Saturday, February 15, 2020

2020 MIAMI HALF MARATHON RACE REPORT

Taken by my friend Jon, running over the MacArthur Causeway about forty minutes after I did.
Another year, another Miami Half Marathon. This was my SEVENTH in a row after running my first one back 2013. It has turned into quite the fun little tradition! This race is never a good race to have any expectations for... the weather, the lack of sleep, the lack of training after hibernating in the winter, etc. Despite that, I enjoy going out there and giving it a solid effort and just enjoying some warmth in the dead of winter.

Like usual, I left on Thursday. I avoided the 6am flight this year, so I was able to wake up and bumble my way to the airport by 11 or so. That's where the fun again. My flight to Atlanta was delayed, which would mean I would miss my connection to Fort Lauderdale. Delta realized this and offered me some different options, but none of them would get me into town until the next morning and all required me to spend the night in a random airport.

There was a flight into Orlando through Salt Lake City that would get me into town around 11pm, so my friends agreed to drive up to pick me up (3 hours) and then we could do something in Orlando the next day. Seemed like a plan. Well, those thunderstorms in Atlanta that messed up my earlier plans ended up moving south and prevented my flight from reaching Orlando... after circling a while we ended up having to re-direct into Atlanta. So I ended up in Atlanta anyways. By now it is midnight. We ended up waiting in Atlanta about an hour, then they boarded everyone up again and we continued on the way to Orlando. We finally landed around 3am. My friends picked me up. What swell chaps!

After the nightmare getting there, the rest of the trip was pretty normal. We slept in that next day and didn't want to spend a bunch on a theme park for a half day, so we just headed back down south and stopped to play disc golf a couple of times on the way.

RACE DAY MORNING


In the corral about 20 minutes before the start.
I actually ended up getting 4-4.5 hours of sleep this year, not bad! I thought for sure I'd be screwed after the 4:00am bedtime that first night, but by midnight Saturday I was sufficiently tired and I didn't have much problem falling asleep. The race started at 6 and we were out the door by 5. Normally it's about thirty minutes there and then we have a lot really close to the start line we use. However, this year it was a construction site, so those plans were gone pretty quick.

We ended up driving right next to the start line, and with about 25 minutes to go, I bid farewell and hopped out. I remembered the chaos trying to get into the chute last year and wanted to avoid that if at all possible. My friends weren't going off until some 40 minutes after gun due to their corral, so they went ahead and parked the car. There was a small line to get into the corral this year, but nothing like the panic of last year. I got it and even had some time to do some stretches and make small talk with a fellow Portlander before our corral, Corral C, went off.

UP AND OVER THE CAUSEWAY (8:32, 8:29, 8:34, 8:28)

This is actually early in South Beach.
The weather this year wasn't ideal, at start it was 72 degrees with about 70% humidity. It has definitely been a little muggier in the past, but I think this may have been the warmest it's been. Fortunately, there was a decent breeze that made it less insufferable. It was warm, make no mistake, but with the sun still down it wasn't too miserable.

Originally I thought maybe I could go under 1:50 in this race, but quickly threw that out the window due to the conditions. Instead, I just trusted myself to set the appropriate pace. I knew what it should feel like, so I worked to get that correct "half effort" feeling and went from there. That pace ended up being in the low 8:30s. I went back and forth with the 8:30 pacers for a while but they eventually passed me. I just tried to enjoy the sights and atmosphere as much as I could. I knew later in the race my gaze would drift downward and I'd be incapable of really enjoying it.

Checking my watch for my heart rate, I was quite pleased with where it was at 178. I figured my half effort would be in the high 170s, and sure enough, that's right where it was. It let me know I wasn't slacking off as my mile times might have had me think. Before I knew it, mile four had been ticked off and I was in South Beach. The sun was still down but I was wary of what would happen once it came up.

