Saturday was the Sunflower, a 26.2 mile trail run from Mazama to Twisp, with about 2k in elevation gain. The race is a mix of roads, dirt roads, and some single track. A relay goes on at the same time--it isn’t lonely. Lots of aid stations. This is the 30th year for the event—not many trail runs have those sorts of legs.
I love the race. Partly because I love the Methow, partly because I’ve been doing MVSTA races for a long time. The memories are always good. I get amped up on Fridays for any of the Methow races, and I don't get that way for most events. I just love to drive through the North Cascades, and then drop down into that other world which is the dry Methow. So much ecology.
This race is great because it takes you by the Methow River, and then up on wide open hills, with views of the Chelan Sawtooths and Okangan highlands, as well as Patterson Lake. Sunflowers, aka balsamroot, are everywhere. I wouldn't describe it as particularly hard, compared to the big ultras, but it's a challenge for any marathoner with the hills, and a real test if ran to the hilt.
My time was 4:02. I started reasonably slow, took pictures, and never really went anaerobic. Still, I managed to pick up the pace as the miles went by, churning up the hills, and I felt I finished strong. There was a point at Mile 23, up high on a ridge, where a headwind blew so hard I just wanted to stop and hunker down. But I kept on. The last two miles downhill is fun and fast.
It’s hard to tell which me will show up for a race anymore—I have good days, and then weekends like last, not worth blogging about. I try to blog the bad and the good, and my goal is one post a week, b/c I see this as a journal worth looking back at down the road (or trail, as the case may be here). I don't record my miles--this is it. It's a good training tool, I think. It's not a big deal if I miss a week now and then, but I try not to.
On Saturday night, James and his housemate Ian hosted a great party, with a campfire, barbq, and eats. I was zonked, but it was a great time, with talk of wolves, cougars, and sundry scrapes.
Sunday was supposed to be “run on tired legs with James” day. A lot of no shows, but Linda, William, Brian and I made it a troop. James was absolutely terrific, as always, taking us up the old Rattler course and keeping it agreeably slow, above and through the hoodoos of Pipestone Canyon. A few more photos are below, and here's a link to an album.
I’m entering the May phase of my road to Western. It’s getting thick. I have a series of races scheduled this month—Sunflower Iron this past Saturday, the Lost Lake Ultra this coming Saturday, and the Jemez 50 miler in three weeks, at high altitude in New Mexico. It’s a lot for me--I am really worried about getting burnt out, but then I’m also really excited about each event. They’re all exceptional events—good places to be.