Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Every girl gets a win!

Okay, a race run in the middle of August can sometimes be a bit dicey weather-wise, especially here. There's no denying that summer in the Pacific Northwest is fairly short but it typically is capable of being a very warm mid-August. With a few days last week teetering around 100 degrees, I worried my upcoming running of the Every Girl’s Half Marathon might turn into a bacon-fest with my skin sizzling on the blacktop like a slab of bacon on red hot cast iron. But my daughter was intent on getting another half marathon under her belt before the end of summer and who was I to discourage her desire to do something healthy and challenging. As it turned out, luck was with us. The day started in the cool 60s. It was overcast, a little muggy at times, but completely tolerable. For a mid-August run, you couldn’t ask for much more.

This was the second year for this event and part of the proceeds benefits a worthy cause called Girls on the Run.  (Girls on the Run is a “life-changing, character development program for 3rd-5th grade girls”.)  The run starts at the Sleep Country Amphitheater in Ridgefield, WA, just north of Vancouver. Parking is plentiful there and one of my favorite perks was the abundance of real, I mean REAL, bathrooms. It’s hard to say if it seemed like there was such an abundance of stalls because this race had fewer participants than many other races I’ve run (so fewer people waiting in line) or if it was because we had arrived super early in order to guarantee getting through current I-5 road construction. But there seemed to be a lot bathrooms and they were very clean, too. The race was starting out on a definite plus!

Before the start of the race director, Andrea Moore, spoke for a few moments, or rather tried to speak. She became quite verklempt while trying to express her commitment to the cause the race benefited, and her respect and awe of the women who participate in it. Being a person who also struggles with the tear factor when talking about things that “matter”, I found myself being touched as much by her reaction to the support of all these fabulous women as from the importance of the cause.

The Every Girl’s event has both a half marathon and 5K. The courses share the first mile or so then split off to their respective routes. As described on the website, the half marathon takes you through some beautiful quiet farm area with a few small to moderate hills (depending on your definition of “hill”) then a generous amount of downhill terrain which eventually flattens out for about four miles. Of course, what goes down has to come up, and so it does at about mile nine.

The final 2-3 miles have some substantial hill climbing. The hills were not as challenging, or as many, as Fueled by Fine Wine. However, being towards the end of the race, they proved challenging all the same. Due to an event at the amphitheatre later in the day, part of the course was redirected on a very short trail through a wooded area. The trail didn’t look like a legitimate path, more like one worn through years of use by people as a possible shortcut. However, the race director’s team did a very good job of clearly marking the trail with flags and fluorescent pink tape on any roots that might pose a tripping hazard. It was extremely narrow but, again, it was short. The hardest part was getting out of the trail. It deadended at a short but severe rise, like climbing out of a ravine. Alright, it might’ve only seemed that way because my legs were most definitely feeling the hills by then.

Volunteers were plentiful and super helpful and friendly. All turns were clearly marked and marshaled, and I don’t think I passed a single course marshal who didn’t shout out words of encouragement and show general good cheer.
Being pulled in by the strength of others.
Running into the finish you were likely greeted by the race director, Andrea Moore, and a team of volunteers. Andrea’s enthusiasm and her joy at your completion of the race is contagious as she tried to greet as many finishers as possible. Even if you might be feeling a bit wasted by the effort of trying to sprint to the finish after those final hills, your spirits are lifted when you see other women cheering you through it as though they’ve known you all these years and always believed you could do this. It certainly was a day about empowerment and accomplishment. In addition, I saw plenty of teamwork and mentoring on the course. It’s what strong women do. :) 
Daughter finds her sprint to the finish.
The high fives and the hugs are icing on those feelings of accomplishment and the feast of goodies that await you. I really should take better notes on the food and beverage available after runs. However, I’m rarely hunger for a few hours after any run. I did get one of my all-time favorite treats...ICE CREAM! Oh, and the music! It was great, reminding me of my old disco days. (I’m quite sure the hubby would’ve preferred I not try dancing by myself in full running attire. But with age comes loss of shame. I’m sure if my friend, Ms. Beckie, had been there with me there would have been much more dancing! ;) )

The day turned out especially sweet for my daughter and I. She has only been seriously running for slightly over six months. This was her third half marathon and she is training for the Portland Marathon, her first. I have watched her running improve by leaps and bounds in these past few months. At times she gets quite discouraged that she can’t outrun mom…yet. There is no doubt it will not be very long before I will forever be eating her dust. But as a teenager, she is impatient for that day.

So last Sunday it was such a treat to see my daughter’s shock and excitement at discovering she had run a personal record and placed first in her age division (1-18)! It was even sweeter to be able to share her success as I discovered I also had won my age division (50-59). Eighteen months since I took up running and after going from extremely overweight and sedentary to fit and fast (relatively speaking). Two women. One young and coming into her physical prime. One old and trying to hold off the inevitable slowing with age. But that Sunday we knew it truly was an “every girl’s” run!

Aside from a very nice tech tee shirt and a bag of various goodies consisting of the typical coupons, energy bars, Body Glide, lip balm, etcetera that is in your bag at packet pick-up, you do get a medal of sorts at the finish. Instead of the traditional medal, this is something more aptly described as jewelry. It’s a medium sized medallion on a chain like the pull-chain off of lamps. I put mine on a nicer necklace chain and discovered I actually like this idea of a charm or medallion over the typical garish finishers medal. It definitely is not a piece of Tiffany jewelry and on close inspection might be described as your typical inexpensive costume fare. But it is fun looking and something I might wear on occasion.
Medal or jewelry?
My daughter and I agree that the “feel” of the Every Girl’s Half Marathon was terrific. Women helping and supporting women. It’s a powerful thing. In fact, my daughter credits her finish to a woman whom she didn't know but who encouraged her and prodded her to keep going in the last couple miles. That is a lesson my daughter will remember and use throughout her life. Sometimes all it takes is to offer kind words of encouragement.
Team Daughter and Mom
The race was small. (207 ran the 5K, 144 ran the half marathon.) It deserves to be bigger. It supports a very worthwhile cause. It is very well organized. The people are some of the friendliest and helpful. It has a beautiful but challenging course.  And it’s just plain FUN! I can’t think of any reason why I wouldn’t want to run this again…except maybe 100 degree weather. :)


  1. Great write up. Those hills were a killer! (I will keep in mind about fueled by fine wine :P) Grats on the PRs!


  2. Thanks, Maryalicia! Yep. Can't imagine how tough it would've been in heat! Oh, only my daughter PR'd. :)