Sunday, April 3, 2011

Race for the Roses Half-Marathon

Warning: this is going to be a long one!

I woke up at 4:40 and had half a raisin bagel with peanut butter (made last night and waiting on the nightstand). I got up, got dressed, and tried to find something on tv which of course there isn't at 4:40 on a Sunday morning. I headed downstairs at 5:15 to gather all of my race stuff (garmin, race bib, gloves, etc.). I chatted with hubby, he was also up early since he works on Sundays. I got online to check the weather one last time (supposedly 40* at the start, a little colder than predicted) and had a Power Bar at 5:30. I went to the bathroom one last time and did a quick mental checklist to make sure I had everything packed. I was out the door at about 5:50.

I got to the convention center at 6:20 and parked in the garage. I hadn't planned on using the bathroom again but the line was short and it was a real bathroom and not a porta-potty, so I figured what the heck. However, I forgot to take my gloves off so when I came out of the stall to wash my hands, I realized I couldn't really wash my gloves. I didn't want to just leave, so I took my gloves off and washed my hands. Oops!

Everyone was gathered inside because it was cold out, then around 6:45 everyone started heading to the start line. The sun was just starting to come up and it was pretty cold. I was by myself and didn't have anyone to talk to, so I just stretched a little and tried to stay warm. The race started without much to-do and we were off!

Right away we turned down a street and then went across a bridge. Portland has 7 bridges across the Willamette River, so many races here go over at least 1 bridge. I was determined to not burn out in the first half, so my plan was to stay around an 11-minute pace and then pick it up to a 10:30 pace after the half-way point. My natural pace seemed to be around 10:30 so it was hard to slow down. After about 3 miles we started on the hill. I'm guessing the hill was about a mile long. I had planned to have part of a Power Bar at 3.5, 7, and 10.5 miles so my first part came on the hill. I did not realize that the cold weather would turn my Power Bar into a brick so it took forever to chew. I walked for about 1/10th of a mile to chew and drink. We continued up the hill which seemed like forever. Finally we reached the top, and then we had to go down what we had just come up! It was beautiful. I still tried to hold back but I was still feeling very strong and the downhill seemed to go forever. Miles 5-7 flew by as we wove around the city. At the half-way point I was on pace for a 2:22 finish. I had another part of my Power Bar at 7.5 miles and walked for another 1/10th of a mile to chew and drink.

Around 8 miles I started to lose steam. I hoped that I hadn't given too much up during the first half. We turned down a long out-and-back so all we had to look at were the runners coming back at us. I was getting tired but I really wanted my 2:22 finish so I knew I had to hold at least an 11 minute pace. From there on out it was a mental struggle to keep at it. I knew physically I could do it, I just couldn't give in to the temptation to walk. I started counting down when I got to mile 9. I took my last Power Bar break at 10.5 miles. We went from one out-and-back into another out-and-back so the last 5 miles were pretty boring. I kept checking my time to make sure I would finish at 2:22. I told myself I could walk for a bit at 12 miles since I would only have 1 mile left, but once I got to 12 miles I was so happy I hadn't done any more walking than planned so I wanted to stick it out. I knew there was a sharp hill at the end and I was not looking forward to it.

At about 12.7 miles we started up the bridge that would take us to the finish line. It was TOUGH. I think it was about an 80 foot gain over 1/4 mile. I started talking crap to myself about wanting to quit, and how could I quit when I was so close to the top. I felt like I was going soooo sloooow but I was still under an 11 minute pace. Finally we crested the bridge and I saw the mile 13 sign. There was a woman running right next to me and I said "Good job!" and she laughed and said "now comes the hard part." The last .1 did seem to drag on for awhile. Finally we rounded the corner and there was the finish line! My watch said 2:21.35 and I sprinted in to try to get under 2:22. Final result...2:21.57! Barely made it. Since we got our finisher's medals when we picked up our packets, it was a little anticlimactic. I drank 2 cups of water, looked around the room, and went back to my car. They had some food (bananas, oranges, bagels, etc.) but I didn't feel like sticking around by myself. Plus I was pretty sweaty and just wanted to shower.

It's funny, during the last few miles of the race I was thinking, good thing I am getting my sub-2:30 half now, I can just have fun at Eugene. I don't want to put out this much effort for a long time. During the car ride home I started thinking I can probably break 2:20 at Eugene. Only 27 days to go!


11:28 (big hill and first Power Bar break)
10:56 (second Power Bar break)
11:11 (third Power Bar break)
1:22 (.14)

Elevation gain: 362 feet
Elevation loss: 362 feet

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