2014 Shamrock Run 8K – Portland, OR – March 16, 2014

The Shamrock Run is a Portland institution.  The race has been run for at least 35 years based on some of the shirts I saw, I’m not sure exactly what anniversary this year was, but it’s been around for a while.  An announced attendance of 35,000 runners puts it on par with a Disney or Rock and Roll series race.  Thankfully unlike the half marathons we weren’t all hitting the road at the same time.  The Shamrock is comprised of 3 races, a 15K (9 miles) an 8K (5 miles) and a 5K.  According to the announcer there were 11,000 for the 15K, 8,000 for the 8K and 12,000 for the 5K run, plus several thousand for the 5K walk and 500 or so for the kids dash.  It was quite a crowd.

I was originally signed up for the 15K but thanks to nasty weather and another round of knee ailments I wasn’t able to get my training up to where I felt comfortable trying for 9 miles when the most Lisa and I had done recently was just under 5.  Since all of the races cost the same I was able to drop down to the 8K rather easily, no transfer fee although no refund for a shorter distance either.  Part of the reason I wanted to run the 15K was both for the challenge, and also $42 is an awful lot to spend on a 5K.  It needed to be worth it to me.  Lisa was unable to join me for this one due to church obligations and so I was running this one solo.

Based on the success of taking the Max train into downtown for our New Years run, I decided to do the same thing for this race and let me tell you, that took so much stress away.  Downtown is bad enough to try to navigate and park much less when there are roads closed and 40,000+ people milling about.  The Max was a great decision!

My Garmin decided to die before the race even started, so I don’t have my own route map from the GPS, but here is the official race route map from the race website.  The majority of the race was along the waterfront and then up into the Northwest Industrial district.  Not very scenic on the way out, but on the way back we were greeted with a vista of downtown and the Fremont Bridge. On the way back we cut through the Pearl and then down Broadway back to the waterfront running through the heart of downtown and past the Pioneer Square.  It was a great way to end a race.

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Since my Garmin wasn’t working I had no idea what my time or pace was.  I missed Mile 1 and was really beginning to question how far we had been when I saw the marker for Mile 2.  We reached the turn around and the water stop and suddenly we were halfway done! When I reached the finish the clock said 1:20 but they started us with a “release and hold” system, not exactly like corrals, but close.  They let a certain amount of people go and then stopped us to let those people spread out and head out before letting the next batch go.  But, we had to wait for an extended period of time while we waited for an Amtrak train that was crossing our path up ahead.  The gentleman behind me mentioned something about how long the wait was and that it had been 15 minutes since the original start.  I figured I had run something around 1:05, which I would have been perfectly happy with.  As it turned out, when I looked up my official time it was just barely over an hour, in fact it was one hour, one minute and one second.  1:01:01 was my official time. I’m very pleased with this time considering what my training regimen has been lately (non-existent).

After the race I got my free beer and my free cup of smoked salmon chowder (which was incredible!!) hopped on the Max to come home and no muss, no fuss I was home and taking a shower less than an hour after I finished.  I could get used to this.

2014 Shamrock Run – Been there, done that, got the T-shirt!

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For the Love of Running

The story of how me and Lisa met is remarkable and, even still, a little unbelievable.  We’ve known each other now for nearly two years and I’ve been living in Oregon now for 8 months and both of us still have moments of “How in the world did this happen?”.  It all started with a simple question of advice,she asked how to transition from a 100% indoor, treadmill runner to running outside.  This led to several days of talking about future races and training plans and then when she told me she was running the Tinkerbell and we’re both Disney nuts, the conversation turned to other topics a shocking number of which we had in common.  Food, beer, wine, travel, Disney, humor, movies, books etc one right after the other rang bells with both of us.  As Lisa so eloquently puts it “We started talking and just never stopped”.

This past Saturday was a big day for both sides of the coin, Love and Running.  First the running.

Foot Traffic was hosting an “Event Expo” on Saturday morning.  Like a race expo where vendors get together to sell their wares to the race crowd, this expo was a group of event managers who were plugging their events.  We had several races we were going to register for anyway and the expo advertised discounts we were sold. The three races we were going to sign up for were:

Oregon Spring Half – May 3, 2013 (Canby, Oregon)
Vancouver USA Half – June 15, 2013 (Vancouver, Washington)
Foot Traffic Flat Half – July 4, 2013 (Portland, Oregon)

