The weather gods gave us their blessing yesterday for the Portland Marathon. Up to a few days prior, the forecast was calling for 55 with a mixture of cloud and rain. In actual it was mid 60′s and sunny. Was a perfect day to run a marathon.
The day before the marathon, my wife and our friend Amy (who was also running) drove up to Portland. Packet pickup was easy and the marathon exp0 was packed (seems like it may be outgrowing the current location). It would have been nice to check out more of the booths, but there were just too many bodies for me.
The three of us were staying at some friends in Portland (fellow Cascade Lakes Relay teammates). After a visit with them in the afternoon, Amy and I did a quick run to loosen everything up then had a light pasta dinner.
I feel like I sabotaged my first two marathons by not eating properly the days leading up to the event. Just eating way too much of everything. I was determined to not make that mistake this time. It’s silly to tank months of training a few days before you run.
The night was typical tossing and turning (which apparently a poor night sleeping does not impact your raceday performance). Wake up at 5 AM, eat some cheerios, have some coffee and wait until it’s time to head out.
Back in May I had outlined the training plan I was going to use based off the Advanced Marathon Training book. The plan wasn’t super aggressive, but was definitely a more thorough and thought out plan from the Hal Higdon plans I had used prior. Unfortunately, because of my foot, vacations and lack of motivation, the plan quickly went out the window and I did the no-plan plan.
With that in mind, I set a time goal of 3:50, but more importantly I wanted to try and pace myself better and just have a good even run.
After hitting our corral, they did the moment of silence for Boston, National Anthem and then we were off.
I had a 3:45 pace band that I was going to use as a guide for my splits. The band was adjusted to allow for even effort instead of event splits. This helps ensure that you don’t over exert yourself on the hills and take advantage of any downhills. I didn’t plan on running with the 3:45 pace group, but I wanted to run and keep them in sight.
The first 13 miles seemed to run by pretty quickly, everything was feeling great, I was hitting the splits and still running with an easy effort. Alternating between ultima and water at the aid stations and a few shot blocks every 30 minutes or so kept me feeling pretty good.
At mile 15 I saw my wife and friends cheering us on with the sign my wife made (I’m a Judge Judy fan BTW).
Mile 16 was the St. Johns bridge, the one big climb on the course. I slowed, but kept up the even effort and chugged up to the bridge. The view from the bridge was great. Straight ahead you could see Mt. Hood and to the south was the rest of Portland.
After crossing the bridge you begin to make your way back to downtown portland and the finish. Mentally it can be tricky because you feel like you are a short distance from the finish, but still have a long way to go. I’ve heard it said that a marathon is a 10K with a 20 mile warmup. I had to keep reminding myself of this and held back even though my legs and body still felt great.
I kept the 3:45 pace group in sight but they had slowly began extending their lead. At mile 21 was a long gradual downhill. I figured this was my one and only chance to try and catch them and put as much out as I could. It was a noble effort but just didn’t have enough in the tank to catch up to them. At the bottom of the hill a light headwind began to start up and that sealed the deal.
At mile 23 I decided to slow it up a bit with the goal of just finishing under 3:50 and crossing the finishing line without walking once. The last few miles were a struggle and I dealt with some nausea but I didn’t walk and crossed the finish line at 3:49:23.
Overall I was extremely please with the performance, I paced it perfectly, didn’t bonk and crossed the finish line with nothing left in my tank. I couldn’t physically have done any better.
This was also my first without carrying any of my own water or listening to music. I wanted to try and run more ‘minimal’. I limited the amount of times I allowed myself to check my pace and aimed to run more by feel. Overall I really liked this experience and allowed me focus more on the run and my body than just zone out and run.
Perfect day and Perfect run. I’m looking forward to a few half marathons this fall, a little time off, then focusing on possibly the Newport Marathon in the spring of 2014.