Vancouver USA Half Marathon – Vancouver, WA – June 15, 2014

Last Sunday was Lisa and I’s second in a series of three half marathons this summer. (I never got around to blogging about the Oregon Spring Half on May 3.  I’ll get that soon).  Vancouver represented a new state for both of us as well as a city we spend a lot of time in.  I work there, Lisa’s parents live there, we are getting married there.  The other fun thing about this race is it included a beer festival at the finish!


A nice shirt and a beer mug for the festival were the swag for this race! Pretty exciting!

Lisa’s cousin Karadee as well as Karadee’s sister Zandra and Zandra’s husband Mike were running this race as well.  We managed to find them at the start and while Zandra and Mike were planning a much faster pace than us, Karadee was right where we were planning to be and so we promised to stay together as best we could.  It worked out really well.  We stayed together most of the way and also hung around with the 2:45 pacer (a fellow Half Fanatic!) most of the way as well.  Our goal for this race was merely to finish and enjoy the race.  No PRs for this one, at least not for Lisa and I.  Karadee and Zandra both PR’d!

The race started at Esther Short park in downtown Vancouver and wound it’s way through downtown, through Officers Row of Fort Vancouver (which was awesome!) and then up the only major hill of the course but it was a doozy! A mile and a half slog up the hill of death.  Then we careened down the hill through a couple parks and then along the waterfront and back through Fort Vancouver to finish back in Esther Short park.  It was a really nice course, even with the hill of death.  We all stayed together until about mile 8 when Karadee just caught some kind of groove or second wind and she took off! We cheered her on as she pulled away.  At about mile 11 my calves started cramping up (again!) and we had to stop and walk a bit.  Tried to run again but only made it another 1/4 mile or so before they cramped up again.  The only complaint I could have about this race is the late stage water stops had run out of gatorade.  I doubled up the water and even ate a second Gu for the sodium and potassium but it wasn’t enough to help.  We had to walk until mile 13 and then we just had one corner to turn for the finish, so we jogged it out to the finish.  I cramped up again immediately but I was able to keep going just until the finish.


We finished! HUGE medals! Very nice.

After the race we grabbed some much needed food and gatorade and then walked to the car to change clothes and get our beer mugs.  We headed back to the beer festival for some beer and food!  We didn’t realize until too late that the gear check tag from the bottom of the bib got us a free beer from the beer sponser Heathen Brewing in Vancouver.  Oh well.  But we had our free tokens to get some samples.  We had enough tokens to get two samplers (one token each) and then one full beer pour (4 tokens) with our dinner.  I sampled a NW Red Ale from McMenamins, a Saison from Heathen and then got a full pour of Kiwanas Cream ale from Pelican Brewing.  Lisa tried a Porter from Heathen, another one I don’t remember that she just liked the name, and then got a full pour of Irish Stout from Breakside.

10419484_10152171479252543_4023595224265889456_nBeer fest selfie!

It did suck to cramp up towards the end, for like the 4th race in a row no less, but we finished and we made it.  We had a great time and got to spend most of the race with Karadee which was really fun and made the miles FLY by.

Up next is the Foot Traffic Flat on July 4th, which I spectated last year, but this year I get to run it.  This will be the 3rd race in well under 90 days to qualify Lisa for the half fanatics, but after this race we are going to take a break from halfs for a while.  The training has been grueling and trying to fit it in among work, school, church and wedding planning has been daunting.  For the rest of this year and probably all of next year we are going to concentrate on shorter races, mostly 5Ks but some 10Ks and one 15K (Shamrock).  We’ll set different goals, like go for time and work on speed.  Both of us would love to nail a sub 30 minute 5K.

On to the next!


New running shoes?

It seems like I am going to need new running shoes soon, especially before taking on a three half marathon summer that is planned.  Although based on time and mileage, I shouldn’t NEED new shoes yet, but I think I do, which is why I’m opening this up to suggestions from other people.  What do you wear? What do you like? What would you recommend?

My first pair of fitted running shoes were a pair of Brooks GTS Adrenaline 12’s. (My first pair of running shoes were an off the shelf pair of Saucony’s).  These shoes were awesome, as if they were made just for me.  I felt great running in them and (until Disney) didn’t have any knee problems or injuries.  I put over 500 miles on those shoes including 3 half marathons.  When they were ready to be replaced I went back and got the exact same style, just the newer model, the GTS Adrenaline 13.  At first they were great, but pretty quickly I started to notice things such as them not fitting as well, not feeling as good and a spot on my right foot that’s been rubbed to a massive blister during my last two long races.  I’ve put less than 300 miles on them and the right toe is split open and coming apart, my last couple long runs/races I’ve been plagued by cramps, soreness and knee pain, not all of which can be blamed on/attributed to the shoes, but that’s never a good sign.  I don’t think these shoes are going to last much longer and certainly not for another 150 miles of training and three races.

