Archives for posts with tag: Oregon Road Runners Club

I’ve never been a big believer in the “couples that play together, stay together” concept.  To have a healthy relationship I think you need to spend quality time together and apart.   Yoshimi and I enjoy many of the same activities, but we have also tried to cultivate separate interests.  Even though running has had an incredibly positive affect on my life, I’ve never tried to push it upon her.  I did once talk her into joining me on my sister’s Hood to Coast team.  It was a fun couple of days, but after we arrived in Seaside, Yoshimi declared she would never run again.  While it’s common to make such proclamations after a difficult experience, she was serious and did not run a single step in the next ten years.

Since then she’s been extremely supportive of my running obsession-cheering me on at races in Tokyo, Montana and Buenos Aires, but has showed no sign of changing her mind.  It wasn’t until I started doing more trail running that I noticed her interest slowly starting to blossom.  One day out of the blue she said that she wondered what it was like to run through the woods like a wild animal.  That’s when I knew she was coming around.  A few days later I came home from work to see a brand new pair of Altra Lone Peak trail running shoes.  Hmmm, I wonder who wears size 7 in this apartment.

Remaining true to her strong mindedness, Yoshimi has no interest in racing and will only run on trail, as opposed to me, who will run on anything: trail, road, sidewalk, treadmill, track.  I’ve even run up-and-down airport concourses during extended layovers.  You should try it.  Everyone just assumes you’re running to catch a flight.

Portland is a great place to be a trail running purist or surface snob, as she likes to call herself.  There are dozens of trails less than a 15 minute drive from our apartment.  Nevertheless, I thought it would be fun to go away for a trail running weekend.  Nothing more romantic than a weekend of mud and sweat, I say.

We decided to rent a cabin in Champoeg State Park, 40 minutes south of Portland.  We timed the trip to correspond with the Oregon Road Runners Club’s Champoeg 30K(18.6 miles).  There was also a 10k, which is part of their 10k Series-7 races for $90, a pretty sweet deal.  Unfortunately this series has become so popular that a large percentage of the state park permit limits are filled with series participants.  This year only 29 of us 30k-ers were able to signup before the quota was filled.

Once again the weather turned out to be decent–no rain, not too cold.  During the first mile I struck up a conversation with a guy named Eric Kelso (chatting with other runners during long races is a great strategy for not going out at too fast a pace).  Eric and I talked about past and futures races.  It turns out that he is also a fan of destination marathons and we discovered that we both ran the Tokyo Marathon last February.  He’s also run marathons in Singapore, New York, Bangkok, Chicago, Berlin and Boston.  Before we knew it we were already at the halfway point.  I decided to pick up the pace a bit, but was sad to leave Eric behind, knowing that running is so much easier when you have someone interesting  to talk to.

With all the 10k-ers already finished, the course was nearly empty and kind of lonely.  I cranked it up to a 7 minute per mile pace and felt pretty good.  My stress fracture now seemed like a long ways away.  I crossed the line in 2 hours 15 minutes and finished in 2nd place overall.  Placing well in a race I’ve realized is not just a matter of running fast, but also choosing one with less participants.  Now if I can just  find a race where I’m the only runner, than victory will finally be mine.

After the race we checked into the rustic little cabin.  It’s located right along the Willamette River and connected to miles of biking and hiking trails.  We spent the rest of the day reading, writing, walking and relaxing.

For dinner Yoshimi made one of her classic Japanese nabe hot pot stews.  This perfect post-race meal is nourishing, warming, hydrating and delicious.  Afterwards we crawled into our sleeping bags and slipped into a deep cozy winter coma.

The next morning we woke up to clear skies and decided to  drive out to Silver Falls State Park.  I had been dying to return to this wonderful park since running a half marathon there in November.  This time the park was covered in a fresh blanket of snow, making the whole place seem even more magical.  My legs were still sore from the race, so I left the running shoes behind, but Yoshimi attacked the trails like a wild animal.  Later the sun came out, illuminating the falls and brightening everyone’s spirits.

