My boyfriend and I booked a trip to Oregon 7 months ago to run the Oregon Wine Country Half Marathon. But in the days leading up to the race, it was starting to seem a bit cursed.
I injured my thigh 5 days before the race. See giant bruise here.
The night before, we almost couldn’t eat dinner.
On our way to the early morning race shuttle, our car ran out of gas. Seriously. THAT happened.
But it all turned out ok. 🙂
We chose our place in Carlton, OR partly because it had a kitchen and we like to make dinner at “home” the night before a race. (That, and it looked amazing! Check out our view!)
After arriving in Portland after a 7 AM flight from NC, driving 60 minutes to Carlton where the race would be, we went to the grocery store in the next town over, and stocked up on gluten-free spaghetti for our pre-race dinner and fresh halibut and salmon for our post-race dinner. Then we got back, looked at the kitchen more closely and realized there was no stove. Just a microwave. Uhhhhh yeah. So I improvised. I boiled water in the tea kettle, poured it over the noodles in a mixing bowl, and stuck a make-shift lid on top and let it sit for 10-12 minutes, stirring and adding more hot water every few minutes. It worked! It was a bit gummy because I couldn’t rinse it without a colander (GF noodles are better after rinsing) but we were able to eat!
After dinner, I laid out all my race gear the night before so it’d be a simple, stress-free morning. HA!
We got up, ate GF cereal, made green tea and headed to the shuttle buses, about a 5 minute drive away. About 2 minutes down the road, our car sputtered, the gas light came on and our car. was. dead. No gas light warning or anything. We were 2.5 miles from the shuttle buses, and the last one was leaving in about 20 minutes. After a quick WHAT THE HELL conversation and debating if we should leave the car and try to run to the buses, we called AAA to get some gas but the guy was 40 minutes away. John (my bf…I don’t think I’ve ever told you his name… it’s John 🙂 ) pushed the car into the driveway that we were near and then knocked on the door a few times to see if we could get some assistance, despite the 5:30 AM time. We were desperate – we’d flown across the country for this race! I started texting my friend Meg in distress and she suggested I put out a call for help on Twitter. Both the knocks and the tweets were to no avail. It was a small country road and only two cars passed us so we couldn’t really hitch a ride into town.
The last shuttle bus was at 6:05 but the race didn’t start until 7 AM. We were calculating if we could still make the race start 20+ minutes away if AAA showed up with gas at their estimated 6:40 AM and took a few minutes to deal with everything. Finally at 6:20, lights came on in the house. John knocked again (he’s more assertive than I) and a kind man opened the door, took us right to his garage, pulled out a gas tank, filled up our tank, wouldn’t take money, opened my car door and said, “You better hurry. Have a great race!” We were both in awe of this man’s kindness.
Right as we were pulling out, AAA showed up. Ha, of course. We told him we didn’t need his services (sorry!) and rushed up the street to fill up our tank at the gas station, prepared to drive to the start line even if we missed the official start. It was 6:35 at this point. And we saw one bus left at the shuttle lot, 30 minutes after the “final” final bus was supposed to be leaving!!!! We rushed to the parking lot, ran to the bus and got on.
5 minutes into the bus ride, we were exhausted after our adrenaline started dropping from the morning’s stressful event. We arrived at the start 7 minutes before the gun went off. We ran up the hill where most runners had been waiting and were now walking down to the start, so we could use the porta-potties. We made it back to the start 2 minutes before the race started at 7:05, a small start delay we were quite grateful for. SO SO LUCKY.
I had forgotten my headphones so I had to run sans music, which stinks since tunes really help my pace. But I was just so grateful to be at the race! John and I snapped a quick picture, kissed each other good luck and started the race. (We typically don’t run races together since John is so much faster than I am.)
The race course was beautiful – lots of rolling hills. It was a small field – about 1900 people.
We ran through country roads and some vineyards.
Do you see me? 😀
There was even a wine tasting at mile 8. Obviously I had to partake.
Me, post-wine stop, mid-run. hehehehe.
The first few miles, I ran a 7:45-7:50 pace. Between miles 6-10, I picked it up a bit, trying to keep it between 7:30-7:50, with a plan to really kick it up the last 3 miles and finish strong. I was feeling good and thought I might be able to beat my PR, despite all the craziness leading up to the race, the hilly course and my missing headphones.
Then, the gravel started. Not a packed dirt road…a loose gravel road. I didn’t know about that on the race course. 2 miles of loose gravel in Vibrams does not feel good. It hurt my feet, I was slipping and was so frustrated because I had to slow my pace significantly. I was planning to do the last 3 miles at 7:15-7:30 pace and barely kept it under 8 min/miles on the gravel. Plus, my thigh bruise really started to hurt on the gravel. I guess because my leg was recruiting more muscles to run through the gravel and that aggravated the bruise? Not sure. Finally we came out onto asphalt just before the race finish but had an uphill 1 mile finish.
But I still PR’d!!! The official race time shows 1:42:13. My previous PR was 1:42:42. It was just a slight beat but I still felt good about it considering the course, particularly the gravel.
My Garmin clocked the race at 13.21 miles so the course was a bit long. (5 other runners I talked to showed the same thing on their watch.) According to my Garmin, 13.1 was a 1:41:07. Not official but still fun to look at. 😉
You know what else is fun to look at? Crossing the finish line and being directed to a wine glass pickup. 🙂
And, of course, seeing this guy. (Yes, he is wearing a AFoodieStaysFit.com shirt with a boxer on the front and runners on the back. 🙂 He ordered them as a surprise to run the race in! So many people stopped him to ask about it at the post-race expo. So fun!)
Despite everything, I still LOVED this race. It was very well organized, had a great expo (Kara Goucher was there!!), had great t-shirts and great medals (the important stuff), plenty of water stops, and a fun, relaxed vibe. I highly recommend running it!
After we got our wine glasses, we stood in line for about 5 minutes to get massages (a 15 minute leg massage!) and then started the wine tasting. Yep, at 9 AM. 😀
After tasting for a bit, we went to the awards ceremony since John took 3rd in his age group. Wahoo! It was a really fast field so I was super proud of him! He ran a 1:29:18. Not a PR for him but obviously still crazy fast.
The guy that we rented our cottage from owns The Tasting Room in town, right by the finish line expo, so we stopped in to say hello. (More details on the cottage soon – highly recommend staying there if you’re visiting the Willamette Valley!)
Hi Jay! 😀 He also owns EIEIO Winery. We learned so much from him about winemaking during our visit and later that night when he took us on a hike through his property (more on that later! So much to share, not enough time!).
The Tasting Room is an old bank. This back room was the old vault.
You can just lock me in the vault. hehehe.
Alright, that’s enough for now – I realize this is a crazy long post!
Thank you all for your good vibes and good luck comments on my last post about my leg. Your good luck worked! 🙂 I have the best blog readers.
(Follow me on Instagram and Facebook for more adventures on my trip until the next time I drop in on the blog!)