Tag Archives: running

Run Oregon: Pioneer-Indian Trail, Mt. Hebo area, Siuslaw National Forest

28 Feb
The clouds were rolling in at the summit.

The clouds were rolling in at the summit, which sits at 3,153 feet — a climb of about 1,400 feet from the Hebo Lake Campground.

There were some wet, sloppy areas along the Pioneer-Indian Trail on my late February run, but this is definitely a trail worth visiting.

Hebo, Oregon, is just 30 minutes or so north of Lincoln City, and the trail takes off from the Hebo Lake Campground, just a few miles further up Forest Road 14.

The Pioneer-Indian Trail runs 8 miles from the campground to South Lake, which offers dispersed camping. I ran just 5 miles of the trail, making for a 10-mile out-and-back workout. I’ll have to run the entire length of the trail another day. The trail never strays too far from Forest Road 14, and many folks leave vehicles at both ends to avoid the out-and-back hike.

Mount Hebo vertical

Mount Hebo elevation profile

From the Hebo Lake Campground, the trail climbs steadily for 4+ miles, winding through Douglas fir that were planted in 1912 after a massive fire. The trail is mostly single track, covered alternately in rocks, roots and forest trash. Hikers do share part of the trail with equestrians.

I saw just a couple patches of snow, but they say that the roads can become impassable due to snow in the winter. Traffic signs say the road is not maintained in the winter. Officially, the high point is 3,153 feet, although my GPS registered 3,159. The campground was situated at about 1,750 feet, which means the trail averaged a 6.5% grade.

Forest Service map, Mt. Hebo area trails


Lincoln City to Hebo map


The top of the mountain features a long, open meadow; the temperature dropped noticeably, and there was nothing to stop the wind.

The trail itself gets its name because it was originally the route for Indians and then settlers to cross the Coastal Range from the Willamette Valley.

On a clear day, you can see the Cascade Mountain Range to the east, the Pacific Ocean to the west or Tillamook Bay to the north. But there were enough low-hanging clouds during my visit that the view was limited.

Getting there: To reach the trailhead at Hebo Lake Campground, head 24 miles north of Lincoln City to Hebo. Turn east on Highway 22 and go just .2 miles to the Hebo Ranger Station. Turn right before the Ranger Station, and take the winding Forest Road 14 a little more than 4 miles to the campground. On the day I visited, the campground was closed, so I parked along the road, and ran to the trailhead, which was only about a quarter mile.



Yours truly talks ultras on RunIowa podcast

3 Jul

RunIowa snippedI could talk your leg off about running, but I try not to bore my friends by talking solely about the hobby that I love. I realize that not everyone is as interested in intervals and vertical and fartleks and long runs and the like.

So it was a pleasure to get to share without restraint my thoughts on ultras and running on the most recent episode of the RunIowa podcast.

Most of my training time is spent listening to podcasts, which are pre-recorded shows that you can listen to on your computer or download to your phone or MP3 player. I listen to a lot of running podcasts, a lot from NPR and a lot from ESPN. This link details some of my favorites.

As the name implies, the RunIowa podcast focuses on things around our state. The show is hosted by Rob Lindquist and David Kaeding, a pair of teachers from Council Bluffs. They’ll talk about gadgets, training, races and more. I stumbled across the very first episode that was released in late 2014, and it’s been at the top of my playlist ever since. I was honored to appear in the episode released yesterday (July 2, 2015). And I certainly enjoyed sharing my adventures in ultrarunning with fellow running enthusiasts.

You can listen to the podcast by clicking on the photo at the top of the post or here’s a link to the podcast on iTunes. RunIowa can also be found on Twitter at @RunIowa or here on Facebook.

Let me know what you think of the podcast by commenting below, and I’m sure Rob and Dave would love to have you as subscribers to the podcast.


Evening exercise won’t disrupt sleep, experts say

5 Mar

I am not an early bird, and in the world of runners, that may be a bit unusual.

