Saturday, March 24, 2012

Interurban Trail Half Marathon "Race" Report

 Another Saturday, another long run. This week we decided to do an out and back on the Interurban Trail. I had mapped it out on Map My Run from the south end of the trail at 110th all the way out to what I still think of as the Kmart -- but which has been a 99 Ranch Market for at least a decade, I think.

But then I looked at that hill -- the one where it crosses 205th and continues up to 200th -- and decided I would rather have that at the start of the run than the middle of the run. So we decided to drive to the far end (we would have driven to 110th, anyway) and start there. It was probably a good idea, but...

So we started on a little stretch of trail, but soon hit the first closure. It looked on the map like the trail would continue for a bit, but they're clearly in the final stages of preparing it. So we were quickly sent out to 76th, which is a blandly busy street. The sidewalks were a little too narrow to run next to each other -- especially given all of the driveway cuts.

And then we were headed up the hill to 205th. We missed the light, and stood there, a little chilly, for nearly 5 minutes. But it was early in the run, and I was excited to be running somewhere new. Besides, the real trail was about to start. Well, sorta.

The next stretch of trail was a hilly, windy path through the woods next to a big condo / apartment development. It was a little bit damp and the trail felt slippery, so we dropped to a walk. Not the best start.

But we reached the top, crossed 76th, and ran down 200th to a real stretch of trail. This part was really nice -- a nice, wide, empty trail. We ran on the back side of Echo Lake (who knew?), behind the big nursery, and popped out by at 185th. I think one of the things I liked best about this run is that I essentially knew where I was the entire time -- and we could track our progress as we crossed the streets. And you know how I like knowing where I am.

We then ran along the very white pavement that I seem to recall was once a series of used car lots. It's been nicely parkified -- even if one wonders who exactly will sit on the benches 50 feet from Aurora. But it's nice to see grass replace pavement, I think.

We followed that path for a while until we reached 175th and Top Foods. I had run out to this point, once before, on a very hot day. I knew that from here until 145th the trail was lovely, so that added some spring to my step.

Speaking of spring to my step, I experimented a little on the short but steep ramps up to the overpasses at 155th. I concentrated on running lightly and quickly, rising up to my toes, as it felt as if I was flying. Now, I don't think I could continue at that pace for long, but changing my stride for the hill seemed to work wonders. Very cool.

Then back along the stretch past the back side of McDonalds. True to form, it was a little weird again. Two random people just standing or sitting in the grass. That said, they probably thought we were the weird ones. Who knows.

We crossed 145th and ran through the "lost" part of the trail -- sidewalks, the road in front of Suz & Eric's place (considered stopping, but we were on a mission!) -- and then found our way back to it just past 130th.

This is the part of the trail that I had seen when I crossed it with my car and noticed the "flip book" signs. I wish I had taken a picture, but it turns out the artist's name is Jennifer Dixon... and that she has also been tapped to create additional work for the stretch along Linden between 145th and 128th that I was just talking about. Pretty cool.

(Hmm -- looks like Shoreline is going to install creative mile markers along the "parkified" stretch of the trail. That's cool, too!)

Sadly, I wasn't running anywhere near fast enough to get the "flip book" effect... but I bet on a bike it's super cool.

Anyway, on we ran, until we reached the halfway point. I was feeling really good -- we were talking about upping our intervals to 4:1 since 3:1 was going so well; we had moved pretty quickly even though we had had some long traffic light waits at the north end; we were on pace to be faster than last week...

And then we turned. And I realized that the "lack of wind" was actually a tailwind. Oops. Suddenly it was a lot harder to to run. Ha.

But we continued to run in to the wind, happily ticking off the blocks and the landmarks. We got held up a couple of times by traffic lights -- a couple of minutes here, a couple of minutes there. Things went pretty okay -- even if I was a bit slower -- until we got back to 200th and run back into the woods. The trail was too slick, too uneven, and too steep for me to run. So we slowed to a walk. And then we got to 205 and just missed the light. Cue another 5-minute wait for the walk signal, and then of course we had another hill.

By the time we reached the bottom of the hill, we had less than a mile to go -- but I was now cold and stiff and really struggling. We ran a little more, but I was pretty much done. When we hit 13 miles Wil started running again, and I followed. But I was more than happy when Wil grabbed my hand and we crossed the "finish line". Phew!

We walked the rest of the way back to the car, had a long stretch, and then indulged in buying way too much stuff at the 99 Ranch Market. (It's probably heresy -- but I think they have a better selection than Uwajimaya. There, I said it.)

Because we agreed that we didn't like the north end of the trail very much (too hilly for us to happily run down, I feel), we scouted the south end. Yes, the trail ends at 110th, but we could run a bit farther on Fremont and take out the part after 200th. Easy peasy.

interurban trail medallion

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