Categories
running

parkrun #17

Another PR in the books! A lovely sunny morning at Rock Creek Trail. This morning I decided to do my Garmin suggested run within parkrun, which was a 10 minute warmup and cooldown, with 17 minutes of running at threshold, 10:10/mi, in between. It made sense to adapt this into my parkrun at the time, and in the end it was great for my pace in general, but boy was it tough.

I ran .5 miles as a warmup beforehand, and then went off too fast because that’s just what I do. I was going to slow down when another runner came up beside me and asked me about my bone-conduction headphones. He was going fast too so I kept pace for a bit to talk and then just said “I gotta slow down” and let him go ahead. But even then I was running a little faster than my warmup pace (which is around 13:00/mi). However, this has become a thing now; I’m getting better at running which means 13:00/mi is a little slow, and I’m really going about 12:30/mi.

Anyway, then my warmup was over, and as you might suspect, my threshold run began uphill. There are two hills at my parkrun: the first is called “Deepak’s Torture Hill” on Strava and I have to agree with that assessment. This is where I started my threshold, and I hadn’t really factored hills into the whole thing. The second hill is at the turnaround point and has a boring name on Strava so I’m going to call it “Deepak’s Torture Hill 2: The Reckoning.”

The red circle is DTH, the yellow circle is DTH2:TR.

So I started my threshold going uphill, which was hard. But I made it, and my pacing wasn’t … terrible. But I knew what was coming, so I made a decision to walk a couple of times in between DTH and DTH2 so I could bank a little bit of energy for my pacing overall. This is the legacy of Jeff Galloway, the man who told me that I could walk during my run and it would be okay.

The second uphill was hard, but thankfully, the rest of the course is mostly downhill, since you’re coming back the way you came. And so, when my threshold run ended and Garmin put me back on my warmup pace, a weird thing happened: I couldn’t go slower. I just couldn’t. I tried! I even stopped at one point briefly to wiggle out my numbing foot, but when I started up again, I went faster than I expected. My watch kept beeping at me to slow down but I didn’t, and at the last minute was me running even faster to reach the finish line.

I ended up 34:18 official parkrun time, which is a mind-boggling difference of 36 seconds. That’s a lot in running! It really opened up my mind and my body in terms of what I am capable of doing on a 5k race. I could feel the months of running and walking and exercise finally starting to click into place.

And that was that. I bought McDonalds afterward.

Next up is my first ever 10k race! The Foot Traffic Flat on Sauvie Island on the 4th of July. See you then.

Categories
race reports running

Redmond

I forgot to write a recap of the Redmond Run! Let’s do that.

Location: Redmond, Oregon
Distance: 5k
Chip Time: 35:25
Pace: 11:25/mi

On Friday, June 16th I packed up some stuff and drove out to Redmond, Oregon to run yet another 5k. The reason is purely principle: my 2023 New Years resolution was to run a 5k every month. In my mind, that meant running a timed 5k race once a month; untimed “fun runs” didn’t count, nor did parkrun.

For June, the only run I had signed up for was the Starlight Run, which was a fun run, and so I decided to hunt down another, timed, 5k that I could run. After some searching, I came upon the Redmond Run and almost immediately signed up for it.

Then, about an hour later, my brain finally realized that Redmond, Oregon is nowhere near Portland. It was in central Oregon, near Bend.

oops

But it was too late; I had paid my fees. So I decided to go for it and make a little weekend trip out of it.

Pre-Race

The drive to Redmond was gorgeous. First, you’re driving toward Mt. Hood, looming in the distance, and then driving through Mt. Hood National Forest, and then the forest drops away, revealing the cliffside down into the Warm Springs Indian Reservation. I wish I had taken photos but I was driving. C’est la vie. I rented a small cabin out in Terrebonne, about 15 minutes north of Redmond. It was technically in the unincorporated community of Crooked River Ranch, which has a golf course and RV park and restaurants and such. The whole place was great, and the cabin was tiny but well furnished and when I arrived they had a jar full of root beer barrel candies, aka one of my favorite candies ever. So that was a plus.

I drove into Redmond first to pick up my bib. I didn’t take very many pictures of the city because it looked a lot like any other city you’d find in Oregon. In hindsight I realize many people don’t know what that means though, so I wish I had taken more. I did take a photo of this fish statue thing though:

A very strange art piece depicting a fish about to eat another fish.

The Swag

Basic t-shirt and bib with a table full of little things to pick up. I grabbed a box of matches because they had that. Another free thing was Bend Soap, which I already grabbed at previous run. Pretty basic, nothing fancy.

I then drove back to Terrebonne, dropped off my stuff, and then took a quick trip to Smith Rock State Park.

Smith Rock is a well-known rock climbing spot, a mecca of sorts and one of the spots that jumpstarted the modern day rock climbing frenzy. It is absolutely gorgeous and I desperately wished at the time that I had stayed an extra day so I could do a day hike of it or something. But, instead I took a walk around the path for a mile or so, saw some fauna and some people rock climbing, and then returned to the hotel. I wasn’t dressed for a hike and even if I was, I didn’t want to hike too much as I didn’t want to compromise my run the next morning. But I’m definitely going back.

So I went back to my cabin, watched The Birdcage (holds up), and went to bed.

