2012 Portland Half-Marathon Race Recap: My First One!

Just about one year ago around this time of year, I ran the first mile of my life.  This past Sunday, I ran 13.1 of them at the Portland Marathon/Half-Marathon event.

I had been anticipating my first half for several months and was a serious bundle of nerves all week leading up to the race.  There were so many things I could imagine going wrong.  While I kept trying to tell myself that I shouldn’t worry about time (it’s my first one, just get through it and be proud), I certainly had a goal in mind.  In fact, I had two of them. I had my public goal – the one I would share with others if they asked.  This goal was solid, but achievable.  According to this goal, I wanted to finish in under 2 hours and 10 minutes.

But I also had a secret, private goal that I only really told a couple of other people.  My secret, private goal (by which I was really measuring myself, even if I tried not to) was to finish in under 2 hours.

My final time?

1:57:36

Woo!  I am so pleased with this outcome.  Not only did I beat both my public and my secret, private goal, but I felt really good doing so.  It was important to me to feel good at the end. I wanted to finish strong and avoid feeling like I had to struggle across the finish line and I was able to achieve that.

Here’s a breakdown of how things went:

Friday/Two Days Pre-Race:  I went to the Marathon Expo to pick up my bib, timing chip, and goodie bag.  I scored a long-sleeve Brooks running shirt for $17 at the Expo, snagged plenty of tasty free samples of running-friendly food, and overall enjoyed being in a place with so many other fellow runners preparing for the big day.

Saturday/One Day Pre-Race:  Oh man.  How difficult was it for me to not get up early and head out for my usual Saturday morning long run?  I was anxious and thrown off all day.  With my nerves building and not being able to work them out by running, I was a bit of a mess.  Oh goodness.

Sunday/Race Day:  My alarm was set to go off at 4am, though nerves woke me up at 3am.  Race time wasn’t until 7am, but it was recommended to get downtown by 5:45 in order to avoid traffic delays and road closures.  Being the early bird that I always am, I followed that recommendation and arrived at 5:45 with my amazingly supportive partner, Mr. Move Eat Create, and our friend/roommate who was kind enough to wake early and come to cheer me along.  We followed other runners and made our way to the race area.  We had some time to kill, so we milled around a bit before I went my own way and headed over to my assigned corral area (Corral B).  While I waited for the start, I found it interesting to watch other runners go through their pre-race routines and see how different they all were.  Some jogged up and down the block, others stretched slowly and deliberately, and plenty just waited around chatting, snacking, and trying to keep warmed up.

7:00am:  Corral A runners are cheered through the starting line promptly around 7am and my group, the second to go, follows a couple of minutes after.  I’m off!

Miles 1-3:  I had a million and a half things going through my head during the first few miles.  Did I start off strong?  Would my freezing hands warm up?  Should I run on the inside of the street where there were more people, but slightly shorter paths or outside where I would be adding a few feet to my distance, but would have fewer people to maneuver around?  Was I going too fast to start and would I have enough left at the end to finish strong?  So, so many thoughts.

But, I also observed those around me and took in the experience.  It was great.  I listened in on bits of conversations between other runners about their race goals and training.  I smiled at people cheering and holding signs along the side of the roads.  I also enjoyed the scenery.  I love my city and I love running in it even more.  I hadn’t run in this area before, so it was a nice, new experience and allowed me to just settle in to the rhythm of things.

Average pace for miles 1-3: 7.0 mph

Miles 3-6:  Okay, I had made it through the initial few miles and realized I was running just a bit faster then I really intended to be.  I really wanted to be able to have some kick in my step at the end and not burning out too fast was the key.  I slowed it down a bit, which did allow several runners to pass me, but I silently reminded myself of a couple of things.  I was there to do MY run the way I felt good doing it.  I wasn’t there to beat anyone else, only the course itself.

Settling in to that frame of mind, I really got to enjoy some of the entertainment along the way.  There were cheerleaders and musicians and even pirates at various points along the route.  I think my favorite was a group playing some sort of rhythmic drums and beats on an overpass as we ran underneath.

Average pace for miles 3-6:  6.4 mph

Miles 6-13.1: Oh, the last half!  I remember miles 6-8 feeling long.  I was anticipating the turnaround point and when you have a specific marker stuck in your brain, it always feels like it takes forever to reach it, right?  Plus, at this part of the route, we weren’t really enjoying lovely scenery.  It was asphalt, train tracks, and warehouses at this point.  I was thankful for my iPod here.

