Sunday, July 02, 2017

Runcommuting in Portland

I didn't know what to expect when I went to Portland, beyond the obvious.  I mean, I knew people were friendly, but also there's the whole hippie, uber-progressive, "take fluoride out of drinking water because it affects my chakras" thing.  


On the OTHER hand, if you take drive just 10 minutes out of Portland, it gets SUPER RedState, which can be tough when Twitter and "The News" every day makes you want to scream at those same people, ARE YOU FUCKING HAPPY NOW WTF WERE YOU THINKING?!


So generally, I didn't know WHAT to expect from day to day life.

I also didn't adjust to WORK life in Portland.  I went from a Capitol Hill life of living/working "sofa king" close to where I earned my shoe money -- to a situation where I had to roust out of bed at 5am daily JUST to ensure I could even work out.

It's that simple.  If I'm going to work, I need time to work out, ideally beforehand.

It should have been easy -- my building is seriously SUPER nice.  It's a state-of-the-art work location and not only has reserved parking for me, there is also a full gym/locker room.  Weights, aerobics/yoga room, plus treadmills and cardio machines.

I get that treadmills can work for people.  I do.  But I have a rough history with them.

This is why I paid for installation when I owned one.

It meant that I would lift weights more, and not run as much, almost out of self-preservation.

This is almost more appropriate because of the body shape.

Between the minimal running, the (cold) rain, and having to get up so early, my fall and winter went like this:

Actual footage of me watching movies while snowed in this past winter.

Maybe that's too short.  It went like THIS:

1.  Finished training for new job.  Started it (not saying squat about it, except that I'll admit it's pretty cool when people stand up just because you're entering or leaving).

2.  Watched the Nationals do their mostly-annual appearance in the playoffs . . .

(while it rained outside)

3.   . . . followed quickly by their always-reliable first-round exit.

(while it rained outside, and got cold)

4.  Got up at INSANE hours to drive to my work, just so I could run (on a treadmill).

(while it rained harder outside, was colder)

5.  Or lift weights.


6.  Or both.

(same plus THANK YOU time change now I'll never see the sun!)

7.  Wondered if it would ever stop raining.

8.  It did.

9.  Because it was replaced by like 3 feet of snow (followed by more rain).

Ok, fine, I get it.  I know it rains in the PacNW.  But HOLY SHIT.

Cue the "Boy, that escalated quickly" meme.

I mean, I knew what I EXPECTED to see when I got to Portland.


But the rain was just really something this past winter.  I wasn't going to adapt unless I was part mermaid.

Sorry, I meant "Aquatic Dweller."

Anyway, this winter was SOME FUCKING BULLSHIT.  It took a toll on me.


Then I'd see myself in the mirror.

By the time I hit a rather big birthday I was desperate.  I took the FitBit plunge.  Because yet ANOTHER social media profile just seemed like a GREAT idea.

It was either get a FitBit or get a ManBun.  You don't see a lot of ManBunnies with FitBits in PDX, I've found.

So I got my FitBit, and about the time of my birthday, I found myself living WAY closer to my work.  Like 5.x miles away.  Like, "Holy fuck, I can run to or from work every day . . . "

(Thinking . . . plotting . . . I NEED OFF A GODDAMN TREADMILL)

Then, I really started to do it.  I started Runcommuting.  I got better at it.  I got better at planning for it.  I started to drive to work Monday morning, with a car just LOADED with work clothes for the week, then run home that night.  I'll wake up Tuesday, and run BACK to work. Lather, rinse, repeat.  For some (Friday) mornings, I might run to work, and take Uber home.


By April, I'd hit my first 100+ mile month in, well, many months.  Over the course of about 3 months, I dropped 15 pounds.  According to my doctor, I dropped 20 pounds, but I think that's incorrect, 15 is more accurate.

This Runcommute is kinda fun.  I've made some mental notes as I do the miles:

Mile 0 - 1:

This portion of the commute takes me quickly into the CBD of my neighborhood, filled with little shops.

I really don't get the business plan of a place that sells "dyes for your aura."

