Race Season has been TOUGH this year, maybe even more so than in 2020. Last year, we knew there were probably not going to be any races IRL, but this year, everything has been so up and down that we’re all waiting on the edge of our seats whenever we hear an announcement from our trusty race directors. We see glimmers of hope and sometimes they disappear like dust in the wind. Thank goodness for Run With Paula Events. Paula never lets us down, and she keeps us safe.
2021 brought back the Bridge of the Goddess Half Marathon and 10k, and has been missed. This has long been my favorite Run With Paula event, as it’s hilly but gorgeous. It’s totally worth the hurt. And Paula takes care of us all, from the moment you register to the second you slowly and achingly bend down into your car post-race to make your way out.
I ran the 2014 Bridge of the Goddess race in its inaugural year and my youngest son was only 4 months old. I was so worried I couldn’t do it, (a whole half marathon that I never got to properly train for.?! What was I thinking?!) But Paula was there to cheer all the Goddesses on from the Bridge of the Gods, where the race started. She gave me faith in myself and my body. It was slow, but I did it and I loved it. I didn’t get another chance to do it until 2017, and unfortunately, Cascade Locks was on fire that year, and Paula seamlessly moved it to Vancouver. It was not the scenic magic of Cascade Locks by a long shot, but it was pulled off amazingly well, in part because Paula cares. She cares A LOT and she wanted to give us a race. Last year, Goddess couldn’t happen in person (in the interest of keeping us all safe,) and it was sad, but the fate of pretty much all races. This year, it was BACK, with one exception. Due to COVID concerns, it would not begin at the Bridge of the Gods, but at nearby Marine Park, which is typically where the race ends.
I’m not going to lie. I was a tad disappointed when I found out I wasn’t going to start on that bridge. Some are scared of heights, and you can see right through to the bottom of the water on the grates of the bridge, but I love it. It was a part of this race, in the very name. But I knew Paula would bring the magic like she always does and that that the course would be largely unchanged. It was about our safety and it would be worth missing out on the bridge. When I got to Marine Park, I felt stupid for even thinking about it, because it was beautiful at the park and I knew it was going to be yet another epic race.
It was a truly gorgeous morning for a race. The sky was clear, the sun was coming up over the mountains, and you could see the bridge behind the race chute. Most races don’t get to start in such beauty. There was coffee and some snacks and lots of people milling around, but it didn’t feel unsafe. The women at these events are so inspiring. It reminds me that we are there to lift each other up, and this race brings out the goddess in us all. I remembered how weak I felt in 2014 in my postnatal body, and how much stronger I felt in 2021, despite all the last few years had brought the world. After removing my hat for the National Anthem on the tragic morning of September 11th, I felt even more moved, and we were off shortly after. The half marathon participants took off just ahead of the 10k runners, with some parting words from Dave.
The course was as I remembered it. There were lots of ups and downs, followed by more ups and downs. There is even a set of stairs out there around mile 4. However, we were also treated to gorgeous trees, mountainous views, and plenty of scenery along the Historic Columbia Trail. The entire race is on a paved road, so it’s a “road race” but so much more. Thankfully I ran this with two other beautiful and amazing ladies and it made the time pass so much quicker. We lifted each other through the miles.
Before we knew it, we were back in the streets of Cascade Locks, passing the local burger and ice cream shop that everyone loves, and headed back into the park. We were greeted by smiling faces, our medals, a full meal from Jersey Mike’s, and several selections of beer. This was my favorite race of 2021 so far, and there have been many this year. Next year, I’m hoping to convince a group of girls to make a weekend of it. If you’ve never done it, it’s worth doing at least once in your race schedule.
Tonight I’ll be relaxing in my cute long-sleeved race shirt and drinking some wine out of my new Bridge of the Goddess wine glass. I’ve earned it.