|Happiness captured by Glenn Tachiyama. (Support race photographers)|
My face hurts.
Is it possible to smile too much?
My stomach is cramping from laughing and I'm out of breath, no not from running, but from singing at the top of my lungs.
If you would've asked me on Friday if I would've thought the day would evolve into so much happiness- I would be in disbelief.
It is true.
My hands cover my face as I hold back tears.
With merely 4 hours of sleep each night this week and then working all day- I was feeling slightly overwhelmed.
It's nearly 11am Friday morning and I'm sitting at the Golden Road Brewery in LAX.
With my 6am flight cancelled, unable to board any other flights (my sister was able to snag the last 7am seat) till 11:55am, I was determined to stay hopeful.
Two years ago I ran Beacon Rock 50k as my first 50k race and instantly fell in love with not just the race but the weekend and its entirety.
I looked forward to being able to return to Portland the following June to run it again.
Unfortunately last year I was hospitalized during the race weekend.
Experiencing the beautifully HOT weekend and race merely from photos and videos my friends sent me from the comfort of the hospital bed.
The FOMO was real.
(Fear of Missing Out)
I couldn't wait to go back this year.
Determined that nothing would stop me I found myself at the airport thinking...
Taking the last sip of my second Wolf Among Weeds IPA as I let it wash away the remnants of my vegan breakfast burrito.
I say farewell to the new friends I made at the table who were all shocked at the idea of traveling to run 31 miles in the mountains all while they party in Cabo San Lucas.
With tired eyes, a full belly and slightly intoxicated Sawna, I bored my flight.
I'd like to say everything went smoothly after that, however, that is not factual.
We then sat on the plane for over an hour, technical issues they said.
With my sister Nicole, Andrew, Rhea and Joel all already in Portland my hopefulness was quickly disappearing.
A slight pang of jealousy that everyone was already there and here I was spending hours in the Airport.
But I made it- landed a little after 3pm.
I did a little happy dance as the gang pulled up to pick me up from the airport.
With a happy heart and a very overpacked car, we headed to our next destination.
BEACON ROCK STATE PARK.
Unlike last years heat, this weekends weather predictions all had red lightning bolts.
As a heat lover, Ic cringed at the idea of getting poured on the entire day.
I'm a California girl, running in the heat is my jam.
|How to pack a car- throw it all in.|
With temps in the low 60's, the rain didn't seem to bother anyone- not even this Cali girl.
The evening was spent over a BBQ while other runners brought their favorite homemade side dish.
Vegan cookies, cupcakes, hummus, pies, dips, salads galore!
And that doesn't even include the amazing sausages the amazing folks were grilling.
(Vegan and non vegan)
Seeing all my friends and making new friends made the mornings events quickly disappear.
The weekend is going to be grand.
|Gangs all here|
3am: It's pouring rain
4am: It's pouring rain
5am: It's pouring rain
6am: It's pouring rain.
6:30 am the rain has stopped.
I wake before our alarm feeling completely rested and ready for the days adventure.
A few weeks ago I had thought today would be an all out effort but after rolling my ankle and having to take over a week off of it- I knew I wanted to make the day a fun adventure.
A rainy, wet and muddy adventure.
My race day gear included:
My favorite colorful Boa shorts
Injini tall socks
New Balance Vazzee Summits 2 (Which may or may not have caused my left toe nail to fall off from Gorge 100k)
Territory Run Co Hat and Singlet
Run Like a girl Buff
OR Hellium 2 Rain shell (That I immediately removed and then forgot at the race!)
As 8 am approached James quickly gave his announcement.
"Go!" the energy from every runner was nothing short of a locomotive beginning it's first turns of a long haul, slow and steady and building with time.
To summarize the course is that it is a 25k loop around the state park.
50k runners run two loops and the 25k run one.
It's an extremely fun course other than you run to the finish line and have to go back and complete another loop.
You kick start the course on pavement but it's a short and sweet decent into the park.
The majority of the course is on the best trails that Beacon Rock has to offer (at least form what I've been told).
You run over Hardy Ridge, Hardy Creek and Hamilton Mountain.
ON Hardy Ridge their is options to go off the trail a bit to check out the views along the Gorge.
IF it was a crustal clear day you get the see the views of the Cascades and the snow on Mt Hood.
One complete loop offers about 3700 ft in gain with two fairly big climbs following a pretty sweet decent after.
I found myself maintaining the same stride as Andrew and we began catching up on life's events.
I don't even remember our conversations but we couldn't stop.
We continued running and chatting as if this was just a normal training run on our local trails.
With every new turned we both gawked at how beautiful the trails were, opening up our arms as if to hug the landscape.
|I prefer the air quality next to the I-5 Freeway. Thank you.|
We continued forward along the course feeling happy and strong as we whisked through the shrubs and over the rocks with hands lightly grazing the bright moss covered trees.
The trees all wore a vibrant green coat that sang soft sweet melodies as we ran by.
|Photo by Andrew mid race|
Everything looked different since my run here two years ago.
With the course receiving an immense amount of rain than it had the last two years, the change was welcomed as the footing on the trail was in my favor.
Soft and accepting within each step.
My focus strayed away from my still slightly swollen ankle and shifted to the conversation I was maintaining with Andrew.
Time stood still as I rejoiced in the moment.
It wasn't until almost the turn around the I realized, oh we are almost half way done.
I hadn't focused so much on our mileage but more in the amount of fun we were having.
