You know when I said I was going to slow my roll this year when it came to signing up for a bunch of events? Well, when a rockstar social media pal has an entry to spare (thanks, Karen!) and you’ve got willing running buddies (mad props to Nicole and Ben!), it’s hard to resist registering for another race.
In my defense, this almost turned into another 13.1 because my usual
masochistic tendency inclination is toward the longest distance available (especially since I need miles while training for next month’s events), however this time good sense prevailed. Ben and I raced pretty hard last weekend, and despite post-race massage and chiropractor appointments, I still wasn’t feeling fully recovered.
The solution? Split the difference, and trick ourselves into training. So we signed up for the 10K and decided not only to run it for fun, but also to jog to and from the race for a total of nine casual Sunday morning miles.
We arrived at the start just as the half marathoners were taking off, so we waited off to the side, stretching, as we watched them disappear into the distance. Then, with 11 minutes to spare, we lined up and waited for the corrals to fill around us.
Except they didn’t. Well, at least not in front of us.
In typical Oregonian fashion (and particularly at more casual races like this), the start was orderly and polite, and the race director had to encourage people to step up to the line. I always appreciate a courteous crowd, but it makes me smile and think back to other races where I’ve see elbows being used as weapons in order to jockey for position, even in small, local events.
The seven- and eight-minute mile areas were still pretty light, so we lined up towards the front but stayed on the side as the crowd slowly filtered in. By the time the gun went off, though, the area around us had filled in pretty well.
As far as courses go, this was one of my favorites so far in Portland. Not only do you get two bridge crossings (Broadway and Steel), but the race directors have also designed it so you don’t get stuck with a loooong out and back on Front Ave.
If you’re not familiar with the area, it’s a super-flat, super-industrial stretch, which is slowly starting to fill in with residential buildings but can also be a mind-numbing straightaway during races (i.e. when I ran the Portland Marathon half in 2010). Instead, this course curved nicely through the Pearl District and into the Northwest so we only had to do Front Ave. once.
And aside from the final ascent to the Steel Bridge, I don’t remember there being any big hills. In fact, the race even touts the fact that it’s PR-friendly, so take note if you want a good spot to clinch that new record next year!
Ben, Nicole and I agreed ahead of time that we were going to keep the pace conversational. I’d estimated we’d be in the nine-minute mile range, but aside from Nicole letting us know each time we completed a kilometer, none of us were watching the clock.
We stopped at the aid stations every two miles or so to grab water and electrolytes, but ended up skipping the final aid station because it was less than a mile from the finish. By that point, we also figured it’d be better to keep moving forward rather than get caught up with the crowd of half marathon walkers, 10K’ers and 5K’ers who were converging on the course.
Again, I have to give kudos to the race director, though, for dividing us up into lanes so as to prevent any major traffic jams during this last stretch. We were divided not only by distance, but also by runners/walkers, which alleviated the headache of having to bob and weave through the crowd too much in the final stretch.
Before we knew it, we were crossing the Steel Bridge and had the finish line area in sight (the spire off to the right in the picture above). A few quick turns later, we rounded the last corner and gave one last push to cross together in 56:38 for an overall average pace of 9:06/mile.
After collecting roses and hand-made wooden finisher’s medals, we made our way into the Oregon Convention Center for the post-race party. And, boy, did we feel well taken care of (thanks to all the wonderful volunteers for their time and energy)!
Between Jamba Juice smoothies and a solid spread of food (bagels, coffee cake, cinnamon rolls, all kinds of fruit, mimosas and coffee), they were also offering free photos, massages, expo shopping and live music. I can’t recommend this race highly enough if you want a fun, low-pressure event to run with friends and family.
Rather than wait in line for the official shot, however, we opted to snap our own impromptu version of a finisher’s photo before jogging back home. It was a fantastic way to spend a Sunday morning, and especially rewarding to be able to share the experience with Nicole, who is one of my Team LUNA Chix Portland Run teammates, and Ben.
If you’re interested in participating or volunteering in next year’s Race for the Roses, visit their website here for details.
And if you’re in the Portland area and want to grab a workout with Team LUNA Chix on Monday nights at 6:30 p.m., check our Facebook page for the latest location updates.
Hope to see you soon!