August 2018 5k

Every year the Elephant Garlic Festival is held in North Plains, OR and as a part of that they host a series of races. I decided to do the festival’s 5k for my August run. The day started out cloudy but by the time the race started it was a nice, blue-sky morning. I think that the festive atmosphere and the nice weather inspired me because I tied for my fastest pace this time. At 14:17 per mile it’s nothing to write home about, but it is encouraging to me to see the improvement. I started the year running a bit over 15 minutes per mile consistently.

They didn’t hand out shirts or medals for finishers of this race. Instead, everyone got a pair of socks, which is nice since I was running short of socks, and a clove of elephant garlic. They had boxes of these gigantic garlic cloves waiting at the end. While waiting for the race to start I heard a couple of the race officials commenting that they hoped to give away all of the garlic since anything that was left over they would have to take home.

I got my clove and then we roasted it with olive oil and used the soft garlic as a spread on small slices of baguettes with brie cheese. A good ending to a good race.

July 2018 5k

My July 5k was the SunRun in Beaverton, OR. The race started at an athletic club in southeast Beaverton then headed south to meet up with the Greenway Park trail. There route was a simple out-and-back path.

This was my least favorite race. The event seemed less organized than any of the others so maybe that’s why I didn’t like it as much. My pace was one of my better paces so far this year (14:24 per mile) but somehow it just wasn’t a fun race.

I doubt that I’ll do the SunRun again next year.

June 2018 5k

My June 5k was the LoveRocks run in Forest Grove, OR. This race had lots of ups and downs, literally and figuratively. The course started at the Tom McCall Upper Elementary School and headed southwest from there. Right out of the gate the route heads down a fairly steep hill on SW Ritchey Road. For me, running downhill is not much easier than running uphill. I have to go fairly slowly or I’ll put too much force on my legs and  I’m concerned that my leg will buckle and that would be embarrassing and painful. But that’s not the worst part. The worst part was that I knew that finishing the race I’d be climbing up that hill!

After the initial 0.25 m of the race it stayed flat and straight for a while. I paused for a second to take a picture. You can see the racers off in the distance where the road takes a right turn.

It was shortly after this that I started to hear an overly loud and insistent bird making noise. Looking around, I saw that some large birds (I think they were eagles) had built a nest on the top of a telephone pole right next to the road. Sadly, the pair in the nest was bothered by the constant stream of intruders running past below them. Since this was an out-and-back race, I saw the same nest on the way back and the birds were still squawking and complaining.

Of the races I had participated in so far this year, this one had the most interesting pre and post race setup. There were many booths setup for different concessions, a fair-like booth where you could show your strength on a hammer and bell game, and there was even a booth with a dog actor on show. The dog (I think it was a male) was sitting there smiling and occasionally doing tricks for kids. His portfolio was on display so that we could see that he had been in several shows and commercials. The whole event fell more like a county fair than a race.

My pace on this race was my worst of the year. I don’t think that the hill slowed me down that much. Rather, I think that my slow pace was due to a lack of training during June. This month held so many activities (graduation, birthdays, father’s day, out of town visitors, etc.) that I had trouble getting regular runs in. Also, I was suffering quite a bit from plantar fasciitis. I’m hoping that things improve by next month.

May 2018 5k

My 5k race for this month was another one very close to my home (about 2.5 miles from my house). In fact, a part of the 5k course overlapped with my normal training run that I try to do three times per week. This was one of the main reasons I picked this race and I’m glad I did it. It was the smallest race, in terms of participants, that I’ve done so far but it was really well organized. Before the race there were the standard sponsor tables but also a great band playing. I really liked the band and I thought they did an amazing rendition of “I Can See Clearly Now”

The race itself was nice and had a little surprise at the end. I always record my race with mapmyrun just as a backup in case the race timing itself gets lost. For the last part of the race I pushed myself to try and finish strong but when I crossed the line and looked at my app I saw that my time was over 49 minutes! That would calculate as a pace that was almost 16 minutes/mile. Way above what I thought I was doing. But I looked into a bit more and I saw that the app also said that I ran 3.5 miles instead of 3.1 (5k). I found the race organizer and asked her about it and she confirmed that this “5k” was actually a 3.5 mile run. That put my pace at 14:17. Whew! That was my best to date. Now I’m hoping to improve on that for June! Getting under 14 might be happening soon.

