And then there was that. Just like that, the Portland Marathon is over. Four months of diligent training built up to this event. And it's done. I'll be honest, I feel a little naked with no marathon to train for. On one hand, it was nice this afternoon, when I did my first post-marathon run, to choose what I wanted to run rather than running what the plan told me to. On the other hand, I feel naked. I've been leading up to this one event for so long, that I feel a little lost now that it's done. But more on that later. Let's chat about the race.
My friend Melanie and I flew out to Portland on Friday and met up with our third runner friend, Kara. The three of us hit the expo and picked up our goodies before an early bedtime on Saturday. On Sunday we had an early wake up call and made it to the start of the race just in time to hit the porta potties before the race started at 7:00. Once we found our corral, it was already time for the National Anthem - and I love the way they did it! The announcer started it, and then the crowd sang the song without the help of a singer over the loudspeaker. And then, it was race time!
The most amazing part of the first few miles was the drummers downtown. They sound of their drums reverberated throughout downtown and gave the beginning of the race such a great vibe. As always, the first 15 miles or so flew by. There was a long out and back through an industrial area that I was worried would bore me, but it was fun to see the runners before and after us, so those miles went by quickly. And the course support was amazing!
I was feeling great at this point, even though there were quite a few gradual uphills (by the way, for such a 'flat' course, there sure was a lot of gradual uphill!). I knew there was a large hill at mile 16 as we would climb the St. John's bridge. That hill really wasn't nearly as bad as I was worried that it would be, and the view from the top was amazing! Melanie, Kara, and I ran together on and off up to this point, but it was really special that we all found each other for the bridge - I enjoyed experiencing that with them.
After the bridge was a 'flat' (read: uphill) stretch along the top of the bluff. I continued to feel well until mile 22 when some feminine issues reared their ugly head and I had terrible cramps for about two miles. These two miles were slow and awful, but then just as quickly as the problems started, they ended, and I was able to finish the last two miles strong. I'm bummed that those two miles took so much out of me, because when all was said and done, I missed a BQ by less than a minute. I was definitely disappointed to miss my goal, but at the end of the day, I know I left it all out there on the course. I know I ran the best race I could that day, and I'm happy with it. Plus, I have a new PR which is exciting. I ended up finishing in 3:40:55.
A few notes about the race. I train at 7800 feet in elevation and this race was at sea level. I definitely felt the difference - my breathing was easier and I felt much better after the race than the last time. I had some soreness, which was to be expected, but not nearly as much as I thought I would. Also, I was worried about it being hot, but the temperatures, which were warmer than I'm used to, were a non-issue.
Overall, this was a great race experience. The course support was fantastic and the entertainment was just as good. My favorite race sign? "Up ahead: Mortuary. Look alive." Also, I chose to personalize my bib with the word "FASTER." I loved hearing people yell "Faster" at me as I approached - it was a fun little motivator.
So now it's all said and done and I'm not sure what's next. With so much going on this year, I think I will take a (short) marathon break and try to stay half marathon ready for a while. I'd like to run some halves next spring and summer and possibly look at another full next fall or the following spring.