It’s been almost a year since my last 5K race, so I was super excited on Sunday, May 19th, to be lining up for 3.1 miles (and not a step more).
The Run to Remember 5K also meant my first time traveling to Washougal, Washington. It was just a short 20 minute drive from Portland, and had the exact sweet, small town vibe I was hoping for. I arrived over an hour before my race to get my bib number and not have any parking trouble. Both were super easy. There were plenty of morning volunteers to help me get set up. And the swag bag was amazing: sunglasses, tech t-shirt, remembrance bracelet, snacks, and lots of information about upcoming races. I had plenty of time to wander the booths before watching the start of the 1 mile race (the first event of the morning). I watched the first four men come in, including a pre-teen kicking asphalt, and the first woman. Then it was time for me to drop off my stuff in the car and get ready for my own race.
This year’s race had an over 50% growth over last year, which was just amazing. It was probably also the reason the line for the porta-potties stretched a little long, though the 20 minute wait gave me plenty of time to stretch. There were four events that morning: 1 mile, half marathon, 10K, and 5K. The energetic race announcers kept us well informed about what was coming up and how much time was left to start time. They also led the group in some warm-ups, including marching, dancing, and 22 push-ups, in recognition of veteran’s mental health. Throughout the event, there were many reminders that this race was in appreciation of brave soldiers near and far.
The 5K start was five minutes after the 10K, in an effortto help break up the crowds a bit since we were headed onto the same course. I had a time goal in mind after a lot of training miles this year, so I tried to fit into the front third of the pack. There were many kids and some folks who were in front of me that I wasn’t sure would be running super-fast (the fanny packs always make me wonder). However, there were no signs for where to line up by pace or volunteers making recommendations close by. Turns out my predictions about some of these folks were right, so it took few blocks to get some room to run without bobbing and weaving.
The 5K course was primarily on a gravel trail, with a start and end on the city streets near downtown Washougal. One mile of the course included signs on each side with pictures of veterans and lost heroes. There were also mileage signs along the course and random encouraging messages to keep going. There was just one aid station in our section; they wisely set up on both sides of the road so runners and walkers could get water and electrolytes twice if needed (and on that sunny morning: I needed).
A dip in the road three blocks from the finish line meant a small incline near the start and end of the race. It also provided a great view of the finish line arch from a way off. Holding on for that sprint to the finish, I was ecstatic with my new PR (and first place finish in my age group). And then I was over-the-moon happy about all the food at the after party: sandwiches from Big Town Hero, pastries from Franz, chips, fruit, kombucha, and beer. My favorite part was a bagel with Nutella (I was dreaming of that snack starting at Mile 1). I joined a family for my feast, and ended up getting to chat with the mom whose kid was 4th in the 1-mile race. And a new friend from BALG Portland was there too. It was a great morning, complete with hard work, agood party, and plenty of time left in the day to be productive (after a nap).
Next year the event is changing names to Reflection Run. I’m sure it will be a great event and one to put onto my race calendar.