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 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.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Kevin's birthday run

Amazing blue sky and autumn colors
When I first started running in Portland, I was lucky to find an amazing group of people who became my friends and running crew. We logged miles, trained for marathons, cheered each other on, and have run countless events together. Although most of them don't want to run quite as far as I do recently-- and I don't want to get up quite as early as some of them do!-- we still run together on a regular basis.

Sunbeams cut through the fog

Friday was Kevin's birthday, so Saturday morning Gretchen, Travis, Bob, Kevin, his wife Chris, his daughter Cat and I all met up at the Leif Erikson trailhead at the end of NW Thurman, and ran a 5 mile out-and-back. Then we met at St Honore for coffee-- I ran and the others drove. After hanging out, chatting and enjoying our beverages, I set off back up hill.

Pickle tower sculpture, seen on NW Thurman
Whew, what a slog! Going up Thurman felt tough, and I wasn't sure I was good for more than just another out-and-back on Leif for a total of 10 miles. Then I got to Dogwood Trail, and ran up to Wildwood. It started to feel good. So I went past Wild Cherry to Aspen Trail, for a slightly longer loop-- about 11 1/2 miles total. It was a beautiful, sunny day with the saturated colors of autumn and the joy of sharing stories with good friends.




Running while on the road

The last few weeks I have been traveling more than normal for work. I was in San Francisco on 2 different occasions, once by the airport and the other time downtown.

When I found out my conference was at a airport hotel I had resided to the fact that I was going to be running on a treadmill. Which is almost enough to make me not want to run, but 4 days without working out would make me very cranky which my co-workers would not appreciate.

Pedestrian bridge on the path I ran by SFO 

One of things I have learned about traveling for work is to ask the hotel concierge if they can suggest running routes, a lot of the time they even have maps. When I arrived at the airport hotel it was dark so I had no idea of my surroundings, even though I fly into SFO several times a year, but I never stay at the airport. I was pleasantly surprised when the guy at the front desk told me there was a biking and running path behind the hotel that "went for miles". I was even more surprised to find out in the morning that it ran along the water. It was pretty neat to be able to watch the planes land and take off while running.


Market Street crossing over the Ferry Building

My second trip to San Francisco I stayed in Union Square, which I normally do when I am traveling for work. I typically run down Market Street until I hit the Ferry Building and run down the The Embarcadero for as long as I have time for and back. I love watching the city come alive in the morning while I run: people on their way to work, vendors setting up at the market, various piers opening up for the day, other runners saying hi, the sun over the bay.

I am not always excited about traveling to work, but I do love discovering cities by running around them.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Post Canyon

On Saturday, November 1, Ann's dad, Fred, turned 70 and we celebrated with a big party in Hood River. Many of us stayed the night or weekend in town, including Ann's stepsister Gretchen and stepbrother Noel-- both of whom traveled from Texas and both of whom are runners. 

Bridge to rocks to bridge

Noel is injured, but Gretchen, Fred, Ann and I all wanted to go for a run on Sunday morning (Made possible by my dad hanging out with my son. Thanks, Dad!). Ann looked for trails that weren't too hilly for our flat-land visitors, with enough miles to keep us all happy. After some waffling we settled on Post Canyon, even though there wasn't much information or detailed maps available.

Look how long this bike balance beam keeps going!

It's primarily a park for mountain biking, but with so many well-kept, wandering, interconnected trails in a lovely forest setting, it made a great place for a timed run. We just drove up Post Canyon Dr until we found a good place to park, near one of the many trails that crisscross the road itself. We set out from the car and agreed to meet back in an hour and a half, so we could all run at our own pace.

See that skinny tree trunk that's rigged as some kind of balance beam?

Ann and I stuck together and enjoyed seeing all of the obstacles, jumps, ramps, balance beams, and other features in the park. When it was time to head back, we ran in the general direction but tried to pick different trails. Then Ann looked at Google Maps and, shockingly, it was able to give us exact directions to run back along marked trails. 

Climbing fungus-- this one's for Mary Jane

Up til then we hadn't really noticed the trail markings, but the main trails do indeed have posts with the trail number/name, who's allowed to use them (bicycles, ATVs, pedestrians, horses), and the difficulty rating. Yes, we avoided the eight-foot drop-off that was rated very difficult.

That's a big drop, people! Runners, avoid.

