Saturday, May 24, 2014

Sun Mountain Gratitude Report

Weekends are amazing! We all know this. Every once in a while however,  a weekend blows through that is simply perfect. In every way, last weekend in Winthrop, Washington, was just that type of weekend. The terrain, the food, the accommodations, the travel and most of all the people. It all came together like chocolate and peanut butter and I am eternally grateful for everything and everyone that made it happen.
Between Glenn Tachiyama and the terrain in the Methow Valley, I don't think a bad picture is possible.

In no particular order...

About four weeks ago I was running a typical route back to my home down Capilano Canyon when my I.T. woke me up with light ZAP! down the lateral side of my knee. I didn't think much of it and it didn't matter. I was starting a serious taper. I'd planned to drop from 60 miles that week to 30 the next. I'd cool my miles and seek some I.T. replenishment in rest. I never expected what was to come. Three massages (2 with Jen Quel at Pivotal Health and 1 with Leah Davis at Baseline), one round of I.M.S. with Nathan Vanderkuip at Pivotal Health and two sessions of A.R.T. with Jenn Turner at Movéo. Each of these people is inexplicably amazing at their job and without their expertise and wisdom I'd never have been healthy enough to start Sun Mountain last Saturday morning. Thank you. Although I ran on the edge of a suspected blow out for the entire 4 hours and 40 minutes, I was pain free and finished only 10 minutes slower than last year. Conservative downhilling is never fun but it got me there. You were all part of what got me there. Thank you!

Monika Marx, I changed my form for this race and really counted on muscle bits my previous running self could have never counted on. I am stronger and far more in tune with what works and how to use it on varying terrain. My big ass (glutes) got me up some decent climbs and let my quad (the one pulling on my IT) rest before heading downhill again in Terry Fox straight-legged fashion. Thank you for inspiring me to think strong on race day but also over a huge number of miles during training. You're simply amazing. 

I'm not certain who to thank for the beauty of the Methow Valley and the Cascades. This event just wouldn't have been the same had it been someplace else. Flowers of all colours (colors in Washington) were in full bloom across the rolling hills above Winthrop, a picturesque western-themed town. The jagged, snow covered peaks of the Cascades shooting up in the distance added depth to the space and highlighted the vastness of the area. I suppose to some degree I can thank James Varner and Rainshadow Running for this. Not for having created it of course but for choosing it. It's a no brainer and I'm grateful for having been there. 

Hands down, I am most grateful for the people of Sun Mountain. There's a particular feeling at the start of this race that is hard to put a finger on. There's a light stress in the air but also a feeling of ease, excitement and humour. I had countless giggles with strangers about peeing in the woods, how much the day was going to hurt, what shoes I was wearing and so on. What was consistent though was the energy each person brought to the party. I left each of my chats and giggles with positive energy and a sense of going forward well. This feeling carried on through the day on every trail. Even the winner, Justin Yates, who blew by me before I headed up Sun Mountain the first time, gave me a tap on the back and a "good work, man". He made me feel slow but he didn't mean to. I was inspired to get moving and so I did. Thanks, Justin. As I always do, I did the same as Justin had done for me to everyone I passed. A quick "Good job! How ya doin?". And I listened to the answer.  It's what we do. We pay attention to each other and we actually give a shit. It occurred to me a couple days after the race, that these people were making each other feel as though they were the only person there. They'd look each other in the eyes and maintain focus on that one interaction. Maybe it was because there was no wifi, but it was ever so refreshing to have genuine two way conversation. Whether you had a spectacular race or a horrible race, you were special from the moment you started that race until the moment you crossed the finish line into James' loving arms. And if you didn't feel special after that, nothing says, "you're special" like free pizza and beer in the middle of a forest on hot and sunny afternoon in May. 

And to the lads of Goat Wall Retreat - James, Karl, Bob, Julien and Jeff. There couldn't be a greater group of dudes in a better place talking running, gear, beer and life. 
Bob, your will to finish under such duress that day inspires me. I say chalk it up to a training experience and forward into Knee Knacker. 
James, I've always known this but you make a terrible "asshole". President next time for sure. And thank you for lining up the most amazing cabin ever. It blows away the Firefly.
Julien, your cynical sense of humour kills me and your will to survive 50 miles in the heat is mind blowing. 
Karl, you make me laugh and put me in awe of the way you rattle off 50k without training. 
And Jeff, I hope I carry myself with as much grace and patience as you do should I ever find myself injured and unable to run.

Woodchuck photo by Jay Klassen - I believe I was saying "sweet mother of god!" after the Sun Mountain climb
People on course, you're awesome! Jay Klassen got some outstanding pics of people in their prime and at their worst. One amazing shot of me doing my best woodchuck impression ever. Thanks for the pics but mostly thanks for the encouraging words and laughs. Solana Klassen, running with an injury is dumb. I would've done it too. Wait a second, I did. The will it took to get through 50km on such serious condition is truly impressive. Really well done! You 50 milers blow my mind - Chloe Gendron, killer race. Extremely well played and inspiring to work toward. A genuine congratulations to you. Sarah Stepec, you always remember your first and this was  one to remember. Especially laying immobile on the ground after the race. Josh Barringer, another 50 miles in the bag. Stomach issues and all, could you make these things look any easier. WoW! And to the people who dropped out, although you might be disappointed, that is one tough decision that shows strength, wisdom and self confidence.

And once again, thank you Salomon for making the Mantra. What a shoe! Wouldn't you agree, Chloe Gendron?

I know I'm forgetting someone but long posts never get read and it's time to go.

Cheers to good friends.

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