I made it! Here it is Sunday, the day after the race and I am winding down from a busy day, feeling great. My legs are understandibly tired, back a wee bit tweaked, my feet sore and an overall feeling of exhaustion, nothing out of the ordinary nor nothing to be expected. I actually feel quite good, all things considered.
Friday night I ventured over to Brandon's and tried to absorb some of his entusiasm and energy. We chowed down on roasted yams and sweet potatoes, pesto pasta, chicken and bread. He has been stoked on this product by Hammer products. He went on and on how I need to include a protien in my fuel. I usually (always) have water in my pack and suck on a GU about every hour. So I went home, felt uneasy about the whole idea but decided to add some "product" to my trusty hydration pack. MMMmmmmm.... don't ever....ever try anything new on race day...
Saturday, Brandon came and picked me up at 7AM, just as Dan (who finished in 4:40!!) the neighbor with incredibly long legs, knocked on the door to offer me a ride. Oh the buzz was about town! I was incredibly calm the day of the race, I had nothing riding on the race. I made up my mind that finishing was going to be a feat and focus on completing the course. It was just a long run in the woods, and what more do I love than that? I sat in the pavilion, killing the last 40 minutes before the race. People were stashing GUs in every crevasse that they could, lubing up, and even more talking it up. Spraying about all the races that they had completed this year. It was pretty comical actually. The next thing I know, all 350 of us were standing at the start line and off we went. The first 6.5 miles are flat and fast. This provided a great warm up and at aid station 1 I was right on time coming in just under an hour. We then climbed up to Fragrance Lake which ended up being a long hike trying to keep my heart in my chest.... Left around the lake and then down the old Two Dollar trail. This section of trail is usually the first of the mud fest. I thought this year that the mud would be overwhelming but the entire race was nice and tacky. This is when I first noticed my sideache. Odd, I never get side aches, this developed into a somache ache, a royal knot in the belly. Uh oh... When we hit the bottom of $2, we climb up Cleator, the entire road! This is the part of the race that is a total mind!@#$. This part of the race makes me question why I signed up to climb Cleator, why it is that I like my legs to feel like death... at the top of Cleator lies the reason why I signed up: the Ridge Trail, one of my favorites of all time. This was the only section of trail that I can actually pass people. I love the ridge! From the entire ridge, we venture back, deeper into the Chuckanuts and head toward Lost Lake, This is a grind, steadily uphill, muddy as all hell and 8.5 miles between aid stations. In this back section, I would take a swig of the milky water elixir in my pack and moments later, my stomach would be in knots, I would bend over to relieve the cramps. WHAT! Who ever tries new things on race day anyway... crazy fools! Once cresting "too many pigs" trail we fly down an old service road and to aid station 4 and the base of the CHINSCRAPER. The icing on the Chuckanut's cake. this section of trail is probably on three miles long but there are sections of it that are no give away, all fours type of affair. Once to the top it is a breeze down the Fragrance Lake service road, past the last aid station ( where I happily had a Dixie cup of water and so desperately wanted to drop my pack with someone so I wouldn't even tempt myself with the fluid that was contained in it) and back up the Interurban. This was the hardest part of the race for me. I felt every step. All I wanted to do was walk, walk, walk! "The faster you run the sooner you are done..." was on repeat in my head. I didn't want to walk because that means that it would be drawn out longer than I wanted to be doing it. I was alone, passing just a couple of people struggling, I had to just tip my hand and pass, I couldn't bear to look at them because I felt the same way. The last six miles are unreal, I know what it feels like to run six miles, it is casual, I fire off 8 before work. But the last six miles is insane. Then the last two miles are even more grueling. They just on and one, then before I knew it I made the last left hand turn into Fairhaven park, I can hear the PA system, then I hear them announce #238: Michelle Stiles. WOW I made it yet again! I see the crowd and get a 2Nd wind (I am actually probably on my 17Th wind by now) and cruise on into the finish line. John was the first person in the crowd I saw clapping, then noticed that he was surrounded by our friends: Andy, Az, Joe.... Ah how sweet. The finish light was the sweetest feeling of the day!
Ahhh... another year under my belt, another race chalked up and I am stronger because of it!
Thanks every one for the encouragement and support!