Monday, August 15, 2011

Scott Cougar Mountain Trail Run - 13 miler

So the thing about getting off a cruise boat is that it is really had to readjust to reality.  I had done a 19 mile run sunday after getting off the boat and went into the week tired.  I think that was my complaint for the rest of the week.  Tired.  July was busy!  Out of town to Chelan, Ragnar planning and then Ragnar, vacation and covering a lot of things at work.  I think it was catching up to me this week.

I did what I could.  Tried to go to bed earlier.  When I went out for a run and realized I was so tired, i cut that run short.  Legs felt fine but I was just not feeling it.  I hoped all would settle down because training now turns to a mid-September trail event.  I need trail miles and this weekend was the 13 mile Cougar Mountain trail run.  Of course I signed up.  What a few hours of running when you are tired?

Quite a bit, it turns out.

I was excited about this event.  I really like the trails and I'm not worried about time for this one.  I really haven't had a lot of really steep technical trails this summer and need to get my legs and mind used to them again.  This course delivers.  Straight up and down for 13 miles with a lot of rocks and roots.  it would be good to practice taking in more liquids and electrolytes and see if that helps the lungs last longer in these endurance events.

I last did this event in 2009 after having done all the previous distances in the series plus Ragnar.  In 2009,  I came into this event at probably the fastest I've been and well trained for trails.  Could I approach that same time?  I wasn't sure but hoped that with better food/water management I could.  In 2009, I'd run out of water and had some hamstring cramping issues at the end.  the strikes against me?  Did I mention I was tired?  And I hadn't exactly been tapering last week when i ran 3.5 hours on easier trails.

I got there about 30 minutes before race start and picked up my bib.  I was really surprised to see so many uber-fit looking people.  Honestly I felt like a poser next to some of these people.  yeah, this race is a USATF championship event and I was asked if I was a member and thus eligible for some prizes.  Uh no.  I'm a poser!  And see my ipod loaded with Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone as read by Stephan Fry (the British version is my favourite!) and I planned to use it which is against the rules of USATF. 

Talk talk talk and we were off 'round the field, to Clay Pit Road and onto Coyote Creek.  This is when you are surrounded by other people and there is some pleasant chatter.  I really just wanted to go out easily and get warmed up and just enjoy myself.  We started up Lost Beagle and really I just didn't feel good at all.  Hungry and tired and grumpy.  Dang.  Already?  It was going to be a long run with that attitude.

I tried to shake it off and was really grumpy about how hard this felt.  Finally we hit the top and started down.  I did pass people as usual on the downhill as I'm better downhill but really wanted to keep it easier so tried not to speed up.  I had a strict routine for liquids and food:
Every 15 minutes - water
Every 30 minutes - gel or my energy bar with an electrolyte capsule and more water

This did seem to work.  I was never hungry again after the initial hunger within first starting.  Two electrolyte capsules per hour is about double my typical rated.  I was really sweaty and could tell I needed both more water and electrolytes. Did the lungs do better?  Debatable.  I still stopped around mile 11, about 3 hours after last using inhaler to use the inhaler again. 

After the climb up Wilderness inwardly snickering at people's reactions to the ongoing and forever climb, I'd turned on good ol' Harry Potter and just started to feel much better about the whole thing.  The trouble with knowing the trails pretty well is understanding how to bail out early if I really wanted to.  Did I want to DNF?  No, I did not.  This really was a good training run for something else.  I needed the more technical trail experience and I was getting it so get on with it.

After that, I felt better and just started enjoying myself.  I took in the gorgeous scenery and just tried to stay steady.  I honestly didn't have a lot of oomph uphill at all.  Oh well.  Just keep going.  The course was very well marked which was great because from about 7.5 on, i really saw very few people on the course and you did have to make those turns on the course yourself. 

I seldom get to run over on De Leo Wall and Marshall's Hill Trail which is too bad.  It was really pretty over there and the weather was perfect for this run. I managed to avoid getting stung by a wasp this year although I think i was close to one.  I do remember at one point going by an area where there were some buzzing creatures.  I could feel something land on my ankle, i swatted at it and took off.  Phew.

I came up to the last aid station (around mile 10) and called hello.  She was alone and sitting reading.  Hopped up and asked what I'd like.  I really love these low key trail events.  Something salty please.  And of course there were potato chips. Munch munch.  She offered some coke and dang if that didn't sound good then.  I haven't had soda in some years (no really, years!) and slurped some down.  Tasty!  I'll have to remember that for these long events as it will give me something to look forward to.

the trails were more runnable in here and I kept at it.  And then finally I made the turn onto Quarry Trail.  This is it.  The last long uphill climb.  Get through this One Mile Climb and that was it.  Flat or downhill and very well known trails to the finish. I could do this!  Trudge, trudge trudge.  I was happy to see that there were some more people around me now.  I was catching up a bit to some others and then, kersplat!  I hooked a toe on a rock and down I went.  I was so mad and stunned.  I was flat out on the trail for a bit and couldn't believe it.  It really was vaguely uphill on this section and wide open.  Dumb.  I hate falls like that.  A guy quarter mile behind me called "you ok?! as I was standing up and leaning over in shock.  My first reaction was to burst into tears.  it was the knee jerk upset reaction when tired, really.  I controlled that, said i was just fine and needed a minute.  He ran on (not stopping which i was glad of).  I did take that minute and then trotted off.

