So here is how it went down. Friday evening I was wrapping up my first week at the office and was totally pooped. I wanted nothing more than to crawl home and sleep my way through the weekend. However, it’s clear that I do not excel in lazying around my apartment for extended periods of time so when one of my running friends called me up and reminded me that there was a 1/2 marathon I should consider, I was already halfway convinced that it was a good idea. Then he reminded me of the following salient points:
#1: It was free, as in absolutely no entry fee
#2: It started at a brewery
#3: It finished at a brewery
#4: And I wouldn’t even have to drive
Well, with that kind of a setup, how could I say no? So this morning I woke up bright and early, put on some dirty running clothes and ran the White Salmon Half Marathon, A.K.A The Free 1/2 Marathon, A.K.A The Summer Solstice Brewery Trail Half, A.K.A That One Race in the Gorge, You Know, The Free One.
Prerace: I figured this would be excellent training for a ridiculous trail race I’ll be running in just a few weeks (holy crap, I can’t believe it’s that soon). My carpool buddy and I arrived at the scene about 20 minutes before the start to find runner-looking types milling around. I jumped out, beelined to the restroom, grabbed a cup of coffee that was available to the runners and got myself race ready. Shoes. Bodyglide. Hat. Check. Check. Check. I strapped on Phil (Garmin 405) and wandered back to the runners.
Even as a free event, there wasn’t much of a crowd. I think maybe 60 runners tops. The race director, who couldn’t have been more pleasant, lead the way to a squiggly chalk line on the road that spelled”Start!” We lined up. He said the course would be well-marked. I wondered aloud what the course was like and someone responded, “Steep!” Well, OK, I thought, let’s see what steep looks like. And that was about all the information I got.
Race: Then we were off! From the get go I could see this race was going to be dominated by a core pack of strong women. We started conservatively and I spent the first couple of miles chatting with Mandy from my trail running group. She is a fierce and fit runner. We hit the singletrack that rolled for a bit before climbing a series of steep switchbacks. I passed the lead woman about that point and she hooked on to the back of the front group. There was one guy up ahead and that was it. We really were a strong group of women out there! I was impressed!
The three of us powered up the inclines. I tripped and fell hard. Mandy jumped ahead and put on the gas. I followed close behind. Within another mile, Mandy had dropped me and I had put a significant gap between myself and the third place girl. The inclines were steep and difficult, but I felt strong. I later heard there was about 22oo feet of elevation climbing and that was mostly accomplished in the first half. I would believe it. There were some steep hills to climb! But it was worth it.This was one of the most stunning trails I have ever run. Just check it out:
In the last half mile I took a wrong turn and lost about 2 or 3 minutes of time. I had to backtrack up a hill but I was able to finish strong and quick and ended up placing third overall (!!!) and second in womens. In fact, women took 5 of the top 7 spots in the race. Way to go, girls!!!
Third Place Overall
Second Place Woman