Sunday, October 28, 2012

Snohomish River Run Half Marathon Race Report

We signed up for this race a few weeks back -- kind-of on a whim. But I figured it would be good to get another organized race in -- less likely that we would just sloth around all weekend. And, when we woke up for nasty weather, I was very glad we "had" to run. Well, sorta.

I had decided to sign up because the course was flat flat flat. As I said in a previous post -- it's not that I'm looking for another PR this year, but I would rather have a gentle run than really have to work at the race. Yeah, I'm probably lazy.

The weather was grim -- so grim we ended up running on our Gore-Tex shells. Yeah, that's right. And you know what? I'm fine with that. Miserable.

The course was, for the most part, great. A wide, flat road in the countryside just outside of Everett. Plenty of room to maneuver -- even at the beginning. (Of course, there were only about 500 runners, but still.)  We ran on the road along a river, which apparently floods pretty regularly ... which would explain the weird houses on giant concrete "stilts" I noticed on the way back.

We ran out into a stiff headwind, eventually reached a turnaround, and headed back. Wil had started slowing down a little -- largely because he was feeling fed up with the wind and weather -- but around mile 9 realized that he just wanted to finish the run, rather than take it easy. So he sped up. What felt like a lot.

Eventually -- somewhere around mile 10, I think -- we turned off the road and onto a narrow riverside trail. I was happy to be towards the back of the pack, because the trail was pretty empty. But it was littered with leaves and a bit slippery, so we had to slow down a little. Well, that and we had to avoid the oncoming runners...

We hit the trail turnaround -- not sure where it fell -- and then ran back to the finish line. I was feeling grumpy (didn't like the trail -- even though it was pretty) and just wanted to be done. But we held hands and crossed the line in 2:17. Not bad for having had some pretty slow miles.

This was an inaugural race -- so they will hopefully iron out some kinks -- but this race could have been much better organized. First, some things I liked about the race:

!. I liked the option of the Friday pickup -- but I have to admit that the only reason I drove out to Mukilteo (!!!) to get my packet was to buy a parking pass for race day to avoid having to use the shuttle. 

2. I like the course -- for the most part. The trail at the end was a little difficult to run on. Perhaps running farther along the road and then looping back along the trail (keeping it one-way) would have made things easier. 

3. Good quality race shirts -- Zorrel -- but not exactly as promised. 

4. Custom medal which includes the year. A nice touch. 

5. Water stops, all of which had gels. Very nice. 

Now, for stuff that could have been better...

1. Parking. Look, I drove out to Mukilteo to buy a parking pass the day before the race. When we got to the supposedly reserved parking lot, we were told to "try and find something" and "let them know if we couldn't". Well, we ended up parking in the grass along the edge of the parking lot. I guess that was still parking, but... 

2. Shuttles. Luckily we did find parking, because we heard from other runners that no shuttles ever came, so they were told to just go the 3/4 mile to the starting area. And when we were leaving, there were huge lines for the shuttles. So while the parking was less than ideal, I was still glad to have gone to the trouble of getting the pass. 

3. Race shirts. I ordered a women's XL. I received a men's L. Again, it's a red shirt that I'll never wear. But why offer the size when signing up if you're not going to get one? 

4. Mile markers. I've said this before -- I know everyone has GPS watches. I do. But mile markers are so easy to have made. And, no, orange spray paint on the course isn't good enough. I think the markers are most important at the end. Go to FedEx Office and have 13 signs made. Really. 

5. Pre-race announcements. I think they must have thought that the runners would gather at the "expo". But having the only speaker be far from where all the runners were located was challenging. I didn't head anything until she came out with the megaphone.

That all feels harsh to say, but we did have a pretty good run. And rather than wait in line to see if they had any vegetarian soup (why is it so hard to dispense post-race food quickly?), we decided to go to the car, get out of our wet wet clothes. and then drive to Red Robin for a post-race burger. Whee!

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