The Vancouver USA Half Marathon was a relatively recent addition to my race schedule. A few months ago, I was well into my training for the Portland Rock’n’Roll Half, things were going well, and I figured I can pretty easily run another half a few weeks later. The day before R’n’R I got sick, enough so that I canceled my running plans and stayed on the couch instead (as I lamented in my blog entry “Too sick to run“). From that day on, I slowly recovered, still struggling with newly developed seasonal allergies and a drawn out, annoying upper respiratory infection, which kept me from running regularly. Yuck.
Race weekend arrived, and I was excited about the Summer Brewfest at packet pickup! Husband and I made the trek to Vancouver and had an enjoyable afternoon tasting the different beers. Ester Short Park was the perfect locale for the event with farmers market, race expo, Summer Brewfest, and start/finish area right next to each other without making it feel too crowded.
Sunday morning I arrived at the race start around 8, allowing plenty of time for parking, which ended up being a non-issue, thanks to several parking structures within blocks of the start line. The race expo was open and I talked to several vendors and entered some drawings. A final stop in the bathroom, and I joined my the other 1,700-some half marathon runners in the starting chute.
Volunteers were holding up pace signs for runners to self-select the appropriate “corral” for their start. Red Lizard Running Club Pacers were also in the chute, and I grouped myself with the 2:15 finishers. It was a dream goal, especially in light of my lack of training over the past weeks, but I was feeling physically well and mentally optimistic. The start was conducted in three waves, releasing the sub-8min/mile runners first, followed by 8-10min/milers, and finally 10min/mile and slower. I appreciate this hold-and-release start since it stretches out the field a little bit and helps avoid congestion.
The first three miles of the half marathon course weaves through neighborhoods in downtown Vancouver, and the gentle rolling hills were easily conquered. I even skipped the water station at mile 1.5 since I was feeling good and carried my own water. I lost sight of my pace group around mile 3, but wasn’t worried. It had been a dream, and I had some backup dreams and goals to fall back on. Miles 4 and 5 lead through beautiful Ft Vancouver along Pearson Air Field, and I enjoyed watching the small planes take off and land as I ran by. Heading south towards Hwy 14, I saw an Air Force C-17 take off from PDX with its usual whiny drone and low angle incline, and I told myself “if that thing can fly, then I can run a couple of miles!” Famous last words..
At the mile 6 marker, I checked my pace bracelets, and while I was a few minutes behind 2:15 schedule, I was still well ahead of 2:30 schedule. Soon after that marker was the start of the climb. I had studied the course map beforehand, so was not surprised by the climb. I was surprised by just how steep it seemed and how not ready my legs were for it! I huffed and puffed and walked a lot. My quads started to complain, and I tried to appease them with honey stinger gummies and electrolyte water. I made it to the top, but it literally was all downhill from there.
Although the course was not very difficult after the “summit” at mile 7, my speed slowed down more and more, I had to walk more, and I changed my goal to “I want to finish and still walk upright.” Around mile 10 I was passed by the 2:30 pace group, but didn’t care anymore. I enjoyed the increasing drizzle, which cooled me off. I enjoyed the runners beside me who were encouraging and friendly. I enjoyed the view of the mighty Columbia River. But my body was feeling miserable. I pushed on, past Ft Vancouver and back across I-5 towards the finish. I saw people walking with medals around their necks, and I knew I must be close. A slight downhill towards the finish, and I was done! I got my beautiful finisher’s medal and sighed a sigh of relief. I finished half marathon #7 in almost exactly the same time as my first one five years earlier.
The post race area was amazing! I was handed water almost immediately. A roped off path took me to the refreshments: Smoothies, water, Gatorade, muscle milk, chocolate milk, chips, bananas, and maybe more! I grabbed one of each and sat down under a tree to start recovery. After a few minutes’ rest, I exited the finisher’s area to browse the race expo one more time. I found a good deal on some past years’ race shirts, and then headed home.
Vancouver USA is a great race! I would recommend it to anybody who asks, and probably to many who don’t ask. And if I add some more hills to my training plan, I might even attempt it again next year.
1. Aaron Coe of Portland, OR – 1:15:54
2. Jesse McChesney of Vancouver, WA – 1:16:39
3. Derek Scott of Portland, OR – 1:17:06
1. Lauren Johnson of Portland, OR – 1:20:16
2. Carre Heineck of Portland, OR – 1:22:24
3. Shannon Porter of Vancouver, WA – 1:22:52
Overall Masters Males
1. Mike Grimshaw of Vancouver, WA – 1:22:34
2. Dave Waterman of Portland, OR – 1:25:42
3. Edward Phillips of Portland, OR – 1:26:43
Overall Masters Females
1. Sheila Natho of Dallas, TX – 1:34:56
2. Laurie Porter of Washougal, WA – 1:36:34
3. Signe Bedard of Boise, ID – 1:41:36
1. Wynston Alberts* of Portland, OR – 2:30:15
2. Frans Alajoki of Bend, OR – 2:36:37
3. Adam Airoldi of Ashland, OR – 2:38:51
1. Tonya Lutz of Salem, OR – 2:57:01
2. Kristi Lachenmeier of Camas, WA – 3:02:54
3. Ashley Desanno of King City, OR – 3:06:13
Overall Masters Males
1. Eric Hartmann of Portland, OR – 2:44:13
2. Frank Field of Seattle, WA – 2:54:35
3. Gary Cooper of Olympia, WA – 2:58:49
Overall Masters Females
1. Jenna Jenkins of Camas, WA – 3:19:49
2. Tracy Woodward of Tigard, OR – 3:21:46
3. Lisa Boyd of Corvallis, OR – 3:22:41
* Denotes Masters