Sunday, April 27, 2014

Oso United Mudslide Benefit Fun Run 5K race report

Yesterday I drove up north to run the Oso United Mudslide Benefit Fun Run 5K. (Phew! That's a mouthful!) A group of us from Brooks were participating; it was funny to spot the other "run happy" cars in the parking lot!

The run was organized by the Arlington Runners Club to benefit local charities helping victims of the massive mudslide:

100% of the monies given will be donated to LOCAL charities to assist with the recovery efforts and to provide assistance to those effected by the mudslide. The Arlington Runners Club is 100% volunteer. Your donation will go to help with funding the recovery efforts, funeral expenses and to help those who lost their homes recover from this tragedy.

I was impressed by a lot of aspects of the organization of this run -- especially how quickly it was announced and put together. A detailed pre-race email was sent out, complete with directions to the start, parking info, and course map. Plenty of larger races miss this info, so I really appreciate it when a small race gets it right.

I headed north and arrived at a large parking area, complete with volunteers getting us parked in lines. Okay, it wasn't the clockwork precision of Disney World parking, but it was nicely done. Plenty of volunteers were there to point runners in the right direction. As a pre-registered 5K runner, I got in that line. I noticed some fellow Brooksies in the line next to me. One of them said, "Is this your first line?" I wasn't sure what she meant, but apparently some of our registrations got lost in the shuffle. Mine, however, was there, so I felt lucky. I will say that the lines were moving quickly, the volunteers were efficient and friendly, and there were plenty of them to point people in the right direction.

the scene at the registration / pickup
As at all races, it's just really hard to hear what's going on. But the organizers announced that, given the number of people trying to register on the day, they were going to delay the start a bit. No big surprise, that… though I know it frustrates some folks. They did a small but very effective tribute to the victims at 10:37, the time the mudslide started 5 weeks prior. First a bagpipe version of Amazing Grace, then a bell rang once for each victim, and then a bugle rendition of Taps. I was pleased that most runners quieted down very quickly, and remained quiet for the moment of silence as well. I could see people hugging each other and wiping away tears, which always makes me feel weepy.

the scene at the start
Then it was time to move down toward the start, about a hundred yards down the path. Again they told us that they were going to delay the start. They had been planning on starting the 10K at 10:45, the 5K runners at 10:50, the 5K walkers at 10:55, and the 1M walkers at 11.

It was clear by glancing at the color-coded bibs in the start chute that most folks didn't know this. There were bibs of all colors right up front. Oh well, the best intentions...

While we waited, the sun came out, followed by a cheer. Only in Washington, right?

here comes the sun!
I didn't actually hear anything leading up to the start, but suddenly people were moving. I thought, okay, that's just the 10K, but then realized that it had turned into something of a free-for-all. Hey, it's a fun run, not an Olympic Trial. Just relax and have fun. So I slipped in to the chute and started going. (Again, folks, it was chip timed -- so it didn't really matter when you started, okay?)

By the time we reached the road (a couple of hundred yards, max), I had moved past the walkers and a bunch of runners, and tried to settle into a relaxed pace. Did I mention I haven't been running much? Yeah, not sure why not, but I haven't been making the time.

The road was closed, but a lot of people were running on a (very nicely paved) trail next to the road. I was much happier running on the road; I had lots more room and could just carry on at a comfortable pace.

I was pleased that I felt pretty relaxed and was running quickly (for me). I passed a lot of runners in the first mile -- something I don't usually get to do. I saw the mile mark and was really pleased (and perhaps a little concerned…) that I had run the first mile in 9:18.

The course was wide and flat and open. I spotted a water stop and took a cup of water (tell me why I did this? I never take water in a 5K!) and kept going. I could see runners ahead of me turning right for the 10K, and turning around for the 5K. I thought it was a little odd that there wasn't a "turnaround" cone or anything, but no big deal, right? I just ran to the end of the road and started heading back…


Why were all those people turning around at the water stop? Way back down the road?


The water stop WAS the turnaround.


Suddenly I was in amongst a bunch of people I had lovingly, happily passed. What's more, I had to catch up with them before I could pass them again. I guess that explains why a volunteer was running down the road toward the water stop after I (and, let's be clear, EVERYONE IN FRONT OF ME) passed it.

Oh well, it was a fun run and I wasn't really bothered. Honest.

I lost track of things at this point. I wasn't sure whether the course was very accurate… and I knew I had run long. But I kept running, and apparently sped up in my mile 2, running it in 9:14. I had a little flash across my mind that I was on pace for a PR -- one of my 2014 running goals. Until I realized that, well, I had run long, so it would be difficult to actually PR with an extra quarter of a mile added to a 5K.

I'm not gonna lie, it took some of the wind out of my sails. I also didn't realize that we would be running a lap on grass near the start, so pushed too early. Oops.

As I was running the last legs of the race I started to get that queasy feeling… it's been a while since that happened! I ended up walking a bit just because I didn't really want to throw up. Guess I'm just not a "leave it all on the field" kind of gal… My last mile split was 9:40.

Nike+ tells me I ran 3.3 miles, and that my time for that was 31:01. My average pace overall was 9:20 -- which should have given me a new PR for a 5K, and (finally) my first sub-30 5K with a 28:59 finish. (I know, I'm slow, it's okay.)

I admit that I'm sad about this. But given that I hadn't been training -- heck, I haven't been RUNNING! -- and that I wasn't shooting for a PR, I'm okay. Besides, this is what this race was all about:

Oso Strong - sweatshirt spotted on another participant
According to the Arlington Runners Club, approximately 1000 people came out to run or walk, with nearly 1000 other people coming out to support by volunteering or cheering. That's an amazing turnout for a small event like this. They haven't totaled the donations yet (in fact, if you'd like to donate to the race you can do so until May 2nd at the Arlington Runners Club site), but the event was clearly very successful. 

If you'd like to come out and run for Oso yourself -- or run virtually for Oso -- you have another chance. The Oso Strong 5K will be held on July 27, 2014, and includes a virtual race option. 

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