Wildflower part two: the glass is half full edition

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So, when we last left our intrepid author, she’d just finished crying on the boat ramp and was getting ready to head back to camp. I went back to transition and gathered up the majority of my gear. I left Slim there because the shuttles for bikes wouldn’t be running until later in the afternoon and I did not have the wherewithal to lug him up the steep walking trail back to camp. Todd was kind enough to carry my pack and I started my mental shift toward the new agenda for the day by looking forward to a hot shower.

As we got into camp, I ran into numerous team mates who were surprised to see me and had to tell the sad tale of what happened. Everyone was so unbelievably supportive and kind, which really lifted my spirits. My shower was magnificent and after a little chilling at camp, we packed up a lunch cooler, my little portable chair, some cowbells and pom-poms and staked out a good place to cheer for Catherine when she came by on the bike.

It was really awesome to cheer for the other cyclists out on the course. (And, to be honest, seeing how miserable some of them looked really took the sting out of not being among them.) I had an idea of when Catherine should be coming by and before we knew it, there she was. She looked surprised to see me and when I cheered her on, she said something to the effect of pulling the plug after the bike. I told her she was absolutely (effing) not and then Todd and I powerwalked down to the transition area.

Because I still had my race numbers, I could go into the transition area and found her fully changed into her run gear, standing in front of her spot. Having been in this situation so many times myself, it was easy to see that she just needed a little nudge and she was going to be just fine. So, I coaxed her onto the run course with a “just go out for the first mile, if it really sucks you can come back. Besides, what else do you have to do today?” And just like that, she headed out.

I texted our OTC teammate Betsy the situation and told her I was grabbing my bike and then would meet her to cheer Catherine on the run course. Todd and I rode the blessed shuttle up the hill and I released him to go nap/chill in the campground, grabbed my hydration pack full of anything Catherine might want when she came by, my chair, can of wine and cheering supplies and joined Betsy to wait for Catherine at approximately the halfway point of the run. There was a long hill that Betsy was planning to run with Catherine and I said I would do the same. After a little while a few more team mates joined us and we made quite a commotion when Catherine finally came into view. This picture says it all:

She looked so strong and steady, we were all amped up with pride and excitement for her. Betsy and I headed to the next viewing spot, right before the one-mile descent back to transition. It was great to chat with Betsy and get to know her better. Some more of our teammates joined us to high five her as she came by, all smiles.

The only bummer about the set-up was that there was no real way for us to get to the finish line in time, so we left Catherine to her well-earned triumph and headed back to camp for a group photo:

Clif was hosting an 80’s party, so soon our camp was filled with all sorts of rad fashion:

One of our teammates brought his costume box, so those of us who weren’t as prepared as Ms. Erica here could still join in the fun:

So. Much. Awesome.

I hadn’t really brought a full costume for the party since I figured I’d just finish racing about the time it started. But I did find some crimped colorful hair extensions that I tucked into my bag. There was one black one that I pinned on Todd as a makeshift rat tail. So stylin’!

Sadly, the 80’s party was a little bit of a disappointment when we got there. They turned off the 80’s music for some country western band (?!?) so a lot of us abandoned the party to go spectate an impromptu beer mile happening in another part of the campground. It was fun to cheer on that insanity and then we headed back to camp. By that point, we could hear that the 80’s party had ramped up, but we were too tired to go back.

The next morning, Todd and I had a leisurely morning at camp and then headed down to cheer on the sprint and olympic athletes. It was such a blast to cheer for everyone and see OTC kick some major ass. We stationed ourselves in the same bike course spot as yesterday and got to see most of the olympic distance folks pass by on the bike. Then, we went back and packed up camp. Originally, we were told that the roads were closed until 3, so I was planning to pack up and then go down to the finish to cheer. But, after we’d packed up, we noticed cars leaving the campground and decided to press our luck. I had to catch a plane to North Carolina early the next morning, so any extra time to pack my suitcase and be at home was too tempting to pass up. I was super bummed to miss the finish line antics and hear everyone’s race stories, but I will plan better for next year and not have a stupid business trip right non the heels of this race.

As you might imagine, I am already planning ahead for next year. I definitely have unfinished business with this course and a head full of plans on how to improve. Stay tuned for Wildflower: the redemption edition post in 2019! Huge thanks to all of my OTC peeps. This would have been such a huge bummer of a weekend without you!

