Race Recap: Grapes of Half

Sunday I hopped back on the half marathon wagon after what felt like quite a hiatus. And on top of that, I picked a hilly {but fun} one to do!

Grapes of Half was held in wine country just outside of Eugene and was originally planned for this weekend after the Eugene Marathon opted to move to July for a number of reasons. They also had a 5K and marathon distance April is a good time to race in Oregon {even if you do get wet} and there just don't seem to be a ton of races out there during the spring months.

Saturday, I played it safe and skipped power yoga. Instead, I just did an easy 3 miles around my neighborhood before running errands and doing the usual weekend thing. You know, like eating your farmers market salad on your front porch with the pooch.

Jonah intently focused on a fly she wanted to capture

Ooh, and I made these tasty scones {to be blogged about}.

A good scone just might be my favorite type of pastry

Saturday evening, I picked out my outfit, laid out my fuel and foam rolled a bit. With a 7 a.m. start, I was up and eating breakfast by 5:20 a.m. Breakfast was peanut butter toast, a scone and green tea.

I had encouraged friends Danielle and Stef to run the half with me, so we drove out to the race together. Danielle and another friend decided to run the 5K, while Stef and I did the half marathon.

Probably the prettiest race bib I've seen 

The race started at Noble Estate Winery shortly after the morning rain cleared up and the sun started shining. The race was delayed about 30-45 minutes due to issues with the shuttles, but no one seemed to be too upset. After all, we were all about to run and drink wine!

Finally, a few hundred of us were off!

My goal for this race was to run strong, but not kill myself trying to hold an aggressive pace. I was planning for a 2 hour finish time, but would be happy with anything faster than that.

The Course
The first mile or so included a pretty steady decent until flattening out and rolling a bit for the next few miles.

I was bummed I left my phone behind because the weather ended up being perfect and the course was so beautiful. Just think: green pastures, cows staring at you and open roads on a quiet Sunday morning. In case you're thinking about booking a trip to visit Oregon wine country, you should probably just do it already. 

The first half of the race included some gentle rollers, but it wasn't until mile 6.5 where we really got kicked in the butt. Miles 6.5-8.25 were all up, up and UP. My glutes were talking to me, reminding me how much more strengthening they need and I just answered back by chuggin' along.

I'm always amazed that some people try to crank it up on the hills because it's just so taxing. I much prefer easing up the hill and saving some of that energy for later!

I was feeling pretty good having passed a few women who looked strong and were around my fitness level, so I just tried to maintain my pace and not give up in those last few miles. By mile 10, I could definitely feel fatigue kicking in, but luckily there were a few guys running ahead of me, so I used them as rabbits to chase, which kept me motivated.

So, the last part of this race was a bit torturous. First, you turn up and climb the 1/2 mile or so steep driveway to Sweet Cheeks Winery, circle the parking lot and fly back down, then you run up the hill to finish at Silvan Ridge Winery.

I just thought about the poor marathoners having to run up that hill at mile 25.5... no thank you!

Helen, me, Danielle, Stef 

I was happy to run across the finish line and see I had finished in under 1:50. With a few brutal hills and some wind,  I'd definitely call that a success.

Speedster Stef won the race for the women and finished with a time of 1:29!

After enjoying a little food and our complimentary glass of wine at Silvan Ridge, we made our way across the road to Sweet Cheeks for another complimentary glass of wine and Sassy Cupcakes!

After a bit more sipping and girl talk, we called it a day and headed home. A nap was in order for this gal. 
For this race, I decided to leave my handheld water bottle in the car and just use the aid stations for fluid. I did however bring a mocha Hammer Gel with me. I alternated taking Gatorade or water at the aid stations and sucked on the gel from miles 8-10 or so.

Bottom line: this was a challenging course, but the views, friends and the complimentary wine made it all together a great race.

Finish time: 1:49:21
Pace: 8:21
Overall: 19th
Overall female: 7/145

I have to say, I'm glad I signed up for both of my April races back in January as it definitely gave me something to keep pushing toward. Now I have an open calendar (as far as races go) other than the 50K I got into for early September, so it feels like I need to pick something, even if it's just a 10K to work toward. We'll see...

With the warmer months, it's also fun to keep the workout schedule flexible so I can go on more bike rides and just enjoy the weather in whatever makes most sense that day.

Speaking of warmer temperatures... today is supposed to get to 80 degrees here!

Do you prefer a flat and fast course or something with a little hill action? Anything exciting happening this week for you?


Love the name of that race. So clever! Glad you enjoyed it with friends.

I don't think it's fair to ask Midwesterners whether we like flat or hills. ;) If I had a chance to train on hills, I might like them (or not). But, when I'm only able to train on mostly flat roads, running on even the slightest hill uses muscles that lie dormant the rest of the year. It's HARD and rarely fun, no matter what the view. Now, ask me whether I like hiking on flat or hills and I'll throw my vote in for hills! =)
Luna said…
Awesome job Lauren!I find the half marathon distance to be challenging, one with rolling hills even more!!So for the HM I prefer flat...I'm on the lookout of a very flat on to try and PR lol. Glad you had fun and enjoyed a nice day with friends!
Speaking of hills though, I think i will have a different opinion on Sunday (hilly 50k on Saturday eek)
Nice work on the race - you totally blew your sub-2 hour goal out of the water and ran a really strong race so way to go! You should definitely be proud of yourself. It sounds like a fun, beautiful race. I would love to visit Oregon wine country. So many places to go, so little time/vacation budget...

I am not great at running hills but joining a running club forced me to train on hills and made me a stronger runner. So I kind of prefer flat and fast courses but I do like courses with some rolling hills, like I really liked the terrain of the Victoria half.

The past couple of weeks have had so much excitement so this week was all about working on moving to do lists and coordinating other aspects of a cross country move. I'm not complaining as i am so excited to move back but it is a lot of work!
Britton Yar said…
Congrats!! That' a great time! I have done a wine country half marathon in Virginia but I would love to also visit Oregon! This sounds like a great race!
Amber said…
Nice job on your race!! I have always wanted to run a "wine" themed race where you get wine at the end. Maybe one day!

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