2016 Portland Marathon

I can now check Oregon off the “marathon in every state list.” After a four year hiatus, I ran marathon #24 in Portland today. My official time was 5:38 but there are some caveats that bring it down almost 20 minutes (to around 5:20). More on that in a bit.

Once again I ran it with my running buddy Matt Shobe. This is the fourth marathon we’ve done together (Portland, Detroit, St. Louis, and Huntsville). Matt is much faster than me but he patiently jogs alongside me, tells me jokes, and asks me to do a systems check about every other mile. This time he had to take a dump around mile three that added five minutes to our time. We also each had three other bathroom breaks, which added another five minutes. We’ve decided that eating Pho the night before is not the right food strategy for a marathon.

There were a few things about the marathon that were great. The volunteers and staff were awesome. This is the 45th year for this marathon and Portland shows up to take care of the runners. We stayed in the Hilton a few minutes from the start and finish — that was nice. And the marathon started at 7am which means I’m now on a plane heading home so I can spend the evening with Amy in Boulder.

Other than that, the marathon sucked. The weather was awful — it rained the entire time. Matt and I bought some MontBell shells the day before so our upper bodies were sort of dry. My iPhone, which is carried in my fanny pack is busted and Matt’s Nexus is as well. I have a few blisters on my toes, which never happens, and is a result of 27 miles in soggy shoes. Both of our fingers were numb and waterlogged by the end. And there were long stretches of the course that were just dark, wet, and soul sucking.

Normally a marathon is 26.2 miles. But this one was 27.

We didn’t ever see the mile marker for mile 1. When we eventually saw the mile marker for mile 2, our watches said 2.5 miles. When I crossed the finish line, my watch said 27.02 miles. This fucked up my running strategy way more than I expected as I spent miles 3 to 7 obsessing about the extra distance. My plan was to walk through the water stations but they weren’t consistently spaced so at some point I had no sense of what my run:walk pattern was. This contributed to us going out to fast, which was probably the most painful part of the race, which was completely self inflicted.

Other than the bathroom breaks, we were either at or below 11 minute miles for the first 11 miles. We drifted up to 12 minute miles for the next few and the I completely hit the wall at mile 16. A string of very slow miles — times I’d typically see in the last few miles — started. 13:42, 12:36,13:54, 14:53, 14:36, 13:36, 14:52, …

At mile 18, I told Matt to just go ahead and we’d meet up at the end. He said “no fucking way — I have one mission today and that’s to get you across the finish line.” I love him.

At the system check around 20, I finally figured out how to describe how I was feeling. “Globally great, locally shitty.” We chucked a bit and I said “all my global variables are in an acceptable range but my local variables are completely screwed up.”

We crossed the 26.2 mark at 5:27 on my watch. This wasn’t my PW (personal worst) — that’s 5:47 — but it was close. If you subtract the bathroom time, It’s a little under 5:20, which is still slow for me (I’m usually in the 4:45–5:10 range with an occasional 4:30.

It was an incredible relief to cross the finish line. I was done. We hugged, walked to the hotel, took showers, had a beer, ate some food that wasn’t Gu, pretzels, or gummy bears, and then headed home.


Originally published at Feld Thoughts.

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