Yesterday I completed my 5th half marathon of the summer, setting a PR for the 13.1-mile distance in the process. I waited until the last minute to sign up for the Sunriver Half Marathon For a Cause, as a way to test myself after the training I had done throughout the summer. My goal going into the run was to finish under 1:40:00 – which I successfully did.
Saturday was packet pickup at the Sunriver Resort Lodge. As always I was delighted to receive a goody bag and race t-shirt. As part of the event weekend there were a couple of other runs going on while Justin and I were there, so it got me pumped and excited for my run the next day.
That night, Justin made my favorite pre-race meal—oven roasted Dungeness crab. There’s something about crab that I swear makes me run faster. It’s high in potassium, magnesium, and sodium, three essential electrolytes that are important for performance. After dinner we relaxed and watched some episodes of 24 on Netflix, before heading to bed with a few nerves and anticipation of the day ahead.
Sunday morning I woke up early and went through my usual morning routine. Coffee. Braids. G2. Gear up. Jump around. Nerves. Peanut butter and banana. Hug the hubby. Jump around more. I also have a list of essentials that I gather and take with me to each race.
My mom and step-dad followed Justin and I to the race area and we arrived with just enough time to get their bikes ready so they could cheer me on from different places along the course, make a stop at the porta potty, and get me to the starting line.
I love that anticipation and energy that everyone has as the countdown begins. Ready… Set… “BOOM!”
The course itself was very beautiful and fairly flat. A majority of the run is along a paved trail through Crosswater golf course, Caldera Springs, and Sunriver. The weather that morning → perfect!
The first few miles were a breeze. I instantly fell into a position where I was behind one woman and a handful of men. I knew there were a couple of other women close behind and kept that in mind throughout the race.
When I reached mile six I was greeted by my family (aka best cheer squad ever) who rode along the road that was close to the running trail. They were very positive and encouraging, even when I was starting to ache and have doubts. Their uplifting words kept me going strong.
I honestly cannot describe what I think about during my time out on the course. Although I typically train with my iPod and good music, my races are kept quiet and I prefer the natural sounds of my feet on the pavement, cheers from the spectators, and encouragement from other runners around me. It is a time for me to think, listen, and learn about my body’s capabilities and strengths. Those moments free of distractions are some of my favorites, as they can be challenging in and of themselves.
At mile 8 ½ I consumed my GU and knew I still had quite a way before reaching the finish line. After a few motivating words from my husband to fire me up (“Eye of the Tiger” and “Beast Mode” to name a few), I quickly made it through a couple of good hill climbs and started to push myself hard, keeping a comfortable distance between myself and the woman behind me.
When I reached the sign declaring “Mile 12” I knew I had to pick up the intensity and pace. “Only one more mile – you can go hard for one more mile” played on repeat over and over in my head. And go hard I did – pushing forward until mile 13 when I kicked my legs into sprint mode and flew through the finish line. I saw Justin, my mom, and Billy waiting for me as I heard my name over the loud speaker, “Kristen Yax, Bend, Oregon, 2nd overall woman.” YES!! I finished with a time of 1:39:53.
It does not matter how exhausted my body may be, once I cross that finish line it gives me a sense of vigor and renewal. I was overwhelmed and energized, ready to run it all over again.
To kill time before the awards, I grabbed a cold beverage, chatted with some friends, and relaxed at a picnic table watching other runners finish. I loved the finishing medals and pint glass we received. The individuals who put on the race really know how to spoil their runners.
The awards ceremony was a little unorganized, but I was able to meet and talk with the other two women who placed, and stand on the podium for a photo. Sunriver Resort awarded us each a generous gift card and finishing mug – super excited for a little staycation with my husband.
Following the race, Justin treated me to one of my favorite post race meals – a juicy burger! Craving protein, Justin and I went to the Deschutes Brewery and each had an elk burger, which really hit the spot.
The rest of the day was spent in high spirits while relaxing. I spent a good amount of time on the ground, sliding my legs over a foam roller – that good kind of pain that lets you know your muscles have worked hard. It will probably be a day and experience I will never forget – hopefully it is only the beginning.