When the chores are done it’s time to cut loose!

I’ve never driven up Burnside past 23rd so I didn’t really know where it went, but I’ve always crossed coming over to the Arboretum from Pittock Mansion and wasn’t sure the distance from 23rd to the trail crossing… maybe a mile? (I think it was a little less).

The most awesome thing when out exploring a new route is making a good find. I didn’t take any water with me because I know where all the city fountains are in Washington Park. The first I would find if nothing else would have been at the Elephant House near the rose garden. But right as I got to 23rd I started to think I should eat a gel and try to find some water. I ran on and started looking around for hoses or spigots or water fountains and just as I got to the trail that leads uphill left into Washington Park – BAM! Ask and you shall receive! A TRIPLE water fountain – one for little people, medium people and big people. So I ate a gel and gulp gulped and then started up the hill.

The only sketchy part of this run is a short section on Burnside where there isn’t much of a shoulder – I slowed down on that section and stayed way to the left as cars were zooming at me coming downhill.  Saw another runner coming down the hill and gave him the Old Rasputin peace up. There is also a bus stop up there – on the same stretch of road with no sidewalk and no shoulder – not very Portland.  Maybe for the people who sleep in the woods and catch a ride to city center?  o_O

Fun one. Recommended. Will do again. 3.5 stars. (out of 5)

Took my UD vest mostly empty and wore it loose.  Super comfortable. Used Strava on the phone (Ambit 3 shipping next week!!!!!), 3 gels, water where I could find it. Cha cha cha.


In other news, Americans got their asses handed to them at UTMB this year. I imagine a whole crew of US runners heading to Chamonix to train for next year. Not sure what the dealio was … maybe too much pre-race fondue and nutella crepes. Big bummer.

Ready, steady, go.

Late at night with the curtains open in my bedroom I can see the tower antenna lights blinking off and on at the top of Council Crest. Line of sight is about  8 miles. The weather has cooled this week and at the end of August I start to miss the rain. The grass is brown and the leaves on the tomato plants in the garden curl from the heat.

I ran all the railroad tie steps today on the steep climb after crossing 26 from the Zoo as I made my way to the tower. It felt effortless as I fixed my gaze far ahead on the trail; it was less steep today. Time changes perspective. It smooths the troughs and flattens the peaks. Sometimes gravity relaxes its grip. Like today.


A friend texted me today to ask for some reccos for restaurants in Albuquerque:

  • Sadie’s in North Valley
  • El Pinto in North Valley
  • Frontier on Central – iconic spot, breakfast, maybe too touristy
  • Flying Star for lunch
  • El Parasol in Santa Fe – dive kitchen (carne adovada burrito)
  • The Shed in Santa Fe

My warning was –  no place is going to be upscale – but you’ll get good New Mexican food at any of those spots. There may be better places since I’ve left, but those are the ones I remember…

…and hot sopapillas with honey in a squeeze bottle, and the smell of roasting green chile in a hot sun and prickly pear jam.

Deep tired

Haven’t quite recovered from St Helens yet. When I finished I thought to myself: that was the toughest 50 miler I’ve ever done…It was only 30. Not only is going solo just more time consuming, but it takes the mental toughness up a notch…or 10. It’s difficult to overstate how good it feels to run into an aid station and be pampered by volunteers during a supported race.

I didn’t mention in my last post that I never listened to music the entire time – I had my shuffle in my pack, but never took it out. There was never a time when I felt relaxed enough to want to listen to music.  Situational awareness and mental focus was dialed to 11 the entire time.  Running like something is chasing you is how I would describe it, constantly watching the clock, checking the weather, assessing nutrition, hydration, feet… not much time to let the guard down.

Super-disappointed that my watch failed – again. In the 3 big races that I did this season, plus a few long runs and this past long run – it fails. It either freezes and needs to be rebooted, or doesn’t accurately record data. I’ve been through 3 Garmin devices and the quality has all been terrible. This one was the Garmin Fenix 2. My theory is that during races there is interference between other runners/devices and that causes the signaling problem. If that’s the case though, I wonder how Garmin devices work for cyclists in a peloton? Hmmm… I pre-ordered a Suunto Ambit3 through REI and returned the Fenix 2.  I have fairly minimal requirements – namely that it doesn’t crash or lose data.  I’ll be without a watch – or just using my iPhone for the next couple of weeks – I ran Friday and immediately missed looking down at pace/HR/time.  It would have been liberating if I didn’t have my phone shoved into the front key pocket of my shorts. It was an easy run, but I was waiting for it to launch onto the pavement and shatter.  And it was a little uncomfortable.