It seems that most runners I know climb out of bed in the pre-dawn hours to hit the roads before the day begins. Not me. I’ve always said I can barely walk first thing in the morning, let alone run. If my running depended on leaving my warm, comfy bed in the chill of darkness, I would be a sloth.

Photo: Jeremy Brooks

A common question asked by newbies is, When is the best time to run? And more often than not, the response they are given is: First thing in the morning. The thinking has been that it gets the blood going for the day, you make sure you get your workout completed and exercising late in the day will make it difficult to get to sleep.

For me, a cup of coffee (or 10) will get the blood going, my workout would never get completed in the pre-dawn, and exercising at night doesn’t hamper my sleep at all.

Now, there’s some scientific evidence to back up the notion that exercising at night will not ruin everyone’s sleep.

“The timing of exercise ought to be driven by when the pool’s lap lane is open or when your tennis partner is available or when you have time to get away from work, not by some statement that has never been validated,” said Barbara Phillips, a University of Kentucky sleep medicine specialist, as quoted in a USA Today story.

Phillips’ comment was prompted by the 2013 Sleep in America Poll, sponsored by the National Sleep Foundation, and several recent studies.

The poll, which was released Monday, March 4, 2013, found that people who exercise at any time of the day sleep better than those who don’t excercise. And it found that those who exercise within 4 hours of bedtime sleep just as well as those who exercise earlier in the day.

Much of the advice in the past has not been based on scientific studies and has relied on anecdotal evidence. And, the USA Today story says, for some people, exercising late in the day may disrupt their sleep. But that need not be the case for everyone.

Said University of South Carolina researcher Shawn Youngstedt, “We have very busy lives now. For a lot of people, evening is the most convenient time.”

So it is with me.

In addition to my early-morning aversion, running after work just seems to fit into my schedule. I generally head out on the roads right after work; in the summer, we may eat first and run afterwards, which allows a bit more time for the heat of the day to subside.

I’m generally finished by 7:30 or 8 at the latest, although I have finished as late as 9 o’clock if I’m waiting for a rainshower to pass or the temps to fall.

And I’ll have to say, I have never felt that my exercise has hindered my ability to fall asleep. So it’s good to know that there’s now some scientific studies to back up what I have long believed.

Varying my nutrition plan for ultra success

3 Mar


Click on any photo to launch the gallery.

Let’s put a Burger King at the 20-mile mark of every run!

With just over 4 weeks to my 50-mile ultra, this was a weekend for learning little lessons about the long run and pushing my limit a bit further out.

Saturday was a 10-miler and Sunday was a 25-miler — run from Keokuk, Iowa, to Fort Madison, Iowa, and back about 5 miles. The first run was simply designed to put some stress on the body before heading into the longer run on the following day.

One thing that has me nervous about my pending ultra is how I will handle the nutrition during the run. I’ve been OD’ing on Honey Stingers and the like on my shorter training runs, and I think I need to branch out if I’m going to make it through the ultra. I’m prepared to stay on the trail for 12 hours or so, and I don’t think I can subsist on sweet gummy chews for the whole time.

25 mile runSo Sunday I decided to branch out with two different fueling snacks.

I stopped at a Casey’s convenience store about 11 miles into the run to pick up a chocolate milk and replenish my water. The chocolate milk went down well, except for the foam that it developed as I sloshed down the road for 2-3 miles.

My second snack was a bit more substantial, but now I think every run/race should have a Burger King at the 20-mile mark! I ordered a Whopper Jr. and a small Coke, and I made use of the restroom (another much-appreciated luxury when doing a long run). I’d say in the future I would only eat half or three-quarters of the burger, but it sure tasted good.

It took about 15 minutes to get my burger and Coke and get back on the road, but I felt a surge when I hit the road again. The last 5 miles went pretty well.

In addition to the two snacks, I also ate a couple packages of Honey Stinger gels, two Keebler cookies (their rip-off of the Girl Scouts’ Caramel Delites) and three waters.

I don’t know if my nutrition plan is good or not. There’s probably a lot of protein in the two snacks I ate today, but it seemed to work for me so far.

