Friday, July 11, 2008

RR - Portland Marathon

Race Report
Foot Traffic Flat Marathon
Portland, OR
Fri, Jul 4/08
3:45:44 – 1 AG

I wanted to run a marathon in July as a final training run in preparation for the Inca Trail Marathon in Aug. There were two choices – the best/logical choice would have been the Leadville Trail Marathon in Colorado but I chose a marathon in Portland, OR so we could visit our son Jason, Ami and our new granddaughter Priya. Little did I know that I would be suffering from injuries? However the back seemed to be responding to PT and the foot was slowly recovering from Morton’s Neuroma so I decided I would run the race. Even if I cancelled at the last moment we still wanted to visit our granddaughter.

We arrived in Portland on Wed and I rested Thu to let the injuries rest and to spend more time with our family. Our son Chris managed to take a train down from Seattle (with his leg still in a cast from the bike accident) so we were excited about enjoying the July 4th weekend together as a family. On Fri morning I let everyone sleep in while I left early to drive to Sauve Island. The race was held on Sauve Island located in the Columbia River about 10 miles NW of Portland. The race was advertised as a fast, flat half marathon course. The marathon started at 6:45 am at a berry farm called the ‘Pumpkin Patch’. The weather was cloudy with temps in the low 60s. There were only 130 runners in the marathon but 1300 in the Half – an unusually large ratio and an indication of the fast course and that most runners wanted to run a fast Half!

I was having difficulty with my heart monitor and other pre-race duties and almost missed the start of the race. I joined the back of the pack and fiddled with the chest strap for the first mile. I wasn’t concerned about my pace because my foot and back needed a slow start to warm/loosen up. I had checked results from previous years and figured if I could finish in 3:50 I would probably place but not win my AG. By the time I reached mile 2 in 17:24 I had sorted out the heart monitor and the endorphins had kicked in to kill the minor pain in my foot. I lowered the pace into the 8:30s and started to pass the pack. When I passed mile 6 in 51:38 (a split of 8:31) the lead pack of the Half blew by me. It was kind of discouraging since the Half started 15 minutes after the marathon but I figured the leaders were running a sub 6-min pace! After more Half marathoners blew by me I realized that although I couldn’t keep up with them they were pulling me along at a faster pace. I decided to let them pull me along the fast, flat course back to the Half at the Pumpkin Patch. I passed the Half in 1:53:00!

I felt OK but figured I would slow down in the 2nd Half so a goal of 3:50 was probably realistic? The course/race became lonelier after the half as we repeated the Half loop a 2nd time. I had been following a lovely young lass through the first 13 miles and decided to pull her in. She was about ¼ mile ahead and I finally caught her at 17 miles (2:26:43 – 8:35 split). As I pulled alongside her I joked that I had been trying to catch her for 17 miles and now that I had finally caught her – I didn’t know what to do with her! She laughed and asked if she could hold on to my shirttail as I quickly left her behind. I actually felt frisky at that point and considered lowering the hammer but wisely decided to wait till mile 20 and do a final gut check. I reached mile 20 in 2:52:39 (8:38 split) and did my gut check. I felt amazingly good – still strong and fresh – so I decided to push the pace for the final 10K. I figured it would be good training/practice for the body to learn to push through pain at the end of the race! If I could lower the pace to 8:30 I even had a chance of finishing under 3:46 – and a negative split? I cruised at an 8:30 pace till mile 24 (3:27:26) where my legs started to tire and I started to struggle. But I wasn’t ready to give up on a negative split - they don’t happen often! I knew the only way to get to the finish line under 3:46 was to use will power and mind games to overcome the pain and lack of energy! I pushed the pace while shouting (out loud) two of Maddog’s favorite phrases (and to the shock of other runners – a few asked if I was OK?) – ‘”Pain is only temporary” – “Any old fool can hurt for a measly 15 minutes”! When I passed mile 25 in 3:36:12 I pushed the pace even harder and changed my shouts to “Any old fool can hurt for a measly 10 minutes”!

As I approached mile 26 at the Pumpkin Patch I started looking for my family – no family? Only after I turned the last corner and started the final 200 yards did I see them. They had luckily arrived at the finish line at the same moment as I had. Their cheers were enough to excite the old bod to provide one last jolt of adrenaline to allow me to sprint the final 200 yards and cross the finish line in 3:45:44!

I don’t even remember passing through the finish chute. I headed straight for my precious granddaughter who had watched her ‘Pappy’ finish a marathon for her 1st time! She rewarded me with a big, beautiful smile that immediately vanquished all pain and exhaustion! We posed for a finish line photo – A happy Pappy and a proud Princess Priya! We waited for results to be posted. Surprisingly I won my AG. I figure most of the fast/big dogs ran the fast Half? Needless to say I was pleased with both my time and performance. I had run a smart race and finished with negative splits – only 16 secs but I don’t do that often! My only disappointment was that there were no awards for Age Groups so I couldn’t give it to Priya!

Now that I am back home in the High Country I need to re-acclimate to the High Altitude and start hiking/running on mtn trails above 12,000 ft because my next marathon is above 12,000 ft in the Andes Mtns.

Stay tuned!

No comments: