Bunchgrasser’s World

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Posts Tagged ‘Saltstick’

2010 Eugene Marathon = New PR for me!

Posted by bunchgrasser on May 4, 2010

I ran the Eugene Marathon this past Sunday and it was a blast. The mostly flat and scenic course helped me eke out a new marathon PR, besting my previous marathon time by about 9 minutes. Kirsten and I drove down to Eugene the night before and stayed in a hotel rather than attempt getting up really early to drive down the day of. It was really nice because the hotel was only a couple blocks from the start/finish line. Kirsten ran the half marathon and did really well.

The race started on Agate Street, right in front of Hayward Stadium and first took us on a 9 mile out and back. From there we headed east out to Springfield, then looped around and joined a trail system that followed along side the Willamette River for several miles. Finally, at around mile 20 we crossed back over the river and headed back toward Hayward Stadium.

I hadn’t banked a lot of miles prior to this race, and most of those miles were slow trail miles to boot. So, I wasn’t expecting a PR – but I did feel pretty good running my 9.5 minute pace for the first 12-14 miles. Based on that I kept the pedal down as long as I could, but as expected the wheels started to squeak around mile 18 (its always the evil mile 18).

I had some pretty bad pain coming from my right big toe. It always seems to cause me grief, so I taped it up pre-race thinking I might dodge a bullet. Nope! It became pretty clear that I had some serious blister action that wasn’t going away. Somewhere along the river I jumped off the path and sat down on a bench. I quickly shed my shoe and 2 layers of socks (Injinji toe socks, covered with a thin Coolmax sock). I fetched a tube of Lidocain creme out of my pocket and quickly daubed my blister. Within a minute I was back on the trail and hoping the pain would diminish. Nothing changed for about a mile, but before I knew it the excruciating throbbing had mostly subsided. I could definitely still feel my blister, but with more than 6 miles to go that stuff really saved me.

Around mile 22 I was really feeling out of gas. I had been pushing gel and salt caps every hour, along with both Gatorade and water at most every aid station. I was hoping to push that wall out an extra mile or two – but it didn’t seem to help much. The last 4 miles or so were mentally and physically challenging. I occasionally saw runners trying to stretch away cramps. I saw a young girl puking (for the 3rd or 4th time) and felt really bad for her. I was just pleased that my condition hadn’t degraded that far.  I did some walk/run alternating a few times but I hated knowing that my good finish time was slipping away. Soon thereafter I saw the top of Hayward Stadium looming off in the distance and knew it would soon be over.

As I turned up Agate Street and toward the stadium gate I could hear some cheering and cowbell (more cowbell). I shuffled through the gate and onto the track toward the finish. I had been looking forward to this part for more than 4 hours. Not only finishing – so that the pain would end, but also enjoying the privilege of running in the footsteps of some legendary athletes. As I rounded the last turn and heard my name called – I raised my arms briefly and crossed over the timing mats, ending my third full marathon with a new PR.

I was very pleased to realize that my legs felt pretty good post-race. In my previous 2 marathons (both in Portland), I was completely destroyed after crossing the finish. So, maybe this is progress and my body is finally getting conditioned for this type of torture. Swathed in a foil wrapper and feeling like a day-old Costco hot dog, I shuffled over to the food tables and began to nosh. The bag of Famous Amos cookies hit the spot, then I grabbed a plate of pancakes. On the way out I grabbed a couple of bananas as well. Luckily the hotel was close by so I managed to walk a few blocks and had time for a quick shower before the noon check out time.

All in all it was a great race. I think the RD, organizers and volunteers did a fabulous job. Barring any injuries I expect to be back next year with a fresh assault toward a new marathon PR. Congrats to Kirsten for completing her first ever “road” half (she ran the Timberline Trail Half last year). She got herself a nice PR and is look forward to Helvetia soon.

Marathon and Half Marathon results are posted here.

Gear used: Nike hat & shorts, Injinji socks, Zensah compression leg sleeves, Oakley glasses, Adidas Supernova Glide shoes (brand new – not broken in), GU gel, Saltstick caps, Zoot race belt, Amphipod Race Lite Go Pocket.

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My Sunday Rumble

Posted by bunchgrasser on April 17, 2010

This past Sunday I headed over to central Oregon and ran the 2010 Peterson Ridge Rumble in Sisters, OR. Ultra runner and Race Director Sean Meissner puts on this annual race as a fundraiser for the Sister High School Cross Country Team and does a very good job of it. The race is well organized, but very laid back with that small town feel to it. This was my first Rumble but I had heard and read lots of great comments about the course, so I was really looking forward to it.

Rather than get up way too early on Sunday morning to make the drive over from Portland, I chose to stay a night at the Ponderosa Best Western Lodge in Sisters. The Ponderosa is 1/2 mile from the race start, very reasonable in cost and has a giant hot tub (like small swimming pool size) in case you want to soak a little the night before. They also provide a complimentary lite breakfast featuring waffles & boiled eggs, among other things. You can also feed the llamas (if you are into that).

