Thursday, July 19, 2012

Take Me Out to the Ballgame

How often in life do you get to combine two of your favorite things? For example, a running race and watching a baseball game. Not very often, so I have to give a superbad shoutout to the HOTV Runners for providing this opportunity to the local community. And for the second year in a row I took advantage and ran the Out to the Ballgame 5K Fun Run...this time without a jogging stroller. Turns out I can run faster without it.

Going into the race I was cautiously optimistic...I had been running a lot lately and my legs were feeling dead, but it was only a 5K and I've had good races on what I thought were tired legs before. At the starting line I could see my competition would be Gonzalo Martinez and Tyler Childers...they both went out together and I just situated myself right in behind them.

Somewhere before we hit the first mile, Tyler dropped back. Now Gonzalo was leading and I was right on his shoulder. We hit mile 1 a little under 5:30...right in my wheelhouse, I thought...I run 5:30 miles all the time! But shortly thereafter, I could feel Gonzalo pulling away ever so slightly. I knew I had to keep contact...I surged on a slight downhill and caught back up. We ran out to 30th and took a left, headed south. At Washington we made a U-turn and headed back north. In this stretch, I was running alongside Gonzalo and then pulled ahead slightly. We hit mile 2 again just under 5:30 and I was in the lead. We headed back up Jefferson toward the Memorial Union and went around the quad toward the library. I could feel and hear Gonzalo right behind me. I tried to surge on the downhill past the library and felt like I created a little bit of a gap, but knew I couldn't let up. The good news was my legs felt gut was a little upset, but I felt like he would have to run near 5:00 minute pace to beat me now. As we headed around the outside of the baseball field I started to think that I had it won, but once we got onto the warning track he put in one more surge. As we headed down the third base line toward the finish at home plate, I finally looked back and he was right there! I gave it everything I had left and just barely held him less than half a second (16:49.88 vs. 16:50.33)!

That was fun...thanks for the race Gonzalo and thanks again to the HOTV Runners for organizing such a fun event. For winning, I got a baseball autographed by all the Corvallis Knights...that was cool, but maybe next year the winner could throw out the first pitch?

Saturday, July 7, 2012

There's Something About Mary's Peak...

I don't remember exactly when the seed was planted, but I'm guessing it was on a run with the Corvallis trail runners when I became infatuated with the idea of running multiple loops on Mary's Peak.

It's right in my own backyard

According to Clem LaCava, the loop was designed by Larry Halford in the late 90's to be used in training for 100 milers. It is approximately 14.5 miles and has about 3600 feet of elevation gain. The start is at the North Ridge trailhead at the end of Woods Creek Road. It goes up North Ridge Trail to the bench, turns left onto Tie Trail, goes up East Ridge Trail, turns left up the stairs before the parking lot, crosses the gravel road and completes the Meadowedge Trail loop counterclockwise, takes a sharp right up Summit Trail to the top, then goes down the gravel road, turns right back onto East Ridge Trail, goes back down the same way onto Tie Trail to the bench, and goes back down North Ridge Trail to the bottom.

As the story goes, only a handful of runners have ever completed 3 loops and no one had ever completed 4 loops...though Nate McDowell had started a 4th loop and turned back.

In July of 2009 The Pain Train (on 7/3) and I (on 7/12) both completed a triple Mary. For me, that day and ever since I've thought about doing a quadruple Mary...I've just been looking for the right time to do it.

Father's Day weekend of 2012 turned out to be the right time. The triple Mary in 2009 took just under 10 hours, so I figured the quad Mary could take as long as 14 hours...this was doable with over 15 hours of daylight. I was lucky enough to get to share all this time on the peak with Roger McKay...he was looking to add his name to the short list of triple Mary finishers. Although we weren't planning to run together, we would be passing by each other multiple times and just knowing that someone else was out there putting themselves through it too was comforting. I was planning to start at 6:00 AM, but I was running late. By the time I got there and was ready to go it was 6:30 AM...Roger had already headed up. As I started up my legs felt a little lethargic, like they weren't quite awake yet. I was doing a lot of hiking early, but the pace was looking good...almost too good...with all the hiking it felt easy. I was surprised that my time to the bench was similar to the double Mary I had done 3 weeks to slow myself down. There were still a few trees in particular with no good way around it. On the second loop I started crawling under it. I caught up to Roger going up the East Ridge Trail...he said he started about 15 minutes before me. We talked briefly...I told him I was inspired by the Niagara Falls tightrope walker who had just achieved his dream the night before...others were inspired as well.