STEADY IN SOUTH BEACH (8:38, 8:33, 8:35, 8:38)

Look at those tan legs!
Can we admire my mile times for a second? Man those are steady! I wasn't pacing myself by my watch either, this was all by feel. Okay, now that I have that bragging out of the way, onto my shenanigans in South Beach. Honestly, I was just cruising along here without much issue. I've seen the sights along this part of the course seven times now, so there's no surprises. Just swishing along and trying to keep it together as long as I could.

I jogged through all the aid stations this year and did my normal strategy of half Gatorade half water. I knew I'd need to keep hydrated given the conditions and sun sure to come. I didn't end up doing any sort of fueling with food though. A lot of years I do Shot Bloks down here, but when I was at the expo I started wondering why. I don't usually use fuel during a half. You don't need it, you have enough glucose or whatever built up to do thirteen miles. Anyways, nothing really to note in this section of the race! Back to the "traditional" route, same as last year, so there is no longer that out and back section.

CRUISING OVER THE VENETIANS (8:39, 8:34, 8:43)


15k timing mat on the Venetian Islands.
As usual, at least when I'm running this under two hours, the sun started to come up about when I was getting ready to leave Miami Beach and cross the bay back into downtown Miami. To my relief, there were some clouds in the sky this year, more partly cloudy versus partly sunny, so there wasn't the direct sun like there has been in previous years. As a result, my pace continued to stay steady even as the miles piled up.

This part of the race is always great, I love the little islands along the way and there are some great view of the bay and the city. The question is whether or not you're able to enjoy them. While I was certainly tired, I wasn't desperate yet like I have been during some years. Pretty quickly I was going through the toll gates, a milestone every year, and back onto the mainland. My heart rate by this point had climbed to average about 180, but I was still feeling pretty good. With only two miles to go, I knew I had it in me to finish strong.

TO THE FINISH DOWNTOWN! (8:46, 8:44)

Done!
Continuing with tradition, shortly after you get back downtown there is a lot cheering section that imparts a lot of energy into the race. This is also the point where they had out pineapple... this is always a should I/shouldn't I situation with me. This year I didn't stop and take any as I didn't need any mental tricks to convince myself I was going to be okay. I was feeling good and decided to just chug along. My pace slowed about ten seconds a mile from early on in the race, but nothing major. Honestly I was super proud of how steady I was. This was probably the most consistent Miami Half I had ever ran.

A couple of times downtown the buildings blocked the wind and it got quite warm. Thank goodness for the constant wind during the race, it would have been quite miserable without it. The sun peaked through the clouds here and there but nothing major. I just continued moving ahead but by this point I was definitely ready to be done. I had done two total runs over ten miles since the marathon, so while my legs still weren't complaining too bad, they were ready to bring this puppy to a close.

Finally we wound our way back toward the finish line. The energy toward the finish line was pretty good and you could definitely hear it a few blocks away. Unlike some of the people around me, I didn't feel the need to kick it in. I picked up my pace a little, sure, something like 8:00/mile, but nothing major. I had pretty much given it my all.

AFTER PARTY AND GOING HOME


Year seven complete!
I walked through the chute without discomfort this year, my legs held up really well! I remember my legs almost giving out from under me last year, so mark that as another point of improvement in addition to my finish time being three minutes faster. Through the chute, got my food, ate my food, used the bathroom, watched my friends finish, met them after, drank the shitty beer, headed back.

In what is also becoming a tradition, we all went out to eat at Pizza Hut after taking a nap and recovering. Something about Pizza Hut is just very satisfying after a half marathon. I don't think you can eat there in good conscience unless you have ran thirteen miles... maybe that is it, haha. Anyways, we enjoyed that gorge and then just had a fun celebratory night. The next day our flights weren't out until 5pm, so we went to the beach and enjoyed some last minute rays in Florida.

My flight back... ugh, that would be another whole long post. Long story short, weather in Atlanta (grr!) forced our plane to go into a holding pattern. While we finally landed, it was much later than expected and this caused me to miss my connection. I ended up spending the night in an Atlanta hotel room and flew back to Portland the next day. It's always something trying to get back!

Official Results: 1:53:55, 8:41/mile. 2382/15431 overall, 1880/7934 male, 322/1186 M30-35.

