Race Recap: Silver Falls Half Marathon

I thought running and cycling had taken me to great places. It’s one of the reasons I love the two sports so much: seeing and experiencing new things.

But what I once thought was amazing was completely upstaged by this past weekend’s half marathon. The Silver Falls Half Marathon in Silverton, Oregon was not only my first race in Oregon and my first trail race EVER, but is quite possibly be the most stunning place I have ever run. So much so that I couldn’t stop audibly screaming, “THIS IS AMAZING!” True story.

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I feel like I stumbled upon one of this country’s best kept secrets because this half marathon was a stunning trail run where you run right next to/behind THREE waterfalls, the race directors did a great job at keeping it organized, there was a beer stop along the way and wait for it… it’s only $35. Let’s start from the beginning…

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When I moved to Oregon, one of the first things I did was start researching the local running and tri scene. Along with said research came the “Liking” of multiple Oregon/running Facebook pages so I could attempt to be in the know. One random night, I’m perusing Facebook and I see a post from a local running page that registration for the Silver Falls Half Marathon opened the following morning and that people better set their alarm clocks because it was going to sell out fast. After glancing at the post’s comments, you could immediately tell that his race was a local secret and a would sell out quickly.

They weren’t joking…the race sold out in less than 10 minutes the following morning.¬†Good thing my type-A, obsessed self set my alarm clock early and was able to register.

Fast forward a couple months to this past weekend. Chicken Face was in town and we made the 90 minute drive to Silverton. To be totally honest, I was nervous. Not because of the distance, but because it was my first trail race ever and it was raining. I was scared the trail newbie in me wouldn’t know how to properly navigate the terrain and would end up rolling and re-injuring my ankle. As a compromise, I made a promise to myself that I wouldn’t race it, but rather just take it easy and enjoy the scenery. And I’m proud to say that is exactly what I did.

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Alisa, Jen, Penny and I

I’ll spare you the mile by mile pace and course recap (see more course details here) but will tell you this…

It started out fast on some paved roads and winding through trees and jumping puddles.

I ditched my jacket and gloves at mile three when I saw Chicken Face, Jen and Alisa.

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We then headed up the hills where the rain started and the legs had to get in their climbing mode.

I kept looking all around me to take in the scenery, but had to remind myself to look at the ground. Don’t fall. Don’t fall. Don’t fall.

As you approach the first waterfall you just think, “Wow.” You then run behind it, into this dark cave-like area where you can’t see much. I walked so I wouldn’t eat it and simply thought that this moment was unreal.

You continue to run through what feels like a thick red and yellow forest with more of nature’s beauty surrounding you on all sides. It’s isn’t long before you reach the second waterfall. For a moment, I thought this was too beautiful to be real. You feel like you’re in some world that Disney dreamed up.

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 Deer in the headlights. But whoa.

I thought to myself, “I can’t wait to tell Chicken Face. I wish he could see this!” The boom. a THIRD, jaw-dropping waterfall that we ran behind. Up and down stairs, behind water, and up another hill and I thought I heard people cheering for me.

Keeping it slow and steady, I made my way up to a top of another hill when I saw Chicken Face and Jen again. As I reached the top and saw them, I scream, “This is F***ing AWESOME.” They laughed and I just said it was so, so beautiful.

With 3.1 miles to go, I made may way to what they call “Nutcracker Hill.” Jen’s husband had warned me about this giant climb at the very end of the race and people feared it for obvious reasons. But as I made my way up the hill, I approached it like cycling: slow down, spin the legs and just keep chugging. Because I wasn’t racing, I just enjoyed the small climb and then the steep descent back down (side note: I’m horrible on the descent because I’m purely afraid I’ll fall).

I made my way across the grass, saw friends along the way and then cross the finish line realizing that what just happened back there changed me as an athlete forever.

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1:46:09
3/44 AG / 11th Female Overall

As you can tell, I’m having a crazy love affair with this race. But more than that, it was a confirmation of the transition that I’m seeing many road runners make these days: from road to trail. There’s something about being lost in the mileage not because you’re lost in the music in your head or the pound of your feet on the trail, but because you’re completely enamored by your surroundings.

It’s like that one saying goes, “The more you see, the less you know.” The more I push myself to try new sports and go new place, the more I realize that I still have so much more to learn, explore and fall in love with. I’m excited to take on new adventures in running, triathlon and in life… thanks Silver Falls for reminding me of this.

Happy Running!

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32 Responses to Race Recap: Silver Falls Half Marathon

  1. This post is amazing and makes me want to run a trail race which is something I never wanted to do before! It really does look like a scene from Disney!

    And– 3rd in your age group on your first trail race?! Nailed it. Congrats!

