Trans-Portland Craziness

I showed up at the group run yesterday morning with a pretty straightforward plan. I was going to run 20 on a fairly easy route in Forest Park. Don’t get me wrong, 20 miles is never “easy” but the route (below) doesn’t have much elevation gain and most of the trails are in good shape.

 Initial plan: from NW to Lower Macleay, up to Wildood, north to Firelane 5, down to Leif, south to Thurmann, back to NW

Initial plan: from NW to Lower Macleay, up to Wildood, north to Firelane 5, down to Leif, south to Thurmann, back to NW

I was hoping to do this run with a friend of mine, Stephanie, with whom I am running the SOB 50miler. She, however, had other plans for us that morning. She, with our other friend, Mariko (who is currently IronMan training), had a bigger adventure in mind. They were also after 20 but wanted to climb... a lot. So we set off with only two goals in mind: climb to Council Crest (the highest point in Portland) and finish close to Stephanie’s place so she could give us a ride back to our cars. 

We ran up into Forest Park on the Lower Macleay trail and headed toward Council Crest. The route on the Wildwood trail took us past Pittock Mansion, Hoyt Arboreatum, and the Zoo. There, we crossed Hwy 26 and hopped on the Marquam Trail for the climb up to Council Crest. 

 The view from Pittock Mansion. This was not yesterday. It was raining yesterday. 

The view from Pittock Mansion. This was not yesterday. It was raining yesterday. 

Running this route is tough. There are two challenging climbs with three smaller peaks in between. Running up to the highest point in Portland affords great views of Mt. Hood, Mt. St. Helens, Mt. Adams, Mt. Rainier, the Coast Range, and (on really clear days) Mt Jefferson. 

 Mt. Hood from Council Crest. This photo was also not taken yesterday. We could barely see downtown through the clouds yesterday. 

Mt. Hood from Council Crest. This photo was also not taken yesterday. We could barely see downtown through the clouds yesterday. 

When we left Kenny & Zukes (the meeting place for the Portland Running Company Sunday group run), the only route we had figured out specifically was the one up to Council Crest so we stood for a while at the drinking fountain, which is now on because it is supposedly spring, trying to decide on our next move. It gave me a bit of time to reflect on how quickly things can change.

It was not too long ago that a run up to Pittock Mansion had me walking some (most) of the way. It was not too long ago that making it all the way up to Council Crest without being able to feel my heart pounding in my forehead in the last push was unimaginable. It was not too long ago that I approached a 20-mile run with reverence and trepidation. My point to all this is that things can change. I’m not a great runner -- a good one, maybe -- but I can make substantive gains with persistence. I bet the rest of my life would be better if I applied the same principles. Sounds like a lot of work. But I digress... 

We decided to run all the way down to Marquam Shelter, run back (almost) all the way up over the back of OHSU, run down to Terwilliger, run up until we hit SW Trails 3, run ALL THE DAMN WAY DOWN TO THE RIVER, run up SW Trails 4, through my neighborhood to Gabriel Park, and stop when we got to 20. If you feel like this description is hard to follow, you might get an idea of how it felt to make up the route mid run. Honestly, I am surprised that we came so close to our milage goal and our destination goal without either planning a route ahead of time or adding on at the end. Luck. 

 Here is the route in all of its messy glory! 

Here is the route in all of its messy glory! 

We got our 20 miles in and we climbed almost 4,000 feet. I think that is the most I have ever climbed for a run in Portland. Neat. We also crossed through 14 parks: 

  1. Macleay Park
  2. Forrest Park
  3. Adams Park
  4. Pittock Mansion
  5. Washington Park
  6. Hoyt Arboretum
  7. Council Crest City Park
  8. Marquam Nature Park
  9. Terwilliger Park
  10. Gregory Himes Park
  11. Willamette Park
  12. Burlingame Park
  13. Gabriel Park
  14. April Hill Park

You can view the .GPX file here if you are so interested.