The past few days have been spent reflecting on my marathon experience on Sunday. I’ve sort of been waiting for what I would call “delayed disappointment” to hit. But three days later, I still feel good about my performance at the Portland Marathon. I don’t really feel disappointed at all. Actually, I feel pretty proud of myself.
I recently shared my three-goal strategy: Good, Better, Best. I think this approach really helped keep me stay centered and able to enjoy my victories. I accomplished two out of three of my goals!
My official finish time was 3 hours, 42 minutes, and 42 seconds. I ran an 8:30 pace and finished 47th in my age division. I set a new PR of 6:22. Post-race I celebrated my 36th birthday with very dear friends and family. It was a beautiful October morning. A pretty great day all-around.
It is crazy how fast 3:45 AM came but I was wide awake as soon as my alarm went off. Everything had been prepared and set out the day/evening before so I was able to get ready without rushing. I originally planned to go by myself. Since we planned to have a gathering that afternoon, my husband had to be home to cook and get everything ready. I thought I could just drive myself there and home, no problem. My 16-year-old doesn’t have her license yet so she couldn’t drive me but insisted that she go, that someone be there when I finished. Love that girl! She had her boyfriend come along to keep her company while I ran and then I would have the option to let him drive home if need be.
Once we arrived downtown and got parked, we headed about 7 blocks down to the starting area. Only race participants were allowed into the corral and starting line area so we said our goodbye’s and I headed to the B corral. First stop: the port-a-potty line. It was about 6:30 AM so I had a good half-hour to use the restroom, warm-up, stretch, and go hang out with the 3:40 pace group. Unfortunately, I got in the SLOWEST moving bathroom line ever. When the gun went off for the start of the race and wave A to begin, I was in the port-a-potty. So much for warming up, stretching, and meeting up with other runners shooting for a 3:40 finish.
I barely got my hydration pack on before my wave began. The pace group was ahead of me but I figured it wouldn’t be too hard to catch up with them once we got moving. Soon we were off. I took it slow because I was cold and it was pretty crowded. The pace group kept getting further ahead of me but I knew I’d catch up after everyone spread out a little more.
The first mile passed quickly. The energy of the crowd was awesome and it was such a beautiful fall morning. I started warming up and decided that I needed to make my move to catch up with the pace group.
It turned out to not be as easy as I thought it would and it took me almost another two miles. Just before the 4 mile marker I finally caught them. Holy heck I was happy. I was feeling really good and knew that all I had to do for the remainder of the race was to stay with them. In those moments, I was pretty darn certain that I was going to get my sub-3:40 finish.
The pace group leaders were members of the Red Lizard running club and the guys leading our group were awesome! I suck at pacing so seeing the miles pass at the exact pace I needed was unbelievable!!
You can see from my splits from the first half that I started slow, made my move in the fourth mile to catch up and then settled into a nice pace until mile 13.
My splits for the first 13 miles were:
8:59 / 8:30 / 8:30 / 7:29 / 8:21 / 8:30 / 8:20 / 8:21 / 8:28 / 8:21 / 8:20 / 8:22 / 8:05
At mile 13/14, the pace group leaders were switched out. Suddenly we were running an 8:05 pace. UUG. I held on, keeping up with the group but was starting to struggle a little. The big hill of the route, the approach to the St. John’s bridge, was coming up and I really just wanted to get that portion of the run over with!
I slowed as we started up the hill and my paced dropped. My plan at that point was to just get to the top, the crest of the bridge, and then haul ass to catch back up. Good plan but I could just not muster up the drive. I could still see them ahead of me. Every mile I would tell myself that I had to catch up before the next mile. I just had to push hard to catch up again and then I could relax and settle back into a consistent, easy 8:20 pace.
Splits for miles 14 – 26.2:
8:05 / 8:06 / 8:20 / 9:36 / 8:33 / 8:21 / 8:30 / 8:39 / 8:15 / 8:35 / 9:17 / 8:58 / 8:31 / 2:21
Miles 20-26 are always deemed the hardest part of the marathon and since I missed my 20 mile training run before I began to taper, I was a little nervous about those last 6 miles. Up to mile 23 I was pleasantly surprised. I was working hard but didn’t feel like I was dying and I could still see the pace group ahead of me. The last stretch of mile 23 was all downhill and I made one more attempt to push to catch up. I felt like I was flying! But still not fast enough. That mile I averaged an 8:35 pace.
That’s when I hit the wall. The infamous wall. My legs felt like lead and my pace began to slow. I was still hopeful that I’d get one more surge of adrenaline and finish strong. I did somewhat. However, right around mile 26, I glanced at my watch and it read 3:40 something. I was still almost a quarter of a mile from finishing. Reality set in that wasn’t going to get my Boston qualifying time.
A friend who was along the course cheering on runners spotted me and paced me for about 30 seconds. Her words of encouragement kept me going and I was so grateful. When I rounded the last corner and spotted the finish, I was euphoric to be done!
After crossing the finish line, I accepted a space blanket and knew I just needed to keep moving. I made my way to the refreshment tables sucking down water and helping myself to fruit. The cramping was already setting in and I really just wanted to get the heck out of there. Moving through the crowd, I gathered the rest of my goodies: finishers t-shirt, medal, coin and pendant, rose and a tree seedling. I made my way toward the exit where the reunion area was and my daughter was waiting.
As soon as I spotted her I got emotional. I fought back the tears and managed to not have a total breakdown. I was wobbly and somewhat delirious as we made the 7-block trip back to my vehicle. I don’t know what I would have done had she not been there. Probably crawled. She held me up the entire way. Did I mention how much I love that girl?
The next couple of hours were not great. I was cramping bad and trying to suck down more water but I was feeling a little nauseous. (The fruit?) I just wanted to get home but knew once I did I’d have only an hour to pull myself together and get ready for my birthday brunch.
With people arriving in an hour I decided to do the only thing that appealed to me. I laid down on the floor in a fetal position in the middle of my living room, still in my sweaty clothes and chilled, and zonked out for a half-hour. Once my in-laws arrived I rallied and was able to drag my ass to the shower. I was still queasy but got freshened up and threw on my best sweats, compression sleeves, and finishers t-shirt. I slicked my hair back, drank a Sprite to settle my tummy and sat in a chair with my legs up for about 15 minutes. (Thank goodness for fashionably late party-goers!)
Then, just like that, I felt a ton better and ready to celebrate the race and my birthday. The people in my orbit are just awesome. I’m so grateful for the family and friends that made the day special for me. When I blew out my candle on my cupcake, I was instructed to make the traditional birthday wish. You know what they say… “third time’s a charm”.
I want to give a HUGE shout-out to my sponsors who made this race possible! Thank you Allison, Trudi, and Z.P. Transport, Inc., for making this event happen for me. I am eternally grateful!!