Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Must.... Refrain....

I'm running Saturday. That's all there is to it. End of discussion. I'm not saying another word...



try stopping me

couldn't do it, could you?

not another word

Monday, September 04, 2006

Cabin Fever Sets In

This is the third day since my vasectomy and I'm starting to really get the itch to run, or do just about anything outside the house that doesn't involved ice packs. Last night I felt good enough to risk dinner at my folk's house. Even the light exercise of setting the table, clearing away the dishes, etc. was enough to send me gratefully hobbling back to my futon and cold press but the desire is there. I think is some very small way I can now empathize with people who get seriously injured or sick. I want to run.

Friday, September 01, 2006

Race Report

Well, HTC 2006 has come and gone. What a great experience! I have to admit that I was a little worried about getting into a van for 26 hours with a group of total strangers. (I’ve been on van rides of similar length, after which what were previously good friends never spoke to each other again). It’s just a long time to be cooped up with other people, not to mention the physical discomfort, lack of sleep, etc. But, it turned out that my worries were in vain. Everyone got along fabulously, or if they didn’t, I wasn’t able to detect any unhappiness.

The riders of the first van were our driver Eric, Don, Chelsea, Mike, myself, Jeremy, and Lannie.

I left the house at 7:40 to meet with Jeremy at the carpool point and we were meeting the rest of the group in Vancouver by 9:30. Michael was able to score us a rented 2006 Suburban – probably the last van rental anywhere in the greater Portland/Vancouver area. By about noon, we were up to Mt. Hood and ready for our 1:45 go time. We waited around nervously, filling the time with conversation, van decorating, and viewing of the awesome scenery. I tried to take a nap in the shade but it didn’t happen.

At the start line, there was a definite party atmosphere with some booths, lots of porta-potties, runners milling around everywhere, and the ubiquitous perky morning DJ-style up in a tower with a microphone, keeping up the constant running monologue that I personally find to usually be irritating.
Mixed in with all the running people were a minority of diehard skiers and boarders up on the mountain to enjoy the sad little patch of snow left in August.

waiting to start
Originally uploaded by gene_poole.
The first three runners (Don, Chelsea, and Michael) flew down hill, getting some awesome times. My first leg (leg four) had a little of that steep downhill, then leveled out with a slight uphill at the end of the seven miles.

there they go
Originally uploaded by gene_poole.

When it was time to run my first leg, I screwed up and got overly excited. I took off way too fast and flew down the first bit of hill and out onto the flat. I was planning to run this section no faster than 8:30 and at one point looked down at my forerunner to see that I was running a 7:15. I also got carried away with trying to keep up with a faster runner. By the time I got across the flat and started up my little hill, I didn’t have anything left to pour on. I ended up finishing about 20 seconds per mile slower than I was looking for but nobody seemed to mind.

After the six of us finished our first round of legs, we drove to Michael’s parent’s house where his mom had fluffy towels and a good hot meal waiting for us. Jeremy said it best, “I love moms!” After seven hours of running, this woman’s hospitality was God-sent We all got a shower, hot meal, and an hour to sack out or just rest before piling into the van to go exchange with Van Two.

too much shutter
Originally uploaded by gene_poole.
Eric (left) and Lannie at the exchange in Portland. Eric drove the van and Lannie ran the last leg. Both turned out to be very cool guys and I hope to see them next year. Eric hurt his foot while training this year. Maybe next I'll get to hand the baton off to him.

The handoff was accomplished under a bridge in Portland, the Hawthorne maybe? I don’t know, I’m terrible with names and landmarks. After Don set out, we started into our second group of legs, which would take us through the night and early morning past St. Helens. I was much happier with my second leg – a ridiculously short 3.5 mile flat stretch leading into St. Helens. I kept my pace even and ran something under eight, which for me is speedy.

running leads to land fill
Originally uploaded by gene_poole.
I'm always a little taken aback by the huge piles of empty individual serving water bottles that build up in drifts at these events. I wish we could participate in my favorite sport without being so inefficient but I have to admit to taking two bottles from a vendor table myself.

After exchanging again with Van Two, we got over an hour’s sleep, sacked out on the floor in a high school gym. Wooden gym floor with a sleeping bag but no pad never felt so good! I woke up somewhat refreshed and not at all sore from the hard floor.

Chelsea accepts a water handoff at about one AM. I'm not sure what Don was looking at. Our standard procedure was to drive to the exchange, where one runner would hand off the baton and take the next runner's spot in the van. Then we would drive to the middle point of the leg to wait and provide fluids for our runner. After that, driving to the next exchange point, parking, getting most of us up to the exchange point to cheer the runners on, etc. left very little actual down time.

pretty lights 2
Originally uploaded by gene_poole.

pretty lights 3
Originally uploaded by gene_poole.
I was trying to capture how cool 100s of runner's flashlights looked coming down the hill in the dark, like bobbing lanterns or strings of lights. Jank camera...

I started my last leg at about 12:30. By this time we were in rural timber country between St. Helens and the beach. My leg was moderately difficult as was my achievement running it. It was hot and we were running through clear cut part of the time. I passed a bunch of people but didn’t run anywhere near as well as I wanted to. Fatigue and not training as hard as I should have took their toll and I ended up coming in at nine even. 

Jeremy, who ran the leg after mine, had probably two of the three hardest legs on the course. His last leg was straight up steep switchbacks for about 5 miles in the exposed hot sun. People were dying off left and right. The harder it got, the faster he chugged up that hill. He ended up running a 7:30 up the hill and a 7:16 total after running down two miles of the backside. What a machine! How lucky we were to have him!

After Jeremy and Lannie finished their legs, we handed off to Van Two for the last time and drove to Seaside. Once again, we got a shower in the local high school and got organized. Jeremy and I met our wives and kids and went to the beach to play while the rest of the group went off to a sit-down meal. By playing with the kids on the beach, I mean I lethargically lurched after Thomas and gave everyone the 1000 yard stare.

casualties of war
Originally uploaded by gene_poole.
Don, Chelsea, and Lannie all had pretty bad blisters by the end. One lasting result of running a marathon - I have my footgear stone-cold dialed in, as there was no room for any trouble there.

Originally uploaded by gene_poole.
The group coming back to life after a short nap in the high school gym.

After Van Two’s last runner Jay made it to the finish, we all went down the chute together, officially finished, got our medals and group photo op. I usually feel vaguely silly at this point and alternated between “I feel lame.” and “This is so great. I’m happy to be here with these people right now.”

After the photo taking, we had access to the beer garden, which everyone had been making a lot of to-do about all along. Jeremy and I opted for pizza and a pitcher with our families instead, and the rest of Van One took off as well, as two were underage and most just wanted to head home. A soft pillow and a bed that night hadn’t felt any better in a long, long time.

All in all, I was a little disappointed with my leg times even if they weren't that far outside the norm. I don’t feel that I trained as hard as I should have, and I'm sure that the lingering chest cold I still had contributed. All in all though, I had great experience, feel lucky to have gotten on a team and basically fortunate to have the health necessary to participate. I can't wait for next year.