Monday, September 8, 2014

finding focus and feeling enchanted

I am nothing if not consistent.

Competing in the Women of Wonder 5k brought to my attention a severe lack of focus with regards to my training. After the I <3 Nerds 5k I had set my sights on breaking the 20 minute barrier for the WoW, which was set to run approximately 2 weeks later. Sadly I fell by the wayside at some point during those 14 days and I was met with a disappointing reality check...

Let's get real for a moment and recap the steamy dump that was my WoW 5k yesterday. Going into the race, I suspected that my performance would be sub-par but I didn't anticipate feeling the way that I did - like a salted snail.

The first mile I was sitting pretty at 6:15 and feeling in control while riding comfortably in second place. We curved around the SE corner of Greenlake and headed west, where I clocked a 6:27 second mile.

Queue panic.

Up until now I have been able to maximize my fitness level on race day in the form of even mile splits (and even race means you ran as fast as you could on that given day). Seeing that 13 second gap between my first and second mile meant disaster was imminent, I had bitten off a little more than I could chew. Halfway between mile 2 and 3 holy hell began to rain down upon me. The tank was empty, fumes were barely carrying my legs forward, and to top it all off I managed to continuously wet myself for the remaining half mile. It was a day to make mama proud.

Of course, no one could really tell I was collapsing in on myself like a dying star, aside from the look of exhaustion across my face I'm sure I appeared in good shape. Thankfully my black shorts hid my otherwise very obvious and involuntary public urination, which has now been revealed to all thanks to my complete lack of filter or propriety. Moving on.

So I aim to find some more focus as I have a few more 5ks on the horizon and a 50 miler looming in the not-so-distant future. I find myself in a funk that only the mountains can shake from me. So I take to the trees.

In the weeks leading up to this weekend's race I escaped to the mountains on several occasions, the pièce de résistance being a backpacking trip into The Enchantments. This is Washington's premier hiking zone located about 15 minutes south of Leavenworth and contains peaks of the Stuart Range.

Colchuck Lake - elevation 5,570 ft
We hiked in via the Stuart Lake Trailhead which forks up to Colchuck Lake. There we set up camp and set off for the Enchantment zone shortly after 12pm. From Colchuck Lake you must climb Aasgard Pass, a measly 1 mile stroll with only 2,200 feet of elevation gain.

Aasgard Pass beyond Colchuck Lake
That shit is straight up.

We reached the top of the pass around 1:30pm, which sits at the base of Dragontail Peak. Sadly I didn't get to climb said peak, an ascent for another time. We dropped down into the Enchantments and quickly fell into the fairytale.

Top of Aasgard Pass at the base of Dragontail Peak

Breathtaking.

We only went as far east as Perfection Lake due to daylight constraints (for real though, no one wants to descend Ass-Gaurd Pass after sundown) but what we saw was incredible.

Gateway to the Enchantments

Crystal Lake

Perfection Lake
Coming down the pass was as daunting as I assumed it would be. I found myself saying "Where the f*ck is the trail?" most of the way down and nearly trapped myself on a rock face during one of my off-trail meanderings. Reaching camp was a welcomed sight, followed immediately by Mountain House (a tasty just-add-water meal I adorably nicknamed "Out House") and drink (what can only be described as a volatile mixture of Vodka and Zip Fizz - mostly Vodka - that became known as the infamous "Purple Drank"). It was awesome.

Thanks to Scott, Jill, Megan, Kevin, Casey and Colin for making this an unforgettable trip.

Jill, Megan and Casey. Part of our party for 7.
My trips to the mountains have become so frequent that I'm working on a new addition to my blogosphere, "views from my shoes", in an attempt to consolidate all my adventures in one place. I will let you, my adoring fans living vicariously though my summits and face-plants, know soon as it is functional.

On an unrelated note, if someone is really adept at the intricacies of blog page design...

Upcoming events include a trip to Sunrise on Mount Rainier, Squak Mountain hill repeats with my new running group, and possibly another trip to the Enchantments...but this time the goal being to run up and over the entire length of the zone (approximately 20 miles) should stamina and time allow.

Additionally I am looking ahead to the next XC race, which will be October 18th at the Emerald City Open.

Until next time, I retreat to the trees.

Views from my shoes: 

Snow Lake - 8 miles at 4,400 ft elevation

Annette Lake - 7 miles at 3,600 ft elevation