2001 Portland Marathon

Short version: Hot and windy. Ran 3:14:00 gun time, 3:13:48 chip time.

Tolstoy version: My Goal: 3:15
My plan, such as it was, was to run 7:25s as long I as could. I wrote the 3 mile splits on my hand and figured I would try and hit those. A secondary check was my Heart Rate Monitor. I figured an average Heart Rate of 160 would be about right.

I saw Dead Runner Dale Shoup at the start, but missed Glen Plam even though he must have been standing just a few yards ahead of me. I lined up even with the 3:20 Runner's World pacer, right behind the 7 minute pace sign. Someone really should tell the Runner's World pacers what pace they need to run for their marathon times. If the RW pacers are lining up too far forward, how are the rest of us peons supposed to do it any better?Anyway, it wasn't too chilly at the start but there was a noticeable breeze that would come funneling through the buildings of downtown occasionally.

I got a good start, only 12 seconds to cross the line, and was able to get some decent running room right away. Not bad for 8500 marathoners. I started my watch as I crossed the start.

First 10k: The race starts with a *slight* downhill towards the river then runs along the river for a bit. My only disappointed in this stretch was being passed by a running Elvis. I was able to wave at my family who were standing on the 7th floor balcony of the Marriott which is right on the course. Mile 1: 7:21 Mile 2: 7:23 (just about perfect)

A little past the 2 mile mark the course turns uphill. Just before this I had decided that I may have drunk a little too much water this morning. Nerves had given me a case of the runs (the kind that starts before the gun goes off) and I was worried about that for most of the morning but fortunately never had a problem. I spotted some portapotties just before the turn uphill and dashed in to make quick use of them to empty my bladder. Turns out I may have been there about the same time as Glen. I dashed out of the porta-potties in time to see most of the 3:20 RW pace group running up the hill. I took off after them but quickly slowed down on the steeper portion near the beginning of the hill. The hill then levels out a bit to about mile 3.5 then turns around going downhill to about 4.5 miles. Another Dead Runner, Marc Frommer, jumped in with me for about a 1/4 mile on the uphill in this stretch and it was a boost to see him. After another wave to the family on the way back, we were running down Front street.
Mile 3: 8:18 (Porta-poti stop and hill)
Mile 4: 7:17 (half uphill-half downhill)
Mile 5: 6:55 (half steep downhill then flat)

We then run on the longest flat stretch of the course. 2 Miles along the river, then a four mile out and back in an industrial section. The wind here was very noticeable for me. I kept looking for someone big that was running my pace that I could draft behind. I would either find someone that was going to fast, or they would be going too slow. I ended up picking a candidate, move up behind them, stick for a couple minutes, then move on to pick up someone farther ahead. I finally spotted two big guys ahead of me. I'm 6'2", and the smaller of these two was a little bigger than I. His buddy was a good two inches taller than that. They were in their late twenties or early thirties and were moving easily. They also seemed to be the two most popular guys in Portland. Every couple of minutes some attractive young woman would eagerly wave and call out their names as they ran by. About mile 8 I was able to get close enough behind to use these two guys that were running side by side as a wind block.
Mile 6: 7:06 (chasing and drafting I guess)
Mile 7: 7:30 (no good drafts)
Mile 8: 7:22
Mile 9: 7:25 (water station)

Right after mile 9 we turn around. The wind was no longer a factor, but it suddenly got hot as I could see leaves blowing down the street at the same speed we were. It was sunny and I kept looking for Dale or Glen coming the other way, but since I was looking into the sun there was no chance. I kept in touch with the big guys since I figured I would want to use them later in the race. It was during this stretch that I met John Keston. John is 76 and was going to make a try for the Marathon record for his age group. John had held the record for the 70-75 year old age group until this last spring when Ed Whitlock beat it by finishing the Ontario marathon just barely over 3 hours. Today John needed to beat a 3:18:xx I think. He looked good but ended up missing it by about 4 minutes, most likely do to heat and wind I'm guessing.

