I feel like every time I write a post I am being overly emphatic about something, but hear me… Hop Hop Half & 5k is the hidden gem of the Portland race scene. I vaguely remember the Hop Hop Half last year and couldn’t do it because it conflicted with Race for the Roses on my race calendar (too close together for me at the time). So when I had the chance to sign up this year, I just went full steam ahead. I am so, so incredibly glad that I did because this is not a race to be missed.
On Friday I zipped down to the Sellwood Foot Traffic and grabbed my bib, tech sweater, and some new socks with 10% off, compliments of the race. I also got some free bunny ears with my purchase that I was able to put in my son’s Easter basket. Getting my bib was a breeze and everyone at Foot Traffic is always so down to earth and friendly.
Saturday morning I was all prepped to go and was so excited that there was going to be cliff gel shots at the aid stations. I was able to pack a little bit lighter because of it. I made my way over to NE 33rd and was pleasantly surprised at the fact that it was so easy to get into the lot and that the festivities were already hopping.
I got out of my car around 7:45 and went over to the porta-potties. The line was MEGA long, but very fast
moving. I popped into another line for the second wave start (10 minutes per mile and over). Quickly we were ushered out onto the start behind the first wave which started at 8:15 a.m.
Right before we got started we held a moment of silence for Boston and then I got the chills. It completely quieted my mind and set the intention for what I was about to do. It reminded me of the gift that running is and how it is my safe place. That it continues to be my safe place even though evil tries to snatch that away. Not going to happen.
We were off and away on NE 33rd for an out and back. We ran about a mile or two away from the start and then turned around to pass the start and proceed onto Marine Drive. I have never run in this part of Portland before and I totally realized the genius of this race. It is such a good location because you’ve got Mt. Hood, the Columbia River, and the Portland Airport all in the same view. It was amazing. I just zoned out into my tunes and enjoyed running with the best people out there – runners.
I’ve been working with a virtual coach for awhile (more on that later…) and we have really been trying to set the intention of starting slow, picking it up, and then finishing fast. Around mile 8, when we turned around to come back to the finish, I knew I had to pick it up and stay with it. I was really able to maintain my speed and stay strong and made it a goal to just focus on one runner, pass them, then find another, do the same again.
For the last 5k things took a turn for the worst. What was a mild-weather day quickly became hail, rain, and a nasty headwind. People really started to bonk at this point and I knew that the faster I ran the quicker it would be done. I used this time to really kick it into high gear and finished within three minutes of a PR, I know… believe me, I know.
After crossing the finish that was filled with some brave spectators, I made my way over to the main booth area and grabbed my Hop Hop Half champagne flute filled with a delicious mimosa. Then there was a dance off, you totally know I did that. And I won a free Adidas sports bra for my wickedly terrible moves.
This race is a gem for several reasons: 1) course is flat and fast and doesn’t intersect with a whole lot of traffic (paved trail), 2) there is no way to get bored with all of the amazing scenery, 3) it is staffed with the most amazing volunteers I have ever seen at a race, everything ran so smoothly and you can tell that the volunteers enjoy being there, 4) this race has such a good vibe and everyone is so friendly and excited, the Foot Traffic staff pour their heart and soul into this event.
I think this is one I am going to have to put on my rotation for next year. Also, it made me feel less guilty about the Easter goodies! Hooray!