The Taper & the Distance Flip

There is something about marathon training that manages to make the long runs easier, and the short runs harder.  Suddenly, running for anything less than an hour seems so insignificant.  A three-mile run sounds so silly, and you can almost feel yourself thinking “this is such a waste of time”… 

Tomorrow morning, I have a short run scheduled.  Part of the “taper” plan.  Yeap….

Who knew that one day I would be here;  in a place where I felt more comfortable running eight miles than two.  Okay three.

I am no longer awe-struck by double-digit runs others tell me about that fall within the teens or under the 26 mile mark.  The remarkable feats that catch my attention are those of the triathlon type, or when someone is training tells me they are running double digits two days in a row.  Which… I am about to start my new adventure in doubling up on the weekends, in just a short week and a half.

I have decided to literally jump right in to the 50K training the weekend of my marathon (allowing all goes well race day), I will be taking on a 6-10 mile run the day after running 26.2.  I am not sure how my body (or my mind) will take this.  I am certainly very curious about this, and definitely interested in giving it a shot!

What has been your greatest challenge when training for a race?

Have you ever found yourself loathing the short run, and longing for more miles?

As always, my friends, Have a great run.
~Alaina

Taking the Top Deck on Saturday’s Run

Saturday morning was one of those, when you just don’t want to drag yourself out of bed and hit the road… A morning when the desire to pull the covers over your head and turn off the alarm and just sleep until you wake up naturally from thirst or hunger is all you want…

But despite your reluctance, you get up, get out, and run.

And it was a beautiful morning, full of dynamic clouds, catching up with friends, and taking a trip across the top deck of the Steel Bridge on foot for the first time in my Portland life.  Turns out, the view from up there is pretty nice.I am so grateful to live in such an inspiringly beautiful city.   She makes early morning long runs… easy.  🙂

Happy weekend long-running!
~Alaina

Marathon Training vs. The 50K

Today, I finally decided it might be in my best interest to look up a 50k training plan, as I have a race in two months. And since this is the first one I have done… I needed outside input and advice. Let me just say, I am now feeling a little worried.

I did not realize that I needed to be doubling up on my long runs on the weekend. Not to mention the mid-week 10 miler! Fortunately, I have one marathon distance race planned, and may be signing up for another in July … And doing a 10 mile run each Sunday, post-marathon…?

Training for the Siskiyou Out & Back will be a little more grueling than Newport has been. I guess this is the time in my life when I will really start getting in fantastic running shape.

Have you trained for an “ultra” race?

How did you tackle the mileage?

I’d love to hear from you!

Happy running!
~Alaina

(PS Publishing from the WordPress App is super handy when updating the software on your computer!)

A Case of the Mondays … Or Post-20 Miler Fatigue?

Okay, I can’t necessarily blame the exhaustion I feel right now on running 20 miles.  I had a jam-packed weekend.  Dinner out with friends after working late on Friday, baby shower and family dinner on Saturday, house chores and 20 miles running on Sunday… Not enough sleep, and I am starting to feel the effects.  I am going to be grateful for the next two weeks of “taper”.  Fewer miles to run = more time to sleep! Today my legs are exhibiting some signs of use in the form of that “ugh” stiffness that you feel after sitting for too long, and mild soreness.  No limping or hopping around, just a slow start after a complete stop.  🙂 Okay, yesterday, I did not consume a normal amount of nourishment – I had consumed about 1.5 meals by 2:30pm and then went out to run 20 miles.  Hard to keep the pace when your energy is low.  Overall, I was not consistent.  I was thrown by the heat, and was slow and fast alternately (probably depending on when I hit shady spots!).  I averaged somewhere between a pace of 10:45 – 11 minutes/mile.  Not exactly what I was thinking I would do, but hey, I ran 20 miles in 70 degree heat!  (Yes, that is hot compared to the usual 45-50 degrees of six o’clock in the morning). I was pleased to get to go to dinner tonight and take it easy with a friend at one of my favorite restaurants in Portland – The Sweet Hereafter.  Nice atmosphere (before it gets crowded – this place can get a little noisy on those Thursday/Friday/Saturday nights), tasty food, and great drinks.  And all Vegan (if you’re into that – I just happen to love the Jamaican Bowl.  SO delicious!)

Beautiful long stems and candles…. all about the atmosphere!

It is so refreshing to know that summer is on her way bringing blooms of all kinds – and I will just have to remember to run before the sun takes over the sky and heats up the black, city pavement.

Such a pretty array of flowers.

As I write this I am fighting a losing a battle with my eyelids, so I shall bid you all good night! Happy Running! ~Alaina

The Last Long Run – 20 miles, Done!

My plan for this weekend was to run 20 miles on Saturday and take it easy on Sunday… and, due to baby shower madness, I delayed my run to Sunday (Mother’s Day).  This was my last long training run before the Newport Marathon – I needed to get these miles in no matter what, and I was not sure when I would be seeing my mother who is in from out-of-state.  So just as I started to worry that I was either going to have to sacrifice the run, or sacrifice seeing Mom, everything fell into place.

