On the eve of my 39th birthday, we sojourned to the majestic Oregon coast, our first camping trip of the season. Little did I know, I would have a near death experience. Indeed, the truth is stranger than fiction. A perfect weekend to get away, my body was sore(trashed) from a hard ½ marathon 5 days prior. Surely, I had ruptured muscle tissues, especially my quads and soleus, a mild case of rhabdomyolysis no doubt. The legs were effectively mummified. It was not an issue. My full intention and promise to myself was to remain in recovery mode, sleep in, and perhaps even take a day off from running. But just in case I decided to go on an easy recovery run while camping at Honeyman state park, I packed my Hoka One One. My right heel was exquisitely tender, and needed extra cushioning on my planned easy jaunt. Little did I know, all the surprises the next 24 hours had in store for me, and my brush with sudden death on highway 101 from baggy blue jeans! We arrived at Honeyman at dusk, backed the RV between several coastal evergreens that offered protection from the drizzle, and immediately started a warm fire. This park is filled with Jurassic rhododendron. The RV was bustling with four boys, and my wife and I met our awesome neighbors by the crackling camp fire. I was carb loading with chocolate porter since I had no plans the next day, my birthday. The boys quickly started making s'mores and ravenously eating them. I must confess, since I was in full recovery mode, and still in a tremendous deficit from my religious experience 5 days prior, I gorged myself with s'mores. “Its ok, tomorrow is my birthday, and I'm in recovery mode, at a nutritional deficit, have mild rhabdo, and promised myself to rest and sleep in,” my inner voice said, as I swallowed another s'more and washed it down with chocolate porter. It was getting too cold and wet for the four boys, so they went into the RV and watched Evan AlMighty. The four adults continued to enjoy the embers of the dying flames, in the cool breeze, and gentle drizzle late into the night. I looked at my garmin, which I had little intentions of using, and realized it was the hour of dreams.
Everyone attained deep sleep that evening. My estranged father's nickname was “foco”. “Foco”, literally means light bulb in spanish. Researchers say your sleep patterns such as "early birds" or "night owls" is inherited. No matter how hard you fight it, genetics wins. I opened my eyes at 5:00 a.m. on my birthday, Saturday, May 16th, 2015. The whole world in the west coast is likely asleep, but I knew with certainty that the other bodies in my RV were in deep slumber. I decided to honor my promise of rest and recovery and rolled over to get more sleep. I rolled over and slept soundly for another two and a half hours. Indeed, I was very proud of myself for resting on my birthday, just like I planned. It was now 7:30 a.m. on my birthday.
A mere 90 minutes later, I was clicking away 5:25 mile pace in a 10k race, wearing Hoka One One with brick legs, in the ferocious pouring rain, fighting rhabdo and pain...
I have gotten ahead of myself and I should explain how I got from point A to B. Actually, it's more like got from point A to Z.
When I woke up at 7:30 a.m. in my RV, I was camping, in recovery mode, and had no intention or plans. But alas, at that point, everyone in the RV was in a deep coma. I was “foco” and a lightbulb went off in my head. The chain of events that followed in rapid fire: I am camping in Florence and there is a 10k in Florence this a.m.,...I can make it to the race in time but I need the following: I need carbs, coffee, BM, running gear, money to register, google maps directions to race, a ride to the race, and late registration...
It was impossible. I stood no chance to make it, especially without a ride to the race, how was I supposed to get there? The initial excitement faded rapidly, I had no ride. One last chance, I had a buddy in Eugene coming to do the Rhody 10k and thought he could swing by and pick me up before the start. Although he tried in earnest, it was a lazy Saturday and he was running dangerously late also.
With plan A vanquished, my plan B was to hop on my wife's bike and hope to get to the start in time. My beautiful, but sleepy wife heard me stumbling as I put on my shorts, navy singlet, and blue jeans. She graciously made me coffee. The boys slept hard. Thanks to my vegan diet, I had a bowel movement in the RV that was almost not flushable. Next, I rapidly devoured a couple of Clif Shot Energy Gels, and made a hot mocha that fit nicely into my wife's fat tired Trek Bicycle cup holder. I Grabbed some cash from my wife's purse. Then my wife gave me a small wet kiss and whispered “happy birthday lover,” with those sleepy sexy brown eyes. I frantically stormed out of the RV. My wife tells me, last minute to not forgot a bicycle chain! I was oblivious to her concerns. I suddenly realized I did not have something more important, a bike helmet! I storm out of my RV, a Thor class C. I needed Thor superhero powers to get to this race in time.
