Law, politics, pop culture, sports, and a touch of Oregon.
About this site
Comments When you submit a comment, it won't be published until approved. This is to cut down on comment spam. However, I will also edit or block comments that are profane or offensive.
No Legal Advice Although I may from time to time discuss legal issues on this blog, nothing that I post should be construed as legal advice, nor as creating an attorney-client relationship between you and me. In fact, there's a good chance I'm not licensed to practice law wherever you are. If you need legal advice, you should consult an attorney licensed in your jurisdiction.
Personal View This blog is neither affiliated with my employer nor hosted by it. It is maintained through TypePad, and I pay the hosting fees. Nothing that is posted here should be construed as anything other than the views of the particular author of the post.
Tonight was the third Zombie Apocalypse Run, and having run it the first two years as a survivor, I registered this year as an undead. So instead of getting a flag football belt with two rip-away velcro flags and a 2 minute headstart, I waited with a horde of hungry zombies. A lot of them had pretty good makeup and/or costumes to play the part. I wore a red tech shirt and told people it used to be white. (Yes, I'm a spoil sport.)
It was just past 5:25 pm when the survivors started fleeing from us in a frenzy. We were allowed to march up to the start and watch with growling stomachs while the humans did their best to scamper away. There were some fast ones, but oh my were there plenty of not-so-fast ones.
Finally, we were released. Now, when I ran previously as a survivor, there was nothing as terrifying as the loud horn (followed by the inhuman roar) signifiying the fact that there were zombies on the race course. It makes you realize that 2 minutes is not that much of a headstart -- maybe 1/3 of a mile if even that.
But . . . as a zombie, it was such a sweet sound!
I was near the front of the horde, but not the very front, and it was very crowded. I ran fast just to try to get past the clog, but I wasn't going to catch the really fast zombies, like Joe Dudman. Still, I covered the first 1/3 of a mile at better than a 7 minute/mile pace. That's where the first survivors -- which is to say, the ones at the end of the line -- were moving along, with signs pasted to their backs reading, "Don't eat me, I don't taste like chicken!" I would've been happy to see what they tasted like, but unfortunately for me, they were basically nothing more than shuffling carcasses, having been feasted on by the zombies ahead of me.
But after that, I was able to enjoy some feasting of my own. My pace slowed significantly from that point on, because it was a target-rich environment. There were plenty of survivors with one or even two flags left. I felt it was only fair to give some warning of the horrors that were about to befall the helpless (but tasty) survivors, so I usually growled "Rawrrrrrrr" as I approached from behind and snagged a flag.
I wasn't always successful at grabbing flags. Some survivors cheated by blocking or running off the course (both were against the rules). I followed the rules and kept going rather than stop and turn around. Some other survivors did nifty spin moves to save their flags. I also spared kids for the most part -- there was one about 10 or 12 who begged not to be eaten; I told him he was too small to be a filling meal.
The most difficult survivors for me to maul were females who had arranged their flag(s) so that they were draped directly in front between their legs. Um, yeah, those I passed up. . . .
There was one dad who had a single flag left, which he had on his left side. Next to him -- on his left side, of course -- was his little daughter, who still had two flags left. I considered growling, "Rawwrrrrr . . . give me your flag or I'll take one of your daughters," but I showed them some mercy. Well, if it's mercy to leave them to suffer some more on the course before being devoured by the zombies behind me.
I crossed the finish line with a chip time of 26:52, which would be my worst time ever for a 5K, but the course ended up being 3.41 miles according to RunKeeper, so my pace was not my slowest ever -- although almost half a minute slower than my half marathon(!). I think it's slower running as a zombie than as a survivor because (1) the course is much more clogged; (2) weaving in and out and approaching prey is slower than running like hell to get away; and (3) it's harder than you'd think to run while clutching a bunch of flags.
In the end, I had 49 flags. (Four or five of those were ones I scavenged from the ground. Hey, a little mud and dirt doesn't hide the tastiness of brains!) That wasn't enough to win the title of the King/Queen of the Zombies, as someone else had 70+ at the time mine were counted. I was still pleased with the terror I had inflicted.
