Monday, August 29, 2016

Little Bear Aid Station - Cascade Crest 100

We had the great pleasure of volunteering at the Cascade Crest 100 miler this weekend. My good friends BJ and Erica did a bang up job of taking care of all the logistics, and so were just there to help as we can, and spend the afternoon with friends. Mike, Aly Deb, and I made up the rest of the crew. The aid station captain was Killer, BJ and Erica's fierce pooch.

This is a new aid station, sitting right on the Pacific Crest Trail, at Mile 19.7.  It's an interesting point in the race, as the runners have already made it up the Goat Peak climb, as well as a new pull up Blowout Mountain, the second highest point on the course, at 5750 feet. Most looked fresh; some were showing signs of fatigue. With 80 more miles to go, things are just getting interesting here.

Great to see Rich making the run. He did so awesome, finishing fast, in addition to leading the effort to put on such a great event! So many other long-time friends, both at the start and through the aid station.

The drive out to this aid station is more than an hour, over some rocky, dirt roads. Beautiful setting. The nice thing about this aid station is we were able to watch the start of the race, and then get to the aid station for the first runners, who came through sometime around noon-thirty, I think.

The best part of the day was hanging with good friends, and seeing so many peeps I haven't seen in so long. I felt very inspired. I've done this race a couple times, but it has been several years now. I'm still young enough to get out and toe the line again, so that's something to move forward towards. Finishing Cascade Crest is such an accomplishment, and its always great to see everyone's immense and justified pride in making this journey.

Weather-wise, it was a little cooler than expected on the ridge. I wish we brought warmer clothes. Weather conditions cannot be assumed when it comes to this course. The microclimates can vary significantly.

The course re-route takes you around Blowout Mountain. At the end of the day, I walked up to the top of Blowout Mountain, and along the way said hi to friend Glenn, who was taking his great photos, as usual. Unfortunately, my view was obscured by clouds, but it's clearly a 360 view with Mount Rainier figuring prominently.

One more bonus for the day was meeting a number of thru-hikers on the Pacific Crest Trail. Most were headed northbound ("Nobos"), and were excited to find our "trail magic" of an aid station. "Yes, we'll take your garbage and lighten your load! Sure have a ho-ho!" Some delighted trekkers there! Another inspiring group. I studied their packs, and listened to their stories. Maybe someday, I'll be making this journey as well.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Little Mountain 10k

I ran the Little Mountain 10k trail run yesterday, in Mount Vernon. This was one tough little race-- just perfect for me right now!

The race is 95% trail, starting at the Carpenter Creek Winery on the south side of Little Mountain. The Mount Vernon Trail Builders, charity beneficiary of the event, have put in 14,000 volunteer hours on Little Mountain over the past 7 years, and it really shows.

The first three miles are plenty of up, with a few really steep pitches. Already gassed, I just groaned when we came upon Fred's Trail, which is basically a miner's trail to the top.  I've seen my share of trails like this in longer trail races, but it was kind of cool to get a challenge in the middle of the 10k distance. There's really a need for more shorter distance trail runs like this. They're just perfect for a Saturday morning.

At or around 3 miles, you hit the top, and get views of the beautiful Skagit Valley, Olympics, and San Juan Islands, if you care to stop and look.  The rest of the course is mostly downhill or flat, with a few steep pitches thrown in for good measure. Love the downhill, switchback glide to the finish.

I ran slow, as usual, 1:40 or so. Plenty of walking, and a five minute break up top.  I see some improvements with my recent efforts. Carry on, carry on. The temperature was in the high 80s, low 90s, so caution was merited. Most of the course was under tree cover.

The event was put on by RunFare, operated by friends Joe and Shawna. Good to see them out there, as well Rob, Darlys, and many others from Skagit Runners. Mount Vernon Trail Builders were also out there. Carpenter Creek was a great place for race HQ--pretty cool to check them out. Thank you all for your good works!

This is one of my favorite shorter trail races I've ever done. Really excellent, especially for me, since it's a 5 to 10 minute drive to the start. Skagit Flats Half is next on the list. Happy to note that I'm on pace for my annual goal of at least one event per month on average per year.

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Once Around Lake Cavanaugh

I ran in the Once Around Lake Cavanaugh Fun Run on Saturday. 7.8 miles on a beautiful road around Lake Cavanaugh.  This was the 31st annual running of the event, which is located east of Big Lake in Skagit County. I've seen the event on race calendars for many years, and finally made it out there.

