Sunday, July 22, 2012

Olympia Lakefair Half Marathon Race Report

Got up Very Early to drive down to Olympia for the Lakefair Half. Mom and Chuck had offered us a place to stay on Friday night, but we knew we would end up getting there so late (Friday afternoon traffic...) that we might as well just have an early night in our house and drive down. 

Had a fast and smooth trip down to Olympia, where we found free street parking a couple of blocks from the start. Well, not that we knew it was the start, but we figured we were close anyway. As a bonus, the car was very near that little park with the gazebo on the main drag into town -- made it easy to remember!

We started walking toward where we thought the finish was, but stopped at a little water station that was being prepped to ask where the start was... which was a couple of blocks behind us. So we got there and found a handful of runners milling around, with no really obvious starting line. We asked a runner where packet pickup was, and he pointed back down the way we came -- next to the finish. 

My bad for not being specific! (Or not looking it up myself...). So back down to the finish, where we picked up our packets and were thrilled to have made the right decision: no tech shirt. We had registered with the "no shirt" option -- $30 for entry and a finisher's medal, rather than $70 for entry, a tech shirt, and a finisher's medal. Now, Wil had wondered what if we got there and it was the BEST RACE SHIRT EVER?!? I assured him that we would probably be able to buy one on the day if it was. And the shirt? Not the best race shirt ever -- though it was a nice, white, Podium shirt with a handsome logo. Still, not worth $40 to me. 

Bibs attached, we headed off in search of porta potties -- ending up at the park and some freshly cleaned honey buckets. Then over to the starting line, where we amused ourselves and got ready for the start. 
Obligatory pre-race photo!

I think there might have been some announcements -- it was impossible to hear them, so hopefully they weren't too important! Then we started running. We ran through some nondescript city streets (funny not to have us at least run past the capitol building... but maybe they figured it's a locals race?) and onto a bike path. 

The path followed the freeway for a while, and then we got on a nice former rail line trail. Not pancake flat, but essentially flat. We ran our usual 4:1s, and I felt good. Really good. 

Then the funny little "off road" stretch, where we left the Woodland Trail and crossed a parking lot and then Pacific Avenue to get on the Western Chehalis Trail. Though there weren't a lot of places we had to cross roads, the places that we did have to cross had either local police officers (for busy streets) or NightLife yellow-clad race officials (for lesser streets), so we had no delays. 

The Western Chehalis trail was a delight -- we had walked there with Mom and Chuck a couple of years back. Oh, and it was funny to run behind a shopping complex to get on a pedestrian overpass over I-5. It was even nicer to spot the overpass on our drive home!

After crossing I-5 the trail was much prettier and woodsier. And we just kept going with our 4:1s. Miles 5 and 6 passed without my notice, really. Which is a great thing. :)

As we approached a road crossing Wil spotted someone far away in the distance and said, "Is that your mom in red?" I said, "Umm, not sure... maybe?"  Wil said, "No.... it's not." I replied, "It might be.... she wears red." Wil said, "Nope. It's a man." 

Should probably consider getting glasses. Or at least finding my old glasses, eh?

Eventually trail gave way to "country" roads -- giving us the only significant hills of the run. Until this point we were on pace for a PR. (Apparently.) At some point Wil said that, hopefully, given all the uphills, it meant that we would have some long shallow downhills back into town. It was hard to believe, as we hit mile 9, that we were only 4 miles from the finish. 

We made a little jaunt through a park -- who knew? -- and then back on roads. Sure enough, we did start to go gradually downhill, which gave us some of the fastest splits of the run. Not bad for geezers like us, right?

That said, I started to get pretty tired around mile 11. Not miserable, but tired. We were running along a street of nice houses with views of the water -- though what exact body of water it was I haven't a clue! I was completely turned around -- thought that perhaps we would re-enter town by those big roundabouts and cross a bridge? Nope. 

Not that I know Olympia well, but I did spend a lot of time pondering where exactly we were during those last few miles. I was just happy to see the little water stops exactly every two miles (nice job, organizers!). 

The weird thing was that I knew the finish was next to the fair... but as we ran on I couldn't see the Ferris wheel, the capitol building, nothing. This made me super confused and left me worrying that we had a lot farther to go. I always struggle with that -- not being able to see the finish, or really "know" how far it is between mile 12 and 13. I ended up walking a bit extra, though Wil kept me moving as best he could. 

Then suddenly I recognized where we were... and I knew we were close. Wil spurred me on again and we rounded the final corner. We were behind a girl who was struggling a little, and I think neither of us wanted to blow past her at the finish. But she slowed down to greet her running group / cheering party and we hustled past. Wil got a shout out, but for some reason I was tagged as Stephanie Delaney. Oh well!

I looked at my watch and was a little surprised to see 2:25. Um, what? Our second fastest race ever? And -- here's the sad part -- we were so fast that Mom and Chuck missed us! They thought the spotted us as we turned the corner two blocks from the finish, but they were just a little too late. (And, yeah, we were a little too early!)

Still, we returned our chips, ate some treats -- including an awesome cookie / mint protein bar! -- and then found Mom and Chuck. They took us to a cafe that was right at the finish line and we had really delicious -- and slightly hippie -- food. Bless them for taking us to our tribe's food! :)

After breakfast we walked around, though the fair wasn't yet open. I'm always surprised by how tall and how pretty our state capitol is!

Then we drove home -- where we had showers and a little nap. 

I probably don't need to run that race again, but it was a nice little race -- well supported, nice to have the no-shirt option, and really handsome handmade wooden medals:

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