So as I said in my last post, I went to sleep ludicrously early (5:30 or 6:30 pm, depending if you factor in the daylight savings time switch that night) and slept well through the night. When my alarm went off at 5:15, I could have still used a little more sleep (yes, yes, 10 3/4 hours wasn’t quite enough for me — hey, I’m sick!) but I got up and showered and ate breakfast. I’ve seen people talking about not eating much the morning of a race. They seem to be worried about nausea, or cramps, or something. Until I hit that problem, I’m going to keep on eating, thanks.
I put on my running pants and my light short-sleeved Coolmax shirt, threw on a raincoat, strapped on the Garmin, dithered over whether to use the heart rate strap, finally decided yes, threw my backpack of extra clothes in the car and walked down my driveway to see if the paper was there yet. It wasn’t, but I was shocked how warm it felt for 6:20 in the morning. I wondered, seriously, if I were feverish.
Apparently not. Portland is supposed to be getting a “Pineapple Express” this weekend: rain and warm air pushing up from the tropics. Early this morning, the rain wasn’t here yet, but the warm air sure was. After I got downtown and collected my bib number and tee shirt, I left all the extra clothes I had brought in my car and hung out comfortably before the start in the short sleeves. The announcers called it the warmest, driest, and darkest Shamrock Run in recent memory.
I never did figure out which clump of people might have been the MiPL group, and I wasn’t feeling super-social: too excited about running, maybe. I was feeling thirsty and in need of some caffeine, though. I found an espresso truck parked in the tent area. I got a 16 oz mocha. The woman in line in front of me saw I had a bib number on and said “you’re running? And you’re not afraid of drinking that now?” (She was there to cheer her husband on.) “Uh, sure, I guess,” I said. “What’s the worst that can happen?”
“You’re running the 5K? Sure, you can finish quickly, then throw up.”
The way I see it, if I ever work my way up to ultramarathons, I’m going to have to learn to eat and run. No use letting my body off the hook for these short runs, then. Besides, it really hit the spot right then!
A little later, I found the water table and had a cup of water too. I had drank quite a bit of water at home as well, but I still didn’t feel sloshy, or even need to pee. Seemed like a good sign that the water was being taken up well. Or something.
I wrenched my eyes away from all the sweet running babes milling around and went over to the starting area with about 10 minutes left until the 7:45 start. I headed toward the back of the pack that had already gathered, which put me somewhere in the middle by the time the gun went off. The metaphorical gun. Really, they just said “three, two, one, go!” or something. At which point, naturally, we still had to stand there as the front of the crowd moved out. Then slowly walk. At one point here I broke into a little mincing jog, but it wasn’t long-lasting. Even after getting past the tape and starting my watch, it was pretty slow going.
Turning up Davis, then cutting back to Burnside, I was swept up in the novelty of running in such a sea of people. And I was happy to see that plenty of other people were running a similar pace. (Sure, this included small children. So?) I concentrated on my breathing and hardly noticed the uphill up Burnside to Ninth. After an annoying series of turns (most of which I took the outside on, adding about .08 of a mile to my total distance in the end) the heart of the race started: the trudge up Broadway.
I had checked the course profile, and I knew this was going to be the hard part. North to south, Broadway gains a good bit of elevation. My plan was to take it easy, then charge the downhill after. Though I might get a better time if I threw in a few walk breaks, I didn’t want to — I’d rather get the endurance training in. Mile 2, up the hill, seemed to take forever. I was far from the only one huffing and puffing though. Finally we reached Harrison and turned left — and sharply downhill.
I was winded, but excited to be passing people left and right as I flew down the hill like only a maniacal wanna-be trail runner with delusions of having an indestructible knee can. Somewhere in here was an unexpected water table, and I grabbed a cup and had a few sips on the run. More trouble than it was worth, not spilling. I splashed the rest on my face, just because it seemed like it would be fun, and ran on. I was past the garbage pails already and didn’t want to be a litterbug. I crumpled up the cup and stuck it in my pants pocket. Such environmental sensitivity!
I ran the mile that included this downhill in 8:04, a nice negative split and certainly my fastest mile ever. Once we hit Naito and turned left toward the finish line, things got a little mentally tougher. It was mostly a mild downhill or flat, with a few gently uphills, but having the finish line in sight yet still far away made it hard for me to keep running in a controlled fashion. The atmosphere around me had really changed too: nobody was chatting or laughing anymore; there was more loud huffing and puffing than smiles. I tried to convince myself that I still had to run several more miles to keep myself on a sustainable pace. I guess it worked a little. But I was tired, and little parts of my brain were asking “can we stop and walk? Huh? Please?”
I sprinted as best I could through the finish area and crossed the tape in 28:45. My official time will be considerably longer, I guess, since they didn’t have chip timing and will have to go by gun-to-tape. My goal was to finish under 30:00, though, so I’m very happy. And, no, I didn’t throw up, or have any nausea. I can eat and run, damn it! I had a little stomach stitch during the uphill, but it went away. I collected my free after-race beer and — get this — clam chowder, hung around just a few minutes more, and came back home.
Official time: 29:42 (Yes! Still sub-30!)
447 th out of 1228 men
56th out of 173 men aged 35-39
You know, I just started running. I’m pretty damned proud of that result.