  2. Nicole says:

    This sounds amazing!!! I’m regretting the fact that I did not sign up with you!! I have fallen in love with the trails lately and it has renewed my excitement for running. It’s awesome! And congrats on the 3rd place AG ! :)

  3. Gorgeous!! When I saw you post the pics up on Instagram I started dreaming of running this. I have been only running road races/pavement for a couple years now, but the trail is stealing my heart. Even he same trail, there is always something new, always something shifting. The sights the smell, invigorating like no other. I can only imagine the trails out in Oregon. So green and pretty. Congrats on a fabulous trail run :) Your enthusiasm for this race seeps through your words and is infectious. love it.

  4. This post makes me want to sign up for a trail race! There aren’t many of those here in Chicago, but maybe someday.

  5. Erin says:

    That race sounds awesome. I love trail running. I grew up in Utah and spent many free hours running the trails that started right out my backdoor. I miss it terribly, though road running is satiating me for now. It’s smart to be careful on the descents. I (mildly) sprained both my ankles after a fall many years ago. I had to practically be carried home by my friends. Enjoy the trails!

  6. Congrats on your first trail race; It sure does look beautiful! That’s so nice CF was there to cheer. You did awesome! And I love that side angle shot of you running STRONG!
    I am in love with trails. That’s part of the reason I retired from triathlons this year. I want to get out, run trails, and leave the watch at home!

  7. Awesome! I wish OR wasn’t so far from me–I’d totally be signing up for that race next year! I’m a trail runner, focusing mainly on ultras, and the reason I love it is because every new trail is a new adventure, and I never cease to be amazed by the beauty all around me!

  8. Kim says:

    This looks like an UNBELIEVABLE race! I love amazing scenery and you look pretty badass out there, girl! I’m glad you are loving your new home so much :)

  9. Layla says:

    Yep, I knew I’d regret not running this marathon (silly self-mandated “no marathons between September 8 and December 7″). It sounds like it’s just so gorgeous, and your report confirmed it.
    Also, AG placing in your first-ever trail run?! WOW!! You are awesome!

  10. Ali says:

    I had a similar reaction to my first trail run! It developed into a full-blown obsession with ultra marathons. :) Beautiful race description–I hope there are many more trail races in your future!

  11. wow, looks amazing! definitely want to try trail running now!

  12. Raina says:

    This is a beautiful course. I haven’t ran it yet, but have hiked it. You did very well, Paige.
    I didn’t realize you were living in Oregon now.. Enjoy the new location :)

  13. Asia says:

    You pretty much inspired me to add this to my list of future races! Sounds incredible! (PS Nice time for not racing!)

  14. Colleen says:

    I am SO doing this!

  15. OMG that looks incredible! And what a great pic of you racing…and amazing that 1:46 is your “taking it easy on trails” pace. You know that’s still fast right??

    I feel like I’m the only road racer not converting to trails these days, but man….I love the pure, zoned out, speedy road racing. Those waterfalls are giving roads a “run” for their money. (<– haha, get it?) :)

  16. Becca says:

    Wow, it looks incredible! Also…how can you be “taking it easy” when you’re seriously blazing by in that photo?! :)

  17. Harmony says:

    Silver falls is incredible! Welcome to Portland and to trail running! Anytime you want to work on inclines, you have to check out the trails in the Columbia River Gorge! Another not-so-secret GREAT in PDX is the Eagle Creek Trail… it’s 7 miles out to hook up with the PCT, and there are seven — yeah, SEVEN— waterfalls along those seven miles! Last weekend I finally conquered Devil’s Rest whose summit is one of the highest in the Gorge, but I think I got a minor stress fracture from running too hard all the way down, down, down. Anyway, have fun. You’re in a great, great town to fall in love with trail running.

  18. Cathryn says:

    I totally understand what you mean about the trails – once you’re bitten, it’s all you can think about! I’m so new to the trails but they’re the runs I look forward to for weeks beforehand – I don’t get to run trails that often! Have you seen the website trailp*rn.com? It’s soooo good!!

  19. egb says:

    That race sounds absolutely amazing.

  20. em says:

    That looks gorgeous! I wish I could love trail running as much as you do, but I find that rather than enjoy the scenery, I am forced to stare at the ground nonstop. I’m lucky that I live in a gorgeous area where running on paved roads takes me past breathtaking scenery, so I have the best of both worlds – being immersed in the gorgeous view, but having a flat paved road under my feet so I can keep my head up and enjoy the scenery. When I run trails I find my memories are of only quick snatched glimpses of the view between many, many miles of calculating the next patch of ground my feet will land.

  21. Jill says:

    I stumbled upon your blog on Bloglovin’ and added it to my follow list. So, this entry pops up this morning and I’m like, “waiiiiiiiiit…I know them!” I used to bowl with Jen’s husband!

    And I’m totally adding this marathon to my list for next year! It looks amazing!

  22. Amanda says:

    My goal is to travel to all the US States. I don’t necessarily have to do a race to do that BUT these pictures have inspired me to make it to Oregon next year! Thanks for posting those awesome pictures. Great race recap.

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  24. Your pictures are amazing! The one of you running and being so far off the ground is so cool, and the trail race looks so beautiful! I’ve never run on a trail, but the more I see pictures of trail running the more envious I get of people who live so close to such beautiful running places!

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