|Autumn in Forest Park|
Time is speeding right along and I can't believe it's already November. I've been happy with my training and feel like I'm finally climbing out of the slump I was in at the end of August. I haven't really mentioned it here (or anywhere) I don't think, but some of my nerve issues reappeared at that time. Having more knowledge and experience dealing with this before has really helped and I've mentally pushed myself to keep up my training, rather than letting myself become too de-conditioned. Adding in the walk training has really helped. I can still push myself without sending myself over the edge. I've come to realize that random nerve pains, sciatica, who knows what to call it, is something that I'll constantly have to manage. Hopefully I can keep my episodes few and far between. But if not, I won't complain about it and won't let it keep me from doing what I want to do. Yesterday I went on a solo 15 mile trail run in Forest Park. It rained the whole time and was awesome. The trails were perfectly muddy and wet...not too sloppy, and the fallen leaves still had their color. Simply beautiful. I think it was my best run since the Mt Hood 50 mile back in July. I'm closing out October with 201 training miles, about a third of those are walking miles. Only July, with 220 miles (all running) ,was higher this year.
|The three amigas - mile 12 - Columbia Gorge Marathon|
A few weeks ago I commented to my friend Rose that it felt strange to not have any races in September and October. Next thing you know I was registered for the Columbia Gorge marathon just a few days away. I agreed to walk it with Rose and our other friend Esther. This would be the first marathon that I'd complete with the intention of walking the whole thing. This is a beautiful road marathon and the weather was almost perfect, just a little warmer than expected. It's a very hilly out and back so I was thankful to be walking rather than running. I'd need more hill training to run it. We did jog a few of the downhills, but I'd say we walked 95%. The support at this race was awesome, even for us back of the packers. One aid station on the way back did run out of water. I didn't really mind since I was carrying a bottle and it was nearly full. However not long after a race official drove by handing out bottles of water. Every other station was well stocked with water, gatorade, oranges, bananas and gels. Almost as good as an ultra! I had a blast with Esther and Rose. There were lots of laughs and inside jokes, most that I've forgotten now. But I still remember the good times.
|Home stretch - Columbia Gorge Marathon|
After the race, we headed straight to the Full Sail Brewery pub and landed a table on the deck overlooking the Columbia River. Perfect way to end the day. The only downer was Rose discovering a huge blister on the bottom of her foot. She ended up losing nearly a third of the skin on the bottom of that foot. Ouch! But she's tough and is already back training this week.
Then this past Saturday was Autumn Leaves. It rained Friday and again on Sunday, but weather on Saturday was perfect. I wasn't running this year, but Marc was signed up for the 50 mile race. He completed the triple in July and ran 20 miles on Wildwood in early September, but other than his twice (or is it once?) weekly 6 mile tempo run, his training has consisted of weekend bike rides. Since spring he's been cycling with his competitive buddies all around NW Oregon and SW Washington, in the gorge, Mt Hood forest, windy ridge, the Tillamook coast, etc., usually 50-100 miles at a shot. So his fitness has remained pretty high. I wanted him to run the 50 mile so he could get another qualifier for Western States (and the last year Autumn Leaves is a qualifier too). It would give him three or four entries (I can't remember exactly) and I didn't want him to lose his streak. I volunteered. Lots of friends and familiar faces were there so it was a big party as usual.
|Autumn Leaves 50/50|
Marc took the early 6am start and I puttered around at the start/finish helping where needed. We had stayed in a cabin in the park so midday I needed to get back to roust the little guy and check out. I hoped to then do a lap with Marc. Well it turns out that Marc decided 50k was enough for him. He made the right decision and was very happy with his race. But that meant I was free to run with someone else, so I decided to keep a lookout for my friend Aleta and see if she wanted company on her last lap. She did, so I took off with Aleta and another friend Lynn (who had already completed her own 50k). We had a lot of fun and hopefully helped Aleta finish her 2nd 50k feeling strong. Thanks to RD's Bret and Gail who put on an excellent race.
I've completed the 50 miler twice at Autumn Leaves and I thought that was enough for me. I really enjoyed hanging out this year, volunteering and supporting my friends. But being there made me want to run this race again. The more I think about it the more I realize that last year's 9:28 in the 50 mile was a break out performance for me. I don't think I really appreciated that at the time. But with the right training I can hit 9 hours. Or perhaps I'll give the 50k a go. Last year I came through the 50k around 5:45, en route to 50 miles. That's a 50k PR for me. But I'm pretty sure I have a sub-5:30 in me. So don't be surprised if you see me at the starting line next year!
Here I am already musing about 2012 races. And yes, I already have many race plans for 2012 swirling through my head. But I still need to finish 2011. And I'm very much looking forward to Across the Years!