We got discounts of 10-15$ off each race and saved almost 50$ on registrations. One of the tables had a prize wheel you could spin for various prizes, most were trinkets like a water bottle, a pack of Gu, a beanie (which is what I won) but one was a free entry.  It was a tiny slice sandwiched between the Water Bottle slice which was split in two.  Lo and behold, Lisa landed on free entry.  This continues her string of prize luck after she won a free entry to the New Years 5K while we were at the Holiday Half.  The event she choice to use her free registration on is the Columbia River Gorge half in October of this year.  If I join her for that one (and I surely will) that will be 4 half marathons this year which will be most in a year for both of us, and the possibility of a 5th if repeat the Holiday Half (which we would like to).   This also presents me with an interesting scenario since there were a few races I had looked at in August and September and that would present the opportunity to complete 6 in 6 months.  This would “moon me up” to the next level of the Half Fanatics and earn my second moon.  Lisa may or may not be able to complete those with me depending on her fall class schedule, but her 3 in 90 days (May, June, July) will qualify her for the Fanatics at the first moon level.

To finish the day a new chapter was opened up on the Love side of the coin.  I surprised Lisa with a trip to McMenamins Edgefield property out in Troutdale where I had made us reservations at the pretty swanky Black Rabbit Restaurant.  This isn’t your normal beer and burger McMenamins, here they serve steak and fish and wild boar and fancy salads and all the usual Five Star items.  We walked around the property and visited all the outlying bars and got our stamps for our Passports and then headed downstairs to the Winery to do a tasting flight.  All of the wines we tasted were fantastic! Then, right before dinner, when the opportunity presented itself and we were alone, I pulled out her Grandmother’s engagement ring which I had secretly obtained from her family, dropped to a knee and asked her to marry me.  She said yes (well.. nodded and cried, but that’s universal right?) and we hugged for a while and then headed down to dinner.  For me the nerves were over and I was relaxed, for her it was time for butterflies and nerves and head spinning.  Dinner was impeccable and it was an enchanted evening.

From a simple email about running styles to being engaged to be running partners for life.  It’s amazing what a run can do for you.

I don’t know how this happened.. and I’m not sure I ever will.. but I am so thankful it did.  I didn’t realize it two years ago, but I know now I am well and truly blessed.

Homemade Egg Salad

It’s been a while since I’ve made one of my homemade creations and this one was based in necessity.  I had forgotten to pull anything out to thaw for dinner and I didn’t know what I was going to make, but I realized I had eggs, mayo, mustard and pickles so therefore I could make egg salad!

First I had to do a little research, I had to refresh myself on how to hard boil eggs, something I’m not sure I’ve ever done before to be honest, and then to find a simple recipe that I could adapt to what I had on hand.

Here is the recipe I used as my springboard – Chow Egg Salad and then made the following changes:

  • No celery – I don’t like it and I didn’t have any anyway.
  • Yellow mustard since I didn’t have any whole grain (and I’ve always had it with yellow anyway)
  • Chopped up dill pickles instead of relish
  • Salt, pepper and garlic powder to season

I only had 5 eggs instead of 6, but I figured it would still turn out mostly the same.  So first things first, I hard boiled the eggs.

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(Funny how the bright red coil looks purple in the picure).

I pulled the eggs out to cool when they were done and whipped up the sauce to go with it.  Pretty simple, just chopped up the pickles and then tossed in the mayo, mustard, salt, pepper and garlic powder.  I meant to add paprika and forgot, but may add that to the leftovers.

After the eggs had cooled for a while I set about peeling them, which didn’t go exact smoothly but I got it done.  Not sure it if was the eggs or maybe I cooked them wrong.  They were a little soft when I cut them up, so possible didn’t cook them long enough or let them cool long enough, but I was hungry man! Coming home from the gym is not the time to try to make something time intensive. Chopped up the eggs and tossed them in the sauce and TADA!

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Based on how much I used to make my first sandwich this will end up being about 3 servings worth.

According to MyFitnessPal this recipe is about 300 calories per serving.  Of course all of the calories are from the eggs and mayo.  The yellow mustard has like 5 calories and the pickles have none. Here’s the layout.

293 Cals – 1 gm carb – 27 gm fat (only 6 grams saturated fat) – 12 gm Protein – 440 mg Sodium

High fat as you would expect, but a lot of it is “good” fat.  You can cut a lot of sodium by leaving out the pickles, but I really like them.

Verdict: This turned out well, the sauce was thin and messy because I didn’t let it sit in the fridge before I served it.  The eggs may have been ever so slightly undercooked but still turned out well. Had good flavor, but of course if you like things like onions and celery those are good additions.

Doesn’t this look good?

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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!

