I have not been into the blog posting world as you have noticed. Not sure why but I think sometimes you start writing so much here that you feel like you have to spend hours writing each new column. I hope to get back at it by putting out smaller posts but more timely.
Well this post is about the Portland Marathon. Our hometown run you might say. Gail and I like doing this because it is so easy to run then just drive 10 minutes home. As I always say it's a boring and mostly ugly course but it is home.
Saturday,Gail and I went to the expo to do the packet pickup pain in the bbbb...bottom. (Don't get me started on expo's!) But we met up with Rick and then went up to Bob Dolphins room to help him celebrate his 80th birthday. Bob would be running his 452nd marathon the next day. So it was great to speak with him and his wife Lenore.
Sunday morning was nice. Not too cold but had a cleansing rainshower a few hours before the race. One of the running stores downtown allowed us to store our drop bags and keep warm inside which was awesome. We ran into Marc and Sarah and the rest of the Slug clan, Rick, Eric Katie, Tom and Abbe. Katie's brother was also running with us.
My plan for this race was simple. Warm up for a 1/2 mile then push a bit. Last year I didn't push until about mile 4 so this year I would try a bit earlier if I was feeling OK. I didn't have big goal of a PR but thought I would just play it by ear and see how running faster than normal would do for me.
A few minutes before race time we moved into position. They started us in waves this year and I think we were in the second one. It was just getting light when the gun for us went off. Gail and I took off together as we usually do. She runs faster than I normally would in the beginning so its fun to get to run with her for a bit.
As we passed Nordstroms the Portland Drum group was out playing in the usual spot. Boy I love these folks. Nothing gets the adrenaline flowing more than hearing the 20+ drummers in a downtown setting. The crowd was pretty heavy as usual for the first few miles. It was hard to pass and not get in folks way.
Soon as we make the turn back down Natio Parkway you get a really nice downhill. Last year this is where I pushed it up but this year I was already going good so I just cruised. Crowds were fun and I had printed "FAT BOYEE" on my bib. Not allot of folks feel comfortable yelling "go fatboyee!" so I didn't hear too much.
As we headed out the ugly industrial section I really tried to go. I was running 8:15 to 8:30's. Would see some fellow Maniacs and other friends on this out/back and it made the run fun. I made mile only pit stop here for the entire day. Yes I know that's a shocker and it helped my time with only a 30 second stop rather than 3 or 4 of them.
As we headed up to Northwest Portland area we have a little climb. I just tried to run via my breathing rate and not push too hard. There is plenty of flat to push hard later. Through NW was fun as allot of families come out to cheer you on. But soon we get to the Highway 30 section. Most folks hate this part because its a wide 4 lane road and you can see out to the St. Johns bridge. To many it seems you will never get there. Well I like this part. It is my best part of a marathon usually. Which is between mile 12 and about 17. This is when I often get my fastest per mile times. You know...it takes a long time to get this much fat warmed up! :) I really pushed here. Running the tangents of the corners. I need the mental stimulation just to keep from feeling the pain. Also around here I took 2 Vitamin I's to help numb the pain. I had hamstring pain the whole race from mile 2. It got better but never went away and has been bugging me off and on all season.
I love the St. John bridge climb at mile 17. It is like a change of pace. You get some good lung burn and your quads start to sing a bit. I just put my head down but stayed up right and once again ran via my breathing. At the top of the bridge you realize you have run 17 miles. There was a nice cool breeze here and had a good time going down the backside. I looped down under the bridge area and saw Darin and Trisha and shouted out a "hi!". Then we do a little hill climb for a few blocks and then its just flat for miles.
This North Portland section is when you start to see the folks that are hurting. I just kept pushing. I was actually running much harder than my fitness should have allowed. I have done zero speed training this year. It was all experience with pain now. How long can I hold out. I still felt great as we passed mile 20. Maybe just a tad bit of fatigue.
Mile 21 (Photo by Sarah D.)
Soon we hit the nice downhill section near Adidas headquarters. I love this part and I push hard. I am doing 7:20/7:30 pace here, which for me is like sub 5 for an elite. I love to feel the wind in my face. (Most the time the wind is faster than me!) I continue to pass many runners. I cruise by Widmer's Brew Pub and I start to feel a bit tired here around mile 24 or so. I might be running out of gas? I still go though. I get lots of "Go Maniac" today which is fun. (Wearing Maniac Yellow shirt) This year I bypass the free beer as I might just PR. I hit the last bridge and I still feel OK. But as I roll off the bridge onto Natio at mile 25 I soon realize that I am done. The gas tank just went to fumes. The last mile tons of folks pass me. I bet 5 people didn't pass me the last 8 miles now probably 30 pass me the last mile. My pace slows to about a 9 something. God I want to just be done. But I am pretty happy cause this Fat Boyee is gonna PR today. "Whoo Hooo!" I make the turn up towards the fat lady singing and turn off my ipod so I can hear the crowd. This is when big marathons are fun. Enjoy the moment Bret.
Mile 26 (photo from Sarah)
I turn and see the last 100 yards to the finish. For the first time in my career I see the clock with less than 4 hours on it. Yes I have finished under 4 before but never gun time. This is cool! I cross the line at 3:52, a PR for the marathon of over 4 minutes. Which was last year here too. Never thought I could run a 3:52 so I am pretty dang happy. This will be my last race as a 40 something year old. In a few weeks after the race I turn 50. I keep getting faster every year. I know my body will probably not let that happen for too many more but I sure am having fun trying.
At the finish I wait for friends and family. Gail crosses at 4:27, a great time for her. She had a good day but was bored as she ran alone all day (You see Gail is a social runner and likes company). Soon Eric crossed, then Katie and her brother and then the others. It was fun to chat with all and make some new friends too.
After a bit Gail and I got our Bob Dolphin Happy Birthday Tshirts on and went down to about mile 25.5 to run in with Bob. Soon he showed up around 6 hours and a bunch of us ran the last mile with him. It was so fun to cross the line with an 80 year old marathoner. Go Bob!
Well whats next? Portland kind of ends the heavy running season for me. I try and get a marathon or so in a month but its tough and the weather always is a battle. Gail and I are going to San Antonio to get a Texas Marathon done and hopefully enjoy some warm weather. It is a hug Rock and Roll marathon of 30,000 so I will just cruise and hopefully enjoy the day.
In closing I just want to say thanks to all the RD's for the great races this year. Eric you were a great friend to pace me twice, thank you! Gail, why you put up with my crazy running I will never know but I am so blessed to have such a great wife, friend and running buddy. I love you!
Oh and I am old now. I was as sore for the week after the marathon as I ever have been. Yep, I think I ran beyond what my body was trained for and I paid the price. But yes, it was worth every stair I struggled with for a week!