The weather gods have been forgiving this winter, new races have emerged, and excitement among trail and road runners in the Pacific Northwest is manifesting into something else entirely.
Portland’s runners are getting antsy.
I can sense it in the running community and include myself among these runners. I constantly look at my runs mapped out for the week, count and recount the weeks remaining until I hit taper mode, and wince at the thought of injury with every stumble over a rock or root. I question whether I worked hard enough during the week — should I have taken the walk break during that 6-miler? — and daydream about new routes with muddy hills that are sure to make my quads and calves quiver. I imagine how much stronger I’ll be once I conquer that hill or do one more speed workout.
Call it a teenage, can’t-stop-thinking-about-you crush on running. Thankfully, I’m not alone.
Race days are nearing for many runners, ranging from Portland’s overwhelmingly popular Shamrock Run on March 17 to the new Hop Hop Half Marathon on March 23. Meanwhile, ultrarunners are anxiously awaiting the Gorge Waterfalls 50K on March 30, which takes place near Troutdale.
At the Hagg Lake Mud Run 25K trail race Feb. 17, conversation quickly shifted from one race to the next, another goal to accomplish before the current one is done. Some of the chatter revolved around the inaugural year of the Northwest Mountain Trail Series, comprised of six races in Washington and Oregon that range in distance from the Dog Mountain 10K to the Mountain Lakes 100-miler. Two of the races – the Mt. Hood 50 and Volcanic 50 – are established and well-loved in the region.
“If you’re looking for a nice, mellow 50-miler, it’s a great run,” a fellow runner said to me, referring to the Mt. Hood 50.
I chuckled – or maybe snorted – since the biggest thing on my color-coded calendar this year is a 20-mile trail race in April. Plus, “mellow” and “nice” are not the first words that spring to mind when I imagine my feet dragging across 50 miles of trail.
Nevertheless, I went home and perused the race website.
I quickly saw the Mt. Hood 50 – taking place in July – was sold out. Ditto for the Volcanic 50. I had no intention of signing up if spots were available, but sometimes my anticipation prompts thoughts of a new goal and a new challenge to fill up the days of my calendar.
Judging by the chatter in the Portland running community, I’m not alone.