What a weekend, what a weekend...oh, boy. But let me first thank all those who commented about the "challenge" - Meghan, I liked your the most (though I'll adapt it a bit), and Mike and Jon offered something to add to it, as well as Lisa S-B (via email). I'll let you know how it is going to sound and allow you all to follow on, even if the challenge won't be for the reasons it started.
After Friday's second run I took Stephen and we went to Monika for a clothes CAbi party (you know, one of those where a bunch of women get together, and a rep from some company comes with sample and makes you buy their stuff). I thought I'd just stop by to pay my respect, take Max (I was kid-sitting on Saturday) and go - never in my mind did I think of myself as a normal girl. Well, apparently, I am, because I had so much fun trying those chick clothes on, modeling and even placing an order for a couple of items! Now where would I possibly wear it?...
Anyhow, eventually the boys and I made it home and soon went to sleep. Early in the morning I was to meet Mike for a Forest Park run, we both were going after a "big miles" this week (I didn't have a single day off and 3 days of doubles). We had just a bit over 2 hrs (due to my strain schedule) and did 12 miles out-n-back from the Zoo - and suddenly I felt great! Strong, with my stride opened up, to the point I had to slow myself down and make it "walk a hill" much more than I felt I could. Wow, what the heck is happening? I was chipper and only afraid it wont last long and would ruin the long run planned for Sunday.
After we were done, I picked up the kids, took them to the pool (while myself spending some more "quality time" on elliptical trainer), then quickly out and to the movies. Errands run on a fly - I had a party at home for Russian girls, and needed to at least pretend to cook something and set a table up (we, Russians, are very precise of how parties should be done, with a sit down dinner).
Girls came, and the chit-chat was nice, with lots of food (they picked up a huge tray of sushi on the way too). A few hours into it, Monika and Stan came by to pick up Max, and we had some awesome conversations going all together. Much time and wine later I finally retired to bed...
I needed my "beauty sleep" which somehow wasn't happening this week, and I was running on sleep deprivation after Florida trip already. But there was something really important going on this Sunday - a new route for the long run!!! Gail, Mike and I discussed how we got tired of Forest Park over the winter (with all due respect) and need to change things around (and Gorge is still mostly under the snow). This is how we came up with idea of Central Oregon run (done 2 weeks ago with Gail) and Wilson river run (nobody but Mike had ventured there yet). Gail pulled a fantastic group who all couldn't wait to get out on new trails!
Wilson river is some 30 min drive from Portland, and we all met up at Gail's house for carpooling. When I figured there will be 8 of us going out, it promised to be a beautiful day right there and then. We piled in 3 cars and drove to the trail head.
Susan K., Tom R., Anna B, Bushwhacker Mike, Dave S., Cary M., Gail and I all started in a drizzle on a slight hill together. The "fast boys" (Mike, Dave and Cary" soon went ahead, and I hung behind the group for a bit, settling in a rhythm. Soon I felt that I can pick it up, and went around the gang, with Gail encouraging "If you catch the boys, you get a kiss from Cary!". Never in my mind did I think I would, but I felt strong and pulled away rather fast, loosing a site of them in all of 3 minutes. The snow hit soon after that. It was so much fun to play in it! I kept pressing on, and a mere 10 minutes later saw the guys around the bend! I yelled to wait up for me, and they stuck me in a lead. Hey, I thought, even if I crash and burn on the way back, I am feeling awesome and better take advantage of it! Oh, and I did get my kiss too:)
After what seemed like forever of snow play we started on downhill, and I was BACK! I was back the way I was feared for on the downhill, loosing guys behind so far, I had to put breaks from time to time to be able to scream at them insanities and have Mike take a picture of me:) I was flying! Now, don't take me wrong, it's not that I wanted seriously to lead on or to "break their legs", but I haven't left anybody behind on any kind of distance/terrain for so long, it was an amazing feeling. I went for broke for about 3 miles, until we hit a nice bridge, where we took a posing picture (gotta do this once in awhile).
Even as the trail flattened out along the river (and we left arrows for the second group to where to go next), I still lead all the way to the Forestry Center, some 8+ miles from the start. We took a nice snack break and used clean bathrooms, and I urged everybody out (me and my fear of aid stations).
The drizzle was long gone and turned into a steady rain, and wet clothes were sticking to the bodies and making us cold. But the mood continued to be high! We ran some more flattish miles to another intersection, and turned up to another ridge, for what I estimated another hour to put a needed distance in. Some 13 minutes before the turn-around we came upon a huge slide and decided that mother-nature makes plans for us all by herself. Oh, well, been a number freak I am, I made everybody to go on a little out-n-back side trail (what with recalculations turned out to be totally unnecessary) and have some fun on the footbridge. Somewhere before that I caught my right foot in the blow-down branches and pulled my left hamstring (the ill one) to the point, the pain shot up. Uh-oh, not good! But we are trail runners, we suck it up, right?
Back to Forestry Center and another snack break we are. It was really difficult to push out into the cold rain again, but we were on a home stretch - and besides the pain, I still felt great! Now that is as weird as it gets, I wasn't bonking, still running with an open stride and still completely high on endorphines! And heck, still right with the boys!
We were making an awesome progress, right on even splits for out-n-back, with all the 5100 feet of gain and 30 plus miles. I couldn't believe it! Nobody wanted to take the lead, and while I was more careful on the last downhill just to not do anything stupid again, I was on cloud 9, not feeling any fatigue and moving along. H-A-P-P-Y!!!Finally, Cary decided to make his move with something like less than 2 miles to go and quickly disappeared down below, while the 3 of us kept it together.
Last turn - and the car is in site! Woohoo, what a run!
All of 6:45, with 2 of 15 min breaks (and some stops for picture taking and trail marking) - we were back, not sore, not limping, smiling and happy as can be! I think it was the best run I had this season so far...I just wish I can bottle it up for memories, and think of it when things don't go so wonderful for me.
As for the second group, they got lost for a bit before the first Forestry Center stop, went back after that stop, and did a small out-n-back from the start again to add on some miles (Gail says they totaled around 20 or so), after what they left. We stopped by Gail's to thank her for a great organization of a group and to pick out cars.
After a shower and a meal, I picked up Stephen from his dad and spent some time at work - and now back at home, with more things to finish up before the new week begins. This run ended my longest week this season (I think) - all of 93 miles. Next week I want to be around the same, with doing Peterson Ridge Rumble strictly as a training run with no goal in mind whatsoever.
I hope you all had some awesome times as well, and can't wait to hear about it. Buckle up!