Posts Tagged ‘portland marathon


Some thoughts and food update

I have given a lot thought to the marathon or longer races that I have been doing lately.  I enjoy the races very much and they give me a sense of satisfaction or accomplishment.  I feel good knowing I can run 26 miles with no problem, or finish a 50 mile race, or head down to Tennessee for my favorite Strolling Jim 40 Miler.  I have finished 26 races of marthon distance or longer but I have been asking myself why lately.  You see, I don’t want these races to be my “identity” or self-worth measuring stick.  I have been thinking that if these long races are creeping into the arena of meaning THAT, then I need to back off of them so that I can regain a healthier sense of who I am and what is most important to me.  I don’t want to get to a place where I think I am not in shape because I don’t want to or can’t run a 50 miler anytime I want to.  I don’t want to be thinking, “man, I only did 1 marathon this year I’m must not be a real runner.”  I am not there yet but I know myself and my tendency to do this so I have had to put myself into check regarding this.  So I have been considering drastically cutting back on these races so that I can begin to focus on more objective measures of success that define my fitness and my goals more accurately.  I am not looking to be one of the best marthoners or ultra-marathoners, I am looking to be in very very good condition as a runner who still enjoys running for the rest of my life.  Anyway, these are just the thoughts I have been having regarding this.

My eating went very well yesterday again.  I went to Taco Del Mar for dinner but had the calories and points to be able to do it within my plan.  It was very tasty too.  It’s friday and I don’t work tomorrow so I am finishing off my lunches today.  I feel pretty darn good physically and have lots of energy.  I will also run today, I think it is a marathon goal paced run for 5-6 miles.  I am just going to focus on enjoying that run for running’s sake.  Just be outside and enjoy the sensation of movement and experience the blessing of being able to run at all.  That’s all for today.


Marathon #20. Portland Marathon

marathon-signWell, well, well……….  This marathon was a totally different experience.  It was not even slightly the same as other marathons that I have run, even other Portland Marathons.

It was a mighty good challenge to say the least and I am very happy to say that I got a new PR and actually finished in like the top 10% of all runners.  That was something very pleasing and new to me.  I ended up with a time of 3:33 for the marathon.  This is an improvement of 25 minutes compared to my former personal record marathon time.  For that day, on that course, using the strategy I used; I COULD NOT HAVE GONE FASTER.  That was it.  I gave it my all.  I have had to fight off the disappointment of not finishing the marathon with my goal pace range of 7:30-7:50 miles but I am trying to focus on the positive.  In the last 10 months I have went from a 4:14 (9:41 miles) to a 3:33 (8:06 miles).  This is a vast improvement and my hard work paid off very well.

One mistake that I made was to try and do the marathon using the strategy of the Pace Groups.  They use an effort based model where each mile is run in a different time in order to create the same “feeling” or “effort”.  This is not how I have practiced.  I always run mile goal paced miles strictly within my 7:30-7:50 range.  Using the pace group strategy I was doing some miles in the 6’s and that just was to fast for me even if it was only for one mile at a time.  I normally stick to my plan, go slower on the uphill and make up for it going down the hill.  This has always worked out well.  I should have been more confident in my own plan.  I may not have finished with a 3:20 (the pace group I ran with) but I would have probably finished better than I did.  But like I said, I did the best I could with how things were in reality and I exploded my previous PR.

Running a marathon faster like this is totally different than what I am used to.  It is not as enjoyable to run like this but it has it’s own special appeal and allure.   It is very satisfying in it own way.  For one, you run along side some very focused people and you are just going, going, going, very focused like.  There are also WAY MORE SPECTATORS.  This was shocking to me.  Usually by the time I go by most of the spectators are gone because there person has already passed through.  Being in the top 10% made it that 90% of the people had not yet passed through so 90% of the spectators were still waiting.  And that was a lot of family and friends.  It is fun though, they call out your name (it is on the bib) and it is motivating.

