It was only right that my last race of the weekend was not only a new state, but also part of a double weekend. This was my 4th double weekend of the year and all four had happened since September. Completing a double weekend isn’t the easiest, but it makes since in terms of travel logistics. This double with Seattle and Portland was certainly a no brainer. When I saw this race, I was glad it was another holiday themed race. My favorite holiday is Christmas, so to do 2 Christmas themed races to end the year was something that sounded fun. The Holiday Half was put on by Foot Traffic, which is a local Portland running store.
After the Santa Runs Tacoma Half, I got in the car and headed right down to Portland. I had to get there by 4pm to pick up my bib. I could have gotten it race morning, but getting it the night before is always nicer. They had pick up at different storms over a few days. Luckily on Saturday it was the Northeast store and it was easy to get in and out of. Since it was such a beautiful day and all of the mountains were peaking out, I took the tram to OHSU for a better view. It didn’t disappoint! I loved seeing the tip of Mt. Rainer, Mt. St. Helen’s, Mt. Adams and Mt. Hood. It’s certainly one of the best views in Portland. I grabbed an early dinner and actually met up with a former co-worker before calling it a night. I was exhausted and the time change certainly didn’t help.
The race was scheduled to start at 8am so I planned to arrive to the bus area around 7am. All of the race information said to buy a $6 shuttle bus ticket to get to and from the race site. The race itself was about 2 miles away on the Adidas Company Campus. Getting down to the parking area was no issue at all. I easily found parking and decided to head right to the buses. I confirmed with another runner there was a warm place to wait once you got to the campus. Well, no one checked to see if I had a shuttle ticket and I got right on the bus. Then it got a little dicey because the bus driver had no idea where to go. He kept asking the runners in the front of the bus where to go. Well, he got lost and ended up in the neighborhood. We got really close to the campus but he got stuck making a turn so we all bailed off the bus. I do hope he got out without taking out a few cars.
Once on campus, I quickly found bag check and hit the bathroom line. There wasn’t really a line, so I was in and out pretty quickly. I am coming to like getting to races early and sneaking in the bathroom with no lines. I ended up just hanging around by the start line instead of going into the warm room. It wasn’t terribly cold, so I figured I’d just stand around and adjust. It wasn’t that much time to wait around either. I was thankful it wasn’t crazy cold as I had a freak out the night before about what to wear. Weather reports were showing it was going to be in the 20’s with wind but I had prepared for the 30’s. Luckily it was in the 30’s and there was no wind. With about 5 minutes until race time, I scooted into the start corral. They had a seed yourself, but did have 3 corrals based on time they asked you to start in. Well, we ended up being delayed as the lead motorcycle cop had to get through the crowd and there was suppose to be a bus. Luckily the bus didn’t come through. At 6 minutes after 8am, they started the race.
Right off the bat, the race course starts you up a hill. The nice thing is that the same hill is the last 800m of the race as well. We looped around the neighborhood for the first 2.5-3 miles and then had a straight out and back to finish the race. The worst part of this race was in the beginning miles. Cars were everywhere on the course and runners were almost running into them and then running on the sidewalks. It was a little crazy and certainly caused a bottleneck for that first mile. I ended up having a 11:42 mile, which was perfect in terms of pacing to start, but then I accidentally sped up.
For the most part, this race was very flat. I think that’s where things actually went wrong for me. I sped up instead of staying at the slow pace. Oops! By around mile 2 we were on the out and back part of the course. The course really provided for some great views of downtown Portland and of some amazing houses! Even with running in many different neighborhoods, there were not a ton of spectators out there. The ones that were though, were great! Also, with the out and back and the course remaining open to traffic, if you tracking a runner, you could see them in several places. As we came into mile 4, we passed the University of Portland. I was surprisingly still feeling pretty good. I wasn’t actually paying attention to my splits, so I had no idea that I was going 11:05. 11:10 and 11:06.
