"...In the end, people either have excuses or experiences; reasons or results; buts or
brilliance. They either have what they wanted or they have a detailed list of all the rational reasons why not."

~ Anonymous
(taken from Matt Erbele's, It Takes Time to Get Good)

Thursday, November 17, 2011

A Seriously Belated Race Report: Portland Marathon - October 9, 2011


Total Distance: 26.85 miles (lot's of bobbing and weaving early on. Totally my fault, but I will get to that)
Total time: 5:42: whatever...like the seconds matter at that point. (Not a personal worst and I did not actually barf up a lung, so we are taking it as a 'win')
Total text messages sent from the course: 10 or 12 (there may have also been an email or two outlining the numerous reasons why this marathon was a remarkably BAD idea, how this would be the last motherfucking one of these things I do, and finally to whom to distribute my meager belongings as I certainly would not survive this, quote, "Goddamn sufferfest.")

*short for 'statistics', which this information really does not qualify as since 'statistics' implies there is some sort of analysis of the numerical data. Alrighty then,  for the statistical purists out there, here's some analysis: if you take the total time this run took and divide it by the total distance I traveled, you get a really, really fucking slow ass pace. Voila! Statistics!


Originally when I signed up to do the Portland Marathon my Run Buddy (whom I have not run with for over 3 years) said she was going to train for and run it with me. However, not super surprisingly, she decided pretty early on in the training that a marathon is, indeed, a very, long fucking way and that she did not want to do that. What can I say? I am drawn to smart people.

Then LA Run Buddy, fresh off the endorphin rush of a 41 hour labor, said that she and her son, who would be at that point  five months old, would come up to Portland with me (For the record, I knew that was INSANE and that she was not going to be able to make it. I just let her say it. It is both cruel and futile to argue reality with a woman that just spent 41 hours of grueling labor to only end up being slashed open from stem to stern to remove the baby that obviously had NO intentions of coming out his own.)

Gratuitous picture of MQ aka the cutest baby on the planet!

Needless to say I headed up to Portland without any of my peeps. I was thinking, "This is not my first rodeo. I can run a damn marathon by myself." I was not super right about that, but fortunately I had a last minute pinch hitter that came out from Minnesota to cheer me on. That proved to be very much appreciated as this marathon has been renamed by me from the Portland Marathon to the Piss and Moan Marathon.

The Run 

The organizers of the Portland Marathon deemed that anyone that was going to take 6 hours or more to complete their course was a "Walker," which honestly I think is kind of bullshit because other than race walkers I dare anyone to walk a full marathon in 6-6:30 hours. Whatever.

Race day morning, I walked to what I am certain was Northern Seattle to join my peeps in corral W (FYI: The other corrals were labeled  A, B, C, D, and E. The  'W ' label seemed somewhat punitive and just to MAKE SURE that everyone knew you were  NOT, in the esteemed opinion of the Portland Marathon, a runner. Yeah, fuck you too, Portland) 

Helpful Marathon Tip: If you are a runner (albeit a slower than sloth snot runner) and you have been placed in the corral with the ALL of the walkers for a HUGE marathon, get your ass up to the front of the corral. I am so used to seeding myself in the back of the pack that I automatically did so and I spent at least  the first 4 miles weaving through and around bands of walkers stretched 5-6 people across, seemingly arm in arm.  *sigh* And really, I had no one to blame but myself. I was in their wave and had self-seeded in the very back.

Miles 0-5

Once our corral got in position for them to start us, it took me almost an additional 30 minutes to walk from my place in the corral to the start line. This should have been a clue to me that I was not positioned correctly in this wave, but I milled along in bovine-like bliss until I finally crossed the mat and then spent the next hour or so cursing all of humanity and internally screaming disparaging things about the size of people's asses in front of me that would have, and should have, gotten my very own fat ass summarily kicked had they been uttered aloud.

What I did not know is that this would probably be the most enjoyable part of my run.

Miles 6-11


Like, stab yourself in the pancreas to break the monotony type "Yawn."

Seriously, Portland, change this part of the course.  I hate to be critical of a race course, but I have to believe there are more interesting ways to carve out 26.2 miles in Portland. The HAS to be.

 This bus was stuck out in the middle of nowhere playing music trying to cheer runners up. Doesn't the man looking up stock quotes on his iPhone look "cheered" up? 

Miles 12-16

This section of the run, while not actually the most miserable, was definitely where there was the highest likelihood of  my quitting this run.

 Race walker that dropped me like a used condom at mile 14. Yeah, it stung a bit. 

I have yet to walk off a course, but I will tell you that out on the stretch between miles 13 and 16 I was texting my friend asking "Jesus Christ on a pony, I am only halfway? Just what the fuck do I have to prove? I have run 12 of these damn things!" And telling her I was almost at the point of offering passing motorists sexual favors for a ride back to the finish if she did not come get me.

She did not come get me.  

No motorists where propositioned. (To be fair, none stopped. I should have worn a cuter outfit. Lessons learned)

I kept running

well, running-ish.

