running up mount si – a late birthday present to myself

This past Sunday I ran up Mount Si for the first time in about fourteen months. 

This is a ritual I like to observe every Christmas Eve morning.  That wasn’t possible this past year for two reasons.  First – there was a bunch of snow on the roads leading out to the mountain.  And second – I’d only just started running again on solstice day, so clearly wasn’t ready to climb 3400′ over the first four and a quarter miles of the run.

I haven’t been doing very much hillwork.  I do run on a lot of rolling hills everyday, but that’s not the same as doing sustained miles of climbing.  So I was a bit nervous about what Mount Si would have in store for me.

It was a beautiful day out.  The temperature was into the eighties and the sun was out.  I had originally planned to head out early, but hung around at home to see kk off for her week at sleepover camp.  Then I just sort of lingered until Kris more or less kicked me out.

I began the climb at around three in the afternoon.  The trail is almost entirely protected from the sun, but it was crowded with hikers, so I had to weave in and around them a bit.  A bunch of folks shouted out encouragement to me as I ran past them, which felt very nice.

By the time I reached the 1.5 mile mark, I’d been out about 21 minutes.  That’s a bit faster than usual, so I felt encouraged.  I hit mile two at about the same speed too.  By the time I hit the three mile mark, I was pretty tired.  My legs were feeling it, and so were my lungs.  The problem was that I was on track to get up in just about an hour, so I felt I couldn’t allow myself to slow down.  This was a bit faster than I can usually do, so why would I take myself out of the running early ?

The final mile and a quarter up were not very much fun.  I struggled to keep my legs moving, and found myself dropping to a walk a bit more often than before when I’d need to step high getting up some rocks.  But after about an hour and a couple of minutes, I found myself scrabbling up the rocks just below the main plateau near the top.

To answer the inevitable question from the locals : no – I don’t go up the haystack.  For those that don’t know the mountain, there a several hundred foot ascent that involves non-technical, but more intense climbing than below.  So I give myself credit for climbing just the 3400′, not the whole thing.  But that’s plenty, and the views of Rainier and the valley are great from the plateau.

Then I started down.  Holy $&%@#(#!  I’d forgotten how difficult it is to run down a rocky trail with fatigued quads.  Wow!  It only took about 40 minutes or so to get down, but that was plenty.

All in all, the trip took one hour and fifty nine minutes, including about 5-10 minutes at the top resting.  That’s faster than I’ve recorded going up before.

What a day.  Wouldn’t have thought I’d be out here a year ago.  And that’s definitely a good part of the fun!

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