Saturday, June 27, 2009

Seattle Rock n Roll Half Marathon

I signed up for this race back in March when I’d heard it was going to sell out. They were capping the race at 25000 runners and it was planning on selling out?! I had to be in on an inaugural race which would just dominate the city as those numbers are unheard of in this area.

Training has been going pretty well. I really need to limit my miles as my foot (FUPF! :mutmad:) can be touchy. I’m about ready to go back to the podiatrist and see what my next options are about that. :meh: I realized this week that I really haven’t been doing any speedwork besides the occasional race or trail race. Trail running is a different sort of beasty and just doesn’t translate for me well for speed. I’ve got the shorter speed in place now but with no good longer tempo runs besides a 5 mile road race mid-may I knew this might be a bit tough especially with my overall lower mileage. Oh well. Onward!

My training group offered a carpool drop off over to the start. I’m really glad I did that as it was a friendly packed van that got a ride to the start to lovely Tukwila. I got to sleep an extra hour and only got up at 4:30. As an inaugural event, we ran into the first glitch right here. The freeway backed up for over a mile to get to the offramp for drop off. I think if this had really been a goal race, I’d have been freaking out! As it was, it was just rather humorous to me.

I still got over to the starting area with 30 minutes to spare and was overwhelmed by the huge crowds of people. There were gigantic lines for all the portapotties and I needed one! I had traveled light so didn’t need to check a bag. But I realized there was no way I’d get through the lines to use the facilities and be able to do a warm up.

Off I went to do a warm up and find a shrub. Just a quarter of a mile away, it was peaceful and quiet and a beautiful morning. I happened to see a trail leading up a road and found a park with my very own porta potty – brand spankin’ new with no one around. Picture it sitting in a beautiful field with the sun shining on it and birds flitting around. I have never been so happy! :laugh:

Business taken care of, I jogged back to the start my mile warm up done and a smile on my face and wandered into the sea of humanity. I had put a finishing time of 1:43 when I signed up so was seeded into corral number 2 (out of 36!) for this event. I knew I’d not be starting in that group but it was fun to wander up and up and get to the front of the race.

(I have to include the amusing story from work: I’m riding the elevator and a guy gets on bursting with energy at the end of the day. I’m just as happy since it was Friday at 4:30. He immediately tells me he is so looking forward to the weekend because he is running in big event tomorrow. Seriously, I haven’t said anything to him and I’ve never seen him before. I agree and say that I am too and it should be lots of fun. He immediately asks which corral I’m in. when I say “2” his jaw drops and he is speechless. I felt like a rock star! He says he’s in corral 14. I mention that I’m just doing the half and he says he is too. :blush::laugh: )

For a Rock n Roll marathon and 25k people I was expecting more noise at the start. It was super quiet. Only one announcing system set up and it was much farther back and not pointing towards the start. I couldn’t really hear the national anthem played at all. The elites start just a couple of minutes late. I’ve put myself into corral 3 and have my eye on the 1:45 half pacer. In just a few minutes, we’ve moved up and we are off.

I immediately settle into pace and I’m feeling good. The pacer is just to the side with a big group and he’s right at a good pace. I gradually start speeding up but notice it and settle back and watch the 1:45 pace group gradually get farther and farther away. What does 1:45 pace group mean to you? :wtf: I was surprised but maybe they are running a bit fast to plan for a bit of a slowdown on the later hills.

I hit the 5k mat at exactly 8:00 pace and congratulate myself. Mile 5 featured a gradual mile long hill. I was dismayed to find I really didn’t have much energy for this hill. I know not to push hills as I blow up on them sometimes so when that mile clocked at 8:57 I was a bit dismayed. I figured it was a bit long and sure enough it was plus I was just slow. :pbbt:

With the crowds, I decided to carry a small water bottle mostly empty and crumpled so it was easy to carry. This way I could skip all water stations the first half of the race. At 5 I had pitched it and at 6 I took a first walk break to get water in. I was really feeling warm when we were in the sun. And then it started getting tougher. I was still on pace (for a bit) but know the area really well and knew just how freaking far away it was until the turn towards downtown.