Weekly Recap – Jan 13 – Jan 20

Documenting progress, even if it’s “bad” (such as a low mileage week or a weight gain) is a very useful tool, so I am going to try to get back into the habit of my weekly recap posts to keep myself on track.  I have to lose 20 pounds (or try as close as I can) in the next 23 weeks (Doctor’s orders!!) so I’m hitting the ground running, so to speak.

Starting Weight – 272 (275) – The doctor weighed me at 275 with my normal clothes on, jeans, shoes etc.  I weighed myself at the gym the next day in my running shorts at 272.

Monday – Ellipitical – 60 minutes
Tuesday – Run – 3 miles
Wednesday – Rest
Thursday – Rest
Friday – Run – 3 miles
Saturday – Rest
Sunday – Rest (Football party!!)

Total mileage – 6 miles
Ending weight – 270 (2 pounds lost)

Whenever you make a change you’re always going to see a pretty big shift to start with.  The key is to stick with the program when next week this turns into no loss or even a gain.  Your body will fluctuate wildly for a while until it settles into the new routine.  Some of that could also be water weight lost since I’m working on drastically slashing my sodium intake and so therefore should retain less water.

Off to a good start!

First Run 2014 – Portland, OR – Jan 1, 2014

I logged 319 running miles in 2013, which is a pretty serious drop from 700+ in 2012, but injuries and moving cross country had a lot to do with that.

For the third year in a row I started the year off with some mileage as soon as I could, a 5K that started at midnight.  For the second year in a row I’d be running the midnight race with Lisa although this time it was in Portland!

The race started at the World Trade Center in downtown Portland about a block off the riverfront.  We got there about 10:30 to enjoy some of the pre-party.  They had a DJ spinning tunes and had some snack foods for us.  Despite having space heaters it was outdoors and it was COLD! We were ready to get moving! We finally got started with everyone counting down the last 10 seconds and then shouts of happy New Years and couples kissing all around us and then we were off.  It was a slow shuffle to the starting line as we had a big crowd trying to get through a narrow area.  We made it to the start and then made our way onto the West waterfront area and we turned North.  This is where things got real interesting.  The road where we started was closed, but once we got onto the sidewalk it was wide open and there were people milling about along the waterfront and we either had to dodge or accept the offered high-fives as we ran by.  Several people at various levels of intoxication shouted out Happy New Years! as we ran by and one guy even called us all heroes! It was interesting to say the least.  There were also a couple people sitting on the benches who were smoking weed and celebrating and that was not something you usually see/smell along a race course.  At the Steel Bridge we turned East and crossed the river and then turned South along the Eastbank Esplanade.  Things finally opened up here and you could tell since our 2nd mile was a full minute faster than our first.  At the Hawthorne Bridge we looped up and around to cross back West across the river and return to the start.  A short jog South and then we looped back North to the World Trade Center and the finish.  Ironically enough, this same loop is part of our downtown 10 mile training loop, but we always run it in reverse (Eastbank, Steel, Westbank, Hawthorne).

We finished in 42 minutes, which was not a bad time at all considering the congestion and people dodging, and then the fact that neither one of us had run at all in the 2 weeks since the Holiday Half.

Another fun part was the people watching as we traveled to and from the race.  You know it’s New Year’s Eve when you get on the MAX Train in black running tights, shorts, two different colored shirts and a beanie cap and you are NOT the strangest dressed person on the train.  There were people in all kinds of costumes including sparkles and wings or fancy tuxes or a smoking jacket/jeans/sparkly converse combo.  We saw all manner of dress and it was pretty crazy.  After the race (about 1AM) people were spilling out into the streets and yelling and partying, pretty much a typical downtown New Years.

2013 Year in Review

Last year I had this to say about 2012.

“2012 was such an amazing year I’m not sure how I’m going to prevent 2013 from being a letdown.  How do you follow up that act?”

Well, needless to say 2013 blew 2012 out of the water.

The Move:

This was the biggest thing that happened this year so I might as well mention it first.  On May 28th, 2013 (a day after my birthday) I got in my car and started driving.  I would drive for the next 4 days nonstop through 10 states and all four time zones.  Until that day I had lived in North Carolina for my entire life.  I arrived in Portland on Friday May 31st at about 7PM local time (by that point I had no clue what time it was anymore, my body still thought it was 10PM).

There are two major “life changing” aspects of this move.  The first is that somewhere (and I still don’t know where it came from) I found the guts to uproot everything and leave everything behind, for all intents and purposes jumping off a cliff and hoping someone at the bottom would catch me.  The fact that a multitude of people, including Lisa’s family, friends and church community did catch me is astonishing and leads me into the second aspect.

