Half Boring Half Marathon Recap

How did I even hear about this very small race, in a town called Boring in the state of Oregon, which hosts 195 runners? My sister was going to run the race last year during a trip to Oregon, but deferred her registration to this year. Since I was due for a trip to my second favorite state, we planned a mini sistercation.

Jim and Pam have welcomed me to stay in their home in West Linn (20 minutes outside of Portland) whenever I make my way north. They bought a beautiful house there after retiring last year and I always enjoy staying with them and their dog Bella!

Renee and I arrived in Oregon late on Saturday, so we just caught up for a bit and then went to bed early in preparation for the next day’s race. After a 5:00am wake up call and a 40 minute drive, Jim, Renee and I were ready to run and be bored. Despite the name, the race actually starts and finishes in Gresham, but we (except for 5K runners) run a few middle miles in Boring. The start and finish lines are actually on a track – a first time race experience for me. The marathon relay, full marathon and 50K left Sam Barlow High School at 6:30am, I headed off at 7:30am for the half marathon, and Renee and Jim started the 5K at 7:30am.

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“Look bored.”

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I expected to quickly find myself alone on the course, but ended up in a loose pack of runners for the first 4-5 miles, passing and being passed. We started with half a lap around the track and then began our trip toward Boring via SE 302 Avenue. The road was paved, a little cambered, closed to traffic, and very pretty, in a country road kind of way. I was enjoying the new scenery and all of the green. The cool air felt great, especially compared to the very hot Long Beach weather. In fact, it felt like the perfect race weather. I never felt too hot or overheated, but I wasn’t cold enough to wish I’d worn a long sleeve and gloves. Without viewing any sort of elevation chart or course description, I’d assumed it to be flat, but there were very few flat portions.

Course

Right before mile 2, we ran through West Orient Middle School (now in the city of Orient) and then ran down a long stretch SE Orient Drive/SE 312 Avenue at mile. Although the only closed section of the course was SE 302 Avenue, there were plenty of volunteers on the course to stop us at intersections and highway on ramps if necessary. I felt very safe and never confused as to where to go. We entered Boring via the 212/Mt. Hood Highway and it wasn’t as boring as I’d anticipated. It was actually quite charming! We ran through Boring for about 2.5 miles, made a u-turn at the Boring Station Trailhead, and then retraced our steps back to the Sam Barlow High School track. I made a comment to one of the volunteers near the turnaround that I was “so bored,” but I was actually having a great time. By their non-enthusiastic response, they’d heard too many not-so-funny boredom jokes.

I started the race at a very relaxed effort – I’d estimated the pace to have been around 8 minutes per mile. I was definitely nervous about the distance. I’d been battling injury for about 2 months and my “training” was very inconsistent. Relegated to the treadmill and strength training for weeks, I only resumed running the Wednesday before this race. Despite this, I still felt great at the turnaround, so I increase the pace and my effort level slowly until the finish line. I passed one woman before mile 6.5, and then three more between miles 7.5 and 13.1. The FOA female was about a quarter mile ahead of mile at mile 12, but she crushed the last steep hill and I wasn’t able to catch her in time! I came in at 1:43:57 and met my goal of sub-1:45. I believe that may be a personal worse for the half marathon, but I felt really great and content with the race. I crossed the finish line and went in for a big sisterhug.

During the race, I’d overheard a volunteer talking about some dogs on course and while we were all waiting at the finish line, we noticed a runner entering the track with two dogs in tow. It looked like the dogs were with him, as in they were his dogs and had either run the race with their owner or had jumped in for the last few miles. As it turned out, the dogs had followed this runner for a few miles and came pretty close to crossing the finish line with the guy. It was comical enough for me to snap a picture. Unfortunately, they did not cross the finish line and were thus ineligible for a finishers’ medal.

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The next two days were spent exploring Portland. We visited the Saturday Market on Sunday after the race and walked across the Hawthorne Bridge to have a beer flight at Hair of the Dog. I can confirm, I still don’t enjoy the taste of beer. We were pretty tired from the race and all of the walking, so we called it an early night and went to bed.

For my Monday run, I’d connected with someone via MeetUp.com when searching for a running group in Portland. It was actually the club’s inaugural run, so there were only 4 people, but Kim and I ended up being similar in desired pace and distance. We enjoy 7 lovely miles along the water and I got to run over the newly opened Tilikum Crossing bridge; it had only been opened the day before. The green lights lining the bridge looked beautiful against the early morning darkness. The run was awesome and I made a new friend! Renee and I headed back into Portland proper to experience some more PDX weirdness.

After having lunch at Garden Bar PDX (totally my type of place – massively huge and delicious salads!), we visited the Lan Su Chinese Garden – it was a curiously serene place smack dab in the middle of the city. We enjoyed some authentic tea in the Teahouse in the Tower of Cosmic Reflections, learned our fortunes, and learned about the partnership between the city of Portland and Suzhou, Portland’s sister city in China’s Jiangsu province. Credited as the most authentic Chinese garden outside of China, the Lan Su Chinese Garden was pretty amazing. I was surprised that we spent as much time as we did there. We both agreed that it was very relaxing and rejuvenating.

We also visited the famous Powell’s Books, the largest independent used and new book store in the world. Books to the Schaaf sisters are like candy to kiddles – we get so excited about them. I restrained myself to purchase only one book during our first visit to the store, but ended up buying two more the next day. After Powell’s, we had drinks at El Gaucho, followed by dinner at Veggie Grill.

Tuesday started with another 5:45am run with Kim. We ran 6 miles, but went away from the water and into The (hilly!) Pearl district. The area feels “artsy” and according to Wikipedia, is “noted for its art galleries, upscale businesses and residences.” It had a quaint, but upscale feel to it. I completed a 2 mile cool down after K and I parted ways, and then returned to West Linn to pack up for the trip home. Renee and I had one last stop to make before dropping the rental car off and boarding our flights…

The very famous Voodoo Donuts. We’d actually walked by the popular Voodoo Donuts shop in downtown Portland, but the line was unsurprisingly very long. We stopped at Voodoo Too on the way out and we were the only customers there – it didn’t have the same feel, but we didn’t really have the time. Renee purchased 2 dozen donuts and I purchased one. I’ve actually never been on a flight from PDX to LB/LAX that didn’t have at least one person on board with the pink Voodoo Donuts box. We dropped the rental car off and arrived at PDX, receiving many comments about our donuts along the way. Lunch in the airport was followed by sisterhugs and sad goodbyes. I didn’t forget to stop at one of my favorite airport stores, Made in Oregon.

I’m not sure I’d ever run the Boring Marathon or Half Marathon again, not because I didn’t enjoy it, but because there are so many other races in Oregon that I’d like to try! I’m considering either the Jack and Jill’s Downhill Marathon or the Columbia Gorge Marathon.

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