Wednesday, October 01, 2014

Trail Running for Beginners: Bridle Trails State Park

As part of my new series reviewing Seattle area running trails, I visited Bridle Trails State Park. 

According to the  Bridle Trail State Park Foundation website, Bridle Trails State Park is 482 acres with a total of 28 miles of trails. The park is located just off of I-405 in Kirkland, WA.

One thing to note: you need a Discover Pass to park in the parking lot and can buy a day pass on site. 

Another thing to note: The trails are all used by horses. Familiarize yourself with etiquette regarding sharing the trail with horses-- the main things being, the horses have the right of way and when you come upon a horse and rider, stop and step off to the side of the trail and "make your presence known". You can do this simply by saying hello to the rider, or they will say hello to you! Every rider I passed during my run was very friendly.

The first time I was at Bridle Trails I came across about eight other walkers or runners and six horses/riders. That run was mid-day on a Wednesday in early September, the trails were almost totally dry, and the weather started out overcast and ended sunny (though the trails are completely shaded).

Trail map below is from the Bridle Trails State Park Foundation website. I printed a map and brought it with me, which I think is a good idea for any new trail you may explore! Since I already had one, I didn't check if there were maps to on-site. 
Download or Print a Trail Map

Bridle Trails has three main trails. While there I ran the Coyote Trail first, then the Raven Trail, then while running the Trillium Trail I darted off on to smaller, unmarked trails. All of the trails had many, many piles of horse poop on them, which was a little gross, but I guess that's how it works when you share the trails with horses! 

After parking in the Bridle Trails parking lot you need to walk a very short ways up to the trail head. From there you can follow the signs for the three main trails. The main trails are wide and well-groomed dirt with little elevation gain (my Garmin showed 483 feet total for my 8.3 mile run). Every once in a while I would come across a very short stretch where the trail was covered with gravel. All three trails are well-marked if you follow them clock-wise from the trail head.


Elevation results from my run.


The Coyote Trail closely follows most of the perimeter of the park. There are many places where you can see houses, or the street, or hear noise from the neighborhood. When you are more in the interior of the park it is as if you are miles away from civilization, however. 

I ran about five miles on the main trails before I decided to try out some of the smaller trails. The smaller trails are a lot of fun, there are lots of roots to jump over and twists and turns to make. While I won't say it is impossible to get lost (ahem), all of the smaller trails start and, as long as you are running towards the center of the park, also end on a main trail. Some of the smaller trails will end up on a road next to the park, so you could just turn around and head back in in that case. As long as you have a good idea of where you are when you end back up on a main trail, you will be okay. I got turned around coming off of a few of the smaller trails and ended up adding on over a mile to my run because I wasn't headed the direction I thought I was!

My route from my Garmin.

Bridle Trails seems like it would be a great park for beginning trail runners and more experienced trail runners alike. If you want the feel of a trail without the obstacles (other than horse poop) just stick to the main trails. If you are adventurous and want more of a challenge of roots and logs and twists and turns, get lost in the interior of the park!

As far as running events, it looks like Seattle Running Club has put on races at Bridle Trails. That might be a really fun event! 

For more Trail Running for Beginners post, visit HERE.

Have you ever run at Bridle Trails State Park? Any other thoughts or tips to share?

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Weekly Wrap-up: Sept 15- Sept 21

This week was . . . . not exactly what I had planned out. But that's okay! It was a step-back week and I didn't miss any super important workouts (like my long run) so it didn't bother me. My older daughter was home with me all week so where I might have normally snuck workouts in, I didn't have the free time this week. I did, however, drag her on a hike and to a yoga class! This week helped me remember that even though I have big goals for myself, I can also be flexible with my training.

One thing that I feel like is supporting my training is my daily walks to the girls' school. Twice a day I walk to school, which includes some stairs climbing (taking them two at a time is good for the bum!). So in any given week I am walking about eight miles on top of anything I include in my training log.

The other thing is that this week I literally spent over 75% of time in either workout clothes or "pajamas" (aka not technically pajamas, but just the clothes I sleep in). Yeah, it's a problem. They are so comfy though!!!!