The Atmosphere

Arriving the next morning, I wandered around and got a quick warm up jog in before the race started. It was a great atmosphere. The whole event felt very chill and there were just enough runners for it to feel like an event, but not so many that it felt like a corporate event (*cough*shamrockrun). It was warm and sunny but not too much of either, and I brought my little water bottle and spritzed myself down with sunscreen just in case.

The Race

The goal I had set for myself for this race was 35:00, and I hit 35:25, which I’m happy with. I ran almost the entire thing except for a hill at the end that I just didn’t feel like running up. (Also about 10 seconds when I had to stop and tie my shoe.) I ran my ass off for this one though and was pleased with my body’s ability to keep up for the majority of it.

I’m getting to a point now where 35 minutes feels like it will soon be an average slower 5k pace for me. I can feel 11:00/mi creeping up, and I’m hoping by December to get as close to a 30 minute 5k as possible. Garmin thinks I can do one in 29:30 and hell, maybe I can. We shall see.

After the race they had a smorgasbord of easily digestible carbs. Like, they really went all out: cookies, fruit, bagels with cream cheese, trail mix, and more. I also grabbed a beer this go around, and the man pouring the beers let me know that very hoppy IPAs can damage your taste buds. So I didn’t get the IPA.

And that was it! I drove home, which was also beautiful. At one point you turn a corner and Mt. Hood appears from behind the trees, right there, gigantic and looming. Wish I had gotten a photo of it.

Categories
travel

A Post-Grants Pass Life

This is Crater Lake, not Grants Pass. Unless something very bad happened to Grants Pass.

Last Thursday I drove to Grants Pass, Oregon. It was part of a trip I had planned, to visit my brother Russ and his girlfriend Lori, and to visit my parents, who were driving there as well. We had planned it for a few months now, originally to be in the small town of Shady Cove, Oregon, which is a few miles north of Medford, Oregon (which, itself, is a few miles northwest of Ashland, Oregon, aka the home of the Oregon Shakespeare Festival), but, as always, something Shady happened in Shady Cove and my brother and Lori had to move to Wolf Creek, Oregon.

To be clear: my brother and his GF didn’t do the shady thing. They were escaping a shady situation.

Thankfully, you can cancel hotels easily now so I swapped out the Shady Cove hotel for one in Grants Pass. I didn’t know much about Grants Pass other than that my friend Will was born and raised there and is thankful to be gone. GP was the hub, the HQ, so to speak, where we gathered before going somewhere else, so it’s not like I was going to spend a ton of time there. But I did end up spending more time there than I expected, and I have to say: cute little town!

The drive was down I-5 and was essentially two chunks: the Willamette Valley, stretching from Portland down to Eugene, and then low mountains (hills, really, to us Idahoans) until you reach the Rogue Valley, in which Grants Pass sits. The first half is farmland and the second half is “This is where people go to hide for the rest of their lives.” Lots of unincorporated towns nestled in the hills, the kind of places where you ask yourself, “What do people do for work here?”

Hotel was nice. Red Lion. I splurged and my parents paid for half since it was a double bed situation. It wasn’t anything epic, but good enough that I was glad to have picked it and not, say, a Motel 6. Sometimes you just gotta save up for a good hotel, okay?

It was immediately good to see my parents again. My dad had been doing fairly poorly the past few months as his gallbladder decided to fail him, and so I wondered for a while if he would even be able to make the 10 hour trip from Nampa to Grants Pass. But not only did he make it, he drove the entire time. What a trooper. Naturally, they were tired from the drive and I was tired from the drive, so we didn’t do much on Thursday other than meet Russ and Lori and eat pizza in a park gazebo.

Friday was Crater Lake. There honestly wasn’t much to this trip: we drove up there and saw the lake and then ate lunch and then drove home. Russ and Lori had their dogs with them, a medium sized black dog named Nala (dunno her breed) and a little chihuahua named Kenny. Nala is a rescue dog and kind of fidgety around people so most of the time at Crater Lake, for Russ at least, involved him keeping her from barking and being a nuisance.

Kenny, meanwhile, at one point slipped out of his collar and leapt up onto the stone wall separating the teeming masses from the hundreds of feet drop into the lake itself. He was seconds away from becoming a footnote in a Crater Lake pamphlet. Fortunately, he wasn’t a stupid idiot and, after jumping on the wall, immediately hesitated like, Ut-oh. Lori grabbed him up and that’s when we decided to head to a spot for lunch.

Honestly, I wish we could’ve had more time to hike around the crater, but it’s not like the lake is going anywhere anytime soon. Plenty of opportunities to return.

Saturday I did a 4 mile anaerobic run on a dirt track by a middle school. It was actually pretty nice. Ten minutes of warmup and cool down with 7×1:00 intervals at 8:45/mi, with 3:00 recovery in between. It was humid as hell that morning, 88%! But I got it done and then spent the next hour trying desperately to cool down enough that I wasn’t sweating all over the free continental breakfast. I hung out in the hotel for a bit as my parents had driven off to take photos of bears. In Grants Pass there are a bunch of artsy fiberglass bears placed throughout town. Here’s one that I took a photo of:

This bear looks nervous.

