Tag Archives: portland marathon

Race Report // Portland Marathon 2014

Oh Portland, how I love thee.  On a sunny day, you are my city – the place I could move in a heartbeat and feel like I was home. Your coffee, music scene and population of runners remind me of this every time I visit. So why did you have to hurt me so? Apparently, Sunday, October 5 was just not my day to run a marathon.

Let’s back up a couple days to Thursday, October 2.  I had just bathed the kids and was upstairs draining the bathtub and doing a load of laundry, when I hear my husband telling the kids, “Go get mommy! Go get mommy!” As I’m coming down the stairs, all I can see are their naked bodies backing up towards the front door, their eyes widening while looking down at the ground, and panic on their faces. All I remember thinking is “you can’t go outside – you’re naked and it’s too cold!” But the gushing water coming out of the toilet wasn’t stopping.

Yes, our main floor with our kitchen, dining and family room flooded when the toilet in the powder room next to the kitchen started overflowing with water.  And would not stop.  No one flushed, it just so happened that it was a blocked sewer pipe in the front yard that had finally had it and wasn’t going to let any water through. So the bath water went down and came back out the toilet. And went all over our floor. And through the floor into our newly carpeted basement. Ugh.

Time for a reconfiguration of the weekend, if you will. After a long night with the plumber and calming the kids, we packed up on Friday leaving my husband to demo the damaged parts of the house, while the kids and I drove to Salem to stay with my parents. I was a little stressed and could feel it winding its way through my core, but I was trying so hard not to let it get to me.  My friends were running in Portland with me, and I was so excited for the race this year.

Saturday we headed up to OMSI so the kids could have a little fun. We probably would have been better off riding the OHSU tram, given all they wanted to do at OMSI was ride the elevator.  Most of the exhibits weren’t really age appropriate, and if they were, they were occupied or broken. Oh well. Next time.  We ate lunch and my parents took the kids back to Salem for a little ride on the carousel – which is ALWAYS age appropriate.

Checking out bones at OMSI.

Checking out bones at OMSI.

I stayed in PDX, checked into my hotel, and finally met up with my friends, Rainie, Kristen and Glenn at the Marathon Expo. I was finally feeling a little less stressed and lighter on my feet. Truly happy to be in Portland on such a beautiful day.  We shopped, ate ice cream and got to join our former Cascade Lakes Relay teammates, Ed and Martin, for dinner at The Old Spaghetti Factory that evening. Rainie, Glenn, Ed, Martin and I had all been in Van 2 of the relay this year – and had a wonderful time together.

Views of Portland from my room.

Views of Portland from my room.

That evening I relaxed in my hotel room by watching as much cable TV as I could soak up – and had complete control of the remote.  I honestly don’t remember the last time I had control of a remote. I also laid out all my gear and food for the next morning. Had to make sure I remembered everything, because I was all alone – no one to help me remember to pin my bib on.

Ready to run.

Ready to run.

Race morning came quickly, but after 12 of these, I am finally getting the hang of them.  I put on my gear, made sure everything was tied, packed, pinned, and secured with rubber bands (pony tails), then quickly ate a bar and an apple. A Japanese runner who shared the elevator with me was quick to take off and run his warm up after leaving the lobby.  I jogged a bit and my legs felt good, so I walked the rest of the way to my corral.

Soon we were off, and the sun was up.  The drums from the marching band overtook downtown as we ran by in the early hours – one of my parts of the Portland Marathon.  I started off with the 3:40 pace group, and was feeling good – even pulled ahead of them for a while.  But too soon, I started to feel like I was working too hard. I was sweating too, which meant it was humid. Not good.

Around mile two, I passed Ed and Martin cheering us on from Waterfront Park – so great to see familiar faces.  I ended up seeing them again at miles 17 and 26. They were such an amazing support team. Throughout the first half, especially the out and back section of the course, I was feeling like I needed fuel. Unfortunately, I was taking it and not feeling any better.  I made the mistake of trying something new and wearing two sports bras (extra support, which I really didn’t need), and was struggling to breath deep enough.  I popped in a porta john around mile 11 and took one off, thinking it would help. It didn’t.

