Monday, August 31, 2015

Hood to Coast 2015: Running Legs 10, 22, 34

Hood to Coast is a relay of 12 runners, 2 vans, and 198 miles, from Mt. Hood to the Oregon coast. I had the opportunity to run with a team sponsored by my work this year and last year. This year I was in van 2 again, but this time runner 10.

(See last year's HTC running recap when I was runner 8 here. Separate post to come about the experience/non-running aspects.)

My goal going in was to run all the legs at around a high 11:00s pace - i.e., basically treat it all as parts of my tempo run for the week. I thought I was probably capable of doing it all a smidge faster, but (1) I wanted to have something left by the third leg (I didn't so much last year), and (2) I thought it'd be good to take advantage of a race setting to work on maintaining my marathon goal pace. That goal pace should be fairly easy over shorter distances, but it wasn't all easy terrain, so it'd be a good challenge to keep it going over all of that - same pace would be very different effort in the different legs and on tired legs!

Leg 10

Expected time of day: 2:00 pm
Expected temperature: 74°, 30% chance of rain - "a few showers"
Expected pace: 11:55
Expected elevation:

Actual time of day: 12:50 pm
Actual temperature: 79°, slightly overcast, no rain 
Actual pace: 11:40
Actual elevation: 

Mile splits: 11:45, 11:54, 11:49, 11:50, 11:39, 10:31
Passing: Passed by 25, passed 1

This leg was fully on the Springwater trail. It was flat-ish - you can see both the official and my garmin elevation charts show just a slight constant downhill. It honestly felt like an ever so slight uphill throughout while I was running it, but I think it just felt harder due to being a bit warmer than anticipated and quite muggy (I almost wanted it to start raining, just to cut through the mugginess). I was also going a tad faster than my goal pace - I wanted to hold back to conserve energy for the rest of the race, but it wasn't too hard to go under 12:00. 

I forgot to check before if music was allowed (it was - nowhere on the course are headphones allowed, but you can use your phone or speakers to play on most, but not all legs), so I definitely was getting bored. I kept my mind occupied by counting my reverse "kills" (kills = people you pass; I mostly got passed).

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Hansons Marathon Method Week 13 & Triathlon Training Week 6


Tuesday: Easy run 3.05 miles (13:17 pace) + swim 1,100 yards + bike trainer 6.75 miles (13.4 mph, 70 rpm)

Friday - Saturday: Hood to Coast!

Friday 12:50 pm - Leg 10: 5.52 miles (11:40 pace)
Saturday 12:25 am - Leg 22: 6.95 miles (11:57 pace)
Saturday 1:03 pm - Leg 34: 3.48 miles (11:14 pace)

Sunday: Long run 12.0 miles (13:05 miles)

Total swimming: 1,100 yards
Total biking: 6.75 miles
Total running: 30.95 miles

Obviously didn't do everything I should have as far as triathlon training (my goal has been a minimum of 2 swims and 2 bikes rides (at least one outside) each week), but Hood to Coast took precedence! I did intend to do one more easy run earlier in the week, but oh well. 

I think this was an odd amount of quasi-taper - I'm not sure my legs actually felt that well rested going into the weekend! But I did manage to maintain my goals for the race (sub-12:00 for all legs, basically treating it as my speedwork and tempo runs for the week), and on top of that did over 27 miles in 3 days! My legs felt done by the end of my long run on Sunday (I had 16 scheduled, and decided to play it by ear in cutting it short), but held up well enough and I guess this was perfect practice for running on tired legs per the Hansons Method.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Hood to Coast 2015 Prep

It's almost race time! For the second year in a row, I'm doing the Hood to Coast relay with a team of coworkers. I'm in van 2 as last year, but this time runner 10 (of 12). This leg is actually rated slightly easier, and is slightly shorter, than runner 8 which I did last year. Leg 10, 5.5 miles, is very flat and even slightly downhill, on the Springwater Trail. Leg 22 starts with almost 2 miles uphill (and I think on gravel - this is the end of the section in which leg 8 is entirely on a curvy, hilly, gravel country road), but then continues downhill for the remaining 4.5. Leg 34 is some rolling hills but super short at only 3.5 miles.

The weather will be a little iffier this year than last. Last year got warm-ish, though not super hot (I only have temps up to the mid-70s recorded on my legs). This year is only up to the low 70s, and lots of potential - in fact, almost certainty, I'd say - of rain. I know the area certainly needs the rain! Though for the sake of the race I'd hope perhaps it can stay more intermittent and not too heavy. 

