Work brought me to Eugene and Seattle over this past weekend. So, with a bit of spare time at hand, I was able to fit in two great runs in these two trailrunning hotbeds.
On Saturday I arrived in Eugene in time for a picnic lunch on the bleachers at Hayward Field. It had been years since I'd been there and that special vibe is still there. Something about that place just makes me smile.
Then, it was on to Craig's house from which the small group of Jeff, Nate and Tom, along Craig and myself, would embark on a 20ish mile run. We began our trip getting through the neighborhoods of Eugene and on to one of their famous bark chip paths. Forget gravel in this running crazed town, nothing but bark chips will do. Running on them is like getting a massage.
Anyway, Craig led us to the trailhead for the Ridgeline Trail, perhaps the most famous trail in Eugene after Pre's Trail, and we ran a great 10 mile out on back talking all the way. Jeff and Craig are peaking for Javelina so they were in cruise control mode. I am in chill-out mode so I struggled to maintain my pace. Plus, the bastards kept asking me questions about this and that in a ploy to keep me talking and to make me tired. It worked.
Anyway, after that out and back we made our way back to the bark chips for another couple miles before hitting the Amazon Loop. This is the perfectly groomed, one-mile bark chip trail that some of Eugene's finest runners call home. Fortunately, none of the mutant boys were out there on this day but Jeff and Craig thought it would be a good idea after 2 and a half hours running to blow out some carbon with two fast miles before the three mile trip back to Craig's house. What they didn't tell me was that we were doing two consecutive miles and not 2x1 mile which is what thought. So when we got to the end of the first circuit I pushed the pace and stopped my watch at 5:45. When Jeff got there five seconds later he says, "AJW, we're doing 2!" Craig came by a few seconds later and didn't even look at me. So, I tried to kick it in on that second one and managed a 5:50. Crap! Was it a setup? I think so. Nonetheless, it was nice to get the legs turning over again and as we jogged gently back to Craig's house we reveled in the wonder of a sweet run. A few hours later a bunch of great running people were there (including MonkeyBoy) and we had an awesome time, um, doing stuff. It was great to catch up with all my old running friends.
Sunday took me to Seattle and on a tip from Justin Angle I found my way to Cougar Mountain Park. This forested oasis in the middle of Bellevue is where Justin along with Scott, Ulli, Phil, Greg, Brian and countless other fast Seattleites train. I did not run into any of them on my three hour run out there but that place is about as good as it gets. The trails are smooth and soft. The climbs and descents are fun and grindy. And, it's the kind of place where you can just head out and get lost. I did that a couple times and loved every minute of it.
So, all in all, a great weekend of out-of-town running. Back in Ketchum we're enjoying an incredible Indian Summer. In fact, I just returned from a 15 miler at 4 in the afternoon and I ran the entire thing in shorts and a sleeveless. I know those days are ending soon but it's nice while it lasts. In fact, it kinda makes me think I should do one more race this year. Hmmmm....