Monday, October 06, 2014

Portland Marathon Review

It is a good marathon.  We three ran it nine years ago, and were delighted to find that it catered to runners and walkers of any speed.  That has not changed.  The course itself may not be the most picturesque, but the organization definitely makes up for it.

My Race:

With another marathon just a week from now, and some recent hamstring injuries, I didn't want to push very hard today.  I used a run/walk ratio of one to five, running just 30 footfalls for each 150 walking.  In training that had given me a pace of 12:30 to 13:00, plenty fast enough to finish a marathon in six hours.  It worked well enough in the race too, and in fact I deliberately slowed  in the last miles, finishing my 83rd marathon in 6:06:20, 13th of 28 in my age group.  This was a warm race and I had no need to hurry.

Because of injuries over the summer, and a bout of pneumonia, I had not been able to do a genuine long run since our last marathon in May, so I was concerned about being able to finish at all - sometimes my calves cramp up in the last miles.  Not today, though.  I took plenty of water and salt, and this time I even brought some magnesium capsules along in case of cramps, though I didn't use them.  All is well - bring on the Ottawa Marathon!

Portland Marathon Good Stuff:

  • Finish times are long enough that a marathoner can stroll the 26 miles, same with the half.
  • There WERE enough porta-potties along the way, even after the marathon split from the half.  That's rare.
  • Even at my 6:06 finish, there was plenty of food left.
  • It's a big race - note 28 ancient guys in just my 70-74 age group - but everyone got off and running within 20 minutes of the start.
  • With one exception there were plenty of water stops, all well supplied with water, ultima, and volunteers.
  • I loved the music!  We have run several Rock N Roll marathons, and this marathon beat them all hollow.  I heard "Blue Moon," and "Happy Wanderer," music with an actual tune in addition to a beat, and not so over-amplified that I had to cover my tender old ears.  By far the best music of any of my 83 marathons.  Go Portland!
  • At the finish, everyone gets a long-stemmed rose to enjoy and a tree to plant.

Other Stuff:

  • My sweeties were disappointed that the organizers actually ran out of half-marathon finishers' shirts.  The shirts will be mailed, but how does that happen when the half marathon reached its registration limit months ago?  Oops.
  • There was plenty of water on the course, but this was a warm race, approaching 80 degrees, and none of the water was cold, nor was there any ice.  There were a few sprinklers for marathoners, but sprinklers mean wet feet, possibly blisters, so I avoid them.
  • More than nine miles of the marathon, and at least five miles of the half marathon are in industrial areas, mostly manufacturing plants, warehouses, and railroads.  This was almost the same course that we ran nine years ago, so it probably won't be changing any time soon, but it certainly doesn't show Portland at its best.  I wish we could see more downtown, more waterfront, even more residential areas.

But never mind my complaining, I had a good time and enjoyed the marathon.  Organization is great, with legions of cheerful volunteers, and I would recommend the Portland Marathon to anyone, especially a first-timer.

Splits: 26:44 (2 mi), 13:43, 13:03, 29:02 (major nature break, 2 mi), 12:29, 38:17 (3 mi), 16:35 (another nature break), 11:53, 13:12, 13:30, 13:15, 13:40, 15:57 (uphill), 14:54 (nature break), 13:18, 14:03, 14:09, 28:01 (2 mi), 30:38 (2 mi), 19:53 (1.22 mi), total 6:06:20, pace 13:58.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Short Long Run

I ran & walked 10 miles today, my longest run in quite a while and my "long run" for the next marathon, three weeks hence.

We ran on the Gateway Trail, where I have experienced two of my recent three hamstring injuries.  No injury today!  I would like to do a longer long run, but there isn't time.  From now until the marathon I will do shorter runs, hoping to avoid any more injuries.

I hope to finish in less than six hours, so here's my calculation: If I were to walk at a pace of 15 minutes per mile, that's four miles per hour, and in six hours I would get to mile 24.  But if I run one of those six hours at 10 minutes per mile, or 6 miles per hour, then after six hours I would be at mile 26.  That's exactly what I did today, except for only two hours and six minutes.  I walked for 50 triplets (3 paces), and then ran for 10.  The result was an average pace of 12:40, significantly quicker than the 13:44 needed to make six hours, which means that the walking was faster than expected, or the running, or both.  That's good - I'll probably slow down toward the end of the race.

I haven't posted here since August 24, mostly because there are big things happening in our lives right now, good things, but they take precedence over blogging.  We do keep running, though - in that time I have run 43 miles, not including today, and biked a bunch more.

