Thursday, August 9, 2018

Downward Cascade: Jack and Jill Half Marathon and the PNW

SRR at the finish line

Event: Jack and Jill Half Marathon
Goal Time: 1:30:00
Actual Time: 1:32:20 (Strava GAP: 1:35:06)
Location: Cascade Mountains, Washington State

Jack and Jill is a clever name for a downhill marathon/half marathon.  Although, I neither wanted to fall down, nor break my crown.  I always thought the Jack & Jill was a Scots-Irish Appalachia rhyme.  Turns out that's not true.

The first publication of the nursery rhyme was in 1765.  And while there are several theories about the source of the rhyme - from child born out of wedlock to being based on the great Icelandic poet, Snorri Sturluson.  But in my research, I found my favorite.  (Favorite meaning the one I liked best, not the one I felt there was the most evidence for); I'll sum it up:

Charles I of England and Scotland was in desperate need of money all the time.  He also conflicted with Parliament all the time in requesting taxes.  Parliament demanded he do more to support the Protestant cause during what is now called the Thirty Years' War and they demanded some oversight on the King's choice of advisers.  One of the taxes the king proposed was to increase the tax on ale/whisky/wine.  A jack was 1/8 of a pint; while a gill (with a soft G) was 1/4 of a pint.  When this tax was rejected by Parliament, the King instead moved to make both a jack and a gill smaller, thus increasing the per fluid oz tax on ale. This attempt (and others) to circumvent Parliament led to the English Civil War.  After Cromwell and the new Mercantile Class and returning Thirty Years' War veterans combined against the King, Charles lost his head in Parliamentary sponsored regicide.
Thus, Charles broke his crown over Jack and Jill. 
Of course there are many loose ends here and I'm sure it's all bs. Where does the vinegar and paper come in?  Maybe this jack/gill thing from 1625 was the beginning but is that really what broke his crown? What about the multitude of other complaints leading to the Petition of Right three years later? And what about the 24 years between the jack/gill controversy and the actual regicide?

And now you're like: Yeah, and what about that half marathon?

The race was at 6:30, which required an O-Dark-Thirty wake up.  After parking on a field in a random state park, we loaded onto a shuttle bus, where the driver wasn't 100% certain where we were going.  (This is how a lot of horror movies start). After some frightful moments where she called out with no response, to the world over a staticy radio, we made it to the half-marathon drop-off.

But this wasn't the start line. Per the Jack and Jill website:

"Half Marathon runners will be bused from the finish area (the same finish area as the full marathoners) to the half marathon bus drop. Buses will drop runners at the bottom of the Garcia trail and runners will need to hike up a one mile trail/road to the start area.  Trust us...this half marathon is worth the hike!"

Brian, Urvi, Melissa, Kevin and I started on the steep hike up the Garcia "trail" (really a dirt road) along with the others who had been on our bus.  About a quarter of the way up, a van stopped.  The Wahoo Runners had rented a van and had plenty of room for all of us from our shuttle bus - WAHOO!

The race is all on a gravel rail-to-trail that comes downhill out of the Cascades:  The John Wayne Pioneer Trail and the Snoqualmie River Trail.  (Snoqualmie River drops into the Snoqualmie Falls which is part of the TV show Twin Peaks).  The trail is not too bad as far as big gravel rocks, but about half way through the half marathon it splits into more of a jeep track than a trail.  So you have to stay right or left of a median of grass.  Along the way the trail crosses old railroad bridges that are both glorious and disconcerting in height.  The beauty of the Cascade region might slow you down a bit as you stop and smell the evergreens. And the full marathon has a two mile tunnel.

Snoqualmie Falls
There were not a lot of people doing the half marathon, so with my 1:30 goal I was in the second row at the start line.  A couple guys, including a 16 year old who would eventually win with a 1:20, took off like bats outta hell.  I took a few strides with them before I got my mind and pace right.

By Mile 2, there was nobody in sight.  Over the next 2 or 3 miles, about three people passed me who obviously had a negative split in mind.  But other than that, nada.  The first third, I managed to keep my goal pace around the 6:55 mark.  But then something happened to me in the second third.  I tried to put in an "iota" more of effort, but there was nothing there.  I slowed to miles between 7:10-7:25.  Then there was a weird bit through Rattlesnake Lake State Park that was like chicanes at Monte Carlo.

Two Boston high school guys meet again after 25 years, at the end of a marathon in a random state park in Washington State
Josh W. & I

Coming out of "the Snake," I was able to drop the pace again somehow.  The next 4 miles I kept under 7 min miles.  In miles 11 and 12 I managed to pass two and a half people (one of them was not in the race but he was running at a good clip, it took a while to catch and pass him.) After the 12 mile mark there was one more guy in the distance who I was closing on.  I probably closed 20 seconds on him in that last mile.  He probably had had a 40 second lead on me going into the last mile.  So I finished in 11th Overall and 4th in my age group.

Even with the higher temps and the adjustment for the all downhill, I am still leaps and bounds ahead of the Houston Half in January.  But still leaps and bounds behind this time in 2016.

I was the first SRR to finish.  So that let me cheer in Brian and Melissa to their age group awards; Kevin to his first half marathon finish and Urvi into her best half in two years.  Then the marathoners came in: Barry, Josh (whith a huge PR), Deb and Nichole, Scott, and Seth.

Melissa and BLav with their Second Place age group medals.

24 Hours in Seattle

Chihuly Museum and Garden

Safeco Field

Urvi, BLav, Nichole and I at the Space Needle

48 Hours in Olympic National Park

Hole in the Wall, Rialto Beach

Sol Duc Hot Springs

World's Largest Spruce

Sunrise Point
Lake Crescent

Hurricane Ridge

24 Hours in Portland

Heavenly Falls, Portland Japanese Garden

Dinner at Rogue

Portland International Test Rose Garden

Peggy the Train, World Forest Museum

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