Race Recap: 2017 North Olympic Discovery Half Marathon

Disclaimer: I received a free entry to North Olympic Discovery Half Marathon as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review find and write race reviews! 

This past weekend I ran the North Olympic Discovery Half Marathon in Port Angeles! I went into it with high expectations that I quickly realized were wishful thinking.

The Friday before I summited Mount Saint Helens. It was over 5,000 feet of elevation and a very long trek to the top. On the glissade down I ended up face planting due to the snow conditions and tore my pants in the process. When I woke up on Saturday to leave for Port Angeles my right leg was covered in ice-burn and I have two deep purple bruises from my ice axe. Let’s just say, my legs were not feeling so good. The drive north was beautiful and we arrive to Port Angeles in good time.

Expo:
The race expo was held on Saturday only from noon to 6pm. The bib pickup was pretty organized, but due to a name mix up I had to go back and get the correct bib. I was very happy the long sleeve half zip was a womens cut! That was a wonderful surprise. We also received a reusable  gear check bag that had a place to write your bib on with a bunch of paper flyers. There weren’t many vendors at the expo, mainly local running races.

We checked into our hotel then found an early dinner. I highly recommend Barhop Brewing, their pizza and beer was great! We also swung by the natural food market for some snacks. I opted for fresh guacamole, hummus and chips which seemed to help my stomach instead of hinder it on race day.

Race Day:
Getting to the race day shuttles was a quick walk from my hotel. NODM did a great job organizing the start times for the Half and Full marathons so that it was easy to get on a shuttle to the start. The volunteers loading runners on to the shuttles were wonderful too!

After a 20 minute shuttle ride we arrived at the start line. It was an open soccer field. There was a marching band and a small shelter that had cups of water. There were also plenty of porta-potties! The lines were never too long for them which was wonderful.  I did find my fellow BibRave Pros Bradley and Jeremy  before the start! It’s always wonderful to meet fellow pros.

 

 

The start was pretty organized considering there were less than 1,000 runners. The course is relatively flat but the hills are pretty steep. I ran with someone from my Fleet Feet Seattle training program for the first 6 miles before I started to really feel my legs. By mile 10 I was not a happy camper and was having issues keeping water and my shotblocks down. I knew after mile 6 that my goal of running a small PR was a no go. I will admit, at mile 10 I did phone my BRF to have her kick my ass into gear and finish. Cassidy- you are the best BRF a girl can have. I even called my boyfriend and asked him to have a coke ready for me at the finish. Yes, coke somehow helps me intake some sugar after I finish a race, not sure why it’s the easiest thing for me to stomach but it is.

Even if the last 3.1 miles suck they were beautiful! The last 4 miles look out over the Puget Sound and are on a very flat trail. All of the volunteers on the course were wonderful too. They were super enthusiastic and did a great job giving everyone directions. I was very happy to see that finish line even though I was in a lot of pain.

The finish line was pretty well organized. I quickly got my finishers medal, a gatorade and my gear check back. There was plenty of post race food too. I didn’t really eat any of it until I got back to my hotel, I was trying to drink as much liquid as I could since I was dehydrated.

Overall I would recommend this race to anyone looking for a relatively fast course and some sweet swag. If I were to run it again, I would definitely not summit a mountain two days before. Onward to Rock n Roll Seattle Half for a PR attempt!

Race Recap: 2016 Seattle Half Marathon

First things first, I was tired going into this race. Thanksgiving was busy, two of them back to back. All the food I consumed made it an uncomfortable night’s sleep that bled into the next two nights.

But, even though it was cold and damp we made a family trip downtown to get our packets. We went to the market and visited Le Reve for pastries. So amazing, worth the line! Then we checked out the remains of the Lululemon Black Friday markdowns. I got a pair of running gloves and a pair of Tracker IV shorts. They cost as much as a pair of full-price shorts! When I checked out the sales gal asked what I was going this weekend and I mentioned the Seattle Half. She pulled out a bag and said pick something. Yes, I got a free Run Fast Neck Warmer from Lululemon!
Lululemon-Black-Friday-Seattle-2016
After that we went to the expo. The bib pickup this year wasn’t too bad, we got there early enough so the lines were non-existent. The only bummer is we still had to weave our way through all the vendors to get your shirt and goody bag. This year’s shirt was a way better color (red) than in years past as was the goody bag. After that we window shopped a bit more the  headed home for some carbo loading.
See-Amanda-Run-Race-Kit
The morning of the race was uneventful. I ate a banana then walked to the start/finish line with my dad. When we got there, there was very little signage and we got a bit confused trying to find gear check. It was in the same place it always is but it wasn’t on a map clearly marked. We finally realized our navigation error and made it up the stairs and dropped off the bags.

This race has some history for me- it was the first half marathon I ever ran and it was brutal. Flash forward a to this year and it’s still just as brutal. The weather this year was damp and I ended up layering my Nike tech hoodie under my singlet. It was and wasn’t a good idea.

The starting chute and the first few miles weren’t too bad. It’s a bit crowded going down 5th and up the Dearborn ramp but once we hit I-90 the crowds started to thin out. The first 7ish miles of this course are solid and not very hilly which makes it a bit easier.

I will say, running on 5th Ave and then onto I-90 made puts a spotlight on Seattle’s homeless problem. If you ever run a major marathon or half marathon in Seattle, you will unfortunately get a lovely tour of homelessness in Seattle.