Overall I am pleased with how things went.  I am also sore as hell today.  Much more than normal. 

Here I am waiting for race walker champion Tammi.  Fellow blogger who won the race walk division.  I am also getting teared up by watching everyone push through and finisher their own marathon

Here I am waiting for race walker champion Tammi. Fellow blogger who won the race walk division. I am also getting teared up by watching everyone push through and finisher their own marathon


Progress in running and marathon #20

portland-marathonI have been waiting for this moment now for a long time To be exact, I have been waiting and running now for 2 years and 7 months.  For some reason 20 marathons is a major milestone in my head.  It is a big deal to me.  Not only is it a big deal to have 20 marathons under my belt, but this will be the first marathon that I really go for it.  It is also neat that for my first goal paced marathon and for my 20th marathon, I will be doing my 3rd Portland Marathon.  It is kind of an anniversary marathon I guess since it was my first marathon ever back in October 2007.  My time in that first marathon was 5:45 or so.  I can’t exactly remember now but I am pretty sure it was in the 5:40’s.

There are many areas of running that a person can see improvement and I am going to share some of the growth in running that I have experience.  My goal is to inspire hope that sooooo much more is possible for us than we think when we are first starting out.  I remember that when I first started out with a long run of two miles that I wanted so bad to someday be able to run a mile in the 7 minute range.  Now I will be trying to run a marathon with 26 consecutive miles in that range.  I hoped to be able to run a marathon in about 6 hours, now I will be running one in hopefully half that time.

My goal was to run injury free and still love running after a long time.  I have done this.  I have not sustained an injury nor have I given up the most basic of exercises.  Despite my general sense of low self-esteem, I have been proud of what I have accomplished with running and weight loss.   This is possible you guys.  It is possible to be transformed from an overweight person who hates exercise to an athlete with many accomplishments.  Here is a little bullet list of what is possible.  At least this is how it worked for me.

  • All out mile: 9+ min., 7:52, 7:07, 6:56, 6:41, 613, 5:41 is now my new PR.
  • Half-marathon: 2 hrs, 56 min, now it is 1:32 (7:02 pace)
  • Marathon: 5:45, and my new PR is 3:58.
  • 50K:  5:35 to a new sub 5hr
  • 41.2 miles: 7:51 to a new 6:56
  • I breathe about as hard running 8:30 minute miles as I did running 13:45 minute miles in 2007.
  • My legs heal faster and my soreness is gone on the third day compared to being sore for almost 6 days after my first marathon.
  • I increased my long run from 2 miles to 50 miles.  That two miles seemed just about as hard as 50 at the time, at least mentally.

I am a new man.  I hope that this little changes that I have made can inspire you to believe that you can make sure strides yourself.  Thanks for listening.


Marathon #19 is in the bag!

skagit flats finish line

My 19th marathon went just as I expected.  It was a no-frills “long run” as my final long preparationg for the Portland Marathon.  I usually will do my 100 miler pace on these “long run” marathons but this time I didn’t.  I walked every 15 minutes for about 1 minute.  I also found that my legs and body are more comfortable at a faster pace rather than a slower one.  The slower one conserves energy but at the same time makes my legs feel tired too.

washingtonSo I had to work on Saturday and the marathon was on Sunday in a town 4-5 hours north of my home.  I got off of work at 5 pm and then had to take my wife to her annual employee appreciate party at one of the doctors house.  So I did that, had some food and fun, then left for Burlington, WA around 7:30 pm.  I finally arrived at my sisters house at around 10:30 (she lives about 45 minutes south of marathon start).  I talked with her and her husband for an hour and hit the hay.

Woke up bright and early at 4 am, had coffee, ate two small chewy granola bars, and waited for our time of departure.  My sister took me to the marathon and was amazed at all the “regular” looking people who were running it.  By regular, she meant people who were not “rail skinny” like the elite distance runners you see on TV.  Yep, that’s right.  We are just regular people conquering the miles.  Doing what we can with our regular bodies.

