My first event of the year is on Sunday. For those not familiar with the area outside of Portland, Vancouver (USA!) is a town right across the Columbia river. Actually, I should say it's the 4th largest city in Washington state, but you wouldn't know it. Jeff calls it a suburb of Portland, and I kind of agree. I lived most of my post-18 year old life there, and it's really not a bad place, even if it gets a bad rap from Portlanders who, for the most part, aren't natives anyway. They're just pissed at rush hour.
ANYWAYS, Fort Vancouver is the result of an encampment first settled by Lewis & Clark. It's currently a historic site with replicas of the original fort and is also home to Officer's Row (a stretch of gorgeous old mansions) and Pearson Airport. The race snakes around this stretch of land, going over the freeway on a brand spankin' new land-bridge and running through the park and alongside the airstrip. It's a very flat course, which I am incredibly happy about.
Last night, I participated in my first What? run. Vancouver is holding their very first marathon this year, and What? is their way of advertising the marathon. They hold monthly group training runs on portions of the race and buy you a beer afterwords at the participating restaurants (hell yes to free beer). It was a good precursor to the race on Sunday as it followed the EXACT course! I knew what I would be getting into! I ran with my friend Libby, and was pleasantly surprised at her walk/run method. When we did run, we ran a lot faster than I've been running. The walking spurts totally helped, though! We finished the 3.7 mile stretch at 54 minutes, which isn't the fastest but hey, at least I was out there! I should also mention that this is my farthest distance as of yet, and I was terrified before we started. But we got into the groove, ran up the two small hills, grunted, sweated and had an awesome time. I'm feeling so much better about Sunday.
Last night, the restaurant we ended the run at was Beaches, a local place that is super friendly to vegans, even if it doesn't look that way! My old company had yearly Christmas lunches there and I have always enjoyed my food. They are incredibly happy to accommodate me and last night was no different. The runners had access to the happy hour menu all night, so I got a rice & veggie bowl (originally a teriyaki chicken bowl) for $4 and I couldn't even eat the whole thing. ME! The beer was Full Sail LTD, and tasted so damn good.
The company putting on the marathon (and the training runs) is Energy Events. They held a raffle after the race and gave free tech shirts to the first 10 people who signed up (and hadn't received a shirt yet). Even though I was way down on the list, I won a shirt! Now, I'll be in Europe for the actual marathon, but technically I AM training :-) And the shirts I've been running in are all cotton, so a tech shirt is definitely an improvement!