Monday, February 15, 2010

To the Tower!!

When running (and with most things, I suppose) I like to know where I'm going. Especially for long runs, I usually map out a general route or otherwise have a general plan. When Marc started running a few years ago, his method was to just head out the door and see where the run led him. At best he might think of a landmark and decide to run there and back. Early on, his favorite long run became what we refer to as "the tower run". You can see the tall red and white radio towers on Portland's West Hills from most places on the east side. Particularly when running across the Three Bridges on the Springwater Corridor, there they are, highly visible, and err, towering over Portland. When they come into view, Marc will invariably comment that we should run to the tower, and my response is always, "To the Tower!!", with outstretched pointing arm. And he'll respond in kind. But alas, I had not ever been on the tower run...that is until this past Saturday.

Despite my good intentions, I still haven't gotten into the habit of heading over to Forest Park for my long runs. (Hopefully that will come more easily as spring arrives.) So on a rainy Saturday morning, it was easy for Marc to convince me to bag the trail run and finally run to the tower. I was a little apprehensive about lengthening my distance and including hills in the same run, but I agreed. Despite Marc's attempts to show me on a map, I've never actually been able to discern his route. So now I would know for sure.

Southwest Portland has a neat system of routes called the SW Urban Trails. Mostly these are on sidewalks, but there are a few sections of actual dirt trail. After we crossed over the Sellwood Bridge to the west side, it turns out that most of our route was along these urban trails. First, we had to gain some quick elevation, so we headed up SW Trail 4, which consisted of about 5 long blocks of this:

I had set my watch to time me for running 4 minutes and walking 1 minute. But I will confess that I was doing a lot more than 1 minute of walking along this section!

At the top of the stairs we still headed up but it had leveled off enough so that I could actually run again. We crossed over I5 and ran past the Fulton Park Community Center, which we noted might be a good spot for a bathroom break on the way back (something I'm always mindful of!). Then it was along the Terwilliger Parkway for a mile or two of rolling running among some big trees.

At the Chart House restaurant we turned up on SW Trail 6 along some neighborhood streets and it was time for some elevation gain again. Although we were gaining, the road circled around the hills so it was still very runnable. There were only a few spots that were so steep I had to walk. Marc led me down a dead end street which continued on as trail at the end. After about a quarter mile we popped out into a neighborhood so exclusive that I had never heard of it before. The only reason I learned the name was because of the signed (and locked!) tennis court owned by the association. The mansions were huge and the views spectacular. A few more curves and we were on Fairmont Blvd and we could see the tower looming above us. We turned up a short staircase and after a few yards of trail there we were! This tower doesn't have a park or a view so we didn't linger. In another mile we could have ran to the tower at Council Crest Park, which does have a view. But we were already at 8 miles and had to run back of course, so I wasn't prepared to add on the mileage this time.

Heading back, I ditched the run/walk until we were back down to river level. After all the downhill, I felt some tweaking in my left ITB/knee, but nothing serious. We arrived back home in 3 hrs, 7 minutes and 45 seconds, which was an 11:38 pace for 16.15 miles. (My run was supposed to be 15 miles.) I'm happy with that considering the hills and the breaks (I didn't stop my clock.) Even Marc was impressed. I think he expected to have to drag my sorry a$$ up those hills. But I felt fine and while there was no way I was running those stairs, I did run a lot of the hills.

Sunday was supposed to be a total rest day according to my schedule, but I went out for 4 miles anyway and felt great with no noticeable tweaks in my ITB or my knee. I finished the week at just shy of 34 miles. Knock wood, spit over your shoulder, and cross your fingers....I have to say that this mileage build has been a lot easier than I thought it would be. Maybe all those weeks hovering around 20 miles have paid off. Maybe the cross training is working. There's certainly more difficult weeks to come, but bring it on 'cause I'm loving it! And Marc is already talking about the next time we go "To the Tower!!"


Addy said...

Yay! I was curious about this "Tower Run" after you mentioned it on dailymile, and it was fun to read the full report.

Those stairs certainly look intense, and I doubt anyone would hold walking up them against you.

Glad you had such a great time with a good guide :)

Backofpack said...

Oh, it sounds wonderful! You are doing great!

Rick Gaston said...

I like how the Tower has become a symbol of just how far you have come since you started running again. A return to the old places you used to run in now that your miles are coming along again. To the Tower!

Gretchen said...

Awesome! "To the Tower!"

Joe said...

Fun post, Sarah. Nice "tour" of Portland, as well!! Those trails have to be fun to expolore...and you found the fancy schmantzy neighborhood too!!

Glad the ITB is behaving...great news!


olga said...

I miss Consul friend who moved from Austin to Portland (go figure) did a run in Tryon park and was saying every few minutes "Olga says hello". That was sweet:)

Darrell said...

To the Tower! I love it. Sounds like fun, even the 5 blocks of stairs, what great training that must have been.

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Renee said...

It is really awesome getting to watch you work back up your mileage, Sarah. I wish I could be there at the 50k!