They’re everywhere and this was like the holy grail of parental activities. So they went off and did that and then when they got back I took mom to Ashland so we could see a play at OSF! We arrived in Ashland and walked around Lithia Park and then got some decent boba tea. It was a Thai iced tea from a fancy tea shop that would never dare to keep sweetened condensed milk, so we had coconut milk instead, which … didn’t really taste like Thai iced tea but whatever, it was refreshing.

This was my first time ever going to the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, but my mom went once before–in 1966. Or 67. Somewhere around there. She even brought these brass bracelets that she had bought at OSF back then and gave one to me.

The show I opted to see was Three Musketeers. It was pretty good. Not great, and a little clumsy at times, but enjoyable overall. I think my biggest complaint is that I chose it because I assumed there would be sword fights, which there were, but they were very … slow and awkward. I felt like I was watching a fight rehearsal where everyone was going at 70%. The show had a primarily Black cast with a Black director and was inspired by Dumas’s book, but also contemporized with modern language and culture. Which was fine, but it also was telling the story of the Three Musketeers while also telling this meta narrative of Alexandre Dumas writing the Three Musketeers, which I felt was A) false advertising, and B) not very well constructed. But I digress, this is a trip blog and not a theatre review blog. I enjoyed the show overall!1But I kind of wish we had seen Twelfth Night instead.

Moreover, I was just glad to be able to take my mom out to see some theatre. She really enjoyed herself and after having to take care of Dad for a few months, I think she deserved a night to just relax and put her mind at ease for a few hours.

I never understood the concept of the “magic eraser” in photos but that woman in between us is making me understand.

Sunday morning I ran a 4 mile base run. I wanted it to be 6 miles but Grants Pass is hilly and I couldn’t hack it. Then I went with my parents to continue their Pokemon-esque search for Art Bears. It looked basically like this:

I found a map of the locations of most of the bears and so we drove around and Mom snapped photos of the ones she hadn’t gotten on the first go around. I love my parents but this had to be the most Old Person thing I’ve seen in a while. Just driving around taking photos of bears.

Afterward we met up with Russ and Lori and drove to Eight Dollar Mountain, which has a “botanical wayside” just off the main road. There’s a walkway that leads to a ton of pitcher plants in a fen. A fen! A bona fide fen. I’ve never seen so many pitcher plants in my life.

We mostly moseyed around this section. High moseying quality here. The path couldn’t have been more than a quarter of a mile at most, but my mom and dad loved looking at all the plants and reading all the placards about the plants. My dad had an app which could tell you what a plant was based on a photo. It was nice.

The fam, looking at stuff.

Then we all drove back to Grants Pass and ate Chinese food at a place called China Hut. It was very, very good.

… in bed.

After that we said goodbyes to Russ and Lori and then Mom and I went and swam in the hotel pool for a bit. And then it was Monday morning; time to drive home.

Overall, a great trip. Wasn’t anything to stress out about, just a few days to enjoy family, the great outdoors, and the Magic of Theatreā„¢. With my dad being 81 and my mom in her late 70s at this point, getting to spend a few days with them is always a blessing. I miss them, even when my dad annoys the hell out of me with his tomfoolery. It’s bittersweet, to remember that your parents are going to die one day. That your siblings are going to die one day. That you are going to die one day. It’s the only constant in the universe. So make sure your days on Earth count.

  • 1
    But I kind of wish we had seen Twelfth Night instead.
Categories
fiction writing

Invasion of the Crab People

“Alright, I’m going to explain this in laymen’s terms and then we’re going to figure out how to get the fuck out of here.

“I don’t know how much you know about biology, but there’s this concept in evolutionary biology which states that the crab is the ultimate evolution. I’m … ‘ultimate’ is subjective here I guess, but they even have a term for it. Carcinization. Convergent evolution. Different species evolving into a similar thing. And on Earth, it’s crabs. Five different times in the history of the Earth, things evolved into crabs, separately from each other. You got crabs, but you also got lobsters, shrimp. Some are crabs, the ones call crabs are crabs, ‘true’ crabs they call them–“

Something thuds against the concrete wall in the distance.

“–holy fuck. Okay but also there are ‘false’ crabs, which are creatures that evolve crab-like traits. The king crab, for example–the fucking king crab!– is not a true crab.”

“What is it?” says Laura.

“False crab. Crustacean, a, ah … decapod crustacean. Strange taxonomy because they usually only have eight appendages but whatever. The thing everyone used to eat all the time wasn’t even a real crab.”

“Why are you telling me this now–?”

“Because. It’s important. Let’s extrapolate this concept, okay? If life on Earth regularly and eventually evolves into crabs, then it follows that crabs or creatures with crab-like traits are advantageous for, for living. Right?”

Laura nods, hesitantly.

“Crabs, everything should be crabs, right? Well … what about life in the universe? Is life everywhere meant to be crabs?”

Laura stared at Paul for a few seconds. Another thud in the distance, reverberating dirt off the ceiling into a fine mist in the dimly lit room.

“Are you saying,” she began, before pausing and staring at the ground for another couple of seconds. “Are you saying they are here because we’re not crabs?”

Paul smiled, the kind of smile your dad gives you when you walk across the stage to get your high school diploma. “Yes. Maybe. But probably. Now. We gotta get the fuck out of here.”

