Fun. That’s the bottom line. The Portland Rock and Roll Half Marathon was FUN! I have no other experience with the Rock and Roll events but I’m giving them my stamp of approval, at least with respect to THIS particular event.
Due to a hectic and heavy meeting day on Friday I was not able to slip out of the office to get to the Expo during the day. Blue Eyes met me at my office around 4 and we walked over the bridge to the Convention Center together. I have never been to a packet pick up that was so incredibly calm and well-organized. I mean, really. The event was sold out, 14,000 runners (I had incorrectly said I’d be running with 13,000 of my closest friends, turns out it was more!) – I expected chaos. But that’s not what I got. I was able to walk right up to the woman manning the bib range that my number fell under and with a quick flash of my i.d. I walked away in less than 30 seconds.
After picking up the bib, I got my t-shirt and my bag-o-swag. When I glanced into the bag I didn’t think anything overly positive. With the sponsors behind the event I guess I expected there to be a bit more in the bag. However, by the time we left the Expo the bag was so full Blue Eyes eeked out a smidge of a complaint about the weight of it all. I offered to carry it, but he declined my help.
Brooks was the primary sponsor and they had a whole room dedicated to just their stuff. Well, now that I think about it, that’s not entirely true. The first part of the room had all of the clothing and stuff you could purchase to celebrate the specific event; the rest of the room was all Brooks clothes, shoes, etc. Their check out area looked like a regular store, not a makeshift expo store!
All the other vendors were in another “room” together. There were quite a few vendors, not all of them seemed appropriate at a running expo (one was selling Egyptian cotton bed sheets), but it was fun checking them all out. Samples, samples, and more samples. Lara Bars, Shot Blocks, Gu Shots, Gu in every flavor, Snickers Marathon Bars (yummy, but I find it hard to believe it’s good for me), FRS Healthy Energy and Protein drinks – that was my favorite score actually. They were giving away the full size bottles so I got one of each and they are pretty tasty.
Favorite vender? Dave’s Killer Bread. No, they didn’t give out whole loaves of bread, but they did have plenty of samples of everything and even though I’ve bought every Dave’s Killer Bread there is to buy, I tried them all as a form of carbo-loading, of course!
In the days leading up to the event the Pacific Northwest was experiencing lovely sunshiny warm weather. Race day, when I let my dog out, I was met with sprinkling rain. Throughout the race it sprinkled pretty consistently, stopped periodically and down poured a couple of times. Pretty typical Oregon weather.
Once Blue Eyes and I got downtown and parked it was a little after 7:00 a.m. He was amazed at how many people were milling about since the race didn’t start until 8. Yes, it’s true, he had never been to an event like this.
We walked down Naito towards the Water Fountain at Salmon, which was where the Chicks had decided to meet for our regular pre-race picture. By the time we got down to Salmon we were walking alongside the finish shoot and everything was blocked off. There was no easy way to get to the fountain. I could see a few chicks standing over there but couldn’t see a quick and efficient way to get to them. So, I moved the barrier and walked through. When I started this maneuver there was no one of any authority around but after Blue Eyes and I both got through, walked across the space and moved the second barrier to get out on the water fountain side a man of authority was scowling at me. He said “where are you going?” I said “over there” pointing to the fountain/stairs/chicks as I continued to walk, he gave me an even deeper scowl and said “what for?” And I said “to take pictures, sorry, thanks!” By then we were through and he was left shaking his head with his hands on his waist looking a tad miffed. Whatever, dude.
There were only a handful – of the 55 chicks running the event- at the designated meeting spot at the designated time. I’m almost positive many of them got caught on the other side of the barrier and didn’t think they had enough time to make it around, the legal way, to be part of the picture. Turned out there were multiple waves of chicks to show up for about 15 minutes. These are the few that were there when I arrived.
After the picture Blue Eyes and I walked back towards the corrals, past the main stage, the beer tent, the reunion area, through the bag check area (which was cool since Bag Check were in UPS trucks), and all the same vendors set up that were at the Expo. Finally reached my corral. Dead Center.
The elites started at 8 a.m. and every minute or so after that another corral was set free. It took 13 minutes for me to cross the start line, which really didn’t seem that bad, given the number of people running.
