The camaraderie of the Upper Valley Running Club
By Marlene Farrell
On a boat at anchor in a rain-dappled bay at the tip of Washington I was thinking about the Upper Valley Running Club’s Tuesday group runs. For me, they are a short jog from my Leavenworth home to Sleeping Lady where I greet new and old friends and sign in at the clipboard. We gather for warm weather runs on the hatchery trails and along Icicle Creek.
It couldn’t have been more different on that day. I ran later but only after toweling off the dinghy seat and rowing to shore. The gravel road run was cool and puddle-ridden with views of ocean waves crashing into the breakwater and glimpses of screeching eagles above the thick canopy. My damp clothes stuck to me when I finished, and I rowed faster though less effectively back to the boat because I didn’t want to get cold. Aboard, I took a water-conserving sponge bath and made myself a cup of tea.
So it makes sense that I thought of the Upper Valley Running Club’s time trial, where camaraderie helps me run faster and I step lightly through the sandy mounds, trying not to sink in. There’s a rivulet of sweat down my back as we push and conversation ceases, replaced by short bursts of breathe. It’s only three miles, we tell ourselves so we can handle the discomfort, knowing it will be over before we know it. Then we enjoy that cleansed and floaty feeling after the hard effort.
One week we modified the course to do two laps on the far side of the ditch, ending at a shady path to the deliciously cool Icicle. Tossing shoes and socks, we stepped carefully over slippery rocks to splash at the sandbar.
I don’t know everyone who runs with UVRC but we wave and say hello when our paths cross. Only a handful of us do the time trial. Others, like organizers Deb and Karen, enjoy a social run to renew their energy at the end of the workday. The Curtis family comes each week and runs together, steering a baby jogger through sandy stretches for a bonus workout. Kids run and walk with their parents, or if they know their way around, like my 9 and 11 year olds do, they can run their own shorter course so we can cheer for each other along the home stretch.
My sailing trip afforded me more runs in mild weather. I ran past docks full of beautiful boats, admiring them and reading their funny nautical names. I also ran past kingfishers and otters darting around at the water’s edge, and away from the water through groves of firs, cedars and madrones.
Leavenworth welcomed me home in her hot embrace, and I headed out to a UVRC session thoroughly unadapted to the heat. But I doused myself with ice water, joined friends and family again on that well-known route, and when my heart rate spiked and my head throbbed with overheating, I jumped into the Icicle, submerging my fully clothed body. It was one version of heaven.
For more info about the Upper Valley Running Club, go to: https://www.facebook.com/events/1108863995803035/
Marlene Farrell is a writer, long-distance runner and coach. She lives in Leavenworth.