Green Monster Duathlon – 3/4/17

Inaugural years for events can be hit or miss. As race directors work out the kinks in logistics, they can be the awesome event we’ve all been waiting for or it can fall flat and a few years have to go by before anyone is brave enough to return.

The Green Monster Duathlon was close to the former for it’s inaugural year in 2017. I happened upon this random event on Ultra Signup and immediately recruited Jesse and our good friend to join me. Jesse was keen to do the middle section, the mountain bike, and our friend took the final running leg, leaving me to start us off.

None of us had ever been to Green Mountain before – it’s west of Seattle, across the bay, just outside Bremerton, WA. We drove up the night before and stayed at a hotel, waking at 4:30 AM to make the rest of the drive to arrive by the suggested 6 AM time to ensure parking. We had the option to camp, but given that there was frost on the ground, I was incredibly grateful for the warm bed at the Hampton Inn (and the wi-fi, as we had a hilarious time sorting out the recommended mapping app).

When we arrived at Horse Camp, we were greeted by the race director and were told we could park just up the road from the starting area. This was ideal, as we could then hang out in the warm car until the sun came up. We had 2 hours to kill until the start time, so we meandered to the camp fire, socialized with the volunteers, and just generally relaxed, digesting our hurried and desperate McDonald’s breakfast.

At long last, the leg 1 runners were off. I was battling a horrible, awful cold and was running with what felt like only 25% of my lung capacity, coughing all the way. My leg was called “The Miserable Loop” – about 7.5 miles with 1,350 ft of climbing. I settled into the run, walking the hills when I couldn’t breathe, and making friends left and right.


Everyone there, I gathered, were locals and most seemed to know the race director so it was interesting to hear about the history of the town and the trails (being some of the only out-of-towners, we were in somewhat of celebrity status up there). One girl I was running with was celebrating her 30th birthday that day and she was in the best of spirits. I enjoyed running with her all morning.


At the aid station, we were told to continue up to the vista (might as well, we’d come this far, right?) and then rip a page from a book corresponding with our bib number, then head back to the starting line. The view was beautiful and I had a strange experience with a guy wanting to video my running shoes. I sure hoped he was part of the event!

My running buddy and I enjoyed the lovely downhill back to the starting line / transition point where Jesse was waiting on his bike to begin leg 2: “The Slaughterhouse Onslaught”. A quick kiss and he was off.

I was soaking wet and starting to shiver so I headed to the car to change my clothes. Afterward, I enjoyed fistfuls of Swedish Fish, oranges, and pretzels, washing it all down with my favorite trail running beverage: Coca Cola. Our friend and I sat by the camp fire…it was incredibly chilly on Green Mountain!

Eventually, Jesse came rolling in and our friend took off for leg 3: “The Fire Swamp”. Within minutes he was back, looking a little lost. This seemed common among the leg 3 runners; the course was marked in pink and orange ribbon…but so were the logging roads on the mountain! Not ideal.


While our friend was out running, Jesse & I took in the spectacular burgers from the Grub Hut food cart that had rolled in. We, per usual, bogarted seats by the fire, devouring our well-earned lunch.


After a little while, we headed down to the finish line to wait for our friend. It was raining and we stood under the tents, watching other team members finish and celebrate. Some badass athletes did the entire event solo and they were quite inspirational as well. One particular team, a couple also from Portland, got engaged right at the finish line! As he finished the last run, he knelt in the mud and proposed. Teary-eyed, she said yes! Unfortunately, I am in the background of nearly every photo of the moment (as seen on Facebook). Sorry, friends!

Our friend came in, looking strong. We returned to the firepit, food in hand, and hung out for the raffle. Many of the competitors left right after finishing, so the group had dwindled and our chances of winning were looking quite good!


The raffle ended up being the best part of the race. It was laced with hilarious commentary and embarrassed multi-winners. Our friend won a massive jug of electrolyte powder (“add some water so it forms a paste and layer it on!”). The event had some inspiration from the Barkley Marathon, hence the books / tearing of the pages, and aptly named leg titles: “Misery” by Stephen King, “Slaughterhouse Five” by Kurt Vonnegut, and “The Princess Bride” by William Goldman. I, ever so fittingly, won a book signed by the race director and volunteers. I was thrilled!

My winning ticket was the last to be drawn so with book in hand, we piled in the car and headed for home.


Whistler – 2/3/17 – 2/11-17

We had this trip planned for the better part of a year. Our dear friends invited us to their timeshare in Whistler for a week and we blocked out the vacation on our calendars and all but forgot about it.

Finally, 2017 arrived and it occurred to us that we probably need to buy ski passes, arrange for a dog-sitter, and generally start planning to be gone for 9 days. With two days eaten up for travel, that left 7 days to play. Our discounted ski lift options were either 1, 3, or 5-day passes and it was agony deciding which way to go. We settled on 3 days and it ended up being the perfect amount.

We left Friday mid-morning, after slipping and sliding our way through an ice-coated Portland [insert funny stories about gas stations, fragile credit cards, bank teller errors, and a transient person here]. We stopped in a very snowy Vancouver, BC for a beautiful dinner with our friend’s former colleague, and continued slowly to Whistler (after a quick stop at Canadian Tire to invest in some decent ice scrapers). It was a long travel day in wonderful winter weather.

