Sunday was the Portland Marathon. The race I said I would never do more than once because I think it's a boring course. Portland is a pretty place but the race doesn't show much of it. Well this was Portland Number4. Gail and I got a good parking spot a few blocks from the start. We ended up in the PP line till the gun almost went off. We didn't really care cause it was a huge crowd and it was chip timed. We worked our way up to about the 4:30 pace group.
They were running wave starts this year which I had not heard about. We took off and enjoyed the first part of the race together. At the 1/2 mile point they have the Portland Drum Group playing. I just love that! Gets the juices flowing really good. I just wish they would be at about mile 25 or so too!
The first mile or so is crowded as usual for a marathon this size. I was running 10+ pace for the first couple miles till it thinned out. I wanted to push it a bit on this race if I felt good. My goal was sub 4:10 so I wore a 4:05 pace band. I kind of thought about pushing early and seeing what would happen even if I might blow up at the end. I usually need few miles to get in a groove so the crowds were actually a good thing. Often if I go out fast I never seem to catch my breath for the longest time.
At about mile 2 I hear "Hey Fat-Boyee!". It's that damn Sean guy from Sisters. Doesn't he ever stay home??? Ha! What was funny was the guy in front of me had his bib on backwards and it said his number and "FatBoy". Guess there is more than one of us out there. Well we start the easy climb up Nato then the turn on Jefferson (?) Street for a short uphill grind. I just take it easy. Then the climb up Broadway which again I don't push.
At the mile 3.5 turn I know its downhill and here is where I need to see what I have today. I pick it up to sub 8 pace and it feels just OK, nothing to rave about. Down on the flats through town I keep the sub 9 pace going. Out into the industrial area I jump off the road behind my favorite dumpster and take a quick 20 second relief break. I hit the 10k mark at :57:41 which I like. I still feel good. I see Steve Walters first, then Abbe. We make the turn out around mile 9 and I am still pushing 8:35 or so, trying to slowly catch back up to the pace band I am wearing. Coming back towards town I see Jim but miss Gail. (How many times have I been reminded that I missed seeing her???) We make the turn up for the gentle climb to Northwest Portland. I again just slow it down a bit but still stay under 9 minute pace. It begins to rain. Temperature is probably mid 50's by now with overcast skies. Perfect running weather for me. Fat needs cool weather ya know?
Out on to the flats towards the St. John's bridge and I keep going. I feel really good. Passing 95% of the runners. Rarely does someone pass me. As I cross the half marathon point I check my time, just a tad under 1:59. Thats good, I am ahead of the 4:05 pace and building some cushion in for a possible bonk later.
The rain picks up a bit, but feels good due to the mild temperature. I am a mile or so from the Bridge climb. I am actually looking forward to the bridge. On my trail races this year I have done much better on the hills. I hit the hill and pass almost everyone. One good woman Maniac runner has been taking me down on every hill. I love good hill climbers! I am always in awe of that. I just run a 10:30 pace or so up the hill for that 1/2 mile, get to the top of the bridge and try to enjoy the view but it is pretty foggy and rainy so you can't see town very well.
I fly down the backside of the bridge passing the Maniac woman and take the turn through the nice crowd with tunes a blaring. Btw, I put my ipod on at about mile 6 or so. It was nice to run with today. I hit that little uphill just off the bridge and my legs feel tired for the first time today at around mile 18. We get up the hill and now it will be flat for about 5 miles or so. I tell my self to push. I am 5 minutes under the 4:05 pace. "Can I break 4 today? Will this be the one?" I am not really excited about it but I don't want to be lazy if I have a chance to do it. So I push, even if I blow up, I am going to push. So I continue with the 8:3o pace. Around mile 20.5 I feel a bit tired, I unconsciously slow down a bit (9:00 minute pace). This is when I see Rick and Ruby. I run over and give the Rick a high five and promptly pull the headphone cord out of my ipod. I scream out "3:06!", like he has a clue what that means. It was that I was at his location of about 20.5 miles in 3 hours and six minutes. I wanted them to know that this might be the day. Like they would understand! I had hit the 20 mile mark at 3:01 about the same time I had in 2006 and ran a 4:04 that year. My hips flexor / IT band gave out that day at about mile 23.
Winding through the University of Portland area is fun. You are tired but they have good crowds. I was still pushing and passing everyone. I came around the corner and there was the Adidas Headquarters and that big lovely long downhill at around mile 22 or so. I pushed hard down that hill, probably at about 85% of what I had left. I was running 7:30 to 8 min pace. Legs were tired but not dead as usual around here. On the flat I kept it going, knowing the little climb was coming. I slowed down again of course to probably 10 min pace. I took another gel. (one every 30 minutes again with only water to drink) Down we went along the MAX train line and Widmer Brewing Company. "Push boy! Push!" The sky opens up and it pours like a thunder shower but it feels good to me, just a bit much in the eyes is all. I looked at my watch. I had about 2.2 miles to go and my time is 3:37. "Ya know, I think I've got it! Even if I bonk and do 10:30's I will probably get the sub four? Oh this is so cool!" But I didn't want to bonk and have the race be like Twin Cities. When I finished in 3:59:59:54. Since it was a USTAF race they had to round it up to officially being 4:00 flat. I did not want to have another * by my name like Roger Maris did. I would rather be 4:01 than 3:59:58 or something. So I kept running hard.
Across the bridge and back on Front (opps Nato I mean) Street and off I went. I kept looking for the runners turn point to know where the finish was. Push, push, push! Some runners with nice kicks were passing me this last mile but thats OK. I feel for these folks as the body starts to revolt against the 25 miles. I have been there soooooooo many times and it truly sucks. I pass the last aid station and pass on everything. Today I just brought one 20 oz hand held for water and needed to stop only 3 times to refill.
Around the corner I turn. I see the fat lady and she be singin' her tune. I pick it up a bit, turn the ipod off so I can here the crowd and enjoy the moment. This is the good part of big marathons. About the only thing I like about them. Around the next corner, I see the finish 50 yards away, I hear my name over the loudspeaker. I cross the line. I look at my watch. I smile. No scream, no tears. Just feel damn good. 3:56:35 I got it.
We get our medal and our space blanket. I begin to chow down. First off a huge chocolate milk, and it is awesome. Then some grapes, some chips, some water and other stuff. I wonder around hoping to see other runners I know but everyone looks the same with the silver blankets on. So I walk and eat and walk and eat while I wait for Gail. "I hope she has a good day too" I think.
I see Mark Roberts and we chat for a long time. He had some problems and it slowed him down to a 4:02 today. I wonder if Abbe finished in front of me. I never did pass her I thought. I was pretty focused today so maybe I missed her? I think I am going to the car as I am getting cold. Then there she is! Go Gail, how did you do? 4:23 we find out, a new PR for Gail! YES! She asks me and I tell her my time and she gets a big shocked smile on her face. Yep! This family PR'd today folks. Must be that our cycles are in sync? What'da think?
Well we hang out for a bit, get our drop bag and cheer in the over 5 hour runners. I now how you feel as I have been there. But good job folks. You got it done. Thats all that counts. I do think it is harder to be out there longer than to run faster. At least this race felt that way. I wasn't really tired afterwards. I never had my post race collapse. I guess after 42 of these I maybe getting the hang of it. Fun race today.
So no pictures yet as I don't carry a camera. Maybe someone will have some I can grab and I will post them later. What's up next? Well Rick, Ruby and I are running the Blue Lake 15k this Saturday for fun. Then we have Autumn Leaves on November 15th. I signed up for the 50 miler (why? I dont know? Just cuz!) and Gail signed up for the 50k.