Joe was kind enough to pick up my race packet the day before, so I was able to sleep in a little bit before making the trek to Woodland. I was a little concerned I’d get lost finding the start, since I’m not familiar with this area at all, but fortunately, it’s literally right off of I-5. I wasn’t the only one who slept in, since there was a nice line of traffic getting into the park. This rural area can get congested rather quickly, so I took a mental note to allow more time next year. There was plenty of parking in the park and the congestion really was limited to the off-ramp and main road getting into the park.
The Marathon started at 7:30AM and the Half Marathon started at 7:40AM. Since I was running late, I was in the port-a-potty line when the National Anthem came across the loud speaker. I took off my hat, put my hand on my heart and already decided this was a good event. I think every race, big or small, should start with the National Anthem. It’s running that brings us together, but our freedom that allows us the opportunity in the first place.
Fortunately, Blooms to Brews was chip-timed, since I missed the official start, miscalculating the line at the port-a-potties. It was totally worth it, though, since I met two ladies from South Dakota running a race in every state together. They started in 2014 and have already checked off 33 states. Blooms to Brews was representing for Washington and I loved seeing their excitement and hearing their story.
Starting the 13.1 miles, there was a photo drone flying overhead, lots of nervous chatter and a couple of ladies running with the American flag. I loved the atmosphere from the start and when we passed a lilac field around two miles in, I knew I was going to love this course. I anticipated some tulips along the course, but had no idea my favorite flower would be along it too. It was on the cooler side, so I didn’t really take advantage of the aid stations along the way, but they were every couple of miles with water and an electrolyte mix. I’m funny about the National Anthem and equally quirky with aid stations. I thank the volunteers along the course, but inside I always cringe when I see cups being handed out by volunteers holding onto the rim. I didn’t cringe once at the Blooms to Brews. Other germaphobe runners will be excited to hear that every single aid station passed out drinks from the bottom of the cup.
Equally exciting were the mile markers. It’s always nice to see a mile marker ahead, having another mile behind you, but each of these had a little motivational phrase to get you through the next one. The course is flat and I loved the farmland. I was a little nervous smelling the first farm, thinking it would be a long 13.1 miles if I had to smell cows (and methane) the whole time, but there was only one short section. Fields, farms and rivers along the way made the miles go fast on this flat course. This run is incredibly peaceful and for anyone looking to qualify for Boston, the Blooms to Brews Marathon would be an ideal option.
About 9 miles in I met a guy who was trying to beat his time from last year and probably couldn’t wait to lose me with my 20 question, one of them being about the tulips. He clearly loved this course, so I had to ask when we were going to see the tulips. He noted they were just ahead and he was right. After about a mile on some hard packed gravel, we passed the tulip festival. The colors were gorgeous and we ran by it way too fast to properly take it in.
The run finished back at Horseshoe Lake Park in Woodland and the there were plenty of tents to walk around and check out. There was also the beer garden with some Ghost Runners on tap. I didn’t take advantage of the beer, but the poor cadet firefighter at the finish line had to refill my Dixie cup of water about 30 times. I wish I was exaggerating, but it was bad enough my husband teased him to consider just giving me the pitcher of water. As with most races, I was too cold to stick around long. I stayed long enough to get my medal, make the cadet firefighter a little uncomfortable and say my goodbyes. I loved this course, the fun atmosphere and especially loved the tank top race shirt. Blooms to Brews is definitely an event to check out and worth the drive, peaceful and pretty the miles fly by. I definitely don’t say that about every half marathon.