Saturday morning was almost like most mornings. I woke up early, sometime around 5 a.m. The only difference was that I was alone, in a hotel room. And I had the somewhat unnerving task of having to navigate through unfamiliar surroundings in order to find a trail which, oh by the way, was site of a 10- to 12-mile run.
I thought about skipping the run because the whole ordeal seemed overwhelming. But two things made me get out of bed and into my running clothes. One, I had navigated a much tougher run on a hard-to-find trail last year. Two, new blog buddy Rebecca of Running Becca had left a comment on Thursday's blog, recommending the Burke Gilman Trail. I'd asked her for more info and I'll be damned if she didn't send me the most detailed e-mail about how to get to the trail from where I was at and what to expect on the trail.
So I couldn't say no to my plans. Around 7:30 or so, I got dressed, got down to my rental car... and promptly got lost. I missed the on-ramp (my fault, not the instructions) and went around in a huge circle until I got back to where I started, and got it right. I was on the 99 North, which is a strange double-decker freeway. The northbound lanes are on top and the southbound lanes are on the level below.
After going through a tunnel, over a bridge, down a huge hill and winding through some narrow streets, I reached the Fred Meyer store I'd been instructed to park at. I ran inside and grabbed a Gatorade and some tape for my nips and went back to the car. After getting my fuel belt together and strapping on my phone, I was off. I walked up to the start of the trail, happy to start running.
Crap. I'd forgotten my Garmin. It was back on the dashboard in the car. After a short walk there and back, I hit reset on my feelings and the start of the run, and was off now for good. I had a smile on my face, probably an ear-to-ear grin. The trail was nice. Even though it wound through some industrial buildings, businesses, houses and busy streets, it was never a problem.
Right away, it was obvious I wasn't in my usual stomping grounds. For starters, it was about 50 degrees out. Also, the paved trail was nice, not too many of those down in SoCal. But the scenery was amazing. It's not every day I run next to a river or under bridges.
In her e-mail, Rebecca had mentioned the University of Washington, and I figured I was getting closer and closer to it since I saw a lot of younger runners, and younger people in general. I'm not sure exactly when I was on campus, or near it anyway. But we were. The one major giveaway: a football stadium:
I went right past Husky Stadium, and as luck would have it they'd have a game later in the day. Unfortunately for the locals, Washington lost 41-0 later in the day.
At this point, I was at around 4.5 miles. My plan was to run to 5 miles then turn around. But I felt good. I was actually healthy. I hadn't been feeling good earlier in the week and thus had been limited to just one run this week. I pushed past 5 and got to about 5.6 when I stopped to GU and turn around. At this point, I figured 11 and change would be good.
Now, I'd run past a strange sign on the way out so when I went back past it, I had to stop to take a picture.
The sign's message is what marathoners fear:
It's kind of an odd sign I have to say. I'll probably do some research on it and figure out what the heck that means or is... Rebecca had recommended I check out the Fremont Troll, which I've actually seen pictures of and have heard of but it seemed a bit too far out of the way and I didn't want to stray far from the trail. Of course, I kind of regretted it afterward because I was in Fremont and could have gotten to it but such is life.
And in case you were wondering either A) what a Honey Bucket was or B) why they're called Honey Buckets...
There was a Honey Bucket right by the Wall of Death. But it would have meant death for you had you desperately needed a Honey Bucket because it was locked.
The scenery was great. I was worried that the out-and-back would be mentally draining. But it wasn't. I enjoyed the same scenery the second time around as much as I did the first time.
Case in point:
I snapped this picture and then realized that it was right at the same spot where I took the first picture, next to the bridge. If you put these pics side by side, I'm pretty sure you can have some sort of panoramic shot.
Now, my legs were starting to feel heavy. While the run was fun and everything, I was feeling it in my legs. I was getting closer to Fred Meyer, so I was happy that my run was ending. But of course I couldn't be content with an 11.2 mile run so I extended my run a bit. I went past the parking lot, got to the end (or beginning) of the trail, went back, ran past the parking lot again, turned around at 11.9 and got in my 12 miles after all.
Panting, trying not to groan, I snapped this picture.
That was the sign that I first saw on my way out and then ran past (twice) on the end.
On my way up to Seattle, I'd intended to run the Cedar River Trail but ultimately having ran on the Burke Gilman Trail provided a similarly great experience. So that qualifies me as an experienced Seattleite, right? No? Okay, well, I have knocked out a total of 30 miles in this area so for that I'm happy.