On Sunday, August 1st I ran my 12th marathon in Sunriver, Oregon. I completed the same marathon last year, but had a rough race due to high temperatures. The entire 26.2-mile course is peaceful and breathtaking, and I was determined to have a great race this year.
Fortunately, the forecast called for cooler temps throughout the weekend, and that was certainly the case on Saturday. We made the quick drive from Bend out to The Lodge to pick up my packet, and decided to stay and eat lunch. The cloudy, cool weather was not keeping the Labor Day crowds away, as the Resort was packed with families.
Luckily, my nerves were non-existent the day before, which is new for me. But I had my clothes set out, fuel bottle full of GU, and proceeded to wake up every hour or so after 2 am until my alarm went off at 5:15. And of course, I woke up with thoughts tainted by nervous energy. But soon we were driving to Sunriver, and I was ready to run. Once we arrived, we made a quick retreat to the Lodge in an attempt to stave off the bitter, 39-degree temperature.
With five minutes until the start, we ventured outside and I knew I’d be OK with my attire of capri tights, short-sleeve Nike Dry-Fit shirt and gloves. After a beautiful rendition of the National Anthem by a young girl who’d lost her mother to breast cancer, we were off. My legs felt fresh and I tried to keep my pace comfortable but strong. The sun was up and there wasn’t a cloud in the sky except a white layer of fog that had settled below the tree line, with Mt. Bachelor towering in the distance.
I was on pace and feeling good through mile eight, but definitely starting to need fuel. My bottle of GU was full but not squeezing easily, so I started grabbing Clif Shots from the aid stations – which were also stocked well with water and Gatorade.
The course is mostly flat on roads, golf paths and bike trails with beautiful scenery. The first half runs through Crosswater – an immaculate golf course near the Sunriver Lodge, along the Deschutes River. Then runners meander through the Caldera Springs Resort Community – a quiet neighborhood – before re-entering the Sunriver community and crossing back through the Start/Finish area near the Lodge. The second half runs out to the opposite side of the Resort near the airport and stables, also along the scenic Deschutes River.
The aid stations were stocked and the weather was optimal (start in the low 40’s with a blue sky, warming to the low 70’s). Once I started fueling regularly (after struggling to suck down a Mocha shot, which ended up giving me a major boost), I went from negative thoughts at mile 13, to a second wind.
The course markings were perfect, the volunteers were amazing, and even the Resort guests were great cheerleaders. I had very few, if any, problems. The second wind took me from mile 15 through mile 22. Each mile marker seemed to fly by until I slowed down a bit due to typical fatigue at the end of a marathon, and I was stopping at all the aid stations to refuel, just making sure I got what I needed so as not to bonk (like last year).
Soon I came upon the SHARC (Sunriver Homeowners Assoc. Rec. Center) and knew I was close. I kicked it into gear and cruised to the finish line. I finished almost 10 minutes faster than last year, in 3:48, and got 3rd in my age division, with an 8th place overall women’s finish. I was incredibly happy. The marathon was a good “warm up” marathon for the Portland Marathon in October, where I’ll be attempting a Boston Qualifier.
The Sunriver Marathon went all out with Nike Dry Fit long sleeve finisher’s shirts, a fancy finisher’s medal, draw string backpack-style bag, pint glass (with a free beer), and large post-race spread of snacks. There’s no doubt I’ll be back – this little race is definitely an awesome one.