Tag Archives: 26.2 miles

Race Report: 2013 Portland Marathon

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Lisa’s awesome signage was how I was able to spot them amidst all the spectators.

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Another marathon? Heck yeah.

There are two new blog posts in edit mode, and I can’t seem to finish either one. So I am writing a new one on a whim.  Because on Sunday, I’ll be running my second marathon in two months.  This is something I have never done, and I can’t wait.  After the Sunriver Marathon, I almost felt like it was “practice.”  A lot of hype and building anticipation left me feeling unsatisfied.  So much so that I was running just two days later – and feeling great.  So when the opportunity came to run another one, I jumped at it.  And here I sit, 3pm on a Friday, without a nervous bone in my body and an overwhelming desire to run a fantastic race. 

I’ll leave the details for the race report, but promise to keep a smile throughout 26.2 miles, run smart and have lots of fun. Life’s too short not to.

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My family and I at the pumpkin patch this past weekend – on my twins’ 4th birthday.

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Never Question a Runner

If you have ever watched the finish line of a marathon, you’ll see a lot of carnage.  Runners struggling those last few steps to reach the end of 26.2 miles. Strained faces, painful winces and arms raised in victory are just mere samples of body language spoken so often by marathoners. Dare ask an accomplished runner if they’ll attempt another marathon right after they’ve crossed the 26.2-mile finish, and you’ll get the anticipated answer, “never again.” But do not be deceived.  Because 20 minutes later, you can ask the same question and get a completely different answer.

Runners are a different breed.  We push ourselves 26.2 miles, 50K, 50 miles, 100K and 100 miles. Hours at a time. One foot in front of the other. Mentally wavering from mile to mile. And then we cross the finish line, and it’s over. And all those memories of struggle, perseverance, pain, weakness and instability disappear before we can say lactic acid.  For many of us, the wheels in our heads begin to spin, dreaming up the next big challenge.  Let’s try this again.  After my recent marathon, a friend reminded me that once I finished, I was quoted as saying, “remind me why I do these things.” She reminded me because I am currently planning on running another in less than a month.

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The Footzone Dirty Half Marathon in Bend, OR. Photo courtesy of Megan Ann Photography

My friend Cory just finished his first 50K last weekend.  The day after, he was searching for potential 50-mile races. There is no question that running takes both physical and mental strength.  As runners, we seek to push our body to it’s limit, and then some. And we keep doing it.  Because the feeling of accomplishment is one so gratifying, it’s hard to replicate. And so, we keep running.

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Marathon Countdown

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My legs. Ready to run.

Thursday is coming to an end, which means my marathon is that much closer.  I’ll be running on Sunday, and I’m not exaggerating when I say every ache, sniffle and stomach lurch throws me into a panic.  Somehow I forgot about my last two marathons where stomach issues threw me for a loop – but all my memories flooded back this week.

Am I ready? 100%.

Will I survive? YES.

Can my legs make it 26.2 miles?  MOST DEFINITELY.

Will I do all I can to mentally prepare myself so that my stomach cooperates and stays calm. WITHOUT A DOUBT. 

I can visualize running the route and crossing the finish line until I am blue in the face, but if I don’t get enough fuel the week prior and morning of, I am setting myself up for failure.  And I refuse to let that happen.  I’ve done it before, and you better believe I can do it again. Only faster.

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Post Storm Pace Run

After a full afternoon of thunder, rain and lightening, I was able to escape the kids and jet off for a quick run at marathon pace.  The marathon I am running, the Sunriver Marathon, is a week from today, and I wanted to make sure I did a little speedwork this weekend. After the rain has stopped, everything is damp and the air is cool.  This is prime running time. 

While I’ve been experimenting with running technology, I am not planning on using anything except a stopwatch and possibly a pace bracelet next weekend.  No music, no GPS, nothing.  I did, however, take my phone with me today to see how I felt at the pace I was holding.

My breathing was somewhat labored, but my legs felt great on the way out, which amounted to about 800 feet of elevation gain. I now realize I am in shape because I can get up a few hills and recover quickly after, while continuing to run at pace.  I am feeling good (knock on wood). Fortunately the pace averaged 7:50 min/mile and I only need to hold 8:15 to hit my goal.

The smells of damp juniper trees, pine needles, asphalt and rubber track all heightened my senses and helped engage me.  Now it’s time for  a real 26.2-mile race next weekend.  Can’t wait.

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