Sunday, August 3, 2014

Olympia Lakefair Half Marathon, State #17, WA

My Washington state race piggybacked on the FBFW half in Oregon. We planned our family’s summer vacation around the races, starting our week in Oregon for the first half marathon in Dundee, then traveling to Seattle for the next part of the week. My brother-in-law and sister-in-law live in Seattle, so it is a favorite destination of ours. We like to visit them as often as we can to spend precious time with them and to make sure our girls know them and love them as we do. 

I was hoping to run the Art Dash half marathon in Anacortes while we were out there, but unfortunately the date of this year’s race didn’t synch up with the previous weekend’s race in Oregon. Instead, I researched and found a half marathon in Olympia, the capital city of Washington. According to my sister-in-law, Olympia was about 60 miles from Seattle. A reasonable amount of travel and within the dates of our trip, so I registered.

The Lakefair Half Marathon in Olympia was held on Saturday, July 20th, less than a week after the FBFW Half the weekend before in Oregon. In my planning, I wasn’t worried about this, as usually I don’t need much (if any) recovery time from running in a half marathon, but this time around it was a little different. I was nursing a very sore hamstring from FBFW, I was out of my normal element in terms of diet/exercise/sleep, and, not to be too graphic here, but all the eating out was wreaking havoc on my insides, as I was pretty constipated all week before the Olympia race. Lovely.

In my mind, I had planned to do a couple of shake-out short runs in Seattle during the week along with some hiking we planned as a family. In reality, I did a small amount of foam rolling, booked the first massage I could find, hobbled from here to there around the city and stretched as best I could. We managed to eke out a short hike at Mt. Rainier, which I pretended was my hardcore training (altitude walking, at least). Truth be told, as Saturday approached, I was nervous that I might either injure myself more, not finish or poop myself during the race--none of which excited me. 
View from Mt. Rainier.

Hiking on Mt. Rainier.
Playing in the snow on Mt. Rainier. 
At least I can say I definitely tapered during this vacation week! My family and I enjoyed great fun with our relatives. Not only were we spending time with Uncle Eric & Aunt Lisa, but Grandma Dianne & Grandpa Steve planned their vacation to coincide with part of ours, too. It was a nice family reunion of sorts. We shared lots of great meals and nights on Eric & Lisa’s deck watching the gorgeous sunsets over the Puget Sound and Olympic mountain range. We went on the Great Wheel in the Seattle harbor and saw superb views of the cityscape. We walked around the downtown area and popped in to the incredible Seattle Public Library (my favorite place). We looked for sea glass and sea life at the Golden Gates beach. We shared some terrific meals at local eateries, almost always having dessert. 
After riding the Great Wheel in Seattle.
After much discussion about driving distance/time to Olympia, it was decided I’d go it alone on this one. I didn’t want my husband and kids to have to get up at the ungodly hour of 4:15 am to get ready and hit the road. They needed their rest with all the activity we’d been doing all week, and rather than have cranky kids at the end of the day, we decided it best for them to sleep in. I wanted to leave early to make sure I had time in case I got lost, hit traffic or got stuck in some kind of line(s) for number pick up. 

I arrived in Olympia at about 6:20 am after one very welcome pit-stop along the way. (Let’s just say my pre-race nerves got things moving along in the GI tract.) Whew! Bullet dodged on that one! Number pick up also went well. Downtown Olympia was pretty small. The main street is lined with cute shops and restaurants and has a bit of a beachy feel to it. It didn’t feel like a large city/state capital. There was a small harbor nearby and a carnival set up where the number pick up was. Number pick up was staffed with young volunteers who were efficient, but it seemed like they didn’t know much about other race details such as where the various races started. All I was able to figure out was that the half marathon start was somewhere a few blocks up the street. I made my way up there to check it out.
Pre-race number selfie.

I found a group of people waiting near a smallish sign that that said “START”, but no one in the group was sure if this was the start for the half marathon or one of the other races that were taking place that day. The sign was generic and didn’t specify. I decided to make one last trip to the porta-potties before the race. I chatted with a very friendly woman in line who was a repeat Lakefair Half Marathon runner and she confirmed that where I was before was in fact the starting line. She also told me of a group called Half Fanatics that offers a 50 states club and discounts on races for members. Something to look in to while back at home.

The race started at 7 am without much fanfare, and we meandered through the downtown area on a mostly flat course until we reached a bike path type trail and entered the woods. This whole first part of the race was on the paved bike path flanked by woods on both sides. It was serene, but very quiet. There really weren’t any spectators or sights to see. There weren’t even that many runners around me. That was fine with me though. I just worked on my breathing and form...trying to keep my hamstring from feeling too sore. I didn’t try to work toward a PR in this race. I just wanted to finish in under 2 hours and intact. The first 7 miles or so went on in this way. 

The next part of the race went through a bit of an industrial area. We went over some bridges and behind the parking lot of a shopping center. Then we continued on the bike path. This part of the path was less wooded and a little more open. Eventually we came to a road crossing that led us in to a neighborhood where we just ran along the side of the road. Miles 8 to 9 1/2 were the hilliest, but the hills were rolling and were nothing compared to Oregon the week before. Once I hit the crest of the hill, the rest of the race was downhill. 

At the end of the neighborhood road, we entered on to another wooded path. This one was beautiful, but short-lived, as it gave way to a divided highway road that paralleled the harbor area and led back to the downtown area. I was tired at this point but knew the finish was right around the corner. My hamstring was sore but hanging in there. The final mile, although flat, felt dreadfully long and slow. I pushed on and crossed the finish line. The race medal was made of wood, which was pretty cool and very representative of the “Evergreen State.” I grabbed a couple of snacks and some water and headed off to find a place to stretch out. 
Finisher's medal.

I found a park around the corner from where I’d parked, perfect for stretching. I watched as people set up chairs for some sort of event that presumably was happening later in the day. I also noticed several camp chairs lining the street across the park, as if waiting for a parade. There was probably one of those happening later on, too. I wasn’t sticking around for the carnival or parade or other events, as I had family back in Seattle waiting for me. I finished stretching and made my way back to the car. The drive back to Seattle was uneventful, thankfully, without any traffic to slow me down. I was back to our hotel in Ballard by noon. I met my husband and girls in the room as they had just finished a swim in the pool. I showered and changed, and we walked to a local pizza shop for lunch. 
Getting silly at the pizza shop after lunch.

My lovely and silly supporters.

I recalled the race for them as we enjoyed our lunch. I love my family support team! They are just the best...and the silliest, too. I was glad that this race was flat and easy and pretty unexciting. It was just the kind of run I needed after the Oregon race 6 days earlier. We made our way over to Uncle Dude and Aunt Lisa’s place where we relaxed and enjoyed each other’s company for the rest of the afternoon and evening. It was a nice way to end the busy day. Thanks, Washington, for a nice race. It was a pleasure to run in Olympia. 

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