Day 1: Mazama Mountain Running Camp

We arrived in Portland late Thursday night (2 am EST) and my sister met us at the airport. We spent the night at her house, and then enjoyed a morning of some yoga and a trip to the Whole Bowl on Hawthorne. I LOVE the Whole Bowl, so we were super happy to have a chance to eat lunch there!!  If I were single and childless I think I would eat the Whole Bowl every day. We do have make our own Tali sauce so we can have it at home! Once tried to eat it every day for a month. Resident foodie Xander only managed a few days before the whining got to be too much.

Soon it was time to meet at the Mazama Center in Portland to board our van to the mountain. We’d meet all the other campers and load our gear into the vans. I was a little apprehensive about this part. We didn’t know anything about what to expect for who would attend! Instructor, Yassine pulled up in the van and greeted us. The ice was broken. We know him from Ithaca and he was so welcoming. As people started arriving, Yassine and Sarah helped to facilitate talking, got the van loading process going and before long we were all boarded into one of two vans. The drive out to Hood was just over an hour on this gorgeous sunny day. We haven’t seen much sun in our area this summer, so I just sat back, relaxed and looked out the window.

Soon we arrived! Sarah had prepared us for the lodge to be rustic. Shortly after we arrived, we were chatting about how nice the lodge was. Mike said that he had asked Sarah if there was running water!! There were several large rooms that we could choose from or we could sleep in the giant teepee outside or on one of the porches. Everyone quickly selected the accommodations that worked the best for them. Many people chose spots on the porches and others of us selected bunks in the large rooms. Scott and I picked bunks next to each other in the center room and set all of our stuff out. We had a brief sunscreen scare when we thought I forgot to pack it. Justin heard me say this and told us he had plenty to share. Of course after our panic, we found it! I already had a great vibe from our fellow campers – everyone seemed super helpful and friendly.

Silcox Hut

After some time to get settled, we loaded into vans and headed up to Timberline Lodge for our first hike/run. We’d hike up from the main parking lot to the Silcox Hut (about 1 mile up the mountain with about 1000 feet elevation gain). Then we’d chat at the top and do introductions. Everyone had to share their name, an embarrassing story and their running history. There’s nothing like embarrassing stories to bond a group together. I tried to remember names, and did a pretty good job!! While we were there we could see the Magic Mile where the kids ski when they go to Mt. Hood Summer Ski Camp. I took a picture of the groomers.

hiking to Silcox Hut.
running down from Silcox Hut

“I’m a completer, not  a competer”

Our 4 instructors at Silcox

After we arrived at Silcox, we gathered round on the rocks and prepared to share names and stories. I looked around at the people I would be spending the weekend with. The stories didn’t have to be about running but many were. Bodily functions were high on the story list – think race and run potty needs and Scott and I almost told the same story (he changed his at the last minute). As with any gathering, one thing typically sticks out. The thing that I remembered from the evening was the phrase shared by Jaime “I’m a completer, not a competer.” I liked that. Our coaches win races, but many of us participate in races. Jaime’s phrasing made it sound fun to be the type of person who participates, vs winning.

Who wants to run back to camp?

After we exchanged our introductions it was time to run back to Timberline Lodge. It was the same trail we took up, 1 mile and 1000 foot loss. I noticed just how cautious I am on downhills as literally everyone I started with and most that started behind me passed me by. Scott did get to snag a picture of just me since I was ALONE as we neared the base of the hill. At the hut, they had offered the opportunity to run all the way back to camp. It was about 6 miles downhill. Of course I wanted to do this!! The only rub? Dinner was at 6:30 so we had just over 45 minutes an hour to make it the last 5 miles from the parking lot. “Do you think we have time?” I asked Scott. “Let’s go for it!”

We joined our instructor Amy and 3 other participants and we started our downhill jaunt. I felt a bit bad for Scott during this time as he was stuck running 9+ minute miles with me while the rest of the group flew downhill. But, he wasn’t going to leave me on my own so it was what it was. And, we knew there were plenty of chances for breaking into speed groups the rest of the weekend. At 6:22 he said, “do you think we can make it by 6:30?” I laughed and said I thought we were more than 3/4 of a mile away. We ended up arriving by 6:40 (they had held dinner for us) and joined the group for our first camp meal.


I don’t remember the last time I had all my meals prepared for me. My in-laws love to go on cruises and always tell us we’d love them. I still think that a cruise wouldn’t be my thing, but I did like that we just had to show up for dinner. They rang the dinner bell, then Charles told us what we’d be eating for dinner. He and his staff had prepared trout, portobello mushrooms, salad, roasted potatoes, caramel ice-cream and sherbet.

We chatted with fellow participants and enjoyed our delicious meal!

Time for sleep

I can imagine that my sister Sarah will read this and laugh. I am not so great at sleeping in tents! I have trouble falling asleep with any noises and I spend a lot of time worried that I might have to go to the bathroom (only if I have no bathroom access). She asked us where we were set up to sleep. We happily chirped, “The big room in the middle. We are in bunks next to each other.” Her face looked worried and she said, “you should see if the smaller rooms are full. If they aren’t you might consider moving so it is quieter.” I thought, “hmm that’s not necessary, we’ll be fine.” Still, I went upstairs to check. Sure enough the 2 person room was empty and so was the 8 person room. We moved to the 8 person room figuring we’d be cool with company and it would be a bonus if we ended up solo.

That first night it was just the two of us. Still quasi on EST we went up to bed at 9:30 and fell asleep before the quiet hours even started at 10. As I was falling asleep I thanked Sarah in my head for the suggestion. Being in a quiet room let us keep the window shut (I am always cold and windows were open everywhere else) and when we woke up at 4:45 am (2 hours before the dawn patrol run) I was able to do yoga in my bedroom without waking anyone up!!