Wednesday, October 08, 2014

Portland Marathon

Yesterday I ran the Portland Marathon.  It has been on my bucket list since I first began racing 12 years ago.  Two babies, two out-of-state moves, blah, blah, blah... it was a race I just never got around to doing.

Almost a full year ago my sister-in-law decided to sign up to run Portland.  It would be her first marathon and she was nervous and excited about the idea.  I thought it would be a fun bonding experience.  We met 14 or so years ago but I still couldn't tell you much about her.  It's one of those relationships.  I thought training for a marathon together could start to change that.

Then a couple of friends from California decided to also run the Portland Marathon.  All good, until my SIL moved to the Bay Area several months ago and then two weeks before the race my two friends also bailed (due to injuries).  Not that I really need someone to run a race with me, but it is always fun to share a race with a friend or two.

So, that's the background as to how I found myself at the starting line of the Portland Marathon yesterday.  Two months leading up to race day I dealt with a cranky ankle.  More specifically, a really sore Achilles.  I adjusted my running form to run more comfortably.  I avoided hills, both up and down, and stuck to flats as much as possible.  I also wore shoes with more arch support.  Anything to decrease stretching the Achilles seemed to help.  It still hurt to run, but after a mile or two the pain would subside enough to run.  I figured this might hurt really bad after the marathon (and it does!).

Marathon morning: I decided to stay at my mom's house in Oregon City for the weekend with the family.  The kids have their own room and for things like this Mike will sleep on the sofa until I leave so I can get a good night sleep (he tends to snore).  I don't sleep well at my mom's house because the mattress is simply too firm for me but I got a pretty decent night of sleep before the marathon.  When my alarm sounded at 4:30am, I was wide awake and ready to go.

I arrived downtown pretty early, maybe 5:45am for the 7am start.  Parking is a breeze at that hour.  I found on-street parking (meters are free until 1pm) on the same block as a Starbucks just two blocks from the race starts.  Of course, my corral was around the corner so maybe 5 blocks away but not an issue with the crowds. 

Two years ago I ran the Portland Half Marathon at this same event.  Shhh.  It wasn't my bib but a friend's who was injured.  We're in the same age/sex division so I didn't feel too bad about running it for her and snagging 3rd in my age group.  Anyway, so I knew the first 11 miles of this course well.  It's blazing fast, even with a good climb early around mile 2.  I set a half marathon PR at this race two years ago and I know that yesterday I could have done it again.  Easily.

I hung out at Starbucks chatting with a couple of different people, drinking a smaller coffee than usual, and using the restroom.  About 30 minutes before the race start I headed back to my car to get my race things, lube up, apply sunscreen, etc. Once that was done, I did an easy jog over to my race corral.

The B and A corrals are right next to each other.  No one is checking bibs so there were many runners with bibs that indicated were in the wrong corrals.  There are also a gazillion port-a-potties between the two corrals, but about three gazillion runners lined up for them.  I had just used the restroom at Starbucks but got in line anyway for one last go.  At 6:58am, I was still in the port-a-potty line.  Good thing I've gotten pretty good at going quickly! 

Upon leaving the port-a-potty area, I headed into corral B as my bib indicated.  I think it starts with the 3 hour marathoners so I started walking down the block to find my 3:45 pacer.  I had decided that if I started with the 3:45 group, I could probably run the whole thing in with them.  Maybe pick it up at the end, but at the very least finish with them.  Unfortunately, I was unable to find them.  Maybe I registered for a faster time that put me in corral B and the 3:45 group were the first in corral C?  I don't know but I didn't have time to figure it out.  The race was starting and I was standing smack dab between the 3:35 and 3:40 groups.

I love running in Portland but I don't love running on the city streets.  I found myself starting at the ground directly in front of me as we began the race and headed into Chinatown.  Before the race began, I realized I had some garbage in my pocket that I needed to throw into a trash can.  It wasn't the kind of garbage I wanted to "throw to the curb" so in Chinatown I jumped up onto the curb and tossed it into the can.  I then stepped back down into the street but must have stepped wrong because I was sent reeling.  Visions of my recent trip on a Seattle street immediately came to mind.  I don't know how I managed to catch myself from face planting right then and there but I did.  Nothing hurt so I forced myself to push it aside.  This was about .75 miles into the race.  Can you imagine?

Pretty much right from the start I found myself behind two girls and a guy who were clearly running together.  They looked like they were all business with a clear agenda.  They were running an even pace.  It wasn't a hard pace so I fell in step with them and ran with them until they pulled away around mile 15 or 16. 

