I woke up at 5, but worried it was too dark to navigate trails in the woods, so I waited a half hour for the light to spread a bit. It was raining, which didn't exactly thrill me, but to have temperatures in the low 50s for a mid-July long run was too lucky to give up. Within two miles I had missed some turns, but I figured out where I was and recovered before I did any damage, lukcily I was running pretty slowly up the stead hills to the park. I found the Leif Erikson Drive trailhead and was delighted to find mile markers. A quarter mile later, I was even more delighted to find quarter mile markers. It was steadily uphill, but I rattled off 6:30 miles for a lot of the climb. Thanks to Portland Monthly's handy Forest Park Guide, I knew I would hit a water tank at some point so I was anticipating sucking down the goo packet I brought with me.
The mud was flying, and I was soaked and filthy--I was loving it. I kept climbing, and wondered if I even wanted to go downhill. I didn't even care that there wasn't a dry spot on my body, I was too focused on moving ahead. It seemed like I'd see another half mile go by before I knew it. Then, about 9.25 miles into the trail, I got worried that I hadn't seen my turnoff, which was supposedly a significant road. I climbed a steep, single-track trail for a while, but when I saw it intersect with other trails that were nowhere on my map as I rememebered it, I turned back. I was starting to get worried that I wouldn't get any fresh water and miss any chance of having the goo. I retraced more than three miles of Leif Erikson to the Saltzman Road trail, down a long long hill to Mt. St. Helens Road, in the industrial section northwest of downtown. I was back on track, but knew I had a long way to go. I was starting to wonder if I could make it back to my hotel in time to shower, get to the convention center and eat a decent breakfast before the first workshop I had to cover.
Photo from austinmarathontraining.blogspot.com
It was just plain flat, and I was starting to weigh the consequences of running fast and getting back quickly, or running slower and not going overboard or hitting the wall with miles left to travel. I considered hitchhiking, but I didn't even see many drivers, early on a Saturday morning in a non-residential part of town. I did notice that my form was immaculate, which concerned me because my most significant worry was getting lazy and hurting myself with sloppy form. Despite running for well more than two hours, I was probably running faster than when I started. Running was a natural state, and the only thing that would keep me from continuing was my impending work day. I was worried about making it back just because my sense of professionalism told me to be, but at the same time I was confident in my ability to get back. I went a long time without seeing numbered road signs, having started at 56th and aiming for 6th. As it turns out, the addresses were about 10 blocks off, but I was overjoyed when I hit Vaughn and saw 27th street, knowing I was closing in on my hotel. I saw a bar open for breakfast and stopped in for a glass of water so I could have the goo. I probably would have made it back without it, but the full day of work I had ahead of me probably wouldn't have gone too smoothly. I continued east toward 6th, running along several Simpsons character's namesame roads- Lovejoy, Flanders, Kearny. As I approached my hotel, I check my watch- 2:49. In a little more than a minute, I would break my personal record for longest duration run. I coicidentally finished up at 2:49:18, my marathon PR. I didn't really feel like running another minute. I got up to my room and took my shower, noticing the ridiculous amount of mud, sand and a few pebbles that worked its way into my shorts. I never noticed when it was bouncing around in there for what turned out to be 25 miles, but I sure noticed it when I turned the shower on and the water hit the raw skin on my inner thighs. I averaged 6:46 for the run, though I left my watch running when I went in for water, so I ran a little faster.
It's a run I would never have been able to do in Virginia the same day, where the temperature was much higher. Suffice to say, it's been a good trip.
And my shoes were pretty filthy when it was over, and this was after six miles of running on pavement during which the dirt could come off.