We are sailing along, it’s raining like mad, everyone’s giddy and talking and just happy to FINALLY be doing the race. People are lined up on both sides of the street and cheering us on through the darkness and rain. I yell back, thanking them for even coming out in this mess.
As we cruise through the 1st few miles the crowds thin out, but not too much, as we do a hard left hand turn onto SW Natio Parkway. We’re heading back into town again where the crowds are still making noise and cheering us on. WOW! It’s really raining! Amazing!
We turn onto NW Front St around the 5 mile mark and all systems are go. My right foot started hurting back at the 2 mile mark but each time it pains me I think about my form and really concentrate on getting it right. I remember everything Dr. Heidi told me, so I really focus on keeping my form and feet running smoothly and in a straight line. Seems to help, as the pain diminishes each time I focus.
Wow, this stretch is ugly (miles 6 through 11). Railroad track after railroad track. And they’re slick! Had one runner almost go down next to me. For a while we were warning each other about the up coming puddles and tracks by yelling out, “TRACKS!” or “PUDDLE!” but there were soooo many we just stopped. And it didn’t really help much in regards to the puddles, since if you moved out-of-the-way, the guy or gal next to you wouldn’t and you’d get splashed with water! Why am I doing this? Oh yeah…Boston.
So miles 6 through 11 were pretty uneventful and on the ugly side since it was all railroads cars and tracks. I did noticed that I dropped back during these miles as I was chatting too much and needed to focus and save my energy.
Around mile 9 I thought to myself, “Okay..I’m getting tired, so there’s no way I can make it the whole way. I’m just going to hang on as long as I can and then I’ll fade and enjoy (HA!) the rest of the run”. But it was strange, as we wound our way through some of the neighborhoods on 17th, NW Raleigh, 26th then Wardway, it seemed to break up the monotony of that LONG out and back by the RR tracks and I seemed to be feeling a little better. And what’s even stranger is between 11 & 12 miles was a small hill. I could feel it, and went into my “old man shuffle” where I take shorter strides but increase the cadence and it seemed to pull me right up with very little increase to my breathing. Cool.
So the 13th mile was coming up and I knew we were going to lose our pacer’s Amber and Erica so I pressed towards the front to say thanks to them. They were all upbeat and wished all of us luck and the next pacer’s took the “Red Lizard 3:45” sign and we said hello to the new guys.
They said they names but I only remember one guys name as Steve. (Not a bad name, ;-)). Well Steve was all smiles and laughing and saying “Welcome to the 3:45 express to the finish line!” I was like…pay attention dude. Not too many were laughing. We all were working hard and Amber and Erica had gotten us to the 13.1 with a 40 second cushion and this guy was not paying attention. The next thing I knew were they were pulling away. I pushed hard to catch up to them and checked my Garmin: We were doing a 8:02 pace! What? WHAT THE HECK! Then someone said we had lost our cushion and were 40 seconds slow! Great! Just Great!
Around 16 miles once things had settled back into the 8:30ish pace I asked rather rudely, “Steve! Are we on pass NOW?!”. Man I was ticked. I shouldn’t have been, but the other pacer’s had done such a great job of communicating and keeping the pace rock solid I didn’t want to fail because this guy wasn’t paying attention.
Up ahead lay the “big hill” that leads to the beautiful St. John’s Bridge at the 16.5 mile mark. Wow..that is one beautiful bridge!
It was still raining pretty hard, probably as hard as it was during the start. I pulled the hill doing my old man shuffle and I know I sounded like a steam engine, but that’s the way it works with me. I just bury my head, shorten my stride, and cruise on up. I found myself passing the 3:45 sign carrier and didn’t care. I turned onto the bridge and it was beautiful! Somehow I found the breath to yell! WOOHOO! Man! For some reason that bridge really got me feeling good. I guess since it was the biggest hill on the course I felt I had passed a mile stone and that mentally it was all down hill from there!
As I crossed the middle of the bridge I saw Erica and ran up to her shoulder. I asked if she was still running the 3:45 pace and she said yes. I then asked if I could run with her since the other pacer’s where doing a terrible job. (Well, okay, maybe it wasn’t terrible, but I was still mad how they would slow down then speed up and change the pace so drastically)…I just wanted to run with someone who was consistent, and Erica had proved that she was. She said SURE, come on along. So two other runners & I tucked in behind her as we turned off the bridge onto Willamette Blvd at the 17.5 mile mark.
