parkrun #12

This was my first real warm sunny run of the year and boy did I feel it. My official time is 37:16, slower than usual but an overall pace of around 12:00/mi, which, if you think about my pacing runs for my 10k, seems like I was unintentionally running slower for that. Muscle memory and whatnot. Also my sleep has been a little worse lately due to the warmer nights.

I always pop off a little too fast at these which ends up screwing with me later on, but this time I was still in the 10-10:30/mi range, which is about a minute slower than I start usually. Usually I am bolting out of there almost, a stupid move, and going slower this week meant that I took fewer walk breaks overall–only 8 this go around, all :30 except for two which were both a little over a minute. I’m fine with that.

More good news is that my knees feel alright. My calves are surprisingly sore though, which I attribute more to a weakness somewhere else in my legs (my hamstrings, probably), than to overuse. My calves are beasts, they will not be tamed. Other good news is that I ran all of the hills, which is my one requirement for this course. It has good hills and I use them to help strengthen up the ol’ legs.

Oh, also, this morning was my first time using the Albertson’s bathroom nearby. Good bathroom!

I am still woefully terrible at social interactions though, which makes the end of every parkrun feel awkward. What do you say to a bunch of people after you’ve run with them? “What’s your favorite dinosaur?”


parkrun #11

My official parkrun time was 36:28, which means my general pace was 11:44/mi, which means I am officially as fast as I was in 2013 with that one Shamrock Run 8k. This is wild. I was sure that I would be running slower this week due to my hamstrings being sore from cadence drills (that I very likely overstrided on because I was trying to run as fast as possible). Instead, I ran faster than the Lacamas 5k.

The craziest part is that I was going to set up a PacePro plan on my Forerunner for an 11:30/mi pace, but decided against it at the last minute because I didn’t want my damn watch to beep every five seconds telling me I’m too fast or too slow. So instead I just ran and was only 15 seconds off.

Of course, I ran and I walked.

I walked a lot, actually, but never more than 45 seconds to a minute at a time. And as you can see, when I run, my pace is around 11:30/mi or faster. I need to do more hill work, because the hills at Rock Creek Trail get me every time

I’m not worried about walk breaks anymore thanks to my new grandfather, Olympian Jeff Galloway.

Hi Josh, it’s me, your new grandfather, Jefferson Galloway! You’re the best grandson I’ve ever had. I’m proud of you and your progress. Keep on keeping on, as we used to say in the 1970s!

If anything, I’ve learned to embrace the bit of 30 second-1 minute relief I get before pushing off again. I know at some point I will be able to run the entire thing without stopping, but we’ll get there. No need to rush.

In non-running parkrun news, I am still socially awkward as hell and have trouble just chatting with people there. That isn’t a parkrun exclusive though, I’ve always been terrible at sparking up conversation.

I think that’s it. There’s not much else to talk about this week. Good run! We’ll see if I run that Five Fifty Fifty run tomorrow though.


parkrun #10

Oooh, look, fancy 3D map.

My official parkrun time was 37:10, with an average pace of 11:58/mi. That, in itself, is very cool. I think I can whittle my pace down to under 11 minutes by the end of the year. I walked a lot during this run, especially in the second half. Ate too much for breakfast, I think, so my stomach was being a little sloshy. Plus I had to tie my shoe at one point. But also, my heart rate was threshold practically the entire time, so I stopped purposely a few times to get it down below 160. Clearly I can tolerate a 170-180 bpm for 3 miles (my average was around 165), but it’s a reminder that I need to do more slow runs. I’m sure if I ran slower overall I would’ve gotten a faster time. It’s nice to see a 9:30/mi pace but clearly I can’t sustain it.

In fact, comparing this run to my track run on Thursday, where I ran 2 miles and all but 30 seconds of it was running and I’m basically proving my point, as my average pace for that run was 11:32 but was a consistent 11-11:30/mi pace, rather than the serious ups and downs of this parkrun. To be fair! the parkrun course does have a couple of uphills, which the track does not.

