Running Smart: Roaring Run Half Marathon 2016

by Jodi
Natasha, Jarae, Tanya and me (with a man behind me making my hair look like it has a big bubble) before the start.
Last weekend I traveled to Scio, Oregon, with three of my running buddies, to race in the Roaring Run half marathon. It was one of those rare days where our training and hard work came together in perfect harmony.  All four of us executed our race strategies to perfection and finished with two new PR's and four beautifully run races. It was epic.

The Roaring Run is a small but well organized and fun event that starts and finishes at Roaring River County Park in the country outside of Scio, Oregon. Parking is limited at Roaring River County Park so we parked at a local church and took a shuttle bus to and from the race.  It was easy peasy both directions.  Thank you Brad Bauer for coordinating such a seamless race.

The half marathon course takes runners through beautiful countryside with continuous views of the river, countryside, mountains, and even a covered bridge.  I lived in Scio for the last part of my childhood and the course goes right by one of the farms I used to work at.  Life has a way of coming full circle.

Scio is surrounded by foothills that nestle into the Cascade range, but the course is surprising flat, with only a few rolling hills in the first handful of miles and one long, but not steep hill in the last mile. The last climb does reward runners with a downhill into the finish, something I appreciated.  We lucked out on the weather.  It was cool, but not cold, with no rain or wind - perfect racing weather.

I went into this race with no expectations. I picked up a bad cold/virus in the early part of January and it took me out of serious training for three weeks. I made it my goal to run based on effort, not pace, and guesstimated a finish time hovering around a 7:30 average pace.

Even though this event was small, the talent pool was large.  The girls in my car run fast and strong and several of their running friends from Corvallis were also coming up for the race.  We met a group of running friends from Sherwood and noticed a pack of three women at the start who appeared to be supernaturally fast. Two of them beat out all the guys, finishing first and second OVERALL in the race (running a 6:08 average pace) with the third woman grabbing the eighth overall position with a 6:31 average pace.  You can't help but be inspired when you run with women of that talent level.

The first mile of the race is an out-and-back. At the turnaround point I counted four women in front of me: the pack of three leaders and Annie, another strong runner I met after the race.  I also knew that Janine, a friend of Dawn's, was behind me with her friends.  She was coming off an injury and just trying to get a half marathon under her belt.  Her easy race pace is still faster than my 100% effort so I expected her to catch up to me and pass me at some point during the race.

Mile one was a 7:16 pace.  Faster than I expected, but my effort was right on.

Mile two had a nice downhill and I let myself pick up speed on it.  It clocked in at a 6:56.  Too fast, even with a downhill.  I slowed down and just found my groove.  I listened to my breath pattern and settled into a pace that felt comfortably hard.  I could hear Janine and Company in the distance chatting so I knew they were on my heels. It kept me motivated to stay mentally focused and hold the pace.  The next nine miles were all within a nine second pace range.  Three of them in a row were the exact same pace to the second.  It was odd.

I ran without music and by myself almost the entire race.  I spent a lot of time praying. I thanked God for health and strength to run, for the friendships that have formed out of running, for the incredible 360 degree scenery and the beautiful race weather.  This race was really a time of worship for me.

At mile ten the chatter behind me died down and by the Mile 11 marker I heard steady, strong breathing and consistent footsteps coming from behind.  It was Janine.  She had started her kick and was well on her way to passing me.  We introduced ourselves, encouraged each other, and she pulled away.

My first thought was, "It's too early to kick.  I can't keep up with Janine. She is SO fast."  But I've been training with Dawn, who is one of Janine's racing peers.  Dawn pushes me to run faster than I ever think I can.

Our minds are powerful weapons.  We believe and do what they tell us to do.  So I checked myself, took those "I can't" thoughts captive, dumped them in the garbage, and asked myself, "Why not?"

"Why not chase Janine?  If she's ready to start her finish kick with two miles to go, why not you too?"

I had nothing to lose and everything to gain, so I stepped up my pace and started chasing Janine.  She was far enough ahead of me that I didn't think I'd catch her, but I knew if I kept her in my sights that a new PR would be possible.

Mile 12 was sub-seven.  That got me excited.  I don't run sub-seven's people.  It felt like a big deal.

Mile 13 takes runners through an old covered bridge, around a corner and up a long hill toward the finish.  The hill isn't steep, but it probably covers close to half a mile and at the end of a long race, it feels hard.  Janine slowed a tad on the hill and I gained on her enough to hear her offering encouragement to a young boy (running probably the 5k) who was red-faced and walking up the hill.  I mean seriously.  This is why I love running and the running community.  My watched beeped just near the summit of the hill.  Mile 13 was also a sub-seven minute mile.  Heck ya!

I caught Janine at the summit of the hill, then passed her on the downhill into the finish.  She yelled, "Go get it Jodi" as I ran past her.  I saw the finish clock from quite a distance.  It was at 1:34:30 and I knew I was going to get a new PR.  Could I get under 1:35 though?  I sprinted as fast as I could but watched the clock roll over to 1:35 just before I crossed the finish line.

My official finish time was 1:35:01 (7:15 average pace), a twenty-one second improvement from the Holiday Half marathon in December.  I still can't really believe it.  Half marathon PR's are hard to come by so to run back-to-back PR's in a seven week time span kind of blows my mind.

It felt so good to run smart and execute a successful race strategy.  Negative splits ALWAYS feel awesome.  It was even better to watch my friends all come into the finish running strong and beautiful.  Jarae ran herself to a sub 1:40 finish and a new PR.  Natasha and Tanya both accomplished their race goals, running strong, fast, and solid from start to finish.
We all changed into our dry, warm clothes as soon as the race was over.
My Mom and Terry and my former bosses and friends, John and Sherry, came out to watch me finish.  John and Sherry hired me to do odd jobs around their house when I wasn't old enough to get a "real" job, and they have always been so supportive of me and my family.  I adore them.  Having these four hooligans at the post-race party was really fun.

John and Sherry.  Terry and my Mom.  And me.
Running, at least for me, isn't primarily about racing and getting faster.  Those things are fun and give me focus as I train, but what I love about running is the community.  Runners are determined.  Strong. Focused. Kind. Encouraging. It's a privilege to be a part of the running community.

And then there's the friendships that are forged on the run.  Putting miles under your feet, side by side with another person, quickly morphs strangers into friends.  Friends into a sisterhood.  It's priceless.
No Livestock or marijuana at Roaring River Park.  #bummer #justkidding
Well done friends. Well done.  I'm already looking forward to next year.

Official Finish Time: 1:35:01 - 7:15 pace. 15th place overall. 5th place woman. 2nd place age group.

Mile 1: 7:16
Mile 2: 6:56
Mile 3: 7:18
Mile 4: 7:19
Mile 5: 7:23
Mile 6: 7:23
Mile 7:7:23
Mile 8: 7:17
Mile 9: 7:19
Mile 10: 7:14
Mile 11: 7:14
Mile 12: 6:56
Mile 13: 6:58
Mile .2: 5:23


  1. Loved reading this!! It got me excited to race again someday! What a solid solid race...such strong and consistent splits!! I could feel this race... I know these paces. hey, we should run a race together sometime. ;)

    1. YES Amanda! For sure. I haven't been to Bend in FOREVER, but when I come over, I'm calling you for a run. I know for sure I'll be in Sunriver the first part of June for a girls weekend. Maybe a trail run and a photo session!?!