Sunday, December 28, 2014

Annual Bend trip

The weekend before Christmas, John and I made our annual trip to Bend and Mt Bachelor with a lot of our good friends to kick off the ski and snowboard season. This is the 4th year we have done this, I look forward to getting together with everyone, drinking, eating, watching cheesy ski movies and of course snowboarding. Sometimes the weather on Mt Bachelor is less than optimal for snowboarding, which happened one day during our trip, it was raining instead of snowing. 


On the lift with Chris, John and Karrla
Mine and Amber's snow selfie

I took advantage of the "free day" and went running on the Deschutes River trail, which I have done on a few other trips. I thought I should find a different trail, but the proximity to Bend, length of the trail and being right next to a river is hard to beat. Luckily the rain held out for me and I didn't have to run in snow like previous years. I highly recommend this trail, if you ever find yourself looking for a route to run while waiting for snow to fall. 

Deschutes River
Crazy stairs on the trail

Monday, December 15, 2014

Annual birthday run

Our very first "ultra" (distance greater than a marathon) was running the Wildwood trail from its start near the zoo in Washington Park to its sudden end at Newberry Road in Forest Park in 2011, only a few weeks after running our first trail marathon. The day we did it happened to be right between our birthdays, which are only six days apart and fall near the long Thanksgiving holiday weekend. Back then, it was more birthday challenge than treat.

Our start at the Newberry end of Wildwood
In 2013 we did it again, the opposite direction (in 2012 we ran the North Face Endurance Challenge 50k in San Francisco the next weekend, so we skipped Wildwood). This way is supposed to be more challenging because the major hill up to Pittock Mansion (mile 3.9) comes closer to the end, when you're more tired. For some reason it felt great the whole way, nearly effortless. In fact, it was on this run that we decided to change our registration in the Tarawera Ultra from the 60k to the 85k-- our first attempt at a distance greater than 50k.

The sun emerges
So this year, we had to do something a little different. We started at the Newberry Rd end, ran all the way to the start at the zoo, then back up and over Pittock again to Birch Trail and Ann's house. Thirty-eight miles. We left Ann's car at the Wildwood trailhead on NW 53rd (mile 9.18, or around 21 miles into our run), filled with fresh clothes and shoes to change into, snacks, treats and gear.

Inside the Audi aid station
Right from the start, the weather was fickle. We had rain, snow and sun within the first three miles! We joked every time the weather changed that we must've completed another mile. Nothing lasted for long and it was all quite gentle, but we had at least five separate bouts of snow, a few of icy rain, lots of light rain, quite a few sun breaks, and even fog at our second summit of Pittock. But through it all, with our now-extensive experience and fine-tuned gear, we stayed pretty comfortable and had fun.  


Changing of the guard: fresh shoe with old, dried mud and old shoe with fresh mud
Predictably, one of the toughest parts was starting back up after our "Audi aid station." We had stopped just long enough to cool off, so when we started back up we used disposable handwarmer packs to help defrost our poor hands. Although I bought them last year, we had never used them before and they were a revelation. The next day Ann bought a whole box for all of our upcoming winter adventures.

Wildwood at its start-- only one way to go!
We started around 7:15am and finished around 3:30pm-- just about dawn til dusk. My birthday happened to be the best day for the run and I couldn't have asked for a better present. Now what can we come up with for next year?

Back at Birch and the end of our Wildwood excursion

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Some days are harder than others

I got home late on Friday night, and it was my turn to pick the route for our long run on Saturday, so I searched our blog and chose a 20 miler we hadn't done in a while. It was a straightforward loop, but it felt hard; much more difficult than our 38 miles last Saturday.

Was I still recovering from last week's very long run? Tired from a night of little sleep? Dragging from the wine I drank last night? I think the answer is yes, to all of it.

After our picnic break, Ann was feeling it too. Although the conditions were great-- it wasn't raining and it was a great temperature-- we were both glad when it was over.

A long-toed salamander on Wildwood

Nearly to Birch, on Wildwood, we almost stepped on this cute little long-toed salamander (Ambystoma macrodactylum)-- a welcome distraction! This is only the second salamander I've seen in Forest Park in the decade I've been running there.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Turkey Trail Trot

This Thanksgiving we want to give thanks to all our friends and family who enable, tolerate, cheer on, our crazy running habit. We know you don't always understand why we would possibly want to run 50+ miles, but you are always there for us. From driving us to trailheads at 4am, to flying half way across the world to wait at the finish line for us, or simply being Mr. Mom every Saturday morning. 

