Sunday, December 20, 2015

Doing the (North) Nasty and then some

uphill both ways
Yassine of Animal Athletics decided to do one last long training run in preparation for his 3rd HURT 100 and invited a lot of the Portland trail running community to join him. His route was 4 loops of the "North Nasty", which is ~11 miles and 3000 feet of elevation gain. 


Look Susan does run uphill!
Last year Animal Athletics did several group runs they called the "Nasty Series", for one reason or another Susan and I weren't able to make any of the runs, well technically we tried to make one, but we were late. This time since Yassine was doing loops, we knew we could start any time and he would eventually catch up to (pass) us

We decided to do 1 loop of the North Nasty and add on an extra "easier" 9 miles to give us a good 20 miler. 


Found when we went down the wrong turn off on Skyline

We really enjoyed seeing so many people running the route and chatting with everyone, even if was just passing and saying, "are you doing the Nasty?". Yassine and several other fast runners eventually did catch up and pass us, but not before saying hi and asking how we were doing. We got to catch up with our friend Ben while walking up BPA, which I remember being an awful trail, but it wasn't too bad, probably because I wasn't trying to run up it. 


view from BPA

Doing a 11 miles in Forest Park and not spending a lot of time on Wildwood made it feel like we running somewhere else. It makes me curious what the other Nasty routes are. But once we did the ~9 mile loop on Wildwood and Leif, it felt like having your favorite comfort food. 


Shouldn't the water go through the drains?

North Nasty:
Park at Germantown / Leif Erikson - start across the street at FL 9
FL 9 - road : .64
L on street to steps, steps to hwy 30
L on sidewalk - Linton
L on Linton - FL 10 : .60
R on FL 10 - Newton parking lot : .78
Newton Road - BPA : 1.88
BPA - FL 12 : 1.27
R on FL 12 - FL 15 : .51
L on FL 15 - Skyline : 1.34
L on Skyline - BPA : ~.50
BPA - WW : .46
R on WW - FL 10 : 2.02
L FL 10 - car : 1.26
total : ~11.26

Kinder Loop:
Cannon - WW : .32
L on WW - FL 7A (mm 20) : 4.63
R on FL 7A - Leif : .25
L Leif - car : 3.25
total : 8.45

grand total 19.71

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Washed out Wildwood


Mud slide
It was a dark and stormy morning... day... week... month... This December has turned out to be a really wet month, even by Oregon standards. We have had quite a bit of flooding and road closures this week, so I shouldn't of been surprised to see so many parts of Wildwood flooded and washed out, but I was. 

I ran about 18 miles and every 2 miles or so there was either a wash out, mud slide, or over flowing streams. I can't ever remember seeing so much damage on the trail at one time. I had to stop taking pictures because I was so wet and cold, my fingers just wouldn't function. I don't think I have been that wet running since the The North Face 50k in California in 2012, which I am pretty sure was the last time it rained that hard in Northern California. Luckily Wildwood isn't as much of a disaster as the trails during The North Face 50k, but they are not far off if the rain doesn't let up some. 

The pictures below are between Springville and Birch on Wildwood. They aren't the best pictures because everything was wet and I had nothing to clean the lens of my iPhone with.    
Over flowing creek, washing out the trail
The trail is quickly falling away
The water isn't quite over the bridge yet, but it is close
Another part of Wildwood that is almost gone 

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Hawaii Four-O


sunsest from our airbnb

Seven months ago I decided I didn't want to spend my 40th birthday at home, I wanted to go somewhere with just John (my husband) and relax. As much as we travel it had been a few years since just the 2 of us had taken a vacation together. I looked at how many airline miles I had and based on that and wanting to go somewhere that wasn't cold and rainy, I picked Hawaii (the Big Island). Added bonus, we hadn't been to the Big Island before, so I was excited to be able to go somewhere new. 


end to end rainbow over a lava field 

What I didn't know at the time was, shortly after booking that trip, I would spend the next 6 months interviewing / looking for a different job. I had a co-worker who took another job at a different company, who wasn't really looking but responded to an inquiry on LinkedIn and ended up with an awesome job working from home. I really didn't have any intention on looking for another job, yet alone leaving the company I had worked for for 12+ years. But one day after coming home from a frustrating day at work I responded to recruiter on LinkedIn. One thing led to another and I found myself interviewing at different companies, which almost became a full time job itself. Preparing for technical interviews is almost like cramming for final exams, it's fun but exhausting. I had several offers, but for one reason or another they weren't a perfect fit. Then what I thought was the perfect job came around, but they didn't think I was a perfect fit, which affected me more than it should of. 


