The Cheese Runs Alone: Cougar Mountain Edition

On Saturday Jason and I woke up early-ish to meet our teammates for a trail run over at Cougar Mountain. It was a nice sunny morning that gave way to thick fog and decreased temperatures as we puttered across I-90 to the park entrance, but by the time we arrived it was sunny again (albeit a bit humid). You gotta love Seattle and its schizophrenic weather.

I had only done the Cougar Mountain trail workout once before and I was a lot chunkier and slower, so I was looking forward to attacking the trails in my leaner, meaner state. The last time I did the run, I wheezed my way up the hills feeling miserable and bloated.

Lugging my chub across five miles of trail in 2010

I don’t have a picture of myself from Saturday’s workout, but I estimate that I’m about 14 lbs lighter and considerably faster than I was in the above chunkeriffic photo. Hooray for eating like a normal human being for a change!

We waited for our squadron of teammates to arrive, and I figured I’d have plenty of peeps to run with. My hopes were dashed when five people showed up:

  1. Tom, who just did Ironman Canada and wouldn’t be taking the workout seriously
  2. Amanda, who also just did Ironman Canada and also gave zero shits about the workout
  3. Brent, who has qualified for the Boston Marathon
  4. Coach Bridget, who is much faster than me
  5. Coach Kim, who is much much much faster than me

Awesome, so that leaves the fast group (Kim, Bridget, Jason, Brent), the “We just did an Ironman so fuck you” group (Tom, Amanda), and me, the cheese, left to run by herself yet again. I’ve either got to get a hell of a lot faster or just give up and sandbag it from now on, because this middle of the pack nonsense is getting pretty lonely.

Before we got started, Bridget inexplicably thought it would be a good idea to attach her $400 Garmin watch to her dog’s collar to see how fast and far her pooch would travel during the workout. We didn’t think it was the smartest idea considering Zoe started chasing the watch’s reflection across the parking lot as soon as Bridget strapped it onto her collar, but Bridget’s gonna do what Bridget’s gonna do. And thus we took off.

Bridget and her dog (not at Cougar Mountain; I just stole this pic from her Facebook page)

Almost immediately we settled into Fast Group, the Mediocre Athlete Team of One, and the Ironcouple. Zoe shot off like a rocket, weaving in and out of the woods and crashing through trees like a sasquatch on angel dust. We had been running for less than ten minutes when the dog returned to Bridget, panting happily. I heard a loud “MOTHER FUCKER” and immediately knew the cause of said expletive. By the time I caught up to Fast Group, the look on Coach B’s face pretty obviously identified the problem: Zoe lost the Garmin watch. Surprise!

Bridget left Fast Group to try and find her watch, so they took off without her while I chased them to no avail. Pretty soon they dropped me like I was a holiday flavored gel (seriously, mint chocolate? Eggnog? Nobody likes that shit) and I found myself alone on the trail. My run felt really good and I stayed steady and strong, albeit ridiculously sweaty as I trudged through the thick, humid air. At one point a guy and his buddy passed me twice going the same direction, causing me to double-take and say, “Didn’t I just see you guys?” the second time we crossed paths. Either there was a glitch in the Matrix or those dudes were lost.

The run went tons better than the first time I did the trail workout, which was a nice indication of how much my running has improved and how less chunky I was. Plus, I only tripped and nearly killed myself twice, which is astoundingly good considering how clumsy I am. Unfortunately, I misread the workout directions and stayed on a path for one mile instead of point one miles, so I accidentally missed a turn and ended up cutting the workout a little short. I didn’t realize my mistake until I reached the parking lot from the opposite side of the park. I made my way over to the trail entrance and waited for Fast Group to emerge while steam rose from my disgustingly sweaty body.

Eventually I heard the group chatting, so I waited for them to get to the parking lot. Brent was the only one who emerged — apparently he was heading home but the rest of them went to go look for Bridget’s watch. I chased after the remaining three and caught up to Bridget and Kim, who were trudging through the woods, their eyes glued to the forest floor. Bridget told me that Jason had taken off to try and look for me. Since there was no way I’d catch up to him considering he already had a sizable head start on me, I figured I’d stay behind and try and look for Bridget’s watch. The ensuing conversation went as follows:

Me: “The watch should be around here, yeah?”

Bridget: “Yeah, but she ran through so many bushes and trees that it could be buried or hidden somewhere.”

Me: “Well I can’t imagine it’d be that hard to spot since it’s bright orange…” I looked down at my feet to begin my search and there it was, covered and dirt and literally right in front of me. “Oh, it’s right here!”

Bridget: “SHUT UPPPP!!!”

She scampered over to me and gave me a huge hug despite my protests to not touch me because I was all sweaty and nasty. I am still astounded that I managed to find that thing in an instant after they had been looking for a while. Bridget, this better make us even for me not going to your barbecue!

We made our way back to the parking lot. Kim pointed out some brown stuff that was stuck to Zoe’s side and asked Bridget how her dog had gotten so dirty. Bridget responded with “Oh, it’s just bark and mud,” then wiped it off, sniffed her hand, and exclaimed, “Ewwww no it’s not that’s POOP!” So Bridget’s trail workout concluded with her cleaning off a poo-covered Zoe and thinking that this was probably the worst trail run ever while her dog looked happy and excited and was probably thinking that this was the best trail run ever (“I got to run through the woods! I rolled around in poop!”). It’s all about perspective.

Eventually Jason and Ironcouple made their way back to the parking lot, and we were all rewarded for a workout well done with cookies. Since I’m still working on Operation Abs, I only took one cookie but told myself it was an “I found the Garmin” cookie and thus well-earned. All in all it was a fun way to start my Saturday and I pretended to be the hero in yet another dog-related incident. Maybe next week I’ll end up saving a drowning dog from Lake Washington who happens to have a missing family heirloom attached to its collar or something. The excitement never stops in Mediocre Athleteland!

2 Responses to “ “The Cheese Runs Alone: Cougar Mountain Edition”

  1. teresa says:

    Love Zooey, but WOW!!! So happy for you and your fitness improvements….if I didn’t have to work we would have ran perfectly together!


  2. Kim E says:

    Ok, so seriously, strapping the garmin to the dog is something I would do. and I do DUMB THINGS. Silly Coachy. Good job on de-chubbing…its hard.

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