This Thanksgiving several of us met at NW 53rd and Wildwood for a Turkey Trail Trot. Susan was adventurous enough to even bring her running stroller along. Most of the group ran about 4 miles, Sally and I did a 10 mile loop. We both ran into several other people we knew along the route. We are very lucky to have such an amazing running community and trail system in Portland.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Our Turkey Trail Trot crew

Route:
53rd and ww (9.20 - 14.5) - koenig: 5.3
koenig - maple : .27
maple - leif : .38
leif - dogwood: 3.3
dogwood - ww: .34
ww - 53rd: .71
total: 10.30

Sunday, November 23, 2014

23 and some change

Our first sun break

23 and some change was the subject of my email to Susan with our route for Saturday, but given how much the weather changed on Saturday I thought it was an appropriate title for this blog post too. The run started out overcast and as we ran down BPA Road we got into a fog cloud, which stuck with us all the way to the top of Springville. As we ran down Hardesty the sun started to peak in between the fog and the trees. Over the course of the rest of the run we got rain, full sun and more fog, the only thing missing to complete an Oregon winter was snow.


The start of the run at the top of BPA road
6 miles later at the top of Springville the fog had settled in


The route was as varied as the weather, we were never on one section of trail more than 5 miles. Lots of ups and down in between Wildwood and Leif Erickson but nothing too daunting. I love when we have routes where we don't spend a big stretch of it on Wildwood at one time, mentally it makes the longer distance runs go by quicker.



Susan on the "Maple Bridge"


The bridge at mile 10 on Wildwood that was replaced 2 years ago got destroyed again.


Route: 
top of bpa - ww (23.40) : .46
ww (22.5) - springville : 4.9
springville - gate : .33
gate - hardesty : .12
hardesty - leif : .55
leif - ridge : .52
ridge - ww : .34
ww (20.80 - 16.5) - fl5 : 4.3
fl5 - leif : .23
leif - maple : .15
maple - ww (13.5) : 3.07
ww - alder : 4.1 
alder  - leif : .84
leif - thurman : 1.42
thurman - aspen : .50
aspen - ww : .23
ww - birch : 1.13
birch - 53rd : .23
total : 23.42   

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Oregon Coast 50k

Susan and I love Rainshadow Running races, so of course when we heard about the inaugural Oregon Coast 50k, we knew we had to run it. When I saw that the race was taking place in October on the Oregon Coast, I was a little skeptical, since that time of year the coast is notorious for bad weather (well really all Fall and Winter). But we had ran in plenty of races with bad weather, so what is a little rain on the coast? 

Our pre-race selfie with Kat
                        
Showing off our kokopellis


The race took place on Saturday, October 18th. My sister came to Yachats with me and the house we rented was only a few miles from the start. The race didn't start until 9 am, which seemed so late and leisurely compared to most ultra-marathons. We did have to be at Adobe Resort in Yachats by 8:30 to check-in and take the bus to the start. After I checked in I heard my name, but it wasn't Susan, it was Kat. It was a pleasant surprise to see her, I had forgot she was running the race as well. As it was getting closer to 8:30 and people were loading up on buses, Susan was nowhere to be found. I grabbed her race bib and started to head over to the buses with Kat, then we finally saw Susan. 

As we drove the few miles to the start the wind and rain started to pick up, which wasn't thrilling anyone, since the first 7 miles of the race were on the beach. We got off the buses and tried to find some shelter from the rain and wind while waiting for the race to start. Finally James (RD) made his announcements and told us to watch out for sneaker waves and off we went. There really isn't much to say about the 7 mile beach stretch except, holy hell did the headwinds suck! The rain was manageable, but I was glad when we finally made it to the Adobe Resort and were off the beach and able to change into dry shoes from our drop bags. 

Susan, Kat and me trying to stay out of the wind before the start of the race - photo credit Justin Richards

And away we go - photo credit Justin Richards

From the Adobe Resort we ran on the road through Yachats for a few miles before we entered forested Cape Perpetua, where we would run a 9 mile loop before heading back to the finish line. The elevation gain of the whole 50k was around 4000 feet, which made it pretty runnable. The highest point was around 1500 feet, so all the climbs were very manageable. I am use to Rainshadow Running throwing in some tough (mean) climbs. There were some sections of the trail that were pretty muddy from all the rain and there were a few times I felt like my shoes were going to get pulled off. But overall I think this was a great course. 

Mushrooms! Along with the 50k it was the Mushroom Festival weekend in Yachats
 Susan - photo credit Glenn Tachiyama
 Me before we had matching outfits - photo credit Glenn Tachiyama

Once the weather started to clear up Susan and I decided to change into our dry shirts, which we just happened to bring the same shirts, our shirts from The North Face 50k in San Francisco. I really hated the fact that we looked like twins, like some sort of bike team. Susan took great pleasure in knowing that I didn't like the fact we matched. 

