Bunchgrasser’s World

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Posts Tagged ‘Forest Park’

22 Mile Trail Run = A Good Day

Posted by bunchgrasser on March 23, 2010

This past Saturday was a good day for me. It was one of those days where all things come together in a positive way that reeks of Karmic influence. Who knows, maybe I’ve been paying my dues on the trail (and treadmill) enough over the past few months to warrant the running gods tossing me a bone. Or, maybe I’ve just been persistent enough to get through yet another bad patch of illness and injury, both of which seem to come as a package deal with running for me. I’m not a spiritual guy by any measure – so I’ll leave that answer to the philosophers.

Saturday was clear, sunny and in the low 60’s – perfect for spending a few hours on the trail. I loaded up my gear and headed for Leif Erikson Drive, which is a scenic, 11 mile gravel/dirt/mud road spanning the entire length of Portland’s Forest Park. My objective for the day was to run the entire length of Leif Erikson Drive (out and back) for a total of 22 miles.

The first few miles served as a good warm-up, so I increased my pace a bit and settled into a nice rhythm. I stopped once to push a Hammer Gel and 2 salt caps. For hydration I simply took periodic hits from the bite valve on my hydration pack. The beautiful scenery and miles flew by and before I knew it I was standing at the trail head (and turn-around point) on the opposite end of Forest Park. There were plenty of runners, walkers & mountain bikers on the trail – and you could just see the happiness on their faces.

I took a few minutes to down another gel (GU – Espresso Love this time), 2 more salt caps, and a Bonk Breaker bar. A couple  hits of Nuun from my hydration pack to wash it all down and I was headed back up the trail for the return trip. On previous runs, my hamstrings and glutes usually cry mercy at about mile 15. This time, all systems felt pretty strong at that distance so I pushed on with a smile plastered across my face. I stopped once more at around mile 18 for a final energy boost (another gel and 2 more salt caps) and then cruised on to the finish. I arrived back at my car feeling pretty good and very satisfied with myself. All of my gear, shoes, clothing worked well, so (hopefully) no changes will be needed for my upcoming race (Peterson Ridge Rumble).

For those interested – below is a short list of gear & supplies that I’ve been using on longer runs:

Nathan HPL #20 Hydration Pack, Nuun tablets, SaltStick caps, Hammer gel, GU gel, Bonk Breaker bars, North Face Rucky Chucky shoes, Injinji toe socks, DryMax socks, Brave Soldier Friction Zone lube, Zensah compression calf sleeves.


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15 miles on Leif Erikson Trail

Posted by bunchgrasser on March 15, 2010

After getting only a couple of 6 milers in during this past week I was determined to get my long run in over the weekend. Saturday was booked up, so on Sunday I grabbed my gear and headed to Forest Park. At least the weather cooperated – with mid-50’s temp, overcast skies and no rain in sight it was close to perfect for a long trail run.

Unlike the very popular Wildwood Trail which is single-track heaven, Leif Erikson is essentially a wide rock/dirt road that spans the entire 11 mile length of Forest Park. It is mostly flat with a few moderate hills, and this time of year has a few shallow mud holes to make it interesting. More importantly, it is closed to all traffic other than runners, hikers, bikers and the occasional horse rider. It is quite popular on weekends, so runners should listen for approaching mountain bikers.

For this run I used my Ultimate Direction hydration belt with a single bottle, and also carried one Nathan hand-held bottle for backup. Both bottles contained Nuun. I also carried one GU gel, four Salt Stick caps and one Bonk Breaker for energy replacement. As it turned out, I could have used more liquid as I ran short the last few miles.

I started my out-and-back run at the Germantown Road trail head and continued until mile marker 3 which is exactly 8 miles. At the turn-around point I stopped long enough to eat my GU gel, another 2 SaltStick caps and Bonk Bar before heading back the other way. It took a few minutes to find my rhythm again but the peaceful scenery made it easy to find my “happy place”.

At around mile 12-13 I could feel my upper legs starting to complain. By mile 14 my hamstrings and glutes were hurting pretty bad. It actually surprised me how fast they went from mild soreness to obvious pain. Clearly I need to work on strengthening these muscles as there seems to be an imbalance. My lower legs and feet felt fine, as my North Face Rucky Chucky’s seemed to be doing a great job.

I ended up cutting my planned 16 miler short by walking the last mile. I’ve battled injuries consistently over the past few years so I try to ease up and listen to my body when it complains. Walking the last mile also gave me a nice cool-down period before jumping into the car. My lessons for the day were: take more liquid and energy food for a run that length. And, I need to spend some time strengthening my hamstrings and glutes to support longer runs.

Until next time…


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Still on the bench…

Posted by bunchgrasser on August 18, 2009

I’m in my 4th week of R&R and I’m getting really, really anxious to run again. The first couple of weeks were the most difficult but I’m slightly more at ease with my current reality. Deep down I know it would be wrong to put the shoes back on before I’m completely healed up. That is the strategy I used to use and it never worked out very well for me. I’m somewhat impatient and its just that I don’t know how much longer the healing process will take. Come on already…!

I’m not entirely sure what my problem is because I haven’t seen a doctor about it. I’m pretty sure it is either achilles tendonitis, or possibly a bad muscle tear in my left calf muscle. I have some pain and stiffness (especially in the morning right when I get out of bed) about 2-4 inches above my heel. I also have extremely sore muscles going in a vertical line all the way up my calf almost to the back of my knee. The deeper I push with my thumb the more tender it is. I first thought I had multiple muscle tears, but it seems more logical that the upper muscle soreness is caused by those muscles attempting to cover for the injured muscle/tendon lower down.

