Sunday, October 10, 2010

Portland Marathon Race Report

10-10-10... today was marathon day in Portland, Oregon. And I was pumped to race well in it. All the training up until the last long run with the group two weeks out went really well.

Then, on a Tuesday evening run with 11 days to go, I pulled my left hamstring quite out of nowhere. But I went immediately in physio and did all the right things to heal it -- ice, compression, rest, light spinning, and actual physio treatment. And besides, I just pulled it and didn't tear it. So confidence was high that by race day I'd be fine. Then, last Sunday, I decided to just dash across the street against traffic and sure enough I pulled it again. Shit! Nothing but my own bone-headed move to blame...

So treatment back to square one. Or two, or three, or whatever...

Luckily I made seemingly good recovery progress and decided I could try and race. I had some suggestions to run it slower, but there wouldn't have been much point in that - at least in planning to go for a time that is not meaningful to me. So betwen my physio Timberly and my coach Lara and myself we all agreed that I would go out on my original pace with the first 5km slightly slower and preceeded by a good but slow warm up, hamstring massage with "The Stick" in the morning, and run with a thigh compression sleeve. We totally realized that there would be some remaining risk that I pull it again and I fully accepted that. I'd have to decide what my options are if and when that happens based on how it feels. Good plan in my mind.

Yesterday before 5am Esther was so lovely as to drive me to the train station (she is the best!) where I took the bus to Seattle and from there the Amtrak to Portland.

Compared to Europe, train travel here feels like it is stuck in the dark ages! OMG I wouldn't even know where to start... maybe something for a different blog post.

Arriving in PDX at around 1:30 I had enough time to drop my gear at the hotel and go pick up my race package, go back to the hotel to change and meet the rest of the gang for a quick 30 min shake-out-the-legs-run. First time running for me in 11 days! Went really well though.

At the race expo I also picked up a pair of 2XU compression tights and a "The Stick" (Google it; these things are great!). Maybe I can put the rolling pin I used to use back where it belongs :-) These things are so much cheaper in the US plus there is no sales tax in Oregon!

For an early dinner we went to Macaroni Grill and the food was super good.

For some reason as tired as I was I couldn't really sleep. So come 4:45 this morning I was quite bagged. Still pumped and ready for the race though.

Everything went totally per plan and felt great! Until mile 5 that is... all of a sudden the hamstring went tight and within 10 or so steps I knew I pulled it something fierce.

After some initial hobbling I tried running slower... not much change. So I tried running at a faster pace... not too good either. Tried just generally to change my gait... also no luck. But what I did notice was that with every change it was better for a bit. So in the end I decided to grit my teeth and run through it as best and as long as I could.

I really did not want to have another DNF on my record! So my goal changed from 3:35 to "just finish any way you can!" and don't stop or walk.

I actuallt managed to keep an 8:00 min/mile pace up until about 11 miles at which point I started bleeding time. Then there was a big and long hill up to St. Johns bridge and my hamstring was not happy with that for one bit. After the bridge I kept on haemorrhaging time like its going out of style...

In the end I managed to not walk or stop (if I had stopped for even a short time I doubt I would have been able to start running again) and finished in 3:51. In the last 5k the only thing that kept me going was the thought of the medical tent at the finish where I could get some ibuprofen. When I finally made it there I could barely stand up and the guy told me "sorry, we don't have any drugs. " In retrospective I totally get that. And he was kind enough to tie 2 ice bags around my leg which had the additional benefit of the added compression.

So... not what I wanted, but something we knew could happen. And I am glad I had the mental fortitude to push through and finish.

Now: burger and beers (yes, plural!)

Next week: check in with Timberly why I keep pulling it. Maybe the root it somewhere else... the hip or so?