Last weekend I ran down the street from my apartment and boarded the ferry to Bainbridge Island for The Great Ferry Race half marathon.
I went into this race uncertain of my goals–would I be faster with more training since the San Juan Island half in May? Slower because of the steeper hills? Trip on a tree root or two and fall on my face during the trail portion? The knowns though were I put in the training and I’d again get to start the race with my friends Csenka, Abi, and Hilary, with Lydia designated as official cheer crew.
It was such a neat experience to be on this 7:55am boat, sailing across Puget Sound with a bunch of runners! Upon docking, all the cars/walk-ons/bicyclists were let off the ferry, while the runners huddled on the lower deck. After a few announcements, we walked as one large mass off the boat, counted down from 5 all together and took off running to the sounds of the ferry horn (it was loud startling). And then we saw the start line–I’m not sure why they didn’t have us all start at the start, but no complaints from me on a bonus .1 miles. A few moments later I spotted Lydia (I love having a cheer crew!) and the route weaved through the Bainbridge Pride Festival area where we were greeted with cheers and signs and “way to go!” Within the first few minutes I knew I had started a bit too fast, but I decided to just hold on to the pace as best as I could, for as long as I could.
It was such a [kind of surprisingly] beautiful course! Most the race was on roads open to traffic (the route was sectioned off with orange cones on the side of the road), but the volunteers were amazing at stopping traffic for groups of racers to cross the road. The trail section was an absolute blast! Rolling terrain, tame from a trail running perspective, but there were trees and dirt and some rocks and roots.
Around mile 6, I thought ‘well, that was a great 10K race for me, since I was still pushing the pace hard knowing there were more hills waiting for me. Soon after the trail section, I spotted one of Abi’s friends and even though we had just met on the ferry, any friendly familiar face along the course is the best encouragement. A few spectators and fellow runners complimented me on my jersey (a bold striped rainbow tank top I purchase the day before the race; yeah, I live dangerously and try new things on race day).
I think it was around mile 8 that the longest climb made its appearance. I barely felt like I was moving up and forward, but little by little we trudged up that never ending hill and took off again once we hit the top. All in all, I really felt like I raced this race–pushed the pace outside my comfort zone and did my best to not let up. It worked out–I ended up 10th female overall and 1st in my age group. Lydia was at the end to capture each of us crossing the finish line on video–both Abi and Hilary ran a PR and Csenka, feeling pretty fresh at the finish after a good run, immediately set her sights on a PR goal for one of the next Orca Running half marathons.
The Great Ferry Race was a great event for my last one as a Washington resident.