Runner: Renee Gale
Race Date: 05/02/2021
Location: Teanaway Community Forest near Cle Elum, WA
Results: 2:44:25, 147 of 177 overall, 64 of 82 female (first trail HM)
Strava Activity Link: https://www.strava.com/activities/5232096896
3 Bests – What aspects of the race did you like the most?
1) The race setting was more beautiful than I expected and had perfect weather; when I read that a lot of the race was on “logging roads”, I imagined something more mundane, less scenic but these logging roads carved through some very engaging terrain.
2) Race was well marked and because of that, I didn’t have to pay a lot of attention to finding my way.
3) For my first half trail marathon, it was a perfect challenge – there was a good variety of up and downs, logging roads, and single track and it kept changing and cycling through these different types of courses. Although I had to walk a lot of the ascents, they weren’t too long and seemed to always be followed by a descent that would let me recover.
Not so much – Aspects of the race that didn’t do it for you
I was frustrated with the last three or so miles of the race. When I studied the course elevation profile, it looked like a steady, long descent to the finish line, and I thought I would be able to step it up a gear. I kept expecting to crest that last hill – I’d go up, was ready to go and lo and behold, I could see one more climb in front of me. This happened all the way down to the finish line.
Weird factor – What’s the weirdest thing about this race?
When I was walking to pick up my bib at the sign-in tent, I saw a few runners running towards me and I just thought they were warming up. When I got down to where the tents and the start/finish lines were, I realized those runners had just started the race from the start line, so the racers and the pedestrians were mixing it up on this piece of the road (the entrance to a parking lot where everything was staged). I would have thought that a path would have been roped off so we would know to stay out of the way.
Highlights of your race – What did you do well and enjoy about your race in particular?
I was really happy with my effort. My long runs have been in the 6 to 8 mile range. I hadn’t really been training to do a HM but my coach and I decided to check one out. As a gut-check, we had me run 10 miles of trail the week before which was my longest run to date. I tried to run as much as I could rather than walking, but this caused me to have to walk more than I would have if I had walked strategically. Learning from that, for the race, I was able to look at the big picture, consider what effort I could sustain for 13 miles. On each uphill, I assessed whether I should walk or run and when I chose to walk, I would walk until I sensed I could continue at a reasonable, sustainable effort. I never felt “spent” until about 1/4 mile from the finish line but I hung in there and at the very end gave it a little gas. I wasn’t sure if I could run 13 miles and found out that I can! I also had visions of suffering more, dragging my body to the finish line but I felt like the HM was more like a hard workout than a race and I actually enjoyed it, enjoyed challenging myself and seeing what I could do.
Lessons for others – Share your pro-tips on the race to help the next runner
Something I never had thought about but a couple of people mentioned looking at race reviews. I found a couple and it helped take away some of the angst of the unknown. This is probably an obvious tip but hey, I’m a newbie.
Lessons you learned that will help you next time around
As mentioned before, I learned not to assume too much from an elevation profile – it’s hard to see the little ups and downs which get smoothed out into a point to point graphed line.
Most important course specific knowledge to know about the race
There was nothing super steep but there was a lot of continuous up and down. Sometimes the logging roads were sandy and sometimes they were hard little mounds as if the ground had been muddy and then baked dry. I ran down one of these in the shade and it was hard to see the contours – I had to focus hard where I was placing my feet.
Aesthetics – Is it a pretty course?
I didn’t realize how beautiful that part of Washington is … there’s a great scenic spot at the top where you can see the snow-capped mountains. Most of the trail was very pleasing to the eyes.
Difficulty – Is it a tough course?
I don’t have much to compare it to. It wasn’t as tough as the trail I ran at Tiger Mountain the week before. But being my first 13 mile trail run, it was personally tough.
Organized and well run – Did it feel like a well-oiled machine or were they flying by the seat of their pants?
It was organized enough – I didn’t have any issues with getting my bib, or finding the start line. The aid stations were there and ready for us. The trail was well marked. Parking was an issue – most of us had to park alongside the road and there wasn’t much of a shoulder. I felt uncomfortable with my car leaning towards the embankment. I didn’t see any long lines at the port-a-potties.
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.
What surprised me here was that when I got to my hotel, signs were taped up all over saying “No Vacancy”. I wouldn’t think at the beginning of May, there would be an issue. I made my reservation three weeks in advance and didn’t have any problems.
Aid Stations – Standard fare or anything special to know about the aid stations in terms of what’s available or when?
I didn’t pay attention to what food was there. I saw water and and some electrolyte drink to choose from. I drank some water and moved on.
Weather and typical race conditions
When I started running at 9 am, it was 41 degrees – I wore shorts and a t-shirt; within a mile, I was comfortably warm. The first few miles of the race had a lot of open areas where there was plenty of sunshine that quickly warmed things up.
How’s the Swag?
I’m not really a swag person. They offered either a medal or a pin.
The Overall Score – How many stars do you give this race and do you recommend that others run it?
I would give this race a 4.5 out of 5 but this is coming from a runner who is pretty new to trail racing. This was my 5th trail race within the last 5 months and my 1st half marathon.