Tuesday, September 17, 2013

A new response to flooded trails

Surveying the damage: floods, and blown-down leaves and branches

Recently I was thinking about specific runs that have changed my life. One is the Mt Hood Scramble in 2012, which had about eight raging, snow-melt river crossings and eradicated my fear of getting my shoes wet. This came in handy on Friday, when Ann came in to work so we could run the longer version of our normal weekday run one last time before we both left for two week vacations.


Ann runs back and forth, just for my photo op
Tualatin Hills Nature Park has creeks, a pond and marshy areas, traversed in places by boardwalks. After a heavy rain, some parts flood. We used to pick our way carefully over the slick side rails, but this time we didn't bother. It's no longer a big deal for us to run right through water.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Les Pins Blancs

Beach along Cavalière Valmer Rd
After a full week of vacation, I was ready for a run. I usually don't bother to bring running gear with me, but this is also the first two-week vacation I've taken in more than four years. Nowadays that's far too long to do without.

Sidewalk above the beach
I found a boxed set of walks in Provence, and searched out the one closest to the house where we're staying. Surprisingly, it was right down the road. Even better, there's a surprisingly long network of trails, making for varied options in the coming days.

Map at the trailhead: Vous êtes ici!
I was nervous about getting lost, since so many little false trails head off the main one, and you can't always tell if you're going out to a viewpoint and dead end, or just a short alternate path that will meet back up with the main trail. Luckily, there are lots of signs with directions and distances to main points of interest.

Trail climbs up past Gigaro Beach
Since it was the middle of the afternoon on a Saturday, the narrow coastal trail was pretty crowded. I often got stuck behind a couples walking, deeply engaged in conversation; I'm not sure how to say a polite French version of "on your left."

L'îlot du Crocodile-- tiny rock island that looks like a half-submerged crocodile
It was nice to catch my breath and take in the views from time to time, because there were lots of stairs-- climbs up and down, carved into rocks right by the water and big blocks of wood set into steep hillsides. 

Boats anchored in a quiet inlet
While the trail along the water is small, twisting and technical, the route I took to return was a wide, dirt and gravel road. It was well-graded and less crowded, but not exactly smooth going-- rutted and overgrown in places, with fewer views but a welcome change nonetheless.

Many trails, well signed
I can't wait to try a few more trails and destinations next time!

Steep, rooty steps
More steep stairs to climb
Views of the Mediterranean from up high
Wide gravel road trail, with tree-covered hills in the distance
Views from the road
Selfie near the top/ Les Pins Blancs
Some good distance options for next time
Sweeping views of rocky bays and inlets
Nike+ map of my route

Friday, September 6, 2013

Hood to Coast - Van 1

Van 1 at the starting line
Let's get this straight: I love Hood to Coast. It sounds crazy to take 12 runners in two vans 200 miles from Mt Hood to the coast, and it is. It's also raucous, exhausting, hilarious, challenging, illuminating, messy LONG event. You really get to know the people in your van. And when two of those people are my dad and my brother, and the rest are friends and/or rad new people, it's well worth the sleep deprivation and  muscle pain.

Our "go crazy" pic. Not crazy yet.
I ran leg 1 this year-- my ninth-- as I "collect all 12" to make my own full Hood to Coast. It was a great year for it, since #1's second leg had three miles added to it because of construction near the Hawthorne Bridge, which is the usual exchange between runners 12 and 1. I relished the extra distance in the otherwise short set of runs.

Okay, let's actually go get ready now
I was also pleasantly surprised by the first leg, which is known to cause some injury because of its steep downhill. Obviously I've been running some mountains recently, because it didn't seem that steep to me. The road was very even and gentle, and I ran 7:08s-- a personal best that I will never top unless I am running down an even steeper mountain on perfect terrain.

Lined up at the start at Timberline Lodge on Mt Hood
It was a trend, too, because everyone in our van kept beating their predicted times. This lead to a bit of frustration on the part of the captain (me) who was trying to plan and time everything.

Kat on her first leg, #2
Ultimately, we all had a great time and enjoyed each other's company. We also came up with some great ideas for next year. You know it's a success when everyone is already excited for next year!

My dad slapping fives on leg #4

One of the main improvements we hope for next year is to spend more time with both vans. By the time Van 2 got to the coast and we met up in the thick crowds, Van 1 was cranky and tired (okay, maybe mostly me). It's tough to hang out at the van exchanges, though, when you're trying to get rest beforehand and then you have to jet off after your runner.

Killin' it
Go Honey Bucks & Buckettes!

Adam is so fast that all I got was this one blurry photo

Selfie at the start of leg #13 on the Springwater Trail

The Hawthorne Bridge and city lights at night
Me running across the Hawthorne Bridge at night



Thursday, September 5, 2013

Testing the curse

On Sunday, Dana and I ran 15 together, using an old route from the blog. We ran on Sunday because Dana arranged for a mutual friend, Gretchen, to show us (well, mostly the kids) around her fire station. Dana's son, who's 4, was super excited. Mine, who's 2 and adores fire trucks, was too overwhelmed to really enjoy it.

We had a bit of miscommunication and the run started with me waiting half an hour for Dana after I thought I was about 10 minutes late. It was a nice change of pace for me to sit quietly on a log and watch the world go by.

Since Ann wasn't there, we walked up the steepness of Cleator, and we thought maybe there'd be no "incidents"-- as in tripping, falling, sliding, yellowjacket stings or other injuries. Unfortunately (or fortunately, for Ann) it didn't hold true. Dana tripped twice and rolled her ankle a bit. 

Mushrooms climbing up the steep hillside of Cleator Trail

  • 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?)

Portland Trail Series - Race 1


A few months ago I signed up for the Portland Trail Series as a way to get more exposure to the Portland Trail / Ultra Running community. There are several groups that get together weekly for runs, but I am such an introvert that I get anxious about not knowing anyone. I figured signing up for the Race Series I didn’t have to be social if I didn’t want to since it is a race, but at the same time I would get around the community which would help ease my anxiety, so maybe I could get the courage up to join one of the “social” runs.

From the Portland Trail Series web site:

The Portland Trail Series is a super-cool, low-key series of trail races held in Forest Park in Portland. A total of five races are held every other Wednesday evening from September-October, and each race will cover a different, challenging course, ranging from 4-6 miles. Runners that participate in at least four races are included in the overall Series standings, and doing well in the Series will land you some fantastic gear from our great sponsors.

The Series will benefit the Forest Park Conservancy and a post-Series party is held immediately after the final race at the Lucky Lab Brew Pub. There we will present awards to Series winners, hold a raffle and enjoy a well-deserved beer.


This week’s route was pretty hilly for being only 5.78 miles. We started at the Thurman / Leif Erickson trail head. We ran up Leif to Dogwood and up Dogwood to Wildwood. Yassine and his daughter were at the Dogwood cheering on all the runners and directing traffic. It was great to see him, he gave me a big high five. We continued climbing a bit on Wildwood to Alder, then we got a nice downhill on Alder to Leif Erickson. We then went back up Dogwood all the way to NW 53rd and then back down on Wild Cherry to Leif to the end.

I killed it on the hills and passed a lot of people, but then all the same people passed me on the down hills. Once I hit Wild Cherry and knew it was down hill all the way I imagined I was chasing Susan down hill which sped me up a bit.

I was 9th in my age group and 16th female.


Race 1 route