The Suckfest that was July

It’s been almost a month since my last blog post. It’s also been about a month since I’ve had anything that even remotely looks like a good training week.

After the Foot Traffic Flat Half on July 4th I basically went on auto pilot. I planned to take the week “off” after that race. Then when I started my next training block my soleus muscle decided to act up. Took about 10 days for me to get a handle on that. Then it seemed like I was dealing with something in my personal life every other day. And every time running took a backseat.

It wasn’t all bad though. Mrs Team Neon and I went for a nice hike up Multnomah Falls on our anniversary.

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The end of the month our female offspring came home from Montana for a visit. I brought up the idea of doing the Crawfish Crawl 5K together while she was home and she eagerly agreed. We had a great time running together the entire race. She kept saying how I was embarrassing her as I interacted with race officials and other runners.

Here we are leaving the start line.

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Here we are post race.

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We had a nice visit with her. Next summer we are planning to go visit her and maybe run the Bozeman Half Marathon.

Last week I finally got back into the groove of running. Logged a little over 30 miles, which was about half of what I did all of July.  For my long run over the weekend I ran the Huckleberry Half Marathon. This is a hilly course in it’s second year that I’ve been using as a training run for Hood to Coast. I finished 26th overall in 1:50:10. Time wasn’t too far off from last year.

Here I am pre race. Was a little cooler at the start than I thought it would be. Perfect racing temp though.

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Here I am coming into the finish. Given my lack of training the last month I am very pleased with these results.

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Now we are just 8 days away from Hood to Coast. I’m running with basically the same group as last year so should be fun. And with a 7:30 start time we should be able to get some good sunrise pictures again this year.

Happy Running
Lonnie

So…now what?!

The Foot Traffic Flat Half was my target race this year. But there are six months left this year. And if you’ve been with me for any significant amount of time you know I like to plan WAY ahead…like two years.

The rest of 2014, all of 2015 and even part of 2016 have tentatively been planned for about six months now. I teased earlier this year about THE ANNOUNCEMENT and when I would share. To be honest, I thought I would post this months ago but never got around to it.  So what is it? I’m going to make another attempt at Boston. Yeah, I know, people try to qualify, and succeed, for Boston every year, big deal. You’re right, not a big deal. But for me it is. I like history in sports and respect that history. The only marathon that matters to me is Boston. Qualifying for Boston would supersede any race or PR I have ever achieved. I’ve told people that just qualifying would satisfy me. If I ever get the chance to actually run Boston I wouldn’t care one bit what my time was. I will want to enjoy every step of the race and take in every ounce of history that course has.

So what’s my plan? Miles…lots and lots of miles. This week started my first marathon training block. I told a running friend, Professor Badass, this was my first block and she responded “You’re training for a marathon but not actually running one?!”. Yep…for now. This training block will take me through the beginning of December. This will hopefully allow me to get in good shape for the RW Festival hat trick and also maybe attempt a half marathon PR at Rock n Roll San Antonio.

After that I will hopefully need to adjust my training plan because I’m in better shape. This will begin my second training block. This will take me up to the inaugural running of the Blooms to Brews Marathon in April. This is an extremely flat, beautiful course. Only downside is that it is small and out in the middle of nowhere. I’m planning this to be more of a test marathon, but if all goes well who knows what might happen.

Assuming I don’t BQ at Blooms to Brews, this will take me to my third training block. I haven’t fully committed to a specific target race for Boston, but right now I’m leaning towards the Eugene Marathon in July. This is a PR friendly course that has that bigger race atmosphere feel to it. Plus it finishes on Hayward Field at the University of Oregon…home of Steve Prefontaine. After that the plan is Boston in 2016.

So there’s the plan. Run lots of miles. Lose this God forsaken weight. But most importantly stay healthy…mentally as well as physically. If I get hurt or lose myself along the way this will all mean nothing.

Hope you guys come along for the ride!

Happy Running
Lonnie

Foot Traffic Flat Half Marathon

The Fourth of July Foot Traffic Flat Half Marathon was my target race for this year.  I was going to lose the extra weight I put on after the Portland Marathon last fall and get into good race shape as this was a very flat, fast course.

Was it flat? Definitely!

Did I lose the weight? Not even close!

Was I in good race shape? For the extra weight I was carrying my conditioning wasn’t as bad as it could have been.

Was it fast? Well, the course was, but I sure wasn’t.

This race took place out on Sauvie Island in NW Portland. The island is all farm land. And by all farm land, I mean ALL farm land. When you’re running it is just one farm after another. The race was scheduled to start at 6:50. Since there was one bridge on/off the island they recommended that you show up at least 45 minutes before the race. This cushion would only get you to the start line by race time though. So we were out there about 5:45. This meant a 4:00 alarm…UGH!

Got to the event with plenty of time. Relaxed for a few minutes in the car and then started to get ready. With about 45 minutes before the gun was to go off I figured it was a good time to hit the bathroom. Unfortunately, so did the other 2000 people running. We stood in line for a solid 45 minutes waiting. By 7:00 I was all ready to race. Yep, that meant I hit the starting line 10 minutes after the gun went off. There were actually quite a few people in my situation. Mrs Team Neon told me there were people hanging around the start line who finally asked if the half had already started since they never heard an announcement or the horn. Between the standing around and getting to the start line late I got in exactly ZERO warm up.

