Yakima Skyline Rim Aid Station Report

1) Work, class and clinical have been harshing my blogging buzz the last few weeks, so this is way late, and you probably know everything you wanted to about last week's Yakima Skyline Rim 50k by now, but whatever. 

2) I have some found time because I've decided to spend the next day and a half on the couch because: a) YOLO!, b) I'm tapering for a seriously ill advised run on Wednesday at the Issy Alps Humpday 100k, c) I have a paper I have to catch up on for school before Monday and d) YOLO! again.

So, here's a new blog post.

Last weekend Angel and I headed over to volunteer at the Yakima Skyline Rim 25k/50k.  We camped out the night before at the Tall Pines recreation area a few miles from the start in the Yakima River Canyon, which was a great choice because the spot was gorgeous and the weather was beautiful, and it gave us an excuse to get all smelly and eat smores and beer around a fire for the first time this season.  On race day Angel was officially a medic and I was an aid station volunteer, but nobody got very hurt (except Betsy Rogers' knees , which finished way before we made it back to the start), so it worked out that Angel did her duty handing out bottles of water and electrolytes and I spent the day trying to sneak and eat the runners' gummy bears and soda.  It's too bad, because I was hoping to get some practice starting IVs and doing field dressings on compound fractures.  We decided to volunteer at this one because runners should do that sort of thing, we've pretty much blown our racing budget for the first half of the year already, and it'll earn us a free entry into another Rainshadow Running event - Sun Mountain in May.  Working the aid station was great and all - we had a really fun group of people to hang out with, we had to four wheel precariously up a mountain to get to the location, and we got to hang out all day in front of this view:

Photo stolen shamelessly from Susie Van Den Ameele's Facebook
But I admit that I was jealous of the runners all day.  This was our first 50k (last year), and still the hardest racing experience I've had, on what for my taste is the prettiest course I've run.  As runners came through our aid station (it was an out and back , so we saw them at mile 10, and again on their return at mile 20), I knew how much physical suffering and  psychological trauma I was missing out on.  It was a perfect weather day, and much cooler than last year, so I'm pretty sure I could have significantly improved my time.  And Glenn Tachiyama was out taking photos again, getting what turned out to be some of his coolest pictures ever on the course.  I'm sure I would've looked awesome as usual.  After a few hours I got so bitter that I started telling Genia Kacey's son that I'd give him quarters if he'd put dirt in runners' water bottles as they passed through.  (Great kid by the way - 5-ish years old and he soldiered through a 4 am wakeup, 2 hours of driving, and 6 hours at a cold windy aid station with great spirits.  Plus one of the first things he said to us on the ride up was "Adam Levine is my mom's secret boyfriend.") 

Not really about the dirt thing.  Actually, I got my fix of running in the area by doing the 25k course a couple of weeks beforehand with the Seattle Running Club, going out at dusk the night before the race to the top of the first climb to enjoy the view in the evening light, and running the last 10 miles of the course in with Genia Kacey after our aid station duties were finished.  I did regret not running, but it was still lots of fun to see the race from that perspective, and get a sense of the variety of experiences that people have on this kind of ultra - marketed, believably I think, as the toughest 50k in the PNW.  One thing I learned is that, no matter where they fell in the pack, people who train primarily on roads were amazed by the course's beauty at mile 10, and destroyed by the climbs at mile 20 - one of the early leaders borrowed a volunteer's phone to tell his wife he was going to be later than expected the second time we saw him.  Classic ultra experience.)  Another thing I learned is that the people you should take racing advice from were 1) The Seattle Running Club's Maxwell Ferguson who added to an increasingly impressive resume by destroying the course record in 4:55, and looked fresh and happy when we say him both times around, and 2) our new Canadian friend Alicia Woodside, who finished as third women's, but more importantly seemed to be having markedly more fun than anyone else on the course.  You should also ask my friend and sometimes training partner Chris Chamberlin what he's been having for breakfast, because he took over an hour off of his time from last year's race. For those scoring at home, that's like 2 minutes/mile, which is a lot.

It's only the 3rd or 4th time I've volunteered at an aid station, but I've sorted out that the real keys to success are:

1) try to find the station in the prettiest spot with the coolest people
2) try to look busy when the station coordinator is around
3) bring booze for the runners
4) don't ask runners if they have anything to drink that you can have
5) stop going through people's dropbags
6) don't encourage people to quit, and
7) runners aren't happy when all you have at the station is sugar-free Trident and balsamic vinegar.