It’s race time again!
It’s hard to believe it, but this coming Sunday I will run my 14th half marathon. That race will be my 7th local North Olympic Discovery half marathon. That’s the race that I stood and watched, with tears in my eyes, in 2007 and 2008 before resolving that I, too, would become a runner.
There is something extra special about running a race in one’s own town. I’ve run so many, many miles on the Olympic Discovery Trail, in all kinds of weather, through all sorts of joys and sorrows.
I’ve watched each year’s race mile markers get placed (usually painted) on the trail in the days immediately before the race. Then I’ve watched the numbers fade in the sun over the months after the race, always a reminder of race day and an encouragement to keep a steady progress toward next year. This year’s markers are a little different, and I don’t think they’ll remain in place on the trail after race day.
I’ve seen four different versions of the course, slight variations necessitated by sections of the trail being added, improved, or blocked off for various reasons.
This year, the final half mile to the finish was blocked for a couple of months by a major landslide. The trail here runs along the waterfront beneath a bluff. A house at the top of the bluff caught fire. When firefighters turned their hoses on the blaze, the sudden rush of water caused the bluff behind the house to fail. Rather than risk losing several more houses to the slide, they had no choice but to let the house burn to the ground. Then there was a delay of several weeks while the homeowner and the insurance company worked things out. The slide could not be cleared until all of the debris from the house was knocked down and carried away. As a result, the trail was finally reopened, and the race course was assured, only about five days ago.
While I’m excited to be running yet another NODM, I’m not particularly optimistic for a great performance. My post-marathon bronchitis really took a lot out of me. I basically lost the entire month of April. When I was finally able to run again, I couldn’t go further than a mile or so before I’d have to take a walk break and catch my breath. My cardiovascular fitness was gone.
The last week or so I’ve become able to run a little longer, a little faster. But I’ve had to resign myself to the fact that I’m much slower than I was a year ago at this time. And that’s okay! I have no illusions about a PR; I’m simply going to try to maintain a steady pace and finish healthy and happy
I still get to show off my beautiful trail and my wonderful small town to out-of-town runners. I still get to run up and down those rolling, forested hills, sail down the big hill to the Morse Creek trestle, and then get down to business in those final 3+ miles along the waterfront. Where I’ve been paced by deer, accosted by river otters, serenaded by bellowing harbor seals, and buzzed by the occasional bald eagle.
Whatever happens during the race, it will be a good day! And there is local beer at the finish line. What more could anyone ask for?
One step at a time!