Race Report: Corvallis Half Marathon

One of my favorite things about being an Oregonian now is getting to sample some new (to me) races this season! First up was the Corvallis Half Marathon, chosen because it takes place in Ben’s hometown and because the finish line is on his beloved Beaver’s home turf in Reser Stadium.

If you like the ease and friendly feel of a smaller race, along with some really pretty pastoral scenery, you may want check this one out. And there’s also the 9:30 a.m. start time; not having to wake hours before dawn is always a luxury on race morning!

After completing our usual pre-race prep at home, we moseyed over to the start on Oregon State University’s campus. Another perk? Ample parking at the stadium, which is always much appreciated when those nerves start to kick in.

We warmed up by jogging to the porta-potties and back for one final pit-stop before lining up in the 8:00-minute mile corral. Of course, this is Beaver country, so prepare to see a fair amount of orange and black in the crowd!

Ben was gunning for a PR (under 1:50, but I predicted sub-1:45) so we said our goodbyes and planned to regroup at the finish. Usually I can pinpoint a goal for myself, but since my off-season was so heavy with cross-training (i.e. light on running and speed work), I felt like I was flying blind this time.

My best guess was somewhere between 1:50-2:00, so I figured I’d take some of the pressure off and simply run by feel. That way, I’d be able to see where I was at without forcing things, especially because I knew a specific time goal might cause me to push too hard with my SI joint (lower back) still acting up.

We crossed the start line to the sounds of the OSU marching band, and I tried my best to settle into a good pace as I watched Ben weave his way to the front of the pack.

Mile 1: 7:50 / Mile 2: 7:59 / Mile 3: 8:18

It took me a full three miles to really get warmed up. I know went out a little faster than I should have, as my shins and ankles were pretty tight for this first stretch.

The next few miles felt great, though, so I settled in and enjoyed the scenery as I hit my stride. My fueling plan was to grab a sip of water at aid stations, and I was experimenting with chunks of Barnana every two miles starting at mile four.

Mile 4: 8:31 / Mile 5: 8:22 / Mile 6: 8:06 / Mile 7: 8:09

The course was gorgeous; we did a giant loop through some agricultural areas and around the county fairground, so even though it was a ‘road’ race, most of it was super mellow. And even though I was starting to feel the effects a lack of long training runs in these miles, I rode a wave of adrenaline after air-high-fiving Ben’s dad at mile nine.

Mile 8: 8:31 / Mile 9: 8:05 / Mile 10: 8:11

My fueling plan was working well up until this point; despite a few low-grade, longer climbs along the course, I was feeling pretty strong and stable, energy-wise. As we neared mile 11, however, some mild nausea set in and I started having trouble with my fuel; it took me a while to talk myself into a final piece of Barnana, but I knew I needed one final hit, so I choked it down by mile 12.

The course was well marked, but there were no timers at the mile markers (a good thing, in my case). I had no clue as to pace or time, but I was guessing I was around the 1:50ish range.

Fortunately they had mile 12.5 marked (so helpful!). I told myself that all I’d need to do was hold it together for just five more minutes to finish strong.

Mile 11: 8:25 / Mile 12: 8:27

I remember running alongside a woman in blue for the last mile or so; she passed me, so I set my sights on her as we rounded the final corner into the parking lot. We ran side-by-side by the 13-mile marker and sprinted together down the ramp, onto the football field and across the finish line.

Mile 13: 8:27 / Final .1 Mile: 7:12

I spotted Ben in the crowd and could hear him cheering me on, yelling for me to to do an end zone dance. But, at that point, I was too pooped to do anything but smile as volunteers clipped off my time chip and handed me a finisher’s medal.

Final times:

  • Ben – 1:43:54
  • Me – 1:48:39

Ben PR’d by about seven minutes (so proud!), and while I was about a minute off mine, I was thrilled to have run a solid race. My back wasn’t feeling great (it had felt tweaky off and on), but it wasn’t horrible. And with a little recovery and some speed work, I’m not far off from my eventual 1:45 goal.

We soaked up some sun and took the opportunity to get a few photos on the field before heading over to the beer tent to celebrate. This one may just become an annual tradition for us!

Have you ever raced ‘by feel’ and been pleasantly surprised by the results?

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24 thoughts on “Race Report: Corvallis Half Marathon

  1. Congratulations on a GREAT race!! Awesome pics too!! It looks like you had a lot of fun 🙂

    The last time I ran (only) by feel, I qualified for Boston…that has been far too long ago. Maybe it is time to do that again 😉

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    • YES! Actually was a really nice experience – felt more in tune with my body and still was able to push myself but didn’t feel that looming pressure of the clock…or let the numbers play with my head. As soon as I see I’m too fast or too slow, my mind goes, so it was a wonderful exercise in staying present!

      Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks!! Frustrated & doubting my body after a series of injuries, but felt good to go by feel and have fun with it. Plus, we couldn’t have asked for better weather this weekend. Although today? NotSoMuch!

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    • Ha, that is amazing! And just goes to show you that sometimes time’s not as much of a motivator (i.e. we’ve all gotten into our heads when we look at those watches). It is an interesting concept, too; I’m more apt to try actually training and then running by feel again – hopefully for another pleasant surprise!

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    • Yes, definitely one we’ll be doing again! As is the run-by-feel technique. Something so freeing about tuning in to your body without the clock messing with your mind…

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    • Thanks! I’m a tad obsessed with it now that it’s been “broken in” – amazingly comfy & super cute. Only time I’ve ever gotten comments from people mid-race about an outfit (well, a non-costume one, at least). I felt so legit & proud to be sporting it!

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  2. Pingback: Race Report: Race for the Roses 10K | Kinetic Fix

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