On the way back from Silver Falls we stopped off in Woodburn for a bite to eat.  There are dozens of little Mexican restaurants in town, but we decided to check out the Guacamole Market, a place recommended in an Oregonian article on the best taquerias in the outer Portland metro area.  We walked in the door and immediately the sights, sounds and smells transported us to a local mercado in rural Mexico.  Though it wasn’t on the menu, we ordered a tlayuda, a giant tortilla covered in meat, cheese, veggies, salsa and other goodies.  This Oaxacan specialty is the size and shape of a giant pizza-easily enough for two and a bargain at $10.99.  It was the perfect end to our first romantic running weekend.  I look forward to many happy returns.

In April of 2006, I met up with four other climbers at a Portland brewpub to begin planning a mountaineering expedition of Mt. McKinley, the highest peak in North America.  The three week climb would require us each to haul more than a hundred pounds of gear and food up a 20,000 foot mountain with heavily-crevassed glaciers and minus forty degree temperatures.  We spent the next year training, planning, and saving for this big climb.

To help us fund the trip we got an expedition grant from the Mazamas climbing club, sponsorship from a local outdoor shop, and were able to scrape together enough frequent flier miles to pay for our flights to Alaska.  Denali National Park requires all teams to have a name, we decided on “Ten Fingers, Ten Toes” because climbing safely was our number one priority and we really, REALLY wanted to return with all our extremities intact.  We also set out to have good time and to work together as a team so each of us would have a chance to stand on the summit.  I’m proud to say that we were able to accomplish all of these goals.  I’m even more proud of the fact that we’ve remained friends after the climb.  You’d be surprised how many friendships end during a stressful climbing expedition.

It’s been almost six years since we first started planning that memorable trip and we all seem to be climbing a bit less these days.  So I thought it would be fun to start off the new year by getting the team together to do a race.  Unfortunately injury, illness, and travel plans prevented Keith, Jim, and Kari from joining in, which left just Chuck and I (and our 20 intact fingers and toes) to take part in the Oregon Road Runners Club Y2K12 Run.  My leg’s still not 100% so I signed up for the 10K, while Chuck  opted for the 20.12K.  With New Years resolutions still fresh in everyone’s mind, more than 600 runners descended upon little Forest Grove for this annual event.

I’ve done very little running these past six weeks, so my plan for this race was to leave the ego at home and just use this as a training run.  I started out slow, enjoying the meditative rhythm of the easy pace.  I was able to keep my competitive instincts in check and simply get pleasure from the process.  After about a mile things started to open up and I ran into someone I wasn’t expecting to see…my ego!   He was like, “Dude, look at all those slow runners ahead of you.  Why don’t you pick off a few of them.  Your leg’s fine, don’t be such a baby.”  I have no idea how he got there.  I could have sworn I left him at home, but I was in no mood to argue, so I picked up the pace.  The competitive juices began to flow and I started passing other runners.  It was like a game.  As soon as I would pass someone, I’d then set my sights on the next one and slowly reel them in.  I forgot about pace, about distance, about time and focused simply on moving past one runner after another.  The pleasure was no longer in the process of running, but in process of passing.

My usual race strategy is to go out at a pace I think (and hope) I can maintain and then hold on for dear life till the end.  At this race, however, I was actually sad to finish–there were still more runners I was hoping to pass.  I didn’t run anywhere near my fastest time for a 10K, but I was able to finish in 17th place out of 437 runners.  “See I told you it would fun, man.  Aren’t you happy I didn’t stay at home,”  my ego boasted.

Afterwards I changed into some warm clothes and ate a fresh-off-the-griddle blueberry pancake the race volunteers were cooking up.  Back at the finish line the 20.12K runners were just rolling in.  Chuck has spent the last year recovering from a painful case of plantar fasciitis.  He had just missed qualifying for Boston at the 2010 Portland Marathon because of his injury.  I’m so happy he’s now able to train and race again.  If he can stay injury-free I’m sure that he’ll be able to qualify for Boston someday.  After Chuck finished, we skipped the long pancake line and stopped at McMenamins Grand Lodge for a couple of burgers.  This race was the perfect way to start out the new running year.  Next time I hope we can get the whole “Ten Fingers, Ten Toes” team together for a race.  Here are some photos from the event:

Chuck at the Finish