I guess I really shouldnt have been surprised to wake up and hear a steady pitter-patter of raindrops on the roof of our hotel. This is Oregon, after all, and I was on the coast of said state. But the sheer sound of the pelting made getting out of bed a challenge for the Lincoln City Half Marathon. But honestly, not amount of weather would really force me to miss a race, let alone one that I have had on my “to-do” list for the past few years. While I hoped that I just woke up in the middle of a mini-shower, it became quickly evident that the day would be a battle of man and nature – a challenge this man was not going to take lying down. The rainy weather may have dampened some clothes, but did nothing to dampen the spirits of the race directors, volunteers, and Eclectic Edge. And boy, was their energy needed and appreciated! Packet pick-up at Wapiti Park was in an Elks Lodge building, a welcome refuge from the elements. Packet pick-up was quick and painless, though the line did double in length by the time I exited. I decided that I was gonna be a lazy bones and wait out the final 30 minutes in the warmth of my car. 10 minutes before the start of the race, I finally pulled myself out of the heat box I created and started some final stretches and warm-up before hitting the road.
The race start reminded me of the Roaring Runs at Roaring River, which I have run a few times. We hit the roads heading south for 1/2 mile before turning around and passing the starting line out before venturing out into the rest of the course. The course itself was a surprise – but not a bad one. When I think of Lincoln City, I picture glass blowing, cold sandy beaches, and kite flying. I don’t necessarily picture rolling hills through luscious green forested areas and alongside flowing creeks. It was truly picturesque, though it didn’t necessarily fit my mind’s idea of Lincoln City. I am glad I got to experience this “lesser known” beauty of the Oregon Coast.
The entire race was ran on paved roads open to traffic. Traffic was minimal (really, it was almost non-existent), but there were volunteers directing traffic at minor intersections. A quick uphill climb and long downhill at mile 2 caused a little bit of a lump in my stomach, as I knew this out-and-back course would feature a long climb at mile 12. The course was VERY hilly. There were not really any “major”climbs (save from the solid one at mile 12-ish), but the roads were the epitome of “rolling”. Lots of climbs, followed by some short downhills. Then more climbs and more downhill. While I felt I maintained my pace well, I never really felt comfortable and it was hard to gain significant momentum over the first half of the course. Couple that with the fact that pavement gives way to a gravel/dirt road after mile 4, and it made things even more difficult. Don’t get me wrong, the road conditions were actually solid, all things considered. It was just a little bit more of a challenge.
The eye-opening part of the race was finally realizing just how much of a climb the first half of the course was. At the turnaround, I felt that it was going to be more of the same on the way back. However, it wasn’t until the return was I able to see and feel that, although there were rolling hills on the way out, the downhills were considerably shorter than the uphills and we were continually climbing the whole time. As a result, miles 7-12 out of the forest were longer stretches of downhill – a welcome feeling.
The hill leading up to mile 12 was definitely a tough one. It was made easier by a few miles of steady downhill, but I would still consider it a “punch in the gut” stretch. For reasons still unknown to me, I felt I got a surge of energy in this section and ended up passing someone who I had trailed by a relatively significant distance the majority of the race. The final stretch to the finish was fueled by this energy and the desire to get out of the rain and wind as quickly as humanly possible.
There were 6 aid stations (3 each on the way out and the same 3 on the way back) and the volunteers were extremely encouraging, eager and handy with the water, and generally appeared interested in helping us out. I was very pleased with their engagement and I thank them for them being out there. This was the first race I have ever done where I stopped for water at every station along the race and I couldn’t have asked for a better group of volunteers cheerfully braving the weather.
Speaking of weather, it actually turned out to be an odd day. While there was rain at the start, once I made it up Schooner Creek and into the forest canopy, the rain either stopped, or was kept in check by the surrounding trees and mountains. In fact, I found myself getting pretty muggy in my running rain jacket. Other runners had the same idea, and there was a lot of peeling off of layers over these miles. But once we hit mile 11 and left the forest, the rain returned and the wind really offered a new complexity to the mix.
Overall, this race had just about everything – a beautiful location, challenging and rewarding course, weather battles, a great post-race spread (Mo’s Chowder!) and a cool medal and shirt to boot. I highly recommend this race for those who need an excuse to go to the coast and/or for those who want a little bit of a challenge mixed into their road races every once in a while.
View the rull results here.