Tuesday, April 23, 2013

The Real Deal: Running with Rheumatoid Arthritis

Written By: Angela Shatting
The first time I met Dina Neils I was a small child in an unusual situation. I was at her house visiting my cousin who was living with her family as a foster child. I remember two things about that visit. 1: my cousin was happy, healthy and I knew she was safe. 2: the house was a blast and full of love, energy and kids! From then on Dina and my cousin were best friends and the Neils’ were family. I saw Dina from time to time and again when we went to the same High School. My memory of her in High School is that she ran. She ran a lot. She ran at lunch, when I was doing less productive activities, and seemed to always be going running, just finished running or running. My cousin updated me from time to time on Dina and Facebook gave me small glimpses into her life. When I clicked a link to an article about her I was floored to read her story. I’ve been looking at pictures of her on Facebook for years (pictures shown below). How did I miss Rheumatoid Arthritis?

Dina's hips
At age 18, as a freshman in college, Dina was diagnosed with chronic Rheumatoid Arthritis. She was a competitive runner, living on her own for the first time and now fighting a chronic disease with severe pain. She cared for herself and worked as a student, all the while, feeling like her life was over.  Her doctor gave her the grim diagnosis of being in a wheel chair by her mid 20’s and never running again. For 7 years Dina was considered “chronic” and lost mobility in her hips. In constant pain and feeling defeated, Dina quit running. In just a few short years she had both hips completely replaced and had to relearn how to walk…TWICE!

But Dina wouldn’t stay down for long. She refused to accept her doctors’ bleak outlook and with the support of friends and family, she stayed strong and worked hard. For the past 2-3 years the pain and inflammation has lessened and Dina is back out there! She is running again and simply stated, “The fight is paying off, I’ve got ‘me’ back”.  It took 10 years for Dina to find her way back to running, “It wasn't easy, it was painfully difficult - mentally and physically” Dina says. After hearing about her struggles and knowing how challenging running can be, I couldn’t help but wonder “why run?”. Why not swim, cycle, do yoga or anything else less taxing on the body. When I posed the question to Dina her response was simple, “Not being able to run was very difficult for me. I explored other activities like swimming, hiking, biking - but nothing compared to the challenge and the satisfaction of running (not even close). Not sure how else to describe it, it's a passion that all true runners understand - even though I wasn't able to run for many years, that passion never left me. It's part of who I am, and that will never change.”

Fueled with passion and drive, Dina is back to running….and I mean running. After years of competing, she isn’t settling with a jog around the track. In the past year she ran two 5k’s, one 12k, one 10k and is running the Eugene Marathon (half marathon) at the end on the month. She trains 6 days a week, running 3 days and cross-training 3 days. As her Facebook friend, I see Dina’s post/photos about her runs and she’s fast! Her “recovery runs” can be considered a tempo run for many, myself included.
Some girly inspiration for Dina
After learning more about Dina’s story I realized why following her on Facebook didn’t reveal the struggles she’s been fighting these past 10 years. One reason is because I’m great at skimming and not reading. But the real reason is because every post of Dina’s is positive and upbeat with a smiling face. Skimming over her fun and happy photos, one doesn’t see pain, disease, despair, fear, Rheumatoid Arthritis or anything of the sort. They see a strong, happy, healthy, inspirational, survivor!

Next time I don’t want to run, feel slow or weak; I’m going straight to Dina’s Facebook page, thanking my body for being healthy and hitting the road! Dina’s love for running is infectious, she wrote, “Running is not just a sport to me, it’s almost like a way of life. When the run gets hard and my legs feel like giving out, that is when I push harder and don’t give up – it’s were I find my true self and when I feel the most alive.”  Talking with Dina I can’t help but feel inspired to run! She is the real deal, a “true runner”, not because of speed, distance or race wins; but because she LOVES running, lives running, breathes running and dreams of her body running.

