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March 6-8: Dirty Duo 2015 (+ Squamish)

On March 6, Andy and I left work a bit early and jetted up to Bellingham, WA to stay with a friend on our way up to Vancouver, BC. The reason for the rush?? Saturday, we were competing in the Dirty Duo- a combined 27km trail run and 30km mountain bike race. It was going to be a new experience for the both of us.

Now, I’m a road runner. I run on roads. I race on flat ground for a maximum distance of 13.1 miles. This race had a terrifying elevation profile and was presenting itself as a course of just over 16 miles. I was in for it. But, as with all substantial challenges, very, very excited. The plan was to drive up with our friends the morning of, knock the race out, and head up to Squamish so we could get some climbing in on Sunday. We, crazily enough for March, had perfect weather.

Race day dawned crisp and clear - we crossed the border without incident and blearily made our way to the start of the race. The energy was just… Cool. There’s no other way to describe it. Everyone was pretty laid back. There was a relatively small field and we had a “pre race meeting” as a group before heading to the starting line.

This was a completely foreign experience to me since I’m used to hundreds of runners darting about fiendishly in preparation of a paved half marathon. The idea of competitive trail running was quickly warming in my brain…

The race started off smoothly, Britt, who, due to Kellen’s recent injury, was doing just the 27km run, and I left the boys and got our watches prepped to track our relative paces. Then.. We jolted off.

The first mile and a half went down easy and I started getting pretty cocky. And then… We began climbing… Pretty soon I realized that this was going to be added to the growing list of the “more difficult feats” I’d managed to check off my list. Checking my watch neurotically while rocking out to an eclectic mix of Macklemore, adventure club, and Arctic monkeys, i paced myself through the first section of slick stair cases, loose rock, and exposed tree roots. Eventually, however, technology failed me and my watch lost my location and I was flying blind with no frame of reference for how far in I was other than the timer- which was very unhelpful considering that pacing myself was the only way I could guess at how much energy I was expending. Oh well.

I fell into a rhythm and munched happily on pieces of pre-broken KIND bars in between cups of water at the aid stations. I made a few friends, yo-yo'ed with a few runners, and regretted not buying proper trail runners before going into the race. I walked when I couldn’t see the top of the hill in front of me (which was often) and got my runner Zen on. 2:53 minutes later, I crossed the finish line in the top 10 female runners, handed my chip off to Andy and he started off on his leg of the race. Runner’s high consuming me, I pounded water spiked with Nuun tabs and started slowly refueling while I waited for Britt to finish and for the mountain bikers to start coming in.

People chatted me up. I chatted people up. We all soaked up the sunshine and basked happily in the energy of the event we were all apart of. It was magic. A few hours later, Andy coasted across the finish line.

We all relaxed for a bit and then hit the store for dinner food and ICE CREAM. Andy bought a 10 pack of some sort of ice cream bar and attempted to eat them all (he failed, thank goodness). I, however, managed to eat my entire pint of coconut milk ice cream between Vancouver and Squamish. Twenty minutes later, I was starving again. Surprise, surprise.

Saturday night, we camped under the Canadian sky at the base of the Chief and fell asleep early because… The rocks were calling our names for the following morning. Sunday morning, woke up late, made breakfast and hiked up (ouch ouch ouch) the Apron to get our Trad climbin’ on. Problem? Andy forgot his harness. While he ran back to the car, the line fir the start of the longer climbs filled so we changed plans and did a 3 pitch, 5.9 trad up the lower section. Slabby slab slab.

My calves screamed the entire time. But! The slab at Squamish is so damn grippy. It was like pasting feet and fingers onto sandpaper. I’ve never felt so confident (and terrified) on trad in my life. It was amazing. After topping out, we headed back to the car, and began the long drive back to Portland (after buying goodies at Zephyr cafe). It was an exhausting weekend full of new experiences- I’m so eager for next year though that I’m already watching the Mountain Madness website for the 2016 pre-entry.

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