I promised myself I’d run no more road half marathons in here. Then I laughed at myself and realized that yep, I was racing. Decided to turn the brain off and focus on form and the scenery and the course. I did enjoy the bands along this course and there were more spectators out for a seattle race than I’ve ever seen. I guess that’s because normally the seattle marathon takes place in late November when the weather is horrible. :rollseyes: It was nice to see people out and cheering.

We finally make the turn up the short, steep hill to get to the express lanes of the I-90 freeway. The full marathoners turn off here to do an out and back on the floating bridge and the halfers turn towards downtown and go into the tunnel. That was awful. It’s hard cement road and my legs immediately started aching. It’s hot with no breeze at all and strangely echoy of traffic. I know I slowed in here and just endured. It’s also uphill. But wait the fun doesn’t end! Once out of the tunnel at 10, you are still on a freeway. Nobody about except tanker trucks honking in support :hug:, hard cement and more uphill.

Finally at mile 11, we start the downhill and then hit city streets. I’m hoping to pick it up in here but I think I just stayed steady. There are tons of people out cheering and this is really nice. Someone on the side spots me around 11.5 and shouts out my name. Turns out it’s Mark Mandi who came in 6th overall in the half @ 1:08:52. We were on the same team for a relay in April and he is just a nice (speedy elite) guy.

We run through the streets and make the turn to get onto yet another freeway. Yay! :rollseyes: This one is the elevated viaduct which runs along the Seattle waterfront. After half a mile, I come across a runner down with two people around him. I immediately stop and ask if they need help. I do have a cell phone on me. That runner was completely out of it and lying strangely. I think he might have fallen and hit his head. They say that help has been called and someone is coming so I start running again. Really that was disturbing to see and shook me up a bit. :sad:

We finally hit the downhill of the freeway off ramp and I’m not falling for going out too fast for the finish which I know seems close but is deceptively far away. Of course I fall for it again but it doesn’t matter, I’m ready to finish! It was still early and sparse in the finish area and it took me a bit of walking very slowly to feel ok. Then I call my husband and we chat and he’s been tracking so many people online so I know how everyone is doing. That was pretty cool.
lap time distance according to garmin
1 8:02 1.02
2 15:57 2.01
3 8:01 1.01
4 8:59 1.05 hill
5 7:45 1.00 downhill
6 7:54 0.98
7 8:29 1.02 asleep? probably a water break.
8 8:32 1.02 feeling icky
9 5:03 0.09 hit split at marathon mile marker and in tunnel so distance is off.
10 11:36 1.84
11 17:20 2.18

From Garmin 13.2 miles :rollseyes: in 1:47:40.
I was 50th in my age group out of 1700. :laughs:

I went wandering off after potato chips :hug: , banana, cytomax :meh: and water and waited at mile 14 hoping to see my friend running the full. I couldn’t do the math at all and had to call husband to help me figure out when he’d be coming based on start time, split times etc. Eventually I spotted RPD and ran with him a block. He was looking great!

The other fun part of this race was then going to the local running store downtown to pick up my trail shoes I’d ordered. The owner was manning the shop while his wife was running the full. I went to work to change and get online briefly. Evidently I dawdled too much as I then went up to mile marker 21 to see if I could catch the friend again and run with him a few miles. I missed him by 10 minutes. :sad: but also :happy: since he'd not slowed down.

Overall it was a really fun day and I’m glad I did this race. It’s nice to confirm where I am right now although, honestly, it is a bit depressing at the same time. Foot never bothered me while running and that was great.

For anyone who may need WA as a state, I do think this is a tough marathon course. Too much cement and at mile 14, the full marathoners get on a freeway and essentially have no cheering or crowd support until the finish. But it does go by some very pretty scenery and the weather this year was good.

Onto the next 10 mile trail race in two weeks!

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Happy Summer!

It's that amazing time of year when there is over 17 hours of daylight in the Pacific Northwest. It's hard to get to bed on time because it is still light out when I'd normally get in bed. And those dang birds start chirping at 4 am which Dex the Cat is quick to let me know about.

When I was a kid, summer was about the pool and the beach and walking/loitering in Wesminster Mall because that's just what we did. Now, it's about trail running and biking and house projects and gardening and...

Let's just say that the summers go as quick if not quicker than they did when I was a kid.

I had a lovely long trail run yesterday out to Wallace Falls and Lake. After a month long dry spell, the area got dumped the day before which made the trail conditions just perfectly lovely. I don't think I ever stopped smiling on the run yesterday.

