2007 Portland Marathon

By October 7, 2007 5:06PM [link]

October 7th, 2007 in Portland, Oregon

What a race! It was a great day for a marathon. No rain, not too hot, not too cold. The sun wasn't too bright (was overcast for much of the race). A few spots were windy, but nothing too crazy. Good thing I wasn't running this in Chicago (the Chicago marathon was the same day, and it was 90 degrees. They had to cancel the race 3 and a half hours into it, and one person died while running. They later determined that he had a heart condition, and it wasn't just the heat that did it.)

I got up a little after 4am so my breakfast would have time to digest before the race and ate some Grape Nuts in my parents kitchen. Then I surfed the web and sat half-awake for a couple hours until 6:15 or so when my Dad, Alysa, and I left to drop me off. They weren't sure they'd be able to park so I jumped out of the car a few blocks from the starting line. I was a little cold and slightly shivering, but I had left my warmup clothes in the car so I wouldn't have to deal with them during the race. I cautiously operated the safety pins to attach my bib to my shirt -- attempting to use a needle an inch away from your skin is not the time you want to be shivering!

I made my way over to the starting line and got into the pack around 6:40 or so. It was still dark out. I didn't do any warmup -- figured I'd be running 26 miles today, there's no need to make it 28 by doing warmup! People were gathering and it gradually got more and more crowded as it got closer to 7am. People were chatting, stretching, laughing as we waited for the start. There were people holding those metalic-shaped helium baloons with paces written on them: 3:30, 3:45, 3:50, etc. They would run the entire race carrying those balloons and attempt to finish at that pace. If you wanted to run, say, 3:45, you could stick with the guy holding that balloon the whole time.

Around 6:55am it was quite crowded and one guy came pushing all the way from the back saying "excuse me, making my way up to the front, yadda yadda". I suppose he wanted to start at the top of the pack!

At 7am, the race began! I made my way forward and crossed the starting line a minute and 20 seconds or so after the gun. Just before I crossed the starting line, I saw Alysa off to the right. The beginning of the race was winding through some streets downtown. We made our way past the Outdoor store and over by that Burnside neighborhood. Past the building that used to be a Burger King. Then back south a bit and eventually up towards the Barbur hill. Sometime here I noticed that it was light outside and I had completely forgotten the transition from dark to light! Oh well.

We crested the hill around 3-ish miles and turned around to head back downtown again. I remember saying to myself "see you on the St. John's Bridge". We made our way along Waterfront Park, under the various bridges. There were frequent water stops and frequent portapotty stops. (I, luckily, never had to use the portapotty and skipped the water stops until about the half-marathon mark.)

We made our way all the way through downtown along Naito/Front street. At the north edge of downtown it was Front street again, and we kept going north through an industrial area. We passed some bars and whatnot too, it looked kinda fun if only I weren't in the middle of a marathon! At one point along here I saw some people cheering wearing purple UW jackets. I cheered "Go Huskies!" at them (and they responded back). Then I had a brief conversation about college sports with another runner (who was a Duck.)

There were also frequent musical groups, lots of cheering fans, and other assorted stuff along the way. At mile 9.1 we turned around a corner, heading back towards downtown. At this point I felt the wind in my face and realized that I had had a tailwind for the past couple miles. It made the next couple a little more difficult!

We didn't get all the way back to downtown this time, instead heading west a bit and gradually going uphill again. Around here I had a conversation with some fellow runners about, whether we would be staying inside the city limits for the entire race (we decided that we would). Then we turned northwards again and began our slow march towards the St. John's bridge. I could see it waaaay off in the distance, towering above and remember thinking to myself: I have to run all the way there?!

I got to the half-marathon mark still going strong. At this point, I started taking water, sports drinks, and gummy bears at most of the stops. We also entered a less populated zone -- long stretches went by when we didn't see any fans, musical groups, etc. I kept pace fairly well through this. I had stopped calculating my pace for the entire race, but I kept looking at my watch at every mile and would add 8 to 9 minutes to it, figuring where I should be at the next mile. Then when I got there, I'd compare (more often than not, I'd be behind!).

Just before we got to the bridge, we turned steeply (well, as steep as this race got) uphill. At this point, many people started walking. We pushed up the hill and made the right turn onto the bridge and kept going upwards a little bit to the crest of the bridge. The view from here was great, through it was quite windy too! This was the highest elevation point of the race, it was all downhill from here! This was mile 17.5 ish.

After this, we wove our way through residential neighborhoods and by the University of Portland. We were on the east side of the river, up on the bluff. Here, I slowed down a bit, adding 10 minutes to each mile as I went here. I kept drinking the funny liquids at the water stops: something called glukos, plus the sports drink, and other stuff too. Some of them were sweet, others not. At mile 19, they were giving out entire cans of Red Bull. Entire cans! I would have taken it if it were a tiny shot or something, but I didn't want a whole can! I passed.

At mile 22-ish, I really slowed down. At this point I stopped trying to run at any pace and just wanted to finish! I stopped to stretch briefly a few times, which helped. I kept going as we approached downtown again, on the east side of the river (we went down a big hill at one point). Around mile 23 or 24 we passed the Widmer Brewery, and they were giving out tiny shots of beer! I also (perhaps foolishly) passed on this, figuring I didn't need the dehydration. Just after this, we arrived at the Willamette and I saw my parents on the sideline! I waved to them as I passed and they cheered! Now I knew I was almost there. I turned the corner and went over the Steel Bridge, going very slowly. I stopped to stretch again briefly, and kept going.

Finally we were running through downtown again and I saw Alysa and Winston and knew I was just about at the finish line. I turned the final corner and headed west a few blocks from the river, and heard the announcers calling out my name (Michael Kay-ell, from Seattle) as I approached the finish line. I crossed the finish line with glee, happy to be done with the race!

I briefly stopped at the chip-cutter-off-ers and made my way through the chute. I went into the finishing area, which was full of liquids and bannanas and other fruits and ice cream and candy and chips and all sorts of wonderful things! I got a medal and a pin. It was great. I stayed here: dazed, sore, and grazing on food and food-like items for a little bit, then made my way slowly to the other end of the chute where I saw Alysa and my Mom. I was hobbling a bit but still walking!

It was a great race. I would have liked to hold my pace through to the end, but I'm happy to have ran it and happy to have finished. It was a fun experience all around. Here are my stats, courtesy of the race:

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