Yesterday I completed my 7th race of 2013 at the Happy Dirty Girls Half Marathon in Sisters, Oregon. A fairly new trail run organized by Lay it Out Events, this event is primarily catered to women, featuring girlie goodies at packet pickup, male pacers dressed in sparkling skirts, and girl power music blasting at the finish line. Although there were a couple of kinks to work out, I found this to be an enjoyable run and well organized experience.
I picked up my race packet at Footzone on Thursday, which was a nice alternative to driving out to Sisters on Friday. There were all kinds of goodies in the packet bag including a shirt I will actually wear (super comfy), socks, coupons to local shops, a rope of licorice, snacks, and my race number. Packet pickup always gets me fired up!
On Saturday morning I went through my typical race day routine. Because the weather looked a little uncertain, I had a harder time figuring out how to dress and layer. I settled on tights and two long sleeve shirts, which I would later regret. Given that the weather was supposed to hover around 40 degrees, potentially spit rain, and bring strong winds, I didn’t want to risk being a frozen icicle. Once again, Justin proved to be a huge support giving me a good luck card, driving me out to the starting line, and waiting in the rain for me at the finish.
As this was a point-to-point course, the start of the course was a few miles up the scenic Three Creeks Lake Road. Runners could take one of several shuttles from the finish area to the start line, or get a ride from family/friends. Justin dropped me off in time to use the porta potty, get in a good stretch, and line up near the front of the first wave. At 9am, under a blue sky and warm sun, we were off!
After a speedy first two miles, I quickly became uncomfortably warm in my double layers, and shed my outer shirt upon arrival at the first aid station. I was glad that the race organizers were able to collect gear and bring it to the finish area after – a lot of runners took advantage of this!
There was quite a bit of uphill between miles 2.5 and 7, with the occasional quick downhill to rest the lungs. The views were some of the best I have seen on a course and at one point a large rainbow fell from the sky in the far distance toward the Cascade Mountains. About an hour into the run the wind started to pick up, bringing with it the clouds and rain. It would be a wet finish!
The event organizers did a really nice job marking the course with neon flags and directional arrows, however may not have taken into account how the weather would affect them. Justin walked the last 1.5 miles of the course backwards from the start early on, and repositioned a few directional markers that had been blown over from the wind. There were a few places along the course where this had happened, including near the finish were the first runner to finish ran past the turn because the sign had fallen over, leaving it pointed in the wrong direction.
The mile markers were also another “hit” in my book. Each marker was well positioned and displayed an inspirational quote to keep runners motivated along the way. I really enjoyed reading them along the way.
If I could have changed one thing about my own personal run, I would have elected to use my iPod and listen to music. I found myself alone for a majority of the run and was only in close proximity to other runners at the beginning and a few times throughout. Because this was not a spectator friendly course, there were no cheers or people along the way to give me that extra push. However, at mile 12, I was greeted with a message written in the dirt from my husband “I heart 178,” which made me smile and kept me going.
The last few miles were cold and wet. The rain really started coming down and the wind added to the sting. By the time I reached the home stretch to the finish line, the pavement was covered in water and my grey shirt had turned black and heavy, soaked with water.
I crossed the finish line with a time of 1:40:41, my second best half marathon to date. I was happy to be welcomed with a finisher belt buckle and a few compliments from a couple women who had finished before me.
Justin and I immediately went to the car so I could change into warm, dry clothes. We then proceeded back to the finishing area where we talked with friends, supported other runners coming in, and awaited the posting of results. I enjoyed the Knotty Blonde from Three Creeks Brewery and we both shared a little pumpkin and squash soup.
Once the results were posted we ventured over to see that I had finished first in my age group and seventh overall. We waited around for the awards ceremony, but it was a little unorganized and they informed us that they had misplaced the awards and would send them via mail. Um, okay…
All in all it was a pretty great event and one that I would likely consider doing again in the future. And now, onward toward the Seattle Marathon on December 1!