Thursday, July 17, 2008

7/5,6/08 A Trails Double

This picture was taken by Maniac Brian at the 2008 Rattlesnake Lake Marathon.

Fourth of July weekend! And a weekend where those of us in the Pacific Northwest were given the opportunity to run a triple without having to fly: Friday's Foot Traffic Flat Marathon in Portland, Saturday's 28.8 mile Lake Youngs double (a fundraiser for someone doing the Seattle Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer 3-Day Walk later this summer), and Sunday's Rattlesnake Lake Marathon at... say it with me... Rattlesnake Lake.

As you can see from the title of this report, I did not do the triple. A few folks did. Instead, I spent Friday at a local brew festival sampling beers from around the world. This was a great way to spend our nation's birthday. Some beers were great. Some tasted like pond water. Kinda like how some races are fun and some taste like pond water. If I could run on water, maybe those races wouldn't taste like that.

Had I kept better notes, perhaps I would have included beer details in this report. But I didn't. The quality of my penmanship was inversely proportional to the amount of beer I had sampled at any given point.

Oh, don't worry. I rode the bus to and from this fine event :-).

I did run the Saturday and Sunday races as a double - my first double since early December. I'm not really going for the super high race count this year for Maniac statistics, but I *am* planning on running a couple 50 milers. So I need some doubles for training miles. One of those 50 milers (White River) is in a couple weeks, and I'm very nervous. Completing this double was important to my psyche.

The Saturday race was yet another multi-loop race around good ol' Lake Youngs. I ran a similar race in the same place a few weeks before this one. Same course, basically the same weather except with some off-and-on rain, fewer people. Last time, I ran three counterclockwise loops. This time, I ran one in that direction and two clockwise loops. Weeee!

I don't really have much to report about the Saturday race. Lake Youngs is always a hard trail for me, but I managed to knock 5 minutes off my time from a few weeks ago. 4:44. That was cool. The course is really interesting. As a loop, the net elevation gain zeroes out, so it should not matter which direction the runner takes around the lake. That said, clockwise feels easier to me, and my race times indicate this as well. Huh.

I did not set out to race Lake Youngs all out, and I didn't... even though this was my quickest time ever on this course. I took it easy, and I finished strong. This was important because I needed to be strong for the next day at Rattlesnake Lake. It's been seven months since my last double.

Very important. Turns out, the Rattlesnake Lake Marathon is tough. This race was started last year as a free and informal event by a couple fellow Maniacs. 18 people finished it, and based on their times, I figured the course was pretty basic. I should have realized that a good percentage of those 18 folks were (are) our faster Maniacs. Their times on easy/medium/hard courses have little bearing on how I might do. The race utilizes chunks of two trails that I'm becoming very familiar with: the Snoqualmie Valley Trail (SVT) and the John Wayne Trail (also known as Iron Horse). Both trails are utilized in the Mt Si 50 that I did last year and the 20th Century 50k WIMP that I completed in May. Both trails are rails-to-trails conversions with very long uphill and downhill grades. Whereas 20th Century was all downhill, the Rattlesnake Lake Marathon is a half-and-half course: 5 miles down the SVT, 13 miles up (5 miles back up SVT, 8 miles up Iron Horse), 8 miles down Iron Horse. And when I write "13 miles up", I mean exactly that. The grade is gentle but relentless. Great for trains. Great for some runners, like our faster Maniacs. Hard stuff for Island Boy.

This year, the race was a much bigger deal. No longer free, but still only 10 bucks, and a lot more than 18 people. 50 came out - the maximum that the race directors wanted to allow (and probably put on the official race permit). It was foggy and cool at the trailhead, which was how it was supposed to be all morning. Great running conditions. Singlet conditions for many people. See the picture at the top of this report? Yup, I was in a long sleeve shirt with another shirt underneath. I hate being cold.

Of the 50 runners and 2 race directors, I knew probably 48 of them. It was great seeing everybody, including my Best Running Buddy (BRB). I had no time goal for this race. I wanted to put in the miles for the double, and I wanted to socialize.