The small bakery is already open, as are a few(!) of the coffeeshops.  I'm eyed curiously by dogwalkers, commuting drivers, and coffeeshop people already on laptops as I make my way to a busy road.  Bus drivers will STILL slow down as they see me running after them, thinking I'm about to flag them down, as if I've missed my ride.  I run on past them, probably followed by a little cloud of Smug.


Mile 1 - 2

Now I'm off the busy road, and smack in the middle of a quiet neighborhood.  I'll soon cut through a park, and on many mornings, I run by a young couple who sit on the "stoop" of their duplex (it's like two or three stairs). They sit there, canoodling, and having coffee together at like 7-ish a.m.  True to form, we haven't acknowledged each other.  #DCrepresent

About this, but they're still in jammies.  Same smiles though.
Mile 2-3:

Now I'm approaching the halfway point of my commute, and this is easily the sketchiest section.  It's on a much-more-major road for about 2/3 of a mile, and the stuff I pass by ranges from a two-bit car dealership, a strip club, and a pretty good microbrewery.

The strip club goes out of their way to post really over-the-top notes on its display sign.

But on the bright side, they have a payphone there.

That's like the TAMEST one I've seen.  One time they had a sign up saying, "Stop by for the (woman's sex organ) beauty pageant."  Not even speculating on what the talent portion of THAT event would involve, but I bet the interpretive dance would be pretty weird.

*jizz hands*

So, yeah.  Classy stretch.  Along the way I pass a "Burgerville," which, at like 7:30am is ALREADY apparently firing up the ol' grill.  It hits me even harder when I'm doing a "run home" day and I pass by this place, as it reeks of burgers and fries . . . .


Mile 3-4:

Early on in this mile, I catch a streetlight almost every morning.  So at that point, I'm hanging with a BUNCH of bike commuters, a few of whom have started to recognize me as something of a "regular."  They're not at all as I pictured them.

Who am I to goof on anyone who bike commutes?  Biking terrifies me.
I mean, they don't stop for Stop signs, but who on a bike does?

Headed back into another neighborhood now.  This one is by far WAY more eclectic and hip.  It's also full of some NOT SMART PEOPLE.

Perhaps . . . I'm being too harsh.  Or not.  This stretch takes me into a very exclusive neighborhood, and I often see lots of people out walking their dogs.

On like 10 foot leads.  

Taking the whole sidewalk.

Not in control of their dogs.

Living in DC for many MANY years, you know how many dog encounters I had?

Somewhere, Eric the Actor is angry.  Props if you get this joke btw, I love you.

I have had a LOT of dog incidents since being in Portland.

Memo - your dog isn't a citizen.  It is, or should be, on a LEASH.  It should be UNDER YOUR CONTROLLLLLLLLLLWTF GETAWAYGETAWAYGETAWAY


People of Portland.  Hi.  I spent a fucking decade dealing with tourists in DC who walk on the left, and walk like 8 abreast.  I will run through a fucking WALL to still be right.  

Lecturing you the whole way, too.

So yeah, mile 3-4, as pretty as it is, is no picnic.

That brings me to the happiest stretch:
Mile 4-5.x:

For much of this stretch, it's uphill.  After a bit, I can see my building in the distance.  It's really gratifying, and kind of drives home (ha!) to me how far I've come, as I make my way to work, with just the sounds of my own footsteps and breathing as a soundtrack.

Passing (another) Burgerville now, along with more bars and eclectic PDX shops.

I will admit - one of the shops has a framed, original Star Wars poster which does look pretty cool. 

But, finally, I am at my building.  The various guards know me at this point (and most of them are still in general disbelief that I have the job I do), but they often ask how the run was, if I like the non-rainy weather, and if I'm planning to turn around and run home that same day.

They were also REALLY interested in when I was getting rid of my DC plates and DC driver's license.  That got taken care of, legally, right on time, albeit maybe a bit under the wire.  But, it's done.  I am now an Oregon resident.  I often say, in my heart, I'm just a Washingtonian who lives in Oregon now.  Regardless, I am now a Portlandian.

And I, for one, am sick of all you East Coasters moving to my hip city!!!!