++

The Crustatians, or crab people if you will, arrived about six years ago? Hard to remember. First contact seemed innocuous enough; they landed in their spaceship created entirely out of the chitin of their intimately strange “queen” crab, a spaceship that was also a giant crab, with enormous hollowed out sections for living quarters, lavatories, food storage, etc. Upon embarking, the queen crab’s appendages are torn from her body, the jelly-like meat inside stored within a brine solution which keeps indefinitely. The crabs eat this while they travel through space. The queen crab survives this, by the way. They are not traveling through a corpse.

Their hyperspace, or subspace, drive (we’re not sure which) is mind-boggling and during initial talks, their attempts to describe it to us were met with blank stares. In essence, the queen crab is capable of producing a level of energy we spent centuries trying to harness, which she uses to fold space, allowing for near instantaneous universal travel. It seems related somewhat to a mantis shrimp’s ability to strike their claws with the force of a gunshot; a level of energy creation that far surpasses the size of the shrimp itself, much like how an ant can carry 10 times its own weight.

The queen crab does this in space. She, and I can’t believe I’m writing this out, but she clacks her claws together like you or I would snap our fingers, and then folds space using the energy, which is so massive that it defies mathematical explanation. The crab snaps her fingers and boom, they’re here. Apparently, queen crabs can only do this so often and occasionally their claws break, leaving the Crustatians stranded as the queen crab slowly regrows her limb, often using the sustenance of her own stored brine-meat, literally eating herself to grow herself back again.

Needless to say, the scientific community was both aghast and agog during first contact.

++

The concrete wall broke with a loud crash, revealing the blunt and thick end of an enormous green and white claw. Laura screamed and Paul grabbed her arm, and the two of them rushed through the network of now dry sewers beneath the city.

“The crab people are the judges,” Paul said as a crash of debris sounded behind them. A shaft of light revealed the silhouette of the blunt-clawed crab person, only around five feet tall but broad, with one enormous hammered claw and one smaller, pincer-esque claw. Two others appeared behind them, another with a blunt claw and a third, slightly more slender, with two very thin, almost needle claws. They began pursuing Paul and Laura.

“What do you mean?” said Laura.

“They judge the evolution of species in the universe!”

“Judge what? If we’re crab enough?”

“YES!”

They turned a corner to the right, into a smaller side tunnel. Standing in the tunnel about 20 feet away was not a crab person, but one their crablings: essentially a giant crab, not sentient like the crab people. A dog to them, in a way. Its body was wide enough to block the majority of the tunnel.

Paul pulled Laura back and they backtracked for a bit, attempting to cross into a tunnel in the opposite direction. As they did, one of the hammer clawed crab people approached and swung their hammer claw, striking Paul in the back of his left shoulder, knocking him hard enough to send him flying and losing his grip on Laura’s hand. He slammed into the sewer wall and crumpled to the ground.

Laura screamed but stopped then the needle-clawed crab person placed one of their claws gingerly on her lips. It made a trilling sound that was the closest thing a crab person could do to say, “Shhhh.”

++

The first year or so was routine and surprisingly mundane. The Crustatians exchanged ideas with us and learned much about our history and evolutionary path. We were amazed at these humanoid looking crabs with their giant queen crab spaceship; they were amazed that apes had evolved into using tools and even inventing space travel. This is where, of course, things took a turn for the worse.

I was a junior science officer aboard the TI Manifest, the space installation that is now about 65% in the Marianas Trench, when the crab people ordered a meeting with the chief science officer, Admiral Bening, along with the cadre of senior level scientists. I was called to join because Bening was grooming me for senior level advancement within the burgeoning exploratory xenobiology field (not re: the crab people, but more for possible alien life forms found on the planets we were exploring at the time).

The crab people were short. The tallest one was a lithe female standing around 1.3 meters. They all had the broad abdomens that crabs typically have, a single abdomen with eyes and antennae sticking out the front, except that the crab people are also bipedal and, over millions of years of evolution, their second and third sets of legs became vestigial, dangling helplessly from their sides like the tyrannosaurs of the dinosaur age. They worked, but were used mainly for communication; the crab people utilized a language of simple words coupled with intricate sign language. Admiral Bening was at the meeting where they brought a deaf colleague, Dr. Sybari, who was able to achieve communication with the crabs twice as fast as prior attempts.

The crab people wore no clothes and their exoskeletons were vibrant, full of different colorings. The females were bigger and more colorful than the males, and did all the talking. And talk they did: it was at this meeting where we learned that the Crustatians were performing a galactic survey of the Milky Way and discovered us, the only sentient life forms in the entire galaxy. Hard to describe the level of nihilism that passed through the science crew when we heard that–there’s something about a giant crab who can snap her way through the universe that made us not doubt their ability to discern how much life was in an entire galaxy.

They found us and found that we were apes. Hominids. Mammals. Soft, squishy meat bags. And they were … disappointed. The only way I can think to describe it is like when your favorite horse breaks a leg and, even though you love it, you know you have to kill it. The Crustatians looked at us like that, and told us that apes were not the apex of evolution. Crabs were. That meant that we would not progress to the apex of evolution. They sounded sad when they told us this, their soft vocalizations coupled with the weary limpness in their limbs.

