Sunday, February 06, 2011

Orcas Island 25K 2011 Version

My favorite race of the year was this weekend. I worked hard all week to get school work done so I could go guilt-free. Friday was a blur - driving Eric to the vanpool at 4:30 am, heading back home, then off to work, from work back to Puyallup for Jenny, then to Greenlake for Margaret, then to Mukilteo for Eric, then we rushed to Anacortes hoping we could catch the 4:00 ferry. We were the second to last car in line, but we made it! I was feeling pretty stressed, right up until we drove on to the ferry. It is obvious to me that the ferry travels in a bubble of island-time, where everything slows down and becomes relaxed. Within minutes of stepping onto the deck, I could feel island-time taking over and all the stress fading away. We stumbled onto a lovely pub on-island and from there made our way to race-central. After a few minutes of socializing we headed for the condo and a relaxed evening of race prep.

We were back at the camp early so Jenny and Eric could take the early start. Margaret and I hung out till our start, an hour and 10 minutes later. The course started downhill - opposite of last year, and I'm not quite sure how, but it wasn't long till we were on familiar trails and deep into the forest I love.

Margaret and I had resolved to take our time and enjoy every moment. As Margaret said, "Why rush through this just so we can wait around at the camp?" Good point! I listened to a wonderful TED lecture the other day, where Bruce Feiler said something that really struck me - he said you can rush to the finish line and be there first, but you'll be all alone, or you can take your time and you'll still get there, but you'll gather a community as you go. I immediately thought - that's me! I get to the finish line much later than others, but I enjoy my passage immensely, and I usually arrive with friends in tow (well, okay, maybe I'm the one being towed!). Then he talked about walking a turtle. Apparently, in Paris a few hundred years ago, the rich would show how much leisure they had by taking a turtle for a walk, letting the turtle set the pace. Feiler suggests we slow down and enjoy the moment, that we walk with a turtle. The point is, I walked the turtle yesterday and it was a wonderful experience. We stopped often to gaze in awe at the old growth forest surrounding us, at huge chunks of bedrock, at twisted trees clinging to the edge of the lake, and stunning vistas of islands, the Sound and Mt. Baker. Margaret and I had deep philosophical discussions - I'm taking an ethics class right now and what better to explore with a friend? It was everything a day in the woods should be.

Today I'm so sore I can barely move, especially after I've been sitting a while. Tomorrow will probably be worse, but I don't care. Every time I go to Orcas, I'm reminded of the incredible beauty that surrounds us, of the gift that Nature has to offer, and the amazing camaraderie of our running community. I enjoy the precious time with friends, the time away from all that is electronic and the island-time bubble of the ferry ride. It is a simple reminder of the wonders of life, and a reminder I hope to receive year after year.


Jill said...

The ferry line is no fun. I always have anxiety until I’m on the ferry! Sounds like a great trip and run. I love the San Juan’s it such a special place and so peaceful. Love the quote you used…it is SO true.

Joe said...

Love the image of walking the turtle. Glad you got to do that!!

25K is a great distance for a doctoral candidate too!!

Darrell said...

Sounds like a perfect day in an idyllic setting. I'm so glad you enjoyed it and shared a bit of us with us.