The Falls were putting out a fine mist and I loved hearing the sound of them the entire time I was running/hiking up the Woody Trail. Last year this trail was closed because of flood damage. I was glad to try it this year. it really is straight up!

Evidently, there had been a lot of water on the connector between the Falls and the Lake late last year according to trip reports. Last year in May, there was a very large lake here but the road was clear. This year, the area was dry! But a very sturdy, large bridge had been shifted 15 feet. It's one of those indications of nature at work which I find so interesting. you just never know what you are going to find year after year on favorite trails.

The goal this year was to try and connect a trail and a road that went past the top of Wallace Lake. Oh we were so close! we went off trail and missed the crossing of the stream that would've put us on the west side of Jay Lake. We were still following trail markers but evidently that was something else.

I think there are enough other certifiably trail crazed people that I know that we will attempt that loop again later this summer. I can't wait!

The other reward with this trail run is the stop for breakfast after the run. (You do know it's important to fuel immediately after running, right?) If you are ever in Sultan, stop by the Sultan Bakery for a fabulous breakfast and baked goods to go. It's a good thing Sultan isn't any closer to Seattle!

Happy Summer!

Monday, June 15, 2009

Ah Nature (II)

Had a great weekend with the trail race on Saturday. Sunday was another planned long bike ride. We rode from Green Lake to Orting via the Green River and Interurban trails. it was a pleasantly cloudy day with a bit of a headwind going south but good riding weather nonetheless.

I've run most of these trails and truthfully, they aren't anything special. The Green River trail is pretty especially since the river was living up to it's name. It was The Interurban is disturbingly straight and boring for miles. I'd never been to Sumner or McMillan or some of the other little towns we rode through but they were pleasant enough in that farmland / minor industrial type way. the best part was that there was very little car traffic and you could just ride without having to stop for a traffic light every few minutes.

I was happy to be riding with someone this entire ride. I thought AT would be too fast for me and I'd hoped to stay with him through at least part of the ride. I planned on drafting as necessary to try and keep up. turns out, he's just getting back on his bike after being out fishing for a while (you know on a boat in the Bering Sea) and is just developing his biking legs again. perfect!

The miles went quick as we chatted through cruise ship tourist/taxi traffic downtown, the quiet sleepy Sunday feel of South Park / Georgetown and hit the Green River Trail.

Around Mile 27, we came across another group rider K who'd had some bike trouble. AT, the ever handy guy that he is, wrangled all the broken spokes out of the way and K continued on for another 30 miles!

It was pleasant. The most we had to worry about was the occasional rogue kid weaving along on the trail and remembering to eat and drink as necessary to sustain the planned 60 miles.

And then nature reared her head. I'd been on a trail run the prior tuesday where a black bear had been spotted. I was disappointed that I didn't see the bear. I've been chased by a grouse down a trail on a trail run (sorry if this link doesn't work). I generally try to keep aware of what is going on around me because you just never know.

We were riding side by side as we had been. We were coming up along a few crows who were causing trouble in the grass alongside the trail. Crows and raccoons just always look and act like they are up to something to me. I slowed down thinking the crows might try to fly off and to let AT move over in front of me if he needed the space.

Good thinking on my part. AT however continued on straight and startled the crows who took off right into his path. One crow collided with him and got stuck in a black frenzy of feathers on his forearm and handlebars. The crow let out a gigantic "CAW" and sorted itself out before flying off. Feathers did fly! AT kept his calm during the nature experience and didn't brake, didn't veer and didn't really move I'm sure in shock but it looked like he was in control.

As I watched this, I was afraid the crow would get entangled in his wheel and he'd go flying over the handlebars but it all ended up just fine. I have never laughed so hard on my bike before. I nearly had to pull over because I was crying so hard from laughing. Everytime I think of that loud and offended "CAW" and AT's startled posture, I start giggling still.

I believe that everyone including that crow learned a lesson. Expect the unexpected!

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Cougar Mountain Trail Series #2 7.9? Miles

A year ago this week, I had one of those running weeks that you remember.

