Race: Lake Washington Half Marathon – http://lakewashingtonhalf.com/

Runner: Mark P

Date: 11/5/2016

Location: Start/finish at Juanita Beach Park (Kirkland, WA).  Course goes south along Lake Washington and back north on the Cross Kirkland Corridor (CKC)

Results – 5th, 1:20:08, https://results.chronotrack.com/m/ctlive/#25059

3 Bests – what aspects of the race did you like the most

I liked that it was near me, and running along Lake Washington and on the CKC is usually nice.

Not so much – aspects of the race that didn’t do it for you

The race started over a half hour late.  Apparently they announced that the police had said it was too dark, but I had talked to a policeman who said they hadn’t set up the cones so the course didn’t pass inspection.  I think the latter explanation is more likely.

The course markings were poor.  Although they had announced lots of lane closures and delays (and there were car backups at some crossings), they only coned off shoulders or bike lanes, which even disappeared a few times.  There was a short early stretch in downtown Kirkland in a narrow door zone bike lane.  The cones were along a steep dropoff on Forbes Creek Drive.  It was unclear when road crossings were supposed to happen – the police seemed to be expecting right turns, but there usually weren’t cones marking the turn itself.

It was wet.  Really wet.

Weird factor – what’s the weirdest thing about this race

A 7:30 am (scheduled) start in November seemed a little odd given the weather and darkness.

Highlights of your race – what did you do well and enjoy about your race in particular

I got an easy and quick first mile tagging along with some others.  I thought I executed well on the various hilly, rolling, and flat portions.

Lessons for others – share your pro-tips on the race to help the next runner

With the various hilly, rolling, and flat portions, I think having a plan or at least knowing what to expect is a little more important than usual on this one.

Lessons you learned that will help you next time around

I had a disappointing race, time-wise, though it didn’t matter for placing with how big the gaps were between the places.  I think I mainly learned that a race exposes a busy schedule (and not enough sleep) more than workouts do.  I also ran a bit much the day before, but I have a hard time resisting the chance to (literally) run errands.  I probably would have been better about that if I had considered this an “A” race, but it was just one that I did because I could fit it in.

With all the stuff going on at the start (and me arriving late if the race had actually started on time), I didn’t go through a good pre-race routine.  I think the warm-up worked out, but I had a shoelace come untied mid-race (twice), which is pretty inexcusable.

Most important course specific knowledge to know about the race

There’s a moderate length hill near the beginning, and then short but somewhat steep climbs around miles 5 and 12.  The CKC is railroad-flat.

Aesthetics – is it a pretty course

It should be with the lake and the CKC, but if it’s raining hard enough you won’t really see anything.

Difficulty – is it a tough course

I think it might be deceptively tough.  It doesn’t have a lot of climbing, and it has flat stretches, but it just seemed slow.  I don’t know if the rain was all of that or just part of it, though.

Organized and well run – did it feel like a well-oiled machine or were they flying by the seat of their pants?

This was strange.  They have lots of experience and lined up lots of sponsors and stuff like that.  But the course markings and the delay made it seem like they had no clue.  The group that organized this typically does trail runs (and the Lake Sammamish Half, which has minimal road interaction too), so it’s possible they didn’t.  Hopefully next year will be better.

Competition – is there a strong field?

There were a handful of strong runners, but it wasn’t very deep.  (4 under 1:18 but then only only 2 more under 1:26)  The companion 5k did not have a strong field.

Logistics – Does it require a special handshake, registration a year in advance, hotels all booked? Give us the low down on the nuts and bolts of making the race happen.

I got my bib the day before at packet pickup.  I think it was at about 80% of capacity.  The only weird thing was that race swag was only available at packet pickup the day before the race in Bellevue.

The race start was on Juanita Drive, not in the park itself.  I had been on one side of the park and actually had to ask where it was.  I don’t think others had much trouble with this though.

Aid Stations

I think there were 6 – water only.  (And to the volunteers at 52nd, if I splashed you with my fail of a cup pickup, I’m really sorry.)

Weather and typical race conditions –

It managed to stay dry through the pre-race delay, and then it started pouring shortly after the race started for hours.  50s and drizzle would be more likely.  Dry is possible but not likely.  It’s the northwest in November, after all.

Gear – did you need anything special or is there anything you’d recommend for the next guy?

The race was the day before the time change.  If it had actually started at 7:30, it still would have been dark.  There was ambient light around, but when I was warming up, it was really hard to see at the south end of the boardwalk (about a half mile into the race) because of headlights on the road.  I guess a headlamp would help for the first mile or two, but then it wouldn’t be needed.  The race might move after the time change too.

Be ready for rain.

Spectators – is this a friendly course for your friends

There is certainly access along Lake Washington and the CKC.  The CKC is nicely away from roads but is mostly narrow.  Since it’s a loop (and has a mini-loop-ish start and finish), the more energetic spectator could see the race in multiple points.

Awards –

They said awards were 3 deep overall and in the age groups.

The Overall Score – how many stars do you give this race and do you recommend that others run it

I don’t recommend this one.  It has course elements that I like, but I can’t excuse the poor markings and the delay.  It also had stronger runners to take up the podium without the depth to give me someone to run with.  2/5