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Wildflower part one: the “what happened” edition

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For those unfamiliar with triathlon culture or who haven’t had to listen to me yammer on about my doings (you lucky bastards!), Wildflower is an iconic race that’s been around for ~35 years. It bills itself as the “Woodstock of triathlon” which is pretty accurate. It’s this weird combination of hippie festival and Type A sporting event. And I’ve wanted to do it for as long as I’ve known about it – approximately ten years or so. But logistics of flying to a race where you need to camp combined training for an early May half ironman in the Pacific Northwest were too daunting. Then, after we moved back to CA, the drought had taken it’s toll on the event – the lake levels continued to drop until last year when they had to cancel it.

So, when the announcement came that Wildflower was coming back, I decided this was a sign from the universe and pulled the trigger pretty early. I’d been wanting a big goal to train for and now I lived close enough to be able to drive my ridiculous amounts of stuff there. Plus, as an added bonus, OTC announced it as a club race, so there were a ton of people to train and camp with. Huzzah!

Spring rocketed by and, before I knew it, it was time to pack up the car and head to Lake San Antonio!

I wanted to get there early so that we could settle in and not do a big three hour drive the day before the race. I was very glad I did, because there was a little bit of drama with our camping sites. The club had been promised ten reserved sites, but between the event organizers not really marking them and mis-communication over which campgrounds were first-come/first-serve, we only had three. Thankfully, our president carries caution tape in his truck, (WTF Charlie?) so we hastily marked off some open space:

But, thankfully we got that resolved and we could settle into the serious business of glamping. Charlie’s hammock got the party started:

Then Todd raised the ante with his inflatable couch and travel bar:

And then it just went from there. Todd and I have met our match!

The next morning we went down to the festival/race start. I knew this was a big race, but looking at the transition area was the first solid indication:

The swim start/finish. The long concrete hill to climb after swimming was an especially nice touch…

There were these cool steps with the winners’ names on them. It was basically a greatest hits list of racers in this sport. It reminded me of the bricks at Ironman Canada in Penticton – such a sense of triathlon history.

They also had these big cut-outs of famous past racers (I assume?) set up around the park. It was pretty cool.

It was hard to stay off your feet and rest before the race. There was a huge expo to look at, packets to pick-up, food trucks, music, etc. But I finally tore myself away and went back to the camp site to put my feet up and watch Erica hang the disco ball:

You heard me, disco ball!

The majority of the group had shown up by this point, so we had a great afternoon/evening of hanging out and chatting:

Then it was time to go to bed because the next morning was race day! (I have butterflies just typing that.) Ear plugs and melatonin helped me get a few hours, but I did my usual tossing and turning, followed by the butterflies/pit of dread in my stomach when it’s time to get up. It’s weird that I choose to do a sport where I don’t actually enjoy competing. I love to train for a goal, but the actual racing – not so much.

So, as I gathered my backpack of race gear and headed down to the start, I was doing my usual pre-race warm-up of breathing/trying not to cry/going to the porta-potty a million times.  The transition area now looked like this, so I had LOTS of company:

Photo credit: Erica Hruby

I hadn’t really planned well for a bright and sunny start line (note for next year, bring cheap sunglasses… ) and was generally feeling rattled. They said that transition would be closed at 8, 45 minutes before my start time and I didn’t know if I would see Todd beforehand with the huge crowd, so I had to leave my watch and wedding ring in transition instead of giving them to him. By the time I saw him, I was a little bit of a mess. He’s seen this movie before, to he hugged me and helped me into my wetsuit and generally calmed me down.

We found a place to sit on the dock and watched the swim waves start. It was good to take a minute to chill and gather myself. I was still super nervous, but feeling okay. Way too soon, it was time to put on my hot pink swim cap and join my wave. I gave Todd a final hug good-bye and headed over.

The swim start is super narrow and I’ve heard many stories of getting punched and kicked, so I started way in the back of my wave. As usual, the adrenaline of the race start had my heart rate through the roof, so I did my customary stop/breast-stroke for a couple of strokes to look at where I was heading, get my breathing under control and find my rhythm. I’ve done this so many times and while I’m not a fast swimmer, I am a steady one. I usually settle into a nice stroke, find a line a little off the buoy line, so I’m not getting swum over by faster swimmers behind me and get it done.

But this time, I just couldn’t seem to catch my breath. I stopped and breast-stroked a few more times and it just wasn’t working, so I finally stopped at one of the safety kayaks and paused for a little while trying to figure out what to do. (The poor 20-something on the kayak had no idea what to do with me, so thankfully my only real option was to keep swimming – either back to shore or to finish the course.) I started to feel better and so I headed out again.

