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Race Recap: Red, White, and Blues 5k

First of all, I really want to highlight the things that I liked about this race, and there are many. For one thing, the weather couldn’t have been any more perfect. Sunny, clear and cool in the morning for our 7am start time. I wasn’t too keen on a 7am start time at first until I checked the weather forecast and realized race organizers really did us a favor. Even though it wasn’t overly hot, the sunshine felt warm throughout the race and I know that starting an hour later would have made a big difference. Their piggyback on the Waterfront Blues Festival was also a little bit of genius….built in stage for rocking blues music (seriously, the band was pretty good!) and Porta Potty City located in the shade (smart!) beneath the Hawthorne Bridge. No lines. Can you imagine? No porta potty lines at a road race? Color me happy!

Runners at the start.  Photo Courtesy of wasntjustthewinetalking.com.

The course was also really fun. I know some people didn’t like the idea of having to run the same loop twice, but it was an easy course, over two bridges and it was just about perfect for the 5K in my opinion. I looked left and right and took in the amazing views of gorgeous downtown Portland on a sunny Sunday as I headed east on the Morrison Bridge. I didn’t do a lot of scenery admiration on the Hawthorne as I was working to PR the 5K and was far more concerned with passing other runners, which is a shame but I’ll get to that later.

I also really like the race shirt we received and the adorable finisher medal too. Everyone who ran the 5K or 10K got a medal. I do think race medals are getting a little out of control, but these were perfectly nice and it’s always good to sport some post-race bling, even if you don’t win or age group place.

That begins my list of things that didn’t go as well as they should have. Results, as of 6:07 PM July 7, still haven’t been posted. I really want to see how I stacked up against the rest of my age group, and of course how close my garmin time is to the timing company. Usually it’s off by seconds. It’s kind of a game to me.

I also set out to PR the course yesterday. I completed my first (and probably last) Olympic Triathlon last weekend at Pacific Crest and realized I’m not going to be in this kind of cardio condition for a good long while. Originally this was a fun run with three of my girlfriends, but I looked at the course and it was fairly flat and I knew I could legitimize the PR I set (which really wasn’t my time, long story) and maybe be a little faster.

Unfortunately the course was not long enough. I stuck to my race plan, to the letter and planned to gun it for the last .25-.3 miles but instead I crossed the finish line, Garmin showed 2.81. I can’t tell you how disappointing that was for me. I would have MORE than PRd the race, I would have crushed it. And for a gal who is not going to be racing much in the next year that just made me sad.

And I could have run with my girlfriends and enjoyed a brisk run with friends on the waterfront and really enjoyed the course. I find it unacceptable for a for-profit business that puts on running events to not have the distance correct. And, had they known about it ahead of time, they should have warned their runners. Better Series posted on their Facebook Page that it was a last minute course adjustment (due to construction. However, if they knew, it would have been nice to mention it before we got started.

Another issue I had was with water. On our race bib we had a little tear off for one small bottle of water. I was very thirsty and I left my own water in the car because I didn’t know there was bag check (more on that later) so I took my coupon to exchange it for water and they wouldn’t let me have it until after the race. It was HOT, I was thirsty and more than willing to give up my coupon. They said no.

I asked the good folks at packet pick up where I could get water,  and they either ignored me or sent me to bag check. Bag check people sent me to packet pick up. Mostly they all just ignored me. One runner heard my plight and told me where the aid station was near the finish line. It was a bit of a hike, but I did get some water in the end.

Packet pick up was also a bit of a cluster. For one thing, I never received an email the week of the event telling me anything about when or where packet pick up was, if there would be a bag check, make sure you know your bib number, etc. You know, the usual pre-race email. Neither did my running buddy. We had both previously unsubscribed from the Better Series email database, mostly because we kept getting spam emails almost daily about the Hippie Chick half marathon and 10K. So now we don’t get anything and I think that’s a shame. Another girlfriend registered the day before the race and had to go in three lines to pick up her packet because there wasn’t adequate signage or information for late registrations. I think that communication is another area they can improve upon.

Despite some less than stellar experiences on race day, I actually enjoyed the event overall. I am truly hopeful that this one can shape up a bit, as I really like is that the Waterfront Blues Festival is a fundraiser for the Oregon Food Bank.  In that spirit, the Better Series gave $10 from every 5K and 10K registration back to the OFB. I love a race with a cause. As with every race (trust me I know from experience) there are always things that go wrong or can be improved upon and as far as it goes I still had a great experience. Great music, best friends, gorgeous run in downtown Portland, what’s not to love?

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