To give anything less than your best is to sacrifice the gift.
-Steve Prefontaine
Make it simple, but significant.
- Don Draper

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Portland Half Marathon - Whoa!

My thoughts about the crowd!
Going to bed I had the words of Neta Prefontaine running through my head ... "Do your best and remember Steve will be running right next to you!" All night long this was echoing and I actually had the best sleep ever before a race! I woke up feeling calm, confident and ready!

At 4am I was up and hitting the shower, curious about what was ahead of me. Usually I know exactly where to go, where I'll be running, where I'll be finishing. This time I only had a general idea. I didn't worry and instead trusted Biker Boy to get me downtown on time. He did! Traffic was busy getting to the race area so we grabbed a spot a few blocks away and used that distance to let me walk off some nerves, warm up and try to eat a bagel. As per usual, I couldn't even eat half of one. And I forgot to grab a banana. Once again I would be running under fueled - story of my racing life! All day Saturday I was texting with friends that were running the full marathon. I kept it up in the morning, but in the mass of all the people and my feeling of being lost I never found them. Bummer. I thought of them all during my 13.1 miles though, hoping for them all the best as they tackled twice my distance.

I panicked a little bit when I couldn't get a signal on my Garmin. At home I have no big buildings in the way of the satellites. In downtown Portland? Totally different story! I was corral E, so it gave me a little extra time to panic and then calm down when it worked. The countdown was short and sweet ... and done by none other than Frank Shorter! I crossed the start line and couldn't wipe the smile off of my face. The streets were lined with tons of loudly cheering spectators and it made for an awesome start experience! My plan for this race was to stick with Jeff Galloway's run/walk/run intervals, keep my head calm and get under 3 hours. Done, done and done! I had my Garmin set for 4 minutes of running and 1 minute of walking. At first I didn't want to walk, but I forced myself. I wanted to give this plan a fair chance. He says to do walk breaks early and often and so that's what I did! 

The first four miles flew by. There were so many spectators along the entire route, ample water stops and music at least every mile if not more. I seemed to be around the same people for the majority of the race, and for the first time ever, nobody annoyed me! Perhaps I was just really in the zone and enjoying myself that I didn't get irritated by little things. I was wearing a 5 hour pace band since it was the slowest one they had at the expo. Imagine my shock when half way into the race I was ahead of that pace! The sub-3 was mine without a doubt!

A misty rain happened about 45 minutes in and it was a welcome relief for me. I enjoy misty rain when I run. I had half of a Clif shot about 10K into the race and did drink all of my PowerAde before getting to the finish area. Ooh, I had a 10K and 15K PR (although I can't count them), so obviously things were going right. I was shocked at how well I was feeling. Thank you, Jeff Galloway! 

I never saw my friend running his first full. During the very long out and back I was sure I'd see him, but he was probably too fast for me to see (this was his 3rd race ever, and he got sub-4!).  I started to crash so I took some pretzels, but offered them to a volunteer when I couldn't eat them. I knew I was going to be sick. I didn't want to be. I wanted to fight it until the end. I was starting to feel pretty low and then I looked to the left and I felt like this happy ray of light just came beaming down. It was Cilley Girl and Jules! They have no idea how much I needed to see them when I did! Since we didn't meet up at the start this was actually better. I thought they looked so happy and I felt like I got a spring in my step seeing my friends smiling at me. Thank you, ladies!! I told them I knew I wouldn't PR, but I would still beat my goal. High fives exchanged and we all went on our way.
Just shoot me now. That shirt is way too big. Ugh.

I did a double triple take when my Garmin said I was 11 miles in. I actually almost asked other runners if that was possibly right. I mean I was so close to the end! At this point I owe a ginormous thank you to the spectators and volunteers. They really did help me get to the finish line. I was sticking with intervals, although the running bits were getting shorter now and then. When I'd feel like walking I had Neta's voice telling me Pre would be with me and I'd start running again - even picking up the pace. So many people shouted my name, only now their words sounded genuine. They all pushed me forward and reassured me that the end was close and I was looking strong. For a while I was running with my eyes closed, concentrating and soaking in the cheers. Biker Boy saw me during my worst part. You know I am done when my hands are on my hips. I had less than a mile to go. I wasn't going to give up.


With tears going down my face, jazz hands in full motion (All That Jazz came on), I was nearly delirious. I didn't care about spectators judging me. If mental dancing was keeping my head in check, then that's what I would do. It was pure agony. You see I had done the math for 2 miles. That PR that I wasn't even trying for and knew I wouldn't get? It was so close that if I didn't get it I would NOT be satisfied in the least. The pain must have been showing because the encouragement from others only got louder. One man actually just spoke to me. "Ronda, you are so close. Go get that finish. It is just around the corner!" "Really? Just ahead?" I said, completely crying. He said yes and I kicked it into high gear. At the last corner I had 4 people ahead of me. I picked them off one at a time -- going sub-7 minute mile pace! I heard my name over the speakers, threw up my arms and rejoiced when I got my new PR!