I hit the road at about 3:15pm, knowing I would be running for about three and a half hours.  Fortunately for me, my Mom is also a runner, and she was game to meet me for the last 8.5-9 miles and spend some quality time together.  We planned a meeting place, time, and ran into each other on the South Waterfront a little after 5:20pm to complete finish the back-half of the 20 miles together.

On normal run days, I run in the morning, and today was bright and sunny – and warm!  I have not run in such warm weather in about a year, and I noticed a marked difference in how my body reacted.  I was thirsty every half mile, sweating after only a half mile, had sausage fingers starting around three miles, and overall just felt a little hot, especially when there was no shade to help me out!  Obviously, it was a beautiful day!!!

I am so lucky to have such a wonderful person to spend time with running (and incredibly grateful for the genetics she has passed on to me!).  Supportive, realistic, fun, strong, encouraging, and everything that Moms are supposed to be.  We finished the evening with a great dinner at Dick’s Kitchen.  … and dessert, Yum!!!

Thank you, Mom, for spending your evening with me.  I really enjoyed our time together.

until tomorrow… Happy Running, and Happy Mother’s Day to all you Moms, Aunts, Grandmas and Great-Grandmas!!!
~Alaina

Grateful days – 11.5 mile Trail Run and 100 Posts Completed

This morning was quite the treat – the Saturday Run group met at one of our favorite spots: Leif Erickson Trailhead at the top of Thurman to do a trail run.  This run was unique because we ran the entire length of the trail.  A first for us all, I was thrilled to have the opportunity to view some new scenery.  The farthest distance I have run out this trial was to mile marker 6 (a total of twelve miles out-and-back).  Today’s trip was an uphill run, out one-way.  Grey, cloudy, and toward the end of the run, a bit rainy.  I think the moisture only enhanced the greenery around us, filling the air with soft pitter-pats of rain soaking into the ground, the calming scent of Earth, and helping us to feel more connected and alive in the outdoors.

This was my longest run since last year’s St George Marathon, and it felt good to get out and do some extra mileage.  With another marathon coming up in May, I am starting to feel the need to be more strict with my training schedule, as I have yet to fully commit to running 20+ miles per week.  When I think back on last year’s training schedule, the time commitment sounds significant when I add up the hours, but since I ran before work on weekdays, it felt less so because I was done with the required mileage before I even started the work-day.  How do you manage marathon training?

Next week is the Shamrock Run!  I have signed up for this race two times previously, and been unable to attend the actual event.  This year, I am looking forward to tackling the 15k on the Terwilliger hill, and joining in the sea of runners dressed in Kelly Green, embellished with Shamrocks.  Will I see any of you out on the road next Sunday?

On another note, today is a very special post for me – this is my 101st post!  Never did I imagine that I would be able to keep writing about running for so long.  I have discovered running is a pretty interesting sport, with many sights worth seeing, places to explore, and distances to conquer!  I want to thank all of you for reading and responding to these entries; not only has this been a great outlet for writing and sharing the beauty I see while getting distance under my belt, I have also made some great connections with like-minded folk near and far.  I am humbled to know that there are 100 of my friends, family, and acquaintances who choose to read the words on these pages.  You inspire me to keep writing, and I cannot thank you enough for that gift.

All my best to you on this wonderful Saturday.

with joy and gratitude,
~Alaina

Saturday Evening Race to the Top

Saturday morning I awoke to the most colorful, layered sunrise sky I have seen from my new apartment (I apologize for not capturing that gloriousness in a photo – will do next time!).  For some unknown reason, I sat up with a start early-ish this lovely weekend morning. Perhaps because the time was 7am and my body usually experiences the 6am wake-up alarm of the M-F routine, or because Saturdays are reserved for the group run, which commences promptly at 8am, and a little worry may have crept into my sleeping brain that I might soon be missing something important.

Last weekend, Saturday’s agenda took an unusual path.  I was meeting my sister for breakfast in the suburbs, and going to a baby shower a little farther yet from home.  And I was nervous.  Why, you ask?  Because I was driving outside of the city…

To most people, this will seem a little dramatic.  But to tell you the truth, I was a little terrified.  I have only had my driver’s license for a little over a year, and a car to drive for less than three months.  (Yes, I am a grown adult and nearly 32 years of age – I’m just a little late to jump into the vehicle game).

and I had NEVER driven on the freeway alone…

I knew the easiest, and most time effective, method of getting to my destination meant driving on one of those multi-lane, 50 mph and faster highways with crazy people speeding, merging, and darting around me.  I was…

TERRIFIED!

My morning progressed slowly, meaning by the time I walked out my door, I was running late, and since the back roads were going to take about 26 minutes, I needed to save myself ten minutes and take the highway.  So I sucked it up, got in my car, and drove right onto the highway ramp.  I drove my little car down the big, scary road, and you know what?  It really wasn’t that bad, after all.

