Spokane Indians 8K Pennant Run Recap

Hi bloggettes, I’ve been MIA for a week now, sorry about that! The past few weeks have been full of changes, (all good, no worries), and I haven’t had the time or energy to blog. I thought I might muster up the energy to get a WIAW post, but I was wrong. So instead I’ll bring you a race recap instead 🙂

Last Saturday I was browsing The Inlander and ran across an add for the Spokane Indians Pennant Run (8K) benefiting the Ronald McDonald House. For $30 you receive a technical t-shirt, a $7 donation to the Ronald McDonald house, a ticket to a Spokane Indians game and a beautiful run along the Centennial Trail in downtown Spokane. Great deal!

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Unfortunately, I saw the add the day after the registration closed, so I had to pay an additional $5, and I won’t be able to pick up my race shirt for a week and a half. But I’m not too worried about that, it just means I have to travel to the Valley, which means a pit stop at Nordstrom Rack is in order.

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After seeing the ad, and after googling the conversion of 8K to miles (4.92 in case you’re wondering), I texted my friend, Kyndra, to see if she would be interested. She was, and we “trained” for the next week. AKA, I went to Physical Therapy for my knee injury, post Half Marathon, and discovered I strained my IT band (more on that fun later). Therefore, I ran 2 miles one day and 3 miles another.

After arriving downtown at 7:15, with the hubs parking pass in hand, we discovered his garage was locked and we couldn’t park there. We also had no quarters for parking meters. Woops. We had to hit up 2 Starbucks to swap dollars for quarters from their tip jar (apparently they can’t open the register without a cash transaction), and find a 3 hour meter. We finally arrived at the race packet pick up tent at 7:52, grabbed our stuff, and had to run back to the car (about 3/4 mile away) to stash our stuff. Luckily, the internet was wrong about the starting time (it said 8, actual race started at 8:30), so we arrived back at the starting point with enough time to stretch.

After the Little Sluggers Dash (50 yard dash with the Spokane Indians mascot for kids 3 and under), and the 1K Kids Run (again, running with the mascot, poor guy), it was time to start our 8K.

The course started near the Carousel in downtown Spokane, and followed the Centennial Trail through Riverfront Park, along the South side of Gonzaga’s campus, around Mission Park, and back. It is actually the same course I ran 2-4 days a week during undergrad, so a wave of nostalgia passed over me as I ran. 🙂

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The course was rather flat, except for a slightly steep overpass walking bridge (not pictured above!). I was very impressed with myself, as I ran the entire race (except for 2 30-second walk  breaks on the bridge). I finished in 50 minutes 32 seconds, with an average pace of 10 minutes 22 seconds per mile. I usually average 11-12 minute miles, so this was a PR for me!

If you’re thinking of running this race next year, two things you should know: there are 2 water stations (which double to 4, because you run by them twice on the loop), and you don’t get a timing chip. I wore my Garmin, but I spaced on pushing start until about 30 seconds in, and forgot to push stop until 30 seconds after. Woops.

But, it was a really fun small run, and great for the entire family. People were running with strollers, with their kids and with their dogs! It wasn’t a competitive race, like Bloomsday or Fueled by Fine Wine, which as a nice change of pace. Plus, you get to run along the Spokane River for half of the race – gorgeous!



Fueled by Fine Wine Half Marathon Recap

Better late than never, right?

I arrived in Newburg, OR on Saturday afternoon with my friend, Rhonda. We met Reese and checked into our, previously mentioned, smoking room at the Chateaux de Travelodge. I informed the front desk that I had reserved a non-smoking room, but they were completely booked. Inhaling 3rd degree smoke all night really impacted my body, and I woke up feeling sick to my stomach Sunday morning at the ripe ol’ time of 5:15 a.m.

standard pre-run peanut butter banana sandwich on whole wheat bread

After a quick digest of pre-run fuel, the gals and I set off to Dundee, OR, six miles down the road. We expected to have major issues parking, as Dundee is very small, with only one stop light, and over 12,000 runners signed up. However, we encountered no issues and parked across the highway from the race.

The starting area was in full swing when we arrived around 6:20 a.m., 40 minutes prior to start time. Only after we stepped out of a random group of people did we realize we had been standing in the bag check line, and had to go to the end of the line to check Rhonda’s sweatshirt. Sigh. Had I realized they would have a bag check I would have brought a soft pack with flip flops for after the race.

At 7 a.m. the line was still going strong, so the race management waited to start the race to ensure everyone was able to check their bags. I was pleased by how nice everyone was.

