Running a marathon isn't an event - it's a journey. 6 months of daily runs, sacrificed Saturdays, and an emotional rollercoaster all converge into a race that takes place in a single morning. Because of this, what happens on that single day unleashes all the emotions and hopes that have stockpiled over this extended season.
Today was that day, and the journey didn't disappoint. Details started getting interesting earlier this week, when the weather report predicted heavy rainfall for today's race, and for once - the weatherman actually got it right. We were soaked to the bone before the gun ever went off, and the rain never stopped. Perhaps the best movie themed title for today's race could be: "A River Runs Through It."
The most unexpected surprise happened last night when my Garmin 305 GPS Watch (aka Nerd Watch - thanks Jenn...) stopped working for the first time ever. No charge. No hope. No backup. For those of you who are not runners, this may seem meaningless, but trust me - running a marathon is all about keeping the right pace. Strike one.
I thought I could use my new iPod nano, which has a stopwatch, but with all the rain, the touchscreen didn't work. Strike two. Never fear, my third plan was to run with the pace group from the Red Lizard Running Club. They have runners hold up signs with a goal time on it, and then pace everyone to finish in that time. I looked and looked for the 4hour pace group, but I was in the wrong starting gate, so there was no one to pace me. Strike three. For an added bonus strike, I thought I could just look at the posted times at the mile markers and adjust my pace, but the marathon didn't a single time clock until the finish line. Looking back, I started out way too fast, but without a watch, I just tried to keep an even pace.
Everything seemed fine during the run, until my bladder almost exploded around mile 19. I had hoped to just get to the finish, but couldn't wait any longer and had to stop at the honeybucket. Nothing like letting minutes and seconds passing by while hanging out in a smelly, green, closet. I lost about a minute, but ya gotta do what ya gotta do!
I didn't use my headphones until mile 21. I need some extra motivation, and I had pre-made a 3+ hour playlist. Unfortunately, my nano somehow got stuck on repeat to the ONE chill song that was on the playlist...which I ended up listening to over and over again for the last HOUR of my race.
The too-fast first half drained me the last half, and it was all I could do to keep running the last couple miles. My jog turned into a shuffle, but strangely enough I was in good spirits heading to the finish line. I crossed the finish completely unaware of what my time was, fairly certain I didn't break 4 hours as I had hoped. The final results came in: 4 hours, 41 seconds. I missed it by a Honeybucket.
Overall, I was very happy with the results. I still P.R.'d by four minutes in pretty nasty conditions. It still amazes me that its even possible to run 26.2 miles. It takes me to my absolute depths, it reveals my ultimate pain threshold, and allows me to celebrate a feat that few experience.
The details of my race can be seen with cool graphics, if you'd like to see how I compared to the other marathoners. I'm pretty sure they don't give out trophies for coming in two thousand eighteenth place, but I'll have to find out.
After recovery, we headed to Claim Jumper to reclaim part (or all) of the 3000+ calories we burned earlier in the day.
Special thanks to the Portland Marathon Clinic for giving me a reason to run on Saturday, and my wife for putting up with my quirky requests - not just on race day, but during this whole experience.
Overall a journey with no regrets, lots of twists, and a finish worth fighting for.