Bus Route Running - Link Light Rail

Today I ran the first of a series of runs that I am calling Bus Route Running. I love doing a straight-out run because I get to cover more ground and see more of the city.  Often I will have my guy, Mr. Bad Wolf, come pick me up at the end of a run, however, this isn’t always convenient for him and I often end up turning into a human popsicle while waiting for him. 

During a long run down Interurban Ave the other week, I started noticing the bus stops I was passing and realized I was running along a continuous bus route. It occurred to me; what if I took the bus all the way to the end of the line and then ran home? 

So I got on King County Metro and Sound Transit and plotted out some bus routes that originate downtown and terminate more than a few miles away. For example, on Interurban Ave I was passing stops for bus route 124. This particular route starts downtown and ends at Tukwila Station near Southcenter, which could make for a 13-mile run, depending on how I plan the route.  Great for a challenging weekend long run!!

A word of caution: plan your route home before you go.  There are many rivers, airports, lakes, trains and other impassable features that can get you stranded or worse yet on a freeway on-ramp!!  Also, ever concerned about safety, I usually check the Local Crime feature on Trulia before heading out on a solo run through a new neighborhood.  It helps me avoid rough and dangerous neighborhoods. 

This morning I decided to try out the Link Light Rail for my maiden voyage since the Light Rail has become an identifying a feature of Seattle. I plotted an ~18 mile route that headed west and north through Burien, White Center, West Seattle and finally downtown near the Space Needle.

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View from the Light Rail platform at Angle Lake Station

View from the Light Rail platform at Angle Lake Station

One thing I particularly loved about the Light Rail was the tall station platforms which allow you to get a broad view of the land you're about to cover.  It makes you feel very small yet very powerful; surveying the landscape that will soon bend to your will.

Going west from the Angle Lake station takes you down into a ravine where you can see the airplanes take off directly overhead and explore a small park if you so desire.

Heading north on 1st Ave through Normandy Park towards Burien

Heading north on 1st Ave through Normandy Park towards Burien

The top of the West Seattle plateau near Westcrest Park

The top of the West Seattle plateau near Westcrest Park

Continuing on, you'll hit Normandy Park and head north into Burien and then the Highland Park area which goes through quiet tucked away neighborhoods at the top of a plateau. As the roads climb upward, you can feel the horizon getting lower and the view getting larger. Westcrest Park is particularly beautiful at the top of the hillside overlooking the Duwamish Valley with views all the way to Beacon Hill and Bellevue.

Duwamish Trail sign near Highland Park Way SW

Duwamish Trail sign near Highland Park Way SW

Eventually, you’ll make your way down to W. Marginal Way which runs along the Duwamish Trail.  Down here, there are giants of industry churning away in the distance.  Huge container holding yards, cement makers, chemical plants, and transportation companies all doing things at a civilization-wide scale.  It becomes particularly apparent how large everything is when you see a flock of birds flying off in the distance between the towering smokestacks.  The organic and the inorganic; the animate and the inanimate; the warm and the cold. 

West Seattle Bridge Trail running along and underneath the West Seattle Bridge

West Seattle Bridge Trail running along and underneath the West Seattle Bridge

The Duwamish Trail leads to the pedestrian path underneath the West Seattle bridge, spanning the Duwamish Waterway and turning into the Elliot Bay trail.  The size and height of the West Seattle bridge never really hits you until you’re underneath it.  A lonely park lives below that bridge while the entire city clips by overhead.  After crossing the water, the Elliot Bay Trail takes you north; a quiet, unused surface road just yards away from the loud and dense traffic of Alaskan Way.  And finally, hours later, you have reached your destination. 

The Alaskan Way Viaduct at S Main St near downtown Seattle

The Alaskan Way Viaduct at S Main St near downtown Seattle

After this first run, I am extremely eager to try out more Bus Route Runs.  I liked relaxing on the ride out, but still having a time limit to my relaxation so that I wouldn't procrastinate all morning.  I liked the excitement and anticipation that built up before having to disembark and begin my long run.  I especially liked exploring and seeing some new parts of the city.  As I was passing the places I explored as a child I realized how little random exploring I do anymore.  As an adult, I have gotten on a well-worn path between work, home and the main areas of commerce.  Even when I run, I tend to run familiar routes.  This type of running will help push me more into the unknown in the new year.