For some reason WordPress won’t let me caption these image, so I’ll do it here: the top is my pace for the track session, the bottom is today’s parkrun. You can see how, for parkrun, when I was running I was generally running much quicker than I usually do (again, because I was keeping pace with other people). But it really does tire me out.

The message overall is good: run slower and you’ll run faster.

My first parkrun time was 42:58. So, over the course of four months my 5k time has gone down by a little under 6 minutes. If that’s not progress I don’t know what the fuck is.

That’s my pace for parkrun #1. Look at all those troughs of walking, whereas now they’re more like spikes.

Next week I am running a race. I’ve got a lot of races lined up but will have more parkruns in between them. So … see you then.


parkrun #9

Parkrun time: 37:30
Pace: 12:04/mi

The last gasp of winter stretched across the Willamette Valley these past couple of days, and my drive from Portland to the Rock Creek Trail parkrun was like driving from a reasonably cold early Spring morning to Hades clawing for Persephone as she returns to the overworld. Thankfully, it wasn’t freezing or too windy and ended up being pretty good weather for a run.

So let’s get this out of the way: this was the best 5k I’ve run since 2013, timewise. I might argue that it’s the best 5k I’ve ever run, because back in 2012/2013, Runkeeper’s GPS was very erratic and would often screw up for me. That said, I think the first half of 2013 was probably my best in terms of running, as I was doing a lot of heavy lifting too, which added necessary core and leg strength. Plus, if you extrapolate my 11:44/mi pace from the 8k Shamrock I ran back then, it comes out to 36:27 for a 5k, which you could argue would be faster since it would be a 5k rather than an 8k, blah blah blah, I was faster back then. But not by much!

I attribute 75% of my faster pace to my new shoes. Whenever I watched videos of people reviewing new running shoes, I would scoff because aside from some basics, like weight, how can a shoe on its own make you faster? Well, the answer is: I don’t know, but these Nike Winflos did it. The pep and push I felt from these shoes were undeniable. The cushioning is great; just enough to let me feel the road beneath me but not too little to hurt. The balls of my feet did NOT go numb this run, which is a big win. My footfalls felt neutral and not too turned out. My instincts were right–the stability shoes were hindering me, not helping me.

At the start of the run I noticed I was behind many people who usually disappear away from me early on. When I checked my watch, I discovered that I was running a 9:35/mi pace, and I did not feel like I was doing that! A lot of this run became me trying to figure out how to run with these shoes, in a manner that wouldn’t leave me exhausted early on. That turned out to be a lot more walk breaks than I would’ve liked, but my pace never dropped below 13 minutes, which is a good thing.

A bonus pic of me at the finish line!

I attribute the other 25% of my success to eating better and exercise. You know, the basics. I had a lot of protein thanks to those lime & pepper chicken breasts I cooked up earlier in the week, plus I’ve been trying to count my calories so I don’t stuff my face and can lose some weight. That plus some lower body strengthening exercises and stretches have helped me all around. I’ve become one of those people who stretches while watching TV.

My IT band continues to give me trouble but during the run itself it wasn’t bad. The stretches and strength workouts are helping and I know it is getting better over time.

Good parkrun! Next week is #10, which would be my first milestone if I was a kid. Unfortunately, I only act like a kid.

See you next week.


parkrun #8

My first sunny parkrun! Rock Creek Trail is fuckin’ gorgeous, bro.

Today I opted to run with my compression sleeve on for the ol’ knee’s sake. It’s doing pretty well overall; I ran about half of the 5k today and walked the other half, and while it was giving me trouble nearly the entire time, it wasn’t enough to stop me. In fact, I used it as an opportunity to work on my running form, trying to run in a way that would mitigate bouncing up and down while also taking more steps. It kind of worked at the end.

There were cupcakes and like fudge brownie things at the end. Both very good. I’m still trying to figure out how to be social again. I’m pretty bad at it. I might have always been bad at it.

Afterwards I went to Vancouver to get my bib and swag for the Couve Clover Run, which is tomorrow. The event looks cool as hell on paper. After it’s done we get to drink on a hotel balcony? I will report back for sure.

