Our yearly road race

See that tiny rainbow, and where it ends?

Ann & I have run the Columbia Gorge half marathon since its start in 2009. Every year there's terrible weather up til the start (and sometimes for the first few miles). But every year it clears up and we thank our lucky stars for the beauty of the course and the fun of running fast (for us) through the colorful, autumnal landscape.

More rainbows and autumn color

In 2011 we finally dropped under two hours, and every year since we've improved by a little bit. This year I wasn't sure if we would be any faster. Although we had been doing a speed workout once a week for months, we stopped after our race at the beginning of September and haven't been back since. And I forgot my watch to time our splits.

Our friend Sally joined us-- her first-ever race! She was nervous, but when she runs with us on the trails she often pushes the pace. My dad also came out for the race (his fourth time, I think) from the east coast, which makes it an anticipated, special event.

Dad and me selfie

This year the half marathon started in waves, which was great. We started in the third wave (8-9 minute miles) and after the initial waterfront near-loop, the suspension bridge was much more stable than previously with so many people tramping over it at once. We had to slow down a bit, but it was much better than previous years when we had to grip the sides for dear life.

Ann, Sally and Susan before the race

We kept a good pace up through town, and then the first (and biggest hill). Then came a series of rollers. As Ann and Sally accelerated up a hill together at mile four, I kept steady and fell behind them a bit, knowing I didn't want to push too hard early on. We got a drink at each aid station, so I soon caught up to them.

My favorite cheerleader

Then, way too soon, we were at the turnaround at the far end of the Mosier Tunnels. Back through the tunnels is a nice downhill, then there's about a mile and a half of uphill that never seems to end. I dug in and tried to keep up.

My husband and son cheering on runners

Sally's knee locked up a couple of times, and we stopped or walked twice, hoping if she stretched it would help. The third time, though, she fell behind and didn't catch up. Suddenly we didn't see her behind us. We were worried, but knew she is such a badass, she would probably catch up.

Me and my family

We ran pretty hard the final downhill and back through town. The near-loop at the end always feels a little painful, but then we saw my husband and son cheering for us, and as we got to the final finisher's chute, I couldn't believe my eyes: 1:52! We achieved a new PR by nearly three full minutes, at 1:52:11.

And then almost exactly two minutes later, in roared Sally at 1:54:10. Her knee was very painful, but she still killed her first race.

My son cheers on my dad

Sally and Ann went to Pfriem to snag a table, while my family waited for my dad to finish. We rang our loud cow bells and cheered everyone on. It was awesome to see the first full marathon finishers come in, too. Then we saw my dad come around the corner and speed through the chute for a big finish.We hustled him quickly to the car to join our friends and celebrate with good food and great beer.

All of this is why I look forward to doing this race again next year!






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