This was a great place to run right in Hood River. With lots of staging areas (ie, trailheads, some with bathrooms), nice trails, and friendly bikers, I know we'll be back to Post Canyon soon. Maybe we'll map out a route next time, but it's just as fun to set a time limit and see where the trail takes us.

Find a good map on the HRATS (Hood River Area Trail Stewards) website.

What the heck is this and how do you ride a bike on it?

Map at a trailhead

Running crew selfie at the finish

Friday, October 31, 2014

Our yearly road race

See that tiny rainbow, and where it ends?

Ann & I have run the Columbia Gorge half marathon since its start in 2009. Every year there's terrible weather up til the start (and sometimes for the first few miles). But every year it clears up and we thank our lucky stars for the beauty of the course and the fun of running fast (for us) through the colorful, autumnal landscape.

More rainbows and autumn color

In 2011 we finally dropped under two hours, and every year since we've improved by a little bit. This year I wasn't sure if we would be any faster. Although we had been doing a speed workout once a week for months, we stopped after our race at the beginning of September and haven't been back since. And I forgot my watch to time our splits.

Our friend Sally joined us-- her first-ever race! She was nervous, but when she runs with us on the trails she often pushes the pace. My dad also came out for the race (his fourth time, I think) from the east coast, which makes it an anticipated, special event.

Dad and me selfie

This year the half marathon started in waves, which was great. We started in the third wave (8-9 minute miles) and after the initial waterfront near-loop, the suspension bridge was much more stable than previously with so many people tramping over it at once. We had to slow down a bit, but it was much better than previous years when we had to grip the sides for dear life.

Ann, Sally and Susan before the race

We kept a good pace up through town, and then the first (and biggest hill). Then came a series of rollers. As Ann and Sally accelerated up a hill together at mile four, I kept steady and fell behind them a bit, knowing I didn't want to push too hard early on. We got a drink at each aid station, so I soon caught up to them.

My favorite cheerleader

Then, way too soon, we were at the turnaround at the far end of the Mosier Tunnels. Back through the tunnels is a nice downhill, then there's about a mile and a half of uphill that never seems to end. I dug in and tried to keep up.

My husband and son cheering on runners

Sally's knee locked up a couple of times, and we stopped or walked twice, hoping if she stretched it would help. The third time, though, she fell behind and didn't catch up. Suddenly we didn't see her behind us. We were worried, but knew she is such a badass, she would probably catch up.

Me and my family

We ran pretty hard the final downhill and back through town. The near-loop at the end always feels a little painful, but then we saw my husband and son cheering for us, and as we got to the final finisher's chute, I couldn't believe my eyes: 1:52! We achieved a new PR by nearly three full minutes, at 1:52:11.

And then almost exactly two minutes later, in roared Sally at 1:54:10. Her knee was very painful, but she still killed her first race.

My son cheers on my dad

Sally and Ann went to Pfriem to snag a table, while my family waited for my dad to finish. We rang our loud cow bells and cheered everyone on. It was awesome to see the first full marathon finishers come in, too. Then we saw my dad come around the corner and speed through the chute for a big finish.We hustled him quickly to the car to join our friends and celebrate with good food and great beer.

All of this is why I look forward to doing this race again next year!






Thursday, October 23, 2014

24 mile taper run

Susan at the top of Saltzman


Susan said to me don't you think we should taper for our 50k next week? I think I said something like sure we can run 24 miles instead of 26 miles. After running 50 miles 3 different times this year I really wasn't worried about tapering for a 50k. I also knew in the weeks after the 50k I would be traveling a lot for work and would miss several weekends of long runs, so I wanted to get in runs when I could.  


We have been reusing routes in our blogs in the previous weeks and when I looked up 24 mile routes, I was uninspired. So I came up with a new route, besides running down Firelane 4 and getting soaked by all the plants covering the trail, I really enjoyed the variety of the route. I am not sure Susan enjoyed running 3 miles up Saltzman, but I secretly enjoyed making her do it. 

Route: 

birch - ww : .22
ww - chestnut (7.5 - 12.33) : 4.83 
chestnut - leif : .49
leif - maple : .79
maple - fl4 : .97
fl4 - saltzman : .34
saltzman - skyline : 2.95
saltzman - leif : 1.62 
leif - maple : .23
maple - fl4 : 1.76
fl4 - leif : .21
leif - nature : 1.75
nature - ww : .28
ww - aspen : 5
apsen - road : .23
road - leif : .5
leif - wild cherry : .26
wc - ww : .56
ww - birch : .39
birch - 53 : .22
total 23.6