Grateful days – 11.5 mile Trail Run and 100 Posts Completed

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This morning was quite the treat – the Saturday Run group met at one of our favorite spots: Leif Erickson Trailhead at the top of Thurman to do a trail run.  This run was unique because we ran the entire length of the trail.  A first for us all, I was thrilled to have the opportunity to view some new scenery.  The farthest distance I have run out this trial was to mile marker 6 (a total of twelve miles out-and-back).  Today’s trip was an uphill run, out one-way.  Grey, cloudy, and toward the end of the run, a bit rainy.  I think the moisture only enhanced the greenery around us, filling the air with soft pitter-pats of rain soaking into the ground, the calming scent of Earth, and helping us to feel more connected and alive in the outdoors.

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This was my longest run since last year’s St George Marathon, and it felt good to get out and do some extra mileage.  With another marathon coming up in May, I am starting to feel the need to be more strict with my training schedule, as I have yet to fully commit to running 20+ miles per week.  When I think back on last year’s training schedule, the time commitment sounds significant when I add up the hours, but since I ran before work on weekdays, it felt less so because I was done with the required mileage before I even started the work-day.  How do you manage marathon training?

Next week is the Shamrock Run!  I have signed up for this race two times previously, and been unable to attend the actual event.  This year, I am looking forward to tackling the 15k on the Terwilliger hill, and joining in the sea of runners dressed in Kelly Green, embellished with Shamrocks.  Will I see any of you out on the road next Sunday?

On another note, today is a very special post for me – this is my 101st post!  Never did I imagine that I would be able to keep writing about running for so long.  I have discovered running is a pretty interesting sport, with many sights worth seeing, places to explore, and distances to conquer!  I want to thank all of you for reading and responding to these entries; not only has this been a great outlet for writing and sharing the beauty I see while getting distance under my belt, I have also made some great connections with like-minded folk near and far.  I am humbled to know that there are 100 of my friends, family, and acquaintances who choose to read the words on these pages.  You inspire me to keep writing, and I cannot thank you enough for that gift.

All my best to you on this wonderful Saturday.

with joy and gratitude,
~Alaina

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

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The Moon, still high in the sky, as I set out Saturday morning.

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.

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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.

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Beautiful sunrise through the trees.
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Frozen puddle!
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Sunglasses recommended.

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

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

A break!
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!

On campus.

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

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 Hawthorne.
The Steele.
The Steel.

 

The Fremont.
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

Summer running, having a blast!

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Overlooking the city, Mt Hood in the distance.

Hello, readers, bloggers, and runners!

Admittedly, I have spent far too much time away from my keyboard.  The past two months have worn on me; I have lost, learned, and through these experiences, I have come to conclusions which are guiding me to the center of what is important to me… But that is a blog for another day, as I am not quite ready to share my story.

This evening, I would love to tell you about this morning’s run!

I am now less than two months from Marathon day!  Today’s training schedule had eight miles slated; I plotted my course, and was out the door by 6:15am.  I wanted to savor the morning light, and get in what views I could, so my run started on a vertical climb to my favorite lookout.  I was greeted with the lovely scene above.

The sun was  just rising (tomorrow I plan to head out a little earlier to get a better look at the sun as it rises rather than after the event), and the light from that big ball of gas was blinding, highlighting everything within reach in a goldenrod hue.

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I couldn’t get enough!  But since I had another six and a half miles to cover, I resumed my run.  My next destination was the Waterfront, and on my way I happened upon a beautiful bridge sightings:

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The Fremont Bridge as seen from The Fields Neighborhood Park.
Broadway Bridge as the sun rises over the Wilamette.
Broadway Bridge with the sun rising over the Willamette.

It was a glorious morning for this run.  I thought the route would be pretty devoid of runner traffic, but this day proved a busy time for runners.  (Probably due to the fact that the temperature was supposed to top off over 90 degrees, a fact of which I was unaware until mid-day).

Looking back across the water at "Big Pink".
Looking back across the water at “Big Pink”.

I finished my eight mile double loop with a time of 1:21, yielding 10’10” miles (including time spent photographing the world around me).  It’s pretty incredible to see that I am gaining speed even without training to be faster.

Last month rounded out with 100 miles covered in training, this month the dial is already turned to nearly 86 miles, and there are six more training runs to complete!  The plain truth that my human body is able to keep up with this training regimen, constantly amazes me.

This evening, I was talking with a friend who said that a couple of his runner friends mentioned that after training, the act of running is boiled down to a factor of time – time needed to complete the run.  I find myself thinking about running with that mind-set as well: How many miles do I need to do now?  And how many minutes do I need to accomplish this next run?

How do you feel about training when you are a month away from the marathon?  Is it draining?  Exhilarating?

Does running become tedious covering so many miles (and so many minutes), or does the monotony provide the freedom for the mind to make space and just enjoy?

As always, Happy running!
~Alaina