I planned to visit family in WA state over the 4th of July so why not do a race while I’m there? Another state to check off in my quest to run a half or full marathon in every state. I found what looked like an awesome half, a women’s only half marathon being held in Olympia, WA. The course looked relatively flat and the finisher’s medal was a beautiful sterling silver necklace. Sign me up!
The day of the race was a pretty warm day for WA state. The race didn’t start until 5 pm and we had a family barbecue at noon earlier the same day. I’m pretty sure barbecue is not recommended in pre-race fueling but what the heck. My main goal in travelling to WA was to see family, the race was just a side bonus. I usually like to get to races at least an hour early, to walk around and settle my nerves but we were running late from the barbecue and I felt my anxiety kick in a little bit when we got there with only 20 minutes to spare, and I saw the porta potty lines. Fortunately, they moved pretty quickly and I got to the starting line fine. It was great to have family at the race start to take pictures since I am usually solo. I believe there was a 300 racer cap for the half but there might only have been 225-250 women running it and somewhere around that same number of women running the 4k event which started an hour later.
The course started off with one lap around a high school track and then around a half-mile onto a wooded trail near the high school campus. The trail was pretty narrow and we were pretty much on each other’s heels in single file. I think I was already sucking wind at this point and thinking what a big mistake that barbecued chicken was. Or maybe it was the cake afterwards haha. It was also hot! Before too long, the trail opened up we ran around some neighborhoods and then eventually back alongside the high school. My parents still hadn’t left (I had told them not to wait, as I anticipated it taking at least 2.5 hours for me to finish) and I got to scream ‘Hi Mom!’ at my mom waiting on the sidewalk.
A lot of the men from the local running club hosting the event were participating as course marshalls, some in tuxedo tops and shorts. 🙂
We headed into some more neighborhoods and to my surprise and dismay, Hills! Either I didn’t look at the course elevation closely enough, or that chart was seriously lacking. Ugh. Hills and more hills. They had water stops about every two miles and each one had a little rain shower setup you could run through and get misted. If I hadn’t been worried about damaging my phone, I would have gotten more soaked at each one. The dampness felt great though. At one point, a neighbor was sitting out on her lawn, offering to spray people down with her hose. That felt good too.
At about the 4.5 mile mark, we got close to the Evergreen State campus and the course went onto some wooded trails. It was amazing how much I felt my motivation and my speed increase. The relief from the sun and heat felt so great. Right about then, the leaders started passing me on their way back. They were moving pretty fast.
Finally I hit the halfway point and turnaround. They had some energy gels available so I grabbed a couple and refilled my water bottles. Ok halfway, I could do this. Along the way, they had women on bikes checking on the status of all the participants. They were also handing out plastic baggies of ice and so I grabbed one and stuck in the front of my bra. It probably looked weird but who cares. Until it melted completely, I kept grabbing a single piece and slathering it all over my face and neck to cool off.
Back through the wooded trails, then back to the hills. The hills on the way back seemed much worse. I walked a lot. A whole heck of a lot. At least I had passed a number of people after the turnaround so I knew I was not anywhere close to being the last to finish.
A couple women were using the Galloway method and while I was not doing any formal run/walk, they would pass me during their run cycle, and then I would pass them running. This went on for at least a couple miles.
Finally, we were back in the vicinity of the high school. But wait, we were in sight of the finish line, we could see the runners coming around the track and hear the loudspeaker, but we still had 2.5 miles to go! So cruel and inhumane. Not to mention, this was uphill.
I felt really unmotivated after that but I kept plugging along. Back through the local neighborhood, back toward the high school, back onto the wooded trail. It was all I could do to keep running. Finally back to the track and one lap. I wanted to walk so badly but how could I in sight of all the people? Yes, here is the finish line. I tried to smile and raise my arms in victory but it was a halfhearted attempt.
I crossed the line, was handed my beautiful silver necklace and offered some chocolates and water and I was done. So happy to be done. My legs hurt really badly so I did some stretching on the grass while I ate my chocolate.
I still don’t know my official time except I’m sure it was just over 3 hours. Pretty dang slow. Over 20 minutes slower than my previous half marathon time. I’ve come to the conclusion that a)I should have been doing more hill work b)I shouldn’t eat barbecue a couple hours before a race and c) evening races are not for me. Still, I’m super happy that I did it, and that I finished it. Yay!
Me and my mom at the start: