Portland Half Marathon Recap and the Nicest Guy Ever

Last week was a very busy week for Mike and me.  Mike was on a Kaizen, which basically means that he and his team were working hard-core on process improvements and didn’t leave work till 9pm.  Since Mike was working late, I used that opportunity to work late several days last week too.  So between the two of us, Mike and I got a TON of work done last week.  Mike got home early on Friday because the presentations for the process improvements got done in the early afternoon.  I tried texting him throughout the afternoon a few times to see how tired he was, but didn’t get any response.  When I got home from work, I found Mike sound asleep.  Poor guy!

However, he wasn’t too exhausted to have bought me a gift card to Lululemon (an athletic clothing company) for my birthday, so I got to go there during the week and pick out some new bright purple running capris, a black running hat that was on sale, and a black flowy yoga top.  What a nice guy!  🙂

Unfortunately, even though it had been a really busy week, especially for Mike, waaaay back in August I had registered for the Portland Half Marathon.  And that was this Sunday, 5/19.  Also, on Saturday I had the final Girls on the Run race, which I was running with my assigned girl buddy.  So basically I had two races in two days in two different states.  To make things even more crazy, I had to get to Portland before 5pm on Saturday because that was the deadline for picking up my race packet at the race expo in Portland.  No race packet  means no running bib and no timing chip.  No running bib and no timing chip means you can’t run the race.  So it was unfortunate that such a busy weekend was following such a busy week at work.  I told Mike I could just drive myself down to Portland, but he said he wanted to come with me and show support.  Sweet guy!  (Have you guessed who the Nicest Guy Ever from the blog post title is?)  🙂  He also offered to drive me to the Girls on the Run 5k on Saturday morning, but I wanted him to be able to sleep in as long as possible Saturday morning, so I took the bus instead and we decided he could pick me up after that race and then we could drive to Portland and hopefully get there before 5pm to pick up my race packet.

So Saturday morning I got up early, packed my bag for Portland, left it where Mike could find it, and then headed out to catch a bus.  I took one bus to downtown Seattle and then transferred to another one to take me to Seward Park.  In an effort to make sure I was on time (since you can never depend on buses), I got there about an hour early.  Fortunately it wasn’t raining or even very windy so it was a relaxing wait.  The run itself was fun.  The girls all had a lot of fun, and it was a beautiful course out and back along Lake Washington.  Girls on the Run is a great program… I think I’ll be participating in it in future seasons!

Then Mike picked me up and we headed south towards Portland.  We stopped briefly to eat lunch at Arby’s and then continued south.   As we headed south, it started to rain.  Bummer!  I didn’t really want to run a half marathon in the rain if it was avoidable.  We got to the expo center to pick up my race packet at 3:30pm.  We were still in time!  🙂  And it was still raining hard.  😦  I picked up my race packet and Mike and I got coffee at the expo.  Then we headed a little farther south to the hotel.

We got settled in the hotel, showered since we’d had a long drive from Seattle, and then decided to walk around Portland a little even though it was raining so that we could explore the city a little.  Our first stop was a camera shop a few blocks from the hotel.  Mike found a lens he’d been looking for at a good price, so he bought it and said he’d try it out taking pictures of me during the race the following day.  Then we discovered a mall that reminded us a lot of the Pacific Place Mall in Seattle.  We wandered around looking at all of the stores.  There were some cool art galleries in the mall having some art showings so we wandered through those and looked at all the cool art.  After we finished at the mall, we headed back to the hotel and had dinner at a cool 50’s-style diner.  The food was good, and when I asked about gluten-free options, the waiter was CRAZILY knowledgeable and entered my gluten allergy into their system so that there wouldn’t even be cross-contamination of my food with gluten.  Seattle is very gluten-friendly, but Portland seems even more so!  I had a chickpea and quinoa burger without the bun and Mike had beef brisket.  We were both exhausted and went to bed early.

I had picked a hotel that was less than a mile from the starting line so that we wouldn’t have to mess with parking on Sunday morning.  It also let me sleep in later because I was able to just walk 10 minutes to the starting line.  I woke up fifteen minutes before my 6:30am alarm having just dreamed that I’d overslept and missed the race.  I definitely wasn’t going back to sleep after that dream so I got up and started my pre-long-race ritual.  Eating high-carb energy bars.  Putting my hair back in a braid.  Putting on my new lululemon running clothes.  Putting runner’s GU, kleenex, a hotel room key, and my phone in the pockets of my running coat, and then finally attaching my race bib to the right leg of my running pants (always the right leg for some reason) and my timing chip to my left shoe (always my left shoe for some reason).  🙂

Mike woke up briefly, but he was still clearly tired from a long week at work and a bunch of driving on Saturday.  He was going to drag himself out of bed to walk to the start line with me, but I convinced him to get another hour or so of sleep and just come down to the finish line a little while before I expected to hit mile 13.  He agreed, and fell back asleep after setting an alarm.

