Saturday, August 25, 2007

Stampede Pass 20 miles

Current Mile total: 1044.75 miles

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.

It was a small group today. We all met up at the west summit parking at Snoqualmie Pass. There we were told quickly by Scott that we'd all car-pool up ten more miles to the Stampede Pass Trail head where we'd begin our 20 miles run for the day. So Kathleen and I jumped into Kevin's nice Land Rover and got to actually hang for a few with our fellow trainees. I never hear a thing anybody says once we start running so I feel like I'm a little out of touch with my fellow runners. It was nice to chat it up and even though I haven't spoken much to them there was a strong sense of family in the group. Everybody is punishing themselves out there every weekend and I think with that comes immediate respect for one another.

So we get to the trail head as Scott goes through his speech about micro-managing the trail. Run when you can run, walk when its steep, counter rotating through the switchbacks and always use electrolyte tablets. It sounds simple but each week he tells us it sinks in more and becomes more intuitive. I find myself flying through the switchback turns like I'm riding a roller coster, a product of the counter rotation. I find I stay hydrated and my legs don't lock up, a product of proper hydration mixed with taking the tablets every hour. I find the hills aren't so bad when I break it down into little sections, this portion walk, this portion run, instead of wearing out trying to run the first straight mile up and locking up the legs. So each week I listen intentively even though I've heard the same speech 11 times now. Scott has been a great coach. He's really the first coach I've ever had. All for just $40. NorthFace really gave us a invaluable bargain.

Anyways, as we all begin to head out, I am humbled that everyone kinda looks to me to lead the pack. Besides Brian of course. But yeah, go figure. It seems I'm getting a reputation amongst my group as one of the stronger runners. Hell Kathleen and I have been refered to as the Dynamic Duo. Jim said I was "inspiring last week." That's a lot of pressure to live up to. But really, I haven't been pushing myself terribly out there, I just do what's asked of me and its really paying off. On my road running nights I always seem to kill myself trying to go fast and it never does me any good. But out here I slow down and just try to enjoy the run and maintain. So I guess I'm the leader of the bunch. Of course it feels great to be the strong runner. It makes me think that maybe I can compete at a higher level. And then I come back to reality once a big hill comes up. What was I thinking.

Throughout the run I stayed right on the heels of Brian. Catching up to him every time he made a marker for the Cascade 100 mile Ultra. Every time Brian stopped to lay down a marker we would all eventually catch up. Then we'd move on and people would spread out. It was this way for a while until we got to more technical stuff and Brian and I lost everyone. I got to a marker that was kinda hard to see so I decided to wait for people to catch up to me, to be sure they saw the way too. I waited for at least two minutes before they showed up. At that point, Travis, who I call "The Viking" passed us. He had started a little later than us. Usually he's out in front with Brian. Well, today, I kept catching him. I don't know if he was injured, taking it easy or what. He said that I was blazing. And Kathleen was right on him too. I ended up falling back a little and finishing with Kathleen. We actually finished just a couple minutes behind. So that amounts to the "it was the best of times." And the reason why I fell behind, well, that was the worst of times.

Man, there's nothing like having to take a two-sy on a run. Ugg, my stomach started hurting around 10 miles. I contemplated pulling over and taking care of business but I just could never find a place suitable. Well at 14 miles I found that place and exorcised the devil. It sucked cause my legs felt great and I was positive but my stomach just keep getting worse. I was hot on the heels of Travis and Brian and not even trying. It's like Karma was telling me that with leadership comes humility and I needed to remain humble. Well I was humbled. So with my little squat-fest, I felt revitalized but had lost a few minutes in the process. Even still, only Kathleen had passed me. At 14 miles out, Brian, Travis and I had about 1 minute on Kathleen and over 4 or 5 minutes on everyone else. So I did my best to catch back up. I tried not to go too fast, just picked up the pace a little. I then fell and slid a little. Marked up my hand and right leg. I got up and continued. After probably a mile and a half to two miles I got back to everyone. Kathleen had managed to catch Brian and Travis too. She was having a great day. Which is good cause last weekend she was very discouraged. Travis headed out first while Brian made markers and we snacked. We eventually caught Travis again and then we were all a group for a while. Then slowly Travis and Brian picked up the speed and I couldn't hang with them as my stomach started flip flopping again. I backed off and eventually Kathleen caught back up again and we finished as a team about two minutes behind them.

Man. If I had just had a strong stomach that day I'd have finished with the leaders. Oh well, it's still great to know I'm improving and catching up.

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