Then it was race time. I had my brand spankin’ new Garmin 405 all set to start and I lost GPS signal as I was crossing the start line! Grrr! I spent the first 3/4 mile fidgeting with it, nestling my water bottle between my armpit and my chest, until I was able to get a signal again. Therefore my watch results aren’t entirely accurate, but they give me a pretty good idea of exactly how difficult this course was.

Reese and I running somewhere around mile 4

The massive clouds of smoke from running through the vinyards…I was really wishing I wasn’t a mouth breather at this point!

I was going pretty steady for the first five miles or so. Then the hills really started to get to me. I knew a big hill was coming at mile 9, but I forgot about the monstrous one at mile 7.

*sidenote: the course and elevation were not posted on the course information page until about 2 weeks prior to race day.

Holy hell. I couldn’t even see the top of the hill, and it was a loop, so people kept passing me coming down the very steep, very skinny path. It was completely disheartening.

Once I got to the top, however, I was greeted by a beautiful vinyard.



I was also greeted by yet another hill! The vinyard was a diamond shape, so we went up, turned left, went up, turned left, went up, turned left, turned left and then finally went down.

On the second left Reese yelled something to the effect of there better be a lot of effing wine at the end of this bull.* Everyone around us started cracking up. It was all we could do, agony was all around us.

*Only with the real words. This is a PG blog after all y’all.

I thought I would enjoy going down the hill, but I didn’t. My knee chose that moment to seize up on me and it refused to run. I hobbled down the hill best I could, and attempted to jog a while longer.

But then I reached mile 9. Again, I couldn’t see the crest of the hill. I nearly broke down crying right then and there. But my body wouldn’t let me, it needed to conserve all the water it could to keep me hydrated!

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For the rest of the race I kept a steady walk/run approach, and encouraged Reese to go ahead without me. But she refused to leave my side, noting that we were going to run this race together, and she quickly became my biggest cheerleader.

Caption for mile marker 12: That last wrong mile brought to you by your friends at Crumbled Rock. Yes, it was a VERY wrong mile. So was mile 7, so was mile 9!

Then I hit mile marker 12. I knew I could do it: run for just 1.1 more miles. I was going strong, but then we were met with another hill! It was a gradual one, but my body was SO over hills! I had to walk again, and I am sure poor Reese cursed me for this in her head. But then we turned the final corner and it was downhill from there. As with Bloomsday, Reese and I grabbed hands and held them high above our heads, and sprinted toward the finish line! I have never been more happy to be done with a run than in that very moment.

We were handed cold water bottles, which I slammed immediately, and our gorgeous medals.

Then we stood in a very long line to pick up the most prized possession: a Fueled by Fine Wine Riedel wine glass, which served as our ticket into the massive finishers tent complete with tables of food (which was pretty picked over by the time my slow bootay hobbled inside) and nearly 30 wineries with bottles for tasting.

My final time was 2 hours, 53 minutes, 6 seconds. That is an average pace of 13 minutes, 12 seconds per mile. I would be embarrassed about this time, (I estimated a 2 hour, 25 minute finish), but this course was unlike any run I have ever done. It was literally the hardest thing I’ve done in my entire life.

Rhonda commented that if this had been her first half-marathon she would have given up on running all together. She also jumped into mom mode and kept telling me how proud she was of me all weekend. I loved her for this. I was damn proud of myself for pushing through all the way to the finish, even though I wanted to stop and have a fireman carry me back each time I saw them after mile 7!

And even though I was defeated at first, I am eager to sign up for another half-marathon. I know I can improve my time SO much, and think of how accomplished I will feel then?

A few days post-race the Fueled by Fine Wine Director sent out an email asking for feedback. Rather than just share this information with him, I thought I would post it here in case any of you bloggies are thinking of running this race next year (July 8, 2o11).

Room for improvement:

More food!

By the time I reached the finishers tent the food had been picked over by people who had NOT run the race. Yes, supporters could purchase drink tickets for $20, but they should not have had access to the food. I managed to grab two halves of a banana, some stale bread, a nubbin of a crossant and two brownie bites. The cheese and the rest of the fruit were gone. I could have eaten more energy chews, but I was not in the mood for those at all. I wanted REAL food!

More porta potties along the route!

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Each water station needed 4 or 5 porta potties. Only a few had them, and only 1 or 2. I had to pee starting at mile 3, but refused to wait in the long porta potty lines. Then I passed a fake porta potty after mile 9 and was so upset, It was on a flatbed, just teasing me! I managed to snag a no-line potty break at mile 11 because I couldn’t hold it any longer.

Take debit/credit cards at the pre-race expo.

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The emails prior to the race said to bring your debit/credit cards, but then the clothing tent didn’t take cards. If they want to make more money, they will get more impulse purchases if people can actually spend money!

