[from May 17th]
This year’s Pole Pedal Paddle team was again cobbled together relatively last minute, but with institutional knowledge on our side we were able to ski, bike, run, and paddle just a little bit faster and break our goal of two hours from Mt Bachelor to downtown Bend. Last year our denim themed team finished a shade over 2:00, this year our leisure suits sped to 1:57. Class must be key. If you consider a seven dollar thrift shop suit with cutoff sleeves to be classy.
Both PPP experiences for me have been on less than ideal legs. Last year I was coming into it rusty after a couple weeks down from my half marathon. This year I opted to put myself through the wringer by running Black Butte not once, but twice the day before with Max, Ryan Bak, TJ, and Jeff Browning. Five miles of unrelenting uphill for 3300 feet followed by an equally tough downhill. Repeat.
The first rep was relatively relaxed, the group of us running together and Jeff keeping the pace reasonable, 100 mile training he said. It was all new terrain for the crew, despite the decades of combined running experience in central oregon. After moving methodically through the trees, the trail emerges with perfect views of the Sisters, Three Finger Jack, and Mt Jefferson. The fire tower at the top was already on active duty even though patches of snow clung to the north side (this lookout later called in the Two Bulls fire in Bend). Another peak on my oregon list! On the descent I basically got dropped, and my quads were feeling it; I’m still learning how to run downhill fast and efficient. We refueled at the car and started the second rep, which by the looks of Max was going to be punishing.
On Max’s heels and with Ryan right on mine, we retraced our steps at a faster tempo. At such a grade you don’t notice the pace shift so much in your legs as your lungs, and soon it was taking all of my concentration to keep stride. But hey, I’m rolling with two of the top guys around! Halfway up I began yoyoing behind Max; falling back, refocusing, gaining slightly, falling back again, repeat. I’ve been here before; at this stage it’s only a matter of time before you really drop. With maybe a mile to go I completely lost contact, yet was actually pulling ahead of Ryan. Emerging from the trees the second time, I didn’t give the view more than passing glance, such was my oxygen debt. One more time through a rocky section, across the mini snow field, and past a few scraggly manzanita to where I could double over, hands on my knees beneath the lookout tower. Only there’s still another five miles downhill! Oh my quads…
When we had all gathered back at the car I broke out a box of donuts which was followed with milkshakes at the Sno Cone diner in Sisters. These are the combinations great days are made of, though my quads still took four days to feel normal again. I also had a perfect excuse for whatever might happen at PPP.