And then they started killing us.

++

Paul awoke on a bed with a blinding headache that seemed to ripple down into his shoulder and left side. He moved to press his hand against his head to ease the pain but found that his arms were tied to the bed frame. As were his legs. Even his head was pressed back with some kind of strap against his forehead. The most he could do was turn slightly left or right to survey his surroundings.

The room he was in was dirty and smelled of brine and seawater. This was a perpetual effect of the crab people–their colonies were mostly established along the beach and especially in estuaries, but some also in more distant lands like forests and mountains. Regardless, they all smelled like the ocean.

Eventually Paul realized he was in a medical room, though one repurposed for crab people. There was a bed beside him; Laura was in that bed, but unconscious, her head facing away from Paul. Her skin looked sickly but Paul couldn’t place why.

“You have questions,” said a voice. The vocalization was a crab person, one chosen to speak with humans. Their voice had a permanent sort of “buzzing” sound to it, making “questions” sound more like “quezztions.”

The unique clicking of crab person footsteps approaching. One of their “liaisons,” crab people who wear clothes, try to integrate with human culture. It was wearing a lab coat and a stethoscope that it could not use as it did not have human ears. It was male, its two bulbous eyes moving back and forth quickly, studying Paul’s body in the bed.

“What are you doing?” Paul asked. “Why am I bound like this? What’s going on?!”

“You are not wize to run from uzz,” the crab person replied. “Your true evoluzzun has begun. Zee your zizter.”

The crab person took their claw and gently ran it under the strap holding Paul’s head. With a quick clack, the strap broke. Paul turned to look at his sister Laura in her own bed. “Laura! What did they do to you?!”

Laura stirred, then turned to face her brother. Where her human eyes once sat were now two bulbous black eyes, sticking out from stalks. Above, on her forehead, two baby antennae were growing.

“Paul? What’s happening?”

Paul felt a stabbing in his arm and turned frantically to watch the crab person pushing a syringe full of what looked like brackish water into his body. “The true evoluzzun beginzz,” they said.

“You bastards! You fucking bastards!” was all Paul could get out before the liquid inside him wracked him with pain until he fell unconscious.

++

So, now we are entering the new era of humanity. Our own carcinization, forced upon us by a benevolence of the King Crab, who pities us for our poor evolutionary divergence. All of these other creatures saw the beauty of the crab–why not humans? We, who can’t even fit our wisdom teeth in our fucking jaws anymore.

I hope when the crab people find you, that they are merciful and kill you quickly, or deem you worthy of carcinization. Because they will find you, eventually.

Categories
every park in portland race reports running

Parks & Rec 5k/EPIP: Lents

SE 92nd Avenue and Holgate Blvd
Neighborhood: Lents
Portland Parks & Rec Page

This was the second of five 5k runs Portland Parks & Recreation puts on (here’s the first), and the first that crosses I-205 into East Portland. This is the farthest east run, which makes sense if you remember that the city of Portland doesn’t give a shit about anything east of 102nd.

Lents is important to Portland, though, as it is the home of the Portland Pickles, our local baseball team. Minor league? Probably not, I have no idea. I know nothing about baseball. I know it’s the only sport I can think of where they count how many times you fuck up.

The park is huge and has a ton of stuff to do. This 5k was primarily a trail run, with a few bits on the sidewalk and paved paths. I’d say it was 75% trail, which was a nice change from my typical road runs.

I ran pretty good, considering I had run parkrun yesterday morning (and achieved my fastest 5k time of the year thus far). My feet keep going numb while I’m running and I’m not entirely sure why other than just your typical overuse injury, but this time it made me a little more nervous because it’s hard to tell where you’re stepping when your feet are going numb, and trail is uneven terrain … you get the point.

I think my 5k time was around 36:08 but Garmin has 3.16 miles at 36:33. It was a fun run so none of this really matters, other than I’m pleased with my time considering I ran fast yesterday. The atmosphere was cool and everyone was having a good time. Lots of kids running around too, which is fun. They do a little kid race before the 5k and it’s always great to watch these little teeny kids ambling toward the finish line, completely unaware of what the hell is going on.

Anyway, the park itself. Huge, tons to do. Sports sports sports. You’ve got three baseball fields (though I guess one is strictly for the Pickles), a turf soccer field, a grass soccer field, tennis courts, basketball courts … plenty of Sports Zones. The southern side also has a neat playground, a dog park, and a “nature patch,” which I believe Fernhill Park had as well. There are also a lot of neat houses in this part of town, the kind that remind you of a time before HOAs ruined creativity. Just a big, cool, dynamic park.

Aesthetics: Gorgeous, a lot of open air. Maybe a bit too busy with sports stuff. 8/10

Function: Function out the wazoo. Sports, big fields, go see the Pickles and take your dog to the dog park. Plenty to do. 10/10

Sketchiness: I didn’t notice anything sketchy while I was there, but considering how close it is to 82nd st (a notoriously sketchy street), I wouldn’t be surprised if stuff went down there. That said, I bet the Pickles have some kind of security to keep that at bay. Felt fine otherwise. 9/10

Next month is Columbia Park, in North Portland!

