Running With Coach James Mattern’s Group

Meralgia Paresthetica

February 8, 2016 Comments (0) The Blog

My 20-mile Portland run on February 6, 2016

It was 39F when I left my house at 7:15. I was headed to Foot Zone off of 23rd and Burnside for one of Coach Jim’s training sessions, and what looked to be an excellent Portland run. I’d read the route; It was familiar. Two out and back courses, starting at the store: The first would head up and over Terwilliger Boulevard, all the way to Barbur Boulevard; The second would loop along waterfront and back.

Those familiar with the Shamrock Run know all about Terwilliger. It’s 2.5 mile uphill grade past OHSU is something local runners use for a nice, steady, training climb.


Several groups organized at the store, into various pace times. Still trying to figure out my marathon time — more on that in an upcoming post — I opted for the 3:30 group. Per Jim’s design, while a 3:30 marathon is about an 8-minute mile, the training run is set for 75-90 seconds slower, or a 9:15-9:30 mile pace. The idea is to allow the runner to train for distance and prevent injury while working on various body systems.

So off we were, through Northwest, across 405 to Broadway, and up Terwilliger. OHSU towered above as we rounded the first set of turns. I found the pace very comfortable, which made it infinitely more enjoyable than during Shamrock as runners gasp their way up the hill. Something I’ve come to enjoy about these runs is the “talking” pace: Rarely am I breathing hard at all, always at a pace where conversation is easy to maintain, and wow does the time fly.

This first segment was supposed to be 12 miles, but as we reached the turnaround, most of us had clocked about 5.7-5.8 miles. GPS over the hills was a bit wonky, so we went a bit down Barbur before doubling back. Up we climbed again, before descending all the way back into downtown. This nice downgrade is something you don’t experience on Shamrock, as that course loops down Barbur. Again, OHSU towered high above us.


Back up we climbed into Northwest; I’d forgotten that between downtown and 23rd is about 100 feet of elevation gain. After a brief respite, we set out again, down Everett and over to Naito Parkway, before heading down one of my favorite courses in Portland: Waterfront.


An inbound Amtrak train force us to stop and pause. I can’t count how many times I’ve gotten stopped at this crossing. I used to run Northwest extensively the year I lived off of 29th. It was nice revisiting my old neighborhood.


Under the Broadway Bridge, across Steel Bridge, then under Burnside, Morrison, and Hawthorne (where our course was originally to cross), we continued on.

Crossing the Steel Bridge.

Most in the group had never seen the Tilikum Crossing and wanted to run it. Although this added a bit more than a mile to the total distance, it was worth it; The group took it easy, and the setting was incredible. It’s an amazing bridge to cross no matter how you do it.


And then, it was time to head up along Waterfront and turn back up Everett to the store. It was on the return path up to 23rd that I realized how exhausted I’d become. I was sucking wind the last few blocks and I knew I’d gotten a great workout.

In reviewing the course and elevation profile, I was struck by how far the group went.


I was also impressed by the elevation gain.


Whenever I finish a distance run, I go through a few checkpoints on cool-down: Check my pulse, see if anything “hurts”, stretch carefully, and bundle up a bit as I tend to get chilled quickly once I stop moving. On the drive home, I was cognizant of how much of a run I’d just done – this was as long as the longest training run I did in preparation for the Portland Marathon – and yet, how many more miles I still have to go before April.

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