting to get out. I sensed that some improvements had been made this year – but I wasn’t taking any chances. The 5 minute walk from my car to the start line was a good warmup anyway.

After standing in line for a last-minute bathroom visit, then stuffing my long sleeve shirt under a bush for safekeeping, I stepped into the middle of the crowd and waited for the start horn. It rained a little on us prior to the start, but eventually tapered off and was a perfect cool, cloudy but dry morning – optimal for racing.

The horn sounded and the crowd began moving. As usual, I tried really hard to run the first couple of miles at my own pace rather than let myself follow “the flow”. Last year I went out a little too fast and ended up struggling badly the last couple of miles in the race. Around mile 2 or 3 on Helvetia Road I was settling into my rhythym pretty well. My Garmin Forerunner 205  showed my pace to be around 7:45 – 8:00 minutes per mile. I was able to hold that pace through most of the first half, although the rolling hills slowed me down quite a bit.

One of my strategies to improve my time this year was to limit my stops at the aid stations. I didn’t stop for water until around/after mile 4, and I skipped several other tables along the course as well. I don’t know that it saved me much time – but every little bit helped. I have a good idea about how much water I need for a race of this distance on a cool day.

After finishing the killer rolling hills on Helvetia Road, I made the turn onto Jackson Quarry Road for the winding out-and-back. I’ve decided that this is my favorite part of the race but I’m not sure why. Maybe because it is the only place on the course where you can see oncoming runners. It is interesting observing the “game-faces” coming at you in the oncoming lane. I also seem to have a burst of energy once I make the turn and start heading back, even though it is slightly uphill most of the way.

The last part of Jackson Quarry road has some merciful downhill stretches. Once I could see the aid station at the corner of West Union Road, I tore open a GU energy gel and attempted to get it down my throat. I now realize that lemon-lime flavor is not a good choice for a late-race snack. I stopped completely at that aid station because I needed 2 full cups of water to choke down the gel. A little time lost but no big deal.

After a short section on West Union Road, the course turns onto a gravel road and then onto a frontage road along Highway 26. This is where I started struggling last year, and sadly again this year. However, my new strategy was to block out the mental stimuli coming from my brain (yes, the loud, incessant warnings to stop running before I hurt myself). Aside from a few minor blisters, I knew that my feet and legs were in decent shape. My heartrate had been pretty stable througout the race, so in essence I believed there was no imminent danger. So, I kept running, albeit at a slightly slower pace and in spite of every urge to stop and walk for awhile. It worked and I believe to be a key factor that will help me improve my race times in the future.

I crossed the overpass and kept pushing forward. I knew that there were only about 2 miles left and I started seeing a few people walking. I refused to be a walker even though I was hurting everywhere. My lungs were screaming and my legs felt like rubber pegs. My pace had slowed considerably but I was still running (not jogging or shuffling). A quick look at my Garmin told me I was going to PR if I just kept the pace.

I passed the 12 mile marker, and with less than a mile left I knew it was going to happen for me. I got very excited and that last burst of energy came to me. I’m not sure if I actually ran any faster – but mentally it felt easier. I made the turn into the stadium parking lot, dodged a couple of orange cones and passed the gate onto that glorious green turf. Note to people: if you are going to walk the last 50 yards to the finish – please don’t walk 3 abreast and block the approach for runners. Duh!

Running down finisher’s lane, with the people cheering is exactly what I needed. Nevermind that no one actually knew who I was. I made the final turn and crossed over the finish line…exhausted and hurting. I accepted my medal and grabbed a frozen Jamba Juice (I wish all races had Jamba Juice at the finish line).

According to the 2009 Helvetia Half Marathon results, my official time was 1:51:21. A new half marathon PR for me (by more than 2 minutes – yay!) and an improvement of more than 5 minutes as compared to last year’s Helvetia Half. My time put me at 56/162 in my age group (age 40-44), 466/3135 overall, and 335/1064 for the mens group. Not bad for an old hack with little training.

As I stated last year, I think the Helvetia Half Marathon could be the best half marathon race in Oregon. The organizers did a great job again this year and I’m already looking forward to next year. I offer my gratitude and thanks to everyone involved.


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Bunchgrasser’s quote of the day

Posted by bunchgrasser on June 11, 2009

“It hurts up to a point and then it doesn’t get any worse.”

– Ann Trason, Ultramarathoner

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Tualatin Hills Nature Park Run

Posted by bunchgrasser on June 11, 2009

I left the office recently looking for some variety for my lunch hour run. I’d never tried running the trails within the Tualatin Hills Nature Park which is very close to my office. Now that I’ve done so, it seems a shame that I never found this wonderful place sooner.

After a 5 minute jog from my office, I entered the park at the trail head next to the Merlo Road MAX light rail station. The dense, green forest provided an immediate change from the heat and traffic a few steps away. I had no idea where I was going, so I just followed along and tried to stay on the main paved trail.

Along the way I encountered wooden bridges, ponds, a small creek, and several other runners who obviously had discovered this wonderful place. I also managed to spot lots of wildlife along the trails, including birds, chipmunks, a rabbit, some ducks and an unknown larger animal crashing through the underbrush (possibly a deer). All this in only a 2-3 mile stretch.

The curvy trails provided ample scenery and the sounds of the forest animals offered a refreshing change from my normal routes on the streets. There are numerous short loops in the park which provide lots of diversity if you prefer not running the same trail each time.

On my run, I came to the edge of the park and ran up a street for a short distance before reentering the park at another entrance trail. My run was over way too soon and I know I’ll be coming back soon.


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