Monday, October 08, 2007

Portland Marathon - Full Report












Jenny, Rick, Eric and I started Saturday morning at coffee with the running club. We peeled ourselves away around 9:30 and hit the road to Portland. We called Rob just before we reached Oregon, then drove straight to the expo. Rob got there as we were wandering around, checking out the free samples. Rob and I were standing there chatting when someone said "You two look familiar" - it was Scott! He picked us out from blog pictures. We talked for a while, then confirmed our dinner plans and left. Rob followed us to Jenny's parents house and got to hang out for a little while. Jenny's Mom had cooked up a big pot of spaghetti, we added in bread, pizza and salad. Scott arrived, then Sarah and her family. Patch and Sonya were already there. We had a good time talking running and telling stories.










The next morning came early - 4 am. We wanted to get there early enough to find parking - there was construction all around the start/finish area and roads were blocked. Needless to say, we got there with time to spare - 5:15 for a 7:00 start. The good thing about that is 1) good parking 2) fresh and clean porta potties with no lines. It wasn't too long till we ran into Sarah, then we discovered that our meeting spot was blocked by construction so we called Rob to tell him where we'd be. He was stuck in traffic and looking for parking. We didn't find him before the race, though we did run into Bella on our way to our pace group. We also missed Scott. Bonus though - Hippo found us while making his way through the pace groups.


Rick and I settled into the 5:00 spot, a little ahead of our true goal, but an effort to be in front of most of the walkers. We had fun chatting with those around us while we waited for the gun, then while we stood waiting for our wave. It took us eight minutes from gun time to start mat. We spotted Ray and Jane (from our running group) a little ahead of us, but the crowd was too thick to get to them. We managed to work our way forward during the eight minutes so we could start out with them.

Once we crossed the mat, we heard Jenny, Patch, Sonya and Eric whooping it up. That was really exciting and gave us a boost to start on. Next big boost was the drum corp - they are incredible and I love hearing them. We wiggled our way through town. Seemed to me like it was taking forever to get warmed up, but finally about three miles into it, I started feeling good. We had fun seeing Ruth (another from our group) on the first little loop, then as we were coming back, spotting Jenny and Patch in the five mile run. We saw a few other local runners on this section too. We kept moving ahead at a good pace. Rick was stopping at aid stations, while I ran through, then he'd catch up.

We got to the long out and back in the industrial area - my least favorite part of this course. Two miles out, two miles back past warehouses, foundries and rail cars. There are a couple of bands along here and some great high-school cheerleaders at the turnaround. Though I don't like the running scenery, I loved seeing the streams of runners going in the opposite direction. I was wearing my Marathon Maniacs singlet, which has to be the single most ugly shirt around, but it served it's purpose. Other Maniacs spot the shirt and wave - I felt like a farmer giving a little wave to everyone I pass. We did some leap- frogging through here with a couple of local ladies, saw Rob, Sarah, Ray, Jane and Hippo go by. Rob actually trotted over to our side of the course to give a high-five. That all made the ugly shirt and ugly industrial area worth it.

We left here and began the trek towards the St. Johns Bridge. The nice surprise was swinging around a corner at about 12 miles and finding Eric. I didn't expect to see him there. He got our pictures, cheered us on and said he'd see us on the other side of the bridge. I started feeling a little tired somewhere in here. Looking back at the Garmin splits, I see our first mile was 10:45, then it ranged between 11:17 and 11:58, then another 10:46 at mile five, then continued to range between 11:17 and 11:49 till mile 14 - where it tipped over 12 minutes for the first time. Coincidentally, that's right where I started to feel tired. Mile 15 we got back down to 11:47, then it ranged from 12 to 13:45, right up to the last half mile when we managed an 11:59.










I was tired as we began climbing the hill to the bridge, so we decided to run two light poles, walk one. That got us up to the peak of the bridge, then we took advantage of the downward trend. Another climb coming off the bridge and I was toast. I told Rick I thought I was bonking and he said "No you're not". I thought, "Okay, I'm not". I downed some soy milk, ate part of a granola bar and swigged some Nuun. It helped a little but I was pretty tired and a little nauseous from mile 20 on.

