What? Another race? Yes. Another one. But when you have zero motivation to run on your own, and there is a close (ish) race, why not? I mean I should be able to run on my own without spectators, water stops, and medals, but if they are available, why not take advantage?
My Tink training (which I’ve somewhat followed up until the last few weeks) called for 12 miles. I looked at the local race calendar, and as luck would have it, there was a half that weekend. As I’ve done once or twice before, I decided to go for it, figuring the last mile would be a great cool down. Considering my last two long runs have been piecemealed, the other thought behind doing the half was actually doing 12 miles continuously.
So I identified a race, what next? Let’s dive into my race choosing process.
First step is to analyze the website for the time limit. As I’ve mentioned probably ad nauseam at this point, I’ve been losing speed. Whereas before I only worried a little if there was a 3:30 time limit, now I worry a lot if there is a 3:30 time limit. There was no time limit, at least that I could find.
Second step in scoping races, depending on the length of the race and the time limit, is to look at prior year results. Guess what? While this was the 32nd annual Spring Classic , it was the inaugural year for the half. Previously it was a duathlon only, but this year they expanded to include running events. No obvious time limit, no prior year results. What’s a time worrying girl to do? Well, take into account that the half would start an hour and 15 minutes before the duathlon. I can deal with an hour head start. And then I looked at the prior year duathlon results of course! Once I saw there were enough finishers in the 2 hour plus category, I felt safe in signing up. Whew. All that and I’m not even to the start line yet!
Looking at the race course, I realized this would be almost the exact opposite of the Hop Hop Half. I knew I would be in for beautiful views and a mostly flat course.
At the start line I glanced nervously around. This was probably one of the smallest races I’ve ever been in. As in there were maybe 100 people running the half. I mentally prepared to be last or at least the last “runner”. I kept telling myself, most likely I wouldn’t be last overall as more likely than not there would still be duathletes finishing after me. (So “more likely than not” is a term that is used in my job a decent amount and its basically a fancy way of saying more than 51%.)
And we were off!! By mile 1, I was pretty much in last place (or so I thought). I hit the first turn around mile 1.5 and was happy to see at least a few people behind me.
The first 5K was on Marine Drive (following the path of the actual 5K). The 5K and the 10K started about 15 minutes after the half so it wasn’t long before the lead runners had caught up with me. I finished up the first 5K and looped onto the bike path along the Columbia River. One good thing about completing the 5K as the first part of the race was that I experienced the uphill that was the finish line. Ugh. Really? But at least I would be prepared for it.
There were a decent amount of 10Kers passing me at this point but as they passed me, several called out encouraging comments, which was a definite plus.
Soon I was passing the 10K turn around point (and a water stop) and just like that, it was just me. It really was like a training run! I could barely make out the people in front of me. My goal at this point was to pass mile 6 before the lead half marathoners came back through, which I did by the skin of my teeth.
I was feeling pretty good with my 1:1 intervals. The sun was starting to come out at this point, but being next to the river meant it wasn’t getting too hot.
Mile 7 left the river and without the river it started getting hot. But finally I was at mile 8 and the turn around! That stretch to the turn around was through a field and the heat was really starting to get to me.
At one point I tried to do race math but failed miserably. Going into this, I was going to be happy to finish. And then I was thinking as long as I came in under 3:05 I would be happy. I hit mile 11 at 2:30 ish and thought maybe, just maybe I might be able to come in under 3 hours. Of course that would mean continuing intervals instead of treating the last mile as a cool down.
I hit the 10K turn around for the second time (and a water stop) and knew I had to be close. 1.5 ish miles close! I kept trucking and came across a fork in the trail up to the road. I didn’t think it was the right path, but I wasn’t sure. I wish there had been a volunteer there. I decided to keep going, hoping it was the right decision.
It was! The bike trail looped up to the main road and just like that I was at mile 13. Ready (or not) to take on the uphill to the finish. I picked a spot in the road and started running. Finished!!
Time check? 2:58! It was so great to see a 2 instead of a 3. I still have a lot of work to do, but I’ll enjoy this for a moment.