Sunday, July 7, 2013

Langley Half Marathon race report

Spoiler alert: I think this is an actual representation of the elevation profile of this course. No, really.
Just returned from a fantastic weekend away that combined many of my favorite things: ferries, islands, hard cider, artists, Victorian architecture, Wil, and a half marathon! Of course, I may have combined a few too many things...

Yesterday morning we got an early ferry from Edmonds to Kingston (stopping there for a delicious breakfast at J'aime les Crepes) and then drove on to Port Townsend. We dropped our car at the Bishop Victorian and then headed out to explore the town. A very cute Victorian seaport, with a thriving farmers' market and some cool shops to poke around in. Then at noon we headed over to "Summer Cider Day" -- where there were something like 50 -- FIFTY!!! -- hard ciders to sample. Okay, we limited ourselves to the 10 tastes we had purchased with the ticket -- which was plenty. Our favorites?  Schilling Cider's ginger cider (spicy!), EZ Orchards' 2009 Cidre (v. v. French), and Whitewood Cider's Old Fangled (crisp!).

I'm not going to lie -- the day got a little fuzzy at this point. We checked in to the hotel, got settled in our room, had a nap, got up and spent a couple of hours at the art walk, before collapsing into bed. 

Things one should do the day before a race: drink plenty of water, stay off your feet a bit, eat food you are accustomed to, avoid too much alcohol, oh, and don't get sunburned. 

Yeah, we didn't do any of that. So we headed off in the morning with unhappy bellies and at least one banging headache. 

But the little ferry ride between Port Townsend and Coupeville was pleasant, and we got to Langley nice and early -- early enough to park very near the start. And my Nike Sportwatch was eager to run...  We picked up our bibs and swag bags -- it always makes me laugh when a small race has better swag than big races. We got soap, hand lotion, some Gu, some VitaC packets, a little first aid kit, and -- always amusing -- the little sample of Shave Secret oil. One day I think I'll try it.  But best things of all -- RACE SOCKS!!! We received tech socks at our first 15K, the Birch Bay Road Race -- and I'm surprised that more races don't make them. I mean, how many race shirts does a runner really need?

tech socks! Mine on the left, Wil's on the right.
We passed the time before the start, chatting with locals and enjoying the morning. The race director made a little speech, a woman played the national anthem on a trumpet, and we sang happy birthday to runner 222. Cute. I still felt wretched. I've felt queasy at races before, but never at the beginning of a race!


The race had a "rolling start" -- we had gathered at a wide part of the road, but the start was actually a hundred yards down the street. The RD explained it -- "like in the Tour de France". We trotted down the road a ways, then funneled ourselves over the start mat -- and we were off!

The course was described as having "gently rolling hills" and "some flat stretches". It took me a while to realize that it was a joke. A slightly cruel joke.

Not long after the start -- and some actual "gentle" hills -- we came to this sign... and this hill:



I assure you, this was not gentle. It was not rolling. But it was a hill. In fact, here's the actual elevation profile:


I think the real challenge is to spot the "flat stretches"...

Anyway, once the 4-mile, 7-mile, and 10K runners and walkers turned off the road, we were pretty much on our own for the rest of the race. It meant we just settled in to our pace, and took it easy. That said, there didn't seem much point to run up the hills... or down some of the steeper ones. The views were lovely -- lots of trees, views of Saratoga Passage, and bright blue sky. Oh, and hills. Lots of hills.


The last half mile before the turnaround was on a "primitive" road -- hard packed gravel. And it had an absurdly steep hill right at the end of it. Oof. But we hit the top, grabbed some water, joked with the guys at the water stop, and then headed back down. I was surprised to learn that there were actually some people behind us.
the last, very steep hill to the turnaround

rolling home
The miles back to town were uneventful, but the morning was getting warm. Anything we ran down on the way out, we had to run up on the way back. The top of my left foot was hurting by this point, as were my knees. I haven't had knee pain during a race for a long time -- I'm guessing it was from pounding down the hills! Hills, heat, and a hangover -- three ingredients that made for a slightly painful day out.

Anyway, we slowly made our way back to town, passing the starting line and being thankful that two firefighters had been stationed there to direct us to make a left turn. (Really, an arrow would have sufficed...)

Then down the last hill into "downtown Langley", where the Choochokam arts festival was ramping up for the day. We held hands and scooted across the line in a very slow, gently rolling 2:45 or so. Yeah, I don't know where the time went either.

After crossing we were handed these super cute finisher's medals:

2013 Langley Running Festival Half Marathon medal

and directed to a little field where we had quite possibly the nicest watermelon in the history of the world. We wound down by meandering around the festival, coming very close to buying a new wallet, a metal crow, and a pizza paddle -- but without actually buying anything. Then we went home the long way -- I couldn't face the ferry lines!

The Langley Half Marathon was part of a running festival with four different distances -- pretty ambitious for a small event! It was great to see the locals turn out in force, however. The half marathon course was well marked, well supported, and pretty. And, yes, the "rolling hills" are a running gag. Packet pickup was fast, and the swag was generous. I'd recommend it for anyone who might find themselves in the area on race day. Just beware the GENTLY ROLLING HILLS!


rocking the socks




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