I was running just fine for the first 7 miles; I didn’t feel too tired but I was getting cold. The rain and dampness wasn’t helping. My long-sleeved tech shirt had taken on more moisture and it was getting a tad uncomfortable. After a water stop at mile 7.25 the hills started. Galer street is a bit better than the old Lee street segment but it’s rough. I had to walk it along with everyone around me. Once that was over the Madison hill started. It’s a consistent gradual incline that kicks my butt every time.
Seattle Marathon 2016 Startline
This year, I was lucky enough to have a group of my Oiselle Volée teammates cowbelling halfway up the hill. That boost helped a lot and made it easier for me to get through the Arboretum.

After the short downhill of the Arboretum came the hard part- Interlaken. The hills that keep on giving. This is my least favorite part of the race but I managed to get through it. My dad hung in there with me and we got through the rolling hills. Thankfully the last mile is downhill and goes on an overpass with a beautiful view of Lake Union. Running through South Lake Union on Harrison Street wasn’t so bad except there were POTHOLES. Yes, my arch nemesis. I was careful and did not fall and safely made it to the 13-mile marker.

To make the last .1 easier there was a group of people giving out dixie cups of beer. My dad took one as we made on way to the last hill, Mercer street. After the last painful hill and a boost from more Volée teammates, we made it to the stadium! My boyfriend was there and took some finish photos which was awesome.
Amanda-Seattle-Half-Marathon-2016-Finish
I finished in a decent time, slow for Seattle Marathon standards, breaking my goal of 2:20! In my honest opinion, most people who run this race are fast since the field is filled with ‘hard core’ runners due to weather and timing. I got my finishers medal, it’s alright, a space blanket and proceeded to walk up the stairs to get my gear check bag, painful. We then took an Uber up the hill and went to 5 Spot for brunch. I pretty much was glued to my boyfriend’s couch and watched the Seahawks and Sounders games with Joey, my boyfriend’s dog.
See-Amanda-Run-JoeyOverall I had a pretty good time, the weather got nicer as the race went on and there was much more course support than the last time I ran. I might run this race again, but honestly I really needed a reason to run longer than seven miles. This definitely helped me get over my mental barrier. I can run long just need to keep running so January and February won’t be so painful, and maybe I can finally get that elusive sub 2:05 PR.

Onward and upward! Let’s hope the weather in Seattle stays good so I can keep this training cycle running.

Race Recap: 2016 Beat the Blerch 10k 

Oh Beat the Blerch! This is one of my favorite races. First, I love The Oatmeal. His comics are great and his book and comic The Terrible & Wonderful Reasons Why I Run Long Distances is the best.

This year packet pickup was a breeze! I found street parking and got in and out in less than 30 minutes. This year’s swag bag was pretty good: Saucony cotton tech t-shit, playing cards, candy, some tattoos and sticker. I even had The Oatmeal autograph my coloring book I bought that day. He even told me I was one of the first people to have it autographed since it was a pre-release for the race only! I also got some Sriracha socks to wear on race day. (I know, nothing new before race day but I had to wear them!)

Saturday came and it was unfortunately pouring down rain. We got there early to secure a prime parking spot in the paid parking lot. I ended up tromping around exploring the booths and got a bunch of sweet soy and dairy free Clif Bar products. My new favorite post workout or race fuel is their new Apple Cinnamon Oatmeal Organic Energy Food. As I was exploring the booth I realized Zappos was giving away free ponchos so we could stay dry! They even had a doughnut bar with every topping imaginable. I got skittles and gummy bears… Yes, I ate a free doughnut beforehand because it is Beat the Blerch after all!

 

My main goal for this race was to break an hour for the 10k. I haven’t been running because of
a nagging hip injury that’s turned into IT band and calf problems. My second goal was to run walk as little as possible, so the middle 3 miles give or take.

Right before the 10am start the rain finally let up and it was even warm. I decided to wear one of my favorite Blerch shirt ‘I do not believe in the wall’, my Oiselle Gilman Vest,  and blue sparkle skirt. The start was pretty disorganized this year compared to last so I had to bob and weave through all the walkers at the beginning. The aid station at mile 2.75ish and 3.5ish was the same way. But I still had fun running through the crowds and seeing all of the happy people running and walking out on the course. There was a couple dressed up as Bobcats! One of my favorite comics by The Oatmeal.

Overall, I ran a pretty decent time, got some sweet free race photos, and made my goals while running in the rain.

 

Race Recap: 2016 Kirkland Shamrock Run

First things first- I love this race! Ran it for the second year in a row and had a blast.

First getting to this race is easy as is finding parking! There is plenty of parking in Kirkland and it’s even free or $5 (Win!). It also started later, around 8am. I ran with two of my Oiselle Volee teammates, one of their husbands and their dog. We even had time to go to Starbucks to keep warm before the start of the race in Marina Park.

First things first, this course is HILLY! Yes, the first part of the race is pretty much straight up hill. But after the first half mile the course is a bunch of rolling hills and then a steep downhill to the finish. Overall I did not find this hard since I knew what I was getting into and I live on a hill so I’m somewhat used to it. I ran the first two miles pretty consistently but I did get a bit tired right before the downhill so my sprint to the finish was a bit of a mess.  I tired to out sprint another runner in the end but it didn’t go so well. But it make for some good finish line commentary!

I was the first to finish so I waited for everyone before I explored the the finish chute swag. Each finisher received a medal and commemorative car magnet! Even my teammate’s dog got a finisher medal. There was a photo backdrop for photos and tons of free swag from local companies. Overall it was a fun race and a great way for me to get some faster miles in before I head to New York for the NYC Half next week!

Thoughts on hills- yay or nay?