If the miles behind me could be put into words before you, you would feel my efforts, my struggles, my desires. Most of all you would see my joy. Watch me from afar run the trails and hills and miles upon miles and you will see ...

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Orcas Island 50km "Race"

My prayers were answered in regards to the weather for the 50 km run on Orcas Island last Sunday. The sun was beautiful and even a little warm when you were standing in it. I was praying for decent weather, not for me running, but for Carrie and the kids watching. It would have been tough facing Hannah and Elias afterwards if it was pouring rain and they were stuck inside the whole time. The ferry ride and drive home would have been even more fun than that.

We arrived at Camp Moran, an old summer camp, around 4:30 on Saturday and set out making our dinner in the huge industrial kitchen before the rush to use it came. We got settled into our cabin, comprised of seven bunk beds and a bathroom, soon after. We shared our cabin with Jeff and Debbie from Oregon. They had three kids of their own. We didn't see them much as we were doing our own dinner preps and eating and watching the running movies playing in the huge dining room. After that we bedded down at 8:30 in the cool cabin as the heaters didn't seem to want to perform as intended. It was a most chilly night with all of us in touques and dressed fully in warm clothes. I was jealous of the kids' new mummy sleeping bags we just got for them, my ten-year old Canadian Tire special just not cutting it. We were all so tired that it didn't matter much.

It was quite cold in the morning as well but I opted for shorts as I always warm up when I run. A few people doing the 50 started early at 7:30 while the rest of the 25km and 50km racers left at 8:30. I didn't know who was doing which race so didn't try to keep up with any of them. The goal of this "race" was to make it a simple training run and finish feeling good and not too thrashed. It was a big step in my running year as this kicked off a busy schedule of runs and races. I was excited that my plans were being executed and with such a beautiful day it couldn't have been more perfect.

At the two mile mark my toque came off while climbing a huge goat path that was barely discernable save for the flagging tape for general direction. What treated us at the top was an equally steep downhill - one of those roads that you either walked or had to fly down. The legs felt pretty rubbery for a few miles afterwards and I was concerned because we would be doing those hills again on the second loop. The race was supposed to be more of a single loop but that course took us up to elevations where there was still a lot of snow so the race director, James Varner, decided to make an "easier" two-loop course of lower elevation. It turned out that what we did had only 600 feet less climbing (6400') than the regular course. I got to practise my power walking up the steeper hills, as hard for me to stop that it is. I think that's a big reason why my legs felt fresher at the end than a usual race. I even walked when others around me were still running!! Funny thing is that they didn't get much farther ahead of me.

I was running with Miles Ohlrich from Seattle towards the end of the first 25km. At the end of that loop I got new bottles from Carrie and I reapplied the lube on my toes. I was starting to get hot spots so decided to try and hold them off for longer. It worked because at the end I had no blisters and my feet felt great. Could be because I have only four toenails out of ten at the moment.

Used with permission from Glenn Tachiyama
I caught up with Miles which helped me endure the second trip around. We chatted the whole way with finishing being first and foremost in our plans. As it turned out we were in third place most of the second lap but an errant turn (my fault) took us a mile off course until we realised our mistake. Both of us being out of water didn't make us any more happier but we got back on track nicely and ended up tied for ninth.

I was happy that I was able to push at a moderate pace and not be dead at the end of it all. It was awesome to have the family at the end to greet me and the kids enjoyed playing with other kids while they waited. The ferry and drive home was good as well until we hit the border where we proceeded to crawl through for an hour and forty minutes. All you can do is laugh.

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