Saturday, January 30, 2010

Boot camp continues

Last-minute trail-running boot camp continues. (Yes, I know this is a terrible way to prepare for a race. I'm just really excited, and can't help myself.)

So, yesterday was intended to be my last big run day before next weekend. I would have loved to have gone out to Cougar Mountain again and done a long, rolling trail run with a lot of elevation, but unfortunately, I had to be at work at 11 a.m., and Cougar Mountain is just far enough away that a decent run out there before work was implausible. So I did my best to work with what the city has to offer instead, and plotted out a 12.5 mile course around Seattle, hitting up as many steep hills as I could possibly cram into one run - though promising myself I'd take it slowly.

What I did instead was a full 16-mile run with a couple miles worth of hill sprints about 9 miles in, at Gasworks Park, and still, my average overall pace was a full two minutes per mile faster than the last time I did a long, hilly run. Granted, I was primarily on roads this time, and roads are always faster than trails, but my gosh how wimpy and manageable all the city hills seemed after spending the last couple weeks trying to run up mountains!

Today, as I wrote before, I was up at 6 a.m. (for the second day in a row, woohoo!) to get out to Issaquah to proctor an SAT for a room full of bleary-eyed high schoolers. I packed all my running gear and my favorite trail-running guide to western Washington *just in case* I felt like cramming in a bit more last-minute elevation training.

Turns out I did. This time, I went for West Tiger 3, one of six peaks in the 13,500-acre Issaquah Alps. It only got a 3 (of 5) "Pain" rating in the guide (as opposed to Mount Si, which got a 5), despite climbing 2,000 feet in just a few short miles with pretty much relentlessly steep uphill trekking. It was a bit rockier than Si as well, and given that it's been raining all day long here too, I definitely had to take the downhill a bit slower to make sure I didn't slip on wet rocks or twist an ankle in the sloppy mud. Taking the uphill slowly wasn't such a conscious just happened. The good news, though, is that I ran for 2 whole miles uphill before having to stop and take a rest! (Compared, again with Si, where I was lucky if I could string together a 30-second segment of actual running before breaking down into a hunched-over, discouraged trudge.) And then I made it up pretty much the rest of the way actually running, except for the last really steep, incredibly rocky chute to the summit.

Apparently on a clear day, you can see Mount Rainier, Mount St. Helens, Puget Sound, and the entire Seattle skyline all from the top. I will definitely have to go back another time for all that! Instead, I reached the summit and found myself enshrouded in fog and complete silence, save the gentle pit-pat of the rain hitting my rain jacket. I sat down on a rock for awhile to appreciate the solitude, and the simple joys of fresh air and rain and my breath, before turning around and beginning my roller coaster of a ride back down to the bottom.

All in all, a good start to my weekend. 5 a.m. wakeup call tomorrow morning to leave for volunteering on Orcas! No pictures from today (cameras and rain, a bad combination), but hopefully some soon. And maybe also soon an entry that doesn't just obsess over running... :)

P.S. My latest work for OutdoorsNW: Click me!

(Photo courtesy of ONW.)

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