Wintery Days on the Run

Out on the waterfront with my friends for our weekly run, I could not help but admire the stillness of the river.  Each bridge, the treeline on the water, and clouds reflected on the surface of the water a secret world hidden inside its flows.  The cool temperature and shapes of the high, light clouds reminded me that winter would soon be upon the city.

The Holiday Steam Engine

We caught a few sprinkles of rain, and beyond that the morning was perfect.  I got home in time to bake a cake for an evening celebration of Thanksgiving with friends.  I am so grateful for these wonderful people in my life.

Happy running, and wishing you all a happy holiday season!

Cool, Crisp, and Crunchy: Saturday’s Run in the Forest

Saturday, the cool morning air smelled clean, fresh like a snow-fallen day.  The wind was blowing, gusting and swirling around me as I huddled in my jacket, hood raised despite the lack of rainfall to protect my chin and neck from the cutting air.  The city was aglow with the warm peach hue of the rising sun.  It was a beautiful day for a long run in the Park.

The trails were blissfully open, full of color of the fallen leaves, and crisp with frosted mud and crunchy ice-covered puddles.  The whole of Portland seemed to be out for a run in the forest that day, taking advantage of what is sure to be one of the last sunny weekends of Fall on our way into Winter.

The gorgeous gals of Saturday’s Run.

We went out for an out and back run of eight miles, which is lovely on the trails; the photographer in me wants to explore some more territory, so I may encourage a divergence from our usual path for the next run in Forest Park.  Despite the repeat in terrain, I was able to catch some pretty magnificent moments.

It was the perfect day for a run.  I enjoyed every minute of being blinded by sunlight, especially since experience tells me we will soon be running in pouring rain each day.  Love Portland winters!

Where did you run this weekend?

Saturday’s Run: Sellwood to Springwater

Saturday’s long run was happily, for my lately less often used legs, slightly on the shorter side at 8 miles.  Mostly flat (with a nice bit of a hill at the beginning and end), we ran out of the neighborhood in Sellwood onto the Springwater Trail, traveling the opposite direction of our usual Springwater run that starts at OMSI.

The day was chilly, damp, and cloudy, yet it did not rain except to sprinkle mid-run as a cool off.  This run is one of our favorites: post-run, we go to the Portland Juice Press, grab some delicious, fresh juices, hydrate, and munch on home-made snacks before splitting up and going home.  I got my favorite juice, “the OM” (hazelnut milk, date, vanilla bean, sea salt), and “the GURU” (apple, beet, carrot).  Totally recommend this place if you haven’t tried them, yet!

This was the perfect re-initiation into regular running.  Just what I needed.

Getting back in the game, on new territory.

And it’s on.

Kicking off the commitments, I will run my second marathon in May: the Newport Marathon.
Officially registered tonight!

When is your next race?

Colorful Leaves, Sunset, and Reservoirs: Running Again, at Home

This afternoon I had the great pleasure of running during the daylight hours, when the skies were fabulously rain-free, and I went exploring with a friend.  Can it get any better?

Fall in the neighborhood.

Unfortunately, with moving, work being absolutely crazy, and business travel this past week, I did not make time to run for two whole weeks!  I missed it!

Trails on Tabor
Color *Pop*
Peek-a-boo view
Sunset
Reflection

This time away from home, and moving from a very familiar neighborhood into unexplored territory made me very nervous about running at dusk or in the early morning pre-dawn haze.  I had so much more freedom in my old, familiar “home zone” this new space on sidewalks and around all these houses is intimidating.  I really enjoyed my first experience out running with a buddy, conversing and looking around.  I think I’ll learn to like this area, very much.

With any luck, in the future I will not let a little fear keep me from doing this thing that I love so much: Running.

with joy,
Alaina

Saturday’s Destination Run

Last Saturday morning I woke with great anticipation; our Saturday’s long run was planned out-of-town and was a trail run.  One of the ladies in our group had offered to host a run on her side of the river, in Vancouver, and to feed us afterward!  (I love running and then eating!)

When I went to meet one of my gal friends to carpool to our destination – I had seen the moon rising in the sky the night before, and saw it on its way to rest that morning:

The full Moon about to sink into the fog…

My carpool buddy soon retrieved me and we headed up North.  After a few minutes chatting, more people arriving, we ended up with a very large group of runners – I think there were ten of us!  We all decided to put our shoes on, and head out into the dense, damp fog.