Running wise, I haven't done anything too specific to prepare. After all, I'm doing plenty of runs that are as long as my longest leg (speedwork and tempo runs are in that neighborhood, or longer!), and lots of running on back to back days. I feel pretty confident that my marathon training will carry me just fine for HTC. In fact, I'm basically going to use it as part of marathon training. To taper, I've skipped my speedwork and tempo runs this week, and am going to try to run all of my legs at either the "strength" speedwork pace (11:50) or tempo (12:00) paces that I would have been running for those. 

We had a team dinner last night, and hashed out many of the details for what to bring and what time we'll be doing what. I got designated as a co-captain, to lead van 2, as our team captain is in van 1 (and she and I are among only a handful of HTC veterans on the team this year). Here's what what I was busy packing after the meeting:

Team race gear
3 van race signs (bibs)
Nighttime safety gear - 
Race handbook

Team van gear
Masking tape (to tape signs to van)
Tarp (for sleeping in field after it rains)
Paper towels
Food - I'm adding cookies and string cheese, other snacks being bought for team
Garbage bags - for keeping the van tidy, and also in case of rain (use as ponchos)
Flashlights - van will have 4 total - at night, incoming and outgoing runner will have headlamps, rest of van can have a flashlight
Car phone charger, plus extra USB cord
Audio cable to connect phones to stereo (some areas of race don't have good radio coverage - or good phone signal, so I have music downloaded to my phone)
Extra batteries/charger for headlamps, blinky vests, and flashlights
Toiletries - wipes, hand sanitizer, body glide, vaseline

Also being brought by teammates:
Cooler & ice
Water, gatorade, and snacks bought for team
First aid kit
Foam roller and stick roller

Personal running gear
SPI belt
Race bib & safety pins
Running shoes
Individual nut butter packets (a fuel option I'm experimenting with)
Hat (if it's raining)
Leg 1 running outfit
Ziploc 1 - leg 2 (night) running outfit
Ziploc 2 - leg 3 (midday) running outfit

Personal gear
Towel (to protect seat from sweat, and using as pillow, and in case I shower)
Energy drink for before each leg
Toiletries - lotion, toothbrush, toothpaste, deodorant, chap stick (might add soap so have shower option?)
Ziploc 3 - misc clothes (race shirt for crossing finish line, long-sleeve shirt if it's cold)
Flip flops

I'm debating packing a second pair of running shoes - the only reason I think it's worth taking up the extra space is because of the rain - if they get soaked on an earlier leg it'll suck to have to use them later on. (But I am bringing running socks, which I virtually never use, so as to minimize problems from wet shoes if that is the case.)

I've actually got it all condensed to this! The larger back bag can go in the back of the van (tarp and blanket - will only need when stopped). The left bag is van/team shared stuff, so that will probably wander around the van. The right bag is my personal stuff to stay by my seat. 

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

May Recipe: The New Vegan Cookbook

In May I made a recipe from the New Vegan Cookbook. This book has some really creative ideas. Creative as in... a bit far out there for my taste (e.g., tomato-chickpea curry in eggplant shells, baked beet and brown rice salad), but Abe has tried a couple other things from it and enjoyed them. The book itself is very colorful and photo-heavy - leading to rather definite decisions on my part as to what looks worth trying - or not!

I picked the phyllo triangles filled with kale, pine nuts, and currants - essentially a spanakopita type of thing. No cheese (which always makes anything good!), but a flakey carb, so that made it sound pretty good to me.

I ended up subbing dried blueberries for the currants (couldn't find), and just a basic cheap white wine for the sherry, but otherwise followed the ingredient list and directions. 

Phyllo triangles filled with kale, pine nuts, and currants blueberries


Difficulty: 4 of 5. No one thing that difficult, but lots of steps - toasting the pine nuts, cooking the kale, sauting other stuff, folding the triangles. If it tasted absolutely amazing maybe it'd be worth the work, but something that's just fine, not necessarily worthwhile. On the plus side, the instructions, while lengthy, were quite clear and easy to follow.

Enjoyment: 3 of 5. It was fine. I was concerned a bit because I'm not a fan of lots of things mixed together (yes, I basically have the taste buds of a 5 year old); but the various textures and tastes actually melded together quite well. I'd totally order it in a restaurant. But not completely spectacular.

