Run a modified Cedar Butte Loop (roughly 5 miles) and then head up Rattlesnake to the Ledge and then out to Snoqualmie Point (roughly 10.5 miles). I needed to be ready to start the second part of the run with the AR group at 7:15 AM and, since it took me about 1.5 hours to run the CB Loop this past Tuesday, I had to start running no later than 5:45 am and THAT MEANT I had to leave my house to drive out just after 4:30 AM. Dedication or foolhardiness? You decide.
Got up at 4 and was out the door just after 4:30. It was so dark out there but the further east I went I could see that the sky was lightening up. It was still darkish when I pulled into the parking lot at Rattlesnake though. Quick bathroom stop, strapped a lamp to my head, and I was off on the first part of my run. This went so much better than Tuesday. I still walked the really steep parts (kind of a theme for the day actually) and had to be careful because of the dark. Skipped the summit climb and also the traverse back through the berry patch tunnel and ended up with 4.83, a little less than I thought it would be. The forest was waking up around me. Birds were starting to stir and I could hear things moving around in the bushes (mostly birds). Some heavy things moving through the brush too but I tried not to think too much about that. Took me just about an hour to run this section and I was having fun, thinking about the main section of the run and trying not to crash on the rocks or trip on the roots (also kind of a theme for me today).
Got back to the parking lot just before 7 to join my group, get my running pack, and grab a snack. Got pretty cold just standing around waiting for my release time. Coach finally let me go at about 7:20 and off I trotted for the first significant climb of the day, 2 miles up to Rattlesnake Ledge. The trail up is really a series of giant switchbacks that get steeper and more challenging as you go along. I tried running but was pretty tired already and ended up fast walking (pretty fast though if my splits are anything to write home about but I didn't know that then). Took the time to actually see the Ledge and take some pictures. It was pretty cloudy up there but the view was still spectacular (not as neat as Spider Meadow but still). Mt. Si was covered in clouds with an occasional sunbeam coming through. Very pretty. A long way up, easy to fall.
The next two miles were similarly challenging because of their steepness and I quickly lost contact with the group of runners ahead of me. All the chatter from the lead group also died away and I was (characteristically) alone. Stopped every once in a while to enjoy the view and have a snack (PT pressed one of her homemade energy bars into my hands as she went past the Ridge, yummy!).
I would say that this, the climb to the highest point, was the real low point of this run for me. I trotted when I could but basically slogged it out and didn't feel much like a runner. A fast hiker maybe but not a runner. I think my spirits were pretty low, especially since there was more climbing to do and it was hard even to trot. I started thinking that I really didn't need this today, how the Hell was I going to get 18 miles (I wasn't), and if I couldn't hack this how could I ever think of running a longer trail run. Doubt became my running companion, and an unwelcome one at that. Still I knew that some 6 miles of pretty spectacular downhill was coming and that, and the fact that I knew I could finish, kept me going. Stopping to eat and take pictures helped too.
The downhill was amazing, but (there are always "buts" on this day) I really need to relearn my downhilling technique. This was a hard pounding the whole way down. Of course, the course is unrelenting too. There were sections where I could really run though and that perked me up so much. Started catching other runners too. L with about 4 miles to go, then S with about 3 to go. I love the wooded section from the summit on down to the power lines. The trail from the power lines down is interesting but also exposed and I was just wanting to get it over with at that point. So many hikers coming up too, many with dogs and, of course, I had to stop and say "Hi" and wish that I had brought J (she would have loved it). Went past a family coming up and one of the kids reacted to her mother's warning that I was coming with "Is he a robber Mommy?" Daddy said "No, I don't think so." Another little kid was carrying a stick like a spear and almost impaled me as I went past (that would have been a fun story wouldn't it have?) Also ran into a couple of guys that had hiked up to the ledge and were now going up from the other side. "Trying it from the other end" I said as I went down past them. The lower section sure has grown since I was last there. There had been a fire a few years before, still much in evidence today but less so. It was nice to run the flats during the last mile or two, squirrely little fun single tracks. I was amazed at how steep that descent really is and would hate to hike up it.
The run ended too abruptly. The parking lot just appeared (boy have they done some work out there). I did a circuit of the lot, got sniffed by a miniature schnauzer whose owner told me was harmless (no dog is actually) and merely a nuisance and then I was done.
The car ride back to the lake was interesting, my knee was screaming because I was crammed into the back seat. Took some Advil when I got into my car and it helped. The drive home was interesting. My eyes kept on looking at the ridge that I had just run. My! What a long distance. Amazing.
Couldn't go soak in the lake because of the Dragon Boat Festival. There was no legal parking close to the lake and the city was out ticketing. So I went home, showered, ate, and then fell asleep for a couple of hours.