Sunday, September 25, 2016

Oregon Fall Half Marathon

Oregon Fall Half Marathon
Racing the States
It's been about 1 year since my friend Kelly texted me, out of the blue, to run some fartleks with her.  When she texted me, we hadn't run together in probably 1 1/2 years, and I had been on a 2 year break, other than running 2-3 times per week, mostly 2-3 miles at a time.  Her invitation was just what I needed.  From that first day with her where I ran my fartleks at just above my slow jogging pace, it seems that the tiny bit of increase from a slow jog was enough to jolt me back into finding and returning to my love of running.  Over the past year, I have taken a super conservative route.  At first, I was conservative because I was still happy with the "non training" side of things.  As things progressed, I continued to be very conservative so that I would be sure to run injury free.   I've been EXTREMELY fortunate and I've only had 1 major injury in my "running career".  I call it major because it sidelined me for about 4-6 weeks, but it totally took me off "my game."  When I was able to return to running, I didn't have much desire to do it.  For 2 years, I ran mostly to maintain a healthy lifestyle, and out of fear of totally letting go of running. 
Early this year when I decided to return to the marathon, I also decided I was once again ready to up my training game.  Currently, things are going GREAT ! I'm not training near the level that I did 3 years ago (Boston 2013), but I have stepped it up to doing some speed work and I've increase my weekly mileage some.

Fast forward to Sept 10, 2016.   Early in the summer, Chad & I decided on a trip to Oregon in Sept., and immediately I knew I had to find a race.  I've decided to "Race the States" by my own rules.  I basically want to run a race, of any distance (2 miles-26.2 miles) in each of the states.  I don't know that I will ever finish this, but when I travel to a state that I have not raced, it will be a priority to find a race.

The Oregon Fall 13.1 fit into our schedule the best.  I wanted to fly to Portland on Friday, run a race on Sat. and then proceed with our vacation.  Ideally, if I was trying to PR (run a personal record), flying across the country and then racing the next day is not ideal, but I'm no longer running for PRs, and in fact, my racing is about 80% effort I would say.   I raced for so many years, at this point, I have no desire to jump my racing effort up to 100%, all out "racing."  I've thoroughly enjoyed racing at this level for a change.  It allows for a lot of freedom, and for me currently it's very enjoyable.  Perhaps one day I will return to pushing to 100%, but for now, I'm a happy, happy camper at my current level of racing. 

Friday afternoon we arrived in Portland, jumped in the rental car and headed toward Camby, OR. I wanted to find the race site.  During my research of Camby, I found a Dahlia flower farm.  It just so happens that our timing was perfect for seeing the blooming fields.

  had to share
After touring Swan Island Dahlia fields, we went to dinner and we arrived at the hotel for an early night in.  At dinner, I mentioned to Chad that I was very tired and flying across country and racing the next morning was going to be a challenge.  After the travels of the day, I was asleep early.  When I woke up Sat., I felt fully refreshed.  Chad delivered me to the race site.   I was so excited to escape the heat and humidity of the South.  I think it was upper 50s or lower 60s at the start.  During the race it may have been lower 70s at the end, but with the low humidity, it was nice.  The course was a rolling hills course, with the steepest hill at mile 13.  The course was in a rural area, and an agricultural area.  The race started at St. Josef's Winery, and they had grapes on the vines at the winery.

St Josef's Winery, Canby, OR

 The first several miles of the course headed the same direction (east) with mountains in the distance.  There's just something about water and mountains that's so therapeutic to me.  My favorite races are the small, rural races with beautiful scenery.  This one did not disappoint.  They capped the half marathon at 300.  There was also a 10k, but I'm not sure what the cap was for it, but the race was well organized.  The size of the race,  for this facility was great.  
Even after the long travel day before the race, I felt great the whole race.  In April,  I went under 2 hours for the half again (1:59), which was a new goal for this year.   My training from May until this race has been great so I was hoping,  and expecting good things, especially with good training, good temperatures, and the low humidity (I'm a HEAVY sweater, so lower humidity makes a HUGE difference for me).  I had mentioned to Chad at dinner the night before the race that if I ran GREAT in the race that I hoped to run 1:55.  I ended the race with a finish time of 1:54.  With it being a smaller race, I was able to win my age group too.  You can't really see it in the picture below, but near the bottom of the ribbon you can barely see a small blue pin.  This is the age group winner pin.  The medal also doubles as a cowboy belt in case I want to "cowboy up."

 The race shirt is one of my favorites.  They offered gender specific sizing and the ladies is v-neck which is my personal favorite.  I also love the distressed print.  

This race is the next step in my training for the St. Jude Memphis marathon in Dec.  I don't have a goal for this race because it will be 3.5 years since I've attempted this distance (Boston 2013).   With it being so long between running that distance, I kind of feel like a newbie again.  My goal is to cover the distance and decide from there if I want to do another and attempt to improve from there, or if my 26th marathon will be enough. To be continued....
I can not end this post without posting some of my pics from Eugene, OR - Track Town USA.  My favorite part of Eugene was Pre's Trails.  We also went to Crater Lake, and the West Coast of Oregon from Florence up to Cannon Beach. Oregon is a beautiful state !  I truly hope that I can make it back someday to see more of it.  

University of Oregon (U of O) - Track Town USA - had to see it !

Pre's Trail - beautiful, beautiful, beautiful !
Some other favorites from Oregon
Crater Lake, OR

near Newport, OR

Newport, OR

Ney Beach, Newport, OR

Cape Kiwanda, OR