Do you remember going to camp as a kid and the hardest part was when it ended and you had to go home again? That's what it was like after this weekend at Orcas Island Fat Ass. Too much fun and plenty o' sun!
For me it started with rushing around trying to pack and make two vegan gluten-free birthday cakes for Linda Bear Barton, aka Carrot (and not because she's vegan). She specified a white or carrot cake since most vegan cakes seem to be chocolate. Devon came through with a link to a great recipe for a vegan gluten-free carrot cake, and to be all-inclusive, I made one with walnuts and one without. Cakes got made Friday and Donn and I went out for Valentine's dinner (we wait til the day after - easier to get a table). I wasn't feeling too great and was concerned I was catching the cold that was all around me. I felt like what Kendra described - a little bowling pin with my arms raised! I hit the Zicam regularly; my flu shot I had apparently was for the wrong strain, according to a CDC report my boss had read, so I was going on luck! I decided I'd go anyway and see how it went.
Come Saturday, I headed to Everett to pick up Linda and Chandler - a newbie to ultrarunning, but ya wouldn't know it! The boy rocks! We made it in time to sit in line for the 1:15 ferry, so they headed to the beach, while I ate my lunch. Later I ran into Dan, who had been in a serious auto accident on his way to Bend a couple weeks ago. I had read about someone on Krissy's blog and prayed it wasn't him, but alas it was. He is lucky to have survived and we are very lucky he is still with us! He was on his way up to Orcas to volunteer and support Christel in her 50K.
The ferry ride was unremarkable except for all the familiar faces from the ultrarunning community - I love that! Linda kept exchanging phone calls with Rich who was already on the island and he assured he got us all in the same bunkhouse. So nice not to have to worry about getting there in time to take care of that. Apparently James (RD) had assigned bunks since there were so many, but Rich got it rearranged. Just like going to camp and rooming with your buddies! We got to camp and checked in. James had opted for the alternate snow route, meaning no Mt. Constitution. So Chandler, Linda, Jamie, Shannon and I drove up to check out the view and snow. There was indeed lots of snow up there, but I think as much as last year. Hard to tell what it was like in the woods though. We climbed the tower and did all the photo ops (here) and headed back to town for dinner.
An odd dining experience....
Rich got us reservations at Lulu's, an Italian restaurant on Prune Alley Dr in Eastsound. There were eight of us, and they seated us soon as we arrived. The food was good and I shared a bottle of wine with Casey, Rich, and Georgia (another bunkmate). When it came time to pay the bill, things turned sour. Jamie wanted to pay her portion with a credit card, and the owner got upset. He told us we needed to bring cash if there was going to be this many and didn't like taking the CC. Jamie offered to pay the whole bill (and have us reimburse her) so he took her card. Linda told him he didn't need to lecture us about how to pay the bill, at which point he said "Fine. This is my restaurant. So leave." We got up to leave and Rich stayed behind to ask for a copy of the bill so we would know how much to pay Jamie. The guy would not let Rich see the bill, and after some arguing, Rich (nicely) said "Dude, don't be such a cocksucker." The owner told Rich to leave or he would call the cops. Rich stood his ground so the guy picked up the phone. He left, but not without telling the rest of the patrons what an ass the owner was. I support Rich - it was way weird! Fortunately , Jamie at least had the foresight not to tip him. I feel bad for the waitstaff - what a jerk to work for!
Back at the lodge we made race preparations and I socialized a bit with some friends and finally got off to bed. My bunkmate was a guy named Matt and his buddies had put little graffiti notes on the bunk (along with the other graffiti) about what a hot dude he was. Pretty funny. Most of the other group consisted of first time trail runners except for their organizer, Nathan, whom I had met on Tiger Mtn FA. I was quite impressed they came out to do this - he must have magical powers of persuasion!
Race Day, finally....
