08 April 2010

UND Fighting Sioux

The Souix are losing their name! Even though I rooted for their hockey team to lose, I liked their logo. I bet the sales for their hockey jerseys will benefit next year (the last year of the Sioux) I even want one!. And football games at NDSU won't be the same either because (at least when I went there) the home crowd often yelled 'Sioux suck shit', even when the team wasn't even playing the Sioux.

At least Ralph Engelstad had around 2,000 Sioux logos embedded into the 100+ million dollar arena the team plays in. Good luck covering up all of them! Now they can replace them with the UND prairie dogs, or UND ground hogs or something.

04 April 2010

Shamrock run and Vernonia half

A couple of weeks ago I had a pretty good race at the Shamrock 15k run in Portland, it was a pretty big race with a combined 20+ thousand people in the 5k, 8k and 15k... But it was nowhere near as memorable as the Vernonia half marathon that I ran yesterday...

In the week leading up to the Vernonia, the weather forecast was for a big storm coming into the PNW with low snow levels of around 1000 feet. I'd never been to Vernonia, but a co-worker of mine lives there and he said the elevation is around 600 feet, so all week I was mentally preparing for battle with rain. Car-pooling to the start with Jerry M, we decided it was a good idea that we left 15 minutes before our planned time, because we were actually getting into some snowy driving conditions. We drove by the finish area, which looked pretty snowy, more like a springtime scene common around central oregon, not Vernonia. We were going to a running race and not a nordic ski race right? The race is point to point, and you get bussed back to the starting area after you finish (sorta like some big midwestern ski races - vasaloppet, birkie).

We made it to the starting area with plenty of time, and although it wasn't snowing, it was damp and low to mid 30s. Not sure how many people there were, but it was alot, They said it was the biggest vernonia 1/2 ever despite the rough weather conditions. The race started and it promptly started to snow! There's a short out and back section for the first 2 miles and then we headed out to Stub Stewart State Park rails to trail trail.

The first 6 or so miles was like running on the springwater trail except there was a feeling of being a bit more back in the woods. As we progressed the snow got a little deeper and although it wasn't snowing or raining hard, it was a steady precip most of the way, with alot of drops and snow clumps falling from the trees. Right around miles 8-10 is where it got more interesting. The pavement turned into a gravel rail bed, and there was mud, snow and big (unavoidable) puddles. it was possible for a while to keep the feet from getting drenched, but after a while the straight line mentality took over and just running right through was the most efficient (and most fun) choice. I was impressed with how my new Nike Lunar Glides drained water though! The last few miles included a steep downhill, cross a road and then a steep uphill in the snow slickened loose gravel, and then a gentle descent to the state park where the finish line was, but not before one last but very unexpected climb in the last 1/2 mile up to the finish line.

The Vernonia 1/2 was definitely a battle this year. There were not very many PR's here today, but I'm sure that everyone that ran Vernonia this year had some pretty good stories. It was definitely a run I'll remember for a while and I'm sure you'd agree if you were there. I managed to run it in 1:25:24 which I was really happy with, considering the conditions. I was shooting for 1:22.5 which would have put my pace faster one of my friendly rival Sean's winning pace at yakima marathon the week prior.

On the bus ride back to Vernonia, the bus driver told us how high the water got during the major flooding the area went through this area a couple of years ago. It was astonishing (it was a really major flood), and aside from some houses that appear to have been raised up, you wouldn't know it. All of the folks helping out were very friendly and the soup at the finish was hot! THANKS VERNONIA! see you next year.