Friday, January 31, 2020

SOME RECENT SPEEDWORK

One of my goals this winter was to do speedwork every week. While I would give myself some grace if I was really creaky one week or something, I've actually been very good about getting out there at running some at a fast clip. I believe I lost a lot of speed last winter by not doing hardly any speedwork. My goal this spring is to hit the next major training cycle running and not spend so much time trying to get back to where I was. Now, to be clear, I have lost something, I don't think I have a 1:43 half in me like last July, but I think I could squeak out a 1:44:59 on the right day on the right course.

January 2nd, 4 mile Tempo Run

Weather was good for this one, 46 and overcast, and I was able to get home from work while it was still light outside, so I took advantage of that. I did my normal four mile "lollipop" route that has become a staple of winter running. The only problem with this course, or with just about any course near my house, is that it is decidedly not flat. So some splits you have to take with a grain of salt. However, I was able to run three solid miles before tiring a bit on the last. 7:54, 7:46, 7:39, 8:03. 7:50/mile overall average. Solid run!

January 7th, 3 mile Tempo Run

I was feeling a bit run down but still wanted to get some speed in, so I decided to do a three mile run and try to hit it a bit harder. 7:34 first mile. Alright! Probably the fastest mile I've ran since October. 7:50 second mile. Alright, falling off a little. Maybe I went out a little too fast? 7:57 final mile. Took everything I had to get that one under eight. 7:47/mile average... not bad for the way I was feeling, but I was hoping for a bit quicker.

January 15th, 8x400m Treadmill Intervals

Intervals were set to 6:56/mile and took 1:44 each. Not my fastest 400s, but I wanted to ease back into them and try not to pull a hammy or something. This was done indoors at the Planet Fitness treadmill and sweat was flying everywhere. Gross. Also, I was watching Jeopardy! during this run and it actually made it go by quickly. I concentrated on trying to answer the questions and that made the sprint intervals go much faster. Rest 400s were done at 10:00/mile.

January 23rd, 4mi Treadmill Tempo

Just over a week later I was back in the gym doing a tempo run. I don't like doing tempo runs outside when it is dark, much higher risk of tripping, so I ended up indoors doing this one. I set the treadmill to 7:56/mi and just went with it. The mental challenge of a treadmill is always hard, there is less to distract yourself with, so I was fine without pushing it even further. The main goal is to not lose a bunch of speed, and as long as I tick off sub eight minute miles, I'll achieve that.

January 31st, 8x400m Lollipop Tempo

Another chance to run outside during a weekday, so I took the opportunity to knock out some intervals. Now, these are on my "lollipop" course, so the actual intervals can vary wildly depending on the elevation profile of that specific 400m stretch. As long as I am giving a hard effort, I'm pleased. That being said, I had some pretty solid splits! I was most proud of my last interval, which was slightly uphill, clocking in at 1:38. That's 6:32/mile! Heck yeah! Worst interval was 1:53 going up a hill... that's 7:32/mile. Still not terrible. Heart rate is fun to look at on this one... maximum was 189!


Tuesday, December 31, 2019

2019 RUNNING RECAP


This post won't be very useful, because most of my limited blog posts are race recaps, but it will be fun to look back at the year with an eye toward 2020.

I started off this year really having a hard time staying motivated. I called it my "hibernation" mode, but I wasn't exactly totally hibernating and not running. Basically I became a big baby about the cold and the dark and started running in the gym a bunch. I'd go to the gym, set the treadmill at 6.0mph (10:00/mi) and run for forty minutes. I'd do that twice a week on the weekdays, then do a run on the weekend. Sometimes it was ten miles, many times it was only 6 or 8.

Long story short, I lost a LOT of fitness over the winter despite running three days a week. Basically any speed I had was gone. This was pretty apparent when I ran a 1:56 in Miami just four months after a 1:42 in Boring. It wasn't even like I could blame the hot weather all that much either. It was kind of a wake up call for me... I wouldn't be able to just kick it hard for a couple runs and be magically back into shape, I'd have to do some real work again.

