Sunday, October 16, 2011

Trail Rich

I know I've mentioned this before but here in Seattle, we are really lucky to have so many great trails accessible year round for running (ok and hiking too).  It doesn't take too long to drive from where we live just north of downtown Seattle (still Seattle) and get to fabulous single track through forest.  Even within city limits there are what many people would call trails like Hamlin Park, Woodland Park, Discovery Park and many more.

As trail running gets more popular, we've also been lucky to have three different organizations which put on well run and fun trail run thoughout the area.

Rainshadow Running puts on a growing number of tough trail runs of 25k and 50k distance.  They always go up and down various mountains.  Really fun and low key events, the terrain and distance demands a certain level of fitness and confidence.  This year I ran two of the 25k distances (so far) and definitely plan for more of these runs.  The trails that they have picked are really stunning.

Evergreen Trail Runs does a variety of venues and distances.  Last year, i ran a half marathon they had around the flat Lake Sammamish and this year got out for a really fun event at Grand Ridge Trails out in Issaquah.  Again really nice low key and fun events.  I like that they are expanding their venues and although I didn't get a chance to run some events, I am definitely eying some for next year.  There are some trails I've been very curious about and have never been on which are local.  I can't wait to get out there. 

Northwest Trail Runs seems to have been around a little longer.  I first ran one of their events in 2009 at Soaring Eagle and fell in love with that trail system. This year they took over the well known Cougar Mountain Trail Running series from Scott McCoubrey and did a great job that I could see at the half marathon event this past August.  Again like all these groups, these are well run events with a cheerful feel.  I always get the sense that all these groups just love getting people out onto the great trails around here.   

This morning I talked RPD into joining me at a 10k at St Edwards State Park for a Harvest 10k with Northwest Trail Runs.  This was a blast!  Small group running the 10k and there was also a half marathon.  This is the first time they've done this event at this location and I'm glad to hear that they are planning to be back.  It was gorgeous technical trails through lush forests, challenging descents and obscene uphills with a fair bit of running on grass. 

I did a nice warm up with RPD and got to the start just as they were describing the course.  I'd looked at the map online and it hadn't made a lot of sense but as expected and promised, the course was really well marked and I had no trouble.  We walked over towards a couple pumpkins, the race director cajoled people to actually come to the start line (everyone was afraid!) and we were off. 

Immediately the course went onto fairly wide, slightly downhill easy trail.  It was a good start to get people going and string out the field.  I'd expected an easier start and was feeling good so stayed with the harder pace.  I felt great really.  It got pretty technical once going down towards the Lake Washington waterfront.  I passed a few people in here and then was right behind another gal (who'd passed me on one uphill section) and I was really happy with how this was going.  I felt good and strong, still able to talk but at a good effort.  I knew the uphill was going to be tough but I was leaving that for when it came.

then, i took a slight slip and rolled an ankle hard.  OUCH!  I could barely put weight on it once I popped back up with it.  And since I was about as far away from help as possible I thought i better just start gimping along.  If it was a serious injury, i still needed to get moving to get off the course. gimp. curse.  gimp.  This was right where the course started straight uphill so it didn't matter that I was walking because everyone else was too. It took probably a few minutes if not more before i felt like i was getting more function with my ankle.  eventually i could start running again and I felt such relief. phew!  I had some odd feeling twinges during the rest of the race but no pain.  It helped that we didn't really have any more technical downhill or I'd have been a bit too leary of rolling the ankle again. 

After the killer climb, I could just see a few people ahead of me and I worked to keep in contact with them.  They'd passed me when I'd gimped along.  All of a sudden we popped out onto the field which surrounds the seminary and were winding over the grass.  Back to the forest and we hit a very long wide and good surfaced graveled trail.  Oooh this was good for me.  I passed a couple people and really enjoyed myself.  Let the uphill begin again!  And it did.  This second climb was not as long so it didn't seem as bad and was in pretty rough shape with trail wash out.  It was so narrow in places that I was really glad we were going up and not down.  Finally we were up off the ridge and with a mile to go we wound around on a trail which follows the edge of the forest.  One quick little loop down and up on technical trails and more grass and done! 

Good times!  I immediately started an easy jog around and managed to catch RPD coming along.  He was looking good and had also enjoyed himself immensely.  We hung around a bit and chatted with fellow runners.  I was able to get an ankle wrap as it was starting to swell just a bit and I thought it would be prudent to keep it tightly wrapped.  Best of all they had hot chicken noodle soup. Salty goodness! 

Too bad about the fall, but i am delighted with this run.  The ankle is a little sore and a little swollen but not bad at all.  Super fun trails on a very challenging course.  Northwest Trail Runs has delivered another fantastic event.