Okay, this was without a doubt the weirdest and most disorganized race that I have ever done. My husband and I got the crazy idea after the Portland Rock'n'Roll that we wanted to do one more half before the Seattle Rock'n'Roll next month so we would reach 12 HMs in 12 months. (Yes, I know that we are crazy!) That meant a quick search online to find a nearby, inexpensive half marathon, which led us to the one we did today. It was about an hour away, obviously very small, and only $45--dirt cheap for a half marathon. Sold! We signed up.
This morning we awoke to drizzle (no surprise, it's Washington!). We got dressed, debated rain gear and opted to not take any since it didn't look like we'd have a downpour, and headed out to Lacey, Washington, to find the race. We had no problem finding the school where the race was to start. Small problem: the race organizers were not there, and there were no signs anywhere. More and more people started showing up; still no race organizers. We began to wonder if we had made a mistake; was there going to be a race or not? I found the email confirmation on my phone and gave my husband the phone number for the contact person; thankfully, someone answered and casually said, oh, the race starts at the trailhead down the road. Um, yeah; would have been nice to have said that in the email confirmation or have signs at the school! I went and told the other people who were wandering around looking for the race and then we headed to the trailhead.
When we got there, we gave our names and picked up our bibs, then went to another table to get our T-shirts. I knew we were getting cotton T-shirts; what I didn't know is that they were leftovers from other races. We ended up getting one from a Mother's Day Triathlon and a Thanksgiving race. Did I mention that this was supposed to be a 5K, 10K, 10 mile, half, and full marathon, plus a triathlon? Oh, and it was supposed to be a flat and fast course, great for a personal best. Um, yeah.
After a visit to the lone porta potty after dropping off the T-shirts at our car, we headed back to the start line (literally a white chalk line on the trail). I have nothing against small races, but this was crazy small; if there were 50 people combined doing ALL the races, I'd be surprised. We were given a map when we picked up our bib so we would know where to go; although it started at a trailhead, we didn't go on a trail but rather on a fairly major street.
I'm not quite sure what the signal to start was, but when everyone else started running, we did as well. People quickly spread out, and it was soon apparent that we'd be bringing up the rear. You know that fear of being the last in a race? Yep, that was us today. It wasn't surprising given the number of people in the race, and it didn't really bother us; we figured if anyone was doing the full marathon, we would at least finish ahead of some of them!
The "aid stations" were card tables with water and Powerade set up at the 5K, 10K, 10 mile, and half marathon turnarounds. The way they were organized, if you wanted to take a cup and throw it away properly, you had no choice but to stop and drink it where it was served. Since we weren't particularly aiming for a personal best, it didn't really matter, however.
The course took us through some lovely country: by pastures with cows and calves and wooded areas. We saw an eagle circling overhead (no, that was NOT a vulture!) and a couple of deer bounding through the bushes. We also saw road kill along the way, not quite so pretty, but that's just the way it is out in the country. Since the race wound through part of Fort Lewis Army Base, we also saw where someone had placed a bunch of American flags in honor of Memorial Day, I'm sure; that was very cool. I appreciate so much the sacrifices members of our military have made to keep our country free, so I was glad to see that along the way as a reminder of the real reason for this holiday.
We were making fairly decent time and got to the half marathon turnaround point, clearly the last half marathoners there. The second half seemed to take f-o-r-e-v-e-r, although we really were not that much slower than the first half. The flat and fast course? Not so much; compared to some of the courses we have been on, it was not that bad, but there were definitely rolling hills. The good news is we were able to keep running in our 2:1 run/walk ratio whether we were going up or down, so that was progress for us.
We passed maybe a half dozen people on the way back who were doing the half marathon, as well as some people on bikes from the triathlon. The side of the road was narrow enough that it was a little unnerving passing in spots, but everyone was friendly and considerate; we got many "good job!" comments and made many in return. Gotta love the running and triathlete community; most of the people out there are competing mainly with themselves and encourage one another.
My legs were feeling a little heavy by the end, but we were able to keep going and finished in 2:55:23--neither a personal best nor worst, for an average (based on my Garmin) of 13:07. We pulled off the tear strips from our bibs and handed them in, then did a little stretching before checking out the post-race food. The website had said sandwiches and a great spread would be available after the race. That, however, is up for debate. What we found was donut holes, honey buns, and other junk food; a little fruit; bread, cheese, and meats for doing your own sandwiches; water and Gatorade. Again, we really weren't expecting a lot for the price, so we got a few things and then headed back to the car.
I don't know if the results will be posted anywhere or if they will be remotely accurate since it was not chip timed and there was no timing clock at the beginning. No matter; we got in a nice 13.3 mile run today, we saw areas we wouldn't normally see, and we had fun. Will we do this one again (if it happens again)? Probably not, but we did get in our 12th half marathon in 12 months--and qualified to move up a moon in Half Fanatics. We're officially at three moons, or Saturn now, and yes, we are officially crazy. I hope you have had a wonderful Memorial Day weekend and took a few minutes to remember those who have given their all for our freedom.