Monday, July 15, 2013

Old Port Half Marathon. BLAH to the effing BLAH.

Another Half Marathon, another training day. (getting sick of this trend yet??)
Another day that honestly could not have been much more hot and humid. And anyone who thinks Portland is a flat town needs to look again. OPH organizers, did you hunt down every hill in Portland on purpose? Seriously?
Eric had had an event on Saturday (more on that later!) and I had had a solid week of training which included a legit 10 miles at some kind of Marathon (NOT ultra) tempo. Whoops!! And a ton of bike miles on Saturday. And a whole bunch of other stuff that is hardly worth mentioning, except for the noticeable fact that my legs were dead on Sunday AM. NO juice. DEAD.
I assumed we would take it easy but still be able to squeak out something in the 1:55 range.
The whole gang pre race.
We had no idea what lay ahead.
Well, I did not as I never bother to look at course maps/elevation profiles....

Why do we get up at 4:30 to do this....?

I want to preface this by saying that I do not want to sound like a negative Nancy about this race. (but I am going to, so if you don't want to hear about it feel free to exit.)
All you need to do is look at the results to know it was a long (literally, the course was stupid long) hard, HILLY as SHIT, and HOT, HUMID race for everyone.
The people who ran close to their normal pace were ALL over the sides of the street hooked up to IV's or racked out in the med tent. So yeah, not a great day for many.
The race got off to a funky start for us as we were crammed in the middle of a tight bottleneck of runners for the first mile. That was no big deal, as it was already a hot morning and we didn't want to crank off to a stupid fast start (oh and mile 1 was a 10:37 which is a number I have never seen on my watch during a race before. this was the first of a few things I had never seen in a race before.)
Traffic eased up in mile 2 and we increased our pace to around 8:45 or so.
I was dripping sweat after this mile. Dripping to the point I thought I must be sick, or there must be something actually wrong with me. The sun was blazing though, and the air was lifeless. There was no getting dry and therefore, no way for our bodies to try to cool down (after mile 2. how awesome)
Then the hills came. In the West End of Portland there is a big hill, which includes a narrow path, which obviously caused a major traffic jam. At this point we kinda looked at each other and were like "we can walk faster up this" so we did. (strike 2: I have NEVER walked in a race before!)
The terrain was like this. Flat, flat WALL OF TERROR! flat flat, MOUNT EVEREST.
Fuck. My. Stupid. Running. Career.
We called it a day. Since neither of us had any goal for this race and did not actually want to end up seizing on the road side with a pack of EMT's trying to revive us we trundled. Walked/stopped at every water stop. I stopped to go pee in a porta pottie! (strike THREE! I might pee behind a tree real quick but I never take the time to use an actual bathroom...) Eric turned into a one man sprinkler system as he got progressively more sweaty. I avoided running behind/next to or near him. He frightened people every time we snuck up on them because his shoes were so full of sweat that (loudly) they were going SQUISH SQUICH. He's still good looking even when he is sweaty *sighs dreamily*
The only good part of this race was the amazing cheering team of Sarah and Danielle who freaked out so much every time we passed them that we thought, for a moment, that we must be winning!! "RUN FASTER" they would scream, at an amazing decibel level,  while leaping up and down, cartwheeling and back handspringing along side us as we tried to grunt appreciatively in their general direction.
Seriously. It was like we were leading the Tour De France. That much love!
And we loved it! Thanks you guys!!
We finished in a tragic 2:07. But didn't really care as we were just glad to be done, sto p running and pour ice cold water straight down our throats!
OH... Except there was no water as the environmentally friendly barrel was empty (go ahead OPH, tell me it wasn't. I dare you. Make this dehydrated/overheated runner more pissed!!) I was horrified. Eric went to sit in the shade, possibly pass out and die from the heat and lack of water and I looked for some sort of magic oasis where cold bottles of water and Gatorade might be. No luck. (STRIKE FOUR. I have NEVER seen such a thing at a race before!)
Dear Old Port Half. You have a fun band. You give 2 free beers and pizza to every of age runner.
SCREW ALL THAT. You MUST have more actual hydrating beverages at the end. Coconut water does NOT count. I can't think of anything more ridiculous.
Sure, 500 half marathoners crossed the line before us.
Possibly the same number of 5K runners. And the water barrel was empty. Sure, you guys were probably about to refill it. To a throng of runners 10 deep and growing, on each side of this ill conceived hydration station. UGH!
It was nice to be given a reusable bottle. It was ridiculous to not have it pre filled with water.
I'm going to stop talking about this now as I have made my point. Rant over.