Don’t allow children and pets to be in the wine-tasting tent.

The emails prior to the race said no kids, yet for some reason there were tons of kids there. This is an 21 and over race, therefore kids have no business in the wine-tasting tent. Plus they were taking the runners food! If kids come to support their parents, that is great, but a separate tent for families would have alleviated some of the congestion.

Post the course before the race sign-up cut off date!

I knew there were hills, the website made that clear, but I was in no way prepared for the type of hills I would encounter. I was training on hills, but I could have been training a lot harder had I known what I had gotten myself into.

The good stuff:

This course was brutal, but it was beautiful.

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‘Nuff said.

I’m going to do this race again.

Maybe not next year, but I know I can improve my time, since now I know what to expect.

So there you have it, my first half-marathon recap. The Director also mentioned that for this race, PR stands for pretty run or painful run, as no one is going to have a stellar time. But for me, I’m just happy to have finished it without the PR standing for Paramedics Required!

What is the most difficult thing you’ve ever done?

It’s kind of a long story.

Do you ever start a response to, “how are you doing?” with a mustered up smile and a faux-enthusiasm “great,” only to think, not even close?

That is kinda how I feel, but it’s kind of a long story.

So instead of boring you with the not-so-fun details of my life, I will instead push through, carry on, and share with you some ueber-fabulous details instead.

(In bulleted order, no less. As that is how I roll. I’m an organized person, and bullets make me happy)
  • I finished Bloomsday (12K) in 1:22:27. I guessed I would finish in 1:38ish (12 minute miles). But I shaved 1 minute off my normal pace, and finished the race with an average speed of 11 minutes/mile. Go me! Also fun, I:
    • Placed 13,049 out of 50,611 total participants
    • Placed 161st out of 575 among 27-year-old females
    • Placed 14th among 31 people with the same last name

Not too shabby for someone who only now considers herself a runner 🙂

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  • The momentum of the race propelled me to sign up to run my first ever half marathon!! My friend, Reese, and I signed up to run the Fueled by Fine Wine 1/2 Marathon in Dundee, OR (outside of Portland) on July 10th. My 28th birthday is on the 5th, and hers is on the 21st. So we are celebrating in style by running 13.1 miles. This might not be your idea of an ideal birthday present, but I cannot wait! As mentioned before, I never got to celebrate my birthday with classmates due to my summer birthday, so I’ve made up for the lack of school celebrations* in my adult life by doing extravagant things. Last year was Paris, this year is a half marathon. What will next year bring?
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The coolest thing about this race is that you get to run through the vinyards of the Willamette Valley. There are a lot of hills, which I will have to train for, but at the end there is an after party with all of the wine makers at one of the vinyards. Talk about motivation to run a half marathon! The scenery is going to be breathtaking, and I can’t wait to taste the wine!

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*this year I am teaching summer school, which starts on July 5th. Would it be wrong to throw myself a party with my students on the first day of school?
  • The chicks are now out in their (hubs built/reclaimed wood/ not quite [but almost!] finished) coop! Sunday was their first evening outside, and they were so excited! They have a chicken run, and the ability to go “upstairs” to chillax in front of the heat lamp and lay eggs. The coop also has a double agent identity as an herb garden. Once the weather gets a tad nicer (aka no more snow, ahem, it is MAY Spokane!), the hubs will transplant our indoor herb garden outside.
Please ignore our mess 😉

  • I have chocolate. Dark chocolate truffles filled with caramel and topped with sea salt to be exact. Good chocolate makes life much more bearable.

What good things are happening in your life right now?

I’m a runner! [Bloomsday 2011 recap]

I finally feel like I’ve earned the right to say:

I am a runner.

This weekend my friend Reese drove across the state to run Bloomsday (a 12K) with me. During her short stay, I attempted to make her time in Spokane as enjoyable as possible. I have a secret plan to move all of my friends from college back to Spokane. First up: introduce Reese to the wonders that are an OXO Salad Spinner.

She was totes impressed.

Next on the agenda: baking. Saturday morning I whipped up my new favorite breakfast treat, and Saturday afternoon I made a batch of devilishly delicious chocolate chip pecan cookies.

Reese tasted one, just to make sure it wasn’t poisonous.


I quickly followed suit.

Also necessary was a trip to the convention center to pick up our Bloomsday bibs and D tags. While there we browsed the trade show. This year Bloomsday brought in roughly 65,000 runners. In addition to the runners were all their family members and friends. The trade show tested my claustrophobic tendencies.

After leaving we spotted Clifford the Big Red Dog and Scooby Doo.

They ran away from us though, so we booked it over to Main Market to grab some fresh bread from Petite Chat bakery in order to properly carbo load.

