Monthly Archives: September 2017

Orca Half Marathon

I ran the Orca Half Marathon this morning in West Seattle.  I’d planned to run this as a training run and more or less did, though I couldn’t restrain myself from picking up the pace at the end.


The race started at Lincoln Park, and it was a point-to-point race, so I parked a half mile from the finish line, picked up my number, used the bathroom, and caught the shuttle to the start line.  The shuttle ride seemed to last forever as I kept thinking we’d have to run all the way back.  Then, from the drop-off to the actual start line was another half mile walk.  Finally, we were at the start line at about 8 am.  (I got up at around 5:30.)  All of this is fairly inconsequential except that I was dealing with crazy nerves the whole time.  Part of the reason I wanted to do this race was to take some of the mystique away from the half marathon.  I’ve always found longer races terribly intimidating, and of course this one was no exception.


There was a long line for the porta-potties at the start, maybe 10 minutes.  That’s my only major complaint.  Otherwise, the race was well-organized.  The race had wave starts, and I was in the 8:15 wave.  Finally, 8:15 rolled around, and we were off.  My plan was to target 9:20 to 9:30 pace for the first five miles.  I tried to go out at a nice easy pace and found myself in a bit of a crowd on the narrow path.  The race had pacesetters – the first race I’ve run that had them – and I’d fallen in with the 2 hour group in spite of myself.  I tried to let them go while keeping my desired pace, and this helped me get a bit of space.  The first mile went by in 9:06, a little fast, but definitely within range of my target pace.  In the second mile we hit the only significant hill of the race (and it wasn’t all that bad), so I slowed down and tried to keep my effort consistent: 9:36.  Mile 3 passed in 9:07.  In mile 4, we lost the altitude from mile 2, so I hit 8:47.  Mile 5 went by in 8:57.  Everything felt completely effortless at this point.


I planned to take miles 6 through 9 at between 9:00 and 9:10 pace.  My actual times were 8:51, 8:55, 8:56 and 8:57.  Obviously, I was going a little faster than planned, but not too much faster, and I was feeling good.  Tired, but good.  It was during these miles that time seemed to go a bit slower and I felt my breathing pick up a little.


Finally, we reached the 9 mile mark.  This was a milestone because it began a 2 mile out and back section; at 9 miles, we actually passed by the finish line.  Mentally, this provided a boost, and seeing faster runners coming back beside me motivated me.  I’d planned to take miles 10, 11 and 12 at between 8:50 and 9:00 pace.  Everything still felt easy at this point, and I started having trouble holding myself back.  I just wanted to go.  Mile 10: 8:43.  Mile 11: 8:35.  By mile 11, I was definitely feeling tired.  The turnaround seemed to take forever to come, in part because I’d thought it would be at 10.75 miles rather than 11 miles.  In any case, I threw caution to the wind with two miles to go and start speeding up.  Mile 12: 8:01.  I’d decided pre-race that I’d go as fast as I wanted for Mile 13, and it went by in 7:42.  Mile 13 HURT.  But I think that’s expected, right?  I finished the last tenth in 7:15 mpm pace, and my overall time was 1:55:09, 8:46 mpm.


I finished 10th in my age group, and got a nice medal for my efforts.  I felt tired at the finish but not like I was going to die, not the way I felt after my recent 5K or 7K race.  I was just exhausted and ready to go home.  So, I did.  I didn’t stick around for any of the after-race stuff like I usually do, and went home and collapsed and wasted time on the computer for several hours.  (Thanks to H for facilitating that!)


Hopefully I didn’t overdo it since the baseline plan is to run another half in two weeks.  I’m not so sure about that plan right now.  My average heart rate was only 149 bpm, though I hit 176 bpm at the end.  Hopefully the 149 heart-rate means I didn’t kill myself.  My legs are pretty darn sore right now, though.


running documentary

This is a fabulous documentary on the lives of Kenyan runners trying to make it in Europe.  I don’t have much insight into the lives of the poor around the world, but for me, running is a small connection.  American distance runners are far, far from rich.  Well, perhaps the best make good money, but the vast majority are either dependent on spouse or parents, or more often, making a living at the local running store.

The comparison, though, to the extreme poverty of these African runners is extreme.  American runners have good coaching, sponsorship that provides gear and the like.   They train carefully for target races and rest.  These African runners are so driven by the need to earn winnings at races that they have to make training and racing decisions based on payouts and short-term needs.

This documentary is a bit heart-breaking, but I loved it.  I love that it makes a real person out of two of the many African runners I always see at the front of the various marathons.

last week’s workouts

  • M: 4 mi / 10:45 mpm
  • T: Rest
  • W: 7.4 mi / 9:29 mpm (hilly neighborhood run)
  • R: 4.0 mi / 10:38 mpm
  • F: 4.0 mi / 9:28 mpm with two tempo sections, one on Newcastle Elementary loop and the other on up the first hill coming back home
  • S: 15.0 mi bike ride / 13.1 mph on Cedar River Trail
  • S: 11.0 mi / 8:53 mpm

I was pleased with my effort at a tempo run on Friday, and Sunday’s long run went well.  The air was smoky and nasty on Saturday, but it cleared up by Sunday.  I had a terrible time motivating myself for my long run, and it felt harder than last week, but I maintained the same pace at the same heart rate, so I think it was just mental.  11 miles feels like a very long way.