I finished the marathon in 4:10.  I did 10 minute miles for the first ten miles.  I did 9:30 minute miles for the second ten miles.  Then I did 8 minute miles for the last six miles.  I was a hot sunny day and the marathon maniacs were out in full force.


You CAN run an ultra-marathon!


image credit:

GOING BEYOND 26.2 MILES IS TOTALLY INSANE!!!!!!!!!!  The image above is a guy working on finishing the Badwater Ultramarathon.  It’s a 134 mile race from the lowest part in the United States to the Highest.  That’s hardcore, not to mention that the race goes through Death Valley in the summer when the average temperature is 120. An ultramarathon is any race longer than 26.2 miles. It can be done, but ultramarathons are not something you do to get or stay healthy.  They can really beat your body up.  I am not saying never try it, I did it, but it’s not for everyone.  Even before I wanted to do a marathon I desired the ultra.  I read about a guy who ran 50 miles and I just could not believe it.  That made me want to do what I couldn’t believe was possible.  It took me a long time to do it.  I did several marathons first and then I slowly worked my way up the ultra ladder by doing the shortest races first until I reached 50 miles.  I just don’t have the time to train for anything longer than that.  If you have running experience you can give it a shot.  I also talked to my doctor before I did an ultra.  He was not real excited about it, but he told me I was healthy.  You should do the same.  If you don’t have experience and want to do an ultra, keep it on the back burner until you have some, but don’t forget about your dreams.  Here are some resources to help you get started.


You CAN run a marathon.


Image credit: San Diego Rock&Roll Marathon

You can run a marathon.  Maybe you can’t even walk for 30 minutes, but if you keep up with your activity, you will eventually have the ability to finish 26.2 miles.  Is finishing a marathon one of your lifetime goals, one of your impossible dreams?  I believe that you can do it.  It is not easy to get to the starting line nor the finish line.  However, it is possible.  As you probably already know, I started out at 307 lbs and only able to ride a stationary bike for 12 minutes.  If I could do you it, you CAN do it.  You must take it slow and build up your fitness.  I talked to my doctor about it before I started to train for one, you should too.  Below are some resources to get started towards  your goal of finishing a race that only about 1% of people finish each year.


Endurance athlete fueling, hydration, and electolyte

For all of you that are doing or want to do endurance type events and activities, it is very important to understand fueling, hydration, and electrolyte intake.   As some of you may have heard, some physical states that endurance exercise can induce can be potentially very dangerous.  I wanted to just briefly talk about a couple of things and then point you to a world of knowledge regarding these topics by linking to an endurance library that you will find very helpful.  The link is at the end of the post.  Most of the information in this post comes from Hammer Nutrition’ website.


First off, I wanted to talk about caloric intake.  When you are going to be out there doing your thing for a long long time it will be much more manageable if you take calories in.  Now you don’t have to take calories in up to a point, but the longer you go, the more important it is.  I take calories in from the start of my runs if they are longer than 13 miles.  It helps my mind and body to do so.  I can run much further without calories, but it is far More difficult to do it.  I burn around 700-800 calories per hour while running but the human body will only digest around 350 plus or minus some each hour.  You still end up in a deficit but you increase your endurance by doing this.

Dehydration is bad

It is important to take fluids in during your endurance activity.  As with food, you body can only take a certain amount of fluid in.  You will not be able to replace all the fluid you lose without putting yourself in danger of “water intoxication”.   Below  is a chart from this link to demonstrate the importance of hydration and its effect on endurance.

