Monday, October 6, 2008

"It Is Never As Bad As It Seems. It Is Never As Good As It Seems."

If you had asked me earlier this year if I would ever run a marathon, separate from an Ironman of course, my response would have been "Hah! Like hell! I'm a triathlete, not a runner." But after finishing the half ironman and continuing my training for Hood-to-Coast, I found myself right on target for the Portland marathon training. After a couple of beers one night, I signed up. My initial thought was "huh, that was dumb." My thought the next morning was "yep, pretty stupid." Indeed, my thought the evening before the race, as I was methodically filling fuel belt bottles with GE and stuffing GU into nooks and crannies of my gear, was "shoot, this was the silliest idea ever." But I trained anyway. Sort of. My plan was to poll fellow runners each Monday morning to see what their week looked like. I would pick what sounded the best to me (read: the shortest) and do that. Whatever, it worked. I finished. And I finished pretty darn happy too! Here is my race report:

2008 Portland Marathon (that's 26.2 miles, in case you didn't know)

I ate an English muffin w/ PB&J, drank some coffee, posed for a picture, and then kissed my sweetie-pie goodbye before heading downtown with Jeff, Natalie, and Tom W. Once there, we hit the porta-potty line and then continued to hydrate. I stood with the 5:30 pace group for a bit, then moved up to the 5:00 pace group. After thinking about it, I moved back to the 5:30 pace group. And then back to the 5:00 pace group, but towards the back of it.

Warm up:
Walking back and forth between pace groups while neurotically trying to decide where to seed myself. Oh, and I saw Jenn, DeDe, and Lisa from the club. What a treat to see them before the run!

The run:
It took about 10 minutes to cross the starting line. That was frustrating because we would start moving, and then stop. Then we would move again and get all excited. And then stop. Once we crossed the start line, there was quite a bit of room to move around. The only exception was when a couple of nordic walkers busted through and runners tripped all over their wildly flung trekking poles.

Miles 1-4 were super easy. But I had to pee. I finally came up on a set of potties that didn't have a line. Ah, relief. 1 minute 42 seconds of relief. I caught back up to the 5:00 pace group and cruised on until mile 7.5, where my support crew was waiting for me. Ken (fiance) took photos, Desi (best friend) ran with me for a couple of miles, and Steve (Desi's boyfriend) cheered. I LOVED LOVED LOVED having them out there!
I ended up ahead of the 5:00 pace group for awhile. As I was coming up on mile 12, a haunted voice popped into my head. "It is never as bad as it seems. And it as never as good as it seems." The latter part of the quote is what was getting to me. I felt SO GOOD. And then, like clockwork, and mile 15 the air was let out of my tires. I was going too fast to sustain for 26.2 miles. And the 5:00 pace group got a new leader with fresh legs and started running close to 10-11 minute miles. I let them go ahead.
Mile 16 has the infamous climb up to the St. Johns bridge. It's beautiful in here, so I focused on the scenery and smell of the forest, rather than the climb. I walked 1:00, ran 1:00. Over and over again. I was passing people the entire way, so that was a confidence builder. Finally...I was on top and at mile 17. Woohoo!

I was expecting the gang to be on the other side of the bridge around mile 18. I needed refueling and just a moral boost. They weren't there, so I looked for them at mile 19. Nope. Mile 20. Uh uh. Oh crap. I needed my Gu and GE. I started cramping. I got down on myself for being so slow. Then a song came on my MP3 that brought out the emotions and the tears started rolling. Within seconds I heard a familiar voice. Kristin! She ran with me for a little while (with her backpack bouncing around) and called Ken to let him know where I was. Turns out, they were going back and forth trying to find me, but my predicted paces were so off target (my bad), that it made it nearly impossible to find me. If it weren't for her, I may have never met up with them the rest of the course. Love you K!

Just past mile 21, my sweetie-pie was running across the street with an arm full of bottles and Gu packets. I got a quick kiss, my smile came back on my face, and I was recharged for the remaining 5 miles.

Miles 22-25 were physically tough, especially the downhills. My pace slowed down a lot. I ran when I could and walked when I couldn't run. But despite the pain, all of us in the marathon were giving support to everyone else. It was great.

Mile 25 appeared and I knew I was home free. I tried to run the entire last mile. Sadly, I didn't have it in me. But I ran most of it. At mile 26, I saw Ken and posed for a few photos. He gave me his phone so that I could call my Mom after the finish line, and said he would see me in the reunion area.
I rounded the corner to the finish chute and saw Steve and Desi cheering me on. I think Desi was smiling wider than I was. Yay, I did it!
Warm down:
I walked through the finishers area and loaded up on cookies, chocolate milk, and chips. I also stopped to have a finisher's photo taken. I felt a little silly because everyone else was posing with friends, but I was all by myself.

Ken helped me change into dry clothes, and then we all went to my favorite NE Portland joint for bloody mary's and french toast!
Event comments:
This is a GREAT event. I don't have anything to compare it to, as far as marathons go. But I very much enjoyed myself [almost] the entire time. Entertainment groups were at least every mile, the volunteers were super friendly, and people lined up outside their homes to give encouragement.

Up until about 1 hour before the race, I wanted to back out. I had no desire to do a marathon and I didn't think it meant anything to me at all. When I started running, I knew that if I didn't finish that I would be devestated. Part way through the run, I realized that I had goals I didn't even know about. And as I crossed the finish line, I just about exploded, I was so happy. This non-runner just finished a marathon!!!