That being said, I still was being a baby and didn't have the greatest February or March. I tried to kick my pace up a little in the weeks leading up to Shamrock but didn't really do any actual speedwork minus one progression run. I thought for sure I'd end up getting a PW at Shamrock, but much to my surprise, I ran WAY better than expected that day and ending up beating my time from 2018. Which isn't saying much given I was only a few months back into serious running in 2018 after my hiatus, but still, it was enough to light a little fire and give me some positive momentum toward training season.

The fire was pretty light though. Before I knew it I was hosting a friend and running the Bridge to Brews 10k. I barely got my goal of under 8:00/mi with a 7:59 there, but hey, it counts. The main issue was I still wasn't doing any speedwork. While I was seeing minor improvement from somewhat more consistent long runs and slightly faster easy runs, deep down I knew I needed to do actual speedwork if I wanted to see real improvement and give myself a chance to beat my MCM time.

Finally, toward the end of May, I started to add tempo runs and other speed work once a week. It was something I was planning to do since January, but it took not cold and not dark outside before I mustered the resolve to do it. Better late than never. I started my serious training with an eye toward the Portland Marathon in the fall. Four runs a week, one speedwork, and then a long run every weekend. I saw results, posting a 1:43 at the Independence Day Half. I had gotten a 1:47 the year before, so I was hoping I was ahead of where I was last year.

Unlike 2018, I did not have another race to gauge my progress before the marathon. However, once I started officially training I was VERY good about hitting all my runs. You cannot cheat a marathon training plan and hope to achieve the results you want. So I hit all the runs as prescribed, including all the speedwork. I could feel myself getting into better shape, and while I didn't have another race to make sure, going into the Portland Marathon I felt confident I could beat last year. And I did. A hard summer of training paid off!

Since the marathon, it has been back to the "blahs." I am running three times a week, twice on the weekdays and then the long run on the weekend. My goal this winter is to not lose as much shape as I did last winter, so I need to consistently do a long run (check so far) and one speed workout most weeks (check-ish so far). I ran the hilly Give n' Gobble 10k at 7:46 pace, so I feel okay about my current shape. If I can get to Miami in early February and run a 1:4X, I'll be in a good spot to see continued improvement in 2020. So my focus at the moment is to just keep hitting at least three runs a week... easy, speed, and long.

Cheers to a successful 2020!

Monday, December 16, 2019

2019 GIVE N' GOBBLE 10K RACE RECAP

The start of the 5k/10k run (Looked through the 100+ photos and could not find one of me).
The wake up call for the Give N' Gobble wasn't too painful as the race started at 9:00am. Hooray for reasonable start times! I left my house about 8 and was there with plenty of time to spare. As usual, I parked and the nearby church and trekked into Sherwood High School, probably a 10 minute walk. It was surprisingly cold, just about freezing. After grabbing my bib, I walked back to the car and hung out until 8:45 or so.

On the way to the start line I did a few periods of sprinting and jogging to warm up. The older I get the more important these warm ups are for these shorter distances. The 5k walkers actually went out first at 9 and had a different course than the 5k/10k runners. I found a patch of sun and stood there trying to stay warm while they lined up and left, then joined the chute near the front once it was the runners' turn. Our race got off on time at 9:05.

MILE ONE (7:31)

Okay, this might have been a little fast, especially given that, while rolling, this mile trended upward 50 feet. It felt like the correct pace though, so I wasn't too concerned. Probably a little race day adrenaline that quickly faded. As mentioned in the preview, this course doesn't have very many flat spots, and this mile is no different. However, there are no hateful hills on this stretch and it is all manageable, especially when you are fresh.

MILE TWO (7:44)

My pace settled into something more realistic. Again, rolling hills, although this mile is more downhill than most, giving back the exact 50 feet you climbed in the first mile. My beanie was removed and placed in my pocket early on during this stretch... despite the cold you warm up pretty quick when you are doing a 10k effort! Still felt relatively good here, legs were responding nicely and if anything at this point my cardio was holding me back. Just kept trying to clock good times until the dreaded uphill of mile five.

