Sunday, April 20, 2014

Hot Time in Corvallis

One of my favorite spring races has always been the Corvallis Half Marathon.  Located in lovely Corvallis, Oregon, (home of Oregon State University - go Beavs!) I'd stumbled across it three years ago, while looking for a race in my daughter's college town.  Although she graduated last June, Denise still lives and works nearby.  So naturally, I wanted to continue the tradition in 2014.

My daughter and I at the starting line

I've run the Corvallis half for the past two years, and each time I'd gotten so close to breaking the 2 hour time barrier (2:03 and 2:04 respectively).  I hoped this year, the third time would be the charm.

Great race swag - we even got socks!

So early last Sunday morning, I made the drive down I-5 to Corvallis. I picked up Denise and together we traveled to Reser Stadium, site of the packet pick up and race start.  In addition to a nice looking t-shirt, all participants received - woohoo - socks!  (And if you know me, you know I love socks!)

Starting line crowd

After a typical cool wet spring, the forecast for race day was sunshine and unseasonably warm temps in the 70s.  Although I was glad for dry skies, the predicted heat worried me.  Seventy degrees is a little warm for running, especially for us Pacific Northwesterners, who've seen nothing but cold and rain since November.

The course took us through OSU's beautiful campus

Time passed quickly, and before I knew it I found myself amongst a colorful crowd of runners lining up behind the start banner.  The OSU band played a bunch of peppy tunes, which got me all fired up.  Showtime!  After a quick countdown, the mob began to move across the start line and into the university campus streets.

Exiting the covered bridge

The first two miles of the course gives one a great tour of the OSU campus.  We ran by stately brick buildings and streets lined with colorful blooming trees.  Spectators were plentiful - some clapping, cheering, waving signs and ringing cowbells. 

Past many farmer's fields

I started fast, and held the pedal down as I raced through the campus streets.  Training a keen eye on my watch, I willed my legs to keep pace.  The first two miles passed, and I was on track for a sub-two.

The most scenic part of the course

But my speedy early pace took its toll.  After leaving the campus proper, we runners came out onto a wide paved bike path lined on both sides by open farmer's fields.  Lacking shade of buildings and trees, the sun beat down mercilessly.  I quickly began to fatigue.

One man ran the entire race holding an American flag

Propelling my hot, sluggish body down the path, I realized today was not going to be the day for heroic efforts.  Internalizing the disappointment, I made peace with this, and decided instead of meeting a specific time goal, this race was now going to be for fun.

Great motivational quote on this sign

A slower pace meant I could take in the wonderful scenery, and stop for a photo if I wished.  I could cheer back at the spectators encouragement.  I could shout "thank yous" to the amazing volunteers who handed out water and directed traffic.

My daughter caught me at the 8 mile mark

Nearing the halfway point, I heard a woman behind me cheering loudly.  It was another runner, smiling, woo-hooing, encouraging other runners, and thanking the volunteers.  My running soul sister!  As she passed me by, I whooped loudly and told her she rocked.  Runners in races are usually such a somber bunch, this wonderful lady was a breath of fresh air.

Appreciated the local support

Leaving the bike path, the course followed a busy road for a short stretch, and then it was back on a paved path.  Passing the mile seven marker, I knew this next segment was going to be the toughest.  The path climbed slightly uphill for the next mile.  It was just enough of an incline to require extra effort.  Add to that the intense sunshine streaming down, and everyone seemed to be struggling.  Only a wonderful cool breeze blowing at our faces prevented mass runner meltdowns.

More great signs

The eight mile marker was stationed at a local park.  Here, my daughter was waiting with camera, snapping a couple action shots.  I stopped briefly, informed her I was going slower than anticipated, and she didn't need to hurry to the finish line.

This frat house was cheering us runners

From the park it was a lovely downhill - which I heartily enjoyed!  Then the course turned through a bunch of residential neighborhoods.  The people living here were so awesome!  They gathered in front yards, clapping, waving signs, and shouting encouragement.  At mile 9 on this hot day, it was most very much appreciated.

Reser Stadium is in sight!

I again ran into my alter ego - the woo-hoo woman.  We ran together for a bit, talking, laughing, and cheering in unison.  I really wish now I would've asked her name, but by mile 10 of this half marathon all I thinking about was surviving to the finish.  On one street, some really nice ladies had a cooler full of ice cubes and were handing them out to runners.  I grabbed a couple cubes and shoved them into my sports bra.  My companion did the same and cracked me up when she remarked "I'll bet all those guys are wishing they had sports bras!"