The swim course is a big triangle and my kayak stop was probably a third of the way up the first side of the the triangle and I was finally starting to feel better and get into my groove a little bit. Then when I made it to the turnaround point (the top of the triangle) it felt like someone stepped on my chest. I moved over to the side, so I wasn’t in the way of all the swimmers, but I was seriously freaking out (which didn’t really help things). I was wheezing and thinking about all of Todd’s pre-heart attack symptoms and various bad scenarios.

So, when the second 20-something kayaker asked if I was okay, I was like “I don’t think so?” Like the first one, he didn’t really know what to do once I said I thought I needed to stop, but thankfully he found a lady with a radio who did. I cried on his kayak for a bit while the medical team came over to give me a ride back to shore. They handed me off to some nice paramedics (one of whom made my day by asking my age and then doing a double take when I told him. It’s the little things, right?) The paramedics checked me out, ran an EKG and listened to my lungs. They asked me a million questions and didn’t really have any explanation for me, but at least I could rule out my horror scenarios.

I walked up the ramp to meet Todd and had a good cry saying good-bye to the race day I wanted and accepting the one that I got. I was full of doubts that I’d done the right thing. (Was it lack of fitness? Was it an anxiety attack? Would it happen again?) Thankfully, my many years of doing this sport kicked in and I had to accept that even if I’d “toughened up” and made it back to shore, I was in no shape to tackle a long, hot, hilly bike ride and would likely have not made the bike cut-off. That mental picture went a long way and helped me be thankful that I could listen to my body, even when I didn’t like what it was saying. Plus, having my race end on the swim meant that I could still cheer Catherine on the bike and run. Stay tuned for part two!

Race Report: Catalina Marathon

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I’d be lying if I said that I thought this race would be easy. I mean, look at the elevation profile FFS:

CatalinaMary-RaceElevationThe course basically goes from one side of the island to the other:

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This means you have to get on a boat that leaves at five am. (It also means that your poor husband has to get up at zero:dark:thirty and figure out how to drive a golf cart, so that he can drive his wife to the boat dock. He’s a saint.) As you might expect, a pre-race boat full of runners is very quiet:

CatalinaMary-EarlyMorningBoatLike any runner worth her salt, I’d been watching the weather forecast for the last month of so. It had been pretty consistently 71 degrees, but about a week ago it shot up to 81. Then yesterday we heard that they were expecting temps in the 90’s. The day moved from crazy to ridiculous. Temps on the boat were still cool, but when we docked at 6:30 it was already in the 60’s – as warm as the mild days we’d been enjoying in Seattle.

The race organizers were kind enough to let folks leave early if we were so inclined, so I took them up on it and hit the road. First, I hit the restroom (like with lights and flushing toilets! Height of luxury!!!) and took a picture of the sunrise over the harbor. After I ran it through Instagram it looked more like something you’d paint on a van, but still pretty:

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We kicked off the race with a nice long hill. This would become the theme of my day. Looking through my photos, it was pretty funny to see pictures of hills:

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Followed by pictures of pretty views:

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This dichotomy really defines this race. It is brutally difficult, but also breathtakingly beautiful. I tried really hard to let go of my expectations for the day and just let it unfold.

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The worst part is that while you’d be climbing this hill…

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you’d look to your left and see this:

CatalinaMary09In case you can’t tell, those tiny specks are runners going up a giant hilly switchback.

CatalinaMary10-labelsBut for every one of these…

CatalinaMary12You’d get this…

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As I ran/walked along, the analogy popped in my head that the Catalina Marathon was basically a very pretty, but very mean girl. Which kicked off a volley of “Mean Girls” quotes. The mind is quite a fascinating machine…

But as the temperatures rose, it got harder and harder to keep spirits up. As I reached the halfway point, it became readily apparent that it was going to be a very long day. I’d be lying if I said that I didn’t think about quitting. But the combo of having pulled the plug on the last standalone marathon and the only potential ride that I had was the paramedics, made it really hard to quit. So, I trudged along, running where I could and trying to stay on top of my eating and drinking.

Early on in the race, I’d seen this sign. Regrettably, I didn’t see any foxes. But I was hoping to see bison.

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Then, almost exactly at the 20 mile marker, I saw this guy. I thought I might be hallucinating, but a couple of other runners ahead of me were taking his picture as well.

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To add insult to injury, I couldn’t get a cell signal to text T and let him know that I was going to be at least an hour and a half later than projected. (Or two hours, as it turned out… ) It wasn’t until I reached this point:

CatalinaMary18-labelsThe combination of being able to see our condo complex and the fact that around this hill was the cell tower for the island made me check my phone.