MILE THREE (7:56)

This mile is essentially a net zero in the elevation department, however, there are a couple of nasty steep uphills. I think that was more responsible for my mile time then actually getting tired or whatever. This is also a straight shot on a country road, having left the suburbs toward the end of the last mile. I was just settled in my rhythm and trying to hit that. I left my watch on the main stats screen, so I had no feedback on current pace or current mile pace. Just running by feel at this point and still feeling good.

MILE FOUR (7:49)

Last chance to make hay before hitting the uphills of Sunset Boulevard. Still in my rhythm. It was a hard effort, definitely a full out 10k race pace. In this mile I could feel my limiting factor switch from cardio to legs though. Not so springy and fresh anymore! I was able to keep pace but was a little concerned on how they would react to the hill based on my hard effort to this point. A couple of turns in this mile as we exited the farmland and went back into suburbia.

MILE FIVE (8:14)

This was the real test! Honestly, it wasn't quite as bad as I remembered. All told, there is about 100 feet of elevation gain in this mile and for the most part it is pretty gradual. So while my pace did slow down, it wasn't significantly slower like you see in the Shamrock Run or another race with a real bear of a hill. When my watch beeped with the mile time I was quite pleased as I knew I had built up more than enough of a cushion to finish under 8:00/mile barring a complete disaster the last mile. The hill definitely tired me out a bit, both legs and lungs screaming at this point, but I could do another mile no problem.

MILE SIX (8:01)

Afterward with traditional outfit and photo!
I was hoping to go under 8:00/mi on this final rolling downhill mile, but I guess it wasn't in the cards. As usual I just concentrated on my effort and ignored the watch. This part of the race is tricky because there is a lot of weaving around walkers and slower 5k runners and the paths definitely are not flat. With the finish line in sight though, it was easy to stay motivated and keep pushing knowing relief was within sight.

FINISH LINE

Before I knew it I could hear the finish line and the high school was in sight. My pace this final chunk of the race was 7:25, so I still had a little left in the tank. I crossed the finish line and stopped my watch... 48:10. Nice! 7:46/mi average, about twenty seconds faster than I was expecting.

After regaining my senses I wandered over to the snack table and get some water and a donut hole. After that, it was back home into a hot bath. Definitely earned my Thanksgiving dinner later that day!

Official Results: 48:10, 7:46/mi. 46/285 overall, 30/125 male, 3/11 M30-34.

Technically a podium finish (my first as a 30+ year old? Maybe) but they don't do age group awards.

Tuesday, November 26, 2019

2019 GIVE N' GOBBLE RACE PREVIEW

Course has not changed since my first time in 2013.
Well, I never got around to doing a reflections post about the Portland Marathon. My bad. Maybe I'll do a post about that in the upcoming winter lull. Maybe not. Anyways, after the Portland Marathon I took an entire week off and then ran sparingly the next two weeks. I wanted to give my body more time to recover than I did last year. Did it work? Eh. It still took probably a month before my legs even felt like they might be back to their normal "spring."

Regardless, I have been back running regularly for a few weeks now. Two weekday runs of at least four miles and then ten on the weekends. The usual off season stuff. My goal this year is to do at least one speed run during those weekday runs. Last winter all I did was easy runs and I feel like I lost a lot of speed. So I'm going to try to slow down the speed loss this year. In addition to speedwork, a good way to keep up your speed is doing races. And in that spirit, I will once again be doing the Give n' Gobble 10k in Sherwood this Thanksgiving. I also did it back in 2013 and 2017.

Am I ready for a 10k? Sure, why not. I don't think I'll be particularly fast. In fact, I think I'm going to be slower than the Bridge to Brews 10k earlier this year (7:59/mi). This course is tough... very hilly and very little flat ground. It never really allows you to "settle" into a nice 10k pace, you're either huffing up a hill, or trying to catch your breath on the way back down. A good comparison will be my performance in 2017 when I ran it at 8:24/mile. My legs were definitely fresher back then, but I should be faster now. I'm expecting something in between that pace an the Bridge to Brews pace.

