I am happy to report that Portland was a very memorable, gratifying race. It wasn’t a PR, but success isn’t always measured in minutes. We got some help from the running and weather gods, and this run was a huge success.
Below is a quick snapshot of how I did in the race:
The start of the race was a little chaotic. Dad and I got there a little later than we expected, and the lines for gear check and porta potties were ridiculous. Not only were they excessively long, but they were disorganized and it was hard to even tell where the lines started and ended.
We started the run and, despite the corral and waved start, it was really really crowded for the first few miles. We averaged about a 10:30/mile pace. Although this was a bit slow, it was so crowded that we couldn’t have gone any faster. And it allowed us to slowly warm up and ease into the race, which I think helped us in later miles.
The first eight miles FLEW by. There were a ton of bands and entertainment to keep us occupied, and I was surrounded by runners chit chatting amongst themselves. There was a great energy and everyone was in a good mood. Once the runners spread out a little more (it was still fairly crowded throughout the entire run), we settled into a sub-10/minute mile pace. Our pace felt easy and effortless from miles 3-13. I never felt this good during the Vancouver marathon, and it felt amazing to just glide along.
At around mile 12, I started mentally preparing myself for pain and fatigue. This is when I started getting tired in Vancouver, but I felt ready for it now. Having been through the situation made me confident that I could handle it again.
We passed the halfway point around 2:11 (6 minutes slower than Vancouver), which was perfect. We felt good and Dad started getting me mentally prepared for miles 14-17 where there is a gentle incline and a pretty big hill to get on the bridge.
I didn’t really notice the incline until we got to mile 16. Then we had to climb a pretty steep hill for about 3/4 of a mile. It was very similar to the hill I often run by my house (up Dexter), so I felt pretty confident as I made my way up. It was hard and I ran slowly (11+ min/mile), but I kept chugging along. Halfway up the hill, there was a guy on a microphone entertaining us. He said a few funny things that made me laugh and distracted me from the pain. According to him, “it isn’t a hill, it’s a mind-set.” It was all pretty cheesy, but it distracted and motivated me.
I was pretty much pooped by the time we got up the bridge. We had a GU and a short walk break and then keep trucking along. By mile 18 my hips were aching and I asked Dad if we could take the ibuprofen we packed. He agreed and we started walking as he searched for the ibuprofen. But it wasn’t there; he forgot to put it in his short pockets. I was TICKED OFF – my hips hurt and I wanted ibuprofen. I was a little mean/short with Dad (sorry!), but we resumed running once we realized there was no ibuprofen. No more than a minute later and we spotted a spectator on the side of the street holding a large bottle that looked a lot like ibuprofen. We ran over and sure enough it was ibuprofen. She gave us a few and water to drink it down. My mood immediately lifted once we had taken the ibuprofen.
From about miles 18-21, I felt relatively OK and was doing a little better than dad. I tried to encourage him and said that we’re doing a good job and that we just needed to hold onto this pace. It started getting really quiet around mile 20. The chitter chatter subsided and all you could hear was the sound of shoes hitting the pavement. It was getting serious.
The tables turned at about mile 22/23. Dad started feeling more energized and I started feeling more tired. He ran a few feet ahead of me and I tried my best to keep up. While the first 8 miles flew by, miles 20-26.2 were agonizingly slow. Minutes stretched on forever…
At mile 25, we came to a runner who was making the most god-awful groans/moans. With every step he took, he wailed out with a moan and groan. It seriously sounded terrible. He vocalized the pain that all of us were feeling, and as bad as it sounds, it actually made me feel a little better. I wasn’t the only one hurting and it sure seemed like he was in a lot more pain that I was. It also motivated us to pick up the pace so we could pass him. Hearing his moans of pain made me uncomfortable and I just wanted to pass him as quickly as possible.
From miles 25-26, I tried to distract myself in every possible way. I visualized my old gymnastics routines. I thought about the veggie burger and steak fries dipped in ranch dressing that I was going to eat after the race. I thought about how I could do this. I told myself, just a few more minutes. There were a lot of spectators cheering, and similar to Vancouver, I nearly started crying every time I heard, “Go, Megan!” I was incredibly emotional that last mile, and I just couldn’t believe that despite how horrible our training was that we were going to pull it off. I wanted to quit so badly a month ago, but here I was, about to finish.
When I saw mile 26, I was elated. There were spectators cheering on the side of the street and it felt amazing. Unlike Vancouver, I really tried to soak it in. I was ready to stop running, but running that last .2 with my dad to the finish line was indescribable. My legs hurt and I was welling up with tears, but I felt on top of the world. Despite my dad’s injuries and my bad attitude and busy schedule, we had pulled it off. Dad finished his 19th marathon and I finished my 2nd in 4:27.
Training for Vancouver was mentally (not necessarily physically) very easy for me. I was excited about the new challenge and tackling my first marathon. This training cycle, however, I was a little burnt out and sick of being on a schedule. I had a few ups and a lot of downs, but I kept with it the best I could. Dad had to overcome setbacks caused from pretty serious injuries. And, because of these obstacles and distractions, I really appreciate and am proud of this race. It wasn’t the sub-4 hour marathon I originally wanted and it wasn’t even a PR, but it sure felt like one. I proved to myself that I can suck it up, that I can push through when times get tough and, above all, that I am a long distance runner. 🙂