Sunday, February 12, 2012

A "Killer" Weekend At Orcas Island

I went into Orcas Island just hoping to have a great weekend of fun, but I didn't know how things would go for the race. Turned out both went great.

I traveled up with Amy Sproston, who was good company in the car and also a good navigator as she kept me on course even when I tried to drive us to the ferry terminal in Port Townsend instead of Anacortes. Perhaps when you download directions you should actually look at them! We made a stop at the Lululemon outlet for Amy - because I wasn't going to buy anything. Three pairs of shorts, two capris, and two tank tops later, I was ready to leave! We got to Monica Ochs' gorgeous house on the sound just as the sun was setting. Monica and her husband were fantastic hosts with dinner ready to serve as soon as we got there!

The next morning, we caught the super early ferry to Orcas Island with lots of other half asleep local racers. Race morning was cool, but there was not a cloud in sight - couldn't ask for more in early February.
Ready to run (after we shed a half dozen layers)! all photos: G. Tachiyama

At the start, Shawna took the lead (or so I thought) and I fell in line between Amy and Nicola Gildersleeve. On the first uphill, Amy asked if I wanted to pass. I was still getting warmed up and happy to follow her lead, but she soon pulled over anyway. On the first downhill, I let Nicola ahead, saying I thought she was more spritely than me on the descents. She confirmed my impression with a spin on the first switchback! She floated down the hill but I didn't seem to be getting dropped too badly and caught her early in the next climb, where she let me ahead. After a lot of up, up, up there was some nice smooth downhill and my legs were ready to run.

Running well on the downhill, though not well enough to look up!
I first caught a woman in head to toe Solomon gear and wondered who this Solomon-girl was as I hadn't even noticed her ahead of me at the start. It turned out to be Jen Segger, a super sweet Canadian with an awesome resume of ultras and adventure races, including the Orcas Island CR. I caught Shawna near the bottom of the descent to take the lead.

From there, I just felt like my legs kept getting stronger and I felt great all day. The second climb up the power lines was a killer, but there were lots of early starters to commiserate with and I knew I wasn't giving up any time. Really there only two low points in the race, both hard falls that shook me up and bloodied my knees and elbow, but otherwise caused more shock than damage. It has been a long time since I have fallen twice in one race!

The high point (literal and figurative) was the aid station on Mount Constitution. As the AS guy said to me (without meaning the pun), "Killer view, huh?" I responded, "Ha, ha funny" but he still didn't seem to get the joke. (Aside: Have you notice how successful orcas have been in their rebranding efforts. I mean, when I was a kid, we went to Sea World to see Killer Whales. They were fierce creatures that ate baby seals for breakfast. Now they are majestic Orcas capable of forming strong bonds with people, especially young boys trying to set them free. Nice job, Orcas. Almost as good as Classic Coke after that whole New Coke debacle. No wonder the guy didn't get the joke.)

Orcas Island AS with a "killer" view

I still felt great the last few miles around the lake, but the short uphill driveway to the finish felt like the hardest climb all day! Guess I was ready to be done! 8,000 feet of climbing makes for one tough 50k!

After the race, RD James and his girlfriend Candace throw a great party with live music, lots of great food and as many 6 oz juice glasses of beers as you can drink (first time I can say I had three beers after a race! - woohoo, party girl!).

A win is always nice, but I think the best part comes from knowing my weaknesses aren't so weak after all. I worried about pelvic pain, but with a little Ibuprofen it wasn't an issue at all. (I still have a "pinch" when I really flex my leg or sit for a long time so I am keeping my Valentine's day PT date). I wondered if I'd become too much of a "roadie" putting so much focus on worlds, but races like Miwok and Orcas are reminders that I do ok in the mountains, too (well, mountains without real elevation anyway. Life at 400 feet keeps me a little (a lot) underprepared for high elevations). And passing people on downhills is helping me get past my "I suck at downhill" attitude.

All around, a Killer weekend.

1 comment:

Tough Mudder said...

I love those pics, it was a nice post. Congratulations for a great job well done and looking forward always for more updates. Thanks for sharing !