It’s in this section that the race started going downhill for me. By mile 6, I was hurting and could feel it. My legs were definitely feeling Saturday’s half, but I still was just walking at the water stops. Mile 5 came in at 11:05 and mile 6 was 11:02. The only few hills other than the start/finish were around mile 6. You went down on the way out and then went back up which was closer to mile 8 on the way back. Around mile 7.25, we hit the turn around point. It was around this gorgeous park and really made you feel that you were in the Northwest. I made it to that small hill before I just said screw it and started to walk. I walked up the hill and you could see my pace drop by nearly a minute. I am not sure what happened in mile 7, but I hit a 10:45 followed by 11:32 and 11:43 I was certainly struggling during those miles.
Even though I started walking, I really tried to jump into my 4/1 ratio. There were several times I dropped it, but I did my best to stay on it. I wanted to give myself something to focus on because my legs felt so heavy. Around this time, I also started to run around the same group of people and even though I was doing a run/walk, it was nice to see some friendly faces going around the same pace. I think several of us chatted a little even about how tired we were. I honestly wanted to find a bench and just sit down for awhile. I had no idea my overall pace, but certainly could feel myself slowing down.
By this point, I started paying attention to my time a little. I realized that I was actually on target for a sub 2:30 half marathon. I was a little shocked as that was not how I was feeling. I had not been paying attention to hose early miles, so I didn’t realize the time I had been banking. I figured if I stayed around an 11:45, I might actually stay under that 2:30 then. Mile 10 didn’t go great as I hit it in 11:49. My legs were just disastrous. I mean, they were the heaviest I had felt them in awhile. I was a little disappointed in myself as this wasn’t how I wanted my last race of the year to go, but it was how it was going. While it was feeling great mentally to be a bit faster for these races, it was just too much to go that way back to back really. It was really taking a toll on the legs.
At mile 11, we were back to the great views of downtown. The wind started picking up a little during this time. It made me grateful that the wind wasn’t bad throughout the race as it could have been a killer headwind and made for some miserable race miles. I had been going back and forth with this group of ladies and while they got a little ahead of me in miles 9 and 10, by mile 11, I was right behind them. It was actually a nice thing because they sort of became my carrot these last 2 miles. I wanted to make sure I stayed right with them to push through to the finish. It must have worked as I hit mile 11 in 11:38 then followed by an 11:21 for mile 12 and an 11:10 for mile 13. I certainly was trying to push as hard as I could and leave it all out there for the last race.
As we were finishing mile 13, the runners around me kept talking about 2 more turns and then it’s the downhill into the finish. I came up to the last turn and realized that downhill was looking great. I didn’t think my quads would survive, but I was giving it a shot. I picked it up every step and kept looking at my splits to see where I was headed. The fastest I saw at the end was just under an 8 minute mile. Even though it was only 800m, that last bit really put a smile on my face and I know I did give it my all out there. I really had the momentum going, so when I finally stopped, I turned back and grabbed my medal from the volunteer.
Once I gathered myself, I grabbed my checked bag and decided to check out the beer and food tents. Each person got 1 free beer on their bib. I noticed there was a bit of a line for both the beer and the food, so I decided to pass. I probably would have gotten drunk off one sip. I was going to find a place to change my shirt, but I decided to just head to the buses. Again, no one checked to see if I had paid for the shuttle ticket and I just got on. While it was only $6, it seemed silly to have to pay it. I think they should just raise registration price by $5 a person and then everyone rides the shuttle. The only thing I would say is just that spectators go second up and down. If someone had even asked me for a ticket, I wouldn’t know what to show them other than digging out my original registration on my phone. Luckily the bus driver back to the parking area knew where he as going and we were there in no time.
Overall, while this might not have been a good race in terms of keeping a great pace for the most part. I did like the course but was very thankful it wasn’t windy. The out and back gave some nice views without actually being downtown. The medal was just amazing and I loved the race shirt. It actually fit and one I will certainly wear again! They had some great hoodies for sale, but I thought they were a bit steep I thought and passed. This was a great second race of the weekend I would definitely recommend the double to anyone looking to just add races or add those states.
Official Finish Time:
140/188, Female 30-34