Because the 5K started 45 minutes before the half marathon, there was no congestion on the course or with traffic. As my family and I pulled into the venue’s parking, we saw Run Oregon blogger Joe Dudman running on the course. By the time I removed myself from my warm car and started to unbuckle the kiddos, I heard the loudspeaker announce that he had finished in 2nd place! (Way to go, Joe!) Parking was ample, close and didn’t feel congested at all. It did feel a little awkward to me to have the start/finish line and the event festivities separated by a lane open to traffic. This was a little awkward, but with many volunteers, police officers and well marked with flags, cones and fencing, it was not unsafe. Volunteers asked people to wait patiently until officers gave the “go ahead” and we all scrambled to the side of the road we wished to be on (at the start line or to leave the finish to go to the after party). I had wished my family was a little closer when cheering for me, instead of separated by a lane of moving traffic… but it wasn’t terrible. The kiddos will have to give mama a little more cowbell next time!
While I was out on my race, the family was entertained with an egg coloring/decorating contest, music and dancing, and bubbles. As you can see, the race was not lacking in bubbles. Or porta potties. That is a very important element to any race. Thank you. Quick and easy lines for me to empty my nervous race bladder, crossing the street to the start and then off on my race. The course was an out and back style with half marathoners passing the start/finish area again at about mile 2. This was perfect, since the first 3 miles of most runs are difficult for me to beat that nagging voice in my head with some negative banter. I heard the cheers of my kids and checked my pace that I wasn’t starting out too fast and be bopped along toward the course along the Columbia River. This is where the race showcases some of the beauty in the area.
The sky was not lacking with clouds and grey, but I chose to see it as evidence that spring is here. We were lucky that rain held off for the race but things can be a little breezy along the river, so I was grateful to have worn arm sleeves and gloves for the extra warmth. Out on the course, I saw at two different times a heron fly over, a large bird of prey, some caterpillars on the path and other evidence that spring is here in the pacific Northwest. Opposite the beautiful views of the river is the Portland International Airport and some loud hums of large airplanes flying overhead. Perhaps I am a bit dorky at heart, but this was thrilling and I loved seeing the airplanes so close. I’m pretty sure I also saw a vintage WWII style plane fly over as well.
I completely enjoyed the out-and-back aspect of the course because I loved cheering for friends who passed by as I made my journey to the turn around point and I feel like an out-and-back provides a good opportunity to practice pacing and racing the last few miles for a sprint finish. I still have some perfecting to do on that, but the course was not boring and I was able to see the “same” scenery differently that I did when I first passed it.
At about mile 7 the course split with a small out and back on the left and a longer loop on the right (leading to the underpass at I-205). There was a little confusion on my part, and I admit that I am easily confused as to whether I was supposed to go right or left. I ran to the person just ahead of me and said “Is this right? What is the path to the left?” and she replied “I don’t know.” Just then, I saw a group of runners run down the embankment toward us, leaving the path from the left. They clearly felt they had chosen incorrectly and wished to join the runners making their way to the turn around at the bridge. As I did that and made my way back to that “fork in the road” the runner in front of me kept going straight. The volunteer shouted but could not obtain her attention with the runner wearing earphones. Her gps will be a little short, as we were supposed to turn to grab a little more distance before making our way back on the main part of the course.
When I returned to the finish with the cheers and fanfare of my happy kiddos, I learned of the fun things they had participated in. (My children learned the “Cuban Slide” and the “Cha Cha Slide” from the Easter Bunny!)
The line for the food was quick and though my husband assures me that by the time I finished the race the rations were “smaller”, I felt that the post race food was fantastic. I was given half of a croissant covered in scrambled eggs which I could choose to cover in a variety of tomato based sauces and/or salt and pepper or leave as is. There were small cinnamon rolls and then the champagne flutes filled with mimosas.
After socializing with fiends I have made at past events and listening to the excitement my children had with seeing the Easter Bunny, we made our way toward home. But not without grabbing an egg or two as well to snack on. Overall, this was a very fun event, well organized, plenty of volunteers and support, friendly people at the aid stations and a lot of fun for my spectator family who usually have awhile to wait for me.