Man was it raining! As we splashed our way past the 19 mile mark, I had asked Erica how far she was going. She had said 22 miles or so. I told her I was struggling but really appreciated her solid pacing and tips. On the 1st half of the marathon she was kind of quiet, letting Amber give instructions and warnings (usually about the up coming aid stations). As I was running next to her she would give me and the other two instructions on how we should handle the hills, both going up and down. One of the things she said almost didn’t make sense but by this time I was looking for anything that would help get me through.
She said things like, “run lightly” don’t let your feet smack the road. On any down hills she said, “try to stride out, but don’t over stride.” She mentioned that by doing this it would help in improving the blood flow. So I did as instructed, and as we continued on, she would keep us informed as to our cushion. “Okay, we have a 30 second cushion” Then she would slowly increase the pace just a smidgen until we had our 40 second cushion back. She was amazingly helpful and encouraging.
At the 21 mile mark we were going through a very pretty neighborhood that was on the edge of a cliff and you could look out over the city of Portland. I didn’t do a lot of looking but I did take a moment to enjoy the view and area. (I think this is where the one couple got married, but I didn’t actually see it happen)
It was also at this time that I knew it would take a miracle for me to finish at this pace. I wasn’t “dead” but I was getting close. I made sure I was close to Erica, as I was afraid if she got too far away I wouldn’t be able to catch her. At one point I came right up to her shoulder and said, “Erica, can I ask you a BIG favor?”, she turned and said, “Sure”. “I know I’m not going to make without you setting the pace. Is there anyway you’d consider going all the way to the finish?”. Wow, how rude! Here she was, volunteering her time on only her 3rd marathon in her life (young life) and this old geezer has the audacity to ask if she would just about carry him to the finish line! Shsss! What a loser!
Well, she looked over and said, “I’ll go as far as I can”. I said thanks and went back to focusing.
I wasn’t sure if that meant she’d take me all the way but I really hoped and prayed that she would.
I’m not sure if I thought about it then, but I remember when Coach Scott mentioned tying a bungee cord around his waist and then to Brett during the 37 mile ultra we did earlier this year to help Brett during the later miles. Well I didn’t happen to have a bungee cord with me, but if I did, I would have tied one around Erica, and in a way I did, at least metaphorically speaking. I just felt if I could stay right on her shoulder I would be able to follow her and draft into the finish line.
But as mile 22, 23 and 24 went by I wasn’t so sure about the “metaphorical” bungee cord, I really felt the wheels were very close to coming off. But man, I was so darn close, I just kept switching to my shuffle and doing whatever I could do get the legs to continue to turn over and over and over again and hoped I could keep close to Erica.
As we came over the Broadway bridge Erica mentioned we very close, only two more miles. TWO MORE MILES! Oh ugh..I wish it could have been .2 more miles! I would watch as Erica and one other guy would slowly pull away from me, and I think it was then that she talked to the only one left with us, and said that if he felt good to go ahead. I was like NO! Don’t leave me! So I dug down and said, please legs, can you give me a little more just so I could catchup with Erica? And the next thing you know I was on her shoulder again. This happened over and over again between miles 24 and 25. I felt like if I could just stop and rest for a couple of minutes I’d be able to run faster, but I also knew that if I stopped, it would be all over. BUT I REALLY WANTED TO STOP!
During this time Erica was constantly checking her Garmin and telling me what our cushion was, and as we approached the 26 mile mark, the cushion was dwindling awfully fast! Where we once had a nice 40 second lead we were down to 10, then 7.
I remembered back near the beginning, it was either Erica or Amber who said, “When you turn the corner to the finish line, it’s going to look like it’s a 100 miles away, but it’s NOT! Just keep digging and you’ll get there!”
So as we prepared to turn onto 3rd towards the finish line, all of a sudden out of no where comes the 3:45 sign and Steve and the other pacer….and to my knowledge, none of the other 3:45 runners, at least none that I could pick out at that time. They were FLYING! I”m like, really, you think after running 26 miles the other runners are going to be able to SPRINT to the finish line just to make the 3:45 cut off? Wow..there was a lot of emotions going but I was so thankful that I stayed with Erica as I would have NEVER been able to sprint to the finish to make the cut off time.