Speaking of terror, it's so much more fun to run as a zombie! I loved the yelps and screams from the survivors ahead of me as I growled "Rawrrrrrr!" Even better was when a survivor would try to speed up to stay ahead of me. Hey, if I've caught up to you despite your 2 minute head start, I'm running a faster pace. . . . Once I called out, "Resistance is futile" or maybe it was "give in to the inevitable". . . . The palpable look of defeat when they gave up the faster pace was delicious. (Man, I do sound like a ravenous brain-eating zombie.)
After the race, one runner recognized me and wailed (playfully), "Aw, why'd you take my flag?"
My favorite racing organization, Uberthons, has been putting on races in the Portland area since 2011, but it wasn't until this year that it organized a marathon or half-marathon: the Oregon Marathon & Half. I had never run a half (or a full) before, but I went ahead and signed up as soon as registration was open. (Good thing, too, as the half marathon ended up selling out quickly.)
Apart from the start and the last mile and a half or so, the route was the Banks Vernonia Trail, with the half starting just off the halfway point of the full marathon. An extra nice bonus for us half runners was that the halfway point of the full marathon also happened to be the highest point on that route -- meaning that the half was basically downhill or flat for the entire 13.1 miles.
The half was scheduled to start at 7:45 am. Yikes, that's early! But wait, it gets worse. Banks is about 40 minutes away from Portland, so that's more travel time cutting into sleep. But wait, there's even more! Banks was the end of the race, and it was a point-to-point route. The starting point was, well, 13.1 miles away. We were directed to park in Banks and take a shuttle that Uberthons had arranged . . . but the last shuttle on the schedule was leaving around 6:30-6:45.
So I went to bed on Friday night at 9 pm, setting my alarm for 5 am. Yes, the things I do for running.
It rained steadily Friday night and the forecast for Saturday was more rain. As I listened to the rain drumming on our roof while falling asleep, I thought to myself, yes, rain as hard as you want right now; get it all out now!
BZZZZ! My alarm went off at 4:56 am. I felt refreshed, and having not run since Wednesday, my legs felt pretty fresh. It was still raining steadily. (I guess the skies had a lot more rain....) I had carbo-loaded the night before with clam linguine, and I didn't feel too hungry, so I had a carton of key lime flavored yogurt.
I dressed in what I'd laid out before going to bed: longsleeve tech shirt (from Uberthons' Turkeython, so I didn't feel as bad about not wearing the official race shirt), Brooks running jacket (as a rain shield), shorts, and sweatpants for now. It was supposed to be in the 50s all morning, so I didn't think I needed running tights. Also, I added an Uberthons hat that race organizer Darwin Rasmussen gave me at the packet pick-up for having won a contest a while ago or something like that. I figured the bill would keep rain out of my face.
When I left home around 5:30 am, it was dark and raining. I'm in for 13.1 miles of being rained on? I said to myself.
I arrived in Banks a little after 6 am, and it was still dark. I parked in the lot for Sunset Park and then asked some other runners where we were supposed to go. They didn't exactly know either, but they saw people up ahead, so we followed those and sure enough, came to a big parking lot full of school buses. (By the way, I'm not huge or anything; I'm a very average 5'10" but I felt squished in the school bus seats.)
I boarded the first half marathon bus and warmed up inside. The bus filled quickly and we were off. We had to drive around inside the park a bit until we found the right spot, which was obvious from, if nothing else, the row of green porta-potties.
Around 7:30, the bus started to get warm, so I took my sweatpants off and stuck them in a plastic bag to be left for the post-race bag pick-up. Then I headed outside to, I guess, get used to the rain. I saw race organizer Randy Wilder, so I greeted him and asked how long he'd been here already getting things set up. 3 am!! Okay, getting up at 5 didn't seem like nearly the same hardship.... Not long after that, I saw running friends Eileen and MaryAlicia and chatted with them briefly.
At 7:45, Randy got the race started. In typical Uberthons fashion, we went in waves of 10-20 runners so as to minimize overcrowding on the race route, with faster runners encouraged to go in front. I didn't deserve to be in the first wave, but I also didn't want to remain standing in the rain any longer than necessary. I ended up starting with the third wave.
We started with a slight incline to get out of the parking lot before beginning a long descent. Not long after we started, the wind blew my hat off. Argh! I had to double back to pick it up and then adjust the velcro strap in back on the run (so to speak).
