I really can’t think of a better way to usher out winter and say hello to spring than to participate in the last 5k of the 2021-2022 PRC Winter 5k Series. We might not be through February yet and we might have some more cold days ahead, but it’s sure starting to feel a lot like we are on the other side now. And the last race of this three-race series certainly felt like a positive turn toward race season.
February 12th, 2022 was the day of the last race of the series, and I ran 10 miles before the 5k. I’m officially training for the Big Sur Marathon at the end of April, and the Run With Paula Events Winter 5k Series is a wonderful way to end a long run for a couple of reasons. For one, the race starts at 9:00AM, so it’s easy to get up a little early to log more miles. And after several miles, it’s nice to settle into a running community of sunny faces all ready to bang out the next 5k. Even better, there are always post-race snacks to help us all fuel for the ride home.
After completing the first 10 miles with my strong amazing lady zombie runners, (yep, that’s what we call ourselves since we often run super early in the weekday mornings,) I grabbed my race bib out of the car and checked in at the race. It took about 2 minutes, and there were pre-run snacks and coffee available to all. Dave Harkin was already on the mic, encouraging everyone with his wit as only Dave can do, and then the pre-race stretches and national anthem followed.
I love that Run With Paula opted to make the pre and post race set up an outdoor event to keep everyone safe. We were blessed with an absolutely gorgeous morning, and standing around outside was completely manageable, even as I started to cool down from my first batch of miles. The bag check was close to the start line for anyone who wanted to don any extra clothing right before the race, and everyone was in such a good mood. If there is anything that Pacific Northwest runners are good for, it’s appreciating those first really nice sunny days after a winter of cold gray days.
The third race of the series used to be a predictor race, but it was not this year, officially. That doesn’t mean that you couldn’t choose to do so if you wanted, and to take off your watch and try for a specific pace without checking it can be very freeing, especially if you’ve run this course more than a few times. I opted to run it as fast as I comfortably could and I finished it in close to the same time as I ran the first race in December. I felt like I could have run it faster but I did stop to take a few pictures on the course, so I hope you enjoy them. Ha.
As always, I was inspired by the fast people I saw coming back in while I was on my way out and also equally as impressed with the slower runners coming to the turnaround as I made my way back. We were all out there doing the same race, and whatever keeps us moving is the whole point. Also the words of encouragement brought everyone more strength, and I really am proud of our running community in those moments.
After I finished the race, I cheered some people in and watched several people ring the PR bell, including my friend Erika’s daughter who was running her 6th 5k and just killing it with a smile! My friend Maya finished by meeting her goal of running each 5k faster than the last, and my other friend Heini came in first in her age division for both the January and February races.
Finally, I meanered over to get my delicious hot potato soup and a few well-earned cookies. After that, I was off to celebrate the rest of my weekend before lunchtime. I love that a 5k doesn’t take all day to accomplish and you feel pretty great afterward.
Thanks so much for keeping us going, Paula. This is the event that bridges the winter doldrums and the spring fever that inevitably comes when our runner’s legs are itching to get off the couch. This has become an amazing tradition for me and several others, and the cheer is truly infectious.
If you, dear reader, have never been to the Winter 5k Series, I strongly suggest you check out at least one next winter. Remember, we can’t let winter win! I’ll see you in December!