Skating: Spokane Inline Marathon 2006

Spokane Inline Marathon weekend 2006

Brian, Christine, Gerry and I arrived in Spokane late Friday afternoon after a cool cruise in the black beast, courtesy of Brian, and proceeded to grab drinks at TGIF before meeting up with the rest of the Torrent for dinner at the Outback restaurant. The eleven of us ate, drank, made merry and wondered about the bee’s castration. Saturday morning we were up too early for Christine’s liking and, with Glen from Bremerton, rolled down the Centennial trail towards downtown Spokane.

Fire in the hills

Fire in the hills

From our trail-side hotel, we’d already seen a great plume of smoke rising from the nearby hillside and, not too far along the trail, saw that a forest fire was rapidly consuming the dry grass, trees, one or two houses and what looked to be a barn. The fire seemed to be about a mile from our vantage point on the trail and we watched as fire trucks arrived and water-bombers attempted to put out the flames. From what I could see it looked as though the fire was moving rapidly and the grass almost seemed to explode in flame – quite scary, actually. After watching for several minutes, we proceeded further along the trail for a bit, through some residential areas, and then turned back since we didn’t want to tire ourselves out for the race to come.

Brian and Neil at the Steam Plant Grill

Brian and Neil at the Steam Plant Grill

Brian, Gerry, Neil, Christine and I headed into Spokane for lunch at the Steam Plant Grill; as its name implies, this place was a converted 1916 steam plant – huge, with cavernous high ceilings and the remainders of boilers, pipes and all sorts of unidentified metal objects around. The bartender was kind enough not to charge us for our drinks, and, after tasty nibblies, we left happy to wander around Spokane’s Riverfront Park. Neil and Christine took a ride on the gigantic Radio Flyer wagon sculpture and we took in a Corvette show with many, many very shiny cars displaying their gleaming engines. Christine noted, about one in particular, that her kitchen table wasn’t as clean as that car’s engine.

Christine and Neil ride the radio flyer

Christine and Neil ride the radio flyer

Saturday night’s carbo-loading dinner took place at Boston’s with almost all the Torrent members and several friends from Portland, including Angie, Nathan, Kirk and Jim Thompson and his wife. Our food was good and the service excellent. Early to bed Saturday night and early to rise Sunday morning. Race morning Christine and I were up at 6 and in the dining room for bagels at 6:30. We noted that Chuck Hensley was wearing his full race gear, including helmet and wrist-guards, to eat breakfast – dangerous meal, that breakfast!

Dinner at Boston's

Carbo-loading dinner at Boston’s

We all warmed up for about half an hour before the race, and, suitably warm, blasted off, sort of, at 7:30. Coming around the first corner, we noticed that 3 women had gone down – only 100 feet into the race and it was already over for them – too bad. Neil, John, Lori and I took it easy down the first hill and onto the trail, not wanting the same thing to happen to us in the mass start. I skated alone for the first few miles and then hooked up with John, Lori and Jim for several miles until we caught up to Neil and Christine. We cruised along in this little group, along with Janet and several others from Seattle, for quite a while. After some of the Seattle skaters passed us, and Neil went on ahead, Christine, Lori, John and I continued to the Idaho border turn around and proceeded back. The wind was brutal – no matter which direction we skated in, the wind seemed to be blowing at us. My back was killing me, and John and Lori reported the same. On the way back we again caught up to Jim and Janet, with whom I skated for several miles – as we passed the hotel, John, Christine and Lori were back with us again. John called out the 25 mile mark, and, just in front of Christine, a skater went down trying to negotiate the turn into the parking lot. Managing to avoid him, Christine zoomed through the lot and onto the final hill. As we climbed the final hill, Janet and John passed me to finish just behind Christine, then myself, Jim and Lori all finished well in under 2 hours. Spurred on by bets from Winson and Brian, Irene also completed the marathon to the cheers of the rest of the Torrent.

Chasing Janet up the final hill to the finish line

Trying to catch Janet on the final hill

Relaxing after the race

Relaxing after the race

I felt good about my race, particularly considering that I was recovering from a torn calf muscle. Most skaters seemed satisifed with their race, especially given the horrible wind, and at the awards ceremony, several Torrent members received medals: Gerry, Winson and I thirds, John Waye a second, and Conny a first. Anne received a silver in the 10 k. After a post-race lunch at the Black Angus, Brian, Gerry, Christine and I returned tired to Vancouver Sunday evening.

Torrent and friends

Torrent and friends

See my photos here.