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.
Such a beautiful Saturday!
Oh yea, I stopped at VooDoo Donuts for some amazingness!
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.
Early to the race means no bathroom lines!
Ready to go for my last race of the year.
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.
Some of the early views.
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.
The “What am I doing” face!
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.
View of Mt. Hood in the distance.
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.
Free finish line photo!
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.
Happy to be done!
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.
Medal and the race shirt.
Official Finish Time:
Since January 2016, I have run at least one half marathon every month. I didn’t have a planned half for December, so I decided to add on the Race 13.1 Baltimore Half. I picked this one for a few reasons outside of running as well. Since I went to school in MD, I have a lot of friends in that area and I thought this would be a great time to catch up and visit with some! The other reason was that this was suppose to be two weeks out from the Jacksonville Marathon, so the distance would have worked well. Jacksonville didn’t end up happening, but it was still a good add since I needed the half for December anyway.
For some time now, I had wanted to run one of the Race 13.1 races. Their schedule never aligned with mine and they always seemed to be held in the southern states. I had noticed they had some more Northern races in the past year, so I thought the Baltimore race was a great chance to give them a try. With the race right in Baltimore, one of my college friends was kind enough to let me stay the night with her and her family. Last minute, her husband decided to run, so he was kind enough to pick up my bib. The race had bib pick up until 8pm, but with not leaving until after work, I was barely making it into town in time. He said it was pitch black though as pick up later in the evening was at the waterfront where the start line was. Not necessarily the nicest of welcomes for the runners.
I was glad I made it in at a decent time on Friday evening as it gave me a chance to catch up my friend Meg and her husband Mark. They lived within a half mile of the start so come morning, Mark and I walked down together. It was nice to have a local with me so I didn’t get lost. I knew Mark would be so much faster than me, but it comforting knowing at least one person out there since I show up to start lines so often by myself.
Beautiful race morning!
As I went into this race, I secretly had in my mind that I wanted to push myself to get to sub 2:30. At the double weekend in KS/MO just three weekends prior, I had 2:34 and a 2:32 performance. It made me think that if I could do that on a double weekend, maybe I could get down just under 2:30 on a flat course. The temperatures were showing to be perfect. I desperately wanted to see a 2:29:xx on my watch, but was very unsure if it would actually happen. The only thing to do was to try. I hadn’t seen anything that low for a finish time since March, so why not try for it?
Ready to go on race morning!
Waiting to cross the start line.
The start and finish line for the race was in the Canton Waterfront Park. The first mile was out to the right and pretty much a mile out and back in an industrial area. I decided to drop my normal run/walk and just walk at the water stop. At this race, they were a little more spaced out, but I really wanted to give it a try. In fact, I had actually planned to not even take my hydration pack, but I noticed on the course map the distance between stops and decided to just take it. There were 3 water stops and you hit them all twice, but just seemed to be placed at odd miles.
The first mile clocked in at 10:56 on my watch. I thought to myself this was a little fast to start, but I am usually fast on the first mile. All I had to do was just maintain under 11:27 and I would hit my goal. I told myself to pull back a bit, but, in true form, I didn’t actually pull back. I stopped looking at my watch for the most part until the later miles and just let myself run. It certainly seemed to aid in how this race turned out for me.
Around mile 3, we turned into the Fell’s Point area. In addition to the half, there was also a 10k and a 5k race. Even though I was doing the half, I was not pleased with how the 10k was done on the course and felt really bad for those runners. Right around mile 3, runners who were coming back turned right onto the trail around the water to the finish line. However, Some of the lead pack were sent back on the main road. No one was actually directing runners onto the trail. Finally, as I was heading away, I did see a police office follow, but I am not sure if he was going after them to turn them around or just follow them on the road. To make it worse, later on the course was the official 10k turn around, but no one was standing there to tell the 10k runners to turn around. Many were getting to where they thought it was and asking if they turn around. It just was not clear. I actually saw a runner coming back way further than the turn around so I am sure he probably ran closed to an 8 mile 10k. If you’re going to have different distances out there, then there should be dedicated volunteers to assist those runners.
Map of the course.
Mile 4 took us out of Fell’s Point and along the Inner Harbor. My second gripe about this race was the course itself. I understand how shutting down the least amount of roads is certainly easier, but I wish we would have run more through the city streets. Instead we ran along the waterfront along the water, not even on roads, but more like a riverwalk for several miles. Sure, the views were great, but it would just have been nice to see more of downtown Baltimore.
