May 2, 2004

The Coon Family Hiking Club
Official 2004 Hike #2

LENGTH OF HIKE 7.46 miles (12K) - 1 hours 35 minutes

It seemed like the entire town of Spokane turned out for Bloomsday. Along with Jim, Tammy, two of their daughters, Dotti and myself, there were over 50,000 others who showed up to do the 12K race.

Dotti has been ailing with her rheumatoid arthritis. Tammy has had some back problems, which have affected her leg in a painful way. Jim has a sore knee. So, we discussed what we would do for the race, and the three of them decided to walk together, along with Jamie, one of Jim and Tammy's daughters. Misty, their other daughter who was walking that day, was in a separate walking group, and so she did not join them. I was debating whether I was going to see what kind of time I could cut, or if I would walk with the group. Tammy said that I should go for it, and Dotti said that she thought that would be okay and Jim thought that would be good as well, so my mind was made up.

We all piled into Jim and Tammy's van, and drove to a mall parking lot, where we parked, and then caught a bus downtown to the starting location for the race. (Parking downtown would have been a nightmare.) We arrived over an hour before starting time, and it was a bit chilly. We got into our assigned group and waited. There were beach balls being batted around by the crowd, and everyone seemed excited to get started. Finally we were ready to go. They let us go, but our group was so large that it took me 5 minutes and 50 seconds to reach the actual starting point. There was an announcer who was telling us how much time had elapsed, so we would know how much time to subtract on the other end. Dotti and the others crossed the starting line about a minute after I did. I didn't see them again until Dotti came up to me after the race with her tee-shirt in hand, and gave me a big hug and kiss.

It took quite some time for the crowd to thin enough to where I could start walking fast. Even when it did, I had to do a lot zig-zagging to keep moving along. I had planned to jog on the downhills, and walk everything else as fast as I could. The first big downhill came at about the 1.5-mile point. It was still so jammed that I really had to work to find a path to run. The left edge of the crowd usually held the most opportunity, but I did make it over to the right edge of the road at times, and everywhere in between, searching for holes in the crowd to get by through.

At the bottom of the hill we passed the 2-mile mark, as we began the climb up "Cemetary Hill." At this point I returned to my fast walking pace, and cleared the top after the 3-mile marker. It was more or less level from there to the 4.0-mile point, and I checked my stopwatch to see how much time had passed. I found that I had been walking for 50:52. I didn't calculate it at the time, but that was a 12:43 pace to that point. However, Doomsday Hill was still in front of me.

At the 4.5-mile point, there was a fairly steep downgrade of about 4.7%. I once again started jogging to try and make up some time that I could use on the upcoming hill. We came down the hill and it started to change to uphill before we even got to the bridge crossing the Spokane River, which marks the start of Doomsday Hill, a 0.72-mile, 145-foot upgrade. I hit the bottom of the hill at 1 hour and 1 minute into my walk. On the way up, I was talking to the hill, especially as I neared the top, and I was feeling like it wasn't going to be so bad after all. "You ain't so bad," I said to the hill, in order to spur myself on. But I was very happy to clear the top and get back on the regular, and level streets to do what was left of the last 2 miles.

All along the way, they had various people who were playing music or dancing etc, to help cheer the runners on. On the downtown streets there were groups of people yelling encouragement, and on the residential streets that we went down, there were people in their yards yelling and clapping to the people going by. Most appreciated were the ones who broke out their garden hoses and sprayed water onto the passing runners and walkers. Did that water feel good! As we got closer to the finish line, there was a fire engine spraying a fine mist of water into the road for us to cool off under, as they handed out cups of water to us. More than the race, I found the way that the city people got behind the participants to be the most exciting part of the whole event. It was amazing!

As I approached the finished line, I could see it off in the distance, with an arch of purple balloons marking the line. I suddenly hit me that, although I was very tired, and I had just worked my way through a side ache, the road ahead was taking a downhill turn. I had committed myself to run on the downhills. Also, I saw at the finish line, there was a huge digital clock ticking away, and it said that 1 hour and fifty some minutes had passed. I told myself that no matter how tired I was, I was not going to let that clock roll over to 2 hours before I passed the finish. So, off I ran towards that purple arch.

The photo that they took of me as I crossed the line said that the time was 1:56:30. Later I found that the clock in the photo was started 15 minutes before my group began to run. So, that meant the official clock was reading 1:41:30 for my group, when I crossed the line. Then when I subtracted the 5:50 for the time that passed before I could reach the starting line, after my group began to run, my official time came to 1:35:40. My stopwatch read 1:35:35 as I crossed the line, so that is pretty close to what the official time was.

