I was going to be in Portland for the Adam Carolla podcast on a Friday night. That left me two open weekend days, so why not find a race? While browsing I stumbled upon the Great Columbia Crossing 10K that would take me from Washington to Oregon, crossing the finish line in Astoria. *Astoria, named after John Jacob Astor who died on the Titanic. See? I can relate all things to Titanic. ALSO, Astoria is where they filmed my all-time favorite movie, Goonies! Clearly there was no question about whether or not to do this race!
We were up at 3:50 am in order get dressed and drive from St. Helens to Astoria. Not knowing the road we decided to leave a window just in case we got lost. Yeah, nobody was on the road except for the slow cars we kept getting stuck behind. It was pretty hard to stay awake, but eventually we were parking at the finish area just before 6am. Packet pick-up was so strange! We got to this table and they had us write our first and last name and city we live in on a card. Then they sent us to the next table where we gave the lady our card. She verified our name and then told us to move over to a side area and wait for our name to be called. Then yet another person gave us our bib, chip and COTTON long-sleeved t-shirt. Had I realized it was cotton I wouldn't have gotten it. It's so huge I think I can hide a small family of kittens inside of it without you noticing.
Okay, so back to the story.... we hit up a warm bathroom in a local hotel then sat in the car warming up, debating our clothing and attaching our bibs. We got on the shuttle to the start at 7am since they really stressed the need to get on them as early as possible to make it to the start on time. The ride was basically doing the reverse of our race path and I just kept noticing the massive size of the bridge. I registered for this race to challenge myself on it since bridges tend to trigger Meniere's attacks and the size freaked me out!
Shortly after 7 we were at Dismal Nitch, the start area. Is that really the name you want to see before you start a race?? DISMAL?? BUT we were safe ... Homeland Security was there, including a dog!
The race started at 8:45am. 37º and we have close to 2 hours to wait next to a HUGE river!?! Wind, cold, sea smells and did I mention wind and cold?? I was bundled up in my jacket that I planned to check, and my pirate socks specifically chosen in honor of Goonies and One-Eyed Willy! I hovered near strangers and smashed against MF just to steal body heat from people. I wasn't the only one doing this!
If you look behind me in that photo you'll see the bridge. That bridge was 4.1 of the 6.2 miles we were running. I hemmed and hawed and thought about how cold it could be over all that water, but still I ditched my coat at what I thought was the last possible minute. I had myself warmed up, stretched and was feeling ready .... then nothing. The race was delayed until we were given clearance to go on the bridge. The delay felt like it was forever and by the time we started I was completely shivering and my feet had gone numb.
So there we go... Off in a flurry! I couldn't feel my toes at all and couldn't really feel how to run. Does that make sense?!? Before I felt my toes I felt my ankles and they were hurting from the cold and however my feet were hitting the ground. That pain traveled up my legs and settled in on my calves. Half of a mile in and I was almost in tears, but unable to find an open spot to try to walk it off or stretch it out. For three tenths of a mile I ran in pain until just before the bridge where I found an open lot to dive into. I was very disappointed because training had been awesome and I was ready for this race.
It took half of the race to get rid of the tightness and excruciating pain. I didn't expect to be walking, but since I had to for quite a while I took advantage and got some photos:
|Here we are, enjoying the non-rainy weather and pretty views of the Columbia River|
|Looking west on the Columbia River. This was our view for the whole race!|
I gave myself one final stretch where I actually whimpered in audible pain and then I was ready to go. Finally I was feeling like a runner again! This time the only worries I had were 1) what if the bridge collapses and 2) how cold will that be? I promised Man Friend that I would let him float on my board with me if this race turned into the end of Titanic. *We survived, water free!
Speaking of water free, there were zero aid stations on the course, due to it being on a highway that would promptly reopen. They did, however, have a potty stop!
|A potty on a bridge!|
I kept telling MF that I was shocked I couldn't see the bridge. I expected to look ahead and see it. But it was so foggy that I couldn't. I was sure the big steel structure would be visible. We just kept motoring along. I was looking off to the side watching little heads pop up out of the water before dipping back down. "Hey, there's the bridge!" MF said. I looked up, "Whoa! It's the people!!" I knew it was a big hill, but when he said "the bridge" I expected to see the structure .. but no. This photo is completely unedited. This is what I saw when I looked forward:
Instead of scaring me, I got excited and did run a big portion of that hill. It was pretty cool to just go and disappear into the fog! Once at the top it felt like we were rewarded with the downhill and flat finish!
Our last mile, which actually was on land, was our fastest and at the pace I expected every mile to be. Oh well, there's always next time. And this is a race I think I would do again. The scenery was awesome and it was just a very unique experience. **I read on Wikipedia that this race is the ONLY time pedestrians are allowed on this bridge!
The finish area was pretty standard. We didn't linger, just grabbed some apple juice, string cheese and bananas before heading back to the car. The rest of the day was the REAL reason I was in Astoria ... time for my Goonies adventure!!
Before we part, here's a view of the bridge although I still couldn't get it all!