My first marathon was Portland 2010. A lot went wrong during that race, but I never once regretted doing it.
I walked away from Portland '10 knowing I wanted to do that over again, but not sure when that would ever be. 2014 was the year. It was my 7th full marathon 4 years later.
I signed up for Portland '14 about a year ago. At the time, I was in the best shape of my life with dreams of a Boston Qualifier in '14.
2014 came and suddenly I found myself in the most stressful year of my life. I found myself going through some things I never thought would happen to me, to loved ones, and other family members. I found myself having days of wanting to withdrawal from people. Life can get hard can't it?
As I started training for Portland, I knew I had to start running in the early mornings to beat the summer heat. At the time, I didn't have any running friends who wanted to run at 5:30-6:30 in the
mornings, and it was difficult to get into the mindset of getting up early several times a week to train by myself. The day I decided to try and get motivated I saw another lady running down the street in my neighborhood with a Boston dog. A runner and a cool dog, it caught my attention but I didn't know her so we just passed each other. Later that day, on my facebook page ZaoFit, this very same lady said she thought she saw me. We decided to meet for a run and there you have it, a morning running buddy! Eventually we got a group of 4-6 people meeting with us 2-3 times a week between 5:30-6:30 am. I got used to getting up extra early to get my training in. These group runs kept me moving forward in my training and moving away from withdrawal.
|Early group run with Erika and more!|
As I went to Portland Saturday it was so amazing. I had dreamed of running that course over again for four years. I dreamed of running over the St. John's Bridge and being able to enjoy it and not suffering like in 2010. Last time I ran over that bridge, my head hurt so bad I was on the verge of a migraine. Also, because of a back problem, I had only made it to mile 15 in my training (not good). The St. John's Bridge is mile 17 and you go up a nice hill to get to it.
|Jerry and I at that starting line!|
I had dreamed of a Boston Qualifier the year before, but because of some things that had happened, I let life take over and chose not to do all my training correctly. I still was in good shape, but I also knew I needed tempo runs and I really skimped on them. My tempo runs are very "mentally challenging" and I just didn't want to do them most weeks, so I didn't.
|And we are off! That's the Start!|
The morning came. Jerry (my husband) and I got to the starting area at 6:00 am October 5th. We did the normal stuff. Used the port-a-potties over and over and watched people. It was about 56 degrees, humid and dark. More and more people joined up until the whole block was packed full. We sang the national anthem, were told some instructions, and we were off in the 2nd wave of runners. I knew I should of used the port-a-pottie one last time! Why???? I decided I would deal with it and ran!
I knew I had no business being in the 3:40 pace group but I did put that as my goal time a year ago. Once you register you aren't allowed to change it. I clearly wasn't the only one that shouldn't be in this pace group. It was so funny to watch some of the people! I could dropped back after we started, but thought, what the heck, and I ran with them for awhile! By the way, starting too fast isn't a good idea in a marathon!
The marathon is 26.2 miles and to get though the "miles" I play tricks with my brain. This time I divided the marathon into 4 mile segments. I can run 4 miles any day, even when I don't feel like running, so this made 26 miles, seem more like 6. There you have it....a brain trick! I ran my first 4 miles well. I was feeling good. I knew I wasn't completely on track, but I was still within reason.
steep 4 years later! I walked about half way up and I was ok with that. There were lots of people who had to walk too. It was hard, lets face it! As I got to the top and turned to my right, I was on the bridge!!!! I still had to run UP over the bridge, but I was up there. I began running again. The sun was out and it was beautiful. I enjoyed the whole bridge. About mile 17.5, I came down off the bridge and took a sharp right into a neighborhood stocked FULL of people cheering for me and other runners. There were kids giving high 5s. A man giving out free hugs (no thank you!) Also lots of rolling hills. Too bad I couldn't skip the hills!
One of the down hills felt as if it was tearing up my quads. This was rather uncomfortable and I had to slow down my downhill pace so I wouldn't fall down and end my race there in front of the man giving out hugs! This was rather frustrating.
I was still in the neighborhood full of fans cheering loudly and along came a person on a bike next to me (about mile 21). This person starts asking me if I need anything and called me by name. I was too tired to turn my head but then realized he knew me so I looked at him. To my surprise, it was my runner friend Britt Sexton! I almost cried! I was wondering what he was doing there. He had come to cheer for runners and to see people he knew running the race. At this point I was really tired and it was really hot out. I didn't need any of his GU or Gels (that's runners fuel) all I wanted was company. There were people everywhere but he was the only person who knew me! I asked him just to stay with me for a few minutes. Bikes aren't supposed to be out on the course so I only ran with him for a short time. He went up ahead looking for Jerry and his other running friends. I saw him off and on until I finished. It was really cool.
