10/4 - Rest
10/5 - 3 miles, treadmill
10/7 - 2 miles, treadmill.
10/8 - Rest
10/9 - 26.7!
It's a long time to dedicate to one specific event, and I spent the last 5 months of my life preparing for just one day.
On a blustery and rainy Sunday morning, I ran my first ever full marathon in Portland, Oregon. Despite having run 6 half marathons, 5 team relay races, and hundreds and hundreds of miles on the streets of my the greater Seattle area, I still did not know what to expect for all the 26.2 miles. I'll do my best to recap each mile, but even though it's only been less than a week, some of the more specific memories are beginning to fade.
So, ready? Ok
After a semi restless nights sleep, I woke up to my alarm at 4:05 am. I padded quietly out of the hotel room, and into the living room area, where I washed my face, brushed my teeth, and then popped into the hotel lobby for a couple of small cups of to-go coffee. Once back in the room, I sipped my coffee, surfed the web, and ate my sweet potato with sunbutter and granola. I barely had an appetite but I knew I needed to eat, so I choked down what I could and decided to save the banana muffin for later, about an hour before the start.
At 5:20, John and I left the hotel to pick up Macalla on the way into the city. Our plan was to meet Heidi at one of the many Starbucks near the starting line. We arrived into the city just as streets were being closed off, so John dropped us off a couple of blocks away from the Starbucks, and we sloshed our way in the rain to meet Heidi. Once united, we hung out inside for about 25 minutes, I ate my muffin, and then we decided to slowly make our way to the corrals. I was assigned in corral E, but both M and H were in corral F, so I decided to just stay with them so we could start together! After what felt like decades, the first wave was off, and then slowly each subsequent wave was sent off. We reluctantly toss our old sweatshirts on the sidewalk, and got ready to rumble. Finally, about 7:15-ish, wave F was sent on our merry way.
Mile 1 - 10:37
The three of us try to stay together as long as we can, but it is crowded and immediately people are walking. I DO NOT UNDERSTAND. MOVE TO THE RIGHT, for SIRENS AND BITCHES. Wait, no. That's not how the saying goes....
I notice my watch has already buzzed for the mile marker, but we're still about .35 miles away from the 1 mile race marker.
As we are chugging along nicely, Heidi mentions that she thought the course went a different way but that she must have read the map wrong.
I also notice a group of runners coming out of a side street and merging with us as we round a bend.
*FORESHADOWING, PEOPLE. FORESHADOWING.
Mile 2 - 10:11
The miles are feeling easy, and it's a good warm up. Being in this corral with walkers is actually forcing me to take it easy and not go out too fast, especially since I'm being blocked in by shufflers.
I mean, trust me - I have nothing against walking but seriously, the race just started.
i do see a girl wearing a shirt that says "Interval Runner. Please be mindful of walking", which I thought was actually a very thoughtful thing for the runners behind her.
Mile 3 - 10:21
Well. so much for that negative split. This mile is uphill. Like, already? FINE.
At this point we've lost Heidi. :(
Pop in a chew and let it dissolve in my mouth.
Mile 4 - 9:47
Mile 5 - 9:44
Feeling the groove as we make our way back through the city. I think M and I both step in puddles. At this point it is raining steadily and we are already pretty wet.
Mile 6 - 10:00
Wind in face. Rain in face. Everything in da face. Slowly suck on a Gu at this point. I don't look to see what I grab. It's Tri-Berry. SIGH. Oh fine. I sip water out of my bottle, but try to take water at the stations so I can ration what I have.
We begin a long stretch of out and back in an industrial part of town.
I must be saying something to Mac?
Mile 7 - 10:03
Mac mentions she needs to use the restroom. I suggest she just pee in her pants, who would even know the difference?! We are soaked from the rain. The port-o-potties we pass all have long lines, so we continue on.
Mile 8 - 9:47
My earbuds, which have been precariously dangling around, are annoying me so I tuck them in my ears and turn on some music for background. Even though Mac and I are running together, we're not really talking much. I think we're both saving our energy for breathing.
