Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Tacoma Narrows Half Marathon - Race Report

   I recently crossed another state off my list on my quest to run a half marathon (or further) in every state. Dudley and I spent a week in Seattle and the surrounding area, and it "just happened" to coincide with the Tacoma Narrows Half Marathon. Lucky me!

   The Tacoma Narrows Half is a locally-run race managed by the people who run the Marathon Maniacs / Half Fanatics. Apparently, they are located in Tacoma. Who knew? (Insider tip: if you're a member and want to do this race, be sure to look for a discount code.)
   After spending a week running around Seattle and Olympic National Park (which I'll go into in a later post), we arrived in Tacoma on Friday, which was the day before the race. We stayed at the Courtyard Downtown, which is THE place to stay if you want to do this race. It's really conveniently located, plus it's an exceptionally nice Courtyard.
    Packet pickup was a quick Uber ride to a nearby Fleet Feet.  Technically, it was close enough to walk - just a couple of miles - but it was too far considering I had a Half to run the next day. Packet pickup was set up right on the sidewalk outside of the store and it took all of five minutes. We spent more time waiting for our same Uber driver to pick us back up than we did actually waiting in line for my packet. 
   The rest of the day for me was spent hanging out in the hotel trying to rest after a crazy week of being a tourist. I really need to learn to take vacations AFTER a race, not before. That way I don't have to waste half a day resting in the hotel. 
   Race day started at around 5:30 am when I caught the shuttle to the race start. The shuttles were literally across the street from the hotel. Perfect. We rode about 20 minutes to a small airport outside of Tacoma, where the race started. There wasn't a whole lot to do at the airport, so most of us (about 1,000 racing) just sat on the ground and chatted while waiting for the race to start. I don't recall what the exact temperature was, but it was chilly enough for me to wear capris and a short-sleeved shirt. After a few months of running in Nashville 90+ degree heat and insane humidity - this weather was heaven.

   The race was a point-to-point course, from the airport back to a park outside of the Courtyard (see- it's the perfect hotel!). There were really two highlights of the race. The first was running over the Tacoma Narrows Bridge. We hit the bridge pretty early - around Mile 3. If you have a fear of heights, this is not the race for you. I'm OK with heights, but this bridge is LONG. And it's crazy windy. After about 5 minutes of running, I was ready to get off that thing. It was pretty though.

That's a big bridge!

So tall!

The view was worth it.

     The second highlight was running through Cheney Stadium, which is the home of the Tacoma Raniers Triple-A baseball team. After 15 years of working in professional sports, it's still fun to be on a field and the Jumbotron.

YAY Baseball!

Named for Ben Cheney, who brought baseball to Tacoma, not the former VP.
(Just in case you were wondering.)

If you look close, I'm the light blue speck on the screen.

   As much fun as running over the bridge and the stadium were, the rest of the race was pretty ordinary. We ran through some suburbs on our way to downtown Tacoma, but nothing historic or anything. Though we were on a greenway, it was pretty urban and we literally ran next to a highway for a stretch. There was a fence there, but you still got the exhaust fumes from trucks as they passed by. Ugh. One thing I should note - it was hilly! It felt like you were running uphill for 11 miles and then down for two. After being in Seattle and Tacoma and seeing the hills, it actually could have been MUCH worse, but I just wasn't expecting the hills. My fault for not looking at the race profile.
   As I mentioned, we finished in downtown Tacoma, right outside of the Courtyard. They had a fun post-race party with a live band. Dudley had spoken to the announcer right before I finished and told them it was by birthday, so I got a HUGE announcement when I finished wishing me a Happy Birthday. It was a wonderful surprise.

   My race time wasn't the best - a 2:26, I think. But I killed a lot of time taking photos and a whopping SEVEN minutes waiting for a restroom a Mile 8. (This was my only major complaint - more restrooms, please! Not that I was racing for time, but a seven minute wait for a restroom because there weren't enough on the course isn't right.)  I think my time really should have been more around 2:10. Even so, it was a great way to kick off my birthday and a perfect way to end a great vacation! Cross Washington off the list! Only something like 35 more states to go!