We did it! Travis ran his first half in 20 years at Leavenworth with me! Talk about the perfect location, course, and weather to do it in.
Leavenworth is one of the cutest towns in Washington State and has made it’s mark as one of the best Bavarian towns in the US! It’s city center is all themed and provides the perfect setting to enjoy a beautiful weekend getaway.
I ran the Octoberfest half before, over four years ago now. It truly was my favorite half to date. So, when Travis said early this spring he wanted to train and run it I booked our race and hotel before he could change his mind! We counted down the days all summer, excited for our little getaway in the mountains.
We drove into town Friday around noon, and had booked our hotel through Sunday. We stayed at the brand new Hampton Inn & Suites. This was the hotels first Octoberfest! Everything was clean and new, which I really appreciated. The staff was nice, they had a yummy free breakfast daily, and also had a pool and hot tub.
The hotel is located right next to the Leavenworth Safeway and is about a ten minute walk to downtown. For Octoberfest the hotel had buses taking guests back and forth every half hour and went from 5pm to 1am Friday, and 10am – 1 am Saturday and Sunday all month long.
Once checked in we changed and headed downtown to get a bite to eat. Our plan was to wander around town a bit and then head to the Fish Hatchery for packet pick up later that evening.
For being the first weekend of Octoberfest it didn’t feel as crazy as I anticipated. When asking the locals they said the first weekend is always a tad quieter than the rest. I was glad the half was scheduled for the first weekend then!
Places to eat:
I feel like I need to dedicate a whole section to food, because it was just that good.
Our first stop once in town was at Gustav’s for a late lunch. They’ve got a bit of everything on the menu. The food was satisfying and the portions are good sized. We ordered a large fry and the waiter said to scale down to the small because we’d never be able to eat the large. He was right!
We ended up going back to Gustav’s the evening after our half for beer (it was one of the cheapest places we found) and the waiter talked us into dessert. OMGoodness their chocolate cake? Get it. Seriously the best chocolate fix I’ve had in ages. I’ll be eating it from here on out each and every time I visit. Withdrawals from this baby are real. It was dense, intense, and perfect. If you’re a chocolate lover your life with not be complete without a slice!
While at Gustav’s the first time we asked what other restaurants we needed to visit and our waiter said hands down South, which is their Mexican restaurant and also Andreas for traditional German brats.
We went to South later Friday night to get our carbs in and when the hostess said to visit their salsa bar and get what I wanted for the chips they were bringing I knew this place would be good. Salsa is one of my love languages. The place was hopping but we got our food fast, had unlimited chips, (as it should be) and the staff was doting.
We went to Andreas the evening after our half and it was busy. Thankfully we were able to skip the hour and a half wait because they had two seats at the bar. (#winning) I’ll be honest and say I’ve never had a traditional German dinner and wasn’t sure what to expect. I got their spicy pork brat and after an apprehensive taste I dug on in. It was delish! The house sauerkraut was also yummy, as well as their take on potato salad. I tried to talk Travis into getting one of the famous pretzels Andreas is known for but he wasn’t down for it. I’m still feeling gypped about that one.
Other honorable mentions:
Icicles coffee & chocolate. All I wanted was two squares of fudge. But, the barista informed me it was buy four get one free. How could I not? They had so much fudge and candy in that shop I’m sure I was consuming calories just breathing the air. The fudge was divine however and totally worth it. I enjoyed little bites all weekend long and Evelyn helped me finish it up when I got home.
We were back at the hotel no later than nine. I was beat and Travis was starting to get race day jitters. We stopped at Safeway on the way back and grabbed a 24 pack of water and a few bottles of Gatorade and powered some of those down, then hit the hay.
We were up at 6pm, got ready and headed down to grab breakfast. I decided since I’ve been doing intermediate fasting and usually don’t eat until noon that I was going to try and run this half fasted. My stomach was still loaded with all the food from yesterday and honestly I wasn’t hungry. Black coffee was my breakfast of choice that I sipped on while Travis had a bagel and yogurt.
There is absolutely no cell reception at the race. Zilch.
We pulled into the Fish Hatchery start area at 8, and our half started at 9. The full marathon began at seven and while we were waiting and warming up we got to see the first few full runners jet past.