After about a mile and a half, we were on the paved Vernonia-Banks State Trail. It's wide enough for two runners to run side-by-side easily, and there's enough room that someone else could squeeze by if needed. I caught up to a group of two men and a woman who seemed to know one another, and for the next two miles, I ran with them, chatting(!). I would never think of chatting during a 5K or 10K run, because if you can chat, you aren't running fast enough. I figured, though, that the half was long enough that it would be okay; if nothing else, it would keep me from running too fast at the start. Plus, RunKeeper was telling me that I was running at a 7:15 pace at the time (aided by the descent), so I wasn't worried.
I did that for a couple of miles and then I went ahead at what seemed like a sustainable pace. My mile splits show this comfortable chat pace:
Mile 1 - 7:07
Mile 2 - 7:06
Mile 3 - 7:26
Mile 4 - 7:24
Mile 5 - 7:04
Mile 6 - 7:00
Mile 7 - 7:17
Those latter miles on the trail were through a heavily forested part, so the rain was lessened by overhead cover, and it was quite pretty. I supposed I could've taken some pictures with my smartphone, but (1) unless I stop, the pictures are blurry; and (2) because of the rain, I had my phone inside a ziplock bag, which would further mess up any pictures.
There were aid stations every 1.5-2 miles, with water, Gatorade, and energy gels available at most of them. I always skip these (politely) during 5K or 10K runs, but I found myself wondering if I should at least get some water. But I wasn't feeling thirsty; maybe the rain was keeping me from losing too much water.
After seven miles, the course flattened out, and we were no longer in the forest. It was mostly running through fields, with the 26 highway alongside at points. When you've been running a not-very-taxing sub-7:15 pace for 7 miles because of a downhill profile, flat ground all of a sudden seems harder than it should.
Miles 8-10 have already blended into a blur of rain; the two runners I drafted behind for a while, then passed, and then was passed by one; and low-level misery. Around mile 9.3, I was thinking, Geez, this is like running a 10K, and then a 5K, and I still have more than a 5K to go?!?
When I hit the mile 10, I thought of the saying that a half marathon is just a 5K race with a 10 mile warm up. Ha ha ha! I was, however, doing some basic math in my head, trying to figure out what pace I needed on the last 5K to finish the race in under 1:40:00. I would've been satisfied with anything under 1:45:00, but with the overall descent, I was figuring that 1:39:59 would be in reach.
At 10.01 miles, the elapsed time was 1:13:28, so I had 26+ minutes to run the last 5K. That seemed doable.
The town of Banks emerged somewhere between miles 11 and 12, and the course transitioned from paved trail to sidewalk. With 12 miles in the bank, I had been running for 1:29:18 -- sub-1:40:00 seemed guaranteed!
I had been running down Main Street, and then I turned on NW Trellis Court, which goes east-west for a tenth of a mile before turning up to parallel a football field, where high school kids were practicing.
In between the lower field and the upper field with the track was a small path, and a race volunteer directed us to turn on to the path. "Turn at those white houses," he said.
And here the wheels (sort of) went off . . . .
I was following the guy who I had passed and then who passed me back in that mile 8-10 stretch, and he missed the turn, which, to be fair to him and to me, wasn't marked and was pretty unclear. I saw him run along the gravel path toward a closed fence, whereupon he threw his hands up and looked back to me. I slowed down. He ran closer to the fence and seemed to think that was the right way to go, and then he stopped and headed back.
"Where is the path?" we both asked. Ah, the perils of not running in a pack.
We found the right opening, but I'd added 0.18 miles to my run, and it was even more for him. Argh! Now I found myself fretting that I would miss breaking the 1:40:00 time because of this "bonus" distance.
The end of the route was a half-spiral at a park. When I hit the second to last corner turn, race director Alan Rasmussen was there and yelled, "Go Tung, the clock's just at 1:40!" and as I ran past, he added, "Your first half marathon!"
(Alan knows me, but one of the nice touches of this race is that almost all of the racing bibs were personalized with the runner's first name, unless you registered within the last month; so others might have gotten the same personal encouragement.)
I wish I could say that I unleashed a massive kick at the end, but all I could manage was 6:30-7:00 pace by then. Then again, I could say that I used up my remaining energy on that 0.18 mile detour....