Likelihood to make again: 2 of 5. Again, fine, and even kind of fun to make once and have the chance to use phyllo dough, but not necessarily worth the work of making again.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Hansons Marathon Method Week 12 & Triathlon Training Week 5


Monday: Ballet class (75 min) + bike trainer 9.1 miles (12.1 mph, 70 rpm)

Tuesday: Speedwork run 6.65 miles (12:32 pace)

Plan: 0.5 - 1 warm-up, 4 3 x 1.5 miles @ 11:50 with 0.5 recoveries, 0.5 - 1 cool-down
0.5 warm-up: 13:34
3 x 1.5: 11:40, 11:51, 11:59
2 x 0.5: 13:37, 14:41
0.65 cool-down: 13:27

Wednesday: Ballet class (75 min) + easy run 3.35 miles (13:43 pace)

Thursday: Bike 3.5 miles (11.4 mph) + bike trainer 3.5 miles (12.9 mph, 60 rpm)

This was my last chance to bike outside before leaving town for the weekend, so I went as far as I could before it was closer to dark than I feel comfortable, then added a little more mileage inside.

Friday morning through Sunday afternoon we were in the Spokane area. We went to Silverwood, an amusement park, on Friday, and Saturday morning went out to my dad's family's lake cabin. 

Friday: Treadmill tempo run 4.0 miles (12:00 pace)

At the motel fitness center, because the air quality in Spokane (due to wildfire smoke) was way too poor to do anything outside. 

Saturday: Kayak 1 mile + open water "swim" + tempo run 5.05 miles (12:09 pace) 

The air quality was substantially better even in Spokane from the night before, and much improved as we headed north to the lake. I tried to make up for the tempo run which should have been 9 miles the day before.

My "swim" was just jumping off the dock and trying to get over the panic attack feelings of being in open water (which, granted, may been as much to the cold water temp as to anxiety) - I was seriously have some constricting feelings in my chest, similar to where a wetsuit pulls across and creates pressure. So not feeling like you can breath well doesn't make swimming any easier. 

Sunday am: Kayak 0.5 miles + open water swim 60 yards 

I still didn't do much swimming, but got in again, and swam from the regular dock out to and around a floating dock a couple times. Didn't put my face in, but tried to do some freestyle-like strokes regardless, in addition to lots of sidestroke. 

Sunday pm: Long run 10.3 miles (12:53 pace) 

A really good long run pace! (Goal = 12:50) And especially for doing it from home (not going to one of the greenway paths), meaning it's a somewhat hilly route. I felt it more after than I usually do (the pounding, my ankles feeling sore, etc.), but pretty proud of it. 

Total swimming: 60 yards
Total biking: 16.1 miles
Total running: 29.35 miles

Monday, August 17, 2015

Hansons Marathon Method Week 11 & Triathlon Training Week 4


Monday: Ballet class (75 min) + easy run 3.5 miles (13:55 pace)

Tuesday: Speedwork run 7.25 miles (12:21 pace)

Plan: 1 warm-up, 6 5 x 1 mile @ 11:50 with 0.25 recovery, 1 cool-down
Warm-up 0.5: 13:47
5 x 1 intervals: 11:44, 11:46, 11:39, 11:39, 11:59
5 x 0.25 recovery: 13:20, 13:02, 15:07, 13:52, 13:40
Cool-down 0.5: 13:07

Dude. I'm to the point where the speedwork run, mid week, is 7 miles, after dropping a mile repeat from it. That's, a looong speedwork run. Marathon training is getting real. 

Wednesday: Ballet class (75 min) + swim 1,200 yards

Thursday: Unplanned rest day. I think for me, at this point, either the marathon training plan, or the triathlon plan with maybe a half marathon level of training, would be totally doable. But the combination is definitely a lot! If I don't take a complete rest day, I start feel super fatigued, both physically and mentally. Like one of the days last week, thinking about what I was supposed to do this day was just super overwhelming, and I took a break, coming back into the workouts on Friday feeling much better!

Friday: Tempo run 9 miles (12:10 avg pace; 11:54 tempo pace) + swim 1,200 yard

Oh, yeah, and then my tempo run could (if I did a longer warm-up) be the same distance as some of my long runs?!

Plan: 0.5 - 1 warm-up, 8 tempo @ 12:00, 0.5 - 1 cool-down (moved from Thursday)
0.5 warm-up: 13:54
Tempo 1 - 4: 12:02, 11:51, 11:47, 11:47
Tempo 5 - 8: 12:00, 11:47, 11:55, 11:58
0.5 cool-down: 14:50

Saturday: Long run 10 miles (13:25 pace)

My parents were in town Saturday through Sunday morning (we saw Wicked with them), and literally immediately after they left headed off to a family reunion on Abe's side, so there was literally just a couple hours Saturday morning and a couple hours Sunday evening to get anything done. I tried to get up early enough to get in the scheduled 16 miles on Saturday, and just struggled to get out the door (as I do, in the mornings), and just managed to hit 10 - which is not bad as a bare minimum long run, especially after doing tempo the day before. But certainly far from ideal.

