Yesterday, I ran the Happy Girls Half-Marathon in Spokane, Washington as part of the Another Mother Runner: Run + Refresh retreat and as my goal race in AMR’s heart rate training coaching plan (on trainlikeamother.club). I had never run a trail race before, and must say that I was really unprepared coming into my taper; because that’s when I finally decided to look at the course map. FYI, I wouldn’t recommend that strategy.
Spokane is a very beautiful city and with the course set along the Spokane River, it certainly was picturesque. Don’t let that fool you, though; that course was HARD. We started out at 1900ft elevation and after the 1st mile descended at what seemed like a very precarious angle 200ft down a single track section into the trail. Much of the first few miles of the race were on single trail with lots of rocks & boulders to hop around, and lots of beautiful vistas if you could spare a glance without falling! FYI – the pictures below are from the race web site and a fellow runner. I didn’t even attempt a picture while I wasn’t on pavement.
I came to the race prepared with a plan. This was the first time ever that I had an actual race plan that was based on my training performance instead of an arbitrary goal. That plan was more geared towards a road race, however, and so wasn’t fully executable on this type of course. I decided to just be flexible and race where I could, and so I took it easy when I saw my heart rate climb too much early on. In the areas where it leveled out a little bit or we had the benefit of a nice downhill, I picked up the pace up to my planned RP for that portion of the race. There were a few Holy Shit kind of hills and I walked a couple faster than I probably could have run them, not to mention the sliding scree and shale. One of those HS hills was at mile 10 of all places, which really is just cruel. I conquered that thing, though, which just made me feel badass.
I felt a little numb coming into the finish chute at about an 8:10 pace so I know I was giving my all after all that effort. That 10th mile with the killer uphill? I managed that at 9:42! My official finish time was 2:16:21 – 9 minutes over my flat road race PR. I hear that the draft for this course was much more substantial than that, so I am really thrilled with that result. The best part of this race has nothing to do with the time result, however. The best part was running it with the AMR community and getting to celebrate everyone’s accomplishments. I’m not sure yet if I’ll do another trail race, but if I do this is a pretty sweet one.