When I signed up for the Appletree Half Marathon mid-summer, it was perfect timing. Two weeks before the Portland Marathon. The beginning of fall. And expected to be in the midst of COVID-19 declining.
While the race was still many of those things, it was also less than 12 hours from when I got back to Oregon from a work training across the country. Ah well. No one ever said being a runner is easy.
Two of the hardest parts about an in-person race (versus all the virtual ones I’ve done the past two years) are the early alarm clock and finding parking. The alarm went off at 5:30am to ensure I had time to get over the river for packet pick-up. I found street parking about four blocks from the start / finish line, which was a nice cooldown walk later in the morning. With a bib number pinned to my shorts, all that was left was running 13.1 miles.
This was my second time participating in Appletree Half Marathon. As a Why? Racing Event, I knew it would be well supported and have great swag. I liked that this year participants could choose to include or decline some of the swag items. After a recent fall, I was all in for the first aid kit but didn’t really need a new buff right now. The black race shirt will be great for cooler weather, and of course I wanted that finish line medal.
After driving over the river in the rain, and seeing the same in the forecast, it was fabulous to have a break in the clouds at start time. The overcast skies stuck around my whole run but didn’t pour down again. My last time at this event had me soaked all the way through. Way better this way.
The Appletree course utilized various parts of the Vancouver Waterfront, reminding me once again that I need to get to this lovely area other than when I’m running through it. I missed having pacers for the half marathon (like we did in 2019); it was nice to just follow the leader and not have to worry about too fast or too slow for my goals. I settled in with a bunch of podcasts and focused on keeping moving. There was a medal and a nap promised.
The course was generally flat and aid stations seemed to appear less than every two miles. I was able to skip one or two without concern that it would be hours before the next one. All stations had cheerful, masked volunteers with water and Gatorade. The marathon course was the half marathon route twice and I am sure those 26.2 participants appreciated those volunteers even more than I did. Every time I felt tired, I was grateful I only had to do this distance once today.
In the final few miles of the course, runners and walkers get into the Fort Vancouver historical area. I almost missed seeing the former place of the country’s oldest appletree (and namesake of the event) that died in 2020. The course looped around the fort and through Pearson Air Field. Then headed up a short, but steep and wicked hill that I had forgotten about. The largest hill of the course was part of Mile 11, which also seemed to be the longest mile ever. The final turnaround and sight of the Mile 12 marker brought a shining smile to my face and a switch to faster music on my phone.
With a cross of the finish line, I earned a lovely new medal. Most memorable to me was the spinning propeller on an airplane in the design; a perfect little fidget spinner for the walk back to the car. Sandwiches, drinks, and snacks from Franz were available to participants who had a large open field to spread out in. Some marathon runners finished before I completed my half, while many others were still on the course while I was enjoying an old-fashioned donut.
It was definitely a course and race I would complete again. Hopefully with the same cloudy skies and a little more sleep.