Continued from Part 1 (read it here)…
I was so relieved when I saw Alma. She introduced me to her friend, Mel, and they hung out with me till I got my packet, which arrived about 30 minutes before the start. We hit the Honey Buckets again (there was an actual line now), then we met up with a couple Alma’s friends who were running the half. After that, it was time to head to the start!
As we waited, we talked about how we weren’t nervous for the race since we were walking it, not running. We just wanted to have fun! I was a little unsure how it would be walking, though, since I’ve never walked that far before.
All of a sudden the small crowd began to move forward, and it was time to go. We were off and talking! Oh, I mean walking. Walking and talking. Mel is a runner-turned-walker and is fast, so we let her set the pace. I had to do a little mini-jog sometimes to keep up!
The first couple of miles wound through some rural neighborhoods, then some farm areas. We saw barns, fields, a herd of horses galloping and playing. I had been coughing all morning and had made my way through half a bag of cough drops, but now that we were going, my cold didn’t bother me.
And check out the wild pants we saw! I tried to be sly while taking the picture, so it didn’t turn out very clear.
Everyone around us was friendly and laid-back: the runners, walkers, volunteers, organizers. Everyone was having a good time. Before I knew it, one mile was behind us. We approached our first water stop and it was decorated! I hadn’t expected that. How fun!
Then we were done with Miles 2 and 3. It was going by so fast! I thought it might feel slower because we were walking, but we were having so much fun sharing stories that the time was flying by. Oh, and we were walking pretty fast. I kept looking down and seeing the pace in the high 13-minute range or low 14-minute range. I mentioned I ran slower than that pace when I first started running back in July 2009. So that felt pretty good.
At this point we were on the North Olympic Discovery trail. It was absolutely beautiful. Forest on boths sides with Evergreen trees, ferns, creeks, old bridges, and some odd things, too, like this random mirror.
The trail was mostly just beautiful.
The weather cooperated, too. After an absolutely gorgeous, sunny Saturday, Sunday’s forecast was no sun and lots of rain. But that didn’t happen. It was overcast, but it hardly rained. A few sprinkles here and there, but not even enough to get our clothes wet. And it wasn’t hot, it was perfect in the low- to mid-50s.
And we saw deer. A mama and her baby. They almost looked fake they were so still, like the animals you see on Disneyland’s Jungle Cruise. But they were very real and probably very scared.
We wound through the beautiful forest swapping stories and just having a good time. Every water stop was decorated and the volunteers were pumped. They were boisterous, funny and encouraging. They offered water or Heed, and two of the stops had Hammer Gels. I tried Apple Cinnamon first. Wow! It tasted like apple pie filling and was so yummy! I also tried raspberry and it was very good, too. (And no tummy troubles at all.)
Before we left the foresty part of the race, we crossed the coolest treehouse-style bridge…
…saw some beautiful native plants…
…and I got to see what Mile 20 would’ve been like for me.
But we laughed about it. Around Mile 9 or 10, we came upon my water stop. It was made for me. I stopped when I saw it, threw my hands up and squealed. Some of the volunteers clapped and I got a high five.
Pink! (At the end of the race, we could vote for our favorite water stop. Guess who I voted for?)
After that, we were sort of out of the woods, so to speak. The last five miles were along the ocean. I love the ocean and it was misty and cool and gorgeous — it was perfect.
We were walking along and I kept looking at this thing in the water. Finally, I said what I was thinking out loud: “Is that a log or a sea otter?” It was a sea otter! He was swimming along the trail just checking out what all these people were doing.
All three of us were starting to hurt a little bit. Our walking legs were sore. And my feet hurt. So, we decided to run. It felt so good! But then we worried that maybe we were cheating by not walking the whole way. Ha! I was having such a good time that I didn’t really even think much about the full marathon. I really didn’t. Well, at least until I saw this guy.
The marathon leader! He was flying and there was no one behind him for a very long time. It was pretty exciting to see him and he was a good sport about me sprinting ahead so I could take his picture.
Watch out. More ocean pics!
As we got closer to the finish line, the asphalt trail turned to mud, rocks, gravel and dirt occasionally. It was hard on my feet and I was very glad I was not at 23 or 24 miles. I tried to pretend it was like reflexology, but that didn’t really help.
Soon, we could see the finish line in the distance. It appeared there was quite a crowd. Even some in the water!
An older man with white hair waited with a bouquet of red roses for his finisher, whoever she was. Lucky girl, we all gushed. We had been running for about a half-mile to ease our walking muscles, but Alma said she wanted to walk across the finish line. We all agreed we should walk in together.
The announcer said our names and our hometowns, and we waved and cheered, and then we were each whisked away by a volunteer to personally hang our medal, hand us a drink, escort us to chip removal and show us where to go next. I thought that was pretty great, but Mel’s volunteer may have been a little too clingy. It’s a fine line.
Mel and Alma picked up their checked bags and we wandered around deciding what to do next: stretch? eat? sit? pictures? That’s when I saw the dog.
A boxer! I could not believe it. Third half; third boxer sighting at a half. I snuck a picture. Thank you, AJ.
After I figured out where to pick up my race shirt (they are awesome), I joined Mel and Alma for some stretching and photo-taking.
Then, a feast! The race organizers had outdone themselves. Costco muffins, the best oranges I’ve had in a long time, bananas, pretzels, Ramen (which at first I thought was weird, but it tasted sooo good), croissants and Nutella (which I’d never had before), Brown Cow yogurt, ice cream, juice, water, flavored drinks…I know there was more, but I can’t even think of it all. And because the race was medium-sized, it wasn’t too crowded. We helped ourselves to seconds.
The three of us sat and ate on the pier. I was a little sad this experience was over and was not looking forward to my 2-1/2-hour drive home. A HUGE thank you to Alma and Mel because they really made the day so much fun. I am so glad I went and met them, and I hope they will do more races with me this summer, walking or running.
Because, let me tell you something: Walking the half was just as rewarding as running one. (And I’m pretty sure it’s a better workout for your bum.)
Chip time: 3:07:35
AJ II time (Garmin) for 3.34 miles (forgot to turn it off after we crossed the finish): 3:11:08
Average pace: 14:20
Mile 1: 14:59
Mile 2: 14:08
Mile 3: 14:01
Mile 4: 14:43
Mile 5: 14:16
Mile 6: 14:48
Mile 7: 14:02
Mile 8: 14:57
Mile 9: 14:23
Mile 10: 13:28
Mile 11: 12:26
Mile 12: 15:46
Mile 13: 12:44
.34 miles: 6:22 (19:01 pace = us milling around)