Our Creekside condo was lovely, greeting us with 3 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, a full kitchen, a washer/dryer, and a lovely view of snow-covered trees. The elephant in the room was the bedroom scenario: who gets the bunk beds and/or twin beds? Since we were technically the guests, Jesse & I channeled our inner 5-year old selves and embraced the bunk beds. We were in Whistler, who can complain!?

Saturday was a settling in day, of sorts. We slept in, went to brunch, stocked up at the grocery store, picked up everyone’s respective ski rentals, and wandered up and down (and up and down) the snowy sidewalks of Whistler Village.


Sunday we skied. It dumped an incredible amount of snow Saturday night and was a gloriously sunny day that morning. As expected, the line to the lift was 45 minutes long. It was cold, but the snow couldn’t have been more ideal and I couldn’t get enough of the views from the top. We were cutting through powder all day long.

img_324816508813_10210293493887168_9198204081782161551_n16425789_10210293493767165_4446675569588714636_nimg_3253img_3252We stopped for lunch near a random hut and sat in the snow to eat our sandwiches. Soon several fat little birds were swooping down on us, trying to steal our lunch! They would stalk us from atop our skis and then make their move. It was cute at first, but then they became brave and obnoxious, diving right at Jesse’s mouth!


After our 6 hours of skiing, Jesse and I scrambled up Blackcomb, literally ran to catch the last P2P gondola, and raced down the mountain before the last run call. It was a stressful, yet hilarious endeavor, but we made our happy hour date. We met at the bar for German sausages, hot chocolate, and the end of the Super Bowl (complete with an upsetting come back from the Patriots… what the actual f***?).

Monday was day #2 for skiing. The snow was still pretty good, but it was an extremely gray, cloudy, windy, and cold day. Because we spent most of Sunday on the backside of Whistler Mountain, we traversed over to Blackcomb for some variety. The snow seemed a bit icier and I was frustrated with how cold I was. We ended up stopping at the lodge for lunch and buying hand and toe warmers. It was hard to enjoy the day when I couldn’t warm myself up at all. We called it quits about 30 minutes early and headed back to the condo where I bee-lined it for the hot tub.


Tuesday was another sunny day and we slept in and slowly got around to making breakfast and then headed over to the Olympic Park for some snowshoeing. We ended up doing about 4 miles through the woods. It was much warmer and again, BC was too gorgeous for words. After several hours wandering through the woods, we headed back to Whistler Village because our friends had booked a bobsled ride! They went through an hour or so of training and then raced around the bobsled track for about 45 seconds. It was quite cool to watch! Later, in the hot tub, the relaxation of the evening was ruined by some drunken locals talking about Donald Trump, incompetent snow plow drivers, and seasonal employment. It was awkward and unpleasant but they eventually left and the world was good again.

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One of our friends had to head back to Portland on Wednesday morning, so we dug her car out of the parking lot and said our good-byes…at 6 AM. Then the 3 of us headed to the trailhead to begin our Garibaldi Lake trek. It had snowed a fair amount and was going to be decent weather day… until the late afternoon. So we were working against the weather AND daylight, but were really just out to enjoy the snow. The first mile or so was up the road, as it is not plowed in the winter. We decided we were following the tracks of a skier and/or snowboarder combo, but were the only ones on the mountain otherwise.


The trail featured ~3,800 feet of climbing in a few short miles and about 650,000 switchbacks. We crossed a frozen lake, found a few incredible viewpoints, and enjoyed being in the Canadian Wilderness for the day. Besides my lengthy argument with a squirrel, we didn’t see anyone else on the trail until we were on our return trip. Eventually, we had to make the call to turn back before reaching our destination. We had no intention of sleeping on the mountain and the storm was rolling in. We headed back down, making up time on the descent and finishing just before dark. It was an epic day and I look forward to returning to complete the adventure in finding Garibaldi Lake.

img_3311img_3314IMG_3214My little toes were trashed from 14 miles in my snow boots. I suppressed a scream as the hot shower water rushed over my raw little piggies. Soon after that, I happily crawled into bed and fell asleep immediately. It had been a long day.

The plan all along was: on Thursday we rest. And indeed we did. It was a PJs-all-day type of day. It was cold and snowing all day long. The fireplace was on, the 3 of us nestled in, plugged into our various electronic devices, wrapped in blankets, and truly relaxing. That evening, we dug out the car and Jesse & I wandered to Whistler Village for a bank run (because who doesn’t need a foreign bank account in this political climate?) and, randomly, a haircut… and also a Whistler Blackcomb Hydroflask. Now there’s an adventure story.


Friday was day #3 of skiing and we were all in pretty rough shape. Jesse was sick and had black and swollen toes, our friend had leg/foot cramps, and yet again, I couldn’t warm up my body enough to enjoy the day. We begrudgingly spent a few hours on the slopes and just after lunch, we all gave in to the struggle. We made our way back to Creekside, enduring the icy moguls of Lower Franz’s. We spent the afternoon at the condo, slowly packing up the place and trying to eat all of our remaining food (which we gave up on and went out for tacos anyway, after several frustrating trips to the post office waiting on some important mail).


On Saturday, we made the drive home. It was a spectacular week and almost makes me want to invest in a timeshare of our own.