Next week, I’ll extend the Sunday run to 30 miles while keeping Saturday’s at 10. And from there, it will be a taper until the Saturday, April 6, race — the Potawatomi Trail 50 in Pekin, Ill.

ADVICE WANTED: Do you have any great ideas for fuel during ultras? I’d love to hear them.

Race training is all about dealing with unforeseen challenges

25 Feb

Training for a race is seldom without its challenges.

Just when you think things are going well, life gets in the way or a new problem emerges that makes you re-think your plans. So it’s been for me the past week or so.

Heel blister.

Heel blister.

I now have 5 weeks to my first ultramarathon, a 50-miler in Pekin, Ill. But over the past 10 days, my training has been interrupted by a short vacation to New Orleans and a 5-day business trip to San Diego. It’s hard to log long miles while in unfamiliar towns.

I managed to run on all three of my usual days while in New Orleans. I didn’t run as far as I had been, and my long run was just something over 11 miles. But a cutback week wasn’t too bad.

But I skipped both midweek runs while in San Diego. That two-hour time change to Pacific Time plays hell with my internal time clock, and I came down with some allergies that exacerbated things.

And then Sunday’s planned long run went down the tubes. I’ve been flirting with a blister on my heel for the past few long runs, but I had avoided major problems. Today, I put a large bandage over the trouble spot before heading out, but by mile 5, I knew there were problems. When I checked, the bandage had fallen off. Rather than risk an even bigger problem, I cut my planned 20-miler to just 6 miles.

By stopping before the blister got too bad, I’ll be able to hit the road again sooner, but losing a long run at this point is troublesome.

I spent most of Sunday afternoon reading up on blister treatments. I knew blisters could be a problem in ultras, so I guess this episode has just forced me to do a bit more studying.

One of the best resources I have seen is a by runner named Jonathan Savage, who goes by the handle of fellrnr. His post on taping blisters can be found here. In the past, I’ve had a hard time getting quality supplies in town, so I ordered tape and adhesive from ZombieRunner, which caters to ultrarunners.

I hope to be able to hit the road for my next scheduled run on Tuesday, but I’m not sure what to do about the lost miles. I may try to extend my mid-week runs and slightly lengthen the next long run. But I don’t know if I’ll be able to handle the volume.

Unfortunately, there are no sure answers in race training. There are some fairly standard practices, but even the methods of the great coaches vary. And when you throw in a thousand different variables, finding the “one right answer” becomes near impossible.

In the end, we are all an experiment of one. Here’s hoping I can find a good answer for my latest training challenges.

Logging miles on the Wabash Trace Nature Trail

12 Feb
The Wabash Trace Nature Trail crosses the East Nishnabotna River just outside of Shenandoah, Iowa.

The Wabash Trace Nature Trail crosses the East Nishnabotna River just outside of Shenandoah, Iowa. I just missed capturing a bald eagle in this picture.

Ran a 20-miler on Saturday and an 8-miler on Sunday. It’s 8 weeks until my ultramarathon. Twenty miles seemed long on Saturday, so I’m not sure what to think about 50 miles in April.

Here’s a link to Saturday’s run, which was run on the Wabash Trace Nature Trail in my hometown of Shenandoah, Iowa. Shenandoah is in extreme southwest Iowa, about 60 miles southeast of Omaha, Neb.

The Wabash Trace is Iowa’s longest trail, running from Council Bluffs to Blanchard. It’s great for hiking, biking or running. 

The trail is mostly crushed limestone. It was a bit spongy on Saturday, but it firmed up for Sunday’s 8-mile run.

The trail is maintained by a group of dedicated volunteers. In September 2012, the group held its first half-marathon and marathon on the Trace — as it’s called locally — and they did a great job. I would recommend the race for anyone looking for a small, fun trail race in the area.  

More information on the 2012 race can be found here; I would suggest checking back for updates on future races.

No one outruns Father Time

2 Oct

The last few miles were tough, but the feeling was sweet at the finish line of the Rock and Roll New Orleans Marathon.