After the 11 mile mark, we turn uphill into some neighborhoods. I lost the big guys on the hills here and was beginning to worry about the rest of the race. I was afraid to push too hard on the hills at this point early on, but I was sure slowing down and getting very warm. At mile 12 we do a downhill back to about mile 13.
Mile 10: 7:14
Mile 11: 7:12
Mile 12: 7:22 (uphill)

Since I run downhill pretty well, I had made up ground on the big guys during mile 12. I pushed a bit and tucked in behind them. I immediately acquired a couple trailers on my own and we cruised into a strong wind passing a fair number of runners. I was getting worried at mile 13 since these guys were going a lot faster than I thought I could maintain, but I did have a good draft option that I didn't want to loose. My heart rate was up around 161-162 bpm and I figured I would try and hold on as long as I could. We hit an open stretch and the wind really kicked up. The two big guys now started to run in-line rather than abreast and we had a string of half a dozen runners following. The two big-guys switched after about a 1/2 mile and then I moved up to take the lead for a bit. As soon as I had the lead, my heart rate jumped to 165. I had been feeling guilty for drafting so long off of everyone I could find that I stayed up there for most of a mile. Then the wind dropped some, our train broke up, and I went back to drafting off of who I could find.
Mile 13: 7:11
Mile 14: 7:44 (the wind I guess, but it didn't seem we slowed down that much)
Mile 15: 7:18 (Aid station)
Mile 16: 7:35 (beginning to rise to the St. John's Bridge)

This next part is the hard part of the course. St John's bridge crosses the Willamette River and is a nice suspension bridge with a pretty arc, unless you have to run up it. The hill up the ramp to the bridge is reasonably steep and this is where I first started to see road kill on the course. As soon as you get up the ramp at mile 17, you then turn and start climbing the bridge. I lost touch with the big guys on the ramp to the bridge and then lost sight of them completely on the bridge. I don't climb well and I was being passed regularly for the first time in the race. Once I reached the top of the bridge, I tried to take advantage of the downhill and retake those that passed me on the way up.
Mile 17: 7:52 (ramp to bridge)
Mile 18: Missed split but knew I was behind pace for the first time in the race.
Mile 19: 14:56

From here on out, I don't like the course. The neighborhood along the bluff is nice, the view of the river and the city is pretty, but I've already run too far, my feet hurt, my quads are thinking about cramping, my Achilles hurts, it stinking hot, and I just want it to be over. I was 6 seconds behind my pace at mile 21. I decided I was going to have to maintain 7:25s regardless of how I felt or what my heart rate was at this point. There is a big downhill for mile 23. Two years ago when I ran this race this was my fastest mile, the same was true this year. Somewhere in this stretch, I passed Glenn Tachiyama. and his friend Laura. It was nice to see Glenn again.
Mile 20: 7:21 (I know I'm in trouble when I start to check my watch to see how soon the next mile marker will appear)
Mile 21: 7:29
Mile 22: 7:25 (Better pace, push a little more passing lots of roadkill now in the heat.)
Mile 23: 6:46 (downhill is great for speed, but my quads really are hurting now)
Mile 24: 7:43 (the course is like an oven with the sun reflecting off the concrete retaining walls. I swear there is a hill here.)

We run across the river again on the Steel Bridge, go down and under the bridge back on a stretch of Front street that we have run on 2 times already. I tell myself after the hell of mile 24 that this is a pace that I can hold forever, no matter how uncomfortable it is. Of course the next minute I'm thinking I can't take another step. At least there is some shade now that we are back on Front Street. Just after mile 26 we turn uphill for 4 blocks into a weird wind that has picked up. I hate running uphill into the wind. Another left turn and then just another block with a very slight upgrade to the finish.
Mile 25: 7:16 (I'm chasing an orange singlet that passed me the last mile on the hill, OK only a slight upgrade, but I'm tired.)
Mile 26: 7:20
The last little bit: 1:28 (7:20 pace still)

Needless to say I'm very happy with this race. It is a PR by 6 minutes and I beat my goal time by a minute. There are two questions now; can I do any better than a 3:13:48? and do I even want to try?


David S. Hays, O.D.,dhays@davidhays.net