Monday, February 27, 2012

Running Across the Tacoma Narrows Bridge

And with the long run on Saturday, we're through Week Four of the Pete Pfitzinger marathon training plan. Over 42 miles last week, and this upcoming week will have over 45 miles before I get a well-earned recovery week.

My long run on Saturday was interesting for a number of reasons. First, earlier in the week, looking at my schedule, I knew my usual long run day of Sunday didn't look good. We were going to be driving from Seattle back to Corvallis on Sunday, then volunteering at the Corvallis Swim Team meet on Sunday night - no time to fit in a 15 mile run. So I skipped my off day on Friday and instead did my short recovery run, then placed my long run on Saturday instead of Sunday. Of course, that put the long run on the tail end of five straight days of running. Oof. This old body needs a day off now and then.

Then, since we were staying with the parents-in-law in Gig Harbor over the weekend, I figured I better find a running route around there. Zing! I know, I'll run across the Tacoma Narrows Bridge!

Ah hindsight. If I only knew then what I know now.

But I didn't know then! So I hunted up the Scott Pierson Trail, which runs from Gig Harbor, across the Tacoma Narrows Bridge, and into Tacoma. I knew it would be a little hilly, because that area just is, but hey, what's a hill or two, right?

Oof again. As you can see from my Garmin stats here, we started out pretty well, although that slow first mile is me trying to figure out where to keep my cell phone. I finally moved my GU from the pocket in my water bottle holder to my shorts pocket and put the phone there, but it took some effort. And it exposed the GU to the elements... Yum - cold, thick GU!

Anyway, the first four miles went swimmingly, then I hit the bridge. Yes, there's a good reason old Galloping Gertie fell into the Puget Sound back in 1940 - the wind just howls across that thing! On Saturday, they were getting steady wind of 20-40 mph, with gusts of 50-60! I had trouble keeping upright the whole way across the bridge, and it's quite a long bridge at that - a bit over a mile from end to end. Wow, that was a tough mile, going over that thing. And of course, all I could think while running it was "I'm going to turn around in a few miles and I'll have to run this damn thing again, going back home."

And a strange quirk with the Garmin appeared after I downloaded the stats. As you can see from the photo, the Tacoma Narrows Bridge is not flat. Like most bridges of that size, it has a serious hump in the middle. You go up the first half, and down the second half. But according to the Garmin elevation, I fell off the bridge and swam across! My elevation hits sea level all the way across the bridge, which messes up the elevation in two ways: I don't get the actual elevation climb on the bridge, plus I get the bad data from dropping to sea level and climbing back up, twice.

Then I lost the trail a couple times winding through Tacoma, especially where it goes under Highway 16 and ends up on the other side of the highway. It's not marked well there, so pay attention if you're running it. And then there are a few stoplights. And the windy bridge on the way back.

Yeah, I'm looking for excuses for the slow time.

But I guess if I was looking for a tough training run just for getting ready to tough-out a marathon purposes, well, that was a good one.

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