My pack, the one I love, was killing me. I couldn't figure out what the problem was. I finally figured it out on the drive home - on the Six Summit run, I readjusted all the straps when I put my coat on, and I didn't adjust them again yesterday when I ran in a singlet. I'm pretty sure if I had I would have been fine. Anyway, I was really looking forward to seeing Eric again, because I had every intention of dumping the pack. Rick offered several times to carry it, but I will admit, I can be a little bull-headed at times. My response was, "I brought it out here, I have to carry it." Don't ask why I think like that, I don't have an answer. Stubborn I guess.








As we were running along, probably about mile 21.5, a police car went flying by, then pretty soon an ambulance. Not too long after that, I could see Eric out on the course, but just after I spotted him, he started running away from us. I was feeling frustrated - I was thinking he thought he'd missed us and was leaving. It looked like he stopped but he was so far away we couldn't tell, so we kept pushing forward. As we ran up to him, he told us about the train-bike accident. That was sobering. I handed him my pack and we kept going. Right by the accident, there was a short section where the course narrowed down to single file. As we ran by, the police officers and paramedics were laying on the ground peering under the train, the mangled bike laying there beside them. I was tearing up and other runners were stopping to look. Rick put on his police officer voice and kept repeating, very calmly, "there's nothing to see, keep moving forward". I don't know if the others heard him, but that calm voice really helped me. (Found out later, he survived with minor injuries!)

Four more miles. Four really long miles. I struggled, we ran post-to-post, we looked at the watch, we knew my time goal was close, we ran, I struggled. I told Rick we had seven minutes to make a half mile. Looking back, it seems like I should have been able to do that. In fact, looking at the mile splits, it should have been possible. According to the garmin it took me 6:07 to go the last half mile - but that doesn't compute, because I was five minutes off goal. I think I was tired and I wasn't quite doing the math - I must have had a mile to go - which does make sense because my pace was right around 13 minutes at the end. Regardless, we made the turn, and headed for the finish. Our names were on our bibs, so I heard lots of people yelling my name - but one was particularly loud and I looked over to see some running friends I didn't know were there, then I heard more ruckus and saw Jenny, Patch and Sonya going wild. Ray ran up behind us just before the chute and congratulated us, then passed us by. Rick and I grabbed hands and crossed the line together. It was awesome.

We wandered through the finishers area - lots of good food, and my tummy too rebellious to take it. We sat for a couple minutes, then left to begin looking for the rest of the gang. We spotted Eric just outside the area, then everyone else found us. I sat on a curb changing to my Birkies, because - yep, blisters. Two big ones. (No pictures though!)

Back to Jenny's parents to shower and change, and eat yummy homemade rhubarb crisp, then off to lunch and home. It took me till well after lunch to start feeling normal again. I didn't manage my s-caps and hydration very well. I loaded three water bottles worth of Nuun into my pack, and only drank one and a half, plus probably 15 ounces of soy milk. I only took three s-caps in 5 hours. I've felt best when I've had about two and a half water bottles, plus the soy and an s-cap an hour. Hydration and electrolyte balance is always a challenge with my medications. I'll focus on that a little more in San Francisco.

On the way home, I made up my mind about Autumn Leaves. I signed up for the 50k this morning. Jenny, Eric, Rob and Steve will be there too, so it should be a fun trip.

I know this is a long post, but I have to say one more thing. That was hard work! That PR did not come easy and I think I found out what Eric means by Hester Joy, and I found out what Rob means by "It doesn't have to be fun to be fun." That said, I like my version of fun way more! I'm happy with my PR, and of course I hope to get another, but not at San Francisco. I signed up for SF and the road trip with fun in mind - that one will be all about the journey and the friends. Now I have a week of recovery, then a week of taper to get through. If you have stuck with me through this long, long post - then you've put in a marathon of your own!