Finishing time per RunKeeper was 1:39:43! At the finish line, a volunteer handed me a bottle of water, and another handed me a finisher's medal. This is a nice, solid medal:
And sandwiches from Big Town Hero! At first I didn't feel AT ALL like eating, but after standing around a bit, talking with other runners and waiting for the instant results (the rain and wind were causing some problems), I started to get hungry, so I grabbed one of the bags with a turkey sandwich.
I was also feeling very stiff and mildly achy, which I've never felt from the shorter races. I would've stuck around longer but I had to get home for my share of parental duties, so I walked stiffly back to the parking lot. And when I say stiffly, I do mean stiffly.
Usually, Uberthons races have the results available instantly on the website, with multiple monitors on-site to check. The monitors were in the process of getting connected when I left, and the website finally got the results when I got lost on the way home and had to stop to check Google Navigation. For some reason, it had me with a 1:44 time, but by this afternoon, that had been corrected to an official chip time of 1:39:40, good for #22 out of 398 overall, and #2 out of 41 in my age group.
My 9-year-old son thinks I should run less and spend that time training for "American Ninja Warrior." But apart from the fact that I'm built like a distance runner, not a gymnast, after seeing one dude press so hard against the apparatus that HE POPPED HIS FREAKING SHOULDER OUT OF ITS SOCKET, I have very little interest in trying that kind of stuff. (Fortunately for that competitor, one of the other competitors happened to be an emergency room doctor, who came over and popped the shoulder back into place.)
Well, there's also the fact that I'm a fortysomething now. But that excuse won't hold any water, considering that there's a guy nicknamed "Grandpa Ninja" who's 54!!! Of course, that guy is amazingly ripped for being 54. Or even if he were 35. He doesn't look like a distance runner.
I'll stick to running and chasing a sub-20 minute 5K. And then resetting that goal to sub-19 minutes, etc.
RunOregon has my recap of the Run for Boston 5K race from this past weekend, which resulted in a Pr for me -- but a kind of frustrating one, since it was 21:00 flat. Just one lousy second faster and I would've had the sub-21 minute 5K that I was chasing last year. Oh well, it was all for a good cause.
Knowles is renting her image to a product that may one day be ranked with cigarettes as a killer we were too slow to rein in. From saying, as she once did in referring to Let’s Move, that she was “excited to be part of this effort that addresses a public health crisis,” she’s become part of an effort that promotes a public health crisis.
"[R]anked with cigarettes"? Maybe it's because I don't smoke and I do drink soda (it's my vice), but I see a substantial difference between the two. The primary harm from soda, it appears, is the empty calories from the sugar. Too much sugar = too many excess calories = weight gain. But a can of regular soda has about 150 calories, which is equivalent to running 1.5 miles or so. So if I drink a can of soda a day, that would take 15 miles of running a week to burn off. Since I run ~30 miles a week, I'm 15 miles ahead!
Now, would I be healthier if I skipped the soda and took in 150 calories of, say, chocolate soy milk? Undoubtedly, but the point is that the primary harm from soda can be neutralized. I'm not a smoker, so I have no first hand experience, but it doesn't seem like the harm from smoking can be so easily neutralized by running.
Today was the second year of the Zombie Apocalypse 5K race, a fun event where people could choose to run as "survivors" or as "zombies." Survivors were given a flag football-type belt with two velcro-ripaway red flags and a two minute headstart before the zombie horde was let loose. Last year's event took place at Lee Farms in Tualatin; this year, it was a much longer trek down to Heiser Farms in Dayton (about 30 miles away, but an hour's drive because no freeway went there directly).
Okay, first, here's my racing bib:
I was worried that it would be pretty miserable weather during the race, because that's what it was during my son's soccer match this morning: cold, damp, drizzly. But the sky sort of cleared up as I drove down highway 99 from Portland.
Race time was 5:30, but I arrived just after 4 pm. Like last year, the race organizers had really gone out of their way to create an apocalpytic atmosphere:
The military vehicle pictured above didn't move, but the tank below did!
Meanwhile, I found fellow Uberthon runners Eileen (who was running as a survivor) and Brent (who was watching). We chatted a bit about running and strategy, like where to arrange the survivor flags. (In front to make it more difficult to grab? In back, as a sign of confidence in one's speed?)
