Sunday, December 30, 2012

Double Mountain Run

This wasn't a run to my favorite brewery Double Mountain, but that would make for an interesting 100k.

The morning was cold enough that we both wore our warmest running clothes. I was afraid I was going to over heat since the first part of the run was a nice longish climb up to the Pittock Mansion. Luckily that didn't happen and we were rewarded with views of Mount St. Helens and Mount Hood, Mount Rainier was even poking out a bit, so I guess was almost a Triple Mountain Run.

Mt. St. Helens

Susan enjoying the views

Mt. Hood and the Portland skyline

Pittock Mansion
 We turned back around and headed down Wildwood to Aspen, to connect with Leif. We weren't even 2 miles in on Leif when we saw mile maker dressed up as a mouse. I love Portland.
Susan and Miler Marker Mouse
We ran Leif to Maple, it had been a long time since we had been on Maple, it felt like running a whole new trail. I loved the gradual uphill to Wildwood. We finished our run by running back to Birch and 53rd via Wildwood and Keil. It was great route for our last run of the year.

Route

house - birch : .30
birch - ww : .22
ww 7.50 - ww 3.75 (pittock) : 3.75
ww 3.75 - 4.25 upper macleay : .5
upper macleay - ww : .53
ww 5 - 6.43 aspen: 1.43
apen - leif : .75
leif - maple : 4.20
maple - ww : .82
ww 12.75 - 9.20 keil: 3.5
keil - wild cherry : .17
wild cherry - ww: .31
ww - birch: .35
birch - 53rd: .22
total 17.04

Friday, December 28, 2012

Best of 2012

2012 has been real discovery of what it means to be trail / ultra runner. In 2011 we were just running on trails, this year we experimented with nutrition, discovered gaiters, got packs so we could run longer without stopping to fill up water bottles, found a whole community through pod casts, picked up water purification tablets and a first aid kit. We wanted to share some of our favorite things from this year. We are looking forward to continuing our trail / ultra running adventure in 2013, hopefully running longer distances, tapping into the local trail / ultra community, trying and posting more recipes, and who knows what else.

Best Event
Long: PCT Bunker to Bonneville 50k
Epic: The North Face Endurance Challenge - San Francisco 50k 
Short: Mt Hood Scramble

Best Disaster
Running out of (potable) water on a 26 mile run in 92 degree heat in the Columbia Gorge.

Best Trail
It's a toss-up between the sheer joy of taking a day off work to run the waterfall-filled wilderness of Eagle Creek, or the absolutely astounding views, adventurous water crossings, and tasty blueberry patches of Bald Mountain.

Best Gear
It's been a good gear year for me. Ann got me a pair of Dirty Girl gaiters a year ago that have been my constant companion on the trails. I splurged on a Lululemon skirt that's so light I can barely tell I'm wearing it, while giving me a cute ruffled bum so that Ann keeps wanting to run with me. I moved up to full-fledged tights (again, thanks to Ann-- no more muddy, flapping wide legs) as my running pants of choice. But best of all is my Nathan Intensity hydration vest. Now I can carry enough water, food, and safety gear to not have to leave drop stashes or loop back to the car. It's a trail/ultra lover's must-have!

I have to agree with all of Susan's gear picks. Fearing the 6-8 inches of rain that were predicted the day of The North Face Endurance run, I picked up The North Face Stormy Trail Jacket. This jacket kept me dry, warm and is extremely light. 

Best Read
Eat & Run by Scott Jurek

Best Trail Food
Healthy brownies

Justin's Nut Butter 

Best Podcast 
Trail Runner Nation
 

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

REI gift picks for utlra / trail runners

@REI tweeted the following:

I then saw +Brooks Running respond, which caused me to 1 up their #giftpick request. And I ended up with a customized gift list from REI. Good picks REI! I own similar items to all the things listed, but I really love the fact that the Brooks gloves have the removable thumb cover, my current gloves don't have that.



Enjoy!

