Race Recap: 2013 Rock n Roll Portland Half Marathon

So I’ve had Rock n Roll Portland on my list for quite awhile now. I was really happy to knock this one off my list! This particular half marathon was very important to me since it was my first official long run since I sprained my ankle a few months ago. Thankfully, it held up to the punishing hills that I was NOT anticipating and it was business as usual.

The weekend started off normally enough. It was a busy one in particular, because I opted to squeeze in an open water swim clinic on my way to Portland. I got a good warm-up in (as the swim group called it!) and after that, I drove my drippy self over to Portland. I totally didn’t plan the post-swim drive very well. I really should’ve worn the tri-suit underneath my wetsuit and nearly had to contort myself backwards in the drivers seat to avoid flashing anyone in my car. I had a few hot yoga towels with me that kept me covered and dry during the wiggle out of the wetsuit and one-piece swimsuit and into some driving clothes.

It was a pretty boring drive. Green, lots and lots of green and trees and stuff. Pretty, but also pretty boring. I was by myself and had a pretty ass-kicking week at work as usual. I grabbed some breakfast in Tumwater (where?!) and then grabbed some coffee about another half hour down the highway. I made it over the WA/OR bridge and went straight to the expo.

There, I missed Kara Goucher’s talk but sat through a few other ones. Managed to stock up on a few boxes of Gu, grabbed some new compression socks, and got myself from free KTTape as well. Met a new friend in line (hi Leanne!) and met up with an old friend from a past race (hi Charlotte!), so that was really nice. Seems like running girlfriends become instantaneous girlfriends, but since I’ve rarely made friends outside of races I tend to still be a loner when it comes to the local 10K around the lake. (I keep trying to convince my guy friends to join me to no avail…)

I ended up crashing at a cheapie motel about fifteen minutes down the highway from the race. After the expo, it was raining like crazy and I ended up questioning all of my clothing choices. Dashing out the door, I didn’t bring a waterproof windbreaker, a running hat, or my gore-tex running shoes. After my carboload dinner with Charlotte (where we talked about E.V.E.R.Y.T.H.I.N.G!) I headed out to a few shops to stock up on my potential rain gear. Yeah yeah, I know that you’re not supposed to wear new gear, but I’ve never been chafed by a hat nor have I ever been chafed by a windbreaker on top of a running base layer. So there. I also head to a supermarket to grab some low-cost bites for breakfast and a gallon jug of water for my Camelbak.

I prep my gear and head to bed pretty early. The race night butterflies have definitely settled. I didn’t feel nervous at all. None of the tossing and turning that happened in my first year of running. I think I’ve done a good handful of half marathons now that I don’t feel like there is anything to be scared of. Now, get me at the start line of a marathon or a short tri and I’ll feel like wretching…but that’s besides the point.

Portland, by far, was one of those easiest cities to navigate. Even on race morning, with all of the road closures, I was able to make it from my hotel to the start line in about ten minutes. Parking was ample, and as I turned off the highway and into the city I immediately found a parking lot that wasn’t charging an arm and a leg! I pulled in and it was a little more than an hour to the start, so I chowed down on my breakfast: 2 greek yogurts and a large coffee. The yogurt and honey had the carbs to keep me going. It had the fat to keep me full. And the coffee just wired me! (Although McD’s coffee is pretty weak. I would’ve preferred Starbucks but I had no time to spare!)

Met up with Charlotte and her friend at the start for some photo opps and good luck hugs, and pretty soon, we were off! I was in corral 19, pretty far down, but I didn’t mind. Prior to the race, I chatted with my coach to tell him that I was going to employ a new race strategy. Since I probably won’t start my Ironman marathon with a full-speed gallop, I figured that I could practice a walk/run strategy. Walk 1 mile, run a few, repeat until I finish. It seemed like a good idea at the time, but when I ran it by my coach, he said — “you didn’t train all this time to walk in the half marathon!” I wanted to protest, but seeing as though he was not my Ironman coach per se but was really just a strength and conditioning coach I could see where he was coming from. I decided to just take it as I felt, and when I crossed the start line I had a plan. I wanted to work on pace, and oh man, those hills really challenged that plan!

Rock n Roll Portland Half Marathon Route

So, as much as I enjoyed the race, my legs really burned! Thankfully, only my legs burned and my ankles were holding up just fine. As you can see by the RunKeeper report above, I kept a pretty consistent pace. I stopped to walk at a few aid stations but I had my Camelbak and some nutrition with me. My least favorite miles were 1-3, mainly because the first 3 miles of every run naturally sucks, but also because we ran through a particularly smelly (like, urine smelly) area. I wish they moved those first few miles elsewhere, or at least made them more scenic. It was awesome running across a bridge (great idea to lay out that flooring so that our shoes wouldn’t get stuck in the mesh wires!) and some of the neighborhoods of Portland. One thing I will always love about Rock n Roll races is that it is impossible to get lost, and the routes always go through the best parts of town. It’s like being able to take a tour of the city on foot. (Now if they can only provide an annotated tour during the run…that would be awesome!)

Overall, it was a fun race and yes, I would do it again. Except this time I’d do more hillwork, for sure. I had my new running shoes ordered while I was at the expo, so it was nice coming home to them. They should last me the summer if all goes well.

After my jaunt around town, I headed to the downtown 24 Hour Fitness to get some quality swim and hot tub time in. It was so worth it!

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