43rd Annual Portland Marathon & Half Marathon
Downtown Portland, OR
Benefiting the Going the Distance Foundation
And then a couple of weeks before the race I saw a friend wearing a Portland Marathon visor, and I remembered the finisher's swag... And just wanted to DO the dang thing so I could get that shirt, and check it off my list! My only concerns were getting injured and having a bad time. So I asked my coach if he thought I could do it and what a good goal would be. He said I could definitely do it, and it would be good to aim for about a 4:22 finishing time. I decided just under 4:30 was a good goal. A few days later, he offered to pace me. I was kind of nervous at first--I had never actually run a marathon WITH someone and didn't want to let someone else down. But I appreciated the idea of having a "babysitter" who wouldn't let me bail at the half way point. For the last days before the race I tried to focus on believing that running a marathon could be FUN, even if I didn't PR.
It seemed so surreal going to packet pickup and getting my bib. I just felt disbelief that the day was actually HERE and that I wasn't prepared in the same way I had been for my other four marathons. I knew that one of my biggest obstacles would be myself--not letting myself get inside my own head.
Coach Ron and I arrived nice and early and found some running friends also waiting around in the dark. It was nice to make small talk with everyone and try to calm down a bit before heading into the corral. As soon as we got into the corral, I started to feel a little bit of excitement. THIS WAS REALLY HAPPENING! I WAS REALLY ABOUT TO RUN A MARATHON ON MY BIRTHDAY! AHHHHH!!!
The first few miles I started out a little faster than goal pace. It felt pretty good at the time and I wanted to bank a little time because I knew it was going to get hot (the forecast was sunny and 81) and that I'd probably struggle after mile 20. The temperature rose pretty quickly before we hit mile 10. But when we hit the 13.1 mat, there was no question in my mind that I was going to do whatever it took to try to finish. At mile 17 we crossed the St John's bridge, which was probably my favorite portion of the entire race--although the hill up to the bridge SUCKED (we actually walked up it), the bridge and the view were gorgeous. Around mile 21 I ditched Coach Ron, whose toe was bothering him, because I was worried I wouldn't make my goal time if we walked much more. Although I was nervous about continuing on by myself, I was in a great mood, even though my body was feeling pretty tired. And I saw so many friends along the entire course, it really helped me stay upbeat and positive. The last few miles were the worst. My pace tanked. I was tired and hot and so very hungry. It was brutal. But I managed to finish in 4:22:04. I was definitely tired but had such an amazing race experience.
Aftewards I received my medal, pendant and medallion (very cool looking in my opinion), long sleeved finisher's shirt (which wasn't as nice as previous years' shirts, and the sleeves were too short) and "jacket". The jacket was the biggest disappointment--it was basically the same material as those reusable grocery bags. LAME--and all of the other merchandise was kind of disappointing and overpriced. I don't think any of it had the date/year on it, which was a bummer, since I really wanted to buy stuff with the date on it, since it was my birthday. Oh well. I did enjoy the popsicles, crackers, fruit, yogurt, CHEETOS, and other food that they had available for finishers. Coach Ron finished just a bit after I did, and we grabbed some beer before heading home.
Things I loved about Portland Marathon:
-The expo! Lots of vendors and sales and free samples.
-Running over the St. John's bridge.
-The aid stations every mile and a half or so!
-Having tons of people along the entire course. There were SO MANY SPECTATORS along the ENTIRE COURSE! It was especially awesome seeing my friends out there!
Things I didn't like:
-The shirt and jacket. The fit, quality and material were really poor.
-The condition of the road. Portland roads have quite a few potholes, and the roads are quite slanted for all the rain. I made sure to be careful and run in the middle (flattest) part of the road that I could.
-Lack of bag check. Fortunately Foot Traffic was just around the corner from the starting line and DID offer bag check.
-The price. I paid $135 when I registered nearly a year in advance. And their no transfer/no deferral/no switch to half marathon policy is REALLY strict.
I'm glad I ran the Portland Marathon--it's just one of those things that you kind of have to do if you're a runner in Portland! It was an awesome way to spend my 29th birthday, and I'm so appreciative of all of the friends who made it such a great experience. Is it a race I would pay to run again? Between the swag being a downer, the price, and needing to train during the summer for this race, I'm not sure.