Once I made the turnaround, things were great.  I knew there was only about 1/3 of the race left and my legs felt good.  I tried to still keep it somewhat easy and then after I passed the 11 mile sign, I picked it up.  I was able to build back up to speed and pass some other runners along the way, which felt a bit exciting.  The breakdown offered at the Portland Marathon website tells me that in the second half of the race, 19 runners passed me, but I passed 43 runners.  Not too bad, really.

When I saw the finish line in sight, I pushed for it, not having any real idea of what my time was, but wanting to do everything I could to finish under 2 hours and finish strong – and it felt fantastic!

Average pace for miles 6-13.1: 6.7 mph

Post-Race:  The volunteers at the end (and also along the route) were great!  I gathered my medal, souvenir coin, finishing shirt, a rose, food and water.  I passed on the seedling tree, just because I have no place to plant it.  For what it’s worth I LOVE that a tree to plant is one of the finishing rewards.  It says so much about this city.

Finally, I reunited with my cheering squad for post-race pictures and . . . a Voodoo doughnut.  Oh man.  You all don’t even know.  Doughnuts are my healthy eating kryptonite.  My favorite of all treats and something I very rarely eat.  But a chocolate covered raised doughnut was waiting for me at the end and it was DELICIOUS.

I have to say, that I really couldn’t have dreamed of a better experience for my first half.  I feel proud of my performance, the event was organized well and the unpredictable Portland weather was on my side.

Next up is the Holiday Half on December 16th!

And . . . I might be starting to plan for my first full marathon.

Perhaps.

Why Wednesdays? – Why I Run, Reason #4: For My Health, Silly!

A Note About This Feature:  Why Wednesdays is a Move Eat Create weekly feature determined to turn the mid-week doldrums upside down and celebrate things I love to do and blog about.  Currently, the focus is on running

I debated about, mulled over and tossed around the idea of whether or not I should include this reason in my Why Wednesdays series on running.  I mean, it seems so simple and so obvious, that maybe it wasn’t worth it.

Then I realized how silly that was.  Sure, saying that I run for my health is simple, but it’s also a fundamental and core concept that is too critical to exclude.

For a huge portion of my life thus far I saw my health as something that was outside of my control.  Basically, I was going along, with no real regard to my health, just waiting for the day when cancer would strike (I have many major ‘risk factors’ for breast cancer), an autoimmune disease would hit (it’s prevalent in the women on the paternal side of my family), or an accident would happen (I mean, the news says they happen CONSTANTLY; clearly it would be my turn soon enough).  But something changed for me in 2011.  I was 30, waist deep in self-reflection and moody thoughts about life, aging, and the universe.  And I latched on to one fundamental, key concept that has entirely changed my way of living:  my health was in my control.

Sure, things happen.  I can’t prevent every ailment and injury that may come my way, but I sure can ward off many (maybe even most) of them.  I have flooded my brain with information on health, wellness, and fitness since that revelation and the fact of the matter is that most ailments (yes, even cancer) are things we have a great deal of control over.

I want to be healthy.  I want to be sick less often, live a quality life for as long as I can, spend less on pharmaceuticals, and feel good on a day to day basis.  I do several things to accomplish these goals and running is a major part.

In addition to eating clean and healthy, strength training, and working on mental clarity and wellness, I run at least 4 days a week.  I’ve seen so many changes in my health since starting to run (not to mention the changes in my mental clarity, general energy levels, and so on).  The health benefits of running are plentiful.  I breathe better.  My blood pressure is fantastic (it wasn’t bad before, but it’s still shown a significant drop).  My body aches less.  I get sick way less often then I used to.  Also, while I know that there is no guarantee for future health, I am dramatically decreasing my odds of future heart problems, body breakdown, dementia and other illnesses.

So, declaring that I run for my overall health may be simple, but it’s certainly not inconsequential.

 

Previous Entries in This Series:

Why I Run, Reason #3:  Because I’m Able To

Why I Run, Reason #2:  Crows and Tortillas

Why I Run, Reason #1:  Stress Relief

Knitting Progress and A Countdown to the Big Race Day

Knitting is a funny thing.  Projects can fly by or drag on.  They can make you feel like a creative genius (“I KNEW those colors would work together!) or a failure as an technician (“Why can’t I get that stitch to work?!). I’ve had a bit of both over the last week.

I’ve been working along on my two KALs (knit-a-longs), which I have mentioned before and I have progress to report.

First up: the Color Affection KAL with the iMake group over on Ravelry.  This KAL is going swimmingly.  Yes, the rows are getting very long and that can make progress feel slow, but I’ve been very much enjoying knitting this project.  My days are very busy and so taking 30-60 minutes at the end of long, full, hectic day to rest on my couch, with a cat on my legs (she loves to sleep on legs that are stretched out onto the ottoman), a mildly entertaining and mostly mindless program on the television, and this project in my hands has been fantastic.  It’s a perfect project for cruising along and getting lost in the garter stitch.