Symptoms by percent body weight water loss:

  • 0% — none, optimal performance, normal heat regulation
  • 1% — thirst stimulated, heat regulation during exercise altered, performance declines
  • 2% — further decrease in heat regulation, hinders performance, increased thirst
  • 3% — more of the same (worsening performance)
  • 4% — exercise performance cut by 20 – 30%
  • 5% — headache, irritability, “spaced-out” feeling, fatigue
  • 6% — weakness, severe loss of thermoregulation
  • 7% — collapse likely unless exercise stops
  • 10% — comatose
  • 11% — death likely


One of the most dangerous conditions that can happen to us is hyponatremia.  This is the state where the sodium levels in your body have been “watered” down by to much hydration without proper electrolyte replacement.  It is a common occurrence with marathoner who will take 6 hours or longer to finish their race.  This condition can be and has been fatal at the marathon levels. Here is a little blurb about this condition from hammer nutrition.

Tragic consequences

Hyponatremia usually results from drinking too much, especially when one drinks fluids such as plain water or a sports drink lacking the proper electrolyte profile. Training and fitness levels, weather conditions, and, undoubtedly, biological predisposition, also contribute to developing this form of hyponatremia known as “water intoxication.”

Sadly, we must note that this condition has lead, directly or in part, to the deaths of otherwise healthy runners in major American marathons. It is hard for us to comprehend the grief of the families they left behind. These athletes went out to run a marathon, to achieve a personal victory. Improper hydration took away their day of glory and also their lives. They collapsed and went into an irreversible condition involving uncontrollable brain edema, coma, and death. We report this to help prevent any future such tragedies. Over-hydration represents a very serious problem. Unlike dehydration, which will generally only result in painful cramping, possibly a DNF, or at the worst, IV treatment, over-hydration can incite a chain of ultimately fatal physiological consequences.

So you cannot replace all fluids lost but you can drink to much.  The reason for writing this post is because I used to be very scared of this condition and also of generally hurting myself doing these long runs. I want to share with you the most important resource I have found for learning about endurance activity and it’s necessary caloric and fluid replacement.

The complete endurance library


Post marathon video: Funny

For all of you marathon hopefuls, I wanted to share this video with you so that you could have a laugh and know what you get to look forward to after you finish your first 26.2 mile push. I hope you enjoy it, I found this video at milebymile’s blog.



Marathon Maniac #930



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Running has really been a beneficial thing in my life.  I tried time and time again to get started with it to no avail.  Finally, once I lost 60 lbs, I went after a lifetime goal of finishing a marathon.  My first marathon finish was the 2007 Portland Marathon.  The pictures above, in clock-wise order from the top are from the: 200 Portland Marathon, Timberline Trail Marathon, Peterson Ridge 60K, White River 50 Miler, and the Orange County Marathon.

Here is my official Marathon Maniacs Page

Since October 2007 I have finished the:

  1. 2007 (Oct.)   Portland Marathon
  2. 2007 (Nov.) Seattle Marathon
  3. 2007 (Dec.)  Christmas Marathon
  4. 2008 (Jan.)   Orange Country Marathon
  5. 2008 (Feb.)  Jed Smith 50K (30 miles)
  6. 2008 (March) Easter Marathon
  7. 2008 (April) Peterson Ridge 60K (37 miles)
  8. 2008 (May)  Strolling Jim 4o miler
  9. 2008 (July)  White River 50 miler
  10. 2008 (Sept)  Timberline Mountain Marathon
  11. 2008 (Oct.)  Portland Marathon
  12. 2009 (Feb)   Valentines Marathon

Doing these races is probably one of the greatest accomplishments in my life.  Audrey really helped get to the finish line in all of these races.  Not only did she help during most of the races, she ran with me all the time while I got ready for them.  It was a great time to talk with each other.  I am also pretty proud that I made it into the Marathon Maniacs club.  You have to run at least 3 marathons in 3  months to qualify.  Running is a great way to escape, get fit, and feel good.  I must admit though, running at mile marker 37 at the 50 miler was pretty tough.  Great life experience.  I learned that a person can endure far more than they ever imagined.  Also remember that I started out only being able to ride a stationary bike for 12 minutes.  If you want to get started with health and running check this out