From June until November I was essentially “homeless”.  Yes, I was not the traditional “sleeping on the streets” form of homeless, but I had no place to call my own and very few possessions.  I cycled through a series of “foster” homes and couch surfed while I looked for jobs and looked for places to live on my own.  If it weren’t for the people who opened their homes to me I wouldn’t be here.  To know that everything you have at a certain moment in your life, food, warmth, roof, bed, access to a phone to call loved ones, is provided by someone out of only the goodness of their hearts is incredibly humbling.  It is a debt I can never repay, and one that will never be called upon.  No repayment was asked or is ever expected from these amazing people.  Lisa’s church preaches to help the poor and those less fortunate.  These people surely took that to heart and “practice what they preach”.

You can read about the Westward Journey HERE.

Races:

After “The Year of the Race” in 2012 with 15 races in four different distances, 2013 was certainly a step back, but not in a bad way and certainly for good reasons.  2013 featured 7 races including 3 half marathons stretching from Florida to Oregon.

2013 started the same as 2012 with the Running of the Lights 5K at Tanglewood park.  The run through the Christmas lights that started at midnight on New Years day was a repeat for me.  However, this year Lisa had flown out from Portland to come visit me and happened to be here on race day and so she ran this one with me and this was our first race together.

A few weeks later I would travel down to Orlando Florida to run in the Walt Disney World half marathon.  This was a pretty amazing race but unfortunately was marred by a serious knee injury.  I was able to finish the race, but had to walk from mile 9 to the finish in the surprisingly hot Florida sun.  My parents and brother and sister were there to support me and cheer me on and also cheer me up after my disappointing finish.  3:36 was my worst finish ever, but I finished.  I suppose I had plenty of points where I could have dropped out and told the race crew I quit, but I plodded along and made my way to the finish.

In February, I would suffer my first DNS (Did Not Start).  I had signed up for the Pilot Mountain Payback “Heavy” half marathon before I was injured at Disney and I decided I was going to try my best to still complete it.  I had completed the 3 in 3 months I needed to qualify for the Half Fanatics, but now was going to try for 6 in 6 months.  Due to my injury I was not able to run for several weeks and not able to put in any serious mileage at all.  The “Heavy” was about 14 miles so longer than a half and would have been my longest run to date.  I was still dead set on running it until the night before the race.  I was literally in a panic.  I wasn’t sure I could do the distance, it was snowing that night and conditions on the course were going to be horrible.  After a long conversation with Lisa, who told me that if I was so upset about the race I should skip it, I decided not to go.   A few days later, I found out how awful the course was, with creek crossing that were waist deep, and how many people skipped and how many people did not finish and I knew I had made the right choice.  I wasn’t happy with it, but I was at peace with it.

In March and April I ran a pair of 10Ks, a repeat of the St Leo’s 10K and then a new race, the Hope for Hospice 10K.  The first one I merely wanted to finish, which I did in a respectable 1:13, while the second one was part of the training for my second half marathon and I finished a tough course in 1:11 which was only 3 minutes slower than my 10K PR from last year.

In late April I ran my second half marathon of the year, the Kings Mountain Half in Kings Mountain SC.  I was excited to run this race since it ran through a Revolutionary War battlefield, but that ended up being a huge disappointment since the “cannons and monuments” portion of the battlefield was nowhere near where we ran.  An out and back on some access roads with nothing by trees to look at was a HUGE letdown.  Also, towards the end of this race my calves cramped up really bad and I ended up walking from mile 11 to the end.  My 3:08 finish was better than Disney, and slightly better than my first half in New Orleans, but nothing close to a PR.  About the only saving grace was this was my first race in South Carolina, so it was a new state for me.

At this point, the rest of my 2013 race calender got completely erased.  The races I had planned for the Fall were not going to happen and the races for May and June I needed that money for my move across the country.  It would be a while before I would race again, but me and Lisa started running together as often as we could once I got settled in Portland.

In November we ran our second race together, a 10K, and my first race in Portland.  The Cause and Event 10K was a fantastic event that supported many different causes.  The course was mostly greenway through west Portland/Beaverton neighborhoods.  Of course, being Portland in the fall, it rained on us during the race, but it was mostly just a slight drizzle.  I got to meet some of the people who help run Camp Lutherwood and raise some money for them so that was all good!

In December, we finally ran our first half together in Portland, the Foot Traffic Holiday half.  A nice run through Northeast Portland, it was COLD and rainy, but a really nice course and well supported.  Other than my bad cramps for the last two miles it was also a great run.  Lisa rocked it! We finished in exactly 3 hours which was not a PR for either of us, but not our worst finish either.

