It's official!

Registration Confirmation.jpg

It's official!

I'm registered for the Stumptown Trail Runs 50k!  Yikes.  

Well, I guess it's really happening!  As I stare down the barrel of the next four months, I have a bunch of plans in place to keep myself injury-free and keep my family happy--starting with doing a bunch of my runs as morning or evening commutes to and from work in order to protect weekend family time. So far, so good--but I'm only in the pre-training plan training plan right now, so I haven't had to run for longer than an hour at a time. 

Stay tuned for March, when I'll be creating MapMyRun routes home from work designed to take me 4 or 5 hours.  Zoinks.

In the meantime, while I slowly build mileage in an effort to avoid injury, I've been experimenting with becoming fat-adapted--essentially eating and running in such a way that my body starts burning fat instead of sugar when I'm running.  (I won't bore you with the details here.)  Important for me is that in order to become fat-adapted, one has to spend the majority of running time at a low heart rate--for me, under 140 bpm--which can be surprisingly hard to do.  I started out having to run 13+ minute miles to keep my heart rate that low, which is just plain boring.  Now I'm down to the 12-minute range, and I'm hoping I can get to a comfortable 11-minute mile before the race.  The bonus of all this slow running is that my runs are EASY, and easy usually means injury-free.  (I really hope I didn't just jinx myself!)

Folks love to debate this fat-adaptation concept on the internet, and the jury is definitely still out on its benefits, but you know how much I love to treat my body like a science experiment.  In this case, I'm hoping that learning to burn fat on my runs will allow me to run longer distances, however slowly, without bonking and without needing much fuel.  That's the magic of fat adaptation, and I figure it's totally made for someone like me, who loves running for hours on end, but who will never be the fastest.   We'll see!


PS: I took a fun, terrible-quality video of a segment of my run home the other night!  I have been collecting little chunks of video from runs to practice using my new YouTube channel (which, I hope, will someday be populated with actually useful videos in which I talk about things, rather than just doing that awesome mid-run heavy breathing.).  Check it out here: 

Guess Who!

Hi friends!  Well, it's been a while.  Let's move on, shall we?  

It's 2018, and I've got two exciting things on the horizon. 1) I'm turning 40!  Woohoo!  2) I'm celebrating turning 40 by finally running an ultramarathon!  You may remember that my previous ultra plan was thwarted by lack of time management and a nasty stress fracture, but I've got plans to tackle both issues this time--I'm sure we'll get to all that over the next 5 months.

Yes, I realize I could celebrate 40 by going on a dream vacation or something, but you know me.  I'll be documenting my journey here on the blog, and I'm hoping to experiment with some video blogs (the kids call them "vlogs," but that's really hard to say).  Anyway, Meg is training for an Ironman, so little sis has to keep up!

So here we go. I kicked off 2018 with a lovely run on Portland's Powell Butte, and I even took a little video so you can see how freaking gorgeous it was.  Let's test things out!

 

 

Don't Call it a Comeback

Ugh. 2017 (and late 2016) has been pretty sucky on many levels, for many people.  Today I'm wallowing in the total suckage that has sucked my fitness from Pretty-Solid-for-My-Age to Basically-A-Couch-Potato.  I think I've been less motivated to write for the blog because there's not a lot of fun stuff to blog about. Unfortunately, while there's a comeback lurking somewhere around a corner, you loyal readers might forget who I am if I wait for the comeback before writing again. Let's start at the beginning of the suckage.

August 2016: Officially bailed on my plans to do the McKenzie Trail Ultra I had registered for and lotteried into.  Training was taking way too much time away from family on the weekends, and I wanted to have some fun with the rest of my summer!  Proceeded to slack off even from my normal 20-ish miles per week, took two separate week-long trips, and generally enjoyed myself.

September 2016: Had a blast doing the Gorgeous Relay, which ended up being a 23-mile day for me (over the course of four relay legs).  It was fun but kicked my ass, and I definitely spiked my mileage too aggressively in the two weeks leading up to it.

October 2016: My left foot hurt every time I ran, which was only 3 or 4 times before realizing something was definitely wrong.  Visited a clinic on a lunch break, and they said not to run for a couple of weeks and it would probably go away.

November 2016: It didn't go away.  After two more excruciating weeks of hobbling around, an x-ray showed a stress fracture in the third metatarsal in my left foot.  Classic overuse/running injury, likely caused by that super-fun 23-mile day in September.  Got to give all my left shoes a break and rock a walking boot for 6-8 weeks.

