Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Rockin' It in Portland - The Portland Rock 'n' Roll Half Marathon

The looming forecast was not going to deter me!  Friday was nice if a bit cloudy, Saturday was gorgeous, but I knew that rain was on the way, just in time for the half marathon on Sunday morning.


I woke up Saturday morning to the sound of drums coming up from the street below.  Curious, I peeked out and saw a high school marching band in full uniform in Pioneer Square.  Soon they were putting on a concert for whomever would stop by and listen.  I knew I'd probably be unable to get showered and dressed and down there before they'd be gone.  So I enjoyed watching them and listening for a few minutes at my window.
View from my 18th floor window...a marching band
performing in Pioneer Square

Out and about on the town, I stopped for my morning Starbucks, then headed for the Columbia Sportswear shop a block away.  Columbia, Nike, a large bicycle shop...right downtown in this most decidedly stylish urban city and I knew I was in a town that worships fitness and activity.  A sumptuously soft, ribbed velour zip-front jacket came home to my hotel room with me along with a foot-long Subway sandwich - half for lunch, half for dinner later - and I searched for something, anything, to watch on TV while I put my feet up and relaxed for the afternoon.

My 6:00 AM alarm roused me from a deep sleep Sunday morning - race day - and I jumped out of bed to look outside at the weather.  Rain.  As expected.  I got dressed and ready, headed downstairs, but then balked at the thought of getting chilled once I got wet, so returned to my room to get my running jacket.

Standing in the rain, waiting for the start of a race to start, is the last thing that any runner wants to endure.  The start of this race was agonizing, as they released each of 23 corrals, one at a time, one minute apart.  I was in corral #19 and the wait seemed forever!  Well, 25 minutes to be exact.  That's how long it took from the time the start horn was sounded to when I actually crossed the start line.  But finally....our corral was off and running in the rain.

Portland Rock 'n' Roll Half Marathon route.  From my Garmin GPS watch.

The route was interesting and varied enough so that the miles seemed to fly by.  The race support was excellent with exuberant volunteers at the water stations and a band stand at every mile, playing great music to keep us stepping along.

Just before we ran across a bridge to the east side, there was an excellent Navy band.  A couple of Navy enlisted were standing in front of the band, cheering us on, so I ran over and high-fived them and thanked them for their service.

The rain let up after the first couple of miles and there were even some small patches of blue sky peeking out between the dark clouds.  But the rain came back as we crossed back over the river to the downtown and was coming down pretty heavy by the time I crossed the finish line.

But it is done!!  I can now add the state of Oregon to my map and to my quest of running a half marathon in all 50 states.

I headed into the after-party area in search of my free beer.  Cold cans of Bud Lite might be just the thing on a warm sunny day, but honestly....I could barely hold that seemingly freezing cold metal can while standing in the cold rain.  I chugged about half the can, then abandoned it and headed out of the finish area and toward my hotel.

But....all was not lost!  I had a $5 bill in my pocket, and I happened to know that I'd be passing a Starbucks on my way back to the hotel!  Wrapping my hands around a tall hot cup of cappuccino was the best part of the morning!

I jumped into a nice hot shower and could feel myself defrosting and relaxing.  I know not to wait too long before getting a good solid meal after running a half marathon, so didn't dally too long, though it was tempting to just snuggle up in my room for the rest of the rainy afternoon.

There are a couple of interesting restaurants nearby and even the McDonalds was calling my name.  McDonalds french fries are among some of the most perfect post-race foods for me.  But when I got down to the lobby and headed for the door, I could see that it was really raining hard.  I was through with being wet and cold.  The hotel restaurant was no longer serving lunch so I sat at a table in the lounge area and ordered a drink and a burger.

Two women sat down at the table next to me, one of them wearing her finisher medal, so we struck up a delightful conversation.  They were both from the Atlanta area, both had run the race that morning, and both were like me....traveling the country and running races in other states.  One of the ladies has even run on a couple of other continents.  We enjoyed one another's company and talking about races we've run and races we want to run.  The other lady was in the same age group as me, just a couple years older than me.  It was nice to meet another "senior runner," since this is a younger person's sport and there are very few of us still out there pounding the pavement.  I'd been periodically checking the race website on my smartphone, looking for the race results to be posted.  As we finished our lunch I looked one more time, and the results were up!  So I searched each of our names and relayed their results.

They headed out for a Starbucks after lunch and I debated whether to go with them but in the end, decided I'd already had my Starbucks fix for the day.  I hope our paths cross again somewhere!

Here's what my 50 States map looks like now.   The first of the Northwest states colored in:

Next:  A few relaxing days spent in Hood River, then on to Coeur d'Alene for another half marathon next weekend.

All photos are here:  Oregon Trip Album

1 comment:

  1. Damn Oregon rain. But it makes everything so green and pretty. That is quite the route they had set up for you. I am glad they had some bands to entertain you along the way.

    Hope the weather is better in Idaho.