This morning when we were packing Ethan and myself up to head to the gym, I was feeling rather spontaneous. I decided that today would be a wonderful day to grab the map of the 10k course for the Gresham Jazz Run (less than a month away now!) and spend the morning walking through it. It took me 2.5 hours to walk the entire thing - and I'm SO glad I did it!
The race website describes the course as "relatively flat except for the ascent up Walter's hill." What that means in newbie-speak is; the first third of the race is a sharp incline, followed by a gradual decline, and then more small hills. LOL. I'd really hate to see a course that these race people describe as "hilly."
The first portion of the course heads east from Gresham Main City Park. A flat (for reals), shady, and beautiful walk. Lots of friendly faces and even some crosswalks where the path crosses streets. Then a right turn up Regner and some zig-zagging through an affluent residential neighbhorhood. (I wonder if these folks know there will be a race through their neighbhorhood next month?) That's where the fun starts. I figured at that point, "oh, this must be Walter's hill and the small ascent" and pushed confidently up the hill. I was eyeing the map, studying the layout of the streets - as the map had no street names - and guessing where to go. I think the Lord was with me today, because usually I have ridiculous navigation skills.
I eventually found what the course website called, "Gresham Green Space" - which was a thin gravel trail running up an even steeper hill that I hadn't been able to see from Regner. Uh-oh. I was starting to feel a little apprehensive, but pressed on. The trail through the green space is truly ridiculous! At certain points the incline was so steep that I was hunched over pushing the stroller with my arms over my head. I had to laugh at their description... "relatively flat!" Ha! I did find that running up the hills made them easier to manage, not sure why.
The green space spits out into another beautiful Gresham neighborhood and goes pretty sharply downhill. The course zig-zagged through the neighborhood and crossed a busy street before going into more neighborhood. Then the course disappears into a private park that's run by the homeowners association. It took me a while to find the head of that trail, because it's not marked. I was lucky enough to find "Jazz Run" with some arrows spray-painted on the sidewalk, though - which pointed me in the right direction.
So I was off into more trail. Lots of bumps, tree roots and twists. This race is going to be interesting! I enjoyed this part of the trail, though I was surprised by a really steep downhill portion that had really tight switchbacks.
Eventually the trail ended back at the Spring Water Trail, which gets back to Gresham Main Park. But I'd gotten a little confused about which direction to turn after so many twists and turns on the last trail. Uh-oh. All I could see around me was a huge power station on the other side of the Trail, and then lots of foliage. Nothing else. I had no clue where I was. Oops.
Then I realized - hey! It's not noon yet, which means the sun is probably still in the east. So I stuck my right hand at the direction the sun would have come from, stuck my left hand opposite that and then located North. I aimed the map's north symbol at North and took off on the direction that seemed to be NorthEastish... praying that I'd get back to the park and not end up downtown.
I did eventually make it back to my van. Yay! Ethan even slept for the last two miles. We ended up having lunch with Daniel at Jazzy Bagel as I recounted my harrowing tail of adventure and intrigue. Haha.
Now that I know how crazy this course is - I've got a better idea of how to prepare. All of my training so far has been actually relatively flat. So maybe some more walks along that path will be in order? But it took SO long... but, I guess I can just tell myself that means running it will be way easier than walking it. As long as I don't die.
Which reminds me of a great shirt a friend posted on their blog, "Running won't kill you; you'll pass out first." Too true.