Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Portland Marathon

The Mario Recap, Marathon #23:
It's raining, it's pouring...

Not the best medal shot, but such a cute Mario nose shot :)

The Full Recap, Marathon #23:

I had been following the weather reports for Portland for a while before the race. The chance of rain was looking very good. Naomi texted me Saturday morning, "It's pouring rain and windy." Times like this remind me why I rarely reschedule runs for weather. I won't run in thunderstorms and try not to run in dangerously high winds, either. But rain? I'll always head out in rain. The longest I've run in steady rain is 20 miles so I had a moderate amount of confidence that I'd hold up.

Alisa and her hubby dropped me off at the start area. The start area was sort of confusing because the different corrals were on different blocks. I couldn't even really tell where I was supposed to line up. I huddled under available shelter with other runners as we watched the rain come down. It was raining pretty steadily as we waited, and as they released the first corral of runners it started raining even harder. It was slightly comical.

Luckily the temperature was not so bad (high 50's/60's) and overall there wasn't much wind. So once you surrender to the idea of getting soaked, the rain was actually a lot of fun. Alisa had given me a garbage bag which I wore until mile 8 (when I realized that I was totally soaked anyway and it didn't seem like the wind would pick up).

I have to say that Portland really came through with the crowd support. Considering how nasty the weather was, I was really surprised at how many fearless people braved the elements to support the runners.

Garmin's trace of the day

I was unusually thirsty during this race given the weather conditions. I usually run with Cliff Shot Bloks. I'll generally alternate the margarita flavor (extra sodium) and another berry flavor. Since it was raining so hard, I didn't want both packets to be open at once. So I started eating just the margarita ones every two miles or so. I'm not sure if that is what set the whole thing off, but there were times I had no water in my little handheld and there was no aid station in sight. I accidentally threw away the last two margarita shot bloks at an aid station when I threw away my garbage bag. It didn't bother me since I was so thirsty. I figured I didn't need any extra sodium the rest of the day.

The marathon was handing out gummy bears on the course. At first I doubted the wisdom of gummy bears on a rainy day (the pretzel station for sure probably didn't fare well in the rain) but eventually everything is so wet, eating some already moist gummy bears is not a big deal. Since I was down two shot bloks (and also not so much in the mood to eat them) I started eating the bears. The bears were yummy and a fun distraction. There were gummy bears everywhere on the ground after the aid stations which stocked them. With the pouring rain it was a sad vision of gummy bear carnage.

Alisa & Co. was out cheering early on in the race by the first out-and-back section. They were also camped out at mile 18. It was great to see some familiar faces. I had given her a little bag of all sorts of mid-race provisions (change of socks, gloves, sunglasses, etc.) My feet were quite sloshy by mile 18 but I didn't see the point to stop and change my socks.

Alisa running with me to see if I needed anything. She said, "We'll see you at the finish!" Which made me feel like it was sort of just around the corner (in a good way).

The one thing I have learned from my rainy training runs, is that I need to be more careful about chafing. I was quite liberal with the body glide and couldn't feel any trouble spots during the run. The bottom of my right foot started hurting a little towards the end of the race, but nothing too serious (turned out the skin had gotten so wrinkly it had folded over on itself in a strange way -- but no blister). I did have three chafed spots that I hadn't body-glided (a spot under the arm warmer band, a totally random spot on my hip -- the worse by far -- and some bits under the neckline of my sports bra). But for 26.2 miles in the rain I thought that was pretty good! I didn't get one blister (though I think 1.5 toenails are on their way off since my feet were sliding forward in my shoes) but my feet looked like cadaver feet when I finally got my socks off. They were grey and wrinkly and really gross. Sorry, I didn't snap a photo of that.

I think that the Portland course is fairly fast. There are some hills/inclines early on in the race, and one nasty climb up to the bridge (but the view on the crossing was totally worth it). But overall it is pretty flat. With a bit of hill training I think it would be possible to run a fairly fast race on this course. The course was varied -- city, then industrial (lots of those infamous train tracks to cross -- I didn't get stopped by a train), then cute little neighborhoods.

They had a lot of on-the-course entertainment. My one disappointment was that the bagpipe group was taking a break when I passed. I loved the reggae guy towards the end of the race who was saying, "Reggae, rain and the Portland Marathon? Who would have thought?!" There was another guy on a microphone saying, "Anyone can do it in the sunshine! You're doing it in the rain!" I'm not sure this warm weather weenie agrees, but it was a fun sentiment.

A first in a marathon -- one of the underpasses housed a group of homeless people. We passed this point on the way out and on the way back. The first time I ran through, they were all sort of staring at us like they had no clue what had happened to their peaceful Sunday morning. On the way back, one of the men had gotten into the cheering and was yelling, "Just one more mile to go!" I wondered if he had been a runner before and it made me a little sad.

As far as how I felt -- somewhere after the halfway point my legs got heavy. I remember thinking they felt like I was at mile 20. With all my multiple marathoning I've learned this feeling comes earlier but then it doesn't necessarily get worse. My main goal was to beat my Akron time. My A goal was to come in under 4:40.

Around mile 24 I switched over to see what my time was. I realized if I could run just under 10 minute miles the rest of the way I'd squeak under 4:40. I knew there was no way that was going to happen. By that time my legs were protesting very loudly and with Humboldt coming up the week after I didn't have it in me to leave everything I had out there. But at that point I knew if I just kept running I'd definitely beat my Akron time. I took a short walk break up the last bridge and told myself I'd keep running to the finish.

I have to say that last mile was the longest mile ever. I did manage to kick things up a little towards the end and crossed in 4:41. I got my medal and mylar blanket and proceeded through the best post-marathon food spread I've seen yet. I am usually not very hungry after a race and will take the food to munch on later. But I was actually sort of hungry and walking down the line of tables eating as I went along. Banana? Why thank you! String cheese? Don't mind if I do! Red Vines?! My fave!!