How we felt about the lack of beverages at the finish.

We more or less foraged around for what we could find, ingesting multiple iced tea samples (sorry iced tea people! desperate times!) Trying to chug coconut water (after the water ran out there was a run on the coconut water supply- the guy nicely gave me a couple warm containers but it's hard to get hot coconut water down the hatch..) We ate some fro-yo pops (those are delicious).
After this lovely meal and after some time lying on the ground in the shade we were both more or less back up to snuff. It was a day much more conducive to lounging in the shade, beer in hand than doing fantastic feats of athleticism which made from 10:00 or so on much more pleasant. As previously mentioned, there was a good band, an endless supply of beer, and pizza.
So all in all... I might not leap at the chance to do this race again. I could be talked into it for the social aspect if I were promised a 20 ounce bottle of Poland Spring at the end. It might be a situation similar to Bands on The Run in 2012- there were some issues that year that they did a great job correcting for this year. I know many people had the same complaints as I have expressed so possibly with a few tweaks this could be a better event.
(and if nothing else it was more or less exactly what I was supposed to do training wise, with less than 2 weeks until GCI!)


  1. Good to know. I have a broken foot and was sad that I could not run this. Now I am sad about my foot but not so sad about the race.

  2. The lack of water at the end was indeed insane! They needed at least 3-4 bottle filling stations if they were to do it like that again. But having a full water bottle at the end would have been fine. Ugh... So hot and gross...

  3. No water?! Someone was NOT thinking when they planned that. How horrible. Happy you're alive after that adventure....

  4. not only was there a lack of water, there were no water bottles for later finishers (and they nearly ran out of finisher's medals, too). I ran this race last year, and the water bottles were handed out already filled. So nice. This year I nearly died to get an empty water bottle, and then NO WATER IN THE FILLING STATION!

  5. I didn't know you were doing this. I would have loved to have met you. The heat sucked! And yes, the hills! Oh man.
    I walked up that same steep first hill and also don't walk in races. I am no where near your speed but so much of this is the same. If you were later in the race (me) they didn't have cups at the water stops. Seriously! I ended up doing lots of walking. That Back Cove was endless. Endless!

    1. Not meeting you is making me sad :-( I heard from one person that people were picking used cups up off the street and re-using them. Gross!
      Hopefully we end up in the same place again and can say hi in real life!

  6. Oh soooooo horrible! No water, really? That's messed up. If you decide you need a walk break AT ALL at GCI (you probably won't) - I'll be your woman. Yes, really! ;) Hang in there speedy! You still rock!

  7. the funny part is as we were walking back up the hill to our car sarah happened to see you guys coming towards the water stop and she said "oh man, theres sara and eric... we would be ultimate bitches if we didnt go back and cheer for them!" and hence started the jumping up and down right in the middle of the running path. youre welcome.

  8. Humidity sucks. Race organizers never seem to get the fact that they should have way more water than they think they will need. Better to have it left over than not enough.

  9. Wish I knew you were there! Based on my last half in Texas, I was happy with this half. There was far more water at this half than the Jalapeno Half (can you imagine?). I loved the tent with the spray at the end - and I got a buoy!

  10. I felt exactly the same way about this race! I have never felt so sick after a race in my life...