I had this one one my mind for a few weeks because I'd been looking for a reason to drive up to Skagit Valley. But when I went to sign up the week before the race was sold out. I decided to go for it anyway, signed up for the wait list and figured if I couldn't run I'd volunteer then run the course after the race.
I think the lousy October weather may have helped me this time. Woke up to a pretty steady downpour, and when we arrived at the race it seemed pretty sparse (everyone was probably in their cars). I went over to the registration tent, and then the woman said my name wasn't even on the wait list. So I explain to another woman what I want to do, and she says "You can have my number, I'm not running in this." So technically I was Teresa something for the official scoring (they corrected the name before awards, luckily.)
Anyway, the course was a lot of fun, I hadn't run at Lake Padden since high school xc. I tried to take it easy through the first loop of trails and was pretty succesful, I didn't get pulled along to fast and ended up catching a number of the guys who whizzed past early (but still hit the three-mile mark at 23:00 or so). The first half was a good mix of up and down, with some steady but moderate switchback climbs. Very messy, muddy and soaked trails, but that's fun once you get going. The sun even peeked out about 35 minutes in and the rain held off for the remainder.
After six the route loops Lake Padden, which is a fairly flat gravel trail. I ran that part solo, then reeled in four or five people on the second (shorter) loop backward through the trail part. I ran smart enough that I had energy to pick up the pace heading into the final three miles, and ran sub-7 for the last mile to finish strong and with a smile. Left two guys less than a minute in front of me, that's my only regret. Otherwise a really well-run race, fun course, a good confidence boost for me after the lousy trails 1/2 two months ago, and a little inspiration headed into the winter months.