Five for Fall

“Life starts all over again when it gets crisp in the fall.” – F. Scott Fitzgerald

It is not exactly crisp yet as I write this on an early October Sunday that topped out at 85 degrees earlier today. Portland managed to pull out one of its most spectacular summers in years and I think maybe the city and I are sharing some feelings right now. Namely, really really not wanting to let go of the sun and the warmth and all the goodness that was Summer 2014.

And yet… Forward is the only way to go.

After some post-Missoula Marathon lethargy that stretched across weeks and weeks of no running, Hood to Coast kicked my ass sufficiently enough that I realized my running fitness had suffered. Big time. I’m not sure how I thought I could essentially take six weeks off and not lose it, but consider me hugely humbled as I’ve gotten back at it over the last several weeks. The speed I had built over the first six months of this year is all but gone, but I’m confident I can get it back. I was discouraged for a while, but I’ve been here before and I know what to do. It’s so simple it’s stupid. Run. That’s all I have to do. I just have to run. And run. And run.

Nine weeks from tonight, I will be in the place I have found myself on a Sunday evening in early December for the last two years. A nondescript spot in a fairly forgettable city that nonetheless is one of my favorite places. A hotel room in Sacramento following my third California International Marathon that morning. After the rain in 2012 and the cold in 2013, I am going back a third time to see if I can FINALLY get the moderate temperatures and fairly perfect marathon conditions that CIM is usually known for.

But before my ninth marathon, nine weeks from now, I’ve stacked the fall with a whole mess of miles. Five races (including CIM) before the season is over.

Last Sunday I ran the Bellingham Bay Half Marathon with some Robinsons (cousin Sara and Uncle Greg) and in pulling out a hugely surprising sub-2 hour finish, made myself believe that perhaps I can get back some of the speed I lost this summer after all. There was a time, following my crazy, flash in the pan PR in Newport in May (1:44 wha?!!) when I thought I could run the half in Bellingham and possibly PR it. While not without some hills, it’s another gorgeous sea level course that I could maybe do some damage on if I was ready for it.

So, that thing about how I usually only run relays with strangers? Well, I’m turning that six year tradition on its head next weekend and going home to Bend to run the inaugural Bend Beer Chase relay with some of my favorites. That this is actually happening is still sort of astounding to me. Running is not something this group usually does together.

Usually we do things like play bingo in senior centers. Really.

Erika takes her senior center bingo seriously.

Erika takes her senior center bingo seriously.

I had a tendency to win. A lot. It got embarrassing.

I had a tendency to win. A lot. It got embarrassing.

IMG_3190

Look, I'm not kidding. We really used to play A LOT of bingo at a senior center.

Look, I’m not kidding. We really used to play A LOT of bingo at a senior center.

Sometimes we took breaks from bingo to grab Ryan's chin.

Sometimes we took breaks from bingo to grab Ryan’s chin.

However, Molly and Erika conquered their first half marathons in Missoula this summer and we all love beer and Bend, so the 70 miles we’re set to tackle next Saturday are maybe – of all the miles I will run in the next nine weeks – the ones I’m most excited about. Plus, beer.

After that, I’ll run another half marathon – this one definitely not at sea level – when I head to Denver the weekend after the relay in Bend. The running is mostly like whatever who cares though because everyone knows the real reason I go to Denver.

So cute it's stupid.

So cute it’s stupid.

And then, maybe the dumbest thing I’m set to do this fall. A trail half. The Silver Falls Trail Half Marathon. A trail run in Oregon in November. I’m looking forward to it because it’s supposed to be beautiful and fun, but my goal will have nothing to do with speed and everything to do with staying upright and not falling and not getting injured and not doing anything to jeopardize CIM a mere five weeks later.

So, there’s that. The five races that will make up Fall 2014. I’m not quite sure what things will look like on the other side of all those miles, but I do know that it feels so damn good to be back.

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