Wrapping up 2016

The NYRR Midnight Run is tonight (New Year’s Eve) but I’m gonna count that as the first run of 2017 … so it’s time for a 2016 wrap-up.

There was a lot of awful stuff going on in the world, but it was a good year for running.

According to Garmin, this year I:

  • ran 1,100 miles (170 of those on trails)
  • biked 670 miles
  • hiked 84 miles
  • spent 51.75 hours at the climbing gym

I had six months of 100+ running miles, peaking at 146 in September. I ran with a lot of great friends and amazing people: Tina, Fanny, Andy, Murray, Frans, Lisa, Chaya, Jane, and many more. I ran in Brooklyn, Manhattan, Boston, New Jersey, Connecticut, upstate NY, and on the hills of Oregon. I hung out on the Red Hook track with Frans and the Armory track with my PPTC teammates. I helped Frans put together a training plan for, first, a 13.1-mile run, and then a “real” timed half marathon, and ran both with him. I learned so much from the PPTC crew, both online and in person.

I ran 14 races with new road PRs for 10k, half marathon, 5k, marathon, and 5-mile distances. I ran my first trail 25k . . . automatic PR there! I can’t pick a favorite race: I always love the Redding Road Race half. The JFK airport 5k was a cool experience. Steamtown was wonderful, even though I didn’t hit my time goal. The Al Goldstein 5k summer race series is like a hot summer evening running party every other week. I love love love the PPTC Turkey Trot. Running the Pelham half with Frans was very satisfying. Fine, they’re all my favorites.

Best running-related books I read this year: Build Your Running Body and Fixing Your Feet (6th ed.).

I had some amazing hiking experiences in New York (Hudson River Valley), Oregon (Pacific Crest Trail), and Washington (Mount Saint Helens). I rode the occasional bike commute in the summer, worked as lead bike for quite a few races, and took part in one epic 50-mile biking adventure near Poughkeepsie with two PPTC friends.

Okay, so what about goals for 2017? I’d like to run around 1,500 miles total – that’s an average of 125 per month and I think it’s doable. I’d been considering a 50k race in the spring, but I think that’s over-ambitious. Maybe fall. I have a few spring half-marathons coming up, with the Breakneck Point trail half being my main focus, and then the Portland Marathon in the fall. Other goals:

  • improve my PRs in most distances
  • run more trails
  • stay healthy and uninjured
  • keep climbing regularly
  • make it to more of the Saturday morning group runs with PPTC
  • hike when I can, bike when I can

That should keep me busy, right?

Mount Saint Helens summit hike

Cheerful trailhead photo

Cheerful trailhead photo.

I want to write about Mount Saint Helens but I don’t know if I can do it justice.

The mountain is also known as Loowit or Lawetlat’la. The last major eruption was in May 1980, a year before I was born. The last minor eruption was in 2008. When I realized we wouldn’t be hiking the Wonderland Trail around Mount Rainier on our August trip to the Pacific Northwest, I started wondering if we could do a day hike to the rim of the Saint Helens crater instead.

We could, but boy was it tricky.

The best description of this hike I found was at OregonHikers.org: “If you are a hiker in good shape, this hike will tear you apart.” And the best logistics information was, of course, from the Mount St. Helens Institute’s website. Permits were already sold out (only 100 people can summit per day through the summer) by the time I was looking into it, but I finally found some second-hand on Purmit.com.

Starting the boulder section.

Starting the boulder section.

My dad, my husband, a friend, and I set out in the wee hours of the morning on August 18 for the drive to the trailhead. The weather was as perfect as possible, and we started the hike about an hour after sunrise. We carried tons of water, hiking poles, gloves, sunscreen, and gaiters, and were all in decent shape. The climb – 4.5 miles one way, with a 4500′ gain in elevation to a peak of 8365′ – shredded us all. The first 2 miles were on a nice forest path, but after that it was about 1.5 miles of boulder scrambling followed by a mile of ridiculously steep scree – this part was like walking up a steep sand dune. For a mile. On the nastiest sand ever.

It was incredibly hard, but the view from the top was equally incredible: the crater, with its domes, its mini-glaciers, and the occasional rockfall; and then around us Mount Rainier, Mound Adams, Mount Hood, and, way in the hazy distance, Mount Jefferson.

Resting, with a view of Mount Adams (?) around the transition between boulders and scree.

Resting, with a view of Mount Adams (?) near the transition between boulders and scree.

The trip down was almost as hard as the trip up. After so much time in the sun on the exposed slope we were hot, the wind was picking up, and toward the end we were running really low on water, despite having brought more than we thought necessary. Huckleberries along the forest trail near the bottom improved our spirits significantly, as did dumping the ash out of our shoes when we were done and driving into the little town of Cougar for a solid meal and some beers.

Would I do it again? Not any time soon. But eventually, yeah, I bet I could be talked into it.

View into the crater, with Mount Rainier in the distance. Seeing this was the reason for the season ... erm, for the hike.

View into the crater, with Mount Rainier in the distance. Seeing this was the reason for the season … erm, for the hike.

East side of the crater, with Mount Adams (?) in the distance. We heard some loud rockslides happening over that way.

East side of the crater, with Mount Adams (?) in the distance. We heard some loud rockslides happening over that way.

Happy but entirely exhausted hikers on the rim of the crater, not quite ready yet to think about the hike down.

Happy but entirely exhausted hikers on the rim of the crater, not quite ready yet to think about the hike down.