Lisa is also running in a pair of Brooks that she likes but doesn’t love.  She’s thinking about switching back to her Asics that she was wearing before, or maybe even try something different altogether.  I love Brooks as a company, they do a lot of good things with health awareness, race sponsorship, charity work etc but maybe the shoes just aren’t for us.

I loved my first pair of Saucony’s but I don’t believe they make a support shoe that fits me.  So what would you guys recommend?

Here’s the caveat – I wear a 13 Wide.  Not all shoes come in 13, not all shoes come in wide.  I have flat feet and therefore have a huge pronation.  I need support shoes.  I ran in neutral’s before I knew what I really needed and thankfully did not cause any damage/injury.

Thanks in advance for the suggestions!

Pre-race and New Gear

I had a pretty good race related adventure this afternoon.  First I went to Fleet Feet Sports to pick up my packet and shirt for tomorrow’s race, the Forsyth County Law Enforcement Memorial 5K.  Some of the numbers went up into the 700s so looks like it might be a good crowd tomorrow morning.  The shirt is a standard tshirt, not a tech shirt, so I won’t wear it for the race, but it’s a nice shirt.  The back of the shirt memorializes a list of officers killed in the line of duty in Forsyth County dating back to 1895.  Thankfully it is a short list, only 24 officers over the span of 117 years.

Since I was at Fleet Feet already, I wanted to look around since I had earned a 25$ reward credit and I was looking for a hat.  I found exactly what I was looking for in a Nike Dri Fit hat for 20$ and bought a couple packs of Gu (that I dont really need right now, but they are good for like 4 years) to bring it up to 24 and some change.  I’m not too worried about the 70 cents I didn’t use.

As you can see from the picture, after hitting up Fleet Feet I went to Omega Sports to get my Member Tech shirt for joining the Twin City Track Club, and this shirt was free! It’s a very nice shirt and I look forward to wearing it for some of the group events (you don’t have to, but I probably will).

So the best part of all of my new gear is it didn’t cost me anything!

Stay tuned tomorrow for my race recap, which will be fairly picture heavy since I will be carrying my camera on the course with me to blog this race for the WorldWide WordPress 5K.

Hiking in Willis Virginia

The original plan for this weekend was to do some trail running, but after some consideration of both of our virgin status as trail running we decided a nice slow hike would be much better suited (and it suited the terrain better as well). I brought my Garmin and HRM strap to track our distance, my calorie burn and also to track our path.  I wasn’t logging my food or anything this weekend, but was just curious.

The view out of the front of the cabin.  Sadly pictures can never do it justice.

We headed out the back of the cabin and immediately began climbing up.  We followed an old logging road until we got to gate into the pastures.  We had been up here before to go shooting once before.  At one point I realized there were cows in the pasture, and we were inside the fence, but they left us alone and we just went along out merry way.

Gray and I at the top of the first hill.

Our new friends the cows.. thankfully they left us alone.  And we gladly left them alone.

We headed up a little further up the hill and found an old barn which we were looking at and managed to see two wild turkeys before Gray’s dog Matty took chase and they buggered out as quick as they could.  I managed to catch a picture of one before they flew off.

Wild turkeys about to fly off.

At this point we decided to take a break and eat lunch.  We had grabbed some deli sandwiches at the grocery store and carried them up with us.  Mine was an Italian sub with salami, ham and pepperoni and provolone cheese, it was very good.

After lunch, we got back onto the logging road and followed it across the ridge to another pasture and then we came out upon a old family cemetery that Gray said he hadn’t been to in a long time.  The oldest stones dated back to the 1890’s, the most recent one was from 1961.  After that we cut across a different pasture and then came to a ridge top at the edge of some woods.

View of Buffalo Mountain from the ridge.  Absolutely stunning up there.

At this point we started heading down the hill through the woods and winding out way down to the bottom of the valley to follow the creek back to the cabin.

If a tree pose falls in the forest and no one is there to hear it does it still Om?

The story with the gratuitous yoga shot, is my friends in Alabama always post pictures of themselves doing random yoga poses either mid- or after morning training runs.  So I had to have one of myself.  Tree pose seemed quite appropriate.

After this we followed the creek back up to the cabin for some post hike refreshment.

