This weekend was Rainshadow Running’s 6th annual Yakima Skyline Rim 50k/25k. I have not run a Rainshadow Running event since the Deception Pass 25k in November of 2012, just shortly after we moved to the PNW. I chose to run the Yakima 25k because it has two 2 mile sections, each with 2,000 ft elevation gain (1,000 feet per mile) and has a total 4500 feet ascent and descent. This mimics my big race of the summer which is marathon distance in Europe with two 4 mile sections each with 4,000 feet elevation gain (1,000 feet per mile).
The race started at the Umtanum Creek Recreation Area. The course was somewhat different than past years as it started and finished with a flat half mile section. Due to the heat and sun exposure, James requires all runners to carry 40 ounces of water. This seemed like an excessive amount to me and felt extremely heavy as I put my vest on to go to the starting line. James yelled ‘Go!’ and led us for 200 meters to the dirt road that would take us to the bridge across the Yakima River. James likes to challenge me with his bridges. (If you don’t know about my bridge anxiety, read here.)
As soon as we crossed the bridge, the trail turned into tight single-track and started climbing. I looked ahead to see where I was: there were 2 guys out front and then there was a pack of 3 men just ahead of me. I started out pretty aggressive, hoping to be able to stay with at least one of them so I was not running on my own the entire race. Because of this, I felt like I was running harder than I would otherwise this early in the race. Around 2 miles I passed one of the men. Now there were 3 of us within 20 meters of each other. We ran this way for the duration of the undulating jeep road which follows the ridge line and has stunning views of the surrounding snow-capped Cascade Mountains. Just before the descent down to Roza Creek, I pulled up on Chris Paterson and we introduced ourselves. (He ran the 50k the day before!) It was a short conversation because we soon hit the crazy steep downhill with loose, dry rocks and sharp scrub brush. I’m glad I took a GU because this section was hard to follow and took a lot of concentration.
There is only one aid station for the 25k at the turn around at Roza Creek. There is no road access to this point so the Rainshadow Running crew and volunteers had to cross the river by raft to get supplies to the runners. Since there was no way of getting to me on the course, Tad drove out to the turn-around and yelled encouragement from across the river.
Now the fun began! Remember when I thought 40 ounces of water was excessive? Well, it wasn’t and I thanked James the whole way back. At sub-ultra distances, I rarely encounter climbs that are so steep I have to walk, but this was one of them. Luckily, I had the cheers and support of all the runners cautiously navigating their way down and Glenn perched at the top with his camera. I found myself lulled into the power hiking, but a voice in my head surprised me and told me to get going and start running again. At this point, the guys ahead of me were long gone. The miles up on the ridge were pretty lonely and I was hurting. I knew I was paying for my aggressive first 5 miles.
On the final descent, I could feel the bottom of my feet burning as I slid forward with every step. Before the race I applied my Rocket Pure Friction Therapy Natural Anti-Chafe Balm to my feet knowing that with the aggressive footing and heat, which I am not used to, I needed to postpone blisters as long as possible. I wore the La Sportiva HeliosSR which is made for rocky, technical terrain because it has a forefoot rock guard.
Because I was nervous about the bridge crossing, I instructed Tad to meet me there on the way back. At this point, I was so tired and hot and ready to be done, I didn’t care enough to have anxiety and would have just as soon jumped into the cold, sparkling water below. I crossed the finish line with the iconic high-five with James. I ended up 5thoverall and 1st woman. I know I am fit and ready for a good race, but I never take a win for granted, especially because there was a solid field of women competing including Jennifer Evans and Marlene Farrell.
Top 5 Women: (Full results HERE)
- Maria Dalzot (2:28:10)
- Jennifer Evans (2:56:12)
- Marlene Farrell (3:00:59)
- Kim Carmel (3:02:45)
- Stephanie Gundel (3:05:37)
After rinsing off in the creek, we enjoyed brick oven pizza and a huge plate of fresh fruits and vegetables as we listened to music from the Pine Hearts and cheered on the finishers. If you have never run a Rainshadow Running event yet, I suggest you do. They are some of the best organized, most scenic and overall fun races in the Pacific Northwest.
Stay tuned; the next couple months are going to be adventure-packed!
Other Stuff of Interest:
Have you checked out TrailSisters.net? A female-driven site, this platform will share stories of training, adventure, motivation and much more! As a contributor I am writing a series about what it is like living and running with anxiety.
Mark your calendar for the Northwest Women’s Trail Running Retreat September 15-19 in Bellingham, WA. Click HERE for more info!
If you are interested in purchasing some La Sportiva gear or other accessories like watches, sunglasses and nutrition, visit my Athlete Biz store. By purchasing your gear from my store, not only do you get a discount, but I get a portion of the profit to help fund my race expenses.