In the years since I’ve been running the Winter 5k Race Series, I’ve come to realize a few things about this Three-Event 5k series brought to us by Run With Paula Events. For one thing, there’s always a “bad weather race” in which you’re really thinking about whether you’re going to listen to Paula Harkin’s advice and “never let winter win” or just stay home in a nice warm and dry bed. I remember one year in particular, there was a lot of ice and they were out there salting the route to make it safe for the runners. But, despite that, there’s always at least one really great race too. Those days, the Pacific Northwest Weather Gods provide something good for us all. The third race could go either way, but another thing I do know for sure is that I never regret going. Rain, shine, snow, or sleet .. It’s always a good time.
Race #1 in December of 2021 this season was the “bad weather” one and boy was that one hard. I always tend to run extra before the race and that one left my teeth chattering on the drive home. You know it’s gonna be wet when there are actual ducks swimming along your running route. But race #2, which just happened on January 15th, could not have been better. Was it cold? Yes? But was it dry and (dare I say) almost sunny? Yes also! And most importantly, was it fun? As always, yes!!
I ran an extra 8 miles from Portland Running Company with my friend Debbie and it was lovely. No monsoons, no lakes to navigate. Just a nice easy run. Once we got back to the store, the cheer in the air was infectious. Everyone seemed happy to be out, and everyone was smiling. Or at least their eyes were, since many were wearing masks. The entire event was outside this time, which was a new protocol put in place to keep everyone as safe as possible in a scary time. In the past, people would check in inside the store and meet up there afterwards for food and prizes, but with Covid everywhere, it was smart and thoughtful of Run With Paula Events to consider this. So instead of going inside, there were tents spread out in the parking lot by the race start location, and everything was right where you needed it.
It was a very easy process to check in, and Paula and her volunteers were, as usual, on top of everything. There were plenty of volunteers directing people and the lines for bib pickup moved fast. Those of us who remembered to save our bib from the first race had it even easier, as it was about a two minute check in. Those who had not remembered their bibs from race #1 were able to get new ones quickly as well.
We all gathered at the start line, and there was a gear check conveniently nearby for those that wanted to wait until the last minute to surrender their jackets. After Jeff Bethke’s beautiful job singing the national anthem, off we went. My friend Debbie shot out trying to get warm and I tried chasing her for 3.1 miles.
What I love about the PRC 5k course is that it’s simple and easy. You start with a relatively flat section on roads, which is then followed by a section on Fanno Creek Trail, and then you go back again. There’s even a water stop that you’ll get to hit twice. I love out-and-backs because I get such joy in seeing the fast runners coming back, especially the women. No offense to the men, but something about a super strong female inspires me so much. I also get to see my fast friends (Go Heini!!) and then when YOU reach the turn-around, you get to see all your friends behind you. This is what in person races are all about. SO many smiling faces, and people cheering each other on. People of all shapes, sizes, and speeds.. all out there together. It may sound a bit corny, but the running community is my favorite thing about being a runner, and it’s never more evident than at a race just like this one.
My face was cold for the first mile and I couldn’t feel my fingers, but it still felt good to move my body. By the end, I was running out of steam, and those last turns on the roads can feel never-ending when you’re tired. It was a foggy morning, so when I made the last turn, I was almost sure that finish line was there where it always is, but I couldn’t quite see it. But then, I could hear the party waiting there. I could hear Jeff calling out the names, I could hear everyone cheering, and I could feel the excitement of a job completed. When I was done, I waited to see several people cross that finish, and the PR bell came out and I watched people ring it.
Afterwards, I went for my well-earned cup of deliciously hot soup. There was coffee and there were donut holes and bagels too, but I’m staying away from caffeine and added sugar for the month, so the soup was the thing that helped warm me inside out. As I was enjoying it, I was told that my name had been called. Turned out, I’d come in 3rd place in my age division. That was a surprise I hadn’t anticipated.
Thank you, as always Portland Running Company and Run With Paula Events. Your events NEVER ever disappoint. Run With Paula feels like a family, and it’s one you want to visit often. I’ll be back for Race #3 on February 12th, and you can too. Sign up now for the last race! As I mentioned, it could go either way, but I also mentioned you won’t regret it. So sign up here and I’ll see you there!!