A nice video that showcases what it’s like to run the many (high elevation) trails of RMNP.
I ran at Green Lake after work last night. I hadn’t been running much lately, as I’ve been really slammed at work. Okay, so truth be told, I’ve hardly been running at all. I did suffer through at 25K at Deception Pass two weeks ago, but the key word there is suffer. But, I have probably only run a total of 3-4 times in the past 5 weeks including that 25k. That’s pretty pathetic and one of the worst stretches sans running that I’ve had.
Well, I decided to do something about that, so I went running last night. Green Lake is a city park in Seattle with a loop that is approximately 3 miles around it. I say approximately because the actual distance around the trail for the inner loop (paved) and outer loop (not paved) is s topic more debated than “same sex marriage” or “legalization of marijuana” in this city.
Anyway, the loop is short and, more importantly, flat. I needed something easy to get back into it. In fact, I even got in my car and drove over to Green Lake. I only live about a mile away, so there really wasn’t any reason to drive other than the simply fact that I was being a sissy. On my way out the door, my wife Lynn (rightfully) busted my chops — “You’re DRIVING over there?”
Well, I did drive there. But, the entire time that I was running my easy 3 miles, I kept thinking about those words. So, I ended up doing two loops (still only 6 miles) instead of one. Sometimes, you just need a motivational kick in the pants to get out the door…sometimes you just need it to not be a sissy.
Team Clif Bar athlete Geoff Roes has made a name for himself winning some of the nation’s biggest Ultra Marathons, including a record setting win at the 2010 Western States 100. Geoff is not simply a world –class endurance athlete driven to compete at the highest level but by the simplicity and beauty of running long distances in the mountains.
Since moving to Seattle over five years ago, I have struggled to understand why so many folks seem to head out to Cougar Mountain to run all of the time. As an example, the Seattle Running Club uses Cougar as their default venue for their Sunday AM long run. There is nothing inherently wrong with Cougar…in fact, it is a great place to run with lots of rolling hills, miles of singletrack, and even some nice waterfalls along the way (see picture of my dog Achilles checking out one of those water features). And, of course, Cougar Mountain is easy to get to, in close proximity to Seattle (just 15-20 minutes from downtown).
But, as the first (furthest west) of the Cascade foothills outside of Seattle, it lacks the major climbs of Squak and/or Tiger mountain, which are just a few more minutes up the road. And, with the exception of the West Tiger Mountain 3 trail (which often has so many people on it that it seems more like a rails to trails then a mountain trail), Cougar is the most regularly populated of the foothills known as the Issaquah Alps. So, with it being more populated and having much smaller hills, I’ve struggled to understand why so many runners (really good runners) go there to train.
Over the last few months, however, I’ve come to understand why…because it’s easy. No, not easy, in terms of flat and an easy run. Quite the opposite…every run at Cougar is deceptively tough. Before you know it, you’ve logged 2,000+ feet of elevation gain on an 8 or 10 mile run. I mean easy to get to…easily accessible on a weekend or a weekday. I mean easy to just head out and run…lots of different direction to go from either the Red Town Trailhead or the Sky Country Trailhead. I mean easy to go lose yourself for 10, 12, or 14 miles by yourself…without having to worry about being too far from people if you need help in the event that something would go wrong (I’ve broken my arm and busted open my head really badly on trail runs in the past, so I do consider this stuff).
Given how easy it is, I’ve found myself getting out there more frequently – at least once on the weekend and more recently at least once during the week as well. And, I can feel myself really getting fit from it. It’s tough running at Cougar…yet, it’s easy. And, that makes all difference.
I just can’t stop giggling (yes, like a little kid) at the pictures and videos of Ian Sharman running dressed as Elvis. However, it really is no laughing matter. The dude ran 2:40:49 at the Napa Valley Marathon to break the Guinness Book of World Records mark for the fastest marathon run dressed as Elvis (prior time was a very noteworthy 2:42). If interested, check out Sharman’s write up here. Not only is Ian’s time fast enough to not be funny, Ian is doing this all for a great charity, raising money for Aids’ orphans in Africa. To that, I say “Rock on, Elvis….Rock on!”
It’s been quite a while since I’ve written a new blog post. Despite that, this blog still seems to get a fair amount of traffic to the site. That fact, coupled with fact that I’m just plain motivated and itching to write again, have prompted me to get back at it.