My stomached ached and I knew the sweet oatmeal I had for breakfast was making a run for it.
|Things got serious real fast.|
And not in the way I want it to.
Did I mention the Wyest Wolfpacks aid station and their incredible cycling outfits.
Top notch volunteers made for a swift and incredibly fun time with every water bottle fill and stop for some oreos(and pickles).
Leaving the aidstation gifts you with a pretty sweet descent and added bonus of adrenaline from the cycling groups dance moves.
It really set the tone for a fun pace as we flew the next few miles to the turn around.
We embraced it, both Andrew and I matched each others paces as we laugh welcomed the featherlight footing that came along with our controlled, runnable descent.
We confirmed with each other that we wanted to stay and a maintainable pace- saving our legs for the end of the race and to honestly continue to enjoy our day without destroying our bodies.
It was such a wonderful experience to be at each other's exact same level, have the same approach toward the race and really just laugh along the way.
Before we knew it we passed the half way point and begun our first climb on the second loop.
We chatted with two local girls from Oregon, getting to know each other as the miles clicked by.
Andrew and I ended up passing them as we approached the aidstation.
I felt great.
My face did not.
My stomach did not.
My face hurt from smiling too much, my stomach hurt from laughing to hard.
I can not recall a race where I enjoyed myself this much.
Getting to run side by side with my best friend pretty much made the entire trip worth it.
We sang Bohemian Rhapsody and many other songs at the tops of our lungs as the weather changed with each turn we made.
Rain, sunshine, fog, rain- the weather may have been fluctuating but our attitude and mood never altered.
|Mid race photo shoot|
Stopping to take only a few photos- can you blame us!?!
The day, despite the rain, was GORGeous.
Before we knew it we were on the descent to the finish, already passing my sister who was having a rough time physically but her spirits were high- she was glowing with happiness to be in the beautiful scenery.
Just as we started together, Andrew and I crossed the finish line together- beaming with the utmost excitement of the days miles flying by.
We both gave James a high five and Rich passed us our Beacon Rock 50k camping mug (THEY'RE AWESOME)
At the same time I was gifted the 3rd place female growler.
My first and definitely my most prized possession.
The stoke was high.
We were then congratulated by Joel who also had a stellar race and finished 6 minutes before us.
We warmed up, grabbed a beer and several pieces of pizza and waited for Rhea and Nicole who finished shortly after us.
Rhea, who despite got a bit lost, still had PR of over an hour from last years race!
Everyone was a rockstar!
The weather gods decided to approve of our celebration and gift us with a beautiful blue sky and decently warm weather.
Couldn't have asked for a better day!
The evening continued with endless pizza and beer and perhaps too much whiskey for the lightweight that is me.
I couldn't be happier by all of our performance.
And the adventure was not over yet!
Sunday we rose early, packed the car, said our goodbyes and departed for some much needed breakfast.
Feeling the beers from the night before we all deserved an extra side of (Cheeselss please)potatoes and a bloody mary, thank you!
We visited Joel's friend Taras house/farm/land.
|ERMYGOD when can I move in?|
Then we walked across the Bridge of Gods.
The Bridge of the Gods is a steel truss cantilever bridge that spans the Columbia River between Cascade Locks, Oregon, and Washington state near North Bonneville.
The Pacific Crest trail Crosses the Colombia River on the Bridge of the Gods, and the lowest elevation of the trail is on this bridge.
|This is my super happy face but if you don't feed me soon the hanger will be real.|
|Sketchy AF. Don't look down, the steel holes are big enough for you feet to fall through... well not really but sure felt like it|
The only thing I could think about as we walked across(and back) on the bridge was that Lani will be doing the same trek in just a month or two on her PCT adventure.
It's a pretty scary trek with the wind roaring by pushing you either toward the moving cars or into the railing toward the water.
Afterward we stopped at Thunder Island brewery for a local brew and to purchase some for future PCT hikers.
|Look Lani! I bought you a beer! Well we all did- but I think you only get one!|
With this visit being my sister Nicole's first time in both Washington and Oregon, we had to take a pit stop for a nice hike to the Horsetail falls.
I had never been to any of the waterfalls without it actually being apart of the Gorge Waterfalls 100k.
Afterward we eat, hung out at the coolest food truck center, pet every puppy around and packed up to leave for the airport.
Portland definitely has its fair share of cute puppies.
And can proudly say we physically pulled the car over to pet a puppy.
|THIS WAS THE PUPPY... well not exactly but identical. You'd pull over and ask the owners if you could pet the puppy like a creep too!|
Till next time all!
Peace, love and happiness!
|Photo by Glenn Tachiyama (Support you race photographer!)|
|I've missed this angel face! One day I'll drive her to Beacon Rock so she can experience it herself!|
Joel Ballezza who handles my hanger/drunkeness like a champ, picked each of us up from the airport, drove us everywhere and brought all the campsite necessities. (We will make you a coffee snob, don't you worry).
Rich Lorton at Vision For Enrichment for having magical sports massages and constantly moves his schedule around to help me when I'm constantly injuring myself.
Coach JP at Crossfit Ganbatte for helping me get strong and stay strong! The endurance program is incredible and every single coach/member is supportive and encouraging beyond words!
Chris Vargo for creating a training schedule that was maintainable and held me accountable!
And my roommate Derek Sepe who let me use his computer to write this because my 2005 laptop is FRIED and who also watched Juniper for me!
And of course to the amazing staff and volunteers of Rainshadow Running for the countless hours and hard work they put in for the entire weekend.