It had been a month since my last race. I really didn’t have anything to write about. I’ve been eating the stash plan, running almost daily, and trying to find a strength training program that doesn’t involve joining a gym (no luck yet).
Cindy and I didn’t do our best training. Cindy has been struggling with heel pain, and I have had little motivation to go out and run 10 miles on my own. Child care is a huge obstacle and finding someone to watch my girl isn’t always easy.
Before we knew it, race day was upon us.
And without further ado, I shall tell the tale of the Art Dash Half Marathon!
Okay, let’s set up the scene:
Saturday, August 5th. Fires in BC have created a hazy blanket that constantly threatened our clean air. While other cities like Seattle had declared the air unhealthy to run in, the cool breeze off of the ocean made my town fire hazy but running safe.
The sun rose as a fiery neon orange ball. We arrived early to downtown Anacortes where artists and vendors were sleepily setting up their booths. I stopped to relieve myself in a honey bucket before we reached the starting point, but Cindy waited to go (which MAY or MAY NOT have played into our time, but we will get into that later). We arrived behind City Hall in our small town of Anacortes where around 200 people were preparing for the half marathon. The 5k/10k was going to start an hour later, but a few participants arrived early. I didn’t recognize very many people, and I was surprised to see a man warming up to run the half in his bare feet. BARE FEET?? Now I’ve seen it all.
We met up with another Anacortes runner, who is also the head of the Skagit Moms Run This Town chapter. If you don’t know about MRTT or Women Run This Town I highly recommend finding your local chapter (or starting one… you ambitious lady you!).
We didn’t arrive with a lot of time, so we snapped a before shot and lined up behind the starting line.
Let’s talk a little about the course.
Our hometown half marathon was a lollipop run, starting and ending on the Tommy Thompson trail with a circle around March’s Point. Cindy and I run the Tommy Thompson trail every Sunday, so we were excited to have that familiarity. The unknown laid in the circle around March’s Point. When we ran in the past we went to the end of the Tommy Thompson trail and turned around. The gal explaining the course mentioned something about an oil train that may or may not be blocking the track but that wasn’t really registering with me. I chose to simply ignore her diluted explanation in hopes that Cindy was listening (usually a good plan, but not something I should make a habit).
7am and the race begins!
Have I ever mentioned that I love early starting times? Whoever chose this time is a hero and a saint and I love them.
Another thing I loved about this run was the community feeling. A women running just behind me thanked every volunteer we passed. This small act of gratitude made my heart glow.
I loved that there were volunteers at every road making sure we had safe passage, and that different businesses in the community were running the water tables (the most enthusiastic being the cross fit people, but who can blame them? They probably just finished a workout and are high on endorphins).
Cindy and I enjoyed running on our usual path and regardless of injuries, we were setting a pace to meet our goal. Our first half ended with a time of 2:17:57 (or there abouts). And we had a goal of getting under 2:15:00. Shaving 3 minutes off your time didn’t seem that hard and a realistic goal for us.
Well, Cindy had to pee. Now, it could have easily had been me, and honestly we were only 3 miles in and I could already use the break (yeesh, what a wuss). So besides the minute delay, we were still making good time. We crossed the trestle with our eyes towards the sun.
We were only four miles in when we were past the Tommy Thompson and on to the unknown. It didn’t take long before we hit the train track and the hill.
Oh, did I say hill? I meant freaking tiny mountain!
I should have seen it coming, what with a name like North Texas Hill Road, but go figure.
The oil train sat on the edge of the crossroad, itching to block our path. I finally understood what the gal was saying. The oil train was due to leave the refinery any time. This means that if the train is on the roadway that runners would have to use an alternative route.
We passed the tracks and headed up the never ending hill. Only shortly into the climb did we hear the train’s whistle and the clanging of the crossing signals.
I looked behind me and saw a gaggle of runners that were stopped by the train. I thanked my lucky stars that I was just fast enough because I didn’t pay attention to what way we were supposed to go if held up. (Spoiler alert: you just complete the lollipop clockwise instead of counter clockwise).
Well, we had to walk the hill.
Neither one of us had trained for hills and this one was a doozy.
It was a bit surreal with the red sun, the stumbling walking runners, and the barbed wire fence. I felt like I was in the walking dead. I resisted the urge to grab a large stick and carry it for protection.
I kept thinking about my time, but I held the hope that what goes up must come down, and that we could make up time on the decline.
At the top of the hill I ran into family that were volunteering to hand out water. What a lovely surprise! I wanted to chat, but I had time to make up, so off down the hill we went.
The course turned north and looped around the point, displaying beautiful picturesque views of ocean and islands. Cindy and I chose to look to our right since turning to our left gave us the grey view of the refinery.
We started to see people running toward us. This was a bit jarring and confusing. This may be my first lollipop course, but I was pretty sure there wasn’t a turn around. A women nearby started to voice her concern. Another runner pointed out the obvious: these were the runners that were stopped by the train. They were going to go around the point and then go over the hill. Sometimes I marvel at my lack of common sense while running.
I blame it on the blood having to go everywhere else but my brain.
It was about 8 miles in that I started to feel chaffing.
Under my right arm.
Just the right one.
So then I had to run with my left arm swinging normal and my right arm flapping awkwardly like a chicken with a broken wing.
Cindy got a kick out of it.
I hadn’t run past 8 miles in a tank top.
Lesson learned half marathon. Well played.
The Tommy Thompson trail back was a bit of a blur. Here are a few things I remember:
- A girl with an amazing tattoo that Cindy and I “ooh” and “ahh”ed over.
- Said girl was running with another young girl who continued to run, only to pause to vomit alongside the path (yeesh).
- 10k walkers continuing their journey to the finish line.
- Volunteers continuing to cheer us on while simultaneously checking their watches to see if they were done.
- Signs for another 5k that took place an hour and a half later on the same trail (not the best coordination, but I hoped for the best turn out).
Then I reached the 12 mile mark and my running app told me my time. This was going to be close. We didn’t quite end the race where we started and I tapped into my last reserves for the final point one.
Man I ran fast. I knew that if I bumped into anything I’d go flying, but I pushed myself. We had one minute and .1 to go.
I came to the finish line and looked at the clock: 2:15:59
But when I looked at my running app, it said that I had run 13.2 miles.
Cindy’s said the same.
So in all actuality I could take a minute off of my time (since I average .1 miles a minute) and claim that I finished in 2:14:49
This I can accept. At least until next year when the Art Dash has chipped time.
I actually had to correct the timer for my time. He mixed my time card with someone else’s and was trying to put my time at 3 minutes after Cindy’s. Um no sir, we crossed the finish line together thank you very much!
But a finish is a finish, and I have another half marathon in the books.
Then it was off to get a coffee and shower.
In the end it shows that I have a long way to go to reach my sub 2 hour goal. It may not ever be possible, but I’ll continue to set micro goals to reach my bigger ones. I plan to finish my next half under 2:12:00. That’s less than a month away, I better get out there and run!
Until next time,
Run hard and be kind.
Endnote: there was more chafing. Very very bad chafing. I will not be using that bra for distance again.
Another end note: I shouldn’t expect to pr when I haven’t been training. That’s some wishful thinking!