Turns out the race is ultrarunner and RD Tim Olson's Enchanted Forest Wine Run. It's got a 5k around the vineyard and a half marathon that loops around the vineyard a bit and also climbs around in some nearby hillside trails. It's got a fairy costume theme too which makes for fun spectating even if I couldn't piece together my own sparkles and wings.
Well Kattie was hooked on the place's vibe and I liked the looks of the course and the idea of coming back down to SoOr one more time this year so I signed up a few weeks later (via snail mail! something I've been wanting to do for awhile... same catagory of weird goals as finding a race with popcicle sticks at the finish? yep.)
Training (mostly for a longer effort this winter) had been going well and I had a few of pretty big (for me, for this time of year) weeks on my legs. I took Friday before the race off from running and really felt pretty beat from all the miles and effort. I still planned to give the race a good effort but focused on enjoying the scenery of the area.
As it turns out there would be more to enjoy than wine and a change in scenery...
around 11 on Friday my buddy Nick shoots me a text from Seattle where he's been camping out with family. He needs to get out of town and I half-jokingly tell him to come down and race! Within about 15 minutes he says they (him and Caroline, his wife) are on their way down. The weekend plans went from great to awesome with a couple of Kattie and I's favorite travel companions now joining in on the fun!
The following morning we jammed down I-5 as fast as a car full of tiny coffee filled bladders can go and showed up to the race about a half hr. before the start. We got changed, did a sorry warm up jog, lined up and Nick and I took off together through the upper vineyards of the property. Soon a gravel road gave way to a fast and awkward cross-country style course amongst the grapes. Lots of sharp turns and quick little ups and downs. Also lots of good signage but I still managed to miss a turn... it's hard to read and run!
From there we left the vineyards and headed up a road section that was kind of hot but a nice change in pace from the dodgy vineyard section. It wasn't long and I was entering the woods which was refreshing and AS #1 was close. I stopped and had a couple cups of water. As I headed up the switchbacks I heard voices just below and hollared at Nick who I could see was still closeby.
The course was hilly but super runnable and nothing that seemed to go on for too long. I really enjoyed it. I had no watch and therefore no clue where I was at in terms of time or distance, kind of unusual for me these days.
I was in 3rd place and figured the two guys (Hal Koerner and another shirtless dude) that were leading were long gone. Then, to my surprise I caught up with #2 dude as we re-entered a woodsy section from a grassy, exposed slope. His name was Bob and he was a really nice guy. We ran together for a bit before I felt like I could do more on a climb section.
I finished loop #1 and I knew that #2 had much of the same trail as #1 but didn't know which parts. I kind of freaked out at an AS as it seemed/or I had a strange feeling that I was going the wrong way. It was a really busy intersection with runners all over the place. I asked the station crew if they had seen Hal and the guy said no... That's when I got really flustered and sort of resorted to waiting a bit for Bob to come into the station. He knew the way better than I and so I followed him hoping we were on the right track.
After a minute I'd calmed back down and realized were I was headed. I liked the parts of the trail that lie ahead and knew I could get back to the vineyard in one piece even if I pushed the pace a bit more. Things came pretty easily and I didn't ever really push things too much as I winded around the hillside trail and eventually exited the forest for the road back to Wooldridge. I caught a glimpse of Hal going through the vineyard and I was surprised, I figured he was done already. It wasn't long after and I too was winding through the vines one last time before crossing the finish line in 1:41.
Kattie was all jazzed and I was pretty psyched on the performance. I ate and drank water and waited for Nick who came in shortly after. We all walked down to the road and cheered Caroline into the finish. We enjoyed some food, wine and Nick and I even had a flash of cold sweats and gut sickness. Weird.
We got some sweet prizes including a bunch of Injiji socks, shirts, shorts, and $100 bones at The North Face. Then we gathered our wine and drove home into the eye of a nasty storm.
Really awesome day. I wish I could make some comments about mediocrity as has been the theme of this blog lately but this one was above that in many ways.
|movin to the finish in the vineyard. photo: shahid ali.|