walking out to the green sand beach


Just when I was about to give up, another opportunity came up via one of my best friends, which led to another job offer. Deciding to take the offer and leave the company (Nike) I loved and had worked for most of my career was one of the hardest decision I had to made in a long time. I flipped flopped on it a lot and probably drove a lot of people up the wall, because I wouldn't make up my mind or talk about anything else for a few weeks.  I met some of my best friends, including Susan at Nike, which made it even harder to leave. My last day at Nike was 2 days before leaving for Hawaii, which timing wise couldn't of been more perfect. 


kayaking with John and the spinner dolphins


The first few days in Hawaii, I was in a funk because I felt like I had lost a big part of my life and still wasn't sure I had made the right decision. (Yes, I know poor me, I am in Hawaii and sad. The irony wasn't lost on me) I thought I really needed to go on a run to clear my head. Well finding a trail run on the Kona side of the Big Island was a little more challenging than I expected, so much of it is covered in lava rocks, which doesn't make for very runnable trails. 


My 1 trail run

A friend of mine suggested the Ala Kahakai Trail which is actually a 175 mile trail along the coast line, the trick is finding where the trail connects.  The closest trailhead to where we were staying was at Kaloko-Honokohau National Historical Park. The first 1/2 mile of the trail was runnable, then I reached a long stretch of sandy beach. Just when I was about to turn around and give up on running on the "trail" I came upon a turtle. There was something really magical about being the only person on the beach with the turtle. The beach eventually ended and the trail continued on lava "paved" trail back to the trailhead. I covered a lot of Hawaii's terrain in 4 something miles- beach, lava trail and dirt trail. 


The turtle I shared my run with

The rest of the trip I gave up trying to trail run and just enjoyed all the other things the island had to offer: kayaking and snorkeling with spinner dolphins, stand-up paddling, hiking on an active volcano, drinking mai tais, watching amazing sunsets and just relaxing by the ocean. Hawaii was exactly what I needed to unwind, relax, enjoy my birthday, and realize sometimes it is ok to take a break from running.  

Ahu
place of refuge

Walking in a crater

Ahu = Cairn

View from one of our hikes



Arch over the oecan


Friday, November 20, 2015

Pre-birthday, semi-celebration run

As we've done the past few years-- with our birthdays only six days apart-- we wanted to run our age in miles on Wildwood trail. Since we're three years apart, we have a bit of wiggle room on the total distance. This year, however, is a milestone birthday for one of us and we wanted to run that particular number.

Travel plans have us apart and out of town for nearly three weeks around our birthdays and the conveniently long Thanksgiving holiday, so we decided to postpone the official birthday run. Instead we ran all of Wildwood, from the zoo to Newberry Rd (simply because we hadn't done that direction since 2011) on Saturday, before Ann left on her trip the next morning.

Wildwood's start, at the zoo

I parked at the Newberry terminus, then John and Ann picked me up, and John dropped us off at the zoo. To cement his spot as Top Trail Spouse of the year, John then parked the car at the 53rd Ave trailhead so we would have an aid station at mile 9, and he hiked home. Now that's service. Thank you, John!

Just a couple of miles from the end we let a man pass us who then said our pace was helping him not go too fast, as he had just twisted both of his ankles. I told him we were running Wildwood end-to-end and were nearly finished, and he was amazed. He took off, but was there at the Newberry trailhead and took a nice photo of us at the end. Thank you, sir, and take care of those ankles!

A decorated trail marker
We lucked out and despite the forecast, it stayed dry our whole run. I have to admit that starting at the zoo is easier, because you get the climb to Pittock Mansion out of the way. We had a great, uneventful run and all too soon it was over. So soon, in fact, that it felt like we barely had time to discuss what our next adventure should be. We have been working on our 2016 race calendar, though. It's the adventures and mountain circumnavigations I can't wait to research.

Girls gone Wildwood, at the Newberry end

Friday, November 13, 2015

Michigan in the Fall

Hall Lake
Last weekend I flew to Michigan to surprise my dad, which ended up not actually being a surprise since he read an email I sent to my stepmom about coming. It was still nice for him to pretend to be surprised. As we normally we do we spent each morning running on the trails around Gun Lake and Yankee Springs Recreation area and the afternoons trying local microbrews. 
Me and Dad

Every summer when I visit we run these trails, I have posted about them a few times, but this was the first time I have been on the trails in the fall. The trails felt so different with all the leaves off the tress and being able to see a lot more of the surrounding area. 