Off we went. I ran the first couple miles with BRB, my friend flapjack (who is also BRB's sister-in-law), and my other friend Ge-NEE-a. The first five miles were gently down the SVT, under I-90, to a highway intersection near the town of North Bend. Once I loosened up a bit, I sped up somewhat. But not a lot. I felt really good considering the previous day. The turnaround was at M5, and it was time to spend 2+ hours heading uphill.

Uh oh. The top of my right foot started hurting terribly. I was having trouble with my feet in Kona a week before this race, but I hadn't noticed anything at Lake Youngs. And I hadn't noticed anything going down the hill. I noticed it going up, though! Yuck. Unless it went away, this was going to be a long 13 miles up the hill.

Ouch, ouch, ouch. I passed a lot of friends heading down the SVT as I went back up because they had started later than my group. I must have looked terrible. Ouch.

I was very slow, too. As hills go, this was a gentle slope. Rails-to-trails are always gentle. But between the pain in my foot and knowing I'd need to stick it out for 13 miles, I was pokey. 10-11 minute miles. Also, two potty stops. But I digress. There was a guy following me. I kept thinking he'd pass me. He didn't. Up the hill. This is one of those races where I actually wished that I'd lugged along a camera. The views were outstanding, especially alongside the old trestles - waterfalls, mountains, trees. Apparently bears too, but I didn't see any. Up the hill. As I mentioned in my report for 20th Century, there are lots of reminders along Iron Horse of its railroad past. Mile markers representing the distance to Chicago clicked by. Every now and then, an old station or district sign would be posted in the middle of nowhere. No matching town, no matching station, no matching anything except a memory from once upon a time.

Finally. Finally, I past the old sign for Garcia. This was where 20th Century had started. Another half mile up the trail, up up up, and there was the M18 turnaround. Whew! One of the race directors, Maniac Monte, was running the aid station up there. I said hello, refilled my bottle, and was on my way. While I was there, the guy who had been following me finally passed me. I realized at the top of the hill that my foot had stopped hurting somewhere along the way.

Time to run down. The last 8 miles of Rattlesnake were the first 8 miles of 20th Century. I decided I'd try to run 8:15-8:30/mile pace for the rest of the race, which was about the same as how I started 20th Century. This would be clipping along considering the previous 46.8 miles that I had run in this race and the day before.

I re-passed the guy who had followed me up the hill. I passed a couple others as well, including one gal who told me that I wasn't allowed to pass her :-). I knew she was kidding, but this is always one of those jokes that can be hard to respond to in a snappy way. About M24, two guys blew by me as though I was standing still. This would be the overall winner and #2. See, the race had three official starts... the extra early start, the early start about 15 minutes later, and the regular start about an hour after that. I had gone out with the earlybirds in the middle start because that's when my friends went out. These two guys had gone out with the regular start, and they had made up a full hour on me in 24 miles. Pretty spiffy.

No one else caught me. Right turn off Iron Horse, left turn to the parking lot and done. 4:12, definitely not fast for me. All things considered though, especially the weird foot pain, that was a nice workout.

For a tiny 10 dollar race, this was very good. The miles were marked, and even seemed more accurate than some of the big races I've done recently. The aid stations were pretty far apart, but we all knew this in advance. They were fine, they were where they were advertised to be, and they had what I needed. Pictures were taken. There was great food afterwards, which sadly, I ducked out on. A very pleasant day. If this race is offered again, I'll definitely do it again... thanks Maniac Brian and Maniac Monte!

Incidentally, there are no rattlesnakes at Rattlesnake Lake. Bears, yes. No snakes.

Next up: my return to beautiful Missoula for their marathon. A fun race in a fun place. As has become my norm, the race has already happened before I managed to write this report. How did I do? Check back RealSoonNow!

And for fun, here's what it has come to: I'm an old man. Yikes! When did I turn into a little old man? The gal on the right is Maniac Leslie. She ran the full triple!

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