I registered for this race a year ago, just a few hours after finishing the Vancouver Marathon. My cousin Lauren had just run her first half marathon in Vancouver as well, and after that race, we were updating her family on how she did. There was a 1-day special price for $50 so we all (Lauren, me and her parents) decided to take advantage of it and registered for the race. Shortly thereafter, Aunty Mila, also decided to fly up from SoCal and join us at the race.
Four months later, when I was looking at the Ogden Marathon, I mistakenly thought that the Portland Half was the week before Ogden. I thought it could be a last training run for Ogden. A few weeks after committing to Ogden I realized my error. But still wanting to support the family, I made my travel plans to fly to Portland and spectate the race after Ogden. Well plans changed and I ended up running it – I guess everything worked out the way it was supposed to.
I flew in Saturday evening after the expo closed so on Sunday morning, we got to the race early so that I could pick up my bib at the Solutions Tent.
(Tip: Rock ‘n Roll race organizers will say race day pick-up is absolutely not allowed, but it really is. I had inquired about this months earlier and got a nasty email about it saying they are only making this exception for me, but I knew they allowed it because I have had friends who did this at previous Rock ‘n Roll races and there was also a line of other people at the Solutions Tent that morning.)
We met up with Aunty Mila at the Start corrals and as usual, the corrals were too small and jam-packed.
This race was supposed to be a showdown between Rich and Lauren. Lauren had beat her Dad’s half marathon time in Vancouver so this was supposed be the race to see who was faster. Unfortunately, injuries happened things didn’t quite go as planned. In fact, you could kinda call us the walking wounded. I had my bad hip / knee / IT Band. Aunty Delta was just coming off some serious medical issues, which interrupted her training for several weeks, and Lauren had spent the previous 4 weeks in a boot with a broken foot (and hadn’t yet received medical clearance to run the race). You could say we aren’t the smartest people.
About a mile into the race, Lauren and I lost Aunty Delta and Rich so it was just the 2 of us for the rest of the race. This is the longest race that I’ve run with another person. I had my iPod shuffle, but Lauren’s iPod was dead so I didn’t use it. So it was also my first race, and longest distance, running music-free.
Lauren is a former Division I track athlete so she kept coaching me along the way. At first I kept rolling my eyes at all the advice she was feeding me, but they actually turned out to be quite helpful and I really appreciated it.
We had planned to do a lot of walking and for the first half of the race we did it rather sporadically. We ran for as long as we felt like we could, then walked so as not to over do it. Between her broken foot and my knee hurting on the down hills (it was quite a hilly course!) we ended up walking quite a bit.
About half way through the race we decided to put some kind of structure to our run/walk pace. At first we tried alternating .25-run/.25 walk but it wasn’t enough running time. Eventually we settled on running 1-mile and walking for .25 miles. Sometimes we ran longer, sometimes it was shorter, depending on what our legs allowed.
Even though the walking was taking forever, having Lauren there with me made the miles fly by. We chatted about running, life and pretty much everything under the sun. It was nice to have catch-up time with her.
As we neared the end of the race we said that we would finish side-by-side, yet we would still sprint at the end. I don’t know why in the world I thought this was possible given that she is a Sprinter. During the last mile we came upon overhead photographers and heard a lady say, “This is it!” so we started sprinting but then realized that the Finish Line was still about a half mile away.
I yelled to Lauren, “I’m going to slow down” to which she responded, “No! We’re almost there, don’t slow down now. Start pumping your arms, it will help your legs to keep moving!” Had she not been there I would have slowed down or even walked. But I kept going.
When the Finish Line finally came into view she said, “Okay, let’s kick!” And with that, she took off and left me in her dust.
When I crossed the Finish Line she stood there waiting for me and said, “I thought we were going to kick?” Uh, I did…
After we made our way through the Finish area, I kicked myself for not packing dry clothes and slippers. It was a second rainy Portland race and I was freezing. I should have known better. We picked up our race shirts at the Solutions Tent and I quickly put it on. We found a relatively dry spot under a tree to wait for Aunty Delta and Rich. They finished about 20-minutes after us. Aunty Delta’s first half marathon!
Then we met up with Aunty Mila (who ran a kick ass race!) and Bob and headed to Rockbottom Brewery to refuel and recap our race experience.
For an inaugural, let alone a Rock ‘n Roll race, it was surprisingly well organized. The course took us to different parts of the City than I ran in the Portland Marathon, but I still loved it. It was hilly but nothing too strenuous.
As expected, my race time was a personal worst (2:34) but I’m actually quite proud of that time considering all the walking we did. I thought we’d finish closer to 3 hours. In terms of overall race experience, it was one of the best race experiences that I’ve had because of the company. I had so much fun and was thrilled to share the experience with my family. I’m already looking forward to the next race that we all run together. I even told Lauren that we have to run a race where we are both healthy for so that she can pace me to a PR.
And even though he wasn’t allowed to run the race, I can’t forget to mention Chippy. He trained hard for this race too!