Every time I start to get a little burnt out on running the same trails all the time, the seasons change and the trails start to feel different and new again. This is one of the things I really love about trail running. 

I am ready for all the changes this Winter is going to bring us. 








Saturday, November 7, 2015

Running Unplugged

It's been a long time since I've run solo and in silence-- no talking, podcasts or music to distract from my thoughts. But Ann was in Michigan, and I didn't realize I forgot my headphones til I was almost to the trailhead. I frantically txted her husband to see if I could stop by their house an borrow a pair. Moments later, I decided the silence was just what I needed and rescinded my query.

Sunrise silhouettes Mt Hood

I had meant to start out at the Thurman end of Leif to do my standard Ann-less loop, but drove on autopilot to Birch. So instead I did the 18 mile loop Ann picked for us the previous weekend, with a few added flourishes-- like going up Morak on the way out and Keil on the way back.

With four hours of quiet ahead of me, I was nervous I would bail early because the time would go slowly and make the run feel like a drag. But the first hour whizzed by. After a recent, impromptu trip to Florida for a family issue, I had a lot to think about. I consciously steered my thoughts to specific topics, sometimes just listened to the music in my head, and at times enjoyed the silent and observative mind that is one of my favorite things about running long distances on trails.

A lovely russula

The weather started out mostly dry, with a few short-lived showers. Then it rained more than not. And then the dry pauses gave way to bouts of heavy downpour. I enjoyed getting the full spectrum of autumn weather; it's been so dry that running in the rain felt like a rare treat (I know that in a month I'll reread these words with an eyeroll) and the trail didn't even get muddy. By the end I was sopping wet, and so glad I wore my long tights-- first time since about April. I can't believe we've had such warm weather this year that I went for seven months without wearing running tights!

Old growth tree selfie
I'm not sure when I'll do it on purpose, but I know I won't dread the miles next time I forget headphones or am unable to listen to a device.

Birch to Wildwood (7.49)-- .22 mi
Wildwood (7.49) to Morak (ww 10.65)-- 3.16 mi (3.38 total)
Morak to Firelane 1-- .08 mi (3.46 total)
Firelane 1 to Wildwood (11.18)-- ?
Wildwood (11.18) to Saltzman (ww 16.01)-- 4.83 mi (8.29 total)
Saltzman (ww 16.01) to Leif (6.2)-- .5 mi (8.79 total)
Leif (6.2) to Maple (le 6.44)-- .24 mi (9.03 total)
Maple to Leif (4.21)-- 2.66 mi (11.69 total)
Leif (4.21) to Nature Trail (le 3.40)-- .81 mi (12.5 total)
Nature Trail (le 3.40) to Firelane 1-- .93 mi (13.43 total)
Firelane 1 to Wildwood (11.18)-- ?
Wildwood (11.18) to Keil (ww 9.18)-- 2 mi (15.43 total)
Keil to Dogwood-- .17 mi (15.6 total)
Dogwood to Wildwood (8.47)-- .66 mi (16.26 total)
Wildwood (8.47) to Birch (ww 7.49)-- .98 mi (17.24 total)
Birch to trailhead-- .22 mi (17.46 total)
~18 miles total

Friday, November 6, 2015

Runicorns' Hood to Coast 2015

This year's Hood to Coast was singular, if only for the weather. With gusts of wind up to 70 mph, rain from all sides, and lots of lightning, it was very unusual for August in western Oregon. Despite that, we had a great time in van 2, did some running we were all proud of, and reveled in our new team name: after years of being the Honey Bucks & Buckettes, we are now the Runicorns.

We were lucky to get a team this year after last year off; my dad and brother, Ted, came out for it and Ann's dad, Fred, and step-brother, Noel, did too. At the last minute her step-sister, Gretchen, was able to join us, which meant that Noel got a reprieve from running to help out as one of our required three volunteers. Our team start was 6:45am, the earliest I've ever had, which meant that van 1 had to get to Timberline Lodge on Mt Hood at a painful pre-dawn hour.

Awesome tshirts designed by Travis

Gretchen kicked butt as our first runner, but Fred wasn't feeling well after his first leg, so he swapped out with Noel. We later learned that Fred really enjoyed his volunteer job seeing all the runners at the Hawthorne Bridge and telling them what to do. Noel, always strong and steady, kicked out the second and third legs.