We also checked out this, which was something I haven't seen before: pumpkin firing cannons (what a waste!):
Okay, well around 5:20 or so, I headed over to the starting area of the course. Last year, it was just a gun-timed race, which given the large number of participants, was kind of dissatisfying. This year, the organizers got the excellent folks at Uberthons to do the timing. Yea for chip-timed races! Not only that, the organizers actually tried to arrange it so that the fastest people were at the front.
5ish mile pace? No, not me. 6ish? Uh, not quite. Still, even my estimated 7 minute/mile pace put me near the front:
The starting signal was a big boom from one of those pumpkin launching cannons. The first stretch was downhill, and I had to thread my way through some runners who'd started in front of me. Among the more notable costumed people I passed were a guy in a suit carrying a briefcase (but at least wearing running shoes), and two high school or college kids who had started off wearing gas masks. By the time I caught up to those two, one had already taken his mask off, and the other was in the process of doing so. "Man, it's so hard to breathe!" he gasped.
"What were you guys thinking?" I asked as I ran past.
The first 1/4 mile took me 1:26, according to RunKeeper, which was too fast, but what can you do about the combination of needing to get past people, and adrenaline, and fear of the zombie horde?
Half a minute later, the pumpkin cannon boomed again. The zombies were coming on the course.
A two minute headstart sounds pretty good. I mean, if I can run 7 minute miles, then at the two mile mark, 14 minutes will have elapsed. For a zombie to catch me by that point, he or she would have to run two miles in 12 minutes. Certainly doable, but not easy. On the other hand, when you consider that in those two minutes, I covered only 1/3 of mile, it doesn't sound like so much.
Anyway, the race course was filled with volunteer actors: some zombies hanging on tree branches, hiding in bushes, or hanging on the side of the trail; some military personnel armed with (fake) weapons. I wanted to tell the soldiers that they should go waste zombies just behind us. There was also a helicopter overhead that boomed through its loudspeakers, "Attention survivors . . . " and something about zombies.
My second mile was considerably slower. Some of that was the trail terrain -- soft, squishy dirt/mud in spots -- and some of it was probably just not having my best mental edge. It's been a couple of weeks since I've done real speedwork, and that week off to rest my foot didn't help on that front.
Part of the course had us doubling back a long straightaway that we had run earlier. When I hit this part, there were still zombies on the course headed out. Some of them were trying to steal our flags -- not cool. I had to speed up to evade one of them. (Others were just pretending to try.)
I got passed by a few runners, and every time as he or she was approaching, I had to turn to see if it was a zombie. It wasn't until just shy of 2 1/2 miles that a zombie finally caught up to me. Since I had two flags, I didn't bother trying to outrun him. (Good thing too, as it turns out that it was the guy who holds the Uberthon's 5K record!)
So he took the flag on my left side. I still had the flag on my right side, and I kept to the right side of the trail to make it more difficult for any other zombies to grab it.
At 2.47 miles, there was a 90 degree left turn, and a soldier who told us we were almost at the end, just 1/4 mile or so. Huh, I thought, how can we be almost done? But in fact, I could see the end of the course up ahead. I took a look back and didn't see any zombies nearby, so I picked up the pace a little (from 7:30ish to 6:45ish), and yes, crossed the finish line with my remaining flag intact! Chip time was 19:24, which sounds really awesome for me, but RunKeeper said the distance was 2.65 miles. Of course, I started RunKeeper a little late, as it clocked me in 19:08, so maybe the total distance was 2.7 or so miles. Anyway, far short of 3.1 miles.
There I am, holding up post-race proof of my survival! I finished 19th overall out of 580, which is my best percentile finish, but of course, this race attracted a lot of people who weren't in top running attire (i.e., some of those costumes were impossible to run in), so I wouldn't put too much stock into that result.
Four zombies ran faster than I did, but only one of those beat me by more than two minutes, so I did earn my survival. (There were survivors who ran slower than I did who finished with both flags; as I had surmised, running fast could subject you to being picked off by an even faster zombie, whereas running with a crowd could get you skipped.)
Anyway, all in all, a fun time. Looking forward to next year. I may run as a zombie.
UPDATE (10/15): Here's the race recap by the zombie who mauled me.