I stopped my Garmin. Realized I was NOT okay and started dry heaving. A nice man asked if I was okay. Before I could answer I was throwing up. Soon they had a garbage can in front of me. I was blocking finisher photos for the others. I kept apologizing to everyone because I felt terrible about it. For the first time ever during a "sick" moment I said, "Please. Help me." I had my napkin from my pocket and was cleaning up and a girl was throwing a space blanket around me. She helped me stand upright and another put on my medal. A nice guy from the left came and had his arm around me. "You did it! You looked awesome. You were great!" And then those two pretty much carried me to the med tent. I was dizzy (and not my normal) and disoriented. I was put on a cot and had my blood pressure, pulse and temperature repeatedly checked. They gave me juice and fruit and took care of me until I was okay to walk around. Before the doctor dismissed me (I had my own chart!) a volunteer said, "I recognize you! I've raced with you before a few times!" Wow - I felt like that was a compliment of sorts! The med staff was really great and after a while I was allowed to go.


Upon leaving I was given a rose, then hit the food area. They had oodles! I took some cups with donut holes and juice. Next we were greeted by men in tuxedos giving us little cloth sacks (that isn't the right word). It them we had a commemorative coin and a pendant - a mini version of our medals that you could put on a necklace! Then I got a long-sleeve finishers shirt and Douglas Fir seedling. Finishers photos were next, then as I left I was given a piece of flatbread pizza. Yummy! They sure do treat their runners well in Portland. I was very impressed!

All the swag included with the race fees!
I was also impressed with the runners as a whole. I mean we are CRAZY! Being in the med tent I saw scary things. Even after leaving the whole area I saw a runner on the ground completely drained of color. His eyes weren't responsive. He was stiff and shaking. I haven't been exposed to things like this before and it gave me a whole new level of respect for those fast, elite runners! I guess I deserve the bad friend award. I really wanted to stay to cheer on my friends to the finish, but the rest of the day I was just not feeling well. But then I was forced into a med tent, so I guess I shouldn't be too hard on myself.

I have absolutely no complaints about the day! I registered for this on December 9, 2010. I'd say it was definitely worth the wait and I am so glad I did it. .... and I got a freaking PR on top of it all! Yay!


20 comments:

  1. CONGRATS ON THE PR!!!
    That's amazing.
    I'm so sorry you got sick :-(

    the swag?! omg. . I'm super jelly of the pendant! That's all I want is a medal/ pendant. . I'd wear it forever!

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  2. I seriously want to make us something special since we are practically doing Goofy! We need our own VIP medal/pendant!

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  3. woohoo! Congrats on the PR!! :) Sorry about the sick part though. :(

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  4. It sounds like this was the best race for you to get so sick at, since they (volunteers AND spectators) treated you so well.

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  5. i'm so happy you found something that worked for you! (galloway method)

    Aside from the getting sick part- way to go!

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  6. You cracked me up, I do think your shirt was a bit big too, haha...have you lost some weight?

    Love the swag. Cool that the shirt says "half marathon" on it. I feel guilty wearing a shirt from a race that says "marathon" when I only ran the half.

    Sorry you got sick at the end. The last time S ran the Portland full, he spent some time at the med tent. Once they get you in there, they don't let you go until they are ready, right?

    Oh, and the food at Portland post race is THE best, I agree. I ran the 5 Miler years ago and couldn't believe all the treats.

    Nice job on your surprise PR!

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  7. I don't think I've lost weight. That was a free shirt I got from Skirt Sports when I ordered another one of their shirts. I must have ordered a large since one time I got a medium of their running shirts and it was too tight. I almost didn't wear that, but that shade of purple matched the skirt and socks better. But it looked dreadful when running. At least I was comfy!

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  8. Awesome, awesome, awesome!

    And so color-coordinated, too! :-D

    Loved "running" into you on the out-and-back....

    Congrats on the PR and for totally kicking ass!

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  9. Thanks, Julie! And thanks for being in the right place at the right time -- you two pretty much literally pulled me out of the bushes when I was ready to be sick! Had I been sick then the PR wouldn't have happened!

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  10. Wow what an awesome race and the med tent sound like they were doing a fantastic job :-) Congratulations xx

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  11. That's so awesome! Congrats on the PR and seriously amazing amounts of swag :D Totally makes me want to do the Portland 1/2. Glad to hear the Galloway method did so well, I plan on starting that training plan and method here soon after I finish C25k :) You ROCK!

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  12. So sorry you got so sick in the end. that happened to me in Newport. not fun. Congrats on your PR! yeah for Galloway! maybe I need to give it a try myself!!!

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  13. You are awesome! Congrats on the PR!
    Sorry about the getting sick part though ... but hmmm.. that just goes to show that you give it all you have, right?

    Sounds like Portland has lots of cool stuff for runners. :)

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  14. I shouted WOOO-HOO out loud when I read the part at the finish line. YES, Mr. Galloway, you are a helpful man indeed!!

    But, really the star is YOU, Ronda.

    So proud of you and for trying new things, giving it your best and smashing that PR. Big smiles here today :))

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  15. Great job!!!!! Congrats on the PR!

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  16. Congrats on your new PR! The Portland volunteers are the best... glad you had so many great people taking care of you. I'm also glad that you're okay.

    Portland definitely gives its runners fun perks! I wear my pendant from last year often! I bet you will, too! :)

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  17. That is a totally awesome race packet!!!!

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  18. So glad to hear you're okay! that's scary to have those bouts of dizziness and whatnot! Yay for the PR too!! :)

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  19. Congrats, Ronda!! You really worked hard for that PR!! amazing. DId the half course go by Fit Right NW around mile 11? where they had a Dj and stuff? If so, I probably saw you and didn't even know it. Dang. You rocked it. Congrats. So sorry you got sick but so proud of you for getting that PR!

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  20. You are a rockstar!! Congrats on the PR!! And what great swag.

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