Monday, September 14, 2015

Race Review: 2015 Pints to Pasta 10K

I ran my first ever official 10K race yesterday, and I really thought this distance was a lot of fun. It wasn't quite the endurance challenge of a half marathon, but challenging in its own right.

The Pints to Pasta event was part of the Hood to Coast race series, and included either a half marathon or 10K. The half is actually Pasta to Pints to Pasta, but the 10K fits the title; starting on the gradual downhill of Greeley Ave in North Portland, passing by Widmer Brewing (Pints) and crossing the Willamette River via the Broadway Bridge, then following Naito Parkway along the waterfront. That is the end of the flat part of the course, as from there it transitions up a brutal hill to Barbur Blvd. / Corbett Ave., before heading sharply back down hill to SW Macadam Ave. and the finish line at The Old Spaghetti Factory (Pasta).

When Tony, a friend and running motivator, asked if I wanted to run Pints to Pasta with him, I was hesitant at first because I assumed he meant the half marathon, and I was already signed up for a half the following weekend (this coming Saturday). When he clarified that he meant the 10K race, I jumped at the chance. I was a little nervous because I had only done small races, and wasn't sure I wanted to join a few thousand other runners on a Sunday morning -- but I'm glad I did. It was a pretty big step for this routine-oriented stick-in-the-mud.

Since this was my first 10K race, I can't say whether or not it was a PR (personal record), but considering the one grueling hill on the course, I am very happy with what I was able to accomplish -- it definitely ranked in the top 5 times I've done for that distance (depending on how accurate my phone's app was for tracking those training runs). I am perfectly happy finishing at 389th place out of 1649 participants (41/88 for my age group).

It was truly a perfect morning for a run -- cool but not cold, mostly clear, with the sun just starting to peak above the horizon as we started down Greeley. The scenery of the river and downtown was gorgeous, and the bridge crossing over the Willamette was fun; and we got to listen to a good cover band play modern classics as we recovered in the shade along the southwest waterfront.

This was my first time getting beer/wine after a run, but since it was included, I decided to give it a try. I went with a Hefe Shandy (half Hefeweisen beer, half lemonade) and a glass of Pinot Grigio. The idea of eating pasta and drinking beer/wine at 9:00 in the morning, after finishing a good run, seems so strange; but it actually worked. The penne pasta with mizithra cheese was the bomb!

While we had a great experience, it was not a perfect event. The choice of route through old town (just for a few blocks) was incredibly stinky, and probably should be reconsidered for next year. The L-O-N-G hill up Barbur to Corbett was grueling, and could have been worth it if we could have "turned and burned" once we reached the top; but the hills back to Macadam were so steep that we actually had to hold back to keep from wiping out or tearing things up. An approach from Waterfront Park / SW Moody Ave. would really improve things, if that is even logistically feasible (or maybe down the east side to Tilikum Crossing next year?).

Elevation plot of the course. Vertical red line is approx. start of 10K.

The other disappointing part for many was some poor planning by event organizers with regard to parking and shuttle buses. Tony and I made it to the shuttles pretty early, and were on one of the first buses to the start line for the 10K. At about 6:45, they announced that the start would be delayed from 7:30 to 7:45 because of parking issues. It ends up that the 15 minute delay was not anywhere near enough time to get all of the 10K runners to the start line, and in fact many racers did not get started until 60-80 minutes after the "gun".  Apparently race organizers thought 5 buses would be enough to shuttle 1650 people across Portland in a one-hour time-frame -- so it was not just a matter of "not enough parking".

Hopefully they will improve a few things for next year, as I really thought it was a lot of fun!

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