Next weekend, I’m planning on running the Orca Half Marathon as a training run.  i haven’t actually registered yet, so I may still chicken out, of course.  It’s supposed to be flat, and I think it would be good practice to run a race, even if I don’t actually race it.

Briony started preschool today, and I cried.  She is so grown up.

last week’s workouts

  • M: 6.9 mi / 9:54 mpm
  • T: 5.1 mi with 6 x 12 s hill sprint
  • W: Rest
  • R: 3.2 mi / 10:39 mpm
  • F: 5K fun run at work
  • S: 10.4 mi bike ride
  • S: 10 mi / 8:53 mpm

Forest fires in Washington and Oregon made running miserable on Tuesday.  Ash was literally falling on me from the skies.  I probably shouldn’t have run at all.

The only other run of interest was my long run on Saturday.  I’ve now more or less decided to run a half marathon this fall, preferably sooner rather than later to avoid running it in the rain, and so I’m trying to go for longer runs at the weekend.  Saturday’s run was flat, and I wanted to run at about 9 minute pace, starting slower, then increasing.  I felt quite comfortable the whole way, so I was pleased with it.

a 5K at work

I ran the inaugural company 5K at work last Friday.  The race was at 3:30 pm, and I headed down to the locker room at about 2:45.  I was surprised to find it empty.  A few minutes later, another women named Andrea came in, who, it turns out, used to work with Sarah and Becca.  Very cool!  After changing, we headed out to the paved trail, and gradually some other people began to show up.  In the end, I think there were maybe 100 people there, probably 85% men, but I’m terrible at estimating numbers, so take that with a grain of salt.

It was hot and humid by my standards, given that I usually run in the morning when it’s in the mid 50s, and the sun is still coming up.  Friday afternoon it was around 70 and humid, not terrible but not awesome either.  The event was totally informal, and eventually the women who’d organized it stood up on a table and said, “go!” and off we went.

We started out WAY too fast.  I tend to start out a bit fast usually, but this was nuts.  I was trying to stick with a guy who’d told me he ran a 24 minute 5K.  As the lead woman disappeared into the distance, I glanced down at my watch, and even though I’d already slowed down, saw that I was running 6:15 pace.  Ouch!  No wonder it felt to hard.  My GPS watch informed me afterwards that I’d gotten a “best 400m effort,” not want you want in a 3 mile race!  I let the lead woman go and tried to stabilize at a reasonable speed that I felt I could sustain.  I ended up running 6:52 for the first mile, which is a bit fast for me, but not crazy.  Still, I wasn’t feeling awesome.  The course was almost completely flat, just out and back.  The turnaround seemed to take forever to come.  I passed one guy at the turnaround, and then ended up running with another guy all the way back, until the very end when I couldn’t keep up.

It was kind of cool on the way back running past so many people I knew.  I probably knew 25% of the people there (which is kind of crazy, considering I used to know 100% of the people at my company), and they were all cheering for me or giving me high fives as I past.  The guy I was running with seemed to know a completely different group of people who in turn cheered for him.

In any case, I was really dying by the third mile, due to having gone out too fast.  My second and third miles were 7:15 and 7:35.  I sprinted a bit across the line and then tried to regain my composure before the rest of my co-workers finished.  The woman who beat me actually was only 1 minute exactly in front (thank you Strava for telling me this), so I guess she started too fast, too.

Afterward, they served beer and Gatorade, and I must say, I think there is a lot to be said to post-race drinking.  (My last race they served Cosmos, also nice.)  All in all, it was a good time, and I’d do it again.  My run was good but not great, but you can’t have a PR every race.

a week of running

It’s funny how quickly my interests can flip.  After thinking of nothing but triathlon and cycling all summer, now that the tri is over, I’m ready to run.   In theory, I’m planning to run the company 5K Friday afternoon, but apparently it won’t be timed, so my interest in it has waned a bit.  I’m also considering a few other upcoming races:

  • 9/16: Rave Gre.en Run 5k / 9k
  • 9/24: Orca Half Marathon (possibly / probably as a training run)
  • 10/7: Fall City 10K / Half Marathon

I’m using Faster Road Racing as a training guide.  It’s written by Pete Pfitzinger, who is generally accepted as one of the better coaches in history.  I’m following the lowest mileage 8K to 10K plan.  In general, my plan is to take a mile off any runs that I do around my neighborhood, since it’s so hilly.

Last week, I did the following:

  • M 6 mi
  • T rest
  • W 5.5 mi
  • R 4 mi
  • F 3 mi
  • S 9 mi (8:46 mpm)
  • S 1600 yd swim

The long run went really well.  I drove out to a flat trail, and I felt quite comfortable at 8:46 pace.

So, yeah, we’ll see how long the inspiration lasts.  Tomorrow will be a tough, early morning.