Shoulder sore, knee bleeding and just mad at myself.  Finally I hit Fred's and just steadily started running.  Bypass to Old Man's trail and I passed about 4 people in this section.  Done!

2:48 and my garmin read just under 13 miles
In 2009, I ran this in 2:40 and my same garmin and same course read 13.3 miles.  Results are up and distance is marked at 13.7 miles.  Haha!  I love trail races.

The sense of accomplishment of finishing this punishing course is sky high.  After realizing I've been fighting tired all week and feeling so dead on this run, I'm taking this week as an easy week. I love road races but there is something special about being able to do these tough trail runs. 

Saturday, August 13, 2011

More photos.

Skagway view.
One week post vacation and I'm still thinking of our trip.  It was also really hard to settle back into work and life.  That's always a sign of a good vacation. 
Onto Glacier Bay

Marjorie Glacier

John Hancock Glacier and well wrapped for viewing.

tide had gone out and left chunks. 

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

The Vacation

July was pretty busy with fun events.  The month ended with a week long cruise to Alaska with family.  I heard from a lot of active people that they had a lot of doubts about a cruise but they all admitted to curiosity.  This was my second cruise to Alaska and I really enjoyed it!

Now, as an active person, I made some pretty good choices about the timing of this cruise.  We were coordinating six people's schedules but were eventually able to pick the first week of august.  This was perfect from my point of view.  I'd be post-Ragnar and rather in-between events.  There'd be no need to stress about trying to get a lot of running miles in while on the boat.  I'd still run, of course, but it could be more of a run when you feel like it and for however long which would be perfect one week post Ragnar.

And it was great!  It's rather a different mentality sort of a vacation.  Internet and phone service is available but for a high price.  So cut that right out.  I brought a lot of books loaded onto my nook and picked a few different knitting projects in case I got bored with what I was working on.  I planned to take in some of the events on the boat, hang out with family, take in the sights and nap.

We'd deliberately picked this cruise line because it went to Glacier Bay, Skagway and started/ended in Seattle.  good choice overall.  Logistics were extremely easy boarding the boat at Pier 91.  We had one complete day cruising north and it was a good time to figure out the layout of the boat.  The cruise ships can be big and overwhelming and the best way to deal with that is to just explore.  the staff was unfailingly friendly and helpful.  I enjoyed quite a few of the talks they had on board like National Park Rangers in Glacier Bay, Libby Riddles and random things like a galley tour.  Mostly though, it was pleasant just to sit and hang out. 

I was less interested in the little towns the boats stop in except I decided I'd try to get in a trail run in port at least in Juneau and maybe Skagway.  That was a great decision!  I've been to Juneau before on a cruise and couldn't remember a thing about it.  This time, I found a good looking and easy to find trail, talked K into joining me and off we went.  It was raining pretty hard but it wasn't cold.  The town by where the cruise ships dock is full of little touristy shops but quickly climbs towards the steep hills.  Soon we were beyond the tourist boundaries and it was gorgeous!   It was an easy trail to follow and to run.  One concern was that part of the section of the trail (seen in the above picture) had collapsed!  We'd not seen this but heard it from a couple who were hiking back down.  Yikes!  We went quickly through this area.  The other concern?  Bears.  Juneau can have a lot of them evidently and we saw evidence of the bears on the trail but managed to avoid seeing one. 

Skagway was the next little town.  We'd booked a train ride on the White Pass & Yukon Railway but had the whole day in port.  I'd heard from a outdoorsman on the cruise ship about trails in skagway and even gotten a map.  Lower Dewey Lake and uppper Dewey Lake trails would be less running but promised a very good workout and some nice views of the town.  These trails did not disappoint in either regard.  Just a half mile away from our dock, the trail went straight up.  Lower Dewey Lake was a very pretty tranquil area.  K continued on around the lake.  I wanted the harder trail (in prep for an event next month) up to Upper Dewey Lake.  Round trip the run would be six miles but since I knew it was very steep, i still didn't think I'd make it to the second lake.  And I did not.  I turned around at an agreed upon time.  It was a very enjoyable time though and I'm glad I got out there.  The train was just as spectacular although the diesel fumes were pretty bad on the descent!  Blargh. 

Glacier Bay was my goal for this trip and it did not disappoint.  The weather was perfect.  Cloudy but still with the clouds mostly lifted.  We had excellent viewing conditions for Marjorie, Lamplugh and John Hopkins Glacier.  Really, they were spectacular.  I still get chills thinking of the huge chunk of ice which calved off of Marjorie.  The sound of calving is amazing.  We also watched for whales as we were leaving Glacier Bay and saw quite a bit of activity including a humpback breaching. 

After a week, I was ready to get off the boat but I still rather miss the leisure and relaxed mentality.  It was a lovely experience visiting with family for the week and not having any responsibilities.  I really miss my nap schedule!