Miles 17-23

Now, THIS this was the most miserable section of the run. There was a brief moment of happy at mile 17 as I got to run over a cool bridge, but for the most part this section was the type of misery most people associate with running marathons: It hurt, it was boring, I hated EVERYONE, and there was no end in sight.

 Cool bridge at Mile 17

At mile 19, there was the first on course food option. They had what appeared to be an 11 year old girl holding handfuls of pretzels out to runners. The poor little thing looked terrified as runner after starving runner practically gnawed off her fingers to get to the salty carbs.  For the record, I told her I loved her and that she was my favorite person in the universe. That did not creep her out AT ALL I assure you.

Some kind spectators (and I have to say that the neighborhoods the marathon ran through for miles 18-21 had some really kick ass spectators) were giving out candy corn. I usually hate candy corn, but at mile 18 of a miserable fucking marathon they were sweet, sweet ambrosia.

My only regret is that I had but a mere two hands with which to hold my cache of these tasty delights.

At mile 20, I texted my friend to say, "Sub 6 not going to happen. God help you if you do not have Starbuck's at the finish."

Aren't I a gem? She flew out from Minnesota for that kind of sweetness! 

Miles 23-26

If I keep moving forward eventually this damn thing will end.

At mile 25.5 ish I saw a Team in Training teammate who is possibly one of the most goodhearted people you would ever hope to meet. He had finished LONG before and was out cheering on people like my ungrateful ass.

My comment to him as he said, 'Looking strong. You are almost done..." or some such NOT helpful tripe:

"You! Standing there with your medal, all finished and shit, if you really want to help grab that balloon arch and move it closer! THAT would be helpful."

This was about the time when a, at the very least, 75 year old race walker (Yes, I said race walker. Fuckers haunted me at every turn at this damn race)  that I had been leap frogging with for the last 8 miles passed me for good. He said, "Gottcha, Girlie!" (It is not a well hidden secret that I am not above taunting and mocking people, young and old alike, in races . We had been bantering back and forth for miles now.)

I tipped my pink, Puma run hat to him and bid him adieu. There was no fight left in this dog. The septuagenarian had won. Possibly a new race low.

Wait, I was once beat by a one armed man in a triathlon swim... 75 year old race walker or one armed swimmer? Tough call.

Anyhoo.... I digress

Eventually, 5 hours and 42 minutes after I started this marathon I finally crossed the finish line. Once I was done. I was done.

 Finish line pic that a WAY bored MN Buddy took waiting FOREVER for me to finish. I think she was secretly convinced there was NO WAY it could take me more than 5 hours to finish and ended up waiting a long time. 

Usually after a marathon I feel pretty good. I am not really a "Leave it all out there on the course" kind of girl, so I was a little taken aback by the next course of events.

I kind of slept walked through the finishers corral with volunteers wrapping me in a mylar blanket, putting a medal on me, giving me a finishers shirt (nice touch), two additional medals in velvet pouches (WTF? Maybe nix the additional medal things and get some food on the course, just sayin'), I somehow had the wherewithal to grab some baby snickers off the food table (I really think that is an autonomic response for me, similar to breathing. See Snickers. Grab Snickers. Eat Snickers. No conscious control is needed) but as I meandered through the crowds I started to slow WAY down and feel somewhat not ok.

I called my Minnesota buddy and started whining about the location of my Starbucks. Then all of a sudden I had the overwhelming urge to sit down, which I did. On the curb. I was officially D.O.N.E with forward motion for a while. I realized I was bonking. Hard.

I ate the Snickers I had stuffed in my run bra. (Yes, I am the asshole that takes all the Snickers from a candy bowl leaving none for others. Sue me)

Then I felt all sparkly.

Then I was pretty sure I was going to throw up.

My buddy, getting worried, called me and I told her I was sitting on the curb at 3rd and Salmon and to please come get me (with the Starbucks of course). Fortunately, by the time she arrived I started feeling better and did not ask her to carry me back to the hotel, which frankly had crossed Princess RBR's mind. She did have coffee and I told her I loved her and asked her to marry me, which cracked up the lady who had also boycotted forward motion and was sitting next to me telling her husband on the phone where to come get her and that she would like a Starbucks. 

It was not my worst race time, nor was it the most undertrained I have gone into an event, but it was my worst attitude during a race and I was unhappy with myself about that.

I do this to have fun. I need to recapture the fun.

So what does one do after a particularly bad marathon? Well, if you are RBR,  you sign up for two more!

January 15, 2012 Redding Marathon

April 22, 2012 San Luis Obispo Marathon 

I have decided to end all posts with a Lola picture because she is fucking ADORABLE!


ltlindian said...

Oh my, do you ever crack me up! Excellent report! I was feeling the misery right along with you. The only thing missing was pouring rain. Lol. So glad you finished but this report does confirm the fact that I don't ever want to do a marathon. 1/2 Mary is enough. Glad to read a post from you again.

Ewa said...