Here's Dotti, smiling and wearing her walking outfit, sporting her official Bloomsday "bib" displaying her "bib number" of 34520. (If you click on the photo at the top of the Bloomsday Finisher teeshirt, you will be taken to a page where you can enter in the bib number of a finisher and get the stats for that runner/walker.) The sky was blue and the sky was out as you can see. At the time it was still quite cool out, but later on, especially during the race, that sun felt plenty warm.
This is your's truly. My bib number was 39852. I had my pen in my pocket and my "niece" asked me if I was going to "do math" on the walk. Hmm. She knows me too well. :) Actually the pen went along with my "Journal Lite" notebook in my back pocket so I could write things down as needed, like finishing times, and anything that I might eat along the way. As it turned out I had quite a few things to jot down before we got back home to my regular journal. I had to take the opportunity to promote Dotti's web page, and so I wore the DWLZ ball cap.

I actually wore the long sleeve shirt through most of the race. I like to avoid over exposure to the sun, and it was pretty cool at the start of the race. It wasn't until I hit "Doomsday Hill" that I finally took it off and tided it around my neck. When this picture was taken, and well into the race, I was very happy to the have extra warmth.

Here is our "niece" Jamie, and Dotti. We are all excited about the race, and we were just about to leave to catch the bus about this time.
This is Misty, another niece with her "Uncle Al."

Our best friends, Tammy and Jim, all set for Bloomsday.
We drove over to a local shopping mall, and parked the van, because they had a whole bunch of buses making the run from the mall to the starting area of the Bloomsday race. We had to wait in line to get a bus, but the wait was really quite short. The buses filled up fast and then the next one was already waiting.

Two lovely ladies waiting to get on the bus.
My "bud" Jim.

And here is the old man of the group as we are getting close to getting on the bus.
Jim and Jamie comfortably seated as we were finally on our way to Bloomsday.

Misty Dawn happy to be heading to the race.
Jim said something funny while trying to hold a straight face.

Two happy folks heading for the race.
Jamie is on the left, and the Convention Center & International AG Trade and Convention Center is in the background. We spent some time in that building the day before the race. We picked up our official racing material there, and then wandered through a large assortment of booths, offering a wide variety of walking/running items. Dotti picked up a flashing reflector that we have used several times on our evening walks since Bloomsday.

Jamie was a bit cold at this point. She was ready for the warm temperatures we were going to see at the end of the race, but not the far cooler temps at 07:30. Uncle Al took pity on her and let her borrow his shirt while we were waiting.
The "Blue" races were waiting behind the yellow line for the starting time to come. You can see there is quite crowd lined up, and the race is at least an hour away at this time.

Volunteers make the Bloomsday race possible. They keep thing organized, so the race can get started and proceed with minimal problems. At various places long the racecourse we had people handing out water, or providing entertainment in the form of song and/or dance (including, my personal favorite, belly dancing at one point), and first aid, just in case. There were a large number of volunteers who were handing out the teeshirts after we crossed finished line. I remember those who sprayed water on us most fondly. That included one fire truck, and many private citizens with their garden hoses when we passed through a residential area. It wasn't the actually race that was so inspiring, it was the tremendous support that the city of Spokane gave to this event. They made you feel like a celebrity for participating.
Jamie was in the blue group, so we went here first to drop her off. The adults were all in the Orange group was positioned just ahead of the Blue group. (See map below for starting positions, as well as the entire route for the race.)

While waiting there were many beach balls that were brought out and bounced around. You can see that some of them get quite high. As soon as one gets knocked out of sight, someone blows up another one.
Dotti studying the course from a distance, planning her winning strategy.

My lovely Dotti, and half of Jim's mustache.
There's the rest of it. He's wearing his ball cap that is promoting both golfing and his grandkids.

Jim's lovely Tammy. She is keeping in touch with her two daughters in the race. At this point Jamie had decided that she was going to come up to our group and start with us, and then do the race with "Aunt Dotti", Mom and Dad. Tammy talked her over to us through the mob so Jamie could find us.
It is common practice to have a cold temperature while waiting for starting time, and then to have the racers warm up quickly once they start moving. During the wait, they wear their sweatshirts or other outer garments, and then as race time approaches they start stripping them off and throwing them up into the trees. After the race, the garments are collected for charity.