Get Started Running Here


I am running a marathon right now: Rain and around 40 degrees

As you read this, I am most likely stomping down the country roads of one of my most favorite marathons.  This time it is called the Valentines Marathon.  They have one of these marathons for every holiday of the year as a way for the Marathon Maniacs to accumulate marathon finishes.  It is a very low key atmosphere and there will probably only be around 40 or so people since it is not prime weather, but the marathon maniacs are a hardcore bunch of runners.  The assortment of food consists of the following:

  • Chips
  • Lots of regular bread
  • Sandwich meat
  • Donuts galore
  • Sugar and diet pop
  • Water
  • Bagels
  • Mayo, Mustard, etc.
  • No veggies
  • And an assortment of other marathoner/race food.

It is all laid out on the table and it is make it and help yourself.  I will try and get a picture of it for you guys.  Have a good day and I will report back tomorrow regarding how the race went.  Here is a little blurb from the marathon site

  • 8th annual holiday events with lots of postrace food and quality awards. There will be lots of hot chili or soup, along with ham, turkey, roast beef and cheese sandwiches. There will also be chips, nachos, cookies, pretzels, etc. Bottled water and other sport drinks will also be available is drink after the race, along with coffee and apple cider. HOT SHOWERS: Are available in the campgrounds, bring some quarters and a towel. RESULTS: Will be posted at, and

Run4change Review of The Garmin Forerunner 405


image credit:

I final got one.  A GPS enabled techy watch for running.  This watch has all kinds of neat features.  It is the Garmin Forerunner 405.  It is much sleaker than it’s 305 counterpart and that is a big reason that I got it.  The 305 is a watch that you would not want to wear to dinner or something, this one you could.  I only have one watch at a time so I use it for every occasion. Here are a few of the features:

  • GPS tells  you how far and how fast you ran or are running in real time.
  • It tells you the elevations that you climbed and descended.  This important for training for the mountain ultras or my favorite Strolling Jim 40 Miler which has a lot of giant hills.
  • It has a heart rate monitor so I can know how many calories that I have burned and can thus calculate my points most accurately.

Garmin Forerunner

I have used it for one run so far.  I did 6 miles with it yesterday.  It was very accurate and I enjoyed it.  I still have to spend some time to figure it out but I think it is going to be a great addition to the running life.


May your dreams come true!


Well, here I go again.  I am going to go for it this year too.  I am putting my goal schedule up on the blog as a way to motivate me to achieve these finishes.  I have no time goals for these races.  I just want to finish comfortably and safely.  I believe I can do that.  It is not as crazy as last year, and I won’t be training as much either; but this is a good thing since I am trying to learn balance.  Oh and by the way, the pic to the right is the logo for my favorite of all races: The Strolling Jim 40 miler. It is in a tiny town called Wartrace, Tennessee.  It usually has from 50-70 runners in all and it is done on the back asphalt roads in the country. 

So at the request of a fellow ultra runner who lives in my area, I am going to display my schedule of events.  I will keep you posted on the results and if I accomplish these goals.  I will probably not do the races labeled maybe, but if I am feeling extra good and time permits I might do them.

There you have it.  Also, check out this runner.  She is pretty cool.


Q&A post 6: Music while running? What to eat for pre-race meal?

power-barWell Sir, I thank you for joining in on the fun with this Q&A post. Your question has been a topic of thought for hours upon hours for me as I learned more about running and race preparation.  At the present time, pretty much all races that are sanctioned by USA Track & Field require that the racers do not wear ipods, head phones, etc.  It is a safety issue for them.  This is a serious issue of debate and some marathons refuse to abide by the rule (Portland Marathon being one of them).  Most people who listen to music during races hide it somehow anyway.  Now to your questions:

“Do you listen to music while you train and/or in a race and if so, what do you listen to. Second: What do you recommend eating the night before a race, specifically a 5k, and the morning of.”

