My friend Heather and I are running a relay in October and but haven’t ran many long runs since the springtime. She suggested we run a half marathon to get our distance up. We picked the Oktoberfest Half in Mt. Angel, OR. She ran it a few years ago with her sister and knew it would be a good run for us. We decided that we would stick together for the race.
My youngest son’s first football game was in Corvallis, approximately 1 hour away at noon and the race started at 8 so this was going to be cutting it close.
We decided I would drive us there and Heather’s family would meet us afterwards. Then I would leave right after and they could hang out at the Oktoberfest. We had this figured out down to the minute. If we ran a 2 hour run, I could be on the road by 10:15 and make it to the game. Of course, if it was more like 2:10, I could still be on the road by 10:30. Parking was an unknown, so we got there nice and early, hoping for a close spot. Since time was short for me, I really didn’t want to have to use the shuttle.
We drove right up to the event. It was perfect. I backed in to a great spot, so I would have a quick getaway when it was time to go. The packet pick-up line was still setting up but there was zero wait and cheerful volunteers. There was one woman there that was chatting with everyone and she came up to us to chat. She had ran/walked over 100 marathons! She is now a power walker and was doing the 10k. I didn’t get her name, but she was a joy to chat with. We were telling her that I had to leave early so I wouldn’t get my free beer glass and she suggested I ask the guy in charge who was walking around. He had a glass all set for the folks that couldn’t hang out and gave it to me right then! It was so unexpected and so nice.
It was a brisk 46 degrees so back to the car we went. We were so early that we had a good hour still to wait until the race began. Another lady on our relay team was planning to run the 5k and said she would be there by the time our race started. We hadn’t met her, so we messaged a pic of us and got to connect! It was awesome!
When it was time to line up, I thought about hitting the porta-potty one more time but decided against it. It was too close to start time. It was chip-timed, but I didn’t want to miss the beginning. And then we were off and running!!
The weather was perfect. I started with a light pullover and had it tied around my waist after the first mile. We were immediately out in the country running by some smaller family farms. One of the homes had several tents set up, so we imagined they were a group in town for the Oktoberfest, or a youth group with a booth, or… when you have miles and miles and… 13 miles to run, you have lots of time to suppose about things. The first stretch had several rolling hills. Nothing major, but not definitely not flat.
At 1.5 miles, we turned onto gravel. Hilly gravel. We were climbing. The gravel was easy, but still it was gravel. Not my favorite. At 3.5 miles we turned into a vineyard! This was a very pleasant surprise! We ran through the vineyard until mile 5. Then we emerged onto a school campus. Suddenly, we were by a baseball diamond! There was an aid station at the school where I stopped to use the porta-potty.
At that point we were back in town. Heather was just telling me about how her husband can track her run when she hollered, “There’s my family!” It was such a welcome surprise to see familiar faces cheering for you! Her daughter even made a cute little sign with a popsicle stick taped to it.
We ran all the way through town and then merged with a huge mass of runners. It was the 5k-ers! There were so many that they filled the whole lane on the road. We were dodging and weaving our way through them. It was a little surreal because we had been alone for the last hour way out in the country, running through vineyards and now we were in the middle of a crowd of hundreds. We came upon two teachers from our town and ran with them for a minute and then moved on. Soon the 5k leaders began to loop back so we cheered for them and gave a few hi-5s. They were so fast!
Once we passed the turnaround point for the 5k, we were back to ourselves and back in the country. We passed another campsite right on the edge of town. They were camped by a very stinky building (my guess is a winery) and next to more vineyards and hops fields. The course put us on the highway for about a quarter mile, but it had a nice wide shoulder and a ton of cones along the fog line.
Once off the highway, about mile 8.5 my foot started falling asleep. A few steps to wiggle my toes and I was back at it. Around mile 9, the 10k-ers joined us. The first ones we passed were carrying hydro-flasks! Seemed a little heavy to carry on a run! That’s when we realized they were walkers. We passed a few more walkers, and then the nice power walker we met before the race. At this point the hills started up again. My toes kept falling asleep on each hill! Walking for a few steps to wiggle my toes really helped. I think non-runners believe that to run, you have to run non-stop. None of my runner friends run non-stop. When we stop for traffic, we don’t jog in place. When we want to walk, we walk. A few steps here and there are no problem. If you need to walk for a break, give yourself a landmark, like a mailbox, to start running again. That wasn’t the case here though, I really only needed a few steps each time. I also walked through the aid stations long enough to drink the couple swallows and get going again.
By the way, the aid stations had nice cold water and sports drinks. I started with just water at the first 3 stations and then had the sports drink at the last 3. That’s right, 6 aid stations! Approximately at mile 2.5, 5.5, 7, 9, 11, 12. It was nice to not carry my handheld water bottle.
The last stretch was a pretty decent hill. We thought we had reached the top, but then the road turned just a little and we saw it kept going up! I prayed for no more hills at that point! The reward came at the top of the very last peak. There was a 25mph speed limit sign, which meant we were back in town! It was all downhill from there! We started booking it! We still had about a mile to go, but neither of us was spent yet, so we knew we had it in us to run fast and make up some time on the downhill stretch. Getting close to the finish line, we ran by families pulling wagons with little ones heading to the festival. Finally, we rounded the corner onto the street with the finish line. The ground leveled out, and then actually climbed slightly so it made the finish line seem farther than it was, but it was only a tenth of a mile.
I realized that I wouldn’t PR as I was running towards the finish line. I ended up missing my PR by about 45 seconds. If only I didn’t stop in that porta-potty!! Ha! We didn’t make the 2 hour goal, but certainly accomplished our “B goal.” We had a nice run, the weather and scenery were beautiful, and we got some good hill training for our relay. Plus, the gravel, like it or not, was good training too. I had a moment around mile 9.5 when I told Heather she could take off without me if she wanted to make the 2 hours. She would have had to really book it and shave a minute off her pace. She stayed with me. I had been fighting a cold, so I was starting to really feel run down at this point. Her staying with me helped me bolster my energy and make it running all the way to the end. If she had left, I am sure I would have given up and walked. By way, Heather turns into quite a cheerleader at the end! She was the one saying it’s just around the corner. You got this! Let’s go!
After the race, we spotted another friend, Debbie. She PR’d her 10k! Way to go!
For snacks, they had pretzels, bananas and granola bars. The results line was loooonng so we skipped it. There were leftover glasses from a previous year that Heather’s husband snagged for us while we were running. So, we ended up with 2 glasses, a pin and a shirt.
I got out of town quickly and stopped at a Starbucks near the freeway to change my clothes and clean up quickly. I brought baby wipes, which worked well. Plus, got a yummy coffee. I made it to Tucker’s game right at the coin toss. I had packed a small cooler with good food for me to eat for lunch and snacks for my family, so we just sat back and enjoyed watching my youngest play football. Altogether great day! Not going to lie, I am sore. I still have the cold, so am feeling pretty run down, but definitely a run I would recommend to others. Maybe next year I can stay for the festival afterwards and get donuts from EZ Orchards on the way home.
My official time was 2:06:21. I placed 4th in my age group. 63rd out of 112 total runners; 24th out of 52 females.
There were 147 runners in the 10k and 325 runners in the 5k.