Is was very soon after our first half-marathon (the Missoula) that thoughts crept in about running a full marathon. We trained for some more races, 10Ks and half-marathons, mostly run together. I think it was during our training and completion of the Billings Governors Cup half that a destination was set and training schedule established. The Portland marathon would be the test of endurance that determines how much of a runner we are. We being Jess, Krista and myself. We even coerced our friend Scott to train and run the race with us.
Training for a half-marathon and a full marathon were two completely different animals. I can definitely see where some running elite-isms start to creep in once you train for and complete a full-marathon. Before running a full, I didn’t correct people when they said they were training a marathon, but were only running a half. The miles got longer, the mid-week wakeups were earlier and the scheduling of life became a bit more rigid. Training for a half on the other hand, felt more natural and easier to integrate into life. I’ve found over the years that I can do “easy” training up to around 18 miles before my mind and body start to tell me otherwise. There’s just something about getting up into the 20’s that really starts to affect you.
After a few months of training, the time had come. Our friend Scott had an injury, so he wouldn’t be running, but he came for support nonetheless. The road trip out to Oregon was fun like usual, especially having a friend tag who is known for making any trip an adventure. I don’t really remember all the details of the days surrounding the race, but the race itself is fairly cemented in my mind. I remember it was damp out, slightly cool and utterly electrifying at the start. This was our first big race, thousands of runners stood there waiting, our huddled masses helping generate heat. This was also during the whole Occupy movement and the City of Portland had erected walls around the protesters in the park.
And the race began! Portland is known for it’s indie vibe, so it was fitting the a rock band’s lead singer was suspended over the startline in a lift, belting away as we passed beneath her. In fact, most of the course had live music along it’s route. So much so that when I ran the half at the Country Music Rock’N’Roll in Nashville a year later, I was pretty disappointed by its lack of music. The Portland course was full of energy. Your name was printed on you bib in big bold letters, so the spectators cheered you on. I had to use the bathroom a few times on the course and both the first and second time, I was able to catch back up with Jess. Upon the third instance I knew I wouldn’t have the energy to catch up. We were at the 20 mile mark and had just ran across the St. Johns bridge. We said our goodbyes as Jess continues ahead and I sought relief.
Mile 21 hit hard, not too long after splitting away from Jess. Only five more miles to go, “you do this all the time” I would say to myself. My body reminding me of the 20+ miles of pavement beating I’d done before. Had it not been for all the encouragement on the course, I’d probably be walking. Somewhere around mile 23 or 24, someone had set up a beer station. Many delirious runners took up the offer and would chug a beer, only to be bent over on the side of the road a mile ahead. Mile 25 and I knew it was almost over. I couldn’t muster any more speed, but I settled into my pace and kept moving. Nearing the finish line, I could see Jess, tears in her eyes showing the excitement of finishing this grand test of endurance and pride as I “many” minutes behind her. On that note, Jess will most likely have the marathon record for the Powell household, and that’s fine with me.
I passed through the finisher’s shoot, taking in nutrients, water and being donned the finisher’s medal. Jess and I waited for Krista to pass the line, she looked to be in pain, which she was. Jess’s eyes welled up once more, being so proud of her sister. We found Scott, my brother and another friend and we all made our way someplace to rest for a moment, shower and then set off for more fun. And that’s about it. I had resolved myself to be done with marathons at that point. I was happy to just do one, but that only lasted a few years…