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

North Face Endurance Challenge 50k-- San Francisco

We chose the North Face Endurance Challenge 50k in the Marin Headlands north of San Francisco because it's an easy flight, near a city we like, on some fun trails with gorgeous views and likely decent weather in early December.
What we ended up with is a radically different story, which I will preface by saying that both Ann and I enjoyed the run. It was challenging, and we enjoyed it.
Faced with the threat of massive amounts of rain (4-7" each day), North Face was forced to reroute the event. Instead of a chain of three connected loops, the day before the race we were notified that the course would consist of a small inner loop, a larger outer loop with an out-and-back at the far end and another out-and-back right to the start/finish line, and then a repeat of the small loop. There was no updated elevation map, which was perhaps a good thing. The highest elevation section-- a loop through Muir Woods around Mt Tamalpais-- was removed and the course was actually 30 miles rather than 31, so we thought it would be easier...
Our first "view" of the water.
I got up at 4:15am to leave Berkeley by 5am, pick up Ann at her hotel in Mill Valley, and get us over to the shuttle a mile away, leaving at 5:45. It didn't look that bad when I awoke, but by the time I drove across the bay, with foggy gusts of rain whipping sideways at the car, I knew we were in for it. We boarded the bus (#666, seriously) with perfect timing and were unceremoniously dropped off twenty minutes later in the dark, with about a quarter of a mile to trudge through a muddy, underwater, invisible trail to the start/finish area. There we got in line to leave our drop bags, but decided to stay inside the U-Haul trucks with the rest of the smart people who wanted to stay warm and dry. Well, drier.
There wasn't much to see for the first few miles of the race. A very long hill led us up to a eucalyptus grove. On the downhill, while Ann and I gingerly picked our way down the steep, slippery trail, other runners bombed past us on both sides, flailing-- and falling-- wildly, splashing as they passed. That was the scariest part. After that first small loop, people were more spread out and we even saw a peek of a small beach. The trail narrowed and took us very near the water. Although we couldn't see much, the sounds of the waves and foghorns were atmospheric.
As we neared the top of a rise and were told it was the out-and-back. We peered over the edge and saw a steep, muddy mess of people headed both up and down, many of them no longer on their feet. My first thought was "This is a joke." I saw a guy "surf" down it. I tried to keep to the grassy edge, but it wasn't entirely possible. During this slow section, we saw a woman with a race bib emblazoned with "PACER" just barrel down the center of the hill, calling out in a New Zealand-ish accent to get out of the way. It was amazing. I don't know how she stayed upright.
This out-and-back had a little loop at the bottom, which was a welcome respite before heading back up the mud slip-n-slide. The way up felt a little less precarious, although I did slip twice and have to put my hands down, sunk two inches deep in mud, so that I didn't fall.
Ann adjusting gear. The conditions are hilarious, so I took a photo through the plastic bag my phone was in.
From there we worked through some steady climbs, walking and running a little bit, grateful for the lesser mud. We got to the main aid station at mile 17.7 where we had drop bags with dry gear, changed our shirts, and added that gear to our backs so we didn't have to wait for our stuff to be delivered after the very end of the race.
By now it was (mostly) not raining hard, the wind had (mostly) died down a bit, and we felt good. We got methodical with our run-walking, and really cranked it out. I hit my "bad spot" complaining until Ann snapped me out of it, and we were able to catch glimpses of the promised views when the fog cleared a few times. The difference in weather really made it feel like we hadn't been through this section twice prior. Probably the toughest part was the out-and-back that took us within five feet of the finish line, which was a mile uphill on a road, with about six miles left to go. So mean! But once we got back on the trail we chatted, joked, and really enjoyed ourselves. I'm not sure I'd do this race again just as it was, but I would sign up if the weather were guaranteed to be nice. We were an hour and 25 minutes faster than our previous 50k (which was twice the elevation gain), so I think we really would've rocked it in decent conditions. Also, the best race photo of my life was taken, so maybe I'm biased!

Saturday, November 24, 2012

15 mile taper

One year ago this weekend, Susan and I ran our first ultra marathon distance. We had the brilliant idea while on a long training run for the Lithia Loop Marathon, that a few weeks after the race we should run the full distance of the Wildwood trail, which is a little over 30 miles. We decided to do it over Thanksgiving weekend, since it is between both of our birthdays, most people have a party for their birthdays, we just run 30 miles. After that we knew we had to run a 50k in 2012.

This year we have already ran one 50k, Bunker to Bonneville 50k and today we ran our last taper run before our next 50k next weekend, The North Face Endurance in San Francisco.

Susan by a tree that fell over on Wildwood after epic winds on Monday.


start at springville

fl7 - trillium .17
trillium - ww .25
ww - saltzman (18.6-16) 2.6
saltzman to leif .5
leif - cannon (6.20 - 11.1) 4.9
cannon - ww .32
ww - trillium (24.5 - 18.6) 5.9
trillium - fl7 .25
fl7 - car .17
total 15.06

Saturday, November 17, 2012

A Wet Taper and Susan's Butt

Now that is getting cold we are starting to wear our full length running pants, and on one of our recent runs Susan commented that she wanted a pair of pants that weren't flared at the bottom and didn't look like they were from the 80s. I stopped by our employee store to return something and decided to pick her up a pair of running tights. I inner office mailed the tights to her with the note, "I hope these make your butt look as good as that guy on Leif Erickson".

