Exactly seven hours prior to catching a plane to Bordeaux (which consisted of three different flights totaling 20+ hours of travel) I ran the Oregon Wine Country Half Marathon. Inconvenient timing for both of these events to occur on the same day, but sometimes when life hands you an opportunity you don’t turn it down.
I was honored to have had the opportunity to write about what led up to the race in the September issue of Oregon Wine Press in an article called Will Run for Wine. What happened race day wasn’t in the article, as I submitted it weeks before the event so I thought I’d highlight some of it here.
Read it now, then come back to see how the race went.
The days leading up to half marathon weren’t pointing me in the direction of a very successful race. They were busy, stressful, and I was incredibly distracted by the recent move, work, and preparing for a week of travel. I felt restless, and couldn’t sleep well, not to mention I felt sore, and my knees were achy (never a good sign for a runner).
Race day arrived. My alarm went off at 4:30am after several unsuccessful attempts at trying to sleep. I was tired.
Arriving at Stoller Family Estate, where the race began, I had little expectations for my performance. We were greeted with a chilly and clear morning with a lot of excited runners. My training didn’t make me confident that I would break any records but the mood and the view of the hillside vineyards during sunrise made up for it. My secret goal has always been to complete a half marathon in less than two hours, but I was pretty sure this wasn’t the day given how hilly the course was. Up until this race my best half marathon time was 2:12. My goal for this particular race was to at least achieve a personal record (PR).
This day, fate would give me both!
After watching the perfectly picturesque sunrise over the hills situated on Stoller, the gun went off and the race began. The first two miles passed and I felt great. I noticed I had been running at a 9-mile pace, which was good for me, but didn’t want to increase my pace in fear of burning out too quickly. By the halfway mark I was at 57 minutes. It must be the energy from the other runners, I thought, or maybe the tease of a mid-course wine tasting? It was then that it hit me — if I keep up this pace there’s a chance I could finish this thing in under two hours. Maybe?
Mile 7 came around and I noticed the wine tasting station on the route just outside of Lemelson Vineyards offering a taste of their Tikka’s Run Pinot Gris (this is wine country after all) — it was only appropriate to taste wine along the route. I stopped to taste and, yes, I took this selfie (you would too!).
Two miles later I started to slow down. I was beginning to fade, and also starting to feel a piercing pain in my left knee. I stopped to rest for a moment, took an Ibuprofen, an energy packet, and some water, and went on. I was not going to let that pain get me down, as there was still a chance to make my sub 2 hour run.
By mile 11 I was still making decent time, the air was warming up, the runners thinning out, yet I felt beat. Something inside me reignited, as if I had a backup engine that turned on just then to get me through those last two miles, because I suddenly felt a sense of energy I hadn’t felt since the race began. Surrounded by the views of vineyards, excited runners and being closer to the finish, I must have just turned on the high gear.
At mile 12, with one mile left to go, I looked at my watched that read 1 hr 50 minutes (exactly). If I kept going at this pace I really could reach my goal, as long as I don’t slow down.
I told myself, either way you’re getting a PR today, so be proud. Whether or not you hit your ultimate goal don’t worry! But I was too close not to try.
Running down Main Street in Carlton among cheering spectators at the finish line, I completed the run. I looked up at the clock as I ran across the finish line and saw, in bright red print, the numbers 1:58 — A PR and a goal time!
One of the best parts of the run was still coming, the tasting! Exhilarated with a new PR, I received my Riedel souvenir glass and was able to enjoy some fantastic wines from over twelve wineries represented before rushing home to shower and prep for Bordeaux.
Looks like I now need to set a new goal ;). If you’re around next year, I recommend you check out the run, maybe we’ll run into each other (no pun intended) as you go for your new PR too!