Sunday, November 27, 2011

Seattle Marathon

Rain and wind this year.  Lots of rain. Lots of wind. It never really stopped--just modulated. Not too cold a rain—maybe 40s, but there were times when the wind made it feel a bit colder. Wet clothes didn't help things. Running back from Mercer Island on the bridge was probably the worst, though Seward Park and the last couple miles get honorable mention.

I just kept going.  Not fast.  My left leg and hamstring continues to slow me down, and is pretty much my running story for the last half year. I’ve been laying off, either too much or not enough, I’m just not sure.

I hit the half mark around 2:03 and finished at 4:20, so I suppose that means I didn't go out fast, and then I fell apart. Usually the split is 5 to 10 minutes. My head wasn't really into pace--I was more focused on pain management. Sometimes I could put aside the hamstring, and then other times it felt like my other leg was compensating too much. A bit of knee pain on the other leg. I had stamina for the distance.  I say that, but then things really did slow down over the last six. The Madison-Arboretum 1-2.

All that aside, the rain was the real story this year. Sort of a pineapple rain. I was soaked by the finish, and quite cold. I thought about putting on a jacket a few times, but didn't. My gloves got soaked--I carried them for a while, then tossed them. My hat was more appropriate for skiing.

This was my 9th Seattle in a row, 11th overall.  Every one of them has a different story.  I’d say this was the 2nd worst weather I can remember—2006 I think wins the Umbrella Award, by a snivelly nose.  I was a little torn on whether to start this one, but I thought I’d regret not giving it a go, and that I could make it one way or another. That’s about how it went, I suppose, and no regrets---I'm happy just finishing. That said, there are pros and cons to having a streak going. I now have a year to think about them.

Good to see so many friends on the course! Terry, Kevin, Adam, and Sara pacing. Dr. Rob in the Interlaken. Keri and Abby off and on throughout. Bryan running strong. Many others. Hit the Essential Baking Company in Fremont afterwards with friends for some high quality tomato soup.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Baker Lake Trail

Snow really fell in the high country this past week, with the North Cascades Highway shutting down for the season.  I could see it in the foothills from Mount Vernon, and so on Saturday decided to head east, with no clear intention, except to find the white stuff and maybe run or snowshoe.

I ended up on the familiar Baker Lake Trail, near Concrete.  The drive up to the lake was relatively clear, with a bit of ice and snow on the side of the road.  Frozen ponds, white mountainsides.  I suppose I was hoping for more snow, but I could’ve found it if I just went up a bit.

The trail itself is clear, except for patches of snow here and there.  Snow was melting off trees as I ran.  I looked up for cougars and porcupines.  The log over Anderson Creek had a good bit of snow and ice on it, with a few fading mushrooms too.  I’ve crossed that log in the dark on icier nights—a little sketchy.  Fantastic views of Mount Baker on Saturday, with the good red light of a falling sun.  Four cars at the trailhead.

For a first, I dropped down into the Maple Grove campground to check out the digs there.  That would be one great place to camp out on a Friday night before taking off on a run Saturday morning.  The lake is right there, and so is the mountain.  A starry night would be hard to beat.

Seattle Marathon next weekend.  Not too thrilled about it.

Mushrooms on log crossing in snow

Anderson Creek crossing

Stump critter

Maple Grove campground view

Maple Grove campground view

Mount Baker view from Baker Lake

Fresh snow on hillside trees
Peak at the end of Baker Lake

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Fowl Run 2011

I ran the Fowl Run 10k in Mount Vernon on Saturday. We had great weather, despite predictions of misery. Just a little cold, calling for gloves and hat.

I know the course route well, as I sometimes run it on weekends. I've also ran the race a number of times, albeit poorly. Beginning at Mount Vernon Christian School, the loop includes an out-and-back along the Dike Road, and then a return to the school via Britt Road. The roads parallel the Skagit River and acres of farmland, with views of the foothills and Mount Baker on a good day. Today you could see snow in the hills, and the farmland soil looked cold.

There was a stiff headwind along the Dike Road. It was one of those blustery days that brings out the birds. As I ran, I frequently found myself looking up at formations of trumpeter swans, snow geese, and pipers. An eagle swooped ten feet above me, before landing in a tree alongside early on along the Dike Road.

I ran poorly, struggling with my continued hamstring tightness, and some out-of-shapeness. I finished in 52 minutes and some. I am not too troubled, as I knew going in that my hamstring wasn’t going to allow any real leg turnover. I really just planned on jogging, but I pushed a bit later to keep a 9 min pace. I think I'll go up to the WWU track once a week, as winter comes in. Yoga seems to be calling my name too. 

Many many friends in attendance! Either to run, volunteer, or both. Heather and Skagit Runners did a great job putting on the event, of course. Our Skagit club is sooo solid--thank you!  I ended up spending a good hour afterwards just hanging out with friends, eating pumpkin pie and hot apple cider, and catching up. A good vibe, and a very nice way to start the weekend.

Post-race awards, with random drawings for turkeys and pumpkin pie

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Sauk Mountain

I had a fun snow day on Sauk Mountain today.  Sauk Mountain is just east of Concrete, Washington.  I parked about a mile below the parking lot, and hiked to the trailhead through 6 inches of snow or so. No cars have recently driven all the way to the trailhead, though they've come close.

The views on the way up the road were amazing, as I could see Mount Eerie, Orcas Island, and Blanchard Mountain, looking down the Skagit River Valley.  Mount Baker was evident, but hidden behind clouds. The valley with all its yellow, green and red colors cut a striking contrast with the fresh snowline on Sauk.

I followed a coyote’s snow prints up the trail.  As I climbed, I started seeing raptors circling. At one point, I had nine large soaring birds, mostly eagles, circling right above me.  I think a couple were falcons. I think they were just catching good air off the mountain, but it was getting a little personal and spooky.

This was a simple but terrific day. I wasn’t up for the Ron Herzog 50k, or I would’ve been down that way. Hope it went well--a good day, for sure. I’ll make a point to go back to Sauk Mountain this winter with snowshoes. The road to the trailhead would make a pleasant climb. I hit Annie’s Pizza in Concrete on the way back and am now settled in for an evening of classic college football. Go Huskies!

Also of note—on Wednesday night I made it to the Skagit Alpine Club’s meeting, finally, where Jennifer Hahn spoke on foraging in the Pacific Northwest.  A terrific presentation about edible seaweeds, chantrelles, nettles and other such things.  Wild foods are a really hot gourmet topic these days. One thing that sort of surprised me is that you need permits for foraging in national forest lands, as well as harvesting seaweeds.