Susan's butt in her new pants.


Susan's soaked rain jacket
This is our first of 2 taper runs before The North Face Endurance Challenge, we decided to only do 12 miles this weekend since my sister was in town and 15 next weekend. I was sure glad we did the shorter run this weekend, it down poured for at least 4 miles, I haven't been this wet on a run in a very long time, and our rain jackets were pretty much useless. I guess we know the winter rainy running season is here.

~ 12 mile taper
Holman to Wildwood (5.93)-- .76mi
Wildwood to Alder (ww 9.40)-- 3.47mi (4.23 total)
Alder to Leif (1.49)-- .84mi (5.07 total)
Leif to Chestnut (le 3.46)-- 1.97mi (7.04 total)
Chestnut to WW (12.14)-- .49mi (7.53 total)
WW to Birch (ww 7.49)-- 4.65mi (12.18 total)
Birch to 53rd-- .22mi (12.4 total)

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

A feel-good 26 miler (not BPA-free)

I will be the first one to admit that I was shocked at how good this run felt-- during and after. It seems like you shouldn't be able to run a marathon distance and enjoy the whole thing.

Our second meal: Tings, peanut butter cups, salt & vinegar chips, peanut butter-filled pretzels, and my Tofurky, pickle, creamcheeze and spinach quarter-sandwich

John, Ann's main squeeze, dropped us off at the far end of Forest Park, at the Newberry trailhead of Wildwood Trail. We ran to BPA Road (Ann's least favorite), up to Skyline Drive, then WAY down to Firelane 13, connected to Firelane 15, and back to Wildwood. That extra loop gave us about three miles so that we could end at the Birch trailhead, a third of a mile from Ann's house.

This run was not BPA free, by Ann's request

Perhaps one of the most helpful things we did for this run was stop twice for mini-meals, at 10 miles and again about 8 miles later. Breaking 26 miles into 10, 8 and 8 made it so manageable. Of course it helped that this route was MUCH flatter than last week's 22 miler, which really wiped both of us out. Looking at the elevation map the next day, we discovered that the 22 miler had 10 miles in a row of uphill! No wonder we were so tired.

A rainbow leaf gradient along the trail

  • Newberry trailhead of Wildwood (30.16)- BPA (ww 27.45)-- 2.71mi
  • BPA to Skyline and back to Wildwood-- .46mi X2 = .92 (3.63 total)
  • BPA (ww 27.45) to Firelane 12-- .25mi (3.88 total)
  • Firelane 12 to Firelane 15-- .51mi (4.39 total)
  • Firelane 15 to WW (28.63)-- .37mi (4.76 total)
  • WW (28.63) to Birch (ww 7.49)-- 21.14mi (25.9 total)
  • Birch to 53rd-- .22mi (26.12 total)

Sunday, November 4, 2012

22 Miler and First Part of Wildwood

The St. John's Bridge from Leif Erikson
This is our 2nd to last long run before we taper for 2 weeks for the North Face 50k Endurance race in San Francisco.  We had already planned our last long run, a 26 miler, we are going to start at the end of Wildwood and run 26 miles. Since the trail is a little over 30 miles, I wanted to get the part of the trail we are going to miss next week, this week. 

We started at Vietnam Memorial, which is the beginning of Wildwood. It started out a little drizzly, but it turned out to be absolutely gorgeous fall day. 

The route was broken up into 3 ~7 mile segments, the first on Wildwood, the second on Leif and the third on Wildwood again. Breaking up a long run like this always makes it seem a little easier.

We were on Leif Erickson around mile 6.5 and thought we had passed Firelane 7. We were stopped trying to pull up maps on our iphones, when we were passed by half a dozen college guys, one of them had the most perfect looking butt, which made Susan and I both stumble over our words as he ran by. 

We stopped for our "vegan picnic" at Firelane 5 and Wildwood, we had chips, a brownie, peanut butter cups and even a sandwich. 

The last ~7 miles felt a lot better than I had expected, I didn't even experience the pain in my leg I had a few weeks prior. Though after the run as we were walking back to my house, Susan and I both did experience some pain in our left it bands. The run next week will be interesting, since the majority of the trail will be sloping on our right side. Stay tuned...
Autumn! 

