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Running

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Cabin Trip, North Cascades, Running

Sun Mountain 25K

Uuugh, I have officially reached that place where I am so behind on adventure recaps that it’s getting hard to get back into it. So I’mma just start and see how this goes.

Sun Mountain Long Weekend 2017

First up: Sun Mountain!

Sun Mountain Long Weekend 2017

Highway 20 opened just in time for us to do the beautiful drive through the North Cascades to get to Winthrop. I had forgotten just how gorgeous it is – we haven’t seen too many big mountains lately, so maybe I just appreciate it more now?

Sun Mountain Long Weekend 2017

We stopped at the Diablo Overlook for a picnic and I was in awe. Nora loved it too, because we told her that Davis Peak was Svinetoppen (Swine Mountain), which the pig in her bedtime stories likes to climb.

Sun Mountain Long Weekend 2017

We stayed at the Patterson Lake cabins, part of Sun Mountain Lodge, which was the perfect choice for us with two small kids along for the adventure. The cabins are right on the water and on the Sun Mountain trail system, so you can run in all sorts of directions right from your doorstep.

Sun Mountain 25K 2017

So, race day. Unfortunately little Norbert did not get to run her first kids’ 1K due to a…toddler malfunction, but I had all sorts of fun on the 25K. (By “all sorts” I’m obviously including Type 2 Fun.)

Sun Mountain 25K 2017

I ran the first half with two old friends from back in the TNAB days, which was a great motivator to beat the cutoff at the aid station – I was genuinely nervous about that, but we made it with lots of time to spare. I pretty much always run by myself, so it was interesting to note how much farther I could go without stopping when I was trying to keep up with others. It’s the best kind of peer pressure.

Sun Mountain 25K 2017

Once I got past the aid station, I kind of fell apart a little bit. The heat really got to me, and my knee, which has been bothering me whenever I’ve run anything longer than 8 miles, was not happy with the steep, downhill mountain bike trail that we were on for what seemed like forever. I don’t really remember much, because my body doesn’t really function well in the heat. A lot of us westsiders were struggling under that unforgiving sun after training in cold drizzle all winter and spring.

Sun Mountain 25K 2017

I ended up walking so much of the rest of the course that it was downright embarrassing, especially the last two miles – I could even hear people cheering at the finish line but I just could not get my legs to run. I ended up crossing the finish line at 3:33:10. My only goals for this race were to have fun (Type 2 Fun counts!), to beat the aid station cutoff, and to use it as motivation to get me out on the trails for guilt-free postpartum endorphins and alone time, so that’s a win on all counts.

Sun Mountain 25K 2017

(Of course JK decided on a whim to run the Dirty Turtle 25K the following weekend with no training except for two runs on Mount Patterson, and he finished in 2:44:something even with over 5000 feet of elevation gain. Way to make me feel slow, dude! But whatevs, I’m here to live up to my Trail Snail moniker.)

Sun Mountain 25K 2017

After I got my well-deserved high five from race director James Varner, I spotted a super excited Nora running toward me for an even better high five and a big hug. The best! She was all about the post-race pizza party, so we walked (I waddled) over to a shady spot to spread out on a blanket and get our feast on. They even had gluten-free vegan pizza topped with kale and roasted garlic! And there was bluegrass music! And happy people! And little Noras dancing! Total bliss.

Sun Mountain 25K 2017

Also how amazing is this finisher’s glass? #hearteyes

Sun Mountain Long Weekend 2017

As the party wound down, we went back to our cabin and took an ice bath in Patterson Lake while Lily napped. Aaaah. So awesome.

Sun Mountain Long Weekend 2017

The next day, after a combined effort by my spawn to ensure I got less than one hour of sleep, I somehow felt really, really good. We ended up having a perfect, relaxing vacation day, something we really didn’t think would happen after that night. It’s that Sun Mountain magic!

Sun Mountain Long Weekend 2017

Sun Mountain Long Weekend 2017

We went for a short but beautiful family hike, swam in the lake again, and then both girls actually napped simultaneously so JK and I could read and relax on the porch. Aah.

Sun Mountain Long Weekend 2017 Sun Mountain Long Weekend 2017

JK kept gushing about the run he had gone on the night before, so once the girls were in bed (and they actually stayed in bed this time, thank jebus), I headed out for a run of my own.

Patterson Mountain run

Patterson Mountain run

I had hiked up Mount Patterson before, back in 2012 while JK ran the 25K, but it was overcast and hazy and it didn’t make that big of an impression on me. But this! This was amazing.

Patterson Mountain run

Patterson Mountain run

Sun Mountain Long Weekend 2017

Golden evening light, fields of balsamroot everywhere, lupine-scented singletrack…it was trail running perfection. I had the mountain to myself (except for an assortment of animal friends), so I took to running the downhills with my arms flailing every which way and yelling wheeeeeee at the top of my lungs. Best run of my life.

Patterson Mountain run

Patterson Mountain run

The next morning we had to leave, but we made sure to squeeze in a visit to the pool up at the main lodge before the long drive home. That view, man.

Sun Mountain Long Weekend 2017

Sun Mountain Long Weekend 2017

So, Sun Mountain. I love you. Let’s make this an annual thing (but hopefully with more sleep next time).

Sun Mountain Long Weekend 2017

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Layouts, Running, Scrapbooking

I survived!

I did it! I survived Sun Mountain! I had hoped to get my blog post about it up by now, but it’s taking me forever to wade through all the photos from our long weekend. (Spoiler: IT WAS SO GOOD.)