CatalinaMary17And sure enough, I was able to get a text through. There was a beautiful view of Avalon from up there. The phrase “so close, but yet so far” has never been more true…

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I’m a far better descender than I am a climber, so I’d been sort of counting on being able to bomb down some hills at the end of this race. But in the cruel way of 22 miles of punishment, my body had other plans – every time I’d descend, my abs would cramp like someone was stabbing me. So the descents were a little more run/walk/whimper than I wanted. Not to mention that walking down steepish downhills really hurts your quads and swollen feet. This was definitely the lowest point.

As we got closer to town, I just decided to run as much as I could and get this stupid, godforsaken race over with. Surprisingly, I was able to pass some people with my crampy, old-lady shuffle. The course goes right through the botanic garden (a fact I would only discover the next day when we visited it, as I was in a total pain haze.) Bros on golf carts rode by and I cursed them in my head.

Thankfully, I wasn’t killed by any of the rental golf carts and I navigated my way into town. Then, with one mile left, I saw T, Erik and Nerissa. They cheered mightily and ran with me down the homestretch. The race photographer got this shot that captured the moment nicely.

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(I pretty much have to purchase and make some sort of t-shirt, coffee mug or poster out of it, don’t you think?)

Nerissa got a much better shot of my finish. (I’m giving the race announcer the thumbs up because he pronounced my last name correctly. Score!)

CatalinaMary-FinishLineT also got the best post-race picture of me:

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I can’t believe how difficult this race was. I would say it’s the hardest race I’ve ever done. I am extremely proud of myself for finishing and have already caught myself thinking about what I’d do differently to train for future attempts. (What can I say, it’s a sickness!)

Afterward, there was: dunking my poor feet in the ocean, a long and heavenly bath, eating and drinking all of the things and a really wonderful dinner out. I am so grateful to T, Erik and Nerissa for cheering me on. I also have to give Nerissa a shout-out for doing her first 10k today on an impressively hilly double-loop course. Apparently, the madness is contagious! 😉

Return to the Hot Chocolate 15k

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It’s been two years since I’ve done this race. (That pesky Hawaii trip interfered last year… ) I wanted to get a little “race practice” in before Catalina and this race landed perfectly on the schedule. In order to keep my training on track, I opted to do a 2-hour trail run yesterday. Unfortunately, I was meeting a group of folks, so I couldn’t bring Mr. Austin. He was not impressed:

0215_PoorAustinGiven my Saturday exploits, I wasn’t sure what to expect from today. My goals were to get a final test of some of my planned race attire and get some good, steady, hilly mileage.

I’d forgotten what a cluster it is to get to races at the Seattle Center, especially when the course is on one of the major roads to get there. Poor T had to drop me off half a mile away and then wrangle traffic to find someplace to hang out for a couple of hours. (He’s a good boy.) Bonus, I got a bit of a warm-up before the race and happened upon the totally empty and pristine row of porta-potties by the finisher area.

They’ve improved their process and I was in the fifth corral. They sent groups off at three minute intervals, so it didn’t take long to be able to see the start line.

0215_HC15k-startI lined up at the front of my corral, so was able to run right from the start. I wasn’t feeling 100%, but was able to keep a nice steady pace going up the hills and enjoy recovering by bombing the downhills. The weather was perfect and I had plenty of company:

0215_HC15k-midwayAfter the finish, I picked up my GIANT finisher’s medal and bowl of sugar. Then walked over to meet up with T and spare him having to drive closer to the circus. Seriously, look at this thing, it looks like Mr. T designed it:

0215_MrTmedalNow that taper has officially begun, I pity the fool who has to deal with me!

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Deception Pass 25k

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The big day has finally arrived: race day! After a scintillating day of work, we drove up north and checked into our hotel. It was Austin’s first time in a motel. He made himself comfortable, as is his custom:

DP-AustinHotelKing-sized bed means everyone has plenty of space, especially yours truly!

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I don’t know if it was all of the great group training runs or if ignorance is bliss, but I was feeling strangely at ease going into this race. I set up my gear and settled in for a good nights sleep:

DP-PreRaceSetupThe next morning, I was up just before my alarm. (Thanks Austin!) I have my pre-run routine down pretty well at this point, so it was a pretty calm morning, (except for the wrong turn out of the hotel. Gah!) But despite that little hiccup, we made it there with plenty of time to check in and all that jazz.

The boy even took a pre-race picture of me, all raring to go:

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Trail races take low tech to a whole other level. After checking in, I followed a crowd of people out to the parking lot. Where we milled around until someone yelled instructions over a bullhorn and we queued up in a different part of the parking lot. 😉

DP-StartLineAfter some hilarious pre-race instructions, (the gist of which was “don’t fall off of a cliff”) we were off. It was very crowded at the start. The woman in front of me was clearly very frustrated by this, but I just took it easy and didn’t waste any energy.