 The view under my desk.  I also had to give up my standing desk for 2 months, which was torture.  Sitting all day hurts!

The view under my desk.  I also had to give up my standing desk for 2 months, which was torture.  Sitting all day hurts!

December 2016: Started physical therapy, which was also a bit of non-physical therapy, given that my poor PT had to put up with my nagging about when I could start running, alternating with my worrying aloud that I had a little pain and maybe we were pushing too hard and oh my god what if I never run again?!

January - February 2017: Kept up the physical therapy while performing in a show and digging out from under mountains of snow, and I even got to run on the Alter-G, this amazing machine that encapsulates your lower half into a bubble of air that somehow allows you to run with just a percentage of your body weight.  We started at 70% and worked our way up to 95%.  I was ready to run again!

March 2017: I was all ready to do my first run on the roads (10 minutes!) when I came down with strep throat. Like a 10-year-old.  So I waited. A week of antibiotics later, and I headed out for a .75 mile slow run around the neighborhood.  It felt great!  Except that an hour later, my back had completely seized up--turns out that being in a walking boot for 2 months messes with your alignment--and I was out of commission for several more days.  I waited AGAIN. The triumphant return to running would have to wait until the last week of March, when I would finally have the time and the health to try again. I even mapped out an optimistic little training plan to make sure I would be ready for the annual Mt. St. Helens climb on Mother's Day weekend.

BUT THEN.

The little cold I developed over the weekend turned into pneumonia.  PNEUMONIA, people.  I'm really an optimist most of the time but JEEZ. Can a lady get a break? I'm really getting tired of the couch potato life.

 Yes, that's a hot toddy.  It's therapeutic!  I need something to take the edge off while I daydream about trail running and read horror stories of runners who tried to do marathons with pneumonia.

Yes, that's a hot toddy.  It's therapeutic!  I need something to take the edge off while I daydream about trail running and read horror stories of runners who tried to do marathons with pneumonia.

So that's what's going on with me.  The pneumonia diagnosis came through just two days ago.  The comeback has to wait until I'm done with this round of antibiotics and I can breathe deeply without hacking up a lung.  In the meantime, I'm going to start blogging some recipes I've managed to cook up in the last few months, and I'm keeping fingers crossed that I'll still be able to climb St. Helens in May.  

I promise I'll try to spend less time perusing race websites and dreaming about what might have been.  And maybe I'll have a race report for you sometime later this year.

 

PS: I can't end this post with all that negativity, so here's a list of great things that have happened over the last few months:

  • My adorable kids turned 4 and 1 and we had wonderful holidays.
  • My wife started a volunteer gig teaching coding to women and got a much-deserved promotion at work.
  • I got to do a show I've wanted to do for decades, with an amazing cast of awesome people.
  • I am successfully getting my Spanish back in shape as I prepare to take on some pro bono immigration cases. 
  • I finally learned how to drive in the snow.
  • I continue to love my day job.

Apparently I'm still an optimist, albeit a slower and lazier one.

 

 

 

 

Soup (and Injury) Weather

Bad news first:  I'm injured.  I'm hoping to find out this week if it's a stress fracture or something called metatarsalgia, but the gist is that my left foot is killing me and I haven't been able to run.  That I have ants in my pants is an understatement.  I am just grateful that this happened after all my summer races.  Time to start swimming again!

Good news: This means more time to cook and blog about recipes!  Fantastic timing, too, because cold weather means the oven can be on in the evening and I can get more creative with dinners.  First up: my easy-peasy, go-to, crowd-pleasing Italian Soup.

 Don't pictures of big pots of simmering soup make you feel all warm and cozy?  Also, I failed to take a photo of an appetizingly artful bowl of soup, so this is what you get.

Don't pictures of big pots of simmering soup make you feel all warm and cozy?  Also, I failed to take a photo of an appetizingly artful bowl of soup, so this is what you get.

