Well with the blog being down over the summer I didn't get to bore you with my occasional running post.
Big news was marathon #2 in Portland, OR. Since 26.2 miles is such a big deal my main worry was that Vancouver was a fluke, somehow fueled purely on race day adrenaline. So even with my vast marathon running experience it was still a day to be taken carefully.
We went down to Portland on the train from Seattle and a damn fine journey that is. No worries about traffic plenty of fine company and conversation and a very perky concession lady who wanted us to drink whiskey and Guinness before 9am in the morning... I guess she was on a commission. Checked into the hotel, which looked pretty high end until we realised that the inlay on the head boards was stickers. The hotel further annoyed us by refusing any kind of reasonable late checkout. Now I understand that late checkout is something that is voluntary on their part but given that marathon weekend brings in millions of dollars for the city of Portland its not unreasonable to expect the hotels to cater to marathon runners for one weekend. The race starts at 7am and checkout was at noon -which is not time finish the race, walk back shower and change unless you are a 3 hour runner. So Governor Hotel in Portland - we rate you a one star hotel for marathon runners!
Early rise on Sunday for a 7am start. It was still dark when we got up. I have never seen so many people... the queues for the porta potties were huge and they had to have 50 of them. You couldn't wander off or you would never see your friends again.
Once the race was under way I kept it nice and slow for the 1st 3 miles. At one point the course looped on itself and we got to see the lead wheelchair racer come down a hill at some incredible speed with a a police motor cycle either side of him. After mile 3 I picked up the pace as per the plan and was feeling great. I passed the 4:30 pace runner a bit earlier than I expected to and as I did I heard him say he was ahead of the pace. I'm a little worried at this point that maybe I'm going too fast but I was feeling good. Got to the half marathon point at 2:08 which was 2-3 mins ahead of my schedule. I am still feeling very very good and as I do the math I realise that the 4:15 pace runner probably isn't very far ahead of me and that maybe there is a chance I can catch up and run with him/her. At roughly the same time I think - hang on knocking 10 minutes of my 1st marathon doesn't sound like a very realistic goal and you know there is still the hill up to the bridge. So I purposely slowed down - which turned out to be a good decision on reflection. By mile 17 I am still feeling really good and that when we hit the hill. At this point I would like to thank the person who invented lycra shorts and to the 2 young ladies in front of me who chose to wear them - you have no idea how much that helped me run that half mile. So the hill is over, the bridge has a wonderful breeze and view all the way back to downtown Portland and I settled in for the last 8 miles. At mile 18 I was spot on my target 10:00 pace, between my slowdown and the hill I had lost the extra minutes. Anything I could knock off from now on was into PR territory... or maybe not!
Miles 19 and 20 I was still feeling the bridge - I was doing OK but my pace was slower than my target, never mind I thought as the legs recover I will pick it up... but the legs never really do recover after you run for 3 hours and then go up a hill. 21 and 22 I realised that I was now slower than my target pace and that I was over my Vancouver time. No runner ever likes to be slower than last time (4:24:49) but I consoled myself that I was still going to be under 4:30:00 and that was still a great second marathon.
Miles 23-26 are the ones that test you. The adrenaline is still going, the atmosphere is great but your legs are just plain tired. Thankfully I've never hit the proverbial wall and I eat everything they feed me on the course plus as much Gu as I can carry so I am not lacking in energy but its still hard and only the thought of knowing you are over 80% of the way there carries you through.
I actually managed to speed up a little on some of these miles and slowly managed to get my pace almost back on target. Getting back to the city I thought I knew where the finish would be and I picked it up for the last 400m. Turns out the finish was 100m further than I expected but I had enough left to really push it - looking at my watch all the way down the finish. 4:24:44. Yes indeed I ran for almost 4 and a half hours and beat my previous time by 5 seconds.
Just to bring you finally up to date last week I ran a 5k at the University of Washington called the Dawg Dash. This race was interesting because I did a 1 hour training run before the race started. I'm still on marathon training so I had to run 90 minutes. The plan would have been great other than the race started late so I was stood around letting my muscles get cold for 30 minutes. The 1st quarter mile was interesting on these cold muscles. Since I was not running my normal pace I got to take it easy and run further back in the pack. This makes the last mile fun because it makes it pretty easy to pass people when you are running slower than normal. I managed a pretty respectable 26:10. I still remember vividly finishing my 1st 5k under 30 minutes about 14 months ago. I was wasted. Now I can run for an hour and then casually run a 26 minute 5k. This my friends is what consistent training with a coach who knows what she is talking about does for you.
And finally yesterday while doing some speed training at the track I ran a 1:27 400m. Now I know this is almost exactly double the world record, so Michael Johnson doesn't have anything to worry about, but I was particularly happy to run under 1:30. Note that I had to do 5x400m runs so I'm pretty darn sure I could go faster if I only had to do one and I could go flat out. You might like to note that I am very close to breaking the age 85-90 400m world record though!