Wednesday, October 7, 2015

2015 Portland Marathon Race Recap

I survived another marathon! (See recap of my first marathon in 2013 here.)

After a solid go at carb loading and hydrating the day before, I got up at 5 am, had my usual pre-run toast with peanut butter and Golazo energy drink. Abe drove me to the start line (and then went home and back to bed!) to arrive shortly after 6 am, for the 7 am start. I immediately got in the fairly short porta potty lines, peed, then got back into the now-longer line to pee again. (Overheard: it never hurts to be in the porta potty line.)

I then still had some time to kill, hung out and chatted with another runner, finally figuring out what was going on with the different colored race bibs: most bibs I saw (and mine) were blue, but here and there were red (actually orange-y, but looked red in the low light at that hour of the morning), green, and purple. Turns out they corresponded with what color finisher shirt you'd ordered (classic marathon blue and green, Beavers, Ducks, or Huskies). 

The weather turned out pretty perfectly - it was about 50 degrees at the start; I wore shorts, short-sleeves, and cheap-socks-turned-arm-warmers to begin, plus a long-sleeve throw away shirt (a very old shirt of Abe's that's torn enough that I hate to see him wear it in public, so I convinced hi to let me wear it to toss). After tossing the extra shirt, I was a bit chilly as my corral walked to the start line, but by the end of the first mile I also got rid of the arm warmers. There were some spots in the middle with shade and some wind that felt slightly cooler, but overly it stayed pretty warm and comfortable. By the end I think it was in the mid to upper 60s, plenty warm but not so hot to be overheated while running.

The overall goal: stay between 12:00 and 12:30 for as long as possible, for a 5:15 to 5:30 finish. But mainly, I wanted to finish strong, i.e., without tons of walking and stopping at porta potties simply for a break from moving (as I may have done last time).

Miles 1 - 5: 12:25, 12:00, 12:15, 11:39, 11:56

A little slower than I felt I could go in the first mile as it was crowded, then settling in to a nice comfortable pace as we spread out. Miles 4 and 5 are downhill, so not extra effort even though slightly fast. Started eating 2 shot bloks at mile 3, and about every 3 miles after. I carried a 12-ounce water bottle, getting it refilled several times at water stations. 

Miles 6 - 10: 12:03, 12:02, 12:10, 12:49, 11:54

Mile 9 included about a minute stopping to pee. I needed from about mile 5 or 6, but waited until there were some porta potties without a line. 

Miles 11 - 15: 12:11, 12:14, 12:21, 13:05, 14:28

Started to feel a bit tired, and wondered how the hell that was when I've gone this far, faster, in half marathons. I saw a friend who was spectating near his house in mile 12, which was fun to see a familiar face - everyone cheers for you by name if it's on your bib, so it takes a second to realize when it's someone you actually know yelling at you!

I was starting to slow down here and there, but the slower splits here are also due to taking care of other things - at the halfway point I ate a pack of nut butter, which is what I've been using to fuel on long runs (to try to train my body to use more fat than just sugar - the single-serving Justin's varieties that include honey or maple syrup, so they do have some sugar, but it's not just carbs) And then mile 15 was a porta potty stop for #2 - though I tolerated the shot bloks pretty well for not having used them much in this training cycle, I started having some mild stomach discomfort in the few miles before this.

I also let myself pull out my headphones around the halfway mark, and listened to Gilmore Guys for the remainder of the race as a distraction.

Miles 16 - 20: 12:11, 14:33, 13:22, 13:56, 14:24

After talking strategy with a coworker who was also running, I decided it wasn't worth expending energy to run up the hill to St. John's Bridge in mile 17, but I did manage quite a bit of speed walking. I was getting pretty tired by now, though, even without the hill, and had a hard time getting myself back into a groove of running even once I reached the top of the bridge. I took some gummy bears at aid stations a couple times to spread out my shot bloks (I had planned to take 2 every 3 miles, but for some reason didn't bother calculating then how many I'd need, and didn't have quite enough.)

Heading off the bridge, I started talking some walking breaks, but again, trying to do more speed walking than plain walking. I wore toe socks, which was actually kind of stupid, because I rarely wear socks while running (minimialist shoes are designed to not have any seams that make them prone to rubbing in the wrong places), but thought it'd be good... just because, I'm not really sure. But one of the toes of the sock was pulling and rubbing in a weird way, so I think it was in mile 20 that I sat down to take off my shoe and see if I could adjust the sock at all. That was where I saw some goats walking along the street (they didn't seem to be with anyone, so not sure what was going on with that), and since I was already stopped figured I might as well get photographic evidence.

Miles 21 - 24: 14:51, 14:46, 14:45, 16:05

This was getting really hard. My feet were hurting from the pounding. My left IT band was hurting. I pulled to the side a few times to try to stretch it. I had lots of walking intervals, but I think at most I walked a tenth of a mile at a time, and ran for at least half a mile (last time I think those ratios were probably the opposite). Although lots of stuff hurt, and I was getting really tried, It was easier - not easy, but easier - to push through, give myself a short break, but continue running, at least some.

Miles 25 - 26.2: 13:44, 13:11, 9:25 

Coming off the Broadway Bridge I got a small portion of a second wind, and was able to stretch out between walking intervals even more. Before 24.2 I tried to promise myself to run the last 2 solid miles, didn't quite, but I think only one break in the midst of that. I calculated by this point that getting under 5:45 was a definite possibility so long as I didn't walk the whole thing, so that became a new goal to focus on.