Total Miles Run: 19.5 (including the hike)

Monday: 5.5 Miles Run

Did two loops of the Discovery Park Loop Trail.

Tuesday: Strength

"Minute Madness"

Wednesday: Rest

Unplanned rest day. 

Thursday: 4 Mile Hike

My daughter, my friend and I hiked up to the top of Rattlesnake Ridge! Two miles up, two miles down. It was a great hike (other than the 10 year old who was less than enthusiastic). Unfortunately the view from the top wasn't as spectacular as it was two years ago when I did the same hike-- it was drizzly and windy and cloudy this time. Oh, well! On the hike I was thinking about the Rattlesnake Ridge Trail Run, the 50K goes right up that section of trail! The half marathon goes down it. Hmmm, maybe the half marathon is a better idea.

Iris and I at the top of Rattlesnake Ridge.

Friday: Yoga

When the instructor asked the class what we would like to work on, I immediately said "hips!" and oh, did she deliver. So good, and sooooo hard. Yoga is HARD (and necessary!) for runners. Or, well, at least this runner!

Saturday: 10 Miles Run

Tiger Mountain, baby! 

Sunday: Rest

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Saturday Long Run: Tiger Mountain Edition

(Note: this post is not a part of my new trail review series!)

Before I start this post, I have to rewind a bit to April of 2012, when I joined my friend Stacey for my first ever run with the High Heels Running Group at Cougar. The trails were pretty hard for me then (and who am I kidding, they are still hard!) but we had a lot of fun that day!

Fast forward to this past week, Stacey and I made a plan to run trails again. (Side note: so glad we won't wait another 2 1/2 years before we meet up again!) "How about Tiger Mountain?" she says. "Sure, sounds great!" I say. 

I met her at the High Point Trail Head, and we promptly headed straight up Tiger Mountain.

Now, I have run at Cougar Mountain several times. Never once has any of these runs involved actually running up a mountain, so I presumed the same would be true at Tiger. Nope, Stacey has evolved in to a badass trail-eating beast. She was ready for elevation, and what was I to do but follow along? 

So we ran, and hiked, up that mountain. First we reached the summit at West Tiger 3, then continued on to West Tiger 2. The only major bummer about the summit is that, because of the trees, there isn't a spectacular view to photograph, so there are no great photos of our accomplishment. And what is an epic run without an instagram photo?! 

Selfie at the top of West Tiger 3.

Once we hit the half way point in our goal of running 10 miles total (more on this in a moment) we turned around and went back down. Well, down, then up a bunch, then finally, allllll the way back down. I honestly don't know what was harder for me, going up 2,200 feet or coming back down it. My quads stopped speaking to me about 1/4 of the way down. My side stitch turned in to an all over stitch about 1/2 way down. I won't lie, I sort of hated that part. BUT, I did it! And I likely grew about 50% stronger in the process!

Garmin elevation.

A bit of the view off to the east from West Tiger 3. 

A view of West Tiger 2 from West Tiger 3. 

As much as I complained to Stacey about all the VERT (that is a fancy trail running term for all of the upness) I did really love conquering this run with her. I would have never, ever, ever attempted to run/hike something like this on my own and appreciated her positive attitude and fun stories to keep me going when I pretty much didn't want to keep going. On the way down I told her to go on ahead, she was ready to bomb down the side of the mountain while I was gingerly tip-toeing my way over every rock. Since she was waiting for me at the bottom I had to keep going even when I wanted to lay down and take a nap. 

There she goes!

Tiger Mountain is huge, and the 10 miles we ran was such a small chunk of it, I am actually looking forward to going back and seeing more. 

Be careful! 

So, about those 10 miles . . . Stacey and I started our Garmins four minutes apart (hers 4 mins before mine). When we finished our run her Garmin read a full mile more than mine (hers 10, mine 9). My Garmin said we finished the run in 2:32:39. Once I looked at my information on Garmin Connect I discovered some odd things (like it says it took 23 minutes to run mile 6, which is straight downhill-- I wasn't going THAT slow!) Anyways, not a big deal at all, just interesting. I haven't had any major issues with my Garmin before so I'm mostly just hoping this isn't the death of it!

