Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Portland Rock n Roll Half Marathon 2012

I survived!! Official Race Time 2:03:15, Average Splits 9:25

Check out the bling!!
This half marathon journey began Saturday morning. We'd gotten reservations to bring our travel trailer to Champoeg State Park south of Portland, stay the night, then get up early Sunday morning to run the race. The trick was to get our trailer parked and set up with plenty of time to hit the race expo, which would be closing at 5pm. No race expo, no race bib...and I would not be racing! So we were on a bit of a schedule.

So we arrived in Portland with no problems, drove a little bit out of the way mistakenly to a Camping World to return a large part we'd purchased before. That went over just fine. While we were there, I thought I'd jump in the trailer and make lunch, so we could be on our way. That was when we realized we'd left our trailer keys at home! A mild panic set in and it was one of a few moments that day that I considered backing out and just going home. make a long story short, at least an hour later, we'd gotten into the trailer, finally found gas and were back on the road. We arrived at Champoeg with no reservation confirmation number (because of my airheadedness) but we found our spot just fine nonetheless. It was just a relief to be there. The kids immediately jumped on their bikes and went riding in the sunshine as my husband and I got everything settled. It seems getting to the destination city(or near it) is about 50% of the battle.

Before we had a chance to enjoy the sunshine, we had to hop back into the truck to head to the Oregon Convention Center. I don't know how to drive the dually stick shift yet and we figured in Portland traffic was probably not the best time to learn. So we had no choice but to go as a family. We arrived at the expo at about 3:30

Up until this moment I have to admit, I had been pretty lukewarm about this upcoming race. I have no idea what happened to me! I had been following my training plan, wasn't injured, nada. I just think the stresses in my life were taking a toll, and I had kind of lost my mojo for running. But as I entered the Expo with Journey playing and all kinds of bling going on, I really started to absorb the energy and get pumped!

Getting my bib was a cinch. I had printed out my confirmation sheet and race packet of information prior so all I had to do was get my bib. The lines were virtually nonexistent! I learned that there were 23 corrals based on estimated finish time and I was in corral 5! They must have thought I was fast! They had my estimated finish time at 1:55.

Once I had my bib, I headed over to get my t-shirt and SWAG bag.

The t-shirts rock, and fit so great! That is always something that is so hit-or-miss...whether the shirts will be the right size and sometimes the fit is cut just weird. They had women's fit or unisex fit sizes.

The SWAG bags had lots of fliers as usual, a few coupons, a GU sample and a Biofreeze sample (yes!). The bags themselves were pretty cool!

Peanut Butter GU? Really? Maybe I'll save this for a hike...just seems disgusting for a half marathon.
I browsed around the expo and tried lots of samples of products like Clif shot blocks, Nuun, and yummy vanilla and chocolate So Delicious coconut milk and ice cream bars. The coconut milk place was giving whole jugs away since they were going to be closing soon so I scored one! I probably should have taken 2 or 3... There were other places handing out samples too but I just enjoyed checking it all out. The one place I was really tempted to purchase from was the Sweaty Bands booth, but I really didn't bring money or intend to buy. I did make a mental note about ordering some online though, those bands are C-U-T-E!

I didn't stay at the expo long, my family was waiting and it was so nice out! I wanted to enjoy our campsite and the sunshine. I did get hit on at the expo buy a guy in his 40s...I'll spare the details though. Let's just say it was a mixture of feeling flattered and at the same time it was just embarrassingly funny! And it was definitely my first time being handed the line " this your first half marathon?..." as an opener.

So the rest of the night we let our kids ride bikes, prepared some dinner and hung out. My hubby made some awesome steaks but I ate some leftover chicken parm with lasagna noodles, sweet potato, salad and a roll. Carbo-loading baby! I also hydrated like a madwoman.

We managed to get to bed early even though it was light out. At about 8:30 we were all cozied into bed. I slept surprisingly well. I never sleep well before a race. I usually toss and turn and dream about missing the start until my alarm goes off. It's the most unnerving way to spend a night. But I don't remember waking up once and when my alarm went off at 5:15 I felt quite rested indeed.

I had been stalking the weather that week and all week it had said low 70s and sunshine which I was looking forward to. Saturday, this was what the forecast changed to:
Rain? Yuck!!
Sunday morning, I got up and made a cup of coffee, used the restroom and got ready to go. It's funny, I wasn't nervous. I kept thinking of the race as just something we were doing that morning, like any other run.

I love pinning on my race bib and attaching my chip timer. It's so official. My family got up around 5:50 and we ate breakfast. I had some french toast with syrup, which has been a really good breakfast on days when I have long runs. I drank some Smart Water. We left Champoeg around 6:40 am.

We arrived in downtown Portland around 7:15, my hubby stressing about parking the dually. I don't blame him. Eventually he got me close enough and I just jumped out and walked a few blocks to Tom McCall Waterfront Park. I headed straight for the Port-a-Potties, which were developing some pretty long lines. After using them, I found corral 5 and just waited around. Rock music was playing and I chit-chatted with a girl standing alone from San Diego.


Woops! Upside down...and can't edit iPhone pics
Corral 5 was not far from the start line
Two of my cheering squad

8:00am: the elite wheelchair runner (and race winner!) took off and the corrals were staggered one minute apart after that. We started at 8:05.

