Saturday, June 23, 2007

Pacific Crest Marathon - Sun River OR

Pacific Crest is a weekend endurance sport festival held in Sun River, Oregon near Bend. Five thousand athletes and their families descend on this little resort in Oregon's high desert every year. I was intrigued by it initially because it was a chance to do a duathlon, a sport which I enjoy immensely, but which has pretty much died on the West Coast. I planned to do the Olympic duathlon (25 mile bike and 10K run) on Sunday and the marathon on Saturday. No plans for PRs were in place since I knew that the altitude of over 4000 feet would slow me down.

Rebecca and I flew from SFO to Redmond/Bend Friday evening and drove the 15 miles from the airport down to Bend. We had a great meal at the Merenda Wine Bar, which has a stunningly good wine list, possibly the best by the glass selection I've seen. I prepared for the race in great style by sampling liberally from it.

The next morning we drove down to Sun River from Bend and got my race packet for the marathon around 7:00am. It was a chilly 55 degrees or so but clear and sunny. We headed out in a "procession" from the athlete village to a point on Sun River's encircling bike path. At 7:30 we started out running the gently rolling asphalt path. I had hoped there would be some hardpack trail but it was all paved. Beautiful views of the woods and lakes. But still paved. I knew I'd be hurting by mile 16.

I had planned to do each 13.1 mile loop in around 1:40 and finish in 3:20. I knew the altitude would hinder performance so I thought 3:30 was a reasonable fallback. I reached the halfway point of the finish area right on time. I felt fresh and thought I could even do a "negative split" of a faster second loop time. I took some Advil around mile 15 when my legs began to get sore. But it was no use. By mile 18, while I was still fresh effort wise, my legs were too sore and I slowed down to 9 minute miles. I finished in 3:37, 20th overall.

finishing strong, thirsty for good Oregon IPA

I enjoyed the race. If I don't get into Western States we'll come back again next year and I'll do the long course duathlon. We hung around afterwards while I downed some superb Broken Halo IPA and got a muchneeded massage to try loosen up my calves and feet for the next day's race.


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