Fragrance Lake Half Marathon/10k

At some point last December, I found myself searching the internet for upcoming races to kick off 2016. My New Year’s Resolution was to start taking running more ‘seriously’. I wanted to try something new. I wanted an adventure. I needed a goal to work towards so my training would have some sort of direction. Eureka! The Fragrance Lake Half Marathon/10k was just the event I was looking for. Who wouldn’t want to attempt 1,685ft of elevation gain?! This would be my very first trail race, in fact; I had barely run on trails before…so I purchased my first pair of trail running shoes. The next question was, which distance do I sign up for? My confident, competitive side was screaming “HALF MARATHON!” while my realistic side chose the 10k. I didn’t want to be too optimistic. There were only six weeks until the race and I had to balance training with being a stay at home mom. Preparing for a trail run with the majority of your workouts being in the gym (thank you drop-in childcare), not outside, can be quite a challenge. I started a lot of strength training between machines, free weights, and hiking while wearing the baby on my back. I tried to make it to some sort of fitness class each week for cross-training, including boot camp, spin, and yoga. My husband watched our lil' babe on the weekends so I could get an outdoor run in, typically at Lake Padden.

Bring on the mud!
My biggest obstacle was my left knee which I had injured seven months before. After doing the downhill run for Ski to Sea in May, I ignorantly only allowed myself a three day recovery before heading out on a five mile run. About four miles in, my knee started to throb in pain! I hadn’t experienced this before. I walked to give it a break, and then tried slowly running again. Oh, no! This was not a good situation. I was one mile away from the car. I tried to power walk to reduce the time until I could drive home and rest. That last mile was hilly and felt like forever. Once home, I elevated my leg and put a bag of frozen peas on my knee. Sadly, it was hurt pretty badly. I literally took the next five months off to recover (besides a 5k that didn’t go well), and started up slowly in October. Now here I was, training for a trail 10k race, still dealing with a weak knee. I focused on strengthening my hips and core, which I had read HERE was the secret to decrease knee pain and would help decrease the chance of knee-related injuries. 

Interactive map here
Hello race day! I woke up at 6:45am so I’d have enough time to eat a bowl of oatmeal and brew some coffee to take with me. Anyone who promotes the importance of a good night’s sleep before a race can shove it…they’ve obviously never had children. A crying, wide awake, teething baby doesn’t care about your race in the morning. I had been with her a few times early in the night, and then from 4:00-4:45am before squeezing in a solid two hours of sleep before my alarm sounded off. (#momlife) Luckily she was still asleep when I left the house at 7:45am which made getting ready easier. I quickly found parking at the Larrabee State Park Bandshell area, which I had never been to before, then headed on foot 2/10 of a mile South to the Lost Lake Parking Area. I checked in and picked up my bib. The other runners were pretty intimidating. I mean, they looked like RUNNERS, and I was just a mom trying to become a runner. There weren’t any aid stations for the 10k, so I wore a little Camelbak just in case. 

Photo by Ross Comer
At 9:00am, we were off! I started near the middle of the pack as we headed along the Interurban Trail. I knew that was my chance to pick up some speed before we started the climb up Cleator Road. I had heard about Cleator, but I had no idea what to expect! Some people used poles while slowly hiking up, other ran gracefully and made it look effortless. I, on the other hand, ran a little, hiked a little, ran a little, etc. We turned and started on the single track trails that headed up towards Fragrance Lake. You could say that I was 'winging it' for this race, because I didn't know my pace, distance, location, or any other specifics the entire time.

Photo by Ross Comer
Apparently, I wasn’t properly prepared for this terrain. My legs were on fire and my breathing was so difficult that a nice lady offered me her inhaler. I kindly declined, and kept pushing up. The forest was lush and sword ferns swayed near our feet. I heard runners ahead talking about the beautiful water. We made it to Fragrance Lake! I  was so excited and got my second wind. This meant I was at 4.5 miles and only had 2 miles to go, which included me bombing down the Fragrance Lake trail repeating the mantra, “I am strong. I can do this!” My knee was slightly bothering me, but I tried not to think about it. Soon, I was crossing Old Chuckanut Drive and sprinting to the finish line. Wahoo! I finished in 1:13:17 which was much faster than I had anticipated. They handed me an awesome finisher’s medal and I went straight to the spread of food. I was starving! A volunteer served me up some hot, vegan soup with fresh local bread. I sat away from everyone to warm up, chow down, and reflect on what I just experienced. When I tossed my bowl into the compost bin and was about to drive home to my baby and hubby, I overheard staff talking about Westside Pizza arriving soon. PIZZA! I couldn’t go home yet…so I waited. 

Where's the pizza???
During this time, they started announcing the awards for the 10k race, only giving medals to the top 3 male and female finishers. I halfway paid attention and clapped between stuffing my face with a slice of veggie pizza. “The female second place award goes to Emily Rent-Rentra-Renteria? How do you pronounce it?”  Hah, no way! I couldn’t believe it. I placed sixth overall and second for the females, good thing I stayed for pizza! The full list of results is HERE at Ultra Signup. Head over to the DESTINATION TRAIL website to check out their other trail running events. Race Director Candice Burt put together this awesome, organized, trail running event (thank you!). Also, this race benefits Girls on the Run, which is an amazing nonprofit organization that helps girls internationally gain confidence and good health through running! 

Hope to see you at the Fragrance Lake HALF Marathon next year!


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