Bunchgrasser’s World

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Posts Tagged ‘half marathon’

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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2009 Vernonia Half Marathon – Race Report

Posted by bunchgrasser on April 8, 2009

vernonia-half-bc_img_02431I made a last minute decision to run the Vernonia Half Marathon this past Saturday, April 4 and I’m very glad I did. I was simply looking for an organized race to gauge my fitness level in preparation for the Eugene Marathon next month. The Vernonia Half was roughly a 30 minute drive from my home, not terribly expensive and had a fairly small number of runners participating (around 160).

I had never run this race before, and as I understand it was cancelled last year due to serious flooding in the city of Vernonia. I arrived about an hour early on race day and in spite of the 30 degree temperature outside, the sun was promising to break through the fog eventually. Vernonia is a smallish city tucked into a charming little river valley. Driving through the city takes you back to a time when Main Street was still the center of commerce. Absent entirely were strip malls and other evidence of modern suburbia.

I easily found parking less than 100 feet from Anderson Park, where race day registration and packet pick-up was located. In less than 5 minutes I had my race bib pinned to my shirt and was ready for the 9:30am start. I’m normally used to long lines and crowds, so this was a refreshing change. I warmed up with a slow jog around the block a couple of times and then crossed over the river on the footbridge to the Vernonia High School track which served as the start line for this race. After milling around for a few minutes, we were given a verbal start and the small group of runners were off!

The first segment of this point-to-point race was a two mile out-and-back to the lake on the Banks-Vernonia State Trail. Then we crossed back over the footbridge, past Anderson Park and continued away from town. The Bank-Vernonia State Trail is an old, converted railroad bed that meanders through scenic woods for most of the race. The trail was paved for roughly the first half of the race but turned to gravel somewhere close to the midpoint. There were several rough areas that were newly graveled and also a couple of large mud holes that were downright hard to navigate. I really enjoyed the Zen-like, peaceful run on the paved trail through the woods. The cool air, shade and mossy green colors were a stark contrast to your typical urban half marathon course. The latter half of the course was definitely a trail run which offered its share of challenges. Not really mentioned in the race description were the two short, but steep, quad-burning hills that slowed me down to a walk. The first hill was located near the middle of the course where you cross the main highway. The second hill is in the last quarter mile where you switch from the trail to the highway for the last uphill push to the finish in LL “Stub” Stewart State Park. There were several water stations along the way (3-4 if I recall correctly) and at least one that was also serving Gatorade.

I didn’t start this race with any intention of getting a PR. But my splits early in the race were good and at mile 7 my Garmin GPS watch showed a pretty decent overall time. Encouraged by this I decided to attempt beating my old half marathon record. By the final half mile and in spite of slowing to a fast walk on the last steep hill, I was just under my record so I pushed hard and crossed the finish with a 1:53:32 time, effectively beating my previous half marathon record by 3 minutes. Certainly not an impressive time as compared to many of the talented runners that day, but I always try to remember that I’m 42 years old, only competing against myself and that any PR is a good PR!

The race organizers had water, bananas and oranges waiting at the finish, as well as the clothing bags that we had sent forward to the finish line. I put on my fleece and running pants and then boarded the big yellow school bus that shuttled us back to Anderson Park for the awards ceremony, food and raffle. After eating hot chicken noodle soup, muffins, cookies and hot coffee I laid down to relax in the sunshine for a few minutes. My body was sore and tired, but for those few minutes the world seemed perfect.

A short while later the awards were given out to both men’s and women’s age group winners. Congratulations to overall winner and local Vernonia runner, Tim Pillow who crossed the finish line with a very quick 1:19:29 time. After the awards ceremony there was a raffle which included prizes of both long sleeve technical running shirts and pies. Yes, you heard me correctly…I did say pies. Not realizing how much I desperately wanted one of those pies, I wandered up to the front of the crowd and listened for my number to be called. One-by-one the shirts and pies disappeared with each number called, until the last one was gone. I guess it wasn’t my year for a pie – but I did get a PR and I thoroughly enjoyed running the 2009 Vernonia Half Marathon. My hat is off to the city of Vernonia, ORCC, Mark Barrett (Race Director), all of the race volunteers and the folks at Vernonia Cares who provided the hot soup and pies!

I’m planning to be back next year and I would unconditionally encourage others to consider running this race next year as well! Race results have been posted on the ORCC website. Race photos are available here, courtesy of Brian F Conaghan Photography.


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Spirit of the Marathon movie – again

Posted by bunchgrasser on November 18, 2008

spirit-picI watched the “Spirit of the Marathon” movie again yesterday. I found it on Netflix and added it to my queue. Actually, it is really a documentary, not a movie – but that is what everyone seems to call it. I saw Spirit the first time when it showed for one night only at theaters in Portland. I had already mostly decided to run my first marathon by then, but I have to say that watching Spirit completely put me over the edge. I walked out of the theater so fired up that I wanted to run home from the theater.

For those that haven’t seen it yet – I highly recommend finding and watching it. Even if you aren’t a runner – I thought it was a well done documentary. It follows several individuals (both professional and first-timers) as they prepare for and finally run the Chicago marathon. I’ve added a summary from the Spirit website below:

Spirit of the Marathon is the first ever non-fiction feature film to capture the drama and essence of the famed 26.2 mile running event. Filmed on four continents, the movie brings together a diverse cast of amateur athletes and marathon luminaries.

As six unique stories unfold, each runner prepares for and ultimately faces the challenge of the Chicago Marathon. More than a sports movie, Spirit of the Marathon is an inspirational journey of perseverance and personal triumph; a spectacle that will be embraced by runners and non-runners alike.

 I have to say that I was inspired all over again yesterday while watching it for the second time. My wife and daughter watched it with me and they enjoyed it as well. My wife is contemplating running her first half marathon this spring and I think watching Spirit has helped push her over the edge.


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