After the trifecta of icy runs that made up the 2016-2017 PRC Winter Race Series, it was a real treat to have dry pavement on which to race last Saturday, December 16. The PRC Winter Race Series (tagline, “Never Let Winter Win”) is made up of three 5k runs (walkers invited too!), one each month from December to February. The course remain the same each time, with professional chip-timing and an accurate, well-marked and supported course. It’s quickly gained a following of repeat runners who can compare their time not just from race to race, but year over year.
This was my 3rd year running the series and I only signed up the day before. Usually, my husband gets Saturday mornings, because he trains with a group of runners that knock out 16-22 miles at a sub-7 pace, whereas my 8ish mile long run is a little easier to log on my own. But we figured out a way to make it work, so I paid my $75 for all three races and then started mapping out how to make the 5k course fit seamlessly – and, hopefully painlessly – into my planned 8 miler.
Fortunately, two other bloggers and a number of other friends would be there, so I was pretty excited despite being nervous about fitting in a race-pace 5k during my long run. Blogger Nikki Mueller wanted to run some extra too, so just about an hour before the scheduled race start of 9a, we made plans to meet at the store and run the course before the clock started. We naturally started out too fast (trying to get warm), but kept our pace in check and made it back to the store just in time to turn around and head back to the start, 3.5 miles on our shoes already.
A runner named Amanda sang the anthem beautifully, and an announcement was made that participants would get a 25% discount at PRC that morning, then the countdown began and we were off. I’d found fellow Sunstone Running Club member Dave Hiller, who challenges my pace on nights we run together, and knew we could help each other out during the race. Right from the start, the leaders started stringing out and I was impressed by the paces of those around me while I tried to figure out what exactly my plan was!
Dave and I traded places, along with another woman, for the first half of the race. There is one section where the path is only about six feet wide, so it’s common for people to surge and tuck back into their flow of runners when trying to pass, and after I did that the third time (or so) I felt like I must be driving people crazy so I decided I had to keep the hammer down and keep my pace so those two didn’t have to pass me yet again! That honestly kept me motivated all the way to the finish line, where I saw I’d run 24:46 – just about 80 seconds off my PR from September. Nikki was already finished, and Dave was close behind me, so the three of us ran back out about a mile to cool down, cheering Geli and others on as we headed out.
Post-race, Nikki and I met a wonderful new friend named Christina that we’re already planning to run with again, and then headed in for breakfast from Stanfords and the raffle. Breakfast included cinnamon rolls, french toast, biscuits and gravy, bacon, and a whole spread of bread and cookies. PRC employees made sure everyone had a raffle ticket, and then the always-entertaining Dave Harkin announced overall and age-group awards in-between raffling off PRC gear and throwing loaves of Dave’s Killer Bread out to the crowd. While I didn’t win a raffle prize, I certainly scored with a new pair of Brooks Adrenaline shoes for just $90.
Overall, there were 209 finishers, led by 17-year-old Benjamin Brown in a time of 16:53. The first female finisher was Lydia McRae, with a time of 18:14. The master’s titles were claimed by Paul McRae with a time of 18:06 and Christina Doherty, finishing in 19:08.
The next PRC Winter Race 5k is scheduled for Saturday, January 13, 2018 at Portland Running Company’s Beaverton store, located at 10029 SW Nimbus (near Scholls Ferry and the 217). You can sign up for just one race for $30. The race starts at 9a, rain or shine. Remember, there is no bad weather … just poorly planned running gear!