There was a downpour of rain that is unusual in these parts. Luckily, I wore my navy rain jacket and baseball cap. It was a nice thing I did not wear my glasses in this weather. It was a very dangerous thing that I was riding with baggy heavy blue jeans. Each time I pedaled and circled the bike crank, I feared that the jeans would get caught in the chain, and I would go hurling towards my death. On my birthday, I would die, and I was supposed to be resting and recovering. Instead, I was dead, for trying to frantically ride my bike hard, and hurriedly get to a race I wasn't even signed up for! I very awkwardly contorted my legs outward, severely bowlegged. This was necessary to prevent the blue jeans, chain, sudden death chain of events. As I left Honeyman and made a sharp left on Hwy 101, I encountered a blistering cold headwind, and heavy traffic. I was doomed. I forgot my gloves and I was quickly drenched to the bone in sweat and rain. The good news is I only had 4 miles of bike riding. The bad news is that it's 8:12 a.m. and race starts at 9:00 a.m. and I haven't even registered. With each crank of the pedal, I saw the lips of my crank and bike chain make a sandwich on my blue jeans. A crash and sudden death would naturally follow. Its a long story, but I had an eerie feeling that I had done this painful workout before. My déjà vu called it a “brick workout.”
Surprisingly, through a headwind, rain, bridges, traffic, depletion and near death thanks to blue jeans, I arrive at the Florence event center unscathed. Luckily, my running buddy is there and offers to put my wife’s bike in his truck, along with my heavy blue jeans. Even more surprisingly, registration is a mere $15 dollars, I have time for a brief warm up and some strides. During my strides, I tell my buddy, it's impossible for me to race, my legs feel like two bricks. A brick workout is, triathlon jargon, usually referring to a hard bike ride and then a run that feels like you have brick legs. “Ok Orestes, you were suppose to be resting and recovering on your Bday, just use this as a 10k tempo run and don't race”, is what I repeatedly told myself countless times during the warm up. The urge to run fast is irresistible and irrepressible once the gun goes off. Putting a race number on a runner is the great equalizer, any fanciful thoughts of tempo run vanquish, and the racer goes for prize money. Just over 34 minutes later I cross the Rhody 10k finish line 1st place overall. It is only a hair over 9:34 a.m., and I feel like it has already been an intense day, jammed packed with adventure.
The fun only got better from there. My buddy took me to my RV and I invited him to stay for chocolate vegan cake. With an RV bustling with 5 adults and 4 kids, my son recommended they sing the Edgewood Elementary happy birthday song. It was the happy birthday song, but sang with an upbeat tempo while clapping. It had a sweet earworm catchiness. All adults enjoyed great conversation and the laughter of kids at play was contagious.
At about 2:00 p.m., mysteriously, the skies parted and we were soaking in lots of sun. We got a large kayak and inflatable raft and went to lake Woahink. There was swimming, racing, and splashing. More importantly, lots of laughter. We went to my son's favorite island and saw a giant bull frog and an old camp fire. Excitedly, we planned our next camp outing. We decided to pack a tent and sleeping bag and paddle to the island on our raft on our next trip. The next trip, we would sleep in a tent on the island, boys only. After several hours of exhausting play in the lake, we decided to break down camp and head home.
One last stop, our friends and neighbors have a condo in Florence. We all freshened up, played some video games, and played hide and seek at the condo. I was surprised with a vegan quesadilla that was spicy and delicious. It has been an intense day to say the least. I pour myself a large cup of hot coffee, since it is only 7:00 p.m. and I have a 90 minute ride to Eugene. We all get in my RV and head back home through the serpentine roads. The view is breathtakingly lush green and then suddenly we are blinded by purple. All we see is open fields of endless camas flowers.
When we arrive home, my two beautiful teenage daughters surprise me with a handwritten birthday card and homemade vegan muffins. Some of the muffins have a "surprise" filling, my daughters excitedly report! They insists I try the "surprise" mystery muffin first...