My friend Martin de Vrieze has organized the North Bend Triple Challenge run for the last three years around his birthday. I was able to participate in the first one but missed last year from some reason. For various reasons like construction, etc. the route has changed each year but it has always included three summits – hence the name.
This is what the day is all about.
Invariably these runs include some flat sections, and every year these flat sections just kill me. It makes me laugh because I have several friends that love running flats and I just don't get it. Even while on a 1% decline like the Snoqualmie Valley Trail I had to walk several times. It isn't that physically taxing, mentally I just can't handle it.
Luckily there is also lots of up and down. That I can handle.
Attendance was a little lower this year than in 2013 but we still had an awesome group ready to head out at 7:00. At that time, and still in the shade, I was feeling nice and fresh.
The first challenge was Mt Si via the old trail. This route is shorter, steeper and much less traveled than the new trail. I have only been up here twice and the first time was at this event two years ago. You can run some of the approach and tiny sections throughout but it's essentially a hike on the way up. Which was okay, hiking is a nice way to get warmed up.
On clear days like this the views from any peak in the Issaquah Alps is spectacular and today didn't disappoint.
On the way down the same old trail I was struck by how much more runnable it seemed than the last time I was here, perhaps because I was fresher? That can make all the difference.
Back in the parking lot I tossed an empty bottle in the car and grabbed a full one. On hot days like this support is key. In fact, two of the participants had said they stashed some water and Gatorade up by Rattlesnake Lake. I was hoping not to need it but good to know.
From here we ran out on the Snoqualmie Valley Trail just a bit and then on North Bend Way up to Snoqualmie Point Park. As you run you can see the hill approaching; I was with Martin at the time and we both commented on freaking steep hills look as you approach them and that thankfully they are usually never quite so bad once you on them. Although that last quarter mile sure does kick up some.
From here you are on the Rattlesnake Ridge trail and the berries were out! We stopped numerous times to pick salmonberries, huckleberries, and my new favorite, thimbleberries. Yum. As we climbed I was waffling between wanting to walk and finding my granny gear. In the beginning I was walking more than running but eventually I found my pace and was running more than walking.
The descent from the top of the ridge to Rattlesnake Lake is one of the best in the NW.
Obviously I need to get a GoPro camera, My POS is sure showing its age.
Guess what, by the time I got to the lake both of my bottles were empty. Time to find that stash. I went to spot I thought they were and found nothing. For the briefest of moments I considered just going on but then I realized that would be stupid so I looked some more in another direction. And there it was – whew! I filled one bottle for drinking, one to squirt on myself periodically and grabbed a bottle of Gatorade and even washed my hands before taking off. That was awesome!
And on the way down the Snoqualmie Valley Trail I was SO glad I had that water… In fact, I finished both of them by the time I got back to the car!
Like I said above, this part was somewhat torturous. It wasn't hard, there was some shade, but for the life of me I couldn't run more than about .75 miles without walking for a minute. This bridge was one good excuse.
Just as my water an out, about .5 miles from the car, I took one last hit from my gel flask and the top blew off. Rats. Now I had sticky hands, the weather was scorching hot and I had to wait before cleaning them off. In that last half mile I made good use of my tongue and made a mental note that perhaps this flask was worn out and could be retired after today.
At the car I took everything off. I ditched my vest, my shirt and just went up Little Si with my last bottle in my hand. Which I had been able to rinse at the car thank goodness. Man was it nice to lose some clothing in this heat… and it turned out the Little Si trail was mostly in the shade so bonus.
Martin (if you trust Martin that is) had told me before the start that this last challenge would take, "About one hour." As I glanced at my watch leaving the parking lot I saw that I was at 5:55 exactly. I had only two humble goals going into this run except finishing and having fun but now I had a third; finish in under seven hours. Go!
Ha! Nothing like having a goal when you are wasted. I hardly ran on the way up. But I was not so annihilated that I couldn't do any math and I figured if this trail really was 4.4 miles round trip like Martin said, I only had to average 4.4 mph. Knowing that I walk at about 3 mph I figured if I could make the top in 35 minutes, I could easily achieve my goal. So for the rest of the climb I kept my eyes glued to my watch.
There were a TON of school kids out today. They all had on matching t-shirts and in true kid style, they ran down the trail oblivious to whatever was coming up at them. And just like kids, they have not yet learned the habit of moving to the right so other can pas on their left, even if it's oncoming traffic. Needless to say, I had to stop numerous times. I didn't mind, I was getting pretty darn tired by this point.
ASIDE – there were also a lot of climbers out today! Who knew that Little Si was such a rock climbing destination? Now I do. There were scads of people with ropes, rock shoes, you name it out today.
As tired as I felt on the way up, I felt fantastic on the way down. Part of it I'm sure was knowing that I was on the last leg but part of it was also that my body is still healing up and today was my longest run of the year with no pain in my hip. Hooray!
As you can imagine, the descent took much less time than ascent and on the way down I saw first Heather de Vrieze and then Martin. They both had smiles on their faces and Martin gave me a high five – kudos to them both!
Back at the car I had the usual dirt tan.
And I couldn't stop drinking! I gulped my recovery bottle, a full bottle of San Pellegrino and I wanted more. I can' thank Heather and Martin enough for their foresight because when they got to the finish the first thing they did was rip open their cooler and offer me a Schofferhofer Grapefruit Hefeweizen-Mix. Oh my GOD was that delicious. And did I mention it was ice cold?
When I got home I drank another bottle of San Pellegrino, drank some water in the shower and then went to a friend's party where I drank lots of light beer. (re)Hydration is key.
Incredibly, my time this year was within seconds of my time in 2013 which was on a totally different course. That's nuts.
Thanks Martin and Heather for including me in another great triple challenge!
Here are all my pictures and video.
|5:00 AM - 48
|2 large Water Bottles each w/2 scoops Perpetuem and 2 Endurolytes, 2 bottles each w/2 scoops Hammer HEED, one bottle of plain water, half a bottle of Gatorade, Hammer Bar, Omnibar
|3 scoops Recoverite
|Time of Day
|mid 60s at the start, mid 80s by the end, sunny, calm
|Brooks Cascadia 10, Ultimate Direction SJ Ultra Vest 2.0
|Injinji Run 2.0 Original Weight Mini-Crew, Brooks Infinity Short III, Hammer Nutrition Men's Sleeveless Running Shirt, Hammer Nutrition JackRabbit Visor