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Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Peril on the SWCT

I have neglected this blog for too long! Funny how once the fundraising part was accomplished I no longer felt the need to document my progress . . . But, YAY FOR ME! To date I have raised $1,695, or 116% of my established fundraising goal! (Ahem, not to say I would turn away any above and beyond donations.)

Team in Training has truly been everything I hoped it would be and more. I increasingly feel like part of a community, running with my teammates on Tuesdays and Saturdays since mid-December in all kinds of inclement weather. I am definitely the weakest link in my advanced group, but I actually prefer it that way. There's nobody to slow me down, only people to push me harder. Perfect. I continue to gain speed and strength and up my miles. A couple weeks ago I set a new personal record - the first time I kept a sub 8:40 mile for more than three miles. And I maintained it for 10. HUGE accomplishment for me. My goal of finishing in under 4 hours (yeah, I said it) seems more attainable each week.

A big, huge, hearty thanks to all who have donated to this amazing cause. I think about Uncle Jeff every time I run. Increasingly these are happy thoughts. My uncle wasn't a runner, but he was a very active guy and I think he would be pleased that I chose this way to honor him. I know he can't appreciate the gesture and I'm realizing increasingly that this whole process has been for me, to help me find closure and some sense of peace in the face of loss, but I also hope that my Aunt Linda and cousins Aleksandr and Anika sense how much I love them and wish to honor them and support them through their grief in this way.

I feel a few shout outs are in order. Some folks have really gone above and beyond to help me through this process.

1. My mom, Willis (Okay, that's not her real name, but go with it. I've called her that for years.) She is my cheerleader. My life coach, if you will. She listens to my effusions about running bliss patiently and even chimes in enthusiastically from time to time. She worries and praises in perfect proportions. This is a gift that only mothers possess.

2. My sister Bekah. She is the wall against which I bounce all my boring stats. She gets a full report on every mile I run and where, my splits, my aches and pains, my milestones. She also keeps me honest on my cross-training days and regularly fills me up with desserts and other indulgences when I trek down to Sellwood to do a run or watch a game or laugh through a workout video in her basement.

3. Eric, my good friend and Nike employee who shared with me a companion pass and drove me out to the Nike campus on a weekend to stock up on all kinds of fancy schwag for the road. I came away with probably $500 worth of gear for less than half the cost and am now running much more comfortably and stylishly. Nike drifit = amazing.

I look something like this in my new 'fits:

Okay, okay. I exaggerate. But suffice it to say, I am now dressed for success on the road.

4. Coach Mike. He is a loud mouth and a little crazy but an awesome source of support in this process. When I sheepishly shared my goal of finishing Eugene in under four at the third Saturday team run he didn't laugh. He looked me straight in the face and said, "You can do it. And now that I know you want it, I'm going to push you a LOT harder." He's kept up his end of the bargain and since this process started, with his help, I have shaved almost 2 minutes off my mile.

Moving on. Because there is a title to this post that I haven't even addressed yet. One thing I love about running is how relatively simple it is. You can run practically any where, at anytime, in any conditions. Right? So thought I when I started. I tended to push my weekday runs off into the evenings which is kind of a pain in the ass but not quite the pain of waking up at the crack of Christ and subjecting oneself to the cold, wet, harsh realities of Portland in the winter. My go to place has become the Springwater Corridor Trail that runs along the east bank of the river from about the Hawthorne Bridge down into Sellwood and all the way to the SE burbs and beyond. In all I think this trail goes for over 40 continuous miles. Paved the whole way. And while it doesn't pose the challenge that the Mt Tabor run does, or really any other non-river run in Portland would, it involves a lot less waiting around at lights (none, in fact) and virtually no paranoia as to the state of the running surface (sidewalks in my otherwise very nice neighborhood are totally treacherous!). But the paranoia has seeped into other aspects, thanks to my two day stint on a criminal jury last week. (Cue horror movie music)

In a nutshell, shit went down like so [with fun little embellishments in brackets]:

[Almost 40 year old, shaved head and goatee sporting, denim shirt tucked into blue jeans at his trial wearing] Guy gets in a fight with his mom [With whom he lives. At almost 40]. He leaves her house somewhere between the hours of 10 p.m. and 2 a.m. [Really, PPD? You can't narrow this down for us any more?], heading down the Springwater Corridor trail to a [former convicted felon for armed robbery] buddy's place. Seeing as he and this buddy are planning a hunting trip in the morning, he carries with him a rifle case filled with: a rifle, rifle shells, a 9mm pistol, full clip, extra ammo and a large knife.

