Winthrop Week

Day 2, view from the Ridge Trail long run
My life currently is like a game of Where's Waldo. I have been zipping about from place to place for over a month now since I moved out of my apartment. Lots for work, some for fun, a bit for a race or two. Man is it exhausting. But also rewarding. The stressful tiring parts are made well worth it by the relaxing, quiet times that (thankfully) follow. After Portland, SF, ATL, SF, Cool, Portland, Olympia, Home in the space of a month, I decided after being home for 4 days that I would head up to Winthrop, WA to visit one of the best people I know and great friend, Alison. After heading up to Chuckanut 50k to volunteer in the morning on Saturday, I hoped into my car and sped (5 hrs) down, over and back up to Winthrop to visit Alison for a 5 days.

As soon as I arrived in town, I parked my car at the Barn and Alison scooped me up for a nice run up a rolling "primitive" road. It was nice to shake my legs out and I was just completely in love with where I was. It was warm enough for shorts, the sun was shining and the surrounding mountains just begged for a trail run. Alison warned me that alot of the trails were half melted and instead were extremely spotty and had a lot of the bad kind of snow, that is frozen solid, but not enough to bear weight and so you end up post-holeing and shredding your ankles. Hmmm. Oh well, the "primitive roads" were good enough for me! That evening we headed to the local pub for some, well, grub and music.
Heading onto, or should I say, looking for the Ridge Trail in the snow

Over the course of my stay, I got in several good runs with Alison and a few without her while she was working. We ate great food, I picked up my brand new single speed bike and I spent alot of time just plain relaxing. I love the pace in the Methow, nice and slow. There is no rush there. A few times Alison apologized to me for there not being more to do but she neednt have, I was loving it! We would sit by the fire after a nice homecooked dinner with fresh local ingredients, reading our books, talking or watching movies, drinking copious amounts of tea. We would go to bed early and listen to the coyotes howling in the distance. I spent my days working remotely, running up hills and trails and zooming along the highway. It was fun to explore the few small towns in the Methow and live at country pace. Alison took me to all her favorite spots including the Mazama Country Store for a post long run donut (which sadly I can't eat) and my last night there we had some fine dining at the Arrowleaf Bistro. The food was delicious and I was falling over with jealousy at Alison's slice of Carrot Cake with Ginger Frosting (which, again, sadly I can't eat). It was so much fun to catch up with Alison and spend some time with her, now that she is 4 hrs away I don't get to see her as much. As I said, she is one of the best, brightest, sweetest people I know and her attitude about alot of things are not only refreshing to me, they are exactly what I need more of. We need more Alisons in this world. I am not usually prone to gushing about my friends (or maybe I am???), but I think sometimes it is nice to verbalize our affirmations of the people we value.

A beautiful day for a long run! Me and Alison all smiles up top.

Looking out over the Methow Valley

Sunset in the Methow

Going for a walk with Alison and Arlo

It was hard to say goodbye to Alison and Winthrop on Wednesday morning, but alas I had business to attend to back in the big city. Like getting my butt kicked at 6 in the morning by Mt.Si with Krissy on Thursday. We went out to do "hill" repeats and had ourselves an adventure, making it a bit more than halfway up the first time before being turned back by snow. The second time (as I lay dying from being one of the few times I have been on trails this training cycle- stupid Boston idea, what was I thinking? WHAT WAS I THINKING?I miss the trails) of our (or should I say my) sufferfest, we decided to damn the snow and go all the way up. We hit major snow for the majority of the second half but it was packed down and "runnable" (as runnable as snow is on a steep hill) and we worked to the top. As soon as we got there, we regretted not having our cameras. It was a gorgeous day, the sky was blue and the view of Rainier, Seattle and darn near all of Washington was amazing. We even slogged knee deep through the snow to make it to the top. After enjoying the 4 miles of downhill, we did a 2 mile out and back on the road to feed our "mileage pig" appetites. It was brilliant. Even though I got down on myself for not feeling good on the uphills and not running where I want to, it was awesome to run with Krissy and mutually push each other. Needlesstosay, I look forward to doing it again BECAUSE it kicked my butt so bad. I went out today to get new pair of trail shoes since my New Balance 790s are completely blown out in the right shoe (I noticed this as we started up #2).

In a lot of things in my life, I am going back to the beginning (i.e. the beginning of my ultrarunning career). I am going back in the structure and content of the food I eat (that is a whole other blog, someday) to regain my health, I am going back to the focus of my training and racing (love baby, love) and I am going back to the shoes I adored. Except the shoes I adored are even better than before! I wore Salomon's straight for the first year and half of my ultrarunning career and loved them. Absolutely loved them. And now I remember why. I went to REI today and hunted down a pair after researching a few potential models by Salomon and when I got there, AHHHHH, Salomon Whispers. 8.8 ounces, with all the cushioning, support and teeth I loved about my Salomons.
I just slip these on and start kicking myself that I ever had a momentary lapse of judgement and decided that training hard for a road marathon was a good idea. I am truly a trail runner at heart, I can't deny it. While Boston should be fun, or at least interesting, I am looking past it already and dreaming of the trail races I want to do and the mountains I am going to run. I just can't wait. All in all, the last month has been crazy and wonderful. Great places, great friends, great running and I have only just begun!