I then got a uni-side stitch, meaning it surrounded my core.  And it didn’t go away.  Through the half way point at 1:49:50, I knew if I didn’t get a second wind, things weren’t going to go well.  I had the strength, but really needed something to kick me into another gear.  My stomach also wasn’t handling things super well.  At this point, I’m not sure if it was the Ultima they were handing out on the course, but it was the only thing I did differently.

On the way out to the St. John’s bridge I was suffering.  Desperately looking for any aid stations I could find that would offer water or electrolytes.  Fortunately, I ran into my friend and running partner, Glenn.  I informed him that this just wasn’t my day and to go ahead.  But it was sure good to see a familiar face.  That is a tough stretch to go alone.  Finally it was up to the bridge. While I ran up to the top, going across the sun hit me and I had to stop and walk. This is my favorite part of the course so I didn’t mind soaking in the views.

St. Johns Bridge

St. Johns Bridge

Over the next stretch, my body was just not coping well with the heat and direct sun. I tried GU and water, but never got the extra kick I needed from the caffeine in my gel. I continued to struggle with an upset stomach, side stitches and an uncomfortable fatigue from the heat. I even stopped at the beer aid station around mile 23 to see if that would settle my stomach. Couldn’t hurt at this point.  And I must say, it wasn’t bad.  Finally, after making it over the bridge, I was able to cruise in on almost all four cylinders, all the way to the finish. Finally, it was over. 4:06:18 is my slowest time in years. Number 13 was definitely an unlucky one for me.

Finished. Happy to be headed home.

Finished. Happy to be headed home.

Fortunately, I am feeling good. I am convinced that it was a combination of stress, heat/humidity and maybe making the mistake of drinking Ultima. I had run the Sunriver Marathon a month prior and felt great.  Heck, I felt great up until we started. But life happens.  I used to plan an entire year around one marathon hoping that I wouldn’t get sick or injured on, or before the event.  Now I’ve gotten wiser and have decided that running two or three marathons a year is a much better plan.  Life’s too short.

My friend Rainie ran her very first marathon that day, and had a GREAT experience. That’s really all you can ask for, right? Coaching a friend to find the love of marathoning? Made it all worth it.

So guess where I’ll be next year in October?  In Portland, ready to run and have a much more fulfilling experience than last year.

I love you, Portland. And I’ll be back again next year.

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Race Report // Sunriver Marathon for a Cause 2014

On Sunday, August 1st I ran my 12th marathon in Sunriver, Oregon.  I completed the same marathon last year, but had a rough race due to high temperatures. The entire 26.2-mile course is peaceful and breathtaking, and I was determined to have a great race this year.

Fortunately, the forecast called for cooler temps throughout the weekend, and that was certainly the case on Saturday.  We made the quick drive from Bend out to The Lodge to pick up my packet, and decided to stay and eat lunch.  The cloudy, cool weather was not keeping the Labor Day crowds away, as the Resort was packed with families.

Luckily, my nerves were non-existent the day before, which is new for me. But I had my clothes set out, fuel bottle full of GU, and proceeded to wake up every hour or so after 2 am until my alarm went off at 5:15.  And of course, I woke up with thoughts tainted by nervous energy. But soon we were driving to Sunriver, and I was ready to run.  Once we arrived, we made a quick retreat to the Lodge in an attempt to stave off the bitter, 39-degree temperature.

With five minutes until the start, we ventured outside and I knew I’d be OK with my attire of capri tights, short-sleeve Nike Dry-Fit shirt and gloves.  After a beautiful rendition of the National Anthem by a young girl who’d lost her mother to breast cancer, we were off. My legs felt fresh and I tried to keep my pace comfortable but strong. The sun was up and there wasn’t a cloud in the sky except a white layer of fog that had settled below the tree line, with Mt. Bachelor towering in the distance.

I was on pace and feeling good through mile eight, but definitely starting to need fuel.  My bottle of GU was full but not squeezing easily, so I started grabbing Clif Shots from the aid stations – which were also stocked well with water and Gatorade.

