Cabin Trip, Running, Top Trips

Orcas Island 25K

I’m back! And, importantly, I’m still alive!

Orcas Island 25K

Our long weekend began with a Friday ferry from Anacortes. Nora loves any sort of public transportation (except for that one flight from Reykjavik to Seattle which we shall never speak of again), and between her fascination with water and all the people-watching (“why are all of these passengers wearing trucker hats”, she must have wondered), ’twas a good voyage.

Orcas Island welcomed us with a magnificent rainbow, which I took as a good omen from the universe re: my chances of survival the following day.

Welcome to Orcas Island

Still, my stomach was in knots when I lined up for the race on Saturday morning. Everyone else just looked…more prepared. And like they actually knew what they were doing. JK snapped this photo of me and captured my look of reservation quite well.

Orcas Island 25K

But, as always, everything seems better once you actually start running, even though the start of the course was a long, uphill asphalt road.

Orcas Island 25K

I settled into the back of the pack and ran what I could of that hill, walking the rest.

Orcas Island 25K

But then! Trails! I could run again! Aaah, heaven. Soft singletrack wending through a veritable wonderland of lush moss, creeks, and waterfalls.

Orcas Island 25K

Lord-of-the-Ringsian bridges!

Orcas Island 25K

Magical trees!

Orcas Island 25K

I reached the first aid station at 5.something miles, refilled my water, grabbed a handful of potato chips and some really delicious, juicy orange slice, and got started on the main challenge of the day – the dreaded Powerline Trail.

Orcas Island 25K

This thing was nothing like my friendly neighborhood Powerline Trail here in Redmond, no, this was a straight-up-the-mountain, Cable Line-esque climb complete with shoe-sucking mud and soul-sucking, NSFW internal monologues. Eventually the mud gave way to snow, because of course, and then, miraculously, the Powerline was over.

Orcas Island 25K

Finally I could run again, and it felt so good! Until we hit another hill. This was the kind of switchbacking trail I can usually hike up in no time at all, but my post-Powerline legs were just spent, and these (supposed) 1.2 miles took foreeever. At least the snow made everything look like a fairytale. One of my fellow runners shouted “OHMIGOD this is the most beautiful thing ever! But I think I’m delirious.” – I think that summed up how most of us were feeling at that point.

Orcas Island 25K

At long last I reached the second aid station on top of Mount Constitution. I had planned for a long break there to take in the views, but since it was just white in every direction, I filled up my water again, grabbed more orange slices, and got ready for the descent.

Special thanks to the volunteers on Mount Constitution who remained cheery and helpful while looking downright hypothermic! This was the same aid station where I volunteered back in 2012.

Orcas Island 25K

The next section was the most beautiful of the entire course, thanks to the snow, but also absolutely freezing. After a couple minutes of running, I realized I couldn’t really feel my fingers, so I had to stop again in order to find my gloves and hat. Opening my pack took forever with my useless Otter Pops fingers, but luckily they warmed up quickly once I got the gloves on.

Photo by Glenn Tachiyama

The next four miles or so just flew by – I cranked up the tunes and ran my little heart out, only stopping when I felt an irresistible urge to hug one of the giant cedars that lined the trail.

Orcas Island 25K

The course ended with some rather rude but mercifully short hills that I couldn’t find the energy to run up, and then I was done. Huzzah! I got my well-earned high five from race director James Varner and forgot to look at the clock, but I found out afterwards that I had crossed the finish line in 4:34:39, which I’m reasonably proud of given the amount of elevation gain and my lack of training/general laziness.

Orcas Island 25K Orcas Island 25K

The post-race party was classic Rainshadow Running – live music, lots of food, lots of beer. I was a very happy kind of exhausted.

Orcas Island 25K

Back at the rental house, we watched the sunset with our furry neighbors, had dinner, and went to bed embarrassingly early. It was a very good day.

Orcas Island 25K

Hugs to JK for watching Nora while I was out gallivanting through the woods, and big thanks to Rainshadow Running for organizing such a beautiful race. I know I spent most of that horrid Powerline climb thinking NEVER AGAIN, but of course now I’m like I’M TOTALLY DOING THIS AGAIN NEXT YEAR.

And look, now I even have my very own trucker hat so I can at least look like a runner, even though I still don’t know what I’m doing.

