Sunday, October 14, 2012

Goodbye, Summer -- Finally!

After more than 80 days of no rain, of smoggier and smoggier sunshine day after blessed day, the real Seattle finally came back to life when a series of rain and wind storms blew through this weekend.  Discovery Park is one of my favorite places to train in a rain storm, when the ultra-fresh wind blows in from Puget Sound, scouring 80 days of dust from your lungs and setting the tree branches happily dancing over your head.  After a Saturday spent on lingering home remodel chores and a long lazy lunch with a friend, today I owed myself a Super Sunday and headed to the park.

The other reason I love Discovery Park is the hills.  With the fractured training year I've had, I can't justify the time or energy or expense of a trip to Europe this winter for a World Loppet.  But a girl has to have a goal just the same, a reason to put her roller ski boots on when it gets cold and dark and wet.  So I registered for the American Birkebeiner -- classic division.  It's shorter (54k instead of 70k or 90k) and closer (Wisconsin instead of Europe), but it's still going to be a great challenge -- I hear there are some hills in that race!  The last few years I've focused on the long and flat Vasaloppet, but now it's time to break out the hill muscles, and for that, I headed to Discovery Park.

First I tackled some roller ski hill repeats.  I parked at the locks and skied up to the park, then walked down to the bottom of the longest steepest hill, by the beach, and did three repeats all the way to the very top, 12:56, 12:42, 12:32, walking back down after each climb.  I've done that hill a little faster, but today, with the rain, the pavement was wet and a tad slippery, so I'm completely happy with that!

Then I skied and walked back to the locks and back to my car, wolfed down a Powerbar, changed into my running shoes and a dry top, and drove back to the park.  I jogged the loop and added all the stairs I could find, both the 253 stairs from the beach back up to the loop trail ...

... and the 112 Stairs to Nowhere, on the south side of the park.

Total training time: about three and a half hours, with a good dose of elevation gain.  It was wonderful.  I ran into Rolf out there; I don't think I was able to convince him of the glory of a rainy stormy day, but for me, it was a perfect mix of rain and wind and rolling and running, and I'm really looking forward to changing up my normal training pattern this fall and winter to prep for a hard hilly race!

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