This is the view looking straight back from where we were standing.
And this is the view looking forward towards the starting point. We actually didn't reach the starting line until we turned the corner at the signal lights that stood beyond the American flag in the center of the picture. After making that turn, we had to go one block to the left, and the we turned right and that was where the starting line actually was. They were announcing the amount of elapsed time that had passed since our group started as we approached the start line. From the time the clock started for our group, it took me just over 5 minutes and 50 seconds to get to the starting line (at the intersection of Stevens and Riverside), where my official time could start. For Dotti, Tammy, Jim and Jamie it was well over 6 minutes.

In the upper right corner of the map you can see the staring location. Jamie was scheduled to start in the Blue area, but came up to join us where we were waiting at the corner of Washington and Main. Misty Dawn was in the Lilac area.

As you see, the orange time started at 09:15, however the clock we saw at the finished line started with the Yellow and Green at 09:00. So, by the time I hit the starting line, nearly 21 minutes had already ticked off the clock at the finished line. Fortunately I started my own stopwatch, as I crossed the starting line, and so was able to get an actual time for the race.

Along the racecourse they had large signs that marked each mile and it was always nice to see another mile gone by. About Mile 5 we hit Doomsday Hill, and it was a challenge in the heat, but there were some musicians and people with bull horns rooting us on. After hitting the top, we were into the residential area and people were in their yards rooting for us, and some were spraying water on us to cool us off. It was such a charged atmosphere of support that it made the event seem bigger than life.

At the end of the course we were first given our tee-shirts, and then directed across the Spokane River, towards Riverfront park; more on that later.
This gives you an idea of what the course did as far as elevation change. We started at about 1900 feet, and then ended there as well. In between, we had two descents of consequence, and then naturally to ascents. The second ascent was all in one shot, and that was Doomsday Hill. The entire course was 7.46 miles long, with a change in elevation of about 150 feet twice, cumulatively giving a change of about 300 feet total. Even though that was not as much of a change in elevation as many of the hikes that Dotti and I have taken, doing nearly 7.5 miles as fast as we could left my legs very tire at the end. I knew that I had been on hike!

This photo and the following 7 photos were all ones that we purchased, because I wasn't going to stop to take pictures during the actual run. This one shows the front of our Orange group, waiting for 09:15. We were a full city block behind this streetlight. You can tell the ones in front have their coats or heavier clothes on, so the actually start was not yet here.
This is the Green group as they are getting under way. When our group started, at first it was hardly moving at all. Then you could feel a bit of a rush begin as the crowd began to pick up speed. Still there were very few people who could start jogging yet. In fact, even though most of the way I was merely speed walking, I found that I had to move back and forth across the road to find a path to walk without running into someone ahead of me. Often I would have to go onto the shoulder of the road, or the sidewalk to find a clear path. Dotti, Tammy, Jim and Jamie actually came to a halt at one point because at bottle neck in the course there was a deer standing on the hill beside the road and people were stopping to look at it.

There is some separating beginning to come between the people for this group, and folks can begin to find their pace.

If you look at the clock to the right, you can see that this a group that started earlier than our group, because it is only about 5 after 09:00, and our group started at 09:15.
This group is made up of greens and yellows, and they are heading towards the finish line.

In order to get to the place where the previous picture was taken, the participants had to first get up "Doomsday Hill" shown here. It was at the start of this hill when I took off my long sleeved shirt and tied it around my neck, because I was starting to feel a bit warm finally. To keep myself motivated while going up the hill, I found myself talking to it. "You aren't so bad." "You aren't going to stop me." And other such nonsense, just to keep my attitude right. It seemed to help.
At several points along the route, they had water stations like this one, where paper cups filled with water were available. People would grab a cup or two and pour the water inside and/or outside to quench their thirst and cool off. Once the water was gone from the cups they all found their way to the road surface, and being a bit slick, they made the road surface a little tricky to walk on.

