July 17, 2009

The finish line

After four months of training, I ran and - as many have already heard - finished the Missoula Marathon on Sunday, my first marathon.

Officially, I finished in 4 hours, 1 minute and 22 seconds, 245th out of 596 runners to make the timing cutoff. The pace works out to 9:13 a mile, which is faster than what I trained at by about 20 seconds a mile.

The race started in Frenchtown at 6 a.m. - just as the sun was coming up - which meant the alarm clock went off at 4 a.m. The first 16 miles were a breeze (in hindsight, I probably went a bit fast at the start). By mile 20 I had slowed some. I had to walk a little at mile 23 after my iliotibial band tightened up, but soon was running again for the final stretch over the Higgins Avenue Bridge downtown.

One of the best parts of the race was having friends in a relay team cheer me on throughout the course and at the finish with some of my family. I even got my own "GO JUSTIN" sign. Jen worked as an official race photographer and from her vantage shot some video, including the clip of me crossing the line above.

The past few days I've been resting - read busy at work - but I went for a short jog this morning and everything feels great.

Do I plan to do it again? It's a big time commitment, but yes. Mostly I feel like I need to drop that 1:22 off my time to get under four hours, but I've also come to enjoy the longer runs. Insane, as Jen would say.

See the official race photos here.

July 5, 2009

The big bloom


Last weekend, it was hiking with my mom - this weekend, Jen's mom. With more family in town, we took a short drive up to the Seeley Lake area to hike to Morrell Falls.

We get to the falls nearly every year, but this year our walk coincided with the beargrass bloom. For weeks, I've been hearing through my other blog - WildflowerWalks.com - that the big, white flowers have been particularly plentiful this season, but I haven't been able to get out hiking anywhere where they are until now.


I've seen beargrass on the Morrell Falls trail before, but not like this. Along the path, the trees are fairly evenly spaced a couple of arm lengths apart, and between most of them the puffball-like flowers were growing in patches.

If you get the chance, see it while you can. Oh, yeah - and cool off in the mist of the falls.

See the pictures here.

Distance: 5.2 miles round trip.

Trailhead: From the north edge of Seeley Lake, follow Morrell Creek Road east about 1 mile and then north about 5.7 miles. Drive east again 0.8 miles to the end of the road, turning north where it forks.

July 3, 2009

Glacier for a day


Last weekend, we headed north to Glacier National Park for the first time this year - just two days after scenic Going-to-the-Sun Road opened for the season. My mom was visiting from California, and the park always makes for a nice day trip.

This early in the season, the trail up to the Hidden Lake overlook from Logan Pass is still covered in snow. It's not that long or difficult of a hike, but it is fun with the last of winter's white underfoot, summer's sun overhead - and wildlife walking your way. While in the saddle between Mount Reynolds and Clements Mountain, we came across a number of mountain goats that were perfectly content up close to us.

This trip was quick, but with the park in our backyard, there are always plans to return.

See our pictures are here and here.

Distance: 3 miles round trip.

Trailhead: Logan Pass is 34 miles northeast of West Glacier on Going-to-the-Sun Road.

July 1, 2009

Time to taper


After more than three months steadily increasing my mileage while training for the Missoula Marathon, I'm down to the last two weeks and the "taper."

I closed out my long runs over the weekend with a last-minute entry in the Mountain to Meadow half marathon on dirt roads just across the border in Idaho's Clearwater National Forest. With beargrass and camas in full bloom at Lolo Pass, it was a fun and beautiful run. And I finished a little quicker than I thought I would considering the 2,200 feet of elevation loss and gain over the 14-mile course - in 1 hour, 58 minutes and 50 seconds.

In this last part of training, my longest run is eight miles, with the average distance a little more than 4 1/3 miles. The theory is to rest you legs for the big event, but it's a little strange, really, after heading out regularly for runs in the high teens.

My main goal for the marathon itself is to finish. The pace I've been training at should bring me in at about four to 4 1/2 hours. After the half last weekend, though, a co-worker and fellow marathoner tells me I could come in under four hours.

We'll see on July 12.