The shorter, crisper days we're experiencing now in Central Oregon are a fun time of year. The high trails are now all settled in for the winter with a few feet of snow, forcing Sascha and me back down on the tamer slopes of Peterson Ridge. The whole Peterson Ridge trail complex is sweet! In the last 18 months, the Sisters Trail Committee has built about 30 miles of new trails around Sisters, mostly part of the Peterson Ridge trails. So Sascha and I have been enjoying some play time a little closer to home the past few weeks.
I spent the weekend of Nov. 21-22 in the Willamette Valley playing, running, and hanging out with friends. After a stupidly slow drive to Eugene on Friday night through a snow storm, I got to Tate and Mike's house, where a good meal and conversation awaited. The next morning I was going to run the EWEB Run to Stay Warm 1/2 marathon. I love road halves!
The morning was much different than overnight - it was clear and sunny, and a bit on the chilly side. Perfect for a 1/2 marathon. My 1/2 p.r. is 1:15:57 and I was really hoping to beat that. So after a good 3-mile warm up, I put on my trusty fast shoes, Nike Lunaracers. I had worn those shoes in only 2 other races - my 10k p.r. and my 1/2 marathon p.r - so I knew they were fast!
Eugene didn't bring out it's big guns for this 1/2, but after finding myself in 12th place at the first mile, I knew there was some good competition. After a 17:43 three-mile split, I decided to change gears and ran the miles 4 and 5 in the mid 5:30s, easily passing some guys who had clearly gone out too fast. I even got a few shout-outs about my attire for the day, my trusty Oultaws singlet. By mile 6 (34:51), I was firmly in 6th place, cruising along and keeping my heartrate in the mid-170s. It was a beautiful day to be running.
I was trying to keep a kid with an Oregon singlet ahead of me in my sights. I made it my goal to slowly reel him in over the next 3-4 miles, running steady 5:45s and inching my h.r. up to 180. I think I startled him a bit around 9 1/2 when crossing the Willamette, he heard something behind him, looked back, and saw me 20 meters back. He threw in a little surge, which I didn't counter.
Across the river, we turned back toward the finish line and into a noticable and chilly headwind. Mile 10 came in 57:40, giving me 18:16 for the final 5k to p.r. Quick math told me 5:50 pace would get me there, but the headwind told me it wouldn't be easy. I easily passed Oregon kid, surging as I went by, then also quickly caught up to single-compression sock guy (he was wearing one compression sock and one regular sock). He matched my surge for a couple minutes before falling back. Now I was in 4th, on the hunt for a podium finish.
The closer I got to the finish, the harder I ran as my h.r. was now in the low-180s, but my pace had slowed to 5:54, 5:50, and 5:51 for miles 11-13. Just before 13, I ran into 3rd place and glanced at my watch to see 1:15:16 at mile 13. 40 seconds for .1 miles, no problem. I sprinted to the finish in 3rd place with a time of 1:16:19. Huh?! The last ".1" took me 1:03. Hm, perhaps it was a bit long...but, that's the way it goes. I was happy with my effort and place. I figure any time I can crack the podium in a Eugene race, I'm doing something right.
After a good lunch with Tonya and Scott, I was off to Salem for a fun night with Ryan and Michele. When I got to their house, nobody was home, so I decided to hang out in their backyard hottub until they got home - very nice. We all enjoyed A fun night of Wii Fit and the movie Bruno, while eating a variety of good, fatty snacks. I always love going to their house - they really are two of my closest friends.
On Sunday I drove up to Portland to watch Parker run in the Nike Border Clash. Border Clash is a cross country race between the top-40 Washington prep harriers against the top-40 Oregon prep harriers. Parker ran a great race, finishing in 18th overall, 4th for Team Oregon, beating all of the Oregon state champs from the different classifications. He was excited, and it was fun to see him finish his high school harrier career on a high note.
The weekend finished with a run on the Wildwood in Portland with my good buddy Ryan (Portland Ryan, not to be confused with Salem Ryan). I always enjoy running with Ryan. We've had some pretty fun battles in races, and some great adventures - we even skied to and snowshoed up South Sister in February for his bachelor party in 2005. So it was fun to kick up some mud on the Wildwood with him for a bit.
And, of course, a trip home from the Valley isn't complete without a stop at Rosie's Cafe in Mill City for a smoothie and to-die-for cinnamon roll. Outlaws head coach Charlie and his son were there doing the same, and we were both glad that Parker had saved us a cinnamon roll.