|How do you like them apples?|
After running consistently for a couple weeks, it was time to start thinking about racing. Evergreen Trail Runs hosts a series of trail runs showcasing some of Washington's finest landscapes. As my 2013 racing debut, we chose to sign up for the Echo Valley 10K in Chelan. Echo Valley is the "wine country of Washington" and Chelan (pronounced like the "she" in "shepherd" and "lan" as in "oh my land!") is a top vacation spot for Washingtonians due to its endless sunshine.
Tad and I took the beautiful drive through North Cascades National Park a couple weekends ago to check out the course. Once on the other side of the mountains, the climate changed drastically from wet, moss-covered rainforest to dry, sunny and desert. All around are vineyards, apple and cherry trees.
|Warming up in the Inov-8 Terroc 308|
The trail system at Echo Ridge has over 20 miles of smooth dusty trails with views of Lake Chelan, the Enchantments, Pyramid Peak and the Okanogan Highlands. The 10K course totaled 900 feet of elevation gain and the trails were very runnable. You could really get moving on them unlike the trails in western Washington that are gnarled with roots, rocks and mud. This was going to be a perfect race for dusting off the cobwebs after 4 months off with an Achilles injury.
Echo Valley was sponsored by Vindu Lac of Chelan, one of the top Wineries in the region, and was named “Winery of the Year” in 2010. Race participants were treated to special deals and discounts at Vin du Lac’s tasting room and restaurant, including 20% off all wine, and 10% off all food and merchandise. Naturally, we took advantage of this and bought 2 bottles of wine - a white and a red.
|Top of the 900ft climb|
We camped out the night before - something I have never done, but it worked out just as well as staying in a hotel. The early rising sun had us up at 5am and after hanging out at Starbucks with coffee and a bagel, we headed to the course. The 50 mile race was already going on when we arrived and the 50K was to start at 8:30am, followed by the half-marathon and the 10K at 9:30am. I decided to race in the Inov-8 F-lite 240's and they turned out to be perfect for this particular hard-packed terrain. The 240's are unisex, but their performance fit was very comfortable. I stayed conservative at the start and then at a mile I passed the first man to take the overall lead. The rest of the race I ran solo, following the extremely well marked ribbons and arrows. When I came through the finish, I was treated with a bottle of wine and congratulatory hugs and handshakes. My time of 44:02 breaks the previous women's record by over 6 minutes. I couldn't have asked for a more perfect debut after being off for so long. The effort was perfect for my current fitness level and the distance stressed my body enough, but not too much. This was my first race since December and it feels so good. Today I am so full of joy and gratitude.
|First Finish in 6 months!!!|
|This calls for celebration!|
A big thank you to Roger Michel and Jerry Gamez for organizing and directing such a great event. I look forward to participating in more Evergreen Trail Runs in the future for the fun, the camaraderie, the challenge and hopefully, more wine.