What do I need to carry with me to run 30 miles in Oregon in January?

January 31, 2008

Wildwood trail really is amazing when you think about it. Thirty miles long. The whole thing (or very close to it) is within the Portland City limits, yet the 25 miles north of Cornell road cross just one trafficked street (and come alongside of just one more). Between mileposts nine (where it grazes NW 53rd) and 25 (the Germantown Road crossing), only side trails, closed gravel roads, and power line clearings interrupt Wildwood’s meanderings.

Today my mood has turned more positive and I’m looking forward to tackling the whole thing.

Let’s see… what do I need to carry with me to run 30 unsupported miles in Oregon in January?

  • 100 oz of water
  • About 10 Saltstick capsules (though I don’t plan on needing that many)
  • A peanut butter and jelly sandwich
  • A good number of pretzels
  • Six Clif Shots, two each vanilla, chocolate, apple pie flavors
  • Four Panda bars, two licorice, two raspberry
  • Two Kind Almond & Apricot bars
  • One plastic trash bag, kitchen size. (Emergency rain and cold-weather gear!)
  • My cell phone
  • A Radio / MP3 player
  • A Space Blanket, just because I have one
  • A small first aid and blister kit
  • Extra gloves
  • Extra socks
  • Extra hat
  • A Forest Park map

Hmm. My Ultimate Direction Wasp pack is going to be the one getting the real workout here.

Update 2/1/08:

Addenda to the list:

  • Some paper towels. (Nature could call.)

Thoughts before Saturday

January 30, 2008

I’ve never been nervous about a training run before. I’m nervous about Saturday. Thirty point two miles, the entire length of the Wildwood Trail, from Newberry Road to the zoo. On one level, my nerves are silly: I made it 25 miles in an out-and-back three weeks ago. That was hard, but I limped along and finished. And I don’t plan on running out of water this time around.

“It’s only five miles longer.” What’s five miles? At the start of a run, five miles is easy. In the middle of a good run, five miles is nothing. At the end of a run gone south… five miles is agony. If I’ve slowed down to 14-minute walk-some-jog-some miles, that five miles will take 70 minutes. It’s difficult to describe what that 70 minutes is like under those circumstances. I’ve had it happen twice now. It’s hard and frustrating and not much fun. It’s a spoiler too, casting a mental shadow over the whole accomplishment, at least if you let it. It’s tricky not to let it. What if you hit a real limit? What if this isn’t a case of running too fast for the first 20 miles, and running out of water had nothing to do with it, what if you only have 20 good miles in you? I’m finding it hard to fully shake off thoughts like this until I can prove it otherwise.

I’m glad I’m not doing another long out-and-back; they present psychological challenges all their own. But the route I’m taking offers a different challenge: the biggest hills, up and down, are packed into the last six miles. That’s just one more reminder for taking it easy until the end. Really. Remember: this isn’t about speed. This is about time on my feet. A training run. Run lightly, run slowly. Let the forest pull you along. Enjoy the ride.

Or maybe I was just feeling lazy

January 27, 2008


Saturday morning’s run wasn’t great. It wasn’t even good. It was only a ten-miler, and with a couple of weeks of lower mileage, it should have been a snap. Maybe it was mental: I wasn’t having a hard time running, but I was having a hard time running well. Let me put it another way. I knew I was plodding slowly along but I didn’t have the energy or the legs to do anything about it. I started out slow to try to warm up, and never felt like I did. Maybe it was the hills. This was a hilly route, starting uphill from my house to the top of Taylors Ferry, then across I5 and weaving down toward the river, following the signs for “SW Trails route 5”. It was a good thing I was following signs; that neighborhood down there is so confusing I might have gotten lost even on an out-and-back.

Just to fully frost the cake, the top of my foot started hurting again during the run, too. And after, the bottom of the foot was fairly sore as well. Not my best day. Mile splits 11:24 11:16 10:10 11:47 9:25 11:53 10:57 10:35 9:48 9:54. Yeeesh.

What blood pressure medications should runners take?

January 25, 2008

My girlfriend Sweetie is saner than I am and so I agreed with her that I should get a full physical exam, with special attention paid to factors that might make me keel over dead in the middle of a long run. So, having done that, what’s up?

