Hi everyone! I had a blast this weekend at the Beat The Blerch Half Marathon! If you don’t know who the Blerch is, check this out before reading the rest of this. It’s incredible and totally resonates with me and so many other runners. First, let me start with packet pickup:
Packet pickup was in Green Lake which was a super cute area of Seattle. It was held at Road Runner Sports, and when we arrived the line was all the way around the block to pick up our packets! I ended up meeting a few awesome people in line and we chatted about fun races to run in the Pacific Northwest while my husband and father-in-law waited at a nearby coffee shop. Our packets included a sweet zip up running shirt and a Blerch magnet and sticker.
After getting my packet, I waited in another line to buy The Oatmeal’s newest book, The Terrible and Wonderful Reasons Why I Run Long Distances. Of course I had to get it signed, but that line went around the block too!
It turned out that Matt Inman, the creator of The Oatmeal, was not only signing books but was drawing pictures for everyone as well! I was so excited, but it meant that things moved slowly so I waited in line for another 2 hours. My husband eventually ran to Panera to get me a carb-heavy lunch while I waited. By the time he got there, I was next in line! And when you’re in carb-loading mode, there’s only one thing you can do in this situation:
Yep, I ate bread in front of him. He understands the power of food more than anyone else. We discussed my new job in Anchorage, how awesome the race was going to be, and the best way to eat Nutella (with a spoon or a straw, anything else “dilutes it” according to him). He drew me a bear because I live in Alaska which is AWESOME considering the fact that he has no idea about my bear obsession! And he also gave me some good PR wishes on my bib as well. It was worth the wait and I went home looking forward to the race!
If you know me at all, you know I spent the night before the race being nervous about it. I woke up the morning feeling calm though, and after my usual oatmeal breakfast we drove over to Tolt McDonald Park in Carnation, WA for the race. The marathoners were sent off at 9:00 and before they started Matt Inman made a speech about how we all should be at home laying on the couch eating instead of running. It was the best race start ever! After the marathoners left, I nervously walked around eyeing the huge boxes of post-race cake before finally starting at 9:30. My original plan was to start at a 12:30 pace, work my way down to 11:30 for most of the race, and then end faster to get a PR. I’ve done this before and it worked really well for me. But something was off on Saturday and by mile 3 I could tell that this was not going to be a PR race. I couldn’t speed up at all and kept on slowing down despite all my efforts to run faster! I also felt super nauseous and had a headache for most of the race. I can’t tell if I was dehydrated or just too warm, but it just wasn’t my race. In fact, it was my slowest half marathon to date! But I made a serious effort to just enjoy my time out on the course once I knew a PR wasn’t possible.
Now here’s what you all really want to hear about – the course! It started on a paved trail but quickly turned into a stone trail. I would probably call this a trail race because of the uneven surface, which is cool because I’ve never run a trail race before! It followed streams and fields through shady woods and I really loved how peaceful and pretty it was. There were 2 aid stations that you passed through twice, and both had typical water, gatorade, and cliff shots as well as cake, Nutella sandwiches, and couches! There were also people dressed up like the Blerch trying to talk us into sitting down and eating some cake who chased us towards the aid stations. It was awesome! At the first aid station we even saw Sasquatch! Even though there was virtually no crowd support, the volunteers were awesome and I had a great time. And since it was an out-and-back course, I got a chance to see Matt Inman running back towards the finish and I yelled “Good job!” and him – and he said the same back to me! Yay for running with the person who has inspired you to push through so many difficult runs!
Throughout the race I never really had that big “crashing” feeling that I had in my last race, but was able to maintain a steady yet slow pace with tons of walk breaks for water. I am starting to realize that running anywhere but Alaska is going to be tough because of how I react to heat! I thought about giving up a few times and I’m glad that I was able to beat my blerchyness and keep going until the end. And at the end, I was rewarded with a ton of people cheering for me, an announcer saying my name, and the best race medal ever!
Also, there was an amazing selection of post-race food! The cake was so good!
Overall, I had a great time beating the Blerch with thousands of other people at the inaugural race. Stay tuned for more locations throughout the country next year so you all can try to beat the Blerch. The Oatmeal has hinted that the race is coming to Philly next, and I will be all over that race when it does!
Do you believe in the Blerch? What’s the craziest thing you’ve ever seen at an aid station?