I’ve got 3 short-row repeats left before settling in to finish the final section.  Here’s a look:

(Those paws belong to the aforementioned cat. Her name is Eliza and she may look innocent, but she is a menace around yarn!)

My second KAL, the Holla Back Tank, with the great folks over at Holla Back Knits, led me to a mild knitting breakdown last week.  The lace back isn’t a very complicated lace pattern, but for some reason, I could not get the set-up row to work.  I knitted and frogged, knitted and frogged, knitted and frogged, and on and on until I thought I was going to throw the whole thing off my balcony.  I decided that I needed different needles and made two rushed trips to my local yarn stores, only to discover that both were out of what I needed.  Frustrated and with the other shops closing for the day, I was not feeling too good about this project at that moment.  Fortunately, Mr. Move Eat Create ran out to a third LYS and found my needles for me (Thank you, Twisted for having them in stock) the next day while I was at work.

It still took me a couple of attempts, even with the new needles, but these (Addi Lace Turbos) are working MUCH better.  After setting the project down for a couple of days, I am a bit behind the rest of the group, but am glad to say that I have conquered the set up row and am making progress.  It is knitting up quite well now that we’ve made it through those trying times!  No picture of this one, this week, but I’ll try to post once the lace is further along.

Finally, it has occurred to me that it is now LESS THAN 3 weeks from my first half-marathon.  So close.  I’m both excited and nervous, but I’m very thankful for a couple of reassuring moments in the last week.  I ran 12.1 miles this past Saturday at a nice pace and felt good during the run, so that was a fantastic boost to my confidence.  I also downloaded and listed to an old episode of the ‘No Meat Athlete’ podcast that was all about training for and succeeding at your first half marathon.  I was reassured to hear many tips offered that I have, in fact, been already doing, and I picked up a few more.  No Meat Athlete runs a great, helpful blog and (newly re-started) podcast for anyone who may want to check them out, by the way.

So, in less then three weeks, I expect to have finished my first half-marathon and two completed projects off my needles!  So much to look forward to!

When Heat Hits: Making the Most of the Treadmill

I know I’m not alone in this.  The heat in some parts of the US has been brutal of late.  I’m originally from Arizona, so to be fair, I think I can cope in the heat a bit better than many of my fellow Portlanders who are natives or are from other, cooler parts of the world.  With that said, I wasn’t a runner when I was in Arizona, so navigating that part of my life in the heat is new for me.

Because of all this, I had my sad face on for most of Wednesday, knowing that an outdoor run was probably not the best option for me.  By the time I got home from work and laced up, it was just about 100 degrees with moderate humidity and a brutally bright sun.  So I headed to the treadmill at my apartment building.

 

I haven’t run on a treadmill in many months and I’ve gotta’ say that I really missed being outdoors, but I decided to make the most of it.   I was due for some speedwork so I had serious purpose.  Now, I haven’t yet been able to save enough to buy the oh-so-dreamy Garmin Forerunner that I want, so typically when I do speedwork, it’s all estimated.  Without a tool to accurately measure my splits and pace, I wing it.  For example, I use the number of blocks I run as a measure of my speed intervals versus recovery intervals.

So yesterday I figured that if I was going to resign myself to the treadmill, I could at least do a more precise speedwork session!

I believe this is commonly referred to as making lemonade out of lemons.

Right?  I think that’s right.  I mean usually I would just squeeze the lemons into some gin or whiskey, but that’s another blog post entirely.

Anyway, back to the tale of the treadmill.  I knocked out 4.1 miles, with intervals ranging between 8:00 miles and 9:06 miles.  My primary running goals right now are about endurance and stamina, but I’ve got to admit that seeing myself get faster is pretty damn satisfying in its own right.  It certainly made the treadmill more palatable – though I am looking forward to my long, early morning run in the cooler air on Saturday.  Nothing beats that.

 

 

 

 

New Running Shoes! : Including A Review of A Local Running Store, My First Professional Shoe Fitting, and Joining the Ranks of Mizuno-Wearing Runners

I had an incredibly exciting weekend.  Well, exciting to me, anyway. Granted, it may not seem all that exciting to others . . . but I’m betting that at least some of you would agree that buying new running shoes is ALL KINDS of exciting.

And, to top it off there were also fantastic running clothes – ON SALE.  Actually, I would venture to say that it was beyond exciting.  The whole experience was down right jubilant!  Want to hear about it?