Splits: 12:22, 13:00, 12:27, 12:20, 12:24, 24:37 (2 mi), 13:15, 13:36, 12:43, total 2:06:43, pace 12:40

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Three Miles Running

Walking and running, that is.  Again we went out early, to avoid the muggy heat.  I did my 1 to 3 run / walk, this time 3.17 miles on the paved trails, in 40:11, for a pace of 12:41.  That's slightly slower than two days ago, but still plenty fast enough to finish a marathon in six hours even with nature breaks.

No complaint from the injured right hamstrings today, or from anywhere else for that matter.  No whining!

So the plan now is to run every other day, doing an easy 1 to 3 run/walk like this, but gradually increasing the distance.  On the alternate days, or many of them, a nice bike ride will provide the cardio exercise that I need.  Nearly every day, I will also do a set of hamstring stretches and resistance exercises designed to increase strength and resilience.  That's the plan.

Saturday, August 23, 2014


Friday, August 22, 2014:

I did a 1 to 3 run/walk today, just 2.07 miles like Wednesday.  This time the right hamstrings ached just a little for the first minute or two, then went silent, cooperating fully.  That's a good thing!

2.07 miles in 25:48, pace 12:28, equivalent to a 5:27 marathon if sustained.  Considering nature breaks and maybe a chat with a spectator or two, this would be a good pace for finishing a marathon in six hours.

I saw the sports doctor today, to discuss the recent frequent hamstring injuries.  He thought that the Levaquin was still a possible contributor to the problem, but in any case he really couldn't diagnose the cause.  Instead, he suggested a path forward, knowing that we do have a marathon scheduled in six weeks.  He gave me a schedule for regular stretches and hamstring strengthening exercises, and I will follow that plan.

Stretches and exercises most every day, with running or biking on alternate days, the running graduating slowly to longer and longer distances.  I hope that plan works - I was going to do the alternating bike / run anyway, but the stretching and strengthening may make the difference.

In other doctor news - yesterday morning the Mayo Clinic pronounced my cancer stable again, and in the afternoon my local primary care provider, after a chest x-ray, reported that my latest pneumonia was entirely gone.  Yay!

Wednesday, August 20:

We got up earlier than usual and I got the day started with a cool bike ride.  That felt great.  7.06 miles in 32:20, for a pace of 4.58 min/mi, or 13.1 mph.  This route is somewhat hilly - I think I could go quite a lot farther on the bike if I rode a little slower, say 12 mph, on a flatter road or trail.

Tuesday, August 19:

First run since the Aug 14 right-hamstring injury.  I did a short 2.07-mile run/walk, with a 1 to 3 ratio, trying not to annoy that hamstring.  It did ache a little, and it ached even a little more later in the day.  I probably should have stopped when the ache was apparent, but anyway I don't think I set it back much.  I'll skip another day (ride bike instead) before trying again.

I didn't time the run, but I suppose it was about 13 minutes/mile.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Not Running Yet

I rode the bike a little easier today, for 7.35 miles in under 40 minutes.  I timed one loop at 4.73 min/mi, or about 12.7 mph.  Two days ago I thought that pace was "fairly hard," but today it didn't seem hard.  I guess my bike muscles are becoming conditioned, or I'm learning how to use the gears to better advantage.

I'd rather be running.  Maybe I'll try it tomorrow.  Short, slow, easy.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Still Riding the Bike

I ran just a few steps this morning, enough to assure myself that the right hamstrings still hurt and I shouldn't try a real run.  Back on the bike.  I do like the bike; it certainly helps with cardiopulmonary training even if it doesn't really do much for running muscles.

I rode exactly the same route as yesterday, two 3.53-mile figure-8's, once in each direction, splits of 16:01 lap 1, 16:09 lap 2, for a total of 7.06 miles in 32:10, pace 4.56 min/mi, or 13.2 mph.  That's slightly faster than yesterday, but I felt a little more tired at the end.  I did a lot of yard work yesterday too, so maybe I should feel a little tired.

Except for the right hamstrings, it's a masterpiece.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Bike Again

The pulled right hamstring feels much better today - in fact, oddly, it felt better yesterday after I used the walk-behind mower for an hour and a half, and it's better still today.  It's not good enough to run on yet, though, so I rode a fairly-hard 7 miles on the park's paved trails.  That is really quite enjoyable - I want to keep running, but bike riding certainly is an acceptable alternative when running fails.

Today I rode a 3.53-mile figure-8 route twice, once in each direction, for 7.06 miles in 33:20, pace 4.72 min/mi, or 12.7 mph.  This was hard work but thoroughly enjoyable, and I could have kept going.  Splits: 16:48 lap 1, 16:32 lap 2.  After finishing I did keep riding to fill out the 40 minutes that my sweeties and I had agreed upon.

Except for the hamstring, it's a masterpiece!