The next run for Lisa and I will be another midnight New Year’s Day race, but that’s for 2014!

Hiking:

While we didn’t do as much running over the summer as we planned, we certainly took advantage of the gorgeous weather and Lisa introduced me to one of her favorite past times.  Hiking! What else does one do in a place full of mountains and trees? I was quickly hooked.

We started out with an “easy” hike that turned out to be quite a journey.  The loop around the Trail of Ten Falls was about 7 miles or so of mostly flat terrain, but then at the end there was some steep switchback stairs and a steep uphill climb to the last falls which really took it out of me.  I was completely exhausted by the time we finished but it was totally worth it.  The scenery was unbelievable and you couldn’t believe you were just a short drive outside of the city.  It felt like we were in the middle of nowhere.

The next hike, merely a week later, was the shortest in distance, but by far the most challenging.  We drove up to Timberline Lodge, which is about halfway up Mt Hood (roughly 6000 feet elevation) and hiked out to Zig Zag Canyon.  It was only about 2 miles there and two miles back, but it including dropping down into several smaller canyons, as well as the terrain shifting as we skirted along the edge of the timberline.  At times we were deep into an old growth forest bushwhacking through underbrush and giant ferns and then at other times we were sliding through a sandy/rocky type landscape with not a tree in sight.  We lost several hundred feet of elevation on the way out to the canyon and while the way out was a nice “walk” the way back to the lodge was suddenly extremely uphill and turned into a “climb”.  This however, was an incredibly rewarding hike.

About two weeks after that we embarked on our third hike of the season which started out innocently enough but turned into quite an adventure.  We had planned on hiking up to Wahkenna Falls and then taking the trail back down along Multnomah Falls.  Unfortunately, through a combination of a poorly marked trailhead and a confusing printed map we ended up parking and starting at the wrong place.  We got onto the Angel’s Rest trail and of course we were several miles into it before we realized it but we continued on to the top of Angel’s Rest. We climbed about 1400 feet along the way and were rewarded with an amazing view up and down the Columbia River.  Across from us was Washington State and we could almost see all the way back to Portland.  At this point we continued along the trail which we thought would take us to Multnomah Falls.  We crossed a creek and then lost the trail and were a few minutes away from becoming very lost.  A couple and their dog emerged from the brush and warned us not to go that way since the trail was overgrown and faded.  It turned out they had just come from where we wanted to go, so they showed us the way.  We parted ways at the top of Wahkenna falls as they headed to Multnomah but without them we would have been seriously lost.  We made our way down the side of Wahkenna falls which was absolutely breathtaking and made our way back down to road level.  Now because of where we parked, we had about a 2 mile walk along the side of the road to get back to the car.  This was terrifying since there was no shoulder and warnings to NOT do what we were doing, but we had no choice.  What was supposed to be an easy 4 mile hike turned into a very challenging 9 mile hike, but we survived it and made it.

Travel:

Lisa loves to travel and we’ve done our fair share of it even if only in the local area.  Shortly after I arrived in Portland, we headed out to the Oregon coast and took in Cannon Beach, Tillamook, Lincoln City, Depoe Bay and Newport.  The Oregon Coast is not like anything I have ever seen before.  Rocks and cliffs and lava flows and trees right up to the water line.  It resembles close to what I expect the Northeast looks like up around Maine.  Also, a month ago we went to Seattle which was a really cool trip and a place I’ve wanted to go for a long while.  We will certainly be headed back there soon I’m sure.

Job:

Changing jobs is never fun, but moving all the way across the country meant quitting my job and then trying to find a new one.  After 3 months that felt like FOREVER I landed a job in Vancouver at a company that makes vitamins and herbal supplements, so I got back into the Food Science industry to a certain degree.  I’m doing quality work but also a decent amount of paperwork and regulatory responsibilities.  They weren’t kidding that the job title “Lab Administrator” is a “little bit of everything”.

Weightloss:

This part hasn’t gone so well this year, but I’m not too terribly upset about it.  I started the year at my lowest weight ever at around 235, but my Disney injury sidelined me for a long while and I ended up putting a little weight back on, probably close to 245.  Then after I moved I’ll admit that I put on several more pounds as I ate my way around Portland (no regrets AT ALL).  I’ll be finishing this year in the 260’s so I’ve actually gained weight, but I’m still way under where I was in 2011 and most of 2012, so I’ll take that and jump into 2014 with both feet.

Can 2014 build on an incredible 2012 and then an epic 2013? Stay Tuned!!!!!!

  • 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.