Dina is sharing her story to make a difference and help find a cure for Rheumatoid Arthritis. She wants people to hear her message and says “What drives me the most, in my most challenging times, is knowing that there are people who see me as an inspiration. I never imagined that my struggles and triumphs would be a source of strength, hope, and inspiration in others’ lives - what a powerful thing that is…Do not let a disease or diagnoses define who you are – do not let it take away who you are. Do not let the doctors dictate your life. You have the strength to fight this battle. When it seems like there is no hope, do not give up – fight harder. Stay positive and love yourself, because you are amazing and are stronger than you realize”…..the real deal.

Today Dina Neils is 28 and lives in Elk Grove, California with her two dogs and boyfriend. She works full time and trains regularly. Her RA is doing the best it's ever been and although she continues to fight pain, discomfort and a weakened immune system, she hopes to be in full remission this year. Her doctors say it looks good!

You can help Dina find a cure by making a donation at her Racing For A Cure page or at the Arthritis National Research Foundation.
Dina posted this picture of her shirt of Facebook witht the caption, "Boom! So people running behind me know they are getting beat by a girl with metal hips", I love it!

Monday, April 15, 2013

Boston Marathon - You can reach any finish line when you “Run like a Mother”

Written By: Jen Myers

This year I be will lining the streets of Boston with about 20,000 runners from all over the world to run the famous Boston Marathon. What started out a dream as distant as the 26.2-mile finish line itself has quickly become my reality. I have been running marathons for the past 8 years and to date have 5 under my water belt. Running a marathon was something I didn’t see happening for me for many years, as I was a runner plagued by injury and self-doubt. To start my life on a new path, I took a leap of faith and moved from Eugene to Central Oregon. In the glory of my new location and newfound confidence I felt like I could do anything, even train for a marathon. I set out on the red, dusty back roads of Sisters and this time my body saw me through to the end of the Nike Women’s Marathon in 2006.

The next few years of running were filled with a few more marathons and two kids. I was thankful I was even able to run after the numerous IT issues, stress fractures, and pulled muscles that characterized my running in Eugene. But after I had my kids, I realized that I could do more. As I looked at my babies and told them I would always believe in them, I knew I had never believed in myself enough to tackle my ultimate dream. Boston.

To get into Boston you have to qualify by running an uber fast time in another marathon, so my other marathon would be Portland. I knew I was going to have to run 26.2 miles in 3 hours and 35 minutes, almost 40 minutes faster than my fastest time. The PR I needed was so big I knew I needed to commit to a plan and do it all the way, or this wouldn’t happen. After months of training, sacrifice, and numerous high fives from my son I went to the start line. My best friend made me a “Boston or Bust” shirt, which earned me the nickname “Boston” with my pace group. The first half of the race was smooth and easy. Then, at about mile 13 I was tripped trying to pass another runner and was sent sliding across the pavement. I thought my race was over when another runner swooped in to my rescue and placed me upright again. I took off, and with a pace group runner behind me saying, “You can do it Boston!” I crossed the finish line in 3 hours 32 minutes and 24 seconds –144 seconds to spare. My finish was filled with sweat, tears and bananas.

I originally thought that after Portland I couldn’t register for Boston until 2014, but after checking the Boston website I realized I was wrong. I could run a whole year earlier than I thought and enter in the 2013 race. As a Realtor working in a struggling market with a husband following his non-profit dream, the issue of funds was my mind. I told my husband, Stefan, the date and my concerns. He looked at me and said, “We need to go for it, and we will do whatever it takes to make this dream happen.” Stefan entered my name in the Boston lottery and I waited to see if I made it. Each week I checked the mail and nothing. One day an email arrived saying I made it. I was in. I was floored.
Once I knew I was in I started thinking of some of the things I needed help with and who could sponsor me to cover the large expenses. My employer, Century 21, immediately stepped up and covered my registration fee. I also needed a gym membership so I could run indoors out of the snow and ice. Anytime Fitness was on top of that. My foot orthotics were worn and needed work so Summit Orthotics and Prosthetics insured I stayed injury free with new orthotics and adjustments. My final sponsor, a local author named H.C.Wells, covered my shoes and my lodging. Together they covered over $700 in expenses. Because of them I am now on my way to the starting line in Boston and off to fulfill my dream.

