I requested the Run Oregon blogger entry to the Stars and Stripes Half Marathon about a week and a half before the race on a whim. I already had a pretty full race calendar for the holiday weekend–I was already signed up for Uberthon’s Freedomthon 5k on Friday, and Better Series’ Red White and Blues 10k on Sunday–but the crazy runner part of me wanted the challenge of three races in three days! It’s only a total of about 22 miles, I told myself. That’s great training for Ragnar and Portland Marathon! The race is less than two weeks away and none of the other bloggerswere able to run so… it’s a sign I’m supposed to do it!
And so I signed up.
And theoretically, it wasn’t a bad idea. The problem was my execution. While my first of three races went well (5k PR!), things didn’t go as well for race #2, the Stars and Stripes Half.
The night before the race, I realized I didn’t have socks with me. I frantically tried to figure out a place near the race location that I could pick up a pair of socks on the way. Decided on hitting up a 24 hour Walmart the next morning. Slept poorly–I woke up a million times in a panic thinking I’d over slept. As I was getting dressed, I started cussing when I thought I’d forgotten my race bib, and then remembered that bib pickup was day of race only. Didn’t realize the jar of organic peanut butter in the fridge was brand new and not stirred… (not a challenge I was willing to take on at the moment). As I got into the car, realized my time schedule was way off and I wouldn’t have time to buy socks. Got to the race and found out that my cell phone wasn’t fully charged so I wouldn’t have music. It was going to be a lonnnng race.
I showed up at the event just as the small group of 34 marathoners was starting. There was plenty of parking in the little business park area where the start/finish was located. It was a simple setup with a timing tent, and well-stocked aid station, and two porta potties. I picked up my bib and then lined up with the other 66 half marathon runners and walkers. A few pre-race announcements were made, and then we were off.
The half marathon course was four laps on paved park trails. There were lots of parts of the course that overlapped or were out and back, so there were always other race participants nearby. For me, this made the miles go by slowly because I felt like I saw the same portions of the park a dozen times instead of just four. The fact that my feet became increasingly raw with every mile and every lap, and the temperatures continued to rise made me a little cranky. My skin was slimy with sweat and spray on sunscreen, and bugs were sticking to me. I had wanted to finish just under two hours, but I grew discouraged as my pace tanked. Fortunately, every time I came back to the start/finish to cross the timing mat to count my laps, lots of the spectators cheered for me, even though I didn’t know them. The sight of the well-stocked aid station also helped keep me going… there was water, different flavors of Gatorade, Otter pops (I totally ate one as I started lap 3), Gu, gummy bears, nuts, M&Ms, Fig Newtons, mini Oreos, jelly beans, oranges, Rice Krispies, Fritos, and other goodies! I definitely bribed myself with promises of treats if I ran “just one more lap.” I was so relieved to be done, even though my feet were screaming at me for putting them through thirteen point one miles of torture.
At the finish line, I received a homemade finishers medal, and could instantly look up my results on one of the two tablets. I was happy to see that my push at the end meant I finished JUST BARELY under two hours (1:59:51)!! With my goal met, I celebrated with a free bag of Cheetos and some Gatorade.
My running coach Ron Homer (Train with Energy and Sole to Soul Coaching) was also there on Saturday, doing the full marathon as part of the Firecracker Triple. I asked him what he thought of the event and the course, since he’s run a lot of marathons and is training for the Pine to Palm 100 miler.
It was a great race with a nice looping course through a beautiful park. It was awesome to be able to high five and support each other as the loops went by. The start / finish loop was always approached with cheers from those that looked on and supported others . A bit warm on the last few loops but all in all fun and friendly run. I wouldn’t want loops all the time but sometimes it’s nice for the comradeship, and it helped me today by making it easier to break the whole thing into segments in my mind.
Overall, it’s a nice small race and definitely a good opportunity for those wanting to race back to back to back events. It’s a nice, well-done, affordable event, and it’s nice to have other race options for the holiday weekend, besides just races on the fourth.