Saturday, December 28, 2013

Best of 2013 Runs

Sockeye spawning - Mile 18 Copper Ridge Loop

Years ago—maybe 2001 or so—I decided that I would try to do at least 12 events a year.  The idea was that participating in events on a regular basis leads to good things. I’m pleased to reflect back now and see that I still remain true to this goal, despite my infirmities and all the other things I have going on. It didn't really feel like it, because I didn't have a string of long finishes and I was always slow, but 2013 turned out to be an ok year for running. Another couple ultra finishes would've been nice, but I'm going to give myself a break and focus on the good, and I had my share of adventure this past year.

So, every year, I put together a list of highlights. The rankings aren't particularly material, but I do them anyway, just like I'd do with a list of desert island discs. It's nice to revisit a list like this down the road, maybe click on the links, and share with my friends. 

So, here's a list of my favorite running related memories from 2013:

10.       Cutthroat Classic 11 Miler.  The Cutthroat Classic begins of Highway 20 at Rainy Pass, climbs the Pacific Crest Trail to Cutthroat Pass, and then descends in a series of switchbacks to Cutthroat Lake.  It’s gorgeous and I’ve done it many times.  It was all the more special this year since I camped with family on the Methow River, and ran the race with Dan and Holley.

9.         Dawg Dash 5k.  As a UW alum, I’ve always wanted to do this event.  This year I finally did, along with my sweetie (who’s not a runner) and family members. Afterwards, lunch at the Ram.  The day was also memorable because the great Don James passed away. R.I.P.

8.         Running for Boston.  The GBRC organized a weekday evening run related to the Boston Marathon bombings.  Runners are always running for causes, but this was a particularly special gathering.  I ran with long-time friends who may not run as much these days, but who wanted to come out and show support for Boston Strong.

7.         Fort Ebey Kettles Half Marathon.  This seems so long ago, but Rich, Chris, myself, and other friends ran all over Fort Ebey trails of Whidbey Island.  Loved these trails. I ran the half marathon, slow, but enjoyed the morning looking out at water and checking out the trees.

6.         Dog Island 10k.  Towards the middle of the year, I sought out local 10ks that I’d never ran, including this Guemes Island gem. A short ferry ride from Anacortes landed me on Guemes for the first time.  The quiet roads wind around the island, with plenty of water views. Loved it. Some year I may string together a bunch of island events, for an informal island series, because there is some terrific island running around here. Thanks to Joe, Stan and others for volunteering.

5.         Broken Skagit Bridge Run.  I imagine when the Skagit Valley Herald recounts the top stories of 2013, the I-5 Skagit Bridge will top the list.  On a weekend soon after the bridge’s failure, I ran the Skagit River dike and then took pictures of the bridge reconstruction.  Kudos to the powers that be for getting the bridge fixed so quickly.

4.         Berry Days ½ Marathon.  This too involved a long run on the Skagit River dike, in association with Burlington’s Berry Dairy Days Festival.  It has been 10 years since I last ran the festival runs.  This new course was beautiful, passing by strawberry fields and along the Skagit, with long views in all directions across the valley.

3.         White River DNF.  I made it 37 miles, but I was too slow.  The PT had helped, but I just wasn’t there yet.  In some ways it was a defeat, but it’s all perspective. I choose to remember the wildflower fields above Corral Pass and at Suntop, the amazing views of Rainier this year, and the campfire afterwards. It was a good day.

2.         Baker Lake 50k.  I ran ok for the first half, albeit slow. I was really slow for the second half, and opted out of the 100k option.  Still, a beautiful day, my longest finish of the year, and my 10th Baker Lake finish in a row.

1.         Copper Ridge Loop.  Mike, Rich and I did this 35 mile loop in the North Cascades in late summer, and despite some cloud cover, the route did not disappoint. Here's Mike's writeup, with great info. Good times with good friends, and I checked the box on a loop that had been on my list since 1995, when I first crossed the North Cascades with a backpack. The highlight of the day was fording Indian Creek and the Chilliwack River at Mile 18 or so, amidst spawning red and green sockeye.  Pure Pacific Northwest. The cable car crossing a little later on was pretty cool too.

I could’ve done this list a number of other ways.  This year's list really doesn’t reflect my travel, but there were trips to Panama, Washington D.C., and San Francisco.  Panama is particularly noteworthy, for seeing the Canal and spotting green birds and big lizards on a short beach run. San Francisco was a wonderful trip, but I didn't do a lick of running.  

I also made it up to the North Cascades a few times, including a very nice hike with Seth up to Easy Pass, always a favorite. The view of the Fischer Creek valley from there is one of my favorites anywhere.  Some other local events included the good old Loggerodeo 5.17 miler, the Race Beneath the Sun,  and the March Point 10k.  Unbelievable to me that this is the first time I did the March Point 10k--that's a cool little event.  Thanks Terry et al. And then there was an Orcas 50k DNF, and the always beautiful Deception Pass 25k.  Thanks Rainshadow Running.  I finished the year with Dean’s headlamp event, the Northern Lights Almost Solstice 5 miler. There's nothing like a starless December night sky, while running on snow, across open fields.

I was also inspired and just plain floored by my friends' achievements on trails this past year. Friends, you know who you are. Wow! Thank you for the inspiration. And thank you friends for the good times--let's find some more time together soon.

As always, I’ll look for new adventures this next year. Already, I'm excited about plans for a bit of Hawaiian island running and trails. ( :  

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Northern Lights Almost Solstice Headlamp 5 Miler

On Friday night, my friend Dean hosted a run he calls "The Northern Lights Almost Solstice Headlamp 5 Miler." Dean originally put this event on in 2007--and I was there!--but the event was called off due to inclement weather in 2008, and then he and Ruth flew the coop to Whatcom County for a few years. So good to have them back in the Skagit now.

The run is held out east of Sedro-Woolley at the Northern States grounds, where elk are known to roam, and the fields are wide open.  The focus of the event is to have it on or near to the Winter Solstice (December 21st), in the dark, for headlamp running.

This year, we just happened to have snow the night before the scheduled event.  Some of the course was marked with arrows in the snow.  The course wasn't really all that complicated, and Dean took the time to put up little signs here and there, directing the way.  I think what I liked best, besides the peeps, was looking up at the winter sky, which held many different shades of darkened gray.  No stars.

So, the nighthawks ran again.  We only had about 10 runners on the course, and I'm sure some people with the best of intentions bowed out due to the weather, which was questionable.  But those who showed had a great time.  After a good hour of running around in the snow, we finished to a propane tank fire in the middle of a field, minestrone soup, and smiles.

Thanks Dean and Ruth!  Good to see Craig, Heather, Terry, Sam, and all the Skagit peeps out there, representing.  Afterwards, Anchorman 2, making for an altogether fine Friday night.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Deception Pass 25k

Ran the Deception Pass 25k yesterday.  Conditions were perfect for a mid-December day in the Pacific Northwest, with overcast skies and temperatures rising to the 40s. This year the 25k and 50k are being held on different days. I ran the 25k because I’m really not up for the 50k right now. 

I saw three seals swimming in Deception Pass as I crossed the bridge the first time.  Beautiful views throughout the course.  This is one of the more beautiful 50ks out there.

I was reduced to walking and jogging, due to ongoing issues. I finished towards the back.  But it was a good morning.  I stopped for cod and chips at the Shrimp Shack on the way home, prior to more Christmas activities.

Hopefully I can use this one to kickstart me towards more systematic training. Not sure what the next event will be, but I need to line something up.

Thanks Rainshadow Running and everyone involved in organizing the run.