Every race is different. When you are out on the road logging numerous miles you are forced to confront different aspects of yourself and you always learn something new. Boston is my 6th marathon and the training miles for this race have been the most revealing of all. I learned that we are all looking for inspiration. I initially found mine in the soft words of encouragement I spoke to my kids, which snowballed into a few local companies being inspired enough to say “yes” and cheer me on. I am sharing my story because we all have journeys that we are taking. Be it music or art, whether we are fighting cancer or fighting for others, there are people everyday who confront the fear they face and forge ahead to find the roaring crowd at their finish line. My High school running coach used to say “Anyone can run a marathon if they pace themselves.” This applies to all of us, no matter what our marathon is. We just have to be brave enough to make it to the starting line.

Jen Myers lives in Redmond, Oregon, married to her high school sweet heart Stefan. They have two rambunctious boys Ryland and Everett who spend their days chasing a flat-coat retriever rescued from a Wal-Mart parking lot. Jen enjoys finding and selling homes for clients as an agent at Century 21 and has been a “just for fun” runner for 15 years and “hey I can place”runner for 2 years.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Recovery - The R.I.C.E. Way

Written By: Max King

Lets start off the recovery post by saying that everyone recovers at a different rate and that depends on a lot of factors. Age, physiology, training, etc all play into how quickly someone can recover. But, while there are factors out of your control, there are methods that can help you recover faster than doing nothing at all.

The past couple of years I’ve done a double that I consider probably the hardest two days of the year. The Flagline 50k has been scheduled for the day before the Xterra Trail Run National Championships, a race I’ve done the past 5 years and have a good winning streak at. I haven’t wanted to give either of them up, so I decided doing both with a flight to Utah in the middle would be a good challenge. I knew going in that recovery in between would be a huge key to my success so I did everything I knew how to recover.

The old R.I.C.E. (rest, ice, compression, elevation) adage works well when discussing recovery because training hard is pretty similar physiologically to an injury so you can treat them very similarly as well.

Rest, obviously, will help you recover, that’s a no-brainer but that takes time and sometimes we just don’t have enough of it and when we push ourselves to the limits recovery time is usually the first thing to go.

Ice is a touchy subject. Recent research now suggests that icing really doesn’t do much to aid in recovery. But for anyone that has ever jumped in an ice bath after a hard workout or run will tell you, it sure seems to do something. Whether that’s just psychological or physiological more research may be needed but people will tell you that it really does help. Now, I hate ice baths. They’re cold. I don’t do them very often, only five times a year in fact, but during the Transrockies 6 day stage race I do them each day after the stage and I always feel a little more refreshed the next day.

Then we come to compression, a good friend of mine. Compression is probably the single biggest thing you can do for recovery. Putting some compression on your legs after (and sometimes even during) exercise has huge performance benefits. Squeezing your muscles to aid in the circulation, clearance of exercise metabolites, and re-oxygenation of the cells with fresh blood, compression can speed up natural recovery over just rest. It will take a trained doctor or physiologist to explain the intricacies of what happens, but that’s the jist of it. After long races that really beat me up I always throw on a pair of Reco-Fit Leg Compressors, a full length compression sleeve that are easier to wear than full tights. After Flagline 50k the past two years I’ve been lucky enough to have Mark DeJohn waiting at the finish line for a little post race massage then right into Recovery Boots, the ultimate in post-race compression. Recovery Boots are a peristaltic active compression boot that repeatedly squeezes then releases from toes to hips. A spendy tool, but one that many have found worthy in the long road to recovery.

Elevation is like the lazy mans compression; it works, just a little slower. Coupled with compression though, the benefits are awesome. At Transrockies each year a common site is people in their compression tights, sleeves, whatever, all lying on the ground around a building with their feet up. I guess if that many people are doing it then it must do something.  Elevation coupled with compression is going to help speed the circulation of metabolites out of muscles and legs by utilizing gravity, keeping metabolite rich blood from pooling and sitting in your legs after exercise.

