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Posts tagged ‘Rock ‘n’ Roll Portland’

A new PR in PDX: Part III (Race edition)


Finally! The race report! My apologies for this coming a couple days after the second part of this series. Yesterday I went to graduation for the community college I work for as a journalism instructor. This was the first time in three years I had students walking (many choose not to), so I was really excited.

But it turned into a very long day.

In any case, on race day Sam and I woke up at 6 a.m. The race began about .7 miles from our hotel two hours later. We knew we wouldn’t have to walk far. We also knew we could chill for awhile beforehand. I can’t say I had any “race day” nerves. In fact, my anxiety has become a lot better lately when dealing with larger crowds (hence, participating in graduation).

The good news? It had stopped raining. In fact, it looked to be a fairly nice day. The skies were a bit overcast, though. Perfect running weather.

We called down to the hotel front desk and asked for a late checkout. I know that seems like the most importune time to do so, but the desk clerk kept telling us we had to come back and ask. Finally, when we went downstairs to actually leave for the race, they told us we could check out at 2 p.m. That meant we could stick around for a bit at the finish.

We headed down in tank tops to the start. Sam needed water so we stopped at a little store along the way. But instead of buying regular water, she bought sparkling water.

Too bad we didn’t notice until AFTER we filled our water bottles up. Great, I thought, this is not going to be good for my already shaky digestive system.

It wasn’t too long after that we came into the main staging area. And stopped at my predictable pre-race hangout.


Hello portable toilets! This was the same race that offered portable toilets in a premium area for a discounted fee. We waited in line less than 10 minutes, so we really didn’t need them.

After our stop at the “Honey Buckets,” because that’s what they are called in Portland, we headed to my corral.


We figured the wait for our start, in corral 14, would take a bit. But they actually held us back a lot longer than we thought. I think seven or eight corrals before us took off before they finally started letting us move forward.

The corrals went all the way back to the Hawthrone Bridge, which we could run over as we made our way to mile five. The people seemed to stretch on forever.


Some people complained later on the event’s Facebook page that they couldn’t hear anything all the way back near the underpass. I can imagine why.

My Garmin has me making my way across the start line at 8:16 a.m.

And we were off…

Mile 1: 10:07 — I think the best thing I ever did was sign up for the 2:20 corral for this race. This is my starting pace. This is my comfort zone. I didn’t have weave around people like I do in later corrals. I think I found “my” corral.

Mile 2: 10:14 — The initial route takes runners along the shore past the second bridge we’d be crossing, near the finish. A lot of flat here, in this mile a small downhill.

Mile 3: 9:46 — This mile has a tiny, gradual uphill. I don’t know how I managed this number at all.

Mile 4: 10:37 — The climbs begin. Not significant, but not small either. I think my legs are always a little shocked when I start climbing. Here I came into the first water/Gatorade stop I walked through. I also downed my first Gu of the race (though I’d had one before the race).

Mile 5: 9:36 — Anyone ever tell you that Gu doesn’t work? It does! Plus, there was a nice downhill here that went a long ways toward this number. I think this race was defined by shorter uphills with longer downhills.

Mile 6: 11:10 — Which is likely why my IT band was starting to throb right in the middle of the race. I think a combination of sitting on the plane and worrying that my Tiger Tail would get confiscated by airport security added to this. I couldn’t roll adequately the night before the race. And I’ve been having a lot of issues with my IT band lately. (Though I have to say, a full Smartwater bottle worked really well as a roller.) This area was the most boring part of the race, through industrial and port areas.

Mile 7: 10:58 —The biggest hill begins. And it was no joke. I ran as long as I could before starting a brisk walk uphills. Not as steep as a San Francisco hill, but fairly long.

Mile 8: 12:10 — The biggest bulk of the hill was in this mile. This would have been longer without the small downhill at nearly the top of the hill. I realized, after I finished this hill, that it wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be. What’s happening to me? I took another Gu.

Mile 9: 10:59 — We start making our way through cute neighborhoods where children are giving high fives. Lots of nice houses. People cheering with cowbells.

