Location: Bainbridge Island, WA
Chip time: 2:02:09
Garmin time: 2:02:08
Gender Place: 24/87Age Place: 5/27
As you might have seen me write about before, the Inaugural Bainbridge Island Half Marathon was last Sunday, April 25th. Located just a short ferry ride from Downtown Seattle, Bainbridge is a beautiful little island and known for its hills. There was a previous half marathon, the Toe Jam Hill Half, which has been run the past 28 years but has since changed its route and was renamed the BIHM. I am from the island, and never heard of it! Apparently it has been pretty small and not well known. Anyways, I was nervous for my hometown half and I knew the course well. Just check out the elevation if you didnt see it before:
Anyways, I've been feeling down the past few weeks, so I didn't run on Saturday and headed over to the island. I had dinner at San Carlos Restaurant (a local Southwestern favorite) and had an awesome low-carb salad (with tons of guac and pork, my favorite!!) If you ever get a chance to go, do it! It was my perfect pre-run meal. I also had a peanut butter Builders Bar before I went to bed.
Waiting for the start
I woke up later than a normal race day, since I knew the island well and there wouldn't be traffic. We arrived at 9 am, easily picked up the packet, tech shirt and chip and was ready to start! The start (Winslow Way and Madison Ave) was held a few blocks from the finish line (Waterfront Park). Since it was such a small race, we didn't even have a mat or anything to signal the start! A guy came over with a megaphone and announced the start. He also said that we didn't need a mat since they would "start" the chips at the same time remotely. I didn't even know they could do that!
And we're off!
The course as I mentioned was quite hilly, with equally difficult hills and descents. We left downtown and went up an immediate slight hill on Grow. From running in the area I knew to pace myself and not burn out on this slight hill. We took a left and went on a long decent down Wyatt, which was nice. I was able to pick up the pace here and get going. After an even steeper decent down Wyatt, we turned at the head of Eagle Harbor and started a long climb to Blakely Elementary School (around mile 2.5) I was feeling great at this point and ran past quite a few guys who had to stop for a breather. One photo op below:
After we reached the Elementary School, we turned right and went down Baker hill (mile 3), which is a MASSIVE decline! I mean, it was steep! I was running next to an aid car the entire time, and was tempted to ask how fast I was going :) On a side note, the course was monitored extremely well for only 180 runners. I saw multiple police officers guiding traffic and ambulances riding along the course. It was nice to see!
Miles 4-6 were scenic and flat. I was feeling great and when I looked down at my Garmin, I was cruising at a 7:50-8:20 mile pace! That is a lot faster than I normally run, but I kept it up. We ran past the old historic Lynnwood Theater, and continued through Fort Ward State Park. The park is beautiful and has awesome views of the water (towards Bremerton) and you run through the bunkers and trees. Its a really nice area.
I dont know who these two dudes are but this is the only picture I can find :)
We then ran on the scenic South Beach drive, that is right on the water. There are some beautiful houses along this road and being RIGHT on the water was awesome. Plus it wasn't too warm with the breeze off the Sound. I was surprised by my Mom, Boyfriend and Chloe who met me at mile 6 to cheer me on! It was a huge boost for me, and nice to see a familiar face along the route. It really helped for the next horrible hill:
Toe Jam Hill! Let me just say that this picture (from the website) is NOT doing it justice! NOT AT ALL! This thing was brutal. It says that it is a 6% incline, but I think it is much steeper than that. You cant even see the bottom of the hill in the picture because it drops so steeply! I was planning on running this without stopping and slowly, and I mean super slowly, started chugging up the hill. After a hundred or so feet, I was making a snails-pace and was being passed by people walking up the hill. I gave up and realized that it was quicker and saved more energy to take long strides up the hill instead of jogging. The funny thing is that all of the other runners around me were doing the same thing! It was still tiring and I was catching my breath at the top. The nice thing was that once at the top we had almost a full mile running downhill. Still, it was tough to run so hard up hill then hard to stop yourself from slipping going downhill.
Mile 8 ran along the water again (Port Blakely) and we turned to go up Old Mill Road (or known as 3T). This was another steep hill and was equal to that of Toe Jam. I wasnt planning on walking, but I had to. I was really tired and wanted to conserve energy. There was a water stop at the top of the hill and they were handing out Hammer Gels. I ran with my trusty Gu, but I took the Hammer Gel to try at a later time. Once at the top of the hill another friendly runner started to talk with me. It was his 8th half marathon and his first time running on Bainbridge. He said it was the most beautiful course he had run on! I had to agree :) not that I'm biased or anything! He also ran in the Mercer Half and did a sub-2 hour! (Side note, I ended up beating him in this race!) It was nice to talk to someone, and we even kept talking up the hills on Old Mill and through mile 10.5. Old Mill is one of my favorite roads on the island and has a nice little view of the valley and where I used to ride horses. Just a pretty area.
We then turned and started to go back around the head of Eagle Harbor. I had another surprise and saw my Mom and Boyfriend again waiting for me! Here is an example of a hill that I didn't even think was a big deal compared to the other ones:
I was feeling good for how hard of a race it was and they got this picture of me doing a "flyby:"
Yeah, the girl behind me wasn't too impressed. I also tried to offload the extra Gu and Hammer Gels that were in my hand and ended up flinging them at the car! Sorry Mom and Bf :)
After this hill we were along the water again about to head up Wyatt (which we ran down at the beginning of the race). I saw a photog and decided to continue with my airplane theme which I dedicated to Little Bro:
Not sure if you can tell, but the ladies behind me were cracking up. You cant tell how much I was swerving to get these pics, but it was pretty funny. Yes, Im a huge dork :) Luckily they didnt seem to mind that I was totally photobombing their picture. At least they didnt seem to mind and were good sports about it!
There was a guy at the head of the bay who was cheering on the runners. As I came closer, he was actually YELLING at us! It was all encouraging, but he was really putting effort into it! I felt like he was my coach or something, yelling to go faster. We only had a mile and a half left, but most of it was a slight uphill. As we started going, I decided not to walk the last bit, and just go on up the hill. My Garmin beeped at mile 12 and I was at 1:54:00 which was a great time for all the hills and terrain, but I didnt think that I could do the last 1.1 in 6 minutes. I decided to run as fast as I could and just see what I could get.
Well, I ended up finishing at 2:02:09, which isnt a PR or even sub 2-hour, but it was by far the best race I have run. It really blew Mercer Island out of the water for difficulty and extreme hills. It was a well manned race and the few supporters out there were awesome. I wouldnt advise anyone to do this race if they havent trained for it (or if you are sick!!)
BF and I after the race
There was drinks, food and snacks after the race, but nothing exceptional (although the water stations were well stocked and had water, Gatorade and gels). The tech shirt is nice, but they had no medals to hand out (sniff sniff). I guess that's what you get when the entrance fee is only $50 and its benefiting the local Boys and Girls Club. So I guess that's okay....but I really really like medals!!
Finish line and food afterwards
A few hours after the race I received an email with all my race info. It turns out that my 2:02 is only 47 seconds off my PR! Not only that, but I placed 5th in my age group (5/27), was the 24th female to finish and was in the top 50% overall for the finishers (male and female)!! WOW, I wasn't expecting that! Ill still be chasing the sub-2, but I think its coming in my future. I did this race about 20 minutes faster than I was expecting!
More exciting news to come and a week recap on the way. Happy running and thanks for all the kind comments this week, I needed it before the race! :)