26.2 mile training run… Portland Marathon

One marathon down, 3 more to go. The weather for Portland was pretty ideal. A little on the warm side, but couldn’t really ask for more. I did finish under my goal of 4:00, but really, that seemed like a modest goal. I really was gunning for 3:40. But a few of things go in the way.

First, I caught a cold 3 days before the race. Actually, I caught it sooner, but the fever didn’t hit until Thursday. I ended up going into work thinking things were fine and I was just suffering from lack of caffeine. But nope. Got my coffee, turned down the thermostat in the office a smidge, and couldn’t figure out why I was still feeling warm. After a half hour, the normal time for the caffeine to kick in, I realized I needed to go home. So I cancelled both of the conference calls I had that day and rode the bus feeling pretty miserable. Slept most of that day and didn’t eat much. I normally loose my appetite when I’m sick. Friday was similar except I was feeling a little better by dinnertime but still not 100%. So when I should have been carbo-loading and hydrating, I wasn’t doing much of either. On the bright side though, my Hood to Coast teammates dropped off a nice gift bundle on my doorstep the day before. Thanks guys!

Second, I arrived to downtown a bit later than I would have liked. After waiting in line to check in my bag I only had a few minutes to get to the starting area. And when I did, I got stuck with the 4:15 and 4:30 pace groups and didn’t want to jockey for better position. So for the first 2 miles or so I was running a much slower pace than I normally run. Looking at my split times, that cost me 3 minutes. Things were going great up to mile 17, where I took an unusually long port-a-potty break. Unusual in the sense that I couldn’t quite tell if I was done. Not sure how else to explain it. But I figure that cost me a minute. The ascent up the St John’s Bridge slowed me down a bit but nothing out of the ordinary.

Then somewhere between miles 19-21 I spot Him. Him being Dean Karnazes, a.k.a. Ultramarathon Man, a.k.a. Mr. 50 marathons in 50 days in 50 states. I hear someone say, “look, we caught up to Dean”. I look over and, yup, there he is. I expected him to be surrounded by a crowd, but he’s by himself. I pick up the pace hoping to catch a word with him, telling him something like, “hey, I’ll see you in Chicago”. He helps me out by fiddling with his shoe. Some other dude beats me to him and starts up a chat. Dean is polite and returns the chat. But then Dean becomes Dean, excuses himself, and takes off, leaving both me and the other dude behind. Oh well, at least I saw him. From behind.

Then at about mile 21 the cramps start up. Crap. After cramping up bad in Victoria last year I’ve been trying to keep hydrating during a race. Today, I’d been taking in water at every aid station. Okay, maybe I missed one, but that’s all. So the cramping was especially disheartening. What else to do other than walk it off? So that was the story for the next 5 miles. Learning from experience I slowed to a jog to minimize the effect of the cramping on my time. Things didn’t return back to normal until the last mile but that was probably because I knew the it was ending soon.

Lessons learned: (1) show up early; (2) hydrate more than you think you need to, it might be more important than carbo-loading.

Oh… and Dean finish at 3:44, only 11 minutes faster than me. Holy crap! My 20-mile time was one minute faster! Man. I totally lost it the last 6 miles.

Split times by my watch:
1 – 9:09
2 – 10:15
3 – 7:50
4 – 8:10
5 – 7:42
6 – 8:08
7 – 8:14
8 – 7:44
9 – 8:08
10 – 8:03
11 – 8:09
12 – 8:20
13 – 8:34
14 – 8:25
15 – 8:23
16 – 8:45
17 – 10:01
18 – 9:20
19 – 9:08
20 – 9:36
21 – 9:33
22 – 11:21
23 – 9:29
24 – 10:19
25 – 10:40
26 – 10:01
Official finish/chip time – 3:55:34
Average heart rate: 171 bpm (damn, that’s too fast)

Tune in next week to hear what happened at the Royal Victoria Marathon.

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