After a long hiatus, it’s often hard to know where to begin again. I thought about trying to do a recap of what’s been going on since my last post, in August 2011. However, I really haven’t posted much for over a year. Wow…what’s happened in the last year? Some top of mind thoughts that I’ll throw out there:
Geoff Roes went from dominating every race he ran to a bit of a rough patch, but has recently rebounded and taken his running to new territory – check out his race report from the 350-mile Iditarod Trail Invitational. The picture of Geoff here will give you some indication of just how tough of a race it was (in case you needed an additional clue that an 8-day race across the Alaska Wilderness is as tough as it gets).
Anton Krupicka is back to his usual tricks. Lots of time out on the trails/in the mountains…lots of great pictures from his adventures (his current one is in New Zealand)…and a fair amount of running. For those of you who have been under a rock, he’s been battling a shin problem for well over a year now. He’s definitely coming around, albeit much slower than he would like. Be patient Tony…be patient. We all want to see you on the start line of the Transvulcania Ultra Marathon in May. Both the men’s and the women’s field for this 83K mountain race is going to be loaded (check out the top participants here). Those fields are just plain sick…although I wish Krissy Moehl and Dave Mackey (2011 UROY) were in there.
The prize money and the sponsorship in the sport continues to grow. While there is a fair amount of concern over this, I view it as great for the sport. I love how the team aspect of the sport is really starting to shape up, and how it is opening up more sponsorship opportunities for more runners. For example, look at the stacked lineup that Team Salomon has going for them right now – that lineup comprises some of the best men and women trail runners in the world. But, The North Face ultrarunning team isn’t too shabby either. Oh, yeah, and what about Team Montrail.
I’d love to see a head-to-head team race between these two groups…especially in a coed race of about 50 miles. I really think that the sport will become much more of a team event in the near future. While I think ultrarunning will ALWAYS be an individual sport, I would not be surprised to see a team sport emerge around the 50K distance. Imagine Team Salomon facing off against Team North Face in a 50 miler (coed race, top 5 count in scoring…must have at least two females):
- Team Salomon – Jornet, Heras, Sandes, Frost, Crosby
- Team North Face – Wolfe, Wardian, Koerner, Semick, Hawker, Kimball
- Team Montrail – Roes, Jones, King, Greenwood, Vaught
- The sport is just CRAZY fast anymore and so, so deep. When you see great, great runners like Roes and Moehl finishing in 3rd, 4th, 5th and feeling good about it, you know it’s a crazy sick deep sport. There are more and more races – big races – yet there seems to be more and more depth. Remember when the only household names were Jurek & Trason? My how times have changed.
Simply capturing the thoughts above remind me how much I love this sport. I’m stoked to be running and writing once again. Look for more soon.
As I’ve mentioned numerous times on this blog, I’ve struggled with a hamstring injury for much of the last two years. It really prevented me from enjoying trail running. I could do short trail runs (~5 miles), but any long runs on the trail would leave me on the sidelines for days or weeks. Needless to say, this was incredibly frustrating. I finally said “screw it” and paced fellow IUP runner Adam Lint for the final 6+ hours of Cascade Crest 100. That run through the night up in the Cascades was the only truly enjoyable run that I’ve had in several years.
Finally, my hamstring is healed. I owe this largely to my wife, who really helped guide me through some physical therapy to get it healed and strong again. I’m still cautious, but this morning, I ventured out to the Seattle Running Club sunday morning run at Cougar Mountain for the first time in years. I had a blast.
It was a small group – just 6 of us today following White River yesterday. The weather was rainy & foggy (great for running…crappy for every other summer activity). We did the normal loop, only did it in reverse hitting De Leo’s wall near the beginning instead of the end.
Still being cautious with my hamstring, I cut it short in an effort to keep my total time around 2 hours. All said and done, I logged 12 miles in 2 hours with a total elevation gain of 2,151 feet. One of the things I really appreciate about Cougar is that the elevation gain doesn’t come in one big climb, as it does at Squak or Tiger mountains. Rather, Cougar is a bunch of ups and downs with nary a flat section of trail to be found:
It was great to get back out and run with a group of people…and great to go hit the trails at Cougar. Looking forward to the August & September runs, when we often get up into the high country of the Cascades (e.g., Denny Lake, Kendall Katwalk, and the Enchantments).