402/7276 Overall; 76/501 Age
This wonderful trip started a week before when I was out to dinner with my marthoning bud, Morgan. We were talking about next races and when I told her I was running in Portland she offered up her parents place for me to crash. I contacted them (Linda and Roy) and they were very kind and were very happy to welcome me to their home. Being Morgan’s parents, they were totally hip to the marathon prep thing and even volunteered to get my packet for me as I was getting into town late on Saturday. When I did get into town I stopped quick at Applebee’s (two nights in a row) for a steak dinner. I had done a better job of in-between race fueling, munching all day on whenever was nearby, well except for that whole diarrhea thing.
I finally got to Linda and Roy’s house at about 8pm ready to crash. I stayed up a little while and chatted with them for a little while about Morgan, marathoning and life in general. A very pleasant conversation with some very nice people.
I actually slept in Morgan’s old room, which was still setup like a teenage girl. Linda said that Morgan would not let her ‘repo’ the room, so it still looks very much like a room of a 17 year old high schooler. Very very pink. Had I not known Morgan (who is now 22 years old) it would have been creepy of me, for sure. It ended up being funny, seeing pictures of her when she was younger.
I woke up relatively refreshed on race morning and it was already raining, in fact it would rain all damn day until I left the area that afternoon. Downpour, drizzle, mist, repeat. I was having coffee with Roy at the house and I was telling him about my totally awesome custom made water repelling covers for my shoes that I made for the Boston marathon back in 2007. After I gave him the story, I realized that, although I couldnot replicate those here, I could get something close. With ~10 min, some safety pins, two plastic grocery bags and some athletic tape and I got something almost as good. Not sexy by any means, but very effective. They stayed on the whole race and I know they reduced the total wetness my feet experienced.
Because traffic was going to be horrible (~12,000 runners between the marathon and the half) Roy offered to take me downtown for the race and pick me back up afterwards. I got to the starting line about 10 min before race start in a sea of humanity, temps around 50 and rain coming down pretty hard. On the back of my (rather large) bib there listed symptoms of heat exhaustion and heat stroke. I laughed because what they really needed was symptoms of hypothermia, because that, if anything, was what was going to happen today.
My shins and ankles were at about 80% and I had high hopes that they would be ok, and I was right. Sometimes you can ‘run through’ shin splints and they get better after a few miles. Sometimes they get worse and debilitating. I was feeling confident at race start that they were in the former condition, and thank the FSM, I was right. In fact, my legs felts better AFTER this race than they did before, which was waaaay cool.
Something really weird happened to me at about mile 4. I was threatened with bodily harm by another runner. With 10,000 marathoners, I had people around me all day long so to make the day go by faster, of course, I decided to chat with fellow runners when able. I found a nice guy from Seattle to chat with and we ended up running together from mile 3 until mile 17 or so. We were commenting on how our GPS watches were giving rather different net distances after just 4 miles (almost 0.25 mile difference) and also noting that the 3:20 pace group leader looked like he was moving a little too fast. As we got near the pace group leader I asked him (a little loud, as he was in front of me) what his watch said our pace was. Before he got an answer in, another guy running with this pace group looks over his shoulder at me and says “If I have to listen to you this entire race, you won’t finish it”. I said “Excuse me?”. He repeated (with a very glaring look) “If I have to hear you for the entire race, you won’t finish it. I’m serious”. I looked to the guy was running with and said “Did I just get threatened?” “Ummm. Yeah”. Within 15 seconds, 4 other runners looked at me and said (effectively) don’t worry, we got your back. The guy I was running with and I decided to put the jerk behind us so we took off and moved up closer to the 3:15 pace group, which was not that far ahead of us. That was weird. I guess if runners are 99.9% nice gentle people, that means there would be 10 jerks in this field. I seemed to have found one of them.
Rain, rain, rain. Blah. It ebbed and flowed from real rain to heavy mist all day. My plastic bag covers worked really well. The race was along city streets all day so there were puddles everywhere, and I managed to miss most, but not all of them. You try you best to run around them without zig-zagging all day.
The aid stations were all well stocked with water, Ultima, and enthusiastic volunteers, especially considering they were standing still in the cold rain, at least we were warm since we were running. They were giving out handfuls of Gummi bears every once in a while at aid stations, and those being one of the few race foods my stomach can handle, I got some every chance I got. Tasty, but it did make it hard to talk.
As with other large races, there were some ‘unofficial’ aid stations also along the course, usually just local folk who showed up to help out on their own. One ‘station’ was a woman with a 1 gallon Ziploc bag full of frozen grapes giving them out by the handful (she even had a little sign) which was awesome and boy, were they tasty. At mile 23 there was another rouge aid station giving out very small glasses of beer. This is the 3rd marathon I have gotten beer as an aid station drink and as with the other times (all around mile 23, now that I think about it) it was delicious.