34 comments:

Meghan said...

I not only stuck it out, but I read with vigor! I just knew you were going to have a good day out there. Stronger and stronger, little by little. Recovery happy and dream a little dream about where you've been and what's next. ;)

The bike/train story is tragic, and that man seems so very lucky! So sorry you had to see that!

olga said...

PR's are not supposed to be easy:) You deserve yours. See you at AL50!

robtherunner said...

As much as I believe in the, "it doesn't have to be fun to be fun" saying, there have been very few races that have epitomized that for me. They are the ones I appreciate the most though. I suppose it doesn't always have to be magical and sometimes showing up for the race and going through with it is the best you can manage for that day. Enjoy your PR! You earned it!

psbowe said...

The PR is a reflection of how hard you worked out there, and you sure did. I ran in similiar fashion especially during the last three miles, I was done, bonked, cramped, had, all of the above...but somehow I chugged on. It was great to see you, Eric, and everyone else. Maybe...just maybe I'll show up at Autumn leaves..but we'll see.
Take it easy on your recovery and enjoy your taper.

Dori said...

If it were easy, it wouldn't be bragging rights! Good race report and great race.

I'm glad the cyclist was relatively unscathed; it's very disturbing when we think someone is seriously injured, even when we don't know the person. Sorry you had to be burdened with that while in the middle of your race.

Joe said...

Great post, Michelle, congrats on the PR!

Having run the course last year, your description and the photos area all the more meaningful. Thanks for taking the time for a terrific post.

Glad you had fun with the rest of the gang.

Enjoy your recovery week...and take care of those blisters!!!

Thomas said...

Congratulations on a PR. That's a long time you have to spend there out on that course.

The accident is very sobering, though. Puts it all into perspective, doesn't it?

Wes said...

Nice job, Michelle! I can imagine that accident being a traumatic experience for the witnesses too! Have you seen my race reports lately? LOL. No detail is too small :-)

I need to hear more about "fun" marathons, please!!!

christine said...

great report...very vivid descriptions of your mental and physical states..you have allot heart and soul michelle! congrats on the pr too!

Darrell said...

Great report. The PR number doesn't tell how hard it really was for you.

Go have fun at the next couple of races for sure.

Thanks to Eric for the photos.

Sunshine said...

Thanks for the interesting report. Yes, I read every word (re-living Portland Marathon... until you got to the bike accident... )

Congratulations!

Nat said...

Congratulations. Sounds like an interesting run. Great report. Makes me excited to get going with my marathon training.

I must find a way to make it to the west coast. Sounds like there are some great runs around there.

Sarah said...

Congrats again! Yeah, sometimes you don't feel the fun until its over. : ) I loved the part in your report about Rick saying you weren't bonking. : ) I'm so glad that accident happened after I passed...and very glad it turned out to be minor! I'll see you at Autumn Leaves!

Steve S said...

Sometimes its fun, a good training run, or a 38 minute improvement and a PR. It's all good, speedy.

JustRun said...

You are something else, lady! That is all I have to say.

Well that and I agree, one's own version of fun should be the fun you have most of the time.:)

Annette said...

I love Rob's quote about fun! Too funny. :) Great report. Way to keep going even when you weren't feeling 100%. You earned that PR!

I signed up for the Autumn Leaves 10K, so I'll keep an eye out for ya! Good luck with the 50K. You're a tougher chick than I! :)

scott keeps running said...

Great report Michelle and congratulations again on the PR!! It was wonderful to finally meet you and the crew.

Autumn Leaves?...

Jenny, Maniac #401 said...

Fantastic report! It was a fun weekend. I can't wait for San Francisco!
Jenny

shawn said...

Whoo-hoo! A PR and all those friends along too - what a great day. Your post was not that long - I was sad it was over. Thought we might get to read about how Eric treated your blisters and gave you a nice footrub! I'm glad that you got to hand off your pack to Eric - I can imagine that feeling of being freed of the pack. It looks too like the weather was perfect - not cold enough to cover up the awesomely yellow singlet! I sort of like them. :)

Juls said...