Thank you for this report. I'll be running 26.2 or whatever in Dec. and I needed some REAL tips like a cute outfit. None of my 'how to run a marathon' books mentions that.
There ought to be a rule that race walkers are not allowed to pass runners. Another rule, old runners ought to be slower than I am. Aid stations ought to serve latte and lemon meringue squares. I can think of other things I expect and probably won't get.
Gosh, I am sure now your report will make me dream about my marathon. Thank you, I think. ;-)
(you are a riot, btw)

Diana said...

I think my attitude will be the same when/if I ever get this "first" marathon crossed off my list!!!

Next time give this a try!!

C said...

God, I love your race reports. Reminds me to stop even contemplating running another marathon. Thank you.

SteveQ said...

God, it's good to have you back. At least in marathons you don't see the sun go down, and up, and sometimes down again (I hate that).

I learned not to categorize the runners who pass me in my first marathon. First was the old guys (younger than I am now), then the women, then a girl about 11 years-old, then eventually a guy breathing through a tracheotomy stoma. I could either rail against the awfulness, or say, "Good for him!" I did the latter... eventually. Then I sat on the side of the road and picked flowers for a while.

I still finished in 3:20, btw.
[Huge shit-eating grin]

Christi said...

Yay, you are back!!! I have missed your posts. Great race report. I think we would have some great times together out on a course because my witty banter sounds very similar to yours.

I love Lola! She is too cute!

Sally said...

I've been reading for a while..but have never commented...but HAVE to on this one. I had a similar experience at Richmond Marathon 2 weeks ago but with a hammie injury that did me in ( amazing race btw...you should put it on your list). You just make me laugh my ass off....and off...if only that would make it go away...but..whatever. THanks for the chuckles..

Glaven Q. Heisenberg said...

Race walker that dropped me like a used condom at mile 14.

Personally, I'd have kept you, rinsed you out and used you at least one more time. Possibly two.

Don't feel special, though. That's how I am with all my used condoms.

So you made your buddy buy you a $12 Starbucks coffee? Nice. Any idea how many condoms you could have bought with that kinda scratch? (I always think of money spent at Starbucks in terms of condom-purchasing-potential because Starbucks coffee tastes like jizz and and is even harder to swallow, even if you supposedly "love" the person who "gives it to you" (so to speak). Or so I hear. I wouldn't know.)

Anyway, congrats on finishing a sub-6 marry. And thanks for the pic of Lola - still cute!

Deb said...

That whole ordeal sounds grueling and painful and horrific. I can totally see why you immediately signed up for two more!


Lindsay said...

wow. just wow. all new runners need to come here before attempting their first marathon. why do we keep doing this to ourselves?!?

i'm not sure if i could wait for someone to finish a 5k, let alone a marathon. i just don't have that patience. your friend is a saint!

Angela Knotts said...

I really really admire that you toughed it out & didn't give up, even when you reached that I-hate-everyone place!

My favorites:

"Goddamn sufferfest." Poetry, sister.

"If I keep moving forward eventually this damn thing will end." - This may be my new race motto!

Good luck with the next ones!

Herself, the GeekGirl said...

Some thoughts:

Road marathons have all started to bore the shit outta me. I think it's because 1) the people in pretty parts of town don't want their streets blocked off (seriously, the san antonio marathon went by several missions and even more crack houses) or because I'm now spoiled by mountain runs, or both.

Being stuck among walkers:word. This also happens to me in the beginning if I'm dumb enough to hit the porta-Johns early in the race. And what is with the incessant talking among the walkers? STFU.

My blind kitten trumps your Lola, because she has cute + pathetic. So there.

Generation X (Slomohusky) said...

i grew up in the Pacific NW. Ran alot while living there. However, Portland? I just don't ever see myself running the streets of that city. Too much Seattle snobbery in me i guess. thanks for the reminder why this Marathon never flashes on my radar screen.

Very cute pix though!

Jo Lynn said...

Congratulations on finishing. You had the "worst attitude ever" because you did all of your training without a dear friend by your side. You need to run with fun friends to have fun and a semi-good attitude. Love ya girl! ;)

Willie said...

You had me at Snickers in your bra.

Jill said...

I ran Portland Marathon in 2009 and I'm not sure someone could pay me money to run it again. Bleh! I hope you're recovered well by now and ready-ish for Redding. Nice job lady, you have a lot of toughness in you!!

Kathy said...

Late to the party here - congrats on another marathon. I live in Portland and have run the marathon 2x - I agree there HAS to be a better route they can come up with. But the spectators at the end are awesome. I was volunteering at mile 21 - I wish I would have known you were running...

Kristin said...

Very, very entertaining! (Although I have to say, I loved the Portland Marathon.) I am always (very rudely) amazed by the people who are faster than me in a marathon...big burly men (and women), people who run like ducks and/or swing their arms across their body, people who appear to be half crippled...and yes, I am noting all this from BEHIND them! :)

pensive pumpkin said...

This is the first post I have ever read of your blog. You fucking crack me up. I love you. Marry me.

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