The half marathon started at 8 a.m. The 10K started 30 minutes later. I think I would’ve enjoyed sleeping in for another 30 minutes and arrived between 8 and 8:30, but the pre-race instructions from Uberthons said to arrive before the start of the half marathon, because the arrival road would be subject to closure during the race. I’m a rules follower, so I arrived around 7:50 a.m. I must have been directed to a secondary parking site, as there was just a single line of vehicles parked along a row of hedges – far too few to have brought all the runners even if everyone else had carpooled.
At 8 o’clock, race director Darwin Rasmussen started the half marathon race, and Uberthons Ambassador Julie Mullins sent the runners off in waves, each one with one of the pace teams. The rest of us (10K racers, volunteers, etc.) cheered them on as they started on their 13.1 mile journey.
And then, I had half an hour to chill. I say “chill,” but it was actually pleasant and mild. I chatted a bit with Adam Mohr and William Martindale, the chiropractic doctors from Accelerated Sports Medicine who usually provide medical services at Uberthons events; Julie Mullins and fellow Uberthons Ambassador Eileen Kuffner, who was volunteering as the announcer; and Uberthons timer Moe Dee, who got to sit in the driver’s seat today, because race director/head timer Alan Rasmussen was participating in the half marathon – his first Uberthons event as a participant!
In what seemed like no time, it was close to 8:30, and Eileen was calling the 10K runners to the start line. There weren’t nearly as many of us as there were half marathoners, so we just went off in one big wave. I missed the previous half marathon that was run on this course last year, but I did run last year’s Scrub Run 5K, which followed the beginning, so I had some familiarity with the route. Here’s the race course (half marathon in green; 10K in yellow):
Early on the north-south road was a gentle downhill and then uphill. This gave a false sense of an easy fast start at the very beginning (and a good reminder that the finish was going to be a little harder than usual). I got off to too fast of a start, so when I reached the bottom of that little depression, I eased up to save my endurance. Not long after we started, the pace car returned from showing the half marathoners the way. Out popped Darwin, and then the pace car made a U-turn to show us the way. As I passed Darwin, I said with a tinge of disappointment, “You’re not going to be leading us?”
I was in the lead at this point but not for long, as eventual male winner Alexander Banks-Watson passed me first, and then female winner Mallory Wordell and another guy, and then Brian Johansing. The right turn came at about 0.6 miles, and then we were headed due east on Zimmerman Road.
The road was wide and empty, with houses and farms on both sides. Living in Portland, it can be easy to forget that agriculture is a big part of the Oregon’s economy. Ever since living in Iowa (another big agricultural state), I’ve come to appreciate the subtle, rustic beauty of American farms. Somewhere on this stretch, Allison Torpey passed me, so I was in sixth place (or so I thought).
There was another right turn at the intersection of Zimmerman and Needy Road. This was where the 5K turnaround was located during last year’s Scrub Run, so everything from this point forward was new territory for me. Banks-Watson was far ahead of me, with the next four runners clustered about 20 seconds ahead of me.
At that Zimmerman/Needy corner, I slightly broke fellow Run Oregon blogger Brian Bernier’s rule about never looking back. Well, I didn’t look 180 degrees behind me, just 90 degrees, but enough to see that there was no one immediately behind me.
We didn’t stay on Needy Road for very long before turning again, this time on to Heinz Road. The water/aid station was located here around the 2 mile marker. The third mile took up most of this stretch on Heinz. This ended up being my slowest mile split, although I’m not sure why; the elevation profile doesn’t show much gain. I’d like to think it was because I was pacing myself wisely and saving energy for the back half.
Just before the 10K turnaround, I crossed the Canby-Marquam Highway; race volunteers were flagging traffic in both directions for the runners. I reached the turnaround and headed back. I had sort of been expecting another water station, but in retrospect, there wouldn’t have been one, because it’s typically a water/aid station every two miles on the half marathon/marathon courses, and this was only 3.1 miles into the half marathon.
On the way back, I picked up some speed. While mile 3 was my slowest overall mile of the race, the next one turned out to be my fastest. Of the runners in front of me, I couldn’t see Banks-Watson at all. Three of the others were in sight but far ahead. Johansing was a little behind those others. To see how far behind him I was, I checked the time when he passed a particular landmark and then checked the time when I reached that same landmark. The first time I did this, I was about 39 seconds behind. The next time, the gap was a little smaller.
As I started mile 5, I reached the water/aid station and decided to stop for some water. That partially accounts for the relatively slow mile 5. By the last mile, it was time to pick up the pace again, and I managed to trim the gap between Johansing and me to about 20 seconds.
Remember that dip at the beginning of the race? The downward part gave a nice boost to the end of mile 6 (another fast mile for me on this race), but the last 0.2 miles had a bit of payback, as it started with the upward part… That pretty much killed any kick I might have had (note to self: need to get back to doing squats).
Still, I managed a slight negative split if you compare miles 4-6 with miles 1-3. I don’t think I’ve ever managed that before on a 10K race, so I was quite pleased even as I later realized that I had missed tying my PR by just 5 lousy seconds(!).
Not long after I finished, the first half marathon runner (Kerry Lyons, pictured above) crossed the line. Wow! That means with she took just 33 or so more minutes to run 6.9 miles more than I did….
Then there was the eating. The post-race food spread was prepared by the Wilsonville Qdoba and consisted of build-it-yourself burritos or bowls, with brown or Spanish rice, grilled vegetables, chicken, and other toppings, including guacamole(!). I’ve been eating a lot of Chipotle lately because of the Chiptopia promotion, so you might think I’d be sick of this sort of stuff, but Qdoba is really good too.
Uberthons put together another slick event, not too far from Portland but far enough away to feel like it was a bit of a destination. As usual, the course was easy to follow (even more so with the pace car); course support was good; the race swag (belt buckle for all finishers, gold/silver/bronze pins for age group winners, and gold/silver/bronze awards for overall, 45+, and 65+ winners) was solid and hefty; and the post-race food was delicious. Add to that our predictably mild September weather and you get a great race experience.
The next Uberthons event is the Halloweenathon.
Disclosure: I’m a 2016 Uberthons Ambassador and received a comp entry to this event.