Vietnam Memorial


Firelane 5

Vegan Picnic disguised as a 22 mile run 



22 miler in 3 parts
ww 0 - 6.43 aspen : 6.43
aspen to leif : .75
leif 0 - 6.60 FL 5 : 6.38
FL5 - ww: .23
ww 16.69 - 9.20 keil : 7.49
keil - wild cherry: .17
wild cherry - ww : .31
ww - birch : .39
birch - 53rd : .22
total 22.37

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Columbia Gorge 1/2 Marathon 2012

Columbia Gorge 1/2 Marathon 2010 


































This is the 4th year that Susan and I ran the Columbia Gorge 1/2 Marathon and 2nd that her dad ran it. This is a road race, but it has to be one of the most scenic road races around. I think it caps around 1000 people, so it relatively small race and never feels crowded.

I was happy that the race started at it's original start location, last year they bused us 2 miles from the original start so we could avoid a hill. Frankly I like the hill at the start, it gets your heart going, warms you up and makes the rest of the race seem pretty easy, though there are several more, shorter hills.

elevation profile


We were afraid that it was going to rain on us the whole time, and we spend quite a bit of time debating wearing rain jackets or not. Luckily the rain held out, and I was actually pretty warm in my long sleeve shirt. It ended up being a gorgeous fall day, we even got a few rainbows.

 Most of the run is on the historic Columbia River Highway, which is lined with trees changing colors and magnificent views of the Columbia River Gorge. The turn around point is just after passing through the Mosier Tunnel, the wind in the tunnel was amazingly still heading into the tunnel, but on the way back we got a bit of a head wind. The last 2 miles, I couldn't seem to catch my breath and was having a hard time keeping up with Susan. As we rounded the corner to the finish line some guy told us to speed up and pass all the people head of us. I didn't think there was anyway I could pass anyone, but somehow we ended up passing most of the people ahead of us. I seriously thought I was going to puke when we crossed the finish line. Susan told me we finished in 1:40, which explained why I was so winded, it was 16 minutes faster than the previous year. The first thing I did was text my dad about it, but he checked the timing site and we actually did 1:54:14. It is still a PR, but not the same as 1:40, it was nice thinking we were that fast for a few minutes.

We finished up with recovery beers and pizzas at my favorite place Double Mountain, which is the real reason I run the race every year.

We unfortunately didn't take any pictures this year, but The Hood River News got some good ones.


Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Double turn-arounds

After a two-week break (I was in Chicago last week) from big distance, we were up for the longest run since our 50k on September 1st. I decided to take it easy and have us stay on Wildwood to reduce the heavy elevation changes going between Leif Erickson and Wildwood Trails.

It was chilly at the start, with cold rain making us doubt we had enough gear on. After we warmed up, the rain came and went, with a bit of heavy downpour and even sun breaking through (a good time to get out the camera). Then, just at our final mile (including the only real uphill), the rain picked up to monsoon-level, hitting us with tiny, stinging beads of hail and thoroughly drenching us. Ugh! It took me an hour to warm up again, but we are so fortunate that it happened at the end of our run, rather than right at the beginning.
The sun briefly appears and lights up the trail, before disappearing FOREVER

Springville trailhead to Firelane 7-- .13mi
FL7 to Oil Line-- .47mi (.6 total)
Oil Line to WW(19.45)-- .35mi (.95 total)
WW(19.45) to WW(17.5*)-- 1.95mi (2.9 total)

For Dana:
WW (17.5*) to Springville (22.49)-- 4.99mi (7.89 total)
Springville Rd to parking-- .33mi cooldown

Another glorious patch of sunlight in the deep, green forest

For Ann & Susan:
WW(17.5*) to WW(28*)-- 10.5mi (13.4 total)
WW(28*) to Hardesty (WW 21.65)-- 6.35mi (19.75 total)
Hardesty to car-- .29mi (20.04 total)

*The marker at mile 17 1/2 was without a number, so we accidentally went to 17 1/4 to turn around. Because of the extra half mile, Dana turned up Hardesty instead of Springville, and Ann & I turned around at the 27 3/4 mile marker instead of 28.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Finding dirt in the Chicago suburbs

I went to Chicago for a long weekend to visit a friend, conveniently scheduling one of our "shorter" training runs while I was gone. Armed with a few Googled ideas for where to run, along with suggestions from my friend, I ran just over 14 miles in the Waterfall Glen Forest Preserve.

