It's noticeable how the temperature is much cooler in the presence of a stream or waterfall. The air was very refreshing. I knew I would crave these temperatures once the trail opened up. We reached trail 1198 and began to run and walk up the climb to what would eventually lead to Corral Pass. Again, need I say how absolutely serene it was running through this section. Trees providing shade with hints of sun trickling through the leaves. I found my bliss quite easily here. We continued up this section crossing streams and waterfalls. Struth had plenty of water in this section and since he never knows how far he's going or what his water situation will be, I made sure that he drank as much and as frequently as he could.
This part of the trail also was decorated with rock walls and wooden bridges and even a set of stairs. Glenn commented on how the first couple of WR races did not have stairs that these are a fairly recent installation. I'm happy with these stairs as they are pretty steep and without them I would surely be on all fours.
After a series of shaded rolling hills, we came to about 4 or so outcrops where the views were spectacular. With each outcrop, Mt. Rainer came more into view and down below, which seemed so far away, was the White River. It didn't seem as though we had climbed that high, but I realized a few hours later in my legs, that we had. Glenn and I and Struth stopped at one of them for a boiled salted potato break. After bringing these potatoes on the last run, I swear, I will not run long without them again. After these shady wooded paths that lead to the great views, we reached the clear cut area and things really opened up. The coveted cooler temperatures where now a thing of the past, it was open, hot and at times energy was hard to muster up, until we ate more potatoes. We got to the ranger hut and saw some mountain bikers. We saw a guy on a singe speed with no shocks cruising up the mountain. How impressive, a single speed! He thought we were bad asses, but I told him that riding, let alone maneuvering a single speed bike on these single tracks was as bad ass as I gets for me. Anyway....after the ranger hut we had a 5 mile out and back with pretty much to tree cover. At some of the high spots, we could really see the course, even though Glenn knows it like the back of his hand, it was new too me. At times we hit some snow patches and this is where Glenn has a serious advantage over me, not because he can run in the snow better or faster than me, but because he always insists on being behind me and therefore I cannot see when he is about to throw a snowball at me and then blame it on my poor dog. Now my dog can do a lot of things, but forming a snowball and hitting me with it is something I am hesitant to believe he is capable of...although Glenn insists he can. Yea, right. He blamed this on Struth. Can you believe that? Anyhow....this 5 mile out and back to Coral Pass was tough for me because my leg was starting to bother me and I decided to walk more than I normally would and I was concerned that my previous injury was creeping up on me. So, we walked some and ran some and stretched some and had fun. I stopped starting and stopping my watch to get a more accurate idea of how long this first loop would take me race day and what my HR might be, etc. We decided to just enjoy the day and not worry..... and as it turns out, not only did I find myself useful in holding up Mt. Rainer, but I also found a groovy part of glasses that I modeled.
We soon arrived at Coral Pass and filled our camel backs with the water we stashed and ate some more of everything. I was SO HUNGRY. I was craving a quesadilla. But I had to settle for peanut butter pretzels, more potatoes and ginger bears, which are Glenn's favorite I've come to learn. After fueling, we made our way back the 5 miles to the ranger hut, which in the race is mile 22....and an Aid Station. My leg was feeling a bit better so I could run a little more. Phew. At times I felt strong...and other times, I did not.....I think Glenn was feeling the same and I had to keep checking in with Struth to make sure he had everything and was feeling good and to give him some lovin' because he is an amazing companion on and off the trail.... We all were hanging in there and made it back to the ranger hut. We had about maybe 5 miles to run downhill and I know I was feeling it and I think Glenn was as well. Struth did not meander too far from us so that is usually a sign that he is tired. Chipmunks and little ground creatures no longer seemed fun to chase for him.
We encounter many trees that were down and we had to climb some of them rather precariously... thinking that on race day I would only be half way done and the fact that I was pretty tired did not give me lots of confidence, BUT, that is what a taper is designed for...so I best be restin'.
We finally finished, YAY, and Struth layed in the dirt while we got ourselves together for a soak in the river. It felt way better than last week as this week we were HOT. Don't get me wrong, it was still frigid....but I was much happier that there was a sun spot to sit in while in the river.
I wish my camera had not broken because I would have loved to get this on digital....I finished soaking a few minutes earlier than Glenn. So I decided that Struth needed a soak as well. I brought him into the river and he was instantly rejuvenated, (until he got home) and wanted to play. He saw Glenn's red Brooks poking out of the water and thought they were play toys. He started trying to pull them with his teeth in hopes of trashing them around, throwing them up in the air and having a good time. What Struth did not realize is that they were attached to Glenn's feet and therefore, no matter how hard he tugged, he would never be able to play with one of his shoes in the river. It was hilarious. They day was very fun and this little incident was the icing on the cake...I HAVE to get another camera so I can seize the moment next time....
As usual, all the fabulous photos were taken by Glenn Tachiyama!