The 2013 Portland Marathon on October 6 was my first marathon ever. After a year and a half of building up from the couch to a 5K to 10K to Half to 30K (or 35K in my case when I took a wrong turn), I felt I was finally ready for a full marathon. Portland was supposed to be a fine one for newbies… well supported and relatively flat (as opposed to the Seattle Marathon in December which I also had signed up for, before switching to the Half for reasons to be detailed in a future post). This is one of the final steps before my first Ultramarathon, currently targeted for early 2014.
My training regime has consisted of a Wednesday Running Class at the ProClub, taught by Michael Covey who also managers my running training plan. Monday and Thursdays are various treadmill programs followed by strength training with Amber Zoeller, another personal trainer at the ProClub. I’ve recently substituted the Monday cardio for a Mountain Running Class taught by Matt Campbell, an experienced ultra-runner. Long runs are typically on Saturday, although I’ve occasionally done a Friday Lake Union Run with the Seattle Green Lake Running Group. I’ve been building up the long runs and have now done a few 18-21 mile runs with friends or during races and it’s finally time to put it to the test.
During one of my longer runs with Green Lake, a visitor from Portland, Amanda Johnson, joined us for an early morning run. She was looking for a 10:45-11:00 minute mile pace, right where my group was at. We got to talking and the Portland Marathon was to be her first as well. Given the similarity in paces, we decided to meet up in Portland to push each other on.
The entire family went down on the Friday night before the race. Packet pickup on Saturday morning was easy, although I seem to have chosen a Women’s XL shirt instead of Men’s. With a bit of haggling, I was able to convince the staff that I wasn’t a woman and could get the XL (although to be fair, they did have a No Exchange policy so I really was appreciative). For lunch we met up w/Amanda and her fiancé Jay who gave us some tourist ideas for the day.
While visiting the nearby dam sounded cool, with the government closures it wasn’t available, so off we went to Multnomah Falls. The beautiful Saturday ensured a big crowd but it was still an enjoyable time seeing the lower and upper falls. We started the climb to the top but stopped about half way up as Laura was in the wrong shoes and I really didn’t need a hill workout the day prior to my first marathon.
That evening we decided to skip the traditional pasta dinner at the hotel, which seemed a bit more fancy/rich than seemed prudent and grabbed a bite at a local diner. Then it was back to the hotel for a relaxing night in while I got everything ready for Sunday.
On Sunday morning, I got up early for a quick shower before grabbing everything and heading out. After much waffling back and forth in the previous weeks, I decided to take my full hydration pack, an Ultraspire Kinetic. This was complete overkill for a course with water stops every 1.5 to 2 miles but I wanted to store my own nutrition (Honey Stinger Chews and Cliff Shot Bloks) and had also been training w/Nuun hydration. I had my calories and salt nailed with these but it certainly made me look a bit goofy carrying everything. I also bought a Ultraspire 2-bottle Impulse waist pack but I really don’t have a good waist for it; it was fine for a half but I wasn’t comfortable using it for a full. If I’m going to do more road marathons, I definitely need to get used to water and a small solution for chews.
First stop was the Info Booth where the Seattle Green Lake Runners were meeting up for a picture. The weather report for the day had been bouncing around rain and thunderstorms earlier in the week to cool and potential rain the day or two before. It was certainly brisk in the morning (48?) but did indeed turn out to be a beautiful day hitting the mid 60’s at the finish several hours later.
I had been assigned Corral D based on my estimated finish time (4:30). Amanda hadn’t put a time down so ended up in F. We decided to meet in E. While frowned upon, no one really cared which corral people were in. After meandering few a few thousand “friends” in the same corral, we eventually found each other. It was weird hearing the countdown start and finish and absolutely nothing happen in the Corral. It took another countdown or two before I realized that we were staying where we were at until it was our Corrals turn to go. We ended up at the back of the corral while the 4:40 pacer was at the front. While we saw the pacer here and there on the course, we never did quite catch her…
Memorable things from the start: The starting line, running through the gate to Chinatown and seeing several dragons dancing, getting strange looks from the homeless under the first bridge we ran under (I said “memorable”, not “happy”), running along the waterfront, seeing the race leaders scream past us easily going twice as fast given both looks and distance, and about 4 miles in watching for Jay to swap some clothing for Amanda. Was feeling good and overall a great start.