Roger one switchback below

Near the top, the East Ridge Trail pops out of the trees and you get an amazing panoramic was an absolutely beautiful day. I could see all the snow-capped mountains in the distance. I made my first summit in about 1:50...not the first one to the top, though...there was already someone up there. I took my picture and headed down. Roger was already on the Meadowedge loop, so I didn't see him again until the second loop.

First summit...

I did run into The Old Gunslinger on my way down. He was just back on track after some bush whacking. By all accounts, he ran a hell of a single Mary that day. Thanks for coming out and supporting us with the Subway sandwiches and half cans of time I'll know it's safe to drink.

Going up

I finished the first loop in 2:55, refueled, and was headed up again at 3:02. I felt good going up on the second loop. My time to the bench was about the same as the first loop and my time to the top was just a couple minutes slower. This time there was quite a crowd at the top.

Second summit...

Coming down on the second loop, I could start to feel the effort. I stopped and took a phone call from Tonya...she was planning to meet up with Roger to run with him for a bit. The plan was to have her park at the top, walk up the gravel road, and wait at the bench near the East Ridge and Meadowedge Trails. Depending on the timing, she'd either see Roger coming up the East Ridge Trail or down the gravel road from the top.

Roger on the Tie Trail

After getting that figured out, I finished the second loop in 6:06, refueled, and was headed up again at 6:14 after talking to The Old Gunslinger who had waited for me at the bottom. Unfortunately I forgot to address some chaffing of the undercarriage.

My pace headed up on the third loop had noticeably degraded. I reached the bench about 5 minutes slower than the first two loops. Then I ran into Roger on the Tie Trail, but not Tonya. Turns out she was running ahead of Roger, got to a junction, and decided she knew which way to go! We figured that she must have gone down the East Ridge Trail toward Connor's Camp...actually, there was no other way for her to go. I could tell Roger felt bad, but he didn't do anything wrong. I was a little worried about Tonya myself...what would she do when she got to Connor's Camp? I made my way down to the junction and yelled her name even though she was probably over halfway down the trail at that point. Turns out there was a mountain biker practically right in front of me that I didn't see...I think I scared him to death. I asked him if he had seen Tonya and in so many words he said he hadn't. This surprised me, although I think he was in serious oxygen debt and may not have remembered seeing her or even understood what I was saying. As it turns out, he had seen her, because Tonya remembered talking to him. When he told me he hadn't seen her I wasn't sure what to do...should I run down to Connor's Camp myself or continue on up to the top? In the end, I believed Tonya had to have gone down that trail and that she would be smart enough to turn around and come back the way she came when she got to Connor's Camp. So I went up and made my third summit in just over 2 hours. I also thought there was a good chance I might run into her on my way down.

Third summit...

I didn't see Tonya on my way down, so I stopped a couple miles from the bottom where I was getting better cell phone reception to try to get ahold of her. Turns out she was safe and sound, already back in Corvallis...whew. She was smart...she got to the end of the trail, waited for Roger, he didn't show up, so she headed back the way she came. I was also a little worried that I hadn't seen Roger coming up on his third loop yet. I started to have visions of him finishing his second loop, getting in his car, and going to look for Tonya. But thankfully right after I got ahold of her I saw him coming up the trail...whew, again. With all the drama settled, I began to really notice the chaffing and it was killing me.

Roger heading up on his third loop

I finished my third loop in 9:41...this was about 14 minutes faster than my triple Mary in 2009. At this point I did think how nice it would be to stop now, but other than the chaffing, there was nothing stopping me from doing a fourth loop. So I lubed up, changed my shorts (as you can see in the fourth summit picture), refueled, and was headed up again at 9:55.

All the uphill on the fourth loop felt time for my fourth summit was 2:15. At the top I sat at the picnic table for a few minutes not really too excited about heading down...I looked at my watch...I had about 1:45 to complete the run in under 14 hours. At that point I was thinking it might be close! Well, I sat too long and was very stiff headed down the gravel road, but I gradually loosened up.

