Seattle Trails: A week with Big Cats

This was a phenomenal week for trail running for me, all things considered. Though I am in taper for the Northface 50 and had a recovery week last week from Ron Herzog 50k, I was feeling pretty tired this week and alot sore from slamming into the ground at full speed after slipping in a corner in my XC race on Sunday. I fell right on my hip that has been bothering my and that is never good. It has been quite tender but I am hoping between this week of taper (just under 60 miles) and next week will help ensure that my hip will be ready for next Saturday.

All that said, it was a great week in terms of getting out on trails with amazing runners! I hit 3 different trails and enjoyed a variety of distances.

Monday: Early Morning on Cougar Mountain

I met up with Matt Hart and Justin Angle (and Piper, his dog) and we headed out for a 7am run on Cougar Mountain. I have run on Cougar once before with my SRC Sunday morning group, but it was awesome to get out and completely own the trail. We moved along at a comfortable pace and chatted about all sorts of things. I had never met Matt before and had only briefly been introduced to Justin at Krissy's going away party. They are both amazing athletes, Justin is a very talented ultrarunner with most recently a 4th place finish at Angeles Crest 100 miler and Matt Hart, who is not only an endurance coach, an adventurer racer, a very talented ultrarunner (with a 2nd place finish at Grand Teton's 100 miler) but also is just recovered from a double hernia surgery. With those types of credentials, I am just happy to try and keep up! It was cool, but not cold on the run and we wound our way through the trails on Cougar, Piper leading the way. Before I knew it 10 miles was gone and we were piling back into Justin's car for a quick drive home. Cougar is a great and accessible trail and I am very keen to spend much more time exploring the many trails it has to offer and am definitely keen to run with the boys again.

Thanksgiving-Mt.Si single ascent

A great way in my mind to kick off a holiday, especially one centered around eating is to get out in the morning and do something active. Someone of my various email groups had suggested doing a single ascent of Mt.Si. It is not a great distance and offers an amazing view from the top, so I decided to tag along. I met up with Henry Wigglesworth at his house and we went and picked up Leah and Scott Jurek and headed out I-90 to the Mt. Si trailhead. As I said, Mt. Si is only 4 miles up to the top, but over that 4 miles you gain over 3700 feet. At the bottom it was cold, really cold. We unloaded out of the car and did a short run out onto the road to get us warmed up before heading straight up. We all carried light jackets with us, tied around our waists because while it was only freezing at the bottom, it was going to be much colder at the top. We headed up the trail. Henry took off never to be seen again until the top and I did my best to stay with Scott, who although he is currently enjoying his off season was running away from me with every step. We caught up to Leah who had headed up the trail as soon as we arrived and Scott ran with her for a bit while I continued on ahead of them. Still feeling tired and my hip sore, I did my best to just keep going internally committing to do more hill work for next season. Uphills are definitely where I feel like I have the most room for improvement. While I am not a bad uphiller, I want to be as strong on the ups as I am on the flats and downs. At mile 3, the trail started to be quite icy and I ice skated my way up and up, hoping I didn't fall and smash a knee cap. Just at the tree line, Scott caught up to me and Henry was there waiting for us. Scott had brought some quick strap on spikes to try out, though he wasn't wearing them yet. We made it to the top and the view was absolutely amazing!! And cold! We put on our jackets and headed down the trail, very carefully. Scott let Henry and I try his spikes and I was able to navigate a decent portion of the icy bits easily with them on. Once we hit dry trail, we barrelled full speed down the bottom. It was great and I definitely see that once the spring hits I will be doing some hill repeats on Mt. Si. I went home and cooked a great dinner including a full selection of vegan, gluten free foods, as well as cooking a turkey and mac and cheese for my guests who indulge in such things. The pumpkin pie from Flying Apron (gluten free, vegan and alternative sweetener) was divine! Krissy and Dagan even made it over before dinner and helped me and my family enjoy the opening of my Napa Valley Marathon "trophy" opening, that is my 1979 Reserve Clos Du Val Cabernet (worth more than $1200). It was a great day.

Saturday- Seattle's Favorite Loop on Tiger Mountain (aka resurrecting the "get lost")

I headed out this morning before the sun came up to get a longer trail run in on Tiger Mountain. I have run only once before on Tiger Mountain and that was back in the summer with Krissy (our awesome first meeting!) and I didn't feel that familiar with the trails. That said, I pulled a route from my 50 trails in Washington book called Seattl'e Favorite Loop which was 16 miles in length and suited my goal of doing at least 16 miles for the day. I studied the instructions for the route and headed off down the Swamp trail. It was 30 degrees when I left the car and I tooled along at a decent clip on the flats. I followed the instructions and was confident that I was headed the right direction. I popped out on a wide trail off of the Brink Trail and headed down a long winding fire road. The trail ended at Issaquah High School, as the instructions indicated, but then, uh oh. I couldn't find the next trail. I ran one way down the trail that the one I came down had run into and nothing, I ran all the way the other direction which again took me nowhere except 1/2 mile out of the way and dead ended on a street. I headed back to the trail I had come down and decided that it was possible that I may have come down on the wrong trail and headed back up. I ran back past where I had gotten off the Brink trail and continue up the hill and lo and behold, found the Poo Poo trail which meant I had run both down and back up High School Trail. That was the last snag on my route and I managed to navigate all the twists and turns on the rest of the route including finding all of the turns onto unmarked trails. I climbed a bunch more up the backside of Tiger 1, hit the Bypass trail and came out to the top of West Tiger 1 (2800 feet of elevation) and enjoyed a phenomenal view of the mountains, Seattle and all of the area. I flew down W Tiger 1 to W tiger 2 and finally W Tiger 3. I very much enjoyed the final 3 plus miles of downhill back to the car. I arrived at the car just under 3 hours, tired, chilly but happy that the effort was so successful. I definitely foresee lots more training on Tiger as well. I ended up with 16.5 miles and 3700 feet of elevation gain. Tomorrow I pace my sister for the second half of her marathon and am looking forward to next Saturdays race in Marin.

Overall, this week was a great reminder of why I moved to Seattle and also taste of what's to come and enjoy here in the great Northwest!