In this mile is also where we spot some relatively free port-o-potties. Mac says she needs to stop, and tells me to keep going. We split up at this point, and as I continue on my self, I feel a wave of sadness come over me, and I find myself holding back tears. I hadn't expected to split up so early in the race, and I'm devastated that we're not going to be running together.
Mile 9 - 9:50
At the end of the road we turn around to go back, and I scan the crowd to see if I can spot Mac. I look for her yellow shirt, but she is lost in a sea of wet bodies and flailing limbs. I continue to scan for maybe some familiar faces, and I see Heidi's bright pink shirt and huge smile. I wave and yell as we pass each other, and feel a surge of happiness at seeing her. I'm still sad about missing M, but I keep chugging along.
Pop in another chew.
Mile 10 - 9:44
Seriously. Still so wet. I have to dodge puddles as I pass groups of runners. Luckily the road widens slightly at this point so I am able to find my groove.
Mile 11 - 9:41
This is where the half marathoners and full marathoners split. The half runners continue straight back into the city but the full marathoners veer right into a neighborhood that will take us to the industrial area. I round the corner, and hear a familiar voice calling my name. I turn around and see Jacob, Heidi's husband, holding a camera and umbrella, waving madly. I wave back happily, and continue on. A couple of people see my name on my bib and yell encouragement as I pass.
Towards the end of this mile I take another GU. This one is Vanilla Bean. Better.
Mile 12 - 9:45
We weave slightly through industrial streets and a neighborhood. Uneventful.
Mile 13 - 9:47
We turn onto St Helen's Road, which is basically a relatively straight, flat 3 miles to the bridge. At this point I'm still feeling pretty solid, albiet a tiny lonely and a LOT wet. My shorts have become diapers, suctioned to my thighs, and I feel my shirt glued to my body. My hat is dripping and my hands are so slippery I've had to rip my GU open with my teeth.
Take another chew. Pink Lemonade Honey Stinger. I'm not mad about it.
Mile 14 - 9:42
Trying to focus on one mile at a time. I see people around me struggling, but I find myself passing runner after runner. I'm trying to remain steady and not think too much about the next mile, although at this point I am just anticipating the end of this road, because this section is long, and a little boring. I have music to keep me company but at this point it's just background noise.
Throughout the race I find myself randomly overcome with waves of emotion. A few times I tear up because I'm so happy to be out there, running, and finally seeing all the hard work of training come to fruition. I see a sign that says "You GET to do this" and I resist to urge to do "Two snaps in a Z formation". That's right, I DO get to do this, and I'm doing it!
Mile 15 - 9:42
We make a slight left and there is more straight away. It's hard to see the bridge through the fog and rain, but I know it's coming up.
Mile 16 - 9:39
I spot a check point area, complete with National Guard, and threatening looking signs that state that all runners must have a visible bib number.
And then we begin the uphill climb to the top, to the beginning of the St John's Bridge
Mile 17 - 10:11
I will myself to run up the entire hill, and again I find myself passing runner after runner who have decided to walk up the hill. I keep pace with another girl who is steadily running up the hill and another guy who has been running near me for the last couple of miles. I suck another GU - Salted Caramel, my favorite - and I focus on the road right in front of my feet, and pump my arms slow and steady. Before I know it, I've crested the hill and find myself taking a left onto the bridge. I am proud of myself for running up the entire thing.
Mile 18 - 9:47
I make it to the middle of the bridge and then cruise the slight down hill to the end. It's here I spot another familiar face. I see Macalla's husband Jimmy! I wave madly and then turn the corner to see his kids hovering under an umbrella waiting for their mom. I wave happily and continue on. We run up and down some rolling streets and then hook a left, and immediately spot a familar red hat under a big tree. It's my husband and kids! They're holding Neon signs that say "GO LINDA" and "GO MOMMY". I had no idea they'd made signs and I'm so elated to see them I nearly sprint to where they are. I stop to give everyone hugs and kisses, and I throw my arms around John for a huge hug before continuing on. Everyone offers words of encouragement as they send me off. Seeing them has given me a second wind, and I'm SO SO happy.