Mile 10: 10:33 —I felt like the Gu was starting to kick in. My leg, at this point, is really bothering me.

Mile 11: 11:07 —This was my wall. My leg hurt. My stomach was starting to flutter. I wasn’t even considering time. I felt like I could “walk it in” and still be OK with it.

Mile 12: 10:30 —And then something happened. I can’t explain it without mentioning that it’s something new. Ever since I had my gallbladder removed, I’ve had this ability to REALLY pull deep within myself. I look at my watch now and realize something else is happening: I’m running a 2:20 half marathon. On a tougher course than Oakland. I’m an honest-to-God 2:20 half marathoner. WHAT THE HELL IS GOING ON?

Mile 13: 9:56 — So I ran. I ran like I’d never run before. Because suddenly I didn’t care about my weight, or the cupcakes I ate, or my job, or the plane trip home or the fact that I was surrounded by thousands of other people. I hit the final downhill conservatively and then used everything I had stored in me to push to the finish.

.19: 1.41 (8.47 average) — The truth: I have never, not in any race I’ve done, pushed that hard to finish. I wanted it so bad. If I was two minutes off a PR? Whatever. I probably wouldn’t have. Maybe I would have. I don’t know.

Official time: 2:19:23

If I said I wanted to cry, I’d probably get teased because that seems to be a thing for me lately after races. It’s hard, though, to put into words what training for three years, non-stop, without achieving any sort of new PR for six to eight months at a time can do to a person. I was failing in my races. I had one good one last August. Everything else was just blah. I never found the passion to push forward like I did that day.

Not until recently.

I ran a 2:19:23 half marathon. Oh my God. I don’t know who I’m becoming. I’m completely serious.

You’re probably wondering what’s changed, outside of the missing gallbladder. I’m prone to hyperbole, but my answer now is honest: Everything.

Every damn thing about my life has changed. For the better. And the running? It’s just coming along for the ride.


My mom texted me soon after. I told her. I tried to call my husband who never picks up his phone. Then I went and grabbed as much food as I could and headed to find a spot to wait for Sam, who was making some good time of her own compared to her experience in Pasadena earlier this year.

I bought myself the obligatory PR shirt. I buy one for myself after every race I PR at. It’s kind of my deal to myself since I promised myself I wouldn’t intentionally buy running clothes for awhile. The PR shirt is different because I always feel like I earned it.

And at that point I was dumping heat. Know how you know you had a good run? You dump a ton of heat within 30 minutes of finishing.

When Sam finished, we hung out for a little bit. But I think we both wanted a shower more than we wanted to sit around and wait any longer. That said, we did try to visit Voodoo Doughnut for a second time that day only to be left empty handed again. Instead, we headed back up to the hotel.We did stop and ask a nice guy to take our photo.


Because nothing says friendship like being wrapped in space blankets with a ton of excess freebies between you. And race medals. Of course race medals completely say friendship.

And remember I mentioned the sparkling water? I barely drank out of my water bottle. This was one of the first races I really relied on the water stations. But it was cool outside and still overcast when I finished. I can’t imagine what I would have done if I needed the 15 ounces or so still left in my bottle. (I know I could have poured it out and started over, but I was too busy PRing.)

The rest of the day focused on two things: 1) Finally getting Voodoo Doughnut (which we did) and 2) Getting back to airport to fly out of Portland.

Had we of known Portland a little better, we would have not walked multiple extra blocks to the train station. It was my fault really.

Earlier in the day, after the half marathon, I literally told Sam where our train stop was to get back to the airport. And then I proceeded to forget it completely. And walk us around in circles.

By 5:10 p.m. we were heading back to the plane en route to Oakland.


Ladies and gentlemen, we went the route of the H-O loading doors. Again with my juvenile humor. I’m not sorry.

It felt nice to finally relax on the plane, even though I knew by the time we got back to Oakland an hour and 55 minutes later I would be all cramped up and lucky to walk.

