I like to arrive to a race early, so the night before the Lake Run I planned out what time I wanted to get there and then worked backwards from there to figure out what time to leave, what time I would get up, etc. On race morning I wasn’t rushed – just the way I like it. As I drove to Lake Oswego I was feeling like I would get there plenty early and have time to pick up my race packet, take a few photos for the blog, use the port-a-potties, and even have time to take stuff back to my car before start time. When I was near Marylhurst, I glanced at the clock in my car. It said 7:45. Suddenly it hit me, “Holy crap! The race starts at 8:00!” I literally yelled out loud. I have no clue what had happened to my timeline, but my leisurely pace suddenly turned to one of panic. I ran through various scenarios and landed on the option of running the 5K at 8:15 if I couldn’t get there in time. As I drove by the starting area next to Highway 43, I could see that runners were beginning to line up. Oh man!
Despite my late arrival, I decided to risk it and try my go-to convenient parking area and hope that the lot wasn’t full. I pulled in and spotted an open space right away. Thank you, Jesus! I jumped out of the car and ran to the crosswalk, then proceeded to stress out while I had to wait. I finally made it across the street and then had to cross the tracks and run up the stairs to Millennium Plaza Park (away from the starting area) where packet pick-up was. I was the only one going up at this point. That didn’t help my stress level. At packet pick-up, I unintentionally stressed out the volunteer trying to help me. Sorry! Fortunately, they were willing to hang on to my race shirt until after the race so I didn’t have to take it with me. I ran back down the stairs, while pinning my bib on and making sure my Garmin was up and running thinking, This isn’t real safe! I arrived at the starting area just as the Boy Scouts were presenting the flag and the National Anthem was being sung. Whew! I checked my watch. 4 minutes to spare! That was way too close. The race ended up starting a little late due to some pre-race announcements and thank you’s. That was fortunate, as I needed to get my adrenaline back in check or I’m sure I would have started out way too fast.
The race started just minutes after I had arrived and we made our way up Highway 43 and then turned up to the big climb. As we tried to power our way up the biggest hill of the race, there was a couple sitting out on their porch with a big ol’ speaker blasting Eye of the Tiger and cheering the runners on. It made me smile. I love how various parts of the community get involved in this event. The climb seemed to go on for days, but then finally, we were cruising downhill. I haven’t run this race in awhile and the course was different than the last time I ran it. But, the one thing I was sure of was that we’d be climbing again soon. Kaiser Permanente had signs out along the course with fun facts that were interesting distractions. Things like: An apple is 25% air, A sneeze can travel 40 mph (Whoa!), A man grows 27 feet of facial hair in his lifetime (Gross!), and Your ears never stop growing (Wait! What? This is truly a disturbing fact!)
Despite the challenge of the hills, the course is quite scenic. At times there were peeks at the lake, other times there were full views. Most of the time you are surrounded by huge trees and the sounds of birds chirping. While there were a few sections in full sun, there was plenty of shade, which I was so thankful for on this warm Saturday morning. A lot of the course goes through neighborhoods, where some people were out in their front yards cheering the runners on or out on a walk with friendly greetings for the passing runners. Along the course there were plenty of friendly volunteers and a large number of motorcycle police keeping an eye on the safety of the runners and drivers out on the roads. It truly felt like a community run.
After much uphill, I was eagerly looking forward to the downhill finish. And it did not disappoint. I really think all races should have a downhill finish! It helps you feel like you can really sprint to the finish line. The finish line had moved farther away from Millenium Plaza Park then when I had run it before. That was a good thing, as the finish area was less congested and it allowed for a nice cool down walk to the plaza – where the Family Fun Festival was being held.
There were various booths and vendors to check out after the race and the festival kept that community feel going. There are also plenty of shops and restaurants nearby to make this a place to stick around afterwards for shopping, lunch, and more. If you haven’t participated in the Lake Run yet, put this one on your list for next year. The course is challenging, but scenic. The race is well-organized and staffed with plenty of community volunteers. And the finish area atmosphere is festive and feels like a community has really come together to make this event successful. I know I’ll be back again – a little earlier next time!