Ok, not that LSD and not those hallucinations. But maybe not that far off. Yesterday my Long Slow Distance run of 16.5 miles brought me to the point of hallucinations around mile 14. The first thing I saw was a cyclist coming at me on the Springwater path with a small terrier running on a leash. I thought to myself, you can’t be seriously making that small dog run that fast, can you? Turned out he wasn’t serious, there was no dog. At that point I knew I was in trouble! I didn’t have to slow down because I was already going really slowly. But I decided I would make a concerted effort to pay attention to reality (and non-reality, but safety was my chief concern.) Other hallucinations I experienced where not quite that dramatic. I always knew where I was, but it seemed like things around me where not quite recognizable, or just slightly off. Like the way things appear when the sun is setting and the light has a warmer glow. Sort of like that. On long runs in the past I have gotten to the point where my environment was completely unrecognizable for moments, a very unsettling feeling. I wasn’t quite there yesterday…
After the run I chatted with my running partner who was at work. She asked the question of the day “Why did you go so far?” Good question. I sort of had it in my mind that I was going to go for a long run and even had an idea of my optimal route (which I ended up doing), but I wasn’t sure. After the first couple of miles I stopped to help someone who was lost at Mt. Tabor. I told her I would walk with her for a bit until we could get to a point where I could show her where she needed to go to get to the main entrance. She asked about my run and how far I was going to go and “16 miles” popped out of my mouth. So there it was, I was committed. Plus, yesterday was the Portland Marathon. Not only didn’t I run it but I wimped out on even watching it (and a run before or after) because it was pouring. So I also had to make it up to myself to go long today.
I brought my phone with me so I was able to take pictures. For some reason I didn’t take any of Mt. Tabor. The run up the volcano went really well and I made it to the top without stopping for a walk. I was a bit worried about the paths being muddy with all our recent rain, but they weren’t too bad although there are several areas where the path is getting eaten away by water coming off the volcano. At the very top victory loop I gobbled the first of my gels and as I headed down the mountain I was feeling pretty good. My pace up the mountain was a slow 11 min mile pace, but on my descent I picked it up to around 10:30. Still slow, but that’s fine and the point of this run. So on to Laurelhurst park, my next route goal.
Laurelhurst Park used to be my favorite place to run when I lived right next to it. I think the loop through the park is a bit less than a mile, but that was plenty for me back then especially if I did a couple of them. It is still one of my favorite places to run, but it has become more of a destination rather than a full course. For some reason I didn’t take a picture of the huge duck pond that they are draining and drudging. And I think I have it bad with our ponds! Through the park, I headed south through the Belmont, Hawthorne, Division and Clinton neighborhoods. Hawthorne featured a surprising number of smokers, seemed like every corner had groups of smokers puffing away. After Clinton I came on the Cleveland High track but on the wrong side to pick up the crosswalk across Powell Blvd. Yes, I could have backtracked a couple of blocks to get it, but I decided to cross further west by the school a quarter-mile away. After another half mile or so south I crossed the railroad tracks on the Holgate bridge which has a wicked hill to make it to the top of the span over the train yards.
Once over the bridge I was able to pick up the trail to Oak’s Bottom, a wildlife sanctuary. The path through the sanctuary leads to Springwater Corridor my next route goal. The path is only about a half mile, but has become one of my favorite places to run maybe due to the fact that the route I usually take is all downhill. Once I hit Springwater, I now had a route choice. I could head downtown which was 3 miles or so away and then head back home another 4.5. I opted for the shorter route to Sellwood and eventually East Moreland (which was my optimal route plan).
The trail to Sellwood is very straight and a little boring. The scenery is really nice, on the left is the lake in Oak’s Bottom and to the right is the Willamette (the photo that is two shots above shows the river in its low state). It is usually pretty crowded with cyclists, runners and walkers. Bikes zoom by without and concern for those they are passing. I get tired of getting buzzed without warning, but some are courteous enough to ring a bell in warning or call out “on your left”.
I realized I was running low on water so I detoured into the park near the Sellwood bridge and filled up my water bottle. Once filled up I headed through Sellwood. Here the Springwater Corridor takes you through city streets for a mile or so. There are plans to create a path that links the two portions of the trail and they have just come to an agreement about it, so I hope to see that soon. But for now, we take it to the streets. Just before I met up with the remaining 20 miles or so of the Corridor I made a mistake. It felt like I had a pebble in my shoe so I sat down on a concrete barrier. My feet were apparently playing tricks on me as there was no pebble (this was the second time today that had happened, the first time happened on Tabor and I felt a hot spot on my heal as if there was something in my shoe. Nothing there and it soon went away. My feet really like their tricks…) The real problem occurred when I tried to get up! What a struggle, but I made it up and continued on my way although very slowly. I looked at my watch to check my pace – 14:52. Wow, I was crawling! I checked again a minute later and I was even slower at 14:55. Then I realized that was my mileage, not my pace. My actual pace was around 12 min miles, still slow, but nor glacierly so.
This portion of the Corridor is called Three Bridges as it feature (of all things) three bridges: one over a creek, another over a large road and the third over the railroad tracks. As I crept closer to East Moreland it felt good to see the end coming closer. I even ran (well sort of ran) out of the Corridor to the neighborhood and continued on my way toward pizza. The blocks were going by very slowly, but I just accepted that and kept crawling forward. I had some hills to deal with at this point and that made the process even slower. The last hill through Berkley Park did me in and at 16 miles I decided to stop running and walk the rest. After a few blocks I realized I still had a half mile to the pizza parlor. It dawned on me that if I ran it I would get there quicker. So I turned the watch on again and ran out the last half mile, well “ran” might be an exaggeration, but I did get there quicker than if I had walked. Once I had my food I carried it home. I decided to put my jacket back on just to keep my body heat in. It wasn’t cold out, but I was really tapped. Fortunately I had managed to drink a lot of water on the run, but I still felt dehydrated. And considering my shirt was dry I must have been. It was good to get home, shower and heat up pizza. Phew, what a run.