Categories
running

parkrun #16

No photos this week and no friends joining up but I did run the best 5k I’ve ever run in my life, ever. My official parkrun time was 34:54, marking a parkrun PR and a 5k PR in general. Running under 35 minutes has been a goal of mine since I started running 5ks again, and for some reason today was the day to do it.

Still a long way to go to get to sub-30, which is likely going to be my absolute best time for quite a while, if I ever get to it. I think I can, it’s just going to require more running and probably more weight loss. Since I started running parkruns, my time has dropped about eight minutes, over six months. Not. Too. Shabby. But lots of room for improvement.

Not much else to say about this parkrun. Beautiful day, good running. I did it!

Categories
race reports running

parkrun #15 & Starlight Run

This week I invited my friend Nate to come out to parkrun. We haven’t talked in a while and when he caught up with me (in text, not in running) I suggested he come out and enjoy the spring air of our local parkrun. He showed up and did great for a guy who hasn’t exercised in a while!

I, meanwhile, managed a 36:38 time. (Strava didn’t count the 10 seconds where I stopped to tie my shoe.) Ten seconds off my parkrun PB so I’m hoping I’ll make that up and more in the coming weeks. I’ve also convinced my other friend Missy to come out to parkruns as well, so soon we will all be fit and healthy and live forever!

Then I went home and played some Tears of the Kingdom for a bit and then walked over the Hawthorne bridge to the Starlight Run.

The Starlight Run is part of the Portland Rose Festival, and I gotta say, didn’t see one rose anywhere. It’s a fun run, not chip timed, and people dress up in costumes and have a good time. My thought was, a couple months ago, that I would run legit for my parkrun, but since Starlight Run is a “fun run,” I’ll take it easy and slower. No big deal, right?

Well, instead I ran 36:35. And that’s with a couple of forced stops due to MAX trains passing by. If I hadn’t been forced to stop it would’ve been more like 36 minutes even. And this is WITH me holding my tote bag with stuff in it.

I won’t do the whole shebang I do for other race posts. The swag was minimal, a t-shirt and a tote bag (to be fair though, this tote bag is FAR better quality than the others I’ve received. It’s like an actual linen or muslin, not cheap woven plastic). I did snag a free Celsius can from people walking by. The atmosphere was awesome, though–lots of people seated along the sidewalks getting ready for the Starlight Parade later on. Kids giving high fives, everyone giving lots of encouragement. Plus costumes and whatnot. It was great.

My only regret is that I didn’t hydrate very well prior to the run. I saw people with plastic water bottles but couldn’t tell where they were getting them from. I assume from the actual Rose Festival event, which I could’ve gotten into with my bib, but didn’t have cash and didn’t care to use the ATM. So I ran a little “dry,” so to speak. Thankfully, it wasn’t as impactful as the Pacific Coast 5k.

The medal is a cheap plastic thing, which is fine; I wasn’t expecting to get a medal at all. Plus water and a protein bar. Nothing fancy, probably because they want you in the carnival part to spend money there.

Overall, I’m very chuffed, as the Brits would say, with my running on Saturday. For a few reasons: first, consistency between both runs. Second, my heart not giving out and me just collapsing to the ground, dead right there. And third, it’s the day after and I don’t feel totally sore or injured! I feel pretty good, honestly.

That said, I will take Garmin’s advice and rest the next couple of days, before I do it all again.

Next race is the Redmond Run in Redmond, Oregon. Until then.

Categories
running

parkrun #V1 & Running Update

CW: there is some weight/food talk in farther below.

That’s right folks, this past Saturday I volunteered at parkrun for the first time.

It was great! I was the barcode scanner, which means that I took all the times the timekeeper got from the runners and scanned them into the results! Had a great time and it was especially helpful for meeting some of the other volunteers and runners. I highly recommend volunteering if you want to get to know your fellow parkrunners! Afterwards I joined some of the volunteer folks at the nearby crepery for the first time, where I discovered that it was probably better for my waistline and my wallet to have not gone to the nearby crepery.

Since the disaster that was the Pacific Coast 5k, my leg has gotten much, much better, to the point where I think it was actually just a muscle strain rather than a tendon issue. I’m not sure why I thought it was a tendon issue, to be honest–I remember learning in some YouTube video or whatnot that tendons are incredibly strong, and to really injure one takes a lot more effort than, say, just pulling a muscle instead. This past week has been some tenuous walks, some not-so-tenuous walks, and finally a longer walk on Sunday that included four quarter-mile, very easy runs, which all felt good.

This week includes more slow and steady running to build back the mileage I’ve lost. Garmin Coach is on the backburner. Sorry Papa Jeff, you bumped my mileage up 200% over the course of one week and got me injured. It’s all your fault! I’m aiming for 6 miles this week and have already gotten about 2.3 in so far. My calf feels a bit betrayed so I’m going to really take it easy and remember to stretch and do my strength exercises, and also get up and walk while working because sitting at a desk is not helpful for all of this.

I also ate a lot last week. I was aiming for getting more protein to help repair muscle but kind of spiraled out a bit. It felt strange to return to a type of binge eating I hadn’t really done since my last apartment. Some of it was the product of being a little depressed because of my leg and because I’m 40 now and my body is withering away like an old banana. But to dive as deep as I did with the sort of behavioral self-awareness that I have now was very interesting. It was Rational Brain watching Lizard Brain take over for a bit. “You’re hurt and you’re an old banana? Don’t worry, I gotcha. Just sit back and relax and here’s All The Food.”

