Running Adventures with “Striving With Steve” and his Trimet Ultramarathon

Photo courtesy of Steven Wong

I recently caught up with Steven Wong (Facebook page "Striving With Steve") to chat about his upcoming run on December 1st.   Steven is tackling the entire length of the Trimet Max "Blue Line" route,  which after rerouting through some tricky areas that aren't pedestrian friendly, should become near a 40 mile run for the fun of it. "Why the Blue Line? Why Trimet?"  There were lots of questions boggling my mind for someone who endeavors such an adventure, but I figured to get the obvious one out of the way.  The question seems simple enough, but the answer is not. Not long ago, Steven had witnessed a fatal car accident involving a loved one who was struck by a drunk driver.  From that day on, Steven has not sat behind the wheel of a vehicle.  He can not and will not drive himself.  No longer driving, he is a regular commuter with Trimet and on "the blue line".

December 1st marks Trimet’s 45th anniversary of operation, and what better way to celebrate than running 40+ miles on the route you commute on everyday?

Steven will have friends riding the blue line route and stopping at each max stop to offer refueling, support, encouragement and even some running partners and pacers to get him through the journey.  I volunteered to be part of his support team.  His goal is to complete the 40+ mile journey in about 10 hours and will start his run at 7am that day.

2013 Portland Marathon

It took a little convincing on Steven’s part with his meetings with Trimet about this endeavour, but they seem to be on board and fully support Steven in this goal.  He had an interview with them giving them his “running resume”.  Steven ran his first race in 2013 and quickly decided to make a goal to run 26 races before running in the 2013 Portland Marathon.  Not only is it quite the accomplishment to run 26.2 miles, but Steven made an additional challenge out of it with the 26 previous races.

To figure out a little bit more about the man behind this crazy and amazing scheme, I asked him the following questions:

Most favorite piece of running gear that he can’t live without:  Without hesitation, Steven smiled and held up his phone with ear buds attached.  His playlist includes a lot of inspirational Disney tunes and his favorite being “I’ll Make A Man Out of You” from Mulan.  He was pretty adamant, however, that he is not including “Let It Go” anytime soon to that playlist.

Favorite distance to race: 26.2

Favorite race:  Portland Marathon.  The Helvetia Half was a perfect getaway from city and suburbs with scenic farmland and he completely enjoys the energy, spectator support and feel of the Starlight Parade fun run, but he will cherish the Portland Marathon.  He will continue to do that race as well as the Starlight Run each year until he is unable to run any longer.

What injuries or challenges Steven faces with running:  The Hardest challenge isn’t a physical one like a tight hamstring, but when his head and heart aren’t “in the game”.  He takes each moment as its own and focuses on that moment to fully enjoy the experience of the race.  When it is over, he compared it to the magic of a movie being done in the theater and what is left is the sticky floors and spilt popcorn.   Steven recommends to avoid running a 5K fun run the night before your first marathon and his hardest races were the “Firecracker Triple”  where he ran three Full Marathons in three days and The Trail Factor 50K in Forest Park.

Favorite training program:  None!  Steven runs with how he feels and fits a run in when he can and not on a specific schedule.  When he can’t run, he heads to a local rec room to ride the stationary bike for a while.

Favorite Fuel:  Water while running and whatever the aid stations might be offering.  Steve prefers the water with an electrolyte added, but most often doesn’t carry any water or fuel with him.  After a particularly long race on a hot day, he regretted that choice to stay as light as possible without water and felt like the next aid station was “in the next town” it was so far away… so he is currently testing a fuel belt or water bottle that will best meet his running needs.  Steven also runs until he is hungry and enjoys a pasta dish.  Actually, his own words were he is addicted to pasta and carb loads frequently.

That moment you realized you were a “runner”:   It wasn’t the 26 races leading up to his first full marathon or the finisher’s medal hanging around his neck after completing 26.2 miles…. It was after running The First Run 2014.  The race starts on the stroke of midnight on New Year’s Eve.  After finishing the 10K, he saw the past year and all his accomplishments reflected back to him and it was at that moment he recognized that he was “a runner”.

Goals after the Trimet Ultra Marathon:  Steven is setting the bar high and i have no doubt that at some point he  will realize all of these dreams an goals.  He will be honoring Legacy Good Samaritan Medical Center’s 140th anniversary with 140 laps around the campus.  That translates to 56 miles.  He also has big plans for when Trimet turns 50 in 2019 with a “Quintuplet Endurance Run”.  And ladies, Steven is single and hopes to “run into” his future running partner for life.  Just sayin’.  There are some other projects in the works, and he has a long-term goal to someday run across the state of Oregon and then run across the USA.

If you could deliver one message to every runner reading this, what would you say?  Steven smiles and without skipping a beat, he says “Legends gotta start somewhere.”  One year ago he would never have believed he would be running through four cities.  He will be the first to attempt this, so that makes him first place in this race, right?  Steven was a joy to talk to with plenty of funny stories about crazy things he’s seen and done while on the run and a deep and thoughtful person.  I hope you were able to glean that from this interview and I look forward to sharing his adventure with this ultra run taking place December 1st.

I have no idea what to expect, but I certainly will share the adventure with our Run Oregon readers!

 

2014 Trail Factor 50K

 

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