April 2018 5k

For my April 5k I participated in the Falcon 15k Relay race that was sponsored by Liberty high-school in Hillsboro, OR.

Despite the name, there were actually several events, including a 5k race (the one I ran in). I have never been to Liberty high-school so I didn’t know how nice the facilities there are. It was a great place to host the race. The proceeds from this race were to help the Liberty Fit program at the school. It is a unique and interesting program in which students spend 4 days a week for 4 months training for a half-marathon. These are not Track or Cross-country athletes, just normal students who don’t want to, or can’t, join the official Spring Track and Field program at Liberty. It seems like a great idea to me. Although, back when I was in high-school if a program like that had existed, I’m sure I wouldn’t have done it. 🙂

The weather in April in Oregon is always iffy. I was prepared for the worst but got lucky. The weather for the race was excellent. Clear blue skies and moderate temperatures and no wind. Honestly, I couldn’t have asked for a better day for the race.

The race course left the high-school track and ran along the roads just north of highway 26. The 5k was an out-and-back with a big loop at the far end of the route. There were a couple long hills with a low slope but it was mostly a flat course. In the end I finished with a 14:42 pace. I was hoping that by my 4th race I’d be below a 14 minute pace but not yet… However, I did complete the course without walking. That is my primary goal.

March 2018 5k

Two years ago I ran my first 5k race. A friend had suggested that I sign up for a race as a way to keep me motivated to exercise on a regular basis. It worked, for 2 months, and I ran the Shamrock 5k in March 2016 and then when my family went on a Disney cruise at the end of March I ran the fun run on their private island in the Bahamas. But then, sadly, I stopped. The idea kept lingering in my mind and this led me to decide to do a 5k each month in 2018. For March I decided to do the Shamrock 5k again. It was kind of coming back to what I started 2 years ago but now with a bit more success.

I got to the race location (Waterfront Park, Portland, OR) about 45 minutes ahead of the start time. The Shamrock Run attracts thousands of people, twenty-five thousand this year, so it gets crowded fast down at the waterfront park. There are several different events but the 5k is the most popular. The announcer said that there were eight thousand 5k runners. Because there are so many runners, they line us all up on the street based on your mile pace. This allows the faster runners to get out ahead of the pack instead of weaving through everyone. I got lined up, near the middle of the pack, at around 7:40.

The race started at 8 am sharp and that’s when all of the people running at a 6 minute mile pace started. The race officials let a bunch go, then they held the next batch of runners for one minute before letting those guys go. They repeated the “hold then go” cycle several times before I got up to the front. It took nearly 15 minutes for me to get to the actually starting line but then it wasn’t too crowded when I started running so I guess that the “hold then go” strategy was working.

I thought that most of this race would be flat but that wasn’t quite true. There were a couple places with long hills. The slope wasn’t too great but it was enough that I felt it. As I started the race, I felt good about my pace. When I hit the hills of course things slowed down but I still felt good overall. I ended up finishing with a 14:32 pace. That’s a big improvement over my February race (15:04 pace) and a HUGE improvement over the Shamrock race I ran in 2016 where I had a 16:05 pace.

I was happy with the race. Happy to see an improvement. Now I’m looking for my April 5k.

February 2018 5k

The morning started out at 7am and very cold. I got in my car and started on the 25 minute drive to Tigard for the Chocolotathon 5k. The car registered the outside temperature at 30 degrees and I knew this run was going to be a challenge. By the time I made it to Cook Park it had warmed up to the mid 30’s. Since I was a few minutes early for the race I decided to wait in my car and try to absorb some of the heat. Eventually, about 15 minutes before I thought the race was going to start, I left the warm comfort and found my way over to the starting line.

I could tell right away that things weren’t going to start at 8:00 am. Most of the booths were still being setup and there were less than 100 people mingling around. Shortly after I got there, someone found a microphone and started making a few announcement. He said that the race would start at 8:30. Great. That meant 30 more minutes of standing in nearly freezing weather wearing only my running shirt and running shorts. Cold!

More people started to arrive and it looked like things were going to get started on time. But then a new announcer took the mic. He announced that the race would start at 8:45.  Another 15 minutes of standing in the cold. But, I guess, it was getting a little better. By then it might have been up to 40 degrees.