When I got home I was very excited to plug my Garmin in and see what the stats from the hike were.  We went very slowly and we were not trying to break any land speed records, but we hiked 3.31 miles in 2 hours and 52 minutes.  According to my heart rate strap, my max heart rate was 157 BPM, and it was in the last lap (which was a steep hill climb back up to the cabin) and my average heart rate was 107.  I burned 695 calories over the course of our hike, which actually compares to a spinning class or a weekend long run.  So even though it was long and slow it had the same effect.  Garmin also gave me an option to place my path onto Google Earth and this is where things get interesting.  Garmin tracks changes in elevation, and Google Earth gives me the true elevation, so I can compare the two.  The elevation at the cabin is about 2700 feet.  Our highest elevation was up on the ridge top where we at lunch at about 2900 feet.  Our lowest elevation was down at the creek in the bottom of the valley, at 2599 feet.  So a total elevation change of about 300 feet.  200 above the cabin and about 100 below.  Get this though, from the Garmin our total ascent was 4,449 feet and our total descent was 2,430 feet.  That’s a lot of up and down to cover 300 feet, and most of it was up! Totally crazy.

Here is the path of our hike from Google Earth.  The cabin is about in the “7 oclock” position in the mid-lower left.  The very bottom is the ridge we at lunch at and the rest of the path we followed up and around counter-clockwise back to the cabin.

2012 Rock and Roll Half Marathon – New Orleans LA

The day had finally arrived.  My first half marathon.  On Thursday I drove down to Montgomery Alabama to my friends house, the McQueen family, who were also running in New Orleans.  I went out with Amanda and ran 2 miles (while she ran 4 in about the same amount of time) which was my last training run before the race.  Hung out in Montgomery for the night and then Friday morning hit the road for New Orleans.

Saturday was the expo and so I went to pick up my gear.  The gear pack came with my bib, a gear bag and a nice Brooks technical T-shirt.  I requested a single XL for the shirt, which is a little tight at the moment but hopefully will fit soon.

Sunday morning came bright and early and I suited up and headed out to the starting area.  Managed to find the Alabama gang in the huge crowd which was a bit of a surprise.  But that was good since I managed to get some pictures.

Me pre-race.

Me and Amanda pre-race.

I walked around the block what seemed like 2 miles to get to my corral, and then waited for the start.  The first corral went off right at 7, and they sent corrals off every 2 minutes or so, so it was about a 40 minute wait for those of us way back in corral 23. So I waited and waited and waited and then finally it was my turn to go.

I felt pretty good starting out, and I jogged all of the first 3 miles, up to the 5K point, which was about 40 minutes in.  I decided at that point to take my first Gu, so I slowed to a walk and took my Gu and some water and then I noticed that my thighs/hips were kinda hurting as I was walking so I started jogging again and then realized that I needed to keep jogging because it felt worse to walk.  I saw Amanda along St Charles avenue where the course doubled back on itself, but I didn’t see anyone else from our crew.  I didn’t carry my camera with me along the race course, so I don’t have any pictures from along the route, but there were the live bands as promised and the water stations and aid stations were well located.  All in all I thought the race was very well orchestrated.  I don’t have another race yet to compare it to, but for my first one at least it wasn’t a disaster.  The course was well marked, I didn’t get lost or anything like that.  I was feeling pretty good until somewhere between mile 10 and mile 11 when I pretty much hit the wall.  I had to really struggle to the finish, but I managed to finish in 3 hours, 11 minutes and 18 seconds.  Here were my split times.  12:40, 13:10, 12:31, 13:54, 13:47, 14:03, 14:44, 14:25, 14:40, 15:22, 15:04, 16:45, 17:37, 14:31 (0.2).  You can see where I hit the wall in the 12th mile.  I managed to pick up the pace a little bit with a jog to the finish.

I was hurting pretty bad by the time I finished, so I didn’t have that overwhelming since of joy and accomplishment that I expected, I was glad to be done and walked through the finish portion pretty much in a daze, grabbed a bagel a banana and a Gatorade, ate that and chugged down the Gatorade, hung around for about 5 minutes of the after party and then caught the shuttle bus back to the hotel for a much needed shower and lunch.  By the time I finished the rest of the Alabama crew was long gone since they had finished well before me.

This is what I got for my troubles, and very nice (and heavy) medal.

Up next, some much needed rest and the the St Leo’s 10K in two weeks.

Tire Rotation (New Kicks!)