The Petite Chat Tuscan bread was the perfect complement to our cheesy tortellini and Butternut Squash Sauce.

(This sauce is amazing! Go buy some, now – Costco 2 for $6.99!)

A few more cookies were consumed, for good measure, and we were off to bed. I was so excited, however, that I couldn’t sleep! I woke up at 7, showered, had a few sips of coffee and ate some whole grain toast with peanut butter and a banana. I am loving this pre-run combo!

Obligatory pre-race pictures were taken,

And yes, I did find a running fanny-pack! I purchased this sweat resistant iFitness belt at the trade show and am so glad I did. It has a pocket for your ID/credit card/cash, and is big enough to hold a camera or smart phone, gu/sports beans/shot blocks, chapstick and inhaler.

and we quickly walked a few blocks to catch a bus downtown. We purchased bus pass stickers, which adhered to our bib’s-the Spokane Transit Authority has 4 zones where you can park your car and get an express bus down to the race. I didn’t realize it at the time of purchase, but the sticker bus passes are good the entire day and will work on any bus line. Phew – we were encouraged to arrive at the bus zones 2 hours prior to our color block start time!

Our color block was supposed to start at 9:15. We arrived somewhere around 8:45 and waited, and waited, and waited. I was freezing, and looked a little like Molly Shannon, as I attempted to warm my fingers.

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We knew we were getting close to actually starting (not on time, mind you) when the beach balls started bouncing around the crowd. Also making their way forward were corn tortillas. I’m not sure who brought them, but they looked like flying saucers. The hubs threw a few forward.

As we got closer to the starting line, runners removed long sleeve shirts, sweatshirts, sweat pants, gloves and scarves and threw them into the trees.

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I couldn’t figure out what was going on, but a woman near me informed me that after the race the volunteers pick up all the hanging clothes and donate them to charity. How cool is that? I am definitely going to come prepared next year!

Finally we reached the start of the race. I was so pumped!

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At the start line I ran into a co-worker and fellow principal in my district. Fun! We slowly and steadily made our way through downtown, through historic Browne’s Addition and down the hill. The first mile was so slow! We kept trying to weave in and out of people, but it was difficult.

After about a mile and a half the crowd thinned out a bit and we were able to fall into a pretty good pace. I also was pleased to see the amazing, not a cloud to be seen, bright blue sky. It was absolutely perfect running weather: 60ish degrees with a slight breeze. This was so exciting, as it SNOWED on Friday.

I hit every water stop (at miles 2, 4, top of Doomsday Hill, and mile 6), and only slowed to a walk at those points. Oh, that is a lie. When I hit Doomsday Hill (a rather steep incline between miles 4 and 5), Darude’s Sandstorm came on my iPod and it was just the motivation I needed to push forward. However, halfway up the hill I knew walking would actually be faster than my pathetic excuse for running, so we walked til we hit the vulture at the top.

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I, of course, high-fived him. And many other creatures along the way, including Spike, the Gonzaga mascot 🙂

At the top of the hill my calf started bugging me, and I cursed myself for not purchasing a foam roller. (Mental note, add one to Amazon Wish List). One more reason to go to the gym tomorrow morning: use free foam roller. The pain wasn’t enough to slow me down, however. I kept on trucking, with many bystanders as my cheerleaders. One fabulous sign read “Duh, Winning!” above a stick figure running. I loved it! In addition to fun signs and awesome spectators, this year marked the 35th anniversary, and there were 35 bands along the way, singing us to the finish line.

As we rounded the final corner, Reese, the Hubs and I started sprinting. We crossed the finish line holding hands above our heads.

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It was pretty epic, not gonna lie.

I have no idea how long it took me to run the race. Stats were linked to my D-tag and should be up on the internet in the next week. I don’t care how long it took me, however. Whatever it is, it will be a PR, as I’ve never run 7.46 miles before! Positive outlook, huh? Go me 🙂

After the race we waited, what seemed like forever, for our bus to arrive. We hit home, quickly showered, changed into our awesome Bloomsday Finishers t-shirts (which shows the race course), and hit The Flying Goat for some much needed refueling.

Reese and I swapped slices. I ordered the Kerry Lynn Margarita, and she ordered the Wellington, complete with roasted asparagus. Mmmmm, asparagus. I’ve been craving asparagus since I saw Sarah’s post a few days back.

We had an amazing race, and I can’t wait to do another! Now I know what people mean when they say they’ve been bitten by the running bug.

Lot’s of reader questions today:

If you’re local (and even if you aren’t), did you run Bloomsday this year?

Have you ever run a race before? How many? What is your favorite length to run?