Morning came way too early for me on race day. After tossing and turning all night, my 5:30 A.M. alarm was not a welcome sound. I dragged myself out of bed and checked my weather app as I was deciding what to wear. I was shocked to see temperatures starting out in the 50s with drizzle. Last time I had checked the forecast I had seen sunshine and warmer temperatures. I went with layers – knowing that I would warm up quickly, even if it did drizzle – and got myself ready for my first running of the Red, White, and Blues 10K.
I arrived with plenty of time to spare and was directed to the parking lot right next to the start line. That was an unexpected bonus! I picked up my packet in no time and was able to take my things back to my car instead of checking my gear since I was parked so close by. That was fortunate, as I couldn’t figure out where the gear check was anyway. There was no line at the port-a-potties, so I took advantage of that and managed to open the door on some poor woman who hadn’t bothered to lock the door. Eeeek! I felt so terrible, but, come on! When using a port-a-potty, ALWAYS lock the door! Please!
After that unfortunate incident, I decided to get in my warm-up. A little more than 15 minutes before race time, I needed just one more trip to the port-a-potty. What is it about race time that makes that happen? I headed over and discovered the bathroom line was almost all the way down the block! I almost bailed, but I knew I’d regret it, so I jumped in world’s longest line. I kept checking my watch and getting more and more nervous. Fortunately, I managed to get in and out with just 2 minutes to spare! Sadly, there was still quite a line behind me. This event definitely needed more port-a-potties at the start!
After the National Anthem, the 10K and half marathon races began – uphill! I tried to take it easy, as starting uphill is never ideal for me. Regardless, I was panting in no time. Fortunately, there was some good downhill soon after. Traffic was blocked off for the first stretch of the race and then we turned on to peaceful country roads where traffic was quite light. I enjoyed listening to the snippets of conversation around me, the lush tree-lined roads, and the downhill. Oh, wonderful downhill! I was able to forget how tired I was as I settled in. I enjoyed being able to take the first part of this run at a faster pace with minimal effort, but I knew my legs were going to pay for it later. At times the downhill was pretty steep. I enjoyed letting the momentum take me. After a couple of peaceful downhill miles, we went under I-205 and then had to climb back up. The incline wasn’t that steep and normally wouldn’t have been much to talk about, but after all that downhill it felt brutally steep. It was like my quads were useless! As I hit mile 3, all I could think was, Why couldn’t this be a 5K? I was truly worried that my legs weren’t going to last another 3 miles.
I was thrilled for a flat downhill stretch and one was a welcome relief and allowed for some recovery. Every subsequent incline of any type was rough. My lack of sleep was starting to catch up with me. I had to dig deep mentally. I pulled out memories of several recent hilly races I had completed successfully to remind myself I could do it. I did my best to enjoy the scenery and the adventure of a new course. Even though I am somewhat familiar with West Linn, there were times when I had no idea where I was or where I was about to end up. At mile 5 I heard someone encourage their friend with, “We’re in the final mile!” That encouraged me too. A lot more than I would have expected. The last mile seemed to go by quickly. Soon I could see the finish line in the distance. However, we weren’t headed straight for it, we had to take a trip around the block first. That kind of made it difficult to know how far away the finish line really was, but suddenly it was right around the corner.
We were handed finish medals and then were immediately in the after-party area. I would have liked a little more room after the finish line to cool down, but the vendors and all the participants milling about made it a little tight for that. I grabbed a water and made my way among the crowds to keep my legs moving and catch my breath. A band began playing and participants were enjoying their free hot dog and beer or wine, but I chose to forego those perks. After making my way through the vendor booths, I searched for the shuttle buses that were taking runners back to the parking area. When I couldn’t locate them, I finally asked a volunteer who thanfully directed me down an alley where I ran into some shuttle signs. I was happy that the bus I boarded was headed off to the parking area just moments after I boarded. It was a good, challenging race. But I was done both mentally and physically, and ready to head home.
Overall, the HTC Series Red, White, and Blues 10K was a well-organized event. There were volunteers and/or police officers on the course at important turns and road crossings, and where the 10K and half marathon split. The course was scenic, with minimal traffic. It was a festive way to head into the upcoming 4th of July celebrations, and it challenged me. While it felt rough at the time, I always appreciate a good challenge and the feeling of meeting that challenge in the end. Thanks for the challenge, Red, White, and Blues!