I do have a very important story to tell with the Story Kit this month, about the bravest person I know, but it’s one of those pages that’s just going to be really hard to make, emotionally, (and I don’t know if she will want me to share it), so for now, here’s a story about me, being a little bit brave in my own sort of much less important way.

Sun Mountain 25K

(That little flexing bicep badge is everything. And I know my fellow scrapbookers will appreciate how excited I was when I saw how amazing the race bib was.)

tsco
Running

Word vomit on expectations

Last Wednesday, after the girls were tucked into their beds and after much procrastination, I headed out the door for a run. It was raining, as usual, and it was that special kind of bone-chilling cold outside and so gloomy and generally just kind of awful. I told myself to just go out there and do whatever I felt like doing. Worst case, I could just run to the dog poop trash can, a measly one mile return trip.

By the time I made it to the trash can, my muscles were already good and warm, so I decided to run up and down my training hill a couple of times. Of course after that I felt fantastic and I got all high and continued for six miles, which is a lot for me for an after-bedtime run. When I came home, I was in full-on skravlepus mode and JK had to endure my overly excited monologue for 20 minutes before I was able to calm down and shut up.

Most of that monologue was about expectations – about how my best days on trail tend to happen when I’m expecting it to suck. It makes sense that if you’re expecting the worst, the reality will usually be better, but that’s not really a great way to go through life. “Well this is going to be awful.” Okay, so hopefully your run (or meeting or workday or whatever) isn’t going to live up to that grim expectation, but at that point, you’re just suffering in advance of the event instead of during it.

What worked for me last Wednesday was that I truly had no expectations. An absolutely neutral mindset. Now that is a special sort of headspace magic that I usually can’t attain.

But! If a neutral mindset is the way to go, how do I reconcile it with also attempting to be all gung ho WOO I’M GONNA ROCK THIS? It sounds so good in theory, being all zen-like and living in the moment, but doesn’t a neutral mindset also mean that you can’t really look forward to anything? Because that sounds awful too. Setting goals and looking forward to them are huge happiness boosters for me, and they pretty much can’t exist without expectations.

Where am I going with all of this? I have no idea. Maybe next time I have a really good run, I’ll have some sort of grand epiphany and figure this all out, but I don’t expect (heh) that to happen anytime soon.

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Running

Scenes from the trail

Well, this winter has been very wet. And very cold. The last time we had a shitty weather year like this, I was just about ready to defect, but this time around, I am as in love with Washington as I ever was. (In fairness, that blog post was written in mid-July and now we’re only in April. Ask me again if we’re still living inside a cloud come summer.)

Redmond Watershed

(This photo is titled ‘Pacific Northwest Child Sees Sun’)

What’s changed? I’ve embraced the magic of (a) lowland forest trails and (b) trail running. It started back in 2013, when I grew tired of depending on sunny days for my mood to lift. Instead, I hit the trails on Tiger, Cougar, and the Redmond Watershed no matter what the weather or month, and learned to love the feeling of soft rain drizzling on my face. Running and hiking the same trails over and over and over again may not sound very interesting, but it feels really rewarding to see the changing of the seasons, especially these days when the trees are a little bit greener with every visit and the trails are, uhm, fragrant with the arrival of skunk cabbage. Spring is definitely running late this year, but I finally saw my first trillium of 2017 yesterday.

Winter trails 2017 Winter trails 2017
First trillium of the year TMT

I’m finally able to run again after the bladder prolapse, thanks to five million kegels and a bit of structural support from my trusty ol’ Diva Cup. Sun Mountain is less than two months away, so I won’t really have the time to get into the kind of shape I had originally hoped, but I want to at least get to a point where 25K won’t feel miserable and I won’t have to walk too much of the course. I “ran” ten miles yesterday, but it included a lot of walking (and trillium photo breaks). But! I did focus on actually running the uphills, and was shockingly successful, something my thighs keep reminding me of today.

Winter trails 2017

(This photo is titled ‘Pacific Northwest Adult Sees Sun’)

I’ve spent a lot of time on the Cable Line this winter, slogging up and running a variety of longer trails back down, but lately I’ve decided I should probably focus on more runnable, rolling trails, like my favorite Shy Bear loop on Cougar Mountain or, closer to home, the Redmond Watershed.

Winter trails 2017 Winter trails 2017

(Mud and ice – all in a day’s work on the Cable Line)

I also suffered another minor setback that fortunately turned out to be much less of an issue than I had originally thought – I got shingles! That was the last illness I expected I would ever end up with, but in hindsight it makes sense – almost a year of hardly any sleep and a pretty serious bout of depression can do that to you. The Norwegian word for shingles translates to hellfire, and man alive is that accurate. Luckily for me, it was really only that painful for a day and a half, and then the lesions disappeared a couple of days after that. Hopefully that means that my immune system is finally on the mend, which would come in handy since Nora started daycare three times a week and is bringing home every virus under the sun.

Winter trails 2017

(Finding beauty in the puddles)

JK is back to work now which means that from now on, most of my running will happen on my old friend, the Powerline Trail, after the kids (it still feels so unreal to use the plural form there) are tucked into bed. That means the days are getting longer, friends! In the good way, not the dreary way.

Winter trails 2017

(Drenched and happy)

I usually like to listen to upbeat music while I run, but this drizzly, muddy winter called for a more mellow soundtrack. My constant auditory trail companions have been:

These songs are so mellow that they need to be listened to on headphones, loudly (especially Jupiter) – preferably while running through the forest, enveloped in an ethereal Pacific Northwest mist.

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Challenge, Health, Hiking, Nutritarian, Running, Top Trips

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