I must be crazy! I just finished a serious Ironman training schedule and then had a great event at Ironman Coeur d’Alene in June. So why on earth would I just drop in to the Portland Marathon the first weekend in October? Because if one doesn’t challenge oneself, then how can you see what you are truly made of? How can you really experience what you are capable of?
The Portland Marathon is a special event to me. In 2009, it was the first really big endurance event I had ever done. It was also a freaking great time. Excellent support and entertainment and afterwards, I said that if I have the ability, I will try to do this event again and again. I came back in 2010 and ran it with my sister, Gretchen, for her first marathon finish. That was extra special, too. So after finishing my second Ironman triathlon in June, following it up with a fall marathon just fell into place.
The trouble is, however, that I didn’t do much training for this event since the Ironman. I did a few running events and triathlons and just a few training runs, but nothing over 15 miles. Uh oh. This could prove to be a big liability, especially when I reach mile 20 and above during the marathon. I shared privately with people close to me that I had serious concerns about the race. I informed them to not be alarmed if they get a call that the medical team had to provide assistance to me because I needed IV fluids or had passed out somewhere. Yes, that wasn’t a joke, it was a real concern.
My game plan for the day was to 1. Finish. 2. Not require the services of the medical crew. 3. Have fun and enjoy the moment. 4. Keep a proper pace, but also enjoy the feel of the run which means that if I felt great then I should run the pace that I want. For nutrition I had all 4 bottles in my hydration belt with my diluted G2, 4 PowerGels, 2 Flintstone’s multi-vitamins, 3 Endurolytes sodium pills and some Advil and Immodium just in case.
You know what is amazing? I don’t remember much about the first 9 miles of the event. My plan was to go really easy for the first 13. I lined up with the 4:45 pace group. I tried to keep my mind off of the distance, and just focus on my pace and the thoughts running through my head. About the time I “woke up” from this mind displacement strategy, I was looking at the Mile 9 marker. Hah!
But from can I can recall and looking at the run data, I was keeping a steady pace of about 10:30/ mile or so. There are lots of aid stations and I was taking in water at all of them. I didn’t start sucking down G2 until 1 hour into the event. I also had my first PowerGel at that time.
During the run I saw some people I knew; some folks that I have known through triathlons, other races and a few people from work. Hah, I also saw Aunt Cathy’s brother-in-law at the pirate aid station. The guy was in full pirate garb and really playing the part. It was a riot!
I also saw two different couples running dressed as a bride and groom. I talked to one of them and they said they were getting married TODAY at mile 20 of the marathon! Holy smokes. How cool is that?
This was the section where I felt the very best all day. I had just finished listening to a How Stuff Works podcast on old English clothing (yes, so obscure but that was on purpose) and my music playlist started. I had picked out some great songs to get me pumped. I even had Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture in there with cannons and bells. But my power song is Chris Tomlin’s ‘Our God.’ I really picked up the pace when that one came on.
My pace improved to around 10:06 or so and my half-marathon time was 2:15. I looked at my Garmin and briefly thought that if I kept it together I could possibly beat my best time at this event of 4:27.
Just after mile 16 is where we make the mile long ascent up to and across the
. It was a beautiful sunny day and the bridge
is very pretty in its own right. But
today it stood majestically over the St. Johns Bridge and pierced the
blue sky. It was a beautiful sight. Willamette
But, there is a very steep road up to the bridge. And after running 16 miles, a person has some very sore muscles already. I had to walk most of it. I had short bursts of running, but I was getting pretty tired.
As I came to the end of the bridge, I could see Wendy off to the left. She handed me a banana and a bag of Ruffles potato chips. If you can remember from IMCDA 2010, it was Ruffles potato chips that got me out of a very deep and dark hole at the beginning of the marathon. Something about the salt and taste of them that I really like. Shortly after seeing Wendy I ran into a friend from work who jumped in and ran with me for a bit.
Ok, I was starting to feel some fatigue. I was down to one last bottle of G2. I had been taking in a PowerGel every hour. I could feel the salt from my sweat on my face and skin. I knew I had a high sweatrate and getting in fluids and replacing salts was important. I took some Endurolytes and also the vitamins. I never got a headache as I have experienced before when I get dehydrated, but my knees had lots of pain. I think it was runner’s knee from an inflamed and sore IT band. I took some Advil and started feeling better.
During this time on the bluff by
where I have
done lots of training runs while at work, this is my favorite part of the
marathon. Although it is also very hard,
I just love the views and the neighborhoods and the great spectators and fun
volunteers in this section. University
My pace quickened a bit when my power song was played again, but I had to start walking a few steps. My heartrate was off the charts at 150+. It should be about 136 at this point. I was looking at blowing up at any moment, I could tell.
Okay, my fun meter is pegged. I am ready for this to be over. I was really hurting. I was very thirsty. I was completely out of G2. I was taking some Ultima electrolyte drink at the aid stations along with water, but it wasn’t enough. My mouth was dry, my tongue was swollen and at one point it felt as if I was going to hurl.
I tried to keep a slow and steady pace the last couple of miles. I was doing a bit better about this. At mile 25 I saw my mom! She was on the side of the road and she called out my name. I stopped and took a pic! My mom is so special and she has always been there for me and my sister at our events.
Okay, last mile to go. My power song came on one more time but I didn’t feel too powerful. I just kept plugging along as we came along the waterfront and got ready to make the turn onto
Salmon Street. I took off my headphones and wanted to soak
in the finish experience. I could hear
the crowds cheering. I could hear the
music blasting from the entertainment groups, I could see the fencing and
banners separating spectators and runners.
I could see the fat lady! Yes,
the fat lady is a large poster of a rotund opera-singing lady…. You know… it
ain’t over til the fat lady sings….. I
missed it the first year I ran the event, but I always make a point to find her
One last turn from Salmon onto 3rd and there was the finish!!! Oh yes! I can’t believe this is my 4th marathon! Such a huge accomplishment considering 4 years ago I was just starting my weightloss journey and could only walk…. I couldn’t run yet. Wow!
The post-race experience at this event is great. Lots of goodies and snacks. The medals are a great looking piece of hardware. I found the snack tables and guzzled down some water to clear my parched mouth. Then some chocolate milk. Mmmmmm, my favorite post race treat. Got some food, my shirt, roses and then my picture taken. I was feeling pretty good so I cruised on out and found Wendy and my mom. They were excited to see me and of course my mom got a little teary eyed.
Well goodness, can you believe it? With minimal specific training, I showed up to the Portland Marathon and not only finished without requiring medical attention. I was only 12 minutes off my best time of 4:27. And other than being really sore and a little nauseous, I felt great.
Thank you all for your support!Mike