Whidbey Island Half Re-Cap

Let’s get the details out of the way…we did it!  Finished in 2:23:xx which was faster than I anticipated.  Not the fastest Half Michelle and I have run together, but not the slowest either. 

Pre-Race…killing time before the start.  Half Fanatics in the house!!!!!  (runners have the best legs…yep just gave myself and Michelle props)!

Michelle got it together for this race with only 3 weeks notice, and very little mileage on her legs.  I know miles 10 – 13.34 (it’s a long course!) were challenging, but she stuck with it and got it done.  I tell you those last miles were the hardest as far as the course goes.  Hills, out and back, running past the finish line and hearing finishers being announced as you run past…yep it was hard, really hard. 
While I had the advantage of 10 weeks of training, and felt pretty great physically (mentally was not loving running past the finish for an out and back)…I knew it was getting harder and harder for Michelle, but she hung in there and got it done.  I’m so proud of her, total gut check time and she did it!  I don’t say (type) that with surprise at all…I knew she could do it, but I knew it would be hard so I’m extra, extra proud of her!  
I almost don’t even know how to review this one because it was such a great experience.  Fair warning this Half, with perfect weather (and maybe even without perfect weather), is going to make you want to run a full.  Just be ready to come home and register for a full marathon after this!  (And, no I did not register for a full, nor do I plan on doing so…that hasn’t changed for me).
The Pros:
-The Weather – So I know this was totally a chance thing, the organizers have zero control over the weather.  I suspect that had this been a windy/rainy day it would have been much less pleasant and a very, very different experience for us.  It was sunny, but no too hot.  I actually had a long sleeve shirt on before the start to keep warm, but ditched it right before we crossed the timing mat.  Michelle didn’t, and while she had goose bumps she wasn’t too cold as long as we stayed in the sun.  There were a few times it felt like the sun was beating down on us due to the lack of shade, but just as it would start to border on too much we would hit a wooded section and have shade to cool things off. 
-Bathrooms – There were the park bathrooms as well as plenty of port o potties.  We waited in lines of 3 to 4 people tops which is pretty good in my book!
Aid Stations – Perfectly spaced!  Not only did they start early (mile 2…the advantage of there being a 5K and 10K) they were spaced about every 3 miles after that.  The two stations that offered GU were perfectly spaced, and the last aid station that offered GU was the out and back section, so you hit it going and coming back which was really nice. 
-Packet Pick-Up/Expo – Very well organized.  Big enough to be interesting, but not so large that it was overwhelming (that’s what she said…bahahaha…sorry Mark has totally warped my sense of humor!).  We were in and out super easy.  Didn’t even have to wait in line to get our packets/shirts.  
-Communication – It was amazing.  There were several (but not too many) emails the weeks leading up to the race, with all the information/details I wanted, needed, and felt anxious about.  This was easily the calmest I felt going into a race because everything was spelled out clearly.  Being an out of towner, since it’s an island I’m guessing most of the runners are out of town, the organizers addressed all the unknowns for those that were traveling, and that really helped me feel like we were in good hands.  
 Running this stretch I totally mentally checked out.  It was long and straight (the kind of running I don’t like at all) but the view totally sucked me in and made it fly by.

-Route- Well what can I say about this.  It was amazing!  From the vibrant green farm lands/fields to the ocean views, and the mountain peaks it was simple breathtaking.  The views made up for the complaints I have.   More importantly the views made it seem almost easy.  I enjoyed (almost) every step because it was so beautiful. 
 The above view is what is behind us in the below in-race selfie.   Selfie Photo Credit – Michelle!
About half way give or take a mile or two…I forget exactly.
-Shirts/Medals/Goodie Bag – So I don’t have a pic of the tech shirt, but it’s bad a$$!  I love the shirt, but sadly it looks horrific on me, so I gave mine to Michelle.  Why don’t they ever run true to size (or look good on girls with bigger chests?)  Anyway, the medals are awesome (too lazy to take a close up) totally fitting it had a Bald Eagle on it since we saw them every time we looked up!  I love that the goodie bags had full size product in them, very well done!
-The Roads – They were totally slanted.  Every single one of them were very slanted and it was really hard to find anything somewhat flat to run on.  The first 10 miles were slanted (for the most part) to the left and let me tell you my knee and hip were feeling it.  We both kept swerving around trying to find anything flatish to run on.  There was one trail through a park that was flat and a gravel path that was flat, but that maybe made 1 mile total of flat running. The last 3+ miles were slanted to the right, which was a bit of relief but by that point still not helpful. 
-It’s over 13.1 – In fact the website says it’s 13.34, but if you run a perfect tangent it’s 13.1.  Umm…the only runners that have a chance of running a perfect tangent are the leaders.  The rest of us are left running what is a very long Half!  
-The Last 3 miles – They are already the hardest part of a Half right?  So why, why, why make us run past the finish line, hearing all the celebration etc to head out on an absolutely miserable out and back?  It’s the hilliest part of the course and just felt like it took forever.  It’s a mental game at that point…every step out you know you have to repeat…but adding in the hills was just rough.  (Overall still one of the “easiest” courses I’ve run though…so it’s all relative).  
 Still amazing views the last 3 miles!
-Food Tent – Seriously the line to get in to the food tent was stupid long.  So long in fact that even though I needed food we skipped it and opted to get on the ferry and eat on the mainland.  There has to be a better way to handle that aspect.
-Full Marathon Leaders – This is more a complaint on their behalf because it didn’t have a negative impact on me at all.  But, I will say at the point (based on when they start and when the Half starts and average pace of winners etc) that the leaders catch us is tight.  I know the organizers have no control over what pace anyone runs, but there are some serious pinch points, and some stretches of what should be single track (just like girls who can’t pee alone some can’t run alone either…for the record Michelle and I run single file when we need to/when the course calls for it), the leaders were struggling to weave in and out (the motorcycle leading the full should have been in front of the leader honking, not behind him!) and barking at runners, most of who have both earphones in, that they were trying to pass.  The leaders caught us at their mile 23, so I’m guessing having to yell at people to move over was energy they would rather have not had to exert.  The only upside is it was really inspiring/exciting to see them fly by, those guys were hauling some serious a$$!
We did it!
All in all I would highly, highly recommend this race!  If you ever have a chance to run Whidbey Island Half do it (can’t speak to the full, but have heard it’s bad a$$ in a good way as well)!  I would/will totally do it again!  Despite the few cons it’s still a very unique experience that is totally worth it, and one of the most enjoyable courses to run (even though it’s long)!    
Nicely done Whidbey Island! 
I’ll share more in the next day or two about lodging/experience on the island and how I felt/am feeling post race.  For now this post is long enough and I’m still pretty worn out despite 10 hours of sleep last night.  

Who else had a race/run this weekend?  Tel me about it! 

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