I’m back! And, importantly, I’m still alive!
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.
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.
But, as always, everything seems better once you actually start running, even though the start of the course was a long, uphill asphalt road.
I settled into the back of the pack and ran what I could of that hill, walking the rest.
But then! Trails! I could run again! Aaah, heaven. Soft singletrack wending through a veritable wonderland of lush moss, creeks, and waterfalls.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The post-race party was classic Rainshadow Running – live music, lots of food, lots of beer. I was a very happy kind of exhausted.
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.
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.