After compression, post-workout nutrition is your next tool to help you recover faster. Taking in a mix of 4:1 carbs to protein within 30min of exercise will help replenish glycogen (your fuel during exercise) faster than any other time during the day. When you eat, carbs are turned into glycogen fuel but quite slowly so the increased rate of conversion right after exercise can help get you ready for another hard effort the next day. All the major exercise nutrition companies have a recovery formula like Hammer Nutrition’s Recoverite, a favorite of many here at the shop including myself, but one of my alternate favorites has always been chocolate milk. It works, it’s cheap it’s easy to find, and it’s good.

Good nutrition shouldn’t be relegated to post-race only however, proper nutrition daily is what will help you train, race and recover better on a consistent basis. Speak to a nutritionist or see our blog post onnutrition for more guidance.

This next and final piece of advice is going to seem pretty obvious but it is really the key to being able to recover faster and do things like Transrockies or a weekend race double, and that is training. Obvious right? Train more, train specifically for what you will be putting yourself through and you’ll be better prepared for harder and longer runs, your body will be stronger and won’t break down as much and your physiological systems will be better adapted to the stress of muscle breakdown and metabolite clearance and processing. No recovery tool or technique will ever make up for what you can do with a little more training.

Keep in mind that recovery is going to be different for everyone and that just because your buddy can do something two days in a row does not mean that you can. Training more will always help with recovery but we’re often limited by time so the recovery tips above can help speed up recovery and get you back on your feet faster. With the recovery tips above, hopefully next time out you’ll be taking it to your buddy on day two of your adventure.

Learn more about Max King.


Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Escape From Alcatraz Race Report

By: Kraig Erickson

Greetings Footzoner’s!  My name is Kraig Erickson and I am the newest FootZone employee.  I have just moved to Bend from Eugene and I am super excited to be part of the Footzone team.  My background is in fitness and endurance sports coaching.  I was the Fitness Supervisor at the Downtown Athletic Club in Eugene and coached the running club there.  In addition to being a personal trainer, I am a USAT Level I Coach, US Masters Level II Coach, and a Functional Movement Screener.  I plan on being heavily involved in the local triathlon and running scene, both as a coach and competitor.  My wife, Tara is the Technical Director for the Oregon Rush Soccer Club and we have two kids, Maklain (8), and Taj (6).

For my first blog entry I decided to do a race report for the Escape From Alcatraz Triathlon that I competed in on March 3.  This is a famous race that has been going on for 33 years and is a “must have” on any triathletes bucket list.  It is very hard to get into, capped at 2000 athletes, you either have to qualify at a sanctioned qualifying race (there are no qualifiers in the northwest anymore) or get in by lottery.  I have entered the lottery twice and been lucky enough to get in both times.  The first time I got in was 2007 and then again in 2012.  Last year while preparing for the race in June I came down with a still un-diagnosed illness that had me unable to train for almost 6 months.  It was a very scary time as I was tested for a bunch of very scary illnesses and thankfully all tests were negative and I came out of the woods at the end of June.  I was able to defer my entry to 2013 with a doctor’s note.  The losing side of this trade for me was the race date, because of the America’s Cup in San Francisco in 2013 the race was being moved from the traditional first weekend in June to the first weekend of March, brrrrrrr!  Oh well, at least I didn’t lose my $400 entry fee.

I viewed this race as the symbol of putting my illness to rest and getting back in the saddle, literally.  Training for an early season race can be very difficult but the race is fairly short with it’s Olympic-ish distances.  The swim is 1.5 miles where you jump off a boat anchored next to Alcatraz and swim to Marina Green.  The bike is 18 very hilly, technical miles through the Presidio and Golden Gate Park.  The 8-mile run is an urban smorgasbord of pavement, gravel, stairs, single track, tunnels, beach, and the infamous “sand ladder”.   My memories of the race in 2007 were very good and I was super excited to return.  After over 10 years of racing and 3 Ironman races, I still think Alcatraz is the coolest race I have ever done.

