Sometimes you hit the wall, sometimes the wall hits you first.
When people find out I’ve just run a race, the first question that they ask me is “how did it go?” Followed with “did you beat your last time?” Sometimes, these questions are a little more difficult than others.
The forecast all week said that race day was going to be partly cloudy, potentially even sunny. Alas, this is the PNW, and if there weren’t a chance of rain in the fall, then we wouldn’t have all those pretty trees that the region is known for; the morning of the race was rainy, followed by a chance of even more rain.
Running in the rain doesn’t usually bother me – once you’re wet, you’re wet. For most of the race on Sunday, this was the case. I was happy, plodding along doing negative splits (at my usual slow pace). My one-man pit crew met me at mile 12, handing off the shot blocks that I would need to finish the race – or so I thought. At mile 14, that all changed.
First, my body decided that I had to go to the bathroom. Fortunately, I was right near a water station, which had a line of porta-potties. However, once I’d stopped running, my body cooled down and facing the rain became more and more difficult.
Despite the difficulties I was having, I was able to push through, and run across the St. John’s Bridge (the most beautiful bridge in Portland, in my opinion), all the way to mile 18. At this point, I ran into one of my favorite professors from college, who was providing traffic support along the course with his Economics of Running class. After seeing him, I walked a little ways, then started running in time to meet up with my pit crew at mile 20.
From there, there is a big downhill (one of the only ones in the entire race). Normally, when people think of a downhill, they think “Oh! That’ll be easier! I bet I’ll be way faster on the downhill.” While that is normally the case, the normal laws of running physics don’t necessarily apply from mile 20 to the finish of a marathon. Running downhill after running 20+ miles takes a lot more extra energy and quad strength than it would normally.
At this point, my feet started to hurt, and I mean really hurt. Suddenly, I was noticing every single part of my body, and it HURT. The wall had hit me, and it had hit me hard. I was able to push through for another couple miles, but eventually, my body just couldn’t take any more (and I kept getting stopped by the public transit trains), so I had to walk the last few miles.
But, thankfully, my wonderful one man pit crew was at the side of the finish line, cheering me on. With his encouragement, I was able to muster up the last little bit of energy I had left and run across the finish line.
From the description above, it may sound like I had an awful race, that I had a terrible time out on the course. While it was difficult, and sometimes painful, that couldn’t be further from the truth. I had a great time running that race and I wouldn’t trade a single rainy second – the sense of accomplishment after making it through 26.2 (plus a little extra) and the tired excited energy are the coolest feelings in the world.
So, when people ask me, I say, the race was rainy, but great.