I didn’t know anything at all about the Lake Washington Half Marathon going in. I’m on 52 million running email lists, so at some point I got something in my inbox about it, and it seemed like a good race to use as a warmup for the Seattle half at the end of the month. I almost ended up skipping it, because some friends had an opening on their Napa Ragnar team, but then that ended up not happening due to the wildfires, so I went back to my original plan of race on Saturday, Seahawks game on Sunday. The Lake Washington half doesn’t have an elevation map on their website, but Kirkland is known to be fairly hilly, and the volunteer at packet pickup said, “Oh it’s got…some hills. You’ll have a decent amount of climbing.” If you’re a distance runner around here it’s almost impossible to avoid hills, (although my friend Stephanie claims to be a “100% flat runner” WHAT IS THIS WITCHCRAFT?) so I’m not afraid of elevation, but that did sound a little ominous. I usually like to have a more specific idea of what’s in store, but since that was all I had to go on, I decided to expect the worst, hope for the best. I’m almost always a total head case before a race, and this year since my pace keeps getting significantly slower, I’ve been even more unnerved than usual. I really want to figure out if there’s an underlying cause to my fatigue/pace issues, but I’ve now been to five different doctors about this, and it seems like I might just be getting really old. But even though my pace has fallen, and I feel like I could pass out before dinnertime most days, I’ve still regularly been running long distances with no trouble. So I decided that for once, instead of obsessing about pace and PRs and stats and percentiles, I was just going to run it like a normie, take my medal, and go home. Surprise! It was way more fun to do it that way. This was by far the most relaxed I’ve ever been before a race. Maybe I’ve been taking this whole running thing too seriously… It was super cold on race day. Like, not just by my standards, since I’m cold when it’s below 70. This was legit low 30s cold. Four days ago it was 65 on Halloween! But it did snow on Friday and again on Sunday, so 33 and sunny was apparently the best this weekend would get. Ten minutes before the start, I felt underdressed and was wishing I had another layer; then I remembered I still had the race’s official shirt in my car, and I managed to run to the parking lot and grab it in time. I know some people have strong feelings about not wearing the race’s shirt during the actual race, but I have strong feelings about not being cold, so they can put their stupid comments in their pocket. I’m very glad I got the extra shirt, because it was freezing from start to finish. But it was otherwise a pretty beautiful race! There were definitely some tough hills throughout, including a pretty steep climb around mile six, and a long steady incline at the beginning of mile 11. After that one, there was a ton of downhill, and I kept thinking, “maybe the entire last 5k will be downhill, awesome!” It wasn’t, but there was nothing too tough in the last stretch, and then they called my name and gave me a medal. Pretty great Saturday morning!