Here's how my log read:

T - 10 miles trail run
W - 6 miles with 4 x 800 on the track
Th - bike 12 easy (supposed to run and I did not)
F - off
Sa - Planned DNF at the second race of the Cougar Mountain Trail series

And that pretty much set the tone for the rest of the summer and fall for running. The next time I ran 10 miles was in December. I remember that Tuesday run as really being nice. I had a very successful track workout but noticed more pronounced shin pain the next day. It would take three more months for it finally to be diagnosed as a stress fracture.

That DNF at the second race of the trail series was my first DNF ever. I went out to support RPD at his race and just to see what the race was like and with the idea that a DNF is good for you. Nothing wrong with bailing on a race if you know it's for the better to stop. And at that point it was.

Fast forward a year.

It's nice to be a runner again and now I'm also a biker. Running is going well. I still have stupid high arches and I'm still dealing with a touch of left foot heel pain so I'm rather hesitant to increase mileage more than I have now (30 - 35 mpw).

This Tuesday I had the same run as last year. This year I ran 8 trail miles at a pretty good effort but chatting with a friend the whole time. I'm most disappointed that I missed seeing the bear. Yes, the bear! No track workout this year but I did have 2 solid miles at 7:30 the next morning after the trail run. And then the race.

Woohoo! It was a pleasure just going and knowing I'd be standing at the finish line eventually. I was pretty relaxed about this run and not nervous at all. It was a gorgeous morning as I drove over to pick up RPD. We got there in plenty of time to do a quick mile warm up and a bit of a stretch.

and quickly we were off. I deliberately seeded myself far back. I was nervous about the latter miles of this race and I didn't want to start off too fast. Still, once we got along Clay Pit Road, I started passing people in that section.

the turn off to trail was slow as expected as it goes to single track. There was a little bit of walking but that was fine as I was just settling into running. The first climb starts at Lost Beagle Trail. My mix of walking hard and running works very well and I stayed right in the little pack which had developed. Every once in a while, someone would step off to the side and I'd power past them. I knew I could go much harder but the thought of those last miles was looming.

The trot down AntiAircraft Ridge is always fun. I passed a few more people here and was a little disappointed that there was no mud at all in this section. It has been dry the last few weeks. I really think mud just adds to the trail running fun. soon we hit the next uphill and I kept it steady. There was a water / nuun stop at 3 back on clay pit road. I was already dripping as it was pretty humid so I did stop for a cup of each.

Onward. another up section and then the really fun gradual downhill along East Fork Trail. This is a favorite section as it is so runnable. I passed a few more people here and was just not thinking of anything except foot placement, proper breathing and movement. The turn to Fred RR was easy and then the climb up Shy Bear Trail. I just ran this a few weeks ago and was marveling at how much everything has grown.

I could see three men ahead of me in a little pack. I knew I'd pass them eventually so I just concentrated on keeping my effort reasonable up the climb. I guess I must've been in the zone because my garmin beeped a mile lap. I thought I was at mile 4. Nope. Turns out I missed a mile and I was already at mile 5! One guy pulled over immediately. Up. Up. Up. I stayed with the next guy for a quite a bit until on the downhill I passed.

One guy left and I caught up fairly soon. He surprised me by stepping aside. I was looking forward to just following for a bit as at this point I was unsure quite what the trail was going to do. Then I was alone. I could see no one ahead of me and the course definitely got a little more challenging with some steeper up and down and rocky bits. This was the area I had been worried about but it wasn't as bad as I thought.

The big surprise was not having anyone around. This is a race! Where are the other people to help pull me along? I do think I settled in here a little too easily. There were sections of walkways in here. Those make me nervous to run over. I always picture myself pitching off of them or the other danger of them breaking mid-stride and taking out a leg. Yeah, sometimes my brain stays a little too busy!

My legs were feeling good, breathing was good. I was starting to get a bit hungry and thirsty but not a big deal. Finally, the turn back to Shy Bear and then to Fred's RR showed up. My plan had been to let loose along here. I did finally see a couple of people ahead of me. I'd had glimpses of a purple shirted girl. She'd must've had the same plan. I never could catch up! I passed a guy who was walking along Fred's. Walking? Yep. He must've spectacularly blown up and gone out too fast. He started running again as I got nearer but he was barely slogging along at that point.

Scott McCoubrey, Seattle Running Company owner and the race director was at the intersection of East Fork Trail and Fred's shouting encouragement. "Just seven tenths of a mile to go and pretty much downhill!" I had to comment, "pretty much?" That got a wry grin out of Scott. "Pretty much" because this is trail running you know. What goes up also goes down multiple times.