The course is mostly flat on roads, golf paths and bike trails with beautiful scenery.  The first half runs through Crosswater – an immaculate golf course near the Sunriver Lodge, along the Deschutes River.  Then runners meander through the Caldera Springs Resort Community – a quiet neighborhood – before re-entering the Sunriver community and crossing back through the Start/Finish area near the Lodge. The second half runs out to the opposite side of the Resort near the airport and stables, also along the scenic Deschutes River.

The aid stations were stocked and the weather was optimal (start in the low 40’s with a blue sky, warming to the low 70’s).  Once I started fueling regularly (after struggling to suck down a Mocha shot, which ended up giving me a major boost), I went from negative thoughts at mile 13, to a second wind.

The course markings were perfect, the volunteers were amazing, and even the Resort guests were great cheerleaders.  I had very few, if any, problems.  The second wind took me from mile 15 through mile 22.  Each mile marker seemed to fly by until I slowed down a bit due to typical fatigue at the end of a marathon, and I was stopping at all the aid stations to refuel, just making sure I got what I needed so as not to bonk (like last year).

Soon I came upon the SHARC (Sunriver Homeowners Assoc. Rec. Center) and knew I was close. I kicked it into gear and cruised to the finish line.  I finished almost 10 minutes faster than last year, in 3:48, and got 3rd in my age division, with an 8th place overall women’s finish.  I was incredibly happy.  The marathon was a good “warm up” marathon for the Portland Marathon in October, where I’ll be attempting a Boston Qualifier.

The Sunriver Marathon went all out with Nike Dry Fit long sleeve finisher’s shirts, a fancy finisher’s medal, draw string backpack-style bag, pint glass (with a free beer), and large post-race spread of snacks.  There’s no doubt I’ll be back – this little race is definitely an awesome one.

On the podium (far left) with my friend, and super-fast runner, Charmion in the middle (she finished 2nd woman overall)

On the podium (far left) with my friend, and super-fast runner, Charmion in the middle (she finished 2nd woman overall)

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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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Why I Love Boston

I am not from Boston. In fact, my first time visiting Beantown wasn’t until 2008. But I have been in love with Boston for as long as I can remember. My dad began running marathons in the early 80’s, and qualified to run the 1988 Boston Marathon. The impact of his accomplishment affected me in ways I wouldn’t realize until much later in life. I was only 12 at the time, but Boston, and the Marathon, always lingered in the back of my mind. At that time, besides the Olympics, running the Boston Marathon was the ultimate achievement.

20 years after my dad ran the Boston Marathon, I finally earned my ticket.  That’s truly how I felt. I earned my ticket to Boston by running a qualifying time in the 2007 Portland Marathon. This was a once-in-a-lifetime trip, and my entire family came along to celebrate.  My dream had come true. I even planned an appointment with a tattoo artist in Boston to commemorate my achievement.  This was a big deal, and I wasn’t about to forget how hard I worked to get there.

From the moment we stepped off the plane, Boston did not disappoint. South Boston, the North End, Cambridge, Jamaica Plains and Fenway Park. For four days, we experienced the energy, history and culture of a city that loves their marathon just as much as they love their baseball team, if not more (if that’s possible). And with every step, through every town from Hopkinton to downtown Boston, I realized that I had come to love Boston that much more.

But I am not the only one. Every year, people work for months to try and qualify for the Boston Marathon, running hundreds of miles.  Some may qualify, but many won’t.  That means they will have to devote another 4 months to training so they can try again. 26.2 miles is a daunting distance for most to just finish. But marathoners are a dedicated group of athletes, and crossing the finish line is one of the most amazing feelings in the world.  One of those, “I can do anything” feelings.And that’s why they keep running.

To think of all those who lost their lives today, at a place that is so sacred and so loved, makes me sad, angry and disheartened. To think of all those who had to suffer, hurt and witness so much pain today makes me angry. And to think of those who worked so hard to get to the Boston Marathon only to have been turned away at the finish line, or worse, injured at the finish line makes my heart drop. All I know, is that Boston will rally and surround their marathon runners with love and comfort. Boston will keep their runners and spectators safe and do what it takes to prevent them from harm. Next year, the marathoners will be back in full force. Because this is Boston. And Boston’s heart is wicked huge.

Boston 246

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