My parents and Abe were waiting for me just before the final finishing chute (there was a tracking app through the race that worked on GPS activated on the app on my phone, so they knew I was approaching), and I handed off my water bottle for the final stretch. I was pretty much running down the chute by myself, small clusters ahead and behind me. An announcer was talking on a microphone, I think by his expression when I passed by he had been teasing me in some way, but I was pretty out of it and had no idea what he was saying beyond hearing my name a couple times. 

My watch turned to 5:44 with the finish line still just around the corner, so I busted out a pretty good sprint to make sure it wouldn't be more than another minute. When counting in hours, the garmin screen I had showing doesn't show seconds, so I didn't know who close under I was, but I knew I'd made it under 5:45! 

Stopping, my legs felt stiff, but I felt decent overall, all things considered. Nothing sounded good to eat, but I quickly drank a cup of orange juice to get in some calories, and grabbed a banana, chips, and some candy. A friend from my Toastmasters group was volunteering at a food table, another friendly face that's nice to see at that point (I'll definitely need to volunteer next year!).

I walked out to meet up with my family, where I sat down as soon as I could, putting on flip flops (beyond the pounding, a mostly-healed blister from the tri a few weeks ago (where I wore perfectly worn-in but torn up shoes in which I really should always wear socks as the rips do rub the wrong way) got aggravated a bit by the aforementioned toe socks that were pulling weirdly), and drank up some coconut water. (Froze half of it overnight, pulled it out and filled the remaining way when I left the house for them to bring for me, and it was perfectly chilled!) 

They were parked maybe half a mile away, which I slowly walked rather than have them drive over, figuring the movement would help. I took a few minutes to stretch before the quick drive home, but was pretty sore and walking funny for a while. For a few hours after the race, my feet hurt a ton, even to the point that I took an Ibuprofen (which I rarely do, just cause I figure most pain is a signal to your body to do something (like hydrate, or rest), but in this case I knew what it was telling me already!), and hung out laying on the floor with my legs up on the couch. But then there was a tipping point where it pretty quickly dissipated to a mere annoyance, and then I started noticing the aches elsewhere in my legs.  

We went out to pizza for dinner, though I remained not too hungry until Monday morning, and even that hunger didn't last too long. Last time, after not feeling like eating for the first few hours, I remember being ravenous for a few days, and I still don't feel like that's really happened, which seems odd. My legs feel a bit tired still, and have plenty of sore muscles and knots, but overall not too painful. I got a massage on Tuesday that highlighted the worst spots, including my hip flexors (the speed walking that my body's not used to probably contributed to that). 

I'm both proud of and disappointed in my time. While I set my time goal based on what I thought capable on my half marathon PR (2:31, so twice plus some), 5:30 was also a pace that was faster than my first 5k five years ago - but by going over a 13:00 pace, I ended up not meeting that, and I really wanted to be able to say that. 

I still fell apart in the last several miles, and I thought I was strong enough to not do that. I thought the back to back long/medium-long runs, and especially the longer tempo runs in the Hansons plan would be great to help deal with that fatigue. I also thought the skill I've been developing in shorter races, of getting over the mental hurdle of just being able to push through pain and be uncomfortable for the remainder of the race, would be utilized, and I did to a degree, but the pain and discomfort of a marathon is different than that of a 10k, and I couldn't push through it the same way. 

I wanted to not take any real walking breaks and say I ran the entire marathon, and I didn't meet that, but even for as much of the walking that I did do, I think I still finished reasonably strong, I still pushed through and didn't walk as much as I wanted to, and for that I'm proud of myself. 

You'll either do one marathon or you'll keep doing them.. well I've already done two! I definitely plan on another one, but it will likely be further out this time. Portland Marathon's 50th will be in six years, so that sounds like a good timeframe at this point.


  1. Oh my goodness, I feel like you just recapped my last marathon, but so much better! Congratulations on finishing, You did AWESOME pushing through to the end.

  2. Great job on gutting out the race after it got difficult for you!

    I have (lots of) people near Portland (think out in the sticks and OC), so this one is definitely on my bucket list to run, although who knows when/if I'll ever be out there. Although I really want to do the OC Tri even more and run those steps at the end. Anyway, I'm always glad to read race reports re the PDX marathon, because I feel like every one gives more insight. Random thoughts:

    --Smarty-pants announcers annoy me. >:-(

    --of COURSE you saw goats along the race, just kinda, there. Portland is hilarious.

    --The customized bib color thing is a cool touch!

    --Having things go wrong during a race is part of racing, but it seems like you really handled it well, and that you really have a good perspective on how much you've improved over time.

    (did this at a desktop, btw, because I'm too lazy to figure out what's up with my mobile Google login!) :-D

    1. Thanks! Yeah, even though I don't feel like I finished as "strong" was I wanted to, I do think I handled the lack of strength better than I did previously.

      Right, of course there were goats! (My homepage is the Oregonian. As I opened the browser with plans to come respond to your comment, the main headline included "...drawing crowd, goat, police." Because of course.)

      Portland should definitely be on your bucket list! And I've heard of the Clackamas Cove tri but didn't know it went up those stairs, that's cool! Sounds like one to add to my bucket list.


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