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Portland Marathon 2011 Recap – Geek Turned Athlete

Portland Marathon 2011 Recap

So, this race was an interesting one. First off, I want to apologize for the pics. They suck. Something is wrong with our camera.

Despite me failing to PR at this race, it was still a great one. I learned a lot about how hard I can push myself. I also learned when to tail it back.

After telling a friend about this race, I was also diagnosed with Race Amnesia (RA), well, after he stopped laughing at me.

Let’s start from the day before the race. Actually, lets start the week before the race. I bought new running shoes. Race Amnesia (RA) Example #1. I know better NOT to do this.

I should have packed the night before for Portland, but I didn’t. Instead I was throwing things into my gym duffel bag 20 minutes after I should have left the house for the airport. Items I forgot to pack: sports bra, long sleeve shirt, underwear, and a gluten free breakfast for race morning. I’m surprised that my running shoes made it in my bag to be honest. I had to get creative about my sports bra and breakfast for the next morning. I managed to find a crusty stinky sports bra left over from one of my workouts in my gym bags. Check! And we stopped by Whole Foods for a gluten free protein bar and coconut smoothie for the next morning. I ate something new on race day. Race Amnesia (RA) Example #2. I know better NOT to do this.

I lost the hubs as we were walking to the race. I waited where I last saw him until 10 minutes before the race started. My stomach started acting up. With no sign of him, I ran off to my corral…only to find the lines to the porta potties were a mile long. The race started without me, and I was still in line. I had no choice. I HAD to go. RA #2 was biting me in the a$$. Literally. I tried not to sweat it too much considering the race was chip timed, but my nerves had the best of me! Finally, I made my way to the start line.

Oh, did I mention my garmin wasn’t working? I was trying to stay positive but losing the hubs before the race especially because I still had my heavy sweatshirt on that I was supposed to give him before the race had me a little on edge.

Relax. This is going to be a fun race. This is just a training run, right? No need to freak out. Breathe.

After mile 2, I was still with the 3:35 group and ran into my husband on the sidelines. I gave him my sweatshirt and a quick kiss, and told him that I didn’t know why I was running with this group. My pelvic muscle was still tight after I pulled it a few weeks prior, and my goal was to take it easy for this race. He said something so profound, “Well then, slow down!” Why hadn’t I thought of that! haha. I started off WAY too fast. Race Amnesia (RA) Example #3.  I know better NOT to do this.

So I tried to slow down. But my garmin wasn’t working, and I had no idea how fast I was running especially because the “herd effect” hadn’t worn off yet.



About 3 miles in, my garmin finally decided to work, and I ran into another girl who was just running the race for fun. We chatted for 20 miles. We pushed the pace at the same time. And, my RA #2 came back to haunt me 3 more times during those miles. I had a headache because I think that I was dehydrated from going to the bathroom so many times. It honestly felt like I was hungover. I’m not going to lie, it sucked!!! RA #1 began to rip into the skin on my ankles and toes. Blisters were starting to form. The rain didn’t help at all.

Through all of this, I was still having a great time chatting with my new marathon friend. And, I was on my way to running a 3:40 marathon talking the whole way. This may not seem very fast to a lot of you, but the whole idea of running a marathon in this time is crazy for me. I guess I need to get over that because that was what I was going to run it in. Until…

Mile 20. After 3 bathroom breaks and painful blisters, I was ready to buckle down and finish this thing in less than an hour. I just wanted it over with. The faster I could run it, the faster I could be done and over with it. What I didn’t anticipate was my pelvic muscle starting to scream enough is enough. Every time I lifted my right leg up, pain shot through my lower abdomen. I had to make a choice. Run on to a PR and possibly be injured for my Ironman 6 short weeks away or slow it down and be healthy for my only “A” race of the season a.k.a. IMAZ. I chose to be an adult and pick the latter. I told my new friend to go on without me and to not worry. I didn’t want to hold her back.

Since our camera sucked, I borrowed these from the portland marathon site.

Screen shot 2011-10-21 at 8.34.05 PM.png Screen shot 2011-10-21 at 8.34.39 PM.png

About a 1/2 mile later, I ran into another Swift teammate! She was NOT doing good. This was her first marathon, and she was hoping to run a 3:15. Yes, I run with these ladies. There are few Pro triathletes on my team as well as some girls hoping to qualify for the olympics. Can you say intimidating?? I like to refer to myself as the “Swift’s Caboose.” Someone has to be in the back! haha.

Anyway, she was crying. She was dealing with an injury herself. She kept saying that she wanted to quit and for me to go on without her. I kept saying, “NO! We are doing this together.” I wasn’t going to leave a fellow Swift behind!! Well, especially when my PR dreams were over, at least for that race. Staying with her was good because my injury was starting to kill me too. It forced me to slow down. We were both frustrated since everything else felt great. Pretty soon, the 3:40 pacers passed us. Then the 3:45, and the 3:50 pacers. We were walking/running the last 6 miles, and we were going to finish this thing. The 3:55 pacers passed us.