Have you ever run at Tiger Mountain before? Any favorite trails? 

Monday, September 22, 2014

Trail Running for Beginners: Discovery Park Trail Loop

The Discovery Park Trail Loop (DPTL) is the first trail I ever ran on over two years ago and I highly recommend checking it out. It is a very beginner trail runner friendly trail in Discovery Park in the Magnolia neighborhood of Seattle.

I always park at the south parking lot off of West Emerson Street. The main (east) parking lot is by the visitor's center. Both lots are right next to the DPTL and are good options for parking.  There is also a north lot that I have never used so I cannot comment on it. You do not need a special parking pass to park in any of these lots.

The DPTL is 2.8 miles long (though I have to add that my Garmin always reads it just a teeny bit shorter than that) and I find that I can run it at a moderate effort in about 30 minutes, or just a little slower than I can run at the same effort on the road.

Discovery Park Map
Trail map from willhiteweb.com

The trail is very well marked, so as long as you read the signs at each intersection you will easily stay on the loop. There are not many other trails that come off of the main loop. The entire trail is very wide and is almost all dirt with some gravel. There are very few roots or large rocks in the trail, but enough that you need to pay attention.

Though the trail has some ups and downs, there are no major uphill climbs on the DPTL.

Elevation map of two loops, the first clockwise, the second counter-clockwise. And to clarify, I climbed up a section around mile 2.5 that was NOT an official part of the loop trail, instead of staying on the trail-- I did turn around and go back down on the trail, however.


These signs are everywhere to mark the trail.

The trail is almost entirely shaded except for a section to the west that runs along the bluff of the Puget Sound. I have run this trail in all kinds of weather and for the most part the trail is never that messy. Road running shoes do just fine on this trail, as well.



Some of my favorite sections of the trail.

A brief view of the Puget Sound. The ferry across the water is in front of West Seattle-- I wish there was a passenger ferry from West Seattle to Discovery Park! 

The open part of the trail.


I have found the trail to be fairly popular, you will likely pass several other walkers and runners on your way. As a female runner who often runs alone, I find the wide, well traveled trails feel very safe.

A couple things to note: there is a port-a-potty in the south parking lot year-round. In September I more porta-a-potties along the trail, though I have never used them and can't say for sure if those are also there year-round. The visitor's center will also have bathrooms available and there is one on the southwest corner of the park. Also, a major bonus of running the DPTL is that you don't really have to carry water or fuel, unless you like to have it more often than once per loop. I always stop at my car at the end of each loop to get water and a snack before I head out again! Beginners can run one loop, and you can keep challenging yourself to run more as your fitness level increases.

Have you ever run the Discovery Park Trail Loop? Any tips or thoughts to share? 

Thursday, September 18, 2014

New Series on Seattle Area Trail Running

In the time I spend kicking up dirt during my trail runs many different ideas for blog posts float through my head. One specific thought that I kept coming back to was how I wished that there was more information online about trail running, specifically trail running in my neck of the woods. I have found that I can sort of piece together information on things like trail races, or where the trails are, but it is hard when you are a beginner to really get a sense of what trail running is like, and what the trails are like to run on.

I have talked to several runners who are intimidated by trail running, which makes perfect sense to me. It intimidates me, too, actually. As a very, very new trail runner, I admittedly know next to nothing about it-- but I want to learn more, and I want to share what I am learning in hopes that it might help other local runners feel more confident about making the leap from the road to the trails!

My plan is, I am going to write a series of posts that gives more in-depth information about what it is like to run on some of the Seattle-area trails, from the perspective of a new trail runner. I am guessing a new trail runner would want to know things like: are the trails technical (meaning, lots of obstacles and harder to run on)? Well marked? Busy? These are all questions I have about trails that I had (still have) a hard time finding answers to, so what am I doing about it? Heading out to check out the trails on my own!

Where do I learn about running trails? All kinds of places. Friends have invited me to run with them on a couple of trails, I joined the High Heels Running Group and learned about Cougar from them, I signed up for a race through Evergreen Trail Runs, I checked out the Evergreen Trail Runs and Northwest Trail Runs websites to get information about the trails they host races on, or I have looked in my own neighborhood! Some trail runs I do on my own, some I do with other people.