We were treated with a trail run that headed through the WSU-Vancouver campus and nearby neighborhoods.  The cool chill in the air kept us cooler on the steep hills and shrouded the fields and forests in a grey mist.

Early morning fields.
At the crest, heading down.
So much color, all around!
Passing over a small stream.
Trails through unexplored, foggy meadows.
There were little (bouncy) bridges everywhere!
River crossing.

By this point, I had no idea where we were, and was grateful to be following the leader.  🙂

A break!

The clouds finally began to lift on our way back up the hill, and the sunshine was beautifully blinding.

It was such a pleasure to run somewhere I had never run before and simply take in all the beauty. It was a difficult run (much more so than I originally thought – must remember not to compare training runs to St George), and extremely rewarding to end up back at a warm, dry house, and eat a delicious breakfast!

What has been your favorite ‘out of town’ run? 

Do you frequently seek out new trails to spice up your training?

Wishing you all a Happy Long Run weekend!

~Alaina

Back to the Pre-Marathon Routine, and the Saturday Long Run.

Fall!

Nearly two weeks ago, I ran a marathon.  Not just any marathon, but the St George Marathon; one of the fastest fall marathons at elevation with great down (and up) hills to bring you to the finish faster.  I ran a race for which I was only mildly prepared.  I knew I could run the whole way.  I had no doubt I would finish, that was a given.  Throughout the months prior, I stuck to my training like the glue that keeps the sole on my shoe.  Each run I checked off on my training log was essential to my success in the race, and without the commitment to run, I knew everything could fall apart.

At first, I was only running to get it done.  To make sure I could keep up with my Grandpa, actually.  Part of me wanted to run because I’ve really come to enjoy the activity, and the other part just wanted to avoid failure.  So I ran, right on schedule for the allotted amount of miles each day.  Over time, that schedule became routine, and despite my initial intent to simply achieve the goal of completing the training, I started to enjoy the routine.

For the first time in my life, I was running out of habit and really looking forward to each morning when I strapped on my shoes and got out to run.  Before daybreak.  In the pouring rain.  Watching the sunrise!  

I adore my early morning running meditation.  Just me and quiet, pre-dawn world.  (and my iPhone for those photo-worthy moments)

Grey morning looking toward the Burnside Bridge.

Last Saturday, I had the privilege of running with the Saturday’s Run group again.  It was nice to be back in Portland, running nearly at sea level, seeing my friends, and touring my city and her river.  The weather was typical of Portland: a grey, fall morning, but at this time in the season, the foliage is a sight to behold.

Looking down toward the river from Terwilliger.
Looking out over the East Side. Look at that red!
Greens and Yellows…

My friends planned to do 11 miles, and I only wanted to do eight (I mean, I did 26.2 the Saturday before so I didn’t need to do 11, right?) so I ran and chatted with them for four miles then turned around to head home.

Whereupon, I promptly decided to take my favorite route along the river (a.k.a. the long way…).

The Hawthorne.
The Steel.
The Fremont.

Apparently, the long way home on a tour of Portland Bridges.  I love running the waterfront, and ended my “eight mile run” with 10.2 miles.  Go figure.  I guess some things really stick.  I love running longer distances now.  Anything less than five miles seems … like a warm-up.  I ran four miles on Wednesday, and wanted to keep going.  I had to stop myself so I would get to work on time!

Do you long-runners out there feel the same way?  What is the shortest distance you run?

Heading into another weekend, I find myself looking forward to an early Saturday morning.  We are going somewhere new this weekend!  I’ll report back with a full account of this new trail run, in Washington!  (We are sometimes adventuresome!)

Have a wonderful Friday everyone, and as always, happy running!

with Joy,
~Alaina

Morning Motivation

Sometimes, it’s difficult to want to get up early on your first day off on a long weekend to go run 19 miles…

Fortunately, on a day like today, when I know I get to join great friends for the majority of the miles, and end with brunch at my favorite restaurant, the prospect of running a great distance becomes exciting rather than foreboding. Plus, it is extremely important to get outside and enjoy these last days of light layers of clothing before we are bundled into the rain and darkness of fall and winter.

