Half Marathons · Race Recap

Beat The Blerch Recap!

Hi everyone!  I had a blast this weekend at the Beat The Blerch Half Marathon!  If you don’t know who the Blerch is, check this out before reading the rest of this.  It’s incredible and totally resonates with me and so many other runners.  First, let me start with packet pickup:

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Packet pickup was in Green Lake which was a super cute area of Seattle.  It was held at Road Runner Sports, and when we arrived the line was all the way around the block to pick up our packets!  I ended up meeting a few awesome people in line and we chatted about fun races to run in the Pacific Northwest while my husband and father-in-law waited at a nearby coffee shop.  Our packets included a sweet zip up running shirt and a Blerch magnet and sticker.

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After getting my packet, I waited in another line to buy The Oatmeal’s newest book, The Terrible and Wonderful Reasons Why I Run Long Distances.  Of course I had to get it signed, but that line went around the block too!

IMG_3005The Blerch would not approve of this line getting in the way of lunchtime

It turned out that Matt Inman, the creator of The Oatmeal, was not only signing books but was drawing pictures for everyone as well!  I was so excited, but it meant that things moved slowly so I waited in line for another 2 hours.  My husband eventually ran to Panera to get me a carb-heavy lunch while I waited.  By the time he got there, I was next in line!  And when you’re in carb-loading mode, there’s only one thing you can do in this situation:

IMG_3006The Oatmeal in person!  He’s skinnier than in his comics!

Yep, I ate bread in front of him.  He understands the power of food more than anyone else.  We discussed my new job in Anchorage, how awesome the race was going to be, and the best way to eat Nutella (with a spoon or a straw, anything else “dilutes it” according to him).  He drew me a bear because I live in Alaska which is AWESOME considering the fact that he has no idea about my bear obsession!  And he also gave me some good PR wishes on my bib as well.  It was worth the wait and I went home looking forward to the race!

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If you know me at all, you know I spent the night before the race being nervous about it.  I woke up the morning feeling calm though, and after my usual oatmeal breakfast we drove over to Tolt McDonald Park in Carnation, WA for the race.  The marathoners were sent off at 9:00 and before they started Matt Inman made a speech about how we all should be at home laying on the couch eating instead of running.  It was the best race start ever!  After the marathoners left, I nervously walked around eyeing the huge boxes of post-race cake before finally starting at 9:30.  My original plan was to start at a 12:30 pace, work my way down to 11:30 for most of the race, and then end faster to get a PR.  I’ve done this before and it worked really well for me.  But something was off on Saturday and by mile 3 I could tell that this was not going to be a PR race.  I couldn’t speed up at all and kept on slowing down despite all my efforts to run faster!  I also felt super nauseous and had a headache for most of the race.  I can’t tell if I was dehydrated or just too warm, but it just wasn’t my race.  In fact, it was my slowest half marathon to date!  But I made a serious effort to just enjoy my time out on the course once I knew a PR wasn’t possible.

Now here’s what you all really want to hear about – the course!  It started on a paved trail but quickly turned into a stone trail.  I would probably call this a trail race because of the uneven surface, which is cool because I’ve never run a trail race before!  It followed streams and fields through shady woods and I really loved how peaceful and pretty it was.  There were 2 aid stations that you passed through twice, and both had typical water, gatorade, and cliff shots as well as cake, Nutella sandwiches, and couches!  There were also people dressed up like the Blerch trying to talk us into sitting down and eating some cake who chased us towards the aid stations.  It was awesome!  At the first aid station we even saw Sasquatch!  Even though there was virtually no crowd support, the volunteers were awesome and I had a great time.  And since it was an out-and-back course, I got a chance to see Matt Inman running back towards the finish and I yelled “Good job!” and him – and he said the same back to me!  Yay for running with the person who has inspired you to push through so many difficult runs!

IMG_3009All smiles and thumbs up at the end of the race!

Throughout the race I never really had that big “crashing” feeling that I had in my last race, but was able to maintain a steady yet slow pace with tons of walk breaks for water.  I am starting to realize that running anywhere but Alaska is going to be tough because of how I react to heat!  I thought about giving up a few times and I’m glad that I was able to beat my blerchyness and keep going until the end.  And at the end, I was rewarded with a ton of people cheering for me, an announcer saying my name, and the best race medal ever!

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Also, there was an amazing selection of post-race food!  The cake was so good!

IMG_3010A banana, Nutella sandwiches, a Larabar, cake, and potato chips (which tasted so perfect after running so long!)

Overall, I had a great time beating the Blerch with thousands of other people at the inaugural race.  Stay tuned for more locations throughout the country next year so you all can try to beat the Blerch.  The Oatmeal has hinted that the race is coming to Philly next, and I will be all over that race when it does!

IMG_3012-0Eating all the Nutella after the race!

Do you believe in the Blerch?  What’s the craziest thing you’ve ever seen at an aid station?

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38 thoughts on “Beat The Blerch Recap!

  1. OMG the Blerch is hilarious!! I love all the funny stuff it brought to the race- like the couches! soo entertaining! If it does come to Philly I would def. want to try it. Good job finishing! Runs in the heat are the worst esp when you’re not used to it!

  2. First of all thank you so much for sharing that story! I had never heard of the Blerch but it resonates with me so clearly. Second, way to go on your race! So happy for you! No matter what pace you run or when you finish you still beat your blerch and that is what matters most! Third, the fact that this race is coming to Philly is without a doubt the best news I have heard all day. I can’t wait to sign up.

    1. I’m so glad you liked it! It’s my favorite running motivator! Thanks so much for your positive thoughts, it was a hard race mentally and I’m glad I got through it and didn’t feel upset afterwards. And he made a tiny little comment about how the Philly area is next on his Facebook page, so I’m taking that as a promise!

  3. Congratulations :). I saw this marathon/half marathon and even though I’ve sworn off long distance, I would totally do this if I had the chance and lived close to Seattle. I love that this race seems to embrace everyone including newbies and runners who are not as fast, it is more about fun and completion than competition- and that’s how it should be!

    1. They have a 10k and virtual if you’re interested next year! And yes, it was such an amazing experience being at a race that didn’t take itself seriously! Everyone was so supportive!

    1. Okay it’s funny that you say that, because for the last 5 miles all I could think about was pizza! So I stopped at Little Caesars on the way home for some immediate pizza and ate almost the whole thing over the course of the day! But the cake was super yummy too 🙂

    1. That part is in his book! It’s seriously funny. I think you can preorder it on Amazon for $10 right now! And I really hope his comment about coming to the Philly area next will actually happen soon!

  4. This recap just oozes awesome. He drew you a bear at his book signing? Couches and people dressed as the Blerch along the course? Post race Nutella sandwich and cake? LOVE IT ALL
    Sounds like a pretty great experience, even if it wasn’t your day for a PR. I’m glad you were still able to enjoy the race!

  5. Great recap Kristen!! That is so nice he drew a picture in your book and I love the “PR like the Wind” quote on your bib. The post race food looks good, I will have to be on a Philly watch 🙂

  6. Oh, I so wanted to run that race but it just wasn’t in the cards for me. I hope they do another one next year! Sounds like it was a great time. Thank you for sharing your experience.

  7. Ahh I’m so jealous that you got stuff signed by The Oatmeal, and that he gave you a shout-out during the race! That’s so awesome! I ran the 10K that day, and it really was surprisingly hot. Congrats on beating the Blerch! 🙂

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