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Race for the Roses race report

April 4, 2011

Wow. What a race! – Warning, LONG.

I honestly could not have asked for a better first Half Marathon experience. It was SUNNY(!!!!) it was cool, it was somewhat flat, the race was not overcrowded, etc. etc. I mean, honestly, who gets this lucky their first time??

I was a little worried on Saturday when we started to get HAIL outside in the afternoon. I picked up my packet and “goodies” (read: Hand sanitizer and a sample of oatmeal) early on, when it was still the normal, Portland grey clouds. After getting home to be tortured mercilessly clean the house, DP and I both looked outside and realized that there was white stuff coming down, but a sun shining in the sky. Hmmmm, ok. So we investigate further, to find out the white stuff is pellet sized hail. After getting the dogs in REAL quick, we spent the rest of the afternoon laughing about the strange weather conditions. Sunny one minute, pouring the next. Back and forth.

After a full day of toture cleaning my DP worked up quite the appetite, and we didn’t want to ruin our nice clean kitchen. Out the door we went to the steak house. We arrived at promptly 6:55. Yes, that will be important later. As of 7:45, our order had not be brought, and we had DP’s parents flying in at 8:10. Needless to say, we were miffed. Add that to the fact that our waitress was a ghost, and I hadn’t eaten since noon, and I was downright pissed. I kept thinking “I’m not gona be able to run. My stomach isn’t gonna like me eating this late. I’m starving, where is our bloody food?” We ended up getting our dinner to go. Which means after a joyful reunion with DP’s parents, we headed home to chow down on some (cold) prime rib. Hooray for microwaves!

Now, you should know, DP’s dad is a lifelong scout leader, and loves adventures and being outdoors. So DP’s Christmas gift to him was a trip up Mt. St. Helens, sometime this week. Knowing that, can you guess what they were talking about? ๐Ÿ™‚

I called uncle at about 10:30 and climbed in bed. I wasn’t able to lay out all of my race gear in one place, so no picture, sorry! When I woke up at 5 I felt pretty good. I felt rested and ready. I had a Chobani and banana in the car as DP drove me to the Convention center for the start. The race started at 7, but the pacing groups were all meeting at 6 to warm up and get ready. After one failed dropoff (I forgot my waterbottle) and one for real, DP went back home to nap for a bit before he came down to one of the photo spots to cheer me on.I Loved being there early. Plenty of time to relax, stretch and get myself ready. This may become a pattern. Of course, the staging area was heated and indoors, which helped my mood a LOT.

I made my way to the FitRightNW table, and was told the pacers would be right there. While waiting, I met another runner who was running with the 2:30 group. It was also her first Half Marathon. She was awesome! We talked and stretched and laughed together, and soon enough, it was time to get in the starting corrals! AHHHHH! Lucky enough, the sun was already peeking through, so all my fears about J(my new friend) and I being pelted by golf-sized hunks of ice were NOT going to come true. Thank goodness!

We lined up behind our pacer, and then I watched the clock count down. It got to 0, and then started counting. My difference in times was 2:11, so it took us that long to cross. Nowhere near the 10-15+ minutes it took at Shamrock. I guess it does make a difference to only have 1800 people running a race. As we got out of the starting chute, there was a huge line of volunteers straight away. They had glitter! They had signs! They had pom-poms! They were FABULOUS! I was smiling already. The only major hill straight off was the one to get up on to the bridge we had to cross. My legs were fresh, so I barely even noticed it. We were right with our pacer, and I had made a new running friend. We decided to stick together throughout the race. It makes SUCH a difference to have someone to run with!

To be perfectly honest, the first 5 miles went by somewhat uneventfully. I had met Mr. Talky at the pick up the day before, and he somehow found me in the sea of runners. BLAST! I HATE being rude to people, so I just let him tell me stories about his other races and his wife, and everything else in his life. HOW DO THESE PEOPLE FIND ME?!?!?!??! Now, normally I would be more than happy to respond in kind, but I was busy running. So I did the only thing I knew how to do, feigned needing a walk break. J smirked as I fell back and let him move on. She waited for me at the next stoplight and just chuckled. SUPER nice guy, but wow.

After about an hour and 3 water stops (This race was AWESOME!ย  I think there were 7 or 8 total!) I saw a sign that said 3. “3?? That’s it?” I made the international “confused” sing at J, and she responded reassuring me that were not, in fact running in slow motion. “We’ve done almost 5, I think”. Came her response. Whew! It turned out that sign was for the 10k race.

Side note: The GelBot I won from RunZoeRun was AMAZING! the first time you try to suck gel out of it, you wonder if you are going to pass out, but once the gel gets to the top, it is SO easy to refuel a little bit every 5 to 10 minutes. I LOVED it, and was able to keep my energy even much better than when taking whole gus.