DP-RaceStartEventually it spread out a bit:

DP-scenery1(It helped that people like me would stop to take photos… )

Eventually, the trail got much more technical. I couldn’t help snapping pics of the scenery as we went along. Some of them weren’t in focus, but still pretty. It was hard to believe we’d be crossing that bridge (twice).

DP-scenery2Given that this was the course map, I was really worried about getting lost:

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But they did a really good job of marking the trail. Which can’t have been easy:

DP-trail1As we went along, it seemed like the views just got better and better:

DP-scenery4DP-trail3DP-scenery8I mean, seriously! Look at this!

DP-trail4While I was taking the picture above, a nice racer behind me offered to take my photo:

DP-midrunAs the race wore on, I won’t lie – I was tired! The trails were very technical and there was quite a lot of climbing. Some of it was very similar to trails we’d run in training, so I was grateful for that experience. But there were things hurting that hadn’t hurt before, so there were definitely tough points. Signs like this definitely didn’t help:

DP-signNot to mention there were sections of trail that involved climbing over downed trees. This is definitely not a sport for the faint of heart.

DP-trail5The wheels were starting to come off a little bit. I wanted to just lie down next to the trail and take a little nap, but I pressed on. Unfortunately for me, the toughest part of the course is second half:

DP-ElevationProfileIt has these steep, relentless climbs that not even the beautiful views could overcome. (I was too dizzy from being out of breath to enjoy much of anything.) I wheezed my way up them and cursed the course makers and geography in general. The “good” thing about trail running is there really isn’t any option to quit. So, I put my head down and got it done. All time goals had gone out the window by this point, so it was just about finishing the thing.

I’d been trading places with the lady who’d taken my picture at the mid-way point and as we closed on the final mile, she and I were very close together. Her significant other was cheering her in and was kind enough to add me to the mix. He assured us that there was one last hill and then we just had to run a little bit more to the finish line. (That turned out to be a strange run through the parking lot, but there weren’t any more hills!) He’d raced also, so he didn’t want to run up that hill again, so he shouted encouragement and off we went. I don’t think I’ve ever been so happy to cross a finish line. That race was TOUGH.

The boy was there cheering, as were a number of ladies from my training group. I pretty much crossed the finish line and went right to the pizza line. (That’s right, someone was making wood-fired pizza at the finish. Trail running rocks!) T had to take over my spot because I needed to sit. He loaded me up with a bunch of snacks and the world’s most delicious Coca Cola. I cheered and snacked until he brought me pizza. It was perfection.

Then I changed out of my sweaty clothes and we hit the road for home. I’d had these grandiose notions of going out for a delicious dinner, but, when all was said and done, I had no energy for anything other than a hot bath and ordering a pizza which I ate on the couch. As always, T was an amazing support crew. He wrangled the dogs for the many hours that I raced and then drove home and took excellent care of me. He’s the best.

Snoqualmie Valley 10k “race” report

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For the run part of our training plan, we needed to get 10k race times to calculate paces for speed work. Since neither of us has run a 10k since the Dog Dash (which wasn’t actually 10k, as it turned out.) So, I signed us up for the Snoqualmie Valley 10k, a nice little race out in Carnation. They had pretty fantastic SWAG for such a small race:

RaceSwag

It turned out to be the same day as the Rock & Roll half in Seattle, so road closures made for an earlier arrival time than I’d originally planned. But that just gave us plenty of time to park, stand in the porta-potty line and take silly pictures of T in front of said porta-potties:

Pre10k-T(I like that he’s wearing the shirt from his PR 10k… A good luck charm, for sure!)

The 10k was the perfect sized group – not so crowded that I had to weave through big crowds, but enough folks that I wasn’t running by myself the whole time. T of course was way in front of me, but it was an out-and-back, so we got to do our requisite high five out on the course. The race photos turned out to be surprisingly decent:

T-10k1 M-10k2 M-10k3 T-10k3You can tell T is taking this much more seriously than yours truly. But his hard work paid off, he ended up being SECOND in his age group (of 11, in case you were wondering.) He was sixth when we looked at the results on site, but when we checked later he’d moved up to second. It was a bummer because we would have stayed for the awards if we’d known.

I paced myself better than I have in a running race in quite a long time. I’ve forgotten how much 10k’s hurt though, I crossed the finish line and pretty much immediately laid down on the grass for a good solid five minutes. Then ate all of the pretzels and m&m’s. And was pretty much done for the rest of the day. Yeeesh.

 

 

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:

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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:

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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:

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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.