Here are the lessons I learned today:
#1 It’s good to brush your teeth everyday – and especially before running a 1/2 marathon. Nothing is more icky than running with a pasty mouth.
#2 It’s good to drink a glass or two of water in the morning and especially before running a 1/2 marathon
#3 It’s good to double tie your shoe laces before racing
#4 You might want to go to the bathroom, at least once, if not twice
#5 You could consider drinking a ton of coffee, or maybe a bite of breakfast
#6 You could brush your hair, or warm up, or jog around and steel your nerves for the big start
You could do all those things, but that would take time… And I just didn’t have ANY of that this morning. So, please, read on for my ridiculous race report of the Portland Run Like Hell 1/2 Marathon.
OK, so if you are like me, or if you know me, or if you’ve ever talked to me, you know I like to organize. I like checklists. I like to have a plans and I like to have schedules. This is especially true for race mornings. I have a race morning routine that I’ve developed over the past few years and while I might tweak the plan I never, ever, ever abandon it completely. It’s soothing and it keeps pre-race stress in check.
So, last night I set my alarm for 5 AM. I wanted to have plenty of time to take a shower, wash my hair, have two cups of coffee, stretch my achilles tendon (which has been slightly tight the past week), and jog to the race startline. Unfortunately my alarm did not go off… and so here is how the morning went down:
??:?? AM: I wake up and realize that my alarm hasn’t gone off. I figure it must have a few minutes left; I roll over and check my clock which reads… oh crap, … 6:52 AM. I am instantly wide awake. OHHH FFFF*@#@%!!!! Race time is 7:30.. F#@#@#KKK!!! I spring out of bed and into action. Abby my dog is instantly awake as well and totally confused by my yelling. I speed around the apartment, throw on things and stuff other things into bags. I am out the door in minutes.
7:03 AM: My still groggy boyfriend drives me downtown to the race start. The streets are deserted and we make good time.
7:16AM: Arrive at race venue with a few minutes to spare. I run to the race info tent and pick up some safety pins. I secure my number to my shirt and eat an Espresso Love GU. It’s not coffee, but it’ll have to do.
7:30AM: The gun goes off and the race starts. I am, like, kind of maybe, barely awake. The weather is brisk, the roads are wet and I say a little prayer to the running gods that the rain will wait until all the runners have passed the finish line.
Mile 1 -3: I start off with a good 7:00 min/mile pace. I don’t feel particularly feisty or perky. I roll through the streets of downtown Portland. The crowd of runners thins out quickly and we all seem to settle into our paces.
Mile 4 -5: We make a wide u-turn and head back along the riverfront and past the starting area. This is truly the beginning of the race. The next miles will take us up a long, brutal and gradual climb. And of course, it has started to rain.
Mile 5 – 8: Miserable, miserable rain. It’s coming down in sheets. The headwind is vicious. The uphill is unkind and seems like it will never end. I don’t feel good but at least I’m starting to perk up. I remember to swing my arms and despite the uphill climb I begin to feel a little bit fierce.
Mile 9ish: We turn a corner and move into rolling hills. I pick up the pace and dig a bit deeper. Snot flows freely down my face.
Mile 10 – 12: It’s down hill and I begin to pick off runners, one by one. I feel gross and shaky. I’ve not had anything to eat or drink the entire race…. I begin to take stock of all the things I’ve mismanaged on this race day and feel sad. I’ll probably end up with a terrible time and a terrible race…
Mile 12: I decide to throw down the hammer and put in a good last effort. But why, oh, why does this mile feel like it’s 14 miles long! It just never ever ever ends!
Mile 13 and the finish: Did I mention that it feels like I’ve been running this last mile forever? Suddenly, I spy the mile marker and, not far from it, the finish line. I sprint and just like that I’m past the finish line in a blur. I upchuck a bit of acidic vomit and fight the urge to spit everywhere. The MC calls my name. My boyfriend yells for me. Woohoo. I am done!
Post Race: I congratulate the runners who have finished before and after me. They truly rocked the race. We exchange our opinions on the nasty, hellish hills and the nasty, hellish rain. My boyfriend finds me. He’s brought along Abby who is be-decked in a plaid raincoat and wagging her tail. We hang out of a few minutes but we quickly decide to find some coffee and dry clothes.
We get back to the car and I start to do the math… I realize that my pace actually wasn’t that bad. I do a bit more thinking and then I realize. HOLY CRAP. I beat my previous 1/2 marathon time by over a minute and I was VERY close to beating my all-time 1/2 marathon PR. So while I didn’t feel like I ran a good race, and certainly the conditions were awful, I ended up doing very well. I even surprised myself.
Pace: 7:17 min/mile
Place: 14th female out of 1091 female finishers, 6th in age division, 66th out of 1653 runners.