Saturday, July 31, 2010

Cannon Beach to Seaside

It is a matchless, divine pleasure to be fortunate enough to take part in an activity you thoroughly enjoy, all the while, doing so with the one you love.  What enhanced the bliss of running from Cannon Beach to Seaside and back was the fact that Sara accompanied me on the first half of the journey.  For her, it entailed the longest duration of running she has ever accomplished.  For me, I achieved a goal I believed I wouldn't dare try until the end of August.  Holistically speaking, it was a spiritual, physical, and emotional experience indeed.  

(Toward the beginning of our run.  One of the many bluffs overlooking the ocean along the trail.  Not yet to Ecola Point).

To put it plainly, the trail is spectacular.  In fact, the area is so significant, that upon Lewis and Clark's voyage to the northwest, they exclaimed that they had not seen a more beautiful landscape in all their travel.

With a mile warm-up from where we were lodging, the trail itself began at Ecola State Park near Cannon Beach, Oregon and wound through a small range of scenic, coastal mountains; eight miles all the way to Seaside with an overall vertical gain of only 1000'.  It is mostly dense, lush forest with the trail being extremely technical.  What I mean is that there were sections of roots in which careful footing was necessary, tight bends that snaked throughout, and due to the moist atmosphere, patches of thick mud.  What I am implying is that cruising throughout most the trail was quite difficult since keen awareness of foot placement was essential.

As Sara and I set off from the conference center, we agreed that we would share pacing duties along different sections of the trail.  I was particularly looking forward to that because on one hand, it would be good practice for when Sara helps pace me to the finish from Rattlesnake to Cavitt during the Sierra Nevada Double-Marathon and on the other hand, I was eager to help pace her up some of the sustained climbs.

As we entered Ecola State Park and cut a sharp left off of the road and onto the trail, Sara took charge and set a decent pace.  As a runner, I admire Sara's ability to whip around tight turns and avalanche the descents.  It helps keep me on my toes and encourages me.   It was a joy to watch Sara's determination to not only make it to Seaside, but do so with power and style.  Here's a little glimpse of that:
(Sara running strong as she pretty much did the whole 9 miles to Seaside).

After weaving up and down, left and right for little over a mile, we entered the parking lot at Ecola Point.  After crossing the parking lot, we met back up with the trail which climbed and descended for a mile and a half to Indian Beach.  Again, beautiful scenery along with pristine views of the ocean below.

I paced Sara from Ecola to Indian Beach and she never missed a beat behind me.  We would sporadically shout words of encouragement to each other and continually thank God for being able to experience his creation.  After dropping into Indian Beach, we crossed another small parking lot and met back up with the trail in a very dense area.

This section would include more of the serious climbs of the trail and very overgrown foliage.  Our next destination point was a very peculiar place.  In the middle of nowhere, all of a sudden you come across a series of mini-cabins.  Not sure why they are there, but I suppose if you wanted to bunk up for the night, it would be the perfect place as each mini-cabin contained only a few bunks.  This was about our half-way point and from here, a little more climbing to go.  But thankfully, we were out of the dense area and onto more open forest.

(Climbing....somewhere in between Indian Beach and Seaside.  Little do I know, but there is two miles of muddy trail ahead).
It was here that I was not expecting the climate to change dramatically. As we climbed further up, all of a sudden the weather shifted to mist and drizzle. It began to get colder and without a moments notice, we were running through mud!  Fun, but random at the same time.  I suppose doing most of my training around Auburn, I've grown accustomed to dry, dusty trail in the summertime.

I think the mud allowed for good distraction and an ease of the pace slightly.  This was beneficial because of a greater appreciation of the beautiful surroundings and more time with Sara before I would say my good-bye and come back the way I came.  After hurdling a few enormous fallen trees and running over sections of wooden planks, the final descent into Seaside finally came.

The last part of the trail was quite enjoyable because you slowly descend before a series of final switchbacks into Seaside.  Sara was acutely stoked because she knew she was almost done, having accomplished a rather noble task.  Her journey wouldn't be fully complete though.

The family was enjoying the day in Seaside, and Sara would continue to run about three more miles to meet up with them and catch a ride home.  As we came to her near-end, and my half-way point, I refueled with a few granola bars, kissed my wife, and began the journey back home.  We made the 9-mile trek in 1:45, so I figured either I was really taking it easy or I'm in for another "longest time ever run."

I'm not going to bore you with the mundane details of my trip back because it would only be repetitive.  Interestingly enough, I did make it back in 1:46 even though technically, the trip back included more downhill.  Just goes to show you that Sara is quite the pacer and a terrific trail-runner.  

As I made it back to Cannon Beach however, I didn't want my journey to end.  Simply for the fact that prior to summer starting, I made it a personal goal that by the end of summer, I would achieve a four-hour run.  Here I was at 3:30 with my legs feeling decently well. 

Naturally, I headed for the beach and tacked on an extra thirty minutes to equal my first four-hour run.  Although it was tempting to see if a five-hour run was doable (which I think it was), I stopped and basked not only in my exploit, but in the worlds largest ice-bath, namely, the ocean.    

Below is a video I captured of Sara to give you more of a visual of what we were privileged to enjoy:



  1. Amazing writing and love hearing about your running adventures together!!! Loved it~

  2. Thanks Ticia! Sara and I always have a blast together:)