So let me say that as a relatively new runner still (I’m approaching a full year since I started), I had not yet bought running shoes from a proper running store before.  I’ve been shopping for other items at these shops for several months and have been patiently waiting for the right time to buy new shoes.  Having racked up many miles on my old shoes (which are great, but I bought from an outpost of a giant sporting goods chain) it was time.

Portland has several options for local running stores, but I decided to head to the Sellwood location of Foot Traffic.  Foot Traffic has four locations in the Portland Metro area and I’ve bought an item or two from them before, but never anything that required much assistance from a staff member.  I knew, though, that since I’m steadily increasing my weekly mileage, I wanted to get input from a knowledgeable employee who could help lead me to the right shoe.

My experience at Foot Traffic was fantastic and if any of you reading are in the Portland area, I highly recommend them.  There was one sales staff on duty when I arrived.  The store had a steady flow of customers throughout my time there, yet the staff person was very attentive and helpful to me while still attending to other customers in the store.  She considered the shoe I had been wearing, information about my running preferences, and took a look at my stride/gait in order to help direct my focus.  I tried on several pairs of shoes and after running around in each of them, I found myself returning to a pair of Mizuno Wave Precision 12s.  The sales person also chatted with me about the brand in general, since I haven’t worn them before, shared feedback from other customers who had purchased that particular shoe, and kindly saw my transaction through to the end.  She also made sure that I knew about the store’s 30-day return policy – if the shoes don’t seem to work for me once I log a few runs in them, I am assured that I can exchange them for another model.

Also, I mentioned sale-priced running clothes.  I was thrilled to snag a pair of Oiselle running shorts and Mizuno thermal running pants for the winter at 50% off!  All in all, I had a great experience at Foot Traffic and will definitely return for future running gear needs.

As for my new shoes, I took them out for an easy 3 mile run on Monday.  I am still breaking them in – they felt a bit snug – but I think once they log a few more miles they will be fantastic.  They definitely provide decent cushion against the pavement while remaining lightweight and flexible.  I’m looking forward to getting some more miles in them.

I also very much enjoyed the process of having some professional assistance with my running shoe purchase – it was a huge change from going to a general purpose sporting goods store.  Plus, did I mention SALE Oiselle shorts?!  It really doesn’t get better than that!

Are any of you Mizuno wearers?  What do you think of them?

Updates: The Countdown Continues, Breakfast Greens, and Hooray for Learning!

Hello!  This is a quick post to share some updates on what’s been going in the Move Eat Create household.

* I am excited to say that training for my first half-marathon is progressing nicely.  The countdown is now officially at 57 days until the big event.  For the first few weeks of my training, I’ll be honest that my self-doubt was nagging at me that I may not be able to do it.  I am pleased to report that somewhere over the last week or two, I have turned a corner.  I am feeling confident about my ability not only to finish the race, but to do so with a time that I can be satisfied with.  I am by no means the fastest of runners yet, but I do seem to be continuously knocking off seconds from my average pace times, so things are looking good.  The race takes place 3 days after my birthday, so I’m also getting excited about birthday and half-marathon celebratory shenanigans!

** I recently finished reading The China Study and Eat to Live.  Both are exceptional books about nutrition and the benefits of plant-based

© Ersler | Stock Free Images & Dreamstime Stock Photos

diets.  Focusing as much on what to eat, as what not to eat, they clearly detail the many benefits of greens and have inspired me to make a change to my daily food habits.  Although I already eat quite a lot of vegetables, I have added a large bowl of leafy greens to my breakfast this week.  Simply dressed with a few sunflower seeds, salt, pepper and some flavored vinegar, citrus, or ponzu, I’ve been eating it before the rest of my breakfast items.  It has really been making a difference in my morning, as I used to start to get pretty hungry about an hour before I ate my lunch, but I’m staying more full and satiated throughout my morning.  And, I’m starting off my day with a bowl full of tasty nutrients.  I can’t beat that!

*** Have you heard about Coursera?  Several elite colleges and universities have been moving forward with finding ways to provide some of their courses available for free online.  I am super excited about this movement, as I think creating access to continued quality learning opportunities is a great thing.  Coursera is a fairly new platform for some of these opportunities and several courses are now available for registration.  I have registered for a couple of courses, starting in the fall and winter, and am interested in several more.  Learning, in just about any format, helps me feel nourished and inspired.

**** Finally, Mr. Move Eat Create’s birthday is this weekend.  I’ll be baking a birthday cake, with hopefully a good balance of indulgent goodness and wholesome goodness, too!  I’ll report back on this one, I’m sure.
Happy Friday!