It was a beautiful day (for January), when hundreds of runners converged at Cascade Junior High School on the 15th for WVRR’s annual Cascade Half. Temperatures were definitely on the chilly side but it was dry and there was very little wind. I was a bit apprehensive, as I hadn’t raced for two months, and was just excited to have a chance to pin a number on again.
There were numerous volunteers directing us for parking and keeping bib pick up in the gym a trouble-free affair. A couple of businesses had booths set up to look at as everyone started arriving. Many participants used the track on the campus to warm up, as did I, trying to figure out the appropriate layering of clothing to use on the course. There was an early start for the half at 8, and then the regular start at 9. I haven’t been cleared by the doctor to run a half yet due to health reasons, so continued warming up for the 9:15 start of the 10K and 2 miler. As you can tell from the above picture, the kids came out in droves. Many were in the short race, but I saw a few on the 10K course. A fellow runner asked the organizers to request the kids move to one side of the line, as the original formation had them three or four deep across the whole chute, which is not safe. Thankfully, they agreed and gave some of us room to the left.
While warming up, I saw a competitor who looked pretty quick and as he got to the line adorned in a VOQ Racing jersey, I figured I would be racing for second or chasing him. I was hoping to run sub 35 but had no idea of my capabilities at this distance. I was quite surprised when the horn went off and we crossed the parking lot, a dozen speedy kids leading the way. The course was an out and back, hooking back around the school and navigating a few “s” turns on country roads. There were only a couple of cars out, allowing us to take over the road, thanks to plentiful volunteers armed with stop signs. I passed the last kid leading the way in the two miler just before his turnaround, and after that it was a pretty quiet affair.
The course is literally flat as a pancake, with stunning views of the countryside in every direction. There was a water station at about the 2 mile mark, which I did not need, and flaggers at every turnaround point. Due to the low temperatures, I was racing in tights, unfortunately. I didn’t quite feel comfortable or fast, but just kept it smooth and quicker than a regular run. After the turnaround just past 3 miles, it was time to take it up a notch. It was a decent effort, and I was running by feel, with no watch. It was fun giving a thumbs up to those on the way out as they clapped or cheered me on. The last mile was definitely a bit of a struggle but I mustered up a decent kick as I came back through the parking lot.
After a relaxing cool down and a much-needed stretch, we were directed to the cafeteria where they were serving soup, rolls, and cookies. A short time later they did an awards ceremony, giving out ribbons to the age group finishers, while promising to mail the plaques to the overall winners, as delivery had been delayed by the snowstorm. It must be noted that the overall half marathon finisher ran it in a blistering 72 minutes. Quite impressive.
I have done this run several times since high school, usually competing in the half. I missed it. The area is amazing and it has the small town feel while with Eclectic Edge Racing doing the timing, you have the competitive aspect covered. It usually attracts some speedsters, which is a draw for me, and the fact that we have access to warm building before and after the event is a huge bonus. I’m pretty sure I will come back for the half next year.