I actually felt really good for the first 4-5 miles. Unfortunately, this is never a good sign. My watch told me that I did what I usually do and went out way too fast. And I followed that up by thinking I could maintain it for 8 more miles. I’ve also been playing around with my fueling the last few months. I’m trying to get away from excessive carb forms of fueling. This may have had something to do with the wall I hit between miles 8-10. Reflecting back on it and talking it over with my trainer, it wasn’t so much the pre race fueling that did me in but more that I needed to fuel again mid race. Like I said, I’ve been playing around with it. But, given that I knew I wasn’t going to PR, I’m ok with playing around with things during races. It’s the only time you really know if it’s going to work or not. Unfortunately, by mile 10 I was TOAST. My splits had dropped by at least 90 seconds per mile. My only thoughts were “just finish”. I came in at just over 1:48. No, not a horrible time and pretty much inline with what I’ve been doing this year. Still should have been 5-7 minutes faster given the course, but oh well. Live, learn and run another day.

Here I am coming into the finish…
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If I hadn’t felt so miserable the last few miles I would have enjoyed this race so much more. It really was a beautiful course. The weather, although a tad warm, was gorgeous. If you like crowds cheering for you this is not your race. Limited road access, limited parking, early start time and bring out in the country mean not much cheering along the course between aid stations. But if you like that kind of setting then you’ll love this race.

I probably won’t run this race again as a stand alone event. However, I did find out about a multi day event that has been going on the last few years. This year it was called the Firecracker Triple. A 5K, Half Marathon or Marathon each day Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Something I will definitely look into next year.

Happy Running
Lonnie

I’m a Drifter

I’ve never been much of a klutz. I’m semi athletic, have a good awareness of my body weight/center of gravity and general pay pretty good attention to my surroundings. I have yet to fall down, or even seriously stumble, while running. But for the life of me I can’t understand why I continually drift to my right while running (and walking as evidenced by the laughing fit Mrs Team Neon just had while watching me try to step up onto a curb to my left only to run into the car to my right!).

Aside from the various shrubs, trees, poles and signs I’ve had to dodge over the last few years, there are two specific instances where I was left bloody for absolutely NO REASON!

Last August, at about mile 14 of a very warm 18 miler, I was running in a sparsely populated area. More industrial than commercial or residential, so not a lot of buildings, just big ones. I’m running along a warehouse a good 20′ from the building. But I notice I’m starting to get closer to the building. The following conversation may or may not have taken place in my head over the next 10-15 seconds:

The building is getting closer.
You’re drifting towards the building.
The building is getting really close.
There is a meter box on the side of the building, don’t get any closer.
Seriously, watch out for…BANG!

I hit the glass meter casing with my shoulder. It hurt like a MF! By the time I got to look at it about an hour later my shoulder looked like I fell off the building rather than running into a glass housing. Bloody and swollen.

Fast forward to this past Sunday at Vancouver Half. About mile 11 when the wheels were starting to come off (yes, it’s not lost on me that paying attention is not one of my attributes when I’m tired) we were running along the Columbia River on a very nice path by some condos. We were making a gradual right curve turn along a cinder block wall. Yeah, you know where this is going…

OK, you know you drift to the right so don’t do that.
That wall will not be forgiving if you hit it.
Seriously, get away from the…BANG…SON OF A…

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I didn’t even bother looking at it. Didn’t hit it hard but enough that I knew it was bleeding. I actually laughed at myself and may have muttered a few derogatory names to myself.

Will I ever stop this? Probably not. If I didn’t do anything stupid I wouldn’t have good stories to tell!

Are you a drifter? Dumbest/Weirdest thing you’ve done while running?

Happy Running
Lonnie

Change Of Scenery

Sometimes you need to get away and clear your head. I don’t share much of my “personal” life on here but let’s just say my wife and I keep ourselves busy. So busy in fact that we haven’t done much in the last year other than the daily grind. And that is…well…grinding.

We decided we were going to get away. It’s only for a night but it will be nice. Going to “the beach” tonight. I say “the beach” because that’s what people in Portland say when they go to the coast. It pretty much covers about 300 miles of coast line. We are going to Long Beach, WA. Nice little hotel that has a restaurant and bar along with views of the ocean. Now, I grew up on the coast in Coos Bay, OR. So going to the beach is a “meh” kind of thing for me. It’s sand and the water is cold (my nipples still get hard when I remember that January midnight swim I took when I was 18). But we haven’t gone in a while so will be nice.

No running while there. Got an easy run in this morning, will take tomorrow off and then get in my long run Sunday.

Hope everyone has a good weekend.

Happy Running
Lonnie

Departing Suckville!

The original title for this post was going to be Fear is a Bitch. But I’m not really in a drama queen kind of mood.