Just before this I had heard a shout from the sideline and it was my wife. I was so tired and so focussed I wasn’t able to respond to her, I just kept looking forward and running and hard as I could. Later, my wife described what she saw, and put it on her Facebook page. I loved it so much I want to share it here:
“You did amazing dear, even in the non-stop pouring rain. Proud of you! I was
very blessed to see that young lady (the pacer) encouraging you to the finish
line when you looked like you had used up your last ounce of strength and were
suffering painfully. This spoke depths to me of the power God has put within us
to be a help to one another in this difficult race to the finish line of life.
It brought tears to my eyes. I wish I could thank Erica too for all she did for
My wife nailed it…I had used my last once of energy, I really had nothing left. And as we turned into the finish line Erica kept counting down and encouraging me to push on, keep going, but I don’t recal her ever yelling, just urgent encouragement, saying, You did it! You made it!
I still didn’t believe her yet..I still hadn’t crossed the finish line and even though it was only a few more steps I still wasn’t sure I was going to make it until I literally fell over the finish line into the arms to two “catchers”. I couldn’t walk, all I could think was I’ve got to find Erica and thank her!
After a minute or two I was able to stand and walk and I was walking around in circles screaming at the top of my lungs, ERICA! ERICA! (Shades of the 1st Rocky movie comes to mind, when Stallone wins his match but is all beat up and barely able to walk and yelling, “Adrien, Yoh, Adrien!”. I wanted so much to thank her for all she had done for me. But since she didn’t have a timing chip she had to pull off just before the finish line and I had no idea where she went. (I have since found her email and sent her a thank you email and guess what? She’s going to BOSTON just like ME!!!!!!)
Oh, did I mention that? Yes, I made it! I made my time of 3:45:06. Wait a minute, 3:45:06? Erica? You said I only had a cushion of only 7 seconds! You brought me in too fast! I could have strutted my way in with all the time I had left! HA!
This has been a dream since 1983 when I ran my 1st Boston unofficially. I have my log book from back then, and on the back I wrote, “Someday I want to run the Boston marathon officially”. I just never thought it would take 27 years!
I did it…I can’t believe it. I honestly did not think I could make the cut off time. I thought I hadn’t trained long or hard enough, and with my injury three weeks out, I just thought there would be no way. I had only done two sessions of pool running per Dr. Heidi’s instructions so I dismissed that as a waste of time since I really never felt tired from it. However, during those two long sessions I would see myself running and running and running Portland, and in my “dream” (while I’m doing the pool running) I never got tired. I was effortlessly running through the miles, never feeling my legs get tired or sore. Don’t know if that helped or not but I would just pretend I was running through the streets of Portland for almost two hours while in the pool. And obviously it did help.
A brief look at my training: Keep in mind that even after Ironman I still did a maintenance level of running so it wasn’t like I was starting from scratch….but maybe pretty close.
Ironman was June 27th, then we fly to Florida and my recovery was Dunkin Donuts and body surfing and one slow, hot run.
On the weekend after our two-week stay I did an Olympic Tri up in Colville called the Tiger Tri, and took 3rd in my age group. So I guess I still had some left over fitness from all the Ironman training.
So THEN I signed up for Portland only because it was about to fill up and that was July 23rd. You can read the details here, but basically I ran 15 to 20 miles M-W-F and then on the weekend I did an 8, 12, 15, 18, dropped to 11.5 for recovery, then the 22 miler that I cut short because my foot was hurting. So, not a lot of mileage, but I did throw in speed work on Wednesdays which I KNOW helped a lot. Steve and I would jog over to SCC and attempt to run 2 miles of straight aways and walk the corners of the track. We also through in a hill run up Beacon hill one Thursday but I found the track work really took a lot of out me and made my legs very sore, which tells me, I REALLY needed that track work.
So, probably not the best training schedule to prepare for a marathon, but I think because of all the base I put in early in the year getting ready for the Ultra and then Ironman, did help carry me through Portland.
But honestly? I wasn’t ready. I really wasn’t. I think having a pace group really helps and I hope someday to be able to return the favor for someone. I think if Erica had bailed at the 22 mile mark, this blog would have been a lot shorter and sadder.