After a surprisingly nice end to last summer with a successful race and the best fall of running that I have ever had, the stage is set for me to have a great winter of training and be ready for a dip in the bay in March.  Then life happened.  Soccer season, followed by the holidays and then an unexpected move to Bend, left my training in shambles.   I went into race week knowing that I would swim well (this is my background) and run well.  The fact that the ride would be my longest outdoor ride since August did not bode well but I was hopeful that my evolving mountain lungs might make up the difference at sea level, literally in the sea.

Then the curse of Alcatraz slapped me again.  My last day at work before leaving for the race I started to feel a little “off” towards the end of the day.  By bedtime I had a fever, chills, aches, and was really not feeling well.  I spent Friday in bed, throwing up, etc.  I got up Saturday loaded the car and headed for San Fran.  I felt pretty good but I had not eaten in about 24 hours, my ribs hurt from barfing, and any passing of gas should be a proceed with caution operation. 

I arrived in San Francisco after an uneventful drive.  Checked into my hotel and walked down to Marina Green to pick up my packet and take a look around.  The first thing I noticed was that the sun was out but it was still windy and cold.  I got checked in and walked to the water took a picture of Alcatraz and felt the water.  Brrrrrrr!  They said the water was 51-52 degrees.  By the way the recommended temp for an ice bath is 54-58.  I was not looking forward to the swim start in the morning, air temp mid 40’s, and water temp 51.

I hadn’t eaten a solid meal since Thursday night so I found a nice little Italian joint near my hotel called Parma.   I wasn’t too serious about my race and my appetite seemed to be back so I chose the saffron risotto with asparagus and shrimp, and my traditional one beer.  The meal was excellent and the restaurant was filled with athletes and there was a lot of excitement in the air.  I sat next to a couple from Houston.  The husband, Adam was competing in Alcatraz for the first time so I gave him some pointers and headed back to my hotel pretty excited about the race.

I woke at 4:00 AM and ate some breakfast and organized my things.  My go to break fast when on the road for a race is, Greek yogurt, a plain bagel with peanut butter, and a banana.  I grabbed my backpack, put my helmet on and saddled up for the short ride down to the transition area.  There were already tons of people setting up when I got there.  I set up my transition located the places where I would be coming in an out for each discipline and found some landmarks on the street to find my place.  In a race of 2000 people the transition area is huge so making sure I knew where I would be running to was important.  I gathered my swim things and boarded the shuttle that would take me to Pier 3 where I would board the large riverboat that would take all 2000 of us out to Alcatraz. 

The pre-race time on the boat was very odd for me.  It is rare that I am at a race by myself and that I don’t know a lot of other athletes.  That combined with the quiet, nervous energy that I think is unique to Alcatraz makes for the quietest 2000, wetsuit clad people packed like cattle on a riverboat that you will ever see.  I did see the only two other people that I knew racing, Bend Pro Matt Lieto, and soon to be Bend Pro Jesse Thomas.  I wished them both good luck and returned to the quiet.  I situated myself as close to the door as I could.  If you are over 30 you are supposed to go to the upper deck of the boat.  At 42, I swim very well and do not want to be behind tons of people for the rest of the race so I camped out on the bottom of stairs right near the Pro’s and when they headed out to the deck for their start I filled in the area they had left.  At 7:00 the Pro’s were off and the rest of us piled off the boat right after.  It is quite a scene, 2000 people off the boat in 6 minutes and splashing towards the beach. 

