Saturday, November 12, 2016

Molalla River Trail Race

Sasquatch. Mud. Rain. Natural beauty. Ferns. Big trees. A challenging course. Molalla River Trail Race. Fun.

#molallarivertrailrace #mrtr #bigfootrace 

Monday, October 24, 2016

Have you considered a running club?

When I first started running, it was a completely solitary endeavor, and I was perfectly fine with that. As I started to add more mileage, some of my runner friends suggested that I sign up to run a race; but by that point I was so comfortable running solo, the thought of breaking from routine and running with a bunch of other people had no appeal at all. I did enter a race anyway (that was my first half), and the rest is history. 

At some point during that conversation about entering a race, it was suggested that I join the local running club (Molalla Running Club) sometime for a group run. That sounded even more preposterous! First of all, I'm a slow runner. Second, I run by myself with earbuds in, blasting music; how am I supposed be social while doing that? Lastly, I'm an introvert; and that just sounds scary. 

So, I avoided the group run idea for a while, but I had begun to see the appeal of doing races, so I ran two more half marathons and a 10K. 

In October of last year, I heard about a trail race (Molalla River Trail Race) that MRC was putting on, and I really wanted to go volunteer in some way, but had plans that Saturday. The next event was a Thanksgiving morning "Turkey Trot", an untimed fun run through the Molalla area, and also a benefit for a program that provides lunches for local families. It was basically a really big group run, and it was for a good cause; and it was fun. 

Did I really just say that? Yes. It was fun. 

I still wasn't convinced the group run was my thing, but I wanted to give it a few more tries; so in early spring of this year, I joined the running club when I could. Faces soon began to look familiar, and many of my fears began to fade away. The group even inspired me to tackle a race that I had always considered my nemesis, the Goat Mountain Gallop; as part of the "Run Molalla Series". 

A little over a month ago, my 14-y.o. son, Noah, had a chance to join us for a group run. The gang decided to do a fairly hilly 7.4 mile route, and the longest Noah had ever gone was 6.2 miles (a week or two before that). The group set off like normal, forming several pace groups, with Noah and I at the back. I tried to lead us at a decent pace, but Noah was really dragging, because he thought he needed to save energy for the longer run. About 3 miles in, the front group doubled back and picked us up, making sure to engage Noah in conversation. Gradually they were able to pull him ahead faster and faster, until I informed him we'd reached the halfway point -- he thought we were still on the first mile! From there on he ran near the front of the pack, and really had fun with the group on the way back. 

As a father, it's hard to express in words how much I truly appreciated the support and encouragement offered to my son that day. 

Now here we are in October, and I would definitely consider myself to be a part of the Molalla Running Club, and the club a part of me. I can't make it every week, but I try to be there whenever possible. After looking at the mission statement of MRC, I realized why it seems to be working so well for me; it fits right in with why I started this weblog in the first place. 

"We strive to build a healthier community through inspiring people to walk or run, developing tourism in our town through hosting races, and provide an environment for people to form healthy relationships."

Yes, I want to be a part of that, and it's happening right here in my own community. Sure, if you think about it on a basic level, it's just running. But it can be so much more than that. 

Running with a consistent group can be motivating and inspiring, and the new friendships that come out of it can be pretty cool, too. This year I'm not just helping mark trails for the Molalla River Trail Race, but I'm also running the 10K. Running the route two days in a row may seem a little crazy, but I know I've got a great support group right there to push me along. 

So, have you considered joining a running club? It doesn't hurt to give it a try... 

Monday, July 4, 2016

Let Freedom Ring

The 9/11 terrorist attacks, which took place almost 15 years ago, left an indelible mark on my life, and had a direct effect on the person I have become. Before 9/11, my wife and I weren't sure if we ever wanted to have kids, as we seemed perfectly happy living life by ourselves; but the attacks made us rethink some of our priorities, especially the importance of family. It was in the weeks that followed that terrible day, that we decided it was time to start our own family.

What I did today would not have been the same without that rethinking of priorities -- I ran Molalla's Freedom 5K run with my 13-year-old son. This was our first time running an actual race together, and it was one of my most satisfying moments as a father, even if he did smoke me in the last quarter mile. I hope that he is able to use his natural running gifts and talents in the years to come; whether it's on some kind of track team, or just running to stay in shape.

Running on Independence Day seems appropriate to me, as it is one activity where I truly feel free when I am out doing it. There aren't many experiences that can give you the same sense of "freedom".

This race was especially fun because it took place right before Molalla's big parade, so the streets were lined with lots of friends shouting out words of encouragement along the way. Here's an action shot from one of our friends:

My son's performance was better than two minutes under the pace we trained at, and the race-day adrenaline seemed to really give him a boost. We were together right up until the end, when he wanted to kick it into another gear and finish strong -- he finished 23 seconds ahead of me. We hope to make it an annual tradition, but next year I'm going to try and beat him! ;-) But realistically, unless they turn it into half marathon race, I really don't think I stand a chance against his young legs.

To top it all off, my wife and daughter got up extra early and helped with registration before the raced started; and then we all watched the parade together as a family after the race. This sounds like a great family tradition to me.

Happy Independence Day from The Glutton Free Diet! I hope you got to celebrate your freedom in a way that was meaningful for you.

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Product Review: Engo Blister Prevention Patches

The following is a review I posted on Amazon for the Engo Blister Prevention Patches -- $15 for (4) large and (2) small oval patches.