As I approached the finish, I could see it off in the distance, with an arch of purple balloons marking the line. It suddenly hit me that, although I was very tired, and I had just worked my way through the first side ache that I had had in years, the road ahead was taking a downhill turn. I had committed myself to run on the downhills. Also, I saw at the finish line, there was a huge digital clock ticking away, and it said that 1 hour and fifty some minutes had passed. I told myself that no matter how tired I was, I was not going to let that clock roll over to 2 hours before I passed the finish. So, off I ran towards that purple arch.
When we purchased this picture and I was quite disappointed, because it was cropped right down the middle of my body on the right side. However, when we discussed the problem with them, they sent a new picture that was cropped correctly and they included a close up of me free of charge! There I am in my blue jeans, red tee-shirt, with my long-sleeved shirt tied around my neck. The clock says 1 hour 56 minutes 31 seconds. My stop watch said 1 hour 35 minutes 35 seconds. From that, since we know that the clock started at 09:00, we can calculate that I hit the starting line at 09:20:56, after waiting 15 minutes until my group started at 09:15, and then taking another 5 minutes and 56 seconds to reach the starting line. That was within a few seconds of what I would have come up with for a time using the time called out as we approached the starting line. However, I was happiest that I had completed the race, and just followed the crowd to the tee-shirt pick up point.

I had already picked up my tee-shirt at this point and turned the corner to the left. Out ahead are the finishers who have collected their shirts already and are looking for other finishers that they know, while cooling down from the race. I had just called Tammy on my cell phone, and found that they were still on Doomsday Hill, after they had stopped for a potty break early on.

I had carried my camera throughout the race in a little black bag on my belt. I only took it out just moments before this picture was taken.
I had turned around 180 for this shot, looking back at the finishers coming from the tee-shirt pickup tables. On the right was a platform where a PA system was set up.

There was a girl on the mike keeping a steady patter of instructions and motivational comments. She kept pressing the people to keep moving through the area, and also made announcements calling out people's names and telling them where to meet their family or friends. I spent most of the time that I waited under this platform where I could see the others when they finished. As it turned out, Dotti spotted me first and came over after they had picked up their shirts.
When I first finished the race I was thinking about going back and walking part of it over again with the others, but they had the route blocked off pretty well so access was not easy. I did walk back a few blocks to where I took this picture, with the finish line just visible in the background, but my legs were feeling very tired all at once, and I gave up hope of rejoining the others before they finished.

This was taken from the same point as the previous picture but looking in the opposite direction. After crossing the finish line, the participants walked past the point where I was standing, and on for the rest of this block. At the next corner they turned right and headed into the area where the shirts were being handed out. Along the side of the walkers you can see finishers who are looking to meet up with friends or family.

The route that I had taken to get here was up the sidewalk to the right of the fence, where you can see another finisher with his tee-shirt in hand heading towards the camera. From the tee-shirt area, there was a break in the fence where we could get around the crowd, and walk across a vacant lot, to get to sidewalk outside the fence. My legs didn't want me to do a lot of extra walking by this time, and there didn't seem to be any easy way across the fence. So, I headed back to the tee-shirt area to wait for the others.
Here I am back just past the tee-shirt handout area. Off in the distance you can see a set of street lights. That is the same corner that was mentioned where the turn was made from the point where the previous picture was taken. The last three photos have taken us from the finish line all the way to the tee-shirt pick up.

The crowd was split up into channels between the many tee-shirt tables, which continue well out of the photo to the left. So, there was not much backup for those who had not yet reached this area. The whole process was very efficient, and the whole time the lady on the microphone was keeping the people moving along so they didn't congregate in the pathway after they picked up their shirts.

Here they are. You can see Tammy, Jim, Jamie and Dot, now past the finish line, and smiling in the lower right-hand corner of this picture. The clock says 2 hours 42 minutes 47 seconds. Once again we have to subtract 15 minutes off the top for the delayed start our group had. They also didn't cross the start line until about 6 minutes 30 seconds after the start of our group. That would bring their actual race time to 2:37:47. They also had to deal with a couple of other interruptions. At one point very early on, there was a bottleneck, where the road narrowed, and a hill was leading up off to the side. There was a deer having breakfast on the hill, and a lot of the racers stopped to look, causing a major backup. This took some time to get past. Then, not much after this, unfortunately, nature called, and they had to stop at one of the port-a-potty stations along the course. This are very popular stopping points, and there was about a 20 minute wait to get that task completed. So, the time that they actually spent walking and jogging was not much more than 2 hours.

On the right, extracted from the same picture, you can see a close up of the 4 of them. Tammy and Dotti look really happy. Jim is smiling too, but Jamie is looking serious for the moment. The race is completed. Now for the celebration.

First to pick up their tee-shirts and then to find Al.

Then to cross the Spokane River, running full this time of year. Later on in the day, we would be crossing the closest bridge in this picture heading to the left. Off to the right in the distance is the Riverfront Park area where the fun awaits us.
This is a continuation of the last picture, as the river is split by the rock island you see on the right of this picture, and we can see the leftmost channel here.