Route 66 Trail sign and the lovely flat, winding crushed gravel path

The park surrounds Argonne National Laboratories and is infamous for having albino deer. Unfortunately, I didn't see any on my run.

One of the side trails

The main trail circles 9.5 miles through the park, so I looked for side trails to add extra mileage. Sure enough, there were two of about a mile each that allowed me to loop back and add about four additional miles. Overall (at least according to my Nike+) the route was 14.5 miles.

Autumn color and train tracks

The trail was very flat but meandered nicely, and the gravel was small enough that it kept a nice pack and didn't feel rocky at all. It was a bit chilly and tough to start, but as soon as I warmed up and the sun shone through, I really enjoyed the peaceful deciduous forest at its glorious, colorful peak.

Poverty Prairie and gorgeous little fluffy clouds

This was probably my best experience so far finding a longer trail run away from home. But now I'm ready to get back to my beloved rolling hills and MUD!

Glowing golden leaves

Sunday, October 14, 2012

podcasts

While traveling in Germany and Austria for 3 weeks I finally got a chance to finish "Born to Run", which I absolutely loved. After finishing the book I was craving more running stories, I starting googling the different runners in the book. That is when I ran across Ultra Runner Podcast, they had interviews with a lot of the people in the book, and even several with my running crush (who is not in the book).

I sent an email to Susan about my find, telling her she had to listen. She replied back with links to Trail Runner Nation podcasts. I was hooked, the whole flight home all I did was listen to podcast, even some non-running ones.

On one of the Trail Runner Nation podcast someone asked the question, "What is your longest training run when you are training for a 50 miler?" Their answer was, 2 50ks. What the what? We are already doing that this year, we might as well run a 50 miler. Susan listened to the same podcast and we both couldn't wait to tell each other the information we just found out. So we shall see what 2013 holds.


more than a runner


Yesterday I was suppose to run 14 miles, with Susan out of town I was too lazy to plan a route, so did my standard Thurman/Leif -> Maple -> Aspen loop with a little out an back to add a few extra miles. About an hour into the run the outside of left knee started to hurt, it did this the week before, but I figured it was because we were running longer than I had in 5 weeks, with 3 of those weeks without really running at all. It started to get so painful as I was running downhill on Wildwood to Aspen that I had to stop and walk a bit, and starting up again hurt so much that I didn't add on my extra few miles. I very rarely cut a run short. I was starting to get concerned, all sorts of (crazy) thoughts starting going though my head, what happens if I can't run? Would Susan still hang out with me? What if I could only run for an hour and not longer? What about the new house we just bought that backs up to Forest Park, that would be a big tease if I couldn't run. I told you crazy! I was feeling pretty depressed on my drive home. The outside of knee hasn't hurt any other time, so I really didn't know what was going on.

Once I got home I sent an email to the wellness center at work to make an appointment with a Sports Injury Doctor, one of the nice benefits of where I work. John walked in and asked how my run was, and whined about my knee. He asked if I had new shoes, and I said yes, but I didn't wear them because I didn't want to get them all muddy just yet (it was raining). He reminded me that every time I think my running days are behind me because my body is in pain, it is because my shoes are end of life.

new shoes are meant to be worn not kept in a box

This morning I ran 6 miles in my new shoes, I felt the outside of left knee some on the downhills, but that could be that it is still tender from yesterday. I am still going to see the doctor, and hope for the best with the new shoes. I know there is more to my life than running, and that Susan will still keep hanging out with me, but I am really looking forward to running a 50 miler next year.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

jet lag 13 miler

Jet lagged? Check.
Haven't ran in 3 weeks? Check.
Only back in the coutnry 36 hours? Check.
Going on ~4 hours of sleep? Check.
Want to run 13 miles? Sure, why not?

I had just got back from Europe and was in a let lag haze, but I really wanted to run. Luckily Susan came up with a route, and drove us to the trail head, all I had to do was run. Despite feeling completely out of it and having no idea what time zone I was in, the run felt absolutely amazing. It wasn't a cure for my jet lag but it sure helped me mentally.

Springville trailhead to Ridge: .33mi
Ridge to Leif (8.47): .75mi (1.08 total)
Leif (8.47) to Koenig (L4.57): 3.9mi (4.98 total)
Koenig to WW (14.23): .15mi (5.13 total)
WW (14.23) to Trillium (WW 18.57): 4.34mi
WW (18.57) to Hardesty (WW 21.67): 3.1mi (12.57 total)
Hardesty to FL7: .21mi (12.78 total)
FL7 to car: .13mi (12.91 total)

In honor of my return from Germany and Austria, Susan posed by the only trail with a German name.

