Thursday, February 6, 2014

Road and Race Tripping

Most of January was spent in Las Vegas and Salt Lake City for two big trade shows and one sales launch. It's been a hectic work time and fitting in decent runs in those locations a challenge. Las Vegas involved running up and down The Strip during the week before they were overwhelmed by the booze crowds (which start early and and end late). Two runs at Red Rocks and Hoover Dam at the weekend broke up the monotony of The Strip. Salt Lake City is apparently one of the most polluted cities in America. At 1500m and in a basin surrounded by mountains, it experiences 'inversion' where cold air is trapped under warm air creating a lid which keeps pollution in.

A run to the Hoover Dam was a highlight
It's also VERY dry. My skin was like sandpaper after a week there. I found a few 'hills' but really nothing to help fitness much, so all those 2013 gains felt like they had disappeared into the flat roads of Nevada and Utah.

My fitness is way below this time last year as a result of an injury then flu like symptoms for 8 days. My longest run for 2 months has been 22km. It seems an age ago that I was running well and competitively. It shows how much we should be grateful when we are in that state of race fitness. Its almost always transitory, but seems permanent when we are in that space.

Fast forward to this last weekend and the romantically named 'Roaring River half marathon'. American race organisers are masters of the enticing race name. This was just another in the series of races named after supposedly main elements of the race. Others; Blue Lakes 15km - didn't see any color of lake. Bald Peak half marathon - outside of Bald Peak park. Battle to the Pacific - didn't even sniff the sea. And then some others which were a bit more realistic; Speedgoat - you had to be a goat on  those hills but very little speed involved. Autumn Leaves 50k - hard to argue with as it was in November, and there were leaves! Bridges to Brews - tick! Way Too Cool 50k - yep, with frog cupcakes, pizza and beer it was cool.

Flat and lots of right angles (CLICK FOR DATA)!
Anyway, it was a flat 21km, along straight country roads, pretty unscenic, given there looked like a lot of great trails near by.... But it was an exercise in testing fitness and speed and my Pittock hill partner Greg Hickman had found the race, so a chance to race somewhere different. As is normally the case there is the obligatory college student having an 'easy' training session. This time 17 years old. We were through the first km in 3,49 which was ok, but then 3,39 and 3,44 was really a bit quick for a first race back, but with the youngster effortlessly cruising to the front, second looked possible. He was always tantalising just out of contact, and it was left for me to battle with an Ironman triathlete for 2nd and 3rd. I kept up the sub 4 min kms until 19km when my legs started to say 'no more'. Luckily I had a gap and managed two more sub 4 min km to finish off in 80,45. He LOOKED like a master (over 40) but looks can be deceiving and he turned out to be only 38, leaving Greg to pick up the 2nd place masters place on his first race for a long time.

First two Masters at Roaring River
It was good to race again and see that there was still some speed in the legs despite an injury, the flu and no speedwork. If only I had the self motivation to commit to a proper training regime, then who knows. BUT running is my therapy, my downtime, my breathing space and my thinking time. To regiment it and stick to a schedule means all those elements would also have to be scheduled and you cant schedule when you need time to think, etc. I like to just run. It's such a simple, equipment and logistic free exercise, and in Portland it's almost impossible to have a run without a spectacular vista, view of Hood or St Helens or one of the other Cascades peaks.

I saw this e-card and although I unfortunately adhere to the original words, I can also change 'drink' for 'run' and it still makes perfect sense :)

And 'run'


  1. Nice run, maybe the 'rest' was good for you, and you are still starting with a sub 81... maybe if you can focus on hard training there will be more PB's. And you don't have to be in races, I ran one on Saturday.... Nek to Macclears in 57:48 only 7.5km but with 900m climb. Then I spent the rest of the run having fun!!!

    1. I'm a bit allergic to hard training! Thats the problem. I like just running, especially on the trails here. But i will get back on the track when the snow goes!