So my best friend Cari and I decided to do the Holiday Half together as a sort-of Christmas present. It seemed like a good idea at the time... it would be the first time either of us had done this race, it would give us something to train for near the end of the year, and a long sleeved 1/4 zip tech shirt was included in the registration fee (WILL RUN FOR SWAG).
Packet pickup: I liked that they had three days of pickup before the race, at different Foot Traffic locations (Thursday, Friday and Saturday). Since I hate driving into Oregon during the week because traffic BLOWS, I went Saturday morning and it was pretty busy. It seemed a little crowded and hectic in the store, especially since bib pickup and shirt pickup were on opposite sides of the store, and the cash register was in between--"what is this line for?"
Swag: The swag is a long sleeved 1/4 zip tech shirt that fit okay, and a decent medal.
Parking: There isn't much parking near the starting line, and since we aren't familiar with the neighborhood, decided not to waste time driving in circles trying to find a spot. We parked at the huge parking lot and paid $5 for the shuttle to take us to the staring line a few minutes away. Although the parking situation could use a little tweaking (the path of the buses and cars intersected right at the entrance to the parking lot, causing some issues for both sides), the shuttle option worked pretty well. I think they should just include the shuttle cost in the registration cost instead of doing it as an additional cost. Especially since the entry fee was kind of high.
Bag check: This took a little while, despite the numerous volunteers helping. There were just a LOT of people, and given how cold it was, I had to get in line well before the starting time to make sure I'd have my bag checked and be back in the starting area before the race began.
The course: The course was an out and back stretch starting at Adidas, going along Willamette Blvd. past University of Portland, and down to the Saint Johns bridge. It's flat-ish, and fairly pretty. The starting line was a little messy--they kept having us move back for some reason. Out and back courses are good and bad--it's fun seeing all of the runners, but it kind of made the course seem longer. Much of the race is on Portland streets--a little uneven and slanted, which can be pretty rough on your ankles!
The race: I hadn't really trained for a half. I had planned on it, but then started a marathon training plan and was focusing on consistency for my mileage rather than distance at this point. I was pretty sick that morning, and really exhausted. I seriously considered not running, or dropping down to the 5k. I decided to at least attempt the half, and see how it went. There were a LOT of runners doing the half. Fortunately, my friend Tom saw me and asked if he could run with me for a bit. The start was a little crowded but spread out pretty well, considering there weren't corrals or a staggered start, and there were a LOT of runners. For miles 1-7, I was excited that I was on track to easily PR and finish under 2 hours. Unfortunately, at mile 7, my quad strain acted up and I was running but limping about a minute per mile slower than I had been running. I was frustrated and it hurt, but Tom stuck with me and encouraged me the whole way. The last three miles seemed to take forever. I finished in 2:00:11, getting a PR, but not quite finishing under two hours. I'm kind of kicking myself for not pushing myself just a bit harder but my legs were really hurting. I was very relieved when the race was over.
Post-race event: This was pretty fun, but cold. The post race event had a food/beer tent with heating lamps, and an indoor room with vendors, (no food allowed indoors) a photo op area, and first aid/massage stations. There was soup and bread, nut butter, and Deschutes beer. There was supposed to be eggnog and hot cocoa and oatmeal too? There were KIND bars, chips, electrolyte drink, and Zico coconut water as well. We hung around a little while but decided to go somewhere for brunch.
Overall, it was a pretty good race, but it was expensive and there were a LOT of people--it was more crowded than I prefer, from packet pickup to actually running to post-race party. There aren't many December half marathon opportunities, which makes the Holiday Half pretty enticing, but I'm not sure I'd shell out the almost $90 to run it again.