With a 9 am start time, I was able sleep in a little before heading to the coast. It was cool and a little drizzly, but not a bad morning as the valley had worse weather than Lincoln City. Two days after a 16 mile training run, the plan was to just relax and use the second half as a tempo workout. It was a little cool but dry at the start, perfect weather for just shorts and a t shirt.
Bib pick up was a cinch and I was excited to see the safety yellow long sleeve tech shirts. A nice change from the standard grey and black fare usually handed out, especially with an antlered runner on the front commemorating the herd of elk that was at the race last year. Word of this event must have gotten around, as it seemed a bit larger as well. My race plan was low key so nerves were not an issue as I laced up my shoes and did a short warm up with light stretching.
The course starts off the road and goes to the right for a short out and back before heading in the other direction for the duration of the event. Unfortunately, the Boy Scouts in charge of this turn around point did not go out far enough and shortened the course by 8 tenths of a mile. Even in that short time, my plan of starting easy was already out the window as I spotted a quick guy outdistancing the group and I left my easy start a few people back to get next to him. I still wasn’t in ‘race mode’ but was definitely putting a little more effort into it than I had originally planned.
As soon as we got to the first real hill, my natural tendency to run them aggressively took over and my opponent did not match it. From then on out, I was alone, enjoying the gradual climb, with a couple real hills thrown in. It stayed dry for this part, and seeing the creek while feeling disconnected from the hustle and bustle was nice. There were several water stations with friendly volunteers, but I bypassed them as part of my training.
Other than a couple sections of heavy gravel, footing was great, mostly smooth blacktop and the farthest few miles were packed dirt. It is definitely noticeable that the way out is mostly climbing, with a couple short drops. At the turnaround, I realized 2nd place was just a dozen strides behind, and decided to hold with the second part of my plan and pick it up on the way back. Utilizing the near-constant downhill, it was easy to pick up the pace. Even more fun was exchanging high fives and hearing the cheers of those heading in the other direction.
The great weather went away for a few minutes as we experienced a brief and refreshing downpour. The sun came out soon after and accompanied me for the remainder of the run. Unfortunately, I had woken with a headache and nausea and it had subsided only to return in the last stretch of the run. Just attempting to maintain momentum was tough enough, but a sound made me realize that second place was now right on my heels. Calling upon both my competitive and stubborn streaks, I eked out a half decent kick and held my lead into the finish.
After a short recovery and running back on the course to join a couple guys for their finish, it was time to relax. A good stretch followed by a banana, clam chowder and bread with cream cheese was the way to start the recovery process. It was nice to have access to a covered area to recuperate, especially given the temperamental weather. Getting quick results was a breeze with Eclectic Edge racing posting the results on a board quickly and also allowing participants to get a printout of their times.
A low key awards ceremony came in due time, with ribbons three deep in age groups and a unique glass ball for the overall winners. The one I get to take home was interestingly enough a cool shade of Boston blue and already graces my dining room window. I enjoyed this event quite a bit and even joined some of the locals at an impromptu get together at a local eatery after. You can bet I will return to this event next year.