The entire course was wonderful! I wondered as I started up the Hawthorne Bridge how it was going to feel, and how many times I was going to trip and fall, while running on the grated bridge but how awesome it was to find that they had put a blanket of sorts over the grating so it felt a tad more solid under our feet.
Over the bridge, into Southeast Portland, winding around a few blocks, down past OMSI and finally up Hawthorne. I felt content as I ran. I wasn’t running fast, because I don’t run fast, but I was beating my virtual partner by 30 to 45 seconds every mile and that pleased me. My mind was on auto, I listened to the music on my iPod, high-fived all the children and a few adults whose hands were stuck out, cheered as I passed the live music and just enjoyed running. I walked up a portion Hawthorne that was a gradual hill, but not for any great length of time. By the time we got to 54th and started heading towards Burnside, I was looking forward to seeing some familiar faces because I was beginning to lose energy.
As promised, at the corner of Belmont the chicks were waiting. Yelling loudly, high fiving and giving out hugs and candy. It was nice to stop, really stop and chat for a bit. I chatted, laughed, and ate skittles for a couple of minutes and then I was off again, going downhill. Can’t beat that.
A mile later at Burnside and 57th my other girlfriend and her son were there to cheer, hug and tell me I looked strong – ha! I think she was lying, but I still felt good.
A little after I passed the 8 mile mark I walked and sent Blue Eyes a text to tell him I was less than an hour out. I couldn’t believe how good I felt at this point. I hadn’t really looked to see what my time was because I knew I wasn’t going to be hitting any PRs but I felt good and I was really enjoying the route, people, signs and music. It was all wonderful!
Running down Multnomah I came upon the coolest Blow Up Display I have ever seen at a race! I knew it was a Rock and Roll Series Original and I thought about stopping to take a picture, but I didn’t. I was at mile 11 and too close to the finish to feel comfortable stopping. I searched the internet, however, and here is a picture of the Rock and Roll dude. I thought it was cool.
I crossed the Steel Bridge and was back on the westside. I passed my office building and headed for the finish. Still feeling good. I was tired, very tired, and as is generally the case it seemed like the finish line was a lot further than it should have been, but finally it came into my line of vision and I just kept putting one foot in front of the other and running even though I wanted to walk. Across the finish, happy it was over and that I had done it.
The high of finishing a run is the best, whether it’s a training run or a race, there is nothing like it and I was floating along with a full grin as I got my medal and picked up all the goodies. Note to self: there is nothing better than a race that hands out chocolate milk at the finish line. I don’t do dairy as a general rule, but after I run a race, the little girls handing out chocolate milk are my best friends. Seriously.
Loved the medal. You can’t tell from the picture, but it has sparkles on it. . . I’m all about sparkles!
It was raining pretty good when I finished but I didn’t notice until I took out my cell phone to tell Blue Eyes I was done and it didn’t light up. I was slightly irritated because this would be my second cell phone lost at a race due to rain. I made my way to the beer tent where I pushed my way inside and then took out my phone again and to my great pleasure it lit up!
Blue Eyes and I reunited in the reunion area and by this point I was freezing and couldn’t stop shivering. We walked back to my car where I cranked up the heat and tried to warm up. Didn’t really warm up, though, til I got home and was able to stand in the hot shower for an unlimited amount of time. . . . I think it was 20 minutes.
It’s not every day you can run a race with an Olympic athlete – Kara Goucher, our local runner-hero, used the event as a training run for her Olympic run in London this coming August. She is, quite simply, amazing and I think many of the spectators along the course were looking forward to seeing her run by. Even with a “bug” she caught on Friday, she finished the run in 1:13:05.
The Rock and Roll Half Marathon was my 11th Half Marathon and while I did not get a PR I finished 38 minutes sooner than my worst half marathon time and only 12 seconds behind my best half marathon time. Which leads me to believe if I had not spent the time high fiving children, talking to my girlfriends and getting hugs, I might have PR’d, even running slowly. But I’m good with the way it went down – it was fun.
Not sure I’m going to run the event next year since I have this thing about running the same thing twice, but I might. What I will probably do is run Seattle’s rock and roll event next year instead. We’ll see. It’s too early to make firm decisions.
Bottom line is this was a good time, all the way around.
Best Poster Award goes to the children (and husband) of one of the running chicks. An absolute winner. . . .
Onward. . . . Newport Marathon, here I come!