Bypass! Last race I zoomed down this. This time I was feeling a little slower. I had sore quads most of this week from a killer trail run last weekend and I do think I was feeling it a bit. I wasn't sore but couldn't quite let loose. But I stayed strong through the mild uphills and practiced non-lazy breathing.

Non-lazy breathing? I do struggle with breathing when running. I finally got successful treatment for not asthma per se but what was labeled reactive airway disorder. I think just a catch all term for allergy and lung issues. It's a new thing being able to breathe deeply and pain free an entire run. I forget to breathe properly since I don't have a lot of practice at it when running strongly. So, exhale very strongly using the belly muscles and the air flows in. Try it when working hard. It works!

Final sprint and I was so happy to see that finish line! Woot!

I figured I'd be around 1:15 to 1:20 if all went well and I clocked 1:20:20 by my watch. I felt good and went off to jog around a short bit to cool down. I wanted to watch RPD come in. He had planned to just run this race but we all know how that happens. I expected him to come in around 1:30 if just easily running but I missed him because he'd had a very strong race!

We compared notes and grinned and beamed and hung around while they did awards. There were happy dogs, the sun was shining and it was just pleasant to be out there.

Distance: 7.9 (garmin)
time: 1:20:20
pace: 10:16
elevation change: 1325 feet

runsaturday link

I'll be curious as to how I rank in the listings. I was right in the middle out of both men and women runners for the first race (138 out of 262 runners total). I would guess I'd be farther down the standings this race as these races get longer.

Last year's woes are behind me. it was wonderful to be out there so in the moment that the time just flowed past. I'm looking forward to the next trail race but first there is this little thing called the Seattle Rock N Roll Half Marathon.

Oh! and I did find a photo of last month's race. I saw a photographer in place for this race and I hope I get a good picture. I have very few of myself actually trail running.

This is within the first quarter mile starting out on the grassy field. Photo courtesy of Kingcountyparks (link). I'm on the very top right.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Another kind of double...(part II)

After such a fabulous bike ride, I spent the evening eating and hydrating and getting ready for the next outing the following morning.

This was going to be a long trail run in the foothills of the cascades. The morning was perfect and Sj was kind enough to drive over to the trailhead as I didn't want to take our car the entire day again.

We drove past the parking lots for Mount Si and onto a smaller trailhead. After an application of bug spray I was off to climb a hill. the main goals today were:
  • don't fall
  • take lots of pictures
  • keep it real easy and enjoy myself
And that is exactly what I did.

The trail started on a graveled access road which went straight up for two miles. I walked when I felt like it and just kept chugging ever upwards. The views even as I approached the top were magnificent. there was still snow on the higher peaks and it was so peaceful.

Legs were feeling pretty good. It was fairly warm out and quite comfortable to be out with sleeveless shirt and shorts. Summer definitely feels like it has arrived in the Northwest. I started to get passed by the faster runners in our group and everyone had a nice grin as did I.

Soon we came to what was called the CCC Road. this was a pleasant and easy trail. In places it was rocky but mostly runnable. It really had it all. There were great views and stream crossings, trees were down to jump over, mossy vistas to admire and fun. I started catching other people on the run and asking those who had biked the day before how that was for them. (hilly! hot! and "I did it" from most) And then we came to the most challenging crossing at around mile 6.

I stayed to watch and help others across this stream. It wasn't too deep or too fast moving but it was easy to fall in as rocks and a big metal pipe (?) were slippery and not too stable. It was an opportunity to snack and take in some water and chat with everyone.

Onward to the upcoming rock slides. These are always interesting to me and sure enough I came to one soon. It looks like a giant played marbles and pick up sticks and then had a tantrum and threw everything about. Slow going picking a way over the rock field and of course marveling over the destructive yet beautiful power of nature.

The legs were definitely feeling the miles at that point. I would stop and take photos and tried some Gu Chomps. These are pretty tasty but have such a strong fruit smelling flavor that I though for certain all the bears would come right out of the woods. I decided to keep moving!

