Bib #9 – Interlaken Icicle Dash 10k

“Is there a race up there?” I asked the woman running down the steep, grassy patch cutting the corner on the intersection between Lake Washington Boulevard and Interlaken Boulevard. “Um, yes,” she responded. “You go up and across 24th. You have to cross back over 24th.”

I said, “thank you,” but what I meant was a four letter word, starting with F. I looked at my watch. This race was starting in five minutes, and I couldn’t find the start line.

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The elusive start line. The Interlaken Icicle Dash is the last race in the Northwest Trail Runs Winter Trail Series. Nevertheless, Seattle saw four inches of snow the following morning, knocking out power to 90,000 around Puget Sound. It turns out the rabbit is no smarter than the groundhog.

Just 2.5 miles from my house, the Interlaken Icicle Dash 10k offered a chance to run close to home, on a course with which I was familiar. The road portion of this course is on one of my regular long running routes. It has undulating hills, under a canopy of moss-covered trees. It feels damp and lush all year round. But when I left my house, intending a slow, 2.5 mile jog to the start, I’ll admit I wasn’t exactly sure where the start line was. When I hit 2 miles I thought I’d begin to see parked cars. At 2.5 miles I made the poor decision to keep running straight when I didn’t the race to my right, as I thought I would. At 3 miles, I ran into the woman who pointed me in the right direction — .25 miles up a hill with 6% grade and across a busy street — another .5 miles away and back towards the way I’d just come. F.

The race clock clicked to 2:02 when I finally crossed the start line. I’d arrived at the bib tent with seconds to spare, but by then I had to go to the bathroom so badly it didn’t matter. Unlike larger road races, smaller runs are not chip-timed. Everybody’s clock starts in time with the official race clock. My finish time would reflect this additional 2:02 during which I’d been relieving myself in the porta-potty.

The race, a 5k and 10k, featured multiple, 1.5 mile loops through Interlaken Park in Seattle’s Capitol Hill neighborhood. While the paved portions are wide enough for cars to pass in either direction, the trail portions are narrow, and include stretches of what is known as “single track,” narrow footpaths un-runnable on either side. This means if you get caught behind someone slower than you, it is impossible to go around them. You need to wait until a widening in the trail, or at least a safe spot where they can step off to the side for you to continue through. Golfers yell Fore! when they’ve hit a ball into another path. Trail runners give a friendly yet stern, On your left! In other words, starting a trail race two minutes behind the entire field is not a test of endurance to catch up; it’s a test of patience to go slow.

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The first major climb on the course, 1.5 miles in. Still well behind runners at my preferred pace, I’m forced to stand in a long line of runners waiting to ascend. I snapped a few photos to pass the time.

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The official race photographer catches me skipping the stairs in favor of the downhill slope where I can run faster, passing more people. As I assured my husband, “legal” in a trial race.

I was 2.5 miles into my race when I finally reached those at my pace, and continued the race unencumbered.

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Inside the last mile, and running with “my people.”

Given the slow start, and the +2:02 I mentally removed from my official time (oh, and that I ran a half marathon yesterday), I thought my finish wasn’t all that bad. In fact, the official results would show that I finished 20th out of 40 women in the 10k. And had I completed 2:02 faster, I would have been … 20th. (Check out my live finish line report here!)

I made the short, happy jog back to my house.

 

 

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