Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Great NW Mountain Run

(screamin' down the mountain towards the finish in the 2010 Great NW Mountain Run)

Have you ever run in a singlet, really short shorts, and minimal trail running shoes up a snow covered mountain in late July? If you haven't and want the feeling of grabbing a handful of snow mid-race in the thin mountain air, and melting it all over your sweaty, pulsating head then you should try the Great NW Mountain Run!

Having my mother and her husband Tom in town for a few days left me feeling obliged to show them some areas that I love the most out here in beautiful Oregon. I got an email about a week ago from Richard Bolt about the "Mountain Hill Climb" race that was going to be taking place on Mt. Hood.

This type of race is a little out of my element but I am always anxious to learn more and try out different things. I drove from Portland about 50 miles away ( which sits at about 50 feet above sea level) and showed up about ten minutes before the start on Mt. Hood at about 5,000 feet above sea level. I registered quickly, and threw on some shoes before jogging around the parking lot at the historic Timberline Lodge.

Before I knew it the race director led us to the start line. It was an absolute gem of a morning! He gave us a few directions and without a build-up or countdown said...."go!"

(my mom wasn't able to get her camera up in time as I darted off the start line down the hill!)

I'm much better at bombing down mountains than running up them so I figured I'd better get a head start on some of these guys. I ran down the half mile or so paved parking lot at probably a five-minute pace and then turned up into the forests. There weren't any trails to speak of....can anyone say "fell running!" In true Inov-8 style we made our way up the forested mountain beneath one of the ski lifts. Then after another half mile or so we took a right and traversed toward the lodge where we would start the major climb up to the Silcox Lodge at around 6,300 feet above sea level.

(Traversing over to the major climb of the race...but already feeling the pain!)

As I started up the trail I recognized that this was the same route that I took up a couple weeks prior with some of the students with disabilities from Camp Kiwanis. I was huffin' and puffin' but I tried to remember each and every student and how some of them powered and persevered their way up despite major physical and mental obstacles. That helped a little but it was still really difficult. At one point the course turned to the left and I kept going straight...but I hear a yell from way below that said, "Yassine! Left!...Left!" It was Sean Meissner getting me back on track! Thanks my friend! :-)

Running eventually turned into "power hiking" and I practiced some long, hands-on-your-knees strides up the steep mountain. Finally I made it to the top but I had some company. Enter Mitch Thompson. He had been gaining on me up the climb and finally did so at the summit. I knew that as long as we didn't have too much more incline that I would be able to take him on the downs.

We made our way across the ski slope where a couple snow boarders carved past us. This was so cool running through snow and having people ski and snowboard past us. I grabbed some snow and rubbed it all over my head. I quickly grabbed a cup of water and caught up to Mitch who had moved into first place.

Once we started hitting the downward, technical trails I took back the lead and tried to push all the way to the finish. HERE is another cool shot of me lettin' it rip down the mountain!

There was one last little climb before I came into the finish for the win with a time of 39: 52. The course was tough but it was only about 4.5 miles. Maybe I should have done a 90-minute warm up and another 90-minute cool down. It was weird to be done so quickly!

I wore the Inov-8 F-lite 23o's which weren't a horrible choice but again thought I made the wrong decision. In hindsight I would have loved to have the X-Talon 212's to dig into the sandy trail especially while climbing and negotiating some of the snowy sections. Oh well...they still helped me take home the "W" and a check for $100! ;-)

Full Results can be seen by clicking HERE

(Enjoying some well-deserved refreshments post-race)

It was great to have Erica, my mom, and Tom there to root me on and to share the beauty of this stunning part of the country.

Now it's time to taper down for what's shaping up to be another epic run at White River 50-miler on July 31st.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Race for the Animals

After a week's worth of being a counselor for students with disabilities out at Mt. Hood I was given a little reprieve from the exhaustive yet super rewarding work. I came back to Portland Friday afternoon and hung out with Erica for the afternoon and then decided to try and get some miles in (which I didn't get a whole lot of while at camp). It was kind of nice though to recover from Bighorn and I was still able to run about 25 miles throughout the week in the stunning Mt. Hood National Forest.

So Friday afternoon I did a nice hilly out and back from home up to Wildwood Trail, Council's Crest (Marquam Trail) down to Terwilliger (Duniway Track) and back for about 18 miles. With the heat wave in Portland I went through about 40 oz. of water and felt the heat take a toll on my body...especially after the long, full week.

Last week I got an email from someone telling me about a Race for the Animals that promotes vegan lifestyle and that it was taking place right down the street from where I live on Saturday morning. I decided that it might be different to go throw down a fast 10k trail race to get the legs moving and engine revving again...plus it's on the trails of Forest Park that I'm so accustomed to running. We started and finished at Lower Macleay Park and did a decently hilly 10k loop up to the Wildwood, down Wild Cherry to Leif, up the Aspen Trail, and then back down to Macleay Park.

I went out hard with a couple younger fit-looking guys from Linfield College...named Sean and Scott. After about two miles Sean started pulling away from me in second place and Scott in third. We started hitting some hills and although they weren't huge they hit you hard when running at a high intensity...especially after running 18 hilly miles the night before!

As the race went on I realized that I probably wasn't going to catch Sean but wanted to maintain second place if I could. When I finally made it down to the Aspen trail someone told me that I was in first place! uh oh...he must of got off course! Sorry dude...I know the feeling...been there...done that!

So I pushed on down the Macleay Trail toward the finish and as I was crossing the bridge maybe a quarter mile from the finish I took a look back and I see Scott kicking pretty hard to catch me. I threw in a pretty hard surge and buried him and came threw for the win in 41:23. Sean definitely would have killed it and probably would have went sub 40 minutes if he didn't make the wrong turn. I had a good time though meeting people and talking with locals and also with some people visiting town. It was a gorgeous morning and the trails were dry and fast...and the temps were starting to heat up as we finished. I was also happy to support a cause that I believe in and I think that Northwest Veg does a great job.

I took my prize gift certificate, scooped up Erica, and we headed to a local Indian Restaurant for some lunch. I'm heading out for some more miles tonight, and tomorrow morning in preparation for White River 50-miler at the end of the month....and headed back to camp at Mt. Hood in the morning for another week.

Last week definitely gave me a little taste of what it is going to be like being a parent. Not only in terms of taking constant care of a child 24 hours a day...but in having to sneak in runs when ever you can swing it!

Below are some pictures of Trillium Lake where I camped all last week and where I'll be the next week as well.

Excellent trails to run around the area and not a bad backdrop of Mt. Hood!

(Mt. Hood at dusk from Trillium Lake)

(Getting a little upper body workout and some Vitamin D!)

Here is a little introductory video of the great work they do out at Mt. Hood Kiwanis Camp.