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.