Last fall, (October 9) I ran my fourth marathon in Portland, OR. What’s interesting about this particular marathon is that I felt least prepared for it, but I beat my previous personal record by a solid 22 minutes!
Since I didn’t feel very prepared (My longest run before the marathon was the 13 miles I ran during the half Ironman on August 7th) I started the race thinking that I would take my time, finish the race and enjoy the rest of my weekend wine tasting in the Willamette Valley.
This kind of thinking is emotionally difficult for me because I’m extremely competitive – not so much with others – but with myself. I have a bad habit of feeling like I failed if I run a race slower than I ran the previous race. This kind of thinking is pretty ridiculous when it comes to running marathons, after all, isn’t any finish a win?
To combat that mindset, I decided not to pay attention to my time at all. I would simply enjoy getting to know Portland, watch for my two friends and my fiance (then boyfriend) running the marathon too and use the Galloway Method the whole time. (The Galloway Method is some combination of running and walking. I use running 7 minutes, walking 1 minute throughout a marathon to keep my legs fresh.)
I started with Jason, my then-boyfriend/now-fiance. He would drop me as I walked and I would catch him by the end of my 7-minute running stretch. Eventually, he was too far in front to catch so I settled into my own pace running, walking, and enjoying myself despite damp conditions and approaching rain.
At mile 13 I was surprised to find Jason on the side of the road, bleeding and easing his bare feet (that’s right, my then-boyfriend/now-fiance runs marathons barefoot) into a pair of Vibrams. Alarmed at the sight of blood at mile 13, I ran with him for a while to make sure he was okay (he was) and then got to chatting about something else (probably food) and I missed a couple of my walks.
I realized I felt stronger running with him and decided to forgo the walks until later in the race. Later didn’t come. We approached the bridge at the north end of the course and laughed at a man on the largest hill of the course trying to convince us all that, “THIS IS NOT A HILL!!” We crossed into mile 18 and started heading back down the other side of the river in a drizzling rain. We passed into the last 5 miles taking turns urging each other not to walk and to “just keep going, your hamstring will be fine.” We would mention how far we were from the finish line using descriptions of our runs from the neighborhood at home: “Just one lap around the reservoir and we are done!”
And then, sometime during mile 25, Jason said the most surprising thing I heard the whole race, “Hey, the 4:25 pace group is right behind us!” They had started right in front of us. So, we tried to run harder. They passed us right at the end, but we still finished strong, albeit cold, damp, wet and a little bloody.
Overall, the course and the aid stations were great, just understand that it’s Portland and come prepared for a little rain 🙂