Sometimes you just have to take advantage of the opportunities that come your way, even if it means running 26.2 miles. On Sunday, I was lucky enough to run the Portland Marathon for the 6th time. It came about as a last minute decision, and I certainly made the right one.
On September 1, I ran the Sunriver Marathon and didn’t have the race experience (or time) that I had hoped for. The race itself was wonderfully organized and the course was great, but my body couldn’t handle the hot temperatures. Fortunately, after completing three marathons since having my twins and not having an enjoyable experience during any of them, the 2013 Portland Marathon finally rekindled my love of running marathons.
My friend Cory was also running, so him and his wife Lisa picked me up early Saturday and off we went. We got to experience PDX in all its sunny glory as we picked up our packets at the downtown Hilton, ate lunch at Pizza Schmizza and enjoyed a few little last minute carbs at Saint Cupcake. Then it was off to our friends’ house for a little R&R before the big day.
My goal for this marathon was literally to have a “feel good” race. I would love to PR, but I had struck out on the “Feel Good Meter” a few times, and was starting to think childbirth sabotaged my long distance running career. So all I needed was to feel good throughout the duration of 26.2 miles, and I’d be happy. And many marathoners know, that’s not always an easy thing to pull off.
The pre-race weather was crisp and cool, with the sun rising to a blue sky. Portland’s reputation for soggy weather was slowly fading as runners flooded the streets of downtown in the early morning light. Cory and I had similar time goals, and found our way to the 3:40/3:45 pace groups. After a moment of silence for the victims of the 2013 Boston Marathon and the national anthem, we were on our way.
Amy & Cory – “Before”
I decided to follow the 3:40 pace group, and held on – even pulled ahead of them for a short time. But short it was. As we made our way out of the industrial section (an out and back at mile 10), I was starting to feel a little sluggish and that’s when I pulled out my first Roctain Gu. The fuel helped me stay on pace as we cruised through the neighborhoods out to St. Helens, but I was still a bit behind the 3:40 group, and the gap seemed to be widening. After I decided to stop at a port-a-potty the gap widened even more, and I knew I probably wouldn’t be able to close back in on them. But I held my pace going up and over the St. Johns Bridge. This is by far my favorite part of the course because of the views and the beautiful architecture of the bridge – amplified by the sun and blue sky.
That’s me in the black visor, black tank, black/pink shorts and pink compression socks. Check out that bridge.
I continued to feel strong on the other side – high-fiving our support crew (Cory’s wife and our friends) as they cheered us on at mile 20. Soon it was down into the guts of the race where there is a lack of spectators and it’s just you and the pavement. For the next few miles I was able to hold on and cruise the downhills, but by about mile 24 I was starting to feel the fatigue. Knowing that I usually feel this earlier in marathons, my spirits were high. I knew I’d be finishing with a faster time than Sunriver, but had to dig deep during those last two miles. I turned the corner at Salmon (counting down each block while running on the Naito Parkway – waiting for that damn fish sign is probably one of the hardest parts of the race for me), and the crowds were there – just as I remembered. An older runner was ahead of me with #Boston Strong on his back, and the cheers erupted. Such a great way to finish a race. My time was 11 minutes faster than Sunriver, and 9 minutes away from my Boston Qualifying PR. More importantly, I achieved my goal and felt great throughout the entire race. No stomach distress or bonking, just pure happiness to be out running 26.2 miles. I even managed to avoid any chaffing, blisters or “major soreness” – don’t get me wrong, my legs were quite tired – but the full body aches were avoided. Cory ended running a spectacular race, as well as a PR.
Cory & Amy – “After”
I truly enjoyed this marathon. After feeling like I might never have another “good” 26.2 miles again, this is one I won’t soon forget. Thanks to my great friends Cory, Lisa, Ed and Martin, for their amazing support and hospitality. You guys made the weekend.
Lisa’s awesome signage was how I was able to spot them amidst all the spectators.