Sunday: Play a round of disc golf (with cousins after the reunion) + bike 5.25 miles (10.7 mph) + run 2.45 (12:53 pace)

Total swimming: 2,400 yards
Total biking: 12.95 miles 
Total running: 32.2 miles

When I was planning out the week at the beginning, I realized that, if I did everything as scheduled (as modified), I should hit 40 miles this week! And then some things went to crap and I totally overestimated (as usual) what I could fit in on a busy weekend, and I barely got over 30. Last marathon cycling I peaked at 38 miles in a week, so even though I should have but haven't hit that yet, I still should end up with at least a few weeks in the 40s. And though I can't rely too heavily on crosstraining, there certainly is still benefit from my triathlon training and what it adds to the cumulative fatigue that's built into the Hanson plan..

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Toastmasters: Meatless Monday

The second-to-last speech in the first Toastmasters manual is called "persuade with power". The goal is to use both logic and emotion to appeal to the audience to support a given position. 

Vegetarianism a topic I'm passionate about, but I thought promoting that might be taking it too far - not everyone wants to give up meat. Instead, I thought I'd go that direction but scale it back, promoting just meatless Monday, or the concept of not having meat with every meal. It actually went really well and I got a much more receptive response than I expected. Since it's a topic I frequently read about and discuss, it was much easier than usual for me to reduce reliance on my notes, which was a big help in using more hand gestures and speaking more slowly and clearly. 

It turns out lots of people in the group already having one or a few meals without meat each week! Largely due to health concerns, than the other issues, but that's still a great start! I picked the order of the reasons to support meatless Monday - environment, personal health, money - thinking that each one hits successively closer to home, so the last one (often remembered the best) would be the one that felt the most important. I think there's some truth in that, but clearly the health issue was really the biggest concern within this group.

Speech title: One Meal, Many Benefits

Imagine: what if you could take one small action each week, one small change to your routine that would help the environment, improve your health, and save you money? All you’d have to do is follow the “Meatless Monday” trend, making one meal a week meat-free.

While a general idea that’s been around for millenia (for exaple, within the Catholic church), the specific movement of going meat-free for one meal a week, was started most notably in 2003; it’s since grown and is promoted in 36 countries, including many schools. Even Portland recently took on the task of promoting meatless Monday in a Climate Action Plan earlier this summer. 

What does Meatless Monday have to do with climate change? Livestock is actually the biggest contributor to greenhouse gases, with each cow producing 250 to 500 liters of methane each day, which as a greenhouse gas is 23 times more potent than carbon dioxide. Raising animals also requires much more in resources than plant-based food sources. For example, a pound of beef requires about 1,850 gallons of water, compared to 39 gallons needed to produce a pound of vegetables. It’s just becomes an extremely inefficient use of all inputs - it takes 25 calories of fossil fuel to produce each calorie of meat, compared to 2 calories to produce each calorie of plants.  

Eating less animal products is not just better for the earth’s health, but also for your own health. Vegetables and fruits are crucial in preventing many problematic health conditions, including heart disease and strokes, cancer risk, and diabetes. Also, as obesity rises and few Americans are struggling to fit in sufficient calories in their diet, eating the same volume of plant foods rather than meat will be fewer calories, helping aid fat loss. There’s more fiber and many other nutrients to be found in plants, making them a healthier use of your calories. It’s also, oftentimes, cheaper to buy vegetarian food choices.

Now, there are exceptions, primarily with industries that are being subsidized by the government which shows an artificially reduced market price, and I’m not talking about heavily processed foods, which are going to be cheap no matter what - hot dogs, hamburgers. Buying lots of fresh produce can appear expensive, but so it good quality meat! If you move away from processed foods altogether, you can’t get much cheaper than buying dried beans from the bulk bins! An excellent source of protein and complex carbs, beans are an awesome foundation to any vegetarian meal. Nuts and other grains like quinoa can also be found for reasonable prices, especially in bulk, to make healthy, plant-based dishes. 

All of these benefits - the environment, your health, and money - should be a great reason to reduce your meat consumption. I know food is a personal choice, guided by cultural norms - but our culture is moving more and more towards celebrating the benefits of going meatless. I’m not asking you to give up anything. Just think about changing on meal, Monday’s dinner, to go meatless. Do it for your wallet, do it for the cows, do it for mother earth. Just take the one small step.
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