Trail marker tagging?

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Two eights

With Ann away in Europe, currently on an eight-day hike in the Alps, I went with an "eight" theme and ran one loop with Jay, and another on my own.

Strange tag on a tree


Start at Springville Trailhead

Firelane 7 (Oil Line) to WW (mm 19.45): .95 miles
WW to Satlzman (mm 16.01): 3.44mi
Saltzman to Leif (mm 6.2): .5mi
Leif to Hardesty (mm 9.0): 2.8mi
Hardesty to FL 7: .56mi
FL7 to Springville TH: .08mi

8.33 miles total
Mushrooms are starting to pop for autumn


Round 2
WW (at Hardesty, mm 21.67) to Canon (mm 24.63): 2.96
Canon to Leif (mm 11.17): .32mi
Leif to Ridge (mm 8.47): 2.7mi
Ridge to WW (mm 20.99): .35mi
WW to Oil Line (mm 19.45): 1.54mi
Oil Line to Springville TH: .95mi

8.82 miles total

Monday, September 10, 2012

PCT Bunker to Bonneville 50k

Let me start by saying that we really wanted to run the McKenzie River 50k, which was this past weekend (Sept 8). I stayed up til 12:01am the day of registration opening just to make sure that Ann and I got in. But entry was still a lottery, and neither one of us made it. We buried our disappointment (after many bitter comments) and moved on-- we planned to either do our own 50k again, or find a nearby race right around the same time.

After a bit of deliberation, we found the perfect race. Only one week before the McKenzie on a lovely trail (the Pacific Crest Trail or PCT), a nearby start in the Columbia Gorge, a small number of runners (150), and put on by a rad-sounding running club (go Columbia Gorge Running Club!): the B2B 50k.

A gorgeous day at the top of the course: Three Corner Rock
We registered and were content. Fast forward to three weeks before our race. I got an email from the McKenzie 50k stating that I got in. What the what?! Sure enough, Ann got one, too. I wish they had told us there was a wait list, although I wonder if that would've made a difference. Because then I discovered that B2B runners got free entry to the showers and pools at Bonneville Hot Springs Resort, where the race ended. A long run and then a hot soak? Yes please.

We left Portland at 6am for the 7:30am start at Panther Creek campground near Carson, WA. We got a little lost, but when we found it there was no mistaking a group of crazy, fit-looking people in bright running gear. Yassine Diboun, an awesome local vegan ultrarunner, was even there, which made me giddy. I admire his love of running and his kind nature, and I've always hoped to see him out on the trails.

My view for the first 5 miles: Ann's back
The race director gave a quick run-down of the course and how the poker aspect worked (you pick up a card at each rest stop, with a chance to get a wildcard by doing the extra climb up Three Corner Rock at the 20 mile aid station). She really won us all over, though, when she said "I don't give a shit who wins the race. It's all about the beer!" Yeah, I think I'll be back.

And then, with little fanfare, we were off.  The first five miles we were stuck in a small pack, which was odd. There was a pair of women at the front, chatting away; a man in front of us, and then a few people behind. Some hardier folk barreled past us on the single track, but Ann and I waited til the first aid station at mile 5 to break away. It was very odd to be on an isolated trail with so many people. Especially listening to strangers gab. Usually it's just us!

Ann at a bridge
The second five miles was quite a climb, with a bit of walking. It was awesome to reach the 10 mile aid station, greeted by people dressed as zombies. One guy was even a cross-dressing zombie-- another volunteer said she chickened out on wearing her costume, so the guy wore it instead. We later learned that those people had to hike in with all of the supplies; can you imagine? I like to think they made the trek in zombie gear, spooking some PCT through-hikers. These are the kind of amazing folks at trail races, especially the long ones. Costumes and pickle sandwiches!

Ann at another bridge
After that climb, the next six-ish miles were rolling downhill, and we were passed by a speedy woman we had passed as she walked the uphill. She said she'd see us again on the uphill, and surprisingly, we did see her again.

The next aid station was around mile 16, and what I remember most is a scruffy PCT through-hiker-- who went by the name "Bucket"-- sitting on the ground next to the food table, asking "What are those pills?" They were salt pills. He said he was hoping for pain-killers.