Turtlehead Overlook

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  • Reply Laura February 4, 2016 at 1:16 pm

    Oh man, I absolutely hate running – something about mandatory two mile runs every weekday at 6:30 AM through high school just sucked all the fun out of it for me. However, this whole post is so upbeat, even descbring all the awful uphill bits, that you’re making me want to take up running!

    • Reply Ingunn Markiewicz February 4, 2016 at 2:55 pm

      Try it again! Running on trails makes all the difference.

  • Reply Nicole Norman February 4, 2016 at 1:51 pm

    The photos make it look so LOVELY. Is that how you would describe it…lovely? ;) Congrats on your finish!!

  • Reply Lisa February 4, 2016 at 2:05 pm

    Congratulations! What an amazing challenge and you did it! And survived and want to do it again. :) Crazy woman! Honestly, the photos look amazing and like it was a fun and very different kind of race. It’s kind of cool you got to experience so many different terrains and weathers in one race.

    • Reply Ingunn Markiewicz February 4, 2016 at 2:54 pm

      That Powerline climb was kind of like childbirth – my brain has apparently chosen to forget just how painful it was and now I want to do it again. ;^)

  • Reply Marie Worthing February 4, 2016 at 2:36 pm

    WOW…well done!!! I did a half marathon a long time ago and the mixture of pain with exhilaration when you finish is amazing. That run looks fantastic!!! You did an awesome job!!!!

  • Reply arc February 4, 2016 at 4:15 pm

    4.5 HOURS of running?! In the snow? O.M.G. You are amazing.

    • Reply Ingunn Markiewicz February 4, 2016 at 7:27 pm

      To be fair, if you go by time, most of it was spent walking, not running, up that damn hill. :)

  • Reply Bobby February 4, 2016 at 6:59 pm

    This is crazy! It looks so beautiful and fun, and like Laura, it makes me want to go running even though I hate running.

    Also, when I read the part about Nora on the Ferry and “why are all of these passengers wearing trucker hats”, for a second I thought she was already speaking in full sentences! And more importantly she already knew what trucker hates were :)

    • Reply Ingunn Markiewicz February 4, 2016 at 7:27 pm

      Haha, yeah, no. Actual speech went more like this: “Gah! Pip-pip!! Ma! Dsjadsjaii! Geshhhyeii!” which means “Water! Bird! Man! Mukmuk! *unknown* (trucker hat?)”

  • Reply Jill Homer February 4, 2016 at 7:11 pm

    Congratulations! That looks like a very tough course and you got through it in style (with great photos.) Now I want to come out for a Northwest rainforest run next year.

    • Reply Ingunn Markiewicz February 4, 2016 at 7:29 pm

      Jill, you would love this course! There’s a 50K as well…and a 100-miler, where you get to climb the Powerline Trail four times. *shudder*

  • Reply Karen February 4, 2016 at 7:40 pm

    Fresh snow is about the best thing ever. Congrats on a great finish! Also: I’m a down-booties-at-the-end kind of girl too. I’m so excited that Bloglovin’ is finally playing nice and I can see your new posts in my feed.

  • Reply Margaret February 4, 2016 at 10:05 pm

    Congrats on finishing! That looks like a challenging but amazing race!

    • Reply Ingunn Markiewicz February 5, 2016 at 9:17 pm

      Thanks! I wish I had your discipline when it comes to training, though…

  • Reply Misti February 5, 2016 at 6:11 am

    Congratulations! That’s a great accomplishment. Running is something I’ve always aspired to but I’ve settled into realizing I really just like hiking a lot more!

    • Reply Ingunn Markiewicz February 5, 2016 at 9:15 pm

      For me it kind of started when I realized that running the downhills back to the trailhead was more fun than hiking them! Suddenly both the trip to and from the summit were highlights (instead of the downhill being a death march to the car).

  • Reply Brenna February 5, 2016 at 10:19 am

    This looks like such a delightful course! I’ll have to plan on running one of these soon. Congrats on finishing and your post-finishline smiles!

  • Reply jill i February 9, 2016 at 6:30 pm

    I was there hiking in the park the day of that race in…2013? Maybe 2012. Craziness! Wish I could do it – alas after limping around for almost 4 years after running-induced Achilles tendinitis combined with a previously unknown autoimmune condition – I just won’t risk that again. But big kudos!! Looks like you’ve really developed a following here at Trail Snail now. Huzzah!

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