The Fourth of July Foot Traffic Flat Half Marathon was my target race for this year. I was going to lose the extra weight I put on after the Portland Marathon last fall and get into good race shape as this was a very flat, fast course.
Was it flat? Definitely!
Did I lose the weight? Not even close!
Was I in good race shape? For the extra weight I was carrying my conditioning wasn’t as bad as it could have been.
Was it fast? Well, the course was, but I sure wasn’t.
This race took place out on Sauvie Island in NW Portland. The island is all farm land. And by all farm land, I mean ALL farm land. When you’re running it is just one farm after another. The race was scheduled to start at 6:50. Since there was one bridge on/off the island they recommended that you show up at least 45 minutes before the race. This cushion would only get you to the start line by race time though. So we were out there about 5:45. This meant a 4:00 alarm…UGH!
Got to the event with plenty of time. Relaxed for a few minutes in the car and then started to get ready. With about 45 minutes before the gun was to go off I figured it was a good time to hit the bathroom. Unfortunately, so did the other 2000 people running. We stood in line for a solid 45 minutes waiting. By 7:00 I was all ready to race. Yep, that meant I hit the starting line 10 minutes after the gun went off. There were actually quite a few people in my situation. Mrs Team Neon told me there were people hanging around the start line who finally asked if the half had already started since they never heard an announcement or the horn. Between the standing around and getting to the start line late I got in exactly ZERO warm up.
I actually felt really good for the first 4-5 miles. Unfortunately, this is never a good sign. My watch told me that I did what I usually do and went out way too fast. And I followed that up by thinking I could maintain it for 8 more miles. I’ve also been playing around with my fueling the last few months. I’m trying to get away from excessive carb forms of fueling. This may have had something to do with the wall I hit between miles 8-10. Reflecting back on it and talking it over with my trainer, it wasn’t so much the pre race fueling that did me in but more that I needed to fuel again mid race. Like I said, I’ve been playing around with it. But, given that I knew I wasn’t going to PR, I’m ok with playing around with things during races. It’s the only time you really know if it’s going to work or not. Unfortunately, by mile 10 I was TOAST. My splits had dropped by at least 90 seconds per mile. My only thoughts were “just finish”. I came in at just over 1:48. No, not a horrible time and pretty much inline with what I’ve been doing this year. Still should have been 5-7 minutes faster given the course, but oh well. Live, learn and run another day.
If I hadn’t felt so miserable the last few miles I would have enjoyed this race so much more. It really was a beautiful course. The weather, although a tad warm, was gorgeous. If you like crowds cheering for you this is not your race. Limited road access, limited parking, early start time and bring out in the country mean not much cheering along the course between aid stations. But if you like that kind of setting then you’ll love this race.
I probably won’t run this race again as a stand alone event. However, I did find out about a multi day event that has been going on the last few years. This year it was called the Firecracker Triple. A 5K, Half Marathon or Marathon each day Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Something I will definitely look into next year.