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Trails in Forest Park are irresistible. Like this. Could you stand here and NOT pick a path and walk?

Trails in Forest Park are irresistible. Like this. Could you stand here and NOT pick a path and walk?

Arno and I met for the very first time on Mount Tabor, a beautiful Portland park so close to my home that I walked there to meet him. It’s the site of an ancient, dormant volcano. The date went so well that we spent about four hours on Mt. Tabor, till we got hungry and had to come down off the volcano.

After eating, we weren’t ready to separate quite yet. Arno had moved from Chicagoland only months before, and didn’t know many places in Portland, so he asked where we should go next. I had had been in Portland a couple years, and didn’t know the place like a native, but knew of Forest Park, rumored to be one of the largest city parks in the country (5,172 acres). (I’m determined to do some real research some day, and figure out precisely where Forest Park fits in the list, since the lists I have found don’t mention it.)

The sun thought about getting stronger and lighting the world.

In this photo, the sun is thinking about getting stronger and lighting the world.

trillium

trillium

On that day, we walked the trails and tried to keep ourselves steady as we tumbled madly for each other. We came to a beautiful little bridge over a creek, and stopped. Arno called it The Troll Bridge. We paused awhile to see if the troll would come out, and in fear for my life, I caught Arno in an embrace. (ok, maybe it wasn’t out of fear…)

violets

violets

We shared our first delicious kiss on the Troll Bridge. And since then Forest Park has held a special place in our collective memory.

Yesterday the sky threatened rain, and I told Arno I was determined to go outside for a good long while, and get some exercise, rain or no rain. We found our way to the other side of town, to the west hills, and to one of the many trail heads. The drive was beautiful in itself, winding up through the gorgeous homes in Portland’s King’s Heights. The homes are so eclectic, so fascinating, so obviously loved, that it’s always worth the trip there.

Path through a decadent green carpet

Path through a decadent green carpet

We didn’t get rained on, though the sky remained cloudy. It remained warm, and our walk was lovely. Arno turned on the GPS to track us, and we did a 7 1/2 mile loop, which was enough to get the stir crazy out of my bones.

This picnic table is begging for someone to stop for a lunchtime break.

These picnic tables are begging for someone to stop for a lunchtime break.

We crossed many little wooden bridges, but did not come across our Troll Bridge yesterday. We did pause on a couple of them, however, to share a kiss and wait to see if a troll would come out.

Most of the people we passed on our walk were joggers and cyclists.

Most of the people we passed on our walk were joggers and cyclists.

I asked Arno to hold the camera while I took off my fleece and tied it around my waist. He took my photo! Can't trust that guy... ;-)

I asked Arno to hold the camera while I took off my fleece and tied it around my waist. He took my photo! Can’t trust that guy… 😉

Awwww, I thought this was a really wonderful tribute. Here's a place to read more and see a video about Dave Terry's memorial.

Awwww, I thought this was a really wonderful tribute. Here’s a place to read more and see a video of Dave Terry’s memorial.

DSC_1108

adiantum aleuticum. Eye-catching, lacy, fern hands.

adiantum aleuticum. Eye-catching, lacy, fern hands.

anticipation builds as we gather in the zoo parking lot

Had a jolly little jog this morning. It’s been so long since I’ve run in a race. I used to do it more frequently when I was married to a triathlete. I haven’t run since I lived in California, and I thought this would be a good starter race. Only 4 miles and for a good cause: to support the Oregon Zoo.

it was a day of many turkeys

Traffic was a breeze at 7:30 am, and we parked with ease right in front of the World Forestry Center. I knew that with only one spot for bathrooms that I needed to get in line immediately, which I did. It took a full 15 minutes to get into the porta potty – dubious prize. First suggestion to Oregon Road Runners Club: more places to pee, please. As if to add insult to injury, Starbucks was co-located with the porta potties, so we could load up on more juice.

The first runners leap across the start line

I left my honey so he could find a high place for his camera, and I picked my way through the crowd of very festive people to sort of aim myself toward the Start. It was a glorious sunny morning following a brilliant sunrise. The clear skies brought in chilly air which was perfect for a run and for all the crazy outfits people had on. Lots of turkey hats, turkey costumes, baked and stuffed turkey hats (nice!), and even a cow. A cow? And several people in tutus, and a guy in reindeer horns. Um?

Where's my smile? I was too worried about trampling the herd ahead of me.

Second suggestion: Put the runners up front, baby strollers next, walkers last. I met up with the woman who handles Human Resources at my work and chatted with her till the race began. She was there with her walking group. So maybe I made it harder on myself by standing where they were. But in any case, jammed in with all those people, it took a very long time before I could actually get up enough speed to call it a jog. I passed the one mile marker before I cleared enough people to be able to get up to my usual running pace, and I am a slow runner!

A plug for beef instead of turkey?

Case in point: The same time I passed the one mile marker, those hot shot boys who were being all lithe and fit and stretching out at the starting line… the first of them passed me on his way BACK up the hill, when I was at mile one, and the next four of them passed me only minutes later. I really should bully myself up to the front if I plan on running in these things.

Cheers rose up from the slower runners still running down the hill for about the first 30 people who passed us on their way back up the hill. Later the cheers went both ways, boosting each other up, and spotting friends going the other direction. “Hi!” “Hey!” “Happy Thanksgiving!”

gobble gobble

It was a lovely run down the hill past the Arboretum, the Japanese Garden, and we turned around just at the Rose Test Garden. Then, sadly, back up the hill. I did walk some of those steep uphills, but it was only to provide moral support for my gentle co-runners who had also slowed to a walk. Because of course, I would be running right up all those hills if I wasn’t so concerned about their feelings. I heaved and gasped a bit too, to make it seem authentic.

Where's the finish?

The last ¼ mile was inside the zoo itself. That’s a pretty fun idea. I finally spotted my man with his camera right at the finish line, and gave him a wave as I headed for the water table. The Oregon Road Runners Club handed out donated pumpkin pies to random people, but they were gone by the time I showed up. I guess I’ll have to make my own.

My body was still crying from that horrible hill, but spirits were high. The sun was still brilliant and kids were running around all happy, and people were cheering for each other. It was a great feeling to have finished a race. Thanks Starbucks for the free cup of Christmas Blend. Thanks Oregon Road Runners Club for the opportunity to run a race for the zoo!

There's the smile!

One of my many guises

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