Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Bloomsday Re-cap!

Spokane's Bloomsday run is definitely something that should be experienced at least once by every Northwestern runner.  It is a HUGE race, with almost fifty thousand runners and it is pretty amazing that the city pulls it off so well and with such fanfare.

Here's how Bloomsday weekend went down for me: 

On Friday, Michael and I went to the expo in downtown Spokane to pick up my race packet.  I was surprised at how many other people were also there getting their packets because I thought most of the crowds would be there Saturday.  We had to park a couple of blocks away and walk back to the convention center, which was kind of a hassle with the stroller and digging around to find small change to pay for parking.  Once inside, they had a TON of tables set up for registration and so many volunteers working registration that most tables had no wait line.  My camera battery was dead and I forgot my phone in the car so I wasn't able to get a picture.

We had a good time walking around the expo and checking out the vendors, and Michael particularly loved the free cookies.  Btw I was surprised to see cookies and donut holes at the very first booth!  There was also chocolate fondue at the booth for the Seattle Hot Chocolate Run!  Not your typical runner food, haha!

I was seeded in the green group because I had never done the race before, but after talking with some of the other women from running group, they said I should try to move up into the yellow group because the green would be too slow.  So I took proof of my Shamrock half finish and the nice volunteer lady bumped me up to yellow, but she made a funny comment like "well, under two hours for a half marathon, that's not too bad."  I was thinking, hey that's my pr, what do you mean, not too bad!

Saturday morning I took Michael to running group with me and we just did two miles with him in the BOB.  Everyone else there was running ten miles since all of the other Bloomies didn't show up to group.  Michael had a good time getting to see other runners while riding in the stroller.  Normally it’s just the two of us so he loves to have stuff/people to look at and to say "bah bah bah" to!

Sunday morning was RACE DAY!!  The race didn't start until 9 so I actually didn't even have to get up early to go.  My friends Andrea and Kyle picked me up at 7:30, but you know my little guy woke us up long before then!  We drove over to the Spokane Valley Mall parking area and arrived shortly after 8 where there were several thousand people there waiting to board the buses.
Waiting to board the bus to Spok-angeles.

  All shapes and sizes were heading down to Spokane for Bloomsday.  Tons of families with strollers, old men in jeans, and I even saw one lady with a huge hiking baby carrier, wearing street clothes and ballet flats.  Surely she wasn’t going to be walking!  It was going to be such a warm day!  Yikes.
Thankfully we only had to wait about 20 minutes to board a bus because they had a lot of buses there and since we were willing to stand on the bus, got to skip a few of the folks in line ahead of us.  It was about a 15 minute ride to downtown, which was swarming with runners and walkers!  I have never been in a race this big, but I was continually impressed by how organized everything was.  You had to enter your color group through a chain link fence, and they closed the gate to our color group about 10 minutes to 9.
The starting line is up there...somewhere...

  Andrea and I ended up at the back of the yellow area so next time I think we will try to move up a little further.  We heard the gun go off for the elites at 9 and started to move up shortly thereafter.  Around 9:10, we crossed the start line and we were off!

The first couple of miles were slightly downhill through downtown Spokane.  The streets were so crowded that some folks were running on the sidewalks - dodging spectators and sometimes running into them too, yikes!  It was so crowded that we were running slower than I would have liked, but I quickly realized that was just how it was probably going to be, so I should just relax and enjoy the show.
First musical act: the Cathedral Choir!

As we got further away from downtown, we had some up and downhills.  The first half of the course was much hillier than I expected and lots of people were walking only a couple of miles in!  There were 28 bands along the course and lots of people cheering so it felt like a party the whole way.  

Shortly after mile 4/5, we had a nice down hill to cross a bridge and then we had to tackle the infamous “Doomsday Hill.”  The hill looks more intimidating than it actually is because you can see it coming and you see all of the thousands of folks tackling it before you.
You can just barely see "Doomsday Hill" off in the distance - we are going downhill here, approaching the bridge that crosses the Spokane River.

Doomsday is actually not terribly steep but it is about a half mile-ish long.  There were folks really struggling to get up it, particularly because it was getting warmer and warmer and you really had to dodge the walkers if you wanted to keep running.  At the top there was a guy in a vulture costume "circling his prey."  Clever, but probably not appreciated by the folks who barely made it up the hill, haha!
Well, you know he was feeling the heat too!

After this we had about 2 miles of flat/downhill running.  We got to run through a beautiful neighborhood lining the Spokane river before turning back towards downtown.  We ran down Broadway and then turned right to the finish line!  I was giving my super cheesy smile and giant wave for the photographers, so my pics should look pretty ridiculous.  
The finish is within sight!
 This is the first race I’ve done where it is just about as crowded at the finish as it is at the start.  But everything was so well organized and I never worried about my safety.  Obviously, I was very impressed and enjoyed my experience.  I’m not sure that I’ll do it again in the near future because with the crowds, it is actually hard to use it as a training run if you want to stay on a particular pace.  This is more a run for the experience than a run to race it.  Unless you’re like this guy, and just have a streak to keep up!

  • Lots of great entertainment on the course – you honestly don’t even feel like you’re doing a workout!
  • Incredibly well-organized, from transportation to the start line, to the plentiful water stops, to picking up your shirt at the finish
  • If you’re not used to running more than 4-6 miles, this is a great race to try a longer distance because with so many other folks, there’s so much to see to keep your mind occupied
  • You can't beat the price!  Registration was around $17 I think, and that included the cotton finisher shirt.  And it's fun to wear your shirt around town with your other 49,999 new friends!
  • It was hot!  (I know, it’s ridiculous for a Floridian to be complaining about the heat in May in WA state!)  But maybe it just seemed hot because there were so many other sweaty runners all around?  I don’t know.
  • This is a fairly hilly course, so hill training really helps, especially if this is your first time running this distance.
  • With so many runners, it is difficult to try to stay on your own pace.  We were constantly dodging around people the whole time, and the color groups are still so big that there is a wide variety of paces lumped into one color.  If you want to PR at the 12K distance, I’m not sure I’d recommend this as the race to do that.  There are just too many people if you start anywhere other than the front of the yellow group (or further up!).
All that said, I had fun at this race and felt like I got to participate in an event that is one of the hallmark events of the Inland Northwest.  We'll see if I do it next year, I'll keep you posted!


  1. Congrats on your first Bloomsday finish! I don't really like Bloomsday, but this year I choose to not run just because it was so close to Windermere. I did go and watch and it was HOT! I felt bad for all of you that were running because I was getting fried just sitting there.

    1. Thanks, Tasha! I would have liked to run it faster, but overall I just enjoyed the experience of it. I'm not sure if I'll do it next year. I think several folks from our Fleet Feet training group in CDA are running the Windermere half - I hope you'll have cooler weather, best of luck!!