  • I listen to music quite a bit when I do my weekday runs.  It helps me to get going, get excited, and stay at it.  It breaks up any boredom that may attack my runs.  I only listen to music sometimes when I do my long runs on the weekend.  These runs are from 3-6 hours long.  I try not to bring music on these so that I train myself to just get into the rhythm of running where you are almost like a machine.  I listen to a wide variety of music on my ipod.  I have a lot of 80’s stuff, I like Led Zep. and Pink Floyd a lot when I run.  Also, 311 is a great band for me when I run.  I never listen to music in my races.  I just take in the brute reality of running the race.  A lot of people do though.
  • What I ate the night before and the hours prior to a race was something I worked really hard at perfecting.  I think I got it just right for how my body works.  Honestly, there are many theories and ideas out there, but I think that there is ONE TRUTH TO STAND BY FOR YOUR PRE-RACE MEAL (Night before).  Don’t change a thing.  Never, ever, ever change your normal routine for a race.  You know what you like to eat at night, you know how it makes you feel, and you know how you will react to it.  At marathons there is always a big spaghetti dinner the night before, and in the morning you see people throwing up because that changed their routine for the race.  Do your normal thing.  You are smart and healthy, you know what works.  As for just prior to a race, I always ate the power bar that you see in the pic. around one hour before.  It was a mild snack of about 200 calories, but it hard both complex and simple carbs.  One hour prior worked best for me, but I have read that around 3 hours prior is optimal and that the meal/snack should be around 300 calories.  One thing about a 5K is that in the amount of time it would take you to finish, you would be fine not eating anything just prior.  As the races get longer, fueling prior and during becomes more important.  For your 5K though, eating a nice healthy snack that won’t upset your stomach and that you have tried before training runs would be perfect.

Q&A post 2: Where’d you get your running confidence? and Marathon build-up?

Moments after my 2nd marathon finish

Moments after my 2nd marathon finish

Thanks mamawantsasixpack for taking some time out to have some fun on my blog?  I appreciate the participation.  Here are your questions:

1.  “How long did it take you to work up to a marathon?”
2.  “How fast was your first 5K?”
3.  “Where’d you get your running confidence?”
I like those questions and it will be very enjoyable to answer them.  So here it goes.
My marathon build up was not typical and usually (even Jeff Galloway) it is recommended that a person run for at least one year before attempting a marathon.  I had none of that, I am just to obsessive for that.  Anyway, it took me seven months to go from a 2 mile long  run(245 lbs at this time) to my first marathon finish.  Keep in mind though, I never ever missed a long run (this is the typical run you do on a weekend that is longer than others and it increase 1-2 miles every week to two weeks).  What joy it was.  It is possible to finish a marathon, even for a big chunky dude.  By the time I ran the Portland Marathon I weighed 195 lbs.
I have yet to really run an organized 5K.  I did do several practice 5k’s to try and predict my marathon finish time as Jeff Galloway recommended.  I can’t remember exactly, but my time was around 38 minutes and I was sucking air bad at the end.  Way worse than at the end of my marathon.  I finished my first marathon in 5 hrs and 35 minutes.  Pretty much all my running in the beginning was at a pace around 12:45-13:30 minutes per mile.
One concept that Jeff Galloway strongly suggests (there is controversy around this concept) is that you run the distance before you race the distance.  So my last long run before Portland was 27 miles.  I was confident because I knew I could make it to the finish.  I was scared silly though.  I had done all my running alone or with my wife.  I didn’t know what it would be like with 1000’s of people rubbing up against me.  I was so nervous that my heart rate was around 185 at the start and I was only walking 🙂  Things got better and I realized that I was with 1000’s of regular people.  That helped.  Also, I read that I am the captain of my own running ship and that I did not need to run as fast or as far or smooth as anyone.  I just needed to run for me.  I still get shy around people who look like “real runners” though.