There were no more delays and at about 8:40 the announcer directed us all to get in line. I thought this event was going to have a 5k, 10k, half and full marathon. It turns out that there was only a 5k and 10k. Both races started at the same time and on the same course. The 5k runners were to run one loop and the 10k runners did the loop twice. By the time the race started there were between 500 and 1000 runners.

We took off in tranches in order to leave some spacing between the runners. Even so, for the first mile or so the course was pretty clogged up. That was fine with me since I’m not really a fast runner (at least not yet). But it was still cold! I looked down at my arms and they were bright red with dark blue streaks through them where the veins were showing.  About the half-mile mark I was in my stride and I started to warm up and my skin returned to its normal color.

This is my 4th 5k that I’ve run and I’m starting to notice a pattern. There are quite a number of racers who take off fast. They zip past everyone, weaving in and out, and make great time. However, by around the 1 mile mark, they are all walking. About that point I start passing them. And then a few minutes later the spurters will run past me again. But a bit further down the trail, they are walking again and I pass them. Every time I keep reminding myself of the tortoise and the hare story. My goal is to finish the entire race without walking. My pace is slow but I just keep going.

The 1 mile marker came right about when I expected it. I felt like I made pretty good time on that first mile and I settled in for the next mile. I don’t know if it was the cold or the hour of standing around or what but I started to feel myself slow down. At every turn of the course I was looking for that 2 mile mark er and it just was never coming. And then the hill! I turned a corner on the trail and looked ahead. There was a steep (very steep) hill ahead. It was steep enough that the trail didn’t go straight up it but had to zigzag back and forth. It was like climbing out of the grand canyon. I had a choice to make. Either walking up the hill, like everyone else, or stick to my goal of running the whole course. I stuck to it. It wasn’t pretty and it wasn’t easy but I climbed the hill. Once at the top, though, it wasn’t flat. Instead, it was a run back down the hill and that’s not easy. I was afraid that my legs would give out and I’d fall so I had to go very slow running back down. At the bottom, I saw the 2 mile marker. Whew. Now it was only a matter of grinding it out.

The last mile was flat and uncrowded. I should have been able to make good time but I used a lot of energy on the hill. I mostly coasted through the rest of the race. As I passed the 3 mile marker I considered picking up the pace for the last 0.1 miles of the 5k but I didn’t have it in me. I crossed the finish line at 46:51. That’s a 15:04 mile pace. Slower than my last race but that’s ok. I didn’t walk and I finished.

My next race, in March, is the Shamrock run in downtown Portland. I did that same race two years ago. I’m looking forward to seeing if I can improve my time.


Oven fire and lemon cookies

Last week we had an incident. We were trying to make dinner, just your average baked brie in puff pastry, but something didn’t go right. Instead of baking to a nice golden brown with gooey cheese in the middle, the cheese broke free of the wrap and started spilling down to the bottom of the oven. The melted cheese poured over the side of the dish and down right onto the flame jet of our gas oven. And guess what happened? Oven fire!

It was fun and exciting. For the first time ever I got to use the kitchen fire extinguisher. With just a couple shots from the red canister I was able to put out the fire but now we had an oven full of white power and a house full of smoke. With enough vigorous fanning and open windows we got everything cleared out but then we were left with a mess of an oven.

The oven has been going downhill for months. Every time we use it it is random luck to see if it will cook things on time or not. And the temperature throughout the oven itself is non-uniform — and it changes every time you use it. We’ve been talking about getting a new stove for a while and this was what pushed us over the edge. Last Monday we went to Best Buy and found a new Kitchen Aid gas range with double oven. The guys delivered and installed it yesterday and we’re using it today.  Victoria is making lemon cookies and brownies this afternoon and we all love that!

So the week that started with a fire, ended with a new stove and a happy family. Couldn’t be much better than that.

Brand new year, brand new site.

I have had this site hosted at since the early 2000’s. For the most part there haven’t been any problems. Towards the end of 2017 GoDaddy migrated my hosting from and old server that they were retiring to their new system. Due to the fact that my site was so old and crusty, it didn’t migrate over smoothly. It was going to take me several hours to do the migration manually.

Considering this, I decided it was time to get on board with newer web technologies. I let the GoDaddy support person convince me to migrate away from my custom Joomla site and move to WordPress.

So far I’m happy with the decision. There’s a lot for me to learn but I’m fine taking it slowly.