Thankfully race day started just slightly overcast. Half an hour into the race and the clouds dispersed revealing sunshine and perfect weather. We were all a little concerned as it had been absolutely pouring just eight hours earlier.
Start and finish weather:
Is the race hilly?
Ted Driven puts on the race, which provides two distances, a full marathon and the half. Honestly at the moment I’m really considering doing the full next year. The first thirteen miles of the full course is all downhill, and the second thirteen is what the half marathoners run. I can tell you first hand it’s one of the levelest courses I’ve completed. There’s one little hill but besides that it’s flat, beautiful, and you run back and forth over the river multiple times. Truly it’s dreamy.
Run Travis run!
Travis will be the first to admit he was nervous going into this run. His right knee had been bothering him and we were playing with tapping it only the last few days leading up to the half. (The man didn’t want to shave his leg so the tape would stick. Seriously, that’s why he hadn’t been experimenting with it earlier.) Anyhow! It was tapped up and we were ready to go when the gun went off.
I knew going into the race that I wanted to stay by Travis’s side. He didn’t ask me to, and I knew he would have been totally fine with me running ahead. But I had been there, PRed that course before and knew I could have done it again, and that was enough. I really wanted to be there to encourage him on his first big fitness accomplishment since high school.
The course was honestly disgustingly beautiful. I can’t think of a prettier place to run in the fall. It was also a lot more organized than when I ran it four years ago. They had the roads closed off and shared better with the runners. Last time we had cars honking at us in certain sections and drivers yelling at us to “get off the road!” Yikes! None of that happened this year. It was smooth sailing.
About mile eight Travis’s knee really started working up. We were making pretty good time until then but had to slow down a bit or he said he wouldn’t be able to make it. We took a couple walking breaks to ease the pain a tad, but Travis was determined to run most of the course. He limped across the finish line and I was so stinking proud of him! He went from not working out at all for the past 10 years to training and running a half all in the course of seven months.
Ted Driven knows how to put on a race. They had some of the best snacks and set up after a race I’ve ever seen. Travis and I stuffed our faces (and pockets) with goodies before heading back to the hotel.
Tips for the Leavenworth half:
There is absolutely no cell reception from the Fish Hatchery and it’s so spotty it’s pretty much non-existent during the run. Have a playlist downloaded and ready to go. Pandora, Amazon Music, and Spotify’s regular accounts will not work. Also make sure your headphones are charged. I purchased new ones just for this race, didn’t charge it before we went, and got in about six songs until it died. Travis didn’t have a playlist, so we simply ran and chatted a bit, and people watched a ton. It really wasn’t as bad flying music-less as I thought.
Travis said he’d do the race again in a heartbeat, once we figure out how to best help him train with the knee issues he has.
Post Race Leavenworth exploring
We returned to the hotel just after noon and knew that if we didn’t shower and get back out the door we’d stove up and not want to move for the rest of the day.
I wanted to hit up the Kris Kringle store first thing. They are a Christmas shop open all year long and I thought it would be fun to get the kids ornaments for the first Christmas in our new home.
We also took a stroll around one of the parks we had just ran through. It was so beautiful I wanted to get a better look!
After popping into several more shops and getting the kids a few more surprises, we ate dinner, strolled the beautifully lit up streets, and then called it a night. We both limped back to the hotel. After a race and full day on our feet we were ready for bed! Man, I’m sounding like an old person now! lol
The next morning we slept in, went downstairs to grab breakfast and then checked out, swung by the Bavarian themed Starbucks, and headed home. It was another gray day which made us even more thankful that race day was the calm between the storms.
I want to make it a tradition to visit Leavenworth each fall, though next time I’d love to have the kids tag along. We don’t usually do the traditional Octoberfest of drinking and partying. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy myself some beer, but I’d rather take a walk with the kids exploring than hit up the bars with all the twenty somethings being insane. Goodness I am dating myself now. Different priorities in your thirties for sure!
Have you been to Leavenworth? What was your favorite place to eat or activity?
A note about my fasted half
Ever since joining the FASTer way to Fat Loss I’ve been intermediate fasting. I knew I wasn’t going to push for a PR at Leavenworth or I might have considered fueling the morning of and taking GU’s like normal throughout the race. Really it was curiosity on my part to see how I felt at the finish line running fasted. It went really well and I’d do it again in a heartbeat. My energy was pretty steady the whole race and I never felt like I hit a wall.