Monday, August 29, 2011

Hood to Coast 2011

This past weekend I ran the Hood to Coast relay for the 3rd year in a row.  I applied for a team earlier this year and we were miraculously selected to be one of 1,250 teams to participate. We started off as a team of MTI coworkers, but over the months people ended up dropping out and were replaced by friends of team members. So our team name fittingly became "Droppin' Like Flies".  I was in Van 1 with my friends Megan and Michael and a few other new friends Justin, Trevor and Bobby plus our driver, Bill.

This year I ran Leg 2, which I really enjoyed despite the somewhat brutal first leg completely downhill from Mount Hood (a 1,500 ft elevation loss over 5.7 miles).  I ran at quite a pace (7:15 min/mile) and killed my quads.  My second leg was just outside of Portland along Hwy 30 past the St. John's bridge.  It was a tough leg because it was really hot outside on Friday evening and I think I was pushing myself a little too hard.  I kept a pretty good pace by tailing a woman in blue shorts for several miles.  I passed her with about a mile to go and felt pretty good about taking the lead.  However, she made a comeback in the last few hundred yards and we sprinted toward the exchange line as her team yelled, "Get her! Get her!"  That was the most defeating feeling to hear people cheering those words and knowing that you are the person they're yelling about.  So I pretty much ate that woman's dust as she crossed the exchange line before me and at that moment I realized my competitiveness as I walked off the steam.  Oh well... she motivated me to run hard and brought my pace for that leg under 8:30.  My final leg was at 5am on Saturday morning and was quite enjoyable as the weather was cool and the light of the sunrise was barely visable over the horizon.  I finished up strong and was glad to be finished early.

After our van was done with our last legs and passed off to Van 2 to finish up the relay, we were able to take showers at Trevor's beach house and then head down to the beach at Seaside to wait for our final runner.  Once we made it across the finish line, we were all anxious to get back in the van, head back to Portland, and crash in our own beds.  I fell asleep at 6pm Saturday evening and woke up at 7am the next morning.  I felt much better after a good night's sleep, but have never been so sore. I walked out of my room and stood at the top of the stairs for a good 10 seconds telling myself, "You can do this... you can make it down those stairs!"  They were pretty freaking miserable, but walking became easier throughout the day.

I absolutely love running the Hood to Coast race and I've made it a new goal to eventually run each of the 12 legs.  Our team this year was amazing... everyone ran hard and no one got injured.  I hope we can all run it again next year!

Van 1 at the Starting Line at Timberline Lodge on Mount Hood

Van 1 on the road waiting for Bobby to come in

Mary and Justin stretching on Hwy 26

the big exchange with Van 2 under the Hawthorne Bridge in Portland

my 2nd leg along Hwy 30

celebrating Bobby making it to the top of a brutal hill on his last leg

the whole Droppin' Like Flies team happy to have finally made it to the Oregon Coast!

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Mount Hood Climb

This weekend I finally checked off my biggest Portland Bucket List item: climbing Mount Hood.  Standing at 11,249 ft high, Mount Hood is the highest peak in Oregon and fourth-highest in the Cascade Range. This mountain is a sight to behold on a clear day.  At times it is literally breath-taking.  Often on my drive home, I'll turn a bend and there will be Hood, as big and majestic as ever.  And I think to myself, "I want to climb that thing."  Several times I've made plans to climb it, and we've ended up having to cancel the trip due to bad weather (cloudy conditions, snow, wind, avalanches).

So last week when Drew told me the climbing conditions were looking good for the coming weekend, I tried not to get my hopes up, but I really wanted to be able to climb it on what might be the last good climbing weekend of the year.  The conditions stayed perfect and my hopes became a reality.

So late Friday night, Drew, Pete and I made the 60 mile drive southeast of Portland, parked at Timberline Lodge, laced up our boots, threw on our packs and started hiking at 1:00am.  I had only taken an hour nap Friday evening, so I was pretty exhausted but completely stoked at the same time.  Our headlamps lit the way as we made the 3,000 ft climb from the parking lot to the Palmer Glacier.  Pete turned around at this point and left Drew and I to push ahead on our own.  The stars up there were amazing.  We even saw several shooting stars.  And the sunrise from behind the mountain was absolutely glorious.  In contrast, the smell of sulfur coming from some of the vents in the volcano were stronger than I imagined (and oddly made me crave deviled eggs).

Drew and I climbed past Crater Rock and Devil's Kitchen, over the Hogsback and up the Old Crater towards the summit.  The last several hundred feet at the top where tough and required a lot more strength than I anticipated.  Foot placement with your crampons and having a strong hold in the side of the mountain with your ice ax was crucial.  It was slow and steady (and wore me out), but we made it safely to the top and summited at 7:30am.  The view from the summit was amazing.  You can see 7 volcanos (Rainier, St Helens, Adams, Jefferson, and the 3 Sisters).  I'm so grateful for a clear morning.

The way down the mountain was long and tough on the quads (now I see why so many climbers are skiers as well - it's so much faster and easier to get down).  My boots were not the most comfortable footwear I've ever worn and they definitely left their mark with blisters and bruises on my heels and shins.  I can't honestly say that I loved every minute of the climb - there were several times when I thought, "What the heck am I doing? I should be curled up in my comfy bed right now."  But every minute of the tough climb was worth the overall experience.  It was all pretty sureal, actually, that for so long I've wanted to climb this mountain and now... I have!  Thanks Drew, for making this trip with me and encouraging me to keep climbing!  What an experience.

 Drew and Pete at Palmer

making my way up the mountain as the sun rises

this mountain is a beast

the final push

the most technical part towards the top

Mt Hood Summit: Saturday, August 6th 7:30am

we did it!

Drew and Mary's summit of Hood

video
Drew loves documenting with videos... someday I believe he will create a climbing documentary.

Beyond the Limits
"The bizarre trend in mountaineers is not the risk they take, but the large degree to which they value life. They are not crazy because they don't dare, they're crazy because they do. These people tend to enjoy life to the fullest..."
- Lisa Morgan

Friday, August 5, 2011

Mom and Dad in PDX - Round 3

My parents came up to visit me in Portland for the 3rd time.  I'm so glad that they have been able to visit every year that I've been here so far.  And they came at the perfect time of year this time!  We did so much in 6 days: food carts, cookout with my church community group, the 4T Hike around Portland, dinner with the Moores, they came to my triathlon, Portland Farmer's market and Saturday Market, progressive dinner (Kells for drinks, Montage for dinner, and Papa Haydn's for dessert), church, The Grotto, kayaking and fishing at Trillium Lake, dinner with the Schoberts who just moved up from Waco, and Les Miserables.  Wow, looking back we did a LOT!  Thanks for making the trip up to Portland, Mom and Dad!!!