Friday, May 10, 2013

Race: Lilac Bloomsday 2013

We headed up to Spokane last weekend to spend time with our friends the Bells and to run a race, the Lilac Bloomsday race, a 12k run with 50,000 of the nicest runners I've ever ran with. It was a good time.

Most of the weekend was spent doing absolutely nothing. Hours and hours were spent watching the kids climb trees, play with Bandit the dog, jump on the trampoline, climb the swing set, and run crazy, all from the vantage of the backyard deck. We sipped drinks and chatted while lounging about. It was the best vacation ever.

The race was on Sunday - a first for me. I can't believe what an enormous community event this race is, or how well organized it is. Each runner is given a color group to start in. You cannot start the race ahead of your color group or else you won't be timed. A lot people want to get into the yellow group - those runners start just behind the elite and corporate runners, and have to show a qualifying time from a previous race to get seeded there. Three of the four of us were in the green group, but one of us was orange so we started with orange. The organization is amazing, and no one is pushy or vying for open spots while waiting for the race to start. I also didn't hear anyone talking about all the past races they had done and how fast they were. That kind of banter is constant on the buses to races normally - quite refreshing.

Our early start on the morning (leaving at 7:30, knowing that the race didn't start until 9 for some - it was after 9:30 that we ended up starting) afforded us a great parking spot downtown about 4 blocks from our starting place. We promptly started to see evidence of the race, and an old friend, the Honey Bucket. Who doesn't love the sound of a Honey Bucket lid slamming in the morning?

Also? This picture makes me sad. Maybe the Bloomsday race organizers never let backpacks at the starting line, but I couldn't help thinking it was due to the problems in Boston. What a sad world we live in.

After a few delays and side trips (Mel and I make an extra trip back to the car to leave our jackets) we lined up and waited for the race to start. The race photographers are walking around in the crowd on the street while everyone waits for the race to starts. A lady stopped me and Mel as we were walking to the car. It's totally tacky probably to take it from the website (the PROOF stamped across the front is lovely!) but it's still a cute picture. In case you wondered, Marathonfoto took the picture...

One tradition at Bloomsday is to discard your old sweatshirt on one of the branches of the trees lining the street. The crowd would ooh and ahhh and cheer as sweatshirts would go flying up into the air, tracking the progress of the shirt from street to branch. Everyone cheered when the shirt stuck. Good times all around.

At 9:00 am the race promptly started. The winners had already come barreling across the line before we reached said starting line, but it was all good. This is our vantage point - the sky bridge you can see in the distance is that far again to the starting line. And the view behind us was every bit as crowded. Crazy amounts of people!

It was hard at first to get anywhere - so many people all surging into the same crowd that had been leaving in waves for 35 minutes. Signs that indicated that runners run left and walkers walk right were completely ignored by most of the crowd. It was nice to get to the hills by the river - finally things cleared out a little that I could decide how fast I wanted.

I liked running past this church. The priests were outside cheering the runners on and the choir was singing. I heard afterwards that they had had a morning service there - I wish I'd gone - it would have been neat, I think.

There is a hill named "Doomsday Hill." It is crazy steep. I loved it and wished it went on a little longer. After the hill, the race goes through some neighborhoods. This was the longest part of the race - it was warm and I was ready to be done - my longest run previous to the race was still 2 miles short of the race's 7.46 miles. It was exciting to turn off of Broadway onto the road where the bridge that held the finish line. Yet again - crazy amount of people! Shane and I raced down the bridge toward the finish line together. It was fun fun fun.

Afterwards we watched thousands of people stream by us. It was strange to think that I wouldn't have a possibility of knowing any of them except for the three people I had come with. I guess this would be a regular site for many who live in a big city like New York or LA where there are lots of crowds to interact with every day. Not so much for a girl from Utah. Still a great experience though.

This will be a race I will go back for every year I'm able. The positive energy, the beautiful course, the wonderful friends - totally worth spending 24 hours in a car.


heidikins said...

Happy Bloomsday!!

Love this post, hope you had a wonderful time with the race and the company. :)


Lucy said...

I'm kind of jealous that you got to run it. Jay is my running/race example and because he takes it so seriously, he will never race on Sunday. And you know Bloomsday is always on a Sunday. So, the 5 years we lived in Spokane, we never did it and I was always a bit sad about missing out on such a great big community event. It looks fun! So glad you got to see the Bells.