Zero to Twenty-Six

Hood to Coast wrap-up: People run this thing? Driving is bad enough

Hood to Coast is terrible.

It’s also fantastic.

Neither is a big surprise.

You don’t sign up for something - knowing that one morning is going to start with the peak of Mount Hood in the background and the next is going to end at the Seaside promenade - without expecting some big highs and big lows.

I don’t really get to complain about how tiring it was. I was, after all, only driving while the six ladies in my van ran 18 or so miles each.

Hood to Coast: Honeymoon's over

Hood to Coast: Honeymoon's over

SCAPPOOSE, Ore. – Yeah, the honeymoon's over.

The discrepancy between what's going on at the runner exchanges and the attitude of those involved is pretty striking though.

The race took a turn for the much worse when we showed up at the Oaks Park exchange at 6 p.m. after stopping in Portland for a few hours while our other van took over. Oaks Park is the major Portland exchange this year – it's traditionally been under Hawthorne Bridge – and it's hard to imagine a worse location.

Hood to Coast: 'It’s the first leg – aka the honeymoon stage'

Hood to Coast: 'It’s the first leg – aka the honeymoon stage'
Photo by Dusty Lane,

My Hood to Coast van killed 46 people this morning. Not literally, obviously.

One thing I learned today: you pass a runner, it’s a kill. You mark it on the window for bragging rights.
(If you get passed, it’s not really worth mentioning.)

There’s an etiquette to passing, it turns out. You give the person you passed a “nice job runner,” or, if you’re feeling especially generous, you blow them a kiss.

Never, ever say “cha-CHING” when you pass somebody. That’s for high school kids.

Hood to Coast: 'We’re gonna win at having fun'

Hood to Coast: 'We’re gonna win at having fun' »Play Video
Photo by Dusty Lane,

I show up at the KATU newsroom at 6 a.m. every morning, so I’m used to being around a bunch of chipper people (well, not the producers) when it’s still dark out.

But this is ridiculous.

In case you missed it yesterday, I’ll be riding along with a group of women for Hood to Coast. Mostly I’ll be driving; for the drive up, I rode shotgun so I could get to know the team a little bit.

Hood to Coast preview: One van's journey into the heart of Seaside

Hood to Coast preview: One van's journey into the heart of Seaside

Those who can't do, drive vans for those who can.

This weekend, I'm interrupting my own (slowly) burgeoning running to drive a van full of ladies on Hood to Coast. We'll be Van 1 on a team called Slippah Stream, departing Mount Hood at 8:30 a.m.

I don't know why the team is called Slippah Stream, but that's only one of about 26,200 things I'm curious about. It seems like there’s going to be endless amounts of great stuff to write about.

So, I'm going to be the best damn van driver ever. In exchange, they're going to let me - and you - along for the ride.

This is Portland: Everything relates to bikes

This is Portland: Everything relates to bikes

You'll notice there’s no moped parked next to the curb in that picture.

That’s because my moped - "Scooty," as my wife liked to call him - was stolen from that very spot last week by people I assume will meet an awful comeuppance in both this life and the next.

Anyway, I'm going to get a bike. How does running relate to bikes?

This is Portland. Everything relates to bikes.

We're two-thirds of a twenty-sixth of the way there!

We're two-thirds of a twenty-sixth of the way there!

When I started this blog, I knew in the abstract the going would be slow. The goal I had in the back of my mind was that I wanted to complete a full mile by the time Hood to Coast rolls around (more on why later) and a 5K by the end of September.

Neither proposition seems terribly likely, so let’s look at the good news: If I can just multiply my current distance by 39, I’ve got myself a marathon.

'Did you get hit by the bomb?' Local teacher describes Boston Marathon

'Did you get hit by the bomb?' Local teacher describes Boston Marathon

My friend Amy was crying outside a train station in Boston a couple months ago.

People walking by thought she was crying because she’d just finished the Boston Marathon. They congratulated her.

They were right that she'd just finished, but wrong about why she was crying. She was crying because she had learned the news that they hadn’t yet heard.

Smoking: If 60 percent of doctors do it, why shouldn't I?

Smoking: If 60 percent of doctors do it, why shouldn't I?
Please note - that hat is NOT mine.

In light of the somewhat-less-than-heroic start to my running career, it feels like it’s time another look at how I got here in the first place.

So, here’s the second installment in what’s going to be an ongoing series explaining why living in China probably took years off my life.

(Also, if you’re new this blog or haven’t read the first post yet, I would suggest you do so for some context.)

The first step - it's a doozy

I’m not great at figuring out what’s ironic and what isn’t (I’m not alone on that) but I think this might qualify.

I planned to come back from China and get healthy. That was, in fact, a big factor in our decision to move back.

As part of the little regimen I planned out, I went to the doctor. Guess what? I gained at least 15 pounds in the first five weeks or so after I got back (See the maybe irony there? Moved back to get healthy, which directly led to worse health?)

Coming soon: The world's slowest start

Either trouble’s a foot, or I’ve encountered my first hurdle before I’ve taken a step (depending on whether you prefer your puns bad or your metaphors tortured).

Either way, I went to the podiatrist yesterday as promised and got the news that I can start running, finally, but I have to take it slow for now.

Think 15-minute miles, which most people can accomplish with a walker.

Wanted: Better shoes (and feet)

Wanted: Better shoes (and feet)

This is a running blog. Why, you might rightly ask, is there no running yet?

The short answer is, I have some foot issues that are going to take another week to figure out. Since more than half the emails I've received since I began this blog mentions the importance of getting the right shoes before you start running, I figured we could talk about it in the meantime.

If you want the longer - and, at times, grosser - answer, stick around for the beginning of Feet Week at Zero to Twenty-Six.

Zero to Twenty-Six running blog: Beijing's poison air

Zero to Twenty-Six running blog: Beijing's poison air

I mentioned in my first post that I'll be writing from time to time about life in China (and it's adverse health effects). I'm waiting on the results from my physical before I start a running regimen, so let's talk about what was, by a wide margin, my least favorite thing about living in Beijing: Smog.

When my first flight to Beijing pulled into the terminal all the way back in July 2011, they depressurized the cabin, as they’ll do. I had never realized they do this. When you land in Beijing, however, it becomes abundantly clear because smog comes flooding in through the vents.

The problem was I didn’t know it was smog.

My first reaction - rooted partly in the facts I’d slept about 10 combined hours the previous week and that my wife and I had just finished a “24" marathon - was that terrorists had somehow gained access to the plane and released Centox VX nerve gas into the air supply.

'I'm the last person on Earth who should be starting a runners' blog'

'I'm the last person on Earth who should be starting a runners' blog'
The author and a goat in China

I’m the last person on Earth who should be starting a runners’ blog. That’s why I’m doing it.

Most mainstream media blogs are run by people who, hopefully, are experts on the topic. This will be quite the opposite.

I spent the last two years smoking and drinking, staying up late and eating awful food in Beijing. (Did you know McDonald’s has 24-hour delivery for about a dollar in China? Or that on several horrifying occasions I ordered it three times in two days?)

I worked there at a newspaper called China Daily after 33 years in the Pacific Northwest.

China was food for the soul. It was poison for the body.

Moving there was a humongous challenge. Moving back to Portland is the opposite - it’s my favorite city in the world. I know the language, I love the food, and the people are, for whatever reason, my kind of people.

The only drawback is that I thrive on humongous challenges. Repatriation is a real problem, and I’m worried about it. I lived 700-and-some-odd days accomplishing difficult things, and I want a new impossibility in my life.

Boredom frightens me.