I usually kick off my racing season at Destination Trail’s Fragrance Lake Half Marathon in Bellingham in February, but I have been feeling back on track after my fall reset and have been able to get in some solid training. Rather than waiting, we decided to begin the year with Rainshadow Running’s Orcas Island 25km because #whyrunanywhereelse?
I’ve raced on Orcas once before at the inaugural Orcas Island Marathon. It was my first trail marathon and it was obvious in the way that I raced it. The weather provided some challenges for that race, with a hail storm causing me to stop at the top of Mt. Pickett and put on a shell for protection. (In hindsight, I wasted way too much time fumbling with the jacket when I could have gotten away without it. Ah, well.)
|On the ferry with Mitch and Scarlett
A snow storm tormented us the days before the race, threatening a course change if the predicted 6-8 inches fell on top of Mt. Constitution. This would prevent crew and emergency vehicle access, so a snow route was sent out two days before. Luckily, the storm was downgraded and the morning of the race, it was announced that there would be no course change.
We stayed at the Rosario Resort and Spa in the same room as in 2015. Instead of eating at our usual Hogstone’s Wood Oven, which is closed for the season, we ate at the Rosario Lounge in the center of the mansion. I was blown away by their pizzas. Easily the best I have ever had. I still find myself thinking about it…
The resort is all set to welcome Rainshadow Runners for the next two weeks as runners come in for the 50km this weekend and the 100-miler the following weekend. We felt very well taken care of, and it was fun to check out the upstairs museum and read about the history of the mansion and Moran State Park.
I expected to wake up to rain so was relieved to pull the blinds open to a dry morning. After check-in, I warmed up with Tad, Scarlett and Mitch – just like the usual Saturday morning long run.
Rainshadow Running legend and one of my favorite trail runners, Doug McKeever, saved the day by giving me quick bathroom access in his camp cabin strategically located right beside the start line literally 5 minutes before the start. Thank you, Doug!
|Following Mitch through the slush.
One of my favorite moments at a race is the start line because everyone is gathered together, and you get to say hello to friends, give hugs and well wishes. There was no shortage of hugs before this race. I am so grateful for the good people in my life (I’m talking about you Doug, Scarlett, Mitch, Nichole, Christian, Jennifer, Bill and Marie!)
Scarlett tailed me the first 5.5 miles which was really comforting until we hit The Power Line and I latched on to Mitch. Together we *powered* up the climb away from the strung-out pack we started with until we were isolated, trudging our way up and up and up. Snow and slush began to appear, and the wind picked up.
(I made the mistake of forgetting a water cup so I could not get water at the two aid stations, so I went the whole race without any water. Duh!)
The two-mile section of trail that connects the top of The Powerline to the bottom of the Mt. Constitution climb is my favorite trail. But on this day, it was covered in slick slush and downed trees that are not conducive for short legs. I awkwardly had to hurl myself over the large trunks cowboy style, and scurry to catch back up to Mitch.
Mitch kept an honest pace up to the Mt. Constitution look-out and then once at the top, we admired the view that wasn't there, and proceeded carefully to the descent. There was about 3-4 inches of wet sloppy slush to splash through for several miles until Cold Springs. Glenn Tachiyama was in his usual spot capturing the essence of the race. Thanks for being out there, regardless of weather, Glenn!
|What a view! PC: Glenn Tachiyama
The last five miles, Mitch and I worked to try and finish under 2:30. I took the lead on the final descent thinking we were definitely going to be sub 2:30. But then a half mile to go there was this annoying short steep hill that put an end to that dream. Aw well.
I ended up finishing in 2:31:40, first female and fifth overall. Full results here.
I attempted a very pathetic cool down backwards on the course to cheer on the racers as they came through, but it was more like a shuffle walk with lots of whining. I was a hurting pup after this race!
After changing into warm dry clothes, we feasted on an impressive spread of pizza, wraps, salads, fruit and cookies while hearing the play-by-play of fellow racers. We couldn’t hang for long in order to make the 2:10 pm ferry. On the way to the terminal, we missed the turn and ended up getting pulled over for speeding. Oi vey. Luckily, the police officer was very kind and understanding and let us go with just a warning. Double win!
|Hanging with the Bellingham Crew.
Thank you to the entire Rainshadow Running Team for always ensuring our safety and a good time. It was an honor to kick off my 2018 season with you.
|James Varner, the brains behind Rainshadow Running
I am extremely grateful for the continued support of my main sponsors in 2018:
- · La Sportiva
- · Lily Trotters
- · Native Eyewear
- · Terrain Gym
- · Align Chiropractic
- · Prime Massage & Sports Medicine
- · Trail Butter
It’s teamwork that makes the dream work and I have an incredible team of people who believe in my dream.
I am already looking forward to the Fragrance Lake Half Marathon on February 17, one month out from Chuckanut 50k. I hope to see you there!
|Hooray for high-fives!