I did most of the talking the last hour we were out on the road. I wanted to take her mind off of her “marble filled” calf muscle and her mind yelling at her. I know exactly what she was going through. This race was humbling her. Been there, done that.

Screen shot 2011-10-21 at 8.34.53 PM.png Screen shot 2011-10-21 at 8.35.11 PM.png

I explained to her that although she probably wanted to punch me in the face for being so encouraging, she would thank me after the race was completed. She grit her teeth and shot me dirty looks. My chatter continued. I wasn’t going to let her not finish her first marathon. I know that would have killed her. Heck, it would have killed me if I didn’t finish my first. Our minds tend to punish us for those types of things.

Screen shot 2011-10-21 at 8.35.36 PM.png Screen shot 2011-10-21 at 8.35.46 PM.png

We finally finished. We finished 20 minutes after my “would be” PR.  My pelvic muscle was hating me. I regretted taking the first 20 so fast. All I could think about was the fact that I would have to miss some workouts the next week to let this stupid thing heal again.

My Swift teammate started tearing up again, and she gave me a huge hug. She said that she never would have finished if it weren’t for me. I told her no worries, and that she helped me finish too!! I’m glad that we were able to finish together. I haven’t talked to her since the race. I hope she is okay!!


After the race, I hobbled to find the hubs, had lunch at a diner, then caught our flight back to Spokane. It was a good day.


Post Race Thoughts:

As I was explaining to my Swift teammate during the race, PR’s aren’t everything. Sometimes those races that you are really hurting (except REALLY injured) and pushing through those mental barriers are the ones that you build character and you become stronger. Although I believe this when I’m not racing and rational, I was also trying to convince myself of this as well. It was hard being passed by people who wouldn’t normally pass us. Hey, at least I’m honest. We are competitive by nature. We could have just quit, but we didn’t. Being on a running team and triathlon team, it is so hard to NOT think about PR’s or placing in a race. I think we all need a reminder that racing is supposed to be fun, and not every race is going to go the way we want it to go!

I am not invincible. I really need to get my act together when packing my crap for a race. Why did I eat something new race day morning? I need to pack the night before and NOT buy new shoes 4 days before a race. What the heck was I thinking?!! I know better. Ack.

My husband, tri and running teammates, and friends are amazing and so supportive. Thank you for pushing me to be the best that I can be EVEN if that means that I have to be mature and do what is best for my racing season and NOT necessarily for one race. I am so lucky to have every single one of you in my life!!

Have you ever had to put your pride aside to finish a race??

{ 9 comments… add one }

  • Cynthia (It All Changes) October 22, 2011, 8:22 am

    Nicole you are amazing for finishing. Even the best of intentions and “knowing” not to do something we mess up sometimes. GF running (let alone marathoning) is wicked hard. I mess up eating before a 10k still so I’m in awe that you finished the marathon.

    NOW REST! Do it now!
    Cynthia (It All Changes) recently posted..Blogger Window Shopping

    • Nicole October 22, 2011, 3:34 pm

      haha. Thanks!! No rest until after my Ironman!! 😉

  • Ben October 22, 2011, 4:39 pm

    Judging by the color of the laces, it looks like you bought Brooks Ravenna 2’s. Overall a pretty good light stability shoe. Hopefully, you won’t be too mad at it for the blisters and give it another shot.

    • Nicole October 22, 2011, 5:01 pm

      I’m working on it! I think wearing really low socks and the rain contributed a lot to the blisters on my ankles. As for the toes, I don’t know what the deal was there!

  • Lisa October 22, 2011, 5:54 pm

    I’m sorry the Portland race wasn’t a good one. :( Honestly I’ve heard only bad things about it from friends who have run it–the course is brutal and it usually rains. Boo.
    Lisa recently posted..10 Things About Me

  • Matt @ The Athlete's Plate October 23, 2011, 4:50 pm

    Awesome race dude :)
    Matt @ The Athlete’s Plate recently posted..Tip For Cooking Tempeh: Steam It

  • That Pink Girl October 23, 2011, 8:44 pm

    It’s incredible to me how quickly a race can turn ugly on us. I’m sorry you didn’t have the race you hoped for, but it sounds like you made the right decision, sacrificing this one for your A race. Hard to do.
    Thank goodness you were there for your fellow runner though! I’m sure she is grateful for your encouragement and support!!!
    That Pink Girl recently posted..Pumpkin Patch Days

  • Pure2raw twins October 25, 2011, 4:23 am

    girl you are amazing! way to push through, and yes i never liked PR. Finishing a race alone is a great goal and accomplishment.
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  • Emily November 8, 2011, 9:58 am

    Triathlon has totally humbled me on multiple occasions. I really thought I was invincible for awhile. False. But then you get back up and work harder and race karma brings you the perfect day. Congrats on pushing through all the challenges of the day!
    Emily recently posted..The Rock ‘N’ Roll Savannah Half Marathon Race Report


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