I walked down to the starting line and only had a twenty minute wait until the race started (the advantage of being able to walk to the start line and not worry about getting there early enough to find parking!).  I was a little nervous about the race, because I hadn’t trained for it at all, and I didn’t do distance running at all during the winter.  I had actually forgotten completely that I’d registered for the race until they emailed me a reminder about a month ago.

However, it was a beautiful day for running.  Not raining, not too hot, not too cold, and a little breezy without being windy.  The first couple of miles were flat and easy.  There was a mile out and back and then we headed over the Wilhemette River into East Portland.  From the course elevation map I was expecting hills from mile 9 to mile 11, but flat ground from miles 6 to 9.  So when I hit mile 6 I was mentally ready for three miles of flat ground to get myself mentally geared up for the hills at mile 9.  However, there was a significant hill starting at mile 6 that continued going up for about 3/4 of a mile, and then up and down hills continued.  I was nervous.  If this was the ‘flat’ part of the course, what were the hills at miles 9 to 11 going to look like??

Interestingly, when I apprehensively hit mile 9 the course flattened out.  Apparently the elevation map on the course website was incorrect.  So I had a couple miles of flat ground, and then I could see the bridge we were going to cross back into downtown Portland.  That was exciting, because it was the last leg of the race!  It was also exciting because all of the uphill work I’d done between miles 6 – 9 was paying off and most of the rest of the course looked like it was downhill.  I could look down and see across the bridge into downtown Portland, and I could see the finish line!  Nice!  Particularly nice because my hip flexors and quads were starting to scream at me.  I wanted to stop, but I was determined to finish under 2 hours and I wasn’t sure exactly how I was doing time-wise so I kept going.  The really cool thing about half marathons vs full marathons is that in a half marathon when you start thinking you can’t do this anymore, you’re at the finish line and you don’t have to.  With the full marathon, right around the time you’re thinking you can’t do this anymore you have about fifteen more miles.  Around mile 12 I had crossed the bridge into downtown Portland and started keeping a lookout for Mike with his camera.  I knew I’d be easy for him to spot because I was wearing neon yellow running shoes and bright purple running pants.  Not exactly subtle.  🙂  Watching for Mike kept me going through mile 13 because I was determined that I was going to be running when I passed him, not walking!  I also hadn’t done any walking during the race, even up hills, and I didn’t want to start.  I spotted Mike along the sidelines at the same time that I spotted the 13 mile marker.  Only 0.1 mile left!  I put in a burst of speed, both for Mike’s pictures and because I was almost finished.  I ran down the finishers strip where bunches of people were standing taking pictures and cheering the runners in.  Crossing the finish line felt SO GOOD on my aching quads and hip flexors, and I slowed to a walk.  Then I caught up with Mike and we walked back to the hotel.  I took a quick shower, ate a couple energy bars, and then we headed back to Seattle.  Final time: 1:55:57.  Well below my 2-hour cut-off, and exactly 1 second slower than I ran the Seattle half marathon last year.  I am apparently nothing if not consistent in my running.   🙂

Then we drove back to Seattle at a relaxed pace since we no longer had to rush for any reason.  We stopped at a Subway for lunch and then continued on.  It was nice to have a little bit of time to relax yesterday afternoon/evening before we started up work again on Monday.  We watched Quentin Taratino’s first movie: Reservoir Dogs.  It was a very interesting story, but (like most of his movies) very violent and intense.

I also made Mike some sausage cavatappi.  It turned out well and was really easy.  It made a lot more than I was thinking it would, though, so hopefully Mike doesn’t get sick of it before it’s gone.  🙂

Did everyone else have a good weekend?  Mike and I are looking forward to Memorial Day weekend this coming weekend… we have absolutely nothing planned.  It’s just for relaxing.  🙂



Filed under Running, Travel

2 responses to “Portland Half Marathon Recap and the Nicest Guy Ever

  1. Lia K

    Yaay–great job, Karen! Good for you doing two races in one weekend. Did your bright purple capris from Lululemon make you run faster?;)

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