I was in the water in the first wave of swimmers and quickly tried to get into a rhythm.  I remember that in June of 2007 the sun was shining and the bay was very calm.  It was a gorgeous day to swim.  March 2013 was totally different, the sun was not out and parts of the shore were fogged in, making sighting very difficult.  There was quite a bit of wind and the swells were pretty big and white capped. This YouTube video shows the Jump Start. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PKqRayXD_VI&feature=em-share_video_user

The amount of times that I got to take a smooth stroke or get a clean breathe, I could count on one hand.  Early on I was thinking that this swim was going to be very hard but the people behind me that were not very comfortable in open water were freaking out.  I swam well and noticed that I was passing some of the Pro’s that had left before the rest of the field.  I navigated my way across the “river” that flows between Alcatraz and the Marina and exited the water super stoked about the swim.  It was hard but really fun.  It is not very often that you get to do a swim like that and those are the types of things that keep me coming back for more.

There is a funky half-mile run from the swim exit at the beach, back to your bike.  Many people leave a set of shoes and a towel at the swim exit.  I chose to run barefoot in my wetsuit, hoping that this would help me warm up.

Me heading to my bike.
I got to my bike after the short run and transitioned out of my wetsuit and into the most bike clothing I have ever worn in a triathlon.  To my wet tri shorts and jersey I added, arm warmers, a coat, socks, shoes with toe warmers, and gloves.  I headed out on the 18 mile bike cold but hoping to get warm quickly.  I knew going in that bike fitness was where I was lacking the most.  All of my training had been on my Computrainer indoors and there hadn’t been all that much if it.  The bike is relatively short but it is very technical and you are always going uphill or downhill.  Once I got settled in and my feet and hands started to thaw.  The pain in my hands and feet quickly switched to my thighs and calves.  My thighs screamed at me at the top of every short, steep climb for not giving them enough work leading up to this race.   The road was in much worse condition than I remembered and there were several teeth rattling potholes and bumps.  Early on I realized that the flu had taken its toll on my hydration.  Although I thought I had been drinking plenty over the past couple days to get back from being ill.  My calves were tight and crampy early on and stayed that way.  I tried to enjoy the ride and became a spectator on the racecourse cheering for my friends, Jesse Thomas and Matt Lieto.  Both looked great coming back on the bike, Jesse in 4th and Matt not far behind.  I made a mental note to try and get them some splits on the run.

Bend Local, Jesse Thomas
I was super excited to get off the bike and start the run.  My run fitness was much better but I knew that my dehydration issues would keep me from running as fast as I would like.  I quickly settled into a nice easy pace feeling the tightness of my calves and looking forward to the tough, technical course.   The first few miles of the course are nice and flat, super easy, and then you start up the stairs.  The stairs are followed by single track with the pro’s flying at you at warp speed.  I counted first place, Olympic Silver Medalist Javier Gomez, second place Kiwi Graham O’Grady and glanced at my watch.  Here came Jesse in third place, but over a minute back of second with less than 3 miles to go.  I stopped and yelled for him to get on the podium as he flew by (he ended up third).   Matt came by in 10th and looked really good.  I kept running and really enjoyed the rest of this course.  I transitioned down to the beach and ran the short out and back on the soft sand knowing that the “Sand Ladder” was the next obstacle to attack. For those of you that have not heard of the infamous “Sand Ladder” here is a video.  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YwJxu6s4-PQ&feature=em-share_video_user

After the torture of the sand ladder I cruised back along the course and back to Marina Green.  I kept my pace nice and easy, I could tell that if I tried to push it my calves could seize at any moment.  I grabbed some electrolytes at each aid station and slowed way down to thank the volunteers. 

The finish line is insane!  With 15,000 screaming spectators with a grandstand, loud music, the works.  I crossed the finish line in 2:56, unfortunately not out of breath.  I was about 4 minutes slower than I had been in 2007, and I am much faster now than I was then.  Some of that could be chalked up to the swim conditions but mostly due to being sick and not fit (on the bike for sure).  I had a great time, all things considered.  This race is an amazing experience that every triathlete should experience at some point.  One of the main things that I have learned over the years preparing my athletes and myself for races is not to get to upset about the things you have no control over going wrong.  Just know that something may happen that is going to affect your racing negatively and there is nothing you can do about it, just roll with the punches, or in the case the 6-foot swells and the flu.  We get so caught up in the results and forget about all the fun we had preparing for the race, training with friends, and reaching new milestones.  Now I can put the curse of Alcatraz and my lost 2012 season to bed and look forward to exploring my new home in Central Oregon and a successful (and hopefully faster) 2013 season.  Good luck to you all with whatever is on your schedule this year!

