This race is really sticking with me. In every possible way. I am still in so much pain 5 days later. Yoga has helped, but my right foot is quite uncomfortable still and my muscles are sore. The fact that I was so close to a Boston qualifying time hasn't really stuck yet. I'm sad about it yes, but I want to crush a BQ, not just make it a few seconds or a minute under it. I'm almost certain I know where I went wrong, but the entire race was tough overall.
The weekend started on a rough note. Jet Blue forced me to check my bag with EVERYTHING for my race (Garmin, shoes, clothes, FlipBelt, all of it!!!!) while I was walking through the gate. Que tear fest. I'm pretty sure the other folks on the plane thought I was nuts. Worst 2 hour flight of my life!
I finally made it to Portland and met up with my sister Katelyn, who flew in from Orange County. We rushed to the baggage claim and my bag was the first one out. Yah! Wasted energy, emotional roller coaster, and I was left exhausted. After getting to our hotel 2 hours later (a derailed train stalled our public transportation, but we were saved by Uber), we headed to the Expo. Not the greatest expo, but I was so focused on the race, I didn't care. The only really strange thing about this race is they don't give you a shirt until after the race - they call it a "Finisher" shirt, so it makes sense. Your bib matches the color of the finisher shirt you choose. I was so exhausted that night. We got back to the hotel around 7 and were in bed by 8.
One thing I did differently this time around that I have to tell you was take these Electrolyte Stamina pills. After my experience in Big Sur with cramping that ruined me very late in that race, I didn't want the same thing to happen. I made sure to take in extra water and Nuun during the week of the race, but Mark (Runnermarx) had previously told me about these electrolyte pills that he found success with. I ordered them and they arrived 2 days before Portland. With no runs left, I had no opportunity to test them. I took 5 throughout the day on Saturday (recommended is 4-6 based on your activity). Thinking they were slow release (I know, dumb), I took just one the morning of the race.
So now that you have that background, normal prerace routine when I got up Sunday morning - eat my apple and Honeystinger chews, double check that my watch is linking to satellite, I got my iPod - and we head to the start line. After using the porto potties at least 7 times, it's time to get into our corrals. You're grouped based on your marathon PR and your projected finish time. This put me in Corral B with the 3:25 - 3:44 finishers. And we were off. I went out too fast. Here's a breakdown of my splits just so you can all agree with it:
Mile 1: 7:04 Mile 14: 7:50
Mile2: 7:40 Mile 15: 7:53
Mile3: 7:40 Mile 16: 8:28
Mile 4: 6:56 Mile 17: 9:40
Mile 5: 7:08 Mile 18: 8:23
Mile 6: 7:29 Mile 19: 9:08
Mile 7: 7:29 Mile 20: 9:25
Mile 8: 7:27 Mile 21: 9:35
Mile 9: 7:18 Mile 22: 9:11
Mile 10: 7:21 Mile 23: 9:48
Mile 11: 7:20 Mile 24: 10:21
Mile 12: 7:49 Mile 25: 9:47
Mile 13: 7:49 Mile 26: 9:20
You can see it went down for me at Mile 16. The prior 15 miles are flat with slight inclines and downhills here and there. I approached the primary elevation gain to get up to St. John's bridge at mile 16. What I thought was a little hill on the elevation chart looked like a monster after a side stitch hit me a half mile before. I felt betrayed by the little pills and my conscious effort to take in fuel and water up to this point in the race.
Mile 17 was where I couldn't get it back. I knew I was well in front of the 3:25 pace group, and I had to regain my breathing and get rid of the cramping so I could pick up speed. I turned my run into a run/walk around mile 19 in the hopes that the cramp would subside. When it didn't, and the 3:25 group passed me at mile 20, I just had the mindset to stay in front of the 3:30 folks. I only had a 10k left! I was broken though. Trying to fight back the cramping was wearing me out. The run/walk caused my legs to tighten, so I just kept telling myself to keep running no matter what pace - just don't walk.
Mile 23 was where I broke down and thought about dropping out. Which has never ever happened to me in a race. I stopped to do bit of walking and my quads and foot cramped so badly, I thought I was not going to be able to even walk the rest of the way. It was the most terrible running experience of my life. I crawled through the last 3 miles, but I didn't walk again for fear of those cramps in my legs coming back.
Once I made it across the finish, I was white as a sheet and couldn't figure out if I had to vomit or if I was going to risk sitting down and not getting back up. I ended up in the medical tent because I almost fell over by a trash can and a medic caught me. Once my blood pressure and heart rate came down, they let me go and I made my way through the finisher shoot to Katelyn.
What I learned: I went out too fast, I should've taken 6 of the electrolyte pills before the race (per Mark's advice after the race), and I should've really done more weight training and cross training. My whole body was tight (yoga would've helped this) and my legs were the only strong part of my body. Once they were shot, the rest of my body had nothing left to contribute.
Pros about this race: very well organized, good aid stations and crowd support, great finisher gifts (roses to every finisher, shirt, medallions, and a tree to plant!)
Cons: I would say the expo was the only downside. Quite a few participants didn't show up and there wasn't a lot there.
After the race, Katelyn and I spent 2 days exploring the city (at a very slow pace). We made it to Salt & Straw, an ice cream shop with very unique and delicious flavors, the Nike Outlet (duh!), and Voodoo Doughnuts. Portland is a beautiful city, but not one of my favorites. I have to give props to the people though. Everyone was so nice and helpful!
While I'm disappointed with missing a BQ, this race was a great experience, I learned a lot, and I still got an 11 minute PR (finish time was 3:37:48). I've got to get right back into training with the California International Marathon coming up in December, and I've resolved to do my Fit Friday posts again to keep myself accountable with weight training and cross training. Looking forward to another training cycle.