Ann at the 20 mile aid station, at the base of Three Corner Rock
The next section was the one I feared most. After the first uphill, this one was to be shorter but steeper. I kept conserving energy, waiting for the big steeps. Well they never really came. We had a fun little 3/4 mile out-and-back to the 20 mile aid station on a trail so hedged in you could call it half-track, and then suddenly we were up and out at the top of a mountain with a clear view all around.

Someone coming the other way had recommended the watermelon, and one of the volunteers cut me a huge piece to eat as we climbed Three Corner Rock (for the view and the wildcard). That was the best melon I've ever tasted in my life. The climb wasn't too tough-- there were remnants of an old concrete path, and it was easier than you'd think after 20 miles of running. The view was stunning. We saw Mt Hood, Mt Adams, Mt Ranier and I think Mt St Helens. I didn't realize until later that we could've climbed up to the tippy-top, although I'm not sure that would've been a good idea on tired legs.

South view (with Mt Hood) from Three Corner Rock panorama
After cresting the highest elevation of the course, we were giddy. We expected 7-8 miles of downhill, and then 3-4 of flat road to the end. The trail was stunning, with wild blueberry bushes lining the way, dried dead pine trunks like spires rising from the bear grass, and clear blue sky surrounding us.

North view (with Mt Adams) from Three Corner Rock panorama
Now the course was marked beautifully, with pink ribbon tied along the way and each mile marked with a ribbon written with the mileage as well as the mileage written out on the ground in flour. So I remember very clearly hitting mile 22 and the distinct uphill turn the route took. The next mile was brutal, lots of long, difficult climbing. Then came the rocky sections-- crossing what looked like a gravel-fall, painful rocks underfoot, out from the cool canopy of the trees in the hot sun. From about mile 23 to 28 were rocky. Really, it was 23-25 or so that did me in. My feet hurt so much that I had to take my mind off it by giving the rocky trail double middle fingers as I flapped my arms in pain walking (yeah, let's be honest here) over the sharp rocks.

Amazingly plentiful wild blueberries around mile 22
Soon after the 25 mile aid station, we seemed to join civilization again with a section of the PCT at Table Mountain, a popular day hike. Finally, we had some downhill, but it was steep and rocky, and so slow going with our tired, ungainly legs.

Neat rock formations and Mount Hood
Just when we thought we couldn't take it anymore, we were out of the trees again on an open, rutted gravel road. The course turned and came out on a paved road. We saw the 30 mile marked on the road, and then, surprisingly quickly given that our feet still felt indented from the rocks, the 31 mile mark. And that's when I was exceedingly glad that I had happened to see something the day before that casually referred to the course as being 31.6 miles, because nothing else had mentioned that very important fact that this was actually more than 50k. While six tenths of a mile doesn't seem like much, I assure you it is more than enough after running 31 mile, expecting to be done. Having already mentally prepared, we took deep breaths, pushed on, and suddenly there it was-- the finish!

The mighty Columbia River in the distance
Sadly, we didn't win the beer. We took showers at Bonneville Hot Springs Resort (with all sorts of terrible screams and grunts; the chafe wasn't even as painful as trying to raise my feet to clean them. Ouch!), and I took a quick dip in the pool. Unfortunately my phone had died, and I had forgotten to leave a car key, so our perfect plan of meeting up for a soak and then a beer in Hood River was marred. Still, it was a spectacular day and a wonderful race that I didn't want to end (except for the ROCKS). Bring on the next 50k!

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Friday 15 miler



Dana and I were both headed to Seattle for the weekend, so we met super early Friday at the Thurman Leif Erikson trailhead to get our long run in. Dana was actually the first car at the trailhead. Jay who was also headed to Seattle joined us for the first 3.5 miles.

I seriously love running in Forest Park early in the morning when no one is there, when you can just lose yourself in the park. I wish my scheduled allowed for it more, but I will take it when I can.

Friday 15
leif - cleator (mm 0 - 5.36) : 5.36
cleator - ww : .24
ww - aspen (mm 15.5 - 6.33) : 9.17
aspen to aspen road : .23
aspen road to car : .5 (cool down?)

total 15.5




Sunday, August 19, 2012

Gorge Trail 400

Angel's Rest
Susan and I took off another day from work to run 26 miles in the Gorge. We had decided to run 26 miles of the Gorge Trail 400, leaving one car at Angel's Rest and having John drop us off 26 miles down the trail. As I started to seriously look at my map, I noticed that trail 400 isn't a continuous trail. Parts of the trail piggyback on other trails, and between Ainsworth and John Yeon State Park it didn't look like the trail existed. Once I realized this wasn't going to be as straight forward as I thought, I called the Ranger Station. It was 6pm on Friday night, they were closed and not open again until Monday morning, which is when we were running. From all the backpacking trip planning I have done, I know to call the Ranger Station early in route planning, this was big miss on my part. Luckily, John and I were going hiking in the Gorge on Saturday and could stop by the Hood River Ranger Station, which is open on Saturday, and check out the "missing" section of the trail.

