Sunday, July 18, 2010


In road races – even relatively long ones – 30 minutes is a lot of time. So when you add 30 minutes to a race time from one race to the next – over the same distance – you have to figure something is going on. Perhaps the race was run at 10,000’ or was one grueling hill after another. Or perhaps the race had so many participants that it wasn’t possible to run much at all. Or – when none of those apply – perhaps it was a serious case of a hamstring not willing to cooperate. In Montana last week, I will have to claim the latter.
On a beautiful morning to run – and starting in a beautiful location along the hills, through the forest, along a river with meadows stretching to one side, and even slightly downhill, the most I could muster was a slow jog – and even that was after walking much of the first mile and into the second. I guess my left hamstring decided I should enjoy this race more by spending more time on the course. After getting a new perspective on half-marathons by watching the vast majority of the participants pass me and by wondering how quickly I could walk the course, I was able to start jogging during Mile 2 and kept jogging to the end – even speeding up through the middle miles of the race. I never caught Karen, but at least I finished and together we hung our medals and checked off State #42 in the process.

I think that Montana’s nickname is confirmed every time I visit. It really DOES have a big sky – it is just a BIG state – and a beautiful one at that. We flew into and out of Spokane and drove I-90 between there and Missoula. Enroute we had a very nice stop in Couer d’Alene, to include a 90-minute boat ride on the lake. Neither of us had ever spent time there and we know now what we have missed and would love to visit again.

And the drive over Lookout Pass from there into Montana and along the Clark Fork is not to be missed. Missoula had its own western charm and retained lots of country, smaller-town traits that made it nice. We didn’t get to spend nearly as much time in the area as we would have liked, but enjoyed what we had.

On the way back to Spokane we rented bikes at Lookout Pass and rode the 15-mile Route of the Hiawatha, which is a converted railroad grade that goes through 10 tunnels (including one that is nearly 2 miles long) and over 7 high, old railroad trestles. It was a great ride in some beautiful scenery and certainly a highlight among any bikes rides we have done in the past.

During the trip we spent two nights with Scott and Linda in Spokane and had a nice visit with them. We were extremely grateful that Linda agreed to watch Rachel while we drove over to Missoula and back and they apparently got along well. In Spokane we also spent some time at Riverfront Park, site of the World Expo in Spokane a few years back.

All in all, another memorable trip – even if Jogging was all I could do under Montana’s Big Sky.