This past Saturday, I ran the entire Wildwood trail in Forest Park (Portland, OR) for the second time this year, the second time ever, actually. The first time I ran the entire thing was only a few short weeks ago (on New Year’s Day, to be exact) and I did it solo, unless of course you count the 7 or so miles that Abbie (my dog) ran alongside me or the few times my husband came and jogged me in to one our meeting spots for a water refill. All in all, I finished my first RunWildPDX run in just under 5 hours, a time that I felt pretty darn good about considering all the mud, ice, cold and well…solitude.
For my latest RunWildPDX adventure, I was lucky enough to have some amazing company; my new friend and running buddy, Hope wanted to join me for the whole damn thing. We had started talking about running the 30 mile trail together right after my first go at it and then after a very fun and adventurous run club that turned what should have been a 7 mile run into a sopping wet half marathon, I knew we had to get out there and do it together. She was as unaffected by the accidental mileage and downpours as I was…and I loved it.
And honestly, I really needed her to motivate me to get back out there. And I needed to get back out there to both get some serious mileage in before race day which is fast approaching and to further test out my new Salomon Speedcross Pros before said race day.
Fast forward to Saturday, Hope and I met at 7 am at the studio and caravanned over to mile 0 of the Wildwood trail (near the zoo). Once there, we wrapped our phones in poo bags (hey, a great alternative when you forget ziplocks), grabbed our rain gear and hydration packs and got our butts out on the trail by 7:30 am with Abbie dog in tow.
The morning air was cool and crisp – my fingers were aching in the cold even in my gloves – so we decided we’d run a pretty solid pace for the first 5 or so miles to allow our bodies (and hopefully hands!) to warm up. Plus, Abbie was rearing and ready to go..and determined to help us be faster (mush, mush, mush…). We were pretty consistent and fast for the first 5+ miles, even on the uphill climbs, and found ourselves feeling warm. Or at least our bodies were warm. My fingers were and always are a different story.
Around mile 5 we caught up with Casey, dropped off the puppy dog, grabbed a bite to eat and did a quick water check (mostly meaning I got lectured for not drinking enough…the usual).
And then we were off again. Chattering away. And the miles seemed to pass quickly and easily. The mud was pretty intense so we decreased our pace a little, especially on the downhills so we didn’t go flying over the edge, or slamming into another hiker on the trail. We hit the 9 mile mark, our last chance to get any extra layers, food, and water from Casey until mile 24 and came in looking like a bunch of little kids who had been playing in the mud.
After Hope did a quick wet sock change and I took a quick seat in the warm car (I neglected to bring any extra socks), we got back out on the trail for our next 15 or so miles before we’d see Casey and Abbie again. And despite the fact that the mud was relentless and thick and seeming to get worse every mile, we were in good spirits. There were less people on the trails and all around us, it was just stunningly beautiful, lush and green. And we couldn’t have felt more lucky that the rain had been holding out for us…a nice surprise given I had been expecting to be totally soaked by this point.
Around mile 16, we stopped and did a quick check in. We were a little over halfway (or thereabouts) and both of us were sort of settling into our own pace and quite likely our own thoughts. I know I spent a few miles thinking about what was happening at Flex & Flow without me there and another several dreaming of all the ways I was going to continue growing the community there….Run Wild runs included!
We walked and talked for a minute, while we gulped down some pretzels, Honeystingers and SOS Rehydrate. And as we started jogging again, Hope mentioned that her quads were cramping pretty badly, which isn’t surprising given this was her first ever trail run of any kind of significant distance (aka she’s a badass and slightly crazy….which you know I love!). She kept moving along steadily and quickly even with the cramping – which I imagine she’s learned how to do from all of her badass marathon running – if I were out running that kind of distance on the roads, you know I’d be cramping up (and likely also whining). But she kept on, positive attitude and all.
We were on some beautiful single-track trails, the sun was shining through the trees and things started to get strangely familiar….and just as Hope was asking whether we had far to go to to the next aid station (AKA Casey and Abbie in the car), we spotted Abbie and Casey walking toward us on the trail. I was just about to tell her that we likely had less than a mile to go, all thanks to memory, no thanks to my watch that is confused every time I run the trails in Forest Park.
We jogged to the car with Casey and Abbie, gulped down some water and SOS and ditched our packs for our last 5 miles out there. Abbie had been napping for the last several hours so I decided to take her with us and it felt really freeing to have her running (aka slightly pulling) ahead with no pack to weight me down. Somewhere around mile 27 (the furthest Hope had ever run before), it started raining. And then it started hailing. And it was kind of beautiful and magical and amazing. Well, to me, anyway. Abbie certainly didn’t think so.
Given Abbie’s strong distaste for rain, I decided to charge on ahead in hopes that I would get to the finish line (AKA Casey’s car), drop Abbie off and then run back in time to run in to the finish line with Hope…or…errr, the road…err, the car.
I really had to push myself the last 3 miles – I was willing my body with each breath to run a little faster and keep the pace even on the inclines – and with all the pushing and charging on ahead, all the thoughts started hapening and swirling around in my head: good 100 mile training, you should have put in more miles, you should have run more hills, why aren’t you training harder, faster, stronger…..all these thoughts kept repeating themselves in my head until I saw the clearing up ahead. YAY the final climb.
When I got to the car, Casey seemed surprised to see me which meant my plan to push it had worked. I handed off the dog and then made my way back out on the trail to run Hope’s last mile or so with. And as I was making my way back to her, I started a different train of thoughts…and began to realize that I needed to stop beating myself up for what I didn’t do before this race…but embrace the things that I did do…and be cool with it. Like really cool with it.
About a mile from the finish, I saw her coming down the hill. She was smiling and moving beautifully. And I waited just at the bottom to run it in with her. We got to the end of the road, exchanged high-fives and hugs (I am SO beyond proud and have so much admiration for her total badassness out there!) and then attempted to scrape some mud off our bodies while doing a quick Yelp search for somewhere to eat bread.
We ended up at La Provence & Petit Provence on Division and had sandwiches and coffee and then ordered loaves of bread and pastries to go.
I was in heaven. Long run and a day long #breadcleanse – what more does a girl need?
Oh wait….puppy snuggles. Because you can’t just live on long runs and bread…
Thanks and congrats to Hope on her first 30 miler! And a big pat on the back to me as well for logging some much needed miles.
Stay sweaty friends!