What is vacation without running a half marathon?
We vacation every year in Port Townsend, Washington. Angie, being the marathon junkie that she is, signed us up for the Winthrop Marathon about 180 miles away.
My initial response was, “That’s too far to drive for some obscure little race.”
To get to Winthrop from Port Townsend requires taking the ferry to Whidbey Island then a 4 hour drive over the Cascade Mountains.
Angie’s response was, “What would be so bad about a scenic drive through the mountains?”
I acquiesced. We left our three kids in the capable hands of their grandparents and we headed to Winthrop.
Winthrop –a Slice of the Old West
The drive to Winthrop is visually rewarding. Apparently, the Cascade Loop is world renown for sightseers. Driving along I thought, “I’m so glad Angie talked me into this.” As former Montanans, Angie and I both feel at home in the mountains. Standing on a snow covered pass I couldn’t help thinking about the 90+ temperatures back home in Missouri.
The main street of Winthrop looks like a set from an old Western movie. This is the town’s real appearance. Angie and I stayed at the Methow Valley Lodge which was very clean and comfortable. The evening before the race we strolled through town and ducked into most of the little shops along the main street.
The Race Experience
This race drew about 150 runners -many who are Marathon Maniacs. Angie informed me that Washington State is where the Maniacs originated. At the pre-race pasta dinner we made a couple of new friends and exchanged running war stories.
Angie and I like the laid back nature of smaller races. We also dig the personal touch. The race director greeted every runner who crossed the finishing line. The medals were simple but unique (like a fellow runner made them in his garage).
The Winthrop Marathon is a point to point course starting in the beautiful Okanogan National Forest -following the Chewuch River – and ending at the main street in Winthrop. The race has a net downhill but don’t let that fool you. The course was tough enough to slow Angie down to a 3:50:29 (she ran 3:35:41 in Louisville).
I finished the half marathon in 1:49:59 winning first place in my age division. That sounds cooler than it really is . . . (there were only 4 people in my age division).
The post race meal was provided by Carlos 1800 Mexican restaurant. You can’t argue with free food especially Mexican. There was also free beer and live music.
My Running Take-a-ways
- I started the race way too fast. With only 73 half marathoners pretty much anyone could toe up to the starting line. The fastest of the fast took off in a flurry and I decided to keep them on my radar screen. Within 2 miles they fell off my radar screen.
- It is not wise to “kick it” at the very beginning of your race lest you have no energy for the later miles. I passed people early on who later passed me (mainly old guys). This only happened because I started too strong then petered out. Angie uses a much smarter pacing strategy. Listen to her.
I’m glad Angie persuaded me to run the Winthrop Half Marathon. It was like a vacation within a vacation. Thanks to James from Rainshadow Running for organizing such a fun event. Thanks also to all the volunteers.
Spencers on vacation 2012. Trevor and Angie with Riley (7) Liam (1) and Gavin (5)