And it helps when the sky greets you with this:

I hope everyone has a lovely long run today, and a wonderful, safe holiday weekend!

with joy,
~Alaina

A long, lonely run, and a song.

Last weekend, due to having a full schedule, I found myself running not on Saturday as usual with my running buddies, but on Sunday, and all on my own.  I wasn’t sure how my body would react to the distance, and I had no idea how I would personally do on my own for a distance greater than six miles.

And I was running eleven miles.

Alone.

In general, I adore running by myself.  I can go out for an hour and fully entertain my mind with wandering thoughts and sights I see along the way.  But two hours running sounded a little daunting. To make matters worse, I left after 8:30am on a very warm day.

Fortunately, I had a plan.  I decided to run into the forest.  Yes, I live near Forest Park in Portland, and it is an amazingly wonderful resource for runners in the summer months.  I highly recommend a nice jaunt through the park to any visitors who like to run or walk in the woods.  The temperature had to be at least 5 degrees cooler on the trail, and I was no longer alone, on the street with the sun beating down on the top of my head; the breeze was perfect, shade was plentiful, and the air smelled fresh and green.  I was here:

Due to the heat, and due to the fantastic weather, the trail was packed with runners, walkers, hikers, and those occasional bicyclists.  Literally everyone and their dog was in the forest on Sunday.  Each corner I turned, a new face sprung up before me to acknowledge, send a smile and hello and encourage me to keep going.

By the time I had turned around for the “back” portion of my “out and back” trail run, I was starting to feel the lack in conversation.  I found myself feeling a tad jealous of (and annoyed with) those runners with earphones who were entertained and not saying hello to their fellow runners (me).  And then I remembered to eat my Cliff Shot (I’m a big fan of the Mocha)… Fifteen minutes later…

I was singing while I was running!

I have to admit, I am known for sporadically singing a tune or two, but this was a little out of the ordinary.  But I guess when you put me on a trail by myself, with no one around… spontaneous performances may occur.  I thoroughly enjoyed myself.

And consequently, I now believe that Broadway is definitely in my future because obviously if I can run and sing, I can dance and sing.  Right?  😉

All in all, I found that it is possible to run more than six miles on my own, and I have finally faced and beat the Forest-Park-downhill-knee-pain demon.  I finished that entire downhill pain-free.

Week 4 of Marathon training is complete! I finished the week with 24.5 miles, making June’s total mileage 77.8 miles.  I do not think I have ever run so much.  The consistency feels wonderful! 

How do you get through the long, lonely run?  

Do you sing on the open trail?  😉

As always, with joy,
~Alaina

A month of firsts: marathon training, pace runs, and … swollen feet?

Sunny Day!
Joyful, sunny day!

Tomorrow morning, I’ll get out in what will probably be a very wet and rainy morning to get my 6 miles, and near one hour, of ‘pace’ running in for the week.  As a runner who is new to training for a race, and with no goal time in mind for this event, I do not really know what to aim for in a pace.  I’ve read something about doing a 5K and taking that time and doing some math… and in the end you end up with a marathon “goal time and pace”…

How have you trained to a ‘pace’ for your races?

Over the past week, I have found that wearing my favorite pair of shoes is becoming… uncomfortable.  It seems that I am either sliding around in the shoe more on the downhill, or suddenly, my feet are larger than they were previously.

Have you found that your feet swell (and stay swollen) when running with greater frequency?  (and more importantly… will none of my summer heels fit, either?)

This weekend I was able to get out and run – not with the usual group of gals, we were all off on our own due to schedule conflicts this week, but I ran on my own on one of my favorite routes, taking my time, taking pictures… Catching all the lovely I could spot and giving it immortality in the digitized world:

Absolutely gorgeous river views...
Absolutely gorgeous river views…
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Little one, singing me a song ‘hello!’
Can you see the big bird?
Can you see the big bird?
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Here he is; I love his frosted, fluffy feather beard.
One last glance back down the river.
One last glance back down the river.

A big thanks to all the runners out there sharing their knowledge and experience.  I really appreciate your openness, and the time you have spent researching to determine what works for you.  I feel so lucky to be a part of a community that is so willing to teach one another about our sport!

