This was a somewhat serendipitous choice — a cousin lives in Oregon, so I found a race near him so that we (me, my mom, his mom) could visit! Sunset on Springwater had a half marathon, 10k, and 5k; my mom, his mom, and he decided to do the 5k while I had registered for the half marathon.
Spoiler alert: I did not do the half marathon. But I’m getting ahead of myself.
Here’s another post where I include excuses: I had a basically run-free end of August into September. I had two weeks of sickness and at least one week of laziness. However, I still felt pretty confident about doing the half; I’d done enough runs to know my time and done enough runs without sufficient training or with obstacles to know I could power through it.
Packet pickup was at a running store. It was really quick. They had a table with food and beer samples to expect at the race and a table with “vintage” race shirts and medals. I bought a pair of Goodr sunglasses.
The race is an evening race. They warn you on the website to bring a headlamp or flashlight if you think you’ll exceed the time limit on the half marathon. We wandered around Portland for a bit, leading up to the start time. I had not eaten anything all day. Even though I’ve had some longish runs since, I skipped breakfast because I was nervous that eating would cause the same issues I experienced in Ohio. Then, when I decided I should at least eat a small meal, it kept getting closer to the start time, and I didn’t want to risk feeling full in addition to digestive issues. By guntime (3:45 pm), I’d not eaten any food. Cool.
I walk/run. I still struggle with running for long stretches. I’m not sure how much of this is mental and how much of this is I actually need to flipping train better. (Definitely both.) But as walkers started to pass me, I started to psych myself out. Yeah, I’m not winning any races any time soon. Yeah, you’re only competing against yourself. Yeah, no one would judge me if I was slow. But I was judging me on all those things.
When I got to the 10k/half marathon split, I’d made my decision. I asked the volunteer if I could finish the 10k instead of the half, and she cheerfully told me yes — so I did!
I mostly walked the way back, feeling sorry for myself but also feeling relieved. A 10k just feels so much better than a half. And when I ran the downhill to the finish line, my mom and my aunt jumped in to cross it with me. I was thrilled!
Let’s talk about the course. It’s an out and back for the 10k and half. The 10k and half courses start on a bike/walk path, continue into a neighborhood, cross a an active road and have the runners briefly (.25 – .5 milesish?) squeezed to the coned-off side (not really enough room to call it a shoulder) of another active road, and then onto another bike/walk path. The split is at 5k. It’s a fairly flat and mostly paved course.
So none of the roads were closed. Granted, I had given up on aiming for a PR (I’m a giver-upper, okay??) but having to stop for traffic was annoying. I can’t imagine how the runners hoping to PR or actually competing felt. Now, stopping for traffic didn’t take too long. The volunteers did a great job of signaling cars and getting us across as quickly as possible. In fact, the volunteers, in general, were really great! Running along the side of a fairly busy road was unexpected. Even studying the course map now, I’m not sure how I should have been aware. It’s possible I overlooked it on the website. I don’t think this information would have affected my decision to do this run, especially since it is very brief, but it definitely wasn’t my favorite part. It felt somewhat crowded, even for the back of the pack.
There were no mile markers. I use the Runkeeper app to track my runs, but I don’t pull out my phone constantly during a run. I found myself looking at my phone frequently because I wanted to know how far I’d gone. Runkeeper does have an option to enable audio stats which includes distance, which I had enabled, but unfortunately, it doesn’t always work for me. But even so, the visual of a mile marker is very encouraging! I would guess there wasn’t enough space on the course to have them, but I definitely could have used even a small visual.
This is not a run for anyone needing crowd support. The course just doesn’t have space for it, except in the small bit of neighborhood. Maybe the half had more. You really just have the volunteers, who seem more spread out than they probably are.
I know these are a lot of complaints, and ultimately this race was not for me. Part of that is probably more influenced by my lack of training than I want it to be. I really like having crowd support for at least some parts of a run, and a lack of mile markers seems so bizarre and unhelpful! But the course is nice and flat except for a short hill at the start (literally: the start is at the bottom of a hill which makes for an excellent and speedy finish but a blech start). If that’s all you need, then this is a great race! And the vibe is really nice! Portland is such an awesome city that if you need to run as an excuse to visit, this is the one to do!
For someone who blogs about running and talks about running, I do seem to do very little of it! I’m working on it, okay?? Just… not as hard as I should be.