The Portland Marathon: My Jumbled Up "A" Race

We all have our "A" race whether it be a season "A" race or a career "A"; that one race where you plan to bring it all together for the best race you've had yet!  Portland Marathon was going to be my 2015 "A" race, it was perfectly groomed for me to have the best race of my life and I had geared my training to be exactly that. However, as is the world of racing, sports, athletes, competitions, and just life in general sometimes the unexpected hits and turns everything all upside down.  I am bummed, but not sorry, to say that the Portland Marathon became my race that got all turned upside down and jumbled.

Pre-Race Friday/Saturday

On Friday evening I flew down to Portland where I met my husband at the airport.  He had been traveling the entire week and had to fly out again immediately after the race on Sunday for the next week so I was very thankful to be able to come down on Friday in order to spend just a little bit more time with him.

We got a nice easy workout in Saturday  morning, treadmill walking and some foam rolling and stretching for me while he lifted some weights. pre raceI am very thankful for him and his willingness to follow me around for these races, he has this amazing way of keeping me calm and collected (also reminds me to eat which I struggle with when I am nervous).

Once my parents arrived we headed down to check-in.  Check-in always gets me really pumped up for the next day, the people, the excitement and anticipation in the air, its hard to not just want to go out and hammer it out right then and there.

After checking out all the cool vendors, me purchasing some Pro-compression socks (as I had forgotten mine) and checking out the Ultima booth, which was the sponsored electrolyte drink for the Marathon, we headed out for some quick dinner and bed time. By the way, as someone who has serious stomach sensitivities when I run and/or exercise hard Ultima Replenisher drink is AMAZING!! With no sugars and artificial flavors it is super light and easy on the stomach! I can't wait to add it to my arsenal next year during Ironman Training.

Sunday Race Day

For those of you that have run the Portland Marathon you know how early it starts.  The early morning start meant a very early wakeup call to slam down some oatmeal within my window of being ok to eat prior to racing.  It was very much still dark when we made our way to the start corral. 2While the dark usually makes me want to go back to bed there was sometime electrifying about heading to the start line with the sun just barely beginning to make its appearance.

Talk about a BEAUTIFUL day for a race, you literally could not have asked for more perfect racing weather, and when the gun went off I was ready to rock and roll.

Did I start out too fast? Did I get caught up in the atmosphere? Probably. Do I think that was my demise? No I do not for during the first 8 miles and even up to when the jumbled up mess occurred I felt strong.  I felt awesome, that was how running is supposed to feel, strong, confident, easy, and powerful.

4(sorry the photos are hard to see)

I was on track to have what could only be the best race of my life, then a twinge started.  I had been having some issues with the outside of my hip (right on my greater trochanter) that had been causing some pain, and a serious hitch in my gait.  Around mile 6-8 I felt the hip start to twinge and/or cramp.  At the time I just told myself you can ignore that no problem.  However, by the time mile 11 hit the twinge had escalated to an extreme cramp that was pulling all the way down into my knee.  This caused a serious slow down of my pace because I was unable to fully extend my leg through my stride.  By the time I hit mile 16 and came across my parents and husband I was in a lot of pain, couldn't feel my toes, had a burning sensation running down my calf, and a complete inability to extend my leg without it buckling underneath me.

3At this point I had gone from a pace that was going to get me across the line in less than 3 hours to barely being able to keep an 8 min/mile pace (a pace that would slow even more as the time went on).

It was a very long ten miles for me.  I have never wanted to quit something so badly and at mile 22 I called my husband and asked for them to come get me as there was no way I could go on.  That was an extreme low point for me, here I was walking, ice from the medic on my hip, and doing something I thought I would never in my life do, I was quitting.  It was really really tough for me to swallow; quitting was not something that I was raised to do.

Yet due to the nature of the race my family couldn't get further than mile 25 and with me being at mile 23 something changed and I realized that it didn't matter how I got across that line, crossing it was something I still needed to do.  After walking for a mile, I knew I had to change my attitude, I told myself to stop being such a downer and get your feet moving, get my feet moving as I wasn't a quitter, I am tough and strong, so stop being a baby and get your feet moving.  With only three miles I underwent a serious attitude adjustment, I had to stop feeling sorry for myself and realize that there was more to the race than the fact that I wasn't going to get the time that I wanted.  I was still out there wasn't I? I still got to be running, and I knew I had some very important people waiting for me at mile 24 who's love and support for me was more important than the time I came across at.

So I started moving my feet, started running again, and while I sure as hell did not feel good I was happy to be running again.  At mile 24 I came across my husband and dad who had ran from the finish line to get as close to me as possible; they immediately fell into step with me, encouraging me to keep running. 5Here the time no longer mattered (well thats a slight lie-when I realized I was still going to cross the line in under 4 hours I was going to do anything in my power to make that time as low as I could-something my husband had to remind me constantly to not care about) but it became about the fact that even though I wanted to quit I didn't, and that here I was still running with my husband by my side and for the next 2 miles he and I ran together and I crossed the finish line somewhere around that 3:48 mark.

I have a lot of disappointment for that race, which is one of the reasons it took me so long to write this article, and in my opinion the real winners of that day where my husband and parents as it was their love and support that got me to the finish line.  It was my dad at mile 16 and again at mile 24 telling me that I could do it, my mom at mile 25 with her broken arm running along side me cheering me on, and my amazing husband who ran step for step from mile 24 on because he knew I needed him.

So yes disappointment runs strong when I think of the mess that became the Portland Marathon for me, however, no matter what I still crossed that finish line.  Not every race can go how you want it to and when dealing with injury there are times when you just cannot ignore your body, and on October 4th mine told me it just couldn't do it that day.  That is ok, there will be other races and I can assure you that I am not done.  The win that day was not letting my disappointment and frustration prevent me from finishing the race, rather turning my attitude around and focusing getting myself to the finish line.

post raceA HUGE thank you to all those who supported me pre and post race, for all the congratulations, well wishes, and go get em's.  The love and support means more to me than you can imagine and I am so thankful for everyone.