Honeywagon Runs Half Marathon

With my second half marathon coming up, it only seemed appropriate to look back and review my very first half, the Honeywagon Runs Half Marathon! Although honey sure sounds sweet (we LOVE to stock up on different local honey varieties), the term “honeywagon” literally means, well, let's just say it's stinky, like cow patties. The race was held on Saturday, April 9, 2016 in Everson, WA and was hosted by the Greater Bellingham Running Club. I was able to easily register online and since I’m a GBRC member, my registration was at no cost. That’s right, free! The half registration fee was $25 for non-members. In addition to the half marathon distance, there was also a 4 mile distance open to walkers and runners. The race started and ended at Nooksack Valley Middle School. That entire community is fairly rural and the extensive farmlands made for a peaceful backdrop during the race.

After about a 30 minute drive, I showed up to the parking lot at 8:15am. It was early still and pretty chilly outside, but I read that it would be warmer and dressed for that type of weather. I wandered my way to the Activity Building to pick up my bib which had chip timing. It looked like a decent sized crowd that mainly looked like experienced and confident runners. I was feeling pretty nervous and chose to warm up on the football field (hello fellow introverts!) It always feels a little bit more comfortable if I’m away from other people to focus, get in my own zone, and mentally prepare for the event. At 8:55am I followed other people to the starting line. This was only the second time to ever use my new TomTom watch which actually showed pace, distance, time, etc compared to before when I would simply wing it!

Race course
At 9:00am the announcer shouted and we were off! I started mid-pack, but soon realized that maybe I should’ve started closer to the front. Our course was running along rural roads, opposite traffic. For a while I would awkwardly have to follow closely behind someone while waiting for the safe opportunity to pass them, without being hit by a car! About 2 miles in and I was settled into my groove. There was much less traffic and there weren’t very many runners around me, so I was really able to focus on my breathing, body, and form. I was confident and pretty strong for the first 4 miles, all under 8 minutes. Around mile 5 I came to my first long distance predicament…all alone with one other runner right next to you, moving at the same pace. What is the runner’s etiquette? Do you talk to each other? Do you focus on yourself and pretend the other person isn’t there? Well, I personally felt the urge to simply say, “hi” after running so long next to this person. They were very nice and also had a young daughter, so we were able to talk about our little ones for a couple of miles. Once we passed the aid station, I took off again on my own. 

















Miles 7-9 sped up a little to stay under 8 minutes, and then my dreaded knee started acting up! The last thing I wanted to do was injure myself or not be able to finish the race, so I slowed it down again for miles 10-12. This was just enough rest to get me feeling good again. There was only one runner within sight ahead of me that entire time, a lady that made running this distance look easy! She was a great motivation and pacer for me to follow along when I was beginning to get caught up in my head. We were approaching the aid station and an intersection that was downhill, a perfect opportunity to catch some speed! Well, as I started flying down I could hear, “Hey, aren’t you going to stop her?” So, I turned around and saw that the route was turning right, not going straight like I went! Now I had to backtrack while going uphill to get back on the route and catch up to my fellow lady runner. 

Running primarily alone for long distances is a perfect time for inward reflection and mindfulness of the world around you. The moments that doubt and fear surfaced, I returned to my mantra, “I am healthy. I am strong. I am motivated!” The beginning of mile 13 I was able to pass the female runner I had been trailing, she yelled, “You’ve got this! Kick it into gear!” At this point in the race, we were sharing the route with the 4 mile runners/walkers so I had to do a little more maneuvering through people. I finished mile 13 strong at the same exact speed as mile 1, 7:31/mi pace. Immediately crossing the finish line, I felt a rush of emotions! “Yeah, I did it! I just finished my first half marathon! That wasn’t as hard as I had expected. Did I really push myself, because I don’t feel quite exhausted? When is the next race? Where is the food?” My final time was 1:44:11, averaging a 7:57min/mi pace! I managed to place third in my age group, F19-29, with the first place in my age group finishing 1:32:02 with a 7:02min/mi pace! After grabbing some food and receiving my ribbon, I was ready to head home to our little family. The Honeywagon Runs is a race put on annually and the route is fairly flat, making it a wonderful half marathon to try for your first time! Fellow running mamas, whether you’re a beginner curious about running 13.1 miles or a seasoned runner looking to beat your half marathon PR, I recommend signing up and giving it a shot next year!


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