Then back home, hobbled up some stairs, and my knee/leg started feeling better pretty quickly. I ended up taking a walk a couple hours later and was shocked at how normal it felt. I’m hoping I’ll be back to around 100% in a couple of weeks.

That’s about it. Good parkrun! A++ would parkrun again.


parkwalk #7

Today I walked to help save my knee strength for the Shamrock Run tomorrow. It really is a lovely walk; I posted some pics on my Instagram:

I’ve said this before but I am excited to run this in the spring and summertime. I suspect it’s gorgeous.

I bought a knee sleeve but didn’t wear it today. I had worn it yesterday when I walked to the convention center to get my Shamrock Run bib and shirt and it just bunched up and felt awful. I couldn’t even tell if it was working or not. But this morning went fine, my knee is fine, it’s my IT band that’s the problem. I can feel it more so now than I did originally; the ache of the band up my thigh is more pronounced in the past couple of days. It’s nothing agonizing and I don’t feel like my leg is going to explode or collapse or anything, it just feels like an overuse injury.

I went to urgent care on Wednesday because I went for a run and felt a bad twinge about a mile and three quarters in. The doc checked me out and was like, “Your hamstrings are tight and it’s probably your IT band. Lessen your mileage and take it easy for a couple of months.” (He said it much nicer than that.) I didn’t have the heart to tell him that I was running a 5k a few days later, and then another one a week after that. We’ll have to play it by ear. If the Shamrock tears me up and spits me out, then I may have to skip the Clover Run the next Sunday, or walk it. I think this is one of those races where they won’t look at you askance if you walk.

Overall, the experience has been somewhat discouraging, if I’m being honest, which I should be, because this is my damn blog. I’m glad that I’m aware of easing off when I’ve got an injury, but it sucks because I felt like I was hitting my stride. I’m not sure if this would’ve flared up regardless, or if my three days off because of the snow made it worse, or maybe it was my lack of stretching or that plus bodyweight workouts … who knows. But like a car when you hit a patch of ice, you gotta let off the gas and get your shit together before you can drive again. I know easing back won’t hurt my progress that much, because it’s not like I have a 30 min 5k pace right now. I’m struggling to get to 38 minutes. It’s just a reminder that I have a ways to go before I’m at a point where running feels “comfortable.” Ah well.


parkrun #6

Attack of the Knee

I didn’t bring my phone on the run, so please enjoy this pre-event photo which makes it look like you can call this brain center to get your brain removed.

This was a frustrating run. My knee has been giving me issues ever since I started running again after the snow shut everything down for three days. The issue, I think, is a lateral collateral ligament (LCL) strain. Feeling where it is tender on my outer knee, coupled with google searching, led me to this result. I also think my calves are tight for some reason, even though I’ve been stretching them pretty regularly. Growing pains, I guess.

Thankfully, the sprain isn’t devastating and I was able to finish the 5k. I also ran an extra half a mile or so before parkrun as I have signed up for a 10k training plan through Garmin Coach (with Certified Guy® Jeff Galloway), and the first run was a benchmark run because even though I imported my prior runs from Strava, Garmin don’t give a shit. So that was fun — driving to the site from Portland, starting, warming up for 2 min, running for 5, then 2 min of cool down. It wasn’t bad but Garmin is definitely reminding me that I’m in poor shape. According to it, my VO2 max is 39 right now; 40 is the border between “Poor” and “Fair.” I guess that’s better than just straight up being in the Poor category. I’m also wondering how much that will go up and how much of it is affected by me getting covid and/or my exposure to all the forest fire smoke from the Eagle Creek fire. We shall see.

Anyway, my knee is borked. Not, like, terribly, but enough to need rest. Garmin Coach wants me to run again tomorrow but I may postpone it, which is frustrating. I’m trying to mitigate my discouragement because injuries happen and you have to just let them heal up, but it also kind of sucks. I’ve been working hard trying to set up a 10% gradual increase of mileage and pace and whatnot and it’s just annoying and frustrating that my body’s like, “No, this is bad, stop.”

