Another weekend, another event. This time though, I had a fabulous running partner who came all the way from California to run with me! And, this event was even her idea!
This marathon is exactly what the name suggests: downhill. It makes for a speedy run, but as any runner knows, eventually trashes your quads and the fun is over. But this particular race was special because the first 3 miles were through an abandoned tunnel in northern Washington. The entire course was on an old rail line so it wasn’t quite trail, but it wasn’t road either. And the views were spectacular. But first things first.
The run was on Sunday so we headed to Seattle on Saturday morning and caught the Chihuly Glass Museum before picking up Erin. I had viewed some of his work on a trip to Las Vegas and his art is incredibly creative, so I was excited to share that with Jesse. The museum is at the base of the Space Needle and there was a festival happening in downtown Seattle so we crawled through the city and miraculously found a parking spot right out front. We wandered around the exhibits and then had lunch in the courtyard. It was a relaxing way to start the weekend, albeit very tourist-y!
We met up with Erin and headed to North Bend to pick up our packets and kill some time. We got in some hilarious outlet shopping (see matching pants below!) and then found some pizza to carbo load.
The hotel left much to be desired and we all slept horribly. Five AM came quickly and we groggily packed up and drove to the finish line to catch our shuttle bus to the start.
It was like we were in high school again – do we pick a spot near the back of the bus like the cool kids? Pick near the front so we can be the first ones off? We settled on the middle, dug out some bagels and cream cheese, and enjoyed the ride.
Our bus driver got us lost only once, and then we arrived at the start line. We had an hour and a half to kill before the race began and it was chill-ay (see: pants!)! We sat on the pavement, ate some more breakfast, took some photos, arranged our drop bags, and restlessly tried to keep warm.
There was some confusion about where the drop bags were to be left, if there was any water for us, and then a national anthem [send comments about national anthem controversies to firstname.lastname@example.org].
With headlights intact, we were finally off! I was excited to spend the next 4-5 hours catching up with Erin (luckily not actually catching up since we decided to stick together, despite her being the superior athlete). We enjoyed the tunnel, cold as it was, and emerged on the other end undressing and unloading. We took pit stops to pee and stretch, to take photos, and chatted the entire way. This run is a Boston Marathon qualifying run and I have no doubt Erin can and will qualify someday. I reminded her that she could leave me behind and could run it for time, but she insisted we were in it together. This became very important later in the day!
The half marathon mark came and went in what seemed like no time at all. I looked at my watch: a half marathon PR in the bag!
We were feeling strong, passing some people, getting passed by other people, laughing with other runners, and enjoying the event. The views of Snoqualmie Pass were incredible the entire way. We were in and out of the forest, crossing bridges, and making our way down the hill.
But then: mile 18. And 19. And every mile got harder, my legs gaining weight with every step. Erin’s company was much more than two girlfriends catching up at this point: she was my life support. The sun was heating up the day and I was over it, fatigued setting into my physical self more than I could bear. The aid stations had only water and Gatorade (I’m clearly spoiled from the ultra aid stations and expect a smorgasbord) and I couldn’t get enough to drink. That’s what I get for not running with my hydration pack! Jesse claimed he hit the “bonk” in a similar spot.
We passed a woman in dire need of an ambulance (she confessed she was having surgery the next day! #notworthit). We passed some people who gave up and were walking. And we passed each mile marker…slowly but surely.
At long last, the finish line was in sight. We “sprinted” to the end and I headed straight to the ground. My legs had died miles ago and all I wanted was a shower and to lie down. Jesse was feeling pretty spent as well (Erin, she had a few more miles in her, I’m sure!) and we were eager to get out of the sun and away from the crowds. We grabbed some water, our medals, and slowly walked up the hill to the car.
To wrap up the weekend, we were locked out of our hotel room, despite repeatedly asking for a late checkout. If I could be bothered, I’d leave them a terrible review! We eventually regained access to our stuff, packed up quickly, and went to Safeway for some chocolate milk and snacks for the road.
Erin’s friend picked her up, we said our good-byes, and sadly parted ways. Let me tell you; a joint marathon effort is an excellent adventure with a friend!
Psst! You can see our race photos here!