When the snow starts to melt in the Olympics an image appears of the Traveler, and maybe his dog.
The best view is from Alderbrook in Union, so the town puts on a Traveler Days weekend. Last year there was a 5K that I missed. But today I am here for the very rare 5.5K event. I am guessing that last year the course was a little long and to be fair, they have called it 5.5K for this year. Registered and got my number and goody bag last night. Family friend Shannon was there to help and will be out on the course today. Registering in person was cheaper than through the website. With the fees saved, I could not resist paying an extra $12 for the shirt. Pre shirt it was $39, pricey for a short race. But chip timed, great swag bag including a poncho, and proceeds to Kirk and Friends charity and the local Fire Department.
Start time at 11AM? Yes it is. At the Alderbrook clubhouse. And about 4 miles from our cabin on the Hood Canal. The location was a big draw for me. I have run on these roads before but not very often. So I sleep in, have a nice breakfast and leave home after 10AM. I thought about running to the start but the 500 foot hill would probably not be a great way to warm up.
Volunteer directs me to a parking spot, right between the start/finish and the community fair. Local groups with booths set up. I get in a decent warm up. Too bad it is raining. Traveler is not out. Many folks are wearing their new ponchos. I decide to just get wet.
Start - Assess the competition. I looked at last years results and am pretty sure I would have been in the top ten. Mostly walkers, a couple of fast looking kids and a few runner types. RD gives directions ( I did study the map that was posted online, but there will be lots of turns) and says to look for the signs on the right side of the road with arrows. A little crowded but I am almost at the front and we soon have the whole road to run on.
Mile 0.10 - Road curves to the right and then up a steep hill. Guy in a Mariners shirt is already way ahead of everyone else. Amazing how he gets up that hill and is gone. I try to count and am in maybe 8th place. Pass one on the hill but also get passed.
Mile 0.5 - Around and down the hill, out to a short lollipop section. Wonder why they did not just cut off the lollipop and call it a 5K. Road has lots of curves. I try to run the tangents. Watching a kid ahead of me to see if there are turns ahead. Some are staying on the right side of the road, but there is no traffic and there will be left turns so I might as well run the shortest route. Pass one kid and the front woman.
Mile 2 - It has been a long well deserved downhill after more ups. Feeling good and picking up the pace. It wavers between 7:35 and 7:55 depending on whether I have just come up or down. Road does not have potholes, but it is cambered and there are little dips and spots to watch for. Most steps I am wondering what my feet will do and how they will adjust. Not smooth running, especially with the little hills. But this long downhill has been awesome. Sharp turn and OMG a steep long uphill. Such a good time spoiler. Trudge up and I can hear a guy talking to first woman behind me, not struggling like I am. He passes me on the hill and encourages me. Then the woman catches up. I recognize the guy, he was the one giving directions at the start. Run with first place woman for a bit, trying to not let her get ahead.
Mile 2.5 - Ahead of first place woman, now with the guy who has slowed a bit. He clearly could be going faster. It has not clicked in my mind yet that he is the race director and not so interested in a fast finish time. His focus seems to be on getting me a fast time. Gaining a little on a 13 year old ahead of us, the RD wants me to make a run for it. In the mean time, I am just trying to hang on.
Mile 3 - Give the best surge that I have and it is not enough. Clear that the kid will beat me. I tell the RD to go for it and pass the kid. He finally leaves me and goes forward. I am happy to hold my place and not let the first woman catch me.
3.5 - 3.50 on the GPS, sprint to the end feeling good with the effort and my place. Walk over to the timing van and get an immediate print out that lists me as 4th overall and first in my division. It has my pace at 8:02 per mile, but my watch reads 7:49.
My brother in law is here with his food truck, so I go say hi to him and get a plate of truck fries. Then a few minutes later I see the guy with the Mariners shirt, who went out so fast. There were two kids ahead of me, plus Jeff the RD. That is what put me at 4th. What happened to this guy? I ask him if he did start with us and go out fast. Yes and later on he went straight and missed a turn adding about 2 miles to his race. So sad, he came in after me. The RD thought that he was finishing in 4th, he did not want to take a prize from the top 3. When he found out that the super fast guy was not ahead of us, he insists that I take the 3rd place prize. I do not argue and come home with a nice gift basket from the Cameo shop that included peanut brittle and a port wine chocolate sauce.
The rain has stopped so I stick around for a little while. Definitely plan to come back next year.
4th place of 90