Race: Lake Washington Half Marathon

Runner: Julie Urbanski

Date: 11/4/17

Location: Kirkland, WA

Results: 1:40:08

Strava Activity Link: https://www.strava.com/activities/1261084623

Happy to be finished with Dionne!

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

  1. Close to home – We live about a 2 minute walk from the start/finish, so this race was a no brainer as a great training run, on a course I’d likely be running on anyway for my long run that day. So awesome to use my own bathroom, not drive anywhere, and to be able to stay inside my warm apartment until it was time to warm up and start the race.
  2. Race organization – I’d heard they had some timing issues last year, the first year of the race, and they must have fixed that, because they started right at 8am. Lots of porta potties at the start, course markings were great, volunteers were great, people stationed at each turn, police stopping cars at crossings. From my perspective it all went smoothly, including the pre-race information emails.
  3. Swag and Aid – I liked the half-zip, long tech shirts. Not your normal race tech tee, so I was happy to get something different. Also, I was surprised by happy to see Clif shots and Bloks given out. I feel like races are moving away from giving these out, and they had them in two spots, which I gladly took. Also a nice post-race setup with hot chocolate, nuun, and some other vendors.

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

  1. Definitely not a PR course or a fast course by any means – Hilly with lots of 90 degree turns, and several 90+ degree turns. I knew this going in with living here, so that was helpful, but definitely good to know if you’re looking for a fast time!
  2. Several 90+ degree turns, including 2 in the last mile, 1 of which was at the bottom of a huge hill, and the other just .1 from the finish line. Seriously hard to make these turns, and it’s not like I was going blazing fast coming in at 1:40. The last hairpin turn was especially frustrating because about 10 feet before the turn, there was a gradual turn that could have worked just as well and if they needed the extra 10 feet on the course, move the starting line or finishing line by 10 feet. I approached the turn and thought to myself, “No way they are making us take this turn at this point!” But yep, they did, and it really sucked, especially on slick concrete on already tired legs. The turn at the bottom of the hill also sucked because you’re moving so fast on the downhill and then lose all momentum hitting that turn.
  3. Course was mainly in the bike lane or on the sidewalk – Not really a closed course, as about 95%+ of the road stuff was in the bike lane or sidewalk, which meant you were either running on a fairly angled bike lane (not comfortable) or on the sidewalk, which had lots of uneven spots (hence my fall, see the highlights), and the non-road on the CKC (Cross Kirkland Corridor) was of course awesome.

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

The fact that it wasn’t really a closed course was a bit odd to me, as I haven’t run many road races where they have you run in bike lanes or sidewalks. I get why it happens, but still a bit odd and something I think is important to know ahead of time.

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

  1. Managing my effort level – I knew ahead of time that this would be a fairly hilly route, and yet I wanted to run similar to marathon effort in preparation for CIM in about a month, so I went out conservative an tried to keep it chill the whole time. On each hill I let up on the effort and just tried to get up without using too much mental or physical energy, and then really tried to work the flats and the downs. I knew the Cross Kirkland Corridor miles (~6-10) would be flat, so I focused on getting a rhythm on there and getting ready for the final hilly miles.
  2. I was also stoked to beat a few people who I let get ahead at the beginning and then gradually caught over the course of the race. Not that they had any idea I was trying to beat them, but I’m always happy when I’m patient at the beginning and people come back to me over the last several miles.
  3. It placed 8th female and 3rd in my age group, and the 4th person in my age group I passed in the last .5 mile. Not that my time would fly in any sort of competitive race, but all the same, I’ll take a top 10 female finish!
  4. My fall! More of a lowlight than a highlight, it was on the sidewalk along Lake Washington Blvd, around mile 3-4, and I was looking ahead for the next aid station, and BAM! I must have clipped my toe on a raised part of the sidewalk and went flying. I fell off the side into a raised planter and scraped up my hand and wrist, and my jaw narrowly missed hitting concrete. Not my best moment! Thankfully I was able to pop right up and continue, but I was definitely shaken, and kinda hating the sidewalk after that.

Lessons Learned – share your pro-tips on the race to help the next runner or yourself on the next time around

  1. Watch your step on the uneven sidewalk portions!
  2. Don’t expend too much energy on the hills – several of them are short and steep, so just get them over with and you’ll get back on track
  3. Bring warm clothes for afterwards! It’s likely to be cold and windy, and possibly wet, on race day, so if you hang around at all after the finish, bring something to stay warm.

Most important course specific knowledge to know about the race

  1. Be prepared for hills throughout. There are flat sections, but there are enough hills to slow your overall time and make for a bit more tiring experience
  2. You can get a great rhythm going on the CKC portion, so enjoy it!
  3. Watch your step on the sidewalks, and if you’re going up and down, off and on the sidewalks
  4. Lots of 90 degree + turns along the way

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

Organized and well run. Helpful pre-race emails, packet pickup morning of was easy, started on time, course markings and volunteers were great, and swag was good.

Logistics – Anything special regarding getting to/from the race, hotels around the course, registration…?

The race did sell out and they had ~525 finishers, so it’s not a huge race. Be sure you register with plenty of time if you really want to run this. Plenty of parking at Juanita Beach or the grass lot right across the street. The little shopping center at Juanita Beach has Starbucks, along with a few little restaurants if you want to get food or some hot coffee afterwards (or coffee before, a must for me!).

Weather and typical race conditions

Cold, wet, windy, typical Seattle. Some of the beginning miles along Lake Washington Blvd could get nasty if it’s really windy or rainy, but thankfully we just had cold weather.

Spectators – is this a friendly course for your friends and family?

More than I would have thought! I saw 2 different families at 3 different spots along the way, which surprised me. Since it’s not a closed course, it’s easy for spectators to drive, and since it’s one big loop, it’s easy for them to pick 2-3 spots and see you along the way. Or they can hang at the start/finish.

How’s the swag?

I liked it! Half-zip technical long sleeve, so a little different from the norm, and a medal. I also like that they did a virtual swag bag so I don’t get a bunch of stuff that I just feel bad about throwing away. My kind of swag. And as I mentioned, I was happy they had Nuun, water, and Clif products at aid stations (Clif at 2 aid stations).

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

3 out of 5. I wouldn’t go out of my way to run this but since it was a supported run in my backyard, it fit well in my training and in our schedule. Mainly less stars because of the many hairpin turns along the way and the fact that most of the course was on the sidewalk or bike lane. If the course can be modified in any way, even if those turns are just 90 degrees, that would be a huge improvement.