A prior version of me probably would’ve spiraled all the way down, but I contextualized this moment as part of the 80/20 philosophy. Sure, 80/20 can be a weekly thing, but it can also be a monthly thing, or a yearly thing. Eighty percent on track, 20 percent deviation. An easy thing to accept when it’s walking down a trail in the forest, right? Stay on the trail but sometimes you wander out to sniff a flower or take a shit behind a tree. So I try to approach food in that manner as well. Get your chicken and rice and veggies but sometimes you eat a pizza or a bag of Doritos. C’est la vie. I’m never going to be perfect on nutrition. I don’t want to be perfect on nutrition. I want the cauliflower and the cannoli. If that shaves a few years off my life, so be it.

My next 5k is a fun run, the Starlight Run, and it’s not until June 3rd, so my intent over the next couple of weeks is to rebuild mileage very slow and very easy. I can bring speed in later. Now it’s just getting back to a 10 mile or so foundation before I build (SLOWLY) onto that. You hear me, Coach Jeff?!

Categories
race reports running

Pacific Coast Running Festival

Location: Long Beach, Washington
Distance: 5k
Chip(?) Time: 37:32
Garmin Time: 37:08
Pace: 12:05/mi or 11:30/mi

The medal’s a little busy, but it’s still pretty cool.

Well, if you were looking for a race report where it “all went wrong,” this is the one. Let’s just dig in shall we?

Pre-Race

Since this was my first real “getaway” race, I had to get all my ducks in a row before I left. I failed at this in a fun way that I’ll explain in a bit. I also had to make sure my cat, Jowers, had enough food for when I was gone. I was a little worried about leaving her but I’m back now and of course she’s fine. It’s almost like nothing changed. I did forget to fill her water dish when I left so she was out of water when I got back, which I am disappointed in myself about.

This race is part of the Pacific Coast Running Festival, which hosts a lot of runs including a “sand marathon,” which is apparently the longest sand marathon in the U.S. and maybe the world? I don’t know. It’s along the coast of Long Beach, which has at least 20 miles of unbroken coastline. There’s gotta be longer coastlines in California though, right? Whatever.

I chose to drive in on Saturday afternoon and leave Sunday morning. I got a hotel room which was WAY too big; I wanted to splurge since it was my birthday weekend, and ended up getting the “family suite,” which was basically a single story room with two beds and a whole kitchen and everything. ENTIRELY too much for me. If anything it made me feel super self-conscious about being there on my own. The city was full of tourists, which were mostly big families, and I felt like the only singular people I saw were locals. I don’t mind getting away on my own for trips and such, but there was something about this trip that made me feel like it would have been better experienced with a significant other.

Also, I splurged on this hotel room which looked nice from a distance but the closer you got, the shittier everything was. Just little aesthetic details, mostly, like the place got built or renovated quick. There was also a door in the kitchen that was locked from the other side, which was unnerving. I suspect it was just full of cleaning supplies, or murdering supplies. Or both!

I walked around and bought stuff, like you do. Kitschy souvenirs and such.

You laugh but I’ve always wanted a Swiss army knife. This one has my name on it!

One crucial thing I forgot to do all Saturday was take in some amount of caffeine. Yeah, I’m not one of those people who is a slave to coffee, but I do have a cup every morning, and not having a cup on Saturday coupled with a long day of driving and looking at stuff gave me a nasty headache while I slept. Awesome!

Swag & Atmosphere

(I didn’t get any photos of the event itself because I didn’t have my phone with me because … of reasons I will explain in the next segment.)

I’m lumping these together because there wasn’t a lot of swag and there wasn’t a lot of atmosphere. T-shirt, sure, and a couple of little things, SmarTea and some hydrating mix powders. Another issue of Vancouver Family Magazine, taunting me for my lack of children.

The morning of was kind of … lacking, in a way. People just kind of showed up, 20 minutes before the gun went off. It was very casual, which is nice! I prefer casual to the juggernaut of stuff like the Shamrock Run. The 10/5k was the last race event though so the event crew was probably ready to wrap it up. Not a lot of 5k runners, just 83. The 10k had 61, the half had 88, and the Sunset Sand 5k (a 5k ran on the beach) had 84. The results site doesn’t have anything for the marathon or any of the bike rides, I guess they didn’t time those? Anyway, doesn’t seem like a lot of people overall, and some of those people probably signed up for more than one event because you get a special “beast” medal if you do.

I will say that they had a “kids dash” right before the 5/10k time and it was so dang cute watching the little kids run to the finish line. One of the last kids (maybe the last) was running as we were setting up at the start line, and a bunch of people made a little path with their arms tented above for her as she passed the finish. It was great.

The Race

Alright so let’s talk about everything that went wrong first.

First: Slept terribly.

Hotel was cool but not that cool and the only AC was a standing fan because it’s the beach and it never gets regularly hot enough for AC. I had a headache from caffeine withdrawal. Also, someone who had rented the room before me set the clock alarm for 4:09am. So I was rudely awoken by that. Just bad sleep all around.

