Saturday, March 16 marked my first half marathon of 2019. It was also a chance to see how my knee, still not quite 100%, would do with the 13.1 distance.
For my inaugural race of the year, I ran the St. Paddy’s Day Run in Tacoma, Washington, presented by the Tacoma City Marathon Association (TCMA). I ran this race last year, as well as other events by TCMA, and have always had good experiences. The St. Paddy’s Day Run is a smaller, community event with 448 finishers in the half marathon for 2019.
I did not attend packet pick-up on Friday night, so I showed up early on Saturday to get my bib and drop my bag at gear check. As usual, I was extremely early, so I got everything done and still had almost an hour until it was time to toe the start line. I did some walking around for a while, then commenced my normal pre-race routine of warming up and visiting the port-a-potties (FYI, there was a good number and they were very clean). My goal for this race was to keep things easy and comfortable and see how my knee held up, so I spent the last few minutes in the starting chute reminding myself of these goals and not to go out too fast.
At 8:10 a.m., we were off. The course started with a downhill, which had me going out faster than I intended. It was also at this point I realized my interval timer was not properly set, so I had to get that reprogrammed while trying to avoid other runners on the course. I managed to get everything under control, then tried to get settled in to a comfortable, easy pace.
The course is gorgeous, with sweeping views of Puget Sound throughout most of the race. However, it is also a somewhat challenging course, with
some steep climbs in the middle of the course and another right at the end. I haven’t done much hill work while rehabbing my knee, and I definitely felt it by the middle, hilly section. My knee was also starting to feel a little bit uncomfortable so, out of an abundance of caution, I extended my walking intervals on the last few inclines. This seemed to work fairly well, and I manage to otherwise maintain a fairly consistent pace through to the end of the race. The weather also turned out to be wonderful. It was chilly while waiting for the start, but warmed up into upper 40s/lower 50s (Fahrenheit) by the time I finished. Considering I haven’t run in anything much above freezing for the last couple of months, it felt amazing. By mile 10, I was definitely happy I opted for short sleeves and capris while getting dressed that morning.
After gathering my medal and visiting a few of the sponsors’ tents, I headed for some coffee and my ride home. Overall, I’m really happy with how the race turned out. Yes, my time this year was quite a bit slower than last year. But, considering my knee is still not at baseline and my training has been mostly focused on rehabbing and easy runs, just the fact that I finished without any new aches or pains is a huge victory. It went a long way to helping me get back my racing/running mojo, which has been largely absent for the last few months. Although I won’t be running this again next year (I plan to run the NYC Half Marathon!). I would highly recommend the St. Paddy’s Day Run for anyone who wanted a half marathon that will both challenge you and reward you with amazing scenery.