Relighting the Fire in Astoria

After a stressful and somewhat disappointing end to my fall marathon season, I decided it was time to take a year off from long distance running and focus instead on regaining my love of the sport and working on improving my times in the shorter distances.

Unfortunately, this training season hasn’t been as smooth as I had hoped either. Most of the spring has been spent trying to recover from a couple of minor injuries which left me feeling discouraged and frustrated. Early on in the season, I had set my sights on a goal half marathon at the Run on the River in Astoria on May 20th, but as the race approached, I realized I was nowhere near where I wanted to be for that distance, so I elected to downgrade my registration to a 10K instead.

Even the night before the race, I was still undecided as to whether I wanted to try to race the 10K or just run it for fun.

Sunday morning, I woke early despite the late 10am start time. Our hotel room had an amazing view of the Astoria-Megler Bridge and the Columbia River, and it happened to be just steps from the Astoria Riverwalk on which the race took place.  The half marathon started well before the 10K, so I made a piece of toast and sat in the window watching the half marathon runners go by.

I finally left the hotel and jogged to the start line a little under a mile away. The weather was perfect – slightly overcast, 55 degrees with a mild wind, and I was feeling surprisingly great. I decided then to try to race this one.

The start line was located on a narrow pier, so we could only line up about 4-wide, and I happened to end up in the front row. When the gun went off, I stupidly shot out in front, keeping pace with the lead men. About a half mile in, I glanced at my watch and realized there was no way I could hold that pace for the whole race, so I backed off a little. At the first turn-around of the first out-and-back (about 1.5 miles in), I realized I was still well ahead of the next woman. I saw my husband at mile 2 and he yelled, “you’re in first place!”, somewhere he’d never seen me before. His excitement about it made me really want to keep pushing on.

I passed the halfway point about a block ahead of the second woman, but at mile 4 she finally caught up to me and then a half-mile later, another woman caught up to me as well. I was running out of gas and when I reached the final half-mile, which was on the wooden boardwalk in front of Buoy Brewing, I panicked about my footing and slowed way down so I wouldn’t trip and fall in front of everyone.

I crossed the finish line, received my beautiful blown-glass finisher medal, and got a printout of my final time and place. I had somehow managed over a 2.5 minute PR and finished in 3rd place. It was my first time ever being on the podium and I was so proud! I wandered over to the finish line festivities, received my award, and drank my well-earned Buoy Brewing beer – well, OK, maybe I had two ☺.

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Finishing this race so well has relit the fire and given me the motivation to delve into my summer training as I work toward my future goal races.

Written by Angela Vinton | @oregondogdr

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