At this point the soreness in in my upper calf has decreased and (I hope) is almost healed. However I still have a ways to go with the lower area pain. If it is an achilles tendon problem – I’m guessing it will be awhile longer before I can run on it. I’ve read that achilles tendon problems are notoriously slow to heal.

Meanwhile, I daydream about running my favorite trail in Forest park and look forward to restarting my training for the Portland Marathon, and hopefully my first 50K or 50 miler someday soon. I’ve been adding equipment to my garage gym and my latest acquisition was a nice bike trainer. I’ve been able to put in some nice 30-40 minute rides that don’t seem to bother my sore calf. I’ve also been hitting the weights and various other strengthening exercises (pullups, pushups, situps, air squats, etc).

With the Portland Marathon coming up on October 5th – I’m not certain of my status for that race. It is clear that I won’t be prepared to go for a PR, but the question of whether I’ll be suitably trained enough to run it at all is unclear. Bummer days…

Wish me luck…

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7 mile trail run

Posted by bunchgrasser on July 17, 2009

My wife Kirsten and I took our very first trail run “together” last night. We don’t normally run together much because we run at different paces. However, I’ve really enjoyed the trail runs in Forest Park lately and I convinced her to join me. When the temp is above 80, running in the trees is the only way to go.

I rushed home after work and changed into my running gear. As we left the house, the temp was well into the 90’s. A short 10 minute drive and we arrived at the Wildwood Trailhead. I grabbed my hydration belt and we hit the trail. We had planned to run the Wildwood Trail (singletrack) for the first 3 miles, then cut down the Hardesty Trail and run the much-wider Leif Erikson Trail the last 2 miles back to the road. However, we somehow missed the Hardestry Trail cutoff and ended up going quite a bit further. We finally came to Firelane 7a and used it to cut down the hill to Leif Erickson.

In spite of our navigational error and running 2+ miles longer than we originally planned – the run was amazing as usual. Kirsten loved her first trail run (at roughly 7 miles it was her longest run ever). My legs were a little sore, but mostly because it was my 3rd consecutive day of running. I normally run every other day. Ahh…days to remember.


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13 miler Saturday morning

Posted by bunchgrasser on July 14, 2009

I got up early this past Saturday and ran 13 miles. I can recall a time early in my running career (I just started 4-5 years ago) when running 3 miles hurt and 5 miles seemed impossible. Now, with a marathon, numerous half marathons and lots of training miles under my belt – I’m very excited to be able to run “unofficial” half marathons on any given weekend as part of my training.

I did wake up sore the next day as I usually do after longer runs. It is true what they say…that running never gets easier, just faster. I’ve had a sore left calf muscle for several weeks now. It doesn’t seem to be healing and I’m getting a bit nervous that it isn’t just a typical muscle strain. It is located very low in my calf muscle, just above my achilles area – although it doesn’t feel like an achilles tendon problem. Taking some time off from running would probably help more than anything else – but I’m reluctant to get behind in my training this close to the marathon. I think I’ll hit the trails in Forest Park for my next few runs. Maybe the softer surface will help.


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8 Mile Trail Run in Forest Park

Posted by bunchgrasser on June 23, 2009

You know, 8 miles goes by much quicker when running through a serene forest on a trail. Yeah, should be obvious I know. Yet day after day I slip on my Kayanos and run the paved streets, forgoing that wonderful zen-like experience. Why is that? Bad habit I suppose…

Well, this past Saturday I got in my car and drove 10 minutes to the Springville Road Trail Head and proceeded to change that bad habit with a nice 8 miler through Forest Park on Leif Erikson Drive. It had recently rained, so there were some muddy spots, but not so bad that I couldn’t jump over or avoid those spots. In general Leif Erikson Drive (LED) is rocky enough that there aren’t many true mudholes.

I started with a 10 minute downhill fast-walk on the Springville trail from the trailhead to where it joins LED. It drops about 450 feet in elevation over 3/4 mile so it makes for a great downhill warmup. It’s also a killer workout when you are walking (or Mt Biking) back up that hill.

I started my run on LED heading East/Southeast toward NW Portland where LED terminates roughly 10 miles away on NW Thurman Street. In its entirety, LED is about 11 miles long and makes for a wonderful bike ride as well as a long run. Incidently, one of my favorite brewpubs is located in NW Portland, not far from where the trail ends – but I digress…

One of the nice things about running LED is that every 1/4 mile there are labeled white concrete posts sunk into the ground, allowing you to track your mileage. No GPS watch or pedometer needed – just find your pace and enjoy the sounds of the forest. The sounds of birds chirping certainly beats  the sounds of cars any day of the week.

Around mile 3, I was passed by a group of young runners. I asked one of them and was told they were part of the Westview High School cross country team. Apparently they do their long run each weekend and today chose to run LED. I made my turn at mile 4 and headed back to Springville trail. It went quickly, but my legs were kind of sore by the time I finished mile 8. I still had the uphill walk to the trailhead, but it was a nice cool-down.

All in all a very enjoyable run and I’m planning to do another shorter run there tonight with my wife. Since I’m always training for the next big race – I may try running the full length (11 miles) and have someone pick me up on the other end (after a pint of beer of course).


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