(screamin' down the mountain towards the finish in the 2010 Great NW Mountain Run)
Have you ever run in a singlet, really short shorts, and minimal trail running shoes up a snow covered mountain in late July? If you haven't and want the feeling of grabbing a handful of snow mid-race in the thin mountain air, and melting it all over your sweaty, pulsating head then you should try the Great NW Mountain Run!
Having my mother and her husband Tom in town for a few days left me feeling obliged to show them some areas that I love the most out here in beautiful Oregon. I got an email about a week ago from Richard Bolt about the "Mountain Hill Climb" race that was going to be taking place on Mt. Hood.
This type of race is a little out of my element but I am always anxious to learn more and try out different things. I drove from Portland about 50 miles away ( which sits at about 50 feet above sea level) and showed up about ten minutes before the start on Mt. Hood at about 5,000 feet above sea level. I registered quickly, and threw on some shoes before jogging around the parking lot at the historic Timberline Lodge.
Before I knew it the race director led us to the start line. It was an absolute gem of a morning! He gave us a few directions and without a build-up or countdown said...."go!"
(my mom wasn't able to get her camera up in time as I darted off the start line down the hill!)
I'm much better at bombing down mountains than running up them so I figured I'd better get a head start on some of these guys. I ran down the half mile or so paved parking lot at probably a five-minute pace and then turned up into the forests. There weren't any trails to speak of....can anyone say "fell running!" In true Inov-8 style we made our way up the forested mountain beneath one of the ski lifts. Then after another half mile or so we took a right and traversed toward the lodge where we would start the major climb up to the Silcox Lodge at around 6,300 feet above sea level.
(Traversing over to the major climb of the race...but already feeling the pain!)
As I started up the trail I recognized that this was the same route that I took up a couple weeks prior with some of the students with disabilities from Camp Kiwanis. I was huffin' and puffin' but I tried to remember each and every student and how some of them powered and persevered their way up despite major physical and mental obstacles. That helped a little but it was still really difficult. At one point the course turned to the left and I kept going straight...but I hear a yell from way below that said, "Yassine! Left!...Left!" It was Sean Meissner getting me back on track! Thanks my friend! :-)
Running eventually turned into "power hiking" and I practiced some long, hands-on-your-knees strides up the steep mountain. Finally I made it to the top but I had some company. Enter Mitch Thompson. He had been gaining on me up the climb and finally did so at the summit. I knew that as long as we didn't have too much more incline that I would be able to take him on the downs.
We made our way across the ski slope where a couple snow boarders carved past us. This was so cool running through snow and having people ski and snowboard past us. I grabbed some snow and rubbed it all over my head. I quickly grabbed a cup of water and caught up to Mitch who had moved into first place.
Once we started hitting the downward, technical trails I took back the lead and tried to push all the way to the finish. HERE is another cool shot of me lettin' it rip down the mountain!
There was one last little climb before I came into the finish for the win with a time of 39: 52. The course was tough but it was only about 4.5 miles. Maybe I should have done a 90-minute warm up and another 90-minute cool down. It was weird to be done so quickly!
I wore the Inov-8 F-lite 23o's which weren't a horrible choice but again thought I made the wrong decision. In hindsight I would have loved to have the X-Talon 212's to dig into the sandy trail especially while climbing and negotiating some of the snowy sections. Oh well...they still helped me take home the "W" and a check for $100! ;-)
Full Results can be seen by clicking HERE
(Enjoying some well-deserved refreshments post-race)
It was great to have Erica, my mom, and Tom there to root me on and to share the beauty of this stunning part of the country.
Now it's time to taper down for what's shaping up to be another epic run at White River 50-miler on July 31st.