It seems like a theme for my recent races, but this half and the one in Oregon I ran the following day were not originally on the calendar. Again it all goes back to missing my Hawaii trip. While I was in the hospital, I found a few OR/WA doubles and originally put a double on the calendar for St. Patrick’s Day weekend. Then, I found a great double with the Santa Runs Tacoma Half and the Foot Traffic Holiday Half in Portland and when I found a great deal on flights, I went for it.
I flew out to Seattle on Thursday evening and after enjoying Seattle for a little on Friday morning, I drove down to Tacoma. I enjoyed some things around the city before I picked up my bib at the office that splits between the Tacoma City Marathon and the Marathon Mainiacs and Half Fanatics. I wish I had put that together before going or I would have tried to order some gear to pick up in person. I ended up grabbing dinner to go and took it back to the hotel room. With the time change, I was absolutely exhausted and wasn’t to try and get as much sleep as I could.
On race morning, I had originally planned to just walk to the start line. The hotel was just under a mile away, but I didn’t have a very late check out and with a start time of 8am, I was worried I would miss a chance as getting a hot shower. I am glad I ended up this route, as driving to the start line was very easy and the walk back after the race would have been miserable. The finish line was about a half mile from the start line area, so that half mile was bad enough and I am glad I didn’t have the 1.5 miles walk back to the hotel. I just sat in the car staying warm until about 5 minutes before the race when I popped out, walked about 100m and got in the start area. It was pretty relaxing for a race morning.
Before the race, I hadn’t given the course a lot of thought other than noticing what I thought were some miles in town and then an out and back along the waterfront. Well, the first miles weren’t through downtown. We basically took an immediately left, crossed a bridge and then ran around an industrial area before getting on the road that we were ultimately on for about 9 miles. It wasn’t the best in terms of what you really saw for Tacoma. I certainly think a little more downtown running would have been nice, but I see how from a logistics stand point, this was an easier course to control.
While it was cold, the sun was out during the first few miles made it seem like it would be a gorgeous run. That didn’t end up being the case. The sunrise coming off the bridge was just a tease. While crossing the bridge, I paired myself up with the 2:30 pacer. There was a small group of us around her, but mainly seemed to be me, the pacer and one other guy. Looking back on my splits, I do not think that she was pacing all that well. She kept talking about banking time, but the first miles were 10:56, 10:55 and 11:03. Certainly a bit fast for a 2:30 half. The one nice thing though is that she did walk through every water stop. This aided well to me sticking with just a short walk break every 2 miles or so versus going with the 4/1 ratio.
Just as we passed mile 4, we turned right onto Dock Street. For the most part, this course was pretty flat. The only hills were truly the bridges and overpasses which came after this point through the end of the race. None of them were major, but being a relatively flat course otherwise, you certainly could feel the difference. This is when it got to be a bit tricky with the weather. Through the end of mile 3, the fog was really starting to come in. I honestly couldn’t see more than a quarter of a mile (if that!) ahead of me. What was worse though is that it was a really damp fog too and truly just chilled me to the bone.
Around mile 5.5, we passed the finish line. I always hate this, but thankfully, since I literally couldn’t see too much it wasn’t that bad I guess. The 5k and 10k runners were finishing their races. We headed up another overpass and turned one more right to get onto the final out and back of the course. This section I only imagined in my head to be absolutely stunning on a normal day. There were parts where you were just along the water and I know it would have been a beautiful view. Some of the houses and businesses along the water were also pretty amazing as well.
This certainly wasn’t the most spectated race, but there were some people out there cheering runners along. With the out and back, it is an easy race to see your runner in a few spots. The volunteers at the water stops were also pretty great! The water stops were well manned and it was an awesome surprise to get Nuun out there as well. They even had my favorite flavor, Cherry Limeade.
At the water stop just around mile 8, I somehow lost the 2:30 pacer. I walked through the stop and actually went a bit further walking than planned, but somehow she never caught back up with me. I left the water stop on my own and kept going from there. The official turn around was around mile 9.25. I honestly thought the pacer and others would catch right back up, that was never the case. I ended up finishing the last 4 or so miles of the race by myself.
In these last few miles, I really wanted to take a walk break, but I did my best to push through. The last water stop was around mile 10.5, so that was my last official walk break. I didn’t feel that I was picking it up either in these last miles, but according to my splits, apparently I was. Mile 12 came in at 10:54 and mile 13 at 10:58. These miles were ones I had already seen, so while they weren’t boring, they didn’t necessarily also provide anything new to look forward to. I did try and flirt with this great looking cop around mile 11.5, but clearly I was on the run and he just stood there and laughed. Probably at me, not with me even.
At mile 12.9, you hit the last overpass and turn left into the final part of the course. The nice part was we were going downhill on the overpass and then flat right into the finish line. As I came across the finish, I had my name announced and where I was from (as did every other runner). For small races, like this and not being from the area, this is always a nice touch. My finish time seems to be clock time though. We had chips on the bibs, so I am not sure why we didn’t get chip time too. My watch time came in at 2:27:03. It wasn’t a huge difference, but when there is a chip, why not give both times?
After grabbing my medal, some water and some clementines, I started the trek back to my car. I was now freezing and the heat blanket wasn’t doing a fantastic job. I had no idea where I was going, so luckily I was able to follow some other runners. As I mentioned in the beginning, it was about a half mile walk back. It was probably the coldest half mile I had to walk in awhile too. I honestly think this was the worst part about the race. The finish line area was cool, but I wish it would have started down on Dock St as well or they had shuttles taking people back. I think if I did it again though, I might have parked down on Dock Street in one of those garages and walked up the start line. At least at the start line they had heat lamps to stand under to keep warm.
Once I was back in the car, I headed back to the hotel to immediately warm up and grab a hot shower. I even took a cup of hot tea into the shower with me. This was I could warm up from the outside and the inside at once. It really sounded like a smart thing at the time and it worked. Once I was warm, I immediately hit I-5 and headed to Portland. It was about 2.5 hours and I had to get there before 4pm to get my bib for Sunday’s race. Even though I was exhausted, I ended up grabbing an early dinner and then met a prior co-worker for a beer afterwards. It was great to see him and his wife, but by the time I got back to the hotel around 9:30pm, I got into bed and passed out. I had another day and another state to accomplish on Sunday.
Official Finish Time:
22/29, Female 30-34