I was then given a pretty sad looking rose and a baby douglas fir. My poor rose got decapitated when I put it down to use the bathroom but I brought it home to let Mario munch on. I'm planning on putting the baby tree in a pot, but I am not sure what sort of future it has since I live in an apartment in a city.

Portland has an enormous amount of swag. Let's go through it here. Besides the above rose and baby tree there was...

A rose pendant (gold for the marathon, silver for the half)

A marathon shirt (props to them for going gender specific, but the size small is still too big for me), not to be confused with...

The finisher's shirt you got at the finish. Sadly these were not gender specific and so of course, does not fit.

A challenge coin. This was in the race goody bag. Since it says "Finisher" on it, I almost didn't bother running the race. I put my thumb in the shot to give you an idea of the size.

The challenge coin was two-sided.

And the medal (exact same design as the challenge coin)

The other side of the medal.

The following may sound to be in exact contradiction to what I said about Akron and all their swag. However, I feel that Portland went a little overboard with all of this stuff. I guess if it were my first marathon I'd love all these little mementos. But I sort of feel like instead of giving so many things, maybe they could do two of the things really well. For example, the challenge coin and the medal:

Same design and almost the same size! Maybe they could have done the medal in color & a little bigger instead of doing both. And the two shirts? Maybe one really nice shirt (or a jacket or zip up -- oh, and maybe they could offer a size that fits)? But that is just me.

An area I think Portland really dropped the ball on was the 10-10-10 marketing. Many runners (myself included) thought it was neat to be running a marathon on 10-10-10. There is not one mention of this date on any of the swag.

I also think it is fairly cool that I probably spent over 5 hours outside in the rain without any rain gear or an umbrella. I think that is a lifetime rain PR. The little things running adds to your life :)

My race report would not be complete without a shout-out to Alisa and Justin. They were awesome hosts and made my Portland Marathon experience very special. After my fatigue pre- and post-Akron I wasn't looking forward to running another marathon so soon. But the idea of getting to visit with them made me really look forward to the weekend. On top of cooking up a mean pre-race dinner and helping me get to the race on time with my bib attached to my body, they also were out in the rain all day cheering me on. Thanks so much, you two!!


Amber (Girl with the red hair) said...

Great recap! I bet we crossed paths, I finished Portland marathon in 4:45! I was on pace for a 4:40 finish and then injured my foot at mile 24 and had to walk a lot of that mile.

I was really disappointed that they dropped the ball on 10-10-10 as well. Half the reason me and my friend chose that race was because of the 10-10-10 date so it was kind of lame that none of the merchandise had it.

It was my first marathon and I was pretty bummed about the race but I mostly enjoyed the course. The view from the bridge was beautiful, *almost* made the tough climb worth it :-)

audgepodge said...

Nice job!!! Awesome race report!

And I totally agree with you on the schwag. I'm all about color so I would want that coin as the medal. I mean, what are you really going to do with that coin?

And on Alisa's report, I was totally being nosy about what was inside your "special needs" bag, thanks for giving me the answer!

keen shoes said...

that was a great finish! I like the medals and the black shirt! More power! Congrats!

cliff said...

great job on yet another marathon.

if it were me, i would've probably bagged the marathon, since i hate running in the rain.

i agree, they should definitely have put the date on the medal and the shirts. that was pretty lame.

Anonymous said...

Great race report! I loved your reportage on the gummy bear carnage.

Justin said...

We really enjoyed hosting you and cheering you on. Looking forward to meeting back up in Orlando!

the dawn said...

thats interesting that they didn't hype the 10/10/10. cause chicago was ALL about it...

way to push through the tiredness and rain and still get it done. you are so inspiring!

Alisa said...

You ran your race in my nightmare conditions but I'm glad it didn't affect you too much.

I agree with the swag, why all the extra coins and stuff. I guess I disagree about the two shirts, I kinda think that's awesome but they'd fit me.

Gosh, how many shirts do you have that don't fit? Sad! I'd be willing to take any of them off your hands =).

So glad we could host you---sorry our house has stairs =).

See you in Orlando!!!!!!

Mica said...

I agree about the swag. Too much stuff--why couldn't they have put that money into weather research to PREVENT race-day rain? DUH!

I've always wanted to go to Portland, so thanks for giving me a heads up about this race...even if it is likely to be a rainy one.

aron said...

great report/review! definitely on my list to run :) great job on yet another finish too ;)

yah those medallians and stuff seem excessive, i would like two shirts though :)

Nicole said...

Wow portland sounds amazing!!! look at all your bling! you are a marathon running machine!!! i love it!!!!

Anonymous said...

Congrats on yet another marathon! I love the two shirts, but would have cared less about the coin and the rose necklace. Overall, this sounds like a great race!

Rabbits' Guy said...

Runnin' in the rain! At least not hot! Sounded like fun - nice report.

When I looked at the Portland Marathon website the date was only in very small characters down toward the bottom - maybe they just weren't proud of it or else so dah de dah that they figured everyone knew!

naomi said...

I'm behind on my blog reading so please forgive my tardiness....that being said, GREAT race recap! I concur with everything. Congratulations on another one!

Michaela said...

Great race report! So bummed that I didn't get to meet you up there -- but I'm sure we'll get a chance to run together soon!

I agree about the 10.10 swag -- could've been cooler! Although I have to say I am absolutely IN LOVE with my little douglas fir. I even went to the garden store today to talk to someone about the best way to raise the little guy!

EndorphinBuzz said...

Congrats on finishing another marathon. They just keep piling on :)