In my van, I ran first with leg 7, then Ted with 8, Sara-- who was training for the Portland Marathon-- ran 9, Erik ran his first Hood to Coast with leg 10, my dad ran 11, and Alex-- the 16 year-old son of my friend Kari (who has also run the event for many years)-- was our anchor on his first H2C with leg 12.

We arrived at our first van exchange in the early afternoon with not much time, so we didn't get to hang out with van 1 as much as we'd hoped. I didn't feel much of anything until it was suddenly my turn to run, and then I felt slow in the heat with short gasps of breath. I was certain my inability to calm my breathing was slowing my pace, but as the road gave way to a series of rolling hills, I began to pass people.

I hadn't realized I'd want something to listen to until we were nearly at the exchange, so I had only cobbled together a short playlist of songs on Spotify; about 10 of the songs had the time and connection to download to my phone. I got to listen to all of them and then a few over again-- Leon Bridge's awesome debut album. It's pretty low key for running music, but it was just what I wanted.

Alex and unicorn 'do rag

Along the way I passed a kids' lemonade stand and stopped for a cup-- something I've always wanted to do. It was fun to chat with them for a minute. I finished my leg and was surprised at just how fast I'd run. Soon it was time for Erik's first leg, which I really wanted to run with him since it was his very first Hood to Coast. We were worried about both heading out of the exchange together, so he took off solo and then van drove around to find an access point to the protected Springwater Trail. Luckily, just as soon as I hopped onto the trail I saw Erik coming. We enjoyed  running together. He kept a nice, steady pace and I was impressed.

The rest of the van went went well until we got to our final exchange of the round, at the Hawthorne Bridge. We enjoyed some time with van 1, but when Alex came in he had pulled something in his leg or hip and was limping. We went back to my house-- very close to the exchange-- to eat and rest. Sara had brought five light beers and a non-alcoholic one for Alex, and we all cheers'd in an awesome tradition we'll be repeating from now on.

A few hours later, we headed to the next van exchange at the Columbia County Fairgrounds. We got there fairly early, so we had time to hang out and I had time to get ready. I saw a police car slowly circling the field and I had a fleeting thought: Wouldn't it be funny if my coworker-friend Jeff, who volunteers regularly as a deputy... No, that would be too much of a coincidence. Not five minutes later, I heard my name called out and turned to see Jeff leaning out of his cruiser. He stopped and we had fun chatting while other runners begged him to take photos of him pretending to arrest them. He demurred.

It was almost my usual bedtime, but seeing Jeff got me jazzed to run in the soft, cool night. Rain began to sprinkle down as I started out into the darkness, enjoying the awesome headlamp Ann gave gifted me last year for my birthday. I soon realized that I had forgotten to update my music playlist, and furthermore this time only six of the songs would play.

Deputy Jeff making Hood to Coast safe

To pass the time I set my sights on the person in front of me and enjoyed their music as I passed them (headphones aren't allowed, so people with music blast it out from little, portable speakers). I was surprised when I came to the van-- it seemed too soon-- but they assured me I was halfway done with my longest leg. I picked it up a bit and felt triumphant when I finished much faster than anticipated.

For Erik's second leg, the van dropped me off just down the road. I was surprised to see him running without the headlamp; he just hadn't been able to figure out how to turn it on. It was raining harder now at times, but Erik held a good pace, aiming his light up at the trees so he didn't have to see the distance and undulations of the road.

Then came time for Alex's second run. He took off in the heavy rain, and we stopped for him about halfway. "Do you want to run for me?" he asked me as I handed him water. "Sure" I said, "I just need to change out of my flipflops." He had seemed earnest at first, but then said nevermind or "just kidding."

How I wish I had just put on my running shoes and pushed him into the van!

We drove on to the exchange, and were surprised to find our van 1 teammates quickly despite the dark and having no phone signal. We hung out until close to when we thought Alex would arrive, and then went to the runner exchange with Shawna, who was up to run. She was the only one of us allowed across the street to the actual exchange, so I waited in my sole, soaking jacket, getting more and more worried as the minutes ticked by.

Nearly 20 minutes later, Alex limped up the road into the light of the exchange, and I burst across the street to grab him and try to put my jacket around his bare shoulders. The muscle he pulled on his first leg had worsened and he had barely been able to walk the rest of the leg since we had seen him. My stomach was in knots from worrying about him-- after his mom trusted me!-- and we hurried back to the van.

This next part is always the low point of any Hood to Coast. Race traffic is at its densest and slowest, and you have to just follow the race route and bear it. As we sat in traffic in the worsening wind and rain, I began to feel nauseous and dizzy in the way back of the van.

