The World Through My Shoes is my look at living this incredible gift God has given us. As a busy wife, mother and daughter I relish the alone time I receive on my early morning runs. It is in the stillness of those predawn mornings where I often am inspired. Thank you for taking the time to read my words.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Sun Mountain 25k Trail Race

We pulled into the Chickadee Trail head parking lot at 8:30; 3 1/2 hours after leaving home.  The time had gone by very quickly, but how could it not with views like this along the way?

There was plenty of time before the 10 am start to get our race numbers, eat and use the outhouse.  As more people began to arrive, we were also able to incorporate some awesome cross training for our swimming by learning how to hold our breath when using the outhouse.  It helped us feel hard core cuz we don't even swim.

The kids 1k race started 15 minutes before our race and it was fun to watch the joy come across their faces as they ran their hardest down and around the trail.   Their excitement was contagious.  As you can see here :
Those may look like confident smiles, but really we are a bunch of road runners who like to run on dirt every once in awhile. 

With some course advice and a loud "GO!" from James the race director, we were off on our 15 1/2 mile journey.  304 runners converged onto the trail.  Very shortly after the start, it became a single track trail weaving around Patterson Lake.  We were like a parade of ants at a picnic, all marching in perfect unison down the trail.  Until someone stopped; then it was kind of like dominoes except the dominoes were sweaty.  Kathy and I were loving every single minute of it.

We came to a small meadow between scattered trees exploding in wild sunflowers and blue bells.  I wanted to stop and snap a picture but the ant march was clipping along pretty well and I didn't want to start a game of dominoes.

A few miles into the race the trail widened and we were all able to spread out.  Never one to take a camera (you think I would eventually remember) I dedicated myself to taking selfies on this run to capture the scenery.  Taking pictures while running was a completely new experience for Kathy and I.  Here's our first one - EPIC.
The look on Kathy's face : Are you sure you are doing it right?
The look on my face : Hey look, all I have to do is press this button!

Ok, so maybe we would have to practice.  Please note though, how steep the climb is in a relative short distance.  This is one of the many hiking (read : walking) sections of our race.

The trail came to a clearing as it wound up the side the mountain.  Displayed before us were mountains in the Okanogan Forest and wild sunflowers kissing the mountainsides.  In order to capture the view, we tried to take our picture again.  This time it's quite evident we are both thinking the same thing : Did it take the picture yet?

  Let's just admire the sunflowers shall we?

This picture may look like the highest peak of our race, but it is not.  I think this is mile 5 or 6.  The climbs were difficult yet the scenery was so spectacular it more than made up for it.  Surrounded by wild sunflowers, we decided this would be a good time to play the You-Run-Up-Ahead-And-Take-My-Picture-While-I-Run-By-With-The-Sunflowers-Behind-Me-And-Then-I'll-Do-It-For-You game.  Never heard of it?  Weird.

The dirt trail turned onto a forest service road, to turn back onto a dirt trail again.  All the while we were surrounded by forest which gave way to sweeping views of the mountains around us and the valley below us.  At the half way point we felt a twinge of sadness as we knew we were half way finished.  We didn't want it to be over.

Spectacular isn't it?

Kathy and I had become the masters at selfies.  It's hard to tell what exactly we are taking a picture of here, so let's just admire how we've mastered taking our own pictures shall we?

Somewhere between mile 8 and 9 we came across the only aid station on the 25k course.  It was an oasis of water, electrolytes, coke, grapes, watermelon, peanut butter & jelly sandwiches, chocolate and potato chips.  If you've never run a trail run before those delights alone should be enough to get you out there.  I'm not sure anything tastes as good as salty potato chips after climbing to 3700'.

We left the aid station after satisfying our cravings and headed to what we thought would be downhill.  At some point this trail is going to actually go back down isn't it?  The steepest climb lay ahead.  We left a forest service road for an incredibly steep, single track ascent.  At the top we stopped a minute to take another selfie (I mean, "catch our breath"). 

Some kind runner offered to take our picture for us.  Maybe they could tell we were novices and decided if we wanted a good picture, they were going to have to help us out.  Or that maybe we couldn't breathe and hold a camera at the same time.

One begins to realize how high we have climbed when the tops of the massive evergreens are that close.

We finally begin our descent down.  YES!

The single track trail was easy to follow.  The winter had taken it's toll on the trail however and it often felt like we were running in a wash out as we maneuvered past rocks and roots.  This glorious down hill was FAST and over with quickly.  As we rounded a corner we were greeted with a long uphill section.  We were a little confused as we had thought once the downhill had begun, the DOWNHILL HAD BEGUN.  Surprise!  Just one more section of uphill.  We could see the carrot dangling and we chased it.  The downhill was close, we just had to find it. 

As the race promises, there is a downhill.  We fell in line with 3 other runners.  Kathy led the group, followed by me, a guy from Seattle, a guy from Georgia living in Issaquah and a woman who celebrated the February birth of her daughter by running up and down this mountain.  Our laughter echoed in the hillside.

We discovered Mr. Georgia-Living-In-Issaquah is friends with the race director James.  He also informed us he just opened up a trail running store called Uphill Running.  Upon hearing the name we immediately put two and two together.  The elevation profile of this race was clearly his fault and we felt compelled to tell him so. 

The descent was rapid.  The uneven terrain was felt in my ankles.  We kept a very close eye on the trail rather than the scenery around us.  After 3 hours in the trail, we met the first person of the day actually coming toward us.  Carrying pizza.  Either this Pizza Delivery Boy was the best Pizza Delivery Boy EVER or we had to be near the finish line.

He said it was a half mile away.  It was a mile.  He was close.

We were sad the best race we've ever run was almost over but excited as despite it being far from easy, we easily had fun.  So we took another picture.

Obviously I haven't mastered this selfie thing.

The finish line was filled with people screaming for each and every runner that came in.  The finish line was crossed only when you got your high five from James.  He gave me mine in 3:06:47 after I started.

Our husbands were there waiting for us as well as Kathy's son Kellan who would be celebrating his 19th birthday by running the 50k the next morning.  After we finished, the band played while we sat in our lawn chairs, eating delicious pizza and drinking cold beer - the best finish to running the best run at the best race.

We've already got a race penciled in our calendar for next year; care to guess which one?



  1. I'm sad I missed this one. But I feel like I could be doing this race with you two NEXT year!

  2. Hi Cheri! I'm that nice runner person who took your photo :) I enjoyed your write-up!

    1. Awww - THANK YOU! Not only do we have a great photo but we also got to breathe again! HA!