Ceci n'est pas une chapeau.

Ceci n’est pas une chapeau
(This is a T-shirt)

 

8 down 44 to go.

“At the first intersection take the left, then turn right, go past something onto the gravel road to the turn… blah, blah, blah…” As I stood at the start of the Newport HM a feeling of doom came over me. I get lost so often that Tim once suggested that whenever I’m not sure which turn to take, I should take my best guess and then go the opposite direction. This guy had just rattled off about 8 turns and landmarks. Even my former Boy Scout husband who never gets lost (except in Tijuana) looked uncertain. After listening to the course directions with increasing panic, I turned to Tim and asked if he would please run with me. I hated to ask because Tim is faster than me and I was asking him to run my race. He said, “I was planning on it.” Although his tone was a bit amused, I was grateful. Thanks Tim. I think he was afraid that he would have to come rescue me, again. One of my favorite (and most embarrassing) stories happened on our first trail HM, in the Tortolita mountains outside of Tucson. I have gotten lost in the Tortolita mountains an absurd amount of times. I was not a Girl Scout. It was about 4 years ago. At that HM, the first 3 miles or so is run next to a wash that intersects a trail that switchbacks up the mountain. Somehow I missed the trail marker. Meanwhile, Tim is running up the switchbacks and looks down to see me still running along the wash. He tries yelling at me to turn back but I have my headphones on and don’t hear him. I guess the people he was running with were also yelling for me to turn around. I’m guessing there were fewer then usual wildlife sightings that race. Realizing that I’m not going to hear him, Tim takes off in a straight line down the mountain towards me. I am amazed that after his high-speed bushwhack he wasn’t covered in cactus. He gets me back on track and runs up the switchbacks (again) with me, adding almost 2 miles to his run. I think he deserves the husband of the year for that one. If he hadn’t saved me I would probably have ended up lost in Mexico. So if Tim’s time looks a little slow (for him) it’s because he ran with me for the first 8 miles. He was able to get a lot of nice pictures.

They actually had more course markings and directions then I had expected. There were no arrows for the first two turns but we could see where people were turning and just followed. The second half of the race was very will marked. We were talking to one of the race directors who said that some of the volunteers didn’t show up. I thought they did a great job with the amount of people they had.

A little confusion about the course was the only negative thing I would say about the race. It was our favorite so far. It was a very small race of about 20 people. I later found out that they has some trouble with their website so some people weren’t able to register. We picked up our packets an hour before the race. Our goody bag was filled with useful things for runners. Gels, Cliff bars, Shot Block. Instead of a T-shirt we got a hat. Depending on how you feel about it, this could be either a plus or minus. If you haven’t done a lot of races you might want that T-shirt but if you do a lot of races you are likely to see a hat and think – thank God, not another T-shirt. One thing that says a lot about this race is that almost everyone there had run it before and raved about it.

Two festive friends who came out to walk.

Two festive friends who came out to walk

This was by far the most beautiful run I have ever done. I take that back, for my 50th birthday me and Tim ran about 24 miles through the Grand Canyon in one day, down the North Kaibab Trail and up the Bright Angel Trail. Even though I was in better shape then, I could barely walk for 3 days. This was just as beautiful but in a different way. The race started by going through some charming residential streets but soon turned into a large, traffic free, gravel road through a forest. This road went past a couple of lakes with ducks and a lily pond. It wasn’t a mountain but there were some good hills.

Forest lake with ducks and lily pond

Forest lake with ducks and lily pond

The water stations were well placed. You went through the first water station twice. He was placed to make sure you got on the gravel road. There was a guy at the turn around point, at the end of the gravel road, with water and directions. Some people don’t like courses that have out and backs. I like them a lot. You get a chance to see the fastest runners, which I always find exciting and you get to see how many people are behind you and how close they are. Also I get to see Tim. We then went back up the road to the first water station where the volunteer made sure you got on the trail. I was feeling a little sluggish until we entered the trail. Tim was doing his best to run with me but kept pulling ahead. I hated that he had to run slow for me so I tried to keep up with him, then got mad because he was pushing me to run too fast (he wasn’t). So besides running about 2 minutes slower then his average pace, he got to argue wit me. But once we got on the trail I seemed to gather energy and we ran a couple of miles feeling great. There were a number of wooden bridges to run over. I love running over small, trail bridges as much as road bridges. I love bridges. I love the idea that I’m almost running on air. The trail area was marked really well.

 

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After the trail there was a transition to the beach. The dunes between the trail and the ocean was the only place I got really confused. Tim insisted that we should go straight down to the beach and turn right. I saw foot prints and some people in the distance that made me think we cut right at the dunes. I added another couple of minutes to our run by stomping off to the right (stomping because of the dunes, not because I was having a temper tantrum). Of course, Tim was right and we had to backtrack to get to the ocean water station. About 7 miles of the race is run on the beach. It was magical. The day was perfect. I was surprised at how few people were on the beach. I thought running on the sand would be hard but it wasn’t. It was hard packed and almost flat. The turn around point on the beach had a flag. Even if you missed the flag you couldn’t go any further because a rock cliff barred the way. We decided that even I couldn’t get lost and Tim took off running the last 5 miles without me. I turned on my headphones and listened to my favorite music while running alongside the ocean. Running doesn’t get any better than this.