But I kind of feel like, in a way, my luck has returned a little.


I got to go to a beautiful city for a race. I got to run my first out-of-state race. I got to hang out with a friend. I didn’t pay sales tax for more than 24 hours. I ran a solid race. I had an amazing time.

In two weeks I run Rock ‘n’ Roll San Diego. I’m excited for that one too. Even if I don’t PR, I’m excited because lately I’ve just felt lucky to race. And lucky to run.

Something is definitely happening to me.

A new PR in PDX: Part II


So I mentioned how Sam and I made our way to the expo with a very expensive cab ride. We wanted to get out of the cab so bad, as to not incur any more charges, that when the cabbie asked us where we wanted to be dropped off we said “here!” the moment we could get out of the car. That’s how we ended up in a different expo hall that we should have been.

A gun and knife expo. This was definitely uncharted territory for me.

I was confused. Sam was interested. But it cost $10 to attend. If it hadn’t of cost anything and if we had not just taken a $40 cab ride, I bet we would have gone. I could have at least taken a lot of photos for my husband.

“Where is the runner’s expo?” Sam asked a very nice security guard. He smiled, because he’d obviously been asked the question numerous times during the day. He pointed us out another door and through the parking lot.

The hall for the Rock ‘n’ Roll Portland Half Marathon’s expo was far larger than the smaller one we’d walked into. We were greeted by cheerleaders. Very happy, jumping-up-and-down-type cheerleaders. The good thing about Rock ‘n’ Roll expos is that they are well-oiled machines. There is little or no deviation from one to the next, outside of the addition of one of two things here and there.


The nice thing is that it means you can usually get through the main check-in area pretty quickly. Sam and I were done picking up our numbers in about five minutes. We were also given “Run Now” bracelets in honor of the Boston Marathon. We headed over and grabbed our race shirts, which were a nice gray color that kind of matched the weather conditions.


I’ve noticed that the race shirts for the Rock ‘n’ Roll series races have started to be a lot nicer. I actually want to wear them now as opposed to the first Rock ‘n’ Roll race I ran where I was handed a unisex shirt that was basically way to big for me to even bother taking out of my closet.

I particularly like this one and one from the Rock ‘n’ Roll San Jose Half Marathon last year. My Pasadena one is kind of so-so in terms of design, but it’s red so I like wearing it when I run in the evenings.

As with all the Rock ‘n’ Roll expos, you exit the main check in area and then go right into the Brooks-sponsored merchandise. Sam normally HATES this part. It’s all overpriced and, since we already got a race shirt, it’s usually full of things we absolutely don’t need.

That said, something was different about this race expo.

The moment we walked in, we noticed a strange carnival-style set up.


Brooks had a huge area dedicated to its “Cavalcade of Curiosities.” To say we were curious would be an understatement. We kind of stopped right in the middle of the expo and tried to figure out exactly what we were looking at. In all our previous Rock ‘n’ Roll experiences, we’d never stumbled upon anything this grand in the merchandise area.

A guy handed us two cards to fill out, which we did, and then told us to head to the prize area and see if we won something. Everyone was guaranteed a prize, he added. Plus, after the noon “show” we could stick around to see if we’d won a pair of Brooks shoes.

Sure enough, we walked over to the booth and handed our tickets over to a Brooks representative, and were each given a prize. Sam won a red T-shirt. I got a Brooks Run Happy bandana.

It was nearing noon, so we stuck around for the “show” not really knowing what it was.

It was pretty amazing.

That’s my edited version of the 15-minute show that was part fun, part marketing pull for Brooks shoes. My trail shoes are Brooks. I run, primarily, in Nikes. The one time I switched to something else, I tore up my feet. I never broke my pair of Saucony Hurricane 14 shoes in. I ended up giving them to my mom instead.

So I wasn’t convinced. Sam wanted to check out the Brooks, though. So we did.


It was around this point Sam declared this the “best race expo ever.” She even looked up where the “Cavalcade of Curiosities” traveled to. Not one stop was in California. That was surprising if only because California hosts a lot of races, including many Rock ‘n’ Roll races.

