Sunday, June 13, 2021

Great Wave Stitch-a-Long, part 5

I don't know where the last three weeks went, but I have literally not completed a single stitch on my Great Wave piece. 

Some good weather, a weekend away, a couple of in-person races (the first in over a year!) and, well, I guess that's where the last three weeks went!

But here's where I am on the project -- it should look pretty familiar! And I still love the sky so much.

I am absolutely sure that the other stitchers in this stitch-a-long have been much more productive than I have, so check out their blogs and see:

See you in three weeks, and I PROMISE to have done at least a tiny bit of stitching!

Monday, June 7, 2021

North Olympic Discovery Marathon Half Marathon race report

The bright morning streaming into our great VRBO woke us up plenty early, which meant we had time for a leisurely breakfast before walking down the ZigZag to get on the shuttle to the half marathon start. This race -- like the marathon -- would be a point-to-point race, so participants were bussed out to their respective starting spots and would all run toward the same finish line. 

We had been to the race expo the afternoon before -- a nice little affair, very well laid out and organized. We bought some RTP swag -- I mean, how could I resist these silicon pint glasses???

We also showed our vaccination card to receive a VACCINATED wristband, which meant we could board one of the vaccinated-only buses, so we didn't have to wait as long. We also picked up a wristband for the EAGLE CHALLENGE, so that we could pick up our handsome challenge medal at the finish. 

Finally, we picked up our nice, long-sleeved shirts and our race bibs. I'm gonna say it again -- these Run The Peninsula races are great!

We got on the shuttle -- which was admittedly weird because we were on a bus with a bunch of people. I mean, we had all been vaccinated and had to prove it, so it was as safe as possible... but it still felt weird. 

The start was next to some soccer fields that were near the trail, leaving room for a water station, a bunch of porta-potties, and plenty of room to space out in corrals. 

Of course we visited the porta-potties. Nice organization with the flags to create spaced-out mini lines!

We got in our corrals and, of course, took the obligatory pre-race photo. Ahh, I'd missed this all so much!

Again, small waves were started about a minute apart, and we never felt crowded.

Classic starting line photo -- both of us looking at our watches!

I'll be honest, I didn't take many photos of the course, which followed the lovely North Olympic Discovery Trail from Sequim to Port Angeles. Lots of lush green woods and fields, and only a handful of street crossings. And the occasional funny sign like this: 

Or this useful, soothing sign: 

(I mean, I would be happy to know that any gunfire I heard was at a gun club rather than lunatics picking off runners on the trail!)

The race was pretty small, which I loved, which also meant we were stretched out along the course. Every so often we would pass someone, or someone would pass us. Eventually the lead marathoner -- who did have a one-hour head start! -- passed us by, running strong and led by a bike escort to keep his path clear. Exciting!

Just past our halfway mark the course split temporarily, with the half marathoners doing a little out-and-back on a quiet road to pick up some distance. It was the first time we really had much of a view of the rest of the pack, and I was reassured that there were still a lot of folks behind us. Always makes me feel a bit better!

Soon we were headed down a long gradual descent and back to the shoreline for the final very very pretty 3 miles. Full disclosure: I didn't take this picture on race day; I took it when we were in Port Angeles for the Elwha Bridge 5K in January and walked this stretch. 

Eventually we neared the finish -- again, how great to have a small crowd of spectators at the finish line! To hear applause, and to have our names called out by an announcer!

And, of course, we held hands as we crossed the finish. :)

After the race we got out handsome challenge medal for completing the Eagle Challenge, having run the 5K the day before. You know I can't resist a challenge, right?

There's so much to love about this race, and this series in general. Always quality swag, and it's great that it's different and useful for each race in the series. Excellent communication from the race organizers, a well-marked course, plenty of volunteers, well-stocked aid stations, and nice post-race food. I'm already considering the series again in 2022 (perhaps?), and looking forward to the next race in the series. 

Saturday, June 5, 2021

North Olympic Discovery Marathon 5K race report

Late in 2019 a friend told me about a race series over on the Olympic Peninsula called "Run the Peninsula". The medals and swag were great, and it seemed like a great chance to plan five weekend getaways over the course of 2020 in one of my favorite parts of the state. 

We ran the Elwha Bridge 5K in January 2020, and then, well, COVID-19 hit and the rest of the series went virtual... and we dutifully completed each race, reported our results, and collected our medals.

When the series was announced for 2021, we decided to sign up again -- even knowing that at least the early races would be virtual. In-person events were held for the 2021 Elwha Bridge 5K and 2021 Railroad Bridge 10K, but we just weren't feeling like it would be safe for us to participate because we weren't able to be vaccinated yet. 

We even went to the race locations -- spending the weekend quietly in Port Angeles for the Elwha Bridge 5K in January and in Sequim for the Railroad Bridge 10K in April (but just running different stretches of the trail to avoid needing to be around a lot of people). 

But it was really exciting to be fully vaccinated and ready to attend our first in-person race in over a year!

In normal years the NODM 5K takes place the same day that all the NODM events do -- but in order to reduce crowding at the start, both the 5K and 10K were moved to Saturday. Even better, the organizers added a CHALLENGE. 

Now, I love a race challenge -- running events back to back is one of my favorite silly running things to do. So of COURSE I signed us up for the 5K for the Saturday!

We got up early and took the first ferry from Edmonds, making it to Port Angeles in plenty of time to get great free parking right near the start. 

First and foremost, it was so great to feel that "before the race" vibe ... even if it did make me feel a little weird to be around that many people. 

We picked up our bibs and shirts, dropped them off at the car, and then milled about. 

The permits for the race required everyone wear face coverings and the start, and the vast majority complied (happily). 

Eventually we were asked to go into our corrals. I'm not gonna lie, this made me slightly edgy -- this was the most people I had been near since February 2020! 

The organizers did a good job of separating out the corrals, sending a few dozen out past the start at one-minute intervals. It's a great way to start a race just to reduce crowding -- even in non-COVID times! I was jittery and antsy -- it's been a long time since I ran a race -- even though I wasn't trained or even really prepared to run. I was just excited to feel the "pre-race feeling" again. 

Finally it was our turn, and we slipped in at the back of our corral. Perfect. You can see the gap behind us, and the back of the race director as she held the next corral back. Oh, and you can see our masks, which we pulled down not long after this pic as they weren't required for the actual race. 

The race was an out-and-back along the lovely Olympic Discovery Trail. Almost pancake flat, and we just moseyed along. We chatted with some other runners, made a point of thanking all the volunteers we saw, and got to the turnaround surprisingly smoothly. 

Then back the way we came, this time into a bit of a headwind. It was fun to run into the finish chute with ACTUAL SPECTATORS. Not a lot, mind you, but people clapped and cheered. 

And, of course, we crossed the finish line holding hands :)

We picked up our medals -- super handsome, like everything in this race series -- as well as some post-race snacks largely for the experience of picking up post-race snacks like in the "old days"!

In general, this race was excellent -- great organization, great pre-race communication, nice shirt, gorgeous medal, a pretty, traffic-free course, well-stocked water stops, and generous post-race food. We even got to trade a tag on our bib for a post-race beer at a local restaurant (which we did later in the day). 

I certainly didn't run my best 5K -- heck, I barely managed any running at all. But being able to participate in an in-person event was exciting enough. And the next day we would be running the half marathon!