As a runner who routinely covers distances up to 13.1 miles, any extra friction on my feet can lead to nasty blisters in short order. Even buying the exact same brand, model, and size of running shoe every time does not guarantee a perfect, friction-free fit; even if the four pairs you bought before gave you no problems. This was the case with my latest pair of Brooks Beasts.

Usually the Beasts fit me perfectly right out of the box, but this pair started talking to my left instep within the first 5 miles of my first training run (in mid-March of this year). Trying to power through with the typical runner attitude was not the best move, as after I had finished the 10 mile run, I had a full fledged blister. During the next week, as I let the blister heal, I ordered the Endo blister prevention patches after doing some online searching.

When the package first arrived, my initial thought was, "Did I really just pay $15 for this?". But then I gave them a try...

I followed the instructions on the package, adhering one large oval patch over the offending area, which happened to be right where the shoe's insole met the side wall of the she -- and my arch would catch on the built-up hard rubber base of the shoe. I smoothed out the patch as I applied it to the shoe, and followed it up with 20-30 seconds of blow dryer heat; and then I wore the shoes to help with the adhesion. That was 240 miles ago, and just today I finally had to replace that original patch -- I could feel that burning feeling after today's 9 mile jaunt, and after further investigation, discovered it had finally worn through along the insole / side-wall junction. For my running shoes, 240 miles is well over half the life of the shoe. I would consider that to be some excellent performance, considering what these shoes have been through in that time.

I can't say enough good things about these patches. The slick surface allows your foot to glide right down where it's supposed to go, instead of getting hung up on any edges. During those 240 miles, the patch never came loose at all, and I still have two more large patches left after the one I installed today (as well as all of the small patches). I highly recommend them.

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Race Review: The Oregon Spring Half Marathon

Yesterday morning, I completed my third half marathon race in a 49 day time-frame, a feat which qualified me to be an official "Half Fanatic".

My phone says, "I just qualified for Half Fanatics".

The Oregon Spring Half is part of the Überthons race series which consists of a race for every season. As I had been checking out potential races to run, the Spring event attracted my attention because the course is very flat, with the exception of one 75-ft hill leading into the town of St. Paul. It looked to me like a PR (personal record) kind of course, and once I realized it would qualify me for HF, I knew I had to do it.

One of my running friends (Kim) and I carpooled together, and arrived at Heirloom Roses, the start/finish point of the race, right around 6:30; in plenty of time to prepare for the early 7:30 start time. The 48-degree morning air felt a tad cool at first, but that cool temp, combined with a mix of broken overcast, made for nearly ideal racing weather. Kim knew a lot of the Uberthon & Half Fanatic regulars, so we met up near the start line for a quick greeting and photo op.

The Half Fanatics contingent.
This was my first race where the organizers had "pacing groups" set at various intervals, and I have to say that it was really quite helpful for ensuring a smooth start. Runners could line up at the start according to their expected finish time, and not have to worry too much about being surround by a bunch of faster runners passing right away, or getting stuck behind a wall of 4-wide runners going a lot slower than you. It also helped during the race, as I was able to keep the 2:00:00 pace group in sight at the beginning and know that I was in the right spot (I also had my watch, of course).

The course started with a short out-and-back to the right, before looping back and heading south towards the town of St. Paul, where it looped around and headed back to Heirloom Roses. The setting was gorgeous, and exactly my kind of course -- back roads meandering through farmland. As promised, the course was very flat, except for the hill. Thanks to my continued training on hills, combined with this hill's placement at 6-miles in, it was really no challenge at all; and after we looped around St. Paul and came back the other way, it was the perfect boost at mile 10 to get you pumped up for the last 5K of the race.

I had taken my energy chews at 8.5 miles into the race, which I had done during the Goat Mountain Gallop, and the result was great, once again. I had good running mojo all the way to the finish, and most importantly, I never had a nauseous feeling at any time during the waning moments of the race. In fact, the last mile was my fastest of the race -- that is the first time this has ever happened! 

The finish line was at the end of a beautiful rose tunnel, but to be honest, I didn't have time to stop and smell the roses at that point, or even look at them; I just wanted to be done! The end result was that I crushed my old PR by more than 3 minutes. New PR for 13.1 miles: 2:03:21

Rose tunnel and finish line.
After crossing the finish line, I collected my participation medal and a bottle of water, and cooled off, stretched, etc. The medal was nice and hefty, with a nice image of Crater Lake on it, and produced in the form of a belt buckle, as those who complete all four seasonal Oregon Half's will get a belt to put them on. As I was walking around to cool off, I ran into some people from the HF group whom I'd met before the race, and it was nice to be able to congratulate each other at the end.

Oregon Spring Half Swag
Once Kim and I had checked our race results and taken a few post-race photos, we headed for the food. I love it when races have generous portions of food available for racers, because running 13.1 miles makes you a little hungry! For this event, the food was catered by Qdoba Mexican Grill, and it was excellent -- lots of grilled chicken, beans, rice, tortillas, veggies, and sauces; and all with great flavor. Definitely the most satisfying post-race food I've had.

This was my first Überthons race, but I can guarantee that it won't be my last. This was the best supported race event that I've been to -- even better than the RunWithPaula events I've done. The course was well marked, and the volunteers along the course were always cheerful and supportive. I really want to do the Oregon Fall Half, as it runs right through the back-country neighborhood where I grew up, but I may have to try and work the Summer Half in there, too -- this event was just that good.

That concludes one of the better days I've had in a long time. I crushed a PR, qualified for Half Fanatics, and ran my very first Überthons race -- and I met some good people in the process. #alldaylong #specialkindofcrazy #22kmbefore10am