Mile 19 - 9:43
Oof. Honestly, this part was a little boring. The roads were flat and curvy and seemed to never end. We passed some interesting entertainment in the form of some belly dancing and some bad singing, but nevertheless, it helped distract me.
Mile 20 - 9:50
This is where they say runners hit the wall, right? As I near the 20 mile marker sign, I realize that not once have I felt like I was going to die, or that I was not enjoying myself. Not once did I say I would never do this again. I was actually enjoying myself! Wall? What wall?? PFFFT.
However, this is where I do start to get even more bored. I round every curve, hoping for some terrain change, some reprieve from the flat but no. Flat flat flat.
Mile 21 - 9:42
Surprise visit from the pregnant one, Angela! I had forgotten she would be waiting to cheer me on, and I run to give her a hug but she insists on running with me. She is also 39+ weeks pregnant and looking adorable but manages to jog next to me for a few seconds, and then her and her husband send me off with well wishes and offers of beer. Such a wonderful surprise.
Mile 22 - 9:57
I'm getting bored. like, seriously. The turns are all starting to look the same, like some sort of cruel corn maze. I think I reluctantly take another GU at this point but I am just very very sick of anything sugary. I pass the offers of gummy bears and pretzels because I can't bear the thought of eating anything else. Or anymore GU, like ever. Ever.
Oh and I see my husband and kids here too! I didn't realize they'd try and find me one more time, and I'm even happier than I was the first time I spotted them. Everyone looks cold and tired but so proud of me. They offer more hugs and encouragement and send me on my way. John tells me I'm almost there!
Mile 23 - 9:22
YAY. Finally the downhill I have been waiting for! It's a long sloping downhill section that takes us back towards the city. Many people are walking at this point but I happily glide past everyone, letting my body relax a bit as I cruise down the hill.
Mile 24 - 9:50
And it's flat again. I take one more chew and then decide I just. cannot eat anymore. I have run out of water but am able to get some water from the water stations.
I think this is where I see Jimmy and his kids again. Lots of mad waving as I pass.
Please note - this entire time it has steadily rained and I am thoroughly soaked to the bone.
Mile 25 - 10:00
Not sure what happened here but I find myself slowing a bit. I'm still feeling in positive spirits but my legs are getting a little tired.
We have to run up one mini hill to get over the last bridge, and I slow every so slightly as I make my way up. I find a small surge of energy as I make my way onto the bridge and again find myself passing more runners. I'm filled with a resurgence of energy as I make my way off the bridge. I even have the energy to wave to the camera guy!
Also to note - see? Smiling?! Who IS THAT PERSON??
Mile 26 - 9:05
This is it! Almost to the end. I'm doing it! I'm SO CLOSE.
I surge past tons of runners as we make our way down the last street before the turn to the finish. The only thought that keeps running in my head is that, I did it. I'm doing it. I am running a MARATHON TODAY.
Mile .7 - 9:04
My watch has been nearly .5 miles ahead of the mile markers, so I hit the 26.2 mark well before the finish line, but at this point I do not care. I see the Portland Marathon signs and I surge forward and veer right towards the finish line. I pass the announcer calling people's names from our bibs, and he shouts encouragement as I sprint past. One more left turn and I see the finish chute. It's RIGHT THERE. and I'm RIGHT HERE. I pump my arms as hard as I can as I sprint to the finish with a smile on my face.
I've done it. I just ran my very first marathon.
I'm a Marathoner.
Official time. 4:17:51
*The course ended up being .5 too long because of a wrong turn taken by a handful of the corrals, due to no volunteer being stationed at this particular corner. The Portland Marathon officials later adjusted the times of the runners in these corrals to account for the extra mileage.