2017 Vernonia Marathon Race Recap

Wow! What a race! My 3rd marathon is in the books and it will always be a memorable one. This was my first time running the Vernonia Marathon. It’s a point to point course that starts in Vernonia, OR and goes on the Banks-Vernonia State trail for the majority of the course and ends on the track of Banks High School.

After a good 20 weeks of training, I was excited for this race. I felt ready but you never really know until race day how things will unfold. I woke up around 5 am, had my bagel with peanut butter, drank some water, and had a Mamma Chia Squeeze. The race was scheduled to start at 8 am. This race also has a half marathon option which started at 9 am. I was ready and out the door by 5:55 am to pick up my friend Angie at 6 am. It took about 20 minutes to get to Banks, where the finish area was and we got our bibs quickly in what I think was the Banks Middle School Cafeteria. We also received a sling backpack. We went out and waited just a few minutes to get on the bus. The bus ride took a little over a half an hour to get to the Cedar Ridge Retreat Center in Vernonia where the race started. Here’s a pic with Angie and I on the bus. A gal named Aleta gave me bunny ears, haha.FullSizeRender 22Going into this race, the thought of BQ’ing didn’t even come into my mind. I was just aiming for 3:45-3:50 since my previous marathon time was 3:59:14. I was talking with Angie on the bus and I forget how, but it somehow came up about the age thing on race day for Boston. I had no idea that your BQ depends on your age on Boston race day. So in April 2018, Iโ€™ll be 40. I can go by the 40-44 group, which would be 3:45 to qualify. She thought I could BQ. It got me thinking.

When we got to the starting area and got off the bus, I headed for the bathroom. Afterwards, there was a nice indoor area where I took off my layers and had my two servings of UCAN (my fuel, stay tuned for a giveaway and discount) about 30 minutes before the race. FullSizeRender 21I dropped of my bag and then decided to get in line for the bathroom again, just in case. I probably picked the wrong bathroom because it was a longish line. When I was done, it was almost 8 am and I had just enough time to head to the start line, snap a few pre race pics and then we were off. The race started on time. Here are my pre race pics:FullSizeRender 23From the indoor area, we walked up a little hill to get to the main road and there was the Cedar Ridge sign. FullSizeRender 24Fellow marathoners waiting for the race to start.FullSizeRender 25Angie and I ready to go. It was cold out and I think it was like 33 deg F at the start, or at least it felt like it to me. On my Garmin details page it says the temp was 39 deg F. But anyhow the race started with a nice downhill followed by an uphill.FullSizeRender 28Screen Shot 2017-04-12 at 8.51.32 PMThis is what my Strava elevation chart looked like for the race.
FullSizeRender 30It started off nicely and I was feeling good. Loved seeing bridges and this was one of many. I think this was close to mile 2.
Mile 1 – 8:22 = I didn’t want to start off too fast but with the downhill it felt fine.
Mile 2 – 8:16 = This was fast but was feeling good.
FullSizeRender 27FullSizeRender 26We ran around Vernonia Lake which was beautiful.FullSizeRender 29It was nice seeing the flowering trees, I’m not sure if they are cherry blossoms. So for the mostly flat parts I was aiming for 8:35 pace.

Mile 3 – 8:34
Mile 4 – 8:31 
FullSizeRender 31Another bridge. I was feeling strong.FullSizeRender 38Mile 5 – 8:35
Mile 6 – 8:34
FullSizeRender 35Mile 7 – 8:34
Mile 8 – 8:29
Mile 9 – 8:30
Mile 10 – 8:37

Mile 11 – 8:35

Still staying around 8:35, things were looking and feeling good. There was a gradual climb. It was mostly flat until around mile 11. I was still feeling strong and my music was keeping me going, singing along in my head. From mile 11 until mile 14 was the big climb in elevation.FullSizeRender 33It’s such a nice tree lined trail.FullSizeRender 40At mile 13, there was a steep downhill with a switchback and then a short flat part. Right after that was a steep climb with switchbacks. That was the toughest part. It seemed long. I just tried to keep a steady effort. After that it was downhill from there until about mile 21.
Mile 12 – 8:54 – Around 12.5ish, I decided to take a UCAN gel.
Mile 13 – 8:40
Mile 14 – 9:07FullSizeRender 37Mile 15 – 8:16
Mile 16 – 8:27
Mile 17- 8:23
Mile 18 – 8:22

FullSizeRender 41Here’s a cool bridge. There was someone taking photos here.
Mile 19 – 8:17 – Around 19.5ish I took my last UCAN gel.
Mile 20 – 8:17
Mile 21 – 8:26

On the downhill, my splits were great. It made up for my mile 12-14 higher splits due to the climb.
FullSizeRender 32My last pic while running was taken around mile 20. By this point there was a lot more people on the course, mostly half marathoners/walkers. Also, the trail wasn’t closed to the public so I’d see occasional bikers and walkers coming toward me. I was still feeling pretty good. At this point in Chicago, I had cramping. So thankful, I wasn’t having any of that!

Mile 22 – 8:30
Mile 23 – 8:30
Mile 24 – 8:35
Mile 25 – 8:34

Mile 26 – 8:27
Mile .2 – 7:44

The last miles were fairly flat. My legs were feeling it and getting tired. It was getting tougher to maintain my 8:35 goal pace but I kept on pushing. I decided to focus on my arms since I knew that moving them will help move my legs. The final stretch was on the track. So happy to finish strong!FullSizeRender 42Woohoo! My official time was 3:42:39. I got a huge PR and a BQ! I still can’t believe I got a BQ!! So crazy!! It just goes to prove that anything can happen, if you put in the work and the stars align…haha. No, I had put in 20 weeks of good training thanks to my run coach! She is awesome and helped so much to build my endurance and speed. Thank you Coach Dawn!! Growing up, I had like no endurance and hated running long distance. I’ve come a long way!

Here’s the cool finisher certificate from their results page. I also got 3rd of 14 in Age group, 16 of 79 in Gender, and was 43 of 158 in Finishers.IMG_3712Here’s a pic with Angie. She did amazing on her first full marathon and got a BQ!!

Post race there were oranges, bananas, water and granola/cereal bars outside. There was soup in the cafeteria.

Here’s the medal. It’s pretty cool since the tiny circle blinks.FullSizeRender 45This was a great race and course. I loved running by Vernonia Lake and on the Banks-Vernonia trail. Once my nuun from my Simple Hydration bottle ran out, I used some of the aid stations. The volunteers were great and supportive. But I noticed there was one aid station after mile 11 that had no volunteers, which I thought was weird. The table was there and there were items in a box but no one around. Anyways, the scenery on the course was wonderful. Strava says I climbed 446 ft so it wasn’t all downhill. Super happy about my time and BQ! I especially have to thank my family, especially my hubby who put up with my training for 20 weeks! They are my awesome support! Also, I am so blessed and grateful that I can run. Happy running!

I’ll leave with you a great quote that is fitting.

“Racing teaches us to challenge ourselves. It teaches us to push beyond where we thought we could go. It helps us to find out what we are made of. This is what we do. This is what itโ€™s all about.”

– PattiSue Plumer

When’s your next race?

15 thoughts on “2017 Vernonia Marathon Race Recap

  1. I’ve got a wide grin as I finish reading your recap – congratulations on your PR and BQ, what a huge accomplishment! You worked so hard with your training so I’m not surprised at all! This looks like an absolutely gorgeous course – I can’t believe you were able to take pictures while running so fast!


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