Sunflower Marathon weekend

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Back in the dreary days of winter, our friends Jenn & Bryan asked us to do a trail marathon relay with them out in the Methow Valley. Basically, the race breaks up a trail marathon into six segments that you can either do as a single person or a team. Last year, they did it as a team of two and with a last-minute 98-degree heat wave, had quite the time. This year, they decided to bring in reinforcements.

Our team name was “Things That Seemed Like A Good Idea When We Were Drinking” and boy, did my training for the race live up to that name! My running this year has been lackluster at best. With the boy’s extensive travel schedule and random knee pain, he was in the same boat. But we knew that no matter what, we’d have a nice weekend of friends, wine, dogs and beautiful scenery and we were not disappointed.

Thankfully, I’d rented a car out of paranoia at the Camry’s weird engine behavior and we headed out on a rainy Thursday afternoon. Austin had never been to the cabin before, but he caught on pretty quickly by running huge frantic circles around it upon being released from the car. Wally made himself right at home, per usual:

CouchSnugglesThe next day, we took the boys out for a nice morning hike:

BoysHike

Austin was determined to woo the pointer sisters. He was smart enough to be nice to Greta and he was absolutely in love with Tyr. She didn’t seem to return his affections:

DogDynamics

And then later we headed over to see Jenn & Bryan’s new piece of property. On the way there, we were treated to this spectacle of country life. (Sorry for the blurry photo!)

ShareTheRoadTheir land was beautiful and large enough that we could let the boys off-leash for a little bit. Naturally, they found every bit of water to splash around in and got soaking wet. One of the trails that would be used on the race course runs through their property and contains this cool suspension bridge:

CoolBridgeIt really is a shame that it’s so ugly here:

MethowSceneryThe boys were thoroughly tired out from their adventures:

CabinWally TiredPupThe next morning, we got up early and T and I headed out to the race start while Jenn & Bryan handled dog watching. T was running the first and second legs (about 7 miles in all). The vibe of this race was decidedly more relaxed than the races I usually do. I took some silly pre-race pictures of the boy:

PreraceTThen I went and found a place to photograph the start:

RunnersStart SunflowerCollage TSunflowerStart

I had time to get some coffee and leisurely head over to where my leg would start. Relays are pretty odd in that you don’t quite know when you’re going to start. As I stood in the porta-potty line, racers were running by and my fellow line-people were all nervous that they’d miss their hand-off. But thankfully, I’d timed it well and had no problem seeing T.

I set off and almost immediately felt winded and out of breath. (The altitude up here always surprises me.) Plus, we turned off onto some pretty uneven ground which was killing me. It quickly became apparent just how out of shape I was for this trail running thing. People were passing me left and right and I was feeling pretty discouraged.

But it was hard to feel too down while looking around at this level of gorgeousness:

MethowScenery1 MethowScenery2

I kept on chugging along, running when I could and walking when I needed to. And the most curious thing happened, I realized that I had this big goofy smile on my face because I was having the BEST TIME. There was a section of single track that felt like a roller coaster, except it was through this beautiful forest and it was so much fun. I decided right then and there that I was going to have to do more of this trail running stuff.

My leg ended with a few serious hills and then emptied out on to a gorgeous downhill dirt road. It was perfect amount of slope to just let the legs relax and let gravity do the work. (This was the only part of the course where I passed anyone.) I felt amazing – so happy and awesome. Before I knew it, the hand-off was ahead of me and I could see Jenn smiling at me. We high-fived and she headed out for her leg. A race photographer posted this picture of her. How badass is she?

BadassJennI headed back to the cabin to get cleaned up and rest for a bit. Bryan went out to do the last trade-off with Jenn. She rocked her leg and actually had to wait for him. (He brought a chair, which we teased him about.) Then, freshly showered, all of us headed down to the finish line to wait for Bryan (and get into the lengthy post-race burrito line.)

Before we knew it, Bryan was cooking down the finishing chute and bringing it home strong. Naturally, we were still in the burrito line, but T had procured refreshments from the beer tent, so we were feeling good. Everyone had a great day and the post-race food had that magical phenomenon that all food after a race has: so delicious!

When we got back to the cabin, we saw that T was now a social media star. This picture was posted on the race organizer’s Facebook page:

BadassT

( I will absolutely have to purchase a print of this, it’s such a great photo.)

Then there was some post-race relaxing. (There may have been some napping as well… )

PointerBookends

And, of course, extensive amounts of dog patrol. They are always alert for the dangerous squirrel and chipmunk population. And don’t get them started on those hazardous deer!

EarsOnAlert

Later, we went out for post-race margaritas. The service and food weren’t the best, but the margaritas were fantastic. Bryan wasn’t messing around:

GiantMargaritaIt was such a great weekend. The perfect combo of activity and relaxation. And after last week, exactly what I needed.

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