After 6 days of vacation in Ontario, Canada, Jesse and I returned to Oregon to run the Timberline Half Marathon on Mt. Hood. We were signed up for the Saturday run and made our way up early that morning. Luckily it was a 10:00 AM start, rather than the usual 7:30 or 8 so we had plenty of time to make the morning drive.
It was such a gorgeously sunny day in Oregon and Mt. Hood was breathtaking, per usual. We arrived at the Clackamas Ranger Station to check in and meet up with our other friends.
*Note to self: start bringing bug repellant everywhere!
The mosquitoes were out in full force and we were anxious to start running, lest we be devoured! Both Jesse & I were covered in bites from Canada and definitely weren’t keen on adding to the collection.
For reasons I’ll never fully understand, I made the decision to leave my hydration pack in the car and run without it. But, naturally, at the last minute I changed my mind, realizing it was going to be fairly hot and I had not properly trained for running at that altitude (Portland is at 50 ft; Mt. Hood is at 3,227 ft), so Jesse so sweetly sprinted to the car to get it for me. It was a nice warm-up for him, as we parked about 1/4 mile from the starting line! Boy, was I grateful he did! I might have filled it too much because that night my shoulders were sore, but my jelly beans saved me that day. I took them out around mile 6 and never put them back.
The runners began one by one so it actually took a good ten minutes to get everyone across the starting line, so we luckily weren’t delayed by the pack fiasco. This was my first event where Jesse and I weren’t running together, as I was initially going to be running with L and he planned to run it alone to see how fast he could do it. My running buddy didn’t join us due to an injury, so I was running solo. We crossed the start line and he quickly left, dodging the other runners. Apparently this upset some people, yelling “Why didn’t you start at the front!?” but c’mon? If you’re walking, why didn’t YOU start at the back!? Sheesh.
The course was dry and soft, with only rolling hills. There were a few moments when I was wishing I had my headphones; I often run better/faster with some Fall Out Boy motivation, but I suppose true trail runners let nature be the inspiration. The views of Timothy Lake and Mt. Hood were really indescribable and it was so tempting to forgot the race, park on the beach with my feet in the water. Alas, I kept going. I found a few groups of runners around my pace and it became a back and forth of “pacing” between us – I’d pass them, they’d later pass me, etc. I appreciated their support, but around mile 11 we had to separate. I’d say my legs were giving up, though it was probably just my mind, but miles 11-14.4 (yes, it was a slightly longer “half”) were brutal. I’ll blame the altitude or the lack of training while we were on vacation, though Jesse claimed to have had the same crash around then as well.
I got through the final 1.5 miles with the help of a marathoner (the marathon runners started earlier that day and ran two loops around the lake to our one). She was so sweet and easy to chat with and walked with me up the final/only hill on the course. I love chatting with runners who are modest and supportive no matter what. It truly drives home the point that everyone has their own race to run, and only against themselves.
My goal was to finish in under 3 hours. My final time? 2:58. Boom!
On the drive home, Jesse stopped twice for me to throw up. The heat? Or just the norm? Either way, not fun.
Sunday was a “rest” day. We went to the Montavilla Farmer’s Market and then to FitRight NW to buy some road shoes. I love traveling, but sometimes you just need a day at home to catch up.