After about 10 miles, the trail ended and I came to the Middle Fork Road along the Middle Fork of the Snoqualmie River. The river was gorgeous and very peaceful and when I popped out onto the graveled road, there was no one around. I stopped to take it all in and just reflect how happy I am to be able to do such things as there are a few people in my life right now who have been limited by injuries and illnesses.

In fact, I had been dawdling so much that Sj and LB had caught up to me. Sj was much delighted with this and we chatted about how awesome the run had been. The road we were on started to get really annoying as there was a fair bit of traffic on it. The cars/suvs/trucks would kick up a ton of dust as they blew by and we all felt like we'd had dust baths. I was having so much fun that I was really sorry to reach the support vans and have the running be over.

It was surely a great weekend!

Monday, June 1, 2009

You biking?

Yes, I am. I've been trying to get in two rides a week and either a commute ride or a faster ride on Bea the Bianchi but running is really coming to the forefront right now. I've had two longer rides for me(30 miles) in the past month.

My training group(AR) has done a really neat ride starting at the community center in Renton on the Cedar River Trail and riding towards Enumenclaw and then on towards Crystal Mountain in years' past. I have always wanted to this ride even before I had ridden all that much. In total the mileage would be anywhere from 30 - 100 depending on where you started from but I was happy to plan for a half century.

Truthfully, I was quite nervous about this ride. I had the handlebars replaced on my fast bike and was still getting used to the feel. I'd had a little tweak on my back from the first time riding and wasn't sure if 50 miles would quite work.

I need not have worried.

I woke early. (Thanks dex the cat.) Got up around 5:15 so had plenty of time to putter around, have two breakfasts and get things ready. I did still manage to forget my phone but did well with everything else. I had also loaded the course onto my garmin so I could follow. That was something new for me and I'm glad I did it since I didn't have a phone (or money) as someone with a helpful jab at my stupidity pointed out.

I was so stiff in the morning from the previous day off yesterday that I decided to go running in the early am. Yep, I trotted around the neighborhood for just an easy mile and saw two raccoons up to no good strolling about. That worked very well and then I stretched well. Hips and back felt much better for that.

Got down to Renton and Dave was there with the van and his very fancy bike - a colnago. He was really hoping to ride and I was egging it on because I knew the day was going to be great - it was clear and a very comfortable mid-50's already. T held me back so I started around 8:30 instead of 8:15 and I was riding alone. While I had been looking forward to riding with someone that was also part of the nervousness. I'm not at all used to riding with other people so it was fine with me just to ride.

Cedar river trail is really fun on bike. I just zipped along saying hi to everyone. I had long sleeves on at that point and was very comfortable. Made it to the Hwy 18 crossing lickety split and from there you have to cross the gravel lot (I walked) and cross the hwy there (busy) and get on the road. Very shortly, you come to a turn and you are on a very peaceful rolling road. Lately when I hit the first hill of any ride, my legs feel like lead and I worry about what is going to happen for the rest of the ride. Same thing happened here as last week where I hit an uphill and legs complained and I though "uh oh" but I guess I'm just waking them up! I was fine the rest of the ride.

And I just rode. I had put the garmin to auto lap at 5 miles so that worked well and had loaded the course. Passed Dave in the van around 15 (just waved) and he was following making sure I made one turn which was a detour. Evidently a bridge is washed out along 169 so we went on this different road through who knows where. It was a bit disconcerting to have the garmin tell me I was off course. I didn't realize that there had been a detour but then I made the connection with all the detour signs which I was following. And now that I think about it, the detour was probably better than staying on the main highway.

There was a really fun downhill section (I almost hit 40 without trying) and then we crossed the Green River and then a really challenging climb. I didn't think I was going to make it up. But I stayed focused and kept at itand 3/4 way up remembered I have a triple crank.

:-D That made a difference and I was past the worst of the climb and congratulated myself for not giving up. there was just rolling farmland then. I saw a horse lie down and luxuriously scrub his back. I saw cows and llamas and peek a boo views of Mt Rainier. Amazing!

The nice thing about the 5 mile laps alert with the Garmin was that each lap was around 20 minutes so that was a good reminder to eat and/or drink. In total, I had two gels, on packet gu chomps, one large square of my energy bar and 1/3 bottle of powerade which Tony had at a fueling stop and I was eying. Good. I was only hungry towards the end when I remembered I had half a packet of chomps left. I had stopped to take off my long sleeved thing and wrap around waist around Maple Valley (mile 15). It was definitely warming up but not at all uncomfortable.