Most of you know I belong to an awesome online running group. I’ve said it several times and I’ll keep saying it, there is no way I could have achieved the goals I have without them. The other day I posted this to the group:

Welcome to Suckville. Population: ME!
For the last few months my training has sucked. My diet has sucked. My attitude has sucked. My desire has sucked. My motivation has sucked. In two days I run what will possibly be my last “racing” 5K. I fully expect the results to resemble exactly what I’ve put into the last few months. I own it. I accept it. Doesn’t mean I have to stay there. Monday, shit gets real again. I have goals. Very big, very attainable goals. But it requires me to get my head out of my ass and do the work. The guy I look at in the mirror is a coward and it’s time for him to get his ass in gear. No more excuses.

Obviously I received lots of comments and support. It’s what they do. Constantly uplifting everyone in the group. I did have a few people reach out to me directly, though. One in particular really wanted to get to the bottom of what was going on. She knew things hadn’t been right with me. She’d also had a bottle of wine that night. So she was very direct and very blunt. After we were done talking I told her that I had been thinking of writing this post and she encouraged me to do it.

I think about where my head is right now, where it has been for the last six months, and I always come back to a clip from Rocky III. In fact, I watch that clip and it’s like a punch to the stomach. Yes, it’s a bit over the top, but the message is the same.

I was not 100% going into the Portland Marathon. Then the disaster between mile 18-20 where my body decided it had enough. But even worse, my mind quit. I came out of that race scared and I haven’t gotten over it. Then throw in the peroneal tendonosis that caused me to miss a big chunk of training. And it’s not like that injury was some freak accident. I did that all by myself as a result of improper training.

I used to embrace the discomfort that came with training. To me, it said I was progressing and making changes to my body that would make me faster. Now, every little twinge or ache and I’m having doubts about what I’m doing. Is that a good pain or a bad pain. Hell, I don’t know any more. Now, my mind easily convinces my body that an extra rest day or cutting a run short is perfectly acceptable. Just being safe! Probably the worst part of this has been my mental approach to my eating habits. I used to say I was more afraid of returning to the person I used to be than anything that lied ahead of me. I’m inside my head so much now that I’ve returned to some very unhealthy eating habits. This. Must. Stop!

So, how do you get out of something like this? Beats the hell out of me. But I’m trying to go with the mind set that Rocky had…EF it, let’s dance! Win or lose, no regrets! Show up every damn day and put in the work. On race day, toe the line and give it all you got! I’m putting the finishing touches on my half marathon plan today and we will start fresh tomorrow.

The running group is even “chipping in” to help get me out of my funk. Quite a few of us are meeting up at the RW Festival in October. So, one gentleman (I use that term loosely) made a tongue in cheek comment that I agreed to run as many miles between now and then as the whole group ran this weekend. Someone else decided that was a great idea so started a thread for everyone to post their miles from the weekend. I posted that it was done as a joke. But the posts kept coming in with people’s miles. Some even going longer or running again just to boost the mileage. So I did a quick little math and made the following post:

So here’s the deal…
Tally up all the miles ran by the group this weekend. Then double it! I will run at least that by Runners World! Do your worst punks!

They have until midnight tonight to post their miles to a log my buddy Andy put together. So far we are just shy of 500 miles (meaning I would have to run almost 1000). He even gave them a place to put comments that I could read. Some are pretty damn funny! So, will this help get me out of my funk? No clue. Maybe it’s exactly what I need though. Some goal that doesn’t really involve my goals. What I do know is that my mindset needs to change. Get that taken care of and I think the rest will fall into place.

Happy Running
Lonnie

Homemade Protein Bar

A guy I’m running the Philadelphia Broad Street 10 Miler with shared a recipe with us and since I was in a domesticated mood today, I took a stab at it.  Turned out so good I thought I would share with everyone.

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There are about the size of a Clif Bar, or close enough for me to use the term “about”. 

Ingredients:

1.5 cups pitted dates

1 cup walnuts

2 scoops Pure Protein vanilla whey protein powder

1 tsp vanilla extract

pinch kosher salt

water as needed

When I measured the dates, I did it when they were whole.  I would recommend chopping them first to get a better measurement.  I suspect I’m closer to a cup rather than a cup and a half.  I would imagine you could get 6 bars out of this recipe instead of the 5 that I did.  Also feel free to use whatever nuts you want.  You will need to add water to get the right “gooey” texture.  It will vary batch to batch. I would add 1 tablespoon at a time.

Directions:  Dump everything in a blender and turn it on!  Yeah, that’s it!  OK, technically you have to turn off the blender and take the mixture out.  Then form into desired shapes.  I was told to put them in the fridge to firm them up.  Mine have been in there for over an hour and I don’t really see a big difference.  I would suggest storing them in an airtight container to keep them fresh.  Should easily store for at least a few days. I would think the biggest issue would be getting stale and hard more than going bad.

Nutritional Breakdown:

Calories   400
Fat  15.14g
Carbohydrate 53.17g
Fiber 2.97g
Protein 13.91g
 
There you go!  Feel free to take this and make it your own.  Incredibly quick and easy to make these.  Didn’t do the math on cost but I would guess this is easily under $1 per bar!  Compare that to $2-3 for a good bar from the store!  You control the ingredients and get the satisfaction of knowing you made it yourself!
 
Happy Running
Lonnie