At about mile 17, my new friend was starting to fade and I was feeling so good despite the legs and the rain that I sped up hoping to hang with the 3:15 group. I failed and after about mile 23, I started to coast a little bit. I know I would come in somewhere in the low 3:20’s, and I was very happy with that, this being my 4thmarathon in 8 days. I just stayed steady trying finish strong. When I thought about all the racing I had done recently it got me tired, so I tried not to think about it.
Considering how well the rest of the race was organized, the finish line and area was unsurprisingly awesome. An incredible variety of food and drink, so-so finishers medal, finisher t-shirt, a rose (Portland is one of the many ‘Rose City’s in the country) and even a Douglas fir sapling (they hope you will take it home and plant it. I will plant mine on the Falling Water Trail) Again these volunteers have been sitting in cold rain for hours handing stuff to the martahoners with smiles and happiness on their face. Wonderful people.
Roy found me at our designated meet up point about 5 min after I got there and we headed for his car and back to the house. After a ~3.5 hour not-so-warm shower that was the race, my hands looked a little wrinkly. My shoe coverings did a pretty good job of minimizing the soakedness of my feet. I don’t mind getting wet from the ankles up, but when my feet are wet I am just miserable. With my toe wrapping and lubing, I had no blisters or toe problems this time either. I mastered that problem long ago.
We got back to Roy and Linda’s house and after a quick shower I got in my rental car and headed for the ocean. I try very hard to do at least some ‘touristing’ when I make these trips and when I am by myself, I am very quick and efficient with my time. The 1.5 hour drive to the Pacific was very cool, going through groves of huge trees that came right up to the roadway. Having seen nothing but clouds and rain for the last 24 hours, I was hoping the weather would break as I headed west and it did, about 5 miles from the ocean. Bluish skies and warm temperatures greeted me when I rolled onto (literally, they let you drive on the beach in certain places) the beach. I found a nice log and took a seat and watched the waves come it. Don’t ask me why, but the Atlantic coast and the Pacific coast are very different. The waves on the Atlantic are fewer and farther in between and the beaches are very rocky. The Pacific Ocean has more frequent waves, in fact you cannot hear any one particular wave coming, just a constant wave crashing drone. Also, the Pacific Ocean beaches are huge (deep?) and very sandy and feel great under bare feet. Had I not run a marathon in each of the last two days I would have done a run along the beach for sure.
I took a slightly different route back deciding to drive along the mighty Columbia river and stopped at Fort Clatsop where Lewis & Clark had spend the winter of 1805-06 before they headed back east. That was pretty cool and I learned a little bit more about their epic journey that I had not previous known.
I got back to Roy and Linda’s in the early evening and they took me out to a local steak house to which they had a $25 off coupon, but there was a $35 minimum bill. They were glad to invite me along as they needed me to get over $35 anyways (They even ended up having to order some desserts to go)
We headed back and I got a very good night sleep, even though I had to get up at 4:30 am local to make my 6:15 am flight home. One bummer about flying way west is that you basically have to burn an entire day getting back to the eastern US.
Of all the 50+ marathons I have run so far, this one in Oregon is by far my favorite, so far. Wonderful people, wonderful touristing, wonderful (all except the rain) marathon. This is exactly why I don’t like ‘repeating’ races. I don’t want my memories of this weekend being confused with ‘some other time’ I went to Oregon.
Some final thoughts at the conclusions of this ‘double double’…. I knew I could survive 4 marathons in 8 days because I have survived 100+ mile races in ONE day. Given the choice of 4 marathons in 8 days or 100 miles in one day, I would have to go with the 100 miler. When you do a 100 miler you go slower and relax, knowing you will be running all day long. When I run marathons ,(no matter when I ran the last one) I try to run them about the same time, low 3 hours. Of course, this foursome of races I did them all in respectable times but boy, did I want to slow down even more much of the time. Maybe my mental toughness is getting better now, who knows. As my marathoning career seems to be (maybe?) closing and my ultramarathoning career is taking off, I am looking at these 26.2 milers as nice training runs. On the flight home from this double, knowing that I do not race again for 6 weeks, I am thinking about how many miles I can log this week. On the flight home I was doing my stretches, strengthening my ankles and shins. I barely take any time at all to enjoy an accomplishment before I look forward to the next big challenge, a 100 mile race in the mid of February outside Buffalo, NY. Granted, I have 2 marathons between now and then (one in Late November, one in mid December) but those will be easy. Well, now they will be :)