So far I have explored: Cougar Mountain, Seward Park, Discovery Park, Lincoln Park, Bridle Trails, Grand Ridge, St. Edward's Park and the Lake Sammamish Trail, with many more trails on my list to hit up!

Hopefully I will be able to share about one new post per week or two. If you have any questions or feedback, please let me know. Also, if you have run on a trail in the Seattle area, or even a bit further out, and would like to contribute a post about it to my blog, please let me know!

Posts in the series:

Discover Park Trail Loop
Bridle Trails State Park


Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Weekly Wrap-up: Sept 8- Sept 14

Oh, so much fun, fun, fun stuff happened this week! Two new trails, two strength workouts, the highest amount of miles I have ever run in a week, a super hard kayaking session, plus my return to my favorite yoga class!  Oh, and don't forget that little thing called a three and a half hour trail run.

Total Miles Run: 28.9 (a PDR for a week, I believe!) 

Monday: 4 Miles Run

Checked out the trails in Seward Park. What a magical little forest tucked away on a small peninsula out in Lake Washington! 

Tuesday: Strength

I did two rounds of the "12 Exercises for Runners".

Wednesday: 8.3 Miles Run

Was supposed to be 7 miles, but I got a little turned around on the trails. Happy accident, I suppose! 

Thursday: 2 Miles Run plus Strength plus Kayaking

This was kind of an exhausting day. I did a two mile warm-up run before completing my strength workout. I did:

*lateral lunges with a bosu
*deep squats
*push-ups on the bosu
*bosu get up get downs
*"butt blaster" with the stability ball
*chest flys on stability ball
*lateral arm raises with squat
*dumbbell clean and press
*plank with leg abduction
*half bicycles with bosu 

Then I met my friend Sarah for what I thought was going to be an easy paddle in a kayak. I was a bit wrong. The wind was stronger than we thought and the waves were higher than we planned on (meaning I planned for zero waves) so we were paddling very hard for just over an hour. We had a wonderful time, but it was tiring work! 

Friday: Yoga

Oh man, this yoga class was just what I needed. Followed it up with a visit to my chiropractor and I felt like a new woman by the time the day was over! 

Saturday: 14.6 Miles Run

See my previous post for a detailed recap of that run. 

Sunday: Rest

Much needed! 

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Nailed It.

14 miles on the schedule for Saturday morning. I won't lie, it was intimidating. I have done 14 on the road once before, and it went fine (though it was the last long run I did before being sidelined by injury AGAIN). 14 on the trail is a different animal. For instance, on the road that run took me 2:20-something. On the trail it took me 3:30-something.

Fortunately I was able to do this entire run with the High Heels Running Group. If you are a female runner in the Seattle area, I HIGHLY recommend you check this group out. I am a very, very new member, as I have only run with them three times, with my first time being a couple of years ago. So on Saturday I ran with lots of new women (all of whom were extremely nice) and that not only made the run more fun, but I also had zero concern for getting lost. Whew!

The first seven miles were with a large group, the next three were with a smaller group, and the last four were just myself and my new friend Angela. Because of my personality, it was more difficult to chit chat in the group than when I was running with one other person, which was just fine with me. I enjoyed listening in on conversations and hanging out (ha, like I do on the rare occasion I am at a party!).

The first seven miles went by quickly. Then we were back at the parking lot where I filled a couple of my empty bottles and grabbed a snack before heading out with the group for the next three miles. Back at the parking lot one more time before Angela and I headed out for our last four. We must had added on a bit of running going back to the parking lot as I ended up with 14.6 total when I anticipated it would be just under 14. 

One thing I was extremely happy about was that my nutrition was SPOT ON. I tried a few new things to see how it would go and it worked perfectly. Hopefully it wasn't just a fluke! I knew from my last 14 miler that just gels and water or gatorade would be awful. Before we started running I had a gel (typically I do honey stinger chews, but I was fresh out). I filled my belt with three bottles of water and one of gatorade and mostly drank out of one water and the gatorade since I re-filled after seven miles. I ate a gel between the 45 and 55 minute mark and then two fig newtons at just before the 2 hour mark back at my car. Then I ate half a pack of margarita clif bloks after the three mile loop (probably around 45 mins in to that section) and then the rest of the pack around 45 mins or so later. My stomach felt awesome the entire time and I definitely had enough energy. Definitely hope this mixture keeps working for me and I will keep using it up until (and at) the 30K!