At that point (mile 20+) in a marathon, having someone there for you is a huge deal. It can lift your spirit up for a mile or more and keep you moving forward. Soon I reached the Morrison Bridge and I knew the finish line would be coming soon, but first, I had to cross back over the river.
I saw a lady runner being coached by another runner. It was very clear the poor lady was done. Her coach never stopped talking so I just listened and took the motivation for myself. Watching these two ladies helped for another mile or so. There were some inclines up and down and I could feel the struggle in my own body. I could also see the struggle in others around me.
At mile 25 I was coming up behind a man attempting to finish the race, but his legs had locked up. They were flinging out as he moved and I knew something bad was going to happen soon. We were on a slight downhill and it wasn't long till the man hit the pavement! His race was over at mile 25! I started to stop but 3 or 4 other people gathered around him, so I ran up to the aid station and told them to send a medic. Then I ran on with the rest of the runners around me.
Around a few more blocks I went, running by 100's and 100's of people cheering for family and friends in downtown Portland. It is an amazing feeling even though my body was spent at this time. I was so tired! My feet were achy, my arm hurt from the stupid water bottle I decided I needed to carry but soon I came to thePortland Marathon finish line! I hadn't made my A, B, or C goal time, but I did finish well for the training I put in! I PRed that course too! 2010 ..... 5:25.25. Today in 2014 .... 4:11.12
I knew Jerry came in at least 20 minutes before me. I was given a finishers medal and handed a rose. Then I was like, wait..."where is Jerry?" I was feeling happy, confused and extremely tired all at the same time. I was also very sweaty and hot! I found my phone and Jerry had sent me a text, "I'm in the Medical tent!" I couldn't find the tent at first, but then realized it was down from the finishers area just a little. I told the medical volunteers, "I think my husband is in there." I was taken to the tent with broken runners lying on cots getting medical attention. Sure enough, there was Jerry!
This was Jerry's 2nd marathon. This is Jerry's 2nd time ending in the medical tent. I was instantly angry at him. I wasn't trying to be insensitive, I was seriously angry. My husband likes to finish every race with a sprint and I'm sorry, but you just don't sprint at the end of a marathon ok!!!! I didn't even have to be told. I knew what he had done, so, I sat down and said, "I'm never signing you up for a marathon again." That's all I said! He got to lay there and get better and I got to sit. On the finishers block there were no chairs. At least we were sitting! I was tired and mad!
Soon they let Jerry go and we walked the finishers block. I had calmed down by now. Jerry had done a great job, he just shouldn't race the last .2 miles of a marathon! We were handed our finishers coin, necklace and a tree to take home and plant. There was all kinds of food and drinks and the only thing that sounded good at the time was the red grapes. My hands were full so I would eat and go get more, eat and go get more. Jerry didn't want anything but to get some rest so we made our way around the block and got our finishers shirts. I did get to chat with a lady I didn't know about the race and other races...always fun. I ran into Marilyn, a blogger friend. Check out her facebook at Lipgloss and Spandex. A block FULL of food and all I ate was red grapes!!!
Jerry and I walked to our van parked a few blocks away and he laid down in the back of the van while I went to pay for parking and get some more food. I was getting pretty hungry now.
I have learned something from every marathon I have run. Sometimes its something simple, but most of the time, it's pretty deep stuff! Running for me, is so much more than just a way to keep fit. It's a way of life. Running for me is too keep my sanity, to be healthy, to have valuable friendships, to have alone time, to think, to cry, to feel good about myself, to feel stronger, to feel weak sometimes, to battle the madness in my head, to get away, to get ideas, to clear the head, sometimes I run just to run, to feel alive. To feel pain. Sometimes I run for food and that is fun! Training for THIS marathon keep me afloat. It gave me a new friend. It helped me through a hard year. Running is a gift!
I am going to finish up 2014 with The Runaway Pumpkin Half and Silver Falls 7 miler by Run Wild Adventures. Also a couple fun runs for food with great friends.
|From Donita's Watkins Store|
Come January, I will start training for marathon number 8, Newport Marathon. They also offer a half marathon this year if you are interested. I will never give up on my dream of a Boston Qualifier time, but I know I have to put in the work, to get the PR!
A special thanks to Joe and Karmen from Dutch Bros, Dallas & Monmouth OR and Donita from Donita's Country Kitchen. They were responsible for sending me to Portland Marathon '14. Thanks for the sponsorship guys!
|I will never stop dreaming of a SUB 3:40|