Miles 4.5 through about 7 were mostly downhill. This is when I hit my stride. If you have ever run in downtown Pdx, you know that there is a nice, gentle downhill slope from South to North. Not so bad that it hurts your knees, but a nice enough downhill that you know you’re running it. I had Big ‘n Rich blasting, and I was in the zone. Holy cow. THIS is why I run. THIS is what it feels like. I can go on FOREVER!

And then, hill. Not a huge one, but big enough. I walked most of the uphills, just because I knew I wanted to run the last mile in to the finish, and I had to save some juice. Right after the uphill (the hills weren’t huge, but were gradual and long, so they took it out of you!) I saw my family! DP, his mom and his dad were there cheering for me! I stripped off my top layer, switched water bottles, then headed back out. I think it took all of 10 seconds. Thank goodness for re-fueling hubbies!


J and I before seeing my family the first time (I'm in the pink socks. With the t-rex hand. WTH??)

When we got to mile 9, I was unhappy that I had reliquished my top layer. Miles 9 through 12.75 were all along the waterfront. And while it was sunny, it was still cool. AND we were no longer protected against the wind by buildings. BRRR! The only part about the actual race that I had even the slightest gripe about (this was THE best put-together race I’ve ever done) was the course. There were 2 turnarounds, and one of them was the same turnaround from my 10k in February. It is in a bleak, industrial, unappealing area of town, and is just plain no fun. All you see is people who are ahead of you, and it’s all you can do to not just nip over that center line and continue the other direction. But then this race is about running 13.1, not 12.5. So we kept on truckin’.

After the first TA, we got to go back to the pretty part of the waterfront. By this time, we were high-fivin’ fools at every milepost. J had said she usually hits the wall after 10. So we kept on going hard. 11? No problem. Except that my stomach was no longer accepting water or gu without a temper tantrum. C’est la vie! 12? We got this! 12.1, we decided we were gonna power on in. This confidence lasted riiiiiight until the on ramp to the bridge we had to cross. I walked. J didn’t she kept up with me at a slow jog until my glutes stopped screaming at me. (Morgan, if you read this, thank you for the advice! It totally helped to think about “giving my running muscles a break” while going up hills. Unfortunately, ALL my muscles were unhappy at this point!) We crested the beidge, and ran. We ran because we were almost done. We ran because we could see our target. I ran because I saw DP and family in the distance. We shut up and ran. We hit the volunteer chute they had created and J turned on the speed. She zoomed ahead and crossed 4 second before I did. I crossed feeling elated, excited, disbelief, and a whole lot of other, more indescribable emotions. In 2 hours and 30 minutes. I had to double check the clock!

See the smile? SEE IT?? That's what 13 miles in to a half looks like baby!

We found our pacer, and realized she had crossed about 2 minutes before us. On time for a 2:30 from the gun time, but a little ahead of the chip time. I made my way inside, up the stairs (?!?!?!?) and found my family. After big hugs, they sent me off to change (what, like I sweat or something?) before we went to brunch. I snagged some granola and yogurt, met up with J and we set out to get in the car and put food in our empty bellies.

So there you have it. 2:30:33. And I had wished for under 2:45 as my fantasy goal. Looks like I need to start giving myself more credit. A HUGE thank you to those people who responded to my pleas on DM and facebook. Here are some of the loving, inspirational messages I got:

– “Hope your race is going great! Love ya!” – Cousin Cassandra

– “On your mark, get set, ………. PACE YOURSELF! Good luck!” – Mommy ๐Ÿ™‚

– “Go kid go” and “Keep on truckin” – Daddy-o

– “Good luck”and “It’s a beeyooteeful day to RUN!” – Jenn!

– “You can do it!” – again from Mommy ๐Ÿ™‚

I LOVED feeling my cell vibrate, and was so excited to see all the love and inspiration sent my way. THANK YOU EVERYONE!! I did however, underestimate how hard it would be to respond WHILE running. Whoops!

7 Comments leave one →
  1. CilleyGirl permalink
    April 4, 2011 5:52 pm

    That’s me — I’m the unknown 503 number!! I couldn’t remember what time the race started so I sent you a text as soon as I got up for my own training run that morning. Great job on the half!!

  2. April 4, 2011 6:07 pm

    Thank you SO much!! I will be cheering you on in June! I signed up to run the half at Vancouver, so I will be there cheering you on! Wanna run soon?

  3. April 5, 2011 9:34 am

    You TOTALLY need to start giving yourself more credit! I thought that the FIRST time I ran with you. ๐Ÿ™‚ You’re way stronger than you think.

    CONGRATS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I’m so excited for you & your efforts. What an amazing day it turned out to be for you.

  4. April 5, 2011 11:28 am

    What a fantastic race you had! I’m so happy you finished with a smile – in such a fast time – and without being nailed by any hail. Congratulations!!

  5. April 9, 2011 9:16 pm

    Great race photos! It looks like such a great time (and sunny too!!)!

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