May and June were both big months for me in terms of running and travel.
I was traveling for most of the month of May – first with a trip to Chile, and then a family road trip from Oregon to Colorado (with stops in Idaho and Utah along the way) – which meant a lot of outdoor exploring and high elevation running (a whole week of running at 9,000 feet!). Enter June, my lungs are legs were feeling ready to keep it up and I was glad to have two back to back races to put my current running fitness to the test.
My first race of June (and 2019 in general, I think?) was the Dirty Half Marathon in Bend, Oregon. A good friend of mine who had been living in Bend suggested that we all come down and run as part of her last hurrah of living there, so of course I signed up. It was equal parts race and party weekend.
After an early Saturday morning shakeout run with the fam, I picked up Nic and we made the drive to Bend.
We made good time, even with our very necessary, and dare I say, epic stop in the Walmart Supercenter for some must-have race weekend essentials.
Once we had our collection of each party cups and dazzling Walmart one piece swimsuits, we met up with the rest of our Flex & Flow crew, changed into our lake “gear,” and made our way to Sparks Lake for a day of sunshine, SUP, dancing, and of course a little day drinking.
After a lot of Lizzo, 2 Towns Pineapple Cider, dog pirates, and beach dancing, we headed back to town for some pre race taco action at El Sancho. If you haven’t eaten the Oaxacan taco at El Sancho, you aren’t really living, IMO. It’s melty, crispy, salty (in the best way) cheesy goodness in a taco. And if you go to Bend, it’s an absolute must. Plus, if you’re a hot sauce aficionado like me, you’ll LOVE their hot sauces (though I wouldn’t recommend this as part of your pre race strategy…). Um, and let’s not forget about the plantains. Because OMG.
Anyway, taco love aside, after eating our taco feast (or inhaling, depending on who you ask – ahem Michael), we headed back to the house for cookies and ice cream. Because, yeah, we do pre race nutrition right.
We got up early the next morning and tried to get things moving (not just our legs) with some coffee, almond butter toast, and as much water as we could drink at 5 something in the morning and then loaded up and headed towards Ruffwear (where the race would start and finish). We made our way towards the start area and I was feeling good-ish – not great but also not horrible – my head felt as a little fuzzy and my belly felt a little confused and my lungs were like, oh no, not this again (damn you altitude!).
Over the first few miles I was feeling strong – both my lungs and my legs – but was pacing smart since my husband had warned me of a BIG climb between miles 4-7. I was gearing myself up for some slower miles and climbing, but once I hit mile 4, and then mile 5, and even 6, I realized that maybe his BIG climb was just a bunch of rolling hills – pretty runnable, nothing too hard to manage (of course I hadn’t bothered to actually review the course myself). When I hit mile 6, I went into cruise mode and kept my stride and breath as even as possible. In fact, I was feeling pretty awesome for most of the race – with the exception of the giant, gross blister that developed on my right heel around mile 7, and my angry stomach around mile 10, and let’s not forget mile 11 when I tripped over my own feet and thudded to the ground. Despite the bloody blister on my foot, my unhappy belly, and even the little spill, I trucked on for a finish of 1:47:33.
In fact, our whole group finished strong.
If you’re looking for a beautiful, fun, and very runnable trail half, this is a great race! Plus, the June weather was absolutely perfect, the other runners out on the course were pleasant, happy, and supportive, and the climbing was really manageable (only about 1,000 feet of gain over the whole course).
And if you’re smarter than me, you won’t forget to bring your I.D because there’s also beer at the finish line!
Stay sweaty (and run strong!),
Ps – if you love outdoor adventures, trail running, hiking, camping, or simply day drinking by the lake as much as I do, I highly recommend that you join the Stoke Life community! 🙂