My plan is to not stare at my watch and just go with what feels right for a 10k. On a flat course, I think that would be something like 7:50/mi. However, on this course, I think it will be in the low 8s. We'll see on race day. My legs don't feel super fresh; again it has been a slog back from the marathon, although better this year than last year. We'll see what happens. I'll have to make sure to take advantage of the downhills while I can, although that can be hard on this course. Most the ups and downs aren't sustained for very long, so by the time you have caught your breath on the downhill it goes back up again.

Anyways, it will still be fun to get out there and run a race and see what happens. We can do some apples to apples comparisons between 2013 (7:14/mi!) and 2017. Whatever pace I get, I think you can subtract about 15 seconds a mile and that would be my "flat" 10k pace. The weather looks good so it'll fun to just get out there and race something shorter. Then, a mere ten days later, I will be lining up for the Holiday Half again. So it'll be a busy two weeks of races and then probably nothing until the Miami Half Marathon in early February.

Tuesday, October 22, 2019

2019 PORTLAND MARATHON RACE REPORT

With Katie before the start of the race! This was right before heading toward the start line, about 6:45am.
Another fall, another marathon. Five months of training all led to Sunday morning. While it was nice to have "home bed advantage" this year, I wasn't able to take advantage of it. I did get a good night of sleep on Friday night, about nine hours, so the three I got the night before the marathon didn't hurt me too much. Just tossing and turning with anxiety and nerves again. I sleep like a log before any lesser race distance, so it just goes to show you what I think about the challenge of a full marathon.

Very early on in downtown.
My alarm went off at 5am. My goal was to leave the house around 5:45 and be downtown by shortly after 6:00 as the race kicked off at 7:10. So despite my lack of sleep, I popped up and got dressed. I had a cup of coffee and bagel and cream cheese, my traditional marathon morning meal. I was also able to go to the bathroom a little, not a lot, but enough to make me feel good about that not being an issue during the race. I actually got out of the house on time and headed downtown.

Getting downtown was a breeze at that time of day and I ended up parking in my trusty SmartPark garage. It was only a few blocks to the starting area. I had some time to kill but it was nice not to be in a rush. I used a bathroom without having to wait in line and then met Katie near the bag check. We chatted for a bit, but I didn't want to get stuck back in the chute, so about 6:45 I peeled off my clothes and headed to the start line. They had big banners displaying different speeds and you were supposed to self seed. Makes sense for a race this size and I was easily able to line up near a 3:40 marathon pace.

MILES 1-7: NORTHWEST & THE ROSE QUARTER (8:13, 8:12, 8:44, 8:05, 8:09, 8:40, 8:22)

It was about 45 degrees with the race kicked off but I was never really cold and the weather was honestly just about perfect! There was basically no wind so it was very comfortable. I accidentally left my beanie on, I meant to take that off at the bag check, so I almost immediately had to put that in my pocket and carried it 26 miles. My gloves lasted about six miles before they too were in my pocket. It wasn't long before the sleeves on my long sleeve shirt were rolled up too.

Coming back from the Moda Center.
The chute actually went really well. People seemed to seed themselves appropriately and it wasn't ridiculously busy like the Marine Corp Marathon. I never had trouble hitting whatever pace I was trying for. I ended up staying with the 3:40 pacer and just following their lead. While their goal pace was 8:23/mile, they were going a little fast. Not terrible though, they have to have some cushion due to not running a perfect course. In retrospect, it might have been a little fast, but nothing too drastic.

The 8:44 mile was the climb up Burnside. It wasn't too bad, pretty similar to the start of the MCM last year, or the early hill on the old Portland Marathon course. The problem with this race though... it wasn't the first of one or two hills, it was the first of MANY hills. The 8:40 mile was the hill to get over the Broadway Bridge over to the Moda Center. Some good sights on the route. I have seen all of this a million times, but if you were from out of town it is a really great course for seeing the various parts of the city.

