This past weekend, I ran my third Oregon Wine Country Half Marathon event and it was an amazing time. The Tuesday before the race, my husband informed me he would like to run this race as his first half. He always enjoyed watching me, he knew the course was not going to be too hilly, and this would be a chance to understand what I went through. So on Aug 31st, 2014, my husband ran his first half marathon along with myself and about 1500 other runners in beautiful weather and Oregon wine country!
Saturday we arrived at the expo, located at the Evergreen Space Museum in McMinnville, right as it opened at 10am. Turns out, we found out later, we arrived too early. How so you ask? Well we missed the wine tasting at the expo! Wineries such as Arborbrook were pouring along with a few other booths (Oh well. Next year). I was pleased to find out that the $20 Playwerks Race (1/2 or 1 mile) came with a Waterpark pass (and that’s usually $37!) we were able to enjoy the Ellipitgogo and other booths before heading out to wine tasting. We picked up our packets with ease. I was a little disappointed in the shirt this year, the shirt just did not compare to the nicer ones I had received in 2010 and 2012 which featured the logos of that race year. Not a bad shirt, just not as good when comparing it to my other two nice ones.
Race morning was one of the best I ever had. We were able to wake up at 5am, and still catch the shuttle at 5:30am. We stayed at the R&B Thompson B&B, and only had to step out the door and look right, and there were the shuttle buses 2 blocks away. We caught the first bus within moments and were on our way after only a few more minutes. The bus ride was quick, and by 6am, we were enjoying the pre-race festivities of VIP, music, and enjoying the views of Stoller Vineyards. This is an amazingly beautiful winery settled at the top of a hill between the towns of Lafayette Lafayette and Dundee. The race is a point to point, which I love. Usually I get to watch the sunrise on this race, but the clouds unfortunately messed with my sunrise. However, I enjoyed the cool 55 degree temps as the race started more than I missed the sunrise. The cool temps and mostly cloudy skies promised for a much nicer race and I was looking forward to it. Everything seemed to go so smoothly, buses were lined up to take participants bags, port-o-potty lines did not seem so bad, and registration lines were moving quickly.
We positioned ourselves about half way trying to guesstimate a 9:30ish mile per pace crowd. The race usually had time posted for your pace per mile estimates, but I did not see them this year (maybe I missed it?). The race started on time and we were off in a sea of people. I warned my hubby that this race started pretty crowded, but usually opens up by mile 1 or 2. The first mile I had to slow him down and encourage him to not dart through a sea of runners, and he settled down from his rush of adrenaline within a half of a mile.
Mile one takes us toward the town of Lafayette, and by mile two we are running through the neighborhoods where people come out to cheer us on. Although I do not consider this an extremely hilly race, there are rolling hills the first six miles and a couple more after that. By mile three you are on Abbey Road running along the stables, B&Bs, and wineries. This area is nice and shaded, but you are tackling a few more gentle rolling hills. My husband loves hills, and he would run up the hills without me then start walking till I caught up. This happened for several miles, so he was getting the nice long walk breaks, and I was not (just my short one minute ones at the mile markers).
Finally, about mile five I told him he had to go on without me. Although he was great about not pressuring me to catch up, or encouraging me to go faster, I still felt this implied pressure to do so. He told me before the race, to run my race and he would stay with me. I was, buuuut that implied pressure was worrying me that I was slowing him down. My legs were like lead though, and obviously still recovering from the Hood to Coast Relay that I ran just the weekend before. I was just not going to run the two hour half marathon like he hoped for. After gentle nudging, he grudgingly left me with my Garmin and went on without me.
Ahh Freedom. Freedom from time, freedom from my Garmin and freedom from the pressure to run a race for someone else. I was back to running my race. My race involved enjoying the course and it’s beautiful views, the people around me, and the fun stops along the way. I met a runner about 6.5 who was running her first race (Jessica I believe? I hope your race was awesome!). Her husband had left her about mile four and she was not enjoying her race too.
At about Mile 7.5, we are treated to fun signs leading up to the Lemelson Vineyards wine station encouraging runners to sample the fine wine about to be offered to them. Talk about tempting! I gave in (but truth be told, I gave in before I started the race). I asked the ladies offering the tasty wine samples how many I could have, and she responded ‘as many as you like’. Well now! That was tempting to see how many I could have! However, I only sampled three small (and I mean small) cups of Pinot Gris and toasted runners as they went by before drinking each cool and crisp sample of wine. They tasted great! After a few minutes though, I knew I had to stop sampling if I wanted to finish this race. I reluctantly pulled myself back onto the course and left the cool Pinot Gris Wine station behind.
The next couple of miles went quickly for me, especially as I came to one of my favorite spots on the course; mile nine. I love this section! You round this corner and the views are just breathtaking. Beautiful and you can see for miles. It was amazing. I enjoyed the views, but soon we were at mile ten, my least favorite part of the course. This section sports about a one and a half mile gravel section. By mile twelve, I was feeling it. The sun was out in full force and I was wearing a long sleeve tech shirt. My cardio was doing great, but I was physically hot and my legs were protesting because they were so tired and heavy. Only one mile to go though, and I kept prodding along, up that last hill keeping me from the finish line and my coveted medal. I rounded the corner and I could see the finish line in the distance.
At mile 12.75 my husband greeted me and ran the last portion of the course with me . He helped me straighten my back, stand a little taller, increase my pace and ensure I smiled as I crossed the finish line. I was so glad to cross the finish line together as they announced my name! What a memorable experience for years to come. As I cooled down, I asked Brian about his race and I found out my hubby got a 2:00:17. He wished he had known how close he was, so he could have pushed himself harder to get under the two hours. But either way, he really enjoyed his experience and loved his first half marathon race. He loved the wine tasting afterwards, the course, the massage, and best of all, his medal. The medals were beautiful! Shaped like wine glasses and had the cutest wine charm that sported a picture on this year’s logo. We both loved it.
This year was my husband’s first half marathon and his race was my first half marathon too in 2010, and I keep coming back to it because it has such a wonderful place in my heart. They keep improving on the expo, the course support, and the after festival experience. I only wish the shirt was more like the others, but Destination Races knows how to put on a race and this is one I will be running again!
I wrote about the Wine Dinner, Winery tasting and after expo here.