I did it! I ran the Portland Marathon!
It started out as a cool, cloudy morning. I arrived at the start line around 6 am. I immediately went to the bathroom (no line!) and then walked around. My corral was pretty empty at this point since the race started at 7. People were sitting, stretching, walking, and listening to music. One lady looked like she was praying. I dropped my sweats a little early but was thankful in the end as the line was really long just a little after I did it.
At the start line -- no, I'm not tense!
At 6:40 I drank my Gatorade Prime and lined up near the front of my corral. My goal was to keep my eye on the 4:00 pace group at the beginning. As we were walking to the start line, I lost the pace group. We hadn’t even started so I quickly decided to forget about pace groups and just run my race. It was too stressful to try to find them. We crossed the start line and I felt so emotional. The crowds lining the street, all of the runners, and the atmosphere overwhelmed me. I couldn’t believe I was actually starting a marathon….my dream, the thing I thought I couldn’t/wouldn’t do, a marathon! This feeling propelled me up the first hill and through the first 5 miles. They went by so quickly and I felt great.
Around mile 6 I had to go to the bathroom. So I ran until I saw an empty porta potty and went as fast as I could. Less water at the start next time! We hit a straight stretch that went through the industrial area of town. Luckily, we had driven the course the day before so I knew what to expect. There were some bands, a few spectators, and cheerleaders (my favorite was a group of young girls who cheered “Get Fired Up, We are Fired Up”). It stayed in my head for a couple of miles. The straight stretch ended in a U-turn so I could see the people ahead of me. Not too far from the turn around I saw the 4:00 pace group. I knew I was somewhere in between the 4:00 and the 4:10 so I felt good. I ran through the U turn and then could see all the people behind me. It was amazing to see all these people striving for something they all had trained for, built up to, and were now doing. It made me proud to be a part of the whole experience.
We turned off the straight stretch and wound our way through the NW neighborhood. I enjoyed this stretch as there were a lot of spectators, some turns, and some good energy. I was still feeling pretty good at this point. I knew the big hill was coming so had that in the back of my mind but I felt strong and happy.
We hit the very long approach towards St. John’s Bridge on NW St. Helens Rd. This was my least favorite stretch. It was sprinkling a bit but it was also long, straight, and frankly, boring. We were in a blocked off lane of the road but there was traffic on the other side of us so the prevailing sound was the swoosh of cars on wet pavement. There were some spectators and some bands but the stretch seemed to go forever. I still felt pretty strong and happy, just was ready for some outside stimulation!
Then we approached the hill up to St. John’s Bridge. I was thankful again for driving the course as it’s steep enough that I would have been surprised/freaked out if I didn’t know it was coming. I ran the hill really strong (thanks to trail running!). There were two guys in the middle of the hill cheering us on with statements like “This is not a hill. It’s an attitude” and “You’re tough. You eat nails.”. They were great! I reached the top of the hill and turned onto the bridge. I knew once I got half-way up the bridge (mile 17), it was downhill and scenic the rest of the way so I just powered myself up there. I was really proud how I handled the hill, both physically and mentally. I passed a lot of people who walked and some who were running but struggling. I felt really strong and in my element.
Then we turned into St. John’s neighborhood. I knew my family was around mile 20 but I started looking for them at mile 18. There were quite a few spectators and some music to propel me along. My stomach wasn’t super happy at this point and I felt a little spaced out but I was still moving along and engaged. I concentrated on the crowds and tried to just enjoy the scenery. A lot of the spectators were shouting “Good job, Lori!” as my name was on my race bib. I loved it. It made me smile every time.
I hit a water station around mile 20 and there were my dad, uncle, and husband. It was fantastic to see their smiling faces and to feel their support. I went over and gave them quick hugs and pats and moved along. It was so encouraging to have them along the route. And, at this point, I needed it. About mile 21 I felt like I was running on fumes. The 4:10 pace group passed me and I ran with them for a while. Then I saw them fading into the distance ahead of me. I wasn’t discouraged though (thankfully!). I really just wanted to finish and had stopped caring about my time. My mind was a little blank and I was focused on getting downtown and running that last mile.
I crossed the Broadway Bridge and then hit downtown. There were two ladies on the bridge who shouted encouragement (Go, Lori) and it still made me smile. I thought this was a good sign…I could still smile! I just kept plugging along, not thinking, hitting the lap button at every mile but not looking at the time, and just concentrating on hitting mile 25. For some reason, I thought mile 25 would be grand to see. I wanted to run the last mile strong so I think I just knew I had to get there and then could finish this thing! I hit mile 25 and tried to pick it up a little. I wasn’t too successful at picking up the pace but I did the best I could. I knew I had to hit SW Salmon and I’d be two short turns away from the finish. The crowds were getting bigger, the cheering louder, and I just powered through. I hit the first turn and about halfway down the block heard my name. I turned and there was my friend Bonnie cheering me on. I waved and smiled. Then almost immediately on the other side were my dad, uncle, and husband. I waved to them, made the last turn and finished!
Happy at the end!
I ended up running it in 4:10. I feel really proud of that time as I know I gave it my all. I didn’t concentrate on my splits or my overall time. Around mile 19 I knew I wasn’t going to hit 4 hours so I decided I’d be happy with 4:20. Falling in the middle of my original goal and my revised goal works for me!
Now that I know what it’s like to run a marathon, I want to run more. It gave me such a feeling of accomplishment, pride, motivation, and contentment. I’m happy with my first one…and am excited to see what the next one brings!