Thursday, February 14, 2013

Running Happy at ORCAS ISLAND 50km!!!

"RUN HAPPY" is a line I had on one of my favorite Brooks t-shirts and it is for sure my mantra for 2013. I did Orca's Island last year and was gearing up for it this year as my first race of the season. In all honesty, I was not looking that forward to it and I am sure it's because last year I started really fast and felt mediocre the entire way and just felt like I had a pretty lack luster finish. All this on top of the fact that James had made the course harder this year!

I'll digress by stating that James Varner puts on hands down the funnest races ever. The races are always challenging and are centralized around a big party. The thing I love almost more than the running is the sense of community and fun James brings to his races. I know that going to a Rainshadow Running event = GOOD TIMES!

With that said, I changed my mind set, and focused on running happy, meeting new people, seeing old faces, and having a hell of a good time. I was heading down to the race with my good friend and running partner Shauna. We knew we weren't going to make the 4pm ferry and the next one wasn't until 7:10pm so we took our time getting to Anacortes. We arrived around 5pm and decided to go check out the terminal cafe. Now, I have to digress one more time by saying that a road trip with me is always an adventure. Now by adventure, I mean, a lot of random acts of in-saneness happen. Within minutes I had successfully cause random act of in-saneness # 1: locked my keys in the car in the ferry line-up.

CRAP! I address the issue as I realize it right away and I can see the keys laying perfectly on the dash board. Shauna and I have a very relaxed attitude towards things and instead of freaking out, we calmly approach the first employee we see (wearing a safety vest).

"Excuse me, do you know where and who I can call if I locked my keys in my car?"

"Your lookin' at him"

(Elated smiles cross both Shauna and I's faces)

"I do this all the time and so far I'm batting 100%"

"Are you serious, you can do this?"

"Ya, I have this special pump that I use, works every time"

So we figure out that this guy is the man and his name is Les. He grabs his special tools and we make our way back to my car. Within 5-10 solid minutes, Les has my car opened with the alarm sounding. I don't even turn it off as it's providing the perfect music to do a happy dance and parade around like I just won the lottery. After checking to ensure I have the keys we make our way back to our intended destination...the ferry terminal cafe. As we walk by Les, we catch him saying to his colleague "I'm still batting 100%" whilst wiping the dirt off his shoulda'.

The ferry was quick and dirty and before we knew it we were on Orcas Island. Woot woot! The was a live band playing at the Island Hoppin' Brewery which is a new brewery in town and we quickly made our way there. I had a Kolsh beer and Shauna had a smoked Amber Ale that smelt like smoked salmon (in a good way). The band, the pine hearts (or something similar), we playing and it's a mix of folk and blue grass, the kind of music you can't help but dance to. Since we arrived late, I settled on some rapid bobbing with my feet firmly planted on the ground. We ended up in some awesome conversation with a few different people who would become very familiar over the course of the weekend. Shout out's to Jim (you know who you are) the amazing volunteer at the top of Mt. Constitution!

Around 10pm we left and made our way to Camp Moran where we had intended to tent it. However, when we arrived, a party was still happening in the cafeteria area and James was still handing out bibs. We picked ours up and inquired about any openings in any of the bunk houses. Initially we were told no but minutes later we were told there were....wonderful! Somehow, things just have a way of working out. We get the headlamps on and find some beds and go to sleep.

I rose in the morning but not to my alarm as I had anticipated. It did not go off at 6:30am like I had planned. Rather, I got up at 7am but no big deal. Shauna and I went and ate some oatmeal in the 'caf' and relaxed as the early starters set off. I swear almost half the race began with the early start. Before long it was our turn.

Right from the get go I sunk in to a conservative pace with my pals Shauna and Pat. After a couple miles of single track we were spat out onto many miles of uphill on a concrete road. I tried to keep it easy but ran the entire hill and stopped once to take a picture with Shauna as the view was spectacular. For the most part, the course seemed to be almost the reverse of last year which I really enjoyed. I ran with shauna for approx the first half of the race and was in such a great mental and physical space. Eventually we did part ways and I scurried off ahead. I continued to pass people and kept a consistent pace for the remainder of the run. Even though I was pushing a tad harder in the 2nd half, I was still in a very happy place. I should clarify one thing, running happy doesn't mean I am just dogging it. Running happy to me means that I am in such a place where I don't wish that I wasn't running or have thoughts dropping out.

I had no idea where I was in the pack the entire day, and on this day, that wasn't my concern. My goal race is Western States 100 at the end of June and I want to be peaking and do my very best on that day. I finished the race in 5th place in 5:54, which was about 20 minutes slower than last year. The course did have 1500 more meters of climbing than last year and last year I didn't enjoy the race very much because I went out to hard and suffered the whole way.

The post race food was amazing = lasagna, soup, sandwiches, chips, cake...and LOT'S OF BEER.

After a quick shower and change, Shauna and I went for an equally as fast trip into town to check out some of the galleries and shops. Before long it was dark and we were back drinking beers and listening to the awesome band play all night long. We met some awesome new folks from the island and danced the night away. Love this race. As always, I highly recommend this event to anyone and everyone. It's not easy but it sure is fun! I even got a hand painted Rainshadow Running trucker hat which is the only one of it's kind!

Next up is Dirty Duo 25km and Chuckanut 50km in March.

See you in the trails!