Ha! I knew that title would get your attention! It is certainly more catchy than say, Triumph At Forest Park or The Toughest Thing I’ve Ever Done Physically, (Except for Childbirth). What can I say? Sex sells. And, the title does actually have something to do with this post…eventually.
The Forest Park Marathon and Half Marathon is scheduled on September 22nd. It’s a trail run and walk. I’ve signed up for the half marathon portion of it, thanks to Bethany Jo Lee of Project Whitespace. I’m not familiar with walking on trails much, so I thought it would be a good idea to familiarize myself with it in advance so I have time to train for it, if I needed to do any additional training other than what I’m already doing.
So yesterday I took the bus up to Forest Park. Trimet trip planner said to get off at NW 23rd and Overton and walk .8 miles to Lower MacLeay Park, which is where the route to the Forest Park Half Marathon is supposed to start.
I follow the trip planner’s directions, only to find that there was a bus stop literally less than half a block to the entrance to the park. I could have stayed on the bus the whole way! D’oh! Oh well. So I was warmed up, having walked over a mile already just with walking to and from bus stops.
See that big bridge? That’s NW Thurman Street. The bus stops just before it goes over that very tall bridge, so to get to the park, you have to walk down the equivalent of about three flights of stairs. No biggie, but I didn’t think about how that would feel after I was finished walking my route…
Now, last week I walked over 20 miles on Wednesday. I did break it up though, into three chunks. This half-marathon I figured I would hike all at once. I knew I could handle it. Or, at least I thought I could.
I had written down the directions for the trails as best as I could figure them out. Once I got there, though, I could see my directions didn’t make sense with the maps they had on hand and those maps also looked different than what I remembered. D’oh! Again. So I walked what I THOUGHT was the route, but was actually NOT the route.
The route I was actually supposed to take was Lower MacLeay Trail to Wildwood Trail. Then I was supposed to go right on Wild Cherry Trail and follow it to Leif Erikson Drive. From there, I was supposed to go to Firelane 1, and take it back to Wildwood Trail. Then turn right on Dogwood Trail and follow it until it doubles back to Wildwood Trail. Then go right on Wildwood Trail until it meets up with Lower MacLeay Trail again and back to the starting point.
The route I took: Lower MacLeay Trail to Wildwood Trail.
From Wildwood Trail I took a right on Dogwood Trail.
At this point I decided to take a little rest break and eat. Then I took Dogwood Trail out to Leif Erikson Drive, where I hooked left.
I really want to come back and walk Leif Erikson Drive again in the fall after the trees lose their leaves, because I can only imagine what spectacular views will await me. The following was a tease:
So I got little peeks of tantalizing views along the drive–drive being a misnomer, since the road is closed to all but bikes and pedestrians. I walked that to Firelane 1.
Firelane 1 is a half mile of the most unforgiving steep terrain. It is so steep that you can only “walk” up it on the balls of your feet. I thought my chest was going to explode, my heart was pounding so fast. Since this
torture device road is part of the official route, I will have to suffer through it for the actual half-marathon, as well.
Firelane 1 meets back up with Wildwood Trail again. I walked Wildwood Trail all the way back to Lower MacLeay Trail and down that to the starting point. The last three miles were really tough, though, because I reaaaally had to go to the bathroom! I was surrounded by nature and nature lovers who had just gotten off work and were taking their evening runs. I couldn’t just hop off the trail to do my business, because someone would surely have spotted me. Mooning everyone was not really an option. Well, I suppose it was if it came down to it, but I really didn’t want to do that. So yeah. Imagine that you’ve got to pee like a racehorse and the knowledge that it will take you at least an hour and a half to get to a bathroom…well, that’s a different kind of torture. You can probably feel my relief as I took in the sight below–the end of the trail! Yessss!!
Because I took Wildwood Trail for so much of the way, I think I went farther than my planned half-marathon. My pedometer said I went 16 miles around the park, but I know that can’t be the case, because many of my steps were itty bitty ones over tough terrain, which makes it seem like I’ve gone farther than I really have. So I’m guesstimating I actually went about 14 miles. Adding up the mileage markers on one of the photos of the map I took and it was about13.5, plus some backtracking I did, so I guess 14.
I started at the park at around 12:45pm. By the time I was done, it was about 8pm. I averaged about 2mp, not accounting for the three times I actually sat down for breaks. Not counting breaks, it took me about 6.5 hours to walk 14 miles.
That’s about 2.12 mph. That’s not too bad, I think. Considering I haven’t hiked in years and all my conditioning has been for paved surfaces that are easily navigable, and where a 4% grade is considered kinda steep. This route is up/down/up/down over and over and over again. If I had gone the route I was supposed to take, I might have had an easier time of it, since more of it is spent on Leif Erikson Drive, which is a gravel road.
So I am reassured somewhat. I know I can do the course. The course is only open for eight hours, and I can do it in less than that. I’m also reassured to know that I can hike 14 miles at a stretch without stopping much. I really didn’t rest much at all compared to past half-marathons I’ve done and this was waaaaaay tougher.
After all these mental calculations, I realized that I still had to bus home. Which meant I still had to climb the stairs up to NW Thurman. Ugh. Then, when I got to the bus stop, I phoned to find out when the next one was coming, only to discover that I JUST MISSED IT and the next one would be coming in 59 minutes. So I walked another half mile to a different bus line and caught that bus instead. More ugh. I was pretty sore by this point and dying for an ibuprofen.
You may be wondering what the title of my post has to do with any of this. Well, after I got home and had dinner and my requisite painkillers, I got to chatting about the hike with my hubby. I told my husband that along the inner trails, usually pretty serious runners and hikers are on them. Of those, about 90% were trail runners. Trail runners have GOT to be in good shape. I was walking and in loads of hurt. I can’t imagine how long it would take me to actually do a trail RUN. I told my husband that even though I was soo sore by the time I was finished, I wanted to go back the next day for another go-round.
He got it immediately. He laughed and said, “Let me guess: these runners were all young men, wearing no t-shirts or shirts like that underarmor stuff that clings to their beautiful muscles and they were all glistening with sweat from their run.” I nodded. “Mostly. I’d say about 75% of the runners were guys.” Then I grinned in a way that would make the Cheshire Cat proud. I said, “The eye candy is a great motivator.” He just shook his head and smiled. I’m so glad he trusts me. 🙂
All told, I think I walked approximately 15.5 miles total yesterday– the “half marathon”+ in addition to walking to and from bus stops.