This weekend I took a quick, but very active, trip to Oregon – my first time to visit that state. I arrived Thursday and was met with exactly what I expected from the Pacific Northwest: gray and rainy weather. One thing I didn’t expect, though, was that the drivers would not be very good at dealing with the rain. Throughout the trip my driving travel times were increased due to accidents but I would have thought that, in a place where it rains frequently, people would have figured out how to adapt. Not so, apparently.
My trip began in Portland and my first stop was the Nike campus (technically in nearby Beaverton). The Nike campus is really cool; it simply oozes sports. Every building is named for a prominent athlete, sports fields and running trails litter the grounds, and everywhere you look are banners, statues, and busts of even more athletes from every sport imaginable. Although I am not a huge fan of the Nike brand, I had to tip my hat to them when I noticed a bronze bust of Art Monk, one of my favorite football players of all time, as I was walking by. Well played, Nike; well played.
At Nike I had lunch with two friends who work at Nike, one was a football teammate of mine at Rice and the other was an MBA classmate of mine (and Tug of War teammate!) at IMD. As one might imagine, the cafeteria (in the Mia Hamm building) at a place that is so focused on sports is pretty fantastic. I had steelhead trout, brussels sprouts, greek yogurt, and toasted coconut chips – not a bad way to break my fast!
After stopping to see another Rice friend at Nike, I headed to downtown Portland, where I had a reunion with one of my favorite ex-IMD professors. He is still doing cutting-edge research on entrepreneurship so it was very interesting to hear about his most recent findings. However, it was even more interesting to let him take me on a walking tour of Portland’s Pearl District, which finished at Blue Star Donuts. Anyone who has read my treatise on nutrition will know that donuts are definitely not part of my nutritional plan. However, my companion assured me that this was one of the places to try in Portland, so when in Rome . . .
He and I shared a peanut butter donut with blackberry compote (delicious) but there were so many other intriguing flavors that I decided to pick up a box of five more (Valrhona dark chocolate, dark chocolate crunch, blueberry crunch, Mexican chocolate, and maple & bacon) to bring as a gift for my hosts later that night. Some of those flavors turned out to be more exciting than others but I was glad at least to try them. After waiting out the traffic (and more accidents), I finally hit the road and made it down to my friends’ house in Eugene.
Friday morning my host, who is not only a great runner but also an avid lover of all things running, took me on a running tour of Eugene, which is known as Track Town, USA. We started in Hendricks Park, which overlooks the city, for some scenic trail running. I hadn’t had a chance to see “real” Oregon Thursday because I spent the day in urban areas and it was already dark by the time I hit the road. As soon as we started running on Friday, though, I was impressed by just how green Oregon is. Lush grasses, towering fir trees, and moss, moss everywhere. It just really gives the impression that organic life thrives there.
We stopped by Pre’s Rock, the location where Steve Prefontaine died, and then made our way down to the heart of the city. During our pilgrimage to historic Hayward Field, we took a lap around the track and ran the [sizeable] stadium stairs. Then we ran across the University of Oregon campus to run along Pre’s bark trail – around the football stadium and then along the Willamette River. Running was a fantastic way to see a city that is so prominent in the US’s running culture and I’m extremely grateful to my host for organizing such a unique tour.
After a good run, what do you need? Recovery nutrition, of course! So we went wine tasting at King Estate Winery. I’m not usually very big on pinot noir but they had a couple that really won me over. Afterward we stopped by a local fish market and made a nice dinner of fresh seafood.
Saturday we woke up early for a pre-dawn trail run along the Ridgeline Trail. Gradually the big moon made way for sunrise and we were once again treated to wonderful views of the city whenever we emerged from clusters of forest – truly magical!
At this point I left Eugene and drove up to Corvallis, where I would stay for the rest of my trip. Again I was impressed by just how green everything was on both sides of the road and extending as far as the eye can see.
My second Oregon host has been the subject of previous blog posts. He is the proprietor of The SHOP, which recently relocated to Corvallis, Oregon. Still a bit winded from our trail run, I was excited to see the new SHOP location so I made my way directly there. It’s a really fantastic facility: high ceilings, open spaces, top-end equipment, and the best bathrooms I have ever seen at any gym! As expected, Drew treated me to an epic workout (normal for him, epic for me). Then we recovered with local craft brew and local-ish (in nearby Albany) fine dining, both of which were excellent.
Sunday Drew took me through another tough workout and then my Eugene host came up to join me for another running workout. Even with all the strenuous activity, I never felt too beat because Drew kept me plied with huge amounts of high quality – and delicious – nutrition.
Monday morning I snuck in one more awesome SHOP workout and headed back up to Portland to catch my flight. This trip really turned out to be a destination fitness fest and I wouldn’t have had it any other way. During and between the workouts I spent time with great friends and I got to know – albeit very briefly – the very green state of Oregon. I hope to be back soon!