When I first moved to Oregon from New York City, I knew that the running would be different. Wetter, I assumed. Also, a bit more greenery. And… well, that was about the extent of my expectations. Now six years later, and thousands of PNW miles under my belt, I feel I can confidently call myself a Pacific Northwest Runner. Here are some of the signs.
- Temperature means nothing. You understand that when your phone weather app tells you that it’s 45 and partly cloudy, that gives you zero information as to how you should dress. Some days it means shorts and a t-shirt; some days it means multiple layers and gloves. It has something to do with Serious Scientific Stuff and also maybe the cloud cover. Mostly though it’s just Mother Nature messing with our adrenaline-addicted little heads.
- You carry your own torch. Unless you are fortunate enough to be able to run during “daylight hours” in the late fall and winter (approximately 10 am to 2 pm), you come equipped with all measures of blinking red lights, headlamps, hand lamps and reflectors. And your phone’s flashlight as a backup.
- You can run hills. You may not like to run hills, but given that every loop will involve at least one massive ascent and descent, they are something you can do, if grudgingly.
- You are a post-race spoils connoisseur. Anyone can grow to expect the obligatory post-race treats of bananas, oranges and bagels. But you know that you are a spoiled PNW race-spoils imbiber when you feel the teensiest bit disappointed if they are not serving local craft beer and/or locally roasted coffee.
- Your fears are a bit slanted. In order, you are most afraid of getting hit by: a bicycle; a deer; and finally, and way way down there, a car.
- You can navigate puddles. You are a master of the gravity-defying leap, carrying you over puddles of indeterminate size and depth – except for that very last one that leaves you doing the soggy run of shame the last few blocks home. Every. Time.
- You realize how lucky you are. You look out from the top of a massive ascent, fog snaking through majestic firs, mountains in the distance partially obscured by clouds and think – how did I ever run anywhere else?