Finally, I couldn't take it and asked my brother, who was driving, to pull over. I knelt in the gravel next to the van the side of the road and puked as I watched the rare lightning flashes and marveled at the thunder. We just don't have thunderstorms in western Oregon.

Thoroughly voided of all I had eaten that day and exhausted, I got back in the van. We finally got to the sleeping grounds just after the final van exchange, and Sara, my dad, Erik and I set out with our sleeping bags and tarp while the others stayed in the car.

By setting out the tarp, laying on it, and then pulling it over us, we made a cozy cocoon that protected us from the rain and wind that was really picking up. I only fell asleep for about 25 minutes, but it was heaven to stretch out in the fresh air.

When my alarm went off, we picked up and noticed the damage the wind was beginning to cause in the brightening morning light. Leaves and small branches were coming down, things were blowing around between the vans, and people were struggling to set up tents.

We roused the van-sleepers and I got ready to run. Standing out at the runner exchange, waiting for Travis, I heard a massive crack and saw a huge tree snap and fall-- luckily away from the sleeping field it grew at the edge of. Travis came in, and I learned we no longer had the exchange snap bracelet. Oh well. I took off down the road and saw Ann and Gretchen running up toward me with Leif's unicorn hobbyhorse that they were using to help find each other at the exchanges. I laughed, happy to see them, and ran on into the sideways rain.

The wind shifted, at my back for the first half and a headwind for the last. Branches were breaking off and flying through the air, littering the road. Emergency vehicles ripped past with sirens blaring, paying no heed to the runners on the side of the road. Some of us had to jump aside a few times.

I was relieved when I finished my leg, but it had been exhilarating to have a good run in such weather. Ted took off on his last leg, Sara killed her long leg in really heavy rain, and somewhere in there we heard from an official at an exchange that the party at the end of the race was cancelled and the finish line moved due to the extreme weather.

Then I got txts from Ann in van 1 that we should stop, not finish, and just go home. I thought she was joking until I got the same thing from Travis. I couldn't believe it.

They were eating and resting in Astoria and thought the weather was just too dangerous to continue. We were halfway through our final round and incredulous-- we would finish the race, as slow as we needed to, given the conditions. We continued on, and van 1 returned to Portland.

Erik ran his last leg solo (I was running Alex's final leg) in total chaos. He ran more through lakes than on roads. Still, it was warm enough and he had a great run. We had decided that my brother would run with our dad on his last and longest leg, since it was isolated, there was nowhere for the van to stop and us to check on him, no phone signal, and the winds were pretty dangerous. I was so glad to have them running together.

Then it was time for the last leg of the race, and I felt good. It didn't matter how fast I was, since I had already run all of my legs and most of two additional, besides. I've tried to run a new position each time I've done Hood to Coast, so this was a very rare opportunity to run a leg I was familiar with.

I wore a cute new running skirt I had saved for the end, realizing my mistake but with nothing else remotely dry or unoffensive-smelling. Let's just say that someone told me I looked like Marilyn Monroe in her iconic skirt-blowing scene, and I was basically running in bright purple hot pants while the skirt flew up around my waist.

Still, I set out to give it all I had and tore through the forest road, knowing that some great downhill was coming up. I passed a good number of people but then heard someone come up behind me and stay there. I encouraged him to pass me, but instead we struck up a conversation. He really pushed my pace, and I enjoyed asking him questions so I could hear about his running at home in Colorado while I tried to catch my breath.

We rolled into Seaside and the intense winds made it impossible to stay upright. We had to lean into the gusts, staying low to avoid being pushed backwards as our feet left the ground mid-stride. We missed a turn because there weren't many volunteers out, but got back on track and then finally made it to the promenade, which was surprisingly lined with spectators. They cheered us on, facing us with their backs to the wind as we ran right into the stinging, blowing sand. I tried to pull my hat down to protect my eyes, but got pretty burned on my chest.

The beach was in a shambles with scaffolding and tents knocked over and blown about. I was relieved to not have to run out onto the sand, which would have been especially painful. Instead, we ran to the end of the promenade where I saw my van-mates and said a grateful goodbye to my Coloradan running buddy. We turned the corner away from the beach to the impromptu finish line.

It was done! We went to Dairy Queen, exhausted, and I was finally able to consume some food. Well, just fries. On the drive home, everyone fell asleep and Ted, who was driving, started to as well. I took over and got us home. That's when the exhaustion (having only slept 25 minutes) and the hunger (having voided my stomach and not eaten in the 12 hours since) finally caught up to me.

