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Running

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Hiking, Running

Cable Line Revisited

I should probably write more about this, but I’ve lost quite a bit of weight in a relatively short amount of time (30 lbs since New Year’s), and the best side effect of losing that weight is how much easier it is to run without it. I mean, it’s pretty obvious that it’s easier to run when you weigh less, but I didn’t realize just how much easier it actually is. And how much more fun! It’s like a whole new world.

Misty Cable Line

So on Sunday I decided to test just how much faster I am now by timing myself hiking up (you can’t run up this thing unless you’re insane) the Cable Line on Tiger Mountain. This trail is just a muddy track that goes straight up the mountain, climbing 2100 feet in 1.5ish miles. The first time I hiked it, it took me about an hour and fifteen minutes. In 2013, when I was in what I thought was the shape of my life, it took me an hour and four minutes. On Sunday? 46 minutes. This is what my face looked like.

Incredulous Cable Line PR face

The best part was that I had tons of energy to spare when I reached the top, whereas earlier I would have to sit down, curl into a ball, and recover for a while. This time, I ate a date, admired the non-existent views, then ran down the mountain (taking the West Tiger 3 trail instead of the Cable Line, because I’m generally a fan of having functional knees) to brag to JK about my time and then hike a somewhat less strenuous trail with this adorable little hobbit.

Wee hobbit

Man, I cringe when I think of all the years I spent obsessing about how to shave ounces off my pack weight when I could have just dropped a few pounds of belly blubber instead.

Tiger Mountain posse

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Running

Doing Trail Time

My mood has been all over the place lately, vacillating between high highs and low lows for seemingly no particular reason…until I made the connection that my little baby has decided she’s done nursing (sniff sniff) and these downer feelings are most likely the effect of prolactin/oxytocin withdrawals. At least I hope they are. And I hope they’ll disappear as my body continues adjusting to this new hormonal normal (or this old hormonal normal, I guess).

March running March running

In the meantime, I am treating it the only way I know how – with endorphins! I’m having more fun with running than ever before, and I’m counting the days until Daylight Saving Time starts so I can run after Nora goes to bed. For now, JK has stepped up to ensure that I have some solo trail time, so he’s either hiking with Nora while I run on Cougar or Tiger, or running errands with her as I’m running loops around the Watershed. They’ve become invaluable to me, those hours when I am out there all alone with my thoughts fluttering among the trees, all carefree and feeling 100% like my own person.

March running March running

I’ve known for years now how important it is for me to have time to myself so I can recharge my introvert batteries, but it’s very hard at home – if I go into another room while JK and Nora are hanging out together, I’ll inevitably hear them laughing and having the time of their lives, and I’ll get massive FOMO and go join them. But out in the woods, I have no choice. It’s just me, my feet, the trail, and the trees that are getting greener by the day. Love it.

March running March running

(Oh, and last weekend I had a little too much wine and ended up signing up for the Tiger Mountain Trail Run Half Marathon in April. Egads!)

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Albums, Running

I’ve got the runs

…is what I really shouldn’t call this album, but I probably will, because now it’s in my head and there’s no turning back.

For my first month on the Ali Edwards Creative Team, I decided to use her adorable little encouraging phrases to make a scrapbook of my races. Since I’ve only participated in two so far, it came together quickly.

Running scrapbook

I love having a home for my race bibs! The 6×8 pocket size was perfect to show off the fancy one from Beat the Blerch, but I cut down my Orcas 25K bib to fit a 6×4 pocket since it didn’t have anything around the edge.

The little take the next step speech bubble is from the Encouragement Bubbles set, the all the feels heart is from Valentine Hearts, and the you got this card is from Encouragement Journal Cards.

Running scrapbook

…and because this album deserves to be thicker than these two measly spreads, I signed up for the Beacon Rock 25K in June, which looks gorgeous but dreadfully hard. I fear I might end up using the struggle is real for that one.

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Running, Top Trips

Orcas Island 25K

I’m back! And, importantly, I’m still alive!

Orcas Island 25K

Our long weekend began with a Friday ferry from Anacortes. Nora loves any sort of public transportation (except for that one flight from Reykjavik to Seattle which we shall never speak of again), and between her fascination with water and all the people-watching (“why are all of these passengers wearing trucker hats”, she must have wondered), ’twas a good voyage.

Orcas Island welcomed us with a magnificent rainbow, which I took as a good omen from the universe re: my chances of survival the following day.

Welcome to Orcas Island

Still, my stomach was in knots when I lined up for the race on Saturday morning. Everyone else just looked…more prepared. And like they actually knew what they were doing. JK snapped this photo of me and captured my look of reservation quite well.

Orcas Island 25K

But, as always, everything seems better once you actually start running, even though the start of the course was a long, uphill asphalt road.

