I had signed up for two big races this fall, Whistler Alpine Meadows 25K (which is an absolutely stunning mountain course with over 5000 feet of gain) and Oregon Coast 30K. A week before the Whistler race, we were still not getting much sleep and even just our everyday life felt completely overwhelming and chaotic, so JK and I decided that we didn’t have the energy we needed to drive all the way to Whistler with the kids and stay in a not-babyproofed rental house. Once we had made the decision to cancel, I felt so relieved, which is a pretty good sign that it was the right choice…still, I had some serious FOMO going on when the race photos started hitting instagram (even though the course was apparently full of wasps). Hopefully I’ll get to run it someday.
A couple weeks later, life was looking much less bleak, so we packed up the kids and drove down to the Oregon Coast. The drive down was made bearable only by a lunch stop in Portland (mmm veggie bowls at Canteen) and an unfortunately way-too-short visit with friends in Albany. The kids did exceptionally well considering how long we spent in the car, but uuuugh. I never want to drive that stretch of I5 south of Portland ever again.
We arrived in the little coastal town of Yachats just in time for sunset, and I could feel the stress start to melt away. Our rental house was perfect – mid-century modern decor, huge windows overlooking the beach, very kid-friendly. Nora was super excited to sleep in a bunk bed in the kid room and kept asking us to put Lily in the top bunk so they could sleep together. Hmmm. (Squeee, I can’t wait until Lily is old enough to graduate to a big bed so they can share a room! That’s going to be the cutest thing ever.)
Lily has an unfortunate tendency to sleep horribly when we’re on these trips – we figure she’s either overtired from traveling or overly excited about sharing a room with us, but we also timed the last two trips with teeth erupting, so maybe it’s just bad luck. Anyhoo, one of the best things about Rainshadow Running’s races is that they start late, so at least we didn’t have to get up earlier than the kids dictated. My race started at 10, and Nora’s first 1K kids’ trail race started at 9:15. The coastal fog lifted just in time for Nora’s race debut!
JK tagged along for her race, but she covered the entire distance on her own two little feet. She was so proud!
As for my own race, I was so nervous at the starting line. Just a couple days before, I had pulled something(?) in my back that radiated painfully down toward my knee – it’s still not quite healed as I write this several months later – and between that and just generally not having trained enough, I was convinced I was going to have to drop out of the race at one of the aid stations. And of course, race director James warned us that the course was full of – of course – wasps. I had just had two wasp stings in one week that swelled up like the dickens, and I had no interest in seeing where a third sting would take me. Oh, and a fellow runner warned me that the course was actually over 20 miles long, not 18.5. Oof.
But it turned out this was one of those times when having low expectations worked in my favor. I started running and it felt so good. No back pain. No knee pain. No wasp stings, even though the aid station was swarming with them. Just beautiful forest trails and dramatic coastline views. As a bonus, the course went right past our rental house, so I got lots of encouragement from JK and Nora along the way. I wasn’t fast (I am never fast), but I had fun, which is why I do these things.
Lily was still napping when I finished (at 4:49:26 – it seems crazy to me now that I was out there for almost five hours, I remember it going by in a flash), so when I got to the finish line, I grabbed some (gluten-free! vegan!) pizza and then kind of just collapsed on the grass. I wasn’t sure I was going to be able to walk if I stood up again, so I just stayed in one place, enjoying the live music and the food while Jeremy and Tisha (my old TNAB companions) kept me company and JK and the girls eventually arrived.
Eventually I had to get up, and much to my surprise I was actually able to walk. Huzzah! I don’t really remember the rest of the day except for the part when the girls were in bed for the night and I watched the sunset with a glass of wine in my hand.
The next day we explored Yachats and Cape Perpetua – I showed JK and the girls the overlook that I had run past in the race, we went for a hike, JK went for a run, we hit the beach (Pacific Northwest style, wearing all our layers) and then we had dinner at the brewery. We really liked this little town and we totes want to go back to explore the tide pools with the kids.
The following morning, we knew we had a long journey ahead of us, so we were super efficient with packing and breakfast and getting the girls and our stuff into the car…and then the car wouldn’t start. Gaah. Luckily our very nice next-door neighbor had jumper cables. Even with the now late start, we couldn’t face the idea of driving I5 through Oregon again, so we drove up along the coast instead. At one point we had to pull over because I spotted three whales from our car!
We stopped for lunch and a leg-stretcher in Cannon Beach, which the girls loved almost as much as we do. I was nursing Lily while watching Nora climb on a piece of driftwood, and I had one of those “damn, my life is wonderful” moments.
All in all the girls did incredibly well on the looong drive home. I was so proud of them, and so proud of myself for running 20 miles. The only other time I have covered 20 miles on foot in a day was on our Enchantments hike, which was four years and two kids ago.
I’m also just really thankful for these little mini vacations we’ve built around my races. We were too scurred to fly to Norway with a baby and a 3-year old this year, but these long weekends to Yachats and Sun Mountain were the perfect getaways with little kids.