Sharon running on the beach

If you get lost follow the footprints

I like to listen to music when I run. It’s actually one of the only times I listen to music. I put my headphones on at the beginning of a race so I don’t have to mess with them later, but I don’t turn my music on until the last 3 miles. If I turn music on earlier, it’s nice to listen to but it doesn’t help motivate me the way it does if I wait. 2 of my favorite songs to run to are Franti’s song, The Future and a Frank Zappa/Ozzy Osborn cover of the disco hit, Stayin’ Alive, that would make even the most tired runner smile. At the finish I had a nice surprise. Not only did I have a new PR for this project but I got 2nd place in my age group. And no – this time I wasn’t the only one in my age group. There were 4 in my age group. Tim won his age group! He usually comes in more then half an hour before me but places worse in his age group than me. The men’s 40-50 age group is fast and many of them are highly competitive. I think a good amount of men in that age group are mid life crisis runners. I often see women walking a HM with friends, you don’t often see men doing that.

Medals

I commend this race for not canceling. They had some problems with the website so the turnout was less then half of what they were expecting. We got a notice cancelling the Orange Chicken run because only 37 people signed up. They were nice about it but it was still a bit of a hassle since they were the only available OR race on that date. As small as it was I would not have wanted to miss this run. It took away the bad taste of last weeks race.

This was out favorite race so far. It was without a doubt the most beautiful race, but it went beyond that. The people who put on this race were great. This was a race that people cared about. It was quite a contrast to last week. Last weeks run was put on by a company called Energy Events, who obviously had no emotional investment in the race. Take something as simple as handing out water. Last week we were handed water by sullen teenagers who wordlessly pointed if you asked for directions. This week you were handed water by smiling people who greeted you and gave descriptions of their favorite parts of the run to come. At the end the race director wanted to know how we had enjoyed our run. When we mentioned being a little confused in a couple of spots he wanted to know where so he could have better course markings next year. The few volunteers that were there wanted to help you in any way possible. And they looked happy. On the ride back to our car the driver was telling us about the aquatic park that the race was a fund raiser for. We had already read a bit about it because after the pro-life run we checked out the causes for all of our upcoming races. Being in Oregon we are lucky not to have accidentally signed up for something like the 13.1 Gun Run. She was full of enthusiasm and thanked us for coming out to run. Like everyone involved in this race she was friendly in a real way.

After the race we went back to the hotel. We stayed at the Roadway Inn and we would recommend it. We had a nice clean room with a microwave, fridge, and coffee maker. Best of all the room did not smell like smoke. More then half of our non-smoking rooms smell like smoke. They let us do a noon checkout so we had time to get a shower after running.

Need A Shower

The housekeeper takes our smelly post race picture

Our goody bag had a token for a free cup of clam chowder at Mo’s. We do not recommend Mo’s even though we had a nice window seat with a sea lion view. I don’t know how the clam chowder is because it had bacon and we don’t eat pork but the crab melt sandwich was lame. The bread was good but it had less then a table spoon of crab salad. Tim was not pleased with his thin overcooked burger. Still I’m glad we went there because we got to see a cute part of Newport that we didn’t even know about.

See if you can find the crab salad

See if you can find the crab salad

Cons

  • Course could have been better marked
  • No food at the finish line (although lots in the goddy bag) may I suggest chocolate milk?
  • No chip timing

Pros

  • Incredibly beautiful course
  • Super volunteers who cared about the race
  • Race director did a great job and wanted to know how to make it better
  • Goody bag full of useful stuff
  • Cool hat – hey I need a hat more then another T-shirt
  • Helps raise money for an aquatic park
  • Let me expand on my first pro – lakes (with ducks), trails (with bridges), and a perfect beach to run on

None of the cons in this race mattered because it was a beautiful race put on by joyful people.

As you would expect we highly recommend this race. If you are looking for a HM this one will make you happy. I want to do this race again next year. I just thought of a project for next year. We could rerun our top 10 favorite races. You should run this race with a friend or partner because it’s so pretty you will want to share it with someone. Everyone who has ever wanted to do a HM should meet us here next year. Lets get that aquatic park built!

We have a list of our upcoming HM on the races link. Leave a comment if you are doing any of them – maybe we could meetup.

Postscript: Thanks for the comments on last weeks race. I’m not giving my shirt to Goodwill as I am saving everything from this project but, as Nancy suggested, Tim’s will get used for hair dying. Yes, Tim dyes my hair (are you jealous) and does a great job.

6 Comments

  1. This sounds like a great run, I will look for it next year for sure! I looked at your schedule, I think I will be doing the Runaway Pumpkin — you will love that one, I think. The atmosphere is fun, the volunteers are fantastic, bearded dudes on Harleys are the traffic control, and the cause is way legit. And there’s chocolate milk. Lots of it. And baked goods. Which is important to me.

    • Great. We will look for you at the pumpkin run. Are you going to dress up? I’m thinking of going as a butterfly.

      • I might dress up — I usually wear a hotdog costume to the Corvallis Half but I’m exploring the taco/condiments themes this year. However, after looking at the photos from my last race, I’d like to wear a burka, as my own 2014 Journey to No Longer Be Shaped Like The Grimace isn’t turning out as I’d planned….

  2. Wow, Sharon! Sounds like you two had a terrific time. Crab salad excluded, of course! I love the photos Tim took – especially of the beach. I love your idea for the T-shirt…..a little dye will “personalize” it so it will stand out from all the others!

    Rest up and have a good weekend. Sending you both hugs and lots of love!

  3. I don’t think I will ever run a 1/2 marathon (6 miles is the most I have ever done, and that was on a treadmill to boot), but it is so cool to read about yours and Tim’s HM adventures! You sure did convey how thoroughly enjoyable and just plain happy this race was :O) I am also glad that you didn’t toss that shirt (you EARNED it).

    Congratulations on the PR and placings, and wishing you both the best on this week’s race!

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