Monday, September 19, 2011

Champoeg Half Marathon Race Report

It has been a long time since we've done JUST a half marathon. That sounds silly, I know, but its true. The last time I did a stand alone half marathon was two years ago. We've really been focused on longer distances - marathons, triathlons, etc. So when Trevor suggested we do this race, I was pretty excited.

Our friend Brian from Energy Events puts this race on. He took it over from another management company and was looking forward to putting his touch on it. We have partnered quite a bit with Brian, he is the one who put on the Vancouver USA Marathon (I was the volunteer coordinator for that), but we've never actually done one of his races. We are training for the Columbia Gorge Marathon on October 23rd, so this was a good training run for us.

The nice thing about the race is that the start time was 9:00. It was about a 45 minute drive to get to the park. This would allow us to follow our normal morning routine. With the addition of Asha to our family, routine is very important.

We got up at 5:30, as usual. We had breakfast and took the dogs for their usual walk. My legs were feeling tight and sore. Sleeping on the floor was catching up to me and I was concerned how the day would go. I wanted to do the race in under 2 hours. My previous best half marathon was 2 hours and 9 minutes - that was about 6 years ago. My most recent half marathon was 2 hours and 20 minutes.

We got out of the house at 7:40, 10 minutes later than planned, but I figured we would have plenty of time to get where we were going. It was raining when we left home and I wasn't too happy about that!!!

We arrived at Champoeg Park at 8:20. Brian let us park right by the start/finish line. Front row parking, you can't beat that!! We caught up with our friends Jo, Trish and Greg. We don't get to do too much with our friends anymore because of our schedules, so I was really excited to have the opportunity to race with these guys today!

Before I knew it, it was time to start our race. Trevor and I kissed goodbye - we both had goals for the day. We wanted to run faster than we've ever run before. I wasn't nervous, I just wanted to get going. It wasn't a huge crowd and I liked that. I don't do well when there are too many people around.

The horn sounded and off we went. I settled into my pace right off the bat. I wanted to run a 9:05 per mile pace. My first three miles were right on. Then, for some reason, my pace slowed to a 9:10. I felt like I was pushing hard enough and didn't want to completely blow it out by trying to get any faster. We ran a beautiful path through the park, along the river. It was pretty flat, only a few little hills. I powered up the hills, I didn't want to lose any speed.

Around mile 6, I noticed that the mile markers were about 1/4 off from what my GPS said. I figured they would catch back up later in the race. As someone who has measured routes before, I know that unless you get the course certified, it is impossible to be dead on.

The second part of the route was an out and back, which I love because that means I get to see my friends. We came out of the park and onto a country road. Just before the turn around I saw Trevor. I made the turn around and then got to see my pals - Trish, Greg and Jo. I love them.

I was still right around 9:10. I was doing the math in my head and I knew that would going to put me dangerously close to the 2 hour mark. I also knew that if the mile markers didn't catch back up and the route was long, I wouldn't make my 2 hour goal. I picked up the pace as best I could. My water bottle was just about empty, but there was no way I could afford the time to stop and refill it at the 10.5 mile water station.

I really hauled ass the last couple miles. It felt like it was downhill, which was nice. This last part of the course was back through the park. It had started to drizzle and it felt good. I was zipping along at an 8:30 pace - guess I could have gone a bit faster earlier if I had two miles at that pace left in me! I crossed a long wooden bridge and saw my pal Brian. He asked "how's the route"....I yelled back "awesome!" and it was. I know just about all of Brian's crew and it was so fun to see them all out on the route and have them cheer for me by name. Every time I needed a pick me up, I'd see one of their smiling faces and get a high five.

I came around the corner and saw the turn off of the path towards the finish line. The last tenth of a mile was on the grass. I looked at my watch and knew that I was going to be so close to the under 2 hour goal. I saw Trevor waiting for me and as I approached him I threw my water bottle to him so that I could use all my energy to get across the line. I sprinted across the finish line and my watch said 2:00. Depending on how the chip timing went, it could go either way - either 1:59 something or 2:00 something. I was really hoping it would be under 2. But I was still really happy with my time. A personal best!

We walked around a bit to cool down. Trevor had a good race - he finished in 1 hour and 45 minutes, a personal best for him too! We went and got some yummy teriyaki that they had for the finishers. We ate that while we waited at the finish line for Trish, Greg and Jo. We talked with Brian about the course and what a great time we had. The official times came out and mines was 2:00:31. damnit. That will haunt me.

Our friends crossed the line, we hung out with them for a bit. We have been so busy lately that we don't get to see them as much as we would like and so it was a special treat to be with them today.

This has been a year of personal bests - the marathon, that half ironman and now the half marathon. I spent so many years just chugging along at a comfortable pace. Its really been fun to push harder and see what I've got in me. It was also really fun to do an event that didn't take an enormous toll on my body. I was sore and tired, but not completely spent like I am from our events that take 4 hours or more.

We stopped and got coffee on the way home, ordered a pizza and tried to sleep on the couch, but a certain someone named Asha wouldn't allow it. The day ended with some Yocream. It was a good, good day.

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