I did some snooping around to see how they did.  I saw one later around mile 21 but wasn't able to catch up with her.  Anyway, from what I could find they were all from Houston.  The girl I talked to is a very experienced marathoner and ironman (it was tattooed on her back, right above the waist band).  She and the other girl's husband were pacing the other girl.  Their goal: 3:38 to get her under the 3:40 she needed to qualify for Boston.  It would have been a big PR for her, too, if they had succeeded.  Unfortunately, they all finished together around 3:48.  I felt bad for her because I know how disappointing that can be.  But, I was also happy to see that even if I had managed to stay with them I would have still missed that 3:45.  I'd still be kicking myself today if they had finished under 3:45. 

Not many costumed runners at Portland.  The one guy who will always stand out was the one in a Gingerbread Cookie costume.  He must have been so hot!  I saw him on the out & back portion of the course and he was miles ahead of me.  However, I passed him before the 13 mile mark so he was falling flat fast.  I chuckled when I passed him and heard him squeal, "Hee hee hee.  You can't catch me!"  Clearly I did.

This race was the first time I didn't carry any fluids.  And although it was a warm day, I don't think it hurt me.  I drank from every single aid station and I think it was adequate.  Early on, I didn't stop but grabbed and drank as I went.  I need to practice this because I kept getting water and ultima up my nose.  Later on, I simply stopped, guzzled, and then moved on.  I don't think much time is wasted doing that.  I alternated between water and ultima in the first 10 miles but after that I took both.  I also took 4 Gu gels and 8 salt tablets over the course of the marathon.  I still ended the race with my legs covered in salt.  Yuck.

"The Bridge".  Not as bad as people make it out to be.  I didn't stop and walk until mile 23.  I slowed going up and over the St. John's Bridge, but I wouldn't call it hard.  Even with it's placement within the miles (17 is at the very top of the bridge), it still wasn't difficult.  Immediately following the bridge, there is a big dip and then another climb.  Those hurt a little. 

Overall, the course starts fast.  I think it's a fast HM and all the marathoners and half marathoners start together.  I'm not a fan of the industrial areas of Portland and quite a few miles are spent in this area.  Once the marathoners split from the half marathoners around mile 11, we started climbing.  It was never hard but a slow, steady climb.  There's one relief near Montgomery Park and a few flat miles running on Hwy 30 (yuck!), but there's a good incline from mile 11 until you crest the bridge at mile 17.  I was not expecting any of that.  Once over the bridge, it's up and down for a little while.  You flatten out along the bluff near the University of Portland but that's pretty short.  At mile 22 you run down the steep street that passes the Adidas campus.  Then a little more flat before climbing to get over the Steel Bridge.  The final stretch running along the waterfront and into the finish chute is also an incline.  Overall, more hills than I was expecting.  Maybe if I'd started with the 3:45 group then the hills wouldn't have been an issue?  Who knows.  The last mile was torture but running into the finish area is pretty cool.  The crowd is deep and wildly cheering for everyone.  Loved that. 

Will I run Portland again?  No. 

Crowd support good?  Awesome. 

Organization good?  Top notch.  Portland does a fantastic job, just wish the course was more scenic.
Weather?  Beautiful but too warm for me.  It was 62* at the start and we were in full sun about an hour in.  I just can't run in temps that high.  I envied all the men who were removing their shirts.  I wasn't dripping with sweat, it was pouring off of me.  After I finished and found a Starbucks restroom to clean myself up in, I saw I had chafed in places no one should ever chafe in.  Ouch.

Overall, I ran strong until the last few miles and am pleased with my effort.  It took me years to get under that 4:00 mark.  This past year I have done it several times and I think it's becoming my new "sure thing".  I still hope to make 3:45 my "sure thing" but I'm happy with how I've progressed as a runner.  I'm more consistent.  I'm stronger.  I now have no doubt a 4 hour is in the bag.

OFFICIAL FINISH TIME:  3:58:23 (9:05 pace)
5 Km:25:03 Pace: 8:04
10 Km:50:21 Pace: 8:06
8.9 Mi:1:10:54 Pace: 7:58
Half:1:46:40 Pace: 8:08
17.5 Mi:2:27:16 Pace: 8:24
21.1 Mi:3:02:06 Pace: 8:37

Wednesday, October 01, 2014

Monday, September 01, 2014

Friday, August 01, 2014

Friday, July 04, 2014

Foot Traffic Flat Marathon

Foot Traffic Flat Marathon at Sauvie Island

Tuesday, July 01, 2014

June: 200.08 miles

Had to run a second time on the last day of the month but I got my monthly total over 200 miles for the second time ever.  Wow!