I should also say that I suspect the culprit behind my knee issues is (besides my weight) my shoes. I bought my shoes thinking I needed stability for overpronation but now they’re actually causing my feet to roll outwards all the time, making me realize what I really need is either no stability, or stability for supination (or whichever one is the one for my foot rolling outward, not inward). This is kind of interesting because my first running shoes had stability for pronation and I think that over the years I may have fixed that problem?

So because of the U.S. healthcare system, I can either choose to buy new running shoes, or pay my copay for the doctor appt to check my knee. Yeah, that’s right. I can probably do both but it’ll leave me, as the Irish say, skint. (I think more than the Irish say that, I’ve just been watching Bad Sisters lately and they say it a lot.) I honestly think I just need to rest for a couple of days so I’m going to try that first, which means I’ll buy shoes at an actual running store here in Portland rather than online, so someone can look at me and stuff.

Aaaaanyway, that’s parkrun 6. Next week is 7 and also the Shamrock Run the next day. I cannot miss the Shamrock Run, it is my triumphant return after 5 years away. So we’ll see how I run parkrun.

Until next time.

personal running

parkrun #5

Despite what the image says, I did very well on this run. In fact, finally ran a 5k under 40 minutes. My time on Strava was 39:41, my parkrun time was 39:47. I haven’t ran a 5k under 40 minutes since April of 2016. Obviously, it’s a milestone for me in my exercise resurgence.

I’m not sure what to attribute this boost in speed lately. Sure, I could blame the sprints I ran on Monday, trying to push myself harder. But I could also blame the entire frozen pizza and two bags of chips I ate on Friday night. (Side note: Kettle Chips makes air-fried chips now and they are soooo much better than regular chips. Less greasy, taste the same!)

I also rode my bike 11 miles on Friday, which makes my result at parkrun so ridiculous to me. I honestly thought I would run slower because my legs were aching from the ride. But I didn’t!

Even despite all those walking bits (and a couple points where I had to stop to regain feeling in my foot) I still managed to get below 40 minutes. This is a good sign. I even felt more rejuvenated during the downhill bit (basically running back to the start). I’m not sure where that spike of energy came from, but it bodes well for future runs.

Even the last bit to the finish line is fascinating me. I’m running under 11 min there, around 10:45. At the end of the run. I did that because I was coming up on 39 minutes and I had to get below 40. So I actually pushed myself more than I’m usually capable of. This is a good sign. These are all good signs.

I should also mention, tangentially related, that I purchased Pixel Buds and this run was my first with them in my earholes. Resounding success; I got the pro version which has that cool Transparency Mode so you can hear stuff around you. These things don’t have hooks for your ears or those little bits that press up against your ear fold thingy, I don’t know ear terminology. You just put them in your ear, and they stay there. I don’t know how that works. Magic? Sound quality was great, the best I’ve ever had with earbuds. I normally hate earbuds, but these are good. I guess I needed quality ones. I even wore them while doing all sorts of apartment chores today. The little charging case looks like an egg. Oh and I can charge the case on my magnetic charging thing for my Pixel Watch! TECHNOLOGY!

So, I said last week that I was going to rest this week, and then I didn’t, but I think this week I totally am going to rest, at least for an extra day. This is because I have a race on Saturday and I want to be fresh for it. Time for some walking and strength training instead.

Until next week!

personal running

parkrun #4

Number 4 down the drain and it was rainy right up until the actual run started, which was awesome. Strava fucked up my GPS again, shorting me a full 5k. My time with it is around a minute faster than my parkrun time, too, which … whatever, it’s parkrun, not the Olympics.

I didn’t bring my headphones this time because I wanted to experience the run on its own. It’s great, I recommend it. People are friendlier when you don’t have headphones on. (Depending on the circumstances at least.) There was a visitor from Scotland this morning who was very sweet. I wanted to chat with her after the run but ran the damn thing again, so I didn’t get to ask her the one thing I wanted to ask: Do you know who Limmy is?

