This is easily the most beautiful race of the year. My wife and I are big fans of the coast and were excited to race in Lincoln City. She would be running the 10k and I was scheduled to tackle the half. I was preparing for the Pacific City Marathon and was very excited to test my new goal marathon pace on the half marathon.
We arrived a day in advance and stayed in the Siletz Bay area. We always enjoy time spent on the Pacific and this weekend was spectacularly sunny and comfortably warm. We spent some time wandering the beach, drinking a couple margaritas, eating fish tacos and relaxing with books on the hotel balcony. We got a good night’s sleep and got up early to make sure we got a good parking spot at the race. I was glad we arrived early. The parking lot wasn’t crowded, but it was nice to be close to the race start so we could stay warm in the car as long as possible leading up to the race.
The 10k and half runners all toed the line together and the well-organized race crew got us started. Throughout the weekend, I was continually impressed with the event organizers and volunteers. They worked hard and put on a fantastic race. I went out fast, as I tend to do in the first quarter mile of any race, particularly when I can get out front and out of traffic. The number of race entrants was small enough that I was able to get out front of nearly all of the runners, other than those faster than me. Without any traffic, I felt unstoppable.
The first few miles of the race were interesting. We started off in one direction, and then turned around after a quarter mile. It was a funny way to make sure we hit our distance, but it was fun to give my wife a wave and blow her a kiss as I looped back toward the starting line. After another half mile, a herd of elk ran alongside the road for a while. It was an amazing experience to run along a herd of wild elk and a great distraction while my body was warming up in the chilly air. A short while later, I passed a small horse pen with two horses prancing and running around. I don’t know if they were responding to the runners on the road or if they’re always active, but it was fun to see up close.
The route was hilly, but not brutal. The first portion was gradual downhill followed by gradual uphill. Then there was a decent drop in elevation that I knew would give me trouble at the end. Half of the race or more was tree-covered, so the rising sun was warming, but the trees prevented us from becoming overheated. Just beyond mile 3, 10k runners split left, while half marathoners turned right. I felt strong, but there was relative uphill at this point, leading up to the final stretch before the turnaround. The last mile before the turnaround was mostly gravel and rock. It was actually a welcome change from the roads and I felt strong, especially on the downhill portions, where I tend to excel by allowing my body weight to pull me downhill without using much energy.
After the turnaround, I was feeling strong. I knew that I had a mostly downhill run for the next 5 miles before that last big hill. I was able to stay very consistent in the second half of the run. Even when I hit the hill, I was dodging walkers and slower 10k participants, so I had a nice distraction. In the last mile and a half, I set my sights on two runners in front of me who looked to be about my age. I pushed hard to catch them. I got in front of both of them, but one of them didn’t appreciate my last-distance push and blasted right back in front of me just before the finish. Either way, it was a fun way to finish the race. I came around the last turn and realized I was under 1:49, so I sprinted to the line.
My wife was already there waiting for me and she had received her medal and a ribbon already. She had crushed her 10k race and finished 3rd in her age group. I got my medal and waited around for a bit to get my official finisher’s information. Although I didn’t scoop up a podium finish, I was still thrilled with my time of 1:49:19 at a pace of 8:20 per mile. This was my fastest half marathon ever and I had beaten my goal time by 17 seconds per mile.
This race was definitely worth the trip from Portland. It was a beautiful undulating run through the coastal forest. The organization and direction was top notch, the course was fun, and all the competitors were friendly. There was a nice post-race food spread and the medal and t-shirt were nice as well. If you’re considering this race, just sign up already. Go to Lincoln City, eat fish tacos, and run your own race.