Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Rock 'n Roll Portland Half Marathon--May 20, 2012

Rock ‘n Roll Half Marathon
Portland, OR
May 20, 2012

Time:  2:10:42 (9:59 pace)

Wow!  What a super fun event!  I must say that this was one of the most fun and well supported events I have ever done.  For running events, it is a very, very close second to the Portland Marathon.  I am already looking at the calendar and scoping out my next Rock ‘n Roll event.  Amazing!

With the Ironman training schedule going at it hot and heavy for the month of May, squeezing in a half marathon race might prove to be difficult for some, but believe it or not, this worked beautifully into my training plan but instead of going for a PR, I would have to demonstrate proper Ironman-run-pace discipline which was much harder for me than I expected.

Just a quick note about the expo leading up to the event.  Holy cow!  It was great.  I loved the excited and amped vibe with the live band playing outside and tons of giveaways, prizes and games we could play.  It was very well organized and I like their selection of race logo apparel and items.  I had planned on being there for just 30 minutes to get in and get out, but ended up staying an hour!

With a big event like this, it brings out many others.  In fact for the inaugural event, it sold out at 14,000 entries!  Of course my sweetheart Wendy was there supporting me and it was great seeing her at the start and finish.  Wendy’s sister Maija and her husband Curtis came down from Puyallup to run in the event.  There was also several folks from the weight loss group, Chanda, Chris and Ann, there on race day.  I even bumped into a guy I know, Mark, who trained with me for our first Portland Marathon.  I also saw Becky and Aaron’s neighbors at the finish.  Great to be sharing in this experience with others.

They had us arranged in starting waves by our corral number.  In total there were 20 corrals and I was number 5.  My projected finish time was 1:57 when I signed up several months ago, but in truth, my finish time should be about 2:20 with a properly executed pace plan.  We’ll see what happens.  The weather was overcast and they were predicting light rain by the finish of the race.  Temps were cool and frankly it was about perfect for a long run.  I wore my IMCDA shirt, running visor, Nike running shorts, 2XU compression sleeves and my new Brooks running shoes.  As usual I had G2 in my jugs, 3 PowerGels and my signature hand towel in my left hand.  Since there would be lots of spectators and entertainment on the course, I left the iPod at home.

For a crowded event, it really wasn’t all that crowded once we got to running.  It was only about a half-mile where it was pretty tight and then it opened up well enough that a guy could run with open space.  I tried to keep things pretty relaxed and easy for the first several miles.  My pace was supposed to be 10:30.

First mile was about a 9:00 time which was way too fast.  I knew it but really didn’t care.  I was just going to run on feeling today, I thought.  At mile 2 I noticed a port-a-potty without any line and decided I should stop.  Cool, no waiting either.  Sweet.  At mile 4 I needed to stop again and, wow, no waiting.  The course support was simply awesome!  There were aid stations about every 2 miles with tons of water and whatever else they were giving out.  Both sides of the course and long.  There were bands about every mile and there were only a couple times I missed my iPod. 

The course was spectacular.  We ran in some areas I had never been.  But before I get to that, I have to mention that while we were crossing one of the bridges that has a grated deck, they laid out a full 16 ft wide carpet from one end to the other for us to cross!  Amazing!  We headed into SE Portland and on out towards Mt. Tabor.  The houses and neighborhoods were so interesting.  Some of these houses were very old and just beautiful.  Nice tree covered streets and it really showed off this part of the city.

At mile 6 I wasn’t feeling to hot so port-a-potty stop #3 was in order.  OMG!  No waiting again!  That never happens.  Once done with that, I was just feeling pretty fatigued.  I felt like I had no gas going up the hills and had to walk almost all of them.  I knew my time was slipping but I didn’t really care, I just wanted to enjoy the run and try to hang with the runners around me. 

As we got closer to the Steel Bridge I started picking up the pace a bit more, trying to do the calculations that would bring me in before 2:10.  My head was pretty fuzzy and I just couldn’t do the math so I just ran as fast as I could tolerate.  The excitement and support increased as we got closer to the finish.  It was a great feeling.

The finish line seemed like it went on forever.  It must have been a quarter mile long before we reached the finish.  Trying to kick it for that distance after running 13 miles, was pretty hard.  I saw Wendy just before the finish and gave her a high 5.  Cruised on into the finish a few seconds beyond the 2:10 I was aiming for but still a good showing.

The finish area was pretty cool with our nice medals, goodies and food and other giveaways.  Then we headed over to the beer garden and listened to the headliner rock concert, Kevin Rudolf.  What do ya know. 

Curtis finished just behind me but his race time was a smoking 2:02 (he started 6 minutes after me in corral 11).  He had a great race and said he had fun.  Maija came in just before 3 hours.  She has spent more time recently training her brain with school than training her legs with running and that was a great showing for her.  We were all very excited to be done and enjoy this terrific event.  We look forward to next time.

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