Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Cupcake Run Half Marathon race report

Cupcake Marathon

The goal of this year's much more sane 13 in 13 project is to run a half marathon every month... plus the bonus one in January. We waited until almost the last minute to get in our March race, but it was well worth the wait.
I had heard about the Cupcake Run last year from my pal Mara. It's a small race, run on a shoestring budget, and all proceeds go to a charity. This year's charity is Miracle 4 Matthew, in honor of Matthew Sheppard:
Twelve year old Matthew Sheppard suffered from head pain at school on June 15, 2012 and was airlifted to Harborview. Doctors were conflicted on his diagnosis, but the outcome is that this vivacious, headstrong 12 year old (now 13) spent 98 days in Children's Hospital and is in a powered wheelchair and has a lot of healing ahead of him.
I love a no-frills event... especially at a no-frills price. And I loved that the vast majority of my $40 registration went straight to Matthew's family.
On race morning we drove up to Arlington, getting only slightly lost in the dark and fog. As we approached the address for the parking area (.4 of a mile from the start), we saw a car stopped in the road. We slowed down, and then saw the person was talking on the phone, so we just drove around them.They immediately started driving after us -- a little alarming, given that other cars were also following us and the yellow car cut them off.
When we got to the parking -- a sports field complex -- the gate was shut, so we were at a bit of a loss. Yellow car drove up and started shouting that she had been waiting already 15-20 minutes and there was NO ONE THERE and SHE DIDN'T KNOW WHAT WAS HAPPENING. It was a bit much for me, that early in the morning. We said that this was the place listed as the parking area, so we were just going to park at the side of the road. She just kept shouting at us, so we drove off and parked. Other cars soon followed.
Fifteen or so minutes later, it was light enough to see -- but we and several other runners just sat in our cars keeping warm. We figured out where the actual start line was, and comtemplated trying to drive there, but I was just as happy to walk. We were amused to see angry lady walking with someone to the start... still angrily talking about signs, etc.
To be clear: both the trailhead and the sportsfields were EXACTLY where they were described, and both had signs. It was just dark.
We got to the start, picked up our bibs, dropped off a dozen cupcakes for the post-race party, and then milled around. We didn't have long to wait before Tory gave us a course overview (look for turnaround signs drawn in chalk, don't forget to turn back down to the start as it's an OUT AND BACK) and then Matthew and his family arrived. It was nice to see them, albeit briefly, before we headed out.
Waiting for the start.
Wil and I set off at a relaxed pace. We hadn't really run since our previous half marathon, and weren't sure how we were feeling. To add to our concerns, Wil had a small bike accident on the day before the race, which left him with a sore knee and roughed-up Achilles.
The course followed the Centennial Trail -- another one of the fantastic rails-to-trails conversions we are so lucky to have in Washington State. Rail trails mean a nice gentle run -- no steep hills in either direction. Sweet!
Well, it turns out that most of the first half of the half was a slow, gentle uphill. As the miles ticked by, I kept hoping that we would keep going up, so we wouldn't lose some of the precious elevation we'd gained.
There's really not much to tell -- other than that, about 10 minutes in, Wil realized that he hadn't started his interval timer, so we decided to just run till we needed a break. We took our first one at the water stop around mile 5 -- mainly so we didn't have to little the cup, we just stood there and quickly drank and snacked on a few pretzels. Then I took a very brief -- literally 10 seconds or so -- walking break at the turnaround, more so I could mentally reset than anything else. And then we stopped again at the water stop on the way back.
At one point Wil needed to adjust his knee brace, so he sent me on ahead. Apparently I started sprinting to the water stop, which would explain why I felt so woozy when I got there. Ah, to be able to pace myself someday...
I admit that i got a bit snivelly toward the end. I was tired, weirdly tired of carrying my gloves, tired of not having the mental breaks when we walked. I realized that we were going to be close to a PR for Wil, if not for both of us. I told him he should go on ahead, but of course he wanted to stick with me. Go Team Wil-Sun!
I was so freakin' pleased to see the turn off to the trailhead... even if I couldn't remember how much farther it was to the finish. Darn dogleg meant I didn't see the finish line till we were almost on top of it -- oh well! As usual, we held hands, picked up our pace as best we could, and crossed the finish li
Our watches said we had run in 2:14 and change; the official time was recorded as 2:12:40.8, good enough for 17th and 18th places overall. I'm a bit skeptical, so that's why I'm not crowing over a new PR. :)
The last sprint left me really queasy -- not sure why -- so I needed to walk away from the crowd and, well, make a break for the woods if needed. But after a minute or so I was fine. We collected our super-cute medals, helped ourselves to an amazing homemade cupcake (carrot cake for Wil, s'mores for me), and stretched a little.
Cupcakes!!! Look at all the cupcakes!!!
We knew there wouldn't be any other finishers for a few minutes, so we pretty much just said our thank yous to Tory and then headed back to the car.
Possibly the nicest part of the event was seeing so many familiar faces -- lots of Maniacs and Fanatics we saw so often last year. It was pretty cool to feel like part of the "in crowd", to get nods and waves of recognition. But I guess that's why small events are sometimes better than the big events.
2013 Cupcake Run Half Marathon Medal
The reason for the run!


  1. My finish time was a couple minutes faster than my Garmin time too...the results say we started at 7:05 and my watch says I started at 7:03. So I think the timing was delayed by two minutes. NBD. :)