Sunday morning I packed up, had some breakfast, checked out and drove over to the Sisters Middle School to watch the 60k start at 8:00am. My 30k start was at 9:00am, so I had plenty of time to mingle. I did meet up with an old college buddy of mine (Gene Trahern) who lives in the area and was running the 30k with his son Garrett.

The weather turned out to be perfect, with a cold start and some light clouds in the morning. The mountain views were still visible though. This pic was taken near the race start just prior to 8:00am. As the day progressed the temps warmed up quite a bit and it stayed dry the entire day.

As the clock drew near 9:00am, I finished my gear preparation and tried to determine what I wanted to carry with me for 20 miles (note: this course is longer than a standard 30k). I had planned to use my Nathan hydration vest with 2 liters of Nuun and a few snacks tucked away in various pockets. However, at the last minute I scrapped that plan and went with my Ultimate Direction hydration belt with a single bottle of Gatorade. Given the distance and that there were enough aid stations – I wanted to travel as light as possible. In retrospect I’m glad I did as the single bottle worked out fine. The aid stations did indeed have plenty of food for those that needed it.

The 30k start (across the road from the middle school) sent us out on a dirt jeep track for the first mile or so, giving the pack a chance to spread out some. One very cool aspect of the 30k was that dogs were allowed to participate. The dogs were clearly enjoying it as they chased each other up and down the trail. I would later be amazed by all the dogs finishing the entire 20 miles. We quickly popped out onto a long, straight gravel/dirt road. This was my least favorite part of the course as it seemed to stretch on forever. In reality this section was about 3 miles or so, but I was very happy when we left the road and hit the trail.

The 30k follows a slightly modified out and back course, which seemed to be gentle uphill on the way out and gentle downhill on the way back. There is one steep, rocky butte that runners must climb (both directions) which features the most technical, narrow, rocky singletrack. For me it was fun on the way out, but not so much fun on the return trip where the climb posed more of a problem for tired legs.

After grabbing a couple of tasty Oreo cookies, pushing gel and salt caps at the first aid station, I crossed over a road and followed the trail up a ridge. As the elevation increased there were several vistas off to the right with some wonderful mountain views. I had a fellow runner snap a quick pic of me during a short rest break. Over the next several miles there were plenty of great views that called to me but I wanted to keep moving since I was close to the turnaround point. My only goal for this race was to finish in under 4 hours. This allowed me to take it slow and spend plenty of time enjoying the scenery and aid stations.

I soon hit the turnaround and headed back down the hill. The next several miles were my favorite part of the course. Partly due to it being a gradual downhill slope, but also because the trail meandered through a beautiful open pine forest. Enjoyable as it was, it felt long and I kept thinking I would pop out of the trees onto the road soon but the trail just kept going. By the time I did hit the gravel road, I was feeling tired and my glutes and hamstrings were pretty sore. Also, somewhere along the last section of trail I developed what I would later learn was a huge blister on the end of my big toe (almost like having another toe). I knew my toe was causing pain but also realized nothing could be done about it. Strange that I’ve never had a blister there before – but it is always something, right? Just part of the adventure…

Remember the 3 miles of gravel road that I didn’t like on the way out? Well, that same section became even more evil on the way back. I seriously didn’t think it would ever end. The pain coming from my toe was causing me a slight limp but I pressed on, albeit very slowly. I began to wonder if that sub-4 hour finish time would elude me. I finally came to the turn onto the dirt jeep track and knew that I was probably only a mile or so away from the finish. I pushed on, staring at the dry trail in front of me, and after a very long mile I saw a clearing through the trees. I crossed the road, shuffled through the middle school parking lot and onto the track for my “final lap” to the finish.

I crossed the line with a 3:50:26 time, which was 118/172 for the 30k. Clearly not an impressive time, but I made my goal and truly enjoyed the run (well, except for that return section on  the gravel road). When crossing the finish, I was given a water bottle and the coveted pair of “Rumble” socks. I found a spot on the track to rest and stretch for a minute and snapped this pic. Hot, tired & very sore would accurately describe me in this pic – but the underlying emotions of peace, happiness and satisfaction are there as well.

It is hard to describe the feeling I get when running trails. I’ve put in a lot of miles on the pavement over the past 5-6 years. And, generally speaking I’ve truly enjoyed most every mile. But there was always something missing, and I never knew what it was until I started trail running. It is the connection between human and earth. Yeah, sounds silly right? Well, as they say – don’t knock it until you try it. In all the hours I’ve spent running on pavement, surrounded by traffic, buildings & noise – I never experienced that zen-like feeling of being connected to the natural world around me. Call it my “Avatar” moment, but it is real, at least for me, and I’m flat out hooked on it. It seems clear to me that trail running has become the next revolution in the sport of running and I’m very eager to see where it will lead me.

After resting for a few minutes I stumbled over to the food area and loaded up my plate. I was extremely happy to see chicken & black bean burritos being served rather than burgers & hot dogs. I want to specifically thank RD Sean Meissner for this, as I believe it be the best RD decision ever! I hope this tradition will continue at next year’s Rumble as well. I scarfed down the burrito, chips and a decadently sweet brownie. Washed it down with a “retro” can of Mountain Dew and headed for my car. The sugar and caffeine in the Dew actually helped me stay alert on the 3.5 hour drive back to Portland.