My very favorite sign

Mile 11 directed runners down the streets of fraternity row.  Gaping at the amazing huge frat and sorority houses distracted me from my pain and fatigue.  In years past, a lot of the inhabitants would sit out on the lawns cheering for the runners.  But this year, I only one small dilapidated house was spectating.  I stopped to take a photo, and jokingly asked a guy if he had a beer for me.  He held out a can and urged me to take it.  (That's what I get for asking)

Down the ramp....

After mile 11, the heat began taking its toll on the runners.  My feet felt blistered and sore.  My face was grimy with salt.  I passed a lady laying down in the street, being attended to by paramedics.  After that, I made sure to take in more fluids.  Every water stop I drank half the water in the cup, and poured the rest down my back.

Through the end zone......

Mile 12 brought us back into the OSU campus.  Only one more mile to go!  But as in any race, the last mile is the longest.  Again in the open sun, I felt like I was running in slow motion.  No matter how much I tried, my legs decided they were not going any faster.  But slowly with every step, the distance shrank, and rounding a final corner, the top of Reser Stadium came into view.  Such a sweet sight!  Passing the 13 mile sign was so inspirational it made me tear up a little bit.  Maybe I wouldn't make my time goal, but I was damn proud to be finishing.

Finish at the 50-yard line

Down the ramp into the stadium I flew.  Out onto the football field, camera in hand, I shot a few photos as I headed towards the finish (yes, I'm such a dork - my daughter said that's how she knew it was me).  Crossing the timing mats, I was never so happy to finish a race.  Another Corvallis Half Marathon was in the bag. Bring on the cold beer!
I finished with a time of 2:12:06.  Yeahhhh.......not exactly what I'd hoped for.  But considering the unseasonably hot weather, I was happy to survive the race without any ill effects.

It always feels better when you're done

Once again, the Corvallis Half Marathon did not disappoint.  It's still a beautiful course, the volunteers are top-notch, and the post-race food and goodies are always great (they even had beer this year!  Yeah!)  Plus, their mile marker signs are the best!  My favorite.

And after watching me run this race for the past three years, I've finally inspired my daughter to sign up for and run a half marathon of her own.  I couldn't be more proud.

To see my previous Corvallis Half Marathon blog posts, click on Corvallis 2013 and Corvallis 2012.


  1. Great photos, Linda. I love that covered bridge!

  2. I'm impressed. You're so low key about your running but you must run a lot.

  3. Awesome! Running in the heat is horrible. A positive attitude can get you through just about every other weather, but if you overheat, it's like GAME OVER.

    Fantastic job! Did you take all those photos while running or did your daughter take them? Beautiful course. Thanks for sharing!

  4. Way to go, Linda!
    Your photos are great, your enthusiasm totally awesome.
    Hope it doesn't sound too weird.. but I'm proud of you for finishing, and with a very good time!

  5. I stand back in amazement. Not only for completing the half marathon but taking photos as you go. Incredible.

  6. Congrats Linda, you are awesome! Running in the hot sun must have felt horrible..Thanks for sharing the photos, looks like a pretty area for a marathon..Enjoy your day!

  7. Congratulations, Linda! You're amazing!

  8. Ugh - sub 2. This is my goal this year. I was close last Oct. with 2:02. Grr.

    Our run in Southern IL was unseasonably hot - and you could see it in our scores. When you haven't run in heat for a while, it really is more difficult.

    It looks like a fun 1/2 marathon. If airline prices get more reasonable, we will be going to Portland in early Sept. I have been thinking to look up some possible runs - that could be fun!

  9. Good for you Linda! Love the socks too!

  10. Brought back a lot of memories. The half was my favorite distance and would often run with an older lady named Ellie Koontz. Always a lot of fun!

  11. Finishing a half marathon at all is amazing to me! I certainly couldn't. Congrats!

  12. Wow, spectacular! I admire anyone with this much endurance. Great photos!

  13. Good for you- I have done a few of those and know it's not easy. looks like a very nice course.

  14. I feel like I'm echoing that lady you ran with, but I have to say it anyway - Woo-Hoo!! Way to go, Linda! You ROCK!!!! :) For real. So awesome & inspiring. Way to sweat it out!

  15. I my more crazy moments I think I should try one of these - but then the madness passes!

    Nice post.

    Cheers - Stewart M - Melbourne

  16. Photos near the finish...haha.

  17. Way to go Linda - as always you inspire me!!

    It looks kind of funny to see NO snow there after all your skiing posts. Is skiing done for this season?

  18. Congratulations, well done. It certainly is a beautiful course and you captured it with your photos.

  19. My goodness, the conditions couldn't be more different from my family's recent run. That was a great time you did running in the heat, especially since you hadn't exactly had much time to acclimatise.


Don't be shy! Please leave a comment.