Miles 5-11 are an out-and-back along an industrial area. One of Amanda’s friends joined us here for a bit of pacing which was awesome. While the views weren’t great and there were no spectators, there were several bands along the route including my favorite group of pirates singing various chanties. This was probably the best view we had of the 4:40 pacer as she blew by us on the way back. 😦
Miles 11-13 were some neighborhoods to Mt. St. Helens Rd. which continued all the way to St. John’s Bridge at mile 16. This was the first section we had spectators hanging out by their houses rooting us on. Very cool. Jay caught up with us again at this point, riding a bike near us (certainly not on the course as that would be against the rules ; – ), and urging us on. The last 1/2 mile to the bridge was annoyingly steep but once we got to the bridge we ignored the grade and enjoyed a spectacular view. The group What Moves You made a great video of the bridge crossing as well as an incredible one of the entire marathon:.
Right after the bridge, Laura and the kids were waiting with signs. I made sure to give them big, sloppy hugs before continuing on. The next 5 miles were mixed… It was fun running through neighborhoods with tons of people on their front lawns barbeque-ing and urging people on, but I also began to feel the effects of 3+ hours of running and eventually switched to a run a mile, walk a bit strategy. It had been great running with Amanda but she was now at a point where it was easier to run than walk so I urged her to continue on ahead of me. While my energy was good, especially after a caffeinated Gu (I generally avoid them as too messy and icky but I’ve gotten a bit addicted to the caffeine kick and like it towards the end of a run), and I wasn’t having any cramping problems, I was definitely tiring out and slowing down.
Mile 24 made it seem like the end was in site, as we saw the bridge back into town. While the final hill up to the bridge slowed me to a power-walk, I was able to run from there and poured on the power to the finish. The last few streets had a few turns and I kept hoping to see the finish line around the next corner but it took a few more corners than I hoped before the finish was finally in sight.
Portland is crazy with SWAG. At the Expo I picked up a race t-shirt and poster. At the finish, the traditional medal was draped on us but then they went on to give us another (finisher) shirt, a coin/medallion, a pin, a rose, and a tree. Yes, a tree. To plant back home in commemoration of the event. I passed; I was out of hands. Lots of drinks and food, but most appreciated was the popsicle. It had been a gorgeous day but was heating up and the popsicle just hit the spot.
I wondered around and eventually caught up w/Laura and the kids. We found Amanda, who ended up beating me by just a minute and a half, wished her and Jay well, and headed back to the hotel. While it was 45 minutes after checkout, our room was not yet cleaned so I was able to dash in for a much-needed shower. Then it was into the car for the 3.5 hour drive back to Redmond.
While I didn’t get the time I was really hoping for, 4:30 which was my best Half time (~4:10) times 2 plus 10 minutes, nor 4:40 which was my goal, I’m still happy with 4:50:14. It’s interesting looking at my full stats (below):
|Overall:||4164 out of 6947|
|Men:||2355 out of 3322|
|M 40-44:||387 out of 524|
|Age/Grade:||45.60% Place: 4709|
It’s interesting looking at my splits that, while I was on a 4:44 pace up to mile 17, I slowed down enough to lose 6 minutes in the final 9 miles.
|5 Km:||33:32||Pace: 10:48|
|10 Km:||1:06:21||Pace: 10:41|
|8.9 Mi:||1:33:58||Pace: 10:34|
|17.5 Mi:||3:09:06||Pace: 10:49|
Full Garmin track is found here. It shows that while I had been maintaining a heart rate of 145 for the first 2/3 of the run, I slowed down to 120-125 for miles 21-24 before gradually ramping it up as I approached the finish where I was pushing 170+. My cadence was a perfect, rock-solid 90.
Nutrition: 500 kcal in Shot Bloks, 320 kcal in Honey Stinger Chews, 100 in a caffeinated Gu at mile 20, and a few pretzels and gummy bears on the way. I refilled my 2 – 24oz bottles once for a total of about 90 oz of water w/6 Nuun (1.5/bottle). This works out to about 200 calories and 650mg sodium per hour. The sodium is a bit higher than I like and the calories a bit low, which means I was drinking more than usual and eating a bit less. Not a huge deal and felt fine.