Twinies selfie 
At some point Susan ate some Pocket Fuel with caffeine in it and started hauling ass on the downhills, so much that I couldn't even keep up with her. I made the mistake of over doing it in a weight class 2 days before the race, thinking we were only running a 50k. Even though she was far enough ahead of me, people still noticed that we had matching outfits, I passed some spectators at the Cape Perpetua Visitor Centers they told me my team mate was only a few minutes ahead of me. Ugh!
I finally caught up to Susan at the 24 mile aid station, well she waited for me at the aid station. I have to admit it was a little humbling having Susan waiting on me. She told me if we got going we could break our 50k PR. But I needed a break and to use the bathroom. Even though I was not keeping up with her, I felt like I was really pushing it. 

me trying to keep up with Susan

We finally headed off again into the forest and the muddy section of the trail. We stopped to try and take a selfie of us in our matching shirts at a view point when a woman asked if we would like her to take our picture, and we said sure. She then asked if we were the ones with the blog. We said yes we have a blog, but which blog are you talking about? She said the Wildwood one. We smiled and said yes, she told us how much she liked our blog. I think her name was Emily. It made our day. I really had no idea that anyone but our friends and family read our blog. After chatting about how cool it was that we were recognized, Susan took off again. She waited for me where the trail ended and road started. 

I am trying to smile but on the inside all I could think about is how I wanted to change my shirt

Susan asked if I thought I could push it on the road so we could PR, I said I didn't think so. The road felt so awful to run on. I take back the part earlier in the post about James/Rainshadow Running not throwing in any mean parts in the race, running the last 2+ miles on the road sucked ass! The nice part was it was nice and sunny and we could see the beach and ocean, which we weren't able to see in the morning. As we approached what I thought was the Adobe Resort, Susan told me it wasn't, that there was another resort before it. As we got closer I saw a sign that said Adobe Resort property, I was so happy she was wrong. 

We saw my sister and her dog waiting for us at the finish line. We didn't PR but we were only 2 minutes slower than our PR. 

sun and blue skies!
We met up with Kat again, had beer and pizza and hung out watching the ocean in near perfect weather. 

Susan and I also won $50 gift certificates to Seven Hill Running Shop in a raffle. 



Courtney relaxing post race with me watching the sunset.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Triple D

The "Triple D" is the crazy challenge of hiking Devil's Rest, Mt Defiance, and Dog Mountain in the Columbia River Gorge, all in one day. Apparently it started as a Mazama thing but is also documented on Portland Hikers. Somehow, one of us brought this up and we decided to do it as our November day-off-work run. Ann swears it was me, but how can that be true when I had only heard of it from her?

Construction at Wahkeena trailhead
Ann picked me up with bagels and coffee, and we got an early-ish start. We got to the Wahkeena Falls trailhead to run Devil's Rest, and were at first concerned that the trail was closed. Fortunately, this was the trail going the other way. Phew!

At the start of our Triple D

Wahkeena Falls
Devil's Rest was a great start. At 7 1/2 miles and 2550 feet of elevation gain, it was surprisingly runnable and a great warm-up. Now is when I admit that as we got near the top, I stopped for lots of really cool mushrooms-- a PURPLE ONE!-- and for the views. It was pretty foggy, but I kept trying.


Ann crossing at Fairy Falls

Fairy Falls

It's all uphill

Autumn in the woods

A beautiful purple mushroom-- violet cort

Violet cort from below

Another neat emerging mushroom

Viewpoint near the top

View near the top

Panorama of the view and trail-- Ann is ready to keep going
Although there are views along the way, the top is pretty anticlimactic. It's a sort of rock lump in the middle of the forest. And it was foggy. We ran back down, thankful that it wasn't raining, or cold and windy.

At Devil's Rest

Devil's rest
Next up was Mt Defiance. We drove east to the trailhead. Ann does this hike every year, but I had never done it. Now I know why. You run along the highway for a bit, which isn't very pleasant, and then up. Forever. Up so steep that you can't run. Up so steep you can barely hike or walk. Up so steep, you worry about how you're going to get back down.

Hole in the Wall Falls, near the start of Mt Defiance trail

Hole in the Wall Falls

Ann passing Lancaster Falls

About a 3rd of the way to the top of Mt. Defiance you get an awesome view of the Columbia Gorge, but it is remanence of a false summit. 

Columbia River views on the way up

Mountain views on the way up

Ghostly mushrooms-- haven't ID'd yet

Hatfield Wilderness-- and Ann leading ever onward

Sweeping views as the trail opens up and we hit the ice line

As if any way is "easiest" at this point

Geometric ice in a rock basin

An undulating sea of trees

Follow the leader across the icy rocks

Mt Hood, distant and majetic

SNOW

At the top-- freezing, windy, and rather ugly with those radio towers

View from the top

Warren Lake  on the way down Starvation Creek trail
By the time we reached our car after Mt. Defiance it was close to 4 and it would of taken 20 minutes to drive to Dog Mountain. It was starting to get dark around 5pm, even though we had new awesome headlamps we decided we didn't want to run that long in the dark and cold. So instead of Dog Mountain we finished our Triple D at Double Mountain Brewery with beers. Some days you have to make hard decisions. 

We will complete the real Triple D next summer when we have more day light, but I am sure it will end up being a Quadruple D with Double Mountain at the end.

Third and final D-- Double Mountain