Does your idea of a romantic weekend getaway include running 13.1 hilly miles in the wind? No? Are you, like, normal or something?
When I first registered for the Whidbey Island half marathon, I thought we’d make a little family trip out of it, but as it got closer we decided to leave the kids with friends and enjoy a rare weekend to ourselves. This involves a lot of orchestrating, which is why it was only the second time we’ve managed it in the ten years that we’ve been parents. If my mom lived a little closer than 3,000 miles away we’d be saddling her with them every week. (Wait maybe that’s why she lives so far away. Busted, PB.) It ended up being very interesting timing, to say the least, and it was really fun to take Rich to Coupeville. He had never been there, but I have eaten lunch there twice, so I’m basically a tour guide, and I knew he’d love it.
We had a great time on Whidbey, but late Saturday night I started getting extremely anxious about the race. I am always something of a headcase before a race, but this time my standard butterflies in the stomach were upgraded to the deluxe anvil on the chest sensation. I had to keep reminding myself that this was just for fun* and there was absolutely nothing riding on it. I hadn’t even looked at the course map, and I wasn’t sure how I was getting there, and I don’t know the area at all, and I wasn’t sure if I’d be able to have my traditional pre-race oatmeal for breakfast, so maybe too many unknown variables sent my anxiety rolling. Or maybe I’m just a headcase. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ My anxiety over something so unimportant actually made me feel more sympathetic toward my dad, famous for ruining things that were supposed to be fun when we were kids, like, why are you yelling, did you bet the house on this game of charades or something? Maybe we just can’t help ourselves. (I’ll never get over The Crunge though.)
I was still very worked up, even once I got to the starting area with oatmeal in my stomach and time to spare. I recognized the neighborhood from a Ragnar leg, and that’s what finally calmed me down. Because for as antsy as I’ve been before the 30+ races I’ve done, I have never been more nervous in my life than I was before my first Ragnar, and that ended up being two of the best days ever. So who cares about this dumb race, only three months until Ragnar!
So, all my neuroses aside, this is a great race. Very scenic, challenging course, and a small field (~1,000 runners) all add up to an instant favorite. I had paid so little attention to the course map beforehand that I didn’t even realize it was an out-and-back until I was almost halfway through. I was enjoying a very long downhill stretch around mile five when I was somewhat dismayed to see the leaders making their way up. It was kind of a buzzkill to realize I would also have to run back up that hill, but it did make the uphill stretches from there to the turnaround point a little easier. Once I had made it back up that hill, it felt like the real work was over, and I really enjoyed the last few miles. The final stretch of this race went through the main drag of the historic downtown district, and that was incredibly charming. Definitely my favorite finish line ever. I’m still determined to work on getting my speed back where it used to be, but I did manage an 8th place finish in my division. It pays to get old!