Bunchgrasser’s World

My unique filter on life

Archive for July, 2009

25k benchmark run on Sunday

Posted by bunchgrasser on July 22, 2009

Wow, I had such a great run this past Sunday morning. I needed to complete my 25k (15.5 mile) benchmark run, but I just happened to be at my parent’s farm for a weekend family reunion. Naturally I played hard all day Saturday, stayed up way too late, ate tons of greasy food and drank lots of beer – so I was very apprehensive about getting up the next morning to go for a long run. Strangely enough, I woke up early and felt great. In fact, I couldn’t recall feeling so excited about a long run.

My parents live on acreage near the coastal hills town of Grand Ronde (yes, the town with the casino). I spent my entire childhood roaming the hills and valleys of this area, including the casino’s namesake – Spirit Mountain. There aren’t a lot of options for running around Grand Ronde, so I decided to just walk out of the house and start running up into the hills. The logging roads go on for miles, so I just figured that I would run about 8 miles out and then turn back toward my parent’s house.

After a nice slow warmup run on Grand Ronde Road (which is actually surfaced with gravel now due to a widening and repaving project), I turned onto Agency Creek Road which is part of the Grand Ronde Indian Tribal Reservation. As a kid, I spent a lot of time playing around in this wilderness area – but it had been many years since I’d been up in the timber land. The road follows along side Agency Creek for many miles – making for a wonderfully scenic run. The canyon also provides some shelter from the sun, so it was a good choice on that hot day. 

I stopped every so often for a swig of Gatorade from the bottle on my hydration belt and to take in the scenery. The sound of the river gurgling and the birds chirping really made me appreciate the natural setting. I eventually hit the 8 mile mark and turned back toward home. My legs were feeling great at the half way point and the next couple of miles were slightly downhill.

At Mile 12 I turned back onto Grand Ronde Road and also left the cover of the trees. The sun was really baking me on the open stretches and I was beginning to feel that familiar aching in my legs. By mile 14 I was hurting a bit, but with only a couple of miles left I was already thinking of a cold drink back at the house. I cruised into my parent’s driveway and walked slowly up their long steep driveway. After a brief rest and refueling, I spent some well deserved (and very relaxing) time in the hammock chair underneath the old oak tree. Life is good…


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Bunchgrasser’s quote of the day

Posted by bunchgrasser on July 17, 2009

“Security is mostly a superstition; it does not exist in nature. Life is either a daring adventure or nothing.”

 –Helen Keller

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7 mile trail run

Posted by bunchgrasser on July 17, 2009

My wife Kirsten and I took our very first trail run “together” last night. We don’t normally run together much because we run at different paces. However, I’ve really enjoyed the trail runs in Forest Park lately and I convinced her to join me. When the temp is above 80, running in the trees is the only way to go.

I rushed home after work and changed into my running gear. As we left the house, the temp was well into the 90’s. A short 10 minute drive and we arrived at the Wildwood Trailhead. I grabbed my hydration belt and we hit the trail. We had planned to run the Wildwood Trail (singletrack) for the first 3 miles, then cut down the Hardesty Trail and run the much-wider Leif Erikson Trail the last 2 miles back to the road. However, we somehow missed the Hardestry Trail cutoff and ended up going quite a bit further. We finally came to Firelane 7a and used it to cut down the hill to Leif Erickson.

In spite of our navigational error and running 2+ miles longer than we originally planned – the run was amazing as usual. Kirsten loved her first trail run (at roughly 7 miles it was her longest run ever). My legs were a little sore, but mostly because it was my 3rd consecutive day of running. I normally run every other day. Ahh…days to remember.


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Bunchgrasser’s quote of the day

Posted by bunchgrasser on July 14, 2009

“Marathoning is like cutting yourself unexpectedly. You dip into the pain so gradually that the damage is done before you are aware of it. Unfortunately, when awareness comes, it is excruciating.”

-John Farrington, Australian marathoner

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13 miler Saturday morning

Posted by bunchgrasser on July 14, 2009

I got up early this past Saturday and ran 13 miles. I can recall a time early in my running career (I just started 4-5 years ago) when running 3 miles hurt and 5 miles seemed impossible. Now, with a marathon, numerous half marathons and lots of training miles under my belt – I’m very excited to be able to run “unofficial” half marathons on any given weekend as part of my training.

I did wake up sore the next day as I usually do after longer runs. It is true what they say…that running never gets easier, just faster. I’ve had a sore left calf muscle for several weeks now. It doesn’t seem to be healing and I’m getting a bit nervous that it isn’t just a typical muscle strain. It is located very low in my calf muscle, just above my achilles area – although it doesn’t feel like an achilles tendon problem. Taking some time off from running would probably help more than anything else – but I’m reluctant to get behind in my training this close to the marathon. I think I’ll hit the trails in Forest Park for my next few runs. Maybe the softer surface will help.


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Ahhh, running barefoot…

Posted by bunchgrasser on July 13, 2009

Ok, when was the last time that you actually ran barefoot outside? For me, the answer is last week. However, prior to that I cannot recall the last time I ran barefoot because it was probably 20-30 years ago. For many of us adults, the idea of running barefoot never enters our mind. Most likely because it either seems unsafe (broken glass, rusty nail) or it seems unclean (probably is).

I’ve been very intrigued by this concept of a “barefoot movement” and the potential benefits to be gained by spending more time out of your shoes, thereby strengthening long-lost foot muscles. I’ve done quite a fair bit of reading on this topic and have been amazed by some of the success stories people have shared.

I recently purchased a couple of pairs of Nike Free 5.0’s and I have managed a few short runs (4-6 miles) in them. As I’ve mentioned before, the feeling was amazing and very different from all of my other running shoes. Actually feeling the surface underneath your feet changes something. I felt faster, lighter and more energetic when running in the Free’s.

Last week, while on my normal run (in my Free 5.0’s) I stopped off at a local soccer complex and spent some time on the soft artificial turf field running barefoot. I started with a few slow laps around to get a feel for the barefoot experience. After that I ran some midline sprints…well actually I’m not sure you could call them sprints – but I was running faster than my normal pace. The purpose wasn’t to injure myself, but to just see what it felt like. And, it felt GREAT! I went home with a feeling that I had accomplished something really cool. The next day I woke up with very sore muscles in places I’ve never experienced before. Predictable, I guess…

I’ve since healed up and I’ve been out running in my “standard” shoes (Asics) a few times, but the memory lingers. I’m not planning to switch over to the Free’s full time, or anything crazy like that. I’m constantly worried about injuring myself – so most likely I’ll try to grab a shorter run here and there in them. With the Portland Marathon coming up in early October – I’m very focused on a singular goal: to arrive on race day without any injuries.

I believe there is something very exciting, and potentially very beneficial here. I don’t think I’ll ever be running barefoot down a paved street, but if I can rehabilitate some of my foot muscles it will make me a stronger runner.

More info on barefoot running


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