One thing we both had done was a gait analysis. I wish the video that was sent to my email worked, but it doesn’t. The Brooks representative had be run barefoot on a treadmill. I’m a overpronator. That’s why I’ve always run in stability shoes. My stability shoes started out exactly as they sound, kind of clunky with a big sole. When Nike moved into the Lunarlon padding and discontinued my Nike Equalon’s, they also moved into prettier shoes.

All that said, I now see how I overpronate thanks to the analysis. My right ankle bows out a little when I run. It’s not severe, but it’s noticeable.

See how jam-packed this expo was? We weren’t even out of the Brooks main merchandise area yet!

When we decided to leave the area, we came across the the Brooks fortune teller. She told our running fortunes for the next day.

In total, we spent more than an hour in that one area alone. When we finally got out to the main merchandise floor, Sam and I even purchased lightweight running tank-tops with the race name on them.

The rest of the expo was just as filled. Our stops included numerous food vendors, including getting free regular-sized Chobani yogurt samples, and finding other runner knick-knacks along the way. Sam recently got a new phone that doesn’t fit inside her Nike water belt. So she found a new belt that expands to probably 10 times its size from the Hippie Runner booth.


This was also a more densely-packed expo than we were used to as well. Sam always tries to get in the tape line, to get her knee taped, but it’s usually ridiculously long. Even with only 10 people or so, it ALWAYS takes forever. Sam, like me, is impatient when it comes to that stuff. So she got out of line.

While she was in that line, I was in another one. But mine went by quickly because I was waiting for Kara Goucher to sign my race bib. You know how fast she is when she runs? She’s also that fast signing bibs. And that’s not to say she didn’t spend time with me. She signed bibs or other race items, then took photos with nearly everyone.


Because Kara Goucher is amazing. And I’m pretty sure her signing my bib made me a better runner during the race. At least it propelled me to do my best.

After more than two hours at the expo, we decided to call it a day and hit the train into downtown Portland where Sam had booked a hotel for herself when she registered. I’m thankful she let me crash with her and I didn’t have to get my own hotel room.

Our trip on the Tri-Met was about 30 minutes. We got off at a street called “Couch” but pronouced “Cooch.” I’m pretty sure I nearly died laughing when I heard the train’s automated voice say that. (I know, pretty juvenile of me, but whatever. It WAS funny.)

We checked in and then headed down to Voodoo Doughnut for our first of three stops there where only one ended in us getting doughnuts. That will get its own blog post later on. By then, it was raining. And the rain just kept getting worse. And worse.

It was about that time we realized we were also very hungry, so we walked back up to the area near our hotel called the Pearl District (or at least that’s what many of the signs said). There we stopped first at a fun place called Lardo, but the menu was all sandwiches. Instead, we found ourselves in the bar area at Jake’s Grill Seafood Restaurant.

And we were starving, so much so that we both ordered an appetizer.


The bruschetta was just what I needed, despite the fact that the cheese didn’t really have any taste. I then ordered a $4.95 cheeseburger and fries. I have to say it was the best $5 meal I’d had in a long time, exactly what I needed.

I also had a margarita. And a mango mojito. Before a race. I was living dangerously.

After dinner, I made Sam head to a fancy cupcake shop. Because I’m all about the fancy cupcakes.

Outside of the fact that the staff completely ignored Sam when she was hoping to order to, the cupcakes were pretty good.


I ordered six cupcakes. Six. Probably because I’d had a couple drinks and was convinced it was a good idea at the time. It was, actually. But I kind of regretted it the next day when I had to take four of those cupcakes home to California. I was literally stuffing cupcakes in my Voodoo Doughnut box so I could limit my number of carry-on bags.


Confession: I was not a fan of the cupcakes with cream cheese frosting. But the butter cream frosted ones with sprinkles on them were amazing. I ate the last one yesterday. I tried to savor every bite.

