Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Hagg Hybrid Half Marathon race report

Last weekend we made a quick trip down to Oregon... Originally we planned to run the Boring Half Marathon… because who doesn't want to run "a Boring race"???? Until the organizers partnered with another local race the day before -- the Hagg Hybrid -- to offer A DOUBLE!!!

You know we can't resist a double. 

Day 1 was the Hagg Hybrid Half Marathon. Why "hybrid"? Because the course is part single-track trail, part road, and all very pretty.

Here's a view of lovely Hagg Lake before the run:

Did I mention the race started early? As in, just after sunrise???

We left much less scenic Lake Oswego at 6:30 to get to Hagg Lake a little after 7:30 -- only getting a little lost right at the end, when Apple Maps desperately wanted us to take a tour of a lumber mill. We declined and drove into the state park a little ways around the corner. Plenty of parking -- and good signage, and we were able to pick up our numbers and decompress a little from the drive to prepare for the run.

It wasn't a big group of folks, but they were offering three different races: a marathon (essentially a road loop of the lake and a trail loop of the lake); a marathon relay (a team of two trades off, one running the road loop, the other running the trail loop), and a half marathon, where they took parts of the trail loop and parts of the road loop, so we still had a "hybrid" experience. 

getting ready to start
The course markings were a little complicated -- with different markers for the road and the trail, as well as signs telling runners where to make sharp turns. Plus, where the courses overlapped (as when we ran over the dam), both markers were shown. But once we got the gist, it made sense.

We started as a group, all of us heading up the hill out of the boat launch parking lot and turning left to head counter-clockwise around the lake. Less than a mile later the half marathoners turned abruptly off the road and onto single-track trail. Luckily I was just running behind Wil and he noticed the turnoff -- I would have just sailed on by it!

Now, I'm not a trail runner. In fact, I'm clumsy just walking around on level, well-paved ground! But as we started along the trail, I was kinda digging it. I liked that I had to think about my running, rather than zone out as I often do -- or, at least, I often think about other things while I'm running. But not so on the trail -- I really needed to focus on where I was putting my feet so that I didn't either step off the edge of the trail or turn an ankle.

The trail had lots of ups and downs… and trail roots… and turns… and switchbacks… so it was pretty slow going on my part! But after about 5.5 miles we popped out of the woods (maybe too early?) and ran across the dam that makes Hagg Lake. Why early? Because a marker seemed to be pointing us up a different path -- which meant we made a funny turn that did eventually bring us up onto the road… though apparently we should have stayed longer on the path. 

Wil running across the dam
After the dam we ran through what was described as "an abandoned campground" -- which sounded like something from Scooby Doo, and would have been hilarious as a zombie portion of the run. But in reality it was just a paved -- if pine needle coated -- road through the woods. 

looking back at the dam from the abandoned campground
We left the campground loop and were once again pointed toward the trails along the lake. That's Wil running off after I stopped to take the photo above...

We had a lot more trail running to go -- but I was getting slower and slower. The trails are also used by mountain bikers, which means that they leave tire ruts when it's muddy. But it has been so dry and hot here that the ruts have dried and solidified to make running awkward. I managed to roll my ankle badly enough that it swelled up and bruised… So, in the interest of not messing up our upcoming Rim to Rim hike, I decided to take it Very Easy for the last 5 miles of the run. 

In the last couple of miles we found ourselves following a dry river bed… while the sun beat down on us. Really nice to have the occasional patch of shade!!! At the 9.85 mile point my GPS stopped tracking us, so I had NO IDEA where we were on the course… a little frustrating, but Wil was pretty sure he was within half a mile on his GPS.

We saw very few runners on the course with us -- turns out there were only 32 half marathoners, so that's no surprise! So essentially we turned this race into a pleasant day out by the lake.

Eventually the finish area was in sight. We passed some of the earlier finishers of the first leg of the relay and the half (and some spectators, of course!) hanging out in the sun. A woman said, "Um, you're coming in?" and when we said yes, whooped and rang a cowbell. We kissed, were handed some very handsome "finisher mugs", and saw our pretty dismal time: 3:15:06… officially a team worst. But, as we said, it was still really nice to spend the day out by the lake!

We took our mugs, filled 'em up with soda pop, grabbed a couple of veggie burgers (yay for offering veggie burgers too!!!), and hung out for a while. We even got to see the first marathoner finish, which was fun. (And shows you just how slow we were!)

obligatory post-race team photo!
All finishers will receive a finisher’s mug. If you want a finisher medal we will add a ribbon to your mug! (Note: You should not put beverages in your mug while wearing it as a medal.) 

mug shot
Things we loved about the race:
- prices were kept low by not including a shirt with registration -- but selling good quality shirts to those who wished to buy them
- the course was beautiful
- the course was super well marked -- even if we did get a little lost at one point
- the branding of this race is exquisite! Really handsome logo, and nice to have it printed on the race bibs
- loved that they offered a coffee mug as a finisher's award (even if I do love a race medal!)
- great post-race food -- they offered a breakfast buffet for early finishers, which switched over to burgers on the grill at 11am. AND they offered veggie burgers, which we loved.

Things we learned:
- I am still clumsy
- I should run in trail shoes on a trail run
- I should practice running on trails before signing up for another trail race

handsome bibs, too
Eventually we headed back to our hotel, had a swim and a nap, and then went out for a ridiculously large dinner -- after all, we needed to refuel for the next day's race!

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