Just shy of the intersection at 122nd he sits down [in the pitch black] on the side of the trail and begins texting with his mother. Down this same section of trail comes two [homeless, methamphetamine addicted] men on bikes [without lights]. They live in a camp on the side of the trail about a mile or two away and are on their way "home" [after a night of debauchery and video poker but no drugs, allegedly]. They nearly hit guy #1 who is sitting on the edge of the trail. They are "concerned for his safety" [and/or pissed off and shit faced, looking for trouble] and so circle back to "check" on him. He wants to be left alone and so asks them politely to leave him [the fuck] alone. Guy #3 takes off at his friend's urging. Friend/guy #2 [Convicted felon: possession of drugs, lying to police, warrant evasion, etc. And addicted to drugs] does not leave. He thinks guy #1 may hurt himself or at the very least cause an accident on the side of the trail. Guy #1, "Leave, leave, leave." Guy #2, "No, no, no."

And this is where it gets weird. Because guy #2 ends up calling 9-1-1 reporting that he's had a gun pulled on him on the Springwater Corridor Trail between Foster and 122nd. He reports [in three separate phone calls, because his phone battery keeps dying but he happens to have extras in his pocket] that the suspect is white [true], wearing dark clothing [true], about 5'6" [not even close, the guy is over 6' tall, but may have been seated the entire time] and on a mountain bike [just plain false]. The police show up and arrest guy #1. They find the pistol along with the rifle and all the ammo locked in the gun case [but who knows how long it's been since the call was made, or how long after the incident the call was made to begin with].

Guilty or not? The charge was "intentionally attempting to use a deadly weapon (a firearm) against the victim or intending to use said deadly weapon (a firearm) against the victim." I found the distinction a little ridiculous, but the charge was perplexing.

Much to our collective chagrin, we had to find this guy not guilty. The only evidence was the testimony of a cracked out homeless man and some other circumstantial things, like the fact that there actually was a guy on the trail with a gun. Needless to say, despite our verdict it shattered any illusions I had about the safety of running on this trail in the evening. It's not as if I run all the way out at 122nd between the hours of 10 p.m. and 2 a.m., but in theory I'd like to be able to do so and not worry that I'm going to come across some neo-Nazi looking creeper sitting on the side of the trail brandishing a pistol.

I was kind of hoping for an opportunity to soap box and give a personal witness as to the loss of innocence thanks to this whole scenario. Really? I mean, who am I to tell you not to go hunting, or not to use the SWCT as a way of getting from here to there, or even not to sit on the side of the trail, cloaked in complete darkness, or not to shave your head but leave your facial hair. But the combination of these elements is a recipe for nightmares.

The silver lining is this: I sucked it up and set my alarm clock for 6 a.m. for my run on Tuesday morning. I walked out my front door, immediately looked up and saw a shooting star. First thing. I made my way to the [arguably safer part of the] SWCT and headed off down the trail. Three and a half miles I ran in darkness with the sound of gently lapping water and bullfrogs and the vague silhouettes of barges on the river. At my turnaround point the sun peaked over the eastern ridge and turned the entire western sky a beautiful pinkish hue. The rest of my run was spent admiring sunshine gleaming off the river on my left and the wildlife sanctuary ponds on my right. Once joined by a few early morning bike commuters and the dedicated few in running tights, I didn't give much thought to guys #1-3.

If there had been a soundtrack to my Tuesday morning run it would've sounded something like this:

Also, high on my wishlist, if anyone is looking to make a meaningful donation to this cause that will ultimately benefit me and not really do much for cancer patients anywhere - the Garmin Forerunner 110. $199.99. But really priceless when you think about all the good it will do to have a way to track my splits.

But if you want to donate to the actual cause, you can do so here:

1 comment:

  1. See, now that is a blog. That is why I cannot do it. Really enjoy hearing your ramblings. Everyone needs an outlet for their ramblings, and I use that word in its best sense. Love, MOM