Sunday, January 20, 2008

Rain, Mud & Snow: Capital Peak Half-ass

For the short version, read the title - it says it all. Yesterday was so much fun! We all crammed into Cat's version of the Yeti, nicknamed Sully (they are both Ford Expeditions). Rob, Jenny, Steve, Eric, Cat and I, and all our stuff. Jane and Abi drove up separately. Rob was wedged into the backseat with gear piled all around him - it takes a lot of stuff to spend a day on the trails. You gotta have running gear, food and drink for the run, food and drink for after and dry clothes and shoes for after. Multiply that by six and it was a full car.


Eric, me, Meghan and Trevor

We rolled into the start in a fine, misty rain. The car thermometer registered 32 degrees and there were traces of snow all around. We signed in and chatted with friends for a few minutes. Back at the car, Eric told me he'd seen Meghan and that she was wearing a yellow coat. Cat and I went to the start and looked around - we weren't really sure which yellow-coated woman was Meghan, so we started calling out her name. We were standing right by her! We got to chat with Meghan, her sweetie and his parents for a few minutes, and snap a picture before we gathered for race instructions.


Y Run Club runners

It wasn't too long till we were off, and not much longer after that when we discovered the word of the day: MUD. Mud, mud and more mud, slippery, red, ankle deep, shoe-sucking mud. We were trailing the pack, getting to experience the mess of mud left by the 50+ runners churning it up ahead of us. We chuckled though, knowing that those going for the full 34 miles would experience it on their second go-round. The course was modified this year - too much snow at the peak to be safe. We ran a figure eight course - one loop of eight miles and one of nine miles. Other than the mud, it was very runnable. Seriously though, the first six miles were a mudfest. We walked through a lot, trying to keep our footing in the slick mess. Cat and I stuck together, vowing to enjoy the day and be in no hurry. After all, we would finish ahead of the 34 milers and have a couple hours to wait, so why worry about cutting 20 minutes off our time? Loop two featured about eight inches of snow at the top - again, runnable, but slick.

Running through the forests of the Northwest is simply beautiful. It continued to rain lightly through out the day, at times snowing, then when we dropped elevation, raining again. It didn't matter though, because we were running through a green and gray paradise. There were a couple ugly patches where we emerged into clear cuts. Those were dismal, stumps, debris and underbrush was all that remained. Luckily, we were soon back in forest. Cat and I talked non-stop through out the run. All along I kept mentioning what Jenny calls "the trench of doom". It is a v-shaped cut, only wide enough to place one foot at a time, filled with red clay. I was actually thrilled when we got there - for two reasons. First, I wanted Cat to know that I was not exaggerating the awfulness of running through it, and second, because I felt so incredibly good when we got there. It is only two or three miles out from the finish and last year I hurt so bad by the time we got there I was nearly in tears. Yesterday I felt great! The clay sticks to shoes, building them up into heavy weights. The only saving grace of running in the trench is the hilarity of trying to stay upright - we had some good laughs through here.

We finished feeling good - so good I was shocked. I remember how much I hurt last year, and how I hobbled for days after. Today I got up and ran five miles and other than two black toes, two blisters (very wet feet yesterday) and a bit of stiffness in my back (maybe from carrying my pack?) I feel fine. We were surprised to find Jenny waiting for us at the finish. She was planning to run 34 miles, but didn't make the cut-off.

Cat had to get back to town for another engagement, so she left us her car and rode home with Jane and Abi. Jenny and I waited a couple hours for the guys to get in - staying warm by the fire, and dry under tarps. When ever the rain let up, we'd dash out to stand by the fire drums, and when the rain picked back up, we'd get back under the tarps. Once the guys got there, it wasn't too long till we were headed home. We stopped for dinner and Starbucks, making it home by 8:00.