The next morning, some of us went to breakfast and relived the highlights and low points of the race. We all agreed it was an epic one and we were glad we persevered to finish. Ted-- who turned 40 on the first day of the race-- said it was his favorite yet and Erik said he was excited to do it next year. We had such a great van full of strong runners who all took care of each other. I can't wait to do it again next year. Van 1 might feel differently...

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Our first DNS

Susan and I ran our first 100k in May and really wanted to run another 100k or 50 mile race in the fall, but didn't want to travel too far for it. Surprisingly there aren't many in Oregon or Washington that time of year. Despite having a great summer of adventure running / circumnavigating mountains (Mt. Hood, Mt. St. Helens, Mt Rainer), we still wanted more. 

I was in Italy about to start a hike in the Dolomites when I checked Facebook and noticed that Candice Burt posted she was going to add a 100k the same weekend as The Bigfoot 120 miler. There wasn't a lot of information about the run yet, except it was the first weekend of October and it was a shorter version of the 120 miler. The timing was perfect for us. I immediately emailed Susan and told her she had to sign us up for it, since I would be without cell coverage when registration opened up. This was our first mistake: signing up for an inaugural race without more information. 



After I got back from Italy more information started to come out, more specifically that there was a 30-something hour cut off time and that the race was 100k-ish (68.8 miles). The distance didn't bother me as much as the cutoff time. 28-30 hours is what I expect our first 100 miler to take-- not a 100k(-ish). 

Being an experienced backpacker, I know how cold it can get in the Cascades at night, especially in the fall. Plus we were entering the rainy season, I wasn't sure I was ready to run all night in the cold and possible rain, despite having all the gear for it. I was also nervous about this being our first time to run all night and that we might make a wrong turn, since we didn't know the trails well. I discussed my concerns with Susan but she said we should wait until it got closer and see what the weather was like. I was surprised that she still wanted to do it; I feel like I am the one who normally pushes her to go a little outside of her comfort zone with this crazy hobby we have. 

I had a work conference in Las Vegas during the week before the race, so I would literally be getting off the plane and rushing to the race debriefing. I told Susan we needed to decide what we were going to do before I left for Vegas, since I would need to have all my gear packed. 

A few weeks before I left for Vegas we circumnavigated Mt. Hood, which ended with us running in the dark (with headlamps) for 1.5 hours. The running in the dark was fine; I knew the trail and we weren't that tired. But we both decided we weren't ready to do that for 12 hours, especially on trails we weren't as familiar with. 

So instead of running 60+ miles, we went out to Salmon River close to Mt. Hood and ran a much shorter 15 mile loop. We beat the rain, had spectacular fall colors and a lot of fun. Also after a long week in Vegas, I wasn't sure my body could handle running 60+ miles, but of course I would of behaved differently in Vegas if I knew we were going to run the Bigfoot 100k. 


Devil's Peak Lookout

Mt Hood covered by clouds

us on the outlook


A few days after the race, the results were posted on ultrasignup: 13 finishers, 38 DNF (did not finish), 10 DNS (did not start - that is us). 

Candice also posted the following on Facebook:

Dear Runners,
Congrats to all who started this incredible event! We had some pretty crazy weather! A big thanks to the selfless volunteers, we couldn't have done this without their help. Also, thank you to the runners who helped each other out whether it be by putting logs over the trail to show runners where to go when we had course marking vandalism or by helping runners who were suffering from the extreme cold.
A big thank you to Howie Stern for capturing runners! He also braved the weather to capture some amazing photos! Consider purchasing yours to support his work! You can see the pictures here:http://www.howiestern.com/2015-Running-…/Bigfoot-120mile100k
Here are the results:
Bigfoot 120mi Results: https://ultrasignup.com/results_event.aspx?did=31224
Bigfoot 100k Results: https://ultrasignup.com/results_event.aspx?did=33811
Please message me if there are any edits needed.
Thank you for being a part of the 2015 event! It was unusually tough weather, even for the Pacific Northwest. Hope you will join us for 2016, we will be offering this event again! For now, consider the Bigfoot 200! Registration is open for this amazing point to point run in August. Why August? Sunshine, warmth, views! http://www.bigfoot200.com
Rest up & give yourself a pat on the back for however far you made it this past weekend. Epic!
Candice Burt
Race Director

The weather report was exactly what I was worried about, it did made me wonder if we would have finished or not, but I was still glad we did not start (DNS).