Fourth summit!

I have to admit one thing that drove me on the fourth loop was the possibility of catching up to Roger. Although, by the time I hit the bench and was headed down North Ridge Trail, I wasn't sure if it would happen. But I did end up catching him with a couple miles to go. It was actually right as we hit the downed tree that was easiest to crawl I got a nice picture.

The easiest way was under

I was hurting pretty bad on that last stretch down North Ridge Trail, so I told Roger I was just going to go ahead and get this over with. I finished the four loops in 13:36:24. I was in a world of hurt...the kind of hurt that doesn't go away when you stop running. I climbed into the back of my truck and just laid there until Roger finished. My legs were aching really bad and my stomach was pretty upset...enough so that the thought of trying to eat was repulsive. It was funny...I had all these thoughts in my head of trying to recover properly after this run, but in the end I could barely function.

Official time...13:36:24


Congratulations again to you Roger for finishing a very difficult run that very few have completed and that most are afraid to even try. I hope it gives you the mental edge to run well at the PCT 50 miler and Waldo 100K this summer.

After hanging out for a bit after the run, I suddenly felt the need to get home right away...I needed to see Tonya and the kids before they went to bed. They had tried to meet me at the top of the peak on my fourth loop with a picnic dinner, but unfortunately they were waiting for me in the parking lot, and the loop never goes through the parking lot, so I missed them. I was pretty upset about it and I was feeling really bad about being gone all day. When I got home I was physically and emotionally a wreck...thanks so much guys for letting me do this...I love it and I love you too...I think you understand.

With that said, I have another Mary's Peak run planned this was inspired by the Old Gunslinger. He suggested that I run up and down Mary's Peak Road from the parking lot off of Highway 34. I liked that idea, but felt like running from my house to the top of Mary's Peak and back on the road would be even cooler. We shall see....

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Run To...err...For the Hills

I've always wanted to run this race and finally got the chance. I wanted to do some speedwork this weekend and the race sounded a lot more fun than mile repeats.

I took off with the 4 young guns (see pictures below) at a very quick pace...I saw 5:24 on the Garmin early on.

Eventually, we got off the paved path and started heading up the trail to the top of Bald Hill. By the time we got to the top of the hill I was running in 3rd and 2nd place was in sight. At the bottom of the first downhill I was right behind him. He was running well on the flats and ups, so my plan was to stay with him and pass him on the next downhill. Well, I changed my mind and ended up trying to break him on the second climb to the top of Bald Hill...didn't work...he passed me back! But I caught back up on the downhill and passed him fairly easily. I finished over a minute behind the winner in 31:38...but I did run the tenth fastest time on the course according to Ultrasignup. Cary Stephens and crew put on a great race. Photos were taken by Greg Johnson.

I was feeling a little guilty for skipping mile repeats, so I ran a couple 5:30 miles after the race.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Eugene Marathon 2012

Guest post by Kristin Rosling

Eugene must be a special marathon because the only other time I’ve written about a race was after the 2010 Eugene Marathon.

I had a drama filled week leading up to the race. I was whining about my sore legs all week and telling everyone how worried I was, and how stupid it was for me to climb Dog Mountain (and run down a lot of the steep descent) one week before my race. Talk about a QUAD KILLER! I don’t think I have ever been so sore and in so much pain, ever! I went into serious therapy mode and got my legs feeling a little better, but I was still pretty worried about them going into the race.

Like all races, it feels like kind of a blur after the fact. I remember being concerned the first few miles because I felt so tight and could feel some Dog Mountain soreness, but then I kind of warmed up and kept my pace around 7:45. I saw a familiar face around mile 6. I shouted at her and she fell right into pace with me :) and stuck with me until mile 8 (I think). Around mile 9/10 I was definitely starting to feel some pain. It felt so early to be hurting, but it wasn’t totally horrible yet. I started searching people out for high fives at this point. Basically I was targeting anyone who was close enough to the road and looked somewhat lively and able to take a hard hit. The two great things about high fives are human contact and slapping someone hard enough that your hand stings a little and you forget about your leg pain for one second. I always knew about the human contact thing, but I figured out the hand stinging thing yesterday. Sorry if I hurt or surprised anyone out there. It really helps and the boost is just enough to surge a little and maintain pace.

