Posted by: pointlenana | June 29, 2014

The Urban Ultra

I don’t normally write about training runs, but today’s was over-the-top enough that it’s worth writing down.  Basically, it was an extended version of the Hills of North Seattle run I did a couple weeks ago.  That one was 35 miles.  This one was 46 miles, with about 7600 feet of climbing.  Including a 25 minute stop at home to change clothes, eat, and pick up Janet for the second part of the run, it took me about 9 1/2 hours.

I’ve kind of been dreading this run, knowing that it would take up pretty much all of my Saturday.  But in the end it was decent.  I’ve been running a lot lately and my legs should be tired, but I felt reasonably strong through the end of the run and I am not having any trouble moving around this evening.  In the last few miles I was able to run up all but the steepest hills, and I was never forced to go to walk/run on the flats.  Given today, I think I have a shot at breaking 10 hours at White River, which I plan to actually taper for.  Of course, the purpose of this run was to get ready for UTMB and it’s a little disappointing that with all the climbing it felt like I was doing, I apparently only did 1/4 of what I will see at UTMB.  But hopefully the hills in all my runs plus fun things like weighted step-ups will add up to being ready.

There were at least four cool things in this run.

First, with some tie-locs and hair ties, I solved the problem of my poles falling off my pack.  In the 50k last weekend, they randomly fell off multiple times which just about made me lose it.  But today they stayed on, were easy to put away and take out, and basically worked.  They are light and I think I want to carry them at UTMB just in case, but I have to be 100% certain they won’t fall off otherwise I’ll leave them.  I’m optimistic now.

Second, it was a great day for running – good temp, a small breeze, cloud cover – and given that I aimed for the tops of all the hills, I had some great views of the city and Puget Sound.

Third, in Discovery Park an owl flew about 5 feet in front of my face and then landed in a tree branch nearby so I could look at him.

Finally, coming up the hill in Fremont I crossed paths with James Varner and stopped to talk to him.  Running into James Varner on my long run is similar to Janet and I seeing Deena Kastor when we were all out running the day after the Big Sur Marathon – just as unlikely and just as cool.  James is among a group of people I think of as NW running royalty (although none of them act like royalty).  He founded Rainshadow Running and directs several great ultra events here (I’ve run at least two of them).  His events typically have hard trails but also have a great post-race atmosphere because he actively tries to get people to hang out afterwards with great food, beverages and often a bluegrass band.  He’s kind of a hero to me, and other than thanking him briefly after races I’ve never really talked to him.  I said hi and when he saw my (huge) ultra vest  he asked me what run I was doing and it went from there.

So, I’m glad that’s over and went well.  Other than running White River in 4 weeks, I’m done with the really big training runs prior to UTMB.

P.S. The route:  The first part of the run was essentially a long, spirally out-and-back up over Phinney Ridge, down through Fremont, along Dexter to Galer, up Galer onto Queen Anne, gradually north and west across Queen Anne to Dravus, down and up Dravus (UP – really steep), down and back up through Magnolia, one lap around Discovery Park, and then reversing the whole thing (another lap in the opposite direction in Discovery Park) back to Greenlake.  Then Janet and I did our big loop over Phinney, through Fremont, east to University Bridge, up Interlaken to Volunteer Park, around that, back down Interlaken to the Arboretum, down Lake Wash Blvd, north into Madison Park, up Madison, through the Arboretum, and then north west up to Greenlake via the Burke-Gilman and Ravenna.  I don’t know who Galer was, but I don’t like him – 3 separate times today I was on that street in vastly different parts of the city, and each time it was steep up.



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