I also wore new shoes, which is generally advised against doing on long runs, but I had worn them for the 8 miler the previous Wednesday and they were awesome, so I wasn't worried about it. They felt great until the very, very end when my feet (and body) were DONE. Zero blisters, too. I was wearing the New Balance Leadville 1210. I suppose I would say I recommend them, but as you well know, shoes are extremely personal. So if your feet are just like mine, you probably will like them, haha. (Remind me to tell you my shoe saga. I returned my Hokas, got different shoes ((not the NB)) and it was a pain)

On the way home from the run I picked up some ice for a back yard ice bath. Since we don't have a bathtub I don't take ice baths very often, but a 3 1/2 hour run called for an ice bath! The girls jumped in with me, which was hilarious. Matt served us all lunch in the ice bath and we watched You Tube videos while numbing our lower halves, so it was pretty fun. 

Three girls in an ice bath.

I have three more long runs before the race: a 10 miler, 16 miler and a 12 miler. Gulp. Just one mile at a time, though, and I will get there! 

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Weekly Wrap-up(s): Aug 25-Sept 7

I got behind. I know, I know, my lack of posting my workouts has been devastating, I'm sure. Rectifying that now . . .

We were on vacation in Wisconsin for a long Labor Day weekend. So my workouts from August 25- August 31 went like this:

Total Miles Run: 14.5

Monday: 3 Mile Run
Tuesday: ??? (swim?)
Wednesday: 4 Mile Run
Thursday-Saturday: Rest
Sunday: 7.5 Mile Run

As seen on my WI run. A rollercoaster! 

This past week, though, has been good. And hard. I jumped my mileage back up and hit 23 (the 14.5 was a cut-back week, I didn't just jump from 14 to 23.5). I haven't hit that many miles in the last six months, likely I didn't before that for a loooong time, either. So that's exciting. But I am sore. When I hear of people running 50, 60+ mile weeks, I weep quietly in my coffee. 

Total Miles Run: 23

Monday: Rest

Tuesday: Rest 

Monday and Tuesday were travel/recuperate days.

Wednesday: 8 Miles Run

I went out to Cougar Mountain and tried to run the seven mile High Heels Running Group route. I did really good following the route until about 5 miles in then I got turned around. Luckily my phone/gps worked in the woods, and luckily the map on my phone knew where the trails were, and it knew were I was. I got back to my car only adding one extra mile to my planned seven. WHEW. Lesson learned: take a damn map with me. And maybe extra food.

Three glimpses of many, many amazing sections of the trails at Cougar.


Thursday: 3 Miles Run and Strength

I overdid it this day. The plan was to meet my friend Sarah at the track for a strength workout and since I was there I thought I would do my three miles there. Well, when on a track, you just have to push yourself, amiright? So I pushed it on the straights and jogged the curves for about 8-9 laps and took it easy on the warm-up/cool-down. The strength workout was more than I had done in a while, and I was sore the next day. And the next day (ie long run day) .

My set-up at the track. 

Friday: Yoga

This was a half-assed attempt at yoga at home. I will get back to my classes soon!

Saturday: 12 Miles Run

A great long run with my friends Sally and Alma. They plotted a route that started at Gasworks Park, went over to the UW campus, north through Ravenna park, west towards Greenlake, around Greenlake, and then back south to Gasworks. I won't lie, my body was pretty sore afterwards. An ice bath would have been lovely.

Saturday's Route.


Sunday: Rest

FIVE MORE WEEKS until the 30K! 

My workout plans are all set until then. Sundays off, Mondays a four mile run, Tuesdays strength, Wednesdays my medium distance run, Thursdays three mile run plus strength, Friday yoga, Saturday long run. Trying to figure out if I can fit in a swim in there somewhere. 

