This weekend’s race was a lot of fun! It was my first small race (less than 50 participants) and it was mostly women-focused. The race was more of a “run your own race” sort of event, with distances of 5K, 10K, 15K, and a half marathon. I totally underestimated what the event coordinator meant by “sweeping vistas” and “rolling hills” and “extensive switchbacks.”
Per usual I was pretty cranky the morning of the event. I didn’t feel like running. The hotel I was staying at offered free breakfast, and after such a gnarly work week I just wanted to wind down. My boyfriend came into town just to support me for the race and I felt like it was sucking up too much time of the little time we could spend with each other. I kept being an absolute terror, but he was a trooper and put up with it (per usual).
The race was held in Chambers Bay in Tacoma, which was right along the waterfront. Since it was in a completely new town with strangely numbered roads, naturally my GPS got me lost. Shant had to navigate my cranky self most of the way there and we arrived just a few minutes from the start. Since it was a small race, checkin was pretty easy and I had arrived right in time for the door prizes.
Rosie of Sporty Diva’s was there passing out really awesome door prizes, and her enthusiasm was quite infectious. She highlighted some racers who had an amazing story to share, including one woman who was in her seventies who had recently been screened for cancer and had caught an early stage tumor. She was able to undergo surgery without much downtime since she was in good shape and had urged all of the women (and a few men) who were racing that day to take as good care of themselves as possible. Indeed, the only true wealth is health. And with that, the race was off.
And we ran up a huge hill. Check out the map below between mile 1 and 2.
Yeah, it was quite gnarly. And since this was a looped course, I went up the hill about 5 times total. The course itself was quite beautiful. It was very good for training runs — I can definitely see myself training there for my 20-miler. The course was much more diverse than I was used to. Most of the running I do is quite flat and this provides some very good variance in terrain.
After the first loop, I noticed that a lot of the runners were done. I would say about 60% or so were done for the day. It was no wonder that so many people were gunning those hills. I couldn’t imagine putting that much gusto over 13 miles. I wished more people were tackling the longer distance. It would’ve been nice to have some company on the path but I generally stick to myself anyways. I thought a lot about work, my co-workers, my current lot in life, my boyfriend waiting at the finish line, my friends and family, my marathon fundraiser, and the people I was seeking to help. I thought about the 70.3 in a positive way for the first time in awhile.
About 9 miles in or so I came across a walker with a race bib. I chatted with her a bit — her name was Gina and she was the dean of a local Bible college. She had been trying to lose weight for 17 years and this was the first time she had actually stuck with her goal. Over the past 10 months she had been training for this marathon. She said that she first started off with walking a few miles here, a few miles there. She did all of her exercise in secret because her husband was super fit and didn’t really believe that she would stick to her goal. Now, after all of this time, she was here on this course jamming out her 13.1 miles. It was very inspirational, and I can remember being in her situation — not as dire, but I remember being in that position with a sense of urgency.
The best part of this race was that since it was an open and public course, my boyfriend was able to join me for one of the loops. I had just finished 3 loops and was on my 4th one. (The fifth loop was to round out the 13 miles, and it only meant that I went up the ginormous hill and back down.) We walked about half of it together, which was something we were never able to do before in a race. After about a mile or two I decided it was time to finish what I started so I took off and he was able to continue strolling through the switchbacks. I really should’ve learned my lesson a long time ago about running the tangents on windy hills.
My finish time was a lot slower than I was used to, but that said, it was one of the hilliest courses I’ve ever done. It reminded me a lot of Athens. Regardless, the race was really fun, the race director was awesome, the participants were great, and my boyfriend got to join me for a few miles of it. It was great! After this race, I’m actually really excited about the rest of the season’s long runs. If I was able to complete this race, I should be able to tackle any of the flat courses I’m registered for. So, all in all, my first half marathon of the season was a success!