Finally – it was tough working around the house all weekend, then leaving Sunday to run all day Monday, then straight to work on Tuesday – Friday. Not sure if I’ll repeat that again without another day off for recovery cushion. Waa waa waa… I’m a delicate snowflake.



It’s tough not think about how small and inconsequential you are when you’re alone and exposed in the mountains. The scale of the environment is sometimes difficult to comprehend. I can only imagine what it must be like in the greater ranges. The feeling is particularly salient on a mountain like St. Helens that not too long ago was the exemplar of a conical mountain peak as Hood is today, but then exploded with the force of several megaton nuclear bombs. As I was crossing the breach yesterday running through Pumice Plains the thought occurred to me — I’m just a guest here; literally, on this planet…just a guest.

When I was driving out to Cougar, WA on Sunday night I caught On Being on NPR. I can’t remember the last time I listened to the radio in the car on a Sunday night — so I’ve never heard the program. There was in interview with Paulo Coehlo, the author of The Alchemist. Apparently it’s a popular book , 300 weeks on the NYT best seller list. The interview was very good and perfect for setting the tone of some reflective time alone in the mountains. In the interview he speaks of a universal question to ask oneself – it sounds strange but is actually quite compelling. The question is, “who am I?”.

As I was descending into the Toutle River drainage and the scale of the landscape became clear and the sublime vantage point looking up to the still intact East side of the mountain afforded me a moment to reflect that I had not seen or spoken to another soul for 3 hours – I asked myself, “who am I?”. My answer:”I don’t know who you are,  but you’re a bad ass and lot of fun to hang out with. Now get moving.”


  • Beginning before sun up full of hustle.
  • Toutle River drainage – wow.
  • Plains of Abraham
  • The oasis…I could have stayed there for a *long* time.
  • The climb between June Lake and Loowit/Ptarmigan intersection ~mile 27. I hate it…but I *love it*. 1000 ft. power hike? Bring it!
  • Shooting the shit with Will from Massachusetts when I got back to the Climber’s Bivouac (hadn’t spoken to anyone in about 12 hours). He supplied the bottle opener for my ice cold beer that I brought for afterwards.


  • Making the mistake that I could get to the Climber’s Bivouac on the 244 ski trail near Chocolate Falls. It cost me a descent and ascent. There is a massive ridge between the Worm Flows and Monitor Ridge — I forgot about that.
  • Second guessing myself in the last 5 miles and considering that I might be lost. I was dehydrated and calorie deprived. It was the only time I got scared and started running through sleeping on the mountain scenarios. It’s easy to start analyzing and re-analyzing into a negative spiral. I was skeert, but I kept moving.
  • Descending to June Lake to pump water with 5 miles to go. Another descent and ascent. Sucked.
  • Drinking questionable water in Pumice Plain. I filtered it, but it had green stuff floating in it… UV at altitude kills most baddies in water (I read).
  • Lava fields … in my nightmares. Some rocks move, others don’t. You won’t know until you step on them.


  • 8 Clif shots
  • 2 packages Clif blocks
  • 2 Pocket Fuels* (chocolate haze, chia goji & honey)
  • 1 PBJ
  • 6 s-caps (electrolyte caps)
  • Water, Tailwind, Nuun

*So at one point I was eating my last Pocket Fuel and sitting in the sun on a big rock overlooking this barren moonscape and I couldn’t get the last bit of almond butter out because of the construction of the packaging (it’s hard plastic and you can’t get your tongue in there). So what does any good monkey do? I grabbed a stick off the ground and used it to scoop out the last bit of nutrition. Epic + primal.

** my watch didn’t record coordinates for the first half of the loop – the SPOT however did record the coordinates and the track.  And Garmin connect (not Strava) somehow maintained the total mileage and pace. The elevation gain is why my legs are still sore :/

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Mount St. Helens

Circumnavigation on the Loowit Trail, 50K. 8h 53m moving time.
Trip report coming. Here are the snaps (takes a moment to load via flickr api).