Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Tumalo Falls Hog ... or Jike?

Monday night, I went for a hike/jog at Tumalo Falls.  I knew I'd be cutting it close, so I changed at work, left right at 5:00 and high-tailed it to the falls.  There's some road construction on the way there, and a stoplight where they've narrowed the road to one lane (even though you can totally see the other end of the one-lane section so why can't they just put a stop sign and let drivers work it out amongst themselves, at least at night when the crew isn't actively working?).  So it actually took me an hour to get there--I got out of the car right at 6:00, set up my phone to record my trek and play me music, and hit the trail.

For those of you who aren't familiar with the Central Oregon, I live at ~3,500 feet.  For a lot of my exercise ventures, my lungs give out before my muscles do (at about two minutes in).  I recently joined a running program (officially training for a 5k, which I may or may not show up for--I joined to lose weight, not to run races), and my ventures in uphill "running" (pronounced PLOD-ding) have resulted in much gasping and wheezing.  I have, however, learned, that running a nice gentle downgrade isn't so bad, though.

Anyway, so yeah, high elevation--the trailhead was over 4,000 feet, and it went up from there.  And to get to Tumalo Falls, you drive to the end of a long road, first paved then gravel, and then you have to hike a little ways (maybe 1/4 mile?) up a rather steep hill to get to the viewpoint for the falls.  It's UP.  A LOT.  The other times I've gone there, it's taken me quite a while to make it up the hill, and a lot of resting along the way.

This time, though, I powered up it.  I was about halfway up when I realized I hadn't stopped yet.  And didn't really need to, though my thighs were burning.  Yep, my legs were giving out BEFORE my lungs for once.  I think all this "running" is actually helping!

I got to the viewpoint and just kept on going.  The trail levels out quite a bit at that point, but there are still steep spots interspersed with the flatter spots and even a few downhill spots.  I jogged the downhills and a few of the flats where I was feeling less worn out, but walked most of the way.  I kept going, without stopping for a break, for 1.27 miles!

Tumalo Falls.  This photo is from my return trip.  Sorry it's blurry, it was getting dark by that point.
So, I took a quick break at 1.27 miles, then two more as I came to two more nice waterfalls.  Each break was less than a minute, I'm pretty sure.

I knew I needed to get back to the car by 7-ish, when it would start getting dark, and I knew that the return trip would be faster than the uphill leg.  I figured I'd turn around at 6:40 or 1.5 miles, whichever came sooner.  1.5 miles came a little after 6:30, so I went to 1.55 so that even if the way down was slightly shorter due to not stopping to take photos, that I'd still hit three miles.  

I turned around, put 'er in second gear (ha!  definitely not in overdrive--I'm not even CLOSE to seeing that gear!), and started jogging.  And other than a couple of rocky patches, I "ran" the whole way down from the 1.55 mile mark almost back to the main falls.  A few times, I really felt like I was in the groove.  Though on the steeper downhill portions (especially the ones with drop-offs to the creek on one side!), my jog was about the speed of a walk, because I wanted to be very careful yet still keep the gait of a jog going.  When I got close to the falls, I slowed to a walk to catch my breath, then stopped for a bit just to soak in the view and snap a couple pictures.  Which came out blurry because it was well into dusk and getting close to dim.

I headed down from the falls back to my car, down that last stretch of steep trail, and it took FOREVER.  I honestly think I was slower going down than I had been going up, between just wanting to be careful and not slip (especially once I could see the parking lot which only contained one car at this point--guess who?!), but also because my legs were completely turned to jello.  By the time I got back to my car, it was getting pretty dark.  (By the time I got back to town another 30 minutes later, it was pitch black.)

I got to the car, sat for a minute to stop the tracker, switch from music back to my podcast I'd been listening to in the car, etc., and realized my whole lower body (lower back through to the tips of my toes) was BUZZING.  Not tingling like it fell asleep.  Definitely tired and sore, yes, but on top of that, it felt like my muscles were all vibrating at a really high frequency.  So weird.  It continued about halfway through the meal I ate in town, so for at least an hour.

I was definitely sore the next day.  Not horseback-riding-sore, but probably more sore than I've been after either a "run" or a hike in a long time.  But I liked the combination of hiking and "running."  I didn't pressure myself to run uphill at all, and really felt in the groove on the downhill portions, and it clearly was a good bit of exercise.  But I think most of all, it was nice to have tangible proof that I'm in better shape than I was a while ago, since I could hike all that way without resting. 


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