On Saturday I made a last minute decision to register for Super Dave’s Down & Dirty Half Marathon – a trail run that I was told climbs “gradually” for the first seven miles before descending through rolling single-track to the finish. I needed to get in the 13 miles (including some hills) for training, so I thought “why not?”
*The weather is perfect.
*I need to get in speed training.
*I have never done this particular race.
*The hill climbing will be a great challenge.
*I’ve done every other half marathon in Bend this year.
*I have to do 13 miles anyway.
*And, I love the race environment
The race started at 9am – roughly 42 degrees and not a cloud in the sky! I started near the front with my step-brother-in-law, Stephen, to get out first and avoid bumping heels and toes with other runners.
My pace the first two miles was fairly fast due to the combination of adrenaline and trying to get the blood flowing to warm my body. After three miles of gradual incline I made my way to the first aid station where I refueled and settled into a more steady, comfortable pace to manage the four miles of hills ahead. Miles 3-7 felt endless as I would look ahead and see runners much higher and more distant cruising along the switchbacks and road. The first seven miles were primarily uphill, approximately 900ft of climbing, along a forest service road, which was nice for passing and feet placement options.
Once I reached the aid station at mile 7 my legs were on fire, my head a little light, and my mouth dry. I grabbed a drink and searched for Justin who was planning to meet me there but was nowhere to be found. Onward! Now it was time to jump on the Storm King trail and head for the finish – only 6.2 miles to go!
At mile 8 a voice undulated through the trees and I heard “Go Kristen!” My husband appeared from a distance through the pine trees. Ahhh, thank goodness! I quickly stripped my long sleeve shirt and gloves and threw them his way. I was hot and the weather had warmed to my shorts/tank comfort level. After a quick “I love you” I was off, up the hill, and in search of the finish.
The terrain between miles 8 and 12 was mostly downhill and zigzagged along a single-track trail. At this point my legs were feeling a little defeated from the previous miles, thus I did not get to take advantage of the downhill like I had wanted to. At mile 12.5 I approached a disgusting hill that made me about quit right there (not really), but once I reached the top I quickly resumed my race pace and followed the sound of the crowd at the finish line. In the eyes of a runner one of the most beautiful sights in the world is that finish line area. I sprinted across the grass to the finish line, was handed an awesome mug (big enough to hold my morning coffee), and found my husband and family. I was thrilled to be done.
I finished in a time of 1:48 → 9th woman to cross, 34th overall
Stephen, on the other hand, wasn’t as fortunate. He was misdirected off course by a volunteer early in the race and along with a few other poor souls ran down the wrong trail for three miles before realizing the error of their ways. That six-mile round-trip error ended up turning Stephen’s half marathon into a long, 18-mile training run. Poor guy, but being an ultra runner this wasn’t the first time (or even the farthest) he has veered off course during a race.
This was the most difficult half marathon I have ever participated in, and I had not mentally prepared myself all of the hills and climbs. At the end of the day I am certainly glad I did it. The challenge was good for me, and the training will only make me stronger for what lies ahead—the Seattle Marathon on December 1.
I love that my family was there and that my husband once again proved to be an amazing support. He definitely keeps me going, gives me the encouragement I need, and helps me to stay positive when I have doubts. I couldn’t do this alone!