I ran 4/1 splits again, which is what I’ve been doing this whole week as part of my 5k-all-run training. I think, overall, that I nailed it. I cheated a couple of times, stopping 10 seconds earlier than I should, but to be fair, I didn’t bring my headphones so I didn’t have my interval timer app telling me when to walk, which meant I had to keep checking my phone, which was annoying. Again, it’s parkrun, it’s nothing official.

I did end up having to stop a couple times because around mile 2, my left foot pad starts to go numb. Not entirely sure why, other than general wear and tear from this nearly 300lb man. It goes away if I stop and stretch out my ankle a bit, so I think it’s a nerve issue more than a lack of blood flow or anything. I do plan to get it checked out by a doc, though I suppose they’ll just tell me to take ibuprofen and stay off it for a week.

Which I may end up doing anyway! I was thinking about a deload of sorts for the next week. Where I can shift focus a bit on strength training for my legs. I think my goal will just be to run a mile on Monday and Wednesday. That’s it. Do an easy mile on Monday and then maybe try to run a fast mile on Wednesday. Then parkrun #5, and then back to the training schedule.

I have to be careful, because I know recovery and rest is important but I don’t want to overdo the rest to the point where I slide back into being sedentary, or lose my progress. I know that’s kind of hard to do but still. I eventually want to run longer distances, but first I have to ensure that my legs can keep up with me.

After the run I went to the Albertsons nearby and bought the perfect recovery drink:

Chocolate milk! It’s so god damn good you guys. I haven’t had chocolate milk in years but it is nearly perfect. Unless you’re lactose intolerant, of course. But you should still drink it, I think. Just get the shits, it’s worth it.

Until next week!

betterment personal running

parkrun #3

Last week, at the end of the last parkrun, I, after running for three miles in a steady downpour, said to one of the volunteers, “Well, at least it’s not snowing.”

“Don’t say that!” she replied. “You’ll curse us for next week.”

Well … this morning it snowed. In fact, this morning was the only day we’ve had real precipitation in about three or four days, and it is sunny now and will be mostly rain-free until Friday.

So yes. I did curse this week’s parkrun. My penance, I think, will be to keep running.

It was cold this morning, too. Does not bode well for the rest of the winter. A couple of degrees above freezing (I’ll let you decide what that means in Celsius or Fahrenheit). The snow was really more like a small, light hail. These were not snowflakes, they were a recon mission for future bombardment.

I Came, I Ran, I … Did Alright. Shaved a couple seconds off my pace. Today’s interval training was three minutes running, two minutes walking, nine times. I thought that would be grueling, but it actually wasn’t too bad at all. Even the uphill runs were better than I expected.

Hell, I even made the Local Legend of the Rock Creek Trail parkrun on Strava. What does that mean? Well, it means I’ve logged the run the most in the last 90 days, I think. I’ve logged it three times, which means … the other people must’ve stopped using Strava.

I’m getting better, and I feel better, and yet … that near 14 minute mile pace is driving me nuts. I had my mouse hovering over the Half-Marathon registration for the July 4th Foot Traffic Flat on Sauvie Island. I was gonna do it. I was very close to doing it. But I did some sort of pace extrapolation thing on another site which told me that at my current pace, it would be a 3 hour half (a 3 hour half) — an over 3 hour half, technically, I just wanted to get that joke in. That’s just too fucking long to be running a half marathon.

So I signed up for the 5k instead and my 2023 is now hellbent on reducing my pace to under 12 minutes. Twelve was the bane of my existence back in the day, too. My fasted pace was 11:44, on an 8k in 2013, which is weird as it’s the only 8k I’ve ever run. Everything else has been over 12 minutes. I don’t like it. I’m okay with being a slow runner, but, like, a 10 minute mile slow.

Thus, the training continues…

Next week I will likely be walking my parkrun as the Race for Warmth is the next day. I’m also hellbent on going to parkrun every week, even if I have races. Sometimes the habit is more important than the impact.

See you next week, parkrun.