Monday, May 21, 2018

2018 Blooms to Brews Marathon Race Report and Video

Here's Holly's report from the 2018 Blooms to Brews Marathon in Woodland, Washington.   This is state number 49 of her quest to complete a marathon in each state.   Hawaii is the last state left.     At the end of her report will be our race video (with some bickering) and some spectating comments from Dave.  We did have a few other experiences while in the Portland (OR) area that we will highlight in another post. 
I think Washington State has the most marathons to choose from.  I was initially looking at the Rock and Roll in Seattle, but I’m not a huge fan of the Rock and Roll races and it runs through a really long tunnel.   I heard about the Blooms to Brews Marathon in Woodland, WA and it sounded perfect.    You run through lilac fields (well, that wasn’t perfect, I hate the smell of lilacs), tulip fields (I love those!) and then finish up with a great party with plenty of beer!   Yep, perfect!

We stayed in Woodland the night before the race and packet pick up was quick and easy.   The race shirt was actually a tank top, which is a new one for me, but I’m sure it will get worn on the boat this summer.   This is a small race with only a couple hundred marathoners and a few hundred more half marathoners, 10kers and relay people.   Lee and Laura would be running the relay with me.    They planned to switch off at the normal 4 person relay points.    
Rain was in the forecast and I was really hoping it would hold off.   We got lucky when we woke up and the rain hadn’t started yet.   We easily made it to the start area and before we knew it the anthem was sung and we were off and running.   Lee was going to run the first quarter with me.    I had a good training cycle and I was really hoping to have a good race.   We were quickly at the back of the pack with only a couple of runners behind us.    The half marathon was starting about 10 minutes after us.    When they caught up to us, I made sure to not speed up and kept to my target pace.    We ran by the lilacs early and thankfully they were not very fragrant!   We also ran by some other bushes and we couldn’t figure out what they were.  We later learned that they were blueberry bushes.   It was a beautiful course and the weather was holding.    

Soon it was time for Lee to take a break and have Laura join me.    This worked out really well for me.  It was nice to break up the race into four sections and recount the previous section with my new partner.   They were both great company!   We ran by the river now and by some gorgeous houses!   We also ran a military mile to remember those lost.  The majority of them were lost due to PTSD.  This was very sad and moving.  It was so many faces. The armed forces make so many sacrifices for all of us and these all made the ultimate sacrifice. 

Soon it was time for another swap and Lee was back while Laura got a break.   This was a loop and Lee was kind enough to point out how far away the swap point was from where we were.  Thanks Lee!   Around this time the sky started getting dark and I could see rain in the direction we were headed.  Lee said it was fog, Lee was wrong.   Also we literally saw the cows coming home.   A huge line of cows were marching single file back to the barn.  They knew the rain was coming.     The rain came!  It started of as a drizzle but then turned into a deluge.   Thankfully it was only for about 4 miles.   Lee got the brunt of it, but Laura got some of it at the last swap point.     The sun actually came out towards the end while we were running on a beautiful section by the river.  It was really pretty.   I was getting tired at this point, but Laura knew I wanted to get in under 5:30 and she was very motivating and never let me give up.  
We finally got to the tulip fields and they were amazing.   We didn’t have much time for a picture as I was trying to hit my goal!   The finish looped back on the start of the course so I knew how far I had to go to get to the finish.   It was far, I was tired, but I kept pushing.   I kept my intervals the entire race and I crossed the finish line in 5:28.   Success!

The medal was very cool.   They still had beer!  They had BBQ sandwiches at the end, but I can’t eat that right after a race.  It would have been nice to have some other easier to digest food.    It started pouring while we were finishing our beers so we headed to the car and hit the road to celebrate in Portland.    I can’t thank Lee and Laura enough for the great company and for keeping me on track.   I had a great time with you both.  Thanks to Dave for braving the weather and being my drive by Kleenex guy.    I highly recommend this race.  It was a beautiful, flat course; great race organization and I loved the medal. 

Here's the video!

Dave's Comments

The process for Race Chasing this one was luckily very simple.  Although they asked drivers to stay off the course the roads were fully open to traffic.  I had the added pressure of getting Laura and Lee to their relay stops.  If I wasn't able to one of them was going to be in for a lot more miles than they planned.

It was great to have company for this race.  Nothing but farmland out here. There was not one business along the course (except for the tulip place at mile 24) so no chance for snacks or fresh coffee.  Luckily we had some Voodoo Doughnuts and cans of iced coffee to hold me over.   The course did have some pretty views along the river and some nice houses to look at.   

Bad news at the finish:  They ran out of 3 varieties of the beers offered at the party.  The halfers and relayers drank them almost dry.   Fortunately there was some bbq beef left and that was pretty tasty.  We didn't stick around too long so we could get on the road and start our afternoon/evening of fun at McMenamins Edgefield.  We were looking forward to spending the day at this cool property that included a brewery, distillery, and winery!

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