Despite a lackluster second half of training, the Portland Marathon once again did not disappoint. I didn’t get my coveted sub 4 (that goal is starting to feel like my elusive white whale), and I didn’t get a PR, but I finished with my second fastest time and a tremendously positive experience.
We didn’t have a specific goal for the race, but we wanted to give sub 4 a shot. Within a few miles, we realized sub 4 wasn’t happening, so we ran based on feel, keeping the pace around 9:30. I could tell that Dad was feeling better than I was, but he listened when I said we should slow down. We ran intelligently in the first half, which contributed to our overall positive, no blow-up race.
Around mile 10, I started getting nervous because I was already tired and my feet hurt. I overheard another runner tell someone how fast those first 10 miles had gone. Must be nice, I thought. None of those miles were particularly easy, and I was nervous how the rest of the race would go. I decided I just wanted to make it to mile 20, because then it would be normal and expected to be tired. I tried to keep my doubts in check and maintain a positive (or at least a neutral) attitude.
We hit the halfway point at 2:04. From miles 14-17, it was a minor incline for three miles and then a decent climb to get to the Saint Johns Bridge. Last year I didn’t notice the three-mile incline getting to the bridge, but this year I felt it. Boy, did I feel it. The big hill to get to the bridge was as hard as I remembered, but this year there wasn’t a funny dude on a microphone entertaining us. I asked Dad what was the name of the bridge, and I couldn’t hear his response (he later told me it was the Saint Johns Bridge), so I decided to give it some new names. Most of these names had some profanities in them. I was not happy with the bridge (and my lack of hill training).
Once we were on the bridge, I decided to pop in my ear buds and listen to music for the rest of the race. I was thankful to have made it over the bridge, and the views from the bridge were beautiful.
We took ibuprofen around 18.5. One of Dad’s GUs had exploded/leaked in his pocket, rendering the plastic bag sticky and difficult to open. First Dad tried, then I tried, and then Dad just ripped the bag open. We wasted a good two minutes getting the ibuprofen, but it was totally worth it.
I had a burst of energy and finally got in a groove around mile 19, and man I was feeling good (thank you, ibuprofen!). For the first time in the race, I was overwhelmed with how excited I was to be running a marathon. I was pretty much wanting to die at this point in Vancouver, so I relished the feeling. For the first time in this race, I realized I was going to do it. I had energy and was excited to run the final 10k of this race.
At a water stop at mile 23, a volunteer handed me water and remarked, “I love how you’re still smiling!” Unlike past marathons, I wasn’t in death march or survival mode. I was smiling and enjoying the race, the music blasting in my ears, and the beautiful sunny day. I felt so blessed to be running a marathon and that I felt this good at this point in the race (especially considering I was tired at mile 10). I could tell most people around me were struggling, and we passed a lot of runners. With each runner I passed, I felt stronger and more positive.
While Dad felt better than me for pretty much the entire race, I could tell I was feeling better from miles 20-25. I tried to be encouraging and positive, like he had earlier in the race.
This absurd happiness lasted until about mile 25. Once we reached 25, we both kicked it up and increased our pace. My goal was to finish strong, but I became very tired within a few minutes. My legs suddenly became heavy, and I slowed my pace (partly out of necessity and partly because I felt like I was going to throw up). Dad had about a 15-foot lead on me and kept waving for me to join him, but I simply couldn’t move any faster. After feeling so good for the last five miles, it was disappointing to mentally and physically crumble so close to the finish line.
Dad finished nine seconds ahead of me, and I finished marathon #4 in 4:15:37.
I was so buzzed that I backed my car into a pole and didn’t even care. Opps. I haven’t backed my car into something in over a year, so I guess it was my time. John is REALLY thankful I didn’t take him up on his offer to take his (much nicer) car for the trip. Poor little Honda Civic.
My main thought in the last part of the race and immediately after finishing it was how I can’t wait for Eugene, how I can’t wait to not just get a sub4, but to freakin crush sub 4 and get closer to my BQ. I have 12 weeks before I start training, and my main focus during this off season is speed, speed, and more speed!