Monday, May 7, 2012

Tacoma City Half Marathon Race Report

Tacoma is hilly. Who knew? But I'm getting ahead of myself.

Really great to stay three short blocks from the start/finish line -- it meant we could get up, have a leisurely breakfast (bread and peanut butter for Wil, bread and cheese for me), and gaze out the window at the marathoners streaming toward the start.

We couldn't actually SEE the start line, however, but I could hear the national anthem, the whoop of the crowd, and the air horn sending off the runners at 7:30. Meanwhile, we dawdled. I tried to decide whether or not to wear a jacket (glad I did), arm warmers (meh... could have skipped them). Wil and I were both decked out in club regalia --Wil sporting the gorgeous sublimated singlet, while I wore a new skort (Brooks PR Skort, of course!) and my club shirt. Oh, and the arm warmers. I must have been insane.
Wil's awesome singlet
my club top
close-up of the embroidery on my club skort
arm warmers. freakin' arm warmers
Thus attired, we headed down to the starting area around 7:45. Not much to do there but mill around a little, admire all the Fanatic gear, and try to stay warm in the shade.

The morning had started relatively clear, and it looked as if it would brighten... but it actually fogged over a little, and the first part of the race was run in the mist. Luckily, it cleared up when we were along the waterfront in the middle of the race, and stayed sunny (but not hot) after that.

With very little to-do, and only moments after Wil looked at his watch and said, "Well, it's 7:59 -- they should be starting soon...", an air horn sounded and we set off. A little crowding to get across the timing mats, but then it was open sailing. Of course, with my hamstring and Wil's Achilles, we had seeded ourself at the back.

The course seemed to meander a bit around the convention center for the first two miles -- I got the feeling the course was just trying to go up the hill in stages, and also burn off some miles for the marathoners. I'm always surprised by how empty downtown Tacoma feels -- how much vacant property is so close to the downtown core.

Then as we approached mile 3, a bit of a surprise -- the very pretty Wright Park, complete with majestic lions at the gates. We then ran through a neighborhood of nice homes. Who knew?

Back towards the start again (more miles, I'm guessing...) and then down the steep hill to Ruston Way. It's not surprise that our fastest mile of the race was mile 7 -- we were just streaming downhill.

A bit of a breeze picked up as we hit the water -- I kept hoping it really was a headwind and that we'd have a nice tailwind on our return journey. But the sun had come out by then, and we had a nice run down the boulevard. We had started seeing people on the return journey as we first came down the hill -- and by now we were seeing the main pack. For some reason, the "prevailing side" switched over at some point -- we had been staying to the right ever since we saw the leader... but for some reason the runners coming toward us had shifted over to the right. So we shifted over to the left... only to have to switch back again later. Very strange.

We happily hit the turnaround (hooray for timing mats keeping everyone honest!) and headed back. Things get a little hazy around now. I got a massive cramp in my hamstring, and actually had to stop and stretch for a minute. I needed more walking breaks than usual, but Wil did a great job of keeping me moving.

As we approached the ramps back up to downtown Tacoma, around mile 11, we just decided we would walk the uphills. Up, up, and up we went. Even when we thought we had done the last hill, we hadn't... but the very spirited volunteer at the mile 12 marker kept saying "I'm at the top of the last hill! It's honestly all downhill from here!!!"

With a mile to go, we made our way back along Fawcett Ave., and hit the final turn. As we did, I saw a man on a bike, closely followed by a man running. It eventually dawned on me that he was the marathon leader, coming in to the finish.

We got to the finish chutes -- where I saw a guy walking in the marathon chute...  and thought "he must not have read the sign", thinking he was a half marathoner. But apparently he was running the full, and just needed a minute. Strange.

We crossed the finish line, getting a nice shout out from the announcer, and then picked up our medals -- the "half" medal for the half marathon, plus the opposite half medal from the Half Fanatics. We wandered over to the finish area to pick up pizza and chocolate milk... but we never managed to find the Fanatics / Maniacs area...

We headed back to the hotel and up to the room to shower, then headed home. That's 9 out of 40!

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