In the past few years, I’ve participated in a few of the Oregon Brewery Running Series events, though as a competitive racer, they were not my typical choice of event. The non competitive atmosphere, (generally) smaller crowds and unabashed focus on a group run for social people means they are a great way to get together with fellow runners that is a bit more involved than a simple group run, but not quite as focused as a true race.
The event at Xicha Brewing on May 1st was the first in a planned 20 race series located in many different cities. Located in Salem, it was an easy one for me to get to, as it was only 4 miles away. The event site noted they were going to use a staggered start system to keep the group numbers low and be observant of social distancing guidelines. After years of the habitual 7 and 8 am gun times, a 10:15 start allowed a leisurely morning on my end.
While I made sure to arrive on time and bring the basics (water and running shoes) lack of practice made me a bit forgetful. I actually didn’t look up the race map even though it was on the site. Luckily it was very simple, being an out and back with only 3 turns in each direction. However, with a busy intersection in the middle and an open course, for safety reasons I decided to go into it with more of a tempo run vs race mindset so I would be more aware of my surroundings.
Check in was the basic bib pick up process with a course explanation. Knowing the course was not marked, my wife and I ran the first section to ensure I knew where to go. It started off in a quiet residential neighborhood surrounding the brewery and then would cross a main road. Following the main road for a couple blocks, it branched out into a portion of Wallace Marine Park and cross a footbridge over the river. At the end of the bridge, we were to circle around and head back the way we came. Surprisingly considering the area it was in, the course had no hills to speak of.
My goal was to run close to six minute miles and feel comfortable. The tricky part is I have forgotten how to pace myself after a year or so of not racing. While I run with a GPS watch, I don’t check my pace mid run, as I find it more distracting than helpful. I felt pretty comfortable in the first section, and used the stoplight break to stretch. As I was one of the first people on the course I only saw a few other runners. The second section in the park and heading back still felt pretty good and I began to see other runners on the course heading out. I was stopped again at the light and stretched a bit more.
I somehow managed even splits, so the last section was relatively comfortable as I came back into the start area and finished under the arch. I finished with 6:00, 6:02, 5:54 for a 19:50 which shows great discipline, but no speed (by my standards).
The key moment for this morning was not the run, but the fantastic empanadas served at Xicha. My wife and I had fun relaxing in the outdoor area, listening to the music and listening for the raffle winners while enjoying the ridiculously good food. I used the drink ticket towards a mojito, but would have preferred two more of those empanadas.
The series is still in the process of being planned out, especially considering the covid situation, but they are making concessions to the restrictions while still hosting events. You can register and get the latest news here.