The second run of Run With Paula’s super fun Winter 5k Series was a blast. As usual, the day was a bit cold and there were a few sprinkles coming down, but it could be (and HAS been) worse. There was plenty of parking, and lots of volunteers guiding the way with their light-up sticks. There was coffee, a short porta-potty line, and friendly faces everywhere. As always, everything was running like a well-oiled machine.
At the start line, group stretching was happening, and Dave Harkin was talking up the crowd to get everyone excited for the race. After the national anthem, we were all off to the races. Paula Harkin was there on the sidelines, cheering everyone through, and then before I knew it, she was running past me with that enormous smile of hers.
I just want to take a brief moment here to remind you all what sort of person Paula Harkin, THE “Run With Paula” Paula, is. I watched her approach several runners along the course and give them shoulder pats, giant hugs, and huge cheers. She could have killed it out there running her own race, but it’s clear that she really enjoys getting to be a part of the running community that she has created and supporting everyone in their journey. She’s an amazing inspiration to many and I will always support her races as much as possible because they bring such joy to us all.
I had chosen to run some extra mileage before the race and it helped me pace myself a little better than last month’s December 5k. It resulted in me running the race a couple of minutes slower, but I enjoyed it much more. As usual, I loved getting to see the top runners coming back from the out-and-back course and I cheered them on as they breezed by like they were running on air.
This month, I was again in a race to the finish with a child. This kid was maybe 5, and he was clearly just as fast as me. The only reason I won was that my legs were twice as long. I love that he fought so hard to beat me, and maybe I’m a little embarrassed that I couldn’t let him win either.
After I got through the turn-around point, I got to smile and cheer for all those behind me, which is just as fun. The road coming back to the finish always feels long to me, as if it’s moved a little further away each time. But this is also the point where I settle into the run and just try to keep moving. Finally, I heard the cheers from the finish chute, grabbed some water, and continued to clap and do my best to encourage those coming in behind me.
Back at the store, there was plenty of food for everyone. There was tomato soup, nice and hot on a cold day, and the addition of Cup O’ Noodles containers next to hot water to help yourself to. There were also delicious muffins, bananas, and peanut butter sandwiches with jelly and bananas inside. It was all heavenly. There was also the usual assortment of beverages in cans, which is great to take on the road for later, and coffee, glorious as always on a winter day.
The raffles at PRC are always great too. A lot of places give you one or two items, but Dave Harkin starts pulling all sorts of stuff from all over the store – hats, beanies, hoodies, even Run Oregon travel mugs! On top of this, there are generous with gift cards form Portland Running Company too, so it’s worth sticking around and eating and drinking and waiting for your number to get called in the warmth of the store.
All in all, it was a great day for a race, and everyone walked away happy.
There’s still one more race in this three race series. Can you beat your previous time? Or if you’ve missed the others, come out for your last chance this season!! The next one is on Saturday February 11th at 9:00AM and you can sign up here!