“Lived in bars
And danced on tables
And ships that sail.”
And danced on tables
And ships that sail.”
This years journey run seemed to be a desired mileage in search of a plan. I had several different ideas in mind, but eventually decided on a plan that involved a train. And so, the day after the fireworks of July, I boarded a train in Salem headed north. An empty boxcar would have been way cooler, but an Amtrak to Kelso did just fine.
"He was waiting for a station just like some people wait for a train" Michelle Shocked.
Day one is usually an exercise in remaining calm, legs are rested and there is a real temptation to run too fast or too far when “fresh”. That wasn’t a problem on this trip. I never really felt great, running wise. Almost like my head wasn’t completely in the task. I made some strange errors, for me, misjudging mileage, forgetting my hat and glasses at a restaurant. I’m prone to blonde moments, I just don’t usually make them at times like this. I made it in to St Helens a little more worn out than 30 miles on fresh legs should have left me.
Day two is subtitled, the existential crisis in Scappoose. My stomach was really unsettled after dinner the night before and just a few miles in to the morning it was really bad again. I knew that I had 14 miles coming soon with no facilities anywhere, so trying to put this delicately for non runners. I needed some things sorted out before I pulled out of Scappoose. The last thing heading east is a McDonalds on the edge of town. I stopped, drank some coffee, ate a little and waited for what McDonalds is famous for. While sitting, waiting, I lost all my enthusiasm for this trip. I used the usual tricks, break it up, imagine how it will feel to arrive certain places. Nothing really worked. I finally left McDonalds physically ok to continue but mentally in a hole. Then came The Hill, and if your mind isn’t right when you start going up to Rocky Point....it’s going to get worse. And it did, for a while, then the views starting to captivate me, then I saw a cougar, then I reached the top!
The day was still a struggle, I was feeling a little off and couldn’t quite pull it all together. I changed my route a little as I was starting to run on fumes and really needed to get to some food. While I was waiting for food at mile 24, I realized I didn’t have 17 more miles in me on this day and started looking at alternate routes to get home. I ended up with 32 miles for the day and had veered west a bit. I stopped for the night in Aloha, had some sushi and a strawberry milkshake and sat down with the map on my phone and figured out what day three would look like.
Crossing the Willamette
It was going to be 46 miles to get home. From the beginning of this trip, my plan had been to finish day three in time to eat, shower, rest and then put on a suit and tie and walk across the street to Formal First Saturday at Archive, one of my favorite hometown bars. I made one questionable route decision, a long gravel road with several free range dogs, but other than that, I was finally starting to get into that run all day rhythm. Usually on multi day runs, day three is likely to be the most difficult. This trip, maybe because it also brought me to the finish, it was the easiest.
I love the logistics and the planning that goes into an adventure like this. I was a little sloppy with my preparation this year, and on long hot roads, with nowhere to hide, it showed. I remember at one point thinking, who turned gravity up so high. Because I’ve run with an 8 pound pack before, I underestimated how much that slows me down. Because I’ve run in heat before, I underestimated that too. I even took the mileage a little too lightly. I’m pleased with my ability to adjust on the fly. I’m also pleased that even though I left myself a pretty daunting final day, I finished it. I did what I usually do on days like that. I make a firm commitment to start, no matter what. That always seems to be the hardest part. Then, once started, do the math, figure out a schedule, where you have to be by when, break it down into pieces and do one piece at a time. I think this, all the time, but don’t say it out loud very often. My Dad would have loved this.