Friday, October 11, 2013

Running down a

Finally...after training pretty well since Ragnar back in July, the Portland Marathon, yes, 26.2 miles, is under my belt.

The four weeks leading up to the race were filled with a cold, travel and some really nasty rain.  Needless to say, I didn't get three of my last four long runs in and I think in the end, that made the difference.  But, I'm jumping ahead.

The week before the race went well..I was rested, got all my runs in...and I switched back to my old shoes. The super nice brooks ghosts that I had bought and tried breaking in just weren't working for me and  were causing a lot of IT band pain. Yikes. So, I went with older shoes...they felt good, but I knew they would be problematic since they had caused blisters with runs around 10 miles.

With my mom up here watching Logan all weekend (first overnight with both Joe and I gone!) Joe and I headed down to Portland midday Saturday with the plan in place to relax, get checked in, go to the expo and grab dinner.  I was feeling a little nervous and like I needed to do I drove heading down there!

The Portland Waterfront Marriott was just amazing in terms of taking care of me.  I'm a lowly gold level for Marriott Rewards these days (and that is just because of the goodness of their hearts), so don't expect a whole lot in terms of perks - especially in light of what I had gotten a few times when I was platinum (upgrades to suites, villas, etc).  But, Portland rocked.  We had to change our trip to a one-nighter versus two because there was no clear guidance on what to do with leave when the federal government is shut down.  So, I needed either a late check out or a plan to shower in the hotel gym.  The front desk manager gave us a 3PM CHECKOUT!  What?!  That was so awesome...I knew I'd have enough time to do everything and not feel rushed post-race.  On top of that, Joe got a coupon for a free breakfast since the Concierge lounge was closed.  Seriously awesome customer service.

We did our thing and went to one of the best expos / check-ins for a big race that I think I've been!  Organized, well laid out, not insanely crowded.  The Portland Marathon impressed me every step of the way with how well run it was...with the exception of the map for the start line and where the corrals were located (not up to date).

After taking care of checking in, getting my bib and doing a little expo shopping, Joe and I wandered over to the Pearl District to grab a beer or two (Joe) and dinner (my priority).  We...ok...I...did a little tax free shopping along the way (Athleta and Penzeys!) and then found ourselves at the Rogue Brewpub.  We had a nice rest there...good beers, interesting place (the in-house distillery peaked Joe's interest for our next trip to Portland in probably another 8 years) and then headed to Deschutes Brew Pub.  We had visited both Deschutes locations in Bend, OR and knew that we'd like the beers and that the food would be good.  Absolutely right on both accounts.  HOWEVER, it was insane.  A 45 minute wait for dinner (not cool)...but since Joe and I were childless, we went to the bar (oh, I've missed your easy life with quick seating).  We totally scored a seat at the bar within 5 minutes of standing around there.  Woohoo!

Joe found some amazing Paprika Fries on the menu (fries tossed with smoked spanish paprika, topped with manchengo cheese and a light aioli).  Oh my dear lord...they were insanely amazing.  I could have eaten multiple plates of those, but I knew that would not be a wise move...But, dinner was great and I knew it was time to head back and settle in for the night.

To help my nervous energy a little, I got all my race gear ready...

Read, and then relaxed for the night.  5am came way too early, but I needed time to eat and everything pre-run.  Had my typical bagel with Justin's Almond Butter and Honey (yum!), relaxed, stretched a little with some yoga and then headed out the door at about 6:15 for a 7am start.  Before heading out, I knew I wanted a few "happy" photos....I was taking a risk with the WW top.  This is the one that was re-made because it was stolen from our mailbox and I did not have a chance to run in it pre-race.  Hmmm....not smart!  but, I decided to forgo the cape that came with the top for this race.

Portland does the start a little differently than any other race I've participated in with staggered corrals for the various starts.  It made a ton of sense and really reduced the pre-race crowding.  And, it minimized the amount of people waiting in line at the port-a-potties!  We only waited in line for 15 minutes versus some of the other times...

Once we were off, the first half really ticked by nicely.  There was great on-course entertainment (bands, drumming groups, chinese dragons), I saw Joe twice - mile 1 and approx mile 4, and we just felt good.  However, I could feel a blister forming within the first 10k.  Ugh.  My mom asked, post race, how you run through the pain (or something like that)  I know what is acceptable pain and what is unacceptable...and I just keep going.  Usually it's not pain that causes me to stop anymore (except side cramps that don't go away - but I've learned how to get rid of then quickly when they do come on)'s leg fatigue.  And if I'm usually really in my head, that perception of fatigue is what sucks the life out of me.

Anyway, I digress.  When we started to climb the "big" hill (which wasn't so big), I could feel the fading.  I don't know if it was the lack of long runs late in the training, or going too fast the first half (which we tried to limit) or what. But  I knew it was going to be a rough last 9 miles...even though it was all downhill or flat after that point.  So, Paula and I hung together as long as we could until we finally split at mile 21.  She kept up a great pace and I switched to a walk / run interval.  I don't know if I could have gone any faster than I did...but I know I had enough in the tank to run the last 1.5 miles and then really push it after I saw Joe at mile 25.  All I could keep repeating was "do it for Logan" - just wanted to make him proud.

I tried to really push the last .2 miles AND I finished with a smile.  The exhaustion hit after the finish when I realized I'd have to go around the block to exit the finish area...Joe and I tried meeting up, but all I wanted to do was we didn't meet until the hotel room.  Oh my word.  Talk about tired.

The rest of that day was a slow walk through life.  We got something to eat and drink at Hair of the Dog brewing, which hit the spot.  It felt like there were LOTS of beers involved in this marathon trip...and that's a good thing! And by the time I got home after sitting in the car for three hours, I was barely sore!  Definitely a little bit amazed at that...

I learned a lot this fact, I can roll up everything into my next marathon...the Walt Disney World in January 2014!

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