Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Running Across the Nation Blog 6: Western Washington

Western Washington
So many mountains, not enough time! I have had an amazing time with Julie and Jeremy. Running moutains, exploring the cities, and enjoying the time with great friends. 

Day 16: Mt Ranier: 
Mt Ranier is a beautiful vision that I have had the joy of seeing evvery singleday that I have been here. I just can't get enough of her. Just stunning. So, of course I had to run her! Once Julie got off of work, me her and Jeremy headed up to the moutain. It is a little over hour drive, and we start at the Mowich trail head and run down the mountain first. This is a fun trail! There are spots on the trail that are very narrow with a drop off that you have to watch your footing, there are spots that are covered in roots and rocks, and we had to climb over a fare share of trees. At one point there is a huge tree that requires some mad climbing skills to get over. But over we go!
We are doing an out and back and we end at the White River. We take a minute to enjoy the beauty of the area and then climb back up the mountain. It was such an awesome run!
On the way driving down the moutain on an old dirt road that is like driving down a washboard, we spot 3 elk, a black bear and an exceptional view. Worth every second of the run!

Day 17: Squak Mountain
I know I have a 50k the next day so I head out for an easy 5 miles. Nothing major, just an easy run. I take Waylon with me, he hasn't had mileage in a few days. 1,000 feet of elevation gain, out and back. Squak mountain has well groomed and well posted trails and I saw quite a few hikers outside enjoying the day.

Then home to make homemade pizza and get ready for race day! 50K tomorrow!!! Wooohoooo!

Day 18: Taylor Mountain 50k
PR BABY! 1 hour and 15 minute PR to be exact. AND broke the previous female course record by 17 minutes. So here how this went....

This race is 3 loops, 2 13 mile loops and a 5 mile loop. The first 3 miles are a climb on the 13 mile loops. We get our race instructions and then the race starts. It starts pretty easy and then at mile 0.8 there is a creek crossing. The water is approximately half way up shin and its refeshingly cold (well at least its refreshing later in the race at least). Then comes the muddy climb. In this first loop my thought process is to use this as an easy run, and I keep myself in check the first loop. I hike the climbs and just keep an easy pace. I am passed by a bunch of dudes who are either running faster than me, or even hiking faster than me. I make sure to step off trails to let them pass when on a single track and give them a "have a good race."

On loop one I meet and run with a man named Mike for awhile. He is from Philadelphia and is trying to run marathons in every state. He is running with one of his former students who is ahead of us. This is his very first trail run, like ever. So we chat a bit about race strategy for trails and after a few miles I pull ahead. I run with another female for a little while, her and her husband are both running and she is going to drop from the 50k to the marathon. I finish loop 1 in 2 hours and 15 minutes.

Loop 2: I feel great. So I pick it up a little. I half run, half hike the hills. Then I pick up the pace on the flats and hills. Starting at the aid station at the bottom of the loop I start counting how many people I pass. By the 1st aid station I have 6, including Mike's student. By the 2nd aid station I am 11. I am feeling great! Every time I come up on a guy, they briefly pick up their pace and then step off the trail to let me pass. Every single one give me encouragement as I go, usually along the lines of "GET IT!". I thank them and keep at it. I am starting to do the math in my head, I am set for a good PR. As I am calculating my paces, I start to realize I could hit or even maybe beat the course record. Time to pick it up!  By time I hit the aid station on the bottom I am up to 13 guys. I leave 3 at the aid station and start in on the 5 mile loop. This starts with the creek crossing and climb. I run the whole thing, catching a few more guys as I go. I am spotting guys and then working up to them. By time I hit the final stretch I am up to 23 guys.

I finish in 5 hours and 17 minutes. WOOP WOOP! 2nd overall female. The top female finished in 4:17 and it a professional trail runner. She hasn't lost a race yet. I would like to meet this woman!
After I drink some beer, eat some pizza and wait for my friends to finish. I spend some time chatting with the other racers. What a great day! :-)

Day 19: Point Defiance
This is a great urban trail system in Tacoma.  Julie and Jeremy join me, this will be their first back to back. We head out on the outer loop and keep an easy pace. This is about time on feet. I think it was mile 5 when Julie threatened to throw me off the cliff. hahahaha. But, we all do an easy 8 miles. Then off to Seattle. I want to be a tourist! We go to Pike Place Market, watch cheese get made at Beechers, grabbed home made ice cream and walked down the pier to enjoy the view.


Day 20: Rest Day 
Physically I feel great, but mentally I need a break. 19 days of hard core running has worn me out. So I spend the day hanging out in the hammock, reading a book, and enjoying the beautiful weather. Glorious!

Day 21: It's my Birthday! So we head to Rattlesnake Moutain, where we meet John who we had met at the 50k. We run up the moutain, gaining a few thousand feet. We hit both of the overlooks, getting stunning views of Mount Si. 
At mile 5 we get to a little blockage. By a little blockage I mean so many trees downed it is basically an obstacle course. After about quarter of a mile we decide we aren't getting any where fast, so we are going just climb up the hill. A steep hill covered in downed trees. When we get to the top, there is nothing but lumbered trees. It looks like the death of christmas. LOL We take some photos and decide to head back.  It was a great run with old and new friends.

The rest of the day I spend relaxing, watching Straight out of Comptom out on the porch with my birthday mimosa's.

Cheers and Happy Running