Well, it would be great if I could say it ended there..but it didn’t.
I was whipped, 100% done, gone, kaput! I had nothing left. I walked by the food and thought “ugh..none of that looks good”. I had to keep walking because when I would stopped I would go into oxygen debt and it felt like I had asthma. So I walked to the end of the food section and was feeling worse. I mean way worse. So I started heading back to where the 1st aid station was but on my way back I just about collapsed, and just in time someone caught me. They asked if I was okay, and I respond, ‘You know…I don’t think I am”. So another person came by and two of them walked me into the 1st aid tent and the doctors took it from there.
They laid me down on the cot, and asked me all sorts of questions, all I could think about was having someone call my wife so she wouldn’t wonder where I was. But finally someone said to give me an IV and so they stuck a needle into my arm and started the flow. I said, “woh..that’s warm”, the guy said, it’s because your cold. I said, “No, it’s really hot”. No, no, it’s because you’re cold. I said, “NO! It’s VERY HOT”, I screamed. I did, I yelled! It was so stinking HOT! It felt like liquid lava pouring into my vein! Finally someone grabbed the bag of saline and yanked if from the tube and told the guy to get a new one! As soon as they put the new one in, I asked, “Is it on? Is it working? They said yes. I said I didn’t feel it and I guess that’s how it’s supposed to feel.
After they had filled me up since I was a quart low, they made me stand up to make room for the next victim, and pushed me towards the massage tables. YES!
I laid down and after the guy checked a few things out he asked, “Do you know your left hip bone is 1″ higher than your right one?”. I didn’t know but I did know my back was killing me so he said he would fix it for me. So he had me lay on my side and then wrung me out like a wash cloth, and SNAP! and “OUCH!”, poof! I was healed! Well, at least the pain started to subside.
Once again I was helped up and out into the pouring rain to look for my wife and friends.
I found my wife a little later and she lead me over to where Susie, a good family friend, was sitting on a chair after having finished her 1st marathon! WOOHOO! My wife stepped from the road onto the sidewalk and I stood there dead in my tracks. I looked at the curb and to me it looked like it was about 3 feet high. I looked left, I looked right, and no where was there a lower curb I could step up to. I looked at my wife and said, “help?”.
We spent the rest of the day walking all over Portland and finally getting some dinner and a cold Guinness. Yes!
Bottom line? This was the most difficult run I had ever done. To be able to maintain the same pace for 26 miles none stop and make the necessary time to qualify for Boston..was a miracle.
Here’s a couple of pics: One of Erica doing her pacing, and one of me looking terrible at the finish line, and then one after the race.
10-10-2010 – A date to remember!
This is my race report from my 2nd attempt at qualifying for the Boston marathon.
On Saturday the 9th, my wife and I flew down to Portland, Oregon to pick up my race packet for the 39th running the Portland marathon and my 2nd attempt to qualify for the Boston marathon.
My training leading up to this race had been pretty consistent with a slow buildup of long runs starting with an 8 miler then a somewhat quick increase to 12, 15, 18, 11.5(*recovery week) & 21. These were all done on the weekend and were preceded by various length runs through the week that consisted of Monday recovery runs, Wednesday speed or hillwork, and Friday easy or optional rest days. Tuesday and Thursday’s were strength training.
Seemed to me a pretty balanced regime and one that seemed to be working…until the 21 miler.
On the 21 miler, I had planned a two loop 11.2 mile run with my training buddy Steve. On the 1st loop around the 9.5 mile mark my right foot cramped up on the top and at the Achilles. I stopped and walked a few steps and the Achilles appeared to relax and the top of my foot “seemed” okay. So we continued on to the cars where I refueled and said goodbye to Steve. (He’s still recovering from being hit by a car during the Ironman race in Coeur d’Alene. Can you believe the Ironman folks STILL haven’t offered to give him a free entry into the 2011 Ironman?!! But that’s another story. And if anyone out there has the ear of an Ironman official, please put in a word for Steve that in good conscious they need to give him an entry SOON, so he can start making plans!)
Where was I?
Oh, so I went out to finish my long run of 22 miles and everything seemed to be okay. Had a little tenderness on the top of my right foot but I stopped a couple of times and loosened the shoelaces and thought everything was good.
