A few months ago, Kristin mentioned to me that she was getting a group of people together to the run the Oregon Wine Country Half Marathon as #TeamHardcorked (best team name, ever). It piqued my interest because although I knew that I was headed that way with Brooks for the Olympic Trials, I knew that we weren’t going to have a lot of time to explore the state. I was a little worried because I am not a huge wine person… but when she told me that the half marathon was going to be followed with a day of hiking, I was definitely sold!
So, last Thursday night, I flew into Portland for a weekend adventure. We hung out in Portland through mid-day Friday before we headed to wine country for packet pick-up… which was at the Evergreen Aviation & Space Museum (apparently every dude’s dream to visit, btw). Some really cool planes were inside, including the incredible Spruce Goose.
Once we got over the plane aw, we headed over to packet pick-up and met up with Megan to snap some pics before heading out to get ready for the night.
We decided to rent a house that was pretty close to the town where we finished, and it was gorgeous. I love how VRBO and Airbnb have transformed travel and just made it so much more enjoyable.
That night, we were all invited to the pre-race dinner, which was a pretty awesome experience. They hosted it at a local winery, which of course was just gorgeous:
While it was hard to restrain the urge to drink #allthewine the night before the race, it was definitely a cool ambiance and a great way to get amped up for the race — I would definitely recommend checking it out if you are headed to the Oregon Wine Country Half Marathon in the future.
After an early bedtime, we were up bright and early to head to the start. They have a few different transportation options, so we opted to drive to the finish and take the school buses up to the start (no matter how many times I do this for a race, it always brings me back to the school buses on the way to Hopkinton). Along the way, we were able to watch the beautiful sunrise:
We were lucky enough to have VIP, so that meant that at the start — which was at the Stoller Family Estate (seriously, visit this place —> it’s awesome) — we had access to real bathrooms, a warm room and a buffet of food. It was amazing, and a great way to start the race.
I love that it started at 7 a.m. —> in my mind, the earlier the race, the better because then you don’t have to worry about nerves (or heat) taking over. As I talked about pre-race, I didn’t really have any goals for this race since I’m in the midst of training and ran nine miles two days before the race. That being said, even when you say you have no goals, you can’t help wonder if you can pull out a PR.
I lined up just behind the 1:40 guy with no intention of actually staying with him, and when we were off, I tried not to let the excitement take me over (quickly bringing my pace from low 7s back to high 7s… my legs just get so pumped for race starts). I looked over and saw Megan next to me, and was pumped to have some company!
These were honestly my least favorite miles of the Oregon Wine Country Half Marathon. We ran through a little town and neighborhoods, which wasn’t the bad part, but there were a ton of rolling hills pretty solid for these miles. I actually started feeling it in my legs around mile four and briefly was worried that they were going to be trashed well before the end of the race if the crazy hills kept up.
At mile 5, there were a TON of blackberries growing on the side of the road and I really wanted to grab some but figured that might not be the best use of a stop mid-race. 😉 These miles were getting into the heart of wine country, so it was just running on a quiet country road with some good shade. Oh and P.S., I had a major blonde moment at this point —> I looked at my watch at mile 6 and started calculating my finish time, thinking that I was going to get a major PR… until I realized the halfway point was 6.5. Oops. 🙂
I love love LOVED this part of the race —> after all of those brutal rolling hills, this was a slow downhill and it felt amazing. My legs felt like they were coming alive again and I was able to pick up the pace, which was so refreshing. I really wished that the rest of the race would have been downhill like this.
I knew that miles 10-11 were going to be rough — they were on a gravel road and did not sound like fun that late into the race. It wasn’t too bad because it was pretty packed down, but on tired legs, it wasn’t my favorite. After we finished that, we did a few turns and headed into Carlton, where we finished right downtown.
I ended up finishing in 1:44.29, which is actually the fastest I’ve run a half marathon since 2013! I will take it!
After the race, we stuck around for the wine festival —> and in true fashion, I found myself some delicious beer. It was a really cool festival with a TON of local wineries from the area and was really fun to hang out with other racers for a bit afterwards.
Overall, the Oregon Wine Country Half Marathon was well worth the travel! I would definitely be interested in doing it again (and maybe learning how to dominate the rolling hills and the gravel). Some things to note:
- It is a smaller race –> I think there were about 1,500 runners in the half marathon, plus some runners that did the relay
- Speaking of the relay –> if you don’t want to do the full half marathon, they have a two-person relay option, which is a really fun idea (especially if you are traveling with friends)
- There is a LOT of wine –> seriously. You won’t run out of it at all, and there is SO much good stuff in Oregon wine country, you’ll find something that you love
- Oregon does get hot –> It was a little toasty and from what we heard from the locals, that is not unusual; however, the race ends early enough that it doesn’t impact you TOO much
- I love racing –> I love races like this because they are such a good reminder of why we do it
Ever run a “destination” race? What did you think?
Wine lovers! Who has been to Oregon? What’d you think? What’s your favorite wine?
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