Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Birch Bay Half Marathon Race Report

Getting ready to watch the sunset the night before the race
I'm so glad we decided to run the final race of the 40@40 project in Birch Bay! Though the race website left a bit to be desired, and, well, we had a little scare when they didn't have records of our registration (hooray for having the confirmation email on my phone), but we still had a great time.

We picked up our packets and this time I made sure to grab a map of the course -- hey, stranger things have happened, right? I even made sure to put the map into my race belt so that, even if we did get lost, we'd have an idea of which way we should go.

Even though the night before the race was glorious if cold, race morning dawned a bit drizzly. So we layered up with tights, a couple of shirts each, and LSD Lite Jackets. (Can't tell you how happy I am that this jacket is available in black!)

I'm not sure we've ever looked so happy before a race!
With a 9am start we had a very leisurely morning -- had a little breakfast, read a little -- before driving out to the state park for the start. I was kicking myself, a little, that I hadn't scouted out the start ... we basically drove into the park and pulled into an end spot, not realizing we were still half a mile or so from the actual start line! No worries, though -- we were in front of some sparkling clean restrooms, which meant we could take a last-minute pit stop before walking to the start.

I wasn't sure what to expect -- how many people would be there -- but there was a sizable group standing behind a line of paint in the road. Nice and relaxed. Someone was giving something of a course talk -- I heard instructions to "stay facing traffic", but nothing else as he was speaking in a normal voice and without a megaphone. Oh well, that's why I brought the map.

I guess this is the START!
Wil and I were still standing around chatting and taking pictures when the race started -- there was no countdown, no horn even... but everyone suddenly started running. Okay then!

We ran through the park and along the curve of the bay as the rain started falling harder. At the stop sign by the market we veered to run up the hill -- at the top of which I decided to get rid of my gloves. I did regret this a little while later, but I was still okay.

We ran on and on through the quiet roads, seeing very little traffic. We ran down a little hill and suddenly had a really nice view of Semiahmoo Bay (at least, I assume that's what the name of that water was...). We turned and ran along that bay for a bit, before reaching the course split. Full marathoners continued on, perhaps to make a loop of the little peninsula, while the half marathoners turned left up a little hill and made our was back inland for a while.

view of Semiahmoo Bay (I think...)
Wil and I were running pretty strong at this point, despite the increasing rain and wind. Wil even put his jacket back on because it was getting cold. A little ways longer along the road and we made a right turn to the out and back hill.

I had read race reports about this -- that there were two hills, that the second was bigger, etc. So I tried to psych myself up for this a bit. So up we went. I decided I wasn't all that interested in running up the hill(s), so I just walked briskly and enjoyed it when I passed people who were running. (That always makes me feel happy, I don't know why.) When it leveled out a little, we ran again, until it got steep. Now, it didn't occur to me that these were the two hills -- I kept expecting to see another hill looming in the distance. Especially after it was level and we were running again -- I was sure that we would now reach the second hill.... except that it looked as if people were turning around... oh. That WAS the hill? Okay then!

We hit the turnaround, grabbed a bit of Gatorade (purple!), and made our way back. We kept it steady on the flat, but then really opened it up down the hill. Awesome!

When we got to the bottom of the hill we were suddenly caught up with a bunch of people we hadn't seen in a long while (well, apart from already making their way back!). That was pretty great. Another right turn pointed us back toward Birch Bay, and I felt like we were really in the home stretch.

Umm, except that we hadn't even hit the 10 mile point yet, but hey.

We ran past our place, thinking longingly of the jacuzzi tub and massage chair waiting for us inside. A little while longer and we hit the 10 mile marker and grabbed a packet of vanilla bean Gu (my favorite!). (The Gu was perfect -- so cold that it had an almost chewy consistency. I LOVE that.)

oh I do like to be beside the seaside...
We probably faded a little as we ran back along the seafront. A young woman passed us (we had been leapfrogging with her) and we decided we didn't want to pass her again so she didn't feel pressured, which made us hang back a little. I wasn't thinking about much at this point, other than just getting done.

We got to the entrance of the park and started seeing people leaving. It was a little weird to run past people who had clearly finished, but who weren't cheering or supporting other runners. Oh well. Maybe no one cheered for them, either.

In the end, we got to the finish, held hands, and ran through the chute. It was then that the weird disbelief set it. We did it -- we actually did it. We ran forty half marathons in a year!

40@40!!!!
We got our medals, had our pictures taken, took some pictures ourselves, and then wondered if the tub of Red Vines and little place of banana slices was for finishers, or for a private group. We couldn't decide, so we just decided to head to the car and back to our place. On the way, of course, we actually CHEERED for the other runners. Yep,

2013 Birch Bay Half Marathon medal

Would I run that event again? Probably not. But it was something of a rare breed: a February half marathon that isn't all that far from our home. Especially given the late start (9am!), we could have gotten up early and driven north for the day. Of course, we do love an excuse for a weekend away!

The real question now is what's next? What project will we work on now? Frankly, I have no idea. I will continue to chip away at my 50 States project, but that will still take me years. A smaller goal is that I want to run 13 half marathons in 2013, running one each month from now on. (Well, okay, at LEAST one per month...) In 2012, February proved to be the difficult month, so it's good to have run this race. In fact, I'm pretty much set (well, registered, anyway!) through June. So I will try and continue with that.

1 comment:

skroman said...

I didn't realize the BB Marathon is the same age as me. We practically share a birthday. I think I might have to put this on my list of things to do on my 46th birthday.