Congratulations to all the people who did start! Maybe next year... 




Saturday, October 3, 2015

A Marathon for Susan

Wow, it has been a long time since we have posted anything. This doesn't mean we haven't been running, since our last post we circumnavigated Mt. Rainer and Mt. Hood and ran Hood to Coast, post are forthcoming. 

View from the Pittock Mansion

As we normally do on Friday afternoon we text about how far we want to go on Saturday and Susan wanted to run 26 miles this week. It was my turn to come up with a route, so I decided to add on a little more so we could run at least a marathon. I mean if you are going to run 26 miles, what is another .2? Not that it really matters, but there is something fun about thinking you planned and ran a marathon with 12 hours notice. 

Text with Susan, obviously it didn't take much to convince me.
We both had a new pair of Altra's we had been wanting to try, but I didn't want my first real run in them to be 26+ miles. I had us start at NW 53rd and Wildwood, so it was east to stop by the car part way through the run and change shoes and get more water. 

View from Firelane 4

The first part of the run we ran to the Pittock Mansion and back. The second half we ran Wildwood to Firelane 1 to Leif Erickson to the bottom of Firelane 4 which meets Saltzman, back to Wildood and back to the car. It was a great route with a good mix of climbing. It is nice to see the fall colors start to come out, I am not ready for running in the rain quite yet. But I am glad that fall means we are back to a more consistent running schedule and starting to plan races for 2016.

Susan at Wildwood and Satlzman


The full route:
53/ww - alder: .22
alder - leif : .84
leif - aspen: 1.92
apsen - ww : .23
ww - pittock : 2.58
pittock - ww/53rd : 5.4 total 11.9 (car "aid station")
ww/53rd - fl 1 : 2 total 13.19 (half way)
fl 1 - leif : .50 
leif - fl 4 : 2.05
fl 4 - saltzman : .55
saltzman - ww : 1.83
ww - dogwood : 7.51
dogwood - keil : .66 
keil - 53rd : .17

total: 26.46



Sunday, September 27, 2015

A flat 20 miler and a newly closed trail

Still recovering somewhat from our Mt Hood circumnavigation, I went back through the blog looking for 20 mile routes and found one that was as flat as I could make it. Whoopie!

This trail is CLOSED
As we ran down Gas Line, the main, sketchy-ish trail straight down to Leif had a big branch across it. We decided to follow the little, unobtrusive sign to the left, pointing "to Leif Erikson." That trail has had lots of work recently. They're obviously revamping it to be a nice, new, switchbacking and gently descending replacement for the other. When we got to Leif and passed where the old trail joined, we were greeted with a surprising sight: the whole thing had been filled in with branches. That trail is definitely closed!

We decided to deviate from the route after Maple, because 2 1/2 miles on Leif just sounded like too much. Instead, we continued up Maple to Wildwood. We did some quick trail-math and realized that the overall mileage would be just about the same. It was a nice little improvisation and made for a good recovery run.

Start at Wildwood/53rd

Wildwood/53rd (mm 9.18) to FL7/Gas Line (ww 19.96)-- 10.78 mi
FL7/Gas Line (ww 19.96) to LE (8.03)-- .28 mi (11.06 total)
LE (8.03) to Maple (le 6.44)-- 1.59 mi (12.65 total)
Maple to LE (4.22)-- 2.66 mi (15.31 total)
LE (4.22) to Dogwood (le .92)-- 3.3 mi (18.61 total)
Dogwood (le .92) to WW (8.47)-- .34 mi (18.95 total)
WW (8.47) to 53rd (ww 9.18)-- .71 mi (19.66 total)

Monday, September 21, 2015

Mt Hood Circumnavigation - take 2


Selfie at Ramona Falls

It was time to truly run all the way around Mt Hood. Two years ago we mostly did it, but due to difficulties at the Eliot washout and getting lost around Eden Park, we exited at Ramona Falls instead of making it back to our car at Timberline. Coming off a glorious circumnavigation of Mt Rainier in August (post coming soon), we felt ready.

Well, almost ready. We pushed back our planned September adventure run by a week to accommodate work, and it definitely helped to have an additional week to rest from Rainier.

First view of the mountain as the clouds lift

Unlike last time-- when we planned and meticulously packed for our very first mountain circumnavigation-- this time felt relaxed and casual as we tossed together our trusted gear and favorite eats. We spent the night at Ann's mom's house and drove up to Timberline in the early morning, leaving on time (!).

