Mountain Running and First Destination Race I: The Kindness of Friends

It’s been ages since I posted and for good reason. Some of the earlier post’s woes got all over my life, namely work travel, friends visiting (not woe) and the great TX summer is here. So way back in April, when the weather was great and I was running regularly and working only normal hours, I registered for Beacon Rock 25K in Portland OR. However come May and early June, I have run a total maximum of no more than 10 miles and not at once. My good friend, ultrarunner Olga and also the best post-run therapeutic masseuse I know, told me not to bother running in Austin, as nothing in the terrain here can prepare you for Pacific Northwest US (PNW). So instead, whenever I could I ran in hotel gyms, put the incline on 7-9 and hiked up or ran up. It was hard to do it for 3 straight miles but that’s what mountain running is supposed to be like. She also told me to do more squats for the downhills but I never did nearly enough anything. I tried to do more yoga so at least I was building core and quad strength in different ways.

I flew to Portland on Friday night and landed in the daylight. The view was breathtaking Here’s a picture of Mt. Hood from the plane (thanks to Rod, another Tejas runner who was on the same flight and we talked a lot).

Portland itself is gorgeous. Flanked by tall pine covered mountains and a sparkling wide river snaking through the city, it is one of the most beautiful cities I have ever seen in the US, not to mention the state of OR. California who? I was definitely not prepared for that breathtaking beauty and the rest of the weekend I spent, sharply drawing my breath in awe or feeling down right overwhelmed enough to tear up.

I stayed with my friend Shreya who was traveling but her husband, Dipu took great care of me. We went to dinner and I ate the best ceviche since I left Brazil. He cooked me a champions breakfast on Sat morning with eggs, potato pancakes, sausages, toast and mangoes. We talked about everything under the sun and around 11 am, I thanked him for his (and Shreya’s omnipresent) hospitality and began driving towards Hood River in Columbia Gorge. Dipu told me to take the scenic route via US 83 and boy was it gorgeous. The sky was BLUE (yes, not normal in PDX) and the river was gleaming blue. Pretty much all the way you’re driving along side Columbia River. I stopped at a bunch of Patel points and took photos of the waterfalls, one of them being Multnomah (tallest in North America). Here are some photos from the drive.

Hood River

I got into Hood River around 3 pm. I was hungry and Sue, who I was going to stay with told me to get lunch at the Full Sail Brewing Company. The food was great, the beer better and the best part was the view of Hood River. Here’s lunch. It was even better than it looks.

Then I went over to Sue’s vacation rental. Sue and David are Tejas trail runners, David being an ultrarunner. They have two beautiful daughters, with whom I spent most of my evening. They helped me relax and stop worrying about the race next day. While my attitude was to have fun, I was still worried about being able to finish given the terrain and I was also worried because I was flying back home almost immediately after the race (shit plan, what can I do, I had to be back at work next day).

Here’s the view from Sue’s vacation home. We spent a lot of time just taking it in.

The girls are lovely. Jennifer and Lillian are well behaved and lot of fun. Here’s a pic of us together at dinner. I even taught them an Indian kid’s song.

I’d had a fantastic Saturday. I missed Bharath but I was surprised to learn that I was perfectly comfortable traveling along. I in fact enjoyed it and I loved that it was all about running. I was among friends who treated me like family, who welcomed me into their family vacation home with open arms, gave me warm blankets and a couch to sleep on, food to eat and lots and lots of encouragement about the race. I kept thinking that this race wouldn’t have been half as it was without Shreya/Dipu or Sue and David and their wonderful family. And that’s what I have loved about trail running – it’s an extremely close knit group – we’re all family to each other. People that run together in the dark woods, who get lost and find each other, give each other water and that encouragement to go on when every muscle and bone in your body wants you to stop, such people can’t be anything but family. Some of them have known you at your most tired and fatigued and dirty/sweaty times. And they’ve hung around to share the beer right after :).


One response to “Mountain Running and First Destination Race I: The Kindness of Friends

  1. Oregon is hands down one of my favorite states in the US – we went to these same spots last October in the fall time, and everything was so stunning! Look forward to reading about the actual run! You should think about having a limited FB presence at least by the way! :p

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