Last Saturday, I packed my bags, got in my buddy’s stick shift Toyota Corolla and rode shotgun for 3 hours to North Bend, WA.
Now why in the world would I do that? To run the Snoqualmie Railroad Days 10k race of course!
I’ve never run the Railroad Days race before, but I have a couple of friends (Stephen and Steve!) who have lived in the area and visiting the cooler side of Washington State sounded nice! The 3 of us have been training for the Leavenworth Marathon that is coming up in October, so this 10k race was to be a nice test to see how our overall conditioning is.
The last time I had run a 10k race was in March of this year in the Tri-cities. I had set a personal best at that race of 46:28; however, I felt like I could have done much better. So, this race was not only to see where my overall conditioning for Leavenworth was, but to also get that 10k time down! I really went into the race hoping for a 45 minute flat time.
I am going to review the Railroad Days 10k race itself, along with some of my own personal thoughts as well.
The packet pick up was simple and well organized. We opted to grab our packets the morning of the race since we had driven in from out of town. They had the usual table with plenty of volunteers there to help your racing bib and shirt, etc.
The pick up was near the finish line, so it was a great chance to see where the race would end up. I was happy that the pre-race was well organized, as this allowed me to focus on getting warmed up and mentally prepared for the race.
I had plans to set a PR during this 10k race, so it was time to get ready!
Weather and Course
One of the draws of running in Snoqualimie is without a doubt the views and the cooler weather. This race morning did not disappoint!
The weather was around 60 degrees or so, and by the time the race got started, it was overcast. So, it was slightly humid, but not overly. In fact, the weather was pretty much a non-factor which is exactly what you want when running.
I had not driven or run the course before the race started, but by simply looking around…I knew it was going to be a beautiful course. What can be better than running in view of Mount Si and in the pines? And the fact that we get to run over the Snoqualmie River just tops it off!
Take a look at the course map and elevation changes here:
We decided to run a slow jog of just over a mile for our warmup. Then after that we ran for about 2 minutes at our 10k pace. I actually highly recommend this warmup for a 10k. I felt great from the start, which is exactly what you want a warm up to do.
So, we all lined up at the start line on Railroad Avenue, did a quick countdown, and the race was on!
From there the course goes north until you cross the Snoqualmie River, then starts heading south as you turn on Southeast Mill Pond Road. It really is pretty back in that area…I kinda wish I had taken my time to take it all in.
Then the course runs a bit through town and then further south out of town until you hit the turnaround point. At that point, you basically just make your way back to where you started (see the map above). The course was flat for the most part and comfortable. Definitely one of the better courses that I’ve run!
Atmosphere and Support
As mentioned, my warm up really helped me feel good from the start. In fact, I ran the first mile about 10 seconds faster than I was hoping, so really needed to reign it in for the second mile. As I ran the race, I noticed that the atmosphere and support of people was really great for a smaller race.
There were plenty of volunteers giving directions and handing out water at the aid stations. In addition, the crowd support was great at a couple of spots along the way.
The course doesn’t lend itself to have crowds the entire way, but there was certainly plenty of people out watching and cheering the runners on…and particularly at the end.
I finished the first half of the 10k race basically right at my overall hoped for pace, but I could tell that the second half was going to be a struggle for me. Don’t you just hate that feeling during a race when your body is telling you to slow down, but your mind is struggling to tell it to keep going? Well, that’s basically how I felt the entire second half of the race.
My pace really slowed down during the last few miles. I started wondering if I was even going to get my Personal best that I had set out for!
If I wasn’t sucking wind so hard, I might have enjoyed the finish line a bit more. The final stretch of the race is along Railroad Avenue, the same place the Railroad Days parade and events were to be occurring right after the race. So, the vendors were out and tons of crowd support.
That’s about everything you can ask for in a finish line – lots of people cheering you on.
Personally, I needed all the support I could get to bring it home. Miles 5 and 6 continued to be a struggle for me, and my pace was way off what a 45 minute flat time should be. I knew I wasn’t going to get a sub-45 time…and now I was wondering if I would even hit a PR.
The last half mile, I was able to pick it up a bit…thanks to the crowd?…and I was happy to see the finish line in the distance! I could also see that the clock had just hit 46 minutes, and my current PR was 46:28. I had flashbacks to my race in Boise (aka my mental breakdown race) where I also went in expecting to shatter a PR and didn’t even quite get it.
Well, I told my body to charge ahead despite not finishing the time I wanted, a PR was still within reach.
I’m happy to say that I finished the race in 46:14…about 14 seconds ahead of my personal best! Was I overjoyed? Nope. In fact, I still think I could have pushed myself much harder than I did and flirted with that 45 minute goal; but I’ll still take the PR.
Maybe if the course wasn’t so pretty…I could have focused a bit more!
Actually, with no specific training for a 10k leading up to the race. In addition, I didn’t do any real tapering after running over 260 miles over the past 4 weeks leading up to the race. So, my excuse is that my body is quite fatigued, and I could have done much better with direct 10k training.
But I have to remember, that its really the Marathon in October that I’m preparing for…
At the finish line, was plenty of water and snacks including bagels, oranges, and bananas. I was able to meet up with Stephen, who had finished several minutes ahead of me, and Steve who was not too far behind me! We grabbed some food and made our way over to where they were posting race results.
I was happy to see that Stephen had gotten 2nd in his age group…and I’ll let him post his story probably early next week. Let’s just say he ROCKED the race! I ended up 4th in my age group (thanks for bumping me out of the top 3 Stephen!); which I can live with.
The awards followed shortly thereafter, where Sean Sundwall (the race director) was announcing the winners. Here’s a picture of Stephen getting his 2nd place award:
My Closing Thoughts
Overall, I really enjoyed the Railroad Days event in Snoqualmie! Sean Sundwall did a fantastic job putting the race together, and is obviously experienced at organizing events. I also hear Sean is one of the top runners in the area, so its too bad he had a small injury preventing him from running.
For anyone looking for a fun event with a great atmosphere and beautiful scenery, I definitely recommend the Snoqualmie Railroad Days race!
While I didn’t hit the time I was personally hoping for, I’m still satisfied with hitting a personal best. Now I just have the Labor Day Half Marathon in Redmond, WA. I think my body is better trained for a longer and slower race than a shorter race like the 10k. So, I’m hoping for good things in just over a week on September 2nd! And of course, I’ll be giving an in-depth review of that race as well, so be sure to check back then.
As always, I welcome any comments or questions that you might have below.