I took ibuprofen the morning of (side note: I am so thankful to remember to take ibuprofen with me) and it subsided pretty much before the race began, but it still sucked.

Second: Forgot my running shorts.

This one makes me so mad. I triple checked all of the gear I was going to take with me the morning of and completely forgot about my running shorts. So I had to run in the shorts I drove in on, which are very definitely not made for running. I clearly looked like “guy who forgot running shorts” too, everyone else was wearing suitable kit but I looked like a dunce. This is like if you were a ballet dancer and forgot your ballet shoes for your opening night of … Ballet Show. I can’t think of a popular ballet right now. Swan Lake? I think Swan Lake.

Third: I took a wrong turn at Albuquerque.

Okay so the first half of this 5k I was doing really well. I was able to fully run the first half and my pace was even pretty good: my average for mile 1 was 10:44. The race itself was a kind of grueling I can only explain as a warm morning coupled with sand particulates in the air. My mouth felt like the Sahara in more ways than one. This all coupled with my lack of quality sleep and just the whole thing in general made me do a very stupid thing.

So to preface this I need to explain: there is a boardwalk next to the big arch that is the entrance to the beach. It is a big, obvious boardwalk and goes on for some time. It is a walk, made of boards.

Okay so after running on the road path for around 2.5 miles, we are dropped off onto a little section of the street. There is a sign with a left arrow for half marathon runners and a right arrow for 10/5k runners. There is also a man there. The man says, “10k and 5k runners use the boardwalk!” He says this very clearly. However, my brain sees an arrow pointing right and, rather than heading toward the obvious boardwalk, I turn right and start walking up the street. My brain is like, “The boardwalk must be up that way.” I run this for like, well, for as long as the picture above before I’m like, Where is everyone? and then turn around and see all the people I lapped, now lapping me. So I hustle back, wasting precious time and, more importantly, running faster to get there, which I think hurt me in the long run.

Speaking of hurting me…

Fourth: I fuckin’ hurt myself dude.

Everyone sprints towards the finish line and I am no exception. The boardwalk declines a bit to the road and I pick up the pace, literally: my pace goes from about 11:00/mi to under 7. Pretty cool, and Garmin is like “Yeah this is the good stuff” but then as I am running to the finish I feel a sudden pain in my right achilles tendon. Yep, the one that’s been bothering me. I manage to run to the finish but barely, and I’m hobbling for the last few steps.

This felt worse than my usual tendon hurt and will probably lay me up for the next week to heal. I’d rather abandon my Coach Jeff training for a week or two than get seriously injured. Thankfully the pain subsided after I stopped running, so it’s likely not something serious but … it hurts, and I want it to stop.

Also, I’m not 100% on the chip time on this race. The the timing results website says my gun time was 37:32. It doesn’t mention my chip time at all. (Gun time is the start of the race from the moment the guy says “Go,” basically [or when the starter pistol goes off {they get it josh} okay sorry].) Garmin, meanwhile, says my time, which I started as I crossed the start, was 37:08, and I would argue the difference in time as the amount of time it took me to get to the start line from the back of the pack. But our bibs had chip tags on them, so I’m not sure what that’s about.

I checked the other runners and they all have gun times, and I even checked the race timer’s website, which has live results for the half marathon and shows gun time and chip times as the same. I feel like I was shorted some seconds there, and I would complain about GPS but it was literally a clear day at the beach, one of the most open spots around. Obviously GPS isn’t 100% accurate but still, I feel like something is off.

Post-Race

After the race I got to the hotel, showered, got my stuff, and got the hell out of dodge. I didn’t even use my snack or beer ticket. Partially I was worried about Jowers, but moreover I was just annoyed with all the mishaps coupled me just being there on my own, feeling alone among all of these couples and families and whatnot. Makes me feel like I’m an alien or something.

I’m not sure I’ll do this again next year alone.

The drive home was lovely, especially the early bit to Astoria, with the sun glinting off the Columbia River. Also the Megler Bridge is such a cool bridge. I ate a homemade Moon Pie from a candy shop while I drove. It was … too much. Good, but too much. Then when I got home I quickly went to Burgerville for some incredibly disappointing chicken tenders. I just wanted some quick protein! The whole meal was kind of disappointing–they have deep fried asparagus which was kind of gross. Just give me regular asparagus please.

Anyway now I’m here typing this and so thankful that my next race isn’t for three whole weeks and it’s just a fun run.

Until next time…

Categories
running

parkrun #13

No photos because I didn’t bring my phone with me.

Nice warm and sunny morning with a TON of runners, 67, which I think is a new record for Rock Creek Trail. I intentionally ran this one slow, to try and keep my heart rate in Zone 3. My new Forerunner 265, aside from being very cool and shiny, has a Load Focus feature which was telling me that I wasn’t getting enough Low Aerobic runs in, so I focused on that. Did it help? Probably, yeah, in the long run, but at the time I just felt like I was running really slow. I will say, when I finished I felt like I could keep going, which is a good sign. Lots of walking and running mixes.

I’m not sure that I will keep doing weekly logs of parkruns. It feels weird to do it unless I’m getting a PR or a milestone. We’ll see!