Orcas Island 25K

I settled into the back of the pack and ran what I could of that hill, walking the rest.

Orcas Island 25K

But then! Trails! I could run again! Aaah, heaven. Soft singletrack wending through a veritable wonderland of lush moss, creeks, and waterfalls.

Orcas Island 25K

Lord-of-the-Ringsian bridges!

Orcas Island 25K

Magical trees!

Orcas Island 25K

I reached the first aid station at 5.something miles, refilled my water, grabbed a handful of potato chips and some really delicious, juicy orange slice, and got started on the main challenge of the day – the dreaded Powerline Trail.

Orcas Island 25K

This thing was nothing like my friendly neighborhood Powerline Trail here in Redmond, no, this was a straight-up-the-mountain, Cable Line-esque climb complete with shoe-sucking mud and soul-sucking, NSFW internal monologues. Eventually the mud gave way to snow, because of course, and then, miraculously, the Powerline was over.

Orcas Island 25K

Finally I could run again, and it felt so good! Until we hit another hill. This was the kind of switchbacking trail I can usually hike up in no time at all, but my post-Powerline legs were just spent, and these (supposed) 1.2 miles took foreeever. At least the snow made everything look like a fairytale. One of my fellow runners shouted “OHMIGOD this is the most beautiful thing ever! But I think I’m delirious.” – I think that summed up how most of us were feeling at that point.

Orcas Island 25K

At long last I reached the second aid station on top of Mount Constitution. I had planned for a long break there to take in the views, but since it was just white in every direction, I filled up my water again, grabbed more orange slices, and got ready for the descent.

Special thanks to the volunteers on Mount Constitution who remained cheery and helpful while looking downright hypothermic! This was the same aid station where I volunteered back in 2012.

Orcas Island 25K

The next section was the most beautiful of the entire course, thanks to the snow, but also absolutely freezing. After a couple minutes of running, I realized I couldn’t really feel my fingers, so I had to stop again in order to find my gloves and hat. Opening my pack took forever with my useless Otter Pops fingers, but luckily they warmed up quickly once I got the gloves on.

Photo by Glenn Tachiyama

The next four miles or so just flew by – I cranked up the tunes and ran my little heart out, only stopping when I felt an irresistible urge to hug one of the giant cedars that lined the trail.

Orcas Island 25K

The course ended with some rather rude but mercifully short hills that I couldn’t find the energy to run up, and then I was done. Huzzah! I got my well-earned high five from race director James Varner and forgot to look at the clock, but I found out afterwards that I had crossed the finish line in 4:34:39, which I’m reasonably proud of given the amount of elevation gain and my lack of training/general laziness.

Orcas Island 25K Orcas Island 25K

The post-race party was classic Rainshadow Running – live music, lots of food, lots of beer. I was a very happy kind of exhausted.

Orcas Island 25K

Back at the rental house, we watched the sunset with our furry neighbors, had dinner, and went to bed embarrassingly early. It was a very good day.

Orcas Island 25K

Hugs to JK for watching Nora while I was out gallivanting through the woods, and big thanks to Rainshadow Running for organizing such a beautiful race. I know I spent most of that horrid Powerline climb thinking NEVER AGAIN, but of course now I’m like I’M TOTALLY DOING THIS AGAIN NEXT YEAR.

And look, now I even have my very own trucker hat so I can at least look like a runner, even though I still don’t know what I’m doing.

Turtlehead Overlook

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Baby, Running

Nora walks, mamma runs

Nora’s first big act of rebellion against her hiking-obsessed parents was to hold out on walking until now. But on Friday night she suddenly got up and walked over to pappa, and by the next morning she was dribbling a soccer ball across the room (in an adorably waddly way). On Sunday, she took her first trail steps on Cougar Mountain, and my heart burst into a million pieces for the 975th time since she was born.

Hiking

We’ve spent some time on lowland trails like Cougar, Tiger, and the Redmond Watershed this past month since I suddenly realized the Orcas Island 25k was coming up rather quickly and I really should start training. Eeep. I’ve run through ice and rain and mud and a few little bits of sun, from frosty landscapes to ferns and moss so intensely green they look downright Photoshopped.

January January

So now we’re two days away from the race and my longest training run was 7 miles long, and now I’m supposed to go out and cover more miles and more elevation gain than I have since the summer before I was pregnant. EEEP. My initial goal, “don’t finish last”, has been downgraded to “just finish, period”…but I’m not going to complain about getting to run (and walk…there will be lots of walking) for 25 kilometers on a gorgeous Pacific Northwest trail.

January January January

See you on the other side of the weekend, when I’ll be stiff and sore and waddling in a much less adorable manner than this little toddler of mine, but hopefully looking just as happy and proud of myself as she does.

Hiking!