Mile 1: I was light as a feather! I felt like I could rule the world and I had this thing in the bag. It was great. I was aware of my surroundings, and I was focused on keeping a gentle pace since I was not warmed up.  8:00 split

Mile 2: Still feeling great! We ran across the bridge and past OMSI. Bands were out, cheerleaders were out. I was passing people left and right and it felt really natural. No problem! I did realize that my Nike+GPS was ahead of the actual race mileage though so I made a mental note not to listen when she told me I had reached my mile markers. I remember thinking that I was afraid it would start to feel hard soon... 7:53 split

Mile 3: I started to feel it a little here because we headed up a hill, but I didn't let it phase me. I had been running hills in Astoria, these little hills were nothing! I knew I was going a bit fast, but I figured I would pick miles to slow down on and these faster ones would be good "insurance" for those in order to make sure I maintained an 8:30 average. 8:17 split/5K 26:08

Mile 4: I felt great through most of it, which included another small hill. But somewhere in the middle of this mile I got a side stitch. I did my best to slow down and breath right in order to work it out but it did not go away. I got frustrated about my slower pace. 8:42 split

Mile 5: Side stitch was in full force and I was pissed. I had worked so hard, only to have something like this damper my success?? I jogged up a very long hill then walked some hoping that it would help it go away faster. It did not. Going down hill only made it worse too.  9:11 split

Mile 6: I was able to jog some and walk some but the stitch just wouldn't go away. We were running through neighborhoods at this point and I tried really hard to enjoy it. I couldn't believe how much I was walking, and LOTS of people were passing me. I tried to just ignore my time, thinking I might still be able to make up the difference if the stitch would just leave me alone!! 10:23 split/10K 55:30

Mile 7: I decided to throw away my time goals and just try to enjoy the race, try to have fun. My body (my core) just didn't want to cooperate, with the stitch coming and going consistently. I still didn't really have fun...probably because we ended up climbing another huge ass hill. 9:52 split

Mile 8: I guess things got a little better here. My split was better, and probably because I managed to go the whole mile without walking. 9:02 split

Mile 9: Not much new. Run/walk, maybe a water stop?  9:32 split

Mile 10: I felt a sense of hope knowing there was only a 5K left. Unfortunately my body didn't care and I felt like I was dragging it along. I feared it may be the longest 5K of my life. 9:54 split

10-mile mark 1:31:56

Miles 11-13.1 were better but I still had to huff and puff, stopping to guzzle water at every water stop. We passed under a huge Brooks rocker guy archway which looked deceivingly like something they would have up at the finish. I had to keep repeating over and over in my head that it couldn't be the finish line. Maybe they should have posted it somewhere less mentally brutal? Once I reached the peak of the final (SEVENTH) hill, I literally burst out, "SEVEN!! SEVEN HILLS!!! FRIG!!"

However, I enjoyed running across the bridge back to the park side of downtown. It had begun to rain. 10:50/10:16/9:12 splits

The best part of this race was at the very end. I usually have a pretty good kick in any race, no matter how hard I have ran. Not with this one. I was spent and I had nothing left. But I passed my family at the start of the last straight stretch and my husband took some video:

My husband took video of Kara Goucher headed for the finish: I was only just less than an hour behind her...
The best of all was when my 8-year-old son ran alongside of me on the sidewalk the whole straight stretch until we got close to the finish where the crowd thickened. I had to tell him to stop so he wouldn't get lost because he couldn't follow me into the chutes. But what a sweetheart, it meant so much to me that he did that!

Once I crossed the finish, I staggered over to where they were handing out medals and got mine. It's so pretty!! Then I grabbed like 3 bottles of water and followed the crowd to the post-race area where there were fruit cups, Marathon bars(grabbed 3), chocolate milk(grabbed 2), Gatorade(grabbed 1), some sort of goodie box(grabbed 1) and I think bagels(did not have room in my arms!). They were handing out space blankets and I wanted one but I just couldn't muster trying to get it around me with all of my stuff. I staggered over to the stairs by the fountain, dropped my stuff and guzzled a chocolate milk while getting rained on. Then I texted my husband so we could meet. I could hardly manage anything at this point. I was completely spent.

"crazy Olympic runner lady" was Kara Goucher and yeah I can text him at 12 miles in!
Once I met up with my husband, I gave the kids some goodies and kissed everyone and we headed out of there ASAP. The day before I had asked the hubby if he minded if we stayed a while after the race and listened to the bands. At this point I had zero desire to hang out whatsoever. The band was starting but so was the rain and I was quickly losing body heat as well as the will to live. :-/ So we walked a few blocks to the car, I changed into a dry shirt and sweatshirt and we headed out.

We "celebrated" by going to our favorite place in ChinaTown, House of Louis. Now I know what you are thinking and no, I didn't stuff myself with Chinese right after the race. I was actually kind of nauseous. Everyone wanted to go, so I warmed up with hot tea and ate some non-greasy pork-fried rice. It hit the spot and I started to feel a little better.

So anyway, already-long-story short, we got back to the campground in no time, cleaned and packed up and headed back home. The race didn't go as I had hoped but you can't win them all. I don't know why I got a side stitch when I have had such great long runs. I think I just went out much to fast. It's so easy to do that when A) There is a ton of upbeat energy going on, B) You have people around you all running the same pace, which kind of makes you feel like you are going slow and C) You feel super great at the beginning, which makes you feel like you can go out fast. When you slow down, it feels like you are going really, really slow. But nevertheless, it is a lesson I learned the HARD way today!!

I gave myself an hour to beat myself up then I forced myself to put the frustrating details behind me. Dwelling on it does no good! Learning from it is best :) There will be other races, and in the end, I did do pretty well and I got my medal :)

For those not-so-great races

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