Honey Wagon Run – Half Marathon – Race Recap

My 3rd race of 2013, was a tough, tough race, but the results were worth it!!

The short version : Nikki and I headed across the border on Saturday morning, for the most in-expensive ($15!!) half marathon we’ve ever paid for!  It was the windiest race I’ve ever run, and those conditions made it really tough to keep pace.

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Spoiler alert : Nikki and I had opposite race results, with me running strong and achieving my 1:45 goal, and her unfortunately having to take her first DNF due to an irritated injury.  I finished in 1:44:43 officially.

Of course, I’ve written the long version below for all of you who like the nitty gritty details!

To be honest, I had never heard of the Run for the Honey Wagon before.  Jessica had mentioned becoming a member of Greater Bellingham Running Club, and doing a bunch of their events this year.  I figured if they fit in, then sure, why not?  I really enjoy running in BHam.

The day after First Half, I went on a hunt for another half, a “redemption half”.  The only requirements for me was that it was after my Whole 30 was over, it was close by, and it wouldn’t interfere terribly with my marathon training.  I found the GBRC website, and was on my phone texting Kim & Jessica to find out more info.  The verdict – pancake flat, $15, Jessica was in to run it, and Kim was in to cheer & grab lunch after, so basically perfection.

I love Saturday races, and this was no exception.  I wish EVERY race was on a Saturday!  I picked up Nikki in Langley, and the weather was awful.  It was coming down hard, and got worse the farther I drove away from Burnaby.  But, as we turned and headed towards the border it started to ease off, and by the time we crossed the border, it was dry.  Everson was about a 30 min drive from the border.  We could’ve taken a much easier route to get there, but we had time, and just followed the website directions.  We arrived at the start area with about 40 mins till race time.  It was STILL dry.

We picked up bibs & pins from inside a gym, and David, another Langley runner, found us.  We headed back to the car to discuss clothing choices.  Jessica happened to run by, and as soon as I did a quick change, thanks to my Chawel, the 4 of us headed out for a warm-up jog.  Not something I normally do much of, but I felt like I needed to get myself properly warmed up for another PR attempt.

It was still dry, and I decided to go with my most minimal outfit – fave Salomon tech shirt, Shock Absorber Running sports bra, Sugoi hat, Patagonia underwear, Lululemon shorts, Sole socks, Nathan handheld, & New Balance shoes.

I was feeling good, ready to go, confident and ready to rock this race!

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We lined up at the start with 5 mins to spare, and took a few pre-race shots :

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Before we knew it, we were off!  I had no idea what to expect of the route. The first 2 kms were quite squishy, and the race was run on roads not closed off to traffic.  This was only an issue during the first little bit when everyone is jostling for spots, starting out too fast, and taking up more of the road than the small curb we were allowed.  Jessica fell in beside me, and we knocked off the first 2 kms just under 5:50/km pace.  Jess and I had been chatting the week prior, and she said to me :

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Partner in pain.  I loved this.  And, I’m always game to have someone to run with.  We were running step for step together, and it was such a feeling of support to know that neither of us expected to talk, that we were just there for each other.

For the first few km’s, I barely noticed the wind.  It was there, but we weren’t running straight into it….yet.  We took a turn around 3 kms, and turned straight into the wind.  At this point, Jessica dropped off pace, and I struggled to remain under 5:00 pace.  I think this was the turning place in the race for a lot of people.  Faced with a decision to try and keep your same speed, with the wind, means pushing a lot harder, or to not fight the wind, back off on pace, and just do what you can.  Since I was chasing a specific goal, I decided to push through.

Around km 4 was the first water station, and at this point, the crowd had significantly thinned out, it was about here when David passed by.  I kept him in my sights for a few kms, with 3-4 people between us.  At km 5, I did a time check, and I had about 20 seconds of extra time to “play with”.  So far, so good.

From 4 – 6 kms was pretty standard.  I was hitting my splits.  I felt good.  I was definitely battling the wind, but I was winning.

We hit the 2nd aid station, just after km 7, and we turned a corner, into an awful headwind.  This was the hardest part of the course by far.  This road seemed to go on forever.  Judging from the map it was between 2.5 & 3 kms.  The wind would not let up.  There was no blockage from buildings, as there was none!  This part of the race felt slow, sluggish, lonely, deserted.  I was running behind 2 older gentleman, and luckily I was able to stay within 10-50ft of them along this stretch.  If I’d been out there all alone, I don’t know what I would’ve done.  As it was, I was struggling, both with keeping the pace, not getting blown away, and not stepping in slippery mud on the side of the road.  I was also starting to feel a bit weak/hungry.

Turning off this stretch, we got a bit of a break from the wind, and decided to have my Vanilla Bean Gu.  It was delicious.  Went down real smooth.  This section was really short before we made another turn and headed back in the same direction we came from.

I had lost some time during that awful windy stretch, and I started to feel more like myself on this next section.  As we came up to the next aid station at km 12, I was able to pass both of my older gentleman friends who I’d been running behind.  I focused on a girl in pink in front of me, and set off to catch her.

I started feeling really good through this section, and although there was patches of wind, it wasn’t bad, and I was able to catch up to and pass 2 females before I hit 15 kms.  This point of the race, I was doing great.  I was focused, in the zone, my kms were getting faster, and I just felt so strong.  Caught up to and passed a guy wearing a similar shirt to David, but he was much heftier, but for a while I thought I was chasing down David, which would’ve been cool.