It was time to get a new pair of running shoes and have enough time to break them in before the half marathon.  I was able to do this with some early birthday money from my parents (thanks Mom and Dad!) and so I went to the local running store, Fleet Feet and got fitted for shoes.  I had pulled my previous shoes off the shelf at a sporting goods store, tried them on, walked around, liked them and bought them.  They were very nice, and have done good by me, but I recently found out (from one of the nice staff at Fleet Feet) that since I have flat feet I need some shoes with some extra support (known as “stability”) so I had been wearing the wrong shoes! My previous shoes were what’s known as a “neutral”, or just a normal level of support.  So I tried on 4 pairs of shoes, the lady at the store watched me walk in them, a couple I went out for a quick jog around the parking lot and after trying on pairs of Asics, New Balances, Sauconys and Brooks I am the proud owner of a nice shiny new pair of…….. *drumroll*

Brooks Adrenaline GTS 12 !

I liked the Brooks the best out of the four I tried on.  I was disappointed in the Sauconys since I thought I would like them since I was already wearing a pair, but it felt like there was a bump in the inside right behind the big toe and it was uncomfortable.  And if it doesn’t feel right standing there or walking slowly it’s gonna feel really not right when you’re running.  So I quickly scratched them.  The Asics were very nice, but the Brooks edged them out slightly.

Here’s a shot of the other side, the dark gray foam under the arch is much firmer than the white foam around the rest of the shoe and that gives you the extra support.

I took the shoes out for a quick little 2 mile trot this afternoon, and they did make my feet hurt a little bit which would be expected from brand new shoes, so I am actually gonna run my 5K tomorrow in my old Sauconys before I retire them from running and delegate them to “mall-walker” status.  The good news is that while the Sauconys have lost the cushioning for high impact running after 200+ miles, they still have plenty of life left in them for “around town” shoes, so I will still get plenty of use from them and get my money’s worth out of them for sure.

Winter Flight 8K – Salisbury, NC

This morning I ran in the Winter Flight 8K in Salisbury NC.  This was my first race longer than 5K distance.  Thankfully I’ve done more than 5 miles in my half marathon training, so the distance was not that daunting.

First, my only complaint for the race, the weather, cold and drizzly rain.  Ugh.  I was a drowned rat by the time I got home.  But now on to the good part.

Ok, so it’s not elite runner status, but my first “low” number. LOL

I was a little worried when we started, the Start line was an orange cone and a faintly spray painted line on the pavement, but those worries were quickly pushed away when I realized the course itself was in fact very well marked.  We were running on roads that were still open to traffic, which can be nerve wracking but there was a line of cones separating our lane from the traffic lane and plenty of police at the intersections directing traffic.

The horn goes and the crowd rushes forward and we are off and I felt like I was actually going too fast and so tried to dial it back a little bit so I didn’t kill myself in the first half mile.  I still ended up running my fastest mile yet, at 12:08, besting my time from New Years of 12:14.  The first two miles had some nice downhill stretches which helped, then a loooooong uphill just past 2 miles with the water station at the top right around halfway.  Somewhere between the water stop and mile 3 it started raining pretty good and rained the rest of the way.  The finishing part with a lap around the stadium track was really cool, and although the “huge crowd” of 10 people was all there was, they did call out my name as I was rounding the bend and hitting the last 50 yards or so till the finish.  They handed me a card that said #264 which I then gave to the ladies tallying the results, so I assume that’s my finishing position, but out of how many I have no clue.  There weren’t too many people behind me that I could see but I wasn’t dead last.

Outside view of the finishing stadium from the parking lot.

I’m surprised that I was able to keep a steady pace the whole race, usually my average will look good and then my splits are all over the place, but this time I held it pretty steady.  My splits were 12:08, 12:48, 12:48, 12:32, 12:34.  Ironically the 12:34 for mile 5 was also my average pace for the whole run.

I also would have set a 5K PR for this race if it had stopped at 3.1.  I don’t remember the exact time, but 37:45 at three miles, and 38-something at 3.11 would be a PR by several minutes and also a sub-40 minute 5K!!

Overall a good race besides the weather.  And as always, my first race at that distance is an automatic PR! And with such an odd distance, will likely be my only 8K for a while.

  • About Me

    I am a recent graduate in Food Science (NC State, 2009) and I work for a major food manufacturing company. I love food, but I can no longer eat anything that crosses my path. About 24 months ago I begin a serious struggle to get my obesity under control and reduce my chances of developing Type II diabetes. Since September of '09 I have lost 50 pounds and I still have a long ways to go. I've started eating better and exercising more, including taking up running.