I suppose the best place to start is on Thursday afternoon when I pulled up to the airport and welcomed Kate to my beloved city. It was Kate's first visit to Portland and she had a long list of places she wanted to go, food she wanted to eat and drinks she wanted to consume. But first, we had to get through the marathon.
We had dinner at home with my family where my kids immediately fell in love with Kate. (I know she was feeling the love early Friday morning when they woke her from a deep sleep by climbing in bed with her.) What's not to love about these faces?
|they finally discovered the tinted chapstick that my mom put in their Christmas stockings|
After spending a few hours eating breakfast, walking to my favorite coffee shop, getting packed and picking up some yummy vegan food for the road, we finally left downtown Portland around 12pm and headed for Newport, Oregon.
|just about to leave my house for Newport|
As we drove the 2.5 hours to the race expo, Kate couldn't stop gushing about how lush, beautiful and green the trees were. And how many there were. As much as I envy her the constant sunshine of San Diego, I really would miss being surrounded by green. (Or at least that is what I tell myself.)
The marathon is limited to 900 runners so the expo was really small -- a couple of folding tables selling t-shirts and not much else. After picking up our race packets, we headed to our hotel and had this amazing view from our room.
The weather was shaping up to be almost perfect for a marathon with low 50's forecasted at the start and no rain. Unfortunately, I was feeling anything but confident as my head hit the pillow that night. Due to some "aggressive" self-massaging of my left IT band, I had a bruise on my left knee that hurt to the touch and was painful while walking. It had shown up three days earlier and I had skipped all workouts in the days leading up to the race in order to rest it and ice as much as possible. The worst part was knowing a self-inflicted pain could derail months of training.
As Kate pointed out, however, I had already had run a great race in Boston where I set a new PR of 3:30:30. And Kate loved my time so much that she almost thought I should just let it stand -- something about the 30:30 part of it seeming so perfect. I knew she was right that I had a lot to be proud of and I think it helped ease my anxiety enough that I got a good amount of sleep. Or at least what I consider to be good before a marathon (5.5 hours).
The first thing I did when I woke up was to gingerly touch my knee to see how it felt. I felt a huge wave of relief when I discovered it was almost completely better! I made coffee and had some breakfast while reading my emails to pass the time.
The first message I read was from my sweet friend, Petra, wishing me luck on the marathon. She ended her email with the words "stay strong and be happy!" I immediately decided to adopt that as my mantra for the race. Petra was also running a marathon that same morning in the UK and was targeting a sub-3:40 time. Given the time difference, her race was already over. I was bursting with happiness for her when I read that she had run a 3:37:39 and won her age division!! Additionally, it gave me some confidence that I could reach my goals, too.
A few more pictures before the race...
|about to leave the hotel...ready to go!|
|the state park where the race starts|
|our twin Brooks Pure Flows|
As we stood shivering in the starting corral, I looked over at Kate and mentioned how nervous I was.
There is something unique to knowing you are about to embark on that which you have invested so much in -- hours and hours of precious time, lots of hard work, countless early mornings, gallons of sweat -- and it all comes down to what is right before you. The physical, mental and emotional challenge of running 26.2 miles is one that both frightens me and invigorates me. That feeling of nervous excitement just before the guns goes off is unparalleled. At that point, your destiny is in your own hands and in your heart. You just have to go get it.
[To be continued with the actual race recap...]