Monday, February 18, 2008

Orcas Island Trail Run

Sunday February 17th was the Orcas Island Fatass Trail Run. Due to snow at higher elevations, James created a 25km alternate route which didn't go up to the top of Mount Constitution. Foolishly, we thought that this meant that it was going to be an easier run, but some people (me included) thought it was at least as hard as last year.

I ran most of the way with a guy I met named Darin Bentley, from Vancouver area. He is an amazingly good runner whose path I've never crossed up until now. Another amazingly good runner who I hadn't met yet was Jen Seeger, who finished the first 25km loop with me and Darin in 2:23. No wonder DART wins adventure races, if she is on the team. Darin and I kept a steady (but slower) pace through the second loop and decided to run together the whole way for some social company. We were comfortably in third place coming into the last mile with Brian Morrison and Michael Sanders a few minutes behind us when made a very embarrassing mistake. We stayed on a road instead of getting off on a side trail, and we ended up coming to a spot that we didn't really recognize from the previous loop. After another 100 meters or so, we saw some flagging and followed it; however, it was the other trail heading back up the moutain, and we were cursing all the unexpected hills until we finally came to a bridge near Mountain Lake that we _did_ recognize, as being definitely _not_ where we wanted to be. We got ourselves turned around and headed back in the right direction, but not after we had made a fifteen minute side trip and slipped from third to ninth. The company was good, however.

Kathy ran her second trail run ever, her furthest run ever, her longest run ever, and the run with the most elevation gain ever, all at the same time. She said that she felt better in the second half than in the first half, and that she passed several people camped out at the side of the trail, carnage from all the hills. She finished the 25km loop in 3:43, which was really good. Each loop ended up being about 3200 feet in elevation gain rather than the 2500 feet advertised, so this run was definitely one of the tough ones. I'm proud of her.

Monday, February 4, 2008

Lord Hill Trail Run

On Sunday Feb 3rd, Kathy and I went to run the Lord Hill "fun" run. It was very low key, with no fee, a minimal aid station, but a lot of people out to enjoy the crisp morning. Tim Lofton put this on (thanks Tim!) for us.
The run was a 10.5 mile loop with 1850 vertical feet per loop at Lord Hill Regional Park. Runners could choose to run 1,2 or 3 loops (Kathy ran 1; I ran 3) I've never been there before, so it was enjoyable to run around and see all the trails. There was some water and mud, but it was within reason (unlike at Bridal Trails). They also had a killer hill on the course which I looked forward to, as everybody walked up it, so it was kind of like taking a break, in a warped sort of way. There were a few spots were there were out-and-backs on dead-end trails. I thought I wouldn't like that part, but after the first loop, it was the only contact I had with other runners, and I could see who was still running and how far behind me they were. The few people in front of me stopped after running only one or two loops, so I was in the lead during the third loop. Towards the end, I definitely took it easy and walked a few short sections when I knew the next runner was five minutes behind me. I finished the race feeling ok, which was good, as Kathy had left already and left me to cycle home.

I underestimated how far it was to cycle home from Lord Hill Park. I thought it would be 35-40 miles, and it was 47 miles - oops. Anyways, I went through Monroe, and then took some backroads and minor highway down close to Duvall where I was to pick up the Tolt Pipeline Trail. Luckily I had studied the map the night before, as there were no signs to Tolt Pipeline, and the start was up a private drive practically off of someone's driveway. In fact, I went up the wrong driveway just trying to find it. Luckily I found it, although to my consternation, I discovered that it was a packed dirt and gravel trail, and I was on my cyclocross bike with skinny commuter tires.

The Tolt Pipeline Trail was really fun. Although the uphills and downhills were slow, and there were gates across the trail at every road crossing, it was fun to be on a non-motorized trail with people walking their dogs and horses, and getting a glimpse into the backyards of newly built mcmansion hobby farms with their three car garages and two horses in the yard. The Tolt Pipeline cuts straight west from the Snoqualmie River all the way to the Sammamish River Trail (going across a few bluffs and hills in the process) so it was a really great direct way to get to where I was going without the fear of being run over.

I hit the Sammamish Trail just north of Redhook Brewery after two hours of riding and 25 miles. I put my head down and grinded it out, now on nice flat bike path, and managed to get home (22 more miles) in a little under an hour and a half. I was really hurting by the end, especially my lower back. The pack that I was carrying (with all of my running gear, bike stuff, lock and chain, extra food) really started to weigh me down as well. I made it though, and Kathy had homemade soup ready for me when I got home and collapsed in her arms. Having to get home is definitely motivation for a long difficult ride - I don't think I would have gone half that far unless I really had to.

Rendezvous Huts - Recap

I stayed at the Rendezvous Hut system with Kathy, Andrew, Chase & Sarah from Jan. 26 - 29, staying at Gardner hut the first night, and the new Grizzly hut the other two nights.
I only brought along skate skis. The first day was tough, with 1800 feet of climbing from the trailhead to get to the hut. The one consolation was that we paid to have all of our gear hauled to the hut for us (on snowmobile) so that we could enjoy the ski without heavy packs on. I think I would have died if I had to carry a pack, as going up hills with bad form was bad enough as it was.
On day two and three, I really began to enjoy the skiing, and felt good. The snow was excellent and the temperatures hovered in the low 20s. Being able to get up and ski right out the door onto beautiful trails in good conditions was amazing. On day 3, Kathy and Andrew and I headed over to Fawn hut and back, and we stopped by Cassal hut for good measure. We were all dead-tired getting back that day, and I tweaked my knee in my enthusiasm to skate up impossibly steep hills to Cassal hut. I hobbled for the last half hour back to the cabin.
Day four brought a snow storm and a few inches of nice, fresh powder. Skiing was still good, although a bit more work for skating. My knee was definitely hurting me, and I couldn't enjoy the skiing as much as I wanted to. We get an especially great thrill, however, come down from Rendezvous Pass - lots of elevation loss and good snow to take the corners as we came down. Andrew also tried out skate skis and though this run was the best of his life. This was definitely a sucessful trip.
We snuck back over Stevens Pass in a snowstorm. Snowqualmie Pass was closed, and would continue to be closed most of the week as storms pummeled the Cascades. I think we hit the ideal weather just perfectly.
Same time next year?