It was a fabulous weekend with CORK. Gail, Sid and I got invited by Madras friends Maura and Stan to visit Central Oregon and run amazing trails in and around Smith Rock park, so Friday after work we hit the road. The trip was flawless, executed by Sid, and we arrived to a warm house with dinner and great talks of our wonderful friends. Saturday morning was very different from a race morning indeed - slow, relaxed and chatty. We made our way to the Skull Hallow Campground and met up with the fast folks: Sean, Kammi Semick, Rod, Jeff and Prudence. Gail and I took a "false start" by 5 min as we walked up the 2M road hill, and way too quickly were caught up by the group charging passed.
I saw a lot of this view for the day:)
We took horse trails, and Maura was an awesome guide, telling us history and showing us breathtaking views. I couldn't get my breathing right for a long time (like a half of the trek) and lagged behind, making girls wait for me at intersections, but the scenery was well worth it (and I could always take a rest stop by taking lots of pictures).
The trails lead us gently on uphills and downhills, with pine trees and soft dirt. After a prolonged downhill (where I tried to wake up and hang with the ladies) we bumped into fast group who were doing some opposite direction. . What is awesome with trails in Central Oregon is that it criss-crosses mountains (buttes) in so many ways, it always feels that you are not alone. The groups of runners start in different locations and go opposite ways just to meet somewhere a few times, and it feels like we all run together - something Portland area, with all the beautiful trails we have, is missing (I will also go blunt and say that Portland area is missing on the feeling of a "group", when everybody know who else is out there and truly stop and enjoy the meetings on the run).
Another group of runners we were happy to see.
Another ridge trail, and as we rounded a corner - there it was, almost sudden as it really is, the Smith Rock park before our eyes!
Maura showed us a "graduation" downhill (which we didn't take) and lead us on an easier trail down closer to the canyon that starts the park. The trail was rocky and loose (and again the fast boys and girls passed us from a different direction), and I finally realized why the trail shoes are for trails and the road shoes are for roads. I forgot my shoes at the house and grabbed the old outlived pair of "roadies" from work, and on this downhill I paid for this, sliding with no traction. But soon enough here it was - foot of Monkey Face with a river snaking down below! Oh, how beautiful...Short much needed breather - and up we hike. The sun is getting hot by then, and at the top we shed the outer layer while taking a snack break. Lo and behold, time to make it another crazy downhill to the park's entrance for a water refill - and another meet with the group of speedsters. Maura says we are less than half way of our distance (of proposed 20 miles) yet over 2 hrs into the run, and I was like: uh-oh, all my fault, better start moving my ass! One last look at the park, and up we go on the dirt road back to butte trails. I kind of finally get in tune and move better, at least no one has to wait for me anymore, and I even run some inclines with a smile, really:) We trek trough some water run-off, and come around to see a bunch of people on jeeps with shot guns. Not a pretty site when you are enjoying nature! Oh, well...we wondered if they allowed to shoot here where so many hikers/runners/horse riders are. Soon as we passed them, we bumped into Erik Skaggs and Billy Barnett, two "naked" boys with empty hands (don't you love youth!). Some more running, pushing it over the last hill, taking on a "fast track" down (wheee!) and there it was, a parking lot. What a blessed day with great friends!
After the run we all went to Bronco Billy's farm for a potluck brunch and a hang out with more people showing up.
The cool part was all the organic/home made food that was there! Another cool part was that Jeff arranged for his friend Mark, a specialist of ART, to offer us free work on our chronically injured bodies. This dude is onto something! He quickly found and confirmed that I have a huge scar tissue after my hamstring and piriformis tear back in July of 2006, thus a shortening of the range of motion and weakening/buckling of my lower left leg (a sciatica nerve is involved into this mess too) and snapping while widening my steps every time, and put me through some "tough love" pressing points with movement. I have to admit the leg felt very warm and relaxed after that! I bet I need to find somebody here in Portland and start working on it, as Mark did agree that it slowed me down (besides whatever else for which I am not taking excuses). I got a business card and promised to give it a shot rather sooner than later. By 8 pm we were back home...(Full set of pictures is here).
And on Sunday Portland welcomed us with rain all day. I did 13 miles (shortened from 15 due to nastiness outside, yeah, I know, slacker) and then Stephen and I drove up to Mt. Hood to see Monika and Co for Easter dinner. It was so heart-warming to hang out with this huge well-functioning family we are truly feeling a part of!
We played board games and laughed and had an amazing time, and it was sad to leave and go back for a work week...as short as it is, because on Wed night Stephen and I are going to Disney World and to see Alex in Florida. As Bronco says, giddy-up!