Up. Up. Up.
A chorus of heavy breathing.
Heart thumping in my ears, drowning out my tunes.
Immediate acceptance... it's going to be one long ass day.
Up. Up. Up.
|Data Via Garmin|
Mile 1 - 6
The Orcas Island 50k begins with a hillacious bang....three miles of road climbing up a mountain. The incline is runnable (for the most part) but there's a whole lotta race left.... It's a delight when we turn into the forest....Glorious singletrack awaits and we're finally chuggin' along....And even better, we start heading down, down, down.... As the terrain becomes more technical, I allow the much braver to pass. Cautiously, I descend into the first aid station an hour before cutoff.
Mile 6 - 14
For about 3 miles, the course SEEMS flat.... I'm just having a blast .... Western Washington has incredible trails. I feel overwhelmed with gratitude that I'm finally doing this again. Time flies and I'm climbing again.... up, up, up ..... but then descending down, down, down .... I'm entangled in a game of leapfrog with several others. The climbs are steep enough that calves begin to rebel but I'm still feeling strong. I notice that others are beginning to struggle but I have to remain hyper-focused...I offer words of encouragement but continue pushing, never stopping. At the second aid station, I chug down a cup of soda and quickly march forward. Knowing that I'll be seeing my husband soon offers a huge morale boost.
Mile 14 - 20
I remember very little about this stretch. Constant up and down....calves and quads.... what muscle group will implode first?!? I began to run along with a couple which proved a nice distraction. Even being socially awkward, I feel instantly bonded with the strangers that I share race miles with.... We're on an amazing adventure together.... It's hard to understand, I'll admit.
Seeing my husband waiting at the aid station is wonderful....We don't have to say much or anything....It's just everything knowing he's there. I'm so grateful for his reminder that the BIG climb is coming [not]. He helps me refill the hydration pack and another cup o' soda goes down the hatch. I'm only ahead of the cutoff by 40 minutes, I have to get going.... A smooch later and I'm out....
Mile 20 - 25
What a ROUGH stretch! This race is known for a 2 mile, 2000' vertical climb entitled 'The Powerline'.... It's a calve killer..... And it comes at a point where your calves already hate you. I was hiking / cursing the universe with five others. I'm REALLY grateful that I didn't have to trespass this section alone. I only had to stop for a couple breathers - more to mentally recharge than anything. An hour and a couple false summits later, I was overjoyed to be running again.... But not for long! Three miles later, the time came to conquer the final major climb.... One mile UP, UP, UP. Bending slightly over, hands on knees....I charged forward.... UP, UP, UP.... I began passing people.... UP, UP, UP.... Don't stop, just move. At the final aid station, I wanted to take a couple moments before tackling the five mile downhill stretch to the finish. I emptied my pack of anything I didn't need and scarfed down some Doritos. I could now relax knowing that I would finish ahead of the final cutoff, even if I had to walk the whole way.
TO THE FINISH!
Less than a mile into the final stretch, I came upon the race photographer - the famous Glenn Tachiyama.... Of course, he was perched atop a slight incline that I had been walking... I laughed and said, "OK, OK.... I'll pretend I am running!"
I was smiling the entire way to the finish.... The miles came relatively easy and I knew that beer was waiting. Nothing like the pull of a cold one! Unfortunately, I do not have a glorious shot of me finishing because Jeff was hunkered down in the car with a sick Colton (migraine).
After the race, we headed straight for the ferry terminal and began our journey home. I am so pleased with how this race went. There wasn't a single moment where I even thought about quitting. No stomach issues. No hideous lows. Just 8 hours of immense gratitude and joy.
Fuel: A mixture of 2/3 Raspberry Tailwind and 1/3 Lemonade Powder (About 500 - 600 calories)
Snickers PB Square (100 calories)
(3) 6 ounce cups of Coke (Maybe 200 calories)
Pre-Race: 1/2 Chocolate Muffin, 1/2 Blueberry Muffin....Each side smothered in almond butter