Thursday, February 04, 2016


"they have weird rain here."
where'd you go baby buffalo?
what's become of old cotton eyed joe?
holed-up, lying low
long gone come a summertime snow

~ james taylor
this may have been my favorite day of trail running ever.

rain was forecast at the 2016 orcas island 25k, along with chilly temperatures.

instead, there was snow.

important meteorological note: running in snow beats running in cold rain 10 times out of ten. and twice on saturdays.

race notes: there's some climbing on this course. about 4,450 feet of it, according to the rainshadow running web site. i have no quarrel with this estimate.

you start out climbing, then give back everything you just gained. you reallyreally climb up the powerline trail, then give a bunch of that back. getting to the aid station at the top of mt. constitution? more climbing. all of which you give back over the last 5-ish miles.

the first time i ran this race, my quads hated me for the next three days. this time? no pain at all. throughout the race, i felt strong and relaxed and oops, i fell down. 

see the nice, gentle downhill that starts at about mile 8? man, that is some fantastic running. the trail is buttery soft, snow was wafting through the canopy, everything was still and quiet...except for the sound of me falling. ooof. i landed on my right side and rolled onto my back.

"are you okay?!" asked the nice woman running in front of me. "yup, i'm good," i said, popping back up again. because falling while trail running happens.

two minutes later: boom. down onto hands and knees.

"are you okay?!?" asked the same nice woman in front of me, perhaps concerned i was having some sort of cerebrovascular event. "yup, i'm good," i said again. "thank you for asking." because falling twice while running on a completely benign trail is a little embarrassing.
earlier i said something about this being my favorite trail day ever. that was my exact thought, in fact, while running the fall-down trail.

in retrospect, i think it's because i was in the zone the entire way. i was working hard on the no-kidding-around ascents, but the effort was effortless. there were a couple idiopathic falls, but they were of no concern or consequence. there was snow, which was beautiful, instead of rain, which is wet. my hands and feet got icy-cold at the top of mt. constitution, but they warmed right back up again within a mile.

at the bottom of the last descent, i started to feel the same leg cramp i got while running this section two years ago. then, it hit hard and took awhile to work out. this day it never really took hold, and i ran right past it. or through it. or something.

in no time at all i was finish-line high-fiving race director james varner, two minutes faster than two years ago.

soon, friends were crossing the finish line as well, getting their own high-fives. dry clothes were donned, food and beer consumed. photos, smiles, more finishes, more food. and beer.

finally, an exceptionally cool thrift shop shirt (with the 2016 orcas 25k logo on the back) was triumphantly pulled from a big box of shirts that went unnoted and unmarauded before the race. huge score.

standing here today, i can't think of a thing i'd change.

yup. best trail day...yet.
thank you, rainshadow cast and crew (especially those of you enduring the bone-chilling conditions at the top). none of it was possible without you. just kidding about the soup, colton gerhart.
2016 orcas island 25k

55/254 (overall)
4/24 (m 50-59)

shoes: altra lone peak 2.5
song stuck in my head the entire run: "baby buffalo," by james taylor

No comments: