Another day, another new adventure
These days, if it’s happening outside and does not involve standing on my head, scaling cliffs, free-falling, or immersing myself in ice cold water, I’m willing to give it a go. The more I do, the more fun I have and the more confidence I gain.
Since my last post five days ago, I’ve logged 12.5+ miles running, 10 miles biking, and 7.5+ miles hiking. It’s all been great!
I’m still patting myself on the back for an awesome 8.1 mile run on MAJOR HILLS yesterday. I ran most of the hilly portion of the course for my local half marathon, which is coming up on June 3. I ran the hills in both directions, giving me more miles of hill practice than I’ll have to run on race day. I’m still not sure how I did it, but I ran those 8 hilly miles at a 10:53 pace, which is about 45 seconds per mile faster than I’ve ever run hills like those before. I planned this run so that I would finish the 8.1 miles exactly 5 miles from the finish line of the half marathon. As I ran down the hill back to where I’d parked my car, I was asking my body how it might feel about running the other 5 miles to complete 13.1 miles at (or close to) the pace I’d set.
I think I would have had to slow down for those last 5 miles. My knees are feeling rather tired today, and I was glad that my self-made training plan gives me a rest day on Mondays. I’ll be ready to run again tomorrow, and if things continue to go this well I’ll be ready to reach for another PR in June. But now is not the time to overdo it! It would be a real shame to push too hard and injure myself now.
The 10 mile bike ride was interesting, because I rode the exact same 10 miles as I’d run the weekend before. The view is different from a bike, and I suppose it’s less strenuous than running, although I’m still having trouble navigating narrow spaces. This makes crossing bridges difficult! This particular route involves crossing four bridges twice each. They are beautiful narrow bridges over small streams. I love running over them and I never think twice about the fact that they are only a few feet wide. However, my bicycle wheels seem to be irrestibly drawn toward bridge rails! I have trouble getting through a bike ride without panicking and slamming on my brakes at least once. Even so, the non-bridge portions are fun, and I do feel a bit like a 12-year old as I sail along with the wind in my hair.
The 7.5 mile hike over the weekend was a relatively flat but brisk ramble along the shore of Lake Crescent, within Olympic National Park. One section of the trail features a narrow bridge (similar in style to but narrower than the ones giving me trouble on the bike) across a small, deep cove. As you approach the bridge, it looks like it goes straight off into the lake, but in fact the trail curves around the rock wall to the right. It’s a very beautiful place that I had never seen before now.
Along the trail I spotted the first of this year’s calypso orchids. These delicate, elegant flowers are just over an inch across.
I love this section of the trail, lined on both sides with mossy boulders.
Did I mention that this hike was brisk? Although my friend and I did take time to enjoy and photograph the views, we hiked at a pace approaching “forced march,” because we had volunteered to work at a downhill mountain bike race later that afternoon.
I had never seen a downhill mountain bike race before and had only a vague idea of what to expect. It turns out that these are single-purpose bikes, with monster suspensions and little in the way of gearing — they are designed to do nothing else but go downhill fast. The local track is muddy but firm and is loved by practitioners of this rather arcane sport. I’m told it’s considered one of the best downhill mountain bike tracks in the country. In any case, more than 450 people including about 175 professionals from all over the US and Canada turned out for this event.
I wish I could have taken photos, but I was far too busy to think about anything but my task. I was responsible for lining up the racers in a predesignated order and staging them at the starting line, while my friend (who actually knows something about the sport) did the countdown and released the racers at 30 second intervals. I’m amazed that they entrusted me, a rank newbie, with my job — but hey, it was only the qualifying round. The 50 or so male amateurs on my shift were cooperative and generally followed my occasionally confused instructions, while the 20 female pros were polite and helpful. The 150+ male pros were a little more challenging. I had to shout a few times to get them to stop taunting one another and pay attention to me, but I got everyone to the starting line on time and in the correct order. It was a really fun afternoon and I’m glad I stumbled into the opportunity to do something completely new.
New friends bring new adventures! It seems I may be in for a very active and adventurous summer.