Thursday, June 25, 2015

Rock and Roll Portland Half Marathon

This year I decided to run the Cascadia race series held by the Rock and Roll Marathon. It is a 3 race series that starts in Portland, Oregon, then heads to Seattle, Washington and finishes in Vancouver, British Columbia. I'm pretty excited about this race series because I've never done or a series before, I'm planning on doing Quadzuki in November but that's quite a ways off yet.
When I signed up for the series I wasn't quite sure what to expect. I had to run the Rock and Roll Seattle half marathon a couple of years before but since then I knew they had changed a couple of things and on top of that I had never been to Portland before. So to say the least I was pretty excited to head down to Portland for this race.
Anthony and I headed down Friday evening after he got off work so that we could have all of Saturday to explore Portland. We went all over downtown and went to Voodoo Donuts of course and then Pittock Mansion and even Powell books. After all the major sites hadn't seen we headed back to the hotel to rest up for the early start.
Race morning we got up early and headed down with plenty of time to stop by Starbucks and get breakfast before the race. After Starbucks we headed down to the start line where we got to dance around the rock and pop music that they were playing over the loudspeakers. I was actually pretty surprised to see how small the race was it was fewer than 10,000 runners which is considerably smaller than the 17,000 runners at the Seattle Rock and Roll Marathon. But it was still a good size and a lot of fun waiting for the start.
Anthony saw me off at the start which was delayed almost 25 minutes because of train traffic which was pretty anti-climatic to say the least. But once I got started I felt really good so I started off significantly faster than I usually do. I started at about a 10:15 pace. I kept at this for quite a while until about mile 8 when I started to slow down a little bit and was caught up to by 2:15 Pacers. I stayed with them until mile 12.5 when I lost them. I was pretty excited to run with them considering I had never run half marathon at 2:15 before.
So when I lost them I lost a little speed and got a little sad but was still pushing hard. My finish time was 2:16:59! A personal record for me and I wasn't even trying I just felt like running that day!
So was pretty excited to come across the finish line because I knew I had done pretty well that day. The Rock and Roll finish lines are always quite fun live music lots of free food and of course pretty awesome medals.
All in all the race was a good experience. Even though there were not very many bands on the course mostly cheer leading squads which ended up being kind of annoying because they weren't doing cheers they were just screaming excessively loud. But the fact that they are out there and cheering us on was still really nice and encouraging. So as far as the music experience on this race goes, I would say it was a letdown but if you like cheerleaders in this race is definitely for you. The course was pretty well supported but a little more hilly than I was expecting and went through a lot of residential neighborhoods instead of the highlights of Portland. So its not a good sight seeing run. If you are looking for a well supported race with lots of cheering and encouragement then this is the race for you.
Keep on Running!