I am very pleased with my training and fitness level. I felt good through the run, took my time and enjoyed the whole experience. I'm really looking forward to the Orcas Half-ass after this! In the meantime, I need to be training for the 50 mile goal. Rob talked me into running two loops (20 miles) at Pigtails next weekend, and the weekend after that I am planning to run a triple-hill run for another 20. I'm trying to keep my mileage up but not over do it. Although I'm excited to attempt a 50 mile run, my real focus for the spring is running Big Sur. I have wanted to run there for years, so I am trying to be cautious and get there in one healthy piece.

PS. I just realized that I can't run Pigtails - I'm signed up for an all day 1st Aid/CPR class at work. I guess I'll try for a long one on Sunday instead.

23 comments:

Journey to a Centum said...

Glad you had a bunch of fun out there! You get the tough runner award for going for a run this morning! I on the other hand sat in Starbucks and infused my body with coffee.

robtherunner said...

I am glad that you had a fun time out there and also that you have decided to run 2 loops at pigtails. I think it will help prepare you for all three upcoming runs (Orcas, Pac-Rim and Big Sur).

Juls said...

It sounds amazing. Congrats on another great run!

Anne said...

See, you came back and "stuck it out" and it paid off!

Sunshine said...

What a great tale! And what a contrast between your marvelous muddy happy shlog and the clean dry indoor track we raced on this morning!
We do with what we have... and it is so fun to read about yours.

Darrell said...

I'm betting it'll be warmer and less muddier at Big Sur, although it does sound like you had a really good time.

Joe said...

Great write up, Michelle. Very smart to enjoy the runs, while keeping the big goal of Big Sur in focus.

All that stuff is washable!!

What cool views you must have had in the forest. I can only dream!!

Coach Tammy said...

Hey there Lady! Looks like you're doing great. Happy Belated Birthday!!! 50 is the new 39. :)

Nicole said...

It looks so cold! Nice job though.

Irene said...

Looks like you all had a wonderful time! Look at all the smiles!

Laura H said...

Congrats - I missed meeting you, though I did see Eric et al and rana bit wiht Jenny. You did awesome - hopefully I'll get to meet you at Orcas? And belated happy 50th - a great age!!

Jack said...

Sounds like a fun day, way to hang tough in cold and the mud.

Wes said...

Your fitness level is amazing and so inspirational :-) I haven't seen you in blue before!

scott keeps running said...

seriously, you have too much fun. this running stuff is supposed to be so utterly demanding that you can't even take the time to smile once. maybe i read the wrong guidebook, though.

shawn said...

I hate those clear cuts too. I'm glad you were laughing through the Trench of Doom - ha! good name! I find it's easier to keep my footing there if I swear under my breath at every footfall. Sorry we'll miss you at Pigtails.

King Arthur said...

Way to go! We train and train and it doesn't feel like we get any improvement then we run a race a year later and Wow huge difference. We find out we run stronger and run smarter.

Did I really have blue lips?

Sarah said...

What difference a year makes! Quick recovery is a good sign of your fitness level. Glad you had a great run!

Steve said...

A great day of running with the Mountain Cat. It's a wonderful feeling to finish tired but not totaled. You have a lot more in you than you know. Remember this at Pac Rim, you will have some low points, just take a break, have faith in your training, start out slow again and you will recover.

Annette said...

That is so great that you felt that much better this year. What a good feeling. You are obviously doing all the right things.

Sorry that you are plagued by the toe issues yet again. And, bummer that you'll have to miss that run for a class. :(

Keep training strong. You're going to be so ready for that 50 miler!

King Arthur said...

I've had my Suunto since August of '06. I have the T6 and Foot Pod. I love it. I pretty much always wear it.

wendy said...

Way to go, trail runner! You have been so wise about your training, and it shows.

you sound absolutely fantastic! Congrats on another great run.

olga said...

Fun time and great fitenss - what else do we need? :)

Meghan said...

Michelle,

So fun to match the real human being to the blog this weekend. What a doll you are!

That Pacific Northwest mud is some serious stuff. And you Pacific Northwest people are hardy souls.

I had a great time splashing in the mud, though, and meeting all of you!

Meghan