So high fives were working for me and things were going ok for the most part. I had no idea what I might be on pace for as far as finish time but I knew I had a definite shot at a PR if I could maintain. I hit a hard wall at mile 19/20 and was really hoping to see my dad or any familiar face soon! Lots of pain, lots and lots of pain, and a couple small breakdowns. Why are you crying?? ‘Cause this sucks!! I felt like I slowed way down, but after every mile marker my watch was still close to 8 min so I felt like I really had to push and keep it up with the finish getting so close. Miles 20-26 are typically a death march, but it seemed like they were gonna be the worst they had ever been. When I saw Kelly Brennan again at mile 24 I was SO happy! Thank you so much Kelly! Getting “carried” to mile 25 felt like a gift from God on April 29th. When I reached the track at Hayward and saw that I could finish sub 3:30 I pushed with whatever I had left and clocked in at 3:29:09. Holy shit!!!

I told Kelly my race strategy these days is to start fast and see how long I can keep it up. I’ve decided this is truly a great strategy because either it’s your day or it’s not. And if it is your day then you might do something amazing, especially if you start fast. Once the pain sets in there’s no reason to slow down because it doesn’t hurt any less to go slower and the finish line is that much further away if you do. Now to forget about the pain so I can sign up for another one :)

Saturday, April 28, 2012

As the Pain Train Would Say...

It's go time!

The Eugene Marathon is tomorrow and my training went exactly as planned.

I had two good road races...the Albany 10 Miler in 57:24 and the Corvallis Half Marathon in 1:15:41.
I built up to a 10 mile tempo run at sub-6:00 minute pace.
I built up to 10 800's at sub-2:35
I built up to 13 mile repeats at sub-5:30
And my last long run was 26.2 miles around Corvallis and Philomath in 2:59:41!

2 years ago, sub 2:40:00 at Eugene was a little hard for me to believe. This year it's been the goal from the beginning. I think I'm ready.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Feelin' Lucky...

Because I've got friends and family who support my letting me do what I do and by getting into it themselves.

Who looks ready to run?

Who is first off the line?

Who has their game face on?

That's Will Rosling!

The finish line is in sight

Finishing up the Spring for Kids 2K

Cheering on his friends

That's my boy

I've been trying to race a little less this year...well except for those 5 races in January...

New Year's Day triple - It started with the Capitol Mile. I had run sub-5 minutes last year, so figured I should be able to do that again. I never really considered the fact that my Garmin said the race was only 0.96 miles! The race was different this year...they got the distance right and by the halfway point I found myself in the lead...last year I had people to chase down, which I prefer. I ended up getting passed by 3 guys on the way back, yet still managed to win the Open Division! Needless to say, I did not break 5 minutes (5:08)...but I think I ran about the same pace as last year...maybe slightly slower. So after a bit of a disappointment, it was over to Gary and Shandi's for the Hangover Run and Beer Mile. I had won the Hangover Run last year, so I had to run it again to defend my title. I figured my main competition would be Sean Meissner, but I had just beat him in the Capitol Mile...I thought maybe he was saving himself for this race. I really like this's a flat 3K on a mixture of reminds my of high school cross-country. I ran about the same time as last year, which was good enough for the win. OK, maybe Sean is saving himself for the Beer Mile. This would be my first ever Beer Mile...I knew I could run fast, but how was my beer drinking...average at best? I did do one practice round with the Old Gunslinger a day or two earlier. It didn't go real well for me...he drank his entire beer before I even had mine opened! Luckily this beer mile was using a keg and glasses rather than cans. I wasn't the first one off the line, but I was able to catch up to the leaders on the first lap. From there I didn't really have any trouble getting the beer down or keeping it down. I was a little surprised at how easy it seemed. In the end the race was a lot closer than I realized, but I had won. I couldn't believe I ran a sub-7 minute first thought was do I have another beer to drink or lap to run? And what a crazy feeling afterwards...I went from feeling fine right after the race to totally buzzed in was weird. It took awhile, but I sobered up headed home. Good photos here.

Cascade Half Marathon - I went back and forth on whether I would run this race this year. In the end there were two main reasons I did...I've got a streak of now 8 consecutive times running the race and I had to try to avenge a terrible race last year. I was really defeated by the weather last year and it was going to play a factor this year too...but this time I was ready for it, mentally.

