November 22, 2009
The night before this run, I called Karen Wiggins, who lives in Bremerton, WA, where the run was to be held, about the weather and recent damage from high winds. She told me there was a lot of water on the trails and some downed trees. She was planning on running about 10 miles with her husband George, who also happens to rock climb with my husband Ken before leaving to attend a funeral. I then looked up the weather forecast and it called for heavy rain and wind. I tried to call around and ask if anyone was planning on a long run on Sunday, but everyone was tapering for the Seattle Marathon the following weekend, which I was also running. I had run few miles earlier in the week anticipating the 50K. After looking on the Marathon Maniacs site and seeing a few familiar names (Eric Barns, Nic Plemel, and Rick Haase), I decided to make the hour and a half trip to Bremerton the next morning.
It rained pretty hard on the drive there, but by the time I arrived at Wildcat trailhead, it had stopped. John Straub, the RD, had marked the course the night before with it pouring, blowing, and snowing so he had the worse of it. The weather during the run was perfect. Cool with occasional light wind. No rain!
There was a crowd of about 20 runners at least. Different distances were offered. Mostly, people ran 20 miles or the 50K. The course was tortuous with many intersections, with some that we were to arrive at a couple times. We got a map with directions, which worried me. But it was very well marked and a few times we needed to check the map, which was reassuring. This was a fat ass style run-no fees, no awards, no whining. Eric Barnes asked his trademark question before every race, "Is this course Boston certified?" It is always good for a few chuckles!
We started at 8am on the Wildcat trail that climbed to the Vista Trail for 4 miles. I started out pretty slow, nursing a sore back from the day before. I ran 9 miles with my running buddies in Maple Valley on the Cedar River Trail Saturday morning then headed over to Cougar Mountain for 4 hours of trail work. We were wheel-barreling gravel to low spots on the Lost Beagle trail, which was 1/4 mile of slightly downhill trail with roots and rocks, which was so very difficult, especially since we filled the barrels too full the first time around. Then up we went for another load. I was only able to do this twice before I was glad to be relegated gravel shoveling duties. I'm glad there were strong, young men there to stress out their backs. But the damage had been done and I was sore for the rest of the day and tender still Sunday morning. So I started out slow and let Nic and Eric take off. I didn't want to follow Eric anyway. He has led me astray before on well marked trails.
It wasn't long before we hit major puddles that we could not run around. So we ran through them, but OMG! The water in the puddles was so cold! I can't imagine doing one of those ultras up in the frozen tundra! After running through a few puddles, your feet got numb enough that it became more tolerable. But then you would run through some dry trails and get re-shocked again after your feet had warmed up a little. And also, after 2 miles of climbing, we encountered snow. Just enough to cover the trail and make going uphill a slippery mess. A significant part of the single track was simply a flowing creek. I was worried that this was going to be a very long day. I ran with Karen and George until they had to turn around and head back for the funeral. It was good to have them around since they knew the trails well and were able to point us in the right direction at some confusing spots. I also met Melissa, who recently moved to Portland from Arizona. She was dressed very warm in my view, but she was comfortable having come from Arizona. She just finished her first 100 miler at Hundred in the Hood. She loved it! I also met Julie Cassatta, who lives in Seattle and came with her friend Sarah Lynch, who planned on running the 20 mile version. Julie, Melissa, and I ran together until about 12.5 miles and I ran the entire run with Julie.
After arriving at the summit of the Vista trail and not seeing any views, we connected up with the power line trail that took us down a steep trail where you had to remind yourself not to grab those thick power lines. It was very slippery and rocky but was a short section. We then ran down some very nice trails including Gold Creek trail and the Beaver Pond trail then Plummer trail-single track, fun and twisty, and of course with many puddles. There were plenty of puddles in the morning that still were cold enough that snow or ice still floated in them! We were just getting our icing while running. We arrived at the one aid station at 7 miles that we would return to at 23 miles. We ran another 2 miles before a steep climb up to mile 10 where there was a volunteer there to point us in the right direction since this was an intersection we would come back to and also where if you were running the 20 miles, you took a left turn instead of right. This took us to the service road part of the run which was 10 miles. It did help us catch up on the time lost in the wet, snowy, and technical trails. It was a mix of about 5 miles of up and 5 miles of down. This part included going up to the KCPQ Doppler tower (thus the name of the run).
Then it was back to the previous intersection that we came to at 10 miles. We headed down a trail that was covered with leaves and was basically a slightly downhill creek for about 2 miles. Then we hit a really nice double wide runnable and totally beautiful trail. Other than a few ankle deep spots, it was a very pleasant break from the really techinical and wet single track. After going through the aid station at 23 miles, we had to climb back up the power line trail. Most of the snow had melted and it was not as slippery. We came back on the Vista Trail viewpoint and there was some views now. The rest of the run was on nice single tracks, some on previous trails that we had run, some different, with the last 2 miles on the Wildcat trail. Julie and I finished together. We passed the girl ahead of us with 1.5 miles to go. Melissa either turned back too early off the service roads or decided to cut it short. She had finished a little less than 40 minutes ahead of us. Eric did take a wrong turn with 2 miles to go and he and Nic finished a little after us.
It was a fun day, the sun even came out. At one point, Julie and I could see the Seattle skyline from Green Mountain. I did get to know Julie better. She is 28 and a landscape architect. She has hiked the Appalachian trail and this past summer, hiked 2/3 of the PCT trail in Oregon. She led the first female marathon runner at Seattle Rock and Roll Marathon and had been dealing with an Achilles injury for about 9 months. She was finally getting back to running and was thrilled. She was planning on doing her first double with the Ghost of Seattle and the Seattle Marathon.
Came back to the finish, changed into dry clothes under my robe (my trademark pre and post race look), and enjoyed hot chocolate from my thermos. One other runner looked at me in my robe and drinking my hot chocolate, pointed at me "veteran", and pointed at himself "newbie." I thanked RD John and the volunteers and headed home happy that I decided to come out and run!