15-Minute Italian Soup

1 yellow onion, diced small

2 cloves garlic, minced

1-2 carrots, sliced thinly

1 can chickpeas/garbanzo beans (or 1.5 cups cooked beans)

4 cups vegetable broth (I like the Imagine Organic Low-Sodium variety)

1 large (28 oz.) can crushed tomatoes - ideally San Marzano, but any will work

2 cups chopped kale, spinach, or other greens

Oregano, salt, pepper to taste

  1. Heat a large soup pot with cooking spray or a tiny bit of olive oil.  Add onions, garlic, and carrots, and cook over medium heat until the onions soften.  Add a splash of water as needed to prevent sticking.
  2. Toss in your drained and rinsed garbanzo beans and continue cooking for 2-3 minutes, stirring frequently.
  3. Add broth, tomatoes, and spices.  (Go easy on the salt, as tomatoes and broth usually have quite a bit of salt already.)  Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to maintain a simmer for at least 10 minutes.  The key is to let your carrots get soft--any additional simmer time just deepens the flavor.
  4. Add your greens with a good stir when you've got 5 - 10 minutes of simmer time remaining.  Kale and other hardy greens hold up better than spinach if you plan to leave the soup simmering for a while.  
  5. Optional: add 1/4 cup of orzo pasta to the pot once you bring it to a boil, and allow to simmer at least as long as the package's recommended cooking time.  Makes it a bit heartier.  You can also cook the soup without the pasta on night one, then turn the leftovers into a pasta dish for night two--just serve over cooked pasta or heat the soup in a pot and cook your pasta right in the soup (adding a bit of water if necessary).

That's it!  So easy.  

Some serving ideas from our house: I will steal a couple of spoonfuls of this soup from the pot to serve over pasta for the kiddos--they don't really do soup.  My wife adds shaved parmesan to her bowl.  I love this soup served with a giant hunk of garlic bread.

PS - Speaking of garlic bread and not being able to run through the holiday binge fest, stay tuned for a future post on cutting flours out of my diet.  Yikes.

 

 

Race Report: Dirt Dash 8k Trail Run

Well, that was fun!  This Sunday was the annual Dirt Du & Dash, hosted by the awesome and low-key Xdog Events.  A duathlon (running + mountain biking) was an option, but since I didn't want to break bones that day, I stuck with the Dash.  These guys always put together a fun course---usually through brambles and up steep inclines that require the use of my hands to climb---but they start the season off a bit easy with the Dirt Dash's hilly-but-not-crazy 8k course.

The day started with the usual scarfing of potatoes at home before leaving the house around 8:30am to head out to Hagg Lake.  I love that Xdog Events don't start until 10am!  That can feel a bit late if I'm going by myself and want to get back home for family time, but it's great when bringing the kiddos along for the event.  We all left the house without incident and on time, shockingly, and took the time to stop at Dutch Bros once I realized that the duathlon was to start at 10, but I actually wouldn't start running until 10:30.  Nice to not be in a rush for a change!

 The customary "before" pic

The customary "before" pic

 

After two wrong turns (despite having been there last year), we finally arrived at the site around 9:45 to see our friends Elliot (racing) and Carrie (cheering section/kid wrangler) waiting for us.  They helped corral the kids while I checked in and hit the very nice bathrooms, then we watched the duathlon participants start their run.  

20 minutes later it was our turn!  Elliot runs like the wind---he won his age group and came in 6th overall, I think---so we saw each other off at the start and I lost sight of him within half a mile.  The first half mile was on pavement, but the rest---except for maybe a quarter mile in the middle---was on fairly dry trails that ranged from wide and flat to knotty and narrow.  The course makes a sort of figure-8, and I felt pretty good for the first couple of miles until I had passed through the start area (and gotten an awesome hug from my toddler).  

 Carrie, T, R, and Liz, sending us off. Special thanks to Carrie for always helping Liz with the kids when Elliot and I are off running!

Carrie, T, R, and Liz, sending us off. Special thanks to Carrie for always helping Liz with the kids when Elliot and I are off running!

By mile 3 or so my legs felt like lead.  Too many hill workouts the week before!  Still, I was able to enjoy the scenery, including some nice lakeside running, some adorable kids with balloons, and a beautiful open meadow that tried its best (and failed) to twist my ankle.  The course was much drier than last year---which was basically a 5-mile mudslide---and I think that's why I managed to beat last year's time by 4 minutes.  I got 3rd place in my age group, though there may have been only 3 people in my age group; I really don't know.  It's always weird when a race feels tough but turns out well!

We topped it off with free beers during the awards and raffle and grabbed lunch in the sunshine. I definitely ate and drank more calories than I burned, but it felt well deserved anyway.  Fun day!