It wasn't as bad as it looks... (photo by Mick Evans)

At a minimum, I wanted to break 1:20:00. I was running about 6:00 minute pace and doing just fine until about mile 5 when I got too close to the edge of the road and rolled my ankle pretty bad. The problem was I couldn't see the edge of the road with the snow! At first I thought I might be done, but I walked it off and recovered pretty well...probably lost 30 seconds at the most and was back to the same pace as before in the next mile. Things continued pretty well until probably about 10 miles...I felt like I ran out of gas and my hamstrings were starting to tighten up. From there it got a little ugly, but I did what I could...leaned into the wind...and success, I hit that minimum goal...1:19:59! I'd like to give a superbad shoutout to Kristin, Roger, and Tonya for their PR's in less than ideal conditions!

Roaring River Half Marathon - I had planned to run the Napa Valley Marathon in March, but the race filled literally hours before I was going to sign up. I was a little disappointed, but the good news was now I could spread my training out over a longer period of time (new target = Eugene Marathon) and fit in some more races! This race was just 5 days after Cascade, so I took it pretty easy during the week and felt like I was ready again to run something in the 6:00 per mile range. I started off with Jason Hawthorne and we watched a couple other fast guys take the lead. We were all well below 6:00 minute pace and I remember thinking I was going to pay for this later. We basically headed north for the first half of the race and south for the second half...right into the wind...and it was really blowing that day. That coupled with starting too fast led to a major crash for me...from about 9 miles on back was a real struggle. I thought I might still have a shot at breaking 1:20:00 since I had banked so much time with the fast start, but nope...1:20:34. Not a great run (positive splits), but the course was nice...just would have been nicer to run on a nicer day.

Zena Road Run 15K - Tonya is training for the Eugene Marathon too, and we got to run this race together. It has been around forever, but I had never run it. I knew it was hilly, but I had no idea. Sorry, Tonya. The good news was that it was an absolutely beautiful day.

iRun for Kids 10 Miler - Just ran this race today...I was hoping for something around 57 minutes and ended up running 57:24. Plug that into the race time predictor and you get a marathon of 2:40 and change...I'm in the ballpark. I've got one more big test before Eugene...the Corvallis Half Marathon...maybe sub-1:16? I don't know...I've heard there are hills. Hopefully April will culminate with an epic Eugene Marathon so I can "retire" from road marathoning.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Cascade Crest 100...All Aboard the Pain Train

I wrote down some thoughts awhile back about this was an amazing experience that needs to be shared.

After Western States, I was really looking forward to helping William get through his first 100 miler, The Cascade Crest 100 Mile Endurance Run. I ended up driving up to the race by myself. It was kind of nice...I took the "long" way through the Gorge and up 97. I met up with William and the crew (Jason, Kane, Jolene, and Mason) in Cle Elum. We found a place for dinner that served pasta and it turns out the pasta dishes came in two sizes, so there was a lot of discussion with the waitress about whether we were man enough to eat the full dinner. Hey, do you see this belt buckle that I'm wearing? After dinner we went back to the hotel room to relax, go through the race handbook, review past race splits, discuss plans, etc.

The race has a unique starting time of 10:00 AM, which I learned was used so even the fastest runners have to run through the night. It was nice not to have to get up so early, but once we got there, checked in, dropped off the drop bags, and said hi to a few runners and crew that we knew, there wasn't much to do but wait. Luckily Kane brought his mask and of course there was the hobo house to explore. By the time they finally took off, it was starting to get pretty warm. I believe William was forecasting a high temperature of about 75 degrees for the day...I think it got a bit hotter than that. According to the internet, it was already 75 degrees at the start of the race! The high temperature for Easton, WA on 8/27/11 was 96 degrees! I think that was hotter than Western States!

