Grapes of Half half marathon, and inaugural race set in a rural, quiet part of Oregon just south of Eugene. I cannot say enough good things about this race. It was all around the most pleasant race experience ever - despite the killer ending. And the biggest draw is that it would be my 23rd half marathon -- on June 23rd! But let's get back to the start!
I was up very early and heading north on winding back rounds that I had never seen before. The drive made me a little car sick, but what's a race without me wanting to vomit at some point? Around 5:45am we arrived at the finish area to park the Jeep. First ones there! Too bad there's no award for that. We took our time, had some breakfast and eventually wandered up to the winery to catch a bus and mingle with other runners. It was just so lovely. A beautiful setting; nice, cool weather; and very friendly runners - some I knew, some I didn't. Soon we were on a bus to the start line at the Noble Estate Vineyard where we got our bibs, shirts and packets. We had an hour to wait so we spent it having a lovely conversation with three other runners. I enjoyed it so much, I was kind of disappointed when we had to actually line up to start!
|View from the start line|
|My new race friend|
We thought mile six was the first hill, but in retrospect that wasn't a hill at all! We did a lot of walking on that hill, and then running once in a while. At the top we had a sigh of relief and then got back into running. That relief disappeared when we hit mile 8. Ay carumba! It was longer and steeper, and on a curving road, so you never knew when the end was near. Fortunately this is when some light rain came down on us and cooled us off. It was a very humid day, so getting actually rain was such a blessing! Once we reached that peek we were so happy to just run, and run fast. Woo hoo!! Up until then we had been on track for a potential PR, even though we had done zero training for it.
It was in the last 5K that my body gave out. Running on the shoulder took its toll on my hip and ankle and I was hurting. MF also had tweaked his knee somewhere along the course, and he was not feeling the love of running. We decided to just not worry, back off, walk as much as we wanted and enjoy the scenery and smell of the fir trees.
|The party bus!|
My medal and wine glass we were waiting for me, and as soon as I had those in my hand I was able to turn around and cheer for MF as he crossed the finish line! The post race area was wonderful. People were relaxing with their wine while I opted for water. We had so much choose from, fruit, hummus, crackers, bagels ... it was one of the best!
Age group winner! Yay!
I checked the results list and told MF we had better get our stuff together and grab the party bus. When he asked why I had the pleasure of telling him he was 3rd in his division and we had to go back to Sweet Cheeks Winery for he awards! Yay! *I left out that there were only 3 in his division, but an age group win is an age group win!
|He won a "shoe bag" that I call a backpack.|
If you are ever wanting a challenging, peaceful, well run race through the country ... and enjoy wine, I will totally recommend this race! I can't say I won't do it again. I don't like to repeat races, but this was just such a really positive experience, even with climbing the Empire State Building at the end!