At 30ish, we went back to hwy 169 and around 132 Tony and the FJ were there and I had caught up to a lot of riders. I came up to T with a huge grin and said it was pretty much the best ever! T said everybody else was bitching and moaning about the heat and hills. Whatever. Unlike with running, I'd rather be too warm when biking. T refilled my water (I only have the one cage on the bike) while I chugged powerade. His question, am I riding to 50?

Hell yes, I'm riding 50.

Passed three AR riders again almost immediately. one of the gals was riding so poorly up a not so big hill that she was really wobbly and I was nervous about passing her. I made sure to yell at her way before I was coming to let her know. I passed Laura E and she shouted at me "You biking?"

Hunh? I then spent another 5 miles trying to decode this one. :-D I have no idea what she meant! Could be:

  • Are you biking today? (well yes but maybe she meant the whole thing)
  • Are you injured and only biking?
  • I didn't know you biked!
  • You call that pitiful turning of the cranks biking? (this was Tony's helpful suggestion)

Hit Enumenclaw and some traffic through this area. Narrow streets through there but I'm going fast enough with traffic for it not to be a big deal. I waited at the light to turn off the Crystal Mountain hwy with a couple of motorcycles behind me. It just struck me as funny and compared to their prominent guts, I felt super strong, fit and studly. Snort.

And then the hway towards Crystal. This had made me nervous. I know you are just on the road to climbing towards passes around Mt Rainier and I expected it to be hard. It just looks like you are heading up a mountain but it really is more rolling and flat feeling than I was expecting. At 40 I had to take a break as my back muscles were tightening up. Dave showed up then with the van and we chatted a bit more before I went rolling off. Poor Dave never got to ride and only did course support. I think he'll have to go back and ride it!

Really, I was feeling amazing. Back tight but everything else great. AT 50 (just past Green Water) i had decided to turn around and head back to 45 as there was a good access to the white river and I really wanted to sit in the river. but T caught up then and thought there was access farther up. Ok, but it would be fun to go downhill! but no biggie, so i turned and started up again. Got another 3 and T said that he was mistaken. D'oh! but at that point I was only a few miles from a turn off to a view point to Mount Rainier and thought that would be perfect.

56.4 miles and I am so happy. I had some time to hang out and stretch on teh grass there (not lying or stepping in the deer? poop). chatted with tourists from ? who were amazed I had biked up the mountain 56 miles.

After 20 minutes or so Les and Steve show up. they still had about 12 or 15 miles to go still for Steve to hit 100 (he's training for Coeur D'alene IM in a few weeks). T showed up right then and they got their bottles filled and off they went. T had my food! So he snacked and I chowed (pancakes with pbj or nutella, pasta salad, orange, chips) and we chatted for a while. It was really nice and peaceful and gorgeous.

we went wandering up after a while to get Steve and Les. we went by all the trail access for the white river run and we were wondering if the pedestrian bridge has been replaced. (here it is in 2006)At the sign by Crystal, I guess Steve was done with uphill and they had 3 miles left so they went back downhill. At that point I realized, I could get a quick look at the trail to the pedestrian bridge as that was about 3 miles! T was agreeable to this so pushed me out the door with my running shoes (ha!) and I went trotting off. It had been a while since I'd biked and legs felt fine. I'm sure i was very slow but it did feel good and the trail was so nice. Super squishy and gorgeous. Lots of trees down to scramble under and over. T had made some crack about K would not appreciate me being lost to bears so I was thinking about that the whole time. :-D

I got down to the river (trail is not even half a mile I think) and wow the force of the river and the rocks all over. No trace of a bridge. Poof gone. You could see the guide wire there still. I took more photos and trotted back up. T had the bikes and now Les and Steve were running a mile I guess because I was! :-D I changed. I had gotten so hot running that little bit and we went off to load everybody and come home. Detour in Enumclaw (bike race) which took a while and then lots of traffic through Auburn so didn't get home until 4.

Perfect day!

Biked 56.4 miles in 3:43 (average pace 15.3) - link

And then the challenge will be doing a fun trail run the next day in the cascades. Did I push it too hard on the bike ride today? Did I fuel well enough during and after to not feel like a zombie runner? We shall see.