Once they were off, our crew split up. Jason, Kane, and I planned to meet Jolene and Mason at the first crew access at Tacoma Pass at 23 miles. We had quite a bit of time to kill...hmmm...too early for lunch. We ended up driving around for awhile...finally we felt like it was late enough to have lunch so we stopped at Mountain High Hamburgers and had the Mt. Rainier burger. After lunch we figured we could head up and wait for William. Based on splits from previous years, I figured he would come through somewhere between 2:30 and 3:00 PM. There were a lot of people already there waiting. I was looking for some I said before, it was pretty warm. Rod Bien came through first...he looked good...I would say effortless, especially when compared to everyone else...second place was already 17 minutes back! Wow! About an hour later, Randy Benthin and several Frank Schnekenburger look-a-likes who we dubbed Frank 1, Frank 2, and Frank 3 came through...we expected William very soon. When he did come in, I have to say I was caught off guard...even though almost everyone coming in looked like they were already hurting, I expected William to come in grab his pre-filled bottles and take off. What, he wants to sit down...shit, we didn't bring the chair. What, he needs some tomato soup...shit where is it (as I'm digging through his bag). He needs some ice...shit, the aid station doesn't have any (I had to run back to the truck to get some). Hey, don't worry, we told's early...there's plenty of time to get things back together.

At the next two crew access points, Stampede Pass (mile 33) and Meadow Mountain (mile 41), he was definitely doing better. I was still surprised, though, at how rough almost everyone was looking by these points in the race. At Meadow Mountain the sun was starting to was weird that most weren't even half done with the race and it was getting dark. We skipped the crew access (it was discouraged anyway) at Olallie Meadows at mile 48 and went straight to the next crew access at Hyak at mile 53. Jason would be pacing William from here to Kachess Lake (mile 68). After they took off, Jolene texted me asking how William was to answer this without worrying her unnecessarily. I said he's doing better, still running. I drove to Kachess Lake with Kane and got myself ready to run. By this time, it was approaching 2:00 AM and I was finally starting to get really tired. Thankfully they arrived before I fell asleep. In a funny moment at the aid station I remember going through a list of several things that William should try to eat...the response was no, he's off that, no, he's off that...he was off pretty much everything at this point.

So we started off on the Trail from Hell...what a way to start. It was pretty much a scramble...lots of downed trees to crawl over/under and other obstacles that made it impossible to run. I thought it was kind of ridiculous...we couldn't do much more than laugh. After the scramble section we got on the trail along the was just a really difficult trail to run on. I was actually telling William to save himself on this section. Things seemed to be going pretty well, then maybe halfway into this section, he stopped to try to puke...from this point I could tell my job was going to be to just keep him moving. I kept telling him, the faster you keep moving forward, the sooner you'll be done. When we got to the Mineral Creek aid station, we heard over the radio that Rod had just finished and broke the course record! Not really what you want to hear when you're hurting and have 27 miles to go yourself. Out of Mineral Creek was a long hike up a gravel road...about 7 miles long. I remember we'd been heading up for quite awhile and hadn't seen anyone...William asked me if I was sure we were still on the course. I was pretty sure we were, but inside I was a little panicked. Eventually we saw some people coming downhill, which was weird at first, but they were part of someone's crew. We weren't going to see our crew again until mile 96.

It was really cool when the sun started to come up. We were still hiking up the gravel road and there were some amazing views of the surrounding mountains. It's well known that some of the most difficult terrain on the course comes near the end. There are the cardiac needles...several very steep climbs...and the high point on the course, Thorp Mountain. Even with my elevation profile, I was never quite sure if we were through the worst of it. William kept trying to run anything that was runnable, but it was obviously very tough for him. Heck I was starting to have trouble myself...the last 20 miles of the course were a lot tougher than I thought they would be. At the French Cabin aid station (mile 88), we were informed there was one more climb...are you kidding me! But maybe the toughest part was the very long descent that followed that climb...especially since William couldn't run downhill at this point! As we headed down the steepest section to the last aid station, I was giving him periodic elevation readings from my Garmin since we knew approximately how far we had to descend. When we pulled into the last aid station everyone was there to greet us...all aboard the Pain Train...Jason, Kane, and I all finished it up with him. Jolene and Mason met us at the finish.

As the day was unfolding I couldn't help but feel bad for my friend...he didn't have his best day. I can understand the disappointment that comes when you don't perform to what you feel is your potential. But I was also reminded of how incredibly tough this guy is...the Pain Train was in pain! I couldn't help but think how many people would have quit under those circumstances. He confirmed to me what I already knew...William Swint is a BMF and just Plain tough. Bring on those Washington mountains!