So how was I feeling after the hilly jaunt through Northwest and the Rose Quarter? Eh, not great. The pace felt easy, which was good, but my chest was tight, like I was about to have a side stitch. I think it was just nerves that took a long time to go away, but it was uncomfortable and annoying because my cardio wasn't labored at all. My legs felt great but it wasn't as comfortable as I was hoping due to the tightness in my chest. The atmosphere of the race was great though and the 3:40 pacers were nice and chatty.

MILES 8-13: GOOD STRETCH OVER THE SELLWOOD (8:14, 8:39, 7:57, 8:25, 8:15, 8:50)

My cardio finally relaxed and felt good about mile eight or so. Unfortunately, this part of the race was just about the only part where I was feeling good. After coming back across the Broadway Bridge from the Moda Center we headed south toward Macadam Avenue. This included a nice downhill mile where I was able to clock a 7:57. Again, probably too fast. I was sticking with the 3:40 pace in the hopes I could hang with them for a good while before slowly drifting back

Coming across the Sellwood Bridge.
I ate my first pack of Shot Bloks at mile six near the Moda Center, and then another pack once I had crested the Sellwood Bridge. By the way, that 8:50 mile was the hill up to the bridge. The amount of hills in the first half of the race was a little surprising. I knew there would be hills based on the elevation chart, but I was kind of hoping they would be the type of hill that looked big but you would barely notice them during the race. Unfortunately, all of these hills were noticeable. None of them were bad, but they added up.

This part of the race down to Macadam was probably the last scenic of the entire run but it still beat the pants off of a lot of the old course. Once to the Sellwood Bridge and into Sellwood though the sights were pretty good. As mentioned, I ate a pack of gummies at the top of the bridge, so when I swung into the neighborhoods and met Vincent around mile 13, I already had a lot of sugar in my belly.

It was at this point I made a bad mistake. Vincent had brought me KitKats as a treat and he offered me one as soon as I saw him. It sounded good, so I ate it. I then swigged some of the Gatorade he brought for me. Too much sugar. My belly almost immediately started to hurt. As I crossed the half marathon mark in 1:50:18, my stomach was in a lot of discomfort. I was hoping a few burps would get rid of it, but unfortunately the rest of the race I would be struggling with a touchy tummy.

MILES 14-20: WANTING TO RALPH NEAR REED (8:13, 8:29, 8:51, 8:53, 8:47, 8:57, 8:49)

I was able to keep pace for one more mile (I think this included some downhill) before I started to succumb to the problems in my stomach. I have no idea how much further I would have lasted if my stomach wasn't bothering me though. The first half was a lot hillier than I expected and I could feel it starting to wear on my legs. They still felt fine, but I could tell the miles and elevation were starting to take a small bit of the spring out of my step. While the new Portland Marathon doesn't have a monster hill, the many smaller hills do add up.

Eating the ill-fated Kit Kat.
As you can see, my times quickly slipped into the high 8s. At this point I knew I had started too fast and had some time banked, so the goal was to just stay under 9 as long as I possibly could. My stomach was really bothersome though. I was burping to no avail and I would let out terrible sounding greats as the indigestion would rise in my throat. Not fun! The slowdown here really wasn't due to my legs or my cardio, it was trying to keep my stomach at bay. The faster I ran the more uncomfortable it was, so I was just trying to ride the line between speed and not blowing chunks.

This part of the course is really scenic though. The hilliest part of the second half, but good sights and good crowd support. There is a nice, long portion of this part of the race where runners are running opposite directions on a tree lined avenue. That was fun because I was able to spot a couple of people faster and slower than me depending on where I was. At the top of this "lollipop" portion was a loop around Reed College, which I had never actually been to. Really pretty campus, but one of the steepest hills in the race somewhere along here. Overall though the sights were a nice distraction from everything else.

At the beginning of the race I was drinking two cups at each aid station, one water and one Nuun electrolyte drink. After the stomach issues around halfway, it took everything I had just to drink one water at each station. I was DREADING the water stations (weird flip of the normal script) because I knew I had to splash water into my stomach which was making it hurt even more. However, I knew I needed to keep my fluids up, so I powered through it. I did NOT eat at mile 18 as planned though. Just couldn't bring myself to do it. Was hoping the two packs of gummies and single fun sized KitKat would be enough.