It was cold and dark at our 6:30am start, and the lodge wasn't open yet. There was no pen or pencil to fill out a wilderness permit, so with a quick use of the dingy, single toilet, we were off.

A sunrise rainbow and the peak of Mt Hood

The rising sun illuminated Mt Hood's peak in rose gold while we ran the first handful of miles. Mountain streams, autumn colors, gravelly ridges, and a sunrise rainbow set in pink cloud made for lovely morning sights. The climb to the highest point wasn't as steep, airless, or long as I remembered. And then, sooner than I thought, we came to the ridge above Eliot washout.

The area was rocky, monotone brown-grey, and foggy with clouds lifting out of the canyon. I felt my heart beat strongly, but not any quicker in fear, knowing that this was the place where I fell two years ago. While it could have been much worse, it's still the worst injury either Ann or I have sustained in five years of trail running. With much more mountain, trail, and ultrarunning experience behind me, my plan was to take it slow in this dangerous scree field and make sure we found the rope down on the south side of the slope.

Autumn colors

We followed the top of the ridge down and away from the mountain, stopping to peer into the washout as the clouds lifted up and out of the canyon and exposed the intricate mess of gravel and boulders leading to Eliot Creek at the bottom. No rope.

We kept going, until it seemed impossible that we hadn't passed it. By a large boulder, giving a decent rest spot and a slightly more level path to zigzag down, Ann went to scout for the rope a bit lower. I waited for a few minutes, until I realized that there was no way she was coming back. Even if she wanted to, the dusty steepness made it difficult to climb up and the terrain change farther down the ridge made it obvious that there were no trails there in the thick trees and rocky cliffs.

In case we forgot where we were

I started down in the direction she had disappeared, using the tricks I've learned for finding footholds and reading paths. Ann popped into view, and we shouted back and forth. She hadn't found the rope yet. Just a bit below us was a thin line worn parallel to the ridges and the creek below, so we dropped down to the apparent trail and followed it back toward the mountain. And suddenly, maybe 30 feet below us, obscured by the huge boulder to which it was anchored, was the (surprisingly short) rope.

After all that searching, the rest of the descent was quick and fairly easy. We hiked back up the creek towards the rope on the north side, crossed Eliot Creek, and made our way up using the trusty, long, obvious rope. I didn't feel as relieved or giddy as I had imagined to be successfully finished with the infamous Eliot hellbasin; I knew our next challenge was not getting lost in the area around Cairn Basin and Eden Park where we missed a turn last time.

Tilly Jane and Cooper Spur

Thankfully when we got there, the branch that had once hidden the trail was lopped off and being used to block the trail we had mistakenly taken two years ago. That felt like a huge triumph.

Much of the rest of the trail felt happily familiar. We've done a Bald Mountain route a number of times before, so that section felt like coming home. The stunning scenery of Muddy Fork was just as welcome and gorgeous as I remembered.

Walking the ridge above Eliot washout (to the left)
We did miss a turn after Ramona Falls, but realized our mistake after about half a mile. Soon after that, we entered into the stretch we missed last time: the relentless climb up Paradise Park. The whole thing was more or less a trudge, eating on the move instead of stopping for breaks.

The sun drew close to the horizon line of distant mountains and we realized we might not make it back to the car by dark. We calculated the distance left and our pace, revising often. Twilight stretched long as the last of the sun's rays hit the peak of the mountain, turning the snow to ruddy clay and inciting us to hurry.

Ann in the bottom of Eliot washout

We crested new ridges hoping to see the telltale signs of our start at Timberline Lodge-- ski lifts-- but saw none. Each steep, switchback climb yielded another view of a new valley. We broke out our headlamps, and talked about what good night-running experience this was. We smelled fire, faintly at first, then unmistakable, but it was still nearly an hour before we saw the black angles against the black sky and knew we had arrived.

Timberline! We made it in about 13 1/2 hours, about an hour and a half longer than we thought it would take. There were a few families just leaving the parking lot and we-- tired, filthy, sore runners-- just couldn't be bothered.  We changed crouching next to the car, hopped in, and sped towards home, letting our loved ones know that we had made it safe and sound, but late.

Burned forest and snowy peak

Our next challenge was finding a Dairy Queen that had a working Blizzard machine... which took three tries! Completing our full circumnavigation of Mt Hood was a nicely uneventful success, rounding out a long, gorgeous summer of running around mountains in the Pacific Northwest. Now the question is: what's up for next year?

See the full album of 50 photos here.

Ann and the Muddy Fork