Thursday, April 18, 2013

Race report from Bridges to Brews

And so we have made yet another milestone! I now have a 10K race under my belt. There's a mental thing that I'd be able to call myself a real runner when I'd finished racing a 10K race, and now it's done. It may not have been the smoothest or best 10K ever, but it's done now and now I can really feel like a runner. Of course, as my coach and friends have reminded me, I've been a runner now for a while. But, it still feels good to clear that mental barrier away. We'll talk about that more later...

So, how did we come to do the Bridges to Brews 10K race? It basically started because my friend Krista and I ended up looking for a run to do after her planned race didn't pan out and I couldn't get into the race that I had looked at as a backup on the same day as her race because it was full. So, I went on a quest to find a race we could do and maybe get a group together to do. In my search, I ended up finding the Bridges to Brews 10K. So, we put together a small group with Krista, me, Lesley, and Jim and made the road trip down to Portland for the weekend to have a fun race. On top of which - free beer is included with your race registration for after the race! How cool is that as a reward?

Yeah, that's the bridge we had to run up and over!
The B2B is a really cool course, but it was certainly more intimidating than it first looked. The race starts from the Widmer brewery on the east side of the Willamette River in Portland and then it immediately climbs up onto the I-205 Fremont Bridge. That's all in the first 1.5 miles. Needless to say, plans A - G on how I wanted to do this race when right out the window. But it turned out that it was OK in the end. Once you climb up onto the bridge deck, they used the lower bridge deck, there's a little bit more of a climb up to the crest of the bridge at around mile 1.5. Almost all of the elevation gain of this course is in the first 1.5 miles, with a little bit more at around mile 6 or so.

Going into the race, my original plan was to run to at least the first aid station non-stop (which was at around mile 2.5). That plan went out the window almost right away. It didn't help that before the race that weekend my ankle went totally wonky. I tried to do a 4 mile training run on the Wednesday before the race and I ended up having to abort it at around mile 2.5 or so and it was just not a happy camper. So it was still a bit tender, but better than it was. However, that really limited my uphill running capability. Not good when that's what you've got for the first 1.5 miles. However, I just did what I could, ran most of it and then got to going.

But after you crest that bridge, you get to go charging down the freeway and into downtown Portland. It makes you feel good to pick up all of that speed! I ran all the down hill and most of the run until about mile 4. Then I made the mistake of not fueling soon enough and I really started to feel worn down and started walking more and running less. As well, I was starting to suffer from serious chafing issues. The good news is that the rain didn't start until I was into mile 5 otherwise I suspect that the chafing issues would have been a lot worse. It was actually a beautiful day even though it was overcast and threatening rain (and actually did rain). Mile 4-5 was brutal. There was an aid station at around mile 4.5 or so. All I can say is whoever, from there had the Shot Bloks, I thank you profusely! I downed those and mile 5 - 6 was over 1:00 m/mi better. It was really a clear indication of what happens when you don't fuel in time. Lesson learned!

Coach Lesley did a huge favor for me and worked her way back on the course to reel me in for just under the last mile. It felt really good to have a little company in that last mile and it really helped me pick it up one more notch all the way to the finish.

So, when I crossed the finish line, I was ahead of my goal and I thought I'd done well. Later I looked at the watch and well, we hit a PR. Now granted this was my first race at this distance, I'd run a 10K before in a training run. I smashed down my PR for 10K, 2 months old, by 3 minutes and 27 seconds. That's a pretty good improvement for just two months.

This was an awesome event, made all the better by the company I had to and from the race. So thanks to Lesley, Krista, and Jim for the excellent weekend and awesome race.