I finally completed my first Newport Marathon on Sunday. After having gotten sick in 2013 on the day before the race, and then trying to sign up in 2014 but finding out I was a week too late in February, I got to spend the weekend running and getting in some much-needed beach time. The Oregon Coast is my favorite place in the whole world, and I always jump at the chance to make the 3-4 hour drive over from Bend.
Coming off a couple months of ultras, my training had been substantial but significantly tapered. I was getting in at least one speed workout a week, but favoring runs with friends over a second speed session. My weekday morning runs had all but been eliminated, and I could tell I was losing my desire to really push and achieve a PR or anything faster than what I have been running over the past few years.
All I really wanted was a cool finishers medal and sushi. Really.
After we arrived on Friday evening, we made our way through the Old Bay Front on our way to packet pick-up. As soon as we reach Ripley’s Believe It or Not, I look over and my favorite sushi place is GONE. Windows are papered up. No sign of sushi signs ANYWHERE. WTF!?! My only thought was finding a back-up. Where could I find sushi after the marathon tomorrow, so that my intentional deprivation of sushi over the past few months would not go unwarranted?
After a dinner at Mo’s, we were off to the hotel to wind down for the evening. Setting out my race clothes for the next morning, I was surprisingly calm. This was my 14th marathon, and it seems that running ultras has helped me prepare better – mentally – for marathons. My anxiety seems to be much more under control, and I know what to expect. My body handles the longer mileage well, as long as I fuel when it tells me to.
Saturday morning arrived quickly, and I made my way (along with most of the runners) down to the start, which was only 3 blocks from the motel. The weather was cool and in the 50’s, overcast and perfect for running. We were soon on our way back north, looping through Nye Beach and then back toward the Old Bay. At mile 4.5, we climbed a small hill and started out to the turn-around at mile 15. I will admit, this was daunting as I wasn’t sure how I could mentally tackle an out and back for the majority of a marathon. The first few miles went by incredibly slow.
Fortunately, by about mile 12 I knew I only had a couple miles left to the turn-around and they were ticking off quickly, so I set my sights on the return. We got to see the lead runners fly by which was amazing – this is a very flat course and they were cruising. Lots of people were hanging out on the course to cheer on runners including the Oregon Oyster Farms (oyster shooters for those who dare), a cute couple who had balloons strewn across their yard and continued to clap and encourage all the runners and walkers (cowbells would have saved their poor hands), lots of high school students at aid stations, and a guy whose house was near the road offered beer to any runner who took him up on it. Upon returning back to Newport, there is a slight hill and then a steep downhill to the finish, which was crowded with people. After hoping for a sub 3:45, I was happy with a 3:48. I really had a seamless race with no problems, and I finally got my cool medal.
This race has a capacity of about 1,000 and I highly recommend it. You risk encountering rain or wind, but the two years I have been in Newport on marathon day have been perfect. The race course is well-stocked with aid stations every 2 miles, and the medal, shirt and post-race party are great. Chowder and beer were my choices for re-fueling. Rogue Ales had a tent with beer for all runners who prefer some suds after their hard effort. There was even a band.
Later that afternoon, I looked up the one and only sushi place left in Newport. I finally got 2+ rolls into my belly that evening, and felt satisfied. Definitely wasn’t as good as the old sushi place, but hey, beggars can’t be choosers. Hoping for another trip to the coast before next year rolls around – it’s one of the most peaceful places in the world.