And enterprising group of people were offering to take our picture for a fee, and we thought that was a good idea. The Spokane River is in the back ground and we are not standing too far away from where the last two pictures were taken.

Unfortunately, Misty had not caught up with us yet, so she wasn't in this picture. But we got some of her later on when she joined us in the park. Now you can see that Jamie is smiling.
The Spokane River makes a beautiful backdrop for this picture of Jim and Tammy.

Aunt Dotti and Jamie sporting their new tee-shirts, with the River looking angry in the background.
My lovely Dotti once more.

Another picture of the old man of the group. Here I am wearing my hat, and my Bloomsday Finisher tee-shirt.
Misty has caught up with us just after we have discovered a delightful treat: chocolate covered strawberries. Misty is enjoying hers while Aunt Dotti is on her phone talking with LeRoy.

We were standing in line to grab a little something to eat when a lady walked by holding something that just like what you see in this picture. Dotti and Tammy asked her where she got it from, and the next thing you know, we are all holding our own personal copy of this work of art. Shortly after that, they were all gone! It was worth doing the race for this treat alone.
Jim and Dotti, taking a well earned rest after the race. Dotti is still talking with LeRoy on the phone.

Here we are walking beside the Spokane River. Ahead you can see a bridge. That is the same bridge that was behind us when we took that series of pictures right after the race (images 45 to 51). In those pictures were standing nearly straight ahead from this view, but just off to the left behind the building there. In those other pictures we could see that the Spokane River was divided into two parts. We are here walking down by the river on what would have been the "right" section, in the other images. The other branch of the river lies just on the other side of the rock island you can see to the right in this picture.
In pictures number 49 and 50, you could see this bridge in the background. The river is flowing full and fast.

We are approaching continuing to move downstream and you can now see the point where the two branches of the river are coming back together. The water's energy is creating mists above its surface.
Looking upstream the white water is foaming as the river rushing by.

This piece of volcanic basalt is standing resolute against the water crashing upon it, angry and foaming.
Looking downstream we can see the bridge where we took those earlier pictures. Once we finished the race we came out on the right side of that bridge, and then proceeded across it, stopping to take those other pictures. The sky was beautiful, and the churning water running out from under the bridge, was reminiscent of the wake generated at the rear of a ship.

This sculpture was mounted on the rock bank of the river.
Here is the story of the Great Spokane Fire of 1889.

My lovely Dotti with the river behind her.
Somehow they got me in front of the camera.

Can you tell why these two have been married about the same number of years as Dotti I have?
Jamie, Dotti, Tammy, Jim and Misty enjoying Bloomsday.

Dotti and I swapped places for this picture.
Here Jim and I are studying the water running under the bridge.

Misty and Dotti. Dotti just got a call from Pat, Jim's (my stepfather) sister.
Dotti getting the news that Jim is headed for the hospital. We were hoping at this time it wasn't going to be too serious.

Jim with the Spokane River behind him.
This picture was actually taken the next day as we were driving home. A lady saw us taking some pictures and offered to take one of both of us.

With Yakima down in the valley below us, Dotti caught me standing up on a guardrail.
Here's Dotti sitting on the guardrail, as pretty as..., well as pretty as a picture!

This is not our normal route home, but we thought we would try it out because we heard that it ran close to Mt. Rainier. It did, but Rainier was in the clouds for the most part. You can just see the base of it behind Dotti.
With this shot of yours truly, with Mt. Rainier in the background (what you can see of her), well bring the Bloomsday event to a close.
The only sad part of the Bloomsday experience, aside from the fact that it had to come to an end, was when we heard about my step father going to the hospital. We had no idea at that time how serious it was, or that he would be passing away in just a few days. It is hard to bring my mind back over that terrible event, to properly remember all the fun that we had on that day, but the photos that we took have really helped to refresh our memories.

Dotti and I are very much blessed to have friend like Jim and Tammy, and they are as close to us as family. Their daughters are our nieces, and we just love going to Spokane to visit with them all.

Added to our special times with our friends, was the amazing support that the city of Spokane gave to the Bloomsday race. They came out to run, walk, or cheer. After race, we all went to Costco wearing our Finisher shirts. Many people that we ran into had positive things to say to us for doing the race. They made us feel almost like celebrities. It was an experience that Dotti and I will never forget, and we have our dear friends to thank for our opportunity to share it.