Friday, October 11, 2013

Running the Portland Marathon

Three hours, fifty-eight minutes, fifty-six seconds


That was my net time for the Portland Marathon (time from when the gun fired was 4:03:25). For 26.2 miles, that was 9 minutes, 7 seconds per miles. The results website also has a lot of other neat information. For example, I finished in 1759th place, ahead of 5054 other runners, so I was in the top 26%. Among men, I finished 1210, ahead of 2066, good for 37%. For men in my arbitrary age bracket (35-39), I was 224th, ahead of 296 for 43%.

So there you have it. I barely made my initial goal of running a marathon in under four hours, but didn't make my stretch goal of 3:45. For the first 17 miles, I was actually on a fantastic pace to make my stretch goal, but got a cramp at mile 17-18 that slowed me down. I had to pull off the side of the race and stretch out my calf, at which point the pace runner for 3:45 passed me. From that point on, I had to run at a much more conservative pace and take frequent breaks to stretch to ensure that I could even finish. Even then, I almost lost in completely at mile 25 as muscles seized up to the point where I honestly thought that I would have to retire from the race and get medical attention. The decision to keep going was not an easy one, and I'm paying the price today, a few days after the race, as I am pretty much walking around at snail speed.

Right after finishing, the overwhelming emotion I felt was relief that I had actually made it. I also heard Tasha cheering for me right before the finish line and really just wanted to see her, but there were several hundred feet of food stations after the finish line so I loaded up on chocolate milk, fruits, bread, whatever I could grab. Then I had to pick up my "Portland Marathon Finisher" T-shirt, take a finisher photo, and get some other free goodies like a medal and other nick nacks. It felt like another mile before I finally made it out of that area back to the public zone. Thankfully, that area was set up with specific letter ranges for "reunion areas" and I headed to the range for "H."

Tasha was there waiting (since it took me so long to hobble over), and when I found her I just fell into her arms and started crying. A weight, maybe the weight, finally lifted off of my shoulders and I felt like I could let my emotions out. The pain of those last few miles, of wanting to give up, being oh so close to giving up. Then it was the memories and emotions of the months leading up to this moment, the training and the preparing. It all hit me at once.

When I first scheduled this marathon, we noted that it was opposite GP Oklahoma City, a Legion event. Tasha and I both love working for the Ports and Legion, and she has even more personal investment because they were her "home PTO" back in Minnesota. She briefly thought about going to the GP while I ran the marathon, but I asked her to stay precisely for this reason. I wanted her there at the finish line (kind of) to hold me at the end. It reminds me of the scene at the end of Jerry Maguire. Part of his sappy speech is that the night wasn't complete because he couldn't share it Dorothy. In that moment, after running a marathon, a sad and lonely task, Tasha completed me.

Inevitably, people ask if I'll run another marathon. I've read on a few websites that it isn't a good idea to think about this until some time has elapsed since the race because there are so many complex emotions that go along with this decision. I'll let you know after my week is up.