Monday, June 7, 2010

North Olympic Discovery HALF Marathon Walk - check!

Great day yesterday with the girls! You better sit down, this is a bit long, but I have lots of photos for your enjoyment. I tried to keep this brief but it is, after all, the first race I've done since July 13, 2008 (XTERRA Off-Road Triathon, trail running leg only) and I'm a bit excited.

You can see below that the race start in Port Angeles (red star) is on our Olympic Peninsula (where they filmed the Twilight series). To get there from Seattle, MB and I drove from Seattle to Edmonds, then took a ferry to Kingston, then drove the rest of the way to Port Angeles. Seattle is in that inlet to the left of the Highway 18 sign. Poor placement.

MB & I lived the high life at the Super 8 motel the night before the North Olympic Discovery Half Marathon. We got lucky finding a quaint restaurant where we had steamed clams as our appie, wild Alaskan salmon with rapini for the entrée, and a flourless chocolate torte for dessert. All complimented by a Blue Moon white Belgian ale (no orange slice, drat!).

For once, I actually got a decent night of sleep in a hotel. The alarm went off at 6:15 am and I felt well-rested. Almost immediately, I had a text from Kerrie (MomvsMarathon) saying that she had just arrived at the race start. ACK! I was just waking up! That poor Kerrie - She drove that morning to the race from her hometown which is even farther away than Seattle.

MB & I got ready quickly and drove to the race finish where we caught a shuttle to the start, eating our continental breakfast consisting of bread with jam and a bran muffin. Not so great.

Once we got to the start, Kerrie was easy to spot in her pink plaid running skirt and pink jacket, just as she described. LOVE that outfit! Kerrie had hoped to run the full marathon that day but developed a few injuries a few weeks ago. Did she give up and wallow in self pity? NO! She's been cross-training and keeping her fitness up and woke up before the sun to walk the half marathon with MB and I.

We had an hour to hang out before the start, during which time innocent bystander #1 took a photo of MB, Kerrie, and I. My aunt saw this picture and says she knows the lady with the yellow stripe on her shorts. Funny.

At the sound of the gun, everyone moved. We started at the very back so as not to get in the way of the runners. It was strange not to start running but even as walkers, we had to jockey & vie for positions, weaving around the slower walkers. Among them...oh wait! COUGAR SIGHTING!

I totally forgot what I was going to say. Anyway, in addition to these cougars, we saw some nice domesticated mammals: dogs, horses, cows as well as some lovely chickens. After a couple miles, we left our pastoral setting and headed into the woods where we saw venison deer. Did you know I was a vegetarian for 9 years? Past tense.

The course was just beautiful - lush coastal forest, rolling hills, and many creek crossings over little bridges. Wildflowers in bloom included foxglove, lupine, butter cups, Scotchbroom (invasive), nettles, red hot pokers (I know, not really wild but these had gone feral), and many others I'm forgetting. Here are just a few highlights. 



One of my favorite parts was this random mirror (that's me taking my photo) along the path followed by


Along the course, we were serenaded by several drum circles and a "vibes" (or xylophone - what's the difference?) band, which was pretty cool. Also, each aid station was sponsored by a different local organization that was competing for a prize based on their "fun" factor. A few favorites included the Mexican aid station, the Superheroes, and the cancer survivors (note Kerrie with the high-five).



The last several miles were along the coast, the Strait of Juan de Fuca. I didn't take any coastal view shots because at this point, I was TIRED and I was focused on the finish line. We were happy to see a seal though hanging out in some kelp beds but no other wildlife sightings along the coast. 

I enjoyed hearing the MC attempt to say my last name. I've heard worse! MB, Kerrie, and I finished together. As we crossed in 3:07:35, we were each assigned a buddy who gave us our medal, handed us refreshments, and walked us through the finish chute to return our timing chips. We had to pry MB's volunteer away from her (I don't think MB looked like she needed the extra help?) so we could make our way to the FOOD LINE. 

Regarding the post-race food, there were three things that made this race's food unique:

1. Brown Cow yogurt (with the delicious cream top - my favorite)
2. Croissants with Nutella (heavenly)
3. Top ramen noodle soup (salty)

The soup was surprisingly good, at least it was until MB found not one, but TWO, LONG hairs in her cup. Did you just throw up a little in the back of your throat? I did.

Despite the hairy soup, it was a great day. A beautiful course, great walking partners, interesting conversation, varied scenery, moderate hills, good food, and a finishing time that seriously kicks ass. We averaged 14:19 minutes per mile. We cheated just a little and jogged about 1.5 miles to give our walking muscles a break but we still rocked the walking pace.

I'm looking forward to my next race in late June, Lake Padden Tri, and hope to see Kerrie again soon. It was so great to finally meet her in the flesh - she is lovely and a real inspiration. I'm sure her next attempt at a full marathon will be a success and she'll be all the stronger & wiser on her next round. Check out her race re-cap here.

Thanks to innocent bystander #2 who took our post-race photo.


  1. Thanks again for walking with me!

    PS: Want me to send you some ocean shots? They aren't great, but you can add them in if you want. Feel free to take the ones from my recap, too. :) I can't remember what I sent you.