MILES 21-26.2: GRINDING TO THE FINISH (9:17, 9:06, 9:20, 9:25, 9:28, 8:57)

One of the larger hills on the backside resulted in my first mile time above 9. I was hoping to bring the next one in below 9 and try to keep that trend going, but as you can see, it didn't work. At point point my legs were definitely starting to tire. So I think without the stomach issues I could have made it to mile 21 or so before really slowing down. About par for the course. Overall the stomach thing maybe cost me 2 or 3 minutes, nothing huge.

You could say I was ready to be done.
I was just in survival mode at this point. I wasn't in any pain or anything, I was just tired with a stomachache. Honestly this was the best my legs have ever felt in the final stretch of a marathon. While they were worn down and I was exhausted, they weren't screaming at me like most years. My feet, while a little sore, weren't too bad, unlike the MCM last year. So all told I was in pretty decent shape and I knew I could finish without walking a step, so that became my new goal. I wasn't certain if I would be able to finish below 3:50, but I knew I could beat last year and run the thing in.

While it was a little risky, I did starting drinking the Nuun again. I went to wipe my face and it was covered in dried salt and I figured I should give it a try before I cramped. My stomach felt a little better at this point and I was able to get it down. Vincent kept trying to convince me to eat something and I kept rejecting him, but around mile 24 I did decide to eat one of his SIS gels. It went down okay and gave me a little boost. The 3:50 pacer passed me around this time as well, which was kind of a downer. I looked at my watch though and was still on pace to beat 3:50, so I figured she was running a little fast. If I could keep her in sight, I should still get below 3:50.

Finally we crossed back over the Burnside Bridge and into downtown for the final mile or so. At this point I was feeling pretty good. Knowing you are almost done in a marathon is a great feeling. Alejandro surprised me by showing up and running along side me for the final mile or so along the other side of the barricade. The 3:50 pacer was still in my sights, probably only 50 feet ahead of me. After some urging from Vincent and Alejandro, and initial rejections from me, I decided to pass her. I like out a primal grunt ("aaaagggggGGGHHHHH") and started to kick. Surprisingly my legs felt good. The 26th mile was below 9 and that final quarter mile or so was probably in the low 8s! Felt good to finish strong.

FINISH AND THE AFTER PARTY


Feeling decent and pretty proud!
I tried to recreate the "airplane" finish from my first Portland Marathon for the rebirth of the new course and failed miserably. In fact, just about every photo from the race has me looking miserable. There is a not a SINGLE good picture in the lot. And they are free! Ugh. Anyways, crossing a marathon finish line is an amazing feeling! Based on the clock, I got a 3:48 something, exactly what I was expecting the last few miles based on my calculations. I tried to soak in the accomplishment before wallowing in the sure to come pain.

My legs were the best they have ever felt after a marathon. Even better than last year I think. So that's very encouraging! They hurt a little, but I could easily walk around and I didn't have the overwhelming need to sit. I was able to get through the "chute" area and out to meet Vincent without much hassle. Although I did sit down for about two minutes just to keep that tradition going. But I was able to stand up and get going again no problem.

After meeting Vincent, we found a place were I could sit down and try to eat some of the food I collected. I managed to choke down a banana but that was it. I'm never hungry right after a marathon and with my stomach the way it was, food was extra unappealing. In fact, I didn't actually get hungry until 4 that afternoon. And boy did I get hungry. I must have ate 3,000 calories and I still wasn't satisfied. Don't know why I am never hungry after a marathon but I never am. Didn't even drink my beer. Don't think I've ever drank my beer after a full.

Anyways, all told, a very successful race and training cycle! I'll have some more reflections about that coming up, but I need to get this entry over with already and posted.

OFFICIAL CHIP TIME: 3:48:14, 8:42/mile. 470/2115 overall, 365/1268 male, 69/217 M30-34.