Mountains 2 Beach Marathon

My first marathon, Mountains 2 Beach in Ventura, CA. May 24, 2015.
I finally did it! I ran a full marathon. It took a few tries and a couple of last minute bail outs but I finally found enough courage to commit. I know I wouldn't have been able to do this without Anthony, him being there made it seem way less terrifying.
The road to my first marathon hasn't been a short one. I started running/working out in 2011 and had my first half marathon in the spring of 2012. I have endevoured to make it for a full sense that first half. It's been a long hard road to get here but I did, and in the end that is all that matters.
For our one year anniversary I surprised Anthony with a race entry to the Mountains 2 Beach marathon in Ventura, CA. We had 6 months to train for the race, which, when I presented him with this gift, I thought was plenty of time. Especially since I had been running half marathons for a couple of years by then. But time flew by so fast! We ran the St. Patrick's Day Tacoma half marathon, Seahawks 12k and the Color Run Seattle 5k before the race but Anthony only got in one other long run before then. A 20 miler about three weeks before the race. With our rugged work schedules, setting aside time to run was really hard for Anthony.
I on the other hand with my crazy hours it was extremely hard to train for this properly. I ran the Wenatchee Half and the Portland Rock N Roll half as well as leading a Friday Morning run with the Eastside Runners, which all helped prepare me for this run. I really didn't get that many "long" runs in before the race and I didn't run regularly by any means. We both came into this race pretty unprepared for what lied ahead of us. That didn't seem to shy us away. When the time came, we packed up and headed for SoCal!
Early Saturday morning we boarded our flight and we in Ventura in time for lunch. We ate lunch right on the beach, which was really amazing to say the least. The sun was shining, the birds were so fat they could hardly walk, yet alone fly, the wind was blowing and everyone seemed quite content to be relaxing on the beach. It wasn't long before we had to call it a night, with a 3:30 wake up call awaiting us. So we checked out where we needed to go for the shuttle pick up, decided on ordering a cab for the morning, and then hit the sack.
Sunday morning arrived after a restless night of tossing and turning. With my nerves really getting the better of me. I shot out of bed when the alarm went off and immediately started to get dressed without hesitation. I was so nervous that I didn't even want to stop and think about what was before me.
We were ready to hit the road, on time, but the cab driver was nowhere to be seen! This was Not helping my nerves at all. I at asked for the cab to be at the hotel by 4:20 and then that came and went with nothing. Then 4:25 arrived and still no cab! Finally at 4:27 he called me saying that he was on his way. We didn't leave the hotel until 4:35. Thankfully I had added a 10 minute buffer into the pick up time but yeesh, way to make an already nervous runner even more nervous!
I was so relieved to see a huge line of busses awaiting us when the cab driver finally pulled up to our drop off site. Meaning, we were still ok on time. We found the line for the Marathon shuttles and weren't in line but 5 minutes when we were asked to board. We were on the road by 4:45 and we were suppose to leave until 5! So I am so glad that we didn't miss it.
We were shuttled up to Ojai, a beautiful small town just north of Ventura. They were pretty organized at the race start, lots of porta potties, a uhaul for our bag drop, pre race water, water to fill your water bottles and even a fun upbeat race announcer with plenty of fun music. Just my kind of race start.
There were plenty of pacers for this marathon however, the slowest one was 4:53. Which is where Anthony and I settled into, simply because he was the slowest. I was hoping for a 5:15 but that's ok. We started the race strong, we stayed with the 4:53 pacer for the first 8 1/2 miles until we needed a restroom break and we lost him.
Our restroom break added almost 10 minutes to our time! Simply because there were so many people in line. The men were great though. They all went out behind the porta potties and used the trees! That really helped cut down on the time for us ladies. Such great guys! One of the very cool experiences for this race. Might seem weird to non runners but to us, it was fantastically considerate!
Anthony and I kept up a 10:30/11 minutes pace until about mile 13. That's when Anthony hit sort of a wall. Thankfully he is ok but he ended up with some tummy problems and had to slow down quite a bit. I had to leave him behind, which really wasn't easy at all.
I ran with a couple of ladies for the next mile and a half. And they kept me motivated to run harder but I eventually lost them as well. After that, the race got hard. It was all mental of course but running alone wasn't what I expected for this race. Miles 15 through 20 were pretty hard but I kept telling myself that I could do it because I had run that far before and I made it through. I kept saying to myself, "You can't complain until after mile 20 because you've run 20 miles before!"
After I reached mile 20 it actually got a lot easier. Because I knew I could run 10k easy and it was just downhill from there. Mile 24 I came acrossed a gentleman who had an Ironman shirt on and I asked him if he really ran an Ironman. And it turns out he did! We ran together for next mile and a half and he really took my mind off the race it was a really big relief to not think about running those last few feet. I lost him the last three quarters of a mile but he really gave me a boost to keep going. I finish strong with a smile on my face and I can't complain about my first full marathon! It was one of the best races I have ever run. I walked away without injury and even a little bit of energy left and bounce in my step.
After I finished I waited for Anthony at the finish line for about 20 minutes but then I decided to go back and meet up with him and run him in. I walked back for about a half a mile when I finally found him. I got my camera out and I started taking photos immediately and then I ran him in. I was so relieved to see him and overjoyed that he made it. I'm very proud of Anthony for what he did with the little training 26.2 miles is no little thing.
We meandered around the finish zone for a little while before we found a trolley that took us around town and back to our hotel. We just relaxed and enjoyed our accomplishment before heading back to Seattle the next morning.
Esperar recovery time it took a little bit longer because he didn't train as hard as I did but he turned out alright in the end. I on the other hand which pretty much fine by the next day. I was shocked at how fast you recovered and it made me pretty excited to try and run another one again sometime soon.
As for the race itself I highly recommend Mountains 2 Beach for anyone's first full marathon or just easy marathon to enjoy. It was very well organized with tons of race report on the course and a wonderful finish area with live music, beer, and my favorite part the watermelon! I hope you get out there and try something new like I did you never know what will happen until you try.
Keep on Running!