McDowell Creek Park Trail Runs

5:00 AM wake up calls come mighty early on a Saturday morning, especially after a late nite. I didn’t get to bed until after midnight Saturday morning. I made the dreaded mistake of going downstairs at 10:00 PM to get on the computer and the next thing I new it was midnight. Well I don’t know about you but I need a few minutes to unwind after staring at a screen for a couple of hours, so I didn’t actually get to sleep until about 12:30. Luckily I was smart and had everything ready to go for the run this morning and it was a good thing because let’s be honest no one gets up on the first sound of the alarm, and this morning I was one of the no ones. In fact I didn’t get out of bed until 5:20 AM. Just in time to get up and make a batch of Bob’s Redmill Glueten Free Steel Cut Oats with Banana’s and Raisins (I add the Banana’s and Raisin’s). MMMM-Good – this is probably my favorite pre long run or race meal. The only better one is when I substitute the Raisin’s for Strawberries. But I digress.

The point of this story is to relay the adventure and an adventure it was. Today was solo, well solo from my normal running troop of Trent and Riley. They were going with mommy this am as I was going to be busy scouting the trails and teaching the trail running seminar. Maybe tomorrow I will get to spend some time on the road with them, maybe even all three. Mommy really looks like she could use a bike ride.

I arrived at McDowell Creek Park at 5:55 AM and was on the trail just after 6:00 AM. The seminar didn’t start until 9:00 AM but I wanted to scout out the trails as well as get some mileage in before the group showed up. The plan was to do 2 loops out at the park one longer and one shorter and give the people in attendance the choice of what route they wanted to take. The short loop would stay within the completed trail section which is actually 2.2 miles and about 250 feet of climbing where as the longer 5.5 mile loop is on the uncompleted sections of trails and is around 500 – 600 feet of elevation. Event though the trail is uncompleted it is still very runnable. Funny thing is it has been in the same condition for about 5 years. The forest service just hasn’t finished it. I am guessing it is related to money.

So off I went – pack on with my new super powered energy drink (more on that later) and wearing my LaSportiva Skylytes. I wore these for the first loop as I wanted to try them out on some climbing and see how they held up, which they did very well. I changed into my Montrail Rogue Racers for the second loop and group run. So there I was setting off at exactly 6:05 AM up the trail I went. I started on the completed section which starts with about a 1/4 mile gradual climb then goes straight up a stair case on the west side of Terrace Falls for a 120 feet (vertical). Yes you have to climb a 120 foot staircase built into the side of the waterfall. Very cool and very challenging. needless to say I don’t run that section – NO ONE DOES! After the staircase the climb continues on regular trail for about another 1/2 mile or so then levels out at the upper parking lot. Here is where you have a choice to continue up the old logging road for another 3 mile loop or head back to the lower parking lot and enjoy 2 additional waterfalls and another monster staircase that meanders across the valley. This one is made of wood so watch your step remember we are in waterfall country and waterfalls produce mist and mist produces slickness.

For the first two loops I did the longer loop. The first time to make sure I remembered the path and the second time to mark it for the participants. The larger loop starts at the upper parking lot and continues up the old logging road for about a mile before you hop off on some old abandoned ATV trails. You then circle out and around and end up about a 1/4 of the way down the completed section. It is a great loop and actually there are numerous ways you can do this route. Later in the summer I want to go back up there and do the large loop but add in power line. Power line is named power line because you run underneath the big power lines that you see going up and over mountains. I am not sure how far you can actually go on this trail but I have done a 20 mile out and back before.

So two loops down and the group is about to arrive so I head back down to the lower parking lot for some down time and stretching. 11 miles down in about 1:40 not bad for a course that is up and down. We had 5 people show up for the trail run. I was a little upset about the lack of turnout when we had 15 people sign up but what do you do. I got to talk about running and then take them on a guided tour of a great little trail that amazingly 2 of them didn’t even know was there. Since there were not many people in the group and most of them 4 had never run trails we decided to keep it simple and just do the completed section twice. Yes that means the 120 stair case 2 more times – by the end of the day I would have climbed it 4 times.

The group loved the trail which is good, no one got hurt we did loose 2 people in the end. No worries we found them again, I mean comon’ I wouldn’t leave them out there – this is cougar country. We lost them because at the top of the last loop I made a joke about sprinting to the finish and Dave, my friend from the Gym – Steelhead SNF – said I will follow and the rest of them said we will see you there so Dave and I were off. Well I have to say my ego kicked in and I think Dave’s did as well. He kept up nicely though, we bombed down the last 1.5 miles at a blazing 6:05 pace. We missed a couple of turns and had to back track but it was great he stayed stuck to my tail the entire way. I was screaming root, rock, pit mud as it approached and he was screaming back; crap, no, why did I do this to myself. See Dave my own and gym and may be is super physical shape he just isn’t a runner although he likes to run short distances. In the end the group found us back at the lower parking lot. We talked and joked for a bit and then we were done.

All in all it was a great run. My legs were strong throughout, in fact scary strong even climbing the hills. My energy was up the entire 2.5 hours and had no down sections. I ate one of my homemade energy bars and packed a new energy drink that I concocted last night. See about a month ago, just after the Vancouver Marathon my wife and I decided to eliminate all process sugars from our diet. Well at least as much as possible, also we are trying to reduce the amount of glueten. This is mainly because we are both trying to loose a few pounds. Well as many of you know every energy drink and or source out there for endurance athletes is chalked full of sugars and most of them are not using the good sugars. Maybe you don’t know this, I didn’t until I started looking. So I have had to change all of my drinks as well as start making my own energy bars. Actually I have noticed it is going to save some $$$ as well so bonus. The energy drink I made was really good. It was basically water as the base Blue Agave, Ginger and Lysine and Salt. It not only tasted good but curbed my stomach which usually starts to act up a bit at about 2 hours. I am guessing the ginger helped that and man did it keep my energy levels constant. The energy bar I made this week was Almond Butter, Cocoa (dark bakers chocolate), Banana, Pure Maple Suryp, Raisins, Glueten Free Oats, Whey Protien and Lysine. They are really really good. A little gooey, I think I need to add more Oats but really good.

The iPhone GPS app I have been using kind of freaked out a bit at about mile 9 of the pre run scouting session which was basically 1.8 miles from the end of the second loop. Not sure what happened it just lost GPS reception and never gained it back so I wasn’t able to get the full session recorded. Here is the first 9 miles – The full run from my calculations was 11 miles pre group, 4.4 miles with the group so 15.4 miles in 2:35:32 and approximately 2400 feet of climbing.

And the best news of the day – my refurbished Garmin 305 arrived!


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