This is a small community run, with separate starts for walkers and bikers. The race benefits the local fire department, and is sponsored by families and local businesses. I'd say about 25 people did the run.  I really enjoyed the event. I've never been to Lake Cavanaugh. I found it to be a beautiful little community.  The moss on the trees on the side of the road is similar to what you see out at Baker Lake.

I guess my finish gives me blogging rights, if not bragging rights. I'm improving, though progress is slow, just like me. Just happy to be out there on a Saturday morning, lacing them up.  Next up is the Skagit Half.

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Washington Trails Association's August Hike-a-Thon

The Washington Trails Association is one of my favorite non-profit organizations. The organization is celebrating its 50th anniversary.  Every August, they host a "Hike-A-Thon" fundraiser, where persons can hike and try to raise funds in support of trails. I have signed up. My goals are modest---I want to raise awareness about WTA, maybe raise a few dollars through donations, and hike throughout August, as time permits. Here's a link to my Hike-A-Thon page!

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Chuckanut Footrace

Last Saturday was the 50th annual running of the Chuckanut Footrace. I was there.

I've done this race a number of times over the years, though I certainly wasn't at the first one. I suspect there were one or two locals who did the event in Year 1, and were here again this year. I stash my t-shirts because of long-running events like this. I used to have t-shirts from the 1980s, but they passed on some time ago. These days, I throw the old ones in a plastic bin, which will probably be unearthed after I pass on.  Hopefully though I'll dig through these now and then and be "that guy" at the race with the t-shirt from the middle earth days.

My time was slow, as has been frequently reported here. For the record, I felt like I had a bad day, despite my lack of fitness. Sometimes the hips and calves engage better than others. Onward with the stretching, the core exercises, the continued signing up for events.

The race itself was terrific, and terrifically run. The seven mile course starts down by the ferry terminal in Fairhaven, and then traverses the Interurban Trail out to Larrabee Park. The first three miles have a mild case of the uphills, and the final four miles are flat or slightly downhill.  Lots of healthy, happy people moving down the trail.

Congratulations to the Greater Bellingham Running Club for keeping this marvelous race going, year after year, and special thanks to RD Kelly for her years of work on this race. The bottle opener medal was a fine token to remember the race by, whenever I need a cold one.

Thursday, July 7, 2016

The Great Sedro-Woolley Footrace

If it's the 4th of July, and I'm home, I'm probably toeing the line for the Great Sedro-Woolley Footrace. Its always good to see my local running friends, and the 5.17 mile course remains the same.  My times, however, seem to get slower every year.  This year I finished over 56 minutes.  I have ran this one in under 40 in earlier years.  Nonetheless, I was happy, as I could barely walk straight, when I started, because my quads and legs were a mess from hiking up and jogging down the steep Sourdough Mountain, two days before. The flip side is I was about 5 minutes slower than two years before.




Sunday, July 3, 2016

Sourdough Mountain

Mike and I went up Sourdough Mountain in the North Cascades this weekend. This was a redemption hike, as we tried to get up there a few years ago, but were stymied by snow.

We met in Mount Vernon around 6 AM, and I was greatly appreciative that Mike was up for leaving Seattle at 5 AM. It's great to make the trailhead before most. One reason Sourdough is a favorite of mine is it isn't too far of a drive from home--less than an hour and half.

The hike is tough. A really stiff climb for the first two miles, and it never really lets up. I think climb is 5000 feet in about 5.5 miles. There was snow at the top, but it was quite manageable, and added to the allure of the lookout. The lookout is well known, as one of the Beat poet lookouts, once giving summer residence to Gary Snyder and Phil Whaley.

The wildflowers are blooming. Columbine, Indian paintbrush, varieties of phlox, and other annual favorites. Now is the time to be up high. The views from the top were spectacular, with Hozomeen and the Pickets Range figuring prominently.

More people on trail than usual. It is the 4th of July weekend.

The biggest highlight was the bear we saw on the way down. The bear was feeding in field, tucked between a switchback. It was not moved by the clapping of hands, or the banging of sticks. It took a good five minutes to convince Mr. or Ms. Bear to move along, and then we seemed to chase down the trail for another 15 minutes, as Bear seemed happy to opt for trail over steep slope. Pretty special stuff.

I was slow going up. When I was in shape, I could do this climb in under three hours, but we took more than four hours. Mike is in shape, and so awesome in accommodating my slowness. We kept a steady, talking pace going up, making it a terrific day with a good friend, on trail. Coming down was tough on the quads. There was some running, albeit slow and stilted. Hopefully recovery is quick.