Portland Marathon 2011 Race Report

My face says it all....

For almost every race I have ever done, I had a good time during the race even if my time totally stunk. I can’t say that about the Portland Marathon yesterday. I finished it, but it was very painful and just not fun at all.

The one redeeming quality was that I saw how much work I need to do to get my lower legs healthy, as I am suffering from a bad case of Plantar Fasciiitis that hasn’t gone away since April. It has been bearable through my entire summer of racing Ironman, another 50 miler and a few other tris….and even seemed to be getting better of late – but it is far from gone. During this race my feet ended up hurting so bad that one point I thought I wouldn’t finish. Eventually I did but it was a miserable experience.

Here is the play-by-play:

Goal: I planned to treat this as a training run. Last year I ran 3:54 with little training after just getting back into running after many years away. This year I wanted to run 3:30, holding a steady 8 min/mile pace. It seemed totally doable based on my training runs and past races.

  • Mile 0:  I started in the first “wave”. They had something like 6 waves, with the first being the fastest. I looked around and saw about 1500 people in my wave (there were 12,000 in the marathon and 3,000 in the half marathon that started in the same time). Looking around I saw a 3:10 pace sign and then a 3:15 pace sign….I realized quickly that the people around me would going far faster than me! I made a conscious effort to not get caught up in the hysteria of the race start and stick to a conservative pace.
  • Miles 1-6.2 (10K): 49 minutes…right on pace. Felt a little flat, but my feet didn’t hurt and was enjoying the run. The weather was cool (50 degrees) and it was threatening to rain.
  • Miles 6.2-10: Light rain started. Glad I wore my rain jacket. Taking splits I saw I was running a few 7:40 miles…slowed down a little to stick to 8min pace.My feet were still hurting a bit. I was waiting for this pain to go away, as normally it does on my longer runs.

Coming through 10K, feeling pretty good and practicing my finish line pose!

  • Miles 10-13.1 (half-marathon) : Came through the half-marathon 13.1 miles…with a time of 1:44 flat. Perfect pacing. However, my feet were not getting better….instead they were getting worse. I started to think this run would be more challenging than I thought.
  • Miles 13.1 – 17: My feet got progressively worse….and at mile 16 hit the toughest part of the course…a 3/4 mile hill. My feet started to hurt so bad I thought they were going to explode. I stopped cold and stretched a little….which helped. The rain picked up and it got cold. Not having fun!
  • Miles 17-20: I walked 30 seconds and ran 4 minutes….and repeated that routine. My pace slowed to 9:30 miles. My feet were going numb and were very painful. My ankles started to hurt. I thought I might be doing real damage to my feet at this point (Note: I didn’t do any permanent damage after all)
  • Miles 20-25: I slowed even more…walking more and running less. Often I would just stop and not move at all…bending over and stretching my hamstrings and calves…hoping to take some pressure off my feet. I walked a bunch on the downhills and that hurts my feet more than flat running. My hamstrings were constantly threatening to cramp…something that never happens to me. My stride was totally messed up…as I was trying to land in different parts of my feet to take pressure off them. This was probably the cause for the cramping trouble.
  • The Finish: Looking at my watch I realized that I needed to run a sub 10 minute mile to break four hours….it took everything I had to run that sub 10 minute mile….my hamstrings were cramping like crazy….I finished in 3:59:something. Once finished I could barely walk for about 20 minutes. My feet hurt so bad, like they were broken (they weren’t). I couldn’t believe that running this marathon could feel so much worse than running 50 miles in July (at White River).

Post race....trying to get some feeling back into my feet.

There you have it. Some races go well. Others don’t but are still fun. Some – like this one – just stink but I’m sure at some point I’ll appreciate having run it. Being cold and raining the entire time didn’t help. Now my goal is to figure out how to get my feet healthy. At the finish I wasn’t super thirsty or hungry…or even tired aside from my lower legs hurting so badly. I know that my fitness is great and my nutrition/hydration strategy was right on, once my injury is healed I think I’ll be ready to run a fast race.