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Race Report – 2013 Gorge Waterfalls 50K

By Zach Violett

This is the second year that my girlfriend, Stephanie Howe, and I did the Gorge Waterfalls 50km. We enjoyed it so much in 2012 that we had to come back. Unfortunately the 2012 winter storms caused massive wash-outs of the trail and hundreds of blown down trees. The trails were still not fixed in time for this year’s race so we got to do the same course we were familiar with.

Because we would be starting and finishing at Benson State Park (near Multnomah Falls) we decided to stay in Troutdale this year. This would give us much closer access to the start/finish plus allow us to go into Portland as we wanted. We decided to make a weekend of it so headed over Friday after work and stayed through Sunday.

We woke up the next morning to a beautiful day in the Gorge. Sunny with the highs expected to be 75-80. It was going to be a great day.  I think we were both a bit nervous since this was our first race since Bandera. Neither Steph nor I had a stellar showing that day in Texas and we both really wanted to have a good one. Steph was also working on a sore calf and I’m still pretty up and down with my results. There would be a ton of fast guys at the race (Ian Sharman, Jeff Browning, MarioMendoza, Yassine Duboun, Chris Kollar, Hal Koerner & others).  In that group a top 5 is a good day!

A few general highlights from the race:

·        Lots of vertical

·        Lots of technical single track

·        Really beautiful course with waterfalls around every corner.

·        Well marked course with great volunteers and aid stations

·        The course Profile:

My Race Highlights:

·        I had a really solid race and was 3rd overall (but need to give credit to Mario, if he hadn’t crashed and sprained his ankle in the last few miles he would have been ahead of me and was fighting for the win)

·        I was excited to get to run with the leaders for a few miles in the middle of the race

·        My downhill running has gotten drastically better

·        I got attacked and knocked to the ground by a dog. Luckily it didn’t bite me and we both walked away OK (only a bit scared). 

After the race is when the fun really starts. James Varner who owns and manages Rainshadow Running does an excellent job putting on a race. James stood at the finish and gave every finisher a high five or hug as they crossed the line. There was a pizza oven and full spread of food and drink at the finish. Steph and I hung out for an hour or so chatting with the other racers before hitting the road.

After a quick shower we headed to Dundee, OR for a few wine tastings. We ended up a Lange & Erath (both have great Pinot’s). We hoped to visit more but it was already 5p and everybody was closed for Easter on Sunday. We drove back to Troutdale and got some dinner in downtown Gresham. Not sure if anybody knows it, but Gresham actually has a lot more than strip malls. It has a super cool downtown with good restaurants and brew pubs. I’d seriously recommend it. Sunday morning was spent exploring Portland neighborhoods and shopping for stuff you can’t easily find in Bend.

Overall, I’d really recommend doing a full weekend around this race. Because it is a ‘short’ 50K you are not totally wasted and can enjoy the many things the Columbia river gorge and Portland have to offer. You can stay in Hood River or Troutdale and really get a good Oregon vacation. 

About me… I’m 30 years old. I’m lucky to have Stephanie Howe as my running partner and girlfriend. In case you didn’t know, she won the PPP and is sort of a big deal.  I’m still semi-new to running but very experienced at racing. My background is cross country ski racing. I moved to Bend in 2006 to join the XC-Oregon Ski team. I’ve since ‘retired’ from ski racing but can’t stay away from the start line. I work for a software company here in town called Tech Soft 3D managing sales in the western US and Asia. In the past 3 years of being a runner I’ve done four 50K’s, three 50milers and one 100K. I’m looking forward to my first 100Miler.