Race day dawned bright and beautiful, in stark contrast to last year's conditions (snow, rain, ice). I almost opted for shorts (and later wished I had). I started out in a short sleeve shirt with arm warmers, my Patagonia jacket, 3/4 tights, a buff, and gloves. Oh, and new shoes - Innov-8 Roclites (320). So much more roomier in the toe box!! And comfy! James gave the prerace instructions and we were off across the lawn. After a nice trail along the lake, which I remembered running last year in reverse, we came out on the "bit of cross country" section. We started climbing a hill that resembled Lord Hill - oh what a hill!!! Oh man! At one point, we had to use hands too. It kept going up and I heard "good job, Laura" and looked up to see Glenn perched there with his camera. He's an amazing photographer and has some of the best race photos I've ever seen! He really knows how to capture the moment! We briefly crossed a semi- level portion, and then went running down a really steep hill - so steep I had to hold back to keep from tumbling down it. I babied my ankle all the way - focusing on eversion so I didn't get another inversion sprain. My brace helped keep it steady. The trail led us back into forest and along Cascade Lake again. As we headed along towards Mountain Lake, several people out for hikes had to step aside. I wonder what they thought as they watched all these people wearing numbers run by. Maybe they wanted to join? Maybe they just thought we were crazy? Whatever, they were all nice and smiling - not one grumpy gus amongst them. Lulu's owner must have slept in.
At the aid station, I had stripped off the arm warmers and jacket; it was really getting warm. I put my arm warmers in Robin's (my companion at Lord Hill) drop bag and we were off. More climbing ensued, and I felt like I was getting stronger on hills as I warmed to them. But of course what goes up must go down. Because I rolled my ankle for the umpteenth time last week, and it was a tad swollen, I really protected it on the down hills. I had gotten stretched by Laura on Friday and she noticed the calcaneus and talus were "stuck" so she worked them loose and gave me some great eversion exercises to do. I used the uphills to evert and stretch out that area; it really helped!
We worked our way around Mountain Lake and came to the Secret Loop. Another steep climb up this led to a mossy area. We had heard somebody whoop and when we got to the "view" we saw why. It was incredible!! Unbelievable! Mt Baker was right there with the Sound and shoreline and oh man! I wish I had my camera! As we descended, I looked and saw another awesome scene of farmland below. We had to stop again to take that in! If I had had the strength, I would have made the double loop just for that view.
Back down into the woods we ran along the boundary trail. As we climbed hills, I would almost catch up to Robin, only to watch her disappear on the downhills. I was so envious at how easy she made that look...Come on ankle - heal, dammit! We passed a shack where someone lived, just down off the trail, along a creek. How he got food in there was beyond me; he was definitely off the grid. No electricity or running water...wow! We climbed some more and finally down towards Cascade Falls. Glenn was waiting at the falls to photograph people as they ran across the bridge, with the falls in the background. I can't wait to see those photos!! We climbed some stairs (where were the escalators???) and soon headed back to the lodge to the finish and food.
Inside there was amazing vegan soup (two kinds), a keg of organic beer, and a live bluegrass band. That, combined with seeing friends - both new and old - made for a great post race party. Alison was giving 10 minute massages and I signed up for one to loosen the legs. So great!! I grabbed a beer and headed to the shower - another post race tradition - beer IN the shower (there was a shelf...). The weather just got more awesome and people were hanging out playing frisbee, knitting, or just soaking up rays, waiting for loved ones to come in from their race. I flitted between in and outside and occasionally watched runners come in. As Linda, Jamie and Christel came in, I tried to light candles on the birthday cake, but the wind kept blowing them out. I thought it would be real funny to test Linda's VO2 Max in trying to blow out a load of candles after racing in, but evil plans failed. So we just went in, got them some food, and proceeded to eat cake.
Sunday night was spent hanging out in the lodge or cabin, drinking beer and watching running videos. The Badwater video was playing, and when they got to the part where the British unsupported runner was popping her blisters, the guys kept yelling to hit replay so they could watch the stream of serum squirt into the air. By their yells, you would have thought they were watching a bad fumble in the Super Bowl. Pretty funny stuff! I finally hit the hay about 10:30 - end of a fun filled day!
Camp is over....
But not before a massage. I arranged with Alison for an early morning full massage! I got up early, got coffee and oatmeal, cleaned up, and headed next door to my massage. It was so great! I wish she were closer and I could see her more regularly. When I was done, and paid, I picked up my bags from my cabin, hopped in the car, and headed towards the ferry, pondering how awesome life was at that moment. Linda and Chandler were walking to Eastsound for coffee, but didn't make it before I came along. We were able to easily make the 9:50 ferry, and had time for one last round of socializing before heading back into the mundane reality of everyday life...with no cold!