"Only those who risk failing greatly can ever succeed greatly." –RFK
Saturday, April 04, 2009
Yakima Canyon Marathon - Off-road version
Tim and I set out the mile-markers early this morning for the Yakima Canyon Marathon runners. It was a brisk sunny morning that promised to warm up, a great day to run this gorgeous marathon. The tail wind in the latter part of the race would help to push the weary runners up the final hills to the finish.
We had a carful of cones, staked markers to anchor into the ground, and Talking Rain mile signs for each mile plus the half-way point. That's 26 sets. We also had 2 dogs, Steely and Missy, as well as our own running gear. The plan was to mark the course, leave the car in Selah and run back on an off-road trail somewhat parallel to Canyon Road, on which most of the marathon course is run.
Our friends David, Ethan and Willy were running the same course as us but in the opposite direction. We would meet them at about the 1/2 way point and exchange car keys so that we could all meet later and get our own cars back. I thought the plan was brilliantly designed.
Tim and I set out on our run a little late because it too longer to mark the course than we thought it would. We had written instructions about where to place the markers despite that the miles actually had already been staked out a few days ago. So, all we really had to do was set the odometer and look for the stakes and read the instructions if needed. How hard could it be? Well, it was easy actually, but it was also quite humorous. The instructions were like: "20 mile: Across road from rock with stick protruding, about 50 feet up, 185 paces south of pine tree between road and river." Finding the rock with the protruding stick was just great. It was waaay up high, but sure enough, it was there. The instruction were always spot on, just spoke to the remoteness of this gorgeous course that winds along the Columbia River through the Yakima canyon. A far cry from the Chicago Marathon course, eh? :)
So, we finished marking the marathon, parked the car, and hit the trail. I've done this route only once before but remembered it clearly. We climbed and climb and climbed and from far above we could look down and see scattered runners on Canyon Road far below. The weather was perfect. We started wearing windbreakers but shorts and a thin long-sleeve was all that was necessary for most of the run. We took our time and captured lots of pictures. I am pretty much recovered from Pacific Rim two weeks ago but my back has been grumbling so I wasn't too aggressive on the climbs. The dogs ran and ran and ran with big grins on their faces. They were in their glory. My warnings to them to pace themselves - as we had lots of miles to run - were completely ignored. I guess sometimes you just have to run with abandon. They certainly did.
We met up with Dave, Ethan and Willy as planned and made sure everyone was feeling good and recovered from Pac Rim (all of us ran there). We exchanged car keys and continued on. The guys ended up finishing 15 minutes before us because we got such a late start, so they waited at Tim's for us as we drove David's 1985 Subaru home.
It was a great day and warm enough afterward to eat thai food on the porch in shorts, a t-shirt and sun glasses. Now, we're chillin'. The dogs are crashed. Tired dogs are good dogs!
I am an ultra runner, physician and have been medical director of some of the toughest ultras. I tend to be a mover and a shaker and louder than my size suggests. However, my Gemini twin is gentler and contemplative, an artist, a writer, and a poet. I am a dog lover, a believer in souls, and have a special affinity for those who struggle because I have been there.
This is my crazy lovable huggable Weimaraner, Steely Dan. I call him Steely. He left us in January of this year at only 6 years from lymphoma that did not respond to chemotherapy treatments. Steely was a total goof. He loved trail running, road running, treadmill running, new experiences, making eye contact, sleeping on his back, me, kids, and liver treats. He was Zappa's best friend. We miss him dearly.
This is Stella. A rescue from the shelter. She's about 6 months old and a Border Collie. She is a joyous bundle of energy and curiosity and now also Zappa best friend. She will make a nice running partner when she grows up.
This is the now the big brother of my family - a rescued Greyhound. His name is Frank Zappa. I call him Zappa. He's 7 years old and has learned all about life beyond the track and crate from Steely when he was with us. It was very rewarding to watch his personality bloom as he settled into the family. And yes, he runs like the wind!
This is Natasha, my dearest friend. She was with me through college, medical school, residency, and she moved with me from Chicago to Spokane several years ago. She was my best running partner for 10 years. My sweet Natasha died from bone cancer in 2006. I miss her still. I hung a windchimes over the deck outside. When it chimes, I smile and think she has finally -- wherever she is now -- caught a squirrel!