Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Angel's Staircase 60K

I seriously considered pulling out of this race the week prior. Too much work, not enough sleep, and probably not enough calories had made me tired. The last thing I thought would be a great idea with my only 3 days off in several weeks was to drive 10 hours northward, run 60K, then drive 10 hours back. Jim left me a message mid week and deep down, I had hoped that he was having the same feelings. Near the end of Jim’s message he said something along the lines of how excited he was for the race. Well, that was that. I had committed earlier on and I couldn’t ditch out. The Element was sparsely packed and I headed north bound. Even though sleeping for days on end sounded amazing, that’s just not my style.

Most of the runners camped near the start the night before the race. I got the pleasure of sleeping in the Element, sunroof open, stars twinkling. The North Cascades are my favorite mountains and I was delighted to be sleeping at their eastern border, that was, until my sleeping pad went flat. Any sleeping condition beat what I had going on last year… waking up in the back of my Subaru which was parked on an incline, curled into a ball against my hatchback. So I dealt with my flat pad by not doing anything and reawoke a few hours later to my alarm and the silhouette of jagged peaks.

The course was longer this year due to an attempt at making the Forest Service happier than it was after last year. Now, instead of 7 miles of uphill single track right off the start, we had just over 10 miles of first road, then trail. It literally went up and up and up a road, then a trail in the woods, then a huge alpine meadow, then Sawtooth Ridge.

Somewhere in the last few miles of the first uphill, Jim suggested I go ahead. Figuring things would go awry somewhere later on, I mentioned him catching me along the trail and continued on upwards. Since I was now alone, without music, and with 30 or so miles left in my day I took off after the next group of people. Being alone all day sounded boring, so I had no other choice. Near the ridgeline I caught up to a few other females. I’ve never gotten the pleasure to run with such a strong group of ladies. Through out the day we ended up leap frogging each other and it couldn’t have been better. At times, ladies faster on the downhill would pass the ones who were faster on the uphill and vise versa.

During the second climb I heard another runner mention the other side of the mountain. Unfortunately I started repeating, “the other side of the mountain, the other side of the mountain…” you know, that ridiculous kids’ song about the bear going over the mountain. This was when I realized the audacity of that song. No wild animal just wanders over a mountain to see what it can see. Especially not bears. Bears go over mountains in an attempt to find food, a mate, or in an act of desperation to start a new life. The only animal that simply goes over the mountain to see what he or she can see is human. We go around looking at the other side of the mountain, and the next set of mountains, just because they are there.

So there I was, looking at the mountains and running with a rad group of ladies. The alpine lakes were incredible, the wildflowers were vibrant and unreal in size, mountain passes had stellar views, even the aid station volunteers were top notch. Seriously. One girl had on gold spandex, angel wings, and a shirt that read, “don’t just stand there, give me a hug.” I refrained because I hadn’t showered in a few days and at that point had been moving for 8 hours in hot-hot heat.

In my haste of trying to keep up with the fast ladies, I missed viewing alpaca at a lake and a trio of loincloth wearing individuals. No they were not in the same posse, although I bet that would make for an interesting weekend. Yitka and I did encounter a rattle snake a few miles before the finish, and from there on I jumped every time something rattled in the bushes.

After finishing the run, eating some of everything possible, and laying on the ground, a bunch of us talked about upcoming plans. Most runners will be attending at least one of the following: Cascade Crest 100, Cle Elum 50, Spokane 50 or a number of races in the Seattle/Bellingham area. This is the first time in a long time that I don’t have an upcoming race. Maybe I wont attend another running event until Orcas. Not quite sure. With some help from Jim, I did decide that I would enter a 100-mile race next October. That gives me just over a year to train. So there is a bit of a plan there. It could be the change in season, but something keeps nagging me and I feel like I have to change my game plan. Not only in running, but also in everyday life. Cause I don’t want to feel like I am just here to see what I can see. There has to be something more to it than just that.

No comments:

Post a Comment