Once we got back to our hotel, Sam was exhausted. She had an ear ache from the plane. The moment we got to downtown Portland we had to find her some antihistamines. By the time we were done with dinner, the pills were really starting to work.

That means we actually got into bed at an early hour. So early it was still light outside, which my husband said is because we were in the Pacific Northwest. It was about 9 p.m. when I decided to turn in too, because I was feeling the impacts of a long travel day too.

Surprisingly, we both slept well. And were ready to wake up at 6 a.m. the next morning to Rock ‘n’ Roll our way through Portland.

A positive Portland experience

This is not an official race report, though one will come. Instead, I’m excited to share some very amazing Portland moments for the time being. There was so much to see and do in such a short period. We were in at 11 a.m. Saturday and flew out the next day at 5:20 p.m.

A quick trip, but an epic one too.


We used public transportation to get around most of the city, but did a lot of walking, which meant we were warmed up and ready for the run. The sites were stellar. We definitely saw a lot of interesting things. We walked by Powell’s Bookstore a couple times. It was packed.

We saw numerous “signs” that made me want to snap photos. Too bad I didn’t have my phone out for many of them.


And Portland is certainly one of the quirkiest places I’ve ever been. It was my first time in Oregon and while we didn’t get to stay that long, by the time we were finished we kind of knew our way around. At least enough to get us back to the airport.

Our hotel was less than a mile from the start line. It was all about old Hollywood.


That was the rotating photo display that greeted visitors in the lobby. The room was really, really tiny. Kind of uncomfortably tiny for two people (to be fair, when Sam booked it she didn’t know I was going too, so that’s acceptable). We had to ask multiple people, three different times if we could get a late checkout.

They finally agreed and we got to shower before heading to Voodoo Doughnut, which will eventually get it’s own post and then do a mad dash to the airport to head back to Oakland.


A sneak peak, above, at the awesomeness that was Voodoo Doughnut

The best part of this whole trip? I went into this run saying it was going to be a solid training run for the Rock ‘n’ Roll San Diego Half and See Jane Run in coming weeks. I walked away from it with a new personal record. For the second time in three months.


I ran a 2:19:23. I broke 2:20 in a half marathon. Finally. I knew I was so close to it as I came down the final stretch. I booked it to the finish. I don’t think I’ve ran as fast as I did since I played soccer in high school. I flied to that finish.

After I get caught up on some freelance work and finally get my thoughts settled, I promise a more detailed race report. One with all the details about travel and how awesome the run was. I think, by far, this was my best pre-birthday weekend ever.

Packing for Portland


I’m a little late with getting everything together tonight for tomorrow’s flight from Oakland to Portland. I have my plane ticket printed. I also have my confirmation sheet for the Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon ready to go.

Now I’m just piecing together everything I need for the next couple days. It’s amazing how little fits in a duffel bag. I have to pack three outfits for two days essentially. And I’m bringing my “big purse.”

I’m incredibly excited. The Portland half will be my first out of state run. And there will definitely be a trip to VooDoo Doughnut involved. And I’m taking my video camera…so there may be a video blog coming from this as well — just a warning.

A late addition to the racing calendar

As of Monday, this is happening:


Yes. I’m running the Rock ‘n’ Roll Portland Half Marathon. It’s the day before my 29th birthday. I’m considering this my birthday present to myself, kind of a big celebration to welcome my last year in my twenties.

I’m heading up with my running buddy Sam. I’m crashing in her room. I’m going to keep costs down by being as frugal as possible while there, but certain things will happen. Voodoo Donut will happen for sure.

I’m excited. This will be my first race out of state. And, surprisingly, I’ve never been to Oregon. I’ve been to Seattle, but that was a long time ago. I haven’t been out of state since we went to New York a couple years ago.

My husband is stoked because it means he’ll have quite a few nights without me in upcoming months. I’m taking my students to a journalism conference in April. Then there’s this. I have his blessing to have a good time.

I think I’m more excited about this race than I am about any other coming up. It is sure to be a good time! Look forward to running PDX!