It's Sunday morning and I'm sitting in the airport so why not spend some of this free time blogging about yesterday's race or should I say workout.
Lets first rant about Oregon driving. How slow can people go!?!? It's amazing that people drive 55 on freeways here. Shocking...I've gotten so used to driving 55 on main city streets in DC. I have this main 6 lane street that I drive on all the time. The posted speed limit is 35 with lights every so often. Everyone drives at least 45 and sometimes 50 if you're in a hurry. I get to Oregon and on 217 the speed limit is 55 and everyone drives 55. I'm going 65 and I feel like an Indy car driver weaving in and out of traffic. It's crazy. 55 in the rightmost lane and even 55 in the left lane. Just kill me. The other crazy thing is how old the highway infrastructure seems. I had to go over 26 hill into Portland a couple of times this week and man how stupid is those 3 lanes with 3 separate single lane exits as you head into Portland. Seriously, they have a dedicated downtown exit lane which no one is ever in because everyone is backed up on the two north and south freeway exit lanes. They could easily have doubled on of the freeway lanes but no let's just back up traffic forever. I guess with all the hills and rivers I should give Portland a pass as compared to DC we just have the Potomac and no hills so no tunnels but still.
Onto the report...I caught a cold on Wednesday. I basically sneezed all day Thursday and Friday and felt not so good. I swam easy on Thursday and Friday morning and it felt okay. It sortof cleared me up a little bit but not permanently. I skipped running or cycling on Thursday. I figured with the cold why not do a real taper. So took Thursday off running and then I just did short easy run on Friday with some short bursts. I left work early on Friday as I had been working basically 24/7 for the previous 3 days trying to meet our deadline which we did on Thursday. I got to the hotel, ate dinner and prepped for the race. The bonus was a prediction of 80+ sunny degrees on Saturday. Woohoo...at least one race would have good weather.
I woke up and voila my cold was gone. No more sneezing, no more sniffles. Sweet! I actually might be able to get in my tempo workout after all. I drove out to Hillsboro early so I wouldn't have to deal with the traffic. I figure I'd just hang in the car until it was time to warmup. I made one round through the stadium to see approximately where the start line was since this is the first time I will be running the new course. I ran the first annual Helvetia Half when we started at Rock Creek PCC and finished at the Helvetia Tavern. That course was quite hilly and I was worried this one would be basically just as bad.
I saw Paula and Dave, the race organizers, prior to the start and said hello. A great duo that I've known every since Amber introduced me to the "blue girl" as she referred to Paula during her early Portland Fit days. They're a great benefit to the Portland Area running scene.
At 7:30am, I went over to the stadium to stretch and start my warmup. It was still a little chilly. I've found now that I'm old I need a decent warmup even for these longer races. I had my warmup and ditched the warmup sweats in the car and downed my espresso Hammer gel. I had decided to just run in my normal Nike Air Structure 13 training shoes. They're almost as light as my DS Trainers but have way more cushion. I figured with the downhills on the course my knee would need some relief. This would be the first race that I have gone to a racing shoe. Kindof weird but oh well.
I got to the start line a little late for me and had to crowd my way in. The 10k would be starting at the same time as the half. I assumed there would be a few of them towards the front so I went about 5 to 8 rows back. The start sounded and we were off or well walking. I guess I was wrong about the 10k because no one except like 10 people started at a sub 6 pace. Doh! It wasn't too bad but I did have to weave my way around a few folks but then it settle out.
I was cruising along trying just to stay easy until I could see my mile 1 split. The other thing I was doing was gauging my fellow competitors around me to look for a nice big guy I could draft when we turned north up Shute Road. There was a little headwind coming out the north and we had basically 3 flat unprotected miles headed up Shute/Helvetia. Mile 1, 6:25. Perfect and my draft had appeared. Excellent.
We turned heading north and I tucked in. He'd pass a few folks and I just stayed tucked in. We hit mile 2 in 6:22 and mile 3 in 6:27. Perfect. We hit Helvetia Tavern just before mile 4 and I downed a Hammer espresso gel with some water from the aid station. I felt the energy immediately or my draft died one of the two because I opened a gap. The headwind was gone as we were sheltered but another lucky person hopped in front of me as I continued to conserve. Mile 4, 6:33
From mile 4 to 6, the major hills existed. I had ridden these hills numerous times on the bike back in the cycling days so I knew them but not on the running legs. By the start of the hills, there were about 5 of us together. I cruised up the first massive hill and dropped everyone. I was just cruising and not trying to go too hard. I was shocked. I think the drafting paid off as well as the benefit of actually training in hot weather for the last month. I'm guessing the heat started affecting a few Oregon folks as they haven't had much luck with good weather. After the first big hill, there was a big downhill. Here's where everyone basically caught up. I had this one long legged just cruise right up to me. I was very conservative on the downhill. The knee and not really having any real hill training. This would repeat on every downhill and uphill. It just seemed odd that I'd be able to hold my own on the uphills. Mile 5(uphill) 6:46, Mile 6(downhill) 6:15, Mile 7(up-down) 6:29
With the hills up done, we had mile 8 which was a pretty good downhill. Another guy zoomed by. Mile 8 6:09. We came up on the 8.6 mile aid station at West Union. I downed a Powergel as a change of pace. I learned this from Frederick that straight espresso the whole time was just too much. I was able to keep that one fast downhill guy in view as we started over some rollers on West Union. These miles are always the toughest for me mentally. They seem to take forever and I can start to feel my leg muscles tiring. I just tried my best to hold my form and foot speed. Mile 9 6:25, Mile 10 6:26.
Right around the 10 mile marker starts a little gravel section and where the half marathon merges back into the 10k course. It's been over an hour so the 10k folks are walkers at this point. Luckily they were quite good about being aware of us half folks which was great. I really didn't have to weave at all. The only hill left was the Hwy. 26 overpass so it was just a matter of trying to hold pace and not have a super slow mile like I did at Frederick.
Mile 11 6:27. Consistent, consistent. I could feel a little calf and hamstring twinge here and there. This worries me a little as when the big marathon comes that I'll yank a muscle during it. Hopefully through the summer, the muscles will get stronger and with 7 minute pace not as taxed. I went over Hwy. 26 and heard someone scream, "Go Alan!". It was John Ponterfact from Portland Fit at the last aid station on the course. I didn't see him and I was by as I heard him so I didn't get a chance to say hello. Luckily I got to see him post-race and chat with him.
At mile marker 12(6:30), I had caught the one fast downhill guy. This time I started to get drafted. This was fine as I immediately went to curb and started to weave in and out of 10k walkers. I know it's mean but hey it's a race sortof. I kept trying to up the pace just a little but at this point it was more like maintaining. He dropped off in a half mile. I just kept steady as I was nearing the stadium and was thinking, crap I could go 1:25. I had put the goal of 1:30 since I figured the hills would kill me but man this course was actually quite fast. I hit mile 13 at 6:29. Perfect and as long as I didn't pull up lame I was set.
My time was 1:24:34. Not too far off my actual half marathon PR on the Helvetia course. Although with that course and the shape I was in those days, I could've easily went under 1:19. All in all a great workout. Nice smooth tempo the whole way. I'm beginning to like racing at tempo pace. It's not the suffering edge of real racing. Way less pain although my muscles are pretty sore. I also had a stomach ache until 5pm. Same thing happened at Frederick as well. I'm not sure what it is, perhaps dehydration or the gels. I just feel like puking after the race. So no DQ blizzard for me...oh well. That will keep my weight down which is quite svelte. I don't have as much muscle as I did during the Ironman 08 training but at least my fat is down.
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