Saturday, June 2, 2012

Portland Rock and Roll Half Marathon - May 20, 2012

The Inaugural Portland Rock & Roll Half Marathon was 2 weeks ago!  Life has been hectic but everyone is fast asleep right now so I will attempt to recap my experience before I go into Mom mode.

Saturday, May 19th, my younger daughter, Jessica, had her second day of soccer tryouts.  I arranged for her to go with her best friend, Bekah (also trying out), and I would meet them there.  I still had packing and we were leaving straight from the field to Portland.  Bekah and her brother, Josh, were also tagging along for the ride and meeting their big brother for a visit since he moved to Portland last year.  I arrived at the end of tryouts, expecting to find out if they made a team but discovered they added one more tryout date for Monday.  I scooped up 3 teenagers and we began our 2.5 hour drive South.

We arrived in Portland about 2:30 and finally found a parking garage across the street from the Convention Center with an open space after circling the block a few times.  Josh and Bekah's brother met us there and we would meet after the race on Sunday.  Jessica and I headed into the expo to get my race packet and meandered around, eating as many samples as we could.  After getting in our free carb-rich lunch, we drove to the Avalon Hotel and Spa along the Willamette River.  I scored a great deal through Living Social that included free valet parking and a $50 credit in their restaurant as well as 2 drink vouchers and 20% off spa services (that went unused).  We had 6:45 dinner reservations so we killed our time by using the spa, sauna and hot tub.  I was in heaven!  I have never been to a "spa" and it reminded me of an episode of "Frasier" where Niles and Frasier go to a spa and keep gaining entrance into the next level of pampering.  Why yes, I would like a robe.  An ice cloth?  Certainly!  Watermelon water while I cool down?  I suppose.

The restaurant is situated along the River and we chose to eat indoors.  My dinner was outstanding and Jessica was truly being spoiled in this adult restaurant atmosphere. Now she knows what a "real" restaurant is and will never be the same.

I slipped in earplugs and wore an eye mask to drown out light and sound before settling in for a restless pre-race sleep.  The race start and finish was at the Tom McCall Waterfront Park and I opted to catch a city bus instead of driving.  Luckily the transit system was selling tickets at the expo and that was one less worry in the morning. I haven't ridden public transit since my college days.

The morning went quickly from the moment I woke up 15 minutes before my alarm to the time I caught the bus just a block away from the hotel. The weather was warm enough to wear shorts and a tank and I chose not to carry anything else with me, eliminating the bag check process.  The bus ride was surprisingly pleasant as I visited with other runners and we arrived at our stop by 6:50, plenty of time before the 8:00 start.  I used my time to do some light jogging in between using the porta-potties at my leisure.  The finish line porta-potty lines were non-existent so I opted to stay there as long as possible. The start was only 1/2 a mile away but their lines were never-ending!  At 7:40, I made my way to the corrals and sadly didn't see Kara Goucher who would be running the race.  As I stepped in corral one, I found myself next to Maniac Marc Frommer.  We compared goal times and found that we'd potentially be on similar pace.  I wanted close to a 1:30 but didn't know if I could pull it off.  I figured I could get a 1:33-1:35 and that was what Marc was thinking for himself, too.

As we approached the 5 minute warning, I felt my heart rate skyrocket and my breathing felt labored, while standing!  Nerves were hitting me hard and I tried to act cool and not reveal my inward panic. It felt like my heart was trying to escape through my throat.

"Just relax and run the first mile," I told myself as I've faced these anxiety moments before races and know that once start running, it eases up.  Finally the countdown began and we took off down Nato Parkway and through downtown streets before crossing the Hawthorne bridge, which was thoughtfully covered with carpet over the grates.  A 1:30 finish =  6:52 pace so there is not a lot of room for slacking.  That is my recent 5k average so I knew it wasn't likely.

There were some bands along the course and I enjoyed the distraction, as well as the abundance of other runners and spectators who took time to cheer us on.  I was feeling strong but not as fast as I would have liked.  My first four miles were 7:05 or faster.  A runner ahead of me was joined by her friend and I overheard her say that, "Kara flew by here an hour ago"...okay, so I can't remember how long ago she said but I do remember thinking it was a LONG time before I arrived at the same spot.

And then there were hills.  Yes, I live with hills and run on them all the time. I despise hills. Some love them. They eat me up.  Someday I'll figure out why and fix it (move to Florida or Delaware?)  Mile 5 and 7 were rough for me as herds of runners paraded by my sorry butt on the uphills. I decided I should not kill myself (mistake in a short race) on uphills and then pay for it later.  I think I took it too far and slowed down too much.  As I crested the hills, I made an effort to push my effort to make up some time.  I felt fast but my times didn't reflect how I was feeling.

A guy ran up beside me about mile 10 and said, "You're my hero," which surprised me.  I thanked him (was not feeling like a hero!) and told him he was doing great. He told me he had run the "potato marathon" the day before (Pocatello??) in 3:30 so he was toasty-toast.  He encouraged me to push my pace, which was exactly what I needed to hear.  Squeaked mile 10 in 7:20 and tried to get my legs moving faster.

The next 2 miles were a welcome relief from the rolling hills and just after mile 12, we crossed the Willamette River over the Steel Bridge.  Mr. Potato Head was behind me and with half a mile, he told me to "go for it!"

It seemed like the last mile would never end but at least it was flat.  I gave what I had left in the tank and pushed past the 13 mile mark, my Garmin showing 13.2 already.  I crossed the line in 1:36:04, a disappointing time only compared to my goal; otherwise I would have been okay with it.  That's a 7:20 average for 13.1 and 7:12 average if my Garmin is correct.

Walked through the finish and got a super heavy finisher's medal and found Marc Frommer who finished a couple minutes in front of me. We made our way through the crowds, even getting our picture taken.
We visited for a bit before getting separated in the finish area.  I wrapped up the finisher's goodies in the superhero cape and began a cool-down jog back to the hotel just as it started to rain.  I followed the river and needed to stop and ask directions one time.  The hotel was 2 miles away and I followed a trail most of the way.  This city is amazing for running and cycling!

Waiting in line for Voodoo Doughnuts
Jessica had our room all packed up and I used the last hour at the hotel to take advantage of their spa facilities.  Heaven!  We met up with Josh and Bekah, drove to Voodoo Donuts and waited in line for 45 minutes to partake in Portland's famous doughnut shop.  Totally worth it.

I had a great weekend with my daughter and was proud to represent Brooks at this event.  Next event is the North Olympic Discovery Marathon on June 3rd (tomorrow!).

  • Overall: 293 out of 11036
  • Division: 10 out of 1387
  • Gender: 70 out of 7747

Avg Pace