First Date with Diez Vista
“You may encounter many defeats, but you must not be defeated. In fact, it may be necessary to encounter the defeats, so you can know who you are, what you can rise from, how you can still come out of it.”
~ Maya Angelou
As I stepped out from the protection of the trees on Eagle Bluff Trail and onto Powerline, I was exposed to mother natures winds and torrential rains. With my legs feeling fatigued, I reached back and pulled my hood over my head and settled into the most difficult and challenging section of the course.
Earlier that morning I was comfortable and warm in my bed. As I hopped out and headed downstairs, I took a peek through the blinds to see what the weather looked like. It was still dark out and I could catch a glimpse of the puddles collecting on the street that were being supplemented with heavy drops of rain. In that moment there may have been a thought of going back to bed.
I grabbed a quick bite to eat, loosened up the legs, gathered my things and was on my way. Before I left my intuition told me to grab my running tights and boy did those pay off huge later in that race.
After check in, bag drop and going through my usual routine I made my way over to the start line. The race began down on the beach of Sasamat Lake, we would make our way out by running down the west side of the lake. Having done Run Ridge Run at the end of February I had a pretty good understanding of the first climb.
My game plan was the same, run the flats and moderate rolling hills as I always do. Walk with purpose on the longer moderate and steeper climbs to preserve the legs. On the downhill sections let go a little bit but maintain a sense of control to avoid so much impact and burning through my quads.
From the start the rain was relentless and the only shelter was from the protection of the trees. All the rain made for some great running in the trails, lots of puddles, some of which were more like small ponds. There was definitely no shortage of mud!
As I worked my way up onto Diez Vista Trail there was nothing to see on the ridge at the viewpoints but lots of clouds. The trail was great, full of roots, rocks and a very steep downhill section that brought me to Buntzen Lake. After some single track that lead me to the north end of Buntzen Lake and an out and back section along a service road, I was well on my way to aid station #3 at the 23km mark.
As I came into aid station #3 and grabbed my drop bag. I stripped down and changed my upper half of clothing. With a dry shirt, dry jacket, new hat and a few snacks I left a few minutes later headed along the east side of Buntzen Lake running north. With some good coverage from the rain I was able to stay pretty dry until I made my way up some stairs and into the elements of a service road.
As I headed south and began to climb the rains continued to pour down on me. I would make a left under the power lines and onto Academy Trail. I had never been through these trials before and all I knew of them was from looking at the map that was online. I knew that the second half of the race had lots of vertical and that there was going to be some adversity along the way.
I continued up Academy Trail until I hit a fork in the road where we stayed left and jumped onto Eagle Bluff Trail. I climbed for a little bit more until I stepped out of the protection of the trees and into hell? Well not exactly, but strong winds and torrential rains for sure. This is where the race really began for me, adversity was here and it looked like she was sticking around to see this race through.
With roughly 16km to go, I began climbing up Powerline. It was nasty. I remember looking up and seeing the service road winding way off into the distance. It looked like it went on forever and for that section of the race it sure felt like it. If there were any body parts or clothing of mine that was dry, that was now a distant memory.
As I made my way to the top of Powerline and began the descent into aid station #5, I was feeling the fatigue in my legs. The aid station was full of volunteers, making grilled cheese sandwiches and handing out warm soup. Many of the supporters and support teams lined the south side of the road awaiting their runners. I grabbed a small cup of soup, oranges, bananas, filled up with electrolyte fluids and headed off up the long climb back up Powerline.
At this point the fatigue in my legs was quite evident and I began to lean on my mental game to get me through this tough section. As I hit the top of Powerline and began the final descent back onto the single track of Eagle Bluff Trail it was all downhill from here into aid station #6. I had survived the elements and was inside the 10km mark.
I approached aid station #6 with enthusiasm and at a pretty fast pace. This was the last aid station at kilometre 44. I grabbed a few orange slices and hung a left off the service road and onto Diez Vista Trail. It was the last climb and known to many affectionately as “F-You-George (Gary) Hill. As this last section of climbing on already tired legs tested you to find other gears to get you through to the finish line.
This is where I turned it up, the latter sections of the race where I find the will and dig deep to finish strong. In that last section I passed 7 other racers, not that this is what I’m going for but its always a strength of mine to push through and finish strong.
As I hit the top of Diez Vista Trail and began my descent down towards Sasamat Lake I felt a huge surge of emotions overcome me. This usually happens as I’m finishing any race I do. But the feelings are just a little stronger when I’m faced with adversity throughout the race, knowing that what I set out to accomplish will be achieved in a few minutes.
As I made the climb up those final stairs, I would make a slight left back down to White Pine Beach to the sounds of the commentator and the supporters. I rounded the corner, through the cones, onto the sand and under the finish line arch.
My first date with Diez Vista was a success. She challenged me, pushed me, presented me with varying degrees of adversity. Mother nature showed up with less than ideal weather, but exactly what was needed on that day. In the end it’s why I do it, to face the adversity, to overcome the challenges being presented to me. It’s about growth, the person that started the race was a stronger person for finishing it.
Another finish line crossed. 6,000 feet up, 6,000 feet down, over 50km of beautiful PNW trails.
And the story goes on…I feel a second date is in order.