My nerves drowned my excitement by the time I came home from work around ten Saturday evening. A strange shooting pain up my right leg caused me to limp at work for a minute earlier that evening, shaking my confidence. I ate a dinner of brown rice, cold, straight out of the fridge, standing in my kitchen, mind planning what I had to prepare. I wanted to get up at 4:45 Sunday morning. I knew I would have trouble sleeping so I poured myself a short glass of wine, hoping a night cap would help me fall out. I gathered my things for the marathon: race clothes, bib, water belt, IPod, and placed them in places I would see them and not forget. I bagged up my Boundary Bay hoody, warm pants, and fresh socks and put them by the door for Dave to bring, just in case I was cold after the race and needed fresh clothes.
I tried to sleep. It was rough. Apparently I slept enough because when my first alarm went off at 4:40, I jumped up out of bed like a kid on Christmas morning. I felt ready, and excited that marathon day arrived. I put on my race clothes. I ate a small breakfast of oatmeal, a banana, and a little coffee with milk. I stretched. I woke Dave up shortly before I needed to leave for a photo and a good-luck kiss, and then I headed towards the bus stop.
The Portland Marathon organizes everybody into race corrals by their expected pace time. My bib assigned me to corral D. I ended up getting there pretty early. It was still dark, but everybody buzzed with excitement. I was doing the race alone, but there was an amazing sense of community as we all waited in anticipation.It was such a beautiful morning.
The race began at seven after dawn. I felt great early on. The enthusiasm and energy of the course definitely pushed me along. One of my favorite things about races is when they have a down and back stretch on the course, and you can cheer on the faster runners. The marathon leaders looked amazing! I felt like I ran a very easy and steady pace, but I soon learned that I my pace was around 10:30 minute miles. My goal was 12 minute miles. My time for the first half was 2:15, only six minutes slower than my fastest half marathon. All the training paid off. I was killing it.
My ankle began to hurt slightly somewhere in the middle of the race. I was aware, but the pain never became worse so I kept running. I climbed the big hill of the race, leading up to the St. John's bridge, with ease, passing many other runners who had walked the hill, or slowed down. I was thrilled, as that was supposed to be the hardest part of the race. It felt small compared to the hill I run all the time near my house. I was so thankful I included that hill on my so many times over the summer.
After the St. John's Bridge, around mile 18, is when things became difficult. My ankle still hurt, and then my thigh began to feel the burn. I massaged it as I ran, and kept moving. I felt that I slowed down significantly, but I didn't mind since the first half was so much faster than I expected. Slowing down was essential to finishing.
Mile by mile, I moved on, passing the twenty mile mark. I walked through most of the water stations by then enjoying the Ultima electrolytes and the water. I counted down the miles to go. By 22, my feet killed me, and I became slower, and slower.
Thankfully for cell phones I was able to communicate with Dave, and friends and family for encouragement. I needed encouragement. Knowing friends waited for me really motivated me the last few miles. I really wanted to walk a bit around 24 or 25, I forget which, and I did. It was probably only a few minutes, but it was rejuvenating. Then I knew I had to finish strong for my friends who were waiting.
I got so excited as I approached Salmon street, which led to the finish line, and is where my friends waited. I grinned and cheered on the crowd, clapping for them, as much as they clapped for me. I saw a man wearing a Seahawks shirt and shouted, "Go Hawks!". I searched for my friends when I neared second street, and first heard Thai shouting at me, "Erin!" I blew her a kiss, and waved, as she pointed to where Dave, Sass and Ryder were. I ran to Dave, and gave him a kiss. He directed me to Faby, who was across the street. I darted across the course to give my friend a hug. Then with a short burst of energy, I sprinted around the turn. That was short lived. I slowed down again, but jogged across the finish line with a smile on my face.
My time was 4:55:30. My average pace was 11:16 minute miles. I trained with 12 minute miles in mind, but I was hopeful I might be able to magically pull off an even five hours. I beat even that, showing myself just what I can do.
After the medal was on my neck and a space blanket was wrapped around me, I began refueling on the snacks for runners. Orange juice, string cheese, chocolate milk, all were so amazing at that moment.
I reunited with Dave, Thai, Sass and Ryder. We stopped off at SP to give Faby another hug. Then we went home. Walking was hard. Stairs were harder. I took a bath immediately. Then we ate a lunch of smoked brisket and baked macaroni and cheese. We celebrated with sparkling. I was exhausted, but waited to sleep until 9 that night, after Ryder fell asleep.
I was sore for days, and finally decided to run yesterday. I was so happy to be running again, but my leg told me to stop after a mile. I'm okay with that. I want to give my body the time it needs to recover, but I'm also determined not to let myself get lazy now that I met my goal. I want to continue to run four days a week.
Such a glorious feeling. I will do this again, and I recommend it everybody. I have never been more proud.