I cruise by the last aid station, which was full of people, but no actual water being handed out.  I’m all by myself at this point, and come up to another turn in the road.  As soon as I turn, I pass my next victim, and start running straight into the wind.  Again.  UGH.

At this point, I see the craziest thing.  I see a truck drive by and it has hit a cat!!  The cat kind of barrel rolled from underneath it, shook itself out, and ran out of the middle of the road.  This was a freaky thing to see, especially since I was all alone at this point.

So, I knew I had about 3 kms to go, and had been feeling so strong, but I didn’t know if I could keep the pace up.  My body was fine, but the winds were just insane.  I could see a few runners up ahead, but no one close enough to contemplate catching.  I was starting to question if I’d be able to make my goal.  I had made up for some of the time I’d lost along the last windy stretch, but I didn’t have any time to play with.  I had to keep hitting 5:00 kms if I wanted to finish around 1:45.

All of a sudden, a car slowed down next to me, and I looked up, and it was Kim!! I was so happy to see her!  She drove beside me for about a km, and I was able to muster up some more strength from within to battle the wind.  This was one of those “I really needed that” moments.  I was not expecting her to be out on the course at all, and I was so thrilled to have her cheering for me, and urging me on.

She sped off as we neared the center of town, and we took one more turn, and I knew where I was – we had driven in on this road, and had done our little warm-up along here as well.  As always, the beast inside of me realized that it was 1.5 kms from the finish, and decided to come out and play.  I had 2 more victims that I passed along this stretch, and I just felt my body getting faster and stronger during this stretch.  In case you are counting, that’s 8 *I think* kills from the 2nd aid station till the finish, with no one killing me.

Before I knew it, I was on the last stretch in front of the school, and I turned on the jets.

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I saw Nikki, Kim, David, and Chauncey cheering at the last corner!  I hate finishes that have a corner in the finishing chute, as I’m never able to get my sprint on as much as I’d like, but I did the best I could, and came squeaking in at 1:44:59 on the gun time!  I knew that I’d started 10-20 seconds after the gun, so I knew I had gone sub 1:45!!!

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Kim came running over to hug me at the finish, and then Nikki too, and all I could think was “oh no, how hurt is she?”.  As much as I was happy to see her and celebrate achieving my goal time with her, I was just as worried about her calf/knee injury, and what had prompted her to DNF.  Thankfully, she was just being smart and listening to her body instead of pushing it for a race that wasn’t an “A” race for her.  I know how hard Nikki works in her training, and I know taking a DNF for the first time was really hard on her, but it was the right choice.

My favorite shot of the day, courtesy of Nikki, this is my congratulatory pose!

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We waited at the last corner for Jess, and she was there just a few mins later, sliding in just under 52 mins.  Pretty darn good considering, she hasn’t been running.

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We went inside for some water and snacks, but nothing really appealed to me, other than a banana.  We checked the official results, and then headed out for lunch.

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We went into Bellingham, to The Fountain, which was a super cute little restaurant.  Our server was a bit rude (not a fan of 4 noisy ladies??), but we had a tasty lunch, and a great time chatting.

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In just 6 weeks, I’ll be heading across the line again to run the Whidbey Island Marathon, where Kim will be running the half marathon!  Twice before I’ve gone as “coach” to Cathy to this race, so I’m excited to get to run it myself.  Nikki, Jessica, and Cath have all expressed a little bit of interest into running the half there as well, so the running party might be growing!!

I couldn’t leave without hugs for both Chauncey & Kim!

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Nikki and I picked up a few groceries at Trader Joe’s but it was INSANE in there, and we were glad to get back on the road.  That night Jay and I had a date night at home with sushi (first time in 5 weeks!!) and the Canucks.  Was a pretty much perfect day.

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 Our official stats :

Me – 1:44:43 – 4/24 in 25-29 age group, 13/85 women, 41/149 overall

Nikki – DNF :(

Jessica – 1:51:45 – 8/21 in 30-39 age group, 26/85 women, 64/149 overall

And now, for the nitty gritty race info/critique :

Overall, how would I rate this race?

Terrain/Course/Difficulty : B+.  All paved country roads, out in the farmland, almost completely flat.

Affordability and Value : A +.  This race cost $15 USD!!  For your money, you receive a bib with timing chip, safety pins, 3 water/sport drink stations, 1 Gu station, and refreshments post race.  There was flaggers at every corner, and although the roads were not blocked off at all, I felt very safe.  The entire race, I only saw 1 driver act like a bit of a jerk.  We did not expect chip timing for $15, so we were pleasantly surprised with that as well.

Organization : A.  No complaints.  It was more than we expected for the price, and everything appeared to run very smoothly.

SO glad I went ahead with my redemption race idea!!!  It was such a fun day, and the fact that it included my fastest half ever, is just amazing.  Big thanks to my friends for being so awesome.

Third race of 2013 will go down in the history books as my current half marathon PR, but more importantly, a wonderful day spent with good friends.

xoxo

-S

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10 Responses to Honey Wagon Run – Half Marathon – Race Recap

  1. Gametiime says:

    Epic race report!

  2. Cathy says:

    Congrats! Great race! I’m excited about the ramp up to Whidbey (whether I run or not)!

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  4. nikki says:

    I just realized that I hadn’t actually read this post! SO proud of you Solana, my DNF sucked but hey, at least I was able to be there to take that awesome picture, right?

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