Race Recap: 2015 Champoeg Half Marathon

The onset of fall means many things, leaves changing colors, crisp air, and cool mornings. It usually is a perfect balance for running, warm enough that it is not necessary to bundle up but cool enough that the heat is not a negative factor. Often, the best way to truly experience it is to go for a run away from civilization and Champoeg State Park is a great place to do it. September 27th was Energy Events Champoeg 5 miler, half marathon and sprint duathlon. The weather was absolutely perfect and there were quite a few participants.

As always with Energy Events, we were welcomed to the start area with a handful of booths and energetic music. My sister had come with to help and earn an entry to a future event and our girls were going to enter the kids race. They ended up handing out the awesome medals to finishers and had a great time, even though it was a bit chilly in the morning. Warming up in the park is always a pleasure, definitely preferable to an urban setting.

I am doing the Portland Marathon next week, so entered the 5 mile race for a tempo workout. I was playing with the idea of trying to get a pr because the course is relatively flat. The plan was to start conservative and see what the field looked like before attempting to run negative splits. The course was a lollipop, an approximately 3 mile loop that passed pack by the start area and then a short out and back to complete the distance.

After the initial surge and being in 4th place, I eased my way to the front. The pace bicyclist led the way on the roads and trail of the first section as I found my rhythm. I felt pretty good and was running comfortably, but my lack of a watch kept me from knowing exactly what my performance was. It was still a little cool in the shade, but the sunny sections felt amazing. As we came to the area where the turn around would be, I started scoping to trail to plan the most efficient and safest way to pull a 180. I got a little worried as we continued on and realized the marker was not present when it had been too long. I pondered for a second and figured it was better to just continue on and run the half rather than scale down and head back to finish whatever distance it ended up being. I called out to the bicyclist and let him know my plan, then adjusted pace a little bit.

As we left the park there are a couple of hills, then it is a mostly straight and flat section of road through farmland. At the turnaround, the second place male was pretty close, but I decided I did not want to lost this race. Watching the mile markers pass by, gradually increasing pace, I pushed any doubts out of my mind and just ran. It was really nice to hear the cheers and claps of the participants heading in the other direction as the hills loomed again. I allowed gravity to take me down and fought it with every step on the way up.

The last section coming back through the park is downright beautiful, with small hills and curves as it winds through the trees. I had little time to appreciate this as my breath was becoming short and it was all I could do to hold pace while still trying to eke out more speed with every step. Crossing the finishing stretch of bark dust trail and grass, trying to hold form on the rough ground while kicking it in was so tough I actually pulled a muscle in my shoulder. As I approached I was flabbergasted to see the clock ticking away at 1:12:55. Seeing as my previous road halfs were at 1:15:35 I wasn’t sure what to think as I pointed at the clock with a big grin, crossing the line.

The missing turnaround was a big issue for a lot of people. That was the only marker missing for both races, but it was crucial. Many headed back when they figured they went to far. The key thing to remember is that a mistake like this can come down to one person, and may not reflect upon the RD organizational capabilities.

Post run fun was plentiful, with hot dogs, beer, and assorted snacks. There were a few booths to peruse, massages and info for upcoming races. Awards were held for all the races, and the kids had a blast in their run. I’m glad all the factors came together for a great day. You can find the full results on the Energy Events site.

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