If you're a runner, then you've heard of the Bloomsday 12k (7.46 miles). It's one of the biggest races in the world. 40-60,000 Olympians, runners, joggers, and walkers show up each year in Spokane, WA. It's a blast, and it's definitely the running event in the Inland NW. Bands along the course. Great spectator support. And a challenging, hilly course with a particularly (in) famous hill called Doomsday.
Bloomsday was my first race when I first started running/training for a marathon in 2007. I was turned off by the idea of running in such a big crowd, but a couple friends convinced me that it was fun despite (and because of) the mass of humanity. They were right. I make a point to have this on my calendar each year.
This year the race fell 13 days after Boston . On one hand, my legs are still recovering from my big effort in Boston, and my recovery time has become noticeably slower these last two years (I didn't think I was that old!), so I thought that I shouldn't expect anything fast at Bloomsday. On the other hand, I trained hard for Boston this year and most of my short-distance road PRs have been lowered, so I was thinking that my overall fitness level compared to previous Bloomsdays might cancel-out the Boston fatigue factor enough that I'd have a good shot at lowering my Bloomsday PR.
I wanted to go under 45:00, which is right at a 6:00min/mile pace. I ran the first mile with four or five other Beer Chasers . We hit the first mile right at 6 minutes, but when we plunged down the first big descent on the second mile the group spread out. I tried to stay back and conserve, but my legs were already tired! Not too tired, I hoped. I felt I could hold the effort for another 5 miles or so.
I was still on pace when I hit the bottom of Doomsday hill around mile 4.5, but by that point it already seemed like I was just holding on. I scrambled up the hill, and then spent the next mile trying to catch my breath.
At mile 6, I was about 16 seconds slower than where I needed to be to get under 45:00. This is about where you hope there is something left in the tank to make a push to the finish line. Not only was there nothing left in my tank, but it felt like the tank was dragging on the ground behind me. So of course, that's when I started reminding myself that 45:00 is no big deal and my mom would still love me if I just walked the rest of the way in. But my buddy, Buzz, just re-passed me, so I swallowed my whine and tried to keep pace with him.
My effort increased x 10, but it felt like my pace only increased x 0.0001. Buzz stayed about 25 yards in front of me for that last mile. I tried to make a push, but I wasn't getting any closer. When I turned the corner for the short downhill to the finish-line, I still wasn't sure if I'd sneak in under 45:00. With 10 yards to go, things looked good. Not me -- I looked miserable. But race-time goal things looked good. I popped under the finish line in 44:54. My last mile split turned out, surprisingly, to be my fastest of the day at 5:38. ( Official results )
Another Bloomsday came and went. Another day I'm grateful to be alive and healthy enough to run. Oh, and this year the race photos were free -- another reason to love Bloomsday.
Squeezed into the starting corral. (Photo: Inlander )
Running with a pack near mile 3. (Buzz in orange singlet in background)
Somewhere with less than a couple miles to go. Hanging on for dear life!
On the final straightaway. The end is in sight!
Chugging along toward the end.
Wondering if badminton would ever hurt this much.
Trying to find a kick at the very end.
Beer Chasers post-race party at No-Li Brewery.
Now that Boston and Bloomsday are done, it's time to hit the trails. And Moscow Mountain trails are snow-free already. This is much earlier than usual. Surely that's a sign that it's going to be a great year in the mountains.