Monday, May 16, 2016

Sisters "Better Half" Marathon Race Recap

Whenever I go to Oregon for a visit with friends and family, I always find a race to run and then plan my trip around it.  This time, I found TWO races to do while in Oregon!  The first one was the Sisters “Better Half” Marathon in Sisters, Oregon.  The second was the half option of the Bend Marathon in Bend, Oregon.  The 2 small cities (more like large towns, really) are about 20 miles apart from each other.  I reserved a room in a hotel that was a 5 minute walk from the start/finish of the Bend half, which I was running on Sunday, the second day. 

I was one of the first people to register for the Sisters Half when registration opened up on January 1st this year.  Registration was only $45!!!  That’s just crazy talk!  This is the cheapest half I’ve ever run.

On my drive to eastern Oregon from my parents’ house in the Willamette Valley, I drove through Sisters first, so I stopped at the Sisters Athletic Club to pick up my packet for this race.
The club was super nice and packet pickup was strictly that…packet pickup.  There was no merchandise to purchase or vendors for anything on site.  Just a lady in a side room with a table, a list and a boxes of bibs and shirts.  The bibs were plain, just your number.  There was a sticker on the tear off piece that had your name, gender, age group, and shirt size on it, but that was as personalized as it got.  So, I customized my bib with the blue sharpie I have in my purse.
After I got to my hotel, I went into downtown bend to FootZone and picked up my packet for the Bend half.  After that, I rummaged through all my running clothes that I brought and picked out my outfits for both races.  The weather forecast called for chilly temps both mornings, so it’s a good thing I brought my arm warmers because I didn’t bring any long sleeved shirts or pullovers!
Race morning, I got up around 6:30am.  It felt really weird to be leaving so late in the morning for a race start.  Most races start at 7 or 8, so you need to already be parked and on site no later than 6:30 usually.  And I was just getting out of bed at that time!  I left the hotel around 7:40 and stopped at the store because I forgot to buy bananas the day before when I was at the store.  I then drove to Village Green Park in Sisters and found front row parking because I arrived so early for such a small race.  There were 82 people who participated in the full half (there was a relay and a quarter half options too)!

I was a little disappointed that there was no recitation of the national anthem in any way, shape or form.  The race began rather unceremoniously with a lady just looking at her watch and doing a countdown barely loud enough for us to hear and then yelling “GO!”  At least, I think that’s what she yelled.  At any rate, we were off!  We made our way down the street and then through part of another park on a wood chip trail.
Then we made our way through Coyote Springs, a very nice private neighborhood with very nice houses.  They were, how shall I put this, cottage-cabin-craftsman style houses.  Then we made a left on a road that goes out of town for an out-and-back piece. 

Then through another new neighborhood with nice, but not “as nice” houses.  Still really nice, though.  Then out on the road that goes toward the Mackenzie Pass.

We made the loop around near the middle school and high school and then made our way back toward the start/finish area.  Since I was running the half, I just ran right through and started my second loop.  I took a premature turn coming out of the other park we ran through, but the distance was still the same as it would have been had I turned at the correct point.

I finished and pressed “stop” on my Garmin and FitBit.  I finished in 2:19:24.  Sure, I was hoping to finish in 2:15:00 or faster, but really, I didn’t try too hard.  I was enjoying the course and the scenery.  I even stopped a couple times to take selfies and walked all but the very first water stop.

Instead of medals, they were handing out logoed pint glasses to the finishers…which you got to fill with a FREE pint of local craft beer!
this is a pint glass,
not sure why it looks so small
There were no photographers on the course anywhere or even at the finish, so I drove to the out-and-back part of the course and used my selfie stick to take my own race photo!
I didn’t realize that they were actually going to hand out age group awards, so I hung around long enough to eat a turkey wrap and a mini bag of potato chips, drink my free pint of local craft beer and then a pint of water, and then I left.  There were 20 ladies in my age group.  I came in 9th.  So, thankfully, I didn’t have to figure out how to go claim my growler prize after the fact.  Not that I would have known what to do with it as I don’t really drink, so it would probably have just sat on a shelf and collected dust.  My age group (30-39) had the most runners in it.  Out of the total 82 half marathoners, 50 of them were women and 20 of those 50 were in my age group.  Daaaaaaaang! 

Also, and this is a little amazing, I stopped my Garmin at 2:19:24, they hand recorded my official time as 2:19:23.8!!!  WHOA!  <cue Twilight Zone theme music>

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