Rested on Sunday and went out on Monday with Steve for an easy 7.5 recovery run. About 3 miles into it the top of my foot began to ache. I kept stopping and loosening my shoe laces but it didn’t seem to help and by the time I got back to work I was in a lot of pain.
I stopped running on it for a couple of days, went to our team sports doctor (I belong to “Team Blaze” and get a free consult with a sports therapist once a year…what a deal!) and she said that because of worn shoes (dummy!) and a run gait that reminder her of someone with 3 left feet, that I should do no more running until the marathon (which was in 3 weeks) and instead do aqua running. Great..there goes my 2nd attempt at Boston…sigh.
So I did as instructed, however I only did the aqua running twice, once for 1 hour and 10 minutes and 1 hour and 50 minutes. Probably not the best training to prepare for Portland. But….it is what is is…or in this case, was. Huh?
So down to Portland we went. Good friends picked us up at the airport and took us down to the expo. Wow…sort of claustrophobic. Down in the bowels of the Hilton and spread out on two dingy floors with low ceilings: All I wanted to do was get my race packet and get up to ground level. But 1st I had to find out where to meet the “Red Lizard” pacing group.
Now I’ve never run in a pacing group and was nervous and excited about what this entailed. But the guy looked at my number, showed me where to go and when to be there, so that was that.
Later that night we traveled to “The Old Spaghetti Factory” and met up with a number of Team Blaze folks who were also running the race.
What a great group of folks!
Wow! What a group! And to think they were all planning on running even after all those martinis..AMAZING!
Okay, so here’s where the real race report begins: (I see that it’s after 10:00 PM so I’m going to break this into two parts for now)
5:00 AM – Alarm wakes me from a good solid sleep. As I step from my bed I hear a loud metallic sound. I stand and listen then realize the predicted rain has arrived. I walk to the front door and poke my head out..woh..it’s not raining a little bit, it’s raining a LOT! I mean big heavy rain drops! Great. But..it’s not cold. I check my phone for the weather and it’s about 61 degrees. Not bad. I change my plans from wearing my Armor All tights to just shorts, a long sleeve shirt and my handy-dandy red vest. I’m pretty sure I won’t need the vest but I’d rather be hot than cold at the start and since I shop at the non-elite shops I can throw the vest away with no sense of remorse. (Except I’m sort of emotionally attached to it….kind of like my blankey…but that’s another story.)
5:10 – Oatmeal, honey, coffee, two pieces of wheat toast, and water…lots of water.
6:00 – I’m down town, sitting in the back of a car, bumper to bumper with all the other marathon runners. It’s pouring rain. All I can see are red tail lights flashing stop and go, stop and go. I finally ask our host to just let me out and I’ll walk to the race start with many of the other runners who have the same idea. I have a rain poncho with a hood so I’m good to go.
6:30 – I’ve found my pace group of 3:45:00 but head over to the honey buckets to do my last-minute …ah..race checks. I’m relaxed. Chatting with folks while I’m standing in line. Many folks from Portland and the surrounding area, but also many from as far away as South Carolina.
6:50 – I’m standing with the other folks who are shooting for a 3:45:00 time and am introducing myself and meeting many folks, many who are hoping for a BQ time. It’s pouring rain and yet we are not getting too wet due to all the large trees hanging over the street. The sun is still not up and the bright lights, loud music, and now announcer introducing Bill Rodgers and Jeff Galloway make it seem like a rock concert. Cool.
7:00 – The gun goes off and all the elites and wheel chair folks take off. In a minute or two we are moving forward to be the next wave to take off. Somewhere around 7:05 we hear the countdown and take off.
I’m excited but relaxed. I’m pretty sure I’m not going to be able to make the time necessary to qualify for Boston due to my foot injury and lack of training near the end, but I’m not that concerned. I decide to do the best I can and try to enjoy the run.
We pass by a group of folks playing marching drums and they are so inspiring. We can feel the beats resonating on the inside of our chest. Everyone yells and hoots and wishes we could have them follow us the entire way to help keep us motivated. Feeling good.
(Well, it’s late, and this will be a LONG report..so that’s it for now. But don’t forget to check back..it actually gets interesting!)
3:45:07 Boston here we come!