I'm still with you.
Congratulations.

Darrell said...

Oh, I forgot to add that I like the yellow shirt!

Jenny, Maniac #401 said...

Michelle- I am happy to run with you! I kinda thought we'd try to stay together in a group, or small groups. I don't want to hurt (too bad) for the drive home!!!!!
Jenny
P.S. I registered for Autumn Leaves

E-Speed said...

I think we all need these races where we really have to dig down deep and it hurts so bad but then after we are done we revel in it. Builds character :)

You did great out there, I can't wait to see you in San Fran.

Got my expo hours and it looks like I will be working the pace booth Saturday from 8am-11am and from 2:30pm-6pm. Hopefully I will meet you before the race but if not I'll be sure to keep an eye out for you after I finish.

Thomas said...

Michelle,

BQ = Boston Qualifier.

I'm not sure what keeps causing those cramps, but I've had them before. I didn't take any s-caps, I don't think they're available over here. But I definitely drank sufficient amounts during the race, both water and sports drink.

Lola, my 6-year old, asked the same question about Nessie. She was really disappointed when I told her no.

Sunshine said...

We did the Portland Marathon last year.
Thanks for you comments.. and your report of this year. Congratulations on beating last years time.
Part of the enjoyment of reading the comments on your blog is sensing the great support.
Portland Marathon is one of the "gold standard" marathons I talk about here in MN.
At 7 hour finish last year in Portland we had medals, shirts, hugs, roses, trees, and every imaginable kind of treat! Yea Portland!

wendy said...

Congrats on your PR, Michelle! Wow - you ran that an hour faster than I ran Chicago, an HOUR!

You are quite stubborn, my friend, I would have gladly tossed my camelbak to Rick. =)

I hope you're very proud of yourself, you've had a great year of huge accomplishments. I can't wait til San Francisco. The half follows the full course for about 9 miles - I would say I'd run with you, but, you're getting pretty speedy, and I'm not sure I'm capable of going out at 10-ish pace anytime soon. ;-)

See you tonight! Congrats again, and very well written report.

matt said...

you are amazing, michelle. what a performance! seeing that kind of hard work turn into a well-earned PR really inspires me to train harder.

are you going to be busy the night before your race in SF? i am running the 12-hour race near Golden Gate on saturday the 20th. i would love a chance to finally meet you, but understand if you have a lot of plans on the schedule the night before your run.

Randy said...

You do such great reports....even with the struggles you had a great race....

I've finally been able to get a 5k distance under my belt at a continuous run...it's amazing how much stronger that has made me feel...

Way to go on your PR's....more to come I'm sure....

runliarun said...

Why is the little shirt ugly? I have to confess I intend to become a marathon maniac, no one else than my boyfriend knew this, and no one else than you inspired me (subject of a future post). I love yellow, and one of the things I am really ogling is the little dumb shirt. The colors of New Mexico are the Zia red symbol of the sun on yellow background, and I was even thinking of stitching the halves of two different shirts together, marathon maniac up front, sun symbol on the back, both red on yellow.

Your PR is awesome, once more. The harder it gets, the more worthwhile it is, in a way.

I continue to be dumbfounded by the "ruckus" of friends and companions in the running space around you.

angie's pink fuzzy said...

yay!!!!

Mel said...

ICongrats on your PR! I loved reading your story! It really motivated me to want to run a marathon in the future :) Can't wait to hear more about it on Saturday :)

-Melissa

Laufenweg said...

wonderful to read! thanks for posting such descriptive reports. you're one of my heroes!!

Makita said...

I hated the industrial part of the race ... it seemed to drag on for so long. But, true... great bands there and fun to see all the runners coming back the other way! :)

Such a scary thing (bike/train) - I can't imagine what that must have felt like to witness.

Jack said...

Great report, great race, and a PR to top it off - sounds like a pretty fun day to me, congratulations!