I’d like to thank Sean and all of the other organizers and volunteers for putting on a great race. I very much look forward to running the Rumble again next year.

Gear used: North Face Rucky Chucky, Injinji socks, Drymax trail lite socks, Zensah compression calf sleeves, Montrail hat, Nike gloves/shorts/shirt, Ultimate Direction hydration belt, GU gel, SaltStick caps.

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22 Mile Trail Run = A Good Day

Posted by bunchgrasser on March 23, 2010

This past Saturday was a good day for me. It was one of those days where all things come together in a positive way that reeks of Karmic influence. Who knows, maybe I’ve been paying my dues on the trail (and treadmill) enough over the past few months to warrant the running gods tossing me a bone. Or, maybe I’ve just been persistent enough to get through yet another bad patch of illness and injury, both of which seem to come as a package deal with running for me. I’m not a spiritual guy by any measure – so I’ll leave that answer to the philosophers.

Saturday was clear, sunny and in the low 60’s – perfect for spending a few hours on the trail. I loaded up my gear and headed for Leif Erikson Drive, which is a scenic, 11 mile gravel/dirt/mud road spanning the entire length of Portland’s Forest Park. My objective for the day was to run the entire length of Leif Erikson Drive (out and back) for a total of 22 miles.

The first few miles served as a good warm-up, so I increased my pace a bit and settled into a nice rhythm. I stopped once to push a Hammer Gel and 2 salt caps. For hydration I simply took periodic hits from the bite valve on my hydration pack. The beautiful scenery and miles flew by and before I knew it I was standing at the trail head (and turn-around point) on the opposite end of Forest Park. There were plenty of runners, walkers & mountain bikers on the trail – and you could just see the happiness on their faces.

I took a few minutes to down another gel (GU – Espresso Love this time), 2 more salt caps, and a Bonk Breaker bar. A couple  hits of Nuun from my hydration pack to wash it all down and I was headed back up the trail for the return trip. On previous runs, my hamstrings and glutes usually cry mercy at about mile 15. This time, all systems felt pretty strong at that distance so I pushed on with a smile plastered across my face. I stopped once more at around mile 18 for a final energy boost (another gel and 2 more salt caps) and then cruised on to the finish. I arrived back at my car feeling pretty good and very satisfied with myself. All of my gear, shoes, clothing worked well, so (hopefully) no changes will be needed for my upcoming race (Peterson Ridge Rumble).

For those interested – below is a short list of gear & supplies that I’ve been using on longer runs:

Nathan HPL #20 Hydration Pack, Nuun tablets, SaltStick caps, Hammer gel, GU gel, Bonk Breaker bars, North Face Rucky Chucky shoes, Injinji toe socks, DryMax socks, Brave Soldier Friction Zone lube, Zensah compression calf sleeves.

Cheers

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15 miles on Leif Erikson Trail

Posted by bunchgrasser on March 15, 2010

After getting only a couple of 6 milers in during this past week I was determined to get my long run in over the weekend. Saturday was booked up, so on Sunday I grabbed my gear and headed to Forest Park. At least the weather cooperated – with mid-50’s temp, overcast skies and no rain in sight it was close to perfect for a long trail run.

Unlike the very popular Wildwood Trail which is single-track heaven, Leif Erikson is essentially a wide rock/dirt road that spans the entire 11 mile length of Forest Park. It is mostly flat with a few moderate hills, and this time of year has a few shallow mud holes to make it interesting. More importantly, it is closed to all traffic other than runners, hikers, bikers and the occasional horse rider. It is quite popular on weekends, so runners should listen for approaching mountain bikers.

For this run I used my Ultimate Direction hydration belt with a single bottle, and also carried one Nathan hand-held bottle for backup. Both bottles contained Nuun. I also carried one GU gel, four Salt Stick caps and one Bonk Breaker for energy replacement. As it turned out, I could have used more liquid as I ran short the last few miles.

I started my out-and-back run at the Germantown Road trail head and continued until mile marker 3 which is exactly 8 miles. At the turn-around point I stopped long enough to eat my GU gel, another 2 SaltStick caps and Bonk Bar before heading back the other way. It took a few minutes to find my rhythm again but the peaceful scenery made it easy to find my “happy place”.

At around mile 12-13 I could feel my upper legs starting to complain. By mile 14 my hamstrings and glutes were hurting pretty bad. It actually surprised me how fast they went from mild soreness to obvious pain. Clearly I need to work on strengthening these muscles as there seems to be an imbalance. My lower legs and feet felt fine, as my North Face Rucky Chucky’s seemed to be doing a great job.

I ended up cutting my planned 16 miler short by walking the last mile. I’ve battled injuries consistently over the past few years so I try to ease up and listen to my body when it complains. Walking the last mile also gave me a nice cool-down period before jumping into the car. My lessons for the day were: take more liquid and energy food for a run that length. And, I need to spend some time strengthening my hamstrings and glutes to support longer runs.

Until next time…

Cheers

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