It’s no wonder that the tagline for the PRC Winter 5k Series is “Never let winter win.” In Oregon, December through February could arguably be the worst in the way of wet and cold weather for the year. This race series offers runners a 5k for each of those three months, and some might wonder why.
So then .. Why? Because we ARE runners. It’s what we do. It proves how strong we are. And no, we will NOT let winter win. We WILL get out of the house and GO. If you’re not a runner, you might not get it. And if you are, you understand what true grit is. Not only that, but you wear those crazy pants like a badge of honor.
The first of the PRC Winter Series tested me like it tested many. I’m not going to lie and say this race was a pleasant surprise. I’ve done this series before and I know what to expect, but it was a brutal open to the series and a fitting end to 2021.
The night before the race, the wind outside started banging on our house like an intruder trying to get in. By the morning, the wind hadn’t calmed and there were sheets of rain coming down as well. Two of my running friends had lost power and there were down trees and transformers bursting outside. I knew I was in for it, and honestly if I didn’t have people waiting for me, I might have just stayed in my warm bed.
It didn’t help that I wanted extra miles, but I’m trying to meet a goal for the year, so I ran an extra 6 miles before the race started. What I soon discovered is that there weren’t just puddles out there. There were ponds with swimming ducks running straight through the paths I needed to cross. I showed up back at the store completely soaked through, but ready to go again thanks to Paula Harkin’s sunny smile and cheery volunteers. Of course it helped a lot to have the store open for people to wait away from the rain and clean porta potties with no lines.
Eventually, I had to face the cold again, and now my sweat had turned to what felt like ice. I jumped around at the start line to try to warm up, and finally Jeff Bethke began to sing the national anthem. Somehow the whole crowd of runners started singing along, and it was kind of magical. We were all in this together.
The race itself went smoothly. There’s a good portion of the race on the business backstreets behind the store, followed by a small section of the Fanno Creek trails. There were more river crossings on the paved trail, but I was so wet by then that I didn’t really care. I couldn’t feel my limbs for the first half of the race, but I was good and warm for the second half. The headwind was hard and my body felt heavy, but it was sort of exhilarating, and I felt pretty strong. This is an out and back course, so you get to see the faster runners coming back in and pass your friends ahead and behind you. Eventually, you hear the cheers of the crowds coaxing you back. There are volunteers everywhere on this well-marked course and there’s even a water stop which is so considerate for only a 5k distance.
Is this race series worth it in the worst weather of the year? Absolutely 100% YES. It’s a Run With Paula event, so you know you’re getting quality. The course was easy to follow, and there were plenty of treats back at the store that runners could look forward to after crossing the finish line. I was propelled onward by the thought of “warm things,” (it didn’t really matter what,) and I was so stoked to get both hot soup and hot coffee after I crossed the finish line. There were donut holes and sandwiches and red velvet cake too! So good.
The afterparty at Paula’s races are the best. After we began to dry out a little, the raffle started. Dave started throwing loaves of Dave’s Killer Bread into the crowd and everyone was laughing and having a great time. There were gift cards, massage balls, and Goodr sunglasses as prizes. I almost forgot how cold I was. Almost. Again, camaraderie was key. That’s really what this is all about, especially during the holidays.
I can’t wait to come back in January 15th and February. Who’s going to join me??