Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Portland Marathon Race Report

I would normally have written this on Sunday or Monday, but Maggie (our new puppy) chewed through the power cord on our computer. It has taken us a few days to get that fixed.

It was a tough week leading up to the marathon. I hurt my back about 10 days before and spent all my time trying to get that fixed so that I could even make it to the start line. Then, a week before, we added Maggie to our family. Maggie did not sleep through the night until Friday. I was very concerned about fatigue and injury. I knew it was a crap shoot and anything could happen. I just wanted to make it to the start line.

I took it easy on Friday and Saturday, got two good nights sleep. Sunday morning, when the alarm went off at 4:15 am, I was actually ready to get up. We got our stuff together and headed downtown. It was so nice to have such few things to take with us! I am so used to our triathlons, where we take the whole house with us!

We got downtown and parked, we were early. This is a first. Usually we are rushing around, not today. We met with our training group from 6 to 6:15, headed to use the restroom and then to the start line. It was really chilly and so I had worn a sweatshirt and sweatpants that I planned to leave behind at the start. Everyone does that and then the marathon donates the clothes to charity.

I was wearing my favorite pair of purple sweatpants. I've had them for 9 years and Trevor HATES them. Sunday was going to be the day I let them go. We stopped at my work (which is about 3 blocks from the start line) to use the bathroom. I took of my purple sweats and left them there. I couldn't bear to let them go, I figured I'd stop on the way back to the car after the run and get them. Needles to say, when I walked out of the bathroom, Trevor wasn't super happy that the purple sweats were no where to be seen!

We got down to the start line and found some friends. Everyone was so nervous. I couldn't believe it had been 7 years since I last ran this marathon. So much has changed.

The gun went off and we finally got the start line. I hit my watch and off we went! The weather was perfect for a long run, cloudy and cool. I warmed up right away. I was very nervous about how my body was going to feel. My plan for the day was to run by my heart rate. I wanted to keep it under 155. I also planned to stay in the middle of the road, or on any part of the road that did not have a slope. The slope in the road causes my right leg to hurt after about 9 miles. I knew if I could make it past 9 miles with no pain, I'd be in good shape. My final plan was to walk through every water station, but run the rest of the day. I had three Hammer Gels, two Nuuns (electrolyte tabs)and that was all I planned to injest, other than water.

Things were going pretty well. I was surprise how long it took to the crowd to thin out. We were headed towards mile six, the beginning of an out and back portion of the route. I was excited because I figured I would pass Trevor here and get a chance to see how he was doing. As we got past the 6 mile marker, I saw Trevor, standing on the side of the road, apparently waiting for me. Several thoughts went through my mind - maybe he wanted to run with me, maybe he wanted to tell me something or he saw someone that he needed to point out to me. Those thoughts went out of my mind as fast as they came in and I knew there was no good reason for him to be standing there.

I stopped and Trevor told me that he had stepped in a pot hole and fell down. His foot hurt so badly that he felt sick to his stomach. He was almost in tears and I almost cried too. It just sucked to go through all the training and prep and have your day end that way. I asked if he wanted me to stop too and take him home. He said no, to keep going. So I took his bib and put it around my waist. I was going to run for both of us.

We kissed and went our seperate ways - Trevor, walking back to the start, me, on my way to the finish. I spent the rest of the day worrying about Trevor. Every time it got really hard, I reminded myself that Trevor was sitting somewhere, wishing he could be out there running. That kept me on track.

The miles were going by pretty quickly. My heart rate kept getting up around 158, so I'd slow down. I stopped to use the restroom a few times. I was following my plan and I felt good. I ran into several people I knew and ran with them for a while.

We hit the St Johns bridge - that's about mile 16. I thought back to my marathon in 2002, this was where I fell apart. I refused to fall apart this time. After the bridge, we took a turn and went downhill for a bit. My quads were killing me!!

Miles 17-22 flew by. Once I got to around 19, I could fell the finish line moving closer to me. I kept thinking "7 more miles, that's a long weekday run", "5 more miles, that's a short weekday run". When I got to 24, I knew I would finish. There was a long downhill and it really hurt my legs. I thought about walking, but knew that would not make things feel any better and it would only take longer to get done. So I just kept running.

I crossed the Broadway Bridge and got to mile 25. My God. How can 1.2 miles seem so far?! It was at this point that I wanted to fall apart. This was the hardest part of the day for me. Luckily, there was only 1.2 miles left. There were alot of people who I saw falling apart way earlier!!

We turned onto Naito Parkway and I kept trying to see where the turn off to Salmon Street was. I knew that once I got there I was almost home. I walked through one last water station and then I could see it - I could see the masses of people turning off the main road. I finally got there and made the turn.

The turn onto Salmon is one of the best parts of the run. This is where all the spectators start piling up to see the finishers. The energy is just amazing. As I turned the corner, I saw our friend Doug. He cheered for me and opened his arms. I ran straight to him and almost knocked him over as we hugged. He let go and said "go finish this thing". At that point I started to cry, I kept running and then I saw Trevor. Then I really lost it. I made the final turn and ran across the finish line.

Time: 5 hours 14 min
That's 50 minutes faster than my 2002 finishing time.

As I walked through the finishers area I was overcome with relief. and pride. My main goal for this marathon was to enjoy every minute. And I did. I loved how it felt to push through something hard. I loved how it felt. That may be sick, but its true.

I spent the last 7 or so miles thinking about the why. Why do I do this? What about this makes it worth it? To be out there running for 5 hours? Why? The feeling I had in the last .2 miles is the why. You can't get to that any other way than through the 26 miles before it. You can't cheat it, you can't fake it. You have to earn it. Every step, every inch, every minute. You have to earn it. And unless you have ever earned it, you cannot understand how that feels. But I'll tell you this, nothing feels better.

I walked over to Trevor and cried for him because he didn't get to feel that today. And that just sucks.

We made our way back to the car and headed for home. It wasn't until we were home that I realized I had not gone back to get my purple sweats. I wouldn't be back to work until at least Tuesday and I had left them in the bathroom. I knew they were done. Trevor smiled a big smile. Finally, no more purple sweats. Luckily for me, I have another pair, only worse. They are pajama bottoms, purple with cats on them and they say things like "Feline Groovy" and "its a great day to be a cat". I've been wearing them for a few days now!

Its been a crazy few days since then - Trevor has a broken foot, he's on crutches and should be for about two weeks, then it will just be a couple weeks and he'll be back to normal! We'll need to find a winter marathon so that Trevor can complete it!

I tried to not think too hard about the Ironman next year. I'll get to do another marathon then - only there will be a 2.4 mile swim and a 112 mile bike ride first. I don't want to get ahead of myself. For now, I just want to process my marathon. And bask in the satisfaction. Because I did it.

I'll post a few pictures in a day or so.


Marni said...

Congrats on the marathon!!! what a PR you had!! sorry bout the power cord, silly puppy!!
Hope trevor gets better soon! I'm sure you both have an IM in the near future!
*Campy said he would love to meet you and play in your house of pets!

Sarah said...

Lucky she's a cute one, eh? ;). Congratulations on such a HUGE PR! I'm so happy for you, but so sorry for Trevor and his foot. Hopefully he'll have a chance for redemption soon!

Runner Leana said...

Congratulations on your race!!! So sorry to hear about Trevor's foot though. Definitely disappointing. :( Hope he heals up soon!