Just after mile 5 did we leave the sidewalks of the Inner Harbor and back onto the streets. I was still feeling okay, but could tell I was a bit more worn than normal at this point in a half. I was still hitting the walk breaks at just the water stops though. Just after mile 6, I saw Mark coming back through. It was great to see him! At the end of mile 6, we came up the Under Armour campus and some train tracks. I always hate running over tracks because I am such a klutz and afraid I will trip over my feet and fall flat on my face.
Fun to run through their campus.
Just as we made the second to last turn before the turn around, a car was trying to cut onto the course. The driver did not listen to the police officer at the intersection and he actually turned onto the course and the police officer at that intersection was having nothing to do with it. I kept going toward the turn around but when I made it back to the same spot, the original officer and another one were giving the driver a nice talking to. He looked so annoyed, but this is why we have officers on the course. They are they to help us stay safe and she was just doing her job. Since I was around the same runners when we first saw the driver head onto the course, we all cheered the officer on for taking care of the driver.
It was mile 8 that things started to go downhill. By now, I was just tired and began to start looking at the watch every once in awhile. I had taken a walk break back the Under Armour campus water stop but was quickly was wanting another one. I kept talking myself out of it and to make it to the next water stop which was just after mile 10. As we passed mile 9, we turned back onto the pathway along the Inner Harbor. I was so thankful that there was no wind that morning. I could only imagine how bad it could have been with some wind. To end mile 9, we did a random lap around the Baltimore Beach.
Looking at the Inner Harbor.
The water stop just after mile 10 couldn’t come soon enough. I took an extended walk break to get my composure because I was certainly already loosing it for the last 5k. Up until this point my pace ranged from 10:22-10:43 after that first mile. Toward the end of mile 10, I finally just took walk break. I didn’t want to fall solely on the walk, but I just needed that walk break. I was paying attention more to my pace and realized that I was on target for around a 2:26. I was actually pretty shocked by this and really tried to maintain the pace I was going.
Really not sure where this was, but I was still smiling!
Mile 11 was probably the hardest for me. I took the most walk breaks in this mile. I finally took a good one minute walk break to just get myself together to run the last two miles. I figured I would take this extended one and hopefully have less walk breaks later. It actually sort of worked. Just as we came up to the mile 12 marker, we turned onto the path to the finish line. This time there were no issues like they were having with the 10k runners. Thankfully the last part of the race wasn’t too crowded for me as I had a fear of just falling off the edge into the water. Eventually, I could actually see the finish line area. I pushed as much as I could, but watching the finish line video of myself crossing the finish line, it didn’t look like I was pushing at all.
After crossing the finish line and seeing my time of 2:20:05, I was absolutely stunned! I truly thought back in mile 11 I was around a 2:26 and was giddy with that potential finish time. My original goal was just to see a 2:29:xx on the watch so my 2:20 blew that out of the water. My second emotion was being pissed that I missed going sub 2:20 by 5 seconds. It was more a kick myself in the butt type reaction, but I just didn’t know I was actually going that fast. Not looking at the watch during a race can sometimes pay off. I was still pretty amazed that I went a 2:20:05. The course and the weather certainly helped to get there. This was my fastest half since August 2016! I had certainly slowed down over the past 14 months and it was great to see that I could do it again.
Seriously.. a 2:20! So many smiles!
Overall, I loved the race I ran, but didn’t necessarily love the logistics and organization of the Race 13.1 Series. I just thought they dropped the ball on many important logistics and that really turned me off. I know I also registered for this race pretty late, but the price and what you got didn’t necessarily translate either. (Note: you did get a race t-shirt as well) When I saw the 10k runners go through with the course, really turned me off. I know it wasn’t my race, but I never want to see any runner’s race effected by a bad course. The medal was fun though. They did have the crab on there, which was a great touch since it was a MD race. I think my ultimate feeling is that if a Race 13.1 series race happened to be schedule in a city where I was going to be or wouldn’t cost me a fortune, I’d give them another chance. However, I wouldn’t make it a destination for this race series. I hate to have left the race with that feeling, but I did. Maybe I will get a chance to give them another try and things will be different. I know a lot of people seem to love their races, but this just didn’t do it for me.
Official Finish Time:
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.
Packet Pick Up
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.
Photo taken by a nice Tacoma Officer! Ready to go!
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.
Coming onto the bridge. I think I actually got a shot of Mt. Rainer and didn’t even see it that morning.
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.
Coming up to mile 4. FREE RACE PHOTOS!! Loved this!!
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.
Just a little foggy out there.
Even with the fog, it was pretty.
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.
Still so foggy out there!
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.
Done with state #32 and half #54!
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
Swag for the race. We had the choice between the race hat or a Santa hat.