I have run 57.9 miles for the month of June (thus far), and filled about 20 of those in the past week.  I plan to do weekly updates from now on as I continue this marathon training adventure… Look for a post this weekend for the end of training week 4!

with joy in running (and all things),
~Alaina

The Inevitable

IMG_3886

At some point, it happens to all of us.  We don’t think about it, we don’t plan for it, we get so used to going out and living our life in the routine we have developed that it doesn’t even cross our mind as a possibility.  And then, inevitably, it happens when we are absolutely unaware of any chance of it occurring…

This Saturday, it happened to me.

I was out on a long run with a group of ladies, in a beautiful Portland neighborhood – great homes, a view of the forested hills and the river – I was putting my iPhone back in my belt pouch after taking the this photo:

The city in the distance.
The city in the distance.

When … Bam!  I hit the ground.  In less than a second, my position was changed from running to completely stopped after a very short slide onto concrete.  After landing, I slowly came to the realization I was no longer in motion, I recall looking around, picking up my phone and bus pass that had been thrown from my waist belt in the sudden motion, when I recalled the unsettling crack sound my knee made when contacting the sidewalk.  I was lying on my stomach, propped by my right hand, left arm outstretched, legs fully behind me… Yes, I fell.  I fell while running.  To my credit, it was not level ground; the sidewalk jutted up nearly three inches where my right toe made contact sending me flying Superman style before gravity brought my human body to the concrete Earth that was once below my feet.

As I slowly picked myself up from the ground, my running mates, who were all ahead of me and heard me fall, suddenly at my side, inquiring about my well-being.

“Are you ok?”

“Yeah, yeah, I’m fine”

“No, really are you ok?  You fell pretty hard.”

“Yeah, I’m alright. [looks at knees]  Well, mostly.”

“Your knee.  It’s swelling.  Why don’t we walk it back from here.”

I was trying to make sense of the mix of emotions running through my head.  I couldn’t feel my knees.  They were stinging a little but it wasn’t that bad.  I ran through a list of positives.  I was grateful for wearing capri pants rather than shorts, and my knee scrapes weren’t too bad.  I was grateful for my hands being unscathed since I still had my gloves on, even though I was wearing a tank top.  I was tremendously grateful for being out with my friends on this run.  They were full of helpful information: remember to ice and take ibuprofen to reduce the swelling, I could sue the people who own that house with the tree-root induced bump (although this is not my intention or desire), and they were encouraging that it wasn’t my fault as my frustration with the fall turned to anger at myself and yes, I started to cry.

6.5 miles into an 8 mile run, and crash, boom, done.  The negatives found their way in to my train of thought.  Now I was making everyone else walk.  And I would have to delay the start of my “serious” marathon training to heal. Not to mention the fact that I may have actually really done damage to my cartilage.  I felt defeated, that I had stopped our forward motion, pissed that I had screwed up the rest of the workout.  Why on Earth did I fall!?!?

I had experienced the runner’s worst nightmare: damaging my legs.  Worse yet, my knees.

Fortunately for us, the weather was gorgeous, and the walk back to our starting location was a very nice distraction and an exercise in staying positive.  I got to speak more with my running mates, observe the neighborhood, and we met this adorable puppy:

IMG_3888

And it has been an interesting reminder to take better care of my body.  I move more slowly.  Tonight I took a bath to ease tight muscles.  I choose clothes deliberately so there is less friction over my knee (I have learned I really like very long skirts… And I could really use one that stops above the knee!).  And every night for the next month this is what the end of my evening will look like:

Ice to reduce swelling!
Ice to reduce swelling!

Well, minus the band-aid.  The knee covered by ice is turning a lovely blue-purple, getting more colorful each day.  This event has acted as a reminder that my “normal” condition – healthy, able-bodied, and active can be changed in a second has renewed my appreciation for how I am living.

Have you experienced set-backs in your work-out routine?  Do you feel you have to back up your training schedule when something like this happens?

I am very grateful for being healthy and that my body will heal itself, and climbing up the four flights of stairs to my apartment will once again be easy in a few more days.  With icing and taking care, there’s even a chance I’ll be running again in a couple of days.

And hopefully, I won’t try to fly like Superman again anytime soon on my outdoor adventures.

As always, with joy in running (even when we fall),
~Alaina