Also, I am eternally grateful for the little voice in my phone that tells me where to go.  (Thank you Apple!)

I had a lovely breakfast with my sister, we discussed baby shower details – Yes, I am going to be an Auntie! – and then we decided to wander and shop at a surprisingly nearby mall.   (There is a possibility I have missed this from my teen years).  It’s incredible how close things become when you can drive to different locations in mere minutes.

New adorable flats in hand (the Jeffrey Campbell “In Love” flats – a la Miss Meers, my favorite shoe boutique from the college years), I hugged my sis and was off to a friend’s baby shower.  We played games, munched on some delicious food, and guessed if the baby was a pink bow or a blue bow.  They had been keeping their little one’s gender secret for many weeks… and the reveal came just three and a half weeks before baby is expected!  I picked a pink bow to pin to the board, and … I guessed right! Woohoo!  (Yes, I am very proud of guessing correctly – two of three recent births… one still TBD).  I am very excited for this little person to join the lives of my good friend and her husband, and can’t wait to meet her!

After all the congratulating and asking to be notified of when and how it goes, we all left in our vehicles… I was excited to get home and get to my run!

I really wanted to catch the view of Portland before the sun set, and since I was heading out the door after 5pm, I knew I had little time.   Choosing to take the most direct route to my favorite overlook of the city, I went straight up the hill… as fast as I could without making myself sick, that is.  And the view was lovely, of course.

On my way back down the hill, and toward the waterfront, the sky turned red…

Once I reached the waterfront, the sun was fading from the sky, and night began to envelop the city.   A blue hue fell over the water and clouds.  I was greeted by a very large flock of birds floating near the water’s edge.The night was beautiful.  Dry, quiet, and water so still; a mirror reflecting the city back upon herself.  Dazzling even to those who hadn’t just run eight miles, I’d wager.

In the next few weeks, I will be increasing again, training for the Newport Marathon.  It’s crazy how quickly these dates catch up to us – this marathon at the end of May will be my “longest run” (or one of my longest runs) in preparation for a 50K in July – The Siskiyou Outback.  Part of me can not believe I have chosen to challenge my mind and body in that race, the other part is thoroughly excited.  🙂

A shorter race is upcoming before these two long races. In March, I’ll be tackling the Shamrock with a bunch of friends, running the 15K.  I have never actually run in this race, despite having registered on two separate previous occasions.  I look forward to finally running amidst all the green attire and silly Leprechaun get-ups.  Thinking about this race, I’m wondering if I should have some kind of strategy for race day.  I’d love to hear from you – how do you plan for race-day?  What is your strategy?

All my best to you out on the trails, roads, puddle jumping, and sliding through snow…
Happy running!
~Alaina

Snow Day on Repeat; More Snow, More Miles

Last night, as I went to bed, I decided to let myself sleep in as long as my body would let me, regardless of the fact that Saturday is traditionally the group long run day.  Of course, I woke up promptly at 7am and decided at twenty after I would throw my clothes on and run out the door to meet my friends on foot at 8am… two miles away, for an eight mile run.  In the snow.

Fortunately, I made it on time, and I am so happy I got out of bed to meet them – It had snowed again overnight, there was hardly any traffic, and it was gorgeous.

The Hawthorne Bridge
Hidden track of Duniway.
Up the hill on Terwilliger.
View from the hill.

City view from the top deck of the Steel.
On the Eastbank.

Toward the end of our run, it really started snowing heavily.  I had a wonderful time walking home through all the white flakes of fluff.

We were lucky to have one more day of glorious snow; we are currently experiencing freezing rain, and it seems the conditions tomorrow will be best suited for staying indoors.

What are your favorite snow-day adventures?

Be safe and stay warm, everyone!

with joy,
~Alaina

Cool, Crisp, and Crunchy: Saturday’s Run in the Forest

Saturday, the cool morning air smelled clean, fresh like a snow-fallen day.  The wind was blowing, gusting and swirling around me as I huddled in my jacket, hood raised despite the lack of rainfall to protect my chin and neck from the cutting air.  The city was aglow with the warm peach hue of the rising sun.  It was a beautiful day for a long run in the Park.

The trails were blissfully open, full of color of the fallen leaves, and crisp with frosted mud and crunchy ice-covered puddles.  The whole of Portland seemed to be out for a run in the forest that day, taking advantage of what is sure to be one of the last sunny weekends of Fall on our way into Winter.

The gorgeous gals of Saturday’s Run.

We went out for an out and back run of eight miles, which is lovely on the trails; the photographer in me wants to explore some more territory, so I may encourage a divergence from our usual path for the next run in Forest Park.  Despite the repeat in terrain, I was able to catch some pretty magnificent moments.

It was the perfect day for a run.  I enjoyed every minute of being blinded by sunlight, especially since experience tells me we will soon be running in pouring rain each day.  Love Portland winters!

Where did you run this weekend?