Monday, December 20, 2010

The Holiday Half

Back in September, a local running store advertised a new half marathon race to be held in December called "The Holiday Half."   Runners were encouraged to dress up in Christmas-themed attire, there would be carolers every two miles, and the finisher's medal was in the shape of a bell.  It sounded like a lot of fun, so I signed up right away.

The starting line

After I ran my marathon in October, and rested for two weeks afterwards, I realized I needed to start training again to be able to run this half in December.  Ugh!  It was hard to get motivated.

But I persevered, running long runs on the weekends and soon December 12th arrived.  It had rained buckets the day before, but race day dawned warm and dry.

I decked myself out for this race

I love races with a theme.  It's fun to see people dress up for the occasion.  I'm not real creative, but managed to find some lovely red and green socks, dug out my red and green tech shirts, and donned a Santa hat.  I looked delightfully obnoxious!

I found out right away I'd overdressed.  My attire was chosen with the usual December cold and rainy weather in mind.  But race day was uncommonly warm (high 50s for temps). I heated up almost immediately.  The Santa hat made my head really warm.  And I didn't need a long sleeve shirt or long socks.  I ditched the Santa hat before mile 2, handing it to a little kid along the route.

Runners at mile 2
The race had a nice course.  We ran along North Greeley Avenue, past the University of Portland, and through the St. John's area.  We turned around at Pier Park, which I discovered was a lovely park full of large, beautiful fir trees.  The fun thing about the out-and-back courses is that you get to see the runners both in front of and behind you.  It's a great way to cheer on your fellow runners.  I had fun cheering the leaders, and complimenting people on their holiday costumes.  There wasn't a lot of carolers, but the race volunteers were fabulous.  There were two young men at one intersection singing "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer," who were singing when I first passed them by, and still belting out the tunes on my return trip.

Me and Katy at the finish line
I follow a blog and facebook page dedicated to the "Run Like a Mother" book (or RLAM for short).  The blog sells fun shirts with mom-themed messages, such as my favorite:  "Badass mother runner."   I was hoping to encounter other RLAMers running the Holiday Half.  During the race, I saw a woman with a "Badass mother runner" shirt.  She passed me once and I called out a "hello" to my fellow RLAMer.  Around mile 8, I ran into her at an aid station.  We started talking, and I decided it would be fun to run with a companion, so I asked if I could join her.  The woman's name was Katy and I soon found out this amazing person was a mother to a very young (under 3) daughter and twin 7-month old sons.  Amongst all of her mommy duties, she finds time to run and train for a half marathon!  Wow! 

All smiles at the finish line
Katy ran at a slower pace than my usual, but I didn't mind.  After running for 8 miles by myself, I was happy for some company. I was running this race for fun after all!  We had a nice chat.  Conversation is a good distraction, and the last five miles slipped by quickly.  Katy was having a hard time, and I stuck with her and offered encouragement.  We hit a stiff headwind in the final mile, but soldiered on.  Soon, the finish line banner was in sight.  I sprinted across the timing mats, and then cheered Katy on to her finish.  She did a great job!  It felt really good to help a fellow runner.

  Meghan had a great costume!

Right before the finish line, a woman passed me wearing a candy cane striped dress.  I called out that I loved her costume, and as the person turned around I realized it was someone I knew!  The candy cane girl was Meghan from TriMet who I'd worked with on the I-205 light rail project.  Boy you never know who you're going to meet at a race!

My cool bell-shaped finisher's medal

I started this race with no goals other than to have fun.  I ran on a lovely course, enjoyed seeing the many runners in holiday costume, and was entertained by great volunteers.  I helped a fellow mother runner, and made a new friend.  And I received a cool finisher's medal that doubles as a real cowbell.  My time wasn't one of my best efforts, but the fun I had trumped any personal best I could've achieved.  

Did I have a good time?  Mission accomplished!  Can't wait to run this race again next year!

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