If I can make it to this 30K without breaking apart, and then run it without breaking apart, I do think I will step back for a little bit. A few weeks maybe? Then ramp back up towards a new goal. I like the idea of shooting for a 50K, we shall see, though.

p.s. all of these photos (except for the map) are from my instagram. Are we following each other there? 

Monday, September 08, 2014

Back to School Happened

The girls are officially back in school for the year.

This past summer flew by at a speed I didn't even realize existed, which was incredibly disconcerting. It was, in fact, our best summer ever. Not because of big fancy trips or an abundance of special activities, but rather we just enjoyed being home together (well, for the most part. We're not the Cleavers.). Of course we threw in some fun little trips and created a summer bucket list that we did a decent job of hacking away at-- summer can't be ALL about sitting around the house. Anyways, it just ended up being (almost) perfect. A great mix of camps and trips and day excursions and down time.

First day of school girls. Don't let their expressions fool you.

But the first day of school sucked. It sucked a lot. One of my girls adores school and practically skipped in to the building like she's finally back in her element. The other of my girls, however, well, you might as well have sent her to a torture chamber. It really, really sucked. We have spent every year of her formal education trying to figure out what the best schooling scenario is for her, so far nothing really fits quite right. We'll see how this year goes, and will cross my fingers tightly. 

First day of school Menchie's. 

Of course, one bright side is that with the girls back in school I suddenly have many, many more hours of kid-free time. It is much easier to do all of my stay at home mom duties (cleaning, shopping, bill paying, etc etc) as well as all of the things I enjoy doing (mostly running). Pretty soon I will (hopefully) be back in the girls' school volunteering like I was last year, but I want to take the next few weeks to focus as much free time as I can on being ready to run my 30K. Kind of considering this training time my gift to myself for kicking so much ass as a mother all summer long, haha.

Wednesday, September 03, 2014

Weekly Wrap-up: August 18-24

Side note: whoops. Not sure why I didn't post this last week. 

What a wonderful week of workouts. I am so grateful I am feeling really good and my body is holding up so that I can run exactly how I want and when I want. It's a beautiful thing!

Total Miles Run: 20! 

Monday: Rest

Tuesday: 4.5 Mile Run

Nothing fancy.

Wednesday: Strength 

I tried to do a whole Jillian Michaels workout, for "fun". I forgot how long and hard those stupid workouts are! It killed me! I decided I am really not a fan of her videos. I love her, but there is something about her attitude that actually makes me want to stop working, instead of pushing harder.

Thursday: 1200 Yard Swim and 5.4 Mile Run

My one double day. A short-ish swim in the morning and what amounted to a tempo run on the trails in the evening. I ran two loops of Discovery Park with my friend Ray and he is a bit faster than me, so I pushed myself to keep up with him. Two loops in just under a 10:00/mi pace, which is fast for me on those trails!

Friday: Rest

Saturday: 10.1 Mile Run

This run was awesome. I decided to meet up with the High Heels Running Group at Cougar Mountain to get my long run in on trails. It made me nervous to show up and meet new people, but I am so glad I did it. It was a small group, just three of us, and the ladies I ran with were so nice and I loved running with them. We did 7 miles all together and then I did the rest of my own. The trails at Cougar Mtn are so beautiful, and really technical (at least for me they are!). Lots of roots and rocks, jumping over logs, up and down hills, dodging banana slugs. Took it nice and slow, in fact this run took me 2:27 (including stops along the way, because I never pause my Garmin). We hiked up the hills, took our time on the downhills. The whole way I thought that it was a nice pace, I wasn't ever pushing it, and I thought if I ran like that on my 30K I would feel pretty good. 

The one thing I was nervous about, however, was how much time I spent running. I was ready to run 10 miles, but on the road that would have taken me about 1:40. Judging by how my body felt the rest of that day and the next day, I think it was okay. The slow pace and the trails seems to have made up for the amount of time I spent on my feet. I would have to look back at my training, but this run might have been my longest training I have ever done. My longest run ever, the 14 miler, was in 2:22. 



Sunday: Rest 

Technically a rest day, but it involved some fun active time at our friends' house on the lake!