  • My cholesterol is hanging in there, though my LDL is quite a bit higher than it should be. It’s not going up, at least, and my HDL (“good cholesterol”) number is still off the charts.
  • My blood pressure continues to be an issue. Though it seems OK, usually, when I measure it in one of those drug store machines, in the doctor’s office it likes to come up as 140/90: right at the low end of hypertensive. If I’m hypertensive sitting in an office, it’s a little scary to think of what might be going on during a five-hour run. Sigh.
  • The doctor gave me an EKG and didn’t entirely like some of the readings. So now I’m going to get a more conclusive test, an echo cardiogram. From what I can gather, this is basically an ultrasound of the heart. I plan on making at least one lame joke to the technician about not wanting to know if it’s a boy or a girl.

I’m getting the echo cardiogram February 6th and then talking with my doctor about that and about blood pressure medications a little after that. I did a little research on blood pressure medications for endurance athletes (am I an endurance athlete?) and found out some interesting things. Mostly, of course, people who put in a lot of hours of training, simply don’t have high blood pressure. But there are exceptions. What medications can they take?

  • Diuretics? No. Diuretics, i.e. “water pills”, are the major class of hypertension medications. They work by making you pee more… less hydrated blood means less pressure. You can see where this could be a problem, right?
  • Beta blockers? Heck No. Out of the question, if you want to keep exercising intensely: among other effects, they keep your heart rate down. Try to run and you’ll be exhausted in no time.
  • ACE inhibitors are apparently the way to go. These act to counteract the bodily signals that cause constriction of the arteries and veins.

I learned this stuff from the article “Managing High Blood Pressure in Active People“, by Dan Ullrich, on HealthLink. I’ll be interested to see how aware of these issues my doctor is.

Six Miles on Terwilliger

January 23, 2008

terwilliger.pngIt’s still cold and clear in Portland. It was hovering right around freezing last night. I decided to run on Terwilliger Boulevard. There’s a nice asphalt path with only a few street crossings, very popular with runners of all speeds. Even at night, in the cold, you aren’t alone out there. Except for two stretches, it’s all mildly to moderately uphill from north to south; I started in the south so I finished with the long uphills. From Nebraska Street, south of Capitol Highway, to the north end of Terwilliger is about three miles.

The real draw of Terwilliger for me is the view of the city. Especially in winter, when the trees don’t have their leaves, it’s easy to get distracted looking off to the east, down the hill and over the river. When it’s clear like last night, the Portland lights are stunning. They’ve been illuminating the Morrison Bridge with these beautiful deep indigo lights this year, making the river through downtown that much more interesting to see.

Since this was my second six-mile day in a row, I tried to take it easy. I only succeeded so far. On the way back, uphill, mental inertia kept me wanting to move at a reasonable pace, and after a while I found myself breathing rapidly and hard, pushing strongly with my arms and powering my way up the long slopes. Nothing to really write home about though… I ended up averaging a 9:20 per mile pace for the six miles.

After a quick dinner back home, I headed out for Lloyd center for another wild night of curling. We’re slow: we managed only four ends in a little more than an hour and a half. Our team lost by one point. I had a couple of good throws, but an awful lot of them were too heavy and sailed right through. But the ice was weird: fast parts, slow parts, not very even. Yeah, that’s it, blame the ice…

Just wear two of everything

January 22, 2008

So far in the course of this Oregon winter, I’ve managed to hold out from buying any sort of lightweight jacket that would be appropriate for running in, instead getting by with long sleeve shirts and a technical vest. Last night was the coldest night yet (maybe 30°F, though at least it was dry) and drastic measures had to be taken: I wore two long-sleeve shirts. And two pairs of gloves. And a hat. It was a good thing I doubled up the gloves: that water bottle I was carrying was cold. I haven’t been carrying water on my six-milers — I don’t need it — but I decided to start training with a hand-held bottle again since I’m going to be carrying one at Hagg Lake.

I ran hard last night and averaged around 8:35/mile for 5.8 miles.

8 on Fanno Creek

January 19, 2008

fanno.pngI had just eight miles scheduled this morning, as I recover from last Saturday’s 25. I ran it on the nearly-perfectly-flat Fanno Creek trail, starting in the north in the little parking lot off Denney Road and running down to 99 and back. I kept up a consistent 9 minute/mile pace the whole way. It didn’t feel like I was running fast, but it wasn’t particularly easy, either. Still, I’m still recovering from last week and my body’s been feeling a little under the weather lately, so good enough.