The Hood River Rangers hadn't heard of the the Gorge Trail 400, but we were able to pick a few nice maps (I love hiking maps). After our hike we decided we would stop by Ainsworth and John Yeon to figure out if there was actually a trail or if we had to run on the road. As soon as we arrived at the trail head at John Yeon, I noticed a sign saying a section of the trail was closed due to highway construction. John suggested I run it anyways and ignore the sign, I was debating it. Just as I had suspected the section between John Yeon and Ainsworth is indeed a road, but it is less that 2 miles so we could deal with it. I was still a little uncertain about the trail and really wanted to talk to someone about it, so we drove over to Multnomah Falls to talk to their Rangers. The only reason I didn't do this to begin with is Multnomah Falls gets crazy busy with tourist on the weekends.
Trail closed!



The Rangers at Multnomah Falls were extremely helpful and did confirm that the section of trail between Elowah Falls and Tanner Creek is closed and being worked on. They also gave me a map of the trails around Multnomah Falls and it showed how Trail 400 connected with the other trails! After studying the map for a little bit and doing a little math, I figured out that from Angel's Rest to Ainsworth State Park it is 13 miles, so we could do an out and back. We could even take the Larch Mountain trail back to Angel's Rest to mix it up a little on the way back. Doing an out and back also meant that we would pass the Multnomah Falls Lodge, so we could get more water if we needed it.  We would have to run back up hill around mile 21, but the high point is only 1800 feet, so nothing we hadn't done before.

The route and map from the Ranger

Monday morning when we got to the Angel's Rest trail head we were the only people there besides a couple and their goat. Yes, I said goat. They put their goat on a leash to hike with it. I tried to get a picture without them noticing me.

Goat!


We had a nice and steady 2.4 mile climb up to Angel's Rest, with some fantastic views of the Gorge. We passed several waterfalls running down to Multnomah Falls. Once we got to Multnomah Falls, we had gone a little over 8 miles, and hadn't drank that much water, but Susan suggested we fill our water bladders. She was somehow able to successfully fill her bag from the water fountain, me on the other hand lost more water than I put in the bladder. I decided to buy a (16 oz) bottle of water, just in case I needed it later.

We continued on our way to Ainsworth State park, passing a few more waterfalls. There were no major climbs but enough rolling hills that we knew the run back was going to be as difficult as the first 13 miles. The last 2 miles of the trail to Ainsworth were pretty over grown and rocky, a bit more difficult to run on than the rest of the trail. Normally we would stop at the half way point to have "lunch", but we decided to run back a bit on the trail and find a less over grown area to eat.

Once we finally stopped around mile 14.5, we looked at our water levels, and we both had less than half of our water left. We split the water I bought at Multnomah Falls, but we knew we were going to have to try and conserve water, since we always drink more water the second half of the run. We also decided to take the Larch Mountain trail back, which meant we were not going to run by the lodge again.

The Larch Mountain trail is a pretty unforgiving trail, it is rocky and an unrelenting climb. Susan "bonked" (as she put it), so we walked a lot of the hill. I figured since we weren't running I didn't need to drink any water. Once we reached trail 420, I thought the climb was over and started drinking more water than I realized. Well the climb wasn't over and we still had 5+ miles to go. Around mile 22, I ran out of water and Susan only had a little left. She was nice enough to share it with me, but it was pretty sweet from her electrolyte mixture. We stopped at every stream and splashed our faces with water and put our hats in the water to cool off. It was a long, long 4 miles back to the car. The last 4 miles were also the most exposed, it was 90+ degrees that day. We finally reached the car, which had been sitting in the sun, we both grabbed our water bottles and quickly drank all of the very hot water.

The run was nothing but epic. We under estimated the heat. If we wouldn't have taken the Larch Mountain trail we would of passed the Multnomah Falls Lodge and would of been able to fill our packs with water. Since this run we have gotten iodine tablets, and I own small water filter for backpacking, which would also work.


Angel's Rest trail head

Susan taking pictures from the top on Angel's Rest







Lunch, checking our water levels

2 more miles to the car. I was so thirsty.

Angel's Rest elevation

Angel's Rest
my awesome dirt "tan"