Trail Runnin’

This last weekend, the fam and I headed out to the coast for a little vacay. My mother-in-law came down on Friday and we all drove out together. A couple of hours of ‘are we there yet?’ from Portmandia Jr. and we arrived at our shack by the ocean. Sadly, shack turned out to be the operative word as we realized that we’d fallen for a rather creative Airbnb listing.

Our trips are always fraught with little disasters that only make us more thankful for the calm, clean home that we get to return to. This trip had some victories though, mostly on the food front. We ate better than any trip to the coast that I can remember and hopefully we’ll be able to replicate that in the future.

My personal victory was a long run. I’ve tried to keep a disciplined schedule for my runs and that means running even when traveling. Luckily for me, our shack was close to a trailhead. I laced up and set out on Saturday with only a sketchy plan based on some weak googling (no internet in our shack).

My usual long weekend run is a 10 mile loop. At the trailhead a sign informed me that it was 6 miles to Fort Clatsop on the Fort to Sea trail. Seemed perfect, so I set off through the trees and scrub figuring on a 12 mile out and back.

About a mile later I ran into trouble. The trail seemed to dead-end near a cattle ranch. Without a map, I improvised. Next thing, I’m running through a golf course and obviously well off my trail. A little Google map action and I loop back around to get back on the trail and try again.

I’ve already run over three miles, and I’m thinking about bowing out. My stubborn side prevails and keeps me running. When I get back to the cow pastures, I realize that there are gaps between the fields and occasional timber locks to prevent anything bigger than a person from getting through. Off I go through boot-sucking mud and the quizzical stare of my bovine audience.

It got a little marshier after the cows, but then I crossed under the 101 and hit a nice gravel trail through the woods. Though it was a very different kind of forest than I was used to, it was invigorating to be running alone in the woods. I ran strong until the trail started climbing hard, but I hiked the switchbacks to the peak.

At the top, there was a nice vista, looking all the way back to the sea. From there it was an easy run down fire roads to the end of the trail. Fort Clatsop is where the Lewis & Clark expedition wintered in 1805. I drank nasty water from the fountain outside the visitors center before heading back.

Those easy fire roads felt very different now that I was going uphill, but I pushed on, walking when I had to. I was already beyond my range, having hit the nine mile mark at the fort. After the peak, I bombed the switchbacks. I felt stronger than I expected, but I had a way to go.

At some point, I realized that my Nike+ app had stopped announcing my miles. I had paused it at the fort thinking that I might sit and rest for a bit. In the end I decided that it would be bad for my legs to cool down, so I resumed the app and got back to running.

Checking the app now, I realized that it hadn’t restarted cleanly and hadn’t tracked as I went over the peak. Like a lot of runners who use trackers, those numbers are a huge motivator. I had to push trough the possibility of losing a big chunk of my run data to keep going.

Running back along the familiar trail I struggled and pushed well beyond what I thought I had left in me. I ran and ran and walked when I had to. Just before I got back to the shack, I got a text from the Mrs, wondering if I was okay. I’d been gone an hour longer than usual.

When I finally hobbled back I was tired and shaky. The protein drink and banana were the finest calories that I’d ever consumed. After studying the gap in my run data, I decided that I’d run about fifteen miles. About 50% farther than I’d ever gone before. I’m looking forward to even more.