But then again, how do you know who is in the lead?

After a three-year hiatus from the marathon, my race season got off to a great start in 2012. My winter training sessions were productive, and in March, I set a new PR at the New Orleans marathon.

With those results in the bank, I was feeling good about the chance to PR again in a fall marathon. But the progress just didn’t seem to be there throughout the summer. The numbers in my training log haven’t led me to be optimistic.

I log all of my training runs. I record the distances, the pace, the temperature, my weight and more. I can analyze the results by my daily pace, my pace for distances over 6 miles and under 6 miles and my average pace for the month; I know what my training volume is by week and by month. Yeah, I’m a bit OCD, but it gives me something to do.

When I reviewed my summer training, I didn’t see the same sort of progress that I did over the winter. I thought this summer’s excessive heat might be to blame for the lack of progress. It’s hard to improve your pace when high temperatures add so much strain to even an easy run.

I don’t think I did myself any favors when in mid-September I turned what was supposed to be a 22-mile long run into a 26-mile effort in my hometown’s inaugural trail marathon. I didn’t record a very good time, but even that sucked my energy and made recovery more difficult than it should have been.

And last but probably not least, I have to wonder if I haven’t crossed that line where even the best of efforts won’t lead to new PRs.

No one outruns Father Time. As we age, we lose muscle mass, strength and function. The medical term for this is sarcopenia. According to Dr. William Roberts in a “Runner’s World” column, sarcopenia starts at age 40 and accelerates after age 75. The effects are greater for the inactive, but it also impacts the active, too.

Runners slow about 7 percent per decade in their 40s, 50s and 60s — and even more quickly after that, according to an article in “Running Times,” which was reporting on a study from World Masters Athletics.

I ran my first marathon at age 40, so with a fairly late start in life I was bound to see improvements at first. But at some point, the improvements have to fade.

The first question is: Have I reached that point?

And, if so, the next question is: If PRs are a thing of the past, where will I find my motivation?

For the past decade, my motivation has been partly fueled by the drive to improve my times. I’ll never win a race, but the beauty of running is you can compete with yourself. And if that is no longer possible, I’ll have to find other motivation.

I guess I’ll be closer to answering the first question when I run the Des Moines Marathon on Oct. 21. And I think I’ll let the second question roll around in the back of my mind a bit longer — and make sure I’ve definitively answered the other question first.

Sometimes doing less is doing more

12 Aug

Jeremy’s mom should take a day or two off from training.

It’s rather ironic that my first post is about, well, doing nothing. At least it feels like I’m doing nothing. But this is actually an active nothing.

For three years, I have been hampered by a hamstring injury. But with a lot of rest and various treatments, I was finally able to run another marathon in March.

It’s taken a while for it to sink in, but at age 49, I have finally realized I cannot just push through an injury. Now I realize that I have to adjust my training plan based on how I feel. And that adjustment may include unplanned days off.

So when my hamstring got sore this week and remained sore for most of the week, I realized it may be best to take a couple of days off. I skipped my Saturday easy day and my Sunday long run.

It certainly wasn’t easy to give up those two days. Patience has never been my strong suit, as my loved ones will attest. However, experience and just plain age will bolster your patience.

With the perspective of additional years, I wonder today how I would have handled family and career challenges faced by the younger me. As the saying goes, youth is wasted on the young.

I can’t go back and change the past. I have spent 31 years in the newspaper business, 27 of them in a full-time job. The career choices I have made have shaped my life and the lives of those who are on this journey with me. There are details I would change, but the overall direction has been a good one.

The kids are grown — or nearly so — and so that phase of parenting is past. Again, I can think of details I would change. Sharp words I wish I could take back. But that, too, has been a good ride.

Here’s hoping that my patience in training